Tag Archives: Football

Arsenal continuing to fail under Mikel Arteta as Everton earn 2-1 victory

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.

Mikel Arteta, Manager of Arsenal looks on following defeat in the Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on December 06,...

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.

What Manchester United fans learnt from Ralf Rangnick’s first win as manager

Manchester United earned back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since September as Fred’s goal gave Ralf Rangnick a winning start as manager.

The German boss took over as interim manager until the end of the season following the win over Arsenal in midweek and named an unchanged team for the visit of Palace, who were set up to counter and attack United’s weaknesses.

The Reds turned in an excellent first half performance but they didn’t find the breakthrough until late on, when Fred whipped one into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the box.



United learnt from the performance that there are some things to come and there are plenty of positives to take from it, but here are the ones I picked out.

Fred will love Rangnick

If it wasn’t obvious from the fact he got the winner, the Brazilian was excellent throughout. Many people expected an upturn in his fortunes with the arrival of a coach and a more structured system and it showed immediately.

The 28-year-old was quick in the press, more forward thinking with his passing and his tackling was as good as usual. This system is designed to get the best out of players like him and he is thriving in the heart of midfield.

Victor Lindelof enjoyed the responsibility

The Swede continued in the absence of Raphael Varane but he turned in one of the most assured performances of his Old Trafford career.

Lindelof was excellent on the ball, brave to pinch the ball early on the halfway line and constantly organising his midfielders ahead of him too. He did well to completely nullify the threat of Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard up front while also helping Diogo Dalot get forward and track Wilfried Zaha. A top performance.

Attacking full-backs

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a staple of the defence but it seems as though his position may not be so secure anymore.

Rangnick opted to stick with Dalot and the Portuguese defender turned in an excellent display, with great confidence on the ball and a real threat up and down the wing. With the full-backs keeping a high starting position, the attacking abilities are important and Dalot could be a big winner in this change.

Manchester United Head Coach / Manager Ralf Rangnick congratulates Diogo Dalot of Manchester United at the end of the Premier League match between...

Free flowing attack

United pressed high and were impressive off the ball in the game, but the performances of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho were also positives in an attacking sense.

Both men pressed well and they linked well together in and around the box as United touched the ball more times in the opponents penalty area than in any game since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

While neither were directly involved in the goal, it showed that they can be key figures in the side and that can only be a positive for Manchester United.

History maker Ellen White among England’s best ever strikers

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.

Alessia Russo, Beth Mead, Lauren Hemp and Ellen White of England attempt to pose for a photograph with their match balls after each of them scored a...

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.

Barcelona keen on signing Ferran Torres from Manchester City

After starting the season as Manchester City’s first-choice striker, it now seems that Ferran Torres could be on his way back to Spain in the January transfer window.

The Spain international started the season well in the number nine role for Pep Guardiola’s side and with his performances for the national team too, Barcelona are reportedly very interested in bringing him to the club.

All three parties are reportedly willing to make a deal happen during the winter window, but what would that mean for Man City’s season?



Torres had made the central striker role his own ahead of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling at the start of the season, before suffering an injury while on international duty with Spain.

It means he hasn’t featured for City since scoring in the 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers back in September.

Despite that though, City have been able to top their Champions League group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and currently sit second in the Premier League table just one point behind Chelsea.

Only Chelsea and Liverpool have scored more goals than the 27 they have managed in the 13 Premier League games they’ve played so far, while Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and more recently Sterling have all been having good seasons. They’ve not missed him much.

Head coach Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Ferran Torres of Manchester City gestures during the UEFA Champions League group A match between...

However allowing him to leave mid-season is unlikely to be much help to City, so if the reports are true then they will need to replace him adequately.

Whether City will renew their push for Harry Kane as a central striker option or whether they would rather target a wide man to replace Torres is unknown, but the apparent €70million fee would open up plenty of potential options for them.

After spending just €20m on him from cash-strapped Valencia two summers ago, it would be a deal that represent big profit for a player who’s hardly ripped up any trees since joining.

Torres is a good young player with plenty of potential and talent, but he’s far from indispensable to this City side and they’re more than capable of replacing him if they need to.

Ferran Torres of Spain celebrates his team's fifth goal during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Spain and Germany at Estadio de La...

He would fit in well at Barcelona with their new crop of young players coming through and would be able to establish himself with the national team while earning regular minutes at club level.

It’s a move that suits all if they can get it done, but the replacement will be key to if this one gets over the line.

Ralf Rangnick can find out exactly where Manchester United stand against Arsenal

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.



But after being officially announced as the interim manager until the end of the season, Rangnick will surely have input on this game despite not being in the dugout for it.

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.

But with that time edging ever closer, it won’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he has a big say in team selection and training methods leading into this game.

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.

Head coach of Manchester United Michael Carrick and Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo during Champions League match between Villarreal...

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.

On paper, the United squad is considerably stronger than Arsenal’s and they have the ability to put this team to the sword if they are firing. But that’s a big ‘if’ considering recent form, and Arsenal will be raring to go against a wounded animal.

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at...

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.

