Tag Archives: LENO

THE TWIST AND TURNS OF THE 186TH NORTH LONDON DERBY: ARSENAL’S REVIVAL, SPURS UNDOING

Hands up, beautiful people, if like me you thought Arsenal would lose this game!

I mean we were 2-0 down as we neared the end of the first half. I know this is football, and anything can happen, but, remember this is Arsenal, and overturning a lead of two or more goals in just one half has not always been our strong suit.

What I am trying to say is that we are not wonder-kids like the Manchester United of old, who would go down in the first half by multiple goals, but come back blazing in the second half, overturn the goal difference and actually win the game.

The game ended in a draw much to our relief. But, was it because of our fighting spirit or did Tottenham, out of hubris, fail to do enough to cling to their lead?

I think it was a mix of both, plus a little bit of luck for the Gunners.

Tottenham was initially out to win this game. They looked in-form, focused, and driven to get the maximum points, hence the two goals they were able to produce in the first half of their match against the Gunners.

Their display in the first half did not have a semblance of the broken spirit that has marked Spurs’ rocky start to the season.

Before last week’s London derby, they had only managed one win this season against Aston Villa, a draw against Manchester City, and a shocking loss to Newcastle. They were not looking like the title contenders that they normally look at this stage of the season.

Even their coach was not looking too happy during the first three games, to a point people were now comparing him to the ever-grumpy Mourinho when he was at the helm of Manchester United.

But, that all seemed to change in the first half of that Arsenal game.

  • There was pace and urgency on the counter

The Spurs’ counter was lethal in that first half in terms of pace, passing, and making shots on target.

Their very first counter-attack of the first half came in the 10th minute, and it resulted in a goal by Ericksen.

The pressure did not stop there as Leno had to produce two fine saves shortly after, from both Eriksen and Son, as Spurs continued to run riot on the counter.

  • Their connections were better

One major complaint against Spurs by their manager after that disastrous 1-0 loss to Newcastle was that his players were not connecting right, which means fewer chances were being created.

In their next match, in the first half at least, they sought to improve that. For instance, the build-up saw an excellent pass from Son to Lamela as the counter gained momentum. Lamela shot towards goal with just the right amount of power to have Leno spill the ball, right into the path of the menacing Christensen. All the latter had to do was simply tap the ball in, and voila, an early lead for the visitors.

Numerous well-executed connections followed after that, but, none as successful as that first one.

  • Their defense was awake

In that first half, Danny Rose was looking impossible to get past. Just ask Pepe, who try as he could, was not able to get anything past him.

This was definitely a more alert Rose than his display against Newcastle in the previous match.

Yes, I know he did get a yellow card, but it was all in the line of duty!

  • They took advantage of the opponent’s blunders

When our team blundered, Spurs milked it for all its worth. That first goal was a poor display of what is supposed to be ‘premier defending’ by our backline, and I am sure Leno could have done much more from keeping that ball from going in.

Leno would have also been caught off-guard in the 36th’ yet again when he let the save from Kane‘s 25yard shot spill back into Son’s path. Terrible, terrible, just terrible! The same mistake that led to the first goal.

The second for Spurs was as a result of Xhaka’s outrageous challenge on Son within the penalty area. When will Xhaka learn? When?

 

Lucky for us, Lacazette and Pepe were working their behinds off at the other end of the pitch. These two engineered our comeback into the game with Lacazette taking Pepe’s pass, creatively flooring Vertonghen, and shooting one past Lloris.

We definitely didn’t see that coming.

From that goal, into the second half, a new, inspired, rejuvenated Arsenal emerged. Here’s what we did right, and the Spurs did wrong in that second half:

  • We pushed hard, and Tottenham let us do it

From the very start of the second half, we pushed…hard! One minute into the second half, and Laca was already threatening goal after latching onto a cross from Maitland-Niles.

Lloris did well to save that one, but two minutes later, he gave Aubamayeng a clear chance to score, were it not for a last-ditch effort of a challenge on our last season’s top scorer by one of the Spurs’ defenders.

The action did not stop there as we saw Lacazette, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, and Aubameyeng, relentlessly picking up the ball, and shooting it towards goal. Lloris was having an incredibly tough time trying to keep it together under all of this pressure.

Tottenham’s attempt at playing from the back was going horrendously wrong, and this had to be the liveliest of performances I have seen from our attack this season.

We were all over Tottenham in that second half, and one could barely breathe with all of the activity going on in the Spurs half for those 45+ minutes.

  • Leno was more alert

Finally, this man’s head was in the game. But, yes, he had a little help from the post as one of Kane’s attempt in the 59th was bound to be a goal, and there would be nothing our goalkeeper could do about it.

  • Guendouzi was brilliant

Enough said! This young maestro is the glue that holds our midfield together. I wish Xhaka could learn a thing or two from this youngster. His game was so good last Saturday that he has been called up to the France national squad in preparation for the Euro 2020.

  • Our passing at the front was glorious

…leaving Tottenham’s defense completely outclassed.

Guendouzi’s magnificent cross into the box in the 70th minute, leaves defenders scrambling, and Aubamayeng is right there to deliver an inspired poke into the opponent’s net.

