Arsenal

Saturday FA Cup Round up

In a season, that started late due to the ongoing Covid situation, this year’s FA Cup third round got under way, pretty much as per usual.

Marine, Chorley and Stockport are three sides from Non-League football and have done brilliantly to get this far.

At time of writing, Lancastrians Chorley shocked the footballing world with a 2-0 win against Championship side Derby.

Upon further reflection, it can be argued that this result for Chorley, isn’t that much of a shock due to The Rams’ first team squad being depleted . This has been due to a Covid outbreak in the East Midlands side first team.

The fourth round and fifth round draw, will be taking place later on today. Manchester United who are one of the most successful teams in the FA Cup , put their name into the hat for round four with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Championship play-off chasing Watford.

Despite The Hornets having plenty of good moments in the game, Watford weren’t able to fashion too many good chances and can arguably see this as a chance lost in getting to round four.

Holders Arsenal, beat Newcastle 2-0, to carry on their recent good form. The Gunners left it late, and they need Extra Time to get through.

Andy Carrol had a great chance in normal time for The Magpies , but the striker missed a chance, which can only be described as a sitter.

West Brom, are still yet to win under new Head Coach Sam Allardyce, after his West Brom side were beaten on penalties by League one side Blackpool.

Fellow Premier League strugglers Sheffield United won for the first time in six months, after they beat League two side Bristol Rovers 3-2.

There’s plenty more action to commence later today, with matches including Marine vs Tottenham, Newport vs Brighton and Manchester City vs Birmingham.

Here at ayyazmalik.com, we will be providing a round up of today’s matches this evening. See you then!

Lampard for the sack?

After compiling a previous piece on Leeds United and why they will get relegated (it proved spicy shall I say), in what I will now call the unpopular opinion series. I am back with another thought provoking blog.

In today’s installment, I want to talk about the current situation at Chelsea, and to be more precise, the future of their manager Frank Lampard.

He got Derby to the play off final, in his first season in charge, he beat Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds in the two-leg playoff semi-final I hear you say. As impressive as that was, the former Chelsea player did have a couple of players on loan from the Stamford Bridge outfit.

Fikoyo Tomori, and Mason Mount the players of course, the latter is now a first team regular in fact. I am just trying to emphasise, that The Rams had one of the best sides in the division, and arguably should have got promoted.

Yes, it was a narrow 1-0 loss they suffered in the final to Villa, but for Chelsea to come calling off the back of that season is a tad maybe kind? This is the same Chelsea who sacked The Special One, not once but twice! This is the same Chelsea who chose to pay a world record fee (£13.5 million) to bring former Porto manager Andre-Villas Boas to Chelsea .

That was a success wasn’t it? (110% sarcasm in my voice as you can tell). The Portuguese barely lasted a season, and was given the axe after a first leg loss to Napoli. On an interim caretaker basis former Blues midfielder Roberto Di Matteo, won the Champions League and FA Cup, only to be unceremoniously sacked the season after.

I am just trying to point out, that Chelsea have hired a lot of managers and fired them too, so why is Frank Lampard not under the same scrutiny? He has been given over £200 million to spend, he has got a fantasy football team at his disposal, so how are they losing?

How can a team of this quality lose to Everton, Wolves, Arsenal, Manchester City in such a short space of time? There’s world class talent at his disposal. It is a crazy season, so one can’t get too hung up about the league table and where they are in it as there’s not much seperate the teams in the standings.

Chelsea are eighth and an apparently poor Manchester United team is joint top with the brilliant Liverpool.

Now, my personal opinion is that Frank Lampard should be given time to turn this around. If results don’t improve, then it’s hard to argue a case for preferential treatment for the former Derby County manager.

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea; crisis what crisis?

Arsenal ended their seven game winless run in style with a 3-1 win over London rivals Chelsea.

The Gunners, who came into this game, in the bottom half of the table, move up a place a to 14th, with an important victory which was set up by two goals in the first half from the misfiring Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka.

A Bukayo Saka goal, effectively put the game to bed, with a three goal lead. Chelsea were able to get back into the game with a goal through striker Tammy Abraham, to potentially nervy finale, but this turned out not to be.

