Sack time at Arsenal

And it isn’t #Wenger who needs to go (he probably will and it won’t be undeserved) – it’s most of this gutless, spineless mediocre bunch of players that have done nothing but to embarrass themselves over the past month or so, losing games against opposition they should have beaten and getting absolutely hammered by opposition so far superior to them (*cough #BayernMunich cough*), that the outcome was never in question. The #WengerOUT #InWengerWeTrust debate will continue to rage amongst the #Arsenal faithful – the fans who want his head will point to #Leicester’s stunning reversal under caretaker boss #Shakespeare after winning their 4th on the trot today, winning at #WestHam 2-3; those supporting him will point to the struggles of #ManchesterUnited in their search for re-establishing themselves as the European powerhouse they were under their long-term manager #SirAlex, and the difficulty in finding someone to fill Arsene’s 20-year old shoes. Missing in this argument is just how utterly rubbish this Arsenal side can be. Sure, Wenger has been ‘out tactic-ed’  by his top 6 rivals and out muscled by the likes of #WestBrom, who beat them 3-1 at the #Hawthorns today, thanks to 3 set-pieces (the way the #Baggies score all their goals) but the way this team has capitulated over the past 2 months or so, there isn’t much poor Arsene can do on the field about. When (not If) they finish outside the top 4 this season, they will struggle to get back in and losing #AlexisSanchez and possibly, #MesutOzil will make any sort of recovery even harder. Just as the likes of #Everton continue their rapid rise into contention with yet another convincing win, a 4-0 thrashing of relegation-headed #HullCity.

At the opposite end of status and future prospects, London’s biggest club (yes, I know that hurts Gunners fans) #Chelsea and #EPL champions-elect now, showed just why they are the English powerhouse with a last gasp 1-2 win at #Stoke, in a difficult and tight game that lesser mortals would have dropped points in. But this #Conte managed side can dominate when on song and grind out results when not – you know, the stuff title-winning sides are made of. Kudos Blues. When you win this title, not one fair-minded human will begrudge you your victory. Not one. Not just in London but Arsenal aren’t even the biggest club in North-London anymore (yup, that hurts you Gunner-faithful again, but #Tottenham have surpassed you a few seasons ago already)

Wins for #Bournemouth against #Swansea (2-0); #Palace vs #Watford (1-0) and a boring-assed 0-0 draw between #Sunderland and #Burnley rounded off EPL Saturday.

Over in the #Bundesliga, #Dortmund moved within sniffing distance of 2nd place #RBLeipzig with a narrow 1-0 win against #Ingolstadt (a performance that would have given #Monaco a lot of hope for their QF #ChampionsLeague tie – as much as BVB are a threat in attack, their defending is shambolic. If the forwards at Ingolstadt hadn’t been utterly rubbish, they would have conceded about 5 goals. Monaco will score a 100 if they aren’t careful!) while Leipzig were hammered 3-0 at #WerderBremen.

And in the #LaLiga, #RealMadrid moved 5-points clear of #Barcelona after a 1-2 graft at #Bilbao, making #Barcelona’s slip up last week hurt them significantly in their bid to retain their title. After that amazing comeback against #PSG, it’s not surprising if the catalans are putting a greater price on the ChampionsLeague trophy over the LaLiga this year.

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Same same but different!

The #ChampionsLeague quarter-final draw is out this morning and the matchups could not be more interesting and more appropriately matched.

3 outright favorites will definitely be whittled down to 2 at the maximum with #BayernMunich taking on holders #RealMadrid in a match up of #Ancelotti and his favorite disciple #Zidane, both coming off the experience of recent titles with Real. Both these sides are quite similar in the way they are setup and boast solid, consistent defenses, powerful midfields and lethal attacks. This will be a low-scoring cagey set of ties, with the possibility of the away goal rule deciding the one that goes through. Definitely not the tie that either of the teams would have been hoping for.

After #Barcelona’s incredible 6-1 last gasp miracle win against #PSG, they will go up against one of the most consistent and solid teams in Europe, #Juventus, a repeat of the 2015 final that the Catalans won. Juve are a side that rarely concede goals but also have goals in them thanks to their potent Argentine strike force of #Dybala and #Higuain. Barca are a side that concede a lot of goals, it seems, but my gosh golly can they ever score a busload. However, if they falter away in Turin like they did in Paris, there won’t be a mushy scatter-brained defense for them to plunder – the #OldLady will be very hard to break down.

Perennial semi-finalists #AtleticoMadrid are the hardest of the teams for #Leicester to have been matched up with. Their style of play and their compactness in defense do not lend well to the rapid counter-attacking ‘smash and grab’ approach that Leicester won their 2016 #EPL title on. They will find instead an unbelieveably well-drilled defense that keeps it’s structure at all times, combined with the goal-scoring capabilities of #Griezmann #Saul and company extremely hard to contain. This one has an outright favorite and it ain’t the #Foxes.

The funnest tie, by a country mile, has to be the #Dortmund vs #Monaco matchup. A baseball scoreline at the end of both fixtures won’t be surprising at all. 2 teams that do very little on the football pitch other than score goals, makes for a mouth-watering tie for the neutrals. This one will come down to how disciplined #BVB can be at Dortmund. If they can keep the young stars of the Principality from scoring (a few) in Germany, they might just be able to do enough on the Riviera to go through. But you’d be hard pressed to put your money on it!

Over in the #EuropaLeague, or as #ManchesterUnited supporters call it ‘The only way left to get back into the Champions League’, the #RedDevils will play #Anderlecht, a team they should get by quite easily on paper. And if that is what #Mourinho and his ‘tired’ stars believe, the can expect a rude surprise. If #Zlatan and #Mhkitaryan stay fit, they’ll get by, just about.

Predictions:

  1. Bayern – Real : ugh. This is a 50:50. Away goals decide.
  2. Juventus – Barcelona : Barca scrape through.
  3. Atletico – Leicester : Atleti, easily.
  4. Dortmund – Monaco : BVB, by a hair.

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£54 million in savings to boot

If you saw #Chelsea dominate 10-man #ManchesterUnited in their narrow 1-0 #FACup win to go through to the semi-final where they play #Tottenham, you likely also saw the best player in the #EPL from this and last season, the midfield machine that is #NgoloKante completely dominate the United midfield, especially one #PaulLabilePogba.

United have regressed over the past few months, after a period of much progress, that saw them go unbeaten for a long period and string together a series of impressive wins. Even their draws were dominant. All that seems to have disappeared and their #EFLCup win was lucky, to say the least. They’ve looked pedestrian in their last 3 games – a 1-1 at #OldTrafford to #Bournemouth, a 1-1 away in the #Europa at #Rostov (yeah, yeah the pitch was garbage) and this 0-1 loss to Chelsea to end their defense of the FA Cup.

Look at the stats in the image though – it tells you so much of the story. The #SpecialOne ain’t the most #ExpensiveOne – he’s actually the diminutive frenchman who’s taking his second blue side to an EPL title in consecutive years. Brilliant!

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