The process matters more than the results – Arsenal 18/19 season review

The process matters more than the results – Arsenal 18/19 season review

Judging from the title, you already know what I was thinking when I was typing the contents into my laptop. Yes, as an Arsenal fan, I didn’t care much about the team’s results, but rather, my focus would be the process.

In this review, I’ll mainly talk about the Arsenal first team on the whole. I’ve written a separated article to bash about a few frustrating players to watch on the pitch. No more rants in this one, I guess?


Home form, on the whole

Despite whatever the people may claim, the Emirates is still pretty much a fortress to the Gunners. Arsenal lost no home game in Europe while in domestic games, the wins and draws are still superior to the losses they had.

Not going to lie, a few results – a loss against Palace and a draw against Brighton – are pretty worrying and should be, honestly, something Emery must ask the players to address before the next season.

Therefore, what Arsenal need to do is to play well at home. They must acknowledge the importance of home fixtures and avoid dropping points in front of the home fans. Especially against the mid-table teams. No joke.


Away form, on the whole

The same old problem from the Wenger era is still here. While improving slowly, it appears that Arsenal still has a poor away record. Yes, they won against Napoli at San Paolo and Valencia at the Mestalla, but it’s not enough.

Arsenal clearly lacks confidence in winning away games. Thus, not only the fanbase must support their team but also, Kroenke should consider handing more bonuses to the players as an incentive to boost the team morale.


In England

In the Premier League, Arsenal did pretty well. While they still lost some games (especially London derbies), I can feel that the players are, at least, willing to fight until the final whistle when they’re behind. This is real progress.

In the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, Arsenal went out in the quarter-final and fourth round respectively. Yet, since the opponents were Premier League teams (Tottenham and Manchester United), it was something pretty inevitable.

Grade: B


In Europe

In the Europa League, Arsenal were unbeaten in the group stages of the competition. Facing Qarabağ, Vorskla and Sporting Lisbon, Arsenal conceded only two goals and proceeded to the Round 32.

However, they had to stage comebacks at home when they faced BATE Borisov and Rennes. Against Napoli? Stong performance. Versus Valencia? They replicated the same. After all, under Emery, they played well to be in the final.

Grade: A-


Players – the good, bad and ugly

What was Mustafi doing?!

Arsenal fans may have picked Lacazette as the player of the season, but I personally feel otherwise. In the current squad, Leno should have been chosen as the POTS of Arsenal, to be honest.

Of course, I won’t discredit Lacazette’s hard work these days. Yet, while Leno is far from excellent, I’m more than happy to see him, as he always performs his best on the pitch in every game he plays.

Playing as the last guardian in front of an imperfect defence, Leno executes his job well. It’s time for us, Gooners, to give him more credit than ever. Without him, after all, Arsenal would have lost more games than we’ve imagined.

A short review of the remaining signings of the season

Lucas Torreira

The second-best signing of the season after Leno. He’s ruthless and fearless on the pitch. Sometimes he may underperform but should be able to adjust to the tempo of the Premier League from next season.

Sokratis

The third-best signing of the season. He acts as a solid brick before Leno and no question about it. His disciplinary issues, though, is my real concern. I hope that he’ll get fewer yellow cards and suspensions from next season.

Mattéo Guendouzi

One for the future but aside from shaving his hair, he should seek to improve himself to be a better midfielder. A season-long loan to a fellow English side like Norwich or Everton would be beneficial to the player.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

He’s in the “hall of shame”, in my opinion. Need I say more?

Denis Suárez

Should I criticize him harshly even though he’s a loanee? No. Setting the injury aside, though, if Suárez is not getting minutes from Emery, there must be something wrong with him, I guess?

For players who performed worryingly, you may want to read this. And for the players in which Arsenal need from next season, here’s another article for you to study at your leisure.


On Emery

If I can meet Emery and say only one thing to him, I’ll say, “you have my full support, boss”. And yeah, I’m serious about this. Arsenal are currently rebuilding themselves and Emery’s work now is satisfactory to me.

As the title implies, I care more about the process and evolution of the team than the results. My father taught me that results don’t really matter if the lads played well. It matters only when the whole team fails to deliver.

This is the case in the current Arsenal squad. They’ll win games, struggle in some of them and it’s normal. Sometimes, you can give everything and end up trophyless. This is, sadly, both life and football.

Look at Liverpool. Klopp took a few years to rebuild his team from step to step. It is also what Solskjær is doing with Manchester United now. And it’s never easy to bear the pressure from both the board and the fans.

I can tell that Emery is doing the same. The fans should back him up and the board should also give the Spaniard the funds for the transfer market. Considering the situation nowadays, 100M isn’t enough for an overhaul of the team.

A two-year contract may sound like a short time (it is, actually, with just 4 transfer windows involved), yet as long as Emery is doing the right things, he’ll certainly get my seal of approval.

