It’s been 18 years since Arsenal last won the Premier League title, and they’ve arguably never been further away from it than they are now.
Yet reports suggest that manager Mikel Arteta is to be rewarded with a brand new contract at the Emirates Stadium as he heads towards the final year of his current deal.
But why? What has he done to earn himself a new contract with the club?
The answer, quite simply, is nothing really.
Arteta has brought through Emile Smith Rowe as a first-team regular and regardless of the reason why he brought him into the team, he deserves credit for keeping him and making him a key player.
He’s recruited relatively well too with all of Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard regulars in the side and playing relatively well.
But he’s managed to cause a rift with a multitude of players including William Saliba, Matteo Guendouzi, Nicolas Pepe, Bernd Leno and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. That’s not including the ones he forced to leave the club too on a permanent basis.
He’s also overseen the worst start to a season in Arsenal history, their first season of no European football in over 25 years and they currently sit outside of the top four once again.
They had a decent run in mid-season where it looked like things were going well, and they had a very impressive performance against Man City. But ultimately they lost that game.
They had a solid 0-0 draw at Anfield after going down to ten men. But ultimately, they were eliminated after losing the second leg.
They struggle to score goals on a regular basis, defensively aren’t exactly solid, are nowhere near getting back into title contention and are out of all the cup competitions in January.
Arsene Wenger was forced out for less than that and he was their most successful manager ever. Unai Emery was forced out because he missed out on top four and made the Europa League final, then went on a bad run the following season.
But Arteta is set for a brand spanking new contract and likely a pay-rise to boot.
Arsenal are a club who have lost their vision of being one of the best and have instead become a team just happy to take part. They’ve accepted mediocrity and are now rewarding it.
Vivianne Miedema has already cemented herself as an Arsenal and Women’s Super League legend.
Within the checklist of things to achieve within the league, she’s already ticked most things off, despite being only 25 years of age. After giving the league four-and-a-half seasons Miedema is now in the last five months of her contract, leading to much speculation about where her future lies.
She’s been heavily linked to the Spanish and French leagues, and the -constant talks appear to be about reasons why she may want to leave.
It’s important to really understand that staying at Arsenal also presents a great option and one that could match her ambitions.
As previously mentioned, Miedema has already reached huge heights at Arsenal. She currently stands as the as the WSL record goalscorer – amassing 67 goals in just 76 appearances.
During just over four seasons, the striker has won the FA cup and one league title too. For many, having such an outstanding individual accolade, as well as the team accolades to match, would prove too good to walk away from. However, it’s clear that she wants more in terms of team accolades and the highest of them all being the Champions League.
Currently Arsenal are the only English team still left in this year’s competition but they face great challenges ahead, with a quarter-final against Wolfsburg who knocked out last year’s finalists Chelsea.
The nature of the WSL makes it difficult to have this kind of dominance, with the ‘Big Three’ often deciding the title amongst themselves. A potential move to either of these two clubs could present her the opportunity to finally get her hands on the Champions League and to be at a club that is already at the top of the world football chain.
Both teams are well known in the sport for dominating opposition and being ruthless in the box – both phrases that we would use to describe the Arsenal striker.
Reports have suggested that both clubs as well as PSG would be interested in getting her signature, however, moves to these clubs may not be as simple as it appears on paper.
All three of these clubs currently have strikers at their clubs and strikers who have been performing at the highest level for a number of years.
At Lyon, prior to Ada Hegerberg’s injury, she was widely proclaimed the greatest of all-time in the sport. After over an 18-month injury layoff upon injuring her ACL, Hegerberg is back and hungry to add to her ridiculous goal tally.
She already has 229 goals in 195 appearances and is keen to add to her honours list which includes six League titles and five Champions Leagues.
Her return from injury this year, as well as the fact that Lyon have exciting wingers presents a potential area of thought for Miedema. This, coupled with the fact that Lyon don’t commonly play with a strike partnership may cause a problem for her when it comes to playing time.
Similarly, Barcelona have often opted for the 433 or 4231 formation which would mean that Miedema would be coming into the team to play as the lone striker.
