5 things noticed in Arsenal’s 10 game winning streak

5 things noticed in Arsenal’s 10 game winning streak

As an Arsenal fan myself, I expected my favourite club to struggle under the first year with Unai Emery, who became Arsène Wenger’s successor.

In spite of the first two defeats in the Premier League, they’re in, currently, a 10 game winning streak, which is impressive. Here are some points I’d like to take note of during these games. Continue reading “5 things noticed in Arsenal’s 10 game winning streak”

Premier League – Our round eight predictions

Premier League – Our round eight predictions

We all love the Premier League, no? As an Arsenal fan, with the victory against Qarabağ, I couldn’t believe that the team are winning 8 games in a row (Dan’s gonna kill me when he returns). Can they make it 9 this Sunday?

Anyway, Dan’s trip to Samoa with technical difficulties (this is the reason he’s not providing the descriptions this time) is why I’m in charge of the predictions this week (he’ll be back soon). Let’s kick off the predictions with a bang!


Brighton vs West Ham

Alf

Beating the Red Devils can be seen as a great achievement, let’s hope that the Hammers will continue their streak. 2-1 West Ham

Blake

The Hammers are starting to pick up steam, finally, with seven points in three games. Brighton away will be a challenge, but not one they can’t overcome. 2-1 West Ham

Dan

3-2 West Ham


Burnley vs Huddersfield

Alf

Will be a hard fight for the Clarets but they’ll win at the expense of David Wagner’s job. 1-0 Burnley

Blake

Huddersfield are really quite terrible, aren’t they? Three goals scored so far, sixteen conceded, two draws only. Burnley, like West Ham, are starting to improve and will win easily. 2-0 Burnley

Dan

1-0 Burnley


Palace vs Wolves

Alf

The hungry wolves are hunting for the eagles, who doesn’t seem to be able to fly any higher. 2-0 Wolves.

Blake

The two least goal-friendly sides in the Premier League go up against each other. There have been thirteen goals in Crystal Palace’s PL games this season and fourteen in Wolves’, against an average of 19.9. The trend should continue. 0-0 draw 

Dan

1-1 draw


Watford vs Bournemouth

Alf

The Hornets may have lost against Arsenal but they’ll be buzzing back home with strength. 2-1 Watford

Blake

Two teams I certainly didn’t expect to be in this position seven games in go head-to-head and I can’t see either of them having enough quality to win, nor enough weakness to lose. 2-2 draw

Dan

2-1 Watford


Leicester City vs Everton

Alf

With Jamie Vardy on fire, I believe that there will be more goals. 2-2 draw

Blake

Everton ostensibly played a second team in the EFL Cup in midweek so I can’t imagine there’d be any major selection problems. The Foxes have been good but they haven’t played half-decent opposition since they lost to Bournemouth and I think the same will happen here. 2-1 Everton

Dan

2-1 Leicester


Tottenham vs Cardiff

Alf

Barça are no Cardiff. End of. 3-0 Tottenham

Blake

Cardiff really are a bit useless too. Spurs are a good side, even if they haven’t been stellar so far this season, and they’ll take advantage of the Welsh side’s weaknesses to put a few past them. 4-0 Tottenham

Dan

3-0 Tottenham


Manchester United vs Newcastle

Alf

If Mourinho doesn’t win this one, it’ll be the end of an era. 1-0 United

Blake

United have lost to West Ham and drawn with Valencia in the last week, and I’m not seeing any signs that they’ll improve by much. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll win, it’s Newcastle they’re playing. But it won’t be convincing. 1-0 United

Dan

1-0 Newcastle


Fulham vs Arsenal

Alf

Calum Chambers may be able to face his parent club but that’s another story for another time. And is it the time for the Gunners to show their away kits? 3-1 Arsenal

Blake

Say what you like about Arsenal but they’re not a bad side. They’ve just beaten Qarabag playing what looked like a somewhat half-hearted lineup and I think they’ll win again. Fulham haven’t impressed many people this season, but they’ll at least have a say in this match. 3-2 Arsenal 

Dan

1-1 draw


Southampton vs Chelsea

Alf

A one-sided contest expected. 3-0 Chelsea

Blake

What happened to Southampton? Three years ago I would have said that the Big Six was becoming a Big Seven. They’ve really fallen by the wayside. Chelsea, on the other hand, have rebounded from a poor season and are doing well. They’ll win this one, no question. 3-1 Chelsea

Dan

2-1 Chelsea


Liverpool vs Manchester City

Alf

An improved LFC squad should be able to win this one. 2-1 Liverpool

Blake

Liverpool put their best side out at Chelsea and drew. They put them out again in Napoli and lost. They’ll do the same, against the incumbent champions, and they’ll lose again. 2-1 City

Dan

3-2 Liverpool

An XI of French-born footballers playing for other countries

An XI of French-born footballers playing for other countries

In the wake of the 2018 World Cup, many people were speculating on the origins and background of the French team. It’s hard to blame them – after all, the side doesn’t exactly look like twenty-three randomly selected French lads. The point made by many was that France’s victory was a victory for Africa too, since they contributed so much to the team. This, of course, was controversial and led to people from all walks of life weighing in with their opinion.

