Category Archives: Arsenal

Will the presence of fans in some stadiums affect results?

March 9, 2020 was the last game that involved fans watching their team live.  The match was Leicester City vs Aston Villa and resulted in a 4-0 victory for The Foxes. 

Who would have thought though that it would have taken until December to see fans to witness competitive sports in some of the lands most famous stadiums again? 

Well, if you’re a supporter of a team living in COVID-19 Tier One or Two areas some fans will be able to watch their side live for the first time in almost nine months. This means 51 of the 104 clubs across the Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League able to host a maximum of 2,000 supporters.

Which teams can have fans in stadiums again?

This means good news for Premier League’s London clubs: Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Fulham. While also on the list are South Coast clubs Southampton and Brighton as well as the Premier League Champions Liverpool and their rivals Everton. 

The other ten sides in the top flight, however, will have to wait to welcome back supporters.  Being in Tier three areas such as Manchester and Yorkshire they will continue to play games behind closed doors.  This means: Manchester United, Manchester City, Burnley, Sheffield United, Leeds United and Newcastle United .  While midlands clubs Leicester City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton and West Brom will also have to play games without their fans. 

In addition, away fans from tier three areas will be unable to travel to games in tier two stadiums. 

Indeed, on Thursday Arsenal will have the honour of being the first English team to play a competitive match, a Europa League tie against Austrian side Rapid Vienna.  Being in a Tier 2 area, the Gunners will be able to play in front of 2,000 of their own supporters for the first time in nearly nine months. 

Unsurprisingly, however, the 2,000 tickets were sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale.  The first Premier League games, meanwhile, to take place in front of fans are set to be West Ham United’s encounter with Manchester United and Chelsea’s home game with Leeds United. 

Will allowing supporters in certain grounds be fair?

The awkward question remains. Will having supporters back in certain grounds affect the outcome of the match? 

Crystal Palace Manager and former England Coach, Roy Hodgson said:

“It will make a bit of a difference at Selhurst Park than it will do at some other stadiums, where the capacity is so much higher. 

“But I don’t think it is a question really of what difference the fans are going to make, I think it is more of how nice it is going to be for those fans who are selected to be one of those who gets a ticket to see a match live again.”

While Fulham boss Scott Parker said: 

“It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s what we all want. It’s what the fans want and what we want as a team.”

Understandably not everyone is in agreement.  Leeds United Manager Marcelo Bielsa, whose side falls into the category of a tier three area, meaning supporters will have to wait a little longer to see their side live, said:

“It shouldn’t be about the category, or the consequences of being in a category, it should be about trying to maintain the competition as equal as possible with things that are controllable. 

“I am just looking at common sense, which perhaps doesn’t go.  The presence of fans has an effect on the results.” 

Boton Wanders boss Ian Evatt, whose side play in League One and will also have to continue playing without the support of fans in stadiums, said:

“Without getting into a big political debate I just cannot believe the way (it has gone).  For me, we’re a country and we should all be together, regardless.  It should be one for all and all for one.”

What do you think?

It must come, therefore, as no surprise to see the football world split down the middle following this government announcement. There certainly is a compelling case for both arguments, on the one hand watching football without fans in the stadiums is not the same as stated by former Manchester United Manager, Sir Matt Busby. 

Busby was once famously quoted as saying:

“Football is nothing without fans.”

There is, however, the legitimate question of fairness and equal competition when it comes to competitive sport.  How do you create a level playing field?

Personally, however, I can’t wait to see to see fans bring the atmosphere and magic back to the sport again, no matter whom they support! 

Feel free to share your views in the comments below. 

Should Arsenal make a move for Christian Eriksen in January?

Following Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with newly promoted Leeds United on Sunday, it is now seven hours and 56 minutes since the Gunners scored from open play in the Premier League. 

This equates to the North London side’s lowest tally in 34 years, just nine goals in nine games. The failure to score against the leagues’ worst defence must draw concerns for Mikel Arteta and his coaching staff all be it they were playing with ten men for the best part of half an hour. 