While stylistically, she would slot in well to both this and Lyons’s ball dominant sides, the personnel that already exists at Barca do present a problem.
With the development of Asisat Oshoala this season, as well as the ever-dependable Jenni Hermoso, it does bring questions as to whether striker is an area that Barca need to strengthen.
Even if Hermoso’s age is considered here, the fluid playing style of the team means that positionally there is always an interchange within the front line.
Arsenal could still yet prove to be the challenge that Miedema needs. Despite not yet reaching the level to win the Champion’s League, under Jonas Eidevall there’s a clear plan in place when it comes to progression and eventually reaching that level.
They’re currently in pole position in the league as well as being in the quarter finals of the Champion’s League which further shows the progression they’re making. Committing her future to the club would allow them to continue to build around a genuine world class talent.
To add to this, being a pivotal cog in the machine to get them to that level could present a higher level of achievement for the young Dutch striker – further cementing her legendary status in the league.
Whether she chooses to stay in the league and buy into the project at Arsenal or chooses to take up a new challenge, no one can deny her of the opportunity to win the trophies that her talent deserves.
Arsenal have announced that they have stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the club captaincy following a string of disciplinary breaches.
The striker had been captain since Granit Xhaka was stripped of the role following an on-field bust up with fans in November 2019.
The club have also announced that the Gabon international won’t be available for Wednesday’s fixture against West Ham United as part of his disciplinary action.
Manager Mikel Arteta left Aubameyang out of the squad for the weekend win over Southampton due to disciplinary reasons, but refused to expand on that and after the game wouldn’t give any assurances over the role.
It’s been reported by The Athletic that Aubameyang’s most recent disciplinary breach was his third since Arteta’s arrival, which has been the last straw on the camel’s back.
It’s believed that Aubameyang returned to France to bring his mother to the UK but returned later than originally planned, which meant he then couldn’t train due to UK quarantine rules.
The club deemed this a step too far and he has now been removed from his position as captain.
That surely now will see his future at the club plunged into doubt, with the January transfer window just a couple of weeks away and his first-team place no longer secured.
A new captain is yet to be announced but it would seem logical that the armband will go to Alexandre Lacazette, who currently serves as the vice-captain for the club.
The decision to strip Aubameyang is a big show of faith to Arteta by the club and a message to all the players in the dressing room that he is in charge for the long haul.
Aubameyang is a hugely influential figure in the dressing room so this decision has the potential to back-fire and cause a huge split, but it’s clear that Arteta is the boss.
Arsenal were well beaten on Monday night by an Everton side that earned their first victory since September thanks to an injury time Demarai Gray goal.
Everton thought they’d taken the lead in the first half thanks to Richarlison, only for VAR to rule it out for offside and Martin Odegaard to score minutes later on the stroke of half-time.
The Gunners were conservative in the second half and Everton’s pressure continued to build, with the Brazilian forward having another goal ruled out for a marginal offside by VAR.
Richarlison finally got himself on the scoresheet with 11 minutes of normal time to go when Gray’s strike from the edge of the box bounced off the crossbar, and the 24-year-old reacted first with a brilliant header over Aaron Ramsdale into the corner.
Arsenal finally stopped time wasting and looked for a goal, but it was Gray’s absolute screamer in the 92nd minute that sealed all three points for the Toffees.
For Arsenal, it was more of the same issues under Mikel Arteta that we’ve see for the last two years. The club had an idea of how they wanted to play but couldn’t execute it to a high level, then crumbled under pressure.
Arteta surprised many by bringing Granit Xhaka back into the team after two months out and despite clearly being tired after around 65 minutes and getting booked, he played the entirety of the game.
Kieran Tierney started the game and was brought off after 65 minutes, with Nuno Tavares coming in and struggling in his cameo performance while the rest of the team didn’t have a good night at all.
Thomas Partey is supposed to be the anchor of the midfield and the metronome with his passing ability, but he is seriously struggling with the pace of the Premier League and he lost 9/14 duels on the night to contribute to Arsenal’s woes.
