Tag Archives: liverpool

Is Your Trophy Gold?

Watford threw up a surprise with their 3-0 hammering of champions-elect Liverpool.

In the Reds’ list of remaining games of the season, the trip to Vicarage Road looked to be one of the most innocuous, but a Sarr-inspired performance earned a deserved win – one that meant two of our biggest achievements remain unsullied.

It was close but our record for most matches without loss – 49, 49 undefeated – and our Invincibles season remain intact and without equal.

Jurgen Klopp’s side came mightily close. We were left sweating, looking at every match, result, goal and feeling increasingly resigned to seeing Liverpool grab their own version of an undefeated season.

This is something we will have to get used to.

Just one look at the top five unbeaten sequences shows that both Liverpool and City have both gone on runs that have come close to reaching that magical mark of 49. Klopp’s side were just five games away from matching that number – and it shows that the Premier League is changing – and not for the better.

The disparity between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have not’s’ is growing. TV money may have inflated every single team’s budget, but the gap between Liverpool, City and the rest in the last three seasons is akin to seeing an iceberg break off and sail off into the sunset.

The quality and consistency is something that the next group of teams can only dream of – and that includes us.

It means that the gold trophy and that famous chant we reverberate around our stadium regarding playing the Arsenal way? It will be something we cling to ever more feverishly as the Scousers and City continue to push the standards higher.

Gold trophy

The time will come when a side does take the season by storm and avoids defeat for the entirety. If Liverpool keep this form up they will earn far more points that our Invincibles did and so the claims will be made that Klopp’s team were far better.

Every conversation in the media about the greatest ever team to grace the Premier League involves talk of our greatest ever side. If Liverpool did do the unthinkable and match our achievement, it wouldn’t lessen what Arsene Wenger masterminded in 2004.

But, there will come a time when it happens again, and it won’t be the big gap between the first occurrence of an unbeaten season and ours – Preston in the 1800’s. It will be in the next ten to twenty years, perhaps sooner.

We need to get to grips with that. The panic involved when watching Liverpool systematically dismantle each challenger was real. The game before their loss to Liverpool saw West Ham take the lead but ultimately fall short as Liverpool kicked into gear. It was like they had woken up and then seemed to score at will. It was frightening, they have been that way for the majority of the season.

That is why we all worried. All records were in sight for the Reds, they had dropped points just ONCE.

They have got lucky of course. VAR and some comical defending/goalkeeping has gifted them points they shouldn’t have registered but there can be no argument about them not deserving the title.

Still, their defeat to Watford at least allows us to keep those records in our armoury for a little longer at least.

With City possibly being without European competition next season and Liverpool with a squad in rude health, next season could be tougher than ever for the rest of the league, never mind our intent to keep our records untarnished.

At the moment though, is their trophy gold?

 

Does contact constitute a penalty?

The recent match between tottenham and Liverpool illuminated an alarming facet of the modern game.

The game ended in a 2-2 draw, but only thanks to some erroneous decision making that was then judged by the majority of authority figures to in fact, be on the correct path.

The game swivelled on two late penalties – both for tottenham – and on close inspection, with the aid of slo-mo technology and a myriad of angles, we can surely all see that both spot-kicks were incorrectly given.

Since when does contact constitute a penalty?

We can forgive the referee, Jon Moss, for giving them. In the speed of the game, some things take on entirely different views and mistakes are commonplace. If VAR was in place though, then neither would’ve been given, right?

Jon Moss was in conversation with his fourth official for the final penalty – when Virgil Van Dijk ‘collided’ with Erik Lamela – and after a lengthy discussion, he judged that the Dutchman had brought down the Argentine winger. Moss even asked the fourth official for the use of VAR – even though the technology wasn’t available for this game.

If Moss was so unsure that he needed the benefit of a TV replay, surely he shouldn’t have given it?

Jurgen Klopp raged after the game, the German coach was obviously convinced his side had bagged the points after Mohamed Salah had scored in extra time to put Liverpool 2-1 up.

Mark Clattenburg was asked in the days afterward regarding the awarding of both spot kicks and said that both were incorrectly awarded – but he was in the minority.

Harry Kane, when asked by BBC Sport about the award of the first penalty, when he went over Lorus Karius’s dive, said “I felt contact so I went down. I’m not going to jump out of the way because it’s football.”

Dejan Lovren was incensed about the penalty, and Van Dijk was quite candid, saying that Kane dived.

