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City

Found 7 results

  1. The Chase is on Update to the Table of Doom Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Liverpool Man City (h) Spurs (h) Villa (a) 57 96 Arsenal Man City (a) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 55 94 Man City Liverpool (a) Arsenal (h) Villa (h) Spurs (h) 53 95 Villa Spurs (a) Man City (a) Arsenal (a) Liverpool (a) 49 88 Spurs Villa (h) Man City(a) Arsenal (h) Liverpool (a) 47 86 And so some changes. Now, if Arsenal win all we will finish above Man City with City dropping two points against Chelsea. The Spuds, with an unexpected loss at home are now about to drop out of the Table of Doom as their maximum is now the magical 86 required to win the league. They also flip-flop with Villa into 5th place. I really cannot see, at this point, anyone other than the top three winning the league. Villa and Spurs would virtually need perfect ends to their seasons and still it may not be enough. Has Ten Hag finally got things right? Man Utd winning leaves us the Champions League as a live contest, though. Brighton and downwards surely have too much to do? United, even with a perfect end to their season are very unlikely to get to the top, but may see 5th as achievable and that may happen if the English teams do well in Europe. All teams have to play big matches between now and the end but United seem to have a particularly tough run-in with Burnley and Sheffield United at home and Palace away the easiest. They will drop points as will Spurs and Villa but the latter two seem to have more about them. Easy peasy Champions League If my Champions League 68 points target is correct we need 13 from 13 and that would be a crushing disappointment to us, but could still get us into the Champions League. If we match exactly our form so far we have 2.2 points per game, which would give us 28.6 points from 13, rounded up to 29 gives us 84 and some chance of being champions. Will any of the top five go Spursy? Villa have an average of 1.96 points per game which makes 25.48 from 13, rounded down gives them 74 and comfortable. The Spuds have 1.88 points per game which gives them 24.44 from 13, rounded down gives them 71 but again comfortable for fifth place I feel. United have 1.76 points per game which gives them 22.88 from 13, rounded up and added to their 44 gives them 67. And, as I have said, they do seem to have a tough run of 13 still to play. The likelihood, to me, is that Man Utd will not make it barring a collapse in one or both of the two above. Hunger is key Will the fact that Arsenal have a comparatively easy run to the Champions League places affect our chase for the title? It depends on how hungry we are. Rice certainly seems to be as hungry a player as I have ever seen. He managed to get a trophy at West Ham which hasn’t happened there in a very long time. The players will all be acutely aware that we handed the title to City last year by playing rubbish towards the end. The pain of that could be the spur that drives us on this year. Is there a question whether we are good enough? I reckon that if we went player for player with City we would come up short but that is because they all have trophies and longer careers in the bag. We are still a young side. Declan Rice seems hungry So who would Guardiola play from Arsenal if he had his pick? Saka for sure, Rice I think and I feel White, Gabriel and Saliba would come into his reckoning. He does have superb creative midfielders so Odegaard may not be a priority. The point with Guardiola is that he always wants the best player in every position, a belief that he shares with George Graham. When he couldn’t get the type of striker he wanted, he played without one. When Haaland became available he grabbed him, knowing that he would have to change tactically to accommodate him. If he felt that Odegaard was better than what he had and he could get him, he would. If we win the league or Champions League this year, our players would then be reckoned to be up there with Pep’s best. May you live in strange times If Klopp goes, Liverpool may find him hard to replace. All that has happened this year has left us in the strangest period I have ever seen since I got into football. I find it very hard to say who will be challenging next season. Man Utd, Chelsea and Newcastle, all with huge resources, are not challenging for the title. Villa and Spurs have stepped up to the task but does that mean they will kick on and be pushing hard next season. City may be sanctioned for all we know, even if they do seem untouchable. City will probably be told to stand in the corner for a day Surely Arsenal should be challenging, though? We are young, we have been playing together for some time and most of our players are on long term contracts. We have a settled backroom team which seems to be united in improving the squad. But it could all go wrong if Arteta takes up a big offer. A new top five and a new winner? I suggested a couple of weeks ago here that there is likely to be big managerial changes in the Premier League by next season and we could be affected. At this moment I can’t feel confident that any of the teams' managers in the current top ten will be there come August and many new managers will surely have an effect on who challenges? Some will be tempted by top sides to switch and some will be fired for having their teams midtable. Seriously, who are your picks for top five next season? Normally it is easy enough, the big teams are simple to choose. I picked Villa for top four at the start of the season precisely because I felt that some of the big boys were misfiring. Now though, if City get sanctioned, Klopp leaves and Emery and Postecoglou get grabbed by top teams, and if Arteta also goes, then next year could be a free for all. Enzo Maresca - An Italian manager has done it before at Leicester It may be time to stick a little bet on an emerging team ready to take advantage of the possible chaos. Leicester, under Enzo Maresca, who has plenty of Man City experience? Lightning could strike twice. 5,000 to one anyone?
