Premier League 2019-20: How did your team – and our chief football writer – get on this season?

July 27, 2020


“Every August, I have the thankless task of predicting how the final Premier League table will look come May. This season, of course, how things stood in May mattered little, with the campaign not coming to an end until July because of coronavirus. This 11-month season has brought drama, relief for champions Liverpool and misery for those at the bottom. It has also thrown up plenty of surprises. Here, I assess every team’s 2019-20 campaign – and also look back at whether I was anywhere near being right with my pre-season predictions. …”
BBC (Video)


Premier League emerges from lockdown changed but bringing hope

June 18, 2020

“Most people can pinpoint the moment when it became real, the hot flush of panic when it dawned that coronavirus was not some far-off threat but rather one heading to our doorsteps, quickly, inexorably, hellbent on destruction. For English football, it came during the week that began with Leicester’s 4-0 Premier League drubbing of Aston Villa on Monday 9 March and moved through Liverpool’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Atlético Madrid on the Wednesday. What an uncomfortable night that was at Anfield, thousands of diehards wanting to be there but, in their hearts, wondering why they had been allowed. Was it really safe? …”
Guardian


Premier League returns: The 2019-20 season so far in eight graphics

June 15, 2020

“After a 100-day absence because of the coronavirus pandemic, England’s top flight will return to action on Wednesday. But where did we leave off and what are the challenges facing sides at both the top and bottom over the next nine games? BBC Sport helps you get up to speed with a picture of the Premier League in eight graphics. …”
BBC


2018-19 Premier League (1st division England, including Wales)

August 18, 2018

“Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats …” billsportsmaps


Arsenal 0-2 Manchester City

August 12, 2018

“Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side will get even better as they deservedly beat Arsenal on the opening day of the Premier League season. The Gunners were playing their first competitive game without Arsene Wenger in charge since 1996 but were well beaten by the defending champions. Raheem Sterling put City ahead in the 14th minute when he got the ball on the corner of the box, cut beyond two players and rifled home from 20 yards.” BBC (Video)


Talent Radar: 5 breakthrough players to watch in the Premier League

August 10, 2018

“As is the case every year, a brand new Premier League campaign already has an aura of excitement around it. Along with this comes the chance for young players to break into the senior sides. Here are 5 breakthrough players to watch this season.” Outside of the Boot


Premier League: 10 things to look out for on the opening weekend

August 10, 2018


Clockwise from top left: Rafael Benítez, Manuel Pellegrini, Claude Puel, João Moutinho, Mohamed Elyounoussi and José Mourinho.
1) Manchester United and Leicester need to start brightly. José Mourinho and Claude Puel are under more pressure than most to start the season strongly. Both have large numbers of sceptics among their club’s supporters, and doubts also persist about the popularity of their methods with players. So both managers need their teams to perform brightly as soon as the season kicks off in order to lift the mood. …” Guardian


The Agony of Being an Arsenal Fan

March 18, 2018


“I’ve been a follower of Arsenal Football Club since I was ten years old. So often our sporting allegiances are shaped by family tradition, passed down like heirlooms. That is not how I fell in love with Arsenal. My mother often tells the story of how, at the end of a trip to London, she got into a cab on her way to the airport. Wanting to bring home a memento for her eldest son, she asked the driver for the name of London’s soccer team. …” New Yorker


Graham Potter: ‘I’ve shown there’s another path for English managers’

February 13, 2018

“‘It’s a different kind of cold,’ Graham Potter says as darkness spreads across Östersund and the temperature plummets to -20C. The inspirational manager of Östersund, who will reach the next stage of an incredible story when they host Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday, laughs when I say it’s hard to believe. I’ve felt colder on a wet February afternoon in Birmingham, not far from his old home in Solihull, than I do in this small town in remote northern Sweden. …” Guardian


