Tag Archives: Arsenal

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. 

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Opinion: Premier League title race done and dusted for everyone else, except Liverpool and Manchester City

We have headed into the first international break and the top two clubs are unsurprisingly, Liverpool and Manchester City. Who would have expected a different story than this?

Similar to the last season, the early extravaganza of the Premier League intends nothing but a two-horse title race between the Red Half of Merseyside and the Blue Half of Manchester.  These very two clubs are unarguably miles ahead of the other ones, they have their stunning peculiarity of to demonstrate unstoppable domination.

Jose Mourinho, while delivering his take on the proposed title race between Liverpool and City, insisted,

‘I was having the joke of Man City B, Spurs, Liverpool and Man City [challenging for the title]. ‘Just three or four weeks later, we understand clearly Liverpool and Man City are going to finish first and second, or second and first.’

Liverpool is the only side in the division with 100% record, who tops the table with 12 points. While Man City are second with 10 points in the bag.

The recent tussle of these two powerhouses has intensified the managerial rivalry between two of the best football coaches in the world, whose teams are on course to put forth a mesmerizing title race.

With a high investment done in the transfer market, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United were tipped to enter in the title race but, with taking into consideration their early-season struggle and the gaps in their teams which have been brutally exposed, they will battle for the 3rd and 4th place.

There will surely be some stern test for them while going ahead in the season as there is always jeopardy and uncertainty in the Premier League. However, Liverpool’s competition will always be Manchester City.

Between them, they haven’t lost a league game since the end of January. It’s evident that they are both pushing each other upwards. They are relentless.

Reds’ front three are looking razor-sharp again this season. While Raheem Sterling and co have been ruthless in front of goal. Virgil Van Dijk continues to put forth a defending masterclass while Kevin De Bruyne is back and raining the assists.

In the end, last but not least. Who will actually win this extraordinary title race? Will the Blue Moon rise again or will the colour be Red?

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.

Premier League Review

I am starting this week’s review with the match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night because it had a big talking point.

The game finished 1-1 with goals from Anthony Martial and a trademark long range effort by Ruben Neves. The result itself was interesting enough as its evidence that Wolves aren’t far away from the top six.

The talking point came when United were awarded a penalty with the score at 1-1 and last week’s scorer of a penalty Marcus Rashford went into conversation with Paul Pogba. The result of the chat resulted in Pogba taking the penalty and then subsequently having the spot kick well saved.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed after the game that the penalty duties are being shared between Rashford and Pogba and that “whoever feels confident on the day” should take it. This for me is a risky and strange policy as it adds an unnecessary seed of doubt and pressure to the taker, which showed its force again in United’s next match on Saturday, More on that later.

Moving onto Saturday’s roundup which I am starting at Anfield where the only two teams with 100% records in the league went head to head as Liverpool faced Arsenal.

Liverpool were controlling much of the possession and territory but Arsenal created good openings on the break from record signing Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

In the process, interestingly, Pepe became the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil Van Dijk breaking a record that has stood for well over a year, no mean feat. It has also become more evident that Liverpool are not performing as well in defence without Allison in goal and his deputy Adrian almost cost them another goal, as just like last weekend, one of his clearances went straight to the Gunners but luckily for him, Aubameyang, uncharacteristically, lacked composure.

Despite all of this, Liverpool’s territorial advantage paid off with them taking the lead through a Joel Matip’s header just before half-time.

After the break, David Luiz cost Arsenal any hopes, by first tugging Mohammad Salah’s shirt in the penalty area, with Salah himself scoring the penalty. It was the Egyptian once again who embarrassed Luiz by the touchline as the Brazilian needlessly dived in and Salah chipped the ball over him before running to the edge of the box and superbly curling into the bottom corner just before the hour. This ended the contest, although Arsenal did get a late consolation through Lucas Torreira.

The result means Liverpool are the only side in England with a 100% record and continues Arsenals poor record at Liverpool, however they can take something from the chances they created.

