Arsene Wenger could reclaim Arsenal season

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At the news conference on Friday, Wenger cleared it with his defiant tone that he hasn’t decided to quit as the Arsenal boss yet even after the 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday. He is still hoping for an upturn in Arsenal’s season and he is not going to make any decision until March or April.

It is impossible to hope for a comeback against Bayern but Arsenal is hoping for Chelsea to stumble upon the Premier League title race. Wenger is expecting a third FA Cup in the last four years. It is little too optimistic for Wenger to expect seeing the current form of Arsenal but he has the reason to believe that things can still turn around.

Arsenal have always found their best forms at the end of their campaigns and mostly after the end of the Champions League in March every year. They are in need of a strong run which will turn the game in Wenger’s favour again.

Similar pattern has emerged in the last four seasons. In 2012-13, Arsenal’s near-comeback at Bayern Munich fell short and they were left with only top-four finish in the Premier League as they exited from the FA Cup race. They were only fifth during mid-April when the Gunner’s had an eight wins and two draws in the final 10 games to defeat their rivals Tottenham in the final Champions League spot for a single point.

In 2013-14, Wenger’s contract was ending in summer and his future looked doubtful after the second straight exit at Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Arsenal turned the table in April and kicked the gear high after finishing the season with five league wins and they lifted the FA Cup after coming from 2-0 down against Hull in the final. This helped Wenger to grab another three year deal with the squad and a new dawn for the Gunners.

After a disappointing start, Arsenal bounced back in the Champions league with four continuous victories in 2014-15. This also included a 4-1 hammering against Liverpool and the extra-time win over in the FA Cup Semi-finals. They got a direct qualification to the Champions League and bagged their second FA Cup. The pattern has been similar for the team in every season which shows their comeback after a disappointing start.

This provides a reason to Arsenal boss to have faith in his team in order to return in the game and get back to their form. The tables can turn anytime and Arsenal might make their comeback in the upcoming matches.

In 2015-16, Arsenal did not lose a single match in the League after the 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the return leg at Camp Nou. They finished the Premier League with five wins and four draw matches. After the disappointing matches with West Ham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland, they still managed to put Tottenham in the second place and finish the final day of the season on a high.

Another strong finish might save Arsene Wenger and he is hopeful to grab another FA Cup which might earn him another new deal with the club. If the history is taken into consideration, it is too early to count him out yet.

Pochettino says the team selections are not to blame for dip in form

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Mauricio Pochettino said that the team selections are no to blame for the slouch in Tottenham’s performance. But he said that Vincent Janssen needs to perform better in the trainings if he wants to grab a place in the squad.

Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Belgian side KAA Gent on Thursday was the fourth match for the team without any goal or win from open play. Pochettino resisted the temptation of rotating his squad for the Europa League round-of-32 first leg in Belgium. Only two changes were made in the team after the 2-0 defeat at Liverpool in the league but the outcome was alike.

The Spurs manager needs to address the fall ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round match at Fulham and also the return leg with Gent at Wembley on Thursday. But Pochettino believes in restoring the spirit of the team rather than making any changes in the team.

After Thursday’s match Pochettino said that it is time to try and bring back the spirit of the team and the same feeling as before Liverpool. He said that he is not happy and he is not upset either. Things go up and down at times and this is the time for everyone to come together and make the changes required for the squad.

He believes that it is not about changing the lineup of the team but it is about the spirit of the team. They have been a different team against Liverpool and a different one in their last match but at the end it was a defeat for Tottenham in both the games.

Rotating the squad does not change the end results and the players are to be blamed for it. It affects the entire team if the result is not in their favour. Pochettino mentioned that it is really difficult in England as the competition is very tough. There is Premier League, Champions League and the Europa League so he thinks that it will be a risk to play them on Sunday as the players are not fresh at the moment.

He said that the intension is to give opportunity to all the players. When you play for three matches it becomes difficult to maintain the fitness level. Striker Janssen along with Son Heung-Min and George Kevin-Nkoudou were left out of the matchday squad in Gent.

