Can Arsenal Still Reach The Top Four, And How Important Is European Football For The Gunners?

Mikel Arteta has enjoyed an incredible run of form since managing to implement his ideas into the Arsenal set-up, and that means that despite mid-season turmoil, the Gunners still have an outside chance of reaching the top four. 

Arteta has managed to turn the tide in his favour since a December defeat to Chelsea to end a rocky 2019.

Since the turn of the year, the Gunners have been strong domestically and are yet to lose in the league. In the eight fixtures in the Premier League so far this year, the Gunners have won four and drawn four. That run of form also includes victories in their last three matches against Newcastle United, Everton and West Ham United. 

Granted, away firm has been indifferent, with the Gunners yet to taste victory away from the Emirates under Arteta, but the initial signs have been good.

Can The Gunners Still Finish In The Top Four?

Ahead of the Premier League restarting for the Gunners with a trip to the Etihad, Arteta’s side are eight points away from the Champions League places. Fifth may still be enough for sides in the top-flight to secure a place in the Champions League next season due to the UEFA ban that could be hanging over Manchester City. 

Arsenal are five points away from Manchester United, who are currently in that spot. In order for the Gunners to get into those spots, they will have to build momentum and go on a long winning run. However, let’s look at how they were before Arteta arrived: basically the Miami Dolphins of the Premier League (one of the worst teams in the NFL if you are not familiar with them).

The fourth spot may be a bridge too far for the Gunners, and with Arsenal having already been knocked out of the Europa League, City’s ban could be a blessing for the Gunners. Fifth could be their best chance, but five points is still a huge mountain to climb with ten games of the season remaining. But, if the Gunners can turn the draws that they have got away from home into wins, then that gap could be bridged fairly quickly.

The fixture list does present some tough fixtures to end the season, with Arsenal having to travel to City and Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners also host Leicester City and Liverpool over the final weeks. Only one of the teams that Arsenal come up against have realistically nothing to play for, as fixtures against Brighton & Hove Albion, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Watford could also be tricky given that all sides are locked in a relegation battle.

How Important Is Champions League Football?

Champions League football is important to all the teams in the top six, but Arsenal needs the competition more than most. The financial restraints that are on the club are still huge, which means the qualification for the Champions League will give Arteta some much-needed cash to spend. 

In order to compete over the coming seasons, Arsenal will need to invest in their squad, as the sides around them are getting stronger with every passing window.

There are also new sides coming into the competition, with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City both looking likely to be in the mix again next season.

However, the most important aspect of qualifying for the Champions League will be the players that the club will be able to attract. 

The biggest names demand to play in the competition, which means that the Gunners could also need the top-tier European competition in order to persuade Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to stay at the club

The Gunners captain is the most important player at the club, and if they happen to lose him, then Arteta will be forced to start from scratch in his plans to make Arsenal competitive again. 

 

Transfer Rumours: Arsenal backed to sign Willian this summer; Philippe Coutinho also linked with Gunners

As speculation about Willian’s next club continues, Arsenal have emerged as contenders to sign the Chelsea star when the transfer window re-opens.

Willian is out of contract at Chelsea at the end of the season, with north London rivals Tottenham currently the bookmakers’ favourites to sign the 31-year-old on a free transfer.

However, Spurs are not the only club to have shown interest in the Brazilian in recent weeks, and the Gunners are second favourites with a number of bookmakers at time of writing in their ‘Willian Next Club market’.

Transfer specials are always popular with football fans at this time of year ahead of the transfer window reopening at the end of the season, with many taking advantage of various free bet offers for football transfers as seen at FreeTips.com.

Willian’s agent recently admitted there is uncertainty over the winger’s future. Responding to speculation about his client’s next move, Kia Joorabchian told talkSPORT: “I think all free agent players are in an awkward situation because do you sign a new contract, do you extend for a month, do you extend for a longer period?

“I think that will be something that will just play itself out closer to the time.”

Whether the odds on Willian to Arsenal shorten in the coming weeks ahead of his contract expiring remains to be seen.