Now back to Manchester United who were playing Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, a venue where Palace hadn’t won since 1989.

United were dominant as expected, but couldn’t find the break through and Palace broke after 32 minutes which left Jordan Ayew one-on-one with David De Gea, who silenced the crowd by coolly slotting home.

There was yet more United penalty drama in the second-half when they were awarded a spot kick when Scott McTominay was bundled over. Everyone waited to see who would take the kick following Monday’s drama and this time it was back to Marcus Rashford.

However, he suffered the same fate as Pogba seeing his penalty cannon off the inside of the post. This only further strengthens my argument that Solskjaer’s method is an incorrect one. United continued to push and found an equaliser through summer signing Daniel James, who scored in consecutive home matches by curling in a delightful equaliser in the 89th minute following Pogba’s good tackle on Wilfred Zaha and with a neat build-up from Rashford and Anthony Martial.

The Red Devil’s thought they could still win it but were caught with too many players forward allowing Zaha to burst forward and find full-back, Patrick van Aanholt, who netted the winner in the 93rd minute, thumping in as the ball broke loose.

The result means United have picked up just one point from the last two matches and are showing they may struggle to get into the top four once again, a thought I had in pre-season.

Chelsea and Frank Lampard headed to Carrow Road to face a vibrant and confident Norwich side following their 3-1 win over Newcastle United looking for their first win of the season and Lampard’s first as a Premier League manager. Lampard continued to show faith in striker, Tammy Abraham and his decision paid off with the youngster scoring two excellent goals to open his Chelsea account. The first came after just three minutes, however, it didn’t take long for Norwich to hit back though, as just three minutes later, Todd Cantwell latched onto Teemu Pukki’s cut back.

Chelsea restored their lead 11 minutes after Cantwell’s equaliser for Norwich, Mount – cut inside the hosts’ defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net for his second goal of the season.

In a frantic first half Norwich equalised again and it was no surprise that it was Pukki, who scored his fifth goal of the season. Despite Norwich’s second leveller, Chelsea continued to pressure their opponents’ shaky defence; Mount and Christian Pulisic both saw efforts go wide within moments of the second half getting under way.

Abraham’s second goal saw him become the youngest Chelsea player to score twice in a Premier League fixture since 1998, twisting and turning and tying Grant Hanley and Jamal Lewis in knots before firing an unstoppable drive past Tim Krul.

The Blues thought they had scored again when Kurt Zouma poked a loose ball home, but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee after substitute Olivier Giroud was judged to have fouled the Norwich keeper, Tim Krul.

Lampard now has his all-important first win as Chelsea boss and will be looking to build on this victory.

Watford against West Ham is a match between two sides hoping to challenge in the top half of the league table.

However, only one of the two sides looked like they had that in them in this match at Vicarage Road and that was West Ham.

They have some terrific creative midfielders and their record signing striker, Sebastien Haller scored his first two goals for the Hammers as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Mark Noble’s third-minute penalty set West Ham on their way to their first win of the season after Manuel Lanzini had been fouled by Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Watford responded with a well-worked Andre Gray goal, with the forward drilling home a right-foot shot from Will Hughes’ pass.

It was then Haller who took centre stage as he led the line in exemplary fashion and contributed to all three West Ham goals. He displayed his predatory instincts that allowed him to comfortably claim his first goal for Manuel Pellegrini’s side before acrobatically doubling his tally.

Watford did create plenty of chances mainly through Gerard Deulofeu who had seven shots on goal, with only a close-range strike that hit the West Ham crossbar finding the target, alongside Hughes’ extraordinary miss from a yard out after Gray had squared the ball with the score at 1-1, that summed up the hosts’ lack of potency in attack.

At the other end the presence of Haller, Anderson and Lanzini provided too much power, pace and guile for the Watford defence to cope with. Gracia’s side now face a challenging sequence of fixtures – with a home game against Arsenal sandwiched between trips to Newcastle and reigning champions Manchester City – having shipped 41 goals in their last 18 matches.