I have witnessed Emery’s transformation from the coach who needed a translating device to understand English to the one who no longer needs one. He can do this and I have faith in him.


The final word

Arsenal showed improvement after Emery took over the squad. Still, they’re not yet ready to be a real title contender. Patience and progress are what should be able to make Arsenal Premier League champions in, hopefully, a few years’ time, if everything’s going well to them.

Top 10 underrated, entertaining games in 18/19 you may have missed

We love watching league games and most of the time, we focus on the big guns. And some of the matches in the past season may, sadly, left unnoticed. Here are some of our picks to discover some undiscovered gems.


Premier League: Wolves 4-3 Leicester City (19 Jan 2019)

While other fixtures like “Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham” and “Everton 2-6 Tottenham” were also interesting, this one caught my eye and impressed me the most. It’s not the big guns, but rather, Wolves and Leicester.

We all know how good the Wolves are this season. At the time of writing, they’re 7th in the Premier League, which is, honestly, a respectful achievement considering their status as a mid-table team in this era.

Back to the game. The Wolves were 2-0 up before Leicester made it 2-2. Jota scored again before the Foxes levelled things up. This didn’t stop Jota from completing his hat-trick and sealing the points in a spectacular fashion.

Both teams never gave up when they took the lead (and for the other side, trailing by one or two goals). But at the end of this thriller, the Wolves got their reward, i.e. the well-deserved win. Are you not entertained?


Liga NOS: Feirense 4-4 Chaves (4 May 2019)

When it comes to the Portuguese league, many may think of Os Três Grandes, which means “the Big Three” in Portuguese. And yes, I’m talking about Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and Porto. The familiar names to us.

Back to the game. Feirense, as the club at the bottom of the table, are heading for the LigaPro while Chaves can’t afford to lose games if they’re to remain in the league, since they’re just one point safe from the drop zone.

So what happened, basically? Goals kept flying before Luís Machado gave the hosts a slice of hope to win, only to be destroyed by substitute and former Feirense player Platiny. One point apiece, a priceless moment to remember.


Ligue 1: Monaco 2-3 Saint-Étienne (5 May 2019)

Monaco has been awful these days and are sitting 17 of the Ligue 1 table, three points from avoiding the drop. Saint-Étienne is the exact opposite of the situation – doing pretty well domestically with European ambitions.

Gelson Martins opened the scoring but Subašić’s injury turned things around. 3 goals by the Greens in 21 minutes sealed the points for the visitors before Carlos Vinícius’ consolation proved futile in creating a potential comeback.

For Saint-Étienne, the points proved to be vital as they’re still chasing for qualifications in European games. But for Monaco, the loss may prove costly, as they need points (and a miracle) to be steered to safety.


Dutch Eredivisie: Ajax 4-4 Heerenveen (20 Jan 2019)

Ajax are doing excellent these days, having won the Dutch Cup and hopefully, get both the Eredivisie title plus the ticket to Madrid next month. Yet, the team who beat Real Madrid and Juventus before struggled sometimes.

It was 3-1 to Ajax at half-time before Heerenveen did the turnaround. Lammers and van Bergen leveled things up. Huntelaar gave the hosts some hope before Pierie responded and silenced the crowd with the goal.

A win would have made Ajax’s journey to seal the title easier but against the mid-table side, they failed somehow, They still have two more games to play and still have a chance to lift the trophy, on goal differences perhaps?


La Liga: Huesca 3-3 Celta (4 April 2019)

Huesca and Celta used to be rivals in the relegation zone. And in the second-half of the season, they produced a stunning game to keep the race alive.

Naturally, we’ll think that Celta, with a better squad, would have won the tie easily. Huesca, though, took the lead once after trailing two goals down before Ryad Boudebouz had the final say and slotted the ball past home.

Huesca are relegated after losing to Valencia at home while Celta, having beaten a heavily rotated Barcelona squad, are pretty much still in need of points to prevent the drop to the Segunda.


German Bundesliga: Frankfurt 3-2 Hoffenheim (2 March 2019)

Frankfurt may be the black horse in both the Bundesliga and the Europa League this season. But undeniably, they have a good fighting spirit (at least at home), which is clearly shown in this game.

Joelinton and Belfodil’s strike cancelled Kostić’s opener before Nagelsmann’s man received a piece of bad news as Nuhu got sent off. Haller levelled the score before Paciência netted home for the winner.

Frankfurt are still much in the contention for the final place to be in the Champions League next season as they’re currently fourth. At the same time, though, they’ll need to be wary of Leverkusen and Gladbach’s form.

Wouldn’t be the feel-good weeks for Frankfurt supporters.


Italian Serie A: Lazio 1-2 Chievo (20 April 2019)

ChievoVerona may have been relegated from Serie A and had a terrible record during their short stay but the away win in Rome may be something for them to remember.

Having gained an advantage in numbers since Milinković-Savić got a red card, Vignato and Hetemaj struck twice in the second half of the game and the goalkeeping proved Caicedo’s consolation pointless.