Arsenal have a decent squad, and while they may be lacking some x-factor in the attacking areas it’s not a big enough deficiency for them to be performing at the low levels that they are doing consistently.
He is struggling to get the best out of senior players, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failing to hold down a regular place in the team and looking unhappy, while the young players are having far too much reliance placed upon them in the side.
Ultimately, this side just isn’t very good. They aren’t coached particularly well, they don’t have anyone they can rely on to dig them out of a hole and there isn’t really a silver lining in sight.
Arsenal aren’t good and the sooner the fans and the board realise that, the better for the club.
The most asked question after every single England Lionesses game for the past few months has been about how close Ellen White is to the all-time top goalscorer record and if and when she would do it.
It was a record that was previously held by Arsenal and England legend Kelly Smith, and she herself has spoken glowingly in the past about White’s capabilities to not only match this record, but to surpass it and set new goalscoring achievements.
This was a challenge readily accepted by White, who has scored the most important of goals in the world’s biggest competitions, but also dispatches with ease against opponents no matter the gravity of the match – she simply loves scoring goals.
Prior to Tuesday’s game against Latvia, White stood just one goal behind Smith’s record on 45 goals in 100 caps. Given the nature of the opposition, many expected this game to be the game where she finally achieved it. White didn’t disappoint.
What many wouldn’t have expected however, was that it would take only six minutes for her to tie the record, and nine minutes to become the outright England Women’s all-time record goal scorer.
The celebration from her was one filled with pure emotion and elation to finally be able to stand alone at the top, and was a celebration that showed the pride that her teammates felt on her behalf.
The reaction to her record setting not only crowned everything that she has done throughout her England career of providing goals, but was further evidence of how much she is loved and respected by her teammates and fans.
She had previously tried to downplay her expectations for this record, having been asked about it constantly with her response often being “it’s not something that I think about”.
Her emotional celebration spoke volumes about what it really meant to her – especially considering that Kelly Smith is one of her idols. Her first thought is always about the team winning, and she knows that her goals can help them do that, but to her the individual accolades are a secondary thought.
Still, the immense pride that she must have felt in this moment had to be celebrated by then going on to get a hat-trick in true Ellen White fashion.
What makes her so dangerous as a goal scorer is the fact that she doesn’t necessarily need a clear-cut chance to score, with most of her tournament goals coming from her sniffing out danger and playing on the shoulder of the last defender.
With a great mixture of both left and right-footed finishes as well as headed goals, there was no doubt amongst us as spectators that she would break the record. She currently has the record on 48 goals, and this is something that we would expect her to extend given her hunger and quality.
Consistent supply lines from both the wing and midfield are also at a high level, so where this record could be at the end of it all is extremely exciting for us and for the history of the sport.
White speaking so glowingly about the girls who scored their first England goals this Tuesday in the historic 20-0 win was once again a show of her humility and selflessness for the team. Budding striker Alessia Russo and electric winger Lauren Hemp were amongst those that scored their first goals for the Lionesses – and they later went on to score hat-tricks too.
White is really paving a way for those that are coming up behind her, and they’re having the pleasure of learning from someone who completely commits herself to the sport and what her role is within the sport which is invaluable.
But she is leaving behind a legacy that only truly world class footballers will be able to match in the future and that shouldn’t be ignored. White is one of, if not the, best strikers that England’s Lionesses have ever had and deserves all the praise she can get.
Manchester United play host to long-time rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight, and it’s the start of a new era.
The Reds have seen two games go relatively well results wise since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a poor run, with a 2-0 win over Villarreal followed up with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.
Michael Carrick has been the man in charge of those fixtures, and has vehemently denied that new interim manager Ralf Rangnick had any input on team selection and tactics.
The German is still working through the visa process and won’t be able to officially take charge of the team against Arsenal, but reports say he has already been looking at training tapes and analysing previous games to be able to hit the ground running when he does eventually take charge.
Even if he isn’t though, this is a game where he will finally be able to see what the team is truly made of and the size of the task he has taken on. While Villarreal are a good team in their own right, United are supposed to be beating them.