A weak Jorginho penalty was saved by German keeper Bernd Leno, which would have added an unfair reflection to the score line. For Arsenal, they will be hoping that this win, will give the renewed belief in their quest to finish towards the Europa League qualification places.

As for Chelsea, this defeat their third of recent times (Everton, Wolves, and now Arsenal) is a potential worrying sign, especially since their over £200 million outlay on playing talent over the summer. Arsenal, who have dominated the football headlines all season for all the wrong reasons, due to their precarious position, displayed the biggest gesture of support of under-fire Mikel Arteta.

With the news now emerging that German Thomas Tuchel is available after his sacking from French champions PSG, any more high profile defeats for the Spaniard Arteta, could have signalled the end of his reign in North London.

The Spaniard, however lives to fight another day.

After 100 days, the Premier League is back!

Football, after 100 days off our TV screens has returned!

After courageously serving our nation’s health workers, bosses at McDonalds decided to close their stores across the globe as England and the rest of the world embarked in unchartered territory (the corona virus Covid 19)

After going into lockdown, England has slowly but surely ground to a halt. The nations favourite high street shops closed for an indefinite period, and so did famous restaurant chains such as McDonalds and Nando’s (that’s cheeky Nando’s).

One should work from home, unless they can’t was the order of the day from the powers the be at 10 Downing street. Everything that is well loved, cherished was getting taken away from us (all be it temporarily, but for how long?)

Gyms are closed till 4th July , hairdressers are still closed but McDonalds and other fast food chains slowly make the steps to open fully and return back to normal. But what about the beautiful game from our TV screens?

BBC, did try to compensate the loss by showing some old classic games, but how many times can I see Euro 96 re-runs and more depressingly Colin Hendry’s barnet?

TV fans, some of them were deprived of shows like love Island, so were hoping for some form of boost to the TV listings.

After 100 days, several meetings and several Coronavirus tests to ensure all are healthy – the Premier League is back on our screens! Waa hay! In even more good news, there will be many games on BBC, Pick TV and Sky Sports who will be showing free games too.

This evening there were two games, with surprise package Sheffield United taking on Aston Villa, who seem doomed for relegation. In a game that was understandably not the best (due the player’s time off), there was still some drama.

Before the season being brought to a halt, VAR was the hot topic of conversation in most games, this game has also suffered the same fate. The Aston Villa goalkeeper appeared to fumble the ball into his own net.

Thankfully for The Villains, with the officials being of similar quality to the one’s used at the 1966 World Cup final, Dean Smith’s men have potentially picked up a very valuable point in their quest to beat the drop.

In the other game, on paper it promised to be a good one. Former Manchester City assistant Mikel Arteta went back to former employers Man City as manager of Arsenal.

This fixture in recent games gone by between the sides has usually been a foregone conclusion with City trouncing Arsenal .

Sorry Gunners fans, there would be no surprise here as Raheem Sterling, a Kevin DeBruyne penalty and a Phil Foden strike at the stroke of full-time, would ensure City got their restarted season off to a winning start.

3-0 it would finish to The Citizens Manchester City.

The win for City meant that Liverpool can’t win the Premier League title at bitter rivals Everton, when the two face off on Sunday.

In what was an already tough task for the North Londoners, the sending off of David “side show Bob” Luiz, made a tough task to near impossible. With defending that arguably did replicate the Simpsons character, maybe the Brazilian’s days at The Emirates are numbered.

Talking of the Simpson’s if you believe in the Simpsons theories, maybe they saw this coming from many years ago, like they did with everything else. That brings an end to our round up of today’s matches.

Entertaining matches, these might not have been but come on, you have watched all the box sets on Netflix … It’s time to allow the real entertaining TV back into your lives.

What ever football serves up, you know it will always be better than watching love Island!

