Category Archives: Arsenal

Club World Cup, whats new?

The club world cup is undergoing a shake up currently that will see the competition go from seven teams to twenty four starting from 2021. The competition will run every four years and include eight teams from Europe, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North America and one from Oceania, however Many European heavyweights have threatened to boycott.

Being held in the summer months this would significantly impact the European calendar as it would mean players would have to finish a long gruelling season only to have to play more games in the time they should be resting and recuperating.

The European Club Association (ECA) have written a letter to Uefa saying they are firmly against the idea and confirmed that no ECA clubs would be involved. With the potential lack of European clubs this instantly devalues the competition, as how can you have a Club World Cup without arguably the strongest sides in the world?

To further increase the backlash the first edition will be held in China, a place that has seen a multitude of protests and other issues over the past 12 months and right now is in no position to be hosting a global sporting event.

With all its issues and problems, the basic idea of having an expanded Club World Cup featuring all the best teams across the globe to determine who is the best team on the planet sounds good on paper. But logistically the tournament is always going to struggle as long as the different continents have their own football calendars.

The current tournament is well respected outside of Europe and is seen as a very big deal, it has just simply never interested European fans and has often been seen as a distraction to the domestic and Continental campaigns.

After an already shaky beginning can the expanded Club World Cup survive? and possibly outgrow its previous forms?

 

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Gunning for the Top Four

Arsenal are a conundrum at the moment. It feels like there definitely is something up with them, but also like everything might just be going alright as Unai Emery attempts to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.

Opinion is generally split on whether the Spaniard is doing a good job or not, although last night’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United seems like it may have sent Arsenal fans over the edge. In fairness to Emery though, annoying the Arsenal fans doesn’t take much if you’re their manager.

The loss at Bramall Lane saw the Gunners spurn the opportunity to go third – and if they had won then perspectives today would probably be greatly different. 

But they did not, and their defeat was against a Sheffield United side who are not to be underestimated. The Blades are organised, well drilled and constantly surprising the Premier League with innovative tactics. It’s probably safe to assume that we’re all now up to date on the functions of overlapping centre backs.

Watching the game, it really didn’t feel like Arsenal were ever going to score. To use that old cliche, they could have kept playing till the next morning and still not have found a way through. 

Even recapping over the short burst of highlights Sky Sports graces us with on YouTube, there is very little for Arsenal to shout about from the game. Whoever was editing that video would have had a hard job scraping together three minutes of action. 

But it’s not like the Gunners lack any abundance of attacking talent. They have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe as a ‘first choice’ front three. Then they also have the young talents of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock. 

Behind them in midfield, they have the aggressive pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as Dani Ceballos adding a bit more technical quality. 

With this considered, you feel that Emery should be doing better. It seems he is struggling to find a system to incorporate and fully utilise the talents of his squad. Sheffield United were superb on Monday night but with the quality Arsenal have, they really should have created more. 

If only they had a little bit more class in the final third. A proven creative, an assists machine. Someone who, preferably, had proven themselves on the world stage. 

The above is, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Meszut Ozil – the forgotten man at the Emirates. It’s only three years since he recorded 19 assists in one season, and it seems Arsenal are in need of his creativity now. 

But he generally remains on the bench or out of the squad, with Emery tight lipped about what exactly is going on. It’s a mystery that has, unbelievably, seemed to unite Arsenal fans behind Ozil. 

There are certainly failings on Emery’s part, but there are some things that just haven’t gone his way.

The Gunners have generally failed to recruit well in defence of late, and what they have to show for the fruits of their labour is a centre back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz. This partnership has become something of a calamity duo, with Luiz’s failings in one on one situations becoming ever more apparent. 

And then there are the early season injuries to Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney going against Emery. Arsenal look, on paper, relatively strong at full back with these two fit. Bellerin’s return is imminent while Tierney has apparently recovered. Emery’s unwillingness to throw him straight in, though, is yet another thing that is angering fans. 

So while some things are certainly not helpful for Emery, there are ways in which he could be doing better. Some fluidity and creativity is needed up front, and the ex-PSG manager desperately needs to find the best system for his talented front line. Most likely, it will involve some difficult decisions on who to leave out. 

So in the sense that Emery has gotten some good attackers and is blooding young prospects (which, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we now know is the best thing in the world), he is doing pretty well.

But there is a lack of coherency and guile, as well as floundering attempts to find the best system for his side. And not to forget the shortcomings at centre back. So there’s some good, but also some bad.

With a fully fit and firing squad, Arsenal should really be aiming for the top four. The Gunners will not want another season confined to the Europa League. 

Women Super League Preview: Week Four

Round four of the Women Super League features defending champions Arsenal up against London rivals Chelsea.  Both sides will be looking to gain the early physiological advantage in the title race when they meet in this Sunday’s round of matches. 

Fellow rivals Manchester City will be hoping to take advantage of their closest two challengers playing each other when they take on Birmingham City in the Saturday game.  

