Written by @JamesWootton95
Surely now, time must be almost up for Arsene Wenger. The bells have chimed and the curtains have fallen after Arsenal slumbered to their fourth straight defeat at Brighton this afternoon.
First half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray marked the Gunners eighth loss of 2018, and a fourth successive defeat for the first time under Wenger’s reign.
Despite Aubameyang’s strike at the end of the first half, it wasn’t enough as the north London side struggled to force an equaliser against a resilient Brighton side.
Brighton centre-back Dunk notched his first goal of the campaign after smashing in from Duffy’s knock-down, which should really have been Petr Cech’s ball to claim. The veteran goalkeeper will also be disappointed that he wasn’t able to keep out Murray’s header 20 minutes later. The Brighton talisman climbed highest to take his total for the Premier League campaign to 11.
Owning up to his mistakes, Cech tweeted after the game: “If you want to win a game away from home in the best league in the world, your GK can’t concede 2 goals like I did today. It’s simply not possible. The team fought back but the damage was done.”
Arsenal were able to put pressure on the Seagulls and managed to pull a goal back through their record-signing as Aubameyang flicked home from Xhaka’s cross. They were unlucky not to go into the break level as Koscielny hit the post just before the whistle.
The roar of delight as the final whistle blew at the Amex emphasised how much the victory meant to Brighton and the home fans. Albion’s victory lifts them into the top half of the table, with a seven-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone. As for Arsenal, the misery piles on, with the Champions League positions surely out of reach. They must now prepare to go again on Thursday in the Europa League against AC Milan. The Italian giants find themselves in a similar position to Arsenal, flailing in seventh place in Serie A as the once successful team struggle to keep up with the leaders.
Wenger’s reputation seems to be in tatters, and his post-match press conference didn’t help when he addressed the media with a bizarre expression: “When you have just the trousers on it’s easy to take the trousers off as well. When you’re naked completely you have to find a shirt, and try to put it on again and then you’re dressed normally again.”
With many fans shifting into the Wenger Out camp, the writing could be on the wall for the man who once led ‘The Invincibles’.
Written by @northcurverising
With Arsenal seeming to be the laughing stock of England at the moment and Arsène Wenger looking out of his depth, could this be an opportunity for current Celtic and ex-Liverpool Brendan Rodgers to get back in the mix of the Premier League?
The Northern Irishman has done an excellent job at the Scottish Champions as he had qualified for the Champions League two seasons in a row, has only lost two domestic games and is still on for another domestic treble.
I think it’s safe to say that majority of Arsenal fans want rid of the Frenchman after he has been at the north London outfit for almost 22 years.
Brendan Rodgers is still a young manager with a lot of potential and he has shown that in England already - he came just a few points off of winning the title with Liverpool.
However, Rodgers does have his faults, for example in Europe he still tries to play the same passing football that he plays in the Ladbrokes Premiership. What is effective against teams like Ross County or Hamilton Academical is hardly going to be effective against the likes of PSG or Bayern Munich (no disrespect to any of the clubs). My point is he just doesn’t have a plan B which I vital for any manager.
The Northern Irishman has publicly dispelled rumours that he may leave Celtic and claims he is still buzzing to be at the hoops.
What do you think, would Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers be good at the Gunners?
Written by @simplydave_
Spurs and Pochettino’s success has been a point of contention among rival fans for the last few seasons. The fact that they have made monumental strides without winning trophies is seen as a detracting factor. For me, that’s ludicrous, especially considering the state Spurs were in when Pochettino took over.
Poch was appointed for the 14/15 season. To give you some context, this was the after season that the Bale money was wasted and they saw players like Paulinho and Chadli bought it. A team with Roberto Saldado and Adebayor as the main attacking options going into the season. Imagine. An overhaul was desperately needed at the club and Mauricio wasted no time in doing so. Opting for young players like Mason, Benteleb, Dier and of course Harry Kane instead of ‘experienced’ pros. Their first season was reasonably successful, they finished 5th, 6 points behind United. Harry Kane finished with 21 league goals and 31 in all comps - at 21 years old. Progress.
In the next season performance levels increased. Spurs were an entirely different animal. Alderweireld, Alli and Son became regular features of the team - with Alderweireld forming a formidable partnership with Vertonghen at the back. The relentless pressing that we’ve come to expect from Pochettino sides became more evident. They were the best defensive side in the division - conceding 35 goals as well as the second best going forward scoring 69. Harry Kane went a long way to dispel the one season wonder claims by scoring 25 league goals and winning his first golden boot. This was also Alli’s breakout season. 10 goals for the teenager and eye catching performances. The team managed to finish 3rd in a two horse race behind eventual winners Leicester and North London rivals Arsenal. A draw against 10th place Chelsea and getting slapped 5-1 by Newcastle didn’t exactly help their cause. A positive to take from that season was they were the best side, regardless of league position.
