Answers Needed

The most divided fanbase is unquestionably Arsenal. For once though, i’m not entirely sure why? At the beginning of the season, in the transfer window we bought exactly what the Wenger Out fans have been screaming for. A strong CDM (Xhaka) who wasn’t cheap (Wenger Out fans cry about Arsene not spending), a world class CB (Mustafi) who wasn’t cheap either and finally a Striker (Lucas Perez) who even though he hasn’t featured much, has shown every time he’s on the pitch that he was worth every penny. Now to me, Arsene answered all the critics in this respect, by ‘splashing the cash’ and buying in every position that needed strengthening. I genuinely thought we had a chance to fight for all the trophies going this season and as a fan you have to believe that, otherwise you aren’t truly supporting your team. After a disappointing first game of the season, we then went 17/18 games unbeaten (I think). We then lost back to back games. Firstly, against Ronald Koeman’s Everton, who were well organised and every manager has a bogey manager, Koeman is Wenger’s as everyone knows. We then went away to City who have according to some, the best manager in world football and we only lost 2-1, away from home. Following that we went unbeaten in UCL group stage, even against PSG who have just showed Barcelona up.

Currently we are off the pace by 10 points in the league, which yes is an issue but it’s definitely not over. Bearing in mind we beat Chelsea and they beat us cancelling each other out, so nothing was lost at Stamford bridge which I think fans are forgetting. I understand that to win the league you have to beat the big teams, I don’t believe in excuses but Bellerin was knocked out, if that goal doesn’t go in then what might have happened you never know, the complexion of the game would have been completely different. Admittedly, Chelsea are good at home and we would have been lucky to get a win but to think we couldn’t have got at least a draw is disrespectful to our players.

We are still in a winnable FA Cup. The media are trying to downplay Arsenal’s chances and angling for a giant killing, especially in the wake of the defeat at Bayern but why are people stacking up the pressure against one of the most successful managers in the FA Cup full stop? Yes Sutton have home advantage and a shitty 3G pitch, poor facilities and low ticket allocation for away fans. Yet we will put out a 80% strength squad, probably close to the team that smashed Southampton 5-0. I have noticed so much non-news recently in regards to Arsenal and Arsene, it’s almost like the media is out to get us constantly and will make a story out of nothing.

Now in regards to the question that is floating around at the moment, should Arsene go? This poses a very difficult question for me being a Wenger In fan. In short I don’t think he should leave. Not right now, I think he should go at the end of next season. There are so many different factors involved to make a snap decision like the media and Wenger Out fans want. It’s reactionary and unnecessary, especially when it all hinged on a single game. I hear and understand fans frustrations, i’m a fan too. But do you really think destabilising the club at a time like this will help in any way? If anything we need to be together at the moment with important run ins coming up, the only thing that matters at the moment is a full stadium and to get behind the players so that we get back to winning ways.

The way it needs to go is at the end of the season Arsene Wenger sits down with the board and sets out a plan of devolution. It’s not as simple to just bring in a new manager. Arsene basically runs so many different bits of the club, a new manager coming in can’t take over every single aspect of his job as he’s been there for so long, there needs to be a transition period where Arsene slowly delegates his many jobs to other people. Get the right people in place to run the club so that he can purely focus on his final season as just a manager. Then at the end of the season hand over the reigns to another manager with the club in the best possible shape so the new managers job is easier and can take the club onto the next level. As I believe the end goal is for Arsenal to become a Supergiant, it has to be the long term goal. They wouldn’t have put so much effort, time and money into creating Arsenal the brand. We have a huge stadium, the 7th highest revenue in the world, one of the biggest fanbases in the world and a team capable of getting into the UCL every year. The only place left to go is get another world class manager, buy world class players in every position and go for the Champions League, not just once but prolonged success. That is the business model I believe they will aim for.

This takes me onto the next part, who could come in and make that transition work? Me personally, don’t laugh but on a 3 year contract I think we should go for Mancini. The simple reason why is that he 1. Has Premier League experience and has won it. 2. Has some Champions League experience. 3. Knows what it takes to juggle the two (most foreign managers can’t grasp the winter period e.g Pep & Klopp) 4. Has a great win percentage and record. 5. Plays an attractive style of football (which is imperative to appease fans). Now I know no one will share my view so let’s assess the other options out there.

  1. Diego Simeone – The logical choice. Fighting off Real & Barcelona every year takes a lot, especially when they won La Liga. Sustained attacks in Europe, winning Europa League and getting to the final of UCL twice in 3 years, an amazing win percentage and also has a backbone and wouldn’t think twice about shaking the team up with some emotion. The downsides – He has no experience of the Premier League, a poor defensive style of play that i’m not sure that fans will trade attractive football for trophies (winning ugly), there’s only so many times you can shout at players to provoke a response. If we were to get him I believe it should only be on a three year contract.
  2.  Thomas Tuchel – This is a strange one for me, he’s come out as favourite pretty much and I can’t see why? Sure he’s manager of a big club like Dortmund, he’s got them scoring but if you couldn’t get Reus & Aubameyang to score then you shouldn’t be a manager! He’s not excatly setting the Bundesliga on fire and hasn’t even won half of his games. He got to the Quarters of the Europa League and is through to the Last 16 of UCL this year. He had one good season last year and has a different approach to tactics which are his only good traits.
  3. Joachim Low – He plays amazing football with the German national team, he’s got a good win percentage overall, however if you look at his domestic record it’s not amazing, he won the Austrian League the same year as our Invincibles and took Stuttgart to 4th twice in the late 90s. Yes he’s won the World Cup but it’s a different ball game (excuse the pun) in the leagues. This would be a massive gamble plus he likes smelling his own balls!
  4.  Eddie Howe – I understand this one, yet it won’t work. He gets the most out of Bournemouth because of the structure in place at the club and he runs the club with 4 or 5 ex-players as his backroom staff. He plays some attractive football and has achieved well whilst having restraints in regards to players. Yes he’s English and it would be good to see an Englishman in a top job in England! I’m all for giving opportunities but you should get in on merit and Eddie’s record doesn’t speak for itself.
  5. Max Allegri – He’s had it so easy, he inherited an AC Milan team he did well with and then took over Juventus with unlimited amounts of money, he’s won 3 league titles in his time in management but his style of football is dull running a 3-5-2 system. He’s been through to the Last 16 in UCL just as many times as Wenger, even though he reached the Final his first season with Juventus. The club would be much the same under Allegri and wouldn’t be seen as making a step forward.
  6. Leonardo Jardim – Only in his early 40s, he’s travelled around a bit, though he’s got a good point percentage overall and plays quite nice football, his European record isn’t amazing. Although saying that I reckon with the structure and resources that Arsenal will have in place, he could excel. Probably my my 2nd or 3rd choice, it wouldn’t be a bad move for Arsenal.
  7. Roger Schmidt – Finally, low down on the list with having only won an Austrian Title and Austrian Cup. Stable Top 4 finishes with Leverkusen and through to the Last 16 2 out of 3 seasons, not exactly the profile of someone a club of Arsenal’s stature should be looking at in my honest opinion, yet he’s been ‘shortlisted’ or linked with the club so I included him.