Willian is not the only player being linked with the Gunners, however, with former Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho also backed for a move to Emirates Stadium.

After dazzling at times with Liverpool, Coutinho has been strongly linked with a return to the Premier League after a tough couple of years in Spain and Germany.

The 27-year-old scored 21 goals and had 11 assists to his name in 76 games for Barcelona, but failed to make a good impression with the club’s supporters.

During his time on loan at Bayern Munich, Coutinho has scored nine goals and made eight assists from 32 appearances.

Barca are ready to accept a loss on the Brazilian, who cost them over £120million in 2018, and Chelsea are favourites to be his next club.

Although recent reports in Spain claimed Chelsea were close to agreeing a deal for the forward, a deal is yet to be struck.

Everton and Newcastle are also reportedly interested in signing the former Inter Milan ace, but as speculation the player’s future continues, Arsenal are second favourites with some bookmakers at time of writing, according to the latest ‘Philippe Coutinho next club odds’.

Coutinho to Arsenal is currently as short as 6/1 with some bookies despite being 16/1 elsewhere, which may make it a good time to take advantage of the free bets available on transfer specials as seen at FreeTips.com.

 

Why the Arsenal side of 2001/2002 was better than The Invincibles!

The Arsenal side of 2003/2004 is quite rightly regarded as one of the greatest in Premier League and English League history – going through a 38 game season without losing a single match is something no other team has managed to do, and despite those with an agenda trying to make out they weren’t one of the best sides ever, there is no doubting that sides place in the history books.

But I would say that the Arsenal team of 2001/2002 was even better.

How is this possible you ask? Consider the following points:

  • Regarding our nearest rivals at the time Manchester United, The Invincibles team we drew 1-1 at home against them and then drew 0-0 away. In 2001/2002 season, we beat them convincingly 3-1 at home and then won 1-0 away (Wiltooooord!)
  • In The Invincible season, we scored 73 goals. In the 2001/2002 season, we managed to score 79.
  • In the 2001/2002 season, we had a peak Dennis Bergkamp, who scored 14 goals (his highest total since the 1997/1997 season). In The Invincibles season, he only scored 5 times.
  • Our attack was more lethal in the 2001/2002 season, with Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu and Wiltord scoring a combined total of 69 goals. In The Invincibles season, that total was 51. We had more attacking options in 2001/2002 that the opposition couldn’t handle.
  • In The Invincibles season, we won the Premier League. In the 2001/2002 season, we won the double.
  • Defensively we were much stronger in the 2001/2002 season as well – we had Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Matthew Upson as our central defensive options. In The Invincibles season, we had Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure, Pascal Cygan and an ageing Martin Keown.
  • There is no doubt that in the 2001/2002 season we had a better Ashley Cole, Lauren, Patrick Vieira, Edu, Ray Parlour, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, Sylvain Wiltord and Kanu who all statistically did better than they did in The Invincibles season.

And finally to finish, we have to consider the strength of the league at in both of those seasons.

The fact of the matter is the Premier League in the 2001/2002 season was much tougher to win, as shown by the number of points gained by the Top 4 sides in those seasons. The gap between 1st and 2nd was only 7 points, and the difference between 1st and 4th was 16 points.

1st: 87
2nd: 80
3rd: 77
4th: 71

In The Invincibles season however, Arsenal won the league by 11 points and 4th place were were a massive 30 points behind!

1st: 90
2nd: 79
3rd: 75
4th: 60

So what are you thoughts on this topic? Do you agree? Leave your comments in the section below!

 

When The Season Restarts, Here’s Why Arsenal Are Worth Betting On

With the current situation regarding coronavirus, it is affecting football matches all over the world. When will the season start again? Will the season start again? There are so many questions that need answering, but essentially we take the situation on a day to day basis.

The Premier League season is due to start again on April 30th, but even that looks ambitious now. Some reports are saying that the Premier League might start up in June, but again, only if the authorities deem it safe enough to do so.