The second penalty, Jurgen Klopp said of Lamela;

“The softest touch in the whole game decided the game. Lamela was already on the way down.”

The PGMOL, Jermaine Jenas, former referee Dermot Gallagher and a host of other supposedly respected voices in the game all branded the penalties correct.

What does the actual law state for a penalty though?

‘If a player commits a direct free-kick offence in the penalty area, then a penalty is awarded.’

What constitutes a direct free-kick offence?

‘A direct free-kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following in a careless, reckless manner or using excessive force

charges

jumps at

kicks or attempts to kick

pushes

strikes or attempts to strike

tackles or challenges

trips or attempts to trip.

Did either incident involve any of the above? Does any of the above mention that contact constitutes an automatic spot kick?

No.

Raheem Sterling, Ashley Young, Delle Ali, Harry Kane, Ander Herrerra are all serial offenders, using a trailing leg or their forward impetus to sway the referees into a decision. Even our own players aren’t above simulating to earn an advantage – Welbeck vs AC Milan anyone?

Contact is going to be made in the game, and when a corner is swung in, players clamber over each other to gain leverage, yet no spot kicks are given. Harry Kane used Laurent Koscielny to climb and score the winner in the recent North London Derby, yet he wasn’t pulled up for this.

There are instances when players are unfairly penalised for not going down under a tackle, as the referee believes it isn’t a foul as the player hasn’t fallen to the ground like he’s been shot.

It is this that has led to players feeling justified in going to ground when they feel any form of contact. Why should their team lose out?

The game has changed, but it’s on dangerous footing. The current decision making is inconsistent and it can lead to massive errors.

Errors that can hardly have bigger ramifications with the financial rewards in the game.

VAR needs to be the impartial factor we all know it could be, but if match officials believe that contact constitutes a penalty, then what hope is there?

The Ox Leaving Arsenal?

Published on The Arsenal Review

It would seem that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is departing The Arsenal.

Latest news – Sky Sports News being the source – is that the England man has turned down a massive rise in the form of £180k per week and sees his future away from The Emirates. The freshest reports are now saying that a bid has been accepted from Chelsea, and Liverpool are also an interested party.


First things first – how in the name of Bergkamp’s holy boots did Oxlade-Chamberlain earn a £180k per week offer? 


The Ox has risen to prominence since last season. Our team’s switch to three at the back has seen an opening at wing-back, and Oxlade-Chamberlain took his opportunity with both hands. 


He seemed a perfect fit, with his stamina being put to great effect covering in defence whilst roving forward and giving our attack another outlet.


The versatile midfielder made more appearances last season than any in his time at the club, and the second most starts. It appeared as though he was finally ready to seize one of the countless chances he had been given – and hold down a starting spot for an extended amount of time.


What none of us banked on though, is that The Ox wasn’t satisfied at wing-back. No, although he prospered, he wanted more.


















Oxlade-Chamberlain feels he warrants a regular spot on the flank, or in central midfield. He also must feel he can obtain this very thing if he departs the club for another – most likely Chelsea or Liverpool.


So, let us all examine his chances of success.


The Ox has nine league goals in all his time at the club. If he aspires to play for Chelsea or Liverpool, those numbers would have to improve drastically if he wishes to make his mark on newer shores.


He primarily plays on the right, so who would his rivals be at each club?


Chelsea Boss Antonio Conte seems to prefer Willian on the right side, occasionally swapping around with Pedro.


Can anyone honestly say The Ox would squeeze either of these established players out of the Blues side?


What of Liverpool? Jurgen Klopp has been settling with players out of position in his side, so surely a player of the ilk of Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a godsend for the German?


Well, as previously mentioned, The Ox isn’t exactly enamoured with playing at wing-back, so James Milner and Albert Moreno can rest easy for the time being. The right wing position has now been filled by new signing Mohamed Salah too. 


Oxlade-Chamberlain should perhaps check if the grass is actually greener before he packs his bags.


From being guaranteed a pivotal role through the season, The Ox could actually be getting LESS games. Added to this, he certainly cannot nail down a spot on the wing at either of the clubs that are interested in him. The only way to do so is to provide an end product to his play, or at least a concerted rise from what he produces currently.


His numbers have never done his talent justice. When he bursts into action, Oxlade-Chamberlain has at times disemboweled entire defences. He has given opponents twisted blood and left them clutching at ghosts as he jinked past them with apparent ease.