  2. Change the manager is the answer? On the right path so no change, please Top five teams and their managers since a first trophy in the Premier league era Clubs Managers Trophies First trophy Man Utd 7 40 Prem League 1993 Chelsea 19 27 FA cup 1997 Arsenal 5 22 League cup 1993 Man City 3 20 FA cup 2011 Liverpool 8 19 League cup 1995 Ah, football was invented in 1992-93 by the wonderful people at Sky and the 5 teams above have dominated since. Now it is annoying that statistics are often confined to the Premier League era but in this case maybe it is justified. Huge amounts of money made their way into England and exposure, hype, sponsorship and many other factors came into play since then including a ruthlessness with the sack never seen before. Pep Guardiola is the benchmark to which all aspire My question today is: is there any correlation between managerial change and winning trophies? It is very hard to make out a case either way as you can see in the table above. I should point out that I have included exclusive trophies like the Charity Shield and the various Super cups in this list despite them being very confined in terms of who competes. Arsenal and City have never qualified for any type of Super cup although obviously that changes next season. The Glazers are unpopular at Man Utd I have not included in this list the teams who have won only one trophy plus Leicester who have won 3 as they cannot seriously be regarded as contenders. For the 5 teams concerned the figures are from the first trophy in the Premier league era. I have also not included caretaker managers. Money screams not talks What we can see clearly is that that money plays a huge role. These are the richest clubs over the Premier League era. Manchester United dominated at the start simply because they had the most money and a manager whose style very much suited the new Premier league. The backpass rule was changed to stop you passing to the goalkeeper and wasting time. It became dangerous to pass back to the keeper. Ferguson loved this because he liked to attack. Attacking football suited Sky as they promoted their new brand. They hyped Utd, Utd had the most money and this helped them make even richer. Liverpool and Arsenal had a much more counter-attacking style and struggled initially with the new demands. Smaller teams like Blackburn and Newcastle were the only real danger as Utd mopped up trophies. Roman Abramovich changed how football is run Even when Arsenal appeared, they were almost Utd’s only competition which meant Utd continued to take many trophies. The money kept growing and billionaires were starting to eye up potential candidates to take on these giants. Roman Abramovich was the first such and, after failing to buy Arsenal, he opted for Chelsea, a team who had improved enormously over the past seasons. He brought a level of money unheard of as he built Chelsea into a worldwide brand. It is very true that fans are fickle. If a team starts winning, a lot of fans switch allegiance. The point here is that Abramovich’s ownership style was critical to Chelsea’s constant success. Other teams have had money thrown at them without success. PSG, despite unheard of amounts, are still only big in France, the weakest of Europe’s 5 big leagues. Copy the Arsenal and Man Utd benchmarks Something similar happened with City as with Chelsea. Big money came in but the ownership style was geared for success. As with Chelsea, the academies flourished and incredible training grounds installed. This holistic style was pioneered by Arsenal and Arsene Wenger but the other area they borrowed from Ferguson - his willingness to splash the cash to get supreme players. They combined the strategies employed by Arsenal and Utd to get to the top. Sheik Mansour- created the structures to make Man city win Traditionally, Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal are the big trio in English football in terms of trophies won. City and Chelsea are right on their heels now and Chelsea are second in the Premier league era. This is a testament to the importance of owners. Owners at the traditional big clubs know they are coming into a machine designed for success, owners at emerging clubs know they have to emulate that machine. And so benchmarking becomes critical. Looking at the Rolls Royce in the different areas of success and striving to become better. The scouting, the academies, the training facilities, the medical and rehabilitation facilities, the relationship with fans, the branding, the management structures that ensure that people can manage their own areas successfully but all towards the main goal of making the club function as a whole and continuing to win. If one area breaks down, for example, at Chelsea, where the manager seemed bewildered at all the players coming in and could not create overnight the partnerships that are essential to a winning team. The manager needs to have the final decision in team matters. The owners must create the right conditions I believe that the managers are important, yes, but in the modern era, the Premier league one, the owners have to work for the manager to enable him to concentrate on getting the team right. There are areas he needs to be in charge of and areas where others take responsibility. Ferguson and Wenger could not use their method of managing now, they would have to accept that they can’t control everything, it is just too big, but as long as all decisions are with the aim of getting the team to win, that the manager can get the players he can work with, that he has the power over team matters, then all areas are in harmony. City, I believe, has this. Arsenal, I hope, also. Stan Kroenke seems to have quietly put the right system in place Because then, and only then, can you win in the modern era. The manager, if rightly supported, can make a big difference. If Guardiola goes in two years as has been