16/17 saw further improvement. Tottenham finished 2nd behind a record breaking Chelsea side and also reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. This season turned Spurs into the efficient machine that we see today. Relentless pressing, solid defensively and with one of the most complete strikers we’ve seen in the Premier League era. Additions of Wanyama and Sissoko provided them with some pace and power to compliment the silky ability of players like Eriksen and the ghost of Lamela. Spurs started slowly, drawing a lot of games early on. However, once they hit their stride they were virtually unstoppable. Alli and Son hit 20 goals in all competitions as supplementary forwards, while Eriksen added around 20 assists. Kane enjoyed his most productive season in the league scoring 29 goals in 30 games.
The identity that Pochettino implemented into this side was obvious to see. Elite organisation, pressing high up the pitch and tactical flexibility - being able to switch between 343 and 4231 effortlessly. Pochettino is top 3 coaches in the league, in my opinion top 2. He’s turned Tottenham into a team able to play expansive football or absorb pressure and hit sides on the counter. Such flexibility is needed, especially while they look to advance in Europe. The progress made by both has been staggering and I expect the trophies to follow. Their biggest objective at the moment should be keeping Harry Kane. While him and Pochettino are at Spurs, the sky is the limit.
Written by @samjsneddon
It's evident to say that it would be almost arduous to refuse the chance to sign a player like Kevin De Bruyne if you were a prestigious club like Real Madrid, and it looks like Real's president, Florentino Perez thinks likewise. Spanish newspaper, Don Balon writes that Perez has a plan to improve the club if they fail to retain their position as Champions League holders, suggesting that even Zinedine Zidane could be out of the door in the summer. His plan also includes obtaining some new players in the transfer window and sitting at the top of the shortlist is De Bruyne.
Kevin De Bruyne currently sits at the top of the Premier Leauge assists table with 14, very distant from his competition. His pacy, skilful play is so difficult to describe - instead, watch it for yourself.
In 88 league appearances for Manchester City, De Bruyne has grabbed 21 goals and 41 assists, and improvement can easily be recognised as years progress.
One thing many fans might think is how he may fit into the squad at Los Blancos after his rumoured £177m move in the summer. Well, he'd obviously be a substantial player in the starting XI but it's not clear who he could replace. That being said, if City is up for it, Madrid is in for a treat, as the lad still has bags of potential.
Madrid does have a massive obstacle in the way, though, as the 26-year-old signed a new 5-year deal last month, showing his commitment to the club. If City were silly enough to approve the move, Kevin might not.
Another problem could be that Real aren't the only ones trying to land the Belgian. De Bruyne's agent, Patrick de Koster, claims that Barcelona is also interested, yet he insists his commitment still lies with The Sky Blues. He also says that his client 'fell in love' with the lifestyle in America, and wouldn't mind finishing his career at the MLS.
For now, De Bruyne looks like he's staying at City, probably for the long run, but if Real Madrid fails to obtain their target, it will be very challenging to lower their expectations for his alternative.
Written by @JamesWootton95
Refereeing has often been one of the big talking points this season due to the amount of controversial decisions and the introduction of VAR. Post-match analysis tends to be plagued with what referees could or should have done, a recent example being Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham last weekend.
With the integration of VAR in English football, the time might be upon us where referees may no longer be subject to examination after games. However, VAR has come with its fair share of controversies. Some of the key arguments that fans have with the system is about how long it takes for a decision to be made when consulting the VAR, and how to keep fans in attendance in the loop with what’s going on, like in cricket for example when decisions go to the third umpire.
Technology is not something that’s new in modern football, with the Premier League introducing the Hawkeye system in the 2013/14 season. Goal line technology was called for ever since Frank Lampard’s World Cup goal against Germany was ruled to not have gone in despite being a foot over the line. But since its introduction, not a single goal line controversy has occurred.
VAR has caused widespread debate with its efficiency and how it works. Match of the Day pundit and ex-Newcastle striker, Alan Shearer, has publically questioned the integrity of the video assistant referee by questioning how some decisions are opinion based instead of fact. Decisions such as offside and mistaken identity can be based on fact, but penalties and yellow or red card decisions can still be disagreed upon.