Chelsea are a team right now that would cause any team to adapt their tactics slightly too, so it’s no surprise United went extra defensive in that sense.
But against Arsenal, at Old Trafford and with a win desperately needed in the Premier League, they have to go for it. The fans will be right behind them, the players should be up for it to impress the new boss and they are playing against a team who have their own issues.
This isn’t an Arsenal team that have been particularly impressive recently, despite their results. Mikel Arteta is still learning on the job and while his side have started to somewhat resemble what he has been speaking about since being in charge almost two years ago, they still have glaring weaknesses.
If United can show their true level they should win this game. If they perform below it, then it’s very possible they get beaten and fall even further down the table in the race for a top four place.
But one thing that will be sure, is that Rangnick will have a much better idea of his task after 90 minutes at Old Trafford. Whether he can turn it around or build on it, is a different question entirely.
That brilliant form led to him being linked with a move away from the club in the summer, before an injury ended any hopes of a potential transfer away.
Now back fit again and performing well once more, Sanches has revealed that he was close to a move to Barcelona before this season started only for the injury to scupper this season. Now however, Sanches feels he’s ready for the move to a big club should the opportunity arise once again.
“When I arrived at Bayern, I was not ready to play in such a club.I was very young, and when I got ready, the opportunity to play with this team never came.
“Today I feel ready. I understand football better, I have more experience, I know what to do to play in this kind of club and that changes everything.“
The 24-year-old has found himself linked with a January move to both Arsenal and AC Milan, and the Portugal international has commented on the links saying he would be open to those moves.
“Maybe Milan and Arsenal are interested but I don’t know.
“I spoke with my agent, I know which clubs are calling and which are not, but I can’t tell now. I know I’m ready.
“If an offer comes in, I’ll find out what’s best for me.”
For Sanches it seems to be the perfect time to make the step up once again. His performances have finally become more consistent and his role is more defined, while he seems to have put his fitness issues behind him for the most part.
In France he has achieved all he can, winning the title ahead of PSG, and a move abroad to a bigger club could give him more chance of further improvement and even potential European success at club level.
He has something to prove in the Premier League after failing with Swansea so that could appeal to him, but Italy and Spain certainly seem a better fit stylistically for him.
Women’s Football weekend took place last week and was a rousing success for the women’s game in the United Kingdom.
Games across the top league were screened on television as exciting matches were played and new stars were born.
But what did we learn from the weekend as a whole and how did it help to shape the Women’s Super League season? Lets take a look at three things in particular that came to my attention.
Vivianne Miedema is clutch
Although this should have been common knowledge prior to Women’s football weekend, Vivianne Miedema showed once again why she is deemed one of the best in the world.
With Spurs on the brink of a historic victory against their north London rivals, Miedema rose the highest from a corner in the 92nd minute of the match to grab a point for her side.
Her stoppage time equaliser epitomised everything she’s about within the box – not only a hugely physical presence, but more so her desire to sniff out danger and weakness of the opposition.
Viv seemed to understand what was at stake as she headed the ball into the back of the net and her reaction to the goal summed up just how clutch she is.
Immediately after scoring, she instructed Nikita Parris to grab the ball and for the rest of her teammates to focus – shouting “THINK!” as her side sought after a winner. What a player. What a team.
Arsenal are becoming used to winning and it’s a feeling that Miedema wants to have running through the club. She embodies everything that the coach Jonas Eidvall is trying to create.
Rehanne Skinner is building a resilient team at Spurs.
Having taken over this Tottenham team mid-season, Rehanne Skinner was thrown into the deep end in regard to the fact that the Spurs team that she joined had yet to win a single game, despite being six games into a 22 game season.
She was tasked with steadying the ship last season and starting to build a team that would last in the WSL long term. After having worked with the players now for a year, this Women’s football week match epitomised everything that a Skinner team is about.
Spurs had never beaten Arsenal before, and this task was made even more difficult because of the great form that Arsenal are in – before the weekend, they were yet to drop a single point. However, Spurs were able to take away a point and were unlucky not to walk away with all three.
