Tag Archives: Mikel Arteta

How will the Signing of Willian Improve Arsenal?

Brazilian winger Willian’s free transfer to Arsenal is set to be announced imminently, with the 31 year-old having agreed a three year contract worth £100,000 per week to move to the Emirates.

He will leave Chelsea once their Champions League campaign is concluded, after talks over a new deal at Stamford Bridge broke down.

The club were unwilling to meet Willian’s demand of a three year extension, which would see him remain a Blues player until he was 35.

According to the Daily Mail, Frank Lampard personally pleaded with Chelsea’s hierarchy to offer Willian the deal that he wanted but they refused to budge, allowing the Gunners to swoop in, making Willian the offer he wanted, with the option of extending his stay in North London for a fourth term.

The Gunners have seemingly won the race to secure the signature of the Chelsea man ahead of the likes of Barcelona and Inter Miami who were also interested, with the transfer set to be completed in the coming days. It represents a huge coup for the supposedly cash strapped club, landing such an established Premier League player for free from their near rivals.

Willian’s importance to Chelsea in recent years shouldn’t be overlooked. He has spent seven trophy laden years at Stamford Bridge, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, an EFL Cup and the Europa League, whilst also scoring 63 goals in 339 games.

He was named Chelsea’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year in the 2015-16 season, and scooped Players’ Player of the Year again in the 2017-18 campaign.

Willian is a dynamic winger who has terrorised Premier League defences for years with his quick dribbling, explosive turn of pace and his direct style of play.

Operating on the right wing, Willian loves to dash past his marker and get to the byline before putting in a cross. Although right footed, he can also often be seen cutting inside and having a shot at goal on his weaker left foot. He was also known as a set piece specialists during his time at Chelsea, especially from free kicks.

Willian’s performances this season have shown that despite turning 32 on Sunday, the winger’s productivity hasn’t yet declined, something which would be attractive to Arteta, given that he is abandoning Arsenal’s routine transfer policy of signing younger, unproven players.

He registered nine goals this term, equalling his best ever goalscoring season for Chelsea, whilst also providing seven assists. He ended the season with a flurry, with four of his strikes coming after the restart.

He will add some much needed experience to Mikel Arteta’s young squad and a winning mentality which will serve the Gunners well off the back of their FA Cup win and their ambition to break back into the Top Four.

He will also be the perfect mentor for the likes of Nicholas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka, players who would love to emulate half of Willian’s success at Chelsea at the Gunners.

Being able to train with Willian everyday, having the opportunity to study his movements and his decision making up close as well as being able to pick his brains about how he made it to the top will no doubt have a positive impact on all the players, but especially young players coming through.

His arrival will help to create healthy competition, with at least four wingers now vying for two positions, leading players to raise their game to ensure that they retain their place in the side.

He knows the Premier League and London really well, and so won’t need time to adapt to the intensity of the league.

Although often deployed as a winger, he can also operate as an attacking midfielder and this versatility is particularly attractive to Arteta, given that he is actively looking for attacking options as he plans to switch to a more direct 4-3-3 system next season.

With both Dani Ceballos set to return to Real Madrid and Ozil out in the cold, Willian is seen as the ideal man to play the number ten role and add some much needed creativity to Arsenal’s solid midfield of Granit Xhaka and Ainsley Maitland Niles or Lucas Torreria.

He has been much more inventive than any of Arsenal’s attacking players this term, creating more chances than Pepe, Saka and Ceballaos. Arteta sees him as the perfect man to provide quality service to Aubameyang and Lacazette, who often have to feed off scraps for the majority of the game.

Willian also has a tremendous injury record, which seems to be another factor as to why Arsenal have no qualms about offering him a longer deal.

He has missed just four games through injury during his spell at Chelsea, a remarkable stat given the number of explosive movements the Brazilian makes during a game as well as the intensity of the league and congested fixture list.

He played 47 times for Frank Lampard’s men last year and has never played fewer than 40 games for the club in a season since arriving in 2013.

Lampard himself, is a big fan of the Brazilian, stating recently when quizzed on his departure:

“Whichever way, he has been a great servant to the club and if we can get there, I’ll be happy. If not, I will certainly wish him well as I have a lot of time for him.”