A widespread talking point regarding VAR and offside is if a player has been ruled onside and scores, that decision can be overruled if the VAR shows that he was in fact offside. However, imagine the scenario was turned on its head. The linesman could flag a player offside and the game would stop, but replays could show the striker was actually onside but by then it is too late to carry on with that phase of play, therefore potentially robbing the player of a goal.
So far, matches played to test the VAR have been in both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. These games haven’t gone as smoothly as hoped with a potential handball by Glenn Murray not even consulted by the VAR in Brighton’s FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace, and Willian being booked for diving against Norwich even though the Canaries player admitted to making contact with the Brazilian after the game. It looks as though VAR may still need a bit of time and deliberation before a decision is made on whether to use it full time in the Premier League.
Written by @samjsneddon
Prices of transfers are becoming enormously expensive - we live in a world where you can buy a man for £200m. The Premier League are big culprits for overspending and the richest of clubs can spend and spend all day long. The issue though is paying millions or even hundreds of millions of pounds on a football player can come with massive risks, its just one big gamble. Most times, this money is spent well and the players can go onto be fantastic for the club, but sometimes, it doesn't go so smoothly. I want to talk about Romelu Lukaku - "the Belgian goal-scoring machine", or so we thought.
In the summer of 2017, as we began the new season, Manchester United was desperate to sign some world-class talent, in hope of winning the league. The highlight of this was a £90m striker (£75m + add-ons), Romelu Lukaku from Everton. Man United fans around the world and even just fans of the EPL were raring to see him play. Even I thought he'd be a huge success.
Lukaku's start was a phenomenal one - scoring on his debut against Real Madrid and then twice on his league debut, (only done by 4 other Manchester Utd players). His first 9 appearances saw him score 10 goals, breaking the record held by the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton.
Today, though, we face a different matter. Although he sits 5th in the top-scorers list so far in the Premier League, his performances where it matters are defective. In fact, he has only scored ONE goal against the top six in his Manchester United career (3 goals in 29 apps total) - against Manchester City.
Now, not all is bad. In fact, to call Lukaku a bad striker is completely wrong. In 25 EPL starts, he has scored 12 goals and made 5 assists.
I thought I'd bring this up with my mates, before writing this article. Out of four of them - the one supporting Manchester United, as you would expect, was the first to answer. But not in the way I would have guessed. He said, "He's the biggest waste of money". All the others followed by claiming "he's so inconsistent" and "isn't as good as he was at Everton".
Comparing him to the top forwards in the league:
Harry Kane - 25 apps - 22 goals - 1 assist
Mo Salah - 25 apps- 21 goals - 6 assists
Sergio Aguero - 21 apps - 17 goals - 5 assists
Raheem Sterling - 24 apps - 14 goals - 6 assists
Romelu Lukaku - 25 apps - 12 goals - 5 assists
To conclude; Is Lukaku a bad striker? Of course not.
Is he ‘ThE bEsT sTrIkEr In ThE lEaGuE?’ Nope.
Is he worth £90m? Nobody is worth that much, but if someone is, it certainly isn't Lukaku.
Tell me your opinions - I'd love to hear them! Tweet me @samjsneddon.
Written by @caedaknight
The recent period of turmoil that Arsenal have descended into is evidently a cause for concern, with the increasingly difficult task of remaining relevant on the world's stage exerting an immense pressure on the club's reputation. However, is this period of poor form going to transpire into a significant period of mediocrity where the once certain bounty of champions league qualification is quickly becoming an elusive luxury?
At the time of writing Arsenal have already suffered seven defeats in the Premier League, whilst crashing out in the third round of the FA cup and sitting 8 points away from fourth place. Many attribute this recent decline to the highly controversial manager, Arsene Wenger, who despite winning three FA cups in four years is becoming a catalyst for unrest at the club. Others maintain that it is the board filled with heartless corporate giants such as Stan Kronke and Gazides that limit the ambition and success of the club. The fact of the matter is this is no longer a bad period of form and it is truly depressing as an Arsenal fan to accept a new period of instability and underachievement to envelope the club.
It is looking increasingly likely that the club are going to miss out on a Champions League spot for the second consecutive season and with the imminent retirement of Arsene Wenger, drastic measures must be taken to avoid replicating the implosion of Man United after Alex Ferguson left in 2013. The club have already made steps in the right direction by employing a new head of transfers Sven Mislintat, who has already seemed to eradicate Arsenal's timid and stingy business approach. This was reflected in the January transfer window as Arsenal were able to bag Aubameyang and Mhikitariyan whilst tying Ozil down to the club until 2021. Although we were successful with our purchases, we also lost our talisman Alexis Sanchez to Man united in a calamitous contract situation.
