Tag Archives: Arsenal

End of 2014/15 Premier League Season Thoughts

26 May

The End of the Premier League season is here, meaning the only games left until August are the Champions League Final in Berlin, the FA Cup Final at Wembley, some Euro qualifiers and friendlies, and of course, the summer international and exhibition tournaments.

My overall thoughts on the season: Congratulations to Chelsea. They were the best team in the league all season, and their consistency and ability to go undefeated against top teams such as Manchester United, Manchester City, and Arsenal reflects their resilience in contrast to their performances last season.

2 clubs that exceeded expectations: 

Crystal Palace: The Eagles from South London hired Alan Pardew on January 1st, at which time Crystal Palace was in the relegation zone 21 matches in. 5 months and 17 matches later, Crystal Palace finished in 10th place, their most successful season in their 109 year history. Yannick Bolasie, the young Congolese winger, emerged as one of top talents in English football.

Southampton: They lose Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and their 24 goals combined they scored last season to Liverpool . They lose manager Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham . Many believed this club would fall apart, and finish in or around the relegation zone.

2 Clubs that fell short of expectations:

Liverpool: It was clear Liverpool wasn’t going to be able to match last years success given the departure of player of the year Luis Suarez to FC Barcelona. It was thought however, with the additions of the Southampton crew listed above, Mario Balotelli, and the continued development of Raheem Sterling, that Liverpool would manage a top 4 finish and at least do better than they did in the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers is on the hot seat, as longtime Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard takes his remaining talents to sunny Los Angeles.

Newcastle: To me, Newcastle should be what Swansea was this year, and the past couple of years. A legitimate top 10 club, playing exciting football while conquering on occasion some of the league’s best (Arsenal, Manchester United, etc). Newcastle is far from that, and staved off relegation on the very last day of the season. The Magpies have a long summer ahead of them, starting with finding a new manager.

Memories from this season: In no particular order: Chelsea winning the league handily, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Didier Drogba Premier League exits, Charlie Adam’s Goal, Leicester’s run down the stretch to avoid relegation, Crystal Palace’s improvement after hiring Pardew, lack of success in the Champions League for English teams, Newcastle’s collapse, Diego Costa’s immediate impact…

What I look forward to next season: Changes in personnel of all of the teams, the success/struggle of the newly promoted teams, will Chelsea repeat?, changes at Anfield, the continued rise of Manchester United,

Advertisements

Premier League, Week 34 Game of the Week

20 Apr

Recap: Chelsea beat Manchester United by a dull score of 1-0, thanks to a goal in the 1st half by Eden Hazard. Chelsea “did what it had to do to win”, playing a very defensive 2nd half and limiting the Red Devils’ attack.

This Week:

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Sunday, April 26th, 10am CDT, Emirates Stadium

Why this Game is Intriguing: Because these two clubs are not only the best two clubs in London, but the best two clubs in English football. Chelsea has just about sealed their fate as the winners of the Premier League, as they currently lead the 2nd place Gunners by 10 points. Even with a Chelsea loss here, it’s hard to imagine the Blues dropping points against some of the remaining opponents on their schedule, including Leicester City, Crystal Palace, West Brom, and Sunderland. Coupled with the fact that Chelsea has been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup, these remaining matches after the Arsenal game will be taken incredibly seriously by Jose Mourinho and company. Chelsea has a way of creating a wall (or as many call it, a bus) in front of their own final third, and it will be incredibly difficult for Arsenal to have its chances.

Other Reasons to Watch: Arsenal is gunning for 2nd place. While the Gunners have all but secured another top 4 finish and Champions League bid, they remain just 1 point ahead of 3rd place Manchester United, and 2 points ahead of 4th place Manchester City. Arsenal have had a fantastic season despite major, long term injuries to key players including Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, the Ox, Jack Wilshire, and more. Arsenal would hate to finish 4th, because that would mean that they would have a play-in series, and thus 2 more key games to even qualify for the Champions League group stage. While it is impossible for the Gunners to overcome Chelsea in the standings, a victory over the Blues, and a victory for Arsene Wenger over arch nemesis Jose Mourinho, would do wonders for the pride in red based in North London.

Prediction: This one remains tight, and low scoring. I’ll go with 1-1 draw.

