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.

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.

 

5 Teams that excelled Premiere League in 2016

With the 25th edition of the Premier League reaching its half way mark, perhaps it is time to take a look at the top five teams that have excelled in this tournament so far. The below list is based on performances so far and there is every chance that a sixth team may end up winning the title. But then, that is the beauty of football, isn’t it?

With Chelsea leading the table with 46 points in 18 matches, closely followed by Manchester City in the same number of matches, football pundits are having a tough time predicting the best team of the tournament. Fans are also finding it difficult to digest the fact the reigning champions, Leicester City is currently in 16th position, their chances of holding on to the title all but nil.

Here is our list of five teams who stand a solid chance of winning this year’s title

Chelsea

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  The Chelsea badge is seen on the corner flag ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on January 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The infusion of a new manager in Conte seems to have done the trick for the team, who has brought about some much needed stability which was lacking under the Italian coach Antonio. Having scored 38 goals and conceding only 11, they are easily one of the top favorites in this season. The return to form of Diego Costa have augured well for the Blues’, so has the brilliant coordination displayed by the midfield as well as the defenders. Michy Batshuayi, Gary Cahil, and John Terry all have been in excellent form. The midfield trio of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, and Oscar have been able to set the tone of the matches and aided some excellent maneuvers through the wings.

Manchester City

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Perhaps the biggest positive for Manchester City has been the introduction of the new coach Pep Guardiola whose innovative formations and tactics have done them a whole lot of good.  One of the leading goal scoring teams of the EPL so far, Manchester City has been robust in their defense as well. When it comes to goal scoring, Sergio Aguero has been the go-to man for Guardiola, who has found the nets with alarming frequency. The midfield manned by Raheem Sterling Nolito has equally been up to the task, creating goal opportunities and controlling the pace of the game. Those who are familiar with Pep’s ball possession tactic during his stint with Barcelona are amazed how easily he has been able to infuse it into the EPL as well.

Liverpool

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Leading the number of goals scored with 41 goals against 20 conceded, Liverpool stands a good chance as any to lift the coveted title this year. Jurgen Klopp has been a master visionary, conjuring tactics and formations that has unsettled the calculations of many of his opposite numbers. Liverpool has been able to rise above superstar performances and started delivering as a team which is obvious from their points table. Having lost only 2 matches so far, Klopp’s men are one of the strongest contenders this year.

Arsenal

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The runner’s up of the last season, Arsenal would love to finish top of the table this time around. Arsenal’s bane has always been the finishing touch, however, with 39 goals scored in 18 matches, they have one of the strongest fire power this season, which places them in a strong position to win this year’s title.

Manchester United

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The Red Devils have been a different team altogether under the new coach Jose Mourinho and is currently placed sixth in the list. Pogba has been finding his feet consistently and that is certainly good news for them. However, with the final half of the tournament coming up, they would want more worthy contributions from their midfield if they are to proceed further in the tournament.

Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Southampton are also in the race and it is simply too early to write any one off. There is only thing that we can say with conviction at this point of time and that is we are headed for a brilliant finish to this year’s tournament!

Mourinho upset as Manchester United impress but fail to defeat Arsenal

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Manchester United showed a brilliant performance on Saturday that should have seen off Arsenal but a late goal from Olivier Giroud saved Arsenal with a draw. The effort put by United was remarkable and it had the vintage mark of Mourinho’s performance. The passion, resolute defending and energetic pressing were perfect for a win but an unusual lack of physical presence in the box came as a price of two points.

This left the Portuguese with a bitter taste as he is mostly fond of throwing on big players while defending narrow leads. The hosts had almost everything set right until that last point by Giroud. Arsenal had very few chances as the midfield trio were in dangerous positions and thus Mourinho considered the 1-1 almost as a defeat.

On the other side, Arsene Wenger’s team seemed to have suffered from Old Trafford Syndrome as they haven’t won there since September 2006. They were playing smooth in the first half of the match with Alexis Sanchez pulling the strings but the second half was pretty dull until shrewd substitutions crafted a fine goal.