At the same stage last term Watford had collected nine points after an impressive start, but a pointless return this time around represents a complete reversal of fortune.

Sheffield United were looking to back up their first win back in the top flight but came up against a Leicester City side that were just too good for them on the day.

Ayoze Perez robbed defender Chris Basham before James Maddison played a deft pass with the outside of his foot into space, allowing Jamie Vardy to race in and power home left footed. Vardy – a boyhood Sheffield Wednesday fan – had been booed throughout and duly cupped his ears in celebration. Billy Sharp and McBurnie’s second half introduction seemed to raise home spirits and suddenly Leicester’s midfield seemed unable to close spaces as quickly. It was Oliver McBurnie, who scored the equaliser from Sam Baldock’s pin-point delivery – proving why the Blades paid Swansea £20m for the striker.

They were level for just eight minutes, however, as substitute, Harvey Barnes, scored a marvellous winner six minutes after coming on, Barnes fired a half-volley from the edge of the box which flew past home keeper Dean Henderson.

Saturday’s final match saw a south coast derby as Brighton met Southampton, Brighton have started the season impressively, whilst Southampton headed into the encounter pointless and this showed in the early stages as Neil Maupay and Martin Montoya both had chances.

However, the game swung the visitors’ way when Florin Andone was dismissed following a rash challenge that left Yan Valery withering in agony near the halfway line. A challenge that Brighton manager Graham Potter said he “can’t defend”.

The Seagulls responded well, initially, with Lewis Dunk’s header chalked off by VAR, but the Saints capitalised on their numerical advantage in the second half. They took the lead through Moussa Djenepo, who came on as a substitute eight minutes into the second half and his impact was almost instant, cutting in from the left and curling into the top corner just two minutes after entering the fray.

A late Nathan Redmond goal secured the points for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

Onto Sunday’s matches and a Tottenham Hotspur side buoyed by gaining a point at Manchester City took on a Newcastle United side with no points and were embarrassed by Norwich last weekend, surely this could only end one way. In fact, Newcastle looked like a completely different team from last weekend, credit to Steve Bruce for that, they were superb in defence and caused Spurs problems on the counter attack.

It was from one of these counters that they took a surprise lead through record signing Joelinton, this his first goal since joining. Spurs were caught with too many players forward and Joelinton controlled Christian Atsu’s through pass beautifully before drilling past Hugo Lloris.

Spurs enjoyed the majority of possession and territory but couldn’t find the creativity to unlock an excellent back five of Newcastle.

Cristian Eriksen and Giovani lo Celso, both started on the bench and came on together after an hours to try and add this creativity.

Lo Celso, nearly made the difference with a pass to Harry Kane in the penalty area and Kane went down under a challenge by Jamal Lascelles.

The Newcastle defender appeared to slip and dive across Kane, as he knew he had no chance of getting to the ball, clever or reckless the referee and the VAR decided it wasn’t a penalty.

Spurs created more opportunities the best of which fell to Lucas Moira, who shot over from eight yards after being found by former Newcastle player Moussa Sissoko, who was unsurprisingly roundly booed throughout by the toon army crowd.

Spurs couldn’t find a way through and from evidence of this and other weekend results we could be heading towards another two horse race for the title.

There was a meeting between the last two sides to finish 7th in the league at Molineux, where Burnley were the visitors to Wolves.

It was the Clarets who were the more effective side and eventually took the lead through an excellent strike from Ashley Barnes, his fourth goal in three Premier League games this season.

Burnley were denied a second goal when Rui Patricio produced an excellent save to keep out Chris Wood, while Ben Mee headed against the bar with the rebound coming off Wolves defender Ryan Bennett and hitting the post.

However, Wolves were awarded a penalty in the dying moments when Erik Pieters fouled Raul Jimenez.

After a video assistant referee check, Jimenez stepped up to calmly roll the ball past Nick Pope and earn Wolves a third successive Premier League draw.

