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Top Team Turmoil

Image result for manchester united vs sheffield united
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (left) scratches head wondering how Sheffield United (right) gave United a run for their money after a 3-3 draw last Sunday.

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.

Sorry Mr. Pochettino, YOU’RE OUT

Image result for mauricio pochettino crying
Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has just been sacked from the club after “extremely disappointing” domestic results.

Goodbye to the Gaffer

Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked from his position at Tottenham Hotspur. It’s been over five and a half years since the Argentinian born Pochettino was assigned as manager of English football club Tottenham Hotspur. As of November 19th, he has been fired from his job. I will say, I am more than a bit surprised. Pochettino has managed to capture the hearts of Spurs fans around the world for his many contributions to the club.

A New Beginning

When Pochettino first arrived to White Hart Lane (Spurs’ home stadium at the time) five years ago, things started relatively shaky. As the tenth manager appointed in a 12 year span, Tottenham were pretty desperate to get some results. Pochettino’s first big move at the club was trusting in younger academy players and converting them to first-team players. It was a gamble, but a gamble that would pay off and make the careers of world-class players such as Harry Kane or Dele Alli. He managed to lead the Spurs to top-three finishes in three out of his first four seasons. This man appeared to be the real deal.

The Mauricio Pochettino Way

As time passed, Pochettino became known for three things: Younger players, positive man-management and a high-pressing, attacking style in games. Younger players are usually relied on less because of their inexperience on the field, but Pochettino knew it was smarter to pick players who had great potential and to give them a chance to work their magic on the field. The positive man-management comes from Pochettino having the willingness to advise, encouraging the players to take charge of their own development as well as helping them to improve physically, technically and mentally. The high-pressing tactic means Pochettino instructs his team to build from the back, intimidate and unsettle opponents with a quick-press system and work the ball into the box, usually employing a 4-2-3-1 formation. The tactic comes from Pochettino’s personal philosophy of being brave. An actual quote by Pochettino: “Where did I get the idea we had to (press)? It’s about your personality, who you are. You show on the pitch who you are. If you are brave in your life, you cannot behave in a different way on the pitch. I don’t understand how to play in a different way. Always, be brave. I like to be brave.”

Final days

Pochettino’s last great effort with the club was leading his squad to their first ever UEFA Champions League Final, European football’s greatest accomplishment. Without having spent any money, he led Spurs in beating and even coming back from behind against some of the world’s biggest clubs. The big European dream ended when fellow English club Liverpool defeated them 2-0 in the final.

From there it all went downhill.

To many it appeared that Spurs had just lost their motivation. The hard work they had to put in, just to come so close to glory, had seemed like all they could do. It really was a disappointing loss, but no one could have predicted what was to come in the following season.

A New Era with ‘The Chosen One’

Due to the Spurs’ current underwhelming season, Daniel Levy, the Chairman for the Tottenham Spurs decided to fire Pochettino and replace him with 2-time Champions League winner Jose Mourinho. Jose Mourinho or “The Chosen One” as affectionately referred to by fans is one of the best managers of this football generation. As a man with many awards and accolades, he seems like the perfect man for the job… But he is virtually the opposite from Pochettino. It’s a new era for the Spurs, and I’m sure we’re all ready to see it.

View Jose Mourinho’s first press conference as Spurs manager here!

Here’s talks of Pochettino’s next managerial move…

In depth analysis of what went wrong