Mourinho has always been in favour of transitions ahead of patient possession play in case of big occasions. He would mostly ditch his 4-2-3-1 at Arsenal for a 4-3-3 in which two belligerent ball-winners forced fatal turnovers. A similar event took place here and Herrera and Pogba were the weapons of choice ahead of anchorman Michael Carrick.

The strategy often manifested itself in long balls towards Marcus Rashford. Although it seemed a little illogical as Rashford was never going to beat Mustafi and Laurent. But Mourinho wanted his team to come first to the second balls and then bear down on a backtracking backline.

This strategy was pretty evident in the first half of the match as they would wait for spells but when they had a chance to regain possession up field they went all out. United followed this strategy until their goal on 69th minute. By that time they have already made seven interceptions and committed eight fouls in the opposition half.

On the other side Arsenal was trying exactly the opposite. Wenger went with Sanchez upfront but with less creative players in the midfield such as Francis and Mohamed Elneny. The strategy owned by them was very unlikely to break a compact team like United.

At 1-0 and 20 minutes left of the match, Mourinho was quite settled and seemed to be in control. He took of Martial for Wayney Rooney and put Rashford on the left. United continued with several dangerous transitions, while Arsenal kept failing with the final pass.

The danger came for Mourinho when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Carl Jenkinson as a right-back and this movement caused winger up against Rashford. This led to a goal on the 89th minute by Giroud.

Another factor which caused the goal was due to United’s lack of height. Usually Mourinho would have played Eric Bailly in defence. He would have also introduced Chris Smalling or Marouane Fellaini to stop Giroud. The absence of such players proved costly for Manchester United whereas they deserved more on that day.

Striker Alexis Sanchez proving to be a Mastermind move

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

In the summer of 1999 when Thierry Henry arrived at Arsenal, his ability to replace Nicolas Anelka was doubted by many. Henry had a rough phase at Juventus and was primarily seen as a winger or wide forward. He was pretty much nonexistent as a striker. But Arsene Wenger saw something in him that he himself could not figure out.

The Arsenal manager identified qualities in Henry and believed that would lead to his success. Henry departed after 228 goals later and he remains the all-time leading scorer of the club.

Moving forward to the beginning of 2009-10 season, the Arsenal manager was looking for a centre-forward as Emmanuel Adebayor had moved to Manchester City. Eduardo da Silva never recovered completely from his dreadful leg injury inflicted on him by Martin Taylor.

Wenger found an internal solution and he turned to Robin van Persie but the players had their doubts about him. But wenger’s instincts were spot on all over again. The Dutch international turned out to be successful in his role that he was unsure about.

Now in 2016, Wenger is in a similar situation with Alexis Sanchez. The Chile International player is a wide forward and he has spent periods on the left and right occasionally for Arsenal.

With the growing number of world-class striker each summer, the manager made attempts to sign Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain. He brought Lucas Perez to Arsenal but he was never going to be the first choice. Olivier Giroud’s role is set in stone and Wenger was in need of something different and Sanchez was the one who could provide him something different.

He has been under immense training in the ground as Wenger never asks someone to play in a new role without proper guidance or instructions. An important part of the process is to trust the intelligence of the player as he takes up his new role. Sanchez revealed his weakness and said that he had been studying videos in order to learn about his new responsibilities and flourish in the field.

Wenger not only saw potential, talent and ability in Sanchez as a striker but also saw his determination and desire to reach there. Apart from his effort in the training ground, Sanchez is doing his homework on the internet and studying others who could help him achieve his goals.

Arsene Wenger works mostly on the desire of the player to achieve something, make things work and rise as an important player for the team. Everyone who has seen Sanchez playing would agree about the fact that he is more concerned about winning than anything else. He is ready to push himself physically to an edge in order to achieve what he desires. It can be counterproductive at times but it is an integral part of his character and it would be impossible to strap him in.

It is quite early to talk about his achievements but with 10 goals for club and country till date, it is indeed a promising sign. If he can come close to repeating the exploits of others, it would definitely be helpful for the Gunners to take their first Premier League since 2004.