Tactical fouling is spoiling football – time for the rulemakers to stamp it out

February 9, 2018


“Football is often considered conservative with its rule changes, but in recent decades there have been various subtle but crucial alterations to the Laws of the Game, which are often overlooked. The back-pass law in the early 1990s, for example, forced goalkeepers and defenders to become more technically skilled, encouraging passing football. Stricter tackling laws, meanwhile, protected attackers from brutal challenges. …” ESPN – Michael Cox


The Resurrection of Nicklas Bendtner

February 9, 2018

“Whilst Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner has all but disappeared from our collective footballing consciousness in recent years, there was once a time in which the former Arsenal man could seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of the Emirates faithful. The lofty centre-forward, who continues to ply his trade among the wider European game as an active and determined 29-year-old, previously excited Danish and Gunners fans alike with his confident persona and burgeoning potential to thrive among the English top-flight. …” Outside of the Boot


Arsenal Is in Crisis, but a Signing Changes the Mood

February 4, 2018

“On Tuesday evening, Arsenal suffered another one of those indignities that tend to pockmark its seasons. This time, the humiliation came in the driving rain of South Wales and at the hands of Swansea City: facing a team at the bottom of the Premier League table, Arsenal dominated the game, monopolized possession and then went and lost anyway, 3-1. For Arsenal’s fans, these defeats have become wearily familiar in the last decade or so, as Arsène Wenger’s two-decade reign at the club has drifted into a sort of managed decline. They have turned Arsenal into a place hard-wired to treat every disappointment as an existential crisis. …” NY Times


No Ne-exit For Neymar

January 30, 2018

“1) Neymar pledges PSG future. Time for a bit of a giant media reverse with beep-beeping and hazard lights in full effect. Neymar is going nowhere next summer except to Russia for the World Cup and no doubt a lengthy vacation in Brazil. His club boss says it, his manager says it, the footballer’s ‘people’ say it and heck, the football says it too. The player is ‘2000% percent’ going to be playing with PSG next season, whether the French club wins the Champions League or not. ‘I’m happy with my team-mates and I’m happy at PSG,’ was Neymar’s message after Saturday’s 4-0 win over Montpellier. So back off, Real Madrid and pack away any sneaky ideas in a bag marked, ‘not in a million years’.  …” Bein-Sports (Video)


Check their DMs: Fernandinho, Matic, and others key to a manager’s tactics

January 26, 2018

“Throughout the Premier League era, English football has never entirely embraced the defensive midfielder. In fact, the very concept has routinely prompted dissent from English fans. Traditionally, the English game has produced plenty of box-to-box midfielders and the natural urge was therefore to field two players in that mould together. David Batty’s outstanding performances for Leeds, Blackburn and Newcastle sides were often overlooked, as was Michael Carrick’s excellent work for Manchester United. Those two represented what managers wanted from defensive midfielders in the late 1990s, and late 2000s respectively. But how about the late 2010s? …” ESPN – Michael Cox (Video)


Henrikh Mkhitaryan may rediscover the old spark amid Arsenal energy

January 22, 2018

“One game – or, more accurately, one half‑game – dominates the memory of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s time at Manchester United. In the league derby at Old Trafford last season, the first meeting in England of José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, the Armenian looked lost. He was partly responsible for the opening goal because of the way he initially did not press Pablo Zabaleta and then finally went far too late, and he was withdrawn at half-time. He did not play for two months after that. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Raheem Sterling Proves That Everything You Know About Goal-Scoring Is Wrong

January 19, 2018


“Raheem Sterling has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season for Manchester City, putting him right in the thick of the competition’s Golden Boot race, along with the likes of Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, and his teammate, Sergio Aguero. Of the 23-year-old Englishman’s haul, 13 have come inside the box, five of which were inside the 6-yard area. Five goals have come after the 80th minute of a match, helping Pep Guardiola’s side secure vital points on their journey to utter domination in his second season in England. And yet, there is a conundrum about Sterling’s reputation as a goal scorer: A popular opinion persists that he’s, well, just bad at shooting. …” The Ringer (Video)