Instead of talking about that, however, I think there’s an important point to be made in the reverse. As opposed to looking at perceived foreigners in the French set-up, we’re going to look at French-born players with other international sides. It’s a better side than you might expect so let’s jump straight in.

In goal, we’ve got Anthony Lopes of Portugal.

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Anthony Lopes is in between the sticks for our side. The Portuguese shot-stopper was born near Lyon and came through Les Gones’ academy before making his debut for the club in 2012. Still at Olympique after six years in the first team and eighteen at the club, Lopes was Rui Patricio’s backup for the 2016 European Championships which Portugal won.

Our fullbacks are Raphaël Guerreiro and Faouzi Ghoulam.

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Guerreiro is one of world football’s underappreciated talents. Born in northern Paris, Guerreiro is half-Portuguese and used this to his advantage, becoming an important player in Portugal’s Euro win in 2016 and being nominated for Young Player of the Tournament. He’s also had a successful club career with Stade Malherbe Caen, Lorient and Borussia Dortmund and was in the Champions League Breakthrough XI in 2016.

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Faouzi Ghoulam, meanwhile, plays his international football for Algeria. The left-back has 35 caps for his country at the age of 27, and went to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. In terms of his club career, Ghoulam has been at Napoli since his move from boyhood club Saint-Etienne four years ago and has been solid at the back there, being linked with just about every English club at some point.

In the middle of defence, we’ve got Kalidou Koulibaly and Medhi Benatia.

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Ghoulam’s Napoli teammate Kalidou Koulibaly is also French-born, hailing from the north-east. He spent his formative years at Metz before a 2012 move to Genk in Belgium and a switch to Napoli two years later. Koulibaly went to Russia for this year’s World Cup and has twenty-eight caps for Senegal in four years. Oh, and Chelsea may or may not be interested in him.

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Medhi Benatia is the most experienced player on our team so far with time at two of Europe’s biggest clubs and four consecutive league titles under his belt. Hailing from Courcouronnes in southern Paris, Benatia joined the academies of Guingamp and then Marseille before graduating into the first team. Time at Clermont, Udinese and Roma followed, before moves to Bayern Munich and then Juventus. Internationally, Benatia has fifty-five games for Morocco.

Running the show in the middle of midfield, it’s Adrien Silva and Geoffrey Kondogbia.

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The final member of our Portuguese delegation, Silva is in the same boat as Guerreiro – although unlike Guerreiro, Silva’s famly returned to Portugal when he was eleven and therefore he went through Sporting’s academy. Silva was loyal to the Verde e Brancos for fifteen years total, before his move to England and Leicester City. He also played a role in Portugal’s Euro triumph and went to the World Cup in 2018.

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OK, so Kondogbia has played for France before, but he’s switched his international allegiance away so he’s all good for this list. Kondogbia is from Nemours, forty kilometres south of Paris, and played for Lens in his youth. Moves to Sevilla, Monaco, Internazionale and then Valencia followed. Kondogbia has also played five friendlies for France, but has changed his allegiance to the Central African Republic (a republic in the central bit of Africa).

Out wide, there are Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi.

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It’s easy to forget that Riyad Mahrez is just twenty-seven years of age, what with the frankly ridiculous career he’s had. He never joined an elite academy, instead playing for Quimper in the fourth tier before moving to Le Havre, and then Leicester City where he won the league title and the Premier League Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Earlier this year he transferred to Manchester City. Internationally, Mahrez has represented Algeria at the 2014 World Cup and has almost forty caps. Oh, and he came seventh in the Ballon d’Or 2016.

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Porto winger Yacine Brahimi is our other French Algerian. Originally from Paris, Brahimi joined the PSG academy in 2004 before moving to Stade Rennais, making his debut in 2009. Transfers to Granada and then Portuguese giants Porto followed, and he’s been linked with English teams including Liverpool and Everton. He also has thirty-nine caps for his country and represented them at the 2014 World Cup.

And our attacking partnership are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gonzalo Higuain.