Then, with the entire pitch open and the choices in front of him, he fluffs his lines.


It is a script well-thumbed by the Arsenal faithful. The other version of this is the same introduction, but with Oxlade-Chamberlain opting to beat another man instead of creating a chance.


At the crux of the plateau in his growth chart – is his decision-making.


This is where his talent hits a wall. You can stand toe-to–toe with the best there has ever been, but 

if you do nothing with it then it is futile. The Ox has never quite ridden himself of this problem – and this is the root cause of his battle to start every game.


Injuries have played a part, but not to the same effect of Walcott, Ramsey and Wilshere’s careers. 


The Ox has had a myriad of opportunities to establish himself, and has simply failed.


What makes him think that life at Chelsea or Liverpool will be any different?


Arsene Wenger doesn’t want to see one of his young men leave the club. So much time and effort has gone into the player, and the Frenchman must feel The Ox has more to give – hence the ludicrous contract offer.


The bottom line of this whole story is that Wenger has many failings, and chief among them is the faith shown in his players. Even when he is repeatedly burned by his players on the pitch, he continues to show them confidence.


The Ox has been given the same treatment. For a player to still not have a spot in the team rubberstamped even with Wenger’s plentiful ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ cards?


That is down to the player himself.


I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in for a shock if he does leave Arsenal.  

Liverpool Vs Arsenal Preview

Liverpool Vs Arsenal

Sunday 27/08/17 – 1600hrs GMT










These two sides were separated by the finest of margins in the Premier League table last season, but that tiny difference saw the Reds claim the last Champions League spot, and it left Arsenal scratching around in fifth spot after finally succumbing to their awful spell from January to April.

Our fall from Europe’s elite competition was utterly deserved, and hopefully it was the wake-up call we needed, although after last week’s loss to Stoke – it may seem we have hit the snooze button again.

Last week saw some awful refereeing decisions which cost our side in a big way, but ultimately it was two familiar enemies that were our undoing. Our profligacy in front of goal and a lack of concentration at a crucial time saw the Potters once again take the points when facing us at their home. Old habits die hard it seems.

This match though, couldn’t be more different to last week.

Games against Liverpool guarantee goals. Goalless draws are as rare as a clean Paul Scholes challenge in this fixture, and even though our last win at Anfield was in 2012, we have a great chance to take the points away from Merseyside. 


We must first buck the awful trend of some dire results against bigger teams on the road first, and then concentrate on the fact we have one win – home and away – in the last six matches. 

Both teams are considered weak at the back, so it is a huge boost that we can include Laurent Koscielny back in our side. The Frenchman was suspended for our first two games, but can now come straight back into the team, which will make us far stronger.

Another name due to be recalled is Chilean marvel Alexis Sanchez. An injured abdomen has meant Sanchez has missed out against Leicester and Stoke, and we could really do with a firing Alexis in this game. Wenger in his latest press conference has intimated that he is fit to start, but the forward may not last the entire 90 minutes, so we must give him the ball early and put the Reds on the back foot from the first minute.

Jurgen Klopp isn’t able to include Philippe Coutinho in his side, and he will have the fact his men played in midweek in the back of his mind as he selects his eleven. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will stretch any team, and with Arsenal likely to maintain a 3-5-2 formation, so much focus will go on who is picked for wing-back.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will vie with Hector Bellerin for the right spot, although both have played on the left side occasionally. Sead Kolasinac has impressed so far and should be included, but will Wenger switch things up?

One thing is for sure, our away record against our rivals is nothing short of abysmal. If Arsene Wenger wants to send a message to say his squad is strong enough to challenge, the first port of call to convince us would be a win in a big game.

Start here Arsene. Show us all what you see.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Bellerin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 3-1 Arsena

Women’s Super League On The Rise

Ladies football has been on the rise for the last few years, but 2017 has seen the Women’s Super League finally realise its own lofty aspirations.

An influx of money has led to a hotbed of competition, as the big clubs of Manchester City and Chelsea have injected large amounts of money into the veins of their teams. This has given both sides the opportunity to attract the best of talent from Europe and the US – and fans are enjoying the multiple benefits.


With City and Chelsea asserting their financial dominance over the WSL, it has left Arsenal Ladies and Liverpool with much work to do. They have responded and all four sides now represent excellent bases for the cream of female football to join.