Spontaneity and excitement are being eroded in increasingly Big Six-dominated Premier League

January 19, 2018

“When Leicester City won the Premier League two years ago it felt like a watershed moment. In a division where the gulf between the haves and have-nots had never been greater, the 5,000/1 outsiders Leicester had pulled off arguably the greatest ever upset in English football history. …” Telegraph


Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

January 12, 2018


Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo, left, gets stuck in during the Terriers’ Third Round FA Cup match against Bolton Wanderers.
“… 10) A happy Monday for post-Hughes Stoke? Like the revolution, the first match of Stoke’s post-Mark Hughes era will be televised, as they travel to Manchester United on Monday night. At the time of writing, the identity of Hughes’ replacement is yet to be confirmed, but whoever is in charge for this match, it constitutes something of a free swing for a team in the relegation zone but far from doomed. Given the likelihood of a new manager bounce (or perhaps more pertinently, the old manager’s absence) and the fact Stoke are unbeaten in eight Monday night Premier League matches, it would not be a huge surprise to see the Potters emerge with a point. …” Guardian


Measuring Changes In Attacking Style In The Premier League

January 12, 2018

“Back in November we applied a clustering algorithm to find out which Premier League clubs had similar attacking styles. We wanted to see what we could find using match summary stats that anyone with an internet connection could get hold of. Our main rule was that we wanted to avoid using pure outcome stats, e.g. shots on target, completed passes, completed crosses, goals, assists etc. We thought we’d run the risk of just clustering teams together on how good/lucky they’d been so far. We didn’t use anything too fancy, just per game stats based on the way teams attempt to attack; shots from outside the box, inside the box, open play, set pieces, short passes, long passes, dribbles, crosses and how much they use the wide areas when they attack. …” StatsBomb


In a Top-Heavy Premier League, More Teams Rush to the Bunker

January 3, 2018

“LIVERPOOL, England — There was a moment, a few minutes into the second half, that encapsulated it all. Not just this game and these teams, but what the Premier League has been this season, and what it might become. A Manchester United attack had just broken down, and Everton’s defense had cleared the ball. Phil Jones, United’s central defender, collected the ball deep inside his own half. Oumar Niasse, Everton’s hardworking forward, chased him down. Jones hurried a pass to his teammate Marcos Rojo, whose touch was not entirely clean. The boisterous Goodison Park crowd, scenting weakness, stirred. …” NY Times


Alexis stars as Arsenal’s three-man defence excels in win at Palace

December 29, 2017

“Three quick thoughts from Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Thursday. …” ESPN – Michael Cox


Arsène Wenger’s efforts to counter the counter cause Arsenal confusion

December 21, 2017

“Three weeks ago, before Arsenal lost to Manchester United, Arsène Wenger suggested playing a back three had helped his side combat the counterattack which, of all their many weaknesses over the past decade, has probably been their biggest. It was a claim that prodded interest at the time and has become more intriguing only in the days since. The truth of it will be severely tested on Friday as Arsenal face Liverpool who at the moment are one of the most dangerous counterattacking sides in the world. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United | Heavy man orientation and poor spacing

December 6, 2017

“The Gunners vs The Reds. A fixture once regarded as the pinnacle of English football in the mid to late 90s has been relegated to second rate status. The teams were the dominant Premier League sides around the turn of the century but both have dropped off in the last few years. Arsenal started as expected with their now customary 3-4-3 system with Lacazette starting (in a big game finally). Arsenal’s game plan was to play a cautious possession game where they got men forward in limited numbers and hoped to score. …” Outside of the Boot


Arsenal served up familiar mistakes and Jose Mourinho ensured Manchester United were waiting for them

December 3, 2017

“Arsenal are never as vulnerable as when they’re optimistic. Three wins in a row and no goals conceded, added to Tottenham’s recent woes, had nudged the Arsene Wenger crisis-o-meter away from ‘must go’ towards ‘may have another campaign in him’ but whatever hope may have been beginning to kindle within the Emirates were brutally stamped out within 11 minutes. What makes it worse is that it was all so familiar as Arsenal’s Jonah Complex struck again. …” Independent – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


