Tag Archives: ole gunnar solskjaer

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:

 

 

FOUR GAMES IN: WHAT THE RED DEVILS KEEP DOING WRONG

The Red Devils drew with Southampton on Saturday, an obvious improvement from their loss to Crystal Palace the previous week.

An improvement, yes, but, only because it wasn’t a loss. It wasn’t a loss because United were just lucky.

This particular result means that they have only won two of the last 13 matches they have played across all competitions. What a stunningly awful statistic, considering that this is Manchester United, one of the most premier soccer clubs in the world.

Why are the Red Devils in a seemingly overwhelming tailspin?

From what I can tell from at least their first four matches this season is that they keep repeating the same mistakes.

Put in a better way, the same issues keep re-emerging in every game, and Solksjaer seems unable to identify and fix them.

Which problems are these you might be wondering?

The same problems they demonstrated during their loss to the Eagles the previous week.

  • Ineffective Attack

The lack of depth and experience in this team is quite apparent, and more so, when it comes to the attack.

Lukaku’s and Sanchez’ departure has left big shoes to be filled, and Rashford just isn’t cut out for the job at the moment.

Just like in the game against Crystal Palace, on Saturday we saw a Rashford who was unsure of himself in front of goal, who made the wrong passes and squandered a couple of scoring opportunities.

In the last 3 games, after his brace against Chelsea in the opening match of the season, the 21-year-old has been unable to score despite having 12 shots at goal.

Daniel James, one of the Devils’ most recent signings, has been a sigh of relief at the front- having brought his goal tally to three goals in four games after the Saturday match. However, he’s still young, and his form is bound to dip and peak throughout the season. When his performance lulls, will the likes of Rashford and Martial be ready to pick up the slack?

Doubtful.

Jesse Lingard seems to be out of Solksjaer’s attacking equation. He was left out of the starting lineup against Southampton, with Solksjaer opting to put Pereira in his place. Lingard’s shockingly horrific performance against Crystal Palace is definitely what has put him in the docks, and we might not know for how long.

Luckily though, he has something to look forward to as Gareth Southgate has picked him to be a member of the England squad that will face Bulgaria and Kosovo this December in the Euro 2020 qualification rounds.

As if Manchester United does not have enough problems at the moment, Martial is facing some injury problems, and we do not know if he’ll be able to play in the next few matches.

Sad…just sad! I really like Martial.

  • Pogba Problems

At the beginning of the season, the only problem anyone really had with Pogba was that he missed a penalty.

But, the frustrations that Red Devils fans had with the central midfielder last season have reared their ugly heads once again in the last two matches.

Against Crystal Palace, his error and later slip-ups by the defense, allowed van Aanholt to score the late winner.

In the game against Southampton, his performance alternated between flashes of glory and silly mistakes that stopped Man-U from winning the game fair and square.

He was uncomfortable with the pace of the game from the beginning, hence, his constant dispossession of the ball throughout the game. In some instances, even in his own half, can you believe it?!

We also saw a variety of over-shot and misfired passes, amongst other glaring mistakes.

What in the world was going on with Pogba on Saturday? A total and complete lack of concentration from what we could all gather.

But, in the midst of that chaos, he was still integral to his team’s most compelling attacks and managed to create four chances for the Devils, more than any other man in his team.

Weird….how can you be your team’s worst player, and with the same breath, the best?

It’s such a shame because he is supposed to be the experienced one there, bringing in the depth and the consistency that his team so badly needs right now.

However, this kind of inconsistency can dearly cost Solksjaer’s team down the line.

He needs to move already, seeing as he’s not feeling the Manchester United vibe anymore. Yes, the transfer rumors are still buzzing!

Oh, yeah, and now, he’s injured…the rain is beating Manchester United a bit too hard these days.

  • Defensive woes

This is a theme that has become consistent in every game that the Devils play.

It has become apparent that Victor Lindelof’s weak spot is aerial duels. He lost the ball to Schlupp during the Palace match, and Ayew took advantage of this to score the opener for the Eagles.

Against Southampton, he was out-jumped by Jannik Vestergaard, who then scored the equalizer for The Saints, and got them back into the game.

What does this tell us? It should tell us that:

a) Solksjaer needs another solution to aerial duels in his backline

b) Bissaka and Maguire need to be constantly aware of this weakness, and offer more support to Lindelof. A total of £130 million, and they cannot be bothered to help offer more cover for the central-back. What a waste! What a phenomenally gigantic waste!

 

United’s game is against a strong Leicester that is currently third in the standings. The Foxes have won 2 and drawn an equal number in their last four matches this season. Not a single loss!

It’s highly doubtful that United will cause Leicester’s first loss of the season. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Until then,

Kwaheri!