Luis Alberto’s marching orders later in extra-time ended his side’s hope of a draw. Aside from Lazio, Chievo won only against Frosinone at home but to replicate the giant-killings, the latest date for them to do it would be 2020.


UEFA Champions League: Ajax 3-3 Bayern (13 Dec 2019)

Ajax in Europe this season fear no one and you can tell from this six-goal thriller. Three goals for both teams, two 90-minute goals, two red cards, two penalties scored and still no winner. How was it not an underrated game?


FIFA World Cup: Belgium 3-2 Japan (3 July 2018)

Belgium went 0-2 down thanks to Haraguchi and Inui’s goals plus Japan’s motivation to prevail after seeing South Korea winning against Germany. They eventually won against Samurai Blue, credit to Chadli’s extra-time winner.


UEFA Nations League: Netherlands 2-3 Germany (25 March 2019)

As a follower of the Dutch national team, it hurts for me to mention this game, but Germany played well and didn’t give up until the last minute. Still, Die Mannschaft still have a long way to go to regain glory in the future.

Who should Arsenal look for when Emery’s gone?

I really don’t want this to happen but Arsenal, as a team in the process of rebuilding itself, may need to sacrifice someone in their job in order to achieve something big. Certainly, I hope that Emery won’t be the one.

But it’s football so everything can happen. The big question is, let’s say, Emery is gone the next day I finish the article. Who should be considered as the one to replace him? I’m listing three coaches as a suggestion.

Option 1 – Florian Kohfeldt (Werder Bremen)

You may not know who Kohfeldt is but if you’re familiar with Bundesliga, he’s the current coach of Werder Bremen and is just 36, older than Koscielny for three years.

Oliver once asked me, before writing this article, why didn’t I choose Nagelsmann in place of Kohfeldt. I would like to have him in the PL, however, the young German’s future at Leipzig makes it unlikely.

Kohfeldt is a coach with an attacking mind and hence, in the current Bundesliga campaign, they score almost in every game they play in this campaign. The exception? The one of Bayern Munich away.

Who was the keeper to do that? Not Neuer but Ulerich instead.

Kohfeldt may be a young and energetic coach in the Bundesliga. But as Emery’s successor, he’s still inexperienced and it may need to take a few years to see if Kohfelt is really the man for the Arsenal job.


Option 2 – Adi Hütter (Frankfurt)

If you follow the Europa League closely (like I do, as an Arsenal fan), you may be impressed with Frankfurt’s run. And allow me to introduce Hütter, the mastermind behind all the well-executed plans by the SGE on the pitch.

After replacing the outgoing Kovać, the Austrian decided to lead Frankfurt to be back to basics. He got the best out of the players, including Jović, Haller and Rebić. The clip below shows how he did it:

This is why Frankfurt are scoring a lot these days.

Of course, it’s not just attacking. Inside Hütter’s mind, he also knows how to defend and his approach is pretty down-to-earth to understand:

Did Leverkusen watch this over and all over again before thrashing Frankfurt today morning?

Hütter’s mindset will help Arsenal to defend better than the current standard (at least Mustafi will be gone) while not compromising the attack.

It may not appear to be very balanced but the Gunners should be able to improve under him. At the same time, Hütter has yet to gain experience in the PL, which allows me to present to you my final choice today.


Option 3 – Daniel Farke (Norwich City)

By far the most logical choice, Farke is the genius behind Norwich’s amazing run in the Championship this season, after joining them from Borussia Dortmund II in Germany. And the clip shows how he did it:

Under the German, Norwich has a quality fighting spirit on the pitch. Their home atmosphere is one of the best in the league and this helps the players to better at Carrow Road, no matter what the score is.

The only problem for Farke to become the Arsenal boss is that his club won’t let him go at this stage as they’re preparing for the Premier League.

As an admirer of Farke’s Norwich, I really don’t want this to happen. But who knows if he’ll be available sooner or after a few weeks next season?

The players Arsenal should consider for the next season (including the Academy talents)

Spoiler alert: It’s going to be a long one.

As a fan of Arsenal myself, whenever I see the team playing poorly, I always ask myself, “who would I bring to the Emirates if I had the power to do so?” And in this article, I’ll list them out, from a fan’s point of view.

I’ll list out three players for each position I would like to strengthen. “The ideal one”, “the realistic one” and “the one from the Academy”. In total, we have 18 of them in this list. Are you ready for the marathon?

Position 1 – Goalkeeping

I can’t deny that Leno is doing superbly these days. But as Čech is retiring and there are rumours that Emi Martínez may leave Arsenal, chances are Arsenal need a new face between the sticks in the cup games.

The ideal choice: Iñaki Peña (Barcelona B)

I’m a Barcelona fan myself and I don’t really want him to leave, from a Barcelonista’s point of view,.While he’s not exactly ter Stegen’s heir, if Cillessen decided to leave, he can serve as a back up to the German.