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Aubameyang is Gabon’s captain but was born and raised in France, and lived there until his 2007 move to Milan’s academy. The striker stayed at the Italian club until 2011 when he moved back to France with Saint-Etienne, and in 2013 he joined German side Borussia Dortmund, winning the Bundesliga top scorer award in 2017. In 2018, Arsenal signed Aubameyang for £56m. Internationally, he’s only the top scorer of all time for his country of Gabon.

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Yep, you read that right. Higuain was born in France as his father was playing for a French team, Stade Brestois 29, at the time of his birth. It didn’t take long for him to leave – he spent his first birthday in Argentina – and to this day he’s never played for a French club, being the only player on this list (apart from Silva) not to have done so. Internationally Higuain’s not done badly – three international silver medals is pretty neat – but you have to think he would have taken a World Cup with France if he had the opportunity.

And there you have it, folks. Yes, I know about Toko Ekambi, or Ayew, or Harit, Bolasie, Bentaleb, whoever. This wasn’t an easy list to make.

Images: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ff/35/f9/ff35f9139a1bd408dbb1a1a4384b8c8f.jpghttps://images.performgroup.com/di/library/omnisport/65/2a/raphael-guerreiro-cropped_sadu505de4pd1mdlndofl947y.jpg?t=739525917&quality=90&w=1280https://images.performgroup.com/di/library/GOAL/cc/8c/faouzi-ghoulam-napoli-2017_gj5wx209dmyd1eqxwjp7qo58f.jpg?t=650110520&quality=100https://images.performgroup.com/di/library/GOAL/16/a3/kalidou-koulibaly-napoli_1acj84171g6z51mvgp0icf0o7j.jpg?t=-1708635135https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Moroccan-footballer-Mehdi-Benatia.jpghttps://images.performgroup.com/di/library/GOAL/26/be/adrien-silva-leicester_vzgrt5wqqim21pfw8wzhsp6v2.jpg?t=967334994&quality=100http://www.squawka.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/GettyImages-689471078.jpghttps://premierleague-static-files.s3.amazonaws.com/premierleague/photo/2018/07/13/c3294e0c-20b3-4239-9af8-c63380ea47fb/TF_18188.jpghttps://e2.365dm.com/18/08/768×432/skysports-yacine-brahimi-porto_4381191.jpg?20180805110346https://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/67/590x/Aubameyang-934607.jpghttps://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/c_scale,w_912,h_516,c_fill,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/fbl-friendly-esp-ita-real-madrid-milan-5b7159dbc445672401000001.jpg

“How much you wanna risk?” – An overview of Arsenal’s missing pieces of the transfer puzzle

“How much you wanna risk?” – An overview of Arsenal’s missing pieces of the transfer puzzle

Frankly speaking, despite the fact that Emery did bring quality players (e.g. Leno, Sokratis, Torreira) to the Emirates, as an Arsenal fan, I’d say, the club’s transfer business is all but a work in progress.

The Spaniard basically solved the goalkeeping problem and helped to clear the “dead woods” of the squad, yet it was not enough. To become a potential title contender again, there is still stuff which needs to get done and positions to be filled in.

  1. The centre-back position. Sokratis is okay but still needs time to improve. Mustafi can score goals but his defending skills are awful. Koscielny is currently injured. The crisis requires an immediate solution to end it.
  2. The winger position. Aubameyang is an experienced and versatile forward, yet he’s ageing like Mkhitaryan. Ramsey and Özil can feature as wingers, which isn’t their natural positions. A young attacker should be sought for bolstering their offence.
  3. The midfield position. Xhaka is consistent in being awful these days with Ramsey rumoured to depart from the Gunners squad. Guendouzi is yet to be a mature CM. A solid midfielder like Patrick Vieira in the past is needed.
  4. The playmaker position. Mkhitaryan is okay but with Özil sometimes disappear in big games, I’m surprised that no one’s mentioning that Arsenal would need someone like Santi Cazorla, who made things easier when he’s present.
  5. The left-back position. Monreal is a solid LB but he’s ageing. Kolašinac is an “up to standard” player but sadly, is injury-prone. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an adaptable player who plays better in midfield. Another headache for Emery.