As Arsenal head into Saturday's clash with Everton, it is hoped the team will soon re-find their flowing form and re-occupuy our designated position of fourth. However until there is change at Arsenal FC, this persistent sense of disappointment and embarrassment will become all too frequent over the coming years.
Written by @ollie.g02
Is it really probable, or even possible, for Manchester City to do what no other English team has ever achieved - winning the quadruple: all four trophies in one season; arguably the peak of success.
I call winning the quadruple the unspeakable because it's such a hard tasm no one would have even suggested it before - the idea is authoritative but almost silent like a fart in a lift. So much so that every time it's brought up at a Manchester City press conference, Pep Guardiola quickly dismisses his side's chances of winning all four trophies. He was correct about the sky blues not being able to go unbeaten this Premier League season after a blip against Liverpool. However, with the Merseyside team slipping up since and other Premier League rivals so far behind, this is a competition that really is City's to lose.
A comeback now from City's closest rivals, both in distance and in the table, would certainly match City's own comeback to take the 2011-12 league title to say the least. Even despite the addition of City target Alexis Sachez to Mourinho's men.
As much as a defeat to Arsenal in the league cup final is, on the other hand, quite probable, the rematch of last season's FA Cup semi-final is City's to win in Guardiola's first Cup final for City, who have some unfinished business to take care of against the team that stopped them from reaching a cup final last year.
And the FA Cup itself is a beautiful competition - it only takes one average game and a team a division or two below will pounce on the opportunity to take advantage of a team who are supposedly currently the best in the country. However, on paper, Pep Guardiola does not enjoy defeat at the best of times so he's not that coach who claims not to focus on a competition - one reason this City team are the most likely out of any to claim all four trophies that are up for grabs.
So domestically, City are solid. They proved that in the first half of this campaign. Where I would be slightly nervous is on the European front. City's ambition is to be Europe's best and it's about time an English club stepped up to retake that title, in my opinion. Yet it remains to be seen whether Manchester City can actually sweep aside Europe's elite or if one of the most prestigious trophies in sport will be the downfall of an excellent footballing side.
If you could describe the first half of the season as comfortable for Man City, the rest of this half could be somewhat complicated.
Collecting trophies simultaneously is always a hard task for professional sportsmen and women, probably even harder in the top flight English football than athletics (Usain Bolt achieved the Olympic triple treble; and Mo Farah achieved the Olympic double double) or rugby union (in which Saracens recently did the double), for example.
However, you can say for sure the foundations for Manchester City to become the historic side to achieve the feat are well and truly in place. If not this season, perhaps next season will see Man City collect the league, two cups and champions league. Although, I think the quadruple is definitely on for City this season, time will soon tell if 2017-18 will see Manchester City do what no other English team has ever done...
Written by @jaytalksfootball
One of the most discussed sagas has finally come to an end this January transfer window. Chilean attacker Alexis Sanchez finally got his much-desired wish and is relieved of his duties as an Arsenal player as he turns into a red devil as a dejected and mentally-battered Henrikh Mkhitaryan goes the other direction to become a Gunner as part of a ‘No Fee, Straight Swap’ deal. Now, if you were to just take a look at this deal on the surface without delving too deep into it, you’d probably say that Manchester United got the better end of the stick. However, there’s a lot more positives for Arsenal to take away from this than you’d expect and that it is an equally good deal for both parties.
First of all, lets look at why Arsenal got the better end of the deal. Now, Manchester United could’ve easily waited until the next season to complete the Sanchez deal as they would’ve not only got him for free but would’ve only really have to have paid agent fees as appose to doing all of the above as well as giving away a quality player who although Mourinho barely used could’ve easily made a good £30 Million in todays market. By doing that, they also would avoided strengthening a direct rival in the Premier League as they would’ve had the choice to where his destination is, probably opting for a move abroad if United had the choice More of a loss for United, rather than a plus for Arsenal I guess.
Getting Alexis this early as well doesn’t really much sense as well. Wait. Let me explain. Signing him now would have little impact on the season that United are having right now. I mean, the addition of Alexis is great and there’s no denying that but even with this addition they’re still miles of Manchester City at the top and the likes of Barcelona, Bayern etc in the Champions League and they’re out of the League Cup .The only thing Sanchez can salvage them is if he can win them the FA Cup or maybe get them to the semis of the Champions League. If these aren’t achieved, you maybe have to question whether it was worth rushing the deal in January and possibly just holding out.