And how will the matches be played? Will they be behind closed doors? The problem is that the TV companies have invested huge amounts into showing live Premier League matches, so that’s why there’s a push to have games played in closed stadiums.

But then that poses a set of other problems; How can you play a football match with no fans? How will the players react to not having any atmosphere? If we have to play games behind closed doors, then surely there is still a risk of contracting the virus?

It is a messy situation and hopefully, the footballing authorities will make the best decision for the clubs, teams, players and most importantly, the fans.

So what about Arsenal?

When (and if) the season resumes, there are reasons to be positive about our team. We had an awful start to the season under Unai Emery but since the arrival of Mikel Arteta, we’ve been far better. There is much better team morale, we’re playing better football, and the fans are much happier. 

And that’s why once the reason starts up again, it’s worth backing the Gunners!

There are 10 games of the Premier League season left, and most of those games are winnable – there’s Aston Villa, Watford, Brighton, Southampton, Norwich and Wolves left to play, and whereas earlier in the season no-one would have backed us, these are now matches we can (and should) win.

There’s also a North London Derby left to play, and with Jose Mourinho imploding as the days go by, that would be a game we’d be looking to get all 3 points.

But how do you know how much you could win betting on Arsenal?

This is where this great online betting calculator comes in! With this free bet calculator  you can work out how much you could win by entering the stake (amount you want to bet) and the odds. It will then automatically calculate the overall return for stake not returned (SNR) and overall return for stake returned (SR), so you know exactly how much you will be pocketing once your bet comes in!

And if that wasn’t handy enough, there are also links to selected bookmakers where you can take advantage of free bets to boot! (excuse the pun…)

Hope you all stay safe during this difficult time, and don’t forget to stay home and save lives.

 

14 Years Ago Today: Arsenal 2, Juventus 0

As the world around us is falling apart, I thought I would try and take our minds off it all for a moment and relive some of the great Arsenal games of the past.

14 years ago today, on March 29th 2006, Arsenal hosted a Juventus side including none other that our illustrious former captain, Patrick Vieira. Vieira had left the previous summer, after clinching a dramatic FA Cup win over arch rivals Manchester United with the crucial penalty that won us the trophy. 10 months later he was back at Highbury, but this time facing his old Arsenal teammates.

In midfield was a young man by the name of Cesc Fabregas.

The young Spaniard had been thrust into the first team following the departure of our captain, and the signs were there this boy was the real deal. We still had attacking forces such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and the late Jose Antonio Reyes banging in the goals, and Campbell and Toure marshalling the defence.

But this game would also be remembered for the heroic performances of Emmanuel Eboue, Philippe Senderos and Mathieu Flamini who were inexperienced and still very young players.

Below is the original match report and player ratings of that historic evening:

By The Time People Take Us Seriously It Will Be Far Too Late…

Times Change Patrick…

Arsenal in Europe have been simply immaculate. Partly this is because no-one gives us a chance, and then when we get a fanastic result we don’t get the credit we deserve. It might be annoying now but it can actually work in our favour…

Before the huge matches against Real Madrid, we were favourites to go out. Real were on an awesome run in the league and were scoring for fun. Robinho, Beckham, Zidane, Guti et al were all in great form and they were pitched against a side that couldn’t win back-to-back league fixtures against midtable opposition, couldn’t win or score away and had major injury problems.

So how were Arsenal going to fare in the Bernabeu, the place no English side has ever won before?

We pulled off a great team performance and left with a 1-0 win – and we should have had more. Even in the 2nd leg against Real Reyes was guilt of missing several guilt-edged chances and we had the clearer opportunities. Still, we progressed after defeating one of Europe’s superpowers.

Then to the tie against Juventus.

As you will have heard from almost everywhere, they are 8 points clear in Serie A with 7 games remaining, and cruising a league which includes a great team like AC Milan.

And Arsenal are 6th in the Premiership.

But Arsenal dominated the entire game against the old lady, who supposedly had our best player of recent times – Patrick Vieira – at their disposal.

But football is a team game – and as we have shown against Real we play together to devastating effect.