The WSL Spring Series was just a small taste of what to expect from next season, as Chelsea edged out City on goal difference to clinch the title. The third placed Gunners were just a point behind after ending the season undefeated, and Liverpool were not far behind in fourth. It sets up a mouthwatering 2017/18 WSL season – and there will be a raft of big players on display.







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All the talk during the Spring Series was centred on USA superstar Carli Lloyd joining City, and she did not disappoint. Perhaps the biggest name in women’s football, Lloyd scored for City as they won the FA Cup, and City enjoyed bigger crowds as well as larger firepower on the pitch.


It wasn’t just City who had added quality to their ranks.


Arsenal snapped up Dutch star Vivianne Mediema and Lisa Evans from FC Bayern, as well as Kim Little rejoining from the USA. With Heather O’Reilly, Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Van De Donk in midfield and England striker Danielle Carter up top, Arsenal Ladies will be in with a real shout for the top honours.


Chelsea have a wealth of talent, and the Champions can boast the likes of Crystal Dunn from across the pond, as well as England hotshots Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby. They will surely be contenders to keep their hands on the WSL title.


What is evident when the squads of these teams are pored over, is that there is international class peppered in every position – and the powerhouse countries of Germany, France, Netherlands and the US are heavily represented.


So which team looks strongest for next season’s WSL, which begins in September?


There is little to separate Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, and the Spring Series was proof of this. With Liverpool Ladies closing the gap on the Big Three thanks to heavy investment, 2017/18 looks to be the most hotly contested league campaign since Ladies Football began. With TV coverage increasing as demand rises, the revolution will indeed be televised.


The WSL has certainly enjoyed an effective revamp and with resources improving with every season, the top talents can all be lured away from their native lands. The many full-time professional clubs available in England mean that these women can realise their dream of making a career from their profession.


Women’s football is in the spotlight and rightfully so. The standard is high and is on the rise all the time, but what makes the WSL even better than its last incarnation is how unpredictable it is. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all have valid shouts for glory, and the fireworks when these teams meet will make great viewing. 


BT Sport will be showing all the thrills and spills, and the recent Euro2017 tournament has highlighted the plethora of shining talents we can look forward to seeing. 


Every new season in the WSL brings with it new faces and more skill on the pitch. As England Ladies are also benefitting from the influx of superstars via training, the future looks bright for Ladies Football in England.

Liverpool Vs Arsenal – The Pre-Match Warm-Up

After nearly a month since our last Premiership match, Arsenal return to league matters today with a difficult trip to Anfield.

It was a 2-0 win over Hull city which was our aforementioned previous league game, but since then, the small matter of a humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich has resulted in a severe loss of confidence in the side. 

The dearth of matches may not be great for us fans, but it does at least give our players some much needed respite – from the physical demands and also the scrutiny they are under. Recent form and the title slipping away yet again before the business end of the season has seen disenchantment rise amongst fans, and the media have fixed their spotlight on the club.

This game against Liverpool doesn’t exactly give us the best opportunity to overturn our poor form against the so-called big clubs either. Our recent record at Anfield is poor, and Liverpool’s record against their Top4 rivals is strong in contrast.

This is illustrated by their excellent victory over tottenham in February, which was sandwiched between lacklustre losses to Hull and Leicester. Liverpool seem to have a problem geeing themselves up for the lesser lights of the league – but this means they will be primed for our visit.

Arsene Wenger confirmed in his latest press conference that Mesut Ozil missed training during the week through illness but should be available for selection. Aaron Ramsey has returned to first team training but a lack of match fitness should see him on the bench. Aside from Santi Cazorla, Wenger should have a full squad to pick from.

There can be no excuses this time around, as opposed to the corresponding fixture at the start of the season, when an inexperienced defence cost us in a 4-3 loss. We have nearly everybody fit and raring to go. Maybe a shake up in attack could do the trick?

Alex Iwobi is off-form, and Lucas Perez has displayed his readiness in every cameo he has made. A start for Lucas at the expense of the young Nigerian makes perfect sense for both players, but will Wenger choose to drop Iwobi?

Klopp is well aware of his side’s defensive failings, so Lucas Leiva may slot into midfield to add extra cover against our plethora of attacking options. The key will be Alexis and Walcott. If Alexis is on song, then it will take two defenders to contend with him. If Theo is on form and firing, then his pace is unrivalled within the Reds defensive numbers. 

the first twenty minutes will tell all. We are notoriously slow starters aside from those rare games when we finally click. Those halcyon matches shine brightly amidst the gloom, and we get about two of those matches a season. We have had one already with our win against Chelsea earlier this season, can we reproduce it again?