However, as Valverde really loves ter Stegen, the Spaniard may want to leave Barcelona for more playing time. He’s a good replacement for Čech. Or an upgrade, as he can save spot-kicks and has good aerial abilities.

He certainly won’t come cheap and you may argue that the level of Segunda División B is different from than that of the Premier League. considering Barcelona’s relationship with Arsenal, though, it could happen.

The realistic choice: Jack Butland (Stoke)

Despite the fact that Stoke are 16th of the Championship table at the time of writing (and the truth that I dislike them a lot), it doesn’t deny the fact that Butland is still one of the best keepers in England.

Leno will be the No. 1 keeper soon and Arsenal will need someone with experience to the team with Dejan Iliev, the main man for the U23, yet to get any minutes from Emery, which is depressing.

Butland can be seen as a balance of both players. Having played in the Premier League with Stoke and now in his prime (26), he’ll be a good buy for the Gunners when we set the unofficial rivalry aside.

The one from the Academy: Matt Macey

Currently on loan at Plymouth Argyle, Macey is one of the crucial players there, despite making mistakes and leading the team to a relegation spot.

He’s possibly the second or choice keeper of Arsenal. But if he’s to play regularly, maybe he will need to search for a club for minutes.

“Standing in the hall of shame” – The five Arsenal players who regressed a ton this season

I really don’t want to use the term “hall of shame”, to be honest. But to be honest, a few Arsenal players did play badly in these days under Emery and deserve to be called like this.

In this article, I’ll pick five of them and you’ll understand why I’ll put them in the list. Not all of the players there will be surprising to you, especially if you’re a supporter of Arsenal, like me.

Player 1 – Shkodran Mustafi

Even though some of the fans may say that “Emery should go” after a few months with us, all of us (excluding a few fans) will be able to agree on one thing: Mustafi is utter garbage and must leave the Emirates.

I started following Arsenal from 2016 and I witnessed Mustafi from being a decent CB to a piece of trash who commits costly mistakes on the pitch. It terrifies me when I see him on the team sheet. Every single time.

We all make mistakes. Not just Mustafi himself. Seriously though, have you met someone at work who always pretend nothing happened when he does his share and ruins everything in the process? You should be able to get it.

Why Europa League is (and should be) the current priority of Arsenal

Why Europa League is (and should be) the current priority of Arsenal

It’s been a long time since we’ve been posting anything and yes, we’re busy people who are on Discord and doing real life stuff. So we apologize for any inconveniences caused owing to our absence.

In this article, I’ll talk about my beloved Arsenal again. Yes, the English Premier League may not be my main focus anymore but as an Arsenal fan, there is always something which needs to be said about the club.

Currently, Arsenal are playing in two big competitions. The regular Premier League in England and the Europa League, in which they’ll face Valencia in the semi-finals and if they’re lucky enough, they’ll pay a visit to Baku again.

I’ll be very honest here. Both competitions are important to the team. However, if I were Emery and have the chance to prioritize the priorities of the team, I’ll focus on the Europa League.


Here’s an unpopular opinion. In the Premier League, the mid-table teams are harder to beat than that of the Top 6 ones. For real.

The reason behind? They can play freely without much stress and the obligation to win. This is what makes them trickier to beat. Like Crystal Palace this season, grabbing the precious points away from home.

Yes, the Premier League still matters since Arsenal can’t be in the top 4 if they’re on a losing streak (and the others win their games). Yet, there are more away games waiting for them than that at home.

The problem with Arsenal is that their away form in the Premier League has been notoriously poor. Even if they win, they can’t really keep a clean sheet. The defence will turn invisible to provide joy to the home fans.

With the Leicester and Burnley having pretty good home results against the Big 6, it’s time for the Gunners to step up and improve their away form. Otherwise, they won’t get what they truly deserve.


Compared to the difficult situation in the Premier League, Arsenal are 270 minutes away from lifting a European trophy, if they play well and consistently to be in the final.

Valencia, though, will be their obstacle in their way to the final. With former Gunners Gabriel and Coquelin in the squad, Los Che would want to be at Baku and to face whoever they’ll be facing.

At the same time, VCF will be expecting a familiar face, at the same time. They’ll be welcoming Emery, one of their former managers who guided them during the years with the debt issues, back home.

Also returning to the Mestalla will be Shkodran Mustafi, as a player.

Alas, there can be no sentiment on the pitch. It’s not going to be easy at all. Two cup finals of 90 minutes at stake for both teams and it’ll be interesting to see who’ll win the tie before travelling to Azerbaijan in late May.


Of course, I’m not saying that Arsenal should not pay attention to the Premier League. The Top 4 race is still on and honestly speaking, the Gunners must be vigilant enough not to make more mistakes in the PL.

However, the Europa Leauge is relatively easier to handle, since Arsenal will have the time to prepare for the second leg in Spain. Also, it’s a big test for Emery and his men to balance everything they currently have.