suggested, he will be a huge loss as all structures have been designed for him to succeed. Another manager will probably need the structures adjusted to ensure he becomes a winning machine. This is where good owners come in. They need to be clever enough to accept the changes necessary to suit what is, ultimately, the critical role, the manager’s. To give one simple example, the medical and rehabilitation areas should be able to have a veto over whether a player is fit to play. If a manager can overrule them then that relationship breaks down. If a player then gets injured, then all the team know that the manager doesn’t care about them, only winning. Ask Jose Mourinho. John Henry - are Liverpool fans happy? There are too many areas to be managed by one person And so, as we can see from above, Chelsea have made the most changes of manager and continued to win. City the least but they were also by far the last to achieve success in the Premier league era with an FA cup win in 2011. Todd Boehly -does not seem to understand soccer My conclusion is that how an owner runs the club is the critical factor. The football manager cannot manage a worldwide scouting system, the financial contracts of players, the medical teams, the academies, the relationship with fans, the branding and marketing, the list goes on. He can have an impact in all these areas but to be successful he cannot spend too much time on these matters. Just trying to look after the team he must work with an array of coaches, the goalkeeping, the set piece, the attacking, the midfield and the defence experts. The statistic guys, the tactic guys and also work out all the media commitments. Plus deal with all the players problems, the disappointed, family problems, medical problems, international commitments, scheduling, and keep up, as best he can, with all the areas he hasn’t got the time to manage. You need good owners to be smart in how they manage the manager’s time, to allow him to do what he does best, get the team to win. Guardiola is the benchmark for Arsenal’s owners. They must ensure the same for Arteta.
  3. The war for excellence Have you ever thought about what happens in elite sports? How it develops, changes, expands its vision, so that records constantly get broken, old truths get demolished? It is because of a war, a war between the old guard and the new, the previous generation and the now. And, of course this is a football column so I will concentrate on that but other sports provide a clearer, starker emphasis on what I mean. Pep Guardiola - found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs in 2001 but then cleared on appeal First we must go back in time. When we talk about the greatest teams ever in football, we think of the Hungary side in the 50’s, Real Madrid also in the fifties, Brazil in 1970, Liverpool in the 70’s and 80’s, etc. I would say if you took any of these teams in their prime and put them against say Fulham, exactly halfway in the Premier league, Fulham would win easily enough. Not because they are better footballers, but because they run harder and longer, they have everything done for them, diet, training, physiotherapy, modern medicine (painkillers, etc.). Not for them eating greasy chips and kebabs washed down with 10 pints of beer and an ashtray full of cigarettes. The New always beats the Old Of course, the comparison is spurious, as the old teams had heavy pitches, heavy balls, and different rules to contend with. Sports science was in its infancy and football was slower than most Olympic sports to utilize the power of pharmacy. The logic being that drugs cannot make you a better player. But if you can run harder and faster, you can press your opponent every time they come near the ball, not let them settle, and use your modern advantages to win. Ergo my belief that even the greatest teams of the past could not win against an average modern team. And why Olympic records are always broken. The sum total of the controlled life of the modern athlete gives them an advantage over competitors of the past. Arsene did not believe in cheating And so Roger Bannister’s miraculous 4 minute mile in 1954 is now a distant sum with more than 17 seconds faster being achieved. But nothing has been achieved, no matter what the sport, without the fact and suspicion of performance enhancing drugs. I believe football is no different. Here is Arsene Wenger: The Frenchman lamented that his Arsenal side had "played against many teams" using performance-enhancing drugs and stated later: "I'm not satisfied with the level of testing." The drugs do work In Hajo Seppelt's 1999 documentary "Indictment Doping: The Legacy of East German Sports," he put forward his suspicion that footballers were partaking in the use of illegal substances. Hajo Seppelt has the right suspicions "People who say that there is no doping problem in football, that's bull**t," Seppelt told CNN. "People say the drugs have no benefits, but look at the science and the distances covered by players in the game today." He is absolutely correct. Please go and look at a great game of the past on the internet, say Man Utd and Benfica in the European Cup final in 1968. The movement was much slower. Then, technique, vision, ball skills, dribbling and defences that would kick the ball anywhere away from the goal were the norm. Now speed is the critical factor, you push the ball past your opponent and outsprint him to get around him. Dick Pound has similar suspicions Here is Dick Pound, the founder and president of the World Anti-doping Agency: “We have always had trouble attracting FIFA to the problem. For many years, they sort of didn’t think the world anti-doping codes should apply to them. At one time, the world’s largest sport’s registered testing pool consisted of just 10 players, and you’re never going to catch anyone doing that.” They cheat, we cheat, and everyone cheats So what are