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.


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.

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.

Results doesn’t matter, planning does – what FC Barcelona really needs for the time ahead

Results doesn’t matter, planning does – what FC Barcelona really needs for the time ahead

After an admirer of Barcelona, I started to gain more understanding of the club. While I like the first team a lot, I spotted a few things which made me feel a bit uncertain about the future of Barça.

Well, I’m no expert in football, but from my perspective as a follower myself, here are the 5 reasons that FC Barcelona is actually being assessed too highly as a football club.

Reason 1 – Dependence on Leo Messi. 

Without a doubt, Messi is one of the best players in both the history of Barcelona and the world. He’s talented, hard-working and loved by supporters. Well, not only football fans but also, pundits and managers around the globe.

Let’s be honest, though. We all know what happens when Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid. They paid the price, are lacking attacking options with almost all of their strikers misfiring. And seriously, it’s not laughable.

Yes, it’s frustrating to be a Madridista these days, but bear in mind that if Barcelona doesn’t learn from the mistake made by their arch-rivals, the team would be teased at if they’re experiencing the same in the “post-Messi” era.

Football is a team sport. Messi makes everything easier on the pitch but he can’t play forever for Barcelona. The sad thing is that we can’t reverse time to get Messi in his peak form. So deal with it, Culés.

Reason 2 – Their tactics are way too attack-focused.

From the transfer rumours, we know that Barcelona are mainly talking about Neymar, de Jong and Rabiot. While these are essential to Valverde’s “4-3-3” system, they’re missing the essential piece of the puzzle.

Two words needed only. The defence. It may seem not to be a big problem for the team but if Valverde and the scouts of the club don’t realise this, it’ll cost their chances of getting titles in the future.

Piqué is old (31) and started to be error-prone. Jordi Alba is the sole, senior left-back in his position with an inexperienced Miranda as his backup. Valverde should pray that he won’t get injured or he’ll be doomed.

I have no problems with the rest of the defence (e.g. Umtiti, Lenglet and Semedo) but they should also get rid of a few players – with former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen included – who are not needed in the team.

Some may argue that “attack is the best defence”. But in my opinion, not really. You can’t create a defence which can keep clean sheets every time you play but without a coherent defence, having an excellent attack is nothing.

You can’t stage comebacks every time like that magical night at Camp Nou. Just saying.

Reason 3 – No real leadership at the back despite having Piqué. 

I miss Carles Puyol. He’s not just a defender with curly hair and nods in headers. He’s a leader in the dressing room and is exactly the kind of personality the current Barcelona dressing room need.

Every time I see the goals that the Barcelona defence conceded, I feel that they could have done better in pressing and marking opposition strikers. They’re always outnumbered in their own half and this isn’t a positive sign.

Piqué, as the most experienced defender in the team, should be able to command the defence. Nevertheless, it seems that he either didn’t want to or is helpless in this issue. Well, if he’s not the solution, he’s the problem.

Reason 4 – Lack of focus on La Masia as a football academy for the future. 

In recent years, Barcelona employs, mostly, a “transfer-based” approach for the development of the first team. Current members, like Suárez, Umtiti and Arthur Melo, are mostly from various countries and clubs around the world.

While there’s no guarantee that they’ll get chances, this is the truth in football, where a competitive environment ensure that the best players will stand out.

At the same time, La Masia may have produced some talents for the team, like Carles Aleñá, Munir and Sergi Roberto. However, not all of them have the chance to prove themselves under Valverde.

The internationals will be given the priority to be in the starting lineup for their abilities. Nonetheless, youngsters – like Chumi, Riqui Puig and Abel Ruiz – deserve to participate in La Liga football, not just in the Copa del Rey.

If the head coach decided to focus on the transfer market instead of their “escolas”, La Masia will only become a place for wannabe stars to dream about being “the next Messi” while crushing them with the harsh fact of reality.

Reason 5 – Too commercialised, mainly on the players and image of the club.

As I’ve mentioned before, Messi is more than just a footballer playing for Barcelona. He may only a part of the club’s history, but his contributions to the club are astonishing. This is why fans are seeing him as an idol.

Without a doubt, the “Messi 10” jersey is one of the most selling kits in the world. The other stars, like Coutinho, Luis Suárez and Dembélé, also get their own franchise. Just visit the FCBotiga and you’ll know why.

Players in this era aren’t just Tom, Dick and Harry who kick the balls for a living. They’re money makers for their clubs too. As a fan who supports a club under a tycoon who sees the club as a cash cow, I’m not surprised at all.

Frankly speaking, Barcelona no longer produces “star players”. They get them from the other clubs and brand them as “stars”. When they leave, either they fade away (like Alex Song) or shine elsewhere (like Paco Alcácer).

Yes, players come and go. Ronaldinho retired while Iniesta departed from the club to join Vissel Kobe in Japan. And for Messi’s case, it’ll be a bit special since there’s only one Leo Messi.