TURF WARS: A history of London football

October 18, 2017

“The four giant cranes climb strikingly above the north-east London skyline. They are visible from the North Circular Road as Tottenham’s new stadium takes shape – soaring and dynamic symbols of London’s endless football revolution. Spurs new ground will open in 2018 with a capacity of 61,000, which will be 548 more people than they get into Arsenal’s Emirates. The percentage difference is 0.939 per cent, but every little counts in London’s most fierce football turf war. Not as much as winning trophies or league placing, at which Arsenal are so much better than their neighbours. But Spurs have a plan to change all that and the tiny difference in capacity is a part of it. …” London football history: Why our city’s turf war makes it the world capital of football, amazon


Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ fail in first attempt to increase their TV share

September 28, 2017


There has been a plot by Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City to grab more of the Premier League’s television billions
“The row over a plot by Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City to grab more of the Premier League’s television billions intensified after their rivals rejected an offer to resolve the dispute. A secret meeting of the other 14 top-flight clubs discussed a proposal put forward by the league to change how its overseas rights revenue is allocated following mounting pressure from the so-called ‘Big Six’ for them to be awarded a larger share of the cash. …” Telegraph


Leeds United: Are Championship leaders finally set for Premier League return?

September 25, 2017

“As Leeds United’s supporters celebrated at the traditional gathering place of The Old Peacock just a short walk from Elland Road, one of English football’s institutions had taken another small step on the long road to recovery. A 3-2 win over Ipswich – a game almost designed to play on nerves frayed by 15 years of trauma – kept Leeds top of the Championship on goal difference going into Tuesday’s game at third-placed Cardiff.” BBC


Races tighten in La Liga, Serie A; Manchester City stumbles again

January 19, 2017

“While the Bundesliga continues to remain on break, the title races came alive in two of Europe’s other preeminent leagues as Real Madrid and Juventus both slumped to surprise defeats to reignite the drama atop La Liga and Serie A. In England, Pep Guardiola has more problems to deal with at Manchester City, which is now out of the Champions League spots and 10 points behind Chelsea in the Premier League. Meanwhile, there is a new owner in Ligue 1 at one of France’s clubs hoping to rebound and rediscover greatness. This is what caught our eye around Europe this weekend. SI


Is this season truly different for Arsenal? It’s developing a familiar feel

December 23, 2016

“Lock a man in a concrete box for a decade and the chances are he’ll become fascinated by minute changes within his environment–the shifting patterns of the damp on the walls perhaps, or a new crack in the ceiling–and argue vehemently that everything is different now. To everybody else, though, he’s just a man in a concrete box. This is Arsenal.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Global Series | Top 10 European Players of 2015: Busquets, Kane and De Bruyne feature

December 19, 2016

“… 2. IVAN RAKITIC Rakitic 2016The Croatian superstar has had a super debut season at the Camp Nou. During his initial days, there was a bit of disbelief that confronted the notion that either Xavi or Iniesta would have to sit out matches to accommodate Rakitic. All of this died down very soon, as Rakitic let his feet do the talking. While he isn’t the most prolific in front of goal, he doesn’t really need to be, and he does the job of keeping the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez well fed very efficiently.” Outside of the Boot


Manchester City bounce back to leave Wenger fuming – Football Weekly

December 19, 2016

“It must be (nearly) Christmas, because on today’s Football Weekly, my true love sent to me AC Jimbo, Barry Glendenning, Paolo Bandini, and Barney Bloody Ronay! … We then brush aside the Premier League and turn our attention to Italy, where Juventus saw off Roma in a top o’ the table Serie A clash. Finally, we hear from our long lost pal Sid Lowe about Real Madrid’s victory in the World Club Cup final and the state of play in La Liga, which has downed tools until the new year. Rafa Honigstein will be with us for Thursday’s show, so if you have a question for the World’s Greatest Bavarian, post it on the blog below.” Guardian (Video)