Despite this lacklustre performance from Wolves, I wouldn’t be worried that they are set to suffer like Burnley did last season in the league due to being in European Competition.

The Final Match of the weekend was a routine win for champions Man City away at Bournemouth. Another goal apiece for Aguero and Sterling meant they lead 2-0 at half time. Bournemouth rallied and substitute Harry Wilson’s superb 25-yard free-kick raised hopes of a fight-back, However Aguero pounced for City’s third after good work from Silva. Wilsons strike means he has scored two stunners in his two first premier league matches.

UEFA Nations League – The Final Four

Following Europe’s success at last years FIFA World Cup, the continent has been captivated by the new UEFA Nations League. The new competition allows European teams to compete with one another in a league format; with teams of a similar ranking being matched in groups with each other, to level the playing field. 

As the inaugural competition draws to a close, we take a look at the semi-finalists and assess how they’ve managed to get this far in the ‘league’. The finals of this tournament are in Portugal, suiting the nation themselves, as they take on Switzerland in the first semi-final game on June 5th. Southgate’s England find themselves in yet another international semi-final, as they take on Holland on the following day. The winners of each game go head to head in the final on June 9th. 

Portugal

Portugal started in a group with Italy and Poland and finished the group stage in first place and undefeated; with a win and draw against each team. Fernando Santos’ team were relatively poor in last years FIFA World Cup, after finishing second in their group and being knocked by Uruguay in the Round of 16. However, two years prior to this they conquered Europe, winning their first international trophy at Euro 2016. They clearly have European dominance, and with players like Ronaldo, Quaresma and Bernado Silva, you’d expect them to overcome Switzerland on Wednesday.

Switzerland

It goes without saying that Switzerland are a surprise entry in the Semi’s, especially that their group consisted of The Belgian Red Devils, and Euro 2016 wonder-team Iceland. Only making the Round of 16 in the 2018 and 2014 FIFA World Cup, their international achievements have been limited. They do however have a good set of players, with recent UCL winning Xherdan Shaqiri, and Arsenal duo Granit Xhaka, and Stephan Lichsteiner. They will need to be on top form if they are to overcome Portugal in front of their fans, but a win would be a massive achievement for the nation. In the group stage, they spectacularly came back from 2-0 down, to win 5-2 against Belgium. Will they be able to bring the same fireworks to Porto?

Holland

Somewhat surprisingly after not making the qualification for the previous World Cup, The Netherlands found themselves in group A1, the toughest group in the new competition. Consisting of both of the previous World Cup winners France and Germany, it would be a tough challenge to make the semi-finals. After losing their first game to France, they bounced back to triumph over Germany and win the game 3-0. Koeman’s side went on to defeat the world champions the second time of asking, and a high scoring draw against Germany sent The Dutch through on goal difference. Holland have a strong, well-drilled side, with Premier League player of the year Virgil Van Dijk, and Ajax’s star midfielder Frenkiede Jong. Known for their possession based, tactical gameplay; will The Flying Dutchmen spoil Southgate’s party?

England

The speculation as to whether The Three Lions could replicate their 2018 World Cup success looked to be subdued, following the loss to Spain in the first game of the Nations League. With the following game against none other than Croatia (we all know what happened the last time), would Southgate be able to turn the tables, and avenge last summers eventual disappointment? The game finished as a disappointing 0-0 draw, and England’s Nations League campaign would be over unless they took all 6 points from their remaining two fixtures.  Two outstanding performances followed, with a 3-2 victory against The Spaniards, and a 2-1 triumph against new rivals Croatia; England had made another International Semi-Final. The other semi-finalists will struggle to match England’s squad depth; with Maguire, Alexander-Arnold and Stones in defence, Lingard, Henderson and young prodigy Jadon Sancho in midfield, and an attacking force of Sterling, Rashford and Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. With such talent from both of the teams, it should be a cracking game.