The only concerns for Arsenal fans will be Willian’s end product and his age. Although he had his best goalscoring season in the Premier League this term, he hasn’t ever hit double figures, which for a winger at a top club is worrying.

Another worry is of course his age, as whilst Willian is performing well now, will he still be playing as well when he is 35 in his last season at the club?

We have already seen how offering a large salary to a player who then goes off the boil can detrimentally affect the club, with Arsenal the prime example, as they still have Mesut Ozil on their books, earning £350,000.

His wages make it virtually impossible to move him on, as no other club would be willing to match his demands given his peripheral involvement in the first team.

Arsenal will be hoping that Willian can deliver performances which merit them splashing out almost £20 million in wages over the three years his contract would run.

Overall, whilst there are worries about Willian’s age and expected return, his signing should be viewed in a positive light.

Arsenal are getting a player who has experience of playing at the highest level for a number of years, a versatile winger who performs in the big games, will bring a winning mentality to the squad and who is rarely injured, all for free.

If he can be a key cog in Arteta’s midfield and they manage to secure Champions League football next term his signing may go down as one of the Gunners’ best in recent times.

Aubameyang double sees Arsenal secure their fourteenth FA Cup against Chelsea

This season was not the easiest for Arsenal as they struggled with manager Unai Emery, before making the change and bringing in former player and Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta. After an improvement in their form since the restart, The Gunners were able to win the London Derby FA Cup matchup against Chelsea, 2-1.

The Blues were able to capitalise first after Christian Pulisic received the ball from Olivier Giroud and found the back of the net just five minutes into the game.

 

Twenty-minutes later, however, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from the penalty spot after drawing a foul from César Azpilicueta, who was shown a yellow card for his actions.

 

In the beginning parts of the first half, Chelsea were looking dominant and it seemed like Pulisic’s goal was going to be the start of a great match. However, the latter half of the half was all Arsenal. Overall, it was not a great first 45 minutes for either of the defences.

After both teams had their fair share of chances to score, it was Arsenal who took the lead in the 67th minute. Captain Aubameyang was once again able to punish Chelsea, who felt that the goal should have been disallowed after an incident between Andreas Christensen and Héctor Bellerín.

 

Things went from bad to worse for Chelsea as Mateo Kovacic was shown a controversial second yellow card of the game by referee Anthony Taylor for his challenge on Granit Xhaka.

Ultimately, the fourth-place finishers of the Premier League were down to nine men when Pedro, who is set to depart London for AS Roma, needed to receive oxygen before being stretchered off the field to put the cherry on the top of what was already a horrendous match for The Blues.

Although Chelsea were able to have 60 percent of the possession throughout the match, it was Arsenal who were able to finish their chances. The eye-opening statistic was that The Blues committed 14 fouls compared to two for The Gunners. 

The North London-side were subsequently able to their 14th FA Cup in the competition’s history, which has helped them clinch a spot in next season’s Europa League, while also knocking out Wolverhampton from the competition.

 For Arsenal, they will start its preparations for the next Premier a League season, which is set to start on September 12. Chelsea, meanwhile, will face off against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena next Saturday, but are currently trailing 3-0 on aggregate.

Arsenal face Chelsea in all London FA Cup final

Saturday afternoon at 5.30 pm will see an all London Cup Final between Chelsea and Arsenal. These two London heavyweights will go toe to toe in what will be a unique occasion.

For the first time in its long and illustrious history, the final will be played in front of no fans.

Anthony Taylor will be in charge in his second FA Cup final. By some strange coincidence his first was the Final in 2017 between both of these sides.

These two London giants are used to meeting in a final at the end of the season, having been involved three times in the last four seasons with both sides having won two finals. Arsenal the FA Cup and Chelsea the League Cup Final and Europa League Final.

Arsenal are clearly the cup kings of England, having won the FA Cup a record 13 times and been involved in the final a record 21 times. The Gunners have also won their last six FA Cup Finals.

For Chelsea this will be their 14th FA Cup Final appearance with the Blues winning seven of their last nine finals. However both of those defeats were against Arsenal.