The amount of defensive discipline on display from the whole team just shows how well drilled they’ve been by Skinner. Their awareness of high danger moments also points towards being an extremely well prepared team as well as the fact that they created many goal scoring opportunities down the other end.
You can really see the changes that Skinner is implementing with the team and everyone seems to be buying into her philosophy. A competitive Spurs only bodes well for making WSL derbies more competitive.
Manchester City are really in a tough spot right now
Manchester City’s injury crisis is unlike one that I’ve seen in recent time. At certain points, they’ve had 5 of their usual starting 11 out with long term injuries – luckily they’ve had Keira Walsh return to the starting line up following her injury lay-off.
It’s less than ideal having your first and second choice keepers out injured and it once again was an area that opposition looked to exploit. Normally these Chelsea vs Manchester City matches end up being the title deciders, however we were met with the opposite of that during Women’s football weekend.
City right now, especially in defence, look bereft of confidence and that is heavily down to the fact that they’re having to use a makeshift back four.
Though Chelsea seemed to show no mercy as Jessie Fleming scored within the first 90 seconds of the game, I actually thought City did well with the ball and we saw shades of what we expect from them – a team that uses the ball really well and can carve out chances from any area of the pitch.
The main issue was that it seemed as though every single shot on target that Chelsea had was resulting in a goal, whilst City were less clinical offensively.
As their injured players trickle back into the squad I expect City to turn it around soon, but they’re definitely in a bad spot right now as results don’t seem to be going their way – suffering heavy defeats to the other “Big 3” members.
In every generation of football there is a selection of players that while they may not see the greatest level of success, are never forgotten by the fans.
These players are usually the ones that kept the fans on the edge of their seats during games, provided memorable moments and played the beautiful game in a beautiful way.
This series is dedicated to celebrating those players and giving them their flowers now, before they fade into the distance and it’s too late.
A player who many will see that fits into this category is former Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who as of this writing is still only 29-years-old but is clubless.
Breaking onto the scene as a 16-year-old, Wilshere shone in an Arsenal team under Arsene Wenger’s tutelage. A half-season loan to Bolton Wanderers followed where he managed to cement himself as a starter despite his young age, applying a physical touch to his finessed game.
He returned to Arsenal the following season and racked up a career-high 49 appearances across all competitions aged just 18 and 19 years old.
One of those 49 games is the one that sticks with all football fans as the game that marked his arrival as a mainstay on the world stage.
Arsenal welcomed Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side to the Emirates Stadium in the knockout rounds of the year they went on to win the UEFA Champions League. But they had to do so by beating Arsenal in the last 16 round, and Jack Wilshere was sensational.
Against Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets, the 19-year-old was absolutely dominant as Arsenal were able to sneak a shock 2-1 win in the first leg.
It marked Wilshere as a young player who could perform at the very highest level and from that point onwards, the sky was the limit.
The following season marked a pattern of what would become the legacy that Wilshere will eventually leave behind however. He missed the entire campaign with a stress fracture of his ankle that took longer than expected to recover, meaning he missed Euro 2012 with England too.
The following season he returned to the fold after 17 months out, and racked up 33 appearances in all competitions before 32 appearances the following year.
Wilshere’s career never really recovered though, as persistent ankle injuries consistently kept him out of action for prolonged periods of time.
He was the scorer of one of the great Premier League goals against Norwich, where Arsenal stringed together a brilliant one-touch passing move that ended with Wilshere slotting the ball into the corner with his right foot.
He was unfortunately never the same again, but the glimpses we saw throughout the rest of his career still explain why he is held in such high regard
The finesse he had on the ball, the guile when gliding past opposition players, the ability to turn and play in tight spaces, the weight of pass he possessed; all things that were of an incredibly high level at a really young age.
He was able to take any game by the scruff of the neck and just dominate it. He was never afraid to ask for the ball, never afraid to play football the “right” way.
Despite his career being so short at the top level, it was memorable. If you were watching football regularly at the time, you can’t help but feel robbed of seeing a potential great in the making.
History may forget him one day, but the streets never will.