While the current model can help the potential supporters to make their decision in supporting a club and to boost revenue for them. The bad thing is, it associates with the arrival of the so-called “talents” in football.

I’m pretty sure that with Barcelona’s own branding, there won’t be a shortage of players who want to be a part of the Blaugrana squad. The thing is, who’ll be the “next star” when Messi retires? I, honestly, don’t know.

To survive in the football world, Barcelona need both “stars” of the sport and local talents in their squad. Perhaps Bartomeu should think of this. For real and with deep considerations with it.

I like FC Barcelona as both a team and a club as they play good football with a distinctive brand of Catalan pride. However, as someone who follows the club, they’re far from perfect, just like any other team else.

With a defensively inferior team and a lack of planning for the future, Barça will still be a football club with a wide, global influence but it all depends on how Josep Bartomeu and his men will manage the association.

It’s about decisions and a clear direction. Right now, Barcelona are doing fine but without a clear picture in the heads of the management of the club, things may not be in their favour. It’s their choice, after all.


Arsenal and 2018 – a complete review

Arsenal and 2018 – a complete review

2018 is the year when Arséne Wenger decided to pave way for his successor at the Emirates. 2018 is the year when Unai Emery proved his doubters wrong by achieving an amazing unbeaten run with his team.

While it wasn’t plain sailing in the second half of the year, the first half of 2018 wasn’t pretty either. In this article, we’ll be taking a trip down the memory lane to review 2018 as a year for both the team and the fans.

The beginning of the end of the Wenger era.

I’m pretty sure that the football world was shocked to hear that Arsenal were knocked out by Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last season, an embarrassing feat which never happened under Wenger, until 2018.

The away days in the final days under Wenger weren’t nice either, losing most of the games away from home with the chance of winning the Carabao Cup slipped away by being beaten by Manchester City 3-0 in the final.

There was some good news, though. Wenger’s parting gift to Arsenal, Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, proved to be a solid signing for the team and now, Emery is unleashing his potential to his best.

In Europe, Arsenal reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, where Atlético Madrid progressed to the final thanks to the goal by Diego Costa at the Wanda Metropolitano, which made it 2-1 to the home side.

So basically, Arsenal won nothing at the end of 2017/18 season aside from the FA Community Shield. They were 5th in the Premier League and hence, are currently playing in the Europa League again.

The end of the beginning of the Emery era.

When Unai Emery was presented as the new Arsenal manager, I still could remember that he needed a translating device to his ear in order to understand English. But apparently, he doesn’t need one now.

Emery’s first PL games after moving from PSG ended up with two consecutive losses. However, they were reasonable defeats, considering the opponents were Manchester City under Guardiola and Chelsea under Sarri.

After beating West Ham 3-1 at home, Arsenal endured a 22-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including the  North London derby which was won 4-2 in style, until being beaten by Southampton away 3-2.

Their Carabao Cup journey also came to an end as Tottenham gained their revenge from the loss earlier this month with Son Heung-min and Dele Alli knocking the home side out by their goals.

Arsenal will be seeking for improvement after winning against Burnley and starting another unbeaten run. At the time of writing, Aubameyang is the top scorer of the Premier League. Hopefully, he’ll score more in 2019!

Why Emery proved that he’s more than a boss

Emery may not be at the same level as the top managers in the Premier League, like Klopp, Guardiola and Pochettino, but for a club who needs to rebuild the team like Arsenal, he’s a reasonable choice.

Back then when he was with Valencia and Sevilla, he had the reputation of having the ability to win trophies with a limited budget. This is partly why Arsenal decided to offer him a contract as Kroenke is a Scrooge.

Emery happens to be the right man to replace Wenger. As I’ve written before, Emery is the exact opposite of Wenger who doesn’t allow his men to give up and the mentality instilled is amazing, despite it doesn’t always work.

A positivity-driven coach, Emery is also active on social media and listens to the opinions of the supporters. He’s a bit stubborn to make changes during half-time but sometimes, it proved to create the game-changing moment later.

The best signings in 2018 (and why they are)

Note: This list is in no particular order and is subjective with the preference of the author. 

Lucas Torreira (Uruguay)

I’m too lazy to list them out here. Please refer to my answer on Quora for the details.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Aubameyang is now proving his worth in the Premier League not only by scoring goals but also giving assists and helping the team in defence for a little bit. What a signing Wenger made before he left us!

Bernd Leno (Germany)

Despite that he could have done better with the positioning and stuff on the pitch, you can’t really blame him for not keeping clean sheets. One thing for sure, though, is that Leno has the qualities to succeed Čech of his No. 1 shirt.

While there’s a huge chance that Arsenal won’t be winning anything these days, it’ll be interesting to see how Emery and his boys will do in 2019. It’s going to be tough, but I believe that they’ll weather the storm eventually.