we left with? The strong suspicion that drugs are endemic in soccer and that the authorities are not too interested in changing that. In all honesty I have stopped caring about many sports, athletics, swimming, cycling because I don’t believe they are clean. I clung to the belief that in soccer they cannot make you a better player but nowadays when I see the speed, the stamina and the 90 odd minutes of haring around a field I am pretty certain that players are using drugs. It goes back to the point I was making at the start. Anything that gives you an advantage must be used. Your best player is injured? Give him an injection and send him out. If your opponents are doing it you must, it is as simple as that, no matter what it is. Maradona - didn't understand that cocaine makes you a worse footballer We all know that cheating is normal on the field of play, stopping an opponent on a breakaway by any means possible is what is expected. As is diving and buying a freekick or penalty. Surrounding the referee and putting your hand up for everything is commonplace. But that is the cheating we see. What goes on that we don’t see? And as I have said, there are teams of people working in football who are trying to figure out any way they can get an advantage, no matter how small. Soon, a normal plane will not be enough to ferry your team to an away match and only a Boeing 777 will do. Cheating is now the only way to improve The thing is, they have most likely exhausted long ago any safe or legal way to improve performances across all sports. My suspicion is that the only way now is to cheat. Suppose you have talent and you are willing to train hard. Your mentality is strong enough to withstand the abuse you receive when you play a bad game, or make a silly mistake. But you know that your opponents have an advantage and it is them that will win the trophies, get the huge money, and the acclaim of being champions. In short, if one does it, then all have to. Otherwise you are Real Madrid of the fifties being unable to beat a mid-table team today. The sport moves on and you must move with it. Every little advantage must be taken up, legally such as tactics, sports psychology, diet, training, good pitches, and so on but also the underground stuff, the drugs and the cheating, the corruption and the scandals. Diving is now expected cheating Can anything be done to change it? Answers on a postcard, please. To me, at least, it is depressing that my heroes on the football pitch are probably utilizing performance enhancers. Let’s take Arsenal, we have divers, we have referee intimidators, we have hands going up for everything, we commit professional fouls, we waste time and it is because all teams do it. We cannot let an opponent have an advantage. So, do you believe we don’t keep up with underground practices also, that we can’t see on the pitch? We can’t see it, so it is not there? The unhappy fact that you must keep up and always improve, could well lead to the death of professional sport and there are very few talking about it. So, this time, my C’mon Arsenal is to show the way, to stop the cheating on the pitch and off it even if it means we cannot keep up. I doubt if many agree with me.
  4. A Wilde Year And so we have had a Wilde year, we reached the peak as being acclaimed the most brilliant team in both London and the UK. We were fashionable, adorable, flamboyant and prolific. But like our dear Oscar, it all went wrong. But let’s look first at how it all went right. Oscar -Flamboyant, briliant but doomed Palace, Leicester and Bournemouth were dispatched as if they were nothing but vessels to throw goals into. Then Villa and Fulham but not so easy. And then we had our first big shock, Man Utd had a strategy that unnerved us, a long ball over the top enabled them to get 3 goals to our one. Like Wilde, being exceptional didn’t matter, we had a weakness that could be exploited. But we went all Wildean after that. We must have read from the master the following line. “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise” Because we won our next eight, including several in the Europa league. We hammered Brentford, the team that caused problems for everyone, 3-0, a revenge for last year, we beat Tottenham, we beat Liverpool, and home or away didn’t matter, we were flying at the top, acclaimed as the most brilliant of our time. We were beautiful and everyone wanted to be us. This has to be our goal But Southampton brought us back to earth , the team we are coming to hate drew 1-1, despite being laughed at by most other teams. But it hinted that there was a frailty to our genius. That we couldn’t perform against teams that do well against us. There was a struggle with belief. But then we took our cue from Oscar: “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.” We went on a great run of victories, although we stumbled against Brighton in the League cup as they beat us for the first time at home. It didn’t faze us, though, as we won 7 matches around it including 5-0 against Forest, a revenge away against Brighton, 3-1 against West Ham and beating Chelsea at the Bridge, something we haven’t done too often. London teams were being sent home crying as the Kings of the capital surfaced again. We are the real Kings of London A dogged Newcastle side came to the Emirates and carved out a 0-0, spoiling the party and again hinting that there was a weakness to be exploited. Once again, though, we threw away any assumptions that we weren’t the real deal. We bounced back with wins at Oxford, at the shiny new Spud home 2-0 and got a nervy revenge against Man Utd 3-2. But the real challenge was then faced. “A good friend will always stab you in the front.” Pep Guardiola showed he is a friend who will give you no quarter as Man City beat us 1-0 in the F.A. Cup. It was starting to go wrong. The Blue Mooners were showing that they will do anything to stop