Whatever the outcome at the end of the season whether he stays or goes, no manager that comes in should be expected to create instant success and should be given time to adapt and build their own squad. We should all be patient and give anyone the time to progress. I’m in two minds as to whether Arsene should stay at the club in the background as sometimes it can be a distraction, as the new manager is always compared to the outgoing manager and doesn’t help if he’s still around (e.g Ferguson). Ideally if he does stay, i’d like  him to become director of football and oversee the youth academy as his true talent lies in developing young players and making them ready for the first team.

Thank you for reading!

Predictions

It’s that time of year again! I’ve decided to wait for the window to shut before making any predictions this year though.

Arsenal: Top 2 finish – We have actually gone and done it. The shameful side of the fanbase have been baying for Arsene’s blood through the whole window and he has given everyone what they want and what every pundit has said over the past ten years. A CB and ST, as we’re “a CB and ST away from challenging for the league” even though we have progressively been getting better year on year for the last 3 years! Having bought very shrewdly in Mustafi a regular in the German National team, which is no easy feat. And Lucas Perez who has been dubbed as the Spanish Vardy, who should share the burden of the goals with Giroud who’s been so underrated and under appreciated. Also not forgetting Rob Holding who has been pound-for-pound the best signing we’ve made, considering he’s made more clearances, won more aerial duals and made more tackles than the boss man Koscielny! Man City wasted almost £50 million on Stones and we paid £2.5 million on him. Granit Xhaka is a beauty to watch, we have finally replaced Viera in my eyes, the passing, leadership and ‘industrial’ side of the game all rolled into one, he’s also not shy of sticking the boot in, a proper enforcer in the ranks once again. All in all it looks to be an amazing season if you’re an Arsenal fan as the fanbase has to unite under the Arsenal banner as Arsene has done exactly what all his critics have been screaming for, if we can crack on and make a proper atmosphere in the Emirates again, we can win something this year. Expect some amazing European nights and a long go at the FA Cup again this year, depth in the squad is sublime.

Granit Xhaka mid-screamer. Note the former Spud player Mason turning around in pure terror as Granit unleashes his left peg.

Bournemouth:Relegation Scrap – Having made the biggest ‘coup’ of the transfer window by getting the best English Midfielder on loan (Jack Wilshere), they should have an exciting season when he starts to link up with his best mate Afobe, yet I don’t think it’ll be enough to get them into mid table spots, they’ll enjoy their scalps of some of the bigger teams along the way but with the league being so unpredictable with this disgusting amount of money being injected into it, I think things will start to even out as the rich clubs get richer (e.g Man United) and we go back to how it was with people buying the league. If they can get Wilson firing on all cylinders after he had all of last season out then they could surprise a few but the forecast still looks dim.

Bildresultat för eddie howe jack wilshere

Burnley: Relegation Scrap – Sean Dyche has done an incredible job with Burnley considering they couldn’t compete financially with the big boys, they’re now enjoying the fruits of their labour after gaining promotion back to the Premier League and get that windfall of funds. They’ll still be near the bottom come the end of the year, yet I expect some good home results this season.

Bildresultat för sean dyche 2016/17

Chelsea: 5th – Chelsea have made a good acquisition with Conte and he seems to be coming up with the goods so far. Yet they let themselves down on the last day of the window by buying David Luiz again. Kante will be tested immensely having that clown behind him, I for one am licking my lips in anticipation for Arsenal’s trip to Stamford bridge if he is playing as I feel Özil, Sanchez, Ox and Perez\Giroud will tear him a new arsehole. (This article was drafted before our prefect 3-0 display at the Emirates!) Also I feel it’s only a matter of time before Costa is sent off for being a cunt, interpret that in whatever way you want, be it spitting, eye gouging, slapping, tripping, shirt pulling, dissent, he will be getting sent off more often and hopefully it will curb that disgusting side of his ‘game’ if you can call it that. Hazard seems to be back to his best after going on holiday for the whole of last season and will drag the team to Europa League places as they have no European football to hinder them, yet I think the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal are a still a step above them in many respects.

Bildresultat för antonio conte chelsea

Crystal Palace: 7th\8th – They have addressed their main issue of not having a good enough striker for this league, say what you will of Benteke but when he gets going he’s a top goalscorer. Pardew has been around long enough and I think he’ll make a significant improvement this season and will scrape through and get a Europa league qualifying round spot, either in the league or through a cup. It’ll be good to have another London rival in the top half of the table.

Bildresultat för benteke crystal palace header

Everton: 7th\8th – I like how Everton is set up at the moment, they have the players, the resources, a good home ground and a cracking manager, I hope this is the season they prove me wrong and go for top 4, yet I still don’t see it happening. They’re a work in progress and could grow to be a major force in the next few years, however they aren’t quite there yet. This season is a building block and I don’t expect many to take points away from Goodison Park this year, also another team I think could go far in the Cups.