 Elsewhere, newly promoted sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United will do battle at Tottenham’s Hive Stadium at the slightly earlier kick-off of 12:30pm on Sunday.  While early season strugglers Liverpool host Bristol City, where both sides will be aiming for their first win of the season.

 The final two matches of the weekend see Reading against Everton and Hope Powell’s Brighton are at home to West Ham United.

Title rivals battle it out

The Gunners have started the season in fine form, with three wins from three.  They won 4-0 against Brighton last time out and travel to Chelsea’s Cherry Red Record Stadium full of confidence.

The Blues however, have won the last two meetings between the sides, claiming a 3-0 victory in the FA Cup in February of this year and a 2-1 win in the previous league meeting.  Both games were at Arsenal’s Meadow Park Stadium, the last time the teams played at the Cherry Red Record Stadium resulted in a comprehensive 5-0 Arsenal win back in October 2018.

The home team will have the added incentive of knowing that they will go above their fierce rivals with a win.

In total there has been seven matches between the two teams with Chelsea currently leading the head to head by three wins to two however there has also been two draws.

The match will be shown live on BT Sport and kicks-off at 3pm on Sunday.  Tickets are still available at £9 per adult and at just £1 for juniors under the age of 20 and seniors over 65.

City looking to make it four out of four

Manchester City will be looking to keep up their 100% league record; they achieved a hard fought 1-0 victory against Everton in their last game.

Nick Cushing’s City side will certainly be confident of continuing their impressive start to the season as they play a Birmingham team that have lost their opening two matches. Their game against Reading in game week three was however postponed.

Manchester City have won four out of the seven matches between the two teams and have only lost once, with the other two matches being draws.

One of those victories included a 4-1 win in the 2017 FA Cup final that secured Manchester City’s clean sweep of domestic honours at Wembley Stadium.

Spurs host Manchester United in first WSL meeting

Tottenham Hotspur defeated West Ham United in their last match at the London Stadium, 2-0.  While Manchester United achieved their first ever WSL win by beating rivals Liverpool 2-0.

United will now be looking for their first ever Super League away win, having lost their one away match so far on the opening day against Manchester City.  Spurs are meanwhile currently unbeaten at home following their victory over Liverpool in game week two.

Both Liverpool and Bristol City hunt for first victory

In the midday kick-off on Sunday both of these sides will be looking to jump-start their season with a much needed three points.

Liverpool will be hoping of a repeat of last season’s 5-2 victory on the last day of the season.

Bristol City, meanwhile will want to improve their poor record against this weekend’s opponents having only won one in five attempts. That success however did come during the last campaign in November 2018.

Everton look to get back to winning ways against Reading, and Brighton face West Ham

The Toffees will be looking to bounce back from their narrow 1-0 defeat against Manchester City last time around when they travel to face Reading.  Both sides have won twice against each other with the most recent meeting ending in a 3-2 victory for Everton in April of this year.

West Ham meanwhile will want to be more clinical in front of goal as their finishing certainly cost them victory in their first ever match at the Olympic Stadium against Spurs. They play a Brighton side who are searching for their first win of the campaign.

Saturday 12thOctober

Manchester City vs Birmingham City Kick off (2pm)

Sunday 13thOctober

Liverpool vs Bristol City  (12pm)

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United (12:30pm)

Reading vs Everton (2pm)

Brighton & Hove Albion vs West Ham United (2pm)

Chelsea vs Arsenal (3pm)

Manchester United vs Arsenal

About 15 years ago, Manchester United versus Arsenal was the hottest fixture in the Premier League calendar. As the cliche goes, it’s the game you would be looking for as soon as the fixture list came out.

But nowadays, as much as the Sky Sports marketing team are trying to pretend otherwise, it just doesn’t have the same gravity.

The days of the Ferguson-Wenger rivalry are over, along with the two side’s title hopes for the foreseeable future. There are no furious wrestles for top spot in the Premier League, but a desperate clammer for the Europa League. 

The Solskjaer-Emery rivalry just doesn’t feel like it will have the same kind of bite to it. And it’s a rivalry that, should the current form of both sides continue to slump, probably won’t be around for much longer. 

Both sides currently sit outside the ‘top six’, but a win for the Gunners would see them fly up to fourth, behind Leicester City on goal difference. A win for United, meanwhile, would put them level on points with their London opponents.

The two sides have already met twice in 2019 since Solskjaer took over. The first was in late January, near the start of the Norwegian’s now baffling winning streak. It was a game and a result that actually felt like more than just United’s players being happy that someone with a nice smile had taken over as manager. 

Solskjaer displayed some real tactical nous. Jesse Lingard lingered in kind of false nine position, teasing the Arsenal backline. Romelu Lukaku would then use his pace and power to exploit this space, and drift wide to pillage the inevitable gaps left by Sead Kolasinac. 

It was a result that felt like it gave some real substance to United’s burst of form under Solskjaer. Something that showed that it wasn’t just a new manager buzz that was spurring them on. 

But fast forward a couple of months to their Premier League meeting in March, and the Red Devils slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The wheels had come off whatever vehicle Solskjaer was at the wheel for. 