What Arsenal Need To Do To Be More Competitive

Arsene Wenger needs  defensiveive reinforcemnts to take Arsenal to the next level

Arsene Wenger needs defensiveive reinforcemnts to take Arsenal to the next level

In life you have to endure some difficult moments, it’s just part and parcel of life itself. In footballing terms though however Arsenal fans have been suffering more than usual it seems. Season after season Arsene Wenger talks about how his Arsenal side will be more competitive in the’ big games’ , unfortunately though the game against Chelsea however shows that Arsenal still might have that ‘mental block’ of beating one 0f the ‘big guns’.

It’s a never ending cycle it seems Arsenal’s failure to beat one of the so called big teams and the last match against Chelsea was further evidence that this depressing sequence of not beating the bigger teams could well continue. It begs the question why is this continually happening to the Gunners? (failure to beat the big teams) The most obvious point is Arsenal’s defence, although Koscielny and Metersacker have been impressive against the so called ‘big guns’ both have been left exposed.

Which nicely leads on to my next point, which doesn’t take rocket science to work out that the holding midfield position is a problem where Arsenal are weak. Over the years the North London club could call on the likes of Patrick Viera or Gilberto Silva- but sadly those days are long gone.

Arsenal are getting are out thought and out fought in the middle of the park, as technically gifted as Arsenal and in particular their central midfielders are , crucially I feel they are getting ‘bullied out of games’. The invincible’s team of 2004 was a team which all teams aspired to be like, Arsenal had big and strong players like Sol Campbell and Viera for example, the opposing teams knew they were in for a physical battle before they even walked on to the pitch.

That team of 2004 had the midfield general that was Patrick Viera, Arsenal’s defenders would have felt reassured with a player of that stare sat in front of them. Unfortunately this Arsenal team doesn’t have a player of that ilk, Arsene Wenger does have a very talented midfield- but none of those midfielders seem comfortable in the holding midfield position, it appears that they are in that position because someone has to be in that position.
Matthieu Flamini has played in the holding midfield position the most – but has looked especially uncomfortable against the big teams. The other problem Arsenal have is their tactics- they’re just far to cavalier in their approach, that shouldn’t be a bad thing- but it is, let me explain. With out sounding to much like Alan Hansen, Arsenal’s full backs lacked discipline in the Chelsea game and time and time again The Gunners’ back line was horribly exposed with a ball over the top in that exposed channel .

Don’t worry Arsenal’s fans my assessment isn’t all doom and gloom, the Gunners can be optimistic for the future. Last years FA Cup win shows that this Arsenal team is starting to get mentally stronger, plucky wins against Wigan and Hull are example of that. I know what you’re think (they’re ‘small teams’) but never the less Arsenal showed great spirit and determination to win a trophy after 9 years.

I am also a believer that most teams know how to play Arsenal, and have a set system to counter act the Gunners’ acting mentality. For Arsenal to be a competitive side in the tittle race I feel they need to win the games that they’re not expected or at least get something from those games. The game against Everton was a good example of the point that I am trying to make, Arsenal seemed down and out- but 2 quick goals helped Arsenal get a 2-2 draw which many didn’t think was possible after being 2-0 down with 10 mins to go.

Arsenal are close to being able to beat the so called big guns more often, a defensive midfielder like Sami Khadiera is needed, the Real Madrid player is a bit injury prone-but so is Abu Diaby I guess, with Khadiera you have a midfielder in the Patrick Viera kind of mould. To add a bit of variety I think a player in the mould of Cesc Fabregas is needed, the Spaniard is a player who knows who to look after possession, a bit of a strange one by Arsenal not to sign their former player.

A commanding centre half will also be needed to compete with opposing strikers such as Diego Costa, Mats Hummels would be good. In summary Arsenal need a few improvements to their side mainly in the centre of midfiled by signing a player like Sami Khadiera or even Adel Rabiot of PSG (who I have heard a lot of good things about) and a centre half in the Hummels kind of mould. This Arsenal team has been well assembled and to be fair to Arsene Wenger he has brought in world class talent.

Football is a funny old game, I think Arsenal will do well this season and if they do win a trophy or 2, all this talk of beating the big guns will go away. To quote a cliche ” you can only beat what’s in front of you” . In Arsenal’s case they need top beat what’s in front of them, and when they do that I feel Arsenal just might go back to being that team of 2004.