Rome wasn’t built a day from Klopp and Guardiola’s experience. And Emery can do the same. But his men need to wake up and strengthen themselves if they want Champions League football to return to the Emirates.

And currently, there’s no better option than playing well in the Europa League in order to achieve the aim. At this moment, though, we can only pray that Arsenal won’t make the mistake like the one last season.

Premier League predictions: round 26

Here are our predictions for the Premier League yet again! After the last round, Dan took five points, I got a dismal four and Alf took ten. One-zero. Ten.

Dan’s now on 95, I’m on 117 and Alf is sitting well clear on 128. But, as Liverpool have shown us time and time again, no lead is too big to blow.

Onwards we go!

Fulham v Manchester United

Alf: Manchester United won 5 of their 5 away games in all competitions while Fulham are still being Fulham. Ranieri’s not going to keep his job if he failed to win games – this one won’t be the one if he’s to achieve the target. FUL 1-3 MUN

Dan: Ok, so Fulham have conceded 55 goals. Nine more than literally any other team in the league. United have Antony Martial, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford. Look away if murder disturbs you. FUL 1-4 MUN

Oli: Fulham are pretty awful defensively, as I mention every week, having conceded 55 in 25. Manchester United have just moved into fifth and would like to push on into the Champions League slots. They’ll win this easily. FUL 1-3 MUN

Watford v Everton

Alf: The “Marco Silva derby” part 2. Everton are pretty inconsistent these days and last time out, it was a 2-2 draw with Digne scored a last minute goal to save the Toffees. I believe that it’ll be a draw, yet again, for both sides and this time, goalkeepers will be busy. WAT 0-0 EVE

Dan: Everton’s solitary win in their last five game against Huddersfield, which is pretty pathetic. Watford haven’t won in four games. Two similar sides in need of points go at it, but both will come out with less than they wanted. WAT 1-1 EVE

Oli: I don’t like picking my own team to lose. But Everton really aren’t playing well recently and I don’t see any reason why they’re going to improve. Watford are actually pretty decent this season, and they’ll take the three points. WAT 2-1 EVE

Huddersfield Town v Arsenal

Alf: Remember last time out when Emery faced a new manager of a club in relegation zone? That’s right, they lost 3-2. While I’ll still expect them to win the game, it’s another away game for Arsenal and they’ll leak goals. This is why I won’t have high standards on this one. HUD 1-3 ARS

Dan: It’s Huddersfield. Not much else to say here. HUD 0-4 ARS

Oli: Arsenal have just been well beaten by Manchester City, which has to sting a little. Their earlier momentum has really slowed, and they’re down to sixth in the table. However, Huddersfield. HUD 0-3 ARS

Southampton v Cardiff City

Alf: RIP Emi Sala. You’ll be missed. Sorry for the short description but I truly hope that Cardiff will win this one. SOU 1-1 CAR

Dan: Both sides have the uncanny ability to get points where it matters. However, both struggle away. While I think this will be close, Southampton should get a vital three points at home. SOU 1-0 CAR

Oli:  I don’t normally pick Cardiff to take points, because come on. But they’re not doing so badly now, with a win against Bournemouth last week. I’m genuinely really worried about Southampton, because if they get relegated, all of their talent will go to Liverpool for peanuts. But I don’t think they’ll win this one. SOU 1-1 CAR

Crystal Palace v West Ham United

Alf: Palace are unbeaten in their last three games while West Ham are winless in their last three games. I guess it’s not hard for us to predict the winner, no? That’s right, the home side, who’ll do everything to preserve their winning run. CRY 2-0 WHU

Dan: Some how, crazily, West Ham picked up points against Liverpool. Yet they still haven’t won in four and will be a bit shaky. Draw for me. CRY 0-0 WHU

Oli: West Ham United have been slowly creeping their way up the table for a while, and they’ve just drawn against Liverpool – not a bad result. They’ll win this. CRY 1-2 WHU

Liverpool v Bournemouth

Alf: There will be a familiar name for LFC fans in this game. It’s Dominic Solanke, who left them in search for more playing time. Despite of that, this will never change the fact that Liverpool will prevail in this 90 minutes. Oh well… LIV 2-0 BOU

Dan: Ah Bournemouth, 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea one week, 2-0 loss to Cardiff the next. Yet Liverpool have now drawn twice in a row against mid table sides, and I the Bournemouth that thrashed Chelsea will turn up and hold the reds yet again. LIV 1-1 BOU

Oli: I’m getting the feeling Liverpool won’t win this one. I’m not sure what’s giving me that feeling. Maybe it’s optimism at the potential of the Reds throwing another lead away. Maybe it’s realisation that they can’t keep this going. Maybe it’s Maybelline. But Liverpool won’t win this. LIV 2-2 BOU