In addition, Mikel Arteta’s side have now not scored in four of their last Premier League matches.  Their one goal came in an impressive 1-0 victory at Old Trafford scored from the penalty spot by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

What is a more startling stat, however, is that the North London club now rank among the bottom six teams so far this campaign for chances creation per match in the top flight. 

German international Mesut Ozil, who has not played for Arsenal this season, ended up ranking second on the list of most creative player for the 2019/20 season. Despite only playing 18 games he created 38 chances for his teammates.  

This begs the question whether Ozil should be recalled from his exile or in fact should Arteta go all out to recruit another creative player in the January transfer window?

Arsenal’s Christian Eriksen link?

One former Arsenal player Kevin Campbell has suggested that the Gunners should sign the ‘superb’ ex-Tottenham star Christian Eriksen. 

The 28-year-old Danish attacking midfielder has reportedly asked to leave his current club Inter Milan and could be sold in January according to the Serie A club’s sporting director Giusppe Marotta. 

Marotta told DAZN:

“We do not certainly have to force a player to stay when he asks to leave.”

Indeed, since moving for £17.5 million from Spurs to the San Siro in January of this year, Eriksen has just managed four goals in 33 matches – including none this season. 

Eriksen has also only started three of the club’s eight league matches so far and has been an unused substitute in Inter’s last two matches, including Sunday’s 4-2 win over Torino.  

The attacking midfielder’s contract with Inter Milan runs until 2024, but when asked about his current role with the club Eriksen told TV2:

This isn’t want I dreamed of, 

It is a strange situation, as the fans want to see me playing more and so would I, but the coach has different ideas and as a player I have to respect that.

“I am concentrating on my football, then when the transfer window opens we will see if something happens or not.”

While Inter Milan manager, Antonio Conte said:

“I will not select my team just to please one player.” 

Eriksen’s record with Tottenham

The Denmark midfielder’s record with Tottenham is significantly more impressive as he played more than 300 games for the club and helped Mauricio Pochettino’s side reach the Champions League final back in 2018. 

Overall he scored 69 goals in his 305 games for the club but perhaps more importantly chipped in with 89 assists for his team. 

When asked about the Eriksen speculation, Campbell said: 

“Christian Eriksen played for the rivals but we all know the quality he possesses, that’s for sure.

“It is not quite working out for him at Inter Milan right now and I am sure he would be a good addition to Arsenal’s squad.” 

Do Arsenal need a player like Eriksen?

Truth be told, a team like Arteta’s could certainly do with someone of Eriksen’s talents.  

The Danish playmaker is certainly someone who has that potential to come up with that spark in the final third and picking that pivotal final pass is something that the Gunners clearly lack at the moment.

It is also clear that Eriksen is a player who currently does not fit in with Conte’s plans at Inter Milan and he has struggled so far to get the best out of the Danish international. 

It certainly worked out well for Eriksen first time round in the Premier League for another North London side, could perhaps it do so again?

Let us know what you think Arsenal fans in the comments below, would you be happy to see your side make a move for the Danish international in the January transfer window? 

Its back: Premier league weekend preview

After the final international break of the calendar year top flight domestic football is back and heading into the most hectic part of an already condensed 2020/21 schedule.

The Premier League has already seen plenty of shock results this campaign and as things stand the top of the table is delicately poised with a host of clubs vying for supremacy.

Here are your big match previews for the weekend…

Premier League

Newcastle United v Chelsea Saturday 12.30pm

Frank Lampard’s side were in fine form before the break and the Blues legend will be hoping his side can pick up where they left off as they head to the North East.

Lampard will be without Ka Havertz and Christian Pulisic for the clash at St James’ Park while experienced centre-back Thiago Silva is a doubt.

Steve Bruce’s Magpies have been typically inconsistent so far this term without setting the world alight. However with the attacking threats of Ryan Fraser, Allan Saint Maximin and Callum Wilson, they can be confident of stopping the visitors heading to the top of the table.