Bildresultat för ronald koeman everton

Hull City: Mid Table obscurity – They’ve played a blinder the first few games of the season and got robbed of a point when Man United rolled into town, if they could keep it up they’d see themselves in the top half of the table, yet it won’t happen. Mike Phelan deserved Manager of the Month in my opinion, for motivating that small squad of lads and coming up with those results in the face of almost not having a fully fit 11 to put out on the field. I also fully expect to meet Hull in the FA Cup for our customary annual fixture!

Bildresultat för mike phelan 2016/17

Leicester City: 9th – They did it, hats off and all that jazz, but another year another season and they will have to contend with a clogged up calendar with European football without their Midfield enforcer Kante to make the difference, no offence but Drinkwater is nowhere near the player he was. Mendy looked good against Arsenal and could come in handy but they will come up against some stiff opposition and take into account they won’t be able to keep that tight knit group together like last season as the tinkerman will have to tinker to keep things fresh and you’ll start to see a different team. That’s why when everyone lost their heads when they won and said it was the greatest achievement, I still believe that Nottingham Forrest and Brian Clough edged it. It all depends what Leicester do in Europe I guess!

Bildresultat för claudio ranieri

Liverpool: 3rd – Well they’ve been tearing the league up from the start and Klopp is really kicking on with instilling his style of play in the team. They’re sublime to watch and have the firepower to play any team in the league out of the park, we lost first game of the season to them in an all action encounter. They also beat Chelsea, the game to watch for will be Man City and Pep. Whilst I expect Arsenal and City to go Top 2, Liverpool will be right behind you can believe that. They don’t have European football to hold them back either. I think they’ll get 3rd and maybe even a cup!

Bildresultat för klopp glasses falling off

Man City: Top 2 – Well it’s happened, Pep is here and has hit the ground running. He has really pulled the best out of De Bruyne and is really one of the most exciting midfielders to watch in the league. Aguero is STILL the best striker in the league and will crack 25 goals this year. He could fire them all the way to winning the league depending on how Arsenal get on. It will be tight at the top and may even go down to the last game of the season. The only place I see negativity is the defence and Claudio Bravo. He’s a good keeper and all but there have been some questionable decisions made, it could impact how they play. At the moment it doesn’t matter as they seem to be able to outscore everyone anyway!

Bildresultat för pep guardiola kevin de bruyne

Man United: 4th – They’ve attempted to buy the league this season in a knee-jerk reaction to Pep going to City, they’ve got that foul human Jose in and spent ridiculous amounts of money on players for the coming season. From what i’ve seen recently, going on a 3 game losing streak I don’t expect great things this season from them. Rooney is finished, the only plus is seeing Zlatan in the League, everyone’s favourite Swede. Jose will secure a Champions League spot, you can almost guarantee it, yet they seem to struggle in the Europa League almost as if they’ve got a superiority complex where the players think they’re too good for the competition. Go out and prove us wrong by winning it! They aren’t the finished article like their Blue rivals, scousers or the mighty Arsenal so 4th is a realistic finish.

Bildresultat för zlatan manchester united

Middlesbrough: Relegation – It’s a shame to say it as I was quite happy to see an old ‘original’ premier League team return (Much like Sheffield Wednesday or Nottingham Forrest) but they look out of their depth and will be scrapping with the likes of Burnley to stay up. I don’t think Karanka can be blamed, he’s made good signings but it won’t come together in time. They’ll grab some well earned points come February but I think it will be too late.

Bildresultat för aitor karanka premier league

Southampton: Mid Table obscurity – I like Claude Puel and I think Southampton were unlucky not to get a point out of the Arsenal game if i’m honest. I expect them to do okay but with Europa League matches piling up and the managers inexperience in the league will lead to a mid table finish and maybe round of 16 in Europa. A good side that are 2 or 3 players away from challenging for 4th.

Bildresultat för claude puel

Stoke: Staying Up – There is no doubt that Stoke will stay up. They might finish 17th but they will stay up. I was really expecting them to smash teams apart this season but they’ve fallen flat on their face. I truly do love watching Bojan play. They have a good manager and the squad to compete but getting off to this start can’t help in the dressing room and the confidence isn’t there. The league is wide open from 7th downwards and some teams are still trying to find their place.

Bildresultat för bojan 2016/17

Sunderland: Relegation Scrap – Will they won’t they. Will they get going under Moyes, he’s got the experience but I don’t think he has the right team behind him. Pickford looks to be an exciting young prospect and has almost cemented his place in the starting 11. There will be some tough games ahead and if they haven’t got many points on the board by mid November then i’d start to get a bit worried for another ‘big’ team that can’t go down, much like their Tyneside rivals last year.

Bildresultat för david moyes sunderland

Swansea: Staying Up – Another club that look alright but won’t set the world alight this year. They’ll get some goals out of Fernando Llorente as he is a classy finisher but I don’t think they have enough to get mid table and aren’t bad enough to be fighting for their lives at the bottom. Expect draws, and lots of them.

Bildresultat för fernando llorente swansea

Spurs: 6th – Now I would be a bit biased but let me have a look at this realistically just for arguments sake. For a start they aren’t playing at home this season which is unsettling, even if they’re sharing Wembley for European games which is an honour for them. I expect them not to do too badly in their group, they have a good manager and I expect him to push them like last year and they will probably make last 16/round of 32 and finish just outside of top 4 as the big boys return to the fray after being absent last year. I can tell you, this stadium malarkey is no walk in the park.

Bildresultat för white hart lane new stadium

Watford: Mid Table obscurity – They’ve had an okay start to the season and Mazzarri isn’t a bad manager, they look solid and can get points on the board. They’ll be overpowered by the next level of opponents like Everton/Crystal Palace but they’ll pick off the weaker teams in the league. They have a nice style of play this year and Deeney is so underrated. However, like I say Mid table at best.