Champions League last 16: Tie-by-tie analysis

December 12, 2016

“1) Manchester City v Monaco. Pep Guardiola will be content with this draw, but Monaco are among the most exciting sides in Europe and perhaps the most underrated team in the competition. Leonardo Jardim has created an exciting side who have scored an incredible 53 goals in 17 Ligue 1 matches. Although Monaco share the goals around impressively, it is notable that Radamel Falcao has found his shooting boots again, scoring five goals in Monaco’s past two games. They are also tactically flexible, able to play both 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 effectively, as they demonstrated with 2-1 victories home and away against Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage.” Guardian – Michael Cox


Tactical Analysis: Arsenal 2-2 PSG | Thrilling night ends in a stalemate

December 1, 2016

arspsg
“Despite being a thrilling encounter in terms of its result and implications, the lesson learned from Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to Arsenal should ultimately be one of two limited teams doing battle in a way that did little to inspire confidence. The Gunners were sloppy in possession, unadventurous and limited in wide areas. Paris Saint-Germain, as they have since the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, lacked a reliable focal point in attack, with Edinson Cavani getting only one of eight shots on target. They somewhat surprisingly controlled possession, but with Blaise Matuidi, the nominal left winger, playing in a deeper role than the teamsheet would suggest, there was little venom from the French side.” Outside of the Boot


Team Comparisons: Good (and Bad) in the Premier League

November 26, 2016

“Twelve games have passed in the Premier League and there’s value in looking at comparative historical numbers at various points. It’s a good time to take stock because a) it’s starting to become a vaguely decent sample and b) I have a load of numbers stored at twelve games because i’ve written this before. This is the eighth season of Opta data that has been published publicly around the place and with every season that passes, the more interesting the outliers become.” Stats Bomb


Tactical Analysis: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal | Static play from Arsenal as United control the center

November 26, 2016

“Premier League’s greatest rivals went up against each other as Mourinho faced Wenger for the first time as a Manchester United manager, having been unbeaten against the Frenchman in his 11 previous Premier League meetings. The onus was on Man United to grab the initiative and take the three points at Old Trafford as they were already eight points behind league leaders Liverpool. Arsenal on the other hand, had the chance to claim top spot with a win over their rivals.” Outside of the Boot


The death of possession football

November 18, 2016

guardiola
“Former Bayern Munich manager and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, speaking after Bavarian side’s 5-1 triumph over Arsenal last season, was famously said: What I want, my desire, is to have one hundred percent possession. Bayern Munich had enjoyed sixty nine percent of possession in that game as goals from Robert Lewandowki, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Arjen Robben gave Arsenal nightmares that probably suggested the extent of damage that possession football can usually do.” backpagefootball


The Question: what is a centre-forward?

November 6, 2016

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“hat is a centre-forward? It is a question that is far harder to answer now than it used to be. The suggestion that Pep Guardiola may not be entirely happy with Sergio Agüero seemed at first bizarre. How, realistically, could a player of his ability, his goalscoring capacity – 109 league goals in five seasons at City, despite injuries – be doubted? For a modern striker, though, goals are only part of it.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Guardiola wants Manchester City to be perfect in crucial Barcelona clash

October 31, 2016

“Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City side they will have to play “almost perfectly” if they are not to suffer again at the hands of Barcelona and leave their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages at serious risk. Two weeks after Guardiola’s team lost 4-0 at the Camp Nou, the sides renew acquaintances in Manchester with City’s manager knowing that another defeat against his former club could have costly repercussions given the standings in Group C and the possibility of Borussia Mönchengladbach moving into second position by beating Celtic.” Guardian (Video), Guardian – Champions League


Change Is Coming at Arsenal, but Is It Enough to Make the Difference?