us. This defeat seemed to unnerve us as Everton then beat us, yes, Everton who couldn’t win a match to save their lives and were ready to fall out of the division. Brentford drew with us at home and we then had Man City at home. Next year we want to be the friend that stabs you in the front, Pep Guardiola lived up to Oscar Wilde’s quote as he stabbed us in the front 3 times. Yes, maybe we were brilliant but our weakness was now showing. Our enemies smelled blood and were ready to spill it. We seemed unsure who was friend or foe, we were arguing amongst ourselves and our next match was against Unai Emery and Villa. He had transformed them from being relegation candidates under Steven Gerrard to becoming the form team in the league. And they were at home. What could this broken Arsenal team do against a Unai Emery desperate to prove he was a great manager? And we had lost our friends in the media who were only recently praising our shining talent. We were hurting and had to try and pick ourselves up. Our trial was starting. “The only people I would care to be with now are artists and people who have suffered: those who know what beauty is, and those who know what sorrow is: nobody else interests me.” But we came out fighting. We beat them 4-2. We beat Leicester. We trounced Everton 4-0 to pay them back for their audacity against us. We beat a resurgent Bournemouth. We drew away against Sporting Lisbon to leave ourselves an easy task at the Emirates. We trounced Fulham at the Cottage, showing once again who the Kings of London were. Not from Oscar but the bible And then came what I regard as the unveiling of our Wildean spirit, an overconfidence that we had beaten our enemies, that our genius is declared and is enough. Sporting Lisbon beat us on penalties at our home. Our penalties were weak, our character being once again under scrutiny. Our enemies were watching and taking note. “If you cannot prove a man wrong, don't panic. You can always call him names.” The name calling had began in Earnest. Even from some of our own fans. We were bottlers, hadn’t got the temperament for the big occasion. A trophy that seemed much easier to win than the Premier league was thrown away. Enjoy your name calling - we will be back stronger But we laughed at such childish name calling. We trounced Palace and Leeds 4-1. We were showing we were Arsenal and we were back. Then we marched up to Anfield and quickly ran up two goals and Anfield was silent and Liverpool were hopeless. We all thought that Arsenal finally had left our frailties behind. Until Granit Xhaka got involved in a needless fight. The Anfield crowd woke up, Liverpool came back and it was 2-2. Still it was Liverpool away. It was no disaster. We went away to West Ham and also ran up a 2-0 lead quickly. West Ham were mostly rubbish all season so we were back on track, except we weren’t, they came back at us as well. But at least we had Southampton next at the Emirates. A win there would get the confidence flowing again. Useless Southampton drew 3-3 and the name calling restarted big time. But this time our weakness was about to be exposed. Not the same weakness of Oscar Wilde but our enemies circled as Man City tore us apart 4-1 and our dream was all but over. The glory and the fame of being champions had slipped away from us. “Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working”. Now we only had hope left. But we did respond. We beat Chelsea and Newcastle in a strange season in that the one that was normally hard to beat became easy. A slip up by City and we could do it. But Brighton and Forest beat us in our next two games. We learned, like Wilde, that you cannot take on the establishment and win. And so we were sent to prison. The prison of being second, that hardest position in football, the one that drains you the most as Liverpool learned last season. We must always work no matter how we feel We ended with a glimmer of hope that we can be released. 5-0 against Wolves gave us a sign that when we get out of jail next season we can make a comeback. We must work hard, we must not give in to tired legs, and we can once again show the genius that once made us champions and made us Arsenal. Let’s go, the Gunners! Oh, and thanks to Oscar Wilde for all the quotes.
  5. Squeaky bum time is when it matters. Key to below – These are the points total for the last ten matches under Arteta per year and the results for Arsene Wenger over the last ten matches for his era. The stars denote title wins. Mikel Arteta 2023 12 -18 points 2022 15 points 2021 20 points 2020 16 points Arsene Wenger 2018 18 points 2017 24 points 2016 20 points 2015 21 points 2014 20 points 2013 26 points 2012 18 points 2011 14 points 2010 17 points 2009 23 points 2008 18 points 2007 13 points 2006 23 points 2005 28 points 2004 23 points * 2003 18 points 2002 30 points * Max 2001 20 points 2000 25 points 1999 25 points 1998 24 points * 1997 20 points We must never finish Spursy again We have gone all Spursy, falling apart at the end. As you can see from the table above we have never had a strong last 10 games under Arteta. In all seriousness, it is a fault that we need to correct. The maximum we can now get from our last 10 games is 18 points. The minimum is 12. Last season we had 15 and we might be worse this season. If it continues then we will never win the league. You cannot win the league by losing games. For our 3 title wins under Wenger we had 24, 30 and 23. As 30 is the maximum and City has a tendency to get close to that in recent seasons, you can see the necessity to address this issue. We need to change our state of mind We are never likely to be so far ahead at squeaky bum time that we can afford to lose even the 10 points that has been Arteta’s best finish to a season so far. We will definitely lose at least 12 this season. It is the most pressing problem facing Arteta for certain. We cannot drop points