EPL Week 33, Game of the Week

13 Apr

Recap: The Manchester Derby was a delightful match, featuring some of the top players in world football. It was Manchester United that came away with a 4-2 win, and a game in which the Red Devil’s dominated.

This Week:

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Chelsea vs Manchester United

Saturday, April 18th, 11:30am CST, Stamford Bridge

Why this game is intriguing: Form. Again. Manchester United is in splendid form, particularly after beating rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford 4-2 just last week. Louis van Gaal’s men are currently in 3rd place, just 1 point behind Arsenal, and 8 points (and 1 game) behind 1st place Chelsea. Now 4 points clear of City, the Red Devils have all but reached their #1 goal at the start of the season: Finish in the top 4, and earn a UEFA Champions League spot. United is one of, if not the biggest club in the world, with a globalized fan base. Their story this season, while not yet complete, is absolutely worth the headlines and the news coverage they receive. Chelsea have won their last 3 matches in a row, and having been eliminated from the Champions League and the FA Cup, winning the league is their only chance of getting a trophy this season, minus the Capital One Cup.

Other Reasons to Watch: The Manchester United midfield is something to behold, and while it did take awhile, this unit is the strength of the club. Marouane Fellaini is showing glimpses of the player he was at Everton before David Moyes brought him with to Manchester. He scores, he’s unselfish, and he’s a large presence in the box on crosses and corner kicks. Juan Mata is an intelligent Spaniard- the archtype of a number 8, and a player with great ball handling skills, vision, and scoring ability. Ander Herrera and Daley Blind are smooth passing defensive midfielders (Blind the more defensive of the two, Herrera more offensive). This unit thoroughly dominated the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho in the Manchester Derby, and have really stepped up in the latter part of the season.

Prediction: United is on a train that can’t be stopped. I’m going Red Devil’s 3, Chelsea 1

English Premier League, Week 11 Game of the Week

17 Nov

Recap from 2 weeks ago: Although not the most dominating of efforts, Chelsea handled Liverpool at Anfield thanks to goal by Gary Cahill and Diego Costa. Chelsea remains in first place, 4 points clear of the surprising Southampton Saints.

This Week: 

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Saturday, November 22nd, 11:30am (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Teams 6 (Arsenal) and 7 (Man United) in the Premier League face off in North London. Just a point apart, this is a crucial game as we head into the middle of November. The Gunners are coming off an ugly loss to Swansea City, a game which they controlled for about the first 60 or so minutes, before things got wildly out of hand. Man United won their last game at home against Crystal Palace thanks to a 67′ goal by Juan Mata. While not as significant of a rivalry as say the Manchester Derby, the North London Derby, or Liverpool vs Manchester United, this game, because of the history of the two clubs, has meaning beyond just two good teams playing.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: What does the future hold for both Arsenal and Manchester United, and where they end up finishing could all come back to this game. Both clubs are struggling mightily stringing together wins in a row, and both are dealing with bad injuries. The laundry list of injuries for Manchester United undoubtedly is hurting their chances: Falcao, van Persie, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera- each have missed or are slated to miss several games. For Arsenal: Olivier Giroud, Debuchy, Arteta, Ozil, Koscielny. Both of these clubs have Champions League aspirations, but have a ways to go. Even the Europa League, particularly for Manchester United, would be a positive step in the right direction for the club- however, as it stands and the way these clubs have looked, missing out on the top 6 entirely is a possibility that both would like to avoid.

Soccahaus Prediction: 1-1

English Premier League, Week 7 Game of the Week

13 Oct

Recap: 2 weeks ago, prior to the International Break, Chelsea defeated Arsenal 2-0, after a scuffle between managers Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. The 2 rivals squared off, but it was the Blues who looked the better side, with goals from Hazard (penalty in the ’27) and Diego Costa in the ’78.

This Week: 

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City FC

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City FC

Saturday, October 18th, 6:45AM (CST) Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: These teams are both in the top 6 in the current Premier League table, and both are currently involved in European competition (City in the Champions League, Spurs in Europa League). Manchester City hasn’t lost a Premier League match since August 30th (Stoke City at home), and has 2 wins (on the road against Hull and Aston Villa and 2 draws (Chelsea at home and Arsenal on the road) since then. Despite their inconsistent play, the Citizens are in second place, and only 5 points behind league leaders Chelsea. A win at home against the extremely talented Tottenham Hotspur would give Manuel Pelligrini’s men a boost of confidence heading into another week of Champions League play.