Janssen is yet to score for Tottenham from open play. Pochettino said that he needs to show more for the team. He may have the opportunity to be on the bench or play from Sunday. Their performance is based on the quality and belief they show in the training grounds. The Spurs manager said that the selection of the starting XI and the bench needs to be fair and Janssen is yet to show his skills completely.

Pochettino talked about Moussa Sissoko last November and said that he needs to work harder to be in the team. Janssen is the second summer signing with the same remarks. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela would not be included in Pochettino’s squad against Fulham due to their injuries. Jan Vertonghen started his full training on Friday and is expected to play some role for the team soon.

Guidelines for Arsenal to defeat Bayern Munich

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Arsenal haven’t been in the quarter final of Champions League since 2009-10. The old rival of the team, Bayern Munich stand in the way of their progress this week.

Arsenal needs to play on the Counter-attack. In 2006 Arsenal reached the European Cup final under Arsene Wenger and that match showed an unusual approach of Arsenal’s game. They are known for their commitment to possession and dominating nature but in that campaign they were laid back while allowing the opposition the ball and breaking quickly. They had 10 clean sheets continuously including all the games in knockout stage. But they couldn’t continue with 10 men in the second half of the final against Barcelona.

Arsenal require the same zeal for the Munich trip as Bayern holds better possession statistics than any other club in Europe. Arsenal is lacking in the centre of midfield and it is going to be difficult for them to trounce the Bavarians in that zone. Arsenal must focus on playing on the break in order to take something back to the Emirates.

Holding a brave defensive line can be a gain for Arsenal while playing against Bayern. It is important to play the entire game on the edge box and not stand off too much. Bayern have the capability of going cross and wide apart from their excellent possession side.

Arsenal need to maintain an aggressive line and focus on remaining compact. This might lead to balls over the top but Laurent Koscielny rarely misses a sprint against the opposition striker. They might drop deeper as the game continues but Arsenal needs an initial brave defensive line for a better approach.

Wenger used Sanchez up front in the first half of the season and then he passed the opportunity to Olivier Giroud who couldn’t stop scoring. Wenger felt compelled as he continued playing up front while Sanchez was playing from left. But Arsenal need to concentrate on the pace in behind the opposition defence which is lacking in Giroud.

Sanchez has the ability to temp Bayern’s centre-backs up the pitch and drop deep. This will create a scope for him to utilise his merits.

Arsenal need to exploit Alonso’s lack of mobility. He is hugely gifted, intelligent and deep-lying play maker. But it is time to expose his weaknesses. He is never most mobile and slower on the turn and Arsenal must look for a runner playing off him in order to launch the transitions into attack. Ozil fits this role perfectly and he needs to perform on the biggest stage in order to receive new and better contracts.

To perform in the first leg is very important for the club. Arsenal have a tendency to bow out of the tournament after performing a brave second leg but a very disappointing first leg.

The fans are bored of their spectacular performances only in the second leg. They have a record of qualifying from the group stage every year since 2000-01 and it is very astonishing. But there has been very little progress since 2009-10. It is important to have an electrifying performance in both the legs to defeat major opposition.

 

Diego Costa goal dearth is a concern for Chelsea and Conte

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Chelsea came away from Burnley with a single point after a patchy game and it wasn’t the worst possibility that could have happened to them on Sunday.

Antonio Conte’s team is still on a lead in the Premier League table but they have passed the opportunity to increase the gap to 12 points. Conte’s side was unable to build on the advantage after Pedro’s well executed goal and he saw his team fail in that moment. The visitors created little chances to re create the initiative after the equaliser from Burnley.

Costa’s goals helped Chelsea to power up to the top of the Premier League table but now they have dried up. It was the third successive blank in the league and fourth in all the competitions. He managed two shots in a match and both of them were easily blocked. The insufficient number of goals from Costa has become a matter of concern for Antonio Conte. His lack of trust in Mitchy Batshuayi is adding to the concern and he doesn’t seem to have a gripping plan B.