October 27, 2016

“Five teams at the top of the Premier League, divided by a single point. Even their goal difference varies by only two. Yet it’s impossible not to view all five teams differently, in part because of the fixture list and in part because past performance inevitably affects how we view the present.” bleacher report


Premier League stats: Which player has gone 1,241 days without starting in a win?

October 23, 2016

“One player’s unwanted record of failing to win a game when in the starting XI now stands at 1,241 days, while Nathan Redmond and Gary Cahill prevented an unwanted first for English players in the Premier League. Here, we take a look at some of the most interesting stats from the weekend.” BBC


Why the Premier League is the reason for England’s international struggles

October 16, 2016

“The mere appointment of an Eddie Howe, Jurgen Klinsmann or anyone else as the England manager would never be enough to seek solutions for the state of the English national side. The problems are more deeply rooted than some conceive. Selecting Michael Keane or bringing in a fresh approach to the side and changing the way the team plays won’t transform the whole scenario of the situation.” backpagefootball


How Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are taking Arsenal back to the days of Henry and Bergkamp

October 13, 2016

“It’s one of the best performances in recent years,” Arsene Wenger said after his side’s 3-0 demolition of Chelsea. This game was notable not only for being the first time Arsenal had beaten Chelsea since 2009, but for the way in which they won, using a tactical system hugely reminiscent of Wenger’s earlier Arsenal teams. Wenger’s first Arsenal team played a 4-4-2, which he tweaked and adapted until eventually he created the Invincibles – a fluid mix of attacking talent, supported by a solid core.” Telegraph


Real Madrid rallies; Manchester City, Dortmund cruise in Champions League

September 15, 2016

ronaldo-aguero-pulisic-champions-league
“Defending European champion Real Madrid scored twice in the final minutes to turn defeat into victory on a Champions League night that was far livelier and less predictable than the first half of Matchday 1. After a string of thumping wins for the elite clubs on Tuesday, Wednesday brought tension and drama. A Bruno Cesar goal had had Sporting Lisbon dreaming of an improbable victory, but Cristiano Ronaldo leveled with an 89th-minute free kick against his former club before Alvaro Morata’s injury-time header delivered the three points.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON


Gulf in class evident for Barcelona, Bayern Munich in Champions League openers

September 15, 2016

“The build-up to this season’s Champions League was dominated by talk of the disparity in resources between the haves and the have nots of European football and two of the superclubs playing on the first day of this season’s group stage did nothing to dispel that. Favorites Bayern Munich and Barcelona cruised to 5-0 and 7-0 victories over Rostov and Celtic, respectively, to kick off this season’s competition in style.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON


Arsenal Are Performing Like Football’s Version of the Jonah Complex

September 15, 2016

“A Paris Saint-Germain side struggling to come to terms with their new manager; Edinson Cavani struggling to recapture form and to come to terms with filling the enormous hole that Zlatan Ibrahimovic left. It was a perfect opportunity for Arsenal, in what was their hardest game of the group phase, on paper, to get their Champions League campaign off to a positive start. And within 44 seconds, Cavani had given PSG the lead.” Bleacher Report – Jonathan Wilson


Around Europe: Barcelona burnout; Ben Arfa makes his Euro case

April 12, 2016

ben-arfa-messi-vardy
“There were decisive moments in the title race in England and Germany, as respective leaders Leicester City and Bayern Munich came closer to the finishing line, though a shock result in Spain has opened the door to the pack chasing defending champion Barcelona. A new coach with a familiar name enjoyed a successful start at Lazio, while in France, a new hat trick hero has given national team boss Didier Deschamps a selection dilemma leading into Euro 2016. Here is what caught our eye this week from Around Europe.” SI (Video)


Can Southampton Become A Force In The Premier League?