So what are the possible options to be explored by the Arsenal transfer department? In my opinion, they are, but not limited to:

  1. Jamaal Lascelles. The captain of Newcastle United is both a solid defender and a leader in the dressing room, which is something missing in the Arsenal XI. They can also consider promoting Julio Pleguezuelo, another player who shines under club legend Freddie Ljungberg’s guidance.
  2. While someone like Ousmane Dembélé or Neymar Jr. (in your dreams, Alf) is a good choice, it may be seen as “pricey”. Giving the youngsters, like Reiss Nelson (upon his loan return from Germany), Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe the chances can be seen as an alternative.
  3. I sincerely hope that Arsenal will consider Casemiro, who’s an important yet underrated element of the Real Madrid squad. The same goes for Taulant Xhaka, who’s a Basel player. I’m not sure if he’s a good pick for the Gunners but I believe that Granit can do better if his brother is there.
  4. Arsenal missed out German “wonder kids” Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka who are now playing for Crystal Palace and Bayern Munich respectively. Christian Pulisic may be the answer that Arsenal want but the question is, will the scouts pay attention to him?
  5. Layvin Kurzawa can be a nice addition to the Arsenal team as he understands Emery’s tactics. On the other hand, Jordi Alba, who’s currently out of favour under Ernesto Valverde, is another feasible bet for the Spaniard.

Sure, Arsenal has star players in their team (at least Özil is still there). But in the end, I hope that Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Unai Emery will come to terms and understand that the club needs a huge revamp of the squad.

Just hope that Kroenke won’t become a Scrooge in the times of team rebuilding and get Emery the cash he deserves. After all, money can be mighty if it’s used in the right areas (looking at you, Manchester City).

David Beckham’s Miami MLS team finally has a name

David Beckham’s Miami MLS team finally has a name

After years of wait, David Beckham has finally announced the name and logo of his MLS club. The Miami-based side will take the name Club Internacional de Futbol Miami, or Inter Miami for people who just can’t be bothered with all that nonsense.

We’re finally getting closer to the club’s launch after a saga lasting since 2013, and Inter Miami are poised to enter the league in 2020. By then, FC Cincinnati will already have been promoted from the United Soccer League, the second tier of football in the United States. Miami will join Major League Soccer alongside a team from Nashville, Tennessee, which is yet to be named.

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This is the proposed stadium for Overtown.

Beckham’s side are developing well, but there’s still progress to be made. Their stadium location is not yet finalised with Beckham wanting to build a 25,000-seater stadium on the waterfront. There are also proposals to build either near Miami International Airport or in Overtown, in the north of the city. Miami Fusion, who played in MLS from 1998 to 2001, had their home games at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, however this only seats 17,000. Of course there are other grounds available in the city, such as the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, but two gridiron teams already play there.

The side had been called many names throughout the past few years. Beckham’s ownership group commonly referred to them as Miami Vice or Miami Current, and the project in general was known as Miami Beckham United. Inter Miami will not be the first side in MLS to use a Spanish-influenced name. That honour goes to Real Salt Lake from Utah and Chivas USA based in Los Angeles, who each joined the league in 2005, although Chivas no longer exists.

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Blue? They’re pink now!

The club’s colours will be black, white and pink, with a fairly similar shade of pink to Italian side Citta di Palermo. Beckham has said of the logo that he was inspired by typical South American club logos. Clearly they’ve paid attention to detail – the sun in the middle of the crest has seven rays, a homage to Beckham’s iconic No. 7 jersey.

When the club join the league in 2020, provided everything goes to plan, there will be 26 clubs in MLS from seventeen states plus D.C. and three provinces of Canada. Expansion is expected to continue further, with the league aiming to reach 28 teams eventually. These extra teams would likely be in Detroit, Sacramento or San Diego.

Image credit:                                                                                                                                          http://worldsoccertalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/miami-mls-stadium-overtown.png https://img.rasset.ie/000f4d81-800.jpg                                            https://footyfans.org/files/2018/09/internacionalmiami-1-300×225.png

 

Clint Dempsey retires: A look at the career of an American legend

Clint Dempsey retires: A look at the career of an American legend

The footballing world heard the news today that after fifteen years, over two hundred goals and six trophies, Clint Dempsey has announced his retirement aged 35.

Now, when I think of Dempsey, what comes to mind is his time at Fulham in the Premier League, and of course, with Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer. I think of his international career, in which he scored fifty-seven goals over the course of fifteen years. I think of his iconic No. 2 jersey he wore with both Tottenham Hotspur and Seattle. And of course, I can’t forget the time he stole an official’s notebook and tore it up on the field.

But of course, there’s more to Deuce’s career than that. I figure now’s a good time to take a look back on it, so we’re going to do just that.

Dempsey’s early life wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Born in a small city in eastern Texas, he grew up living in a trailer park and kicking a football around with the other kids there. He only really got his break by a stroke of luck, being noticed by a scout whilst juggling on the sidelines of his brother’s game. Eventually, he was forced to quit because of financial constraints but team-mates offered to pay some of his fees. His sister passed away when he was just twelve years old, but this gave him a new motivation to keep succeeding.