On a side note, on behalf of the team, I would like to announce that FootyFans will be taking a break in predicting Premier League fixtures. We’ll be back in 2019. See you later soon!

Premier League – Round 18 predictions

Premier League – Round 18 predictions

Hello there, folks! It’s me again. Dan’s AFK at the moment (for a certain reason, of course) and I’m here to deliver our predictions of the Round 18 of the Premier League this season. Onto the tipping!

Wolves vs Liverpool 

“Wolves are the home side this time but against Liverpool, who are currently still unbeaten in the Premier League, fingers crossed that they won’t get the three home points. 1-0 Liverpool” (Alf)

” What’s happened with Wolves? They were sitting in mid-table, and now they’re seventh. One would expect them to put up a good fight against Liverpool. That said, the Pool are top of the division, so… 2-1 Liverpool” (Oliver)

Arsenal vs Burnley 

“Arsenal lost to Tottenham in the League Cup but that’s okay. They’ll play at home again, against Burnley who hasn’t been doing well these days. No thrashing like last time but a goal or two will settle things down. 2-0 Arsenal” (Alf)

“Arsenal might have lost last week to Southampton, of all teams, but that was away from home and Burnley are really, really bad. Arsenal should do enough to take the three points. 2-0 Arsenal” (Oliver)

Huddersfield vs Southampton

“Southampton gained the momentum to survive by beating Arsenal while Huddersfield didn’t show much improvement to prove their worth to stay in the PL. The winner of this game is obvious. 2-0 Southampton.” (Alf)

“After their win last weekend, Southampton will be on somewhat of a high. Will it be enough to get a win away in Huddersfield? No. But they should take something from the match, even if it’s just a point. 1-1 draw” (Oliver)

Bournemouth vs Brighton

“Well well well. What do we have here? Brighton’s win can leapfrog Bournemouth of their position but no, the Cherries aren’t giving up and you know what happens next. 2-1 Bournemouth” (Alf)

“What’s happened to Bournemouth? They were going so well and it’s all started to go upside down for them. Brighton have done worse over the course of the season but I’d still expect them to win. 2-0 Brighton” (Oliver)

Manchester City vs Crystal Palace 

“City are still unstoppable despite losing to Chelsea and it’s Crystal Palace who struggled against Leicester, so winning big shouldn’t be a problem for them. 3-0 City” (Alf)

“City have been the best team in the league this season, in my opinion, and they’ve been making their dominance known. Crystal Palace are… well. Crystal Palace, and they’ll get well beaten. 4-0 City” (Oliver)

Newcastle vs Fulham 

“Both Ranieri and Benítez are having a hard time in facing criticisms regarding the team. The home side is doing fine but I don’t believe that they’ll win big. At all. 1-0 Newcastle” (Alf)

“Newcastle haven’t been great this season, we all know that. But they’ve been better than the dismally poor Fulham, whose defence are letting in goals left, right and centre. Fulham will lose, and they won’t lose prettily either. 3-0 Newcastle” (Oliver)

Chelsea vs Leicester City

“Sarri versus Puel with Kanté facing his former teammates. Leicester showed that they can score against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup but I doubt that they’ll do the same again successfully. 2-0 Chelsea” (Alf)

“Chelsea won last week, Leicester City lost, Chelsea are at home, this has the makings of a regular top-six win. But Leicester City haven’t played badly this season, especially in defence, and should make Chelsea work for it. 1-0 Chelsea” (Oliver)

West Ham vs Watford 

“It’s London Derby day again. West Ham are on a winning run and Watford are… meh these days. The home side should win but here’s a pro tip: Fabiański may concede. 3-1 West Ham” (Alf)

“Ninth plays tenth in this match. West Ham and Watford are perhaps the most alike teams in the division so far in terms of record, and this match will be very, very close. So close, in fact, that no one wins. 2-2 draw” (Oliver)

Cardiff City vs Manchester United

“Solskjær’s first game as the caretaker manager is the away fixture against, ironically, his former side. It’s going to be tricky for both sides. Will Solksjær prove his worth after a few years departing his previous employers? We’ll see. 1-0 Manchester United.” (Alf)

“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match in control of Manchester United sees him return to his old stomping-ground, Cardiff. One would think that without Mourinho, United would do better. But I reckon Cardiff might have a good match. 1-1 draw” (Oliver)

Everton vs Tottenham 

“Please, Everton. Win this one to shut those Tottenham fanboys’ mouth up. I don’t hate them but they celebrate their win against Arsenal as if England won the World Cup. Still, they’ll always be in our shadows and in reality, Pochettino will be the one laughing all the way exiting the stadium. 2-1 Tottenham” (Alf)

” With rumours swirling around North London about a potential exit for Mauricio Pochettino, it’s understable that his players might feel a little unsettled. Everton can use that to their advantage and sneak a win. 1-0 Tottenham” (Oliver)