April 12, 2016

“In a more normal Premier League season, the wider media would probably be spending more time rehashing the same clichés they’ve used for Southampton over the past couple of years. They’re hanging around the top eight having survived another summer of key departures (Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne) and there’s no real signs of danger as they’re once again above average in controlling shot numbers for and against. Perhaps the quality of attacking football hasn’t quite been to the standard of the previous two seasons but it’s still been satisfactory. Their goal difference is fine enough at +11 and in a year of chaos and turbulence, Southampton are being their steady selves.” Stats Bomb (Video)


Assessing the Turning Point as Arsenal Leave it Too Late Again

April 4, 2016

“And so, for Arsenal, the familiar pattern repeats. Just at the moment at which all hope is almost gone, they start to play again. Saturday’s 4-0 win against Watford was a reminder of how good this Arsenal can be, of the swirl of passes, the sudden darts and thrusts, of football as art. But it leaves Arsenal 11 points behind the leaders Leicester City with a game in hand. It all feels like too little too late and demands the question of why? How is it that Arsenal can play like this now, but couldn’t when they endured that run of two wins in nine games through January, February and the beginning of March?” Who Scored?


Arsenal caught out at the near post by oligarchs and TV billions

April 1, 2016

“London was bright and sunny on the final day of the season 12 years ago. Arsenal’s players performed a cancan on the pitch at Highbury as fans chanted: ‘We are unbeatable.’ After an iffy first half, they had won 2-1 to complete a full season without defeat in the league. In the aftermath of that glorious achievement there was giddy talk of an assault on Europe as the final frontier. Alan Hansen described them as ‘the most fluid, devastating team that the British Isles has seen’.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Is British football ‘winded’?

March 28, 2016

“Excuse the pun, but it’s a pun worth pursuing so please bear with me… I remember reading an excellent book by Gabrielle Marcotti and Gianluca Vialli a couple of years ago entitled ‘The Italian Job’, it was an insightful and intelligent read, very different to the usual football literature I had accumulated over the years. One thing from that book that has stuck with me all this time was the idea that the weather in the UK was detrimental to the development of great technical players, and playing great football.” Outside of the Boot


Champions League: Man City makes history, Atletico wins in dramatic PKs

March 16, 2016

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“It was a night without goals in the two Champions League last-16 second legs, a pair of stalemates that saw Manchester City eliminate Dynamo Kyiv by virtue of its 3-1 victory in the first leg, while Atletico Madrid beat PSV in a dramatic penalty shootout to reach its third successive quarterfinal. For City, this is progression to the last eight for the first time in its history. The second leg was always likely to be a formality, but even so there was something strikingly dull about the most pedestrian of 0-0 draws in which the most notable incident was a first-half injury suffered by Vincent Kompany, a huge price to pay for a game in which both sides appeared to be doing nothing more than fulfilling a contractual obligation.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Football Weekly: Watford end Arsenal’s hold on the FA Cup

March 16, 2016

“On today’s Football Weekly, AC Jimbo welcomes Jonathan Wilson, Nick Ames and Gregg Bakowski to near-earth orbit to look back on a weekend of thrills and spills in the FA Cup, Premier League and beyond. We start in the FA Cup. Watford piled on the misery for Arsenal by ending their chances of winning the trophy for the third year in a row. The Hornets will be joined in the semi-finals by Everton – who saw off Chelsea in a game full of Diego Costa naughtiness – as well as Crystal Palace and one of West Ham or Manchester United, if they can ever find a date for a replay. Romance.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


English game lacks Champions League quality – but at least it is unpredictable

March 12, 2016

“Two down, two to go. Chelsea’s exit from the Champions League means half of the Premier League’s four entrants have gone and, barring something miraculous in the Camp Nou next week, Arsenal will join them, leaving only Manchester City, assuming they finish the job against Dynamo Kyiv. Had it not been for a tough knockout draw for Italian sides this season, the Premier League’s fourth Champions League slot might have come under serious threat from Serie A for 2017-18. As it is, England has picked up half a point more than Italy so far this season and, with only two Italian sides left in European competition one of them Juventus, who must go to Bayern Munich after a 2-2 draw in the home leg, that advantage should be increased. Given the Premier League’s wealth – it has 17 of the 30 clubs with the highest revenue in the world, according to the latest Deloitte report – the fact that the coefficient is even an issue is faintly embarrassing.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Why fly when you can walk on water? Arsenal FC v Hull City FC – Part One

