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: Our round 23 predictions

After a bit of a hiatus, the FootyFans team is back and writing! And you know what we’re doing; It’s premier league predictions time.

Alf has taken the lead and is on 110 points, Oliver follows on 104, and then there is me on 80. That’s depressing.

On with the tipping!

Wolves vs Leicester

Dan

Two teams that are really fighting to be best of the rest and take that coveted seventh spot meet at the Molineux. Neither team is really setting the world alight with their form, and given that both teams are fairly defensive, this has 0-0 written on it. 0-0 draw

Oliver

Both sides lost their last matches, Leicester to Southampton and Wolves to Manchester City. Wolves, however, had centre-back Willy Boly sent off, and for a side with such a strong starting 11 and a lack of reserves, that’s concerning. 2-1 Leicester

Alf

The Wolves were being beaten by a strong Manchester City side away. Leicester lost to strugglers Southampton at home, despite gaining an advantage in numbers. Both sides met each other in the Carabao Cup with a 0-0 draw. I’ll expect goals on this one, though. 1-1 draw

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Dan

Ah, Crystal Palace. Liverpool’s banana skin. With some recently impressive away form, and their good record against Liverpool, I can see Palace getting a point out of this. 1-1 draw

Oliver

Palace have always been a bit of a stumbling block for Liverpool. They’ve also got a good record against top-six sides. While I don’t think they’ll manage to pull a win out, I do think they’ll take a point. 1-1 draw

Alf

Palace’s form in the previous games were like a roller coaster. Liverpool, on the other hand, are stable enough to win their games. An away defeat should be expected for the Eagles fans but the team will learn their lessons from Arsenal. 3-0 Liverpool

Watford vs Burnley

Dan

Both teams have started 2019 strongly, and this one will be tight. In the end, it will go down to which team has the stronger side – and that’s Watford. 2-1 Watford

Oliver

Burnley are actually in pretty good nick. They haven’t lost a league match this year and they’re starting to bump their way up the table. Too bad a very good Watford will stop them in their tracks. 2-0 Watford

Alf

The Clarets are currently being dragged out of the relegation zone but no, everything can change if they’re not careful enough. Watford are safe and sound to stay in the Premier League. Burnley may be able to pull a surprise on Watford but highly unlikely. 3-0 Watford

Newcastle vs Cardiff City

Dan

It took Newcastle a replay to beat Blackburn while Cardiff lost to Gillingham and couldn’t beat Huddersfield. This one is gonna come down to whoever is worse on the day, and I’m gonna say that team is going to be Cardiff. 1-0 Newcastle

Oliver

Both of these sides are just really bad, there’s not much else to say. I can’t see either of them even scoring a goal – wait, what’s that? Oumar Niasse is at Cardiff? They’ve got this one then. 2-0 Cardiff

Alf

If you love to see how relegation favourites play against each other, you shouldn’t miss this one. Cardiff are really poor these days while against Blackburn in the FA Cup replay, they displayed their quality to stay in the PL while Cardiff will, well, play like their usual self. 2-0 Newcastle

Manchester United vs Brighton

Dan

At this rate, Ole will get the United job full time at the end of the season as the red devils rampage up the table. A team will hold them eventually, but that team ain’t Brighton. 3-1 United

Oliver

I won’t even try to justify this. Ole’s flying. Brighton are… well… Brighton. They can put up their little paper defence and United are gonna put their shredder right through it. This could be bigger, mind. 4-0 United

Alf

Under Solskjær, United are improving while Brighton under Hughton are stagnating. Arsenal fans must hope that United will lose this one as their club will drop to 6th if Arsenal lose the London derby later. 3-0 United

Bournemouth vs West Ham

Dan

Bournemouth have been struggling while West Ham have been winning. It’ll be confidence that wins this. 3-2 West Ham

Oliver

Bournemouth are really on a decline. They were sitting up pretty nicely for quite a while, just south of the top six, and now they’re down to twelfth. West Ham are a team on the up and should take a win here. 3-1 West Ham

Alf

I believe that it’ll be an equal contest between Howe and Pelligrini’s men. West Ham, though, will have a bigger chance to win as they beat Arsenal last week, which will, supposedly, give them a mentality boost. 1-1 draw

Southampton vs Everton

Dan

This should be a game that ends up with an Everton win, but the toffees just have no consistency. With Southampton continually improving in the prem at least under Hassenhuttl, Southampton should nick three points. 2-1 Southampton