Rafa Benitez must give Everton fans a reason to love him

One of the big stories in the summer was that of Rafa Benitez joining Everton as manager to replace the departed Carlo Ancelotti.

After the Italian re-joined Real Madrid in a shock move to surprise Everton, the Toffees took their time to appoint his replacement.

There were talks with Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo but ultimately, the decision of the owner Farhad Moshiri was to bring in Liverpool fan favourite Benitez.



Immediately fans protested the decision, letting it be known that they were not happy with his involvement in the club considering the brilliant history he has with their fiercest rivals.

Benitez famously won the UEFA Champions League in 2005 as Reds boss while also leading them on a title charge as they competed with Manchester United and Chelsea in the late 2000’s.

Despite some ugly scenes before he was officially announced in the role, Benitez took over officially before the season started and took charge of pre-season where he signed the likes of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray.

The season started well too, with three wins from the opening four Premier League games as well as progression in the Carabao Cup against Huddersfield. Since then though, it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

Everton manager Rafa Benitez greets his players after the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on August 14, 2021 in...

A 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa on September 18th was the start of seven defeats in ten games, with just one win in that run that has led them to tonight’s Merseyside derby against their in-form city rivals.

A video from the away section of their defeat against Brentford at the weekend showed just how angry Everton fans are right now, and considering Benitez was fighting a losing battle when he took the job initially it hasn’t got any easier for him now.

Something that would undoubtedly get Blues fans on side would be a victory against the Anfield side, who have long been labelled as one of the very best teams in the world currently.

One of those classic defensive performances with some strong counter-attacking threat and a potential upset win, would be the perfect remedy for the fans and go some way to showing exactly where his loyalties lie these days.

Everton manager Rafael Benítez during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in...

Whether it comes against Liverpool or in the following games against Arsenal, Crystal Palace or Chelsea, Benitez needs to do something and quickly.

The longer this stretch of bad form goes on for, the less likely it is that the fans will be forgiving to him as the season becomes harder and harder to resurrect.

The same way Benitez endeared himself to Liverpool fans by winning big games and trophies, the Spaniard must find a way to make Everton fans love him.

Leeds United desperate for Marcelo Bielsa to find his mojo again

After 17 years away from England’s top flight, Leeds United returned to the Premier League last season and were a breath of fresh air under Marcelo Bielsa.

The legendary South American oversaw a stellar Championship campaign with the Yorkshire side that saw them promoted as champions, with expectations among the fan base relatively high following their return to the grandest stage.

It was a great season too for the Elland Road faithful, as Bielsa’s extraordinary man-to-man tactics worked well and secured the club a ninth placed finish with a positive goal difference.



It was a nudge in the right direction for Leeds, who many neutrals were delighted to see back in the big time and performing well.

They play with swashbuckling attacking intent, often prepared to concede goals if it means they’re able to score a few more at the other end of the pitch.

They all trust each other on the ball and are comfortable and confident when it comes to playing their way out of tight situations. All the fortune that their bravery brought last season was well deserved, but this season has been nothing short of a nightmare.

After a 5-1 thumping on the opening day of the season by rivals Manchester United, Leeds have managed just two wins from the following 12 Premier League games so far.

Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road on November...

They are languishing three points above the relegation zone, with just 12 goals scored and 20 conceded. Starting striker Patrick Bamford has missed a chunk of the campaign through injury, while Raphinha hasn’t quite hit the heights he did last year.

Kalvin Phillips also seems to be suffering with a Euro’s hangover after helping England reach their first major international final since 1966 during the summer. Overall, the performances have just been poor for the most part and fans are beginning to worry.

But beyond them all it’s Bielsa who seems to have lost his spark the most. He isn’t nearly as animated on the touchline as he has been in the past, and while he has made decisions to make substitutions early in games he seems to lack the decisiveness he usually possesses.

A team that clearly thrives on confidence, Leeds are bereft of it currently.

They’ll take on a Crystal Palace side next who are still transitioning into their full potential under Patrick Vieira but have started the season well. Only Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool have lost less games than Palace and they’re also one of only seven teams in the division to not have a negative goal difference.

Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United applauds the Leeds fans after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham...

If Leeds are to start building momentum to survive this season, there is no time like now. They have seven games left in 2021 and four of them comes against the top three and Arsenal.

They need to win some games and sharpish, or they’re at a very real risk of being relegated at the second time of asking after fighting so hard to get back to where they believe they belong.

If anyone can provide a win for Leeds, it’s not the players on the pitch. It’s their leader off it and their tactical genius of a coach. He has all the tool and qualities to come up with something different for the team to get it to click again, and it must happen now.

Lionel Messi wins record seventh Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career, extending his record as the player to win it the most times.

The Argentine captain capped off a wonderful year for himself by pipping Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho to the award, making him the first Ligue 1 player to win the honour since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.

Messi had previously won each of his six awards with FC Barcelona, the club he played his entire career for before a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.



The award was met with a mixed response from fans, with many believing Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski deserved the honour.

But in the end, Messi’s victory in the Copa America and Copa Del Rey as well as finishing as the top goalscorer in both tournaments and La Liga was enough to secure him the record breaking achievement.