Bildresultat för mazzarri deeney

West Brom: Relegation Scrap – Now, I have respect for Tony Pulis and think he’s an exceptional manager with the resources he’s had at this club and Stoke, but I don’t think West Brom scare anyone. They can grind out the draws where needed, but that isn’t enough in this open league anymore, he has the experience to keep them up but you do wonder if these are one of the ‘big’ teams that are ripe for relegation. The league is changing.

Bildresultat för west brom tony pulis september 2016

West Ham: Mid to Bottom Table (16th) – Another team in transition, attempting a stadium move. They have the players, Payet in particular is World Class and Antonio is having a blinder at the moment, Slaven Bilic turned out to be a hit last year but this year throws up different situations and a new home. They seem to be stuttering but I feel they have just enough to beat off opposition.

Bildresultat för payet rabona

Future Landscape

I’m going to start with the statement from the Remain campaign that the Brexiters don’t know what’s going to happen if we Leave the EU. “Don’t take the risk”. Okay then, please tell me what’s going to happen if we STAY in the EU then…? The simple answer is no one can tell what the future holds, the future isn’t written. The same applies with the EU, no one knows what’s going to happen.

Let’s talk certainties then, if we Leave the Economy will shrink, I can admit that but only in the short term, the markets/investors don’t like uncertainty but once we’ve actually left and the dust has settled everyone will know where they’re at and it will spike back up when there is less doubt. Next, Trade won’t stop immediately after we Leave. For the next two years whilst we’re negotiating trade deals, everything will stay the same as it is now. DO NOT expect change overnight! Anyone thinking they’ll wake up on the 24th of June and we’ll immediately be free from the shackles of the EU is deluded. There won’t be a massive wave of immigrants running to Calais thinking they’re going to get blocked from coming in, that will most likely happen nearer the end of the two years when we will be stemming the flow and we rescind the Freedom of Movement. Everyone inside football will be kicking off (excuse the pun!) about how players from the EU will now be subject to work permits and Visas, which is no different from any player from outside the EU, might I add. All that’s happening will be a levelling of the playing field, in more ways than one. We’ll also watch the Eurozone crumble and burn without our money.

Let’s talk about the certainties of the Remain side, to start we won’t get another chance to vote on this for about 20 years (minimum), no matter how hard we try. So watch everything unfold like we’ve warned and then be like “we want to leave now” but can’t. Continued waves of immigration (sorry to go on about it, but it’s a contributing factor) unrestricted and higher than before. Expect your local services and infrastructure to be flat out, much like it is already, but worse. House prices will go up as there will be more demand for them, less school places for your child and larger class sizes. There will be a massive shortage on teachers (this is certain to happen if we Leave too) as they are already leaving in large numbers and it’s not being addressed by the government, however it will get to the point where it’s all over the news. More countries WILL join the EU including Turkey(!), thus diluting our voice (which is pretty quiet in EU terms) even more. Our EU contributions will go up as they will “punish” us for even having the referendum and making them pay money to scaremonger the British public into remaining, plus if we take on another member state then contributions will go up anyway.

The one thing that has bugged me though, is that David Cameron hasn’t actually said that if we Leave, when he will activate the article in the Lisbon Treaty. Expect some floundering about and political posturing immediately after the votes are counted. He’ll be making speeches about his party and how they should move on together blablabla basically saying “you’re not going to overthrow me” but everyone knows if Leave wins (and we hope it does!) then it’s only a matter of time before he’s fighting for his job. They’ll give him a vote of no confidence and he SHALL be overthrown, then ensues the massive Tory Party civil war between George Osborne and Boris Johnson. Which Boris will win as George Osborne is in the Remain camp, yet Boris will have to keep him onside as he has his own support inside the party. Much like Blair and Brown.

As far as future landscapes go, I think it has to get worse before it can get better. That’s a realistic view of proceedings. But it’s worth it on so many levels. We will have to endure 2 years of non stop negotiations, changes and losses. After that we will have FULL control of our country again. Everyone’s life will be improved in terms of quality of life, especially thinking of the fisherman who will have their waters back. Admittedly we won’t start to see the major benefits for about 5-10 years, e.g demand for school places, hospital waiting times. Also not in an offensive way but in about 20-30 years time when the baby boomers start to ermmm “reduce in numbers” the strain on the NHS will be a hell of a lot less, as years of tougher immigration restrictions keeping numbers down and the larger, older generation start to leave us, we will start to have a manageable and sustainable population.

Yet another one of the questions no one can answer in the remain camp, how many is too many? We’re so densely populated on this tiny little island, where do we draw the line on our population? England (Not the entire UK) has the 6th largest population density in the world, of countries that has a population over 10 million. These are numbers taken in 2011, which in the last 5 years i’d say we’ve taken in a few people…with Net Migration (Immigrants coming in – Brits leaving, for those of you that don’t know) at about 300,000 a year that number is only going up. Where are we going to put these people? We already have a housing shortage, plus the houses that are available are too expensive due to excessive demand. This will impact yours (if you’re my age) and your children’s lives. It means larger families putting their children in smaller and cramped conditions, lowering quality of life. These are the type of things that no one is saying or putting across in the arguments because as soon as you start talking about immigration people start to clam up and feel embarrassed or offended. Don’t be. You could tell this to someone who’s a Remain person and give them those facts and the type of response you’d get is “What’s wrong with immigrants? Why don’t you like immigrants?” They completely miss the point and automatically assume you don’t like immigrants, which is what we’re up against. People saying we should be outward looking and not inward looking, you’re right. I’m looking out at the problems in the world and realise we have just as many problems inside our own borders. Let’s put it this way, say you’ve got loads of problems at home, like your boiler is broken, you’ve got tiles falling off the roof and some little bastard has smashed your windows in, you’re not going to go and give a couple hundred quid to the homeless guy on the street are you? Sort your own problems out first, then if there’s anything left over then do your best to help others. You can’t give what you don’t have.