Oliver

Oh, Everton, the ever-inconsistent mid-table team everyone loves to feel indifferent about. I’m of course hoping that this match swings in their favour, especially since Southampton are missing the suspended Valery. And I think they’ll take a win. 2-0 Everton

Alf

Southampton are winning games while Everton are pretty stale at the moment. I’m sorry, Oliver, but Southampton really can cause problems to your club and yeah, they’re capable of pulling an upset to the away fans. 1-0 Southampton

Arsenal vs Chelsea

Dan

There’s just no consistency from ethier side here. This can really go anyway, and both sides can really be world class on their day. As this can go any way, I’ll bet on the points being shared. 2-2 draw

Oliver

This will be a tight match. Not long ago, I would have picked Arsenal to win, but they’ve been a little off recently. Chelsea just keep Chelseaing along, and I think they’ve got just enough to get the win despite being away from home. 2-1 Chelsea

Alf

If Arsenal want to be back to Top 4, they mustn’t lose this one. While they have had a pretty decent record against Chelsea at home, the away side will want to extend their lead in the table. The home team? If they can’t win this one, at least salvage a point! 1-1 Draw

Huddersfield Town vs Manchester City

Dan

Solskjaer’s appointment at United showed just how much a managerial change can effect players. While I doubt Wagner’s will spark a similar run of form for the Terriers, I think they might just be able to give City a game. 1-0 Manchester City

Oliver

We’ve got the last-placed team against the side that should be top. It’ll get big. City might be away from home but I’d still pick them to score a lot of goals, the way they do. Three? Not enough. Four? Maybe a couple more. 6-0 Manchester City

Alf

Huddersfield may be hitting the rock bottom of the PL table but they’re not leaking goals like they did in the past. They started to know how to hit the back of the net too, so as the home side, while very unlikely, they may be able to pull a surprise upset on the champions. 2-0 Manchester City

Fulham vs Tottenham

Dan

Son out, Kane out, Dembele sold, Spurs are a little down on luck right now. And you know what? Despite how trash Fulham have been, I think Caludio Raineri will do a Claudio Raineri and upset Poch & Co. 2-1 Fulham

Oliver

It’s much the same with Fulham and Spurs. Despite their large injury numbers, Spurs should still take a confident win here, especially given Fulham’s dismal defensive record. 4-0 Tottenham

Alf

Kane’s injured. Son’s playing for South Korea. Let’s be honest, this will hurt Tottenham’s chances to score loads of goals. But I still believe that they’ll win the London derby because in reality, they’ll need just one. 1-0 Tottenham

 

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)

Premier League: Our round 16 predictions

In 8 days, this is the third(!) time I’ve written this post. The fixtures just keep on coming, and we here at FootyFans will be (badly) predicting it the whole way. Well, not all of us – Oliver couldn’t get his predictions in this week.

Oliver is knocking on the door as he leads the pack on 94 points, Alf continues to narrow the gap as he’s on 86, and I’m also starting to pick up more points as I sit on 71.

On with the tipping!

Bournemouth vs Liverpool

Dan

Liverpool’s unbeaten streak has to end. It has too. And what better team to end it than one of the most criminally underrated in the league? I’m backing Bournemouth to win here. 2-1 Bournemouth

Alf

Bournemouth may have lost the last few games but they all hit the back of the net successfully as a consolation. Liverpool just won against the Clarets, although Salah’s not scoring, Firmino and Shaqiri will be there to take the points back home. 3-1 Liverpool

Image result for liverpool

Burnley vs Brighton

Dan

Brighton struggle on the road, while Burnley aren’t too bad at home. Sean Dyche & Co should be able to eek out a 1-0 here. 1-0 Burnley

Alf

Yes, Burnley may have lost against a quality Liverpool travelling party but finally, they’ve scored a goal. Hopefully, this will help to gain the confidence of the forwards. Brighton, though, would not want to leave Turf Moor with nothing. It’s going to be a draw. 2-2 draw

Manchester United vs Fulham

Dan

United continue to just draw with sides, both good and bad. I can see that sort of mediocrity continuing, when you look Mourinho’s struggles and Ranieri’s quality. 1-1 draw

Alf

The Fulham players must be jotting notes when they were watching Arsenal playing against their opponents next game. Honestly, Mourinho should go when if the home side get nothing after the 90 minutes. It should be an easy win, on paper. 4-1 United

Image result for jose mourinho

Arsenal vs Huddersfield

Dan

Undefeated in 20 games in all competitions now, Arsenal continue to show just how much they have improved under Emery, and Huddersfield should be brushed aside fairly easily. 3-0 Arsenal