Kolasinac, Sokratis, Auba, Mikhi, and Pepe were going ham at the opponent’s defense, out-maneuvering them with impressive passes, crosses, and shots towards goal.

 

So exciting! What an exhilarating half! What a time to be a living, breathing, Arsenal fan.

But, as usual, we did make a few mistakes in that second half as well.

  • Xhaka is a problem child

That yellow he received in the dying minutes of the game just continues to prove how much of a burden this midfielder is shaping up to be.

Yes, his indiscipline on the pitch is giving Arsenal issues.

Yes, Guendouzi is a much better midfielder.

Yes, it is in our freaking best interest to sell him even to the lowest bidder.

I foresee him costing us dearly this season, just like the last one. Let’s just hope Emery gives him less playing time for the sake of our collective sanity.

  • Sokratis loses his head under pressure

Sokratis does not work well under intense pressure, and his challenge against Winks and Kane in the late minutes of the game would have undone all of the work that Laca, Pepe, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Auba, and Leno had done to keep us in this game.

In future games, I would prefer him to be subbed the minute the game goes into high tempo, otherwise, we are looking at laughable defeats over the next few months.

 

It’s Arsenal vs Watford next Sunday, while Tottenham is up against Crystal Palace. Let’s just wait and see who gets to drop points next week.

Tigoi na wega!

 

The 186th North London Derby_ Arsenal's Revival; Spurs Undoing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus:

 

Here’s a video I made on Mourinho’s grumpiness last season:

 

 

ARSENAL VS TOTTENHAM: LESSONS LEARNT FROM LIVERPOOL LOSS

Yes, I know. We lost to Liverpool 3 goals to 1. It sucks! We were on such a high, having won the first two games of the season. We were reaching for the stars. It was a wonderful start. We were getting there; we could do this, and by this, I mean win our matches back to back from the start to the end of the season.

And, why wouldn’t we have such hope? We had just brought in ‘superstar’-level players in our ranks unlike previous seasons under Wenger. Our top scorer last season was hitting the ground running with two goals in two games; our midfield was becoming stronger thanks to the addition of Ceballos, a box-to-box midfielder with Cazorla-like qualities; our defense was seemingly getting stronger with the added expertise of David Luiz.

But, it all came undone last Saturday when we lost 3 goals to 1. It would have been much worse, I’m sure because as you know, this is the LIVERPOOL! The current Champions League and Super Cup holders. The scariest team in the EPL right now because of their pace, defensive prowess, midfield tenacity, and lethal attack!

So, yeah, we did not have much hope going into this game, and I feel sorry for any naive Arsenal fan who thought we could come out of the game with a point, or even three 🙂

I’m just glad we did not lose as badly as the other few times we’ve played against Liverpool. That is my only consolation at the moment.

I am also glad that our loss to this formidable team was not as pathetic as Manchester United’s loss to Crystal Palace. 🙂

That being said, there are some areas that I hope have been improved upon before our game tomorrow with another difficult team, Tottenham.

  • Defense

Here, I’m mainly talking about David Luiz. His performance in this match was a far cry from the leadership quality he exhibited in our match against Burnley.

The second half especially was horrible for the defender, raising a lot of doubt as to whether he has the right mind frame to be a leader at Arsenal’s backline.

Grabbing Salah’s shirt like that in a bid to stop his attack was plain immature and unprofessional. And we paid heavily because of his actions as the referee awarded Salah a penalty…arrrgh!

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I think we’ve just caught the first glimpses of why people refer to Luiz as a loose cannon.

For Salah’s second goal, you really cannot blame Luiz for being unable to defend him, because Salah is that good. However, the other defenders should have fallen back to offer additional support for both Luiz and Leno.

One more performance like this from Luiz, to add on to our already super-fragile defense, and we are going to need a miracle to make it even to the top five teams at the end of the season.

  • Style of play

Truth be told, we did not choose the right defensive style of play for this particular game.

We chose a high line style of play, which is mainly used against teams that love to possess and pass the ball a lot. It is ineffective against a team that is prolific in fast-break soccer as is the case with Liverpool.

Being caught left-footed by the Liverpool forwards and wing midfielders is probably why Luiz out of frustration for not being able to catch up with Salah, opted to pull at the forward’s shirt instead, in a bid to stop him from moving forward.

It’s probably why he could not intercept the ball during the build-up to Salah’s second goal.

Once Liverpool instituted the fast-break, our high line plus their immense pace made it difficult, if not almost impossible to keep Liverpool’s attack at bay.

  • Shooting Accuracy

Maybe if everything behind was working as planned, then the forwards would have much better chances at scoring.

But, that does not negate the fact that Arsenal had 9 shots at goal, 3 on target, but failed to convert most of these, aside from Torreira‘s goal late in the game.

Our shooting accuracy was at 33.3%, not bad when you compare it to Liverpool’s 20%, but they had 3 goals and we had 1. We definitely need to improve on this.

Nicholas Pepe would do well to improve his shooting accuracy. He had the best chances to score in the first half and would have probably saved the match for us if he had converted those chances.