It is high time we bucked our trend against our big rivals. If we do not, then a battle to stay in the Champions League places becomes a dogfight.

After our recent match hiatus, the fixtures start to fly after this game. We need every single one of our players to finally find some form, and some spirit if we are to achieve anything this season.

It begins today at Anfield.

Predicted Lineup; Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Theo, Ozil, Lucas, Alexis

Predicted Scoreline; 2-1 Arsenal. 

Arsenal’s Squad Depth

​We are just past the halfway mark through the season, and the front runners have started to ease away from the rest of the pack, establishing a peloton of sorts. 

A small herd of teams who see only the finish line and their bloody-mindedness to win at all costs has carved open a gap that the chasers will find exhausting to close.

It is simply a case of the cream rising to the top. The clubs who come to the fore when the business end of the season kicks in. Most telling though, is the effect that fixture congestion has on the Premier League.

During December and January, there were five games played in England’s top division. That is not counting the EFL Cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League to contend with. In April, there are a crazy six Premier League games to play. 

The slew of fixtures demands the finest training and preparation, lessening the impact that the wear and tear of frenetic minutes on the pitch brings. Some things cannot be avoided though, and the chance of injury blatantly increase with the more time played. 

This is when club rosters come into play. 

Rotation will occur at every club, but it is the quality of backup that will affect results. 

Clubs from the bottom of the table to the top can claim confidently that their first choice eleven can battle with any team and have a chance of snatching a result. 

The exorbitant money that comes from the TV deal has allowed previous minnows to swim upstream with their bigger brothers. 

Can they cope with losing their star players however? This is the hurdle that sees nearly every team struggle to cope.

Even those with genuine European aspirations cannot hope to deal with being bereft of their brightest players.

 If Everton lost Lukaku and Bolasie, would they still bring as much of a threat? If Southampton lost Virgil Van Dijk and Dusan Tadic for a few months, would they maintain their position in the league?

Only a small handful of clubs can battle through such bad luck – and coincidentally – it is those who currently reside in the leading pack.

Of course, if Manchester City were to lose Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne for a while, they would find it a hell of a lot tougher to sweep past opponents, but in their depth they have adequate players to lessen the blow of losing such talent.

Arsenal now – finally – are at this point. 

Although, we haven’t exactly maximised this so far.

In seasons past, if we were to see an injury to Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor or Koscielny, then our results would capitulate along with our campaign. Fast forward to the present day, and not only can we cope better with injury, our star players are of a higher calibre than before – as well as the replacements.

The key players in our squad – Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Petr Cech – represent a strong spine. A spine that is on level terms with any in world football. It has been painful to watch, but we have painstakingly built a team to compete at the highest level. This is what we demanded and we have got our wish. 

More importantly though, we have a squad that can fill cracks and gaps as they appear. It is common knowledge that the Premier League is the most gruelling in Europe. Coupled with the lack of a winter break – the winter is when the fixtures are practically every three days – then you have a burning need for players who can do a job without building up rhythm and playing every game.

The Arsenal midfield has been without Santi Cazorla recently, and the players that have come in to shore up his aperture have been international class. Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have all had stints in the centre, and with Jack Wilshere on loan, it shows a healthy amount of options.

Of course our hopes would be damaged if Mesut Ozil and Alexis were to be lost through injury. What team in the world wouldn’t be stunted by such a loss? We can now say though, that we have adequate backup. 

If Alexis were to sit out a few games, we have Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Lucas and Danny Welbeck who can play through the centre. If Mesut Ozil were to be sidelined, then our playmaker options are Santi Cazorla, or even Aaron Ramsey who can play just off the main striker as he sometimes does for Wales with aplomb.

Can Liverpool say they could cope with losing Coutinho and Firmino? They still lack a first class keeper! Could Chelsea deal with losing Costa and Hazard? 

Any player that is missing in our team, we have enough to say we can bandage the wound and carry on. This in turn inspires competition for places that dispels any lack of motivation.

In terms of playing staff, we are stronger than we ever have been but we have not had the results to match.

The squad is exactly where it needs to be. This means that there are no logical excuses left for Wenger. Time to deliver now that you have the men at your disposal.