Brighton and Hove Albion v Burnley

Alf: Brighton are winless in their last three PL games while Burnley recorded 3 draws out of 3. To be honest, this will be naturally a draw as no one seems to have the quality to beat the other team. But I’ll predict a Brighton win if I have to pick a winner. BHA 1-1 BUR

Dan: Yet another draw! The Clarets are still yet to lose in the league in 201, but like Liverpool, have drawn their last two. With Burnley having a thing for drawing on the road, and Brighton an opponent of fairly similar stature, another draw seems the correct result for me. BHA 1-1 BUR

Oli: Yeah, this is looking like a draw. I’d explain more, but Dan and Alf have basically hit the nail on the head. BHA 1-1 BUR

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City

Alf: A hard time to believe for Tottenham fans as Alli and Kane are out, which resulted in a weaker attack of the Tottenham team. But Tottenham will still be the winners of the game as they don’t play as individuals. Teamwork will win them games. TOT 1-0 LEI

Dan: Life finds a way. So does Mauricio Pochettino. With no budget, and his stars injured, he still gets results. A true great of the modern game. I love Poch. Oh, and Tottenham will win. But Poch is great! TOT 2-0 LEI

Oli: Tottenham, without basically everyone, still seem to find a way to play well. So many times, Spurs have turned nothing into something, and I see that happening again here. TOT 2-1 LEI

Manchester City v Chelsea

Alf: A proper dress rehearsal for the Carabao Cup final later this month. City won against Arsenal but Chelsea will be wary of the attacking combos of the home side. Nevertheless, Kepa, as a newcomer of the league, will have a hard time at the Etihad. MCY 2-0 CHE

Dan: So much of this result depends on which Chelsea turns up. Will it be the Chelsea that lost to Bournemouth. Or the one that beat City earlier in the season? I think it’ll be a mix – A Chelsea capable of giving City a game, but not winning. MCY 2-1 CHE

Oli: City really need to up their game, as we move into the final stretch of the season. They’ll throw their all at this match. Chelsea, meanwhile… who knows, really? If I was a Chelsea fan I wouldn’t be happy with their recent results, and I wouldn’t be happy with this one either. MCY 3-1 CHE

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United

Alf: The wolves are bouncing back from their poor run and the magpies are flying under turbulence. Another magpie dinner for the home side on the cards. WOL 2-0 NEW

Dan: Honestly, Newcastle will do the opposite of what I tip no matter what. But look, Wolves are in much better form, despite the Tyne side’s win over City. They’re deservedly seventh and Newcastle is still inconsistent. Wolves win for me. WOL 3-1 NEW

Oli: Wolves really aren’t doing too badly right now. They just beat the greatest football team of all time, Everton, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they won this one fairly convincingly too. WOL 2-0 NEW

Premier League: Our round 25 predictions

Holy shit, we did not tip the last round one. I got four points last round, Alf got three, and Oliver got two. Youch.

Points? Dan: 90 Oliver: 113 Alf: 118. Sober viewing.

On with the tipping!

Tottenham vs Newcastle

Dan

There’s nothing more mid-table/relegation battle team than beating a top four team one week then losing to another next week. 2-1 Tottenham

Oliver

Newcastle just beat City, for crying out loud. They’re starting to finally look like a pretty good football team. Spurs only stumbled their way over the line against Watford and I can’t see them winning this – but I don’t see them losing either. 1-1 draw

Alf

Pochettino will be glad that Son is back as South Korea are eliminated in the Asian Cup final. On the other hand, their opponents, Newcastle, just beat Manchester City at home. The firepower will improve but the fact that Kane and Alli are out doesn’t go away. 2-0

Everton vs Wolves

Dan

Two teams that aren’t really any better or worse than each other play. Will be close, can go any way, so it’s a draw for me. 1-1 draw

Oliver

Wolves and Everton are about as good as each other at this point. Everton’s home advantage will certainly give them a leg up, and I think that’s all it will take for the Toffees to win and overtake Wolves into seventh. 2-1 Everton

Alf

Wolves’ victory against West Ham propelled them to 7th place. Everton won against Huddersfield away, yet Digne’s suspension may affect how Marco Silva alter his preferred tactics. Points shared. 1-1 draw

Chelsea vs Huddersfield

Dan

Chelsea might be really frustratingly inconsistent, but, still. It’s fucking Huddersfield. If Sarri’s team can’t win this one, they will have really, really, big problems. 3-0 Chelsea

Oliver

Alf

It was so pleasing to see the “haha” emojis at full-time on the post on the official Chelsea account on FB after their defeat against Bournemouth. On the other hand, I feel sorry for Huddersfield, who had a hard time in playing well against Everton – you guessed it, it’s going to be tougher for them. 2-0 Chelsea

Brighton vs Watford

Dan

Brighton haven’t managed to win for four games and they’re coming off a loss to Fulham, of all teams. Watford are a quality side and should be able to narrowly dispatch of the seagulls. 1-0 Watford