Tottenham v Manchester City Saturday 5.30pm

A huge test of Tottenham’s early title credentials as Jose Mourinho’s men look to seize the opportunity to reach the summit of the table, albeit potentially for just 24 hours.

Spurs have been a tough team to beat this season and with the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Heung Min-Son in attack they pose a danger to any team.

Pep Guardiola, fresh off the back of a new contract, will be looking for more consistency from his side as they look to close the small gap to the league leaders. Gabriel Jesus is likely to be available whilst Sergio Aguero is a doubt.

Manchester United v West Brom Saturday 8.00pm

United went into the break on the back of a morale boosting victory over Everton, a victory that arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjær from a difficult conversation over this job.

Slaven Bilic’s Baggies meanwhile are desperate for points already as they flounder in the relegation zone without a win in their opening eight matches.

Leeds United v Arsenal Sunday 4.30pm

Perhaps evevery neutral’s favourite side to watch, Leeds United have made for enthralling viewing this season, unless you’re a fan of stout defending.

Marcelo Bielsa’s charges are a fast flowing bunch who always look to play on the front-foot, occasionally to their detriment. The Yorkshire side have already shocked the big boys this season, taking a point from the game with Man City.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners could almost do no wrong until they came unstuck in a big way against Aston Villa before the break. The North Londoners sit 11th in the table and will be desperate to start clawing their way up.

Liverpool v Leicester City Sunday 7.15pm

Arguably the game of the weekend as the reigning champions host the current leagues leaders at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side come into this game with almost an unprecedented amount of injuries with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez out for the majority of the season at least. Captain Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all major doubts for the clash whilst Fabinho has returned to full training.

The Foxes, not without their own injury concerns, must fancy their chances of taking a positive result back to the Midlands as former Reds boss Brendan Rodger’s pits his wits against Klopp.

Wolves v Southampton Monday 8.00pm

The weekend’s action rounds up at Molineux as this seasons surprise package Southampton head to Wolverhampton hoping to continue their positive start.

Ralph Hassenhutl’s Saints sit fourth in the table heading into the weekend after a 2-0 victory over Newcastle before the international hiatus. The visitors are likely to be without talismanic striker Danny Ings however as he recovers from a knee issue.

Wolves meanwhile haven’t quite hit the heights perhaps many expected this term so far as they struggle to get going with a host of new signings in their ranks. Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping this period can bring about a new level of consistency from his talented squad.

Other Fixtures

Aston Villa v Brighton & Hove Albion Saturday 3.00pm

Fulham v Everton Sunday 12.00pm

Sheffield United v West Ham United Sunday 2.00pm

Burnley v Crystal Palace Monday 5.30pm

TOP FIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TRANSFERS

Following the closure, or ‘slamming’ of the transfer window late on Monday night for Premier League clubs wishing to buy from abroad, the time is nigh to pick the top five transfers from the bizarre summer of 2020.

Many may have expected a curbed spending prior to the window given the financial landscape and without the prospect of full stadiums on the horizon, although top flight clubs still spent in excess of £1 billion – remarkable.

Gareth Bale – Tottenham Hotspur

The Welsh star has returned to the place that first brought him to the attention of the world in Tottenham Hotspur having spent a strange last 18 months in Madrid.

Bale, who is now 31 years old left north London for Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 for a reported £85.3 million fee and enjoy a largely successful spell, including multiple La Liga and Champions League successes. Most of which the athletic forward was an integral part of.

However the last two seasons in particular have seen the Welshman take up a watching brief, perhaps owing to injury and a fallout with the powers that be.

Bale has now resigned for Spurs on loan and despite not playing since his return due to injury, fans across the land will be excited to see the man who was once heralded as amongst the world’s elite playing football again.

Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool

Perhaps the most talked about move of the summer finally came to fruition as defending Premier League champions spent just over £20 million to land their man from Bayern Munich.

The Spaniard has only made one fleeting second half appearance against Chelsea thus far, having since tested positive for Covid-19.

