United, Arsenal, we have a problem.
We’re almost 1/3 of the way through the Premier League Calendar. There’s been many ups and downs, but today I am focusing on the downs. Manchester United and Arsenal are two English clubs renowned for their domestic success as well as consistently placing in the top 6 positions in the league. However, this season’s results have been less than desirable with both clubs on the brink of sacking their manager as well as bringing disgrace to the highly decorated clubs.
Manchester United. Champs or Chumps?
Current PL position: 9th (as of 11/27/19)
It’s been a while since Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been “at the wheel”. It’s been even longer since United have been contenders to win the Premier League. This season was supposed to be different. Ever since Solskjaer assumed the position of manager for United almost a year ago, things were on an upswing. United ditched their unsuccessful defensive tactics under previous manager Jose Mourinho and flourished under Solskjaer’s new game plans. This season, Solskjaer and the Red Devils have managed to clinch only 17 points of the current possible 39, leaving them in an undesirable 9th place. Four wins, five draws and four losses is far from what is expected from the 13-time Premier League winners. When it comes to star performances, academy graduates Marcus Rashford and Daniel James are the ones who consistently perform on the pitch. Rashford being United’s lead goalscorer and Daniel James’ quick, constant, positive workrates. In order for this season to not be a flop, United need to pick up the pace and finish 5th in the table AT LEAST. Ole needs to take control of the wheel again.
Arsenal. Bad ebening.
Current PL position: 8th (as of 11/27/19)
“Good ebening” says Arsenal manager Unai Emery. Only one position better than United, Arsenal sit 8th in a season that has been filled with much disappointment. Losing leads, lack of professionalism and underperforming players have plagued Arsenal this season. Defensive issues have been correlated with Arsenal for a while now and new center backs Sokratis and David Luiz have been less than convincing in holding the Gunners’ back line. Superstar German goalkeeper Bernd Leno can easily be accredited with saving the team on multiple occasions, something that Arsenal desperately need to improve on. Last Saturday’s performance against 19th place Southampton was less than impressive, with French striker Alexandre Lacazette rescuing a point at the very last minute of the game. A draw against Southampton is no achievement, but it is better than a loss to a team that only a few games ago was demolished for defensive incompetence. Manager Emery also made the confusing decision of appointing Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka captain of the team. Prior to the captaincy, Xhaka had below average performances and in a game vs Crystal Palace in October, the Swiss midfielder was booed and jeered for his performance as he was being subbed off. The captain responded by motioning “I can’t hear you” and seemingly riling the angry Arsenal supporters. Unai Emery stripped him of the captaincy, but that seems to be the one right thing Emery has done this season… If Unai wants to keep his job, he needs to step up and at least meet some standard left behind by former legendary manager Arsene Wenger.