Top Four Race
The race for the top four is heating up with only 4 games remaining to play. With Liverpool and Manchester City locked up the top two spots (not necessarily in that order), that leaves 4 teams in the top 6 fighting for the last two Champions League places. Tottenham currently sits in 3rd with 67 points, Arsenal sits in 4th with 66 points, Chelsea sits in 5th with 66 points, and Manchester United sits in 6th on 64 points. All of these teams missed opportunities to gain an edge as all four of these teams lost their last league game. Chelsea lost in midweek to Liverpool 2-0. Tottenham lost to city 1-0 after knocking them out of the Champions League. Arsenal were tripped up by Crystal Palace 3-2 at home. Manchester United suffered an embarrassing 4-0 loss to the hands of Everton. Right now it seems like no one wants top four. Champions League football is on the line with only a few weeks left in the season. There is no room for mistakes anymore. Chelsea and Spurs both play bottom 6 teams in the week, in Burnley and Brighton. On Wednesday, Arsenal travel to 10th placed Wolves, and United have the big game in the Manchester derby.
European Competitions Are Back!
Champions league and Europa League are finally back. The Champions League had its quarter finals first legs on Tuesday and Wednesday. For the first time since 2009, 4 teams from the same country all made the quarter finals of the Champions League. Three Premier League teams were in action on Tuesday. Liverpool played Portuguese side Porto, and the other two Premier League clubs faced off as Manchester City played Tottenham. Liverpool started off with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Anfield. Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino provided the goals. In Tottenham’s new stadium, the Spurs pulled off a 1-0 victory with Heung-Min Son scoring the lone goal in the second half. Sergio Aguero missed a penalty kick in the first half which would have put Manchester City ahead. One Wednesday, Manchester United played Barcelona at Old Trafford. VAR came through for Barca as they won 1-0 off of a Luke Shaw own goal. Two English clubs will be competing in the Europa League on Thursday. Arsenal will face off against second placed Serie A team Napoli, at the Emirates. Chelsea will face off against first placed Czech First League team Slavia Prague, at the Synot Tip Arena. Will 5 out of the 6 English clubs advance to the semis in their competition? We will have to see.
Manchester United Find Their Man
After a disappointing start to the season for Manchester United, Jose Mourinho was sacked. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was immediately put in as an interim manager for the red devils. Ole was a former player for Manchester United, but didn’t have a lot of experience managing at the top level. Especially not a big club like Manchester United, having coached at Molde, a team in Norway who competes in Eliteserien. There were many doubters who didn’t think he could turn around their season. When Ole stepped in charge he transformed Manchester United into an attacking team. Under Mourinho they were very defensive. Ole was a forward when he played so it made sense that he was attacking minded. Ole and his side went on an unbeaten streak and managed to get 14 wins from the 19 games he was in charge. They have closed the gap behind Arsenal in 4th to just two points. They also managed to comeback against French giants PSG to advance in the Champions League. Due to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s success so far as interim manager of Manchester United, he has been rewarded with the full-time manager position with a three year contract. This ends speculation of Tottenham’s manager Mauricio Pochettino possibly taking over the spot. What lies in the future for Ole and Manchester United, given this promotion? We will just have to watch and find out.
Premier League Relegation Battle
There are only 9 games left in the Premier League season, and while there is a race for the title, there is also a battle to not get relegated. The bottom three teams out of twenty get relegated to the Championship. The current bottom three, in order from 20-18 are Huddersfield, Fulham, and Cardiff. Fulham and Cardiff are newly promoted sides, so it’s not a real shock that they’re struggling. Although, Fulham in particular has really underperformed their expectations. Fulham came into the season with the Championship Player of the Year, in Ryan Sessegnon. As well as bringing in big players such as World Cup winner Andre Schurrle, and Jean Michael Seri who was linked with Barcelona before going to Craven Cottage. They have only accumulated 17 points from 29 games, with only 4 wins. Huddersfield sits in last place with 14 points, and they are likely to go down. Cardiff is 8 points above Fulham, but 2 points from safety. The bottom half of the table is very close. There is only a 9 point difference between 16th place and 9th place. In Comparison, there is a 9 point difference between 2nd and 3rd place. At this point in the season, Fulham and Huddersfield will need a miracle to climb out of relegation. There are a great deal of clubs who could slide into 18th place and go down. It will be interesting to see how the table shifts by the end of the season.