However that 45 minutes and his previous form is enough to convince Reds fans and many others the 29 year old will add plenty of quality to an already packed Liverpool midfield.

The multiple trophy winner has an eye for a pass and dictates plenty of matches and will perhaps provide additional threat to the best team in the land.

James Rodriguez – Everton

Another who hasn’t played a massive amount of football in recent times, however the Columbian forward has certainly hit the ground running in an Everton shirt as the Blues have got off to the perfect start in the Premier League.

The 2012 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner has been in dazzling form since his arrival and linking back up with Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Having signed from Real Madrid with plenty of pedigree, the 29 year old has certainly delivered up to now. With sterner tests to come including the Merseyside derby after the international break – Everton fans will be praying long may it continue.

Thomas Partey – Arsenal

A deadline day arrival at the Emirates after the Gunners had toyed with the idea of the move for some weeks.

Eventually Arsenal met the release clause for the midfielder after much conjecture and perhaps looking at other targets including Houssem Aouar and Jorginho from Chelsea.

The 27 year old arrived on a £45 million deal from Atletico Madrid after suffering a disappointing time in the Spanish capital. Partey is a combative midfielder with lots of ability, who impressed across the two legs in the Champions League quarter finals last season against Liverpool.

Arsenal fans will be looking forward to seeing their new man in action after the international break.

Kai Havertz – Chelsea

The biggest monetary move in the window, Chelsea who were extra busy this summer in terms of incomings, confirmed the signing of one of the hottest properties in European football from Bayer Leverkusen.

Havertz signed for a deal rising up to £71 million and has enjoyed a reasonable start to life in the Premier League without setting the world alight.

The Blues, and Frank Lampard will want and perhaps expect more from the 21 year old, but given time it is extremely likely the Germany international will deliver.

Honourable Mentions

Diogo Jota’s move from Wolves to Liverpool adds additional strength in depth for the champions.

Manchester United landed superstar Edison Cavani on a free on the final day of the window, the Uruguayan has lots of experience and has certainly delivered at the top level.

Domestic Opportunities

Whilst the option to sign from foreign clubs has now ended, Premier League clubs can still sign players from within the UK and there are plenty of possibilities.

Said Benrahma of Brentford is perhaps the most likely to make a move to the top flight, with Crystal Palace and plenty of others reportedly interested in the Algerian forward.

Huddersfield Town striker Karlan Grant is another who has attracted top flight interest.

Premier League clubs would be wise to realistically consider Championship players with the likes of Eberchi Eze and Ollie Watkins both making the step up this term, with success.

Liverpool v Arsenal preview

Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Monday for the first of two clashes inside four days.

The first one will perhaps be seen as the more important fixture as the pair do battle in the Premier League looking to maintain their 100% starts to the 2020/21 campaign.

The two teams meet again on Thursday in the Carabao Cup fourth round in what is likely to be an encounter between tow much changed teams.

The Preview

Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp are becoming regular acquaintances since the Spaniard took charge at the Emirates, with the managers meeting recently in both the league and the Community Shield.

Arteta came out on top of both outings and will be hopeful of his sides’ chances of completing a hat-trick of victories over the champions.

However, Klopp’s Reds were almost back to their imperious best last week as they overcame Chelsea thanks to a Sadio Mane masterclass. Bolstered by the arrivals of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and Diogo Jota from Wolves in the last fortnight, signings that have only further strengthened the German manager’s options.

Team News

Liverpool will be without their talismanic captain Jordan Henderson who misses the match with a knee injury. They do welcome back Joe Gomez to the reckoning after a short spell in the sidelines.

Arsenal are hopeful of having their own Scottish left-back fit and available as Kieran Tierney recovers from an injury absence. The Gunners do have a host of injuries to squad players.

The Match

Arsenal have had a confidence-boosting few months and will come into this match buoyed by their recent results, however, they should be wary of overplaying as they come up against a side determined to both retain their title as well as attack multiple other honours.

Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal

Details

Liverpool v Arsenal, Anfield, Monday 8.00pm, Sky Sports