against lesser teams I think we can fairly say that last season we were good enough to get points from Spurs, Newcastle Brighton and Southampton but we didn’t and fell out of the Champions league spot. This year we should have beaten Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton and, yes, Brighton which would have given us 9 points more and we would have been looking forward to beating Forest and claiming the title. This year we have been better than all those teams but failed to be clinical when it mattered. No more looking like this at the end of the season, Mikel One point to keep in mind is that Man City would still be regarded as better than us even if we had managed to get those extra points and won the league. I could live with that, Arsenal the under-dogs punching above their weight to snatch the title from City. They could do the double over us and lose the league just as we did over Leicester when they had their win. Next year we may be at the business end in Europe, the FA cup and League cup. That will bring extra pressure. Address this problem and all will be well But I really do believe that our biggest problem is having a Spursy end to the season. And, like I have said, it is not getting better and this season may be the worst under Arteta. So, what can be done about it? To talk about this, I would like to explain why I came up with this as a topic. My memory was that under Arsene Wenger, we normally finished strongly and so I took a look. The figures above show that I was right for most of the time. We finished with 20 points or above lots of times and for sure did on our 3 title wins. Arsene Wenger knew how to finish strongly. Bring on the evil flying monkeys Arsene knows and he is the answer And this is what I would offer. For Arteta to talk to the maestro and ask him what he did to produce such strong finishes. Because this is not about tactics, it is about man-management, and Arsene Wenger was maybe the greatest ever at that. As I have said above, we are better than the sides who took points off us but we allowed them to beat us when it mattered. Wenger normally didn’t when it got to squeaky bum time. As you can see above, even in the lean times as Arsenal were trying to pay for the Emirates, he regularly got 20 or above. Call on our greatest for help, Mikel Man management was Arsene’s forte I have alluded to before in this column about how very few players ever complained about him and also that quite often, once players left Arsenal, they didn’t perform to the heights that they did under Wenger. Most players say that he improved them enormously in their effectiveness. This is Arteta’s first job in the hotseat. He is doing great. But he must ensure that we finish strongly or his good work will be compromised. And who better than our greatest? Well, possibly Guardiola but I doubt if Arteta could ring him up and ask him to help him to win at the business end of the season. Of course, he would have seen what Guardiola does to make sure they have a strong finish when he was there. And Guardiola can rotate seamlessly, which we can’t. Arteta has been using his first choice players whenever he could as he doesn’t seem to have the same belief in his second string. Guardiola is happy at the end of the season but he won't help us Of course, I do accept that a lot of players are young. They probably need to get more football wise and yes, improve their consistency. And injuries haven’t helped. But that is the pressure point Arteta has to address with urgency if we are to make the jump up into champions. And my strongest recommendation is to ask Arsene for help. Arsene knows, we all know that. He can help you, Mikel, so that next year City and any other challengers see Arsenal as the juggernauts who keep winning and sicken them all, that despite their best efforts, Arsenal will be champions. At the end we need to be juggernauts Listen to this Irishman, Mikel, there is an answer out there. Use it. We are all Arsenal, we are behind you. We have your back. P.s I would just like to say thank you to the Arsenal Supporters Club Bulgaria for letting me write this column, and for putting up with my sometimes strange mode of thoughts which I fashion into a blog. It is refreshing to be allowed to write what I like, and I truly appreciate the support I get. I have brought in George Orwell, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and even Abba and crafted my story around them. Probably few football writers do but the Arsenal Supporters Club here have never complained about me when I drift off into the matrix. Thank you very much!
  6. Where can we finish? Last try 2023. Arsenal 99 Liverpool(a) Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City 94 Liverpool (h) Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd 86 Brighton(a) Newcastle(a) Tottenham(a) Newcastle 83 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) Brighton 81 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(a) Man City(h) Arsenal(a) Tottenham 79 Brighton(h) Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) Liverpool (a) Liverpool 78 Man City(a) Arsenal(h) Tottenham(h) The Ladder of doom Every week I will update the table from last week showing where teams can finish if they win all their matches. I will delete the ties above with the current top seven when they are played and I will delete teams when they can no longer catch us. Tottenham drew and are now just above Liverpool. My prediction that the Spuds can get Champions league is now looking rocky. Conte is surely sacked and it is hard to see what they can do now. Let's hope they keep him As always I take on the extraordinary task of predicting all our matches to the end of the season. 