Oliver

Watford are certainly a better side than Brighton and played well against Spurs, even if they went down. I’d pick Watford to win if they were at home, but they’re not, so they don’t. 1-1 draw

Alf

Brighton lost to relegation struggles Fulham in a goal fest. Watford lost to Tottenham in the London derby, yet a close call for both sides. Both sides are equally strong, but Watford will be able to snatch a draw, in minimum. 2-1 Watford

Burnley vs Southampton

Dan

Sean Dyche stopped Solskjaer’s and Man United’s winning run, Burnley hasn’t lost in 2019, Dyche has gotten The Clarets back on track. Southampton aren’t to bad but Burnley should win this with the form they are in 2-1 Burnley

Oliver

Both Southampton and Burnley are doing quite nicely at the moment. Ralph Hasenhuettl’s adjusted spectacularly to Southampton’s playing style and I’d expect them, for that reason, to just pip Burnley at the post. 3-2 Southampton

Alf

It’s going to be an interesting game (pun intended) with both teams of 23 points. Burnley and Southampton are eager to remain in the Premier League and neither side would want to lose. Last time. it was a 0-0 draw. Will the fear be repeated this time? 1-1 draw

Crystal Palace vs Fulham

Dan

Palace aren’t doing to badly, giving Liverpool a mighty good game, knocking Tottenham out of the FA Cup, and getting a draw with Southampton with just ten men. On the other side, it’s kinda Fulham. Palace should take the three points. 1-0 Crystal Palace

Oliver

Yes, I know Fulham aren’t doing well. And I know their defence is a mess. But Crystal Palace had Wilf Zaha sent off last week and I think that’ll really negatively affect them, enough for Fulham to win. 2-1 Fulham

Alf

Yay, it’s another London derby day. Palace, without Zaha, will be an easier target, on paper. But even without Zaha, Townsend, Milivojević and Ayew will still cause problems to the Fulham defence. Ranieri should be wary of this. 2-1 Crystal Palace

Cardiff vs Bournemouth

Dan

The last time I was tipping Bournemouth I asked “remember when Bournemouth was good?” After Bournemouth’s 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea, I’m regretting that. Anyway, after such a dominant performance, Bournemouth shouldn’t have a problem here. 3-1 Bournemouth

Oliver

Off the back of their huge win over Chelsea, I think Bournemouth will win again. It won’t be as big a victory as the one against Chelsea, but they’ll still take a win against an unlucky Cardiff. 2-0 Bournemouth

Alf

I never expected that Bournemouth to thrash Chelsea before the match. It was supposed to be the opposite, but Howe’s men proved otherwise. On the other hand, Cardiff deserved a point, yet Aubameyang and Lacazette proved otherwise. At the same time, we #PrayForSala. 3-0 Bournemouth

Leicester City vs Manchester United

Dan

As much as I hate to admit it going into this game, Leicester are very much giant killers this season and I can very much see them getting something out of this match. Maybe not 3 points, but still. A draw. 1-1 draw

Oliver

Leicester managed to hold Liverpool to a draw last time out, and that’s no mean feat. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s been flying but their winning run stopped against Burnley and I don’t think they’ll win this either. 2-2 draw

Alf

Leicester snatched a precious point from Liverpool. Manchester United made a comeback to do the same. Leicester will be a tricky opponent at home but I believe in Solksjær’s men to get all 3 points at the King Power Stadium. 3-0 Manchester United

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Dan

Both teams will be nervous heading into this. City’s confidence was shaken after the defeat to Newcastle and they don’t want to City gain too much ground. Meanwhile Arsenal are playing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. I can see this being a nervy goalless draw. 0-0 draw.

Oliver

City know they need to make a statement now. Off the back of a loss to Newcastle, and with Liverpool five points clear, they need to show England what they’re made of. Arsenal’s a great team to do that against. 2-0 Manchester City

Alf

Just because Arsenal are back to winning ways doesn’t mean that they’re fine. They still lack concentration in defence. Against Manchester City, a side who loves attacking, Arsenal are going to lose all 3 points – well, a draw would be a bonus. 3-1 Manchester City

West Ham vs Liverpool

Dan

West Ham have lost their last two matches 4-2 to Wimbledon and 3-0 Wolves. Liverpool are Liverpool. This won’t be pretty. 5-0 Liverpool

Oliver

This will be controversial. Liverpool were stopped last week by Leicester City, and despite West Ham’s dismal performance I think they’ll hold the Reds again. This could be a turning point for the season. 1-1 draw

Alf

It’s very embarrassing to see West Ham with 0 shots on target when they faced Wolves away. I thought that it’s something which will happen only when I play Dream League Soccer. While West Ham may have some good memories in facing the Reds, Liverpool are going to bounce back from the draw against Leicester. 3-0 Liverpool

 

 

Why the Denis Suárez deal makes sense and why Barcelona can afford to lose him

Why the Denis Suárez deal makes sense and why Barcelona can afford to lose him

As Denis Suárez is now a Gunner for the rest of the season, it ends all the speculations that Arsenal won’t sign anyone in the January window. Even though it’s just a loan deal, it pleases both parties. Here’s why.