In Mkhitaryan, Arsenal will be getting a player with flair that offers goals and assists to a decent amount. They get a player who actually wants to play for the side and will get along well with his teammates…something Alexis didn’t. With that being said, he suits Arsenal’s style of play perfectly. Arsenal play attacking football, which is something, he rarely experienced during his time at United under the tactics of Mourinho. With the addition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also incoming, we could possibly see the reuniting of the partnership between Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, which saw them, record A LOT of goals. Arsenal lost a world-class player but in the long run we could look back on this as a good deal for them believe it or not.
However, by no means do I feel that United got a bad deal. Essentially, they got a world-class attacker, which would be an upgrade on any attacker they had before, in exchange for a player they never used and possibly never had plans on using. And it didn’t cost them a single penny in transfer fees. Whichever way you look at it, there is no denying that that is SPECTACULAR business by the negotiating team at Manchester United.
This season for his standard Alexis has been fairly poor and nowhere near his usual best. Some would say that it’s since Chile failed to qualify for the World Cup. Some would say that it’s the whole contract situation. Some would say it’s the poor form of his former side, which just left him demotivated to even put on an Arsenal shirt. I’d say that it’s just all of them. They all piled on top of each other and he was never really focused this season and wanted out. Before it all capitulated, he had the season of his life totaling 30+ goals along with 15+ assists. You could argue that when he’s actually focus and has his head screwed on in the game that’s when you’ll really get the best from the attacker. Quite frankly, Arsenal were never going to get a ‘focused’ Alexis again as he wanted to leave. Now he got his wishes you could say that they’ve got themselves a ‘focused’ Alexis and will have an incredible player if he can replicate his form last season.
If you know Alexis, you know that he’s one of the hardest working players in the Premier League and arguably world football. He never gives up even if things aren’t working out for him. He will try and try and try. This ‘Never Give Up’ attitude is something that Man United have really lacked since the days of Ferdinand, Vidic etc. This could really get them through some hard matches where they could’ve needed this to get that much needed win rather than settle for a draw. Something United gained quite a habit from. Going along with this, Alexis is a presence on the pitch as he adds to the list with the likes of Pogba, Ibra etc. With all this being said, Man United will gain all these qualities with Alexis and arsenal will lose them. Arsenal lose that presence and vocal point on the pitch, which as I said will probably work out better for the Gunners as they didn’t appeal much to this side of Alexis.
Overall, both teams got an equally great deal and both players now suite their team and are happy.
- JayTalksFootball, 2018.
Written by @khanna1905
Deadline Day. A day of immense excitement as football fans around the globe anticipate if their club is going to make a signing. Known to be one of the most exciting days in a football calendar. Or is it?
Although Deadline Day would be exciting as it’s the last day where clubs are desperate to make their business go through, the only big name signings that happen are ones that we are all expecting to happen, for example Pierre Emmerick Aubameyang. An agreement has been reached in principal between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund for the Gabon international and is most likely to become official in deadline day. Does this really mean it’s a deadline day major signing although it is already known that it’s going to happen? I don’t really think so. It would be more of a shock now if it didn’t happen than if it happened.
There is no argument that on deadline day, deals you are not expecting to happen do happen but it’s never a major signing, for example on deadline day in the summer, Chelsea signed Davide Zappacosta having not been a mention of him during the whole transfer window. So it’s a signing that you are not expecting but you are not exactly jumping for joy as they are not even first team regulars half the time.
At the end of the day as a football fan you still do get a thrill when you see the timer ticking away to the deadline and the entertainment of Jim White in his yellow tie going crazy and the reporters at the grounds of each clubs giving out information as they get it. But if you do think about it hard, do you find yourself feeling disappointment as your club hasn’t done anything exciting? I feel that is the case with most fans and clubs and being a Chelsea fan, it doesn’t seem that there will be any big names heading to Stamford Bridge at 11pm on January 31st.
Who knows, maybe I will be proven wrong and something big an unexpected will happen tomorrow, all we can do is sit back, turn on Sky Sports News and wait.
Time for Wenger to Finally go (4/3/18)
Spurs’ success under Poch (2/3/18)
An English World Cup (22/2/18)
Wanted: Kevin De Bruyne (19/2/18)
Does VAR work and how can it be improved? (10/2/18)
Is Lukaku Just Money Wasted? (8/2/18)
A new DON for Aberdeen as Kingsford sees the green light? (4/2/18)
Arsenal's Uncertain Future (3/02/18)