10 games against teams playing for something, winning the title, European football or relegation. We also have 2 more London derbies. Points may be hard to come by and a bad spell could happen. I am an optimist, though. This team seems to have learned how to win. They are well drilled and the additions of Jesus, Zinchenko and Jorginho incorporates players who know how to get over the finish line. We have a great chance and are deserved favourites, even though I am sure most football fans feel that City are a monster that can come back at anybody. We play who? Arsenal fixtures: Leeds (h) Liverpool (a) West Ham (a) Southampton (h) Man City (a) Chelsea (h) Newcastle (a) Brighton (h) Notts Forest (a) Wolves (h) Winning against the teams we are expected to beat – Leeds, West Ham, Southampton, Brighton, Forest and Wolves gives us 88 points and if I was right last week that City would get 87 then that would be enough. We absolutely need to beat these teams, send them home crying and get the points in the bag. But let’s take a look at what we have to do. Leads at home. I will be there and surely this is a must win for us. I have a good record at the Emirates and a comfortable 3-0 would make me happy. 72 points and some of the teams above are moving further away. A tough spell starts Liverpool away and they seem to up their games against the good teams. This could be tricky, so, but if we work hard, push them to the limit I can see at least a draw. 1-1 and 73 points. That gives us 97 max but Liverpool only 76. If they drop points at City the previous game they are effectively knocked out of catching us even if they have a barnstorming finish to the season. This is the face we need at the end of the game West Ham away and another London derby. But we seem to specialise in those at the moment so long may it continue. Sometimes we struggle against them but I am hopeful this time. Arteta knows all about David Moyes so I hope we are prepared. I see a 2-1 and 76 points. I suspect at this point up to 3 of the above won’t be able to catch us. Champions League is secured. Southampton at home and I have been at a few of those. We have always won when I was there and I wish that to continue. A nervy 3-1 but the belief is coming for us. 79 points and I reckon only the two Manchesters are left to hit us. The catch-up demons are upon us And next up Man City away. We have been superb away and City always give us chances. A big problem, though, even in this season, has been converting chances. If we do so we can win. I can’t bring myself to predict a win but a 2-2 draw is what I foresee. Assuming City have been perfect up to now they can now get 92 max and we would be on 80. Man Utd might well be out of sight by then so second could be guaranteed. This is the face we need at the end of the season Chelsea at home and I fancy this one. We seem united and they seem disjointed. Probably Graham Potter can make them work, if he gets the chance, but for now they are struggling to put together consistent performances and I feel we can outwork them. 83 points and I am sure Man Utd are gone by this stage. Second achieved. Nuke Hassle? Big Hassle Newcastle away and we all expect a tough game. Eddie Howe has done wonders with them but for certain some of the players are not really top drawer. They will buy in the summer and could challenge next season. I would love us to win but maybe a draw is what we will get. They defend against the big teams even at home and we struggle against defensive minded teams who have quick forwards. 1-1 and 84 points. Eddie Howe will make it difficult Brighton at home and this could be difficult. Our nerves will be jangling as City could well be very close to us at this point. But we need to win this. I would take a lucky 1-0 all day long. 87 points and we have hit what I said last week will be Man City’s final total. There is even a chance that a win here could seal the title. This match is maybe the earliest we can do it in any sort of reality. I would love us to have won it by now That leaves Forest away and if we have won the title then I think the superman effect will be enough to put them away back to Sherwood Forest hiding in the trees. 3-0 in that scenario but if we need this one then the stress might get to us and a 2-1 defeat may leave us needing to beat Wolves at home in the last game. Please attend our last game, Arsene That will be pressure. Can our young guns do it? At home, with Mr Wenger attending, I hope, we take all of the season into our hearts, the good wins, the bad defeats, the scandalous VAR decisions, the draws, the chances missed, Gary Neville and the negative media, and we suddenly find our feet, the football becomes glorious, the movement and the interplay becomes wondrous, and 4-0 sends Man City down into the depths of bleak despair. We need Arteta to be at his best Yes, I am being optimistic, but I believe that this team believes. Players such as Jorginho and Trossard have come in seamlessly. Holding, if he gets an extended chance through injury, should get better every time he plays. The last time he had a long run before he got injured against Man Utd at Old Trafford, he was one of our best players. I hope the same happens again if we need him. Players generally need a run of games to find their form. Those eyes say you believe, Mikel One thing we have going for us is that City have to play lots more matches than us and some very difficult ones if they progress in the Champions League and FA cup. Even Man Utd have the pressure of Europe and the FA cup looming. I think, If we put away the smaller teams we have a great chance. Our biggest danger is a bad spell now. We can afford up to 3 defeats and probably still win the title. We need to be able to bounce back from even a couple of losses and find our game again. I believe, I feel the team believe, and this last ten games could be when we need Arteta the most. He must never stop believing. Listen to me, Mikel, we are Arsenal. We always come back. We can do it. And I will be there at Wolves to celebrate. I believe you won’t let me down.
