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.

 

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.

 

Mane returns after week of misery for Liverpool

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The season was once promising for Liverpool but then they lost three matches at home in eight days. It was the end of a horrible week for the team with a difference of 10 points with the lead in the Premier League and they have been submissively knocked out of two cups.

The results have been bad enough for the team but the matter of concern is their poor performances. This is a hard time for Liverpool and another enervated performance has eliminated them from the FA cup by the Championship strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

The results might look like rock bottom but things might turn difficult for Jurgen Klopp and his feeble squad with Chelsea heading to Merseyside on Tuesday. Antonio Conte’s league leaders are in a good form and they have won 16 out of their last 18 games in all the competitions. They are the polar opposite of the struggling team of Liverpool presently.

This game would have been a nail biting one with the bearing that who would be the champion some time ago. But now it looks like another match for Chelsea on their way to the Title. Football is not very predictable though and it can be seen from Liverpool’s past week’s event show.

Klopp’s selection of team against Wolve has got what it deserved but there was also good news on Saturday. Sadio Mane missed his penalty in an African Nations Cup quarter final shootout against Cameroon which resulted in the exit of Senegal from the tournament.

Mane left a vote of confidence for his squad before departing for the tournament. He wished them good luck and said that the team will perform even better without him. They will cope as Philippe Coutinho and Joel Matip will come back. Daniel Sturridge is already back.

Mane must feel like a parent who left his kids to take care of the house but when he returns from the trip the house has burned down already. When he was leaving, the team had been chasing silverware on three fronts. But now they have been knocked out of two cups and desperately fighting to be on top four in the league.

Liverpool is frantically waiting for Mane to take over the team from where he left off. He might be in need of rest when he returns but the Kopites hope that this is not the case and Mane return with the spark that has been missing in past few weeks and which is required for Liverpool right now.

The last three defeats have caused a great damage to Liverpool but the biggest obstacle that is needed to be rectified now is the breakdown in their form. Klopp and his players need to focus on their upcoming games and forget everything that has happened in the past weeks. Wins against Chelsea and Hull next week can be a great turning point for the team.

It seems unlikely but even the three Anfield defeats in a weak were unexpected given the fact that Liverpool hadn’t lost any game at home for one year. Mane has returned, Matip is also available and Coutinho is now fit which gives Klopp a full-strength squad to perform. They just need to go out and win some matches for the club now.

 

Premier League’s biggest transfers so far

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The transfer window of January has been little quiet this time in Premier League terms as most of the managers are content with their squads. But there have been some interesting moves among the clubs.

Gabriel Jesus- Palmeiras to Manchest City

Gabriel Jesus, the name has been lingering around the background of the club in the entire first half of the season under Pep Guardiola and his transfer was arranged in summer. But it was completed last week. He made his debut of 13 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham. The potential of the 19-year old player was seen and it is believed that he can be a real deal in the game.

The legendary Brazil striker Romario said that he is likely to become Brazil’s next great number nine. City had very few options to back up Sergio Aguero. Jesus has the ability, pace and he can score goals with his clever movement. City is in need of someone who can get this season going again and Jesus might be their saviour.

Tom Carroll- Tottenham to Swansea

The Tottenham fans may not agree with the fact that Carroll has the potential of an excellent footballer. He has plenty of footballing intelligence but his only difficulty at Tottenham was that he found the wrong skillset for the style promoted by Pochettino.

They are based on physicality and players who are good runners but pure ball players like Carroll cannot shine in the midfield. Swansea is the correct place for Carroll and he is returning to his familiar territory. They appreciate technical talents and must give Carroll some time to evolve as a player.

Nathan Ake- Bournemouth to Chelsea

Nathan Ake is not being transferred to Chelsea but returning from a loan spell at Bournemouth. But it is definitely one of the exciting moves in January’s transfer window.

The majority of youngsters that Chelsea send out on loan have very little chance to return back and there are 35 players out on loan. Ake was specially beckoned by Antonio Conte due to his extremely impressive performances on the south coast. Last season he was performing extremely well from the left-back and this season he seems more comfortable in the middle at centre-back.

That makes him the perfect player for the left-sided slot in Conte’s back three and might take Chelsea’s game to the next level. He could prove to be very useful in Chelsea’s title charge.

Morgan Schneiderlin- Manchester United to Everton

It is difficult to understand why it did not work out for Morgan Schneiderling at Manchester United. He was the most effective defensive midfielder in the final season with Southampton. But he looked restrained and lacked technical sense under both Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

Everton might be a better match for him than Manchester United. Ronald Koemen, the manager of Everton was in charge of Schneiderlin at Southampton and Koemen might set him free to play more of an all-action role.

Jeffrey Schlupp, Leicester City to Crystal Palace

Schlupp did not adjust with the system created by Claudio Ranieri for playing. His defence was well organised and slender whereas Schlupp is an attack-minded player who pushed ahead whenever it was required.

The slot provided to him on the left-sided midfield didn’t suit him. He is one of the forgotten players of Leicester’s title winning season and he was also voted Players’ Player of the Year in 2014-15 for his brilliant performance down the left.