Chelsea faced obstinate opponents but the performance of wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses were less effective compared to their previous matches. The Blues striker linked up well with Pedro and Eden Hazard in order to compensate but he still couldn’t generate the type of chances as he did in the previous season.

There was a switch to 4-2-2 after Conte substituted Nemanja Matic in the 67th minute and Moses in the 72nd minute. The replacements were Cesc Fabregas and Willian. It was an admirable decision made by him which would have been fruitful for the team if only he had made the changes earlier in the game.

Half-time would have been productive for Conte’s team and they might have caught Burnley out before they had time to adjust. But Michael Keane and his fellow defenders were not in a mood to concede an inch to Costa and the team.

Batshuayi replaced Pedro in the 87th minute but it was a late introduction. The Brazil-born Spain international hasn’t scored since 329 minutes and the doubt persists that what will happen to Chelsea’s advantage over their rivals if the drought of goals continue.

If Costa gets back to his form then there is nothing to be worried about but Tianjin Quanjin’s move has led to a damaging psychological effect on the team members. There was also a disagreement with the fitness coach Julio Tous which resulted in exclusion for the team for the League game with Leicester City.

The next opponents for Chelsea are Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conte should consider playing Costa from the beginning or give him 30 minutes off the bench. If Costa is given an opportunity he might rediscover himself in the home league game.

The good thing for the Chelsea manager is that Pedro is finding the net regularly and Hazard is back to his best. The Blues have goals elsewhere in them and there is nothing much to worry for the team if the drought of goals are taken care of.

 

India Versus Bangladesh – Review

Virat Kohli’s elevation to test captaincy triggered a much-needed change in mindset among the players. For far too long, the air around the test side lacked intent. Poor technique combined with an attitude along the lines of ‘let’s wait for the opponent to make a mistake’ saw our fortunes dwindle in the longest format. However, Kohli’s infectious energy, attacking mindset and superlative batting prowess has thrusted India to 6 consecutive test series victories with Bangladesh being the latest victims.

After the coin finally favored India, Vijay and Rahul strode onto what was an excellent pitch for batting. Unfortunately, Rahul was dismissed in the very first over which continued India’s opening woes. As they have done so many times over the last few years, Vijay and Pujara began laying the foundation for an enormous first innings total. Pujara’s fall for a disciplined 83 brought the Indian captain to the middle. Kohli looked extremely convincing right from ball one and before you knew it, he had brought up his 16th test century. Vijay was solid at the other end and his love for the opening test of a series continued as he scored his 9th century. Backed by the vociferous crowd in Hyderabad, Kohli continued with his merry ways and eased to his 4th double hundred before falling for 204. Saha, making a comeback, became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a test century both at home and outside the subcontinent while Rahane and Jadeja made useful contributions which propelled India to a mammoth 687/6.

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In reply, Bangladesh made a spirited effort. Mushfiqur Rahim played a stellar knock, fighting his way to a highly commendable 127. Shakib and Mehdi Hasan struck half centuries as the Tigers batted for close to 130 overs for their 388. With the bowlers being tired, Kohli chose against enforcing the follow on. India lost both openers cheaply in the quest for quick runs but Kohli and Pujara steadied the ship with some percentage cricket. Pujara was particularly impressive, scoring a brisk 54* of just 58 balls. The rest chipped in as India declared at 159/4 leaving Bangladesh to chase down an improbable 459 for victory.

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Anyone who thought the visitors would crumble in the 4th innings were left ruing their predictions as they once again fought hard. They toiled for more than a hundred overs but the ask was just too much. Ashwin and Jadeja, the top 2 test bowlers, bowled tight lines and were always at the batsmen. They finished with 4 wickets apiece as India thrashed their opponents by 208 runs. The bigger test lies ahead as the Aussies are set to play 4 tests and Kohli will be gunning for a 7th straight series triumph.