  7. Can we win the league? Man City Guardiola Manager Possible strongest 11 Ederson Walker Laporte Dias Cancelo Rodri Gundogan Silva De Bruyne Haaland Mahrez Arsenal Arteta manager Possible strongest 11 Ramsdale Tierney Gabriel Saliba/White Tomiyasu Partey Xhaka Odegaard Zinchenko/Vieira/Smith Rowe/Martinelli Jesus Saka Are Arsenal better than Manchester City? And so where are we? Can we compete? I have decided this week to check us out against the champions. Does it look good? Well, before I get to that I have to make a disclaimer that you never really know until a few weeks into a season what the line-ups are. I have had a go at guessing both Arsenal’s and Man City's top 11. I could easily be proven wrong as players pop up every season but I am going on what I know so far. It is surely something like what I am saying. City won't play worse players than these, for sure. Let’s start with Guardiola vs Arteta. Easily Guardiola, he has won everything. Maybe Arteta, over time, can prove to be better, but it will be an extraordinary achievement. One nil to the City boys. Their defence is better Goalkeepers? Ederson is the pick over Ramsdale but at least that competition could swing Ramsdale’s way in the future. He is very good. But few would make that case at the moment. Or would you? Two nil to the Citizens for me. Left back? Tierney vs Cancelo. Cancelo made the Premier league team of 2021-22 and could be the best in his position whereas we don’t know if Tierney is going to start. He could be a great but he badly needs to get over his injury problems as he is such a good player but three nil to the Blues. Right back? Kyle Walker vs Tomiyasu or maybe Ben White. I have to give it to Walker again although this is a bit harder to choose. Cancelo also plays right back as City’s defence is so strong so he would also be better at the moment than any of ours. Four nil to the Blue Mooners and it is all going wrong for us. Kevin Campbell says these are the future Centrebacks? Oh no, not Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte? I’m sorry I don’t think so. I don’t see how you could put Gabriel, White or Saliba in front of these two who were in the best Premier league team of 2021-22. Two goals in quick succession from the Man City boys and we are already almost beaten at half time. Six nil to the Sky blues. But these guys are superb Their midfield is better Holding midfielder? Thomas Partey vs Rodri. Honestly, I can’t put Partey in front of the sublime Rodri. Maybe if he stayed fit and reached his full potential it is possible but I defy any Arsenal fan to say Partey here and now. Nightmare as we go seven nil behind to the Etihaders and now we are beaten. Defensive midfielder? Ilkay Gundogan vs Granit Xhaka. Why did I start this exercise? I must like punishing myself. Xhaka is a better player than some of our fans like to admit but he is also a liability, liable to get sent off or give away a penalty. Gundogan is superb and don’t see any genuine contest here either now or in the future. Are we really eight nil behind the Shark Team? Attacking midfielder? Bernardo Silva vs Martin Odegaard. It is a bit more even but 13 goals for Silva, 50 games and Premier league team of the season. Can anyone help me out here? Give me a reason to put Odegaard in front? OMG – nine nil to the Blue boys. Zinchenko better than De Bruyne? Does anyone really think so? Attacking midfielder? Did I say nightmare? This is a zombie apocalypse vampire nightmare. Kevin De Bruyne? Up next, Let’s go home now, crying all the way. I am not sure who will be playing there or even where De Bruyne will be playing but surely not as a false nine with Haaland there now, but it doesn’t matter as none of Vieira, Zinchenko or Smith Rowe can match up to the master. Ten nil to the Gallaghers. Can we match their forwards? Can he set the league alight? Centreforward? Haaland vs Jesus. Maybe, if Haaland struggles with Premier League and Jesus shines like crazy. But both are a bit unproven as Guardiola didn’t really trust Jesus as a nine, often playing De Bruyne as a false nine instead. I have to respect everything Guardiola has achieved but I am going to be generous to us and give Jesus a draw here. I may look very stupid this season but hey, I am used to that. Still ten nil to the Blue side of Manchester. Magic, magic, magic is what we want, boys Winger? Saka vs Mahrez. 24 goals in 47 games for Mahrez against 12 in 43 for Saka last season. Mahrez has won everything but I would love to give it to Saka. I am not sure I would be honest to do so, though. In the future maybe he can overtake him and that would be a great achievement. But eleven nil to the Champions, the irresistible Blue Shark Citizens. Not many players better than this boy Mahrez Judging player by player doesn't win championships - confidence, form and a winning mentality does. Depressing? Yes. It shows what we need. We have potential, they have proven players. Maybe Haaland won’t make it but in all honesty, I expect him to light up the Premier league and score lots of goals. I didn’t include Foden, Grealish and others who will surely get many games but those two for sure would be strong competition for our best players. I asked a question at the start and the answer has to be no, judging by the players we are up against. I could do the same against Liverpool and get another bad result I suspect. We are probably close to City in some positions but definitely behind in others. We need our players to step up, to play without fear, and take the game to the opposition. We need a bit of luck, we need momentum, and a good consistent start. Crystal Palace haven’t liked doing us favours in recent years and we need to change that. Let Patrick win other matches, not ours. Then Leicester, Bournemouth, Fulham and Villa for August. Maximum points and we are ready to frighten them all, maybe even Guardiola and his supremos. Forget the depression, Gus, Arsenal are the greatest football team!
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