I’m not going to go with the slogan of Put The Great In, Great Britain, I think this country is still pretty great and we have good lives on the most part. But it’s currently being held back and could be so much better. If we Leave I want to change the name of Great Britain to Amazing Britain… I joke I joke. But seriously, why stop with what we have when we can Improve and Innovate. If we all came together and worked for the future of our nation like we used too, the possibilities are literally endless. If we Leave we can inspire the next generation to be more creative and lead the world like we once did. We led the way in exploration of the world, our children could lead the way to exploring outside of this world. (How’s that for outward looking?) We should be looking forward to how the future make up of the world will look and should be helping to steer it, not be in the back seat. If you stare at the ceiling you will only believe that’s the highest you can go, there’s a big beautiful sky above that. The Leave side is looking out the window at the sky and hoping whilst the Remain side are still looking at the ceiling and wanting to STAY where they are. This is our Berlin Wall moment, it’s time to rip it down and join the rest of the world again, hoping that others will follow suit. We can lead Europe as a whole out of the Dark Ages if we Leave the EU and show it CAN be done. We can give hope to countries like Greece, Spain and even France who are showing distaste with the EU. Spread Hope, Not Hate.

Have a serious think about what you want your future to look like, especially if you’re an undecided voter. I know I can’t tell people to Vote Leave, I want you to come to that conclusion on your own. Think about what’s right and wrong. Be sure when you go into the voting booth, you know where you’re putting that X.

Thanks for reading and please share!

 

The Coming Season

After having a break from writing due to not having enough time to fit it in, I have finally got around to sitting down and putting something together!

I will start with my Premier League predictions for the new season.

I shall start alphabetically with my team Arsenal. Predicted finish: 1st

Yes I understand that I said this last season, but we looked dangerous last season and broke the ‘hoodoo’ of not being able to beat anyone in the top 5. Beating both Manchester clubs & Liverpool last season we jumped along in strides and also collected a consecutive FA Cup. This team is going places and is in a winning mindset. On top of that making a shrewd acquisition in Petr Cech, who is already making a contribution to the team with his wealth of knowledge, experience and prowess. He looked right at home in his debut against Everton and despite being beaten by a thundering shot from Ross Barkley, made a crucial save and commanded the area well. First big test will be against Chelsea in the Community shield. That being said, over the course of the season we will look safer at the back and deadlier up front. My side prediction of Alexis Sanchez getting the Golden Boot should also be mentioned. All this being said i think Chelsea will really push us for the title and think it could go down to the last game of the season. Arsenal should finish with 83 points.

Aston Villa: Predicted finish 15th

Aston Villa look to be saved under Tim Sherwood, I was impressed with what I saw of Villa after he took over. He now has a chance of getting a pre season with the team and bringing in his own players and also after just selling Benteke will be able to sign a big(ish) name to fill his boots. They have made 3 good additions so far and not to mention they battled hard to get to the FA Cup final last season, that is no easy going. I still think they will struggle to crack the Top 10 but this is a work in progress and will take a few years to get Villa back to what I remember of them up in Europa League spots.

Bournemouth: Predicted Finish 17th

This is a big gamble saying they will stay up. I have doubts they will, as the sheer number of players coming in and not having a chance to settle and integrate properly in a new league to them. That being said I think they have got some good players in with a mix of experience and fresh talent. Sylvain Distin & Artur Boruc have Premier League experience and will bring that to the back 4. Also Tyrone Mings is the next big thing and should develop well if playing next to an experienced player like Distin. They will struggle to get points but I see them as this year’s Leicester and sort themselves out near the end of the season.

Chelsea: Predicted finish 2nd

We are all aware what Chelsea are capable of. They will look to replicate what they had last year, yet I don’t believe it’s the same story. Losing Cech will of rocked them and Mourinho in a big way. Yes they have a great replacement in Courtois, yet losing such a big player can have a negative impact on a team. Look at Arsenal when the Invincibles started to melt away. We were never the same again. They will push and challenge but you know the saying, when you’re on top you’re a target to get picked off. I think if Arsenal beat them at the Emirates, which isn’t likely if we’re honest. If they do though, like when they beat City last season and get over the hoodoo, then we shall see the swing towards Arsenal and the vital point swing that will come in handy at the end of the season. Chelsea should finish with 82 points.

Crystal Palace: Predicted finish 11th

Crystal Palace have made a cracking signing with Yohan Cabaye, you see teams signing lots of players but sometimes all you need is the right signing to make the difference. I think he will shine under Pardew again. I think Bolasie will be their key player like he was at the tail end of last season, yet again I was quite impressed with what I saw of Palace last season and expect good things from them.

Everton: Predicted finish 9th

I know this sounds low and it’s nothing against Everton, I genuinely think they play attractive attacking football under Martinez, but I think it’s the teams around them that have improved more and will finish higher. Europa League spots will be hotly contested this year. I see them getting wrapped up with Man City, Stoke, Spurs & Swansea/Southampton. Leaving little room for Everton, I just think they’ll lose out to these others, whilst keeping a good home record but falling short away from home to those around them.

Leicester: Predicted finish 16th

I think Claudio Ranieri is a good choice in taking over from Pearson, he’s done well in the past in the Premier League, admittedly he had millions to spend under Chelsea and already had a good team around him at the time as it was the beginning of the Abramovich era. This is a different challenge for him and it all hinges on how they start the season. If they get off to a flyer like last year they will greatly appreciate the points at the end of the season and will keep them clear of relegation.

Liverpool: Predicted finish 4th

Another gamble considering they have pretty much bought Southampton and it didn’t work amazingly last season. Yet I think if Benteke can get firing under Rodgers then he will push the team back into the Top 4. The players and talent are there it’s just whether they can work together and I think now the shadow of Stevie G has left they can start a new clean slate under Henderson, who I don’t dislike completely and think that he’ll step up and be a good successor. Plus they don’t have that Sterling drama hanging around their neck anymore. Coutinho will be there key player, I know we only saw glimpses of his brilliance (Liverpool fans claim it was in every game) I feel he will have his breakthrough season this year and really make an impact. It will be interesting to see what Rodgers does with him and Firmino.