March 12, 2016

Hull-City-v-Arsenal-FA-Cup-replay
“Sitting having my haircut this morning, in the few moments I can hear myself think over the brash man talking loudly about the tires on his Rolls-Royce, his Russian wife, or white water rafting with his Mother-in-Law, who he talked about in the manner akin to that of Alf Garnett, I consider my approach to today’s game. I respect the etiquette of the hairdressers perfectly, not saying a word except for the garbled instructions of what I would like done, and then keeping schtum, smiling occasionally when I make eye contact in the mirror with the barber.” backpagefootball – Part 1, Part 2


Arsenal are finding fresh ways to fail in pursuit of Premier League title

March 6, 2016

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“Last season it was August, the season before that it was March, the season before that it was January and the season before that it was March and April and bit of May. This season it’s now. Every year Arsenal have a spell in which they undo the good work that has made them look potential title challengers. That was perhaps the most striking aspect of the defeats by Manchester United and Swansea: that this lack of edge, this failure to seize an opportunity, felt so familiar.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


The Story of Arsenal vs Barcelona: Will Arsenal ever beat Barca?

March 2, 2016

“The Story of Arsenal vs Barcelona: Will Arsenal ever beat Barca? Arsenal and Barcelona are frequently compared among football fans with their similar football styles; high possession rate, tiki-taka, total football, and etc. Both teams, almost every season, record highest ball possession rates in their corresponding leagues. Iniesta once said ‘I think Arsenal still play the best football in England. They play in a style in the way that most emulates what we do in Barcelona – and what is in our opinion the right way to approach the game … their football philosophy is the most attractive in England.’ As shown in this comment, one of the greatest products created by the Barcelona system obviously has respect for Arsenal’s football and also admits that Arsenal is somehow imitating Barcelona’s style.” Soccer Politics


Talent Radar Young Defender Rankings: Dortmund’s Ginter & Atletico’s Gimenez rise

March 2, 2016

“Judging the calibre of a young player is often a tricky task. Perceived potential has an important bearing in any consideration and is just one of the many parameters to consider when trying to quantify the ability of football’s young stars. To add a basis to what may be a leap of faith, it is useful to look back and trace the growth, or indeed lack thereof, in young players.” Outside of the Boot


Arsenal – Brass In Pocket

March 2, 2016

“As Arsenal enter the business end of the season, there is still much to play for, even though they are now likely to be eliminated from the Champions League by the mighty Barcelona. The domestic double is still up for grabs with nobody running away with the league, while the Gunners’ recent record in the FA Cup is second to none. However, many supporters are nervous about the team’s ability to finish the job, as the customary spate of injuries has led to a distinct dip in form.” The Swiss Ramble


Barcelona trio’s selflessness differentiates them from the rest

February 28, 2016

“The turning point of Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Arsenal came in the 70th minute of the match, Suarez to Neymar to Messi and inevitably to the back of the net. A swift move that not only put Barcelona well on their way to yet another quarter-final but showed just how good these front three are and why everybody is raving about them.” backpagefootball


Five Bundesliga youngsters that Premier League teams will be looking to sign

February 28, 2016

“In an era, where the total net worth of squads in the BPL (4.4billion Euros) is double that of the Bundesliga teams (2.38 billion), and the third richest/most valuable clubs in Germany (Leverkusen and Schalke are around 200 million Euros) would barely crack the top 10 in England (West Ham and Newcastle are tied for 9th at 182 mil each) moving to the Premier League after one or two great seasons has increasingly become the norm for Bundesliga talents.” Bundesliga Fanatic