Lewandowski finished second while Chelsea’s Jorginho rounded off the podium in third, having helped his club win the Champions League and led Italy to winning Euro 2020 in the summer.

Karim Benzema finished fourth, while N’Golo Kante finished fifth. The Premier League continued to dominate the top ten as Cristiano Ronaldo finished sixth, Mohamed Salah finished seventh and Kevin De Bruyne finished eighth, while PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Gianluigi Donnarumma completed the top ten.

FIFA ensured that Lewandowski didn’t go home empty handed however, as the inaugral “Striker of the Year” award was given to the man who scored 64 goals in 54 games last season en route to yet another Bundesliga title.

Chelsea were crowned the inaugral “Club of the Year” winners, while Pedri was confirmed as the Kopa Trophy winner -given to the best Under-21 player in the world.

Messi’s victory moves him two clear of Ronaldo in the record hunt, as the Portuguese legend finished outside of the top three for the first time since 2010.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Manchester United’s poison and medicine

Manchester United secured a huge point away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but bigger than the result was Michael Carrick’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.

United started the game in a 4-3-3 shape with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho flanking Bruno Fernandes as the striker, with all of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic playing in midfield.

The Reds took the lead in the second half as Sancho pounced on a Jorginho error to slot past Edouard Mendy, before the Italian converted a penalty to ensure a nervy finish.



Ronaldo wasn’t on the pitch when United went ahead but had been called upon by Carrick before the penalty decision, while he was largely anonymous on the field for the rest of the game.

Carrick implemented a high press to try and force Chelsea into errors higher up the pitch, but the home side managed to cope fairly well for the most part.

While some speculated that the incoming Ralf Rangnick may have had something to do with the team selection and decision to drop Ronaldo, Carrick completely ruled that out and it was pretty clear from the style that the German had no involvement.

But what it did offer up were some questions about how Ronaldo will fit in going forward.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo replaces Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho in the second half during the...

The Portuguese forward is the club’s top goalscorer this season with ten goals, but the Premier League has proved tough for him with just four goals in nine appearances so far. His lack of defensive nous means United are often a man down when it comes to the transitions and keeping clean sheets.

Despite that though, he has proven to be United’s saviour on several occasions already. He scored twice on his debut in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, scoring the opening and go-ahead goals in the game.

He scored the equaliser against West Ham, the opener against Young Boys, the winner against Villarreal at home, the winner in the home game against Atalanta, the opener against Tottenham, both goals in a 2-2 draw with Atalanta away and the opener in the return game against Villarreal too.

All of his goals to date have been meaningful and contributed towards United winning points. So how is it that someone so important can also potentially be a hinderance to the current United squad going forward?

Ultimately, that is the case. His defensive frailties don’t help the side whatsoever on the pitch, but going forward you can’t just ignore how good he is when it comes to being clinical and winning you games.

Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate after scoring the 0-1 goal with his teammate during Champions League match between...

With Ronaldo now 36-years-old, you get what you’re given with him at this point. United knew what he offered when they signed him and they did it anyway. To his credit, he has performed too.

For United and Rangnick now, the task remains the same. They need a cohesive defensive unit on the pitch, which also contains Cristiano Ronaldo in attack to have the perfect balance to win games, especially at the highest level.

The Portuguese legend is currently both a poison and a medicine to the Manchester United squad, but United must now find a way to perfectly balance the doses of each.

Liverpool proving they can win without Mo Salah firing

It says something about the strength of the Premier League right now that three of the top four teams in the world right now are plying their trade in England’s top flight.

Alongside Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool are running riot as the best and most effective teams in the world right now.

In those teams are some of the best players in the world right now, but arguably the best of the bunch currently is Anfield hero Mohamed Salah.



The Egyptian has been in the form of his life so far this season, registering an amazing 17 goals and eight assists in 18 games in all competitions.

But as Liverpool played host to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, for once he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Even despite that though, Liverpool were able to run out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Diogo Jota, Thiago and Virgil Van Dijk.

Salah did register an assist, but the overall performance for Liverpool was very encouraging against a good side in Southampton.

The full-backs were flying once again, with both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold registering assists, while the midfield were able to dominate the ball and also chip in with creativity too.

It was the performance of Portuguese forward Jota that would have been most encouraging for Jurgen Klopp though, as he continued his excellent form with two goals early in the first half.

For a player who was initially signed as cover for the famous front three, Jota’s form and performances have pushed him firmly into consideration for a regular starting role in the team ahead of Roberto Firmino.

One of the big things for Liverpool’s attack was that all three players didn’t need to be firing for them to be influential on the result of a game, but Firmino’s drop-off over the last 18 months had essentially taken one of their weapons away.

Jota’s work rate means Liverpool are able to restore the feeling without Firmino, but his added quality in attack means they are back to having a three-pronged attack that is capable of rotating and going toe-to-toe with any defence in the world.

For Liverpool that can only be a good thing. It means that when a team does manage to halt the momentum of Salah, or even Sadio Mane for that matter, they still have one more weapon in their arsenal to punish the opposition.

It’s amazing for Liverpool and just another reason why they’re among the best teams in the world currently.