Man City: Predicted finish 5th

City fans won’t believe me obviously but hear me out. They are in a transition period, though they are addressing the ageing squad problem by buying young English talent, it doesn’t automatically fix the problem. The only consistent player will be Sergio Aguero, who is still the best striker in the league in my eyes. He will carry the team this year, his goals will be vital in keeping them in contention. I hope to see David Silva return to his best also. Let’s just hope they don’t forget Yaya’s birthday this time around either!

Man United: Predicted finish 3rd

Van Gaal will bring the best out of his team this year, after making proper additions of his own and starting a dynasty. Trying to replicate the whole ‘galacticos’ thing, I think Schweinstieger will be crucial if he can stay fit, which I highly doubt. He’ll have a good 8 weeks at either end of the season and that’ll be it. This being said I think that this is the year that we see the re-emergence of the Man United we used to see under Ferguson. I think they’ll finish on 80 points.

Newcastle: Predicted finish 16th

I’m not sure what to think of Steve McClaren, yes he’s got experience but i’m not sure he’ll do well this time around in the Premier League and I think Newcastle will suffer as a result and I don’t see him lasting the duration of the season. I’m not usually one to write someone off before i’ve seen what they can do but I just have a bad feeling about Newcastle. Wijnaldum is a good signing but I feel they already have good options in attacking players. Cabella should have a good season but Cisse’s inconsistency will prove to be the downfall of Newcastle this season.

Norwich: Predicted finish 20th

From what I saw in the playoffs, Norwich were a force to be reckoned with but this is a completely different kettle of fish and a massive step up. Nathan Redmond is a player i’ve always admired and I think he’ll be their key player but in the Premier League you can’t rely on just one player. I don’t think they have good enough options to compete properly in the league. They will scrap with Sunderland & Watford for survival but all 3 will go down. I think it will go down to the last day much like a few years ago when Qpr stayed even though they lost to Man City, with Norwich losing out and finishing bottom.

Southampton: Predicted finish 6th/7th

This is the toughest section, so tough that I can’t decide. I have been so impressed with Southampton, Stoke and Swansea and where they are going as clubs that it’s difficult to see who will prevail in the fight for the Europa League spots. I see Southampton coming close to Champions League football but missing out. They’ll be in the top part of the Europa League places though. I’m excited to see what Jordy Clasie is all about, not much to add as Southampton were the amazing surprise package last season.

Stoke: Predicted finish 7th/8th

Mark Hughes is working well at Stoke and I see a 5th/6th place finish next season. This season he will be just shy of that as this is a club on the up, trying to build something. I love seeing Bojan in this league and I feel if he can stay injury free he will really crack on this season and prove to be an amazing asset. Not much to add to this either.

Sunderland: Predicted finish 18th

Dick Advocaat did the unthinkable and saved Sunderland last season, now this could go either way, they could get relegated like I think or do what Southampton did and become a surprise package. I don’t think their new signings will add much to them this season. I don’t rate Sebastian Coates and obviously not fond of Kaboul. Jermain Lens is an unknown quantity and only time will tell if he’s up to the job, I can’t comment as I don’t know anything about him. I think it will be a slow finish for Sunderland, they will decline near the end of the season, get a surprise win and think they’re safe and drop back into relegation on the penultimate game of the season and have their fate sealed on the final day.

Swansea: Predicted finish 8th/9th

I can Swansea doing well this time out, they have made amazing additions to their squad so far and think that if they hit form at the right time they could achieve their highest ever finish. Yet this is unlikely and feel they will creep into Europa League with a string of top draw performances. Though I haven’t predicted Europa League spots properly as I haven’t vectored in Spurs, it really will be a massive scramble between Swansea & Stoke who both have so much to offer! Watch out for Andre Ayew.

Spurs: Predicted finish 6th-8th

Spurs will reach their customary Europa League spot and have periods of good performances and do the same thing they do every year and declare they will make Top 4, only to fail miserably. They will make a few shock wins against big opposition, maybe Man City & Arsenal (at White Hart Lane) but that will be the extent of their glory this season. Expect mediocrity from a team that should really be fighting for Top 4. They will really begin to suffer when the stadium move starts to begin.

Watford: Predicted finish 19th

Watford have made 3 strong signings in Capoue, Behrami & Vydra. Will it be enough to keep them up, probably not. Expect some spectacular performances against other lower half teams, but not reaching the grade points wise. I hope they prove me wrong but I just see them as one of those yoyo clubs that will fall back down to the Championship and keep a large chunk of TV money for their troubles.

West Brom: Predicted finish 13th

I like Tony Pulis and think he’s a good manager, very consistent and I believe he will do the job. Yet again mid table security though as I don’t think his team have the drive to push into the Top 10. Maybe a good cup run would lift them? It’s hard to tell which way they are heading. The bookies are slashing odds for them to be relegated, I don’t believe the hype on this occasion.

West Ham: Predicted finish 12th

Haven’t seen anything of Slaven Bilic so can’t judge, the club have made sound additions to an already good team. I feel they will do well this year but fear the manager might come under criticism as it’s all a big change from Big Sam and what people are used too. Nonetheless, they will finish strong yet short of what they are capable of.

As always thank you for reading! It’s just a bit of fun, don’t take it to heart.

Premier League Prediction

With the new season starting this weekend I have taken some time to do a little prediction without knowing the results. I took the fixture list and put down for every game and what the result would be and the results were surprising.

 

 

The league on the 28th of December looks a little something like this:

  1.  Arsenal
  2. Chelsea
  3. Manchester United
  4. Manchester City
  5. Everton
  6. Liverpool
  7. Tottenham
  8. Crystal Palace
  9. Hull City
  10. Stoke City(on the same points)
  11. Sunderland (on the same points)
  12. QPR (on the same points)
  13. Newcastle United
  14. West Bromwich Albion
  15. Aston Villa (on the same points)
  16. West Ham (on the same points)
  17. Swansea
  18. Leicester City
  19. Southampton
  20. Burnley

Before you start and say this is biased because i’m an Arsenal fan, we were at the top at Christmas last year so not so unrealistic. I shall also give a few explainations, Manchester United for example will do well as they don’t have European football and seem to be revitalised under LVG so a top three finish isn’t out of their grasp, much like Liverpool last season. The pressure is all on Manchester City as defending champions, Arsenal will be very strong after (finally) strengthening their squad and will be a force to be reckoned with.