Other Reasons to Watch this game: The 6th place Tottenham Hotspur have just 2 wins in their last 6 games, but their most recent victory was by far their biggest of the season. Their home win against 3rd place Southampton, manager Mauricio Pochettino’s former team, was incredibly significant. The Spurs played a complete game against a very good team, and the goal came from none other than their star player, Dane Christian Eriksen. Nacer Chadli has been a beast thus far for the Spurs, scoring 4 goals already, and seems to be improving each game.

Prediction: Man City 2, Tottenham 0

English Premier League, Week 6 Game of the Week

29 Sep

Recap: Chelsea rocked 3rd place Aston Villa 3-0 thanks to goals from Oscar, Diego Costa, and Willian. Chelsea continues to look the part, as they are the class of the English Premier League. Their depth and goal-keeping continue to be points of consistency.

This Week:

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Sunday, October 5th, 8:05am (CST) Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: A London derby featuring 2 of England’s best clubs. Chelsea comes off a 3-0 drubbing at Villa Park- while not unexpected, the result seems to have catapulted Chelsea into what we already knew they were- the best Premier League team at present time. Arsenal on the other hand comes into this game after a less than stellar result, a 1-1 draw to North London arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal scored the game tying goal late, as young English star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found the back of the net in the ’74. The Gunners were playing without injured captain Mikel Arteta, and Welsh star Aaron Ramsey had to be substituted at half due to a hamstring issue. It is also important to note that both of these clubs have Champions League matches earlier in the week: Chelsea travels to Portugal to face Sporting Club Lisbon on Tuesday, while the Gunners host Turkish Champions Galatasaray at the Emirates on Wednesday.

Other Reason to Watch this Game: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea. The Catalan midfielder will play his old club, the club he played at for 9 years, for the first time as a Chelsea player. Cesc was the captain at Arsenal for many years, and was without a doubt, along with Robin van Persie, their best player. Now, Cesc is the focus of the Chelsea attack, leading the league in assists with 6. Cesc was an important player for Barcelona too in between his spells at the two London-based clubs, but opted to return to England to receive more playing and in the hopes of winning his first Premier League title- something he was unable to achieve at Arsenal.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1

English Premier League, Week 5 Game of the Week

22 Sep

Recap: Down a man, Frank Lampard scored in the final minutes against his old club for Manchester City. The 1-1 draw was an outstanding result for the Citizens as home, because it was Chelsea who dominated much of the game, and are currently the league leaders. This is a game City can look to build upon.

This Week:

Chelsea FC vs Aston Villa FC

Chelsea FC vs Aston Villa FC

Saturday, September 27th, 9am (CST) Stamford Bridge

Why This Game is Intriguing: 2 games, 2 draws for Chelsea. First against against Schalke at home in what was frantic, come from behind effort on the part of the Germans in the Champions League, and second at the Etihad in a hard fought, emotional game against Manchester City. Chelsea will look to bounce back from those results, and that shouldn’t be too hard considering they have the top goal scorer in the Premier League in Diego Costa (7), and the top assist man in Cesc Fabregas (6). As is typical with Jose Mourinho managed teams, this Chelsea squad is compact defensively, dangerous and attacking on the wings when on the counter, but not as poised or intelligent when it comes to possession. Against Schalke, unless Chelsea were on the counter, they seemed lost just passing the ball around, without much flair going towards the net.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: Aston Villa is currently in 3rd place, having won 3 games, drawn once, and lost once. The lone loss was a blowout at home to Arsenal, the lone draw was at home to winless Newcastle, and the 3 victories came at Liverpool, at Stoke, and at home to Hull City. Gabriel Agbonglahor is a real threat going forward, as is Austrian Andreas Weiman. Fabian Delph is an incredibly athletic and intelligent midfielder, who recently made his first international appearance with the English National team. Anchoring the defense is Aly Cissokho, formerly of Liverpool, Valencia, and Lyon. American Brad Guzan is one of the best goal keepers in the Premier League, and has played sensationally thus far in the early season. Aston Villa was in real danger of being relegated last season, but already this season the club looks to be much improved.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 4, Aston Villa 1