Back in 2017 Per Mertesacker captained Arsenal to victory over Chelsea by 2-1 at Wembley with Aaron Ramsey hitting a 79th minute winner to give manager Arsene Wenger his final piece of major silverware.

Thanks to second half goals from Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg it was Arsenal who were crowned FA Cup winners in 2002, with the final being held in Cardiff.

Saturday’s FA Cup Final will see a contest with two up and coming managers at the helm. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta who is 38 and Frank Lampard 42, are the two youngest Premier League bosses and already have impressed the football world by their courageous tactics and game management.

Under Arteta, Arsenal’s two outstanding performances recently have been victories inside four days against Premier League champions Liverpool and an FA Cup semi-final triumph over Manchester City.

The Gunners have beaten Leeds, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield United and Man City on their way to Wembley and only conceding two goals in the process.

Chelsea have had to overcome Nottingham Forest, Hull City, Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester United in the semi-final to book their place at Wembley. Like Arsenal they have only let in two goals on their way to the final.

Both Arteta and Lampard have not been afraid to make ruthless decisions. Arteta’s refusal to pander to the whims of Mesut Ozil saw him excluded from the nine substitutes for the semi-final.

Lampard recently showed his merciless edge by dropping £71 million goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for Chelsea’s crucial final game of the season against Wolves.

So the stage is set for yet another London Derby, but for this one a trophy is at stake. It will be interesting to see how both sets of players perform in the extensive heat promised on Saturday and how they will adjust in the surreal surroundings of having no fans present in the Stadium.

Some players will flourish on this, others will freeze on the big stage, whatever happens it should be another classic final with Arsenal set to start of favourites. Whichever captain will get the privilege of holding the FA Cup after the game will be in the strange position of displaying it to no fans inside.

I wonder what type of celebrations we will see come Saturday evening? One thing is for sure the 139th FA Cup Final will be remembered for the final will little noise.

Club legends: a new era of managers?

The past year has seen an increase of past player managerial appointments, with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and most recently Mikel Arteta at Arsenal. But how big is the risk to appoint a club legend?

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Frank Lampard is well under way in his first season in charge of Chelsea

Frank Lampard is possibly the best example of a club legend taking charge of a former club. Lampard spent 13 playing seasons at Chelsea where he totalled 648 appearances for the South London club. Lampard took charge of Derby County during the 2018/19 before returning to the capital where he was appointed as Head Coach.

At the time it was seen as a gamble as it was only Lampard’s second season in a managerial position but with England teammate Steven Gerrard taking the same role at Rangers, Chelsea were not alone in their method of appointing a new generation of managers. Lampard got off to a respectable start with their first league loss of the season coming against reigning champions Manchester City at the Ethiad. Since then, the club has seen its fair share of mixed results. Some have been reasoned poor results, such as a 3-1 loss to struggling Everton, due to the youth of the team but and possible naivety.

But can it be argued that the lines of managerial blame become blurred when the manager in question has already such an intense relationship with the club? If the team isn’t performing to a standard expected, an element of the blame is usually passed onto the manager and the way in which the manager reacts is generally a determiner of their future. As with any manager, previous club relations or not, it is up to the powers above how long they are in charge at club. It can be suggested bias may come into play if the manager is affiliated with the club, with a possible unconscious hope of wanting him to do well. Equally, it may cause discrepancy amongst fans, some may want him to do well but if a group believe he is only keeping his places due to his club history, it could cause a divide in the support.

On the other hand with some clubs of late sacking managers as if it was going out of fashion, could it be a good thing to appoint more club favourites to coaching positions? Affiliation with the club could lead to longer managerial spells if the club want the individual to succeed in a coaching role. Former players could have the opportunity to reignite old passions within the club which would reinforce its culture. This would be advantageous also because they know and understand the club and could potentially reinforce its older traditions of play which will be reason as to why a large majority of the fans have such strong connections to the club.

Respectively it is a risk to appoint a club legend, especially for a ‘big’ successful club, who could easily attract a ‘safe’ option of an experienced man. However, the risk could be beneficial if the manager is able to recreate the passion they once had for playing for the club in the form of management.