Everton only just fell short of Manchester City in my prediciton table by 2 points as they have improved immensely. Liverpool will suffer due to having European football again and I feel their team will not work quite as well as they expected. The biggest surprise to myself being Crystal Palace in 8th, however this is understandable due to Tony Pulis turning the team around and grabbing the points where he can. Hull City have improved under Steve Bruce as well and I expect them to be at least mid-table by Christmas, yet it is to be seen how his team will cope with Europa league, so Hull City is the only question mark in my table that I will say now I will get wrong, my predicitons are made down to Premier league games only.

 

 

All of the teams next to each other with (on the same points) could be in any of the spaces they share with the others so for example, if at Christmas QPR are in 10th rather than 12th i’m still technically right! The only one I think could change depending on the second half of the season would be Leicester City as I think the crunch games near the end of the season could keep them up. Any other thoughts about this let me know! Feedback is welcome, no hate though please as it was done fixture by fixture so as not to be biased.

Thanks for reading!

No Longer A Beautiful Game

Here I go again, another football post. My last one got me thinking about things. I want to ask a question to people. Should we regulate football clubs and what they spend?

1. Wages – It has been revealed today that Wayne Rooney has signed a new deal at Manchester United, earning himself £300,000 a week, or £1.2M a month. I mean really? I understand world class players deserve to be paid a good wage because football careers are short and all that but still is he really worth that much? He’s not even world class anymore, in my opinion he never was. He was just England’s best striker, but in case you hadn’t noticed England aren’t amazing at international level. I think personally if you set a rate for wages, you’d get more quality footballers out there and bring the game alive again. Instead nowadays you just get athletes who can kick a ball and who are just after money and don’t care about the game. If you capped salaries, only people that were passionate about playing football as a career would play and you’d get real passion back on the pitch. There should be a wage structure in place for the big clubs much like in other companies and organisations. Everyone starts at the same wage, but you get bonuses for goals scored, clean sheets, wins & cups and like in a some jobs you get a raise every year of service for your club, encouraging players to stay at one club rather than going all over the place. Look at people like Steven Gerrard, Tony Adams, etc… one club men, something you don’t get anymore because people are lured away by big salaries. I don’t like that football as a game is run like a business now and it’s ALL about money.

 

2. Transfers – Transfer valuations are ridiculous. How do you value a player? I think they should reset valuations and the best players in the world should be valued at around £25 million. No player is worth more than that to a club. I mean I remember back when I was young, there was a player called Christian Vieri and he was sold for £28 million at the time and I literally couldn’t fathom the amount of money that is, but now that’s not really considered very much money, but just think about that number for a second. £28 million, in fact think of the number £1 million. A million pounds is a lot of money to normal people and after all football is ‘the working man’s game’. I just think that the big clubs ruin it for everyone treating it as a money game, yes Arsenal are included this also, I will happily put my hand up and admit that about my own club, but we aren’t that bad in comparison to some others. I will use the Gareth Bale sale as an example as well of course, do you really think that he is worth £86 million, that’s about the equivalent of 3 Juan Mata’s right? Is he three times the player of Mata, no. It could do with a serious overhaul.

 

3. Contracts – Contracts mean nothing anymore, they should just do away with a “4 year contract” and do a yearly contract with every player so there’s no confusion. What’s the point in having a contract when nowadays most players are bought before it even ends, there’s no loyalty anymore between players and clubs. You should trust the player and that he wants to stay at the club, so when it comes around to the end of the contract, he can decide to stay and sign an extension of a year again or he can move onto another club for a fee.

 

4. Nationality – I know they’ve tried to clamp down on it but it’s not an English game like it once was, I don’t know what percentage of the team has to be English but I don’t think it’s enough. Yes yet again I know Arsenal are bad for this and I know it makes the Premier League one of the best in the world for it’s diversity, but the reason we aren’t great on an international level might have something to do with the big clubs not having enough room for English talent. I’ll use Arsenal as an example as I know the team well, of the starting 11 how many are English (or potential starting 11)? Gibbs, Wilshere, Oxlade- Chamberlain and Walcott. So that’s 4 of 11. That’s not even half, this is where we are going wrong, if all the teams were made to have more English players at their clubs it would be so good for young English talent.

 

 

5. Tackling – I know this is off topic but I need to put it out there as this is a football post, but I miss a good strong tackle nowadays. If it’s one thing that needs to change about the current game is what is deemed as a good challenge. I’ll use that Wes Brown challenge on Charlie Adam a couple months back as a PERFECT example. Wes Brown committed to a strong sliding challenge and won the ball, which when I was growing up you were taught to do, as long as you got the ball it didn’t really matter too much about connecting with the other player, it’s a physical sport at the end of the day. However, he slightly clipped Charlie Adam in doing so, who didn’t even go to ground I might add, and Wes was sent off for the intent of the challenge, the intent of winning the ball?! It’s just too crazy all these rules that the FA come up with and it’s spoiling the game that I know and love, red cards should be left to an accumulation of yellow cards, violent conduct and straight red offenses like tackling from behind.

 

6. Diving – This needs to be stamped out in every sense. To start they need to change the term from “winning a free kick/penalty” to “being awarded a free kick/penalty” after all it is down to the referee to decide not the players to go out looking for them. If you are fouled whilst trying to play the ball then a foul is awarded, it’s shameful players look for any contact and go down just to get a free kick or penalty. We should be encouraging them to stay on their feet and carry on, then bring the play back and penalise the offender, for my example I shall use an Arsenal vs Liverpool game from my childhood, where Robbie Fowler was through on goal, tried to round David Seaman, Seaman tried to pull out of the way and Fowler lost his footing as he was clipped, instead of making a big deal of it, Fowler went to the referee and said it wasn’t a foul and play was resumed. You wouldn’t even dream of seeing that today, now they are told to win the penalty and go down if caught at all. I think it’s ridiculous.