With Women’s Football Weekend fast approaching, it wouldn’t be fair to not dissect the players that you should you keep your eyes absolutely peeled to.
Due to injury we don’t have the full radar of the leagues talent on show, but there’s still so many showstoppers that you should be on the lookout for.
In order to not overwhelm you, I’ll keep the list brief – but you definitely don’t want to miss these players during this upcoming game week.
Lauren Hemp (Manchester City) Position: Winger
It wouldn’t be right to do a ‘ones to watch’ list without the talent that is Lauren Hemp.
Outside of her Manchester City and England teammate Chloe Kelly (who is still recovering from her ACL injury), she’s probably the most electric player in the league. What makes her stand out amongst other people is the fact that she can beat every single full-back in the world with her direct and positive running.
Her first thought always seems to be beating the defender and driving into the dangerous areas in the final third. Another thing that makes her so electric also revolves around the fact that she is comfortable going down the byline and whipping in a cross, but also cutting in on the inside and delivering a shot or killer pass.
Either way, her unpredictable nature, speed and decision making makes her an easy decision for ones to watch – both this weekend and beyond.
Kim Little (Arsenal) Position: Midfielder
Kim Little – where do I start? Probably the most dependable player in the league.
Between her intelligent movement, understanding of her teammates movement, and her ability to make a moment (even when dealing with scraps) is unmatched.
What makes her so dependable is the fact that this ‘moment’ with Little, may not even necessarily be a goal. She seems to just understand exactly what her team needs at that given moment and she delivers it.
This could be her ball retention when her team is under severe pressure, but also the fact that she can single-handedly dance her way through a midfield and put it on a plate for her attackers.
Based on how Arsenal have been looking this season, it’s been the latter as she’s been popping up with goals and assists weekly. But her intelligence is a joy to watch and someone that I recommend playing close attention to as she’s at the heart of everything good Arsenal do.
Sarah Mayling (Aston Villa) Position: Full-back
Sarah Mayling is known for the whip she gets on all her crosses, set-pieces or not. She has to be included in this ones to watch list because given the fact that it’s a local derby against what was her former club Birmingham City, I expect her to have to say in what the eventual result is.
We’ve all heard of a set-piece specialist, but Mayling appears to have mastered how to manipulate the ball especially when crossing or taking free-kicks.
More notably, her set pieces have sparked numerous comebacks for her club and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her changing the game with her deliveries this weekend.
Villa have started well and so I expect them to be on the front foot in this game – giving Mayling the license to go forward and shine.
Jessie Fleming (Chelsea) Position: Midfielder
Since Fleming’s arrival last season, she has struggled for minutes in this absolutely stacked Chelsea side.
This has had less to do with her ability, but more so the fact that this Chelsea team is filled with top class talent all over the pitch. Following her success with Canada at the Olympics, she seems to have started this season full of confidence off the back of winning Olympic gold.
Her cameo performances earlier on in the season have seen her rewarded with consecutive starts – and she’s been sure to take her chance.
The thing that makes her a standout for this weekend is the fact that she’s unpredictable. She fully understands the role that’s required of her in that Chelsea midfield – between supplying the wingers but also making sure that she’s aiding the attack by making third-player runs into the box and arriving late.
Her ability to do this has made her so dangerous because she’s an excellent finisher as well as the fact that her decision making is beyond her years. I can see her making more strides this weekend as Chelsea look to make strides towards the title.
After spending eight years of her senior career at Chelsea, Hannah Blundell made the switch up north – in search of more playing time.
Her ability to stay calm defensively as well as in offensive areas has seen her slot into the United line-up seamlessly. She’s already registered three assists this season, and I can see her adding to that tally this weekend.
Despite the difference in location, United vs Everton games have been played as though it were a derby since Casey Stoney’s tenure – with United coming out victorious most of the time.
That being said I expect Blundell to have a lot to do this weekend and she will need to be switched on, but there will be space for her to exploit and offer support to the forwards.
United have a legacy to protect when it comes to our fixtures against Everton and I’m sure Blundell will thrive on that pressure.