It was Arsenal’s first victory against Man United since May 2017, having lost three of the four games since. But now they seem the slightly more likely side to pip the points tonight based off recent form.

United capped off a disappointing 2-0 defeat to West Ham last weekend with a midweek scare against Rochdale in the League Cup. A strike from 16 year old Luke Matheson sent the match to a nervous penalty shootout, which United were able to edge through on. 

The signs aren’t encouraging for the Red Devils, although they were able to pull off what now constitutes as a surprise victory against Leicester this month. 

United have generally struggled in games which they’ve seen a lot of the ball, such as against Crystal Palace. But when facing teams that want to play and have their share of the ball like Leicester and Chelsea, the Red Devils have been able to release their counter-attacking weapons. 

This has the potential to trouble Arsenal’s defence, with David Luiz and Sokratis both struggling this season. Sokratis lacks speed and has looked shaky in possession, while Luiz’s recklessness has seen him punished several times already. 

Isolating both in one on one situations could see them struggle, although United will be without Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Both players’ direct running abilities would have been a serious danger to the Gunners’ centre back partnership.

Instead, it is likely to be Mason Greenwood who they will face. Unless Solskjaer decides that Lingard should be played up front, like he surprisingly did against West Ham. 

Greenwood has certainly shown potential and willingness to run at opponents, so if he can fully realise his talents against the Gunners then he could be a threat. 

But that is not to forget Arsenal’s own talents up front. Alexandre Lacazette remains sidelined but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicholas Pepe both look set to start, with Dani Ceballos in the team to help supply them. 

Arsenal’s front line this year is incredibly promising, in stark contrast to their defence. United, meanwhile, have bolstered at the back with Harry Maguire, who looks to be forming a good partnership with Victor Lindelof. 

But with Martial and Rashford injured and a lack of a creative attacking midfielder, the Red Devils look very light in attack. It will be a fascinating battle between two teams who have greatly mixed abilities throughout each of their sides. 

Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal: Gunners’ new faces fail to impact as Reds run rampant

Dominant Liverpool put forth a stunning display at jumping Anfield as they strolled past Arsenal 3-1 to stretch their winning streak in the Premier League to 12.

The matchday 3 of the Premier League saw Liverpool going toe to toe with Arsenal at Anfield, which promised to be a mouthwatering clash between two attacking units. Anfield has turned out to be a nightmare for Arsenal in the recent past as they witnessed a sheer humiliation in their recent trips to the Red Half of Merseyside. With an eye-catching business in the transfer window, Arsenal were seeking a positive result after recent catastrophes against The Reds.

However, it didn’t turn out be an outing their twelfth man had hoped for.

Liverpool, with their sheer class, quality and attacking proficiency were capable of achieving a grip on the game from very early stages. Full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Robertson were under constant spotlight, turning the game into a crossing session in the first half.

Liverpool’s error did hand gunners with some really good chances of scoring but they couldn’t capitalise on them. At last in the dying moments of the first 45, a breakthrough came. It was Reds’ defender Joel Matip who put Reds in front and their all hard work of the first half was paid off. It was more of psychological relief.

Neither of the two made the changes in the half time. The start of the second period was electric for Reds and David Luiz’s blunder of pulling Mohamed Salah’s shirt offered Liverpool to double their lead from the spot. The Egyptian, with a sublime penalty, fired Liverpool to a two goal lead and it started feeling like Arsenal’s past trips to Anfield are going to be repeated.

The tie had swiftly turned into the favor of hosts. The European Champions were in complete control and looked to cause Arsenal more of problems. On the 58th minute mark, Salah yet again fired Liverpool to a three-goal lead. But this time, the goal was sumptuous. With a sublime turn, he nullified David Luiz and then struck a well taken shot to the left bottom corner. Liverpool 3- 0 Arsenal.

Lucas Torreira scored a late consolation goal for arsenal which injected small unrest in the stands of Anfield. However, it ended as Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal.

Liverpool have started yet another season on a big high while Arsenal’s 100% start in the Premier League season has been broken. However, despite the result, there are some positives for Arsenal. Nicolas Pepe showed glimpses of what he can do while Torreira’s impact after coming from the bench is also a positive.

Player Ratings:

Liverpool:

Adrian (7), Van Dijk (8), Matip (9), Robertson (7), Alexander Arnold (7), Wijnaldum (6), Henderson (7), Fabinho (8), Mane (7), salah (9), Firmino(8).

Subs: Milner (6), Oxlade chamberlain (6), Lallana (N/A).

Arsenal:

Leno (6), Luiz (4), Sokratis (6), Monreal (5), Maitland Niles (6), Xhaka (6), Guendouzi (6), Willock (6), Ceballos (6), Aubameyang (5), Pepe (6).

Subs

Torreira (7), Lacazette (N/A).

 What Next?

Liverpool face Burnley in matchday 4 at Turf Moor, while another tough clash awaits for Arsenal as they face arch-rivals Tottenham next week.