Arsenal’s New Wave
Arsenal is back. After 22 years under the helm of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has found a new identity. New manger Unai Emery has brought something different to the table. He has a newfound energy, which Arsenal isn’t accustomed to coming from the days of Wenger. He comes from a very successful PSG team which won the Ligue 1, and a total of seven trophies in two seasons. He has brought in a multitude of new signings to strengthen the core of Arsenal. Those of which include the likes of Sokratis, Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, and 19 year old Matteo Guendouzi. As well as a free transfer from Juventus in Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Arsenal had a hard start to the new campaign with two consecutive losses in the league to Manchester City, and Chelsea, two top teams in the league. Since then, Arsenal have found their groove. As I am writing this Arsenal has won 11 straight games in all competitions including 7 straight in the league. Arsenal has moved up to 4th in the Premier League table, a spot that they are familiar with. They are one spot above rivals Tottenham in the league tied on points but Arsenal has the edge on goal differential. Arsenal is also having a successful campaign in the Europa League. They have won two out of two of their games in the Europa league scoring 7 goals between them. Arsenal sits atop group E with a game against Sporting in hand.
Arsenal’s players have really stepped up in their run of form. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads the strike-force with 6 goals and 1 assist in 9 games in the Premier League. His partner upfront Alexandre Lacazette, has also chipped in 4 goals and 2 assists in as many games. The two strikers have become one of the best strike partnerships in the Premier League. A part of the success upfront comes from German playmaker Mesut Ozil. Ozil was widely regarded as a player with the best vision for a long time. On his day Ozil could pick out any player on the pitch and give them a dime, but recently he has been questioned for his work ethic and his defensive attitude. Although, the critics have quieted down due to the string of performances by the former Real Madrid man. Ozil was praised heavily for his performance in the 3-1 victory over Leicester on Monday. He scored and assisted in the game and overall bossed the midfield showing flashes of his old self.
Arsenal is trending up, and playing the best football they have played in a while. They are almost in the discussion of challenging for the title and are one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment. Arsenal is back in the champions league zone and handling their own in the Europa league. Arsenal is finally back, and this could be the start to a long run at the tops of English football.
Premier League Roundup
The Premier league is in full flow and the season is heating up. All the sides were looking to pick up points and move up the table. There were many exciting matchups and interesting storylines in the seventh matchday of the Premier league 2018-2019 season.
Weekend Fixture Reviews
Manchester United vs. West Ham United
Manchester United suffered a shock defeat to the hands of the hammers away from home at the London Stadium. Man. U. came into the game in a bit of a rough patch following a draw against Wolverhampton and a loss to Derby County midweek in the English Carabao Cup. Alexis Sanchez was dropped from the squad before the game not even sitting on the subs bench. West Ham pounced on the wounded Manchester team on Saturday. West Ham started things off early with a cheeky finish from new signing Felipe Anderson in the 5′ min. They doubled their lead when a shot from Yarmolenko took a deflection off of Victor Lindelof and ended up in his own net. Marcus Rashford pulled one back for the red devils with a backheel shot off of corner in the 71′ min. Just three minutes later Marko Arnautovic Sealed the victory with a precise finish in the bottom corner. With the three points West Ham moved up to 14th, level on points with Burnley and Crystal Palace. Manchester United dropped to 10th place, with Jose Mourinho’s job in jeopardy. The Man. U. fans are unhappy and want change in the front office.