 

 

Sorry for going so off topic on the last two but i’m passionate about football as a game and hate what has become of this amazing sport these days.

 

My Team And Me

After a long break from blogging i’ve decided to pick up the baton and carry on as it were. After much deliberation as to what I should start on, I thought i’d take a leaf out of my own book and start the way I did before and talk about Arsenal.

Despite what you’ve heard from the media, things within Arsenal couldn’t be much better right now. ‘How?’ I hear you say coming off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich? Well for a start there are more positives than negatives to be drawn from the game. For a start, I believe if Szczesny wasn’t sent off the whole complexion of the game would of been different, considering our defensive record at home is impeccable, it would of freed up time and space for our offensive players to get to work like they did in the first 15 minutes. Let’s say for example that we went on to win that game 2-0, keeping a clean sheet and scoring a couple of chances, people would be writing Bayern Munich off. Considering what happened last year when we famously went to the Allianz Arena and won 2-0, albeit getting knocked out on aggregate, it was a statement of intent being the first English team to do so. So I wouldn’t be so quick to write off our chances this year, with Fabianski taking Szczesny’s place, who incidentally is going through an amazing patch right now (watch the Arsenal v Liverpool FA Cup match), arguably the best defensive partnership in the Premier League Mertesacker & Koscielny, the anchors of midfield Flamini & Arteta, a plethora of attacking talent to choose from in midfield and a promising young talent in Sanogo. If we get off to the same start we did the other night in Munich then expect a very hard fought and surprising result.

Yes, admittedly we lost 2-0 and it will be hard to come back from that, especially if Bayern score first in the second leg. However, I still think that the defeat will kick the team up the arse and evoke a strong response from them. If Oxlade-Chamberlain starts expect him to be a key player in the match. I also expect Podolski to have a good game if he’s involved. But most of all, in the last game I was impressed with Sanogo. I will stand by Wenger’s decision to not buy a striker in the transfer window if Sanogo develops properly and is nourished by Wenger, much like another young Frenchman that came to the club! Also it’s worth remembering that Henry himself didn’t score for 8 games when he first started at Arsenal. Now I shouldn’t compare the two I know, but I just want people to get perspective in regards to the situation and not write the young man off too early. If it’s one thing Wenger knows about it’s teaching and guiding young players, all you need to do is look at Aaron Ramsey, someone who even myself over the years have bad mouthed. He’s easily one of the best midfielders in the league and he’s done that by proving all the haters wrong, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Szczesny all joined at young ages, a couple through the academy others joining from other clubs at around 16/17/18/19, now look at them!

If you look back over our baron trophyless seasons you begin to understand why we haven’t won things and understand what’s going on in the background. I knew nothing at the time only being a young teenager and not looking into how the club was run, me being 23 now and paying attention to most things behind the scenes. The best place to start would be the Champions League Final 2006, not the FA Cup in 2005 as most people say was the start of our ‘downwards spiral’. People forget that the season after our last cup we won, we reached the Champions League Final beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the process (another first for an English team I believe). Yet again in circumstances that remind me of the other night, Jens Lehmann became the first goalkeeper to be sent off in a Final, and we chased a Barcelona team for the rest of the game, had that red card never been issued I believe we’d of outplayed and beaten Barcelona, much like Bayern Munich the other night, but we didn’t and that was the fateful night that started the ‘disbelief’ of Arsenal fans and pundits alike. Bearing in mind though we still went and scored from that glorious Sol Campbell header, if we could score one against Barcelona with 10 men, imagine what we could do with 11. The following season we saw an exodus of core parts of our squad, they were part of the invincibles, the likes of Henry, Cole, Campbell & Lauren. This triggered a knock on effect and we lost our top players each season from then on as we didn’t have a player of Henry’s calibre to bring in big signings.

Yet, this was a mastermind move from Wenger and the board of directors as the fees we received from all of these transfers were paying off the stadium we’d just moved into and creating more revenue, which in doing so freed up funds which are currently available this season. I never understood this obviously as I wasn’t paying attention, and now feel harsh of my criticisms of Wenger when I was a teen. Although I can resolutely say I have NEVER jumped on the ‘Wenger out’ wagon, he makes the club what it is and were he to go then expect to see what is currently happening at Manchester Untied or maybe even worse, considering it’s publicly known that several players have come out and said that if Wenger left they wouldn’t know if they’d stay, causing yet more unstability within the team and any new manager would have an impossible job. Apart from of course, the return of Thierry Henry who recently omitted his desire to return to Arsenal as a manager one day, which would be the only suitable candidate in my eyes. Although, Thierry needs to go and get some management experience under his belt first, but the raw talent and understanding of the game he possesses and his understanding of the club and how it works and our style of play would mean he would slip right in. I only write this as I can tell like many others that Wenger will leave the club in the next 3/4 years. Anyway back to the point, now we have the funds available, we are suddenly a big choice for big names, we proved this with the signing of Ozil. Think about it, we have an amazing squad available, players other players want to play alongside, we play Champions League football EVERY season, we are title contenders, we have a healthy history and a genius manager. One thing I will say, this summer watch for another German to come in, whether it be Draxler, Khedira, Emre Can or Bittencourt, it’s a pattern i’ve picked up on like the flood of french players that came in from the late 90’s/early 00’s who all wanted to play with Vieira, like Petit, Henry, Pires, Wiltord, Cygan, Clichy & Flamini. We already have Mertesacker, Ozil & Podolski, with the emergence of Gnabry, Eisfield & Zelalem from the youth set up. I think it would be fair to say we can expect one or two more German’s to join this year.

So to conclude, the reason I think we could go on and win the league if not any other competition is because we have rebuilt our core and with the funds available are on the verge of adding some real world class players to our already extensive squad, whilst still keeping a good balance! Also Ramsey is yet to come back from injury and could be the deciding factor in the latter stages of the season, only time will tell. Thanks for reading!