Alf

I’m a bit disappointed that my team slipped the lead twice when they faced Manchester United to force a draw. To be honest, in the “Herbert Chapman derby”, Arsenal should be able to get the points, but they won’t win big like last season, where they humiliated the visitors 5-0. 2-0 Arsenal

Cardiff vs Southampton

Dan

Southampton have a new manager, so this could potentially go anyway. However, Cardiff have won 3 out of their last home games and are proving a tough challenge, and a challenge that Southampton will not be able to overcome. 2-1 Cardiff

Alf

It’s Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first game in charge as the Saints manager. It’s also his first 90 minutes in England and is not going to be a smooth sailing for the former RB Leipzig boss. Cardiff will be working hard to get the win and force the Saints to make mistakes. But that’s okay, who doesn’t? 1-1 draw

West Ham vs Crystal Palace

Dan

With six goals and two wins in their last two matches, I think we are finally seeing the West Ham we thought we’d see at the start of the season. If they can keep that sort of form up against Palace, then it’ll be another easy win. 2-0 West Ham

Alf

Palace lost the M23 derby away against Brighton. West Ham won against Cardiff. The scores for both fixtures were 3-1. Is history going to repeat itself? I think so. 3-1 West Ham

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Chelsea vs Manchester City

Dan

God damn it Chelsea. Two weeks ago, I was confident that this match was going to be City’s first defeat. But, then you had to go and fall out of form. I hate myself for doing so, but I’ll tip City to win here. 2-1 City

Alf

Chelsea were beaten 2-1 away by the Wolves while City won 1-2 away against Watford. Sarri will demand his men to put up a good fight to against the table toppers. Not going to lie but I really like the away kit of the visitors this season (you won’t see me later, I guess). 3-1 City

Leicester vs Tottenham

Dan

Leicester are another criminally underrated side, and beating them is no easy task. They’ll be able to frustrate Tottenham a lot in this game, and come out with a point. 1-1 draw

Alf

Well, it’s Tottenham and they’re visiting Leicester. Unless the Foxes are planning to stage a comeback like what Arsenal did in the North London derby, I can see the Lillywhites to grab all 3 points back to north London. 3-0 Tottenham

Newcastle vs Wolves

Dan

I have to pinch myself to remind myself that yes, Wolves did actually Chelsea. Considering the inconsistent form, and goal scoring issues of both teams, I can see this being a goalless draw, although I don’t think it’ll be boring. 0-0 draw

Alf

Did anyone really expect the Wolves to win against Chelsea? Even I myself was surprised! Newcastle will be an uphill climb for the wolves but they’re hungry enough to catch the magpies off guard for a tasty “chicken dinner”. 3-1 Wolves

Image result for wolves fc

Everton vs Watford

Dan

When you compare the two teams, Everton have proven that slow and steady wins the race, as they sit in the top six while Watford, despite their electric start are in 11th. With their superior quality, Everton will show Watford who’s boss. 2-0 Everton

Alf

The “Marco Silva derby” is finally here. But the Premier League is no place for sentiment. Everton do have an advantage in getting the points but Silva, as the former Toffees coach, knows how they’ll do it. If it’s not a draw, I don’t know what it is.2-2 draw

 

 

Football’s golden oldies – the oldest football players around the world

Earlier this week, the Wellington Phoenix announced their signing of Australian goalkeeper Ante Covic as an injury cover for Filip Kurto. Covic isn’t a bad goalkeeper – he’s represented his country and he’s played in three European countries as well as Australia. However, he’s also forty-three years old, two months older than his own manager Mark Rudan. That puts him at the older end of active players, but he’s not the oldest. Let’s look at who is.

Across Europe

Before we can go up, we have to go down. The Premier League doesn’t currently have any players as old as Covic, but it does have 16 players over the age of 35. Twelve of these players are goalkeepers, with the exceptions being Glenn Murray, Jermain Defoe, Phil Jagielka and Bruno Saltor, the oldest outfield Premier League player at the age of 38. Only one player crosses the line into 39 – Crystal Palace keeper Julian Speroni.

Image result for julian speroni

La Liga’s oldest is 38-year-old Juanjo Camacho at Huesca, while Serie A has Stefano Sorrentino, 39. The Bundesliga goes up to 40 with Claudio Pizarro of Werder Bremen. Ligue 1 has two more 40+ players, Gianluigi Buffon, 40, and Montpellier captain Hilton, 41.

But we can go higher.

Across the World

Let’s look at international players. It’s increasingly common for footballers to retire early from international service, for a number of reasons – for young players to come through, to focus on club commitments, etc. And this isn’t so bad if you play for, say, Germany, where there’s a talent pool big enough to bring someone into your shoes.

That’s not really applicable, however, for a smaller country, somewhere without the population or facilities to excel in football – or much else, for that matter – but still loves the game. Somewhere like Andorra, the nation of one of the three active international players over the age of 40.

Juli Sanchez was born in 1978. He’s had a decent career by Andorran standards, playing in his home country as well as Spain and Portugal. He made his debut in Andorra’s first FIFA-recognised match, and he managed to get on the scoresheet in their win over Belarus in 2000, their first-ever. He’s played 70 games now for the tiny Pyrenees nation. In many ways, his career is the story of football in Andorra. And he’s still kicking – he played in Andorra’s most recent match, against Latvia, as a substitute.

Image result for andorra

For our other two international players over 40, we’re going to leave Europe in favour of the Caribbean.

I can’t find much information on Benny Labadie – perhaps it’s a side effect of playing for the U.S. Virgin Islands. In any case, he was born in 1977 and is forty-one years of age. He spent seven years at Skills F.C. in the Saint Croix Soccer League – there are two separate leagues in the Virgin Islands for mainly geographic reasons. He now plays for Rovers in the same league, he’s a goalkeeper, and that’s about all there is to know. Oh, and he started the Virgin Islands’ most recent match, a 3-0 loss to Barbados in November.

But there is one current international player that is older, and we don’t have to go far to find him.

400km southeast of Saint-Croix, we find the nation of Dominica. There’s only seventy thousand people on the island, and as such, quality footballers are had to come by. This explains the case of Euclid Bertrand, who was born in 1974 and is 44 years of age. Bertrand isn’t a bad footballer, having played in sixteen matches for Dominica, including just a month ago against Sint-Maarten. He’s also got five years’ experience up in Canada – not bad for a Dominican given the rest of their squad either play at home or elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Image result for dominica

But we can go higher.

At Club Level

Remember Essam El-Hadary? Of course you do. The Egyptian shot-stopper became the oldest ever player at a FIFA World Cup earlier this year when he played against Saudi Arabia – and saved a penalty – at the age of 45. He’s been left off the internationals part of this article simply because he retired from international football after the World Cup. However, he’s still playing club football, having left Saudi club Al-Taawoun in favour of former club Ismaily back in Egypt. His 46th birthday is in January, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

He’s by no means the only one still kicking at 45 – there’s also Oscar Perez, currently at Pachuca. Also a goalkeeper, Perez has 57 Mexico caps and went to two World Cups – 2002 and 2010. He’s not still playing international football, unfortunately, but he’ll be 46 in March and one can assume he won’t stop playing club football.

Image result for oscar perez

We can go older than both El-Hadary and Perez, though, and we’re going back to Andorra to do it.

Leonel Gancedo’s a pretty experienced footballer. He’s played for River Plate and Osasuna among other clubs. He’s got a Copa Libertadores in his trophy cabinet, along with six other competition wins. He retired at the start of 2009, at the age of 37, and one would assume that that was the end of Leonel Gancedo.

It was not. Encamp in Andorra hired him as player-manager in September this year, and Gancedo’s played fifty-one minutes over the course of three matches. He’s not done well at all, as Encamp are sitting in last place with one point and five goals scored in ten games, but he does get the distinction of being the world’s oldest footballer.

Well, no he actually doesn’t. We’re going across Europe, and across Asia, all the way to Japan.

The story of Kazuyoshi Miura

File:Kazu Miura, Roberto Baggio and Tsuyoshi Kitazawa.jpg

We’ve all heard of Stanley Matthews, haven’t we? The Englishman was one of the greats of the first half of the 20th century in footballing terms. He played a very long career, 1932 to 1965, and played for England for twenty-four years. He spent nineteen years at Stoke City and fourteen at Blackpool. He’s a true legend of the early game.

Kazuyoshi Miura’s not had that same loyalty – he’s played for thirteen clubs in his career, only two of which he’s been at for more than five years – but he has broken Matthews’ record as the oldest-ever professional footballer, which he achieved in March 2017. He’s played in a few countries – Brazil, Japan, Italy, Croatia and Australia – and he picked up almost ninety Japan caps in his ten years of international football before he retired in 2000 aged 33.

Since 2005 he’s been playing for Yokohama FC (no, not F. Marinos) in the Japanese second-tier. He’s seen twelve managers in that time, and even though his role has been somewhat diminished under new boss Edson Tavares, he’s still going at it at the age of 51. And I, for one, don’t see him stopping.