  • Indecisive New Signings

Our new signings were not as impressive in this match as they were against our first two opponents.

Ceballos, for instance, shined in the match against Burnley, to the point that he was declared the man of the match. Against Liverpool, though, he was practically mute! How does that even happen?

As mentioned above, Pepe wasted a couple of chances in front of goal, which were, by the way, our best chances at getting at least a draw in this match.

Also mentioned is Luiz’ complete malfunction during this match, the total opposite of how he performed against Burnley.

So, yes! Our new signings might still need a little more time to settle in…sadly, time is a luxury we do not have at the moment.

 

 

 

That’s all I have for now; come back and let’s compare notes after the #ARSTOT game tomorrow.

Ciao!

SOCCER BLOG

 

USHERING IN THE 2018/19 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON

By Lennox Kimtai

The 2018/19 Premier League season is here. How time flies! Just the other day we were enjoying the World Cup in Russia. Talking of the World Cup, I must say it was one of the best, if not THE best world cup tournament I have ever watched.

The drama started early in the group stages, where the 2014 winners Germany were eliminated. Coming into the tournament, Germany was one of the favorites to lift the trophy. They had just won the Confederations Cup with a squad that was mainly made up of under-23s. There was no doubt about their quality. The only explanation for their early exit is that they underrated their opponents.

Looking at the overall performance of teams, I must say I was impressed by the smaller teams such as Switzerland, Sweden, Russia and Serbia which had hitherto been expected to pose little threat. It is a clear indication that any well-organized team can outshine a traditional football heavyweight.

The Croatia Vs France final was an amazing one. After a 3-0 drabbing of Lionel Messi’s Argentina, we knew that the Croats were up to something great. Personally, I was rooting for Croatia in the final but they just couldn’t replicate their form against other teams in the final. Although they dominated the midfield and controlled the tempo of the game, they were too shy in front of goal.

Anyway, congrats to Les Bleus!

Now back to the Premier League. Clubs have been busy reinforcing their squads since the season ended in May. The summer transfer window has been a busy one, with almost every club making a major signing. Let’s have a look at some of the transfers.

Chelsea

Former Chelsea coach Antonia Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri. Antonio Conte apparently failed to meet the expectations of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who has a habit of changing managers almost every season. His lowest point was selling Diego Costa, perhaps the best striker in the premier league when he was at Chelsea.

Sarri has brought in a couple of players. The first is Kepa Arrizabalaga (goal keeper), Mateo Kovacic (defender), Jorginho (midfielder) and Robert Green (Goal keeper). Looks like decent signings. Having lost Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, Kepa is a great replacement.

Manchester United

Manchester United didn’t really do much in the transfer Window. Only three players have signed for the Manchester club: Diogo Dalot (defender), Fred (midfielder), and Lee Grant (goalkeeper). Mourinho was unable to land most of his targets so it could be a difficult season for the Red Devils. I can picture Mourinho employing his infamous defense tactics when playing against tougher opponents.

Arsenal

The Gunners go into the new season without their former manager Arséne Wenger who has been with the North London outfit for 22 years. It looks like we are going to see a new arsenal under Unai Emery. The former PSG head brought in a number of players: Stephan Lichtsteiner (defender), Bernd Leno (keeper), Lucas Torreira (midfielder), Sokratis Papastathopolous (defender), and Matteo Guendouzi (midfielder).

It will be exciting to see what type of squad Unai Emery will develop, having had tremendous success with PSG and Sevilla. Arsenal looks ready to make a return to Champions League football.

Liverpool

If you look at the current Liverpool, you can’t help but admire Klopp’s genius. He has brought in Naby Keita (midfielder), Allison (keeper), Xherdan Xhaqiri (midfielder) and Fabinho (defender/midfielder).

Having reached the Champions League final last season, it looks like Klopp is hungry for more. With the dangerous trio of Firmino, Mane, and Salah, it looks like Liverpool will contend for every trophy this season.

Manchester City

The Premier League Champions made a few additions to their excellent squad: Philippe Sandler (defender), Riyad Mahrez (midfielder), Daniel Arzani (midfielder). With so many options for nearly every position, Pep Guardiola will easily terrorize opponents with his B team. It looks like the former Barcelona manager might retain the Premier League trophy.

Everton

Everton might look like the underdogs in this list but going by their activities in the transfer window, we can conclude that they are serious about winning the premier league. On deadline day, the Merseyside club completed a deal for Yeri Mina (permanent deal) and Andre Gomes (loan) from Barcelona. The club also signed Brazilian midfielder Bernard. With great players like Tosun and Sigurdsson already in the team, the new additions will enable Everton to fight for a top-four spot.

Tottenham has made history as the only club not to have made a signing in the summer transfer window. This means that Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino will open the club’s new stadium with the same squad that finished third in the 2017/18 season. Despite the fact that they have a strong squad, the absence of a new signing may come to haunt them.

As the new season begins, I hope the league remains competitive to the end. I wouldn’t want Man City to retain the title.

WRITER BIO: Lennox Kimtai is a content writer who is passionate about football. Apart from football, he writes on a wide range of topics such as self-improvement and productivity. Check out his blog here and here.