GEORGINAWANGUI.COM (1).png

 

 

 

MANCHESTER UNITED VS CRYSTAL PALACE- RED DEVILS UNDONE BY THE FAMILIAR

The Red Devils started off their campaign vibrantly enough. They beat THE Chelsea 4 goals to nil in the first game of the season. In that match, everything went right. Rashford managed to strike a penalty into the box, the midfielders (Pogba and Pereira) were on top of their game and provided assists for three of the goals. Maguire and Wan-Bissaka kept it clean and tight at the defense.

It seemed that finally, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had managed to rebuild this broken team, and this was the season for glory.

But, as with every fairy tale, things began going wrong.

Their game against Wolverhampton the next week was going according to plan when Anthony Martial scored in the 27th minute, his second goal in two games. He scored that goal with his weaker foot to add on to the drama of it all. It seems, however, the Reds were not prepared for a dramatic fight that saw man of the match, Ruben Neves equalize with a spectacular 25-yard thunderbolt of a goal.

Ruben-Neves

Pogba had the chance of a lifetime to bring his team back ahead when he was fouled inside the penalty box around the 65th minute. However, this attempt was easily saved by the Wolves goalkeeper, Rui Patricio.

Pogba ended up being the butt of numerous racist jokes and comments, which is quite appalling because even the best can miss a penalty. It’s just sad that pigs with racist tendencies can access the Internet and abuse people they don’t know. Sad!

Anyway, they ended up drawing that match, much to the chagrin of Manchester United fans all over the world.

If they were expecting a marked improvement in the third match of the season, well then, they must be sorely disappointed with their team at this point.

Last Saturday, Manchester United was up against Crystal Palace, and boy, did they have it rough. They managed to lose to the Eagles, 2 goals to 1, much to my amusement I must confess.

This was the first time since 1989 that Crystal Palace had secured a win at Old Trafford. 3 decades of drought, and then Patrick van Aanholt’s injury-time goal changed everything!

So, what happened?

Credit to the Crystal Palace players, they played their hearts out, and took advantage of the few chances they were presented.

But, what did the Manchester United players fail to do right that saw them hand over to Crystal Palace their first win of the season?

  • Penalty woes

In two separate occasions in these last two fixtures, Manchester United have been awarded a penalty that they have failed to convert.

The first one we spoke about above, when Pogba was unable to net one past the Wolves goalkeeper from the penalty box.

The second event occurred during the Crystal Palace match when Rashford hit the post, and squandered the penalty opportunity awarded.

bc55eab95d61069e0c68267996a39488

These two events seem to suggest that Solksjaer is not preparing his players well when it comes to taking penalties. Two missed penalties in two games by two different players of the same team is one too many, and something needs to be done to remedy this situation.

…or not, because, hey, I’m not a Red Devils fan, and it won’t be too painful to bear seeing this team waste every penalty opportunity they are given.

  • Defensive Issues

In their game against Chelsea, their first match as Manchester United players, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka seemed a formidable pair. At that time, from their performance, it seemed that the £130 million spent on both of them was more than justifiable.

However, things began to unravel for the two during the Wolves game and really came to a head in the Palace clash.

Ayew’s goal, Palace’s first of the game, can be credited to Maguire and Wan-Bissaka’s failure to offer enough support to Lindelof. If they were covering him properly after he lost the ball to Schlupp, then one of them would have been able to clear the ball before Ayew got his feet on it.

IMG_20190824_152513

Crystal’s second goal cannot be solely blamed on the defenders…but, perhaps better ball-watching by Maguire would have averted the situation? Perhaps the defenders shouldn’t have hang back as much as they did when Zaha and Aanholt were leading the counter-attack charge, that eventually led to a last-minute goal by the Eagles’ left-back.

But, truth be told, Maguire has had a terrible time against Crystal Palace for many seasons before he joined Manchester United. During his time at both Hull, and Leicester, Maguire has never experienced a win against Crystal Palace.

Shocking! We just might have found his kryptonite (what a useful little gem).

Maguire and the rest of the defense line-up better put their act together this coming weekend, or else, Southampton’s pressing style, and pace might just overwhelm them. Oh, what joy Manchester United’s undoing will bring to the rest of the world that is not red!

  • Toothless Attack

It’s almost as if the likes of Rashford were scared to score, or just simply indecisive on how to go about it. In the case of Martial, who was the better forward of Manchester United’s attacking trio in this match, was simply not being the fed the ball enough times.

It was almost an hour before Guaita had to make a save, and that is a demonstration of how lackluster the Red Devils attack was.

Such a shame considering the immense talent that Rahsford, Lingard, and Martial individually and collectively possess.

 

There’s so much more to write about that woeful Red Devil’s performance, but those were the main points of the match.

Well, Southampton is now a day away, let’s just wait and see if these issues would have been solved by then.

Goodbye!

 

crystal palace (1)