From Arsenal’s point of view

  1. Denis is happy to work with Emery. As Denis worked with Emery in Sevilla before, Arsenal now have two Europa League winners in their team, which will help to boost the confidence of the team in winning the UEL.
  2. Denis is the kind of player they want and need. What Arsenal need is not only someone who can play in both upfront and in midfield (like Özil) but also, a playmaker. Denis is the kind of player who can do all these stuff.
  3. If Denis doesn’t play well, he doesn’t have to be here. Arsenal can opt to activate the release clause of 20 million Euros to get him in the summer. But it’s not obligatory, so I’ll see it just a mere option on the contract.

From Barcelona’s point of view

  1. They get money from the deal, should Arsenal exercise their option to buy. Even if Barcelona don’t get the 20 million in July, Denis’ contract extension to 2021 will preserve his current market value.
  2. They would rather develop de Jong than on Denis. de Jong’s arrival will further reduce Denis’ playing time since it’ll be a total waste of money not to play the Dutchman, at least from Valverde’s perspective.
  3. Denis isn’t in Valverde’s plans, so it makes sense to offload him. Barcelona are crowded with talented midfielders like Arthur Melo, Carles Aleñá and Sergi Roberto. Even Aleñá got more chances than him.

From the player’s own point of view

Let’s be honest, if you were Denis, would you rather be a benchwarmer at Camp Nou or the main man somewhere else? For Suárez himself, he decided to opt for a return to England (he used to play for Manchester City before).


The final verdict 

Provided that Denis doesn’t get a lot of chances under Valverde and the confirmed transfer of Frenkie de Jong, I believe that there’s a high chance that the player will sign a permanent deal with the north London club.
Unless there is something bad happen to Arsenal (or Emery), it would be the best for Denis to be a Gunner in the next season. But of course, like Alcácer’s case, it all depends on what Denis will do in the future.
It can’t be certain for now.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My thoughts on Emiliano Sala

My thoughts on Emiliano Sala

In England, right now, it’s transfer deadline day. That’s the same across Europe, in fact. At any other deadline day, I’m sure that’s where the football world’s attention would be almost exclusively directed. Who’s going where? What deals are going to shock us? How long can Spurs go without signing anyone?

But I’ll be honest, I almost completely forgot about the transfer window’s impending closure, and I think a lot of football fans have done the same. That’s not because this year’s January has been any more dull – ok, maybe it has – but because of the disappearance of Emiliano Sala, Cardiff City’s record signing whose plane went missing on the way from Nantes over to south Wales. It was January 21st when the plane left France and the day after that it was confirmed Sala was on board the aircraft. It’s now the 31st of January, ten days after Sala was due to arrive at his new club. In that week-and-a-half, I believe we’ve seen the best of the footballing community.

Image result for emiliano sala

After days of searching, efforts were called off on the 24th of January because Channel Islands Air Search just didn’t think it was possible to find Sala or pilot Dave Ibbotson. In the space of two days – that’s 48 hours – after the search was called off, donors had raised £260,000. That’s close to $500k in NZD. And that was in two days.

Just look at the way Nantes fans acted yesterday in their match against Saint-Etienne. The match was stopped in the ninth minute to allow the fans to have a tribute, with tifos and chanting all around. And it’s not like the Nantes fans stopped there – they kept chanting Sala’s name for goodness knows how long. There were even Cardiff City fans at the game that had flown over from Wales just for that.

Image result for nantes sala

Football – like any other sport, really – can be pretty divisive at times. Our tribalistic instincts really do come to the forefront when we’re in support mode. I could look at this in a more negative sense and argue that it’s sad that we need an event like this to bring people together. But instead, I think it says a lot about it that we come together in the first place. There are other walks of life where it seems anything that harms opposition is a benefit for yourself. Politics, especially, is an example of an environment where this seems to ring true.

Football fans around the world have put our differences aside for this. It’s the same way Dortmund fans put their allegiances aside and welcomed Monaco fans into their homes after the BVB bus bombing. It’s the same way the Premier League collectively mourned Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after his unfortunate death in a helicopter accident. And there are other, perhaps more humorous examples that could be given.

When you’re 1-0 down in a football match at halftime, rolling over and not bothering to contest the second half is probably the worst possible thing you could do. Anyone who knows anything about football knows that you’re best off fighting onwards together, as a unit, as a team. You won’t get anywhere if the centre-backs disagree on who should take throw-ins and the wingers won’t cross the ball in cause they don’t think the forwards are any good. You do best together, and it seems with the events of the past two weeks, the football world’s realised that, and done it.

Image credit: http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/34A8/production/_105408431_hi052008761.jpg

and  http://sf2.sport365.fr/wp-content/uploads/se/2017/08/sala-750×410.jpg