Across Europe, teams think that we are just a one man team with Henry. They don’t realise how efficient and effective the rest of the team are. Players like Hleb, Reyes, Fabregas and Pires will make those runs that create holes in any defense.

Juventus were surprised at Arsenal’s approach, and from the first minute could not cope with the pace of the game. Arsenal have a team full of young, hungry, determined and energetic players. While the Juventus team are full of experienced players who have won the World Cup, European Championships and countless domestic titles.

That is the difference.

Arsenal wanted it more last night, and you can talk about the absence of Pavel Nedved and Del Piero, but they wouldn’t had made a difference. Anyway, we had Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Ljungberg and loads of others out.

We had Flamini our 8th left-back this season in the 1st eleven! But to be fair, the young Frenchman has been brilliant every game he has played, and as stupid as this sounds I wouldn’t be bothered if Wenger got £15 million for Cashley and kept Flamini at left-back!

He has hunger, pace, determination and has proven himself in the Premiership, as well as against Real Madrid and Juventus.

He’s been a fantastic player for us.

Anyway, here’s my player ratings for the match last night…

Jens Lehmann: 7/10
Nothing to do except intercept a couple of crosses midway through the second half. But did well when called upon, which was hardly ever because of the solid defensive unit.

Emmanuel Eboue: 7/10
Did well again, and it’s hard to believe the kid only made his Premiership debut 6 weeks ago! I think Lauren is a really good player but I can’t see him getting back into the side the way the young Ivory Coast international is playing. As usual, made great forward runs and had Mutu in his back pocket.

Kolo Toure: 9/10
Exceptional. The tricky Ibrahimovic managed to get the ball on several occasions but Toure made some awesome tackles. A real captain’s performance.

Philippe Senderos: 8/10
His partnership with Toure just keeps getting better and better and so much so that I’m not bothered if Sol Campbell ever returns. So hungry against last night and he even chased a few lost balls all the way to Buffon in the first half. Threw himself at everything and made Trezeguet look like pedestrian.

Mathieu Flamini: 8/10
Is this guy a left-back? So assured again you don’t want this guy to be on the bench when Cole returns. Made those attacking runs to support Reyes and they work well together on the left. Camoranesi look frustrated all game which ended in a cynical red card.

Alexander Hleb: 7/10
Struggled against Zambrotta in the first half but picked up his game into the second. Never really captured his form against Real or Charlton but played some nice passes, including the beautifully weighted ball for Fabregas to assist Henry’s goal.

Gilberto Silva: 8/10
Covered well to give Fabregas and Pires attacking freedom, and helped out the back four superbly. A couple of mislayed passes now and then but he’s there to keep Juventus quiet, and Vieira and Emerson didn’t get a sniff.

Francesc Fabregas: 9/10
Made Vieira look small. The pre-match hype was all about Vieira and he told everyone that time moves on at there is no time for regrets. How right our old captain was. Times change Patrick, and unfortunately you’re not part of it anymore. Great assist for Henry’s goal. Cesc was absolutely Fabregas!

Jose Antonio Reyes: 8/10
I loved his dedication last night. Whatever you say about Jose, he will run until his legs fall off and will always give 110%. Made Camoranesi look foolish at times and was never afraid to take on players.

Robert Pires: 9/10
Won’t get all the headlines but played out of his skin. Marked Vieira well and I was shocked as anyone when he won a header in our own area after about 20 minutes. I was even more shocked when he made THAT tackle on Vieira that started the move for Cesc’s goal. Good movement, good passing and great support play. Excellent performance.

Thierry Henry: 9/10
Really loves it when Arsenal are against it. Might not celebrate all his goals with pure rage anymore but after he scored Arsenal’s second he went ballistic! Took the goal every well on the turn and really came to life in the second half. Frustrated Juventus as the game wore on and with a few minutes to go Zebina just had enough of him and got sent off.

Vieira to Pires, Pires to Henry, Henry to Fabregas – GOAL!

Ah, just like the good old days….