After success playing for a top-level Dallas youth side, he moved across the country to South Carolina and Furman University to study health and exercise science. And yes, of course he joined the football team, the Paladins, scoring seventeen goals in three years there and leading them to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for just the second time in their history.

Dempsey was selected in the first round of the 2004 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution. Now at the age of 20, Dempsey had to make an impression for the Revolution if he really wanted to push on – and that he did, starting all matches but one and picking up MLS Rookie of the Year 2004. The year after, he pushed on further, reaching double digits for the first time and taking the Revs to the MLS Cup Final. And in 2006, despite injury problems, he still managed to score eight goals in twenty-one matches and went to the World Cup in Germany, being the only US player to score a goal.

Of course, foreign sides started to take interest, as they do, and Fulham swooped in to sign him for $4 million USD. This might not sound like a lot, but it was 2006 and this was the most an MLS player had ever been sold for. And with that, Dempsey was a Cottager.

I would be lying if I told you he adjusted right away. In that first half season, he struggled. Dempsey netted only one goal in twelve matches, not exactly great for a forward. However, this was the goal that secured a 1-0 win over Liverpool, which kept Fulham in the top-flight. It was the season afterwards he really started to push on, with one goal becoming six, then eight, then nine, then thirteen. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s worth remembering that there’s only so many goals you can score when you play for Fulham.

In this time, he scored some pretty important goals. For example, in 2010, he scored the winner against Juventus (yep, this actually happened) with a well-taken chip, which has been called one of the most important goals, if not the most important goal in Fulham’s history. He took this side to the Europa League final, where they lost to Atletico Madrid. And also in 2010, for the second World Cup in a row, he managed a goal, against England in a 1-1 draw.

It’s now 2012. Dempsey’s just had the season of his life. He’s scored twenty-three goals – seventeen in the league – and he’s become the first American to reach fifty goals in the Premier League. The FWA Footballer of the Year award rolls around and he manages to come fourth, behind Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes. Of course, playing this well, there’s only so long he could stay at Fulham and in August 2012, he crossed London to Tottenham Hotspur.

Dempsey stayed at Spurs for only a year, scoring seven goals in twenty-nine league matches. His form outside of the league was better, with five in fourteen, but he wasn’t reaching the heights he had at Fulham, or that other strikers at the club had. That season, he was outscored by both Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe, and instead of being in a starring role like he’d been in at Craven Cottage, he was one of the supporting cast. It’s no surprise that just a year later, he went back to the United States, and barring a two-month loan back to Fulham, that’s where he spent the rest of his career.

The first half season at Seattle Sounders wasn’t a great one, as Dempsey scored once in nine league games. However, he flourished in 2014, scoring fifteen times in twenty-six matches, his best season ever in MLS. He also managed ten assists and took the Sounders to a Supporters’ Shield win.  And of course, he scored at the World Cup, after just half a minute against Ghana.

From here, Dempsey’s career began to wind down. Fifteen goals became ten, then eight. In 2017, he had a better season, scoring twelve in the league and winning the Comeback Player of the Year, but with poorer fitness leading to speculation about his retirement, it was clear his career was coming to an end. After just one goal this season, Clint Dempsey retired.

The influence he had on the sport in America cannot be understated. Players like himself and Landon Donovan helped to elevate football in the United States to higher than it had been before. Dempsey brought America to the Premier League, sure, but he also brought the Premier League to America. He gave Americans someone to root for, and I think that will be his real legacy: bringing American football and European football closer together.

An Open Letter to West Ham

An Open Letter to West Ham

Dear West Ham

 

As a West Ham fan, I am the most confused person alive right now. I didn’t think that it was possible to have a worse start than last year, but with three losses in as many games, we obviously have.

And it was looking so good. We had spent money in the transfer window for once, and we broke our transfer record twice with Issa Diop and Felipe Anderson. We got in a Premier League winning manager in Manuel Pellegrini and we had a good preseason. We were looking set for the new season.

And then we collapsed. Away to Liverpool was not going to be an easy start but the way that we collapsed under the slightest bit of pressure was a sight to behold. Next, Bournemouth. The cherries thoroughly outplayed us. The 2-1 scoreline was flattering, to say the least. And then yesterday, Arsenal. How badly can we get outplayed? They tore us a new one, outplaying us all over the pitch.

This is worrying. I know that with a new manager and a lot of new players things will take time to work out but it’s been three league games now plus preseason and if things don’t start improving soon, something has to change. Whether that be the manager or just the tactics I don’t know, but something will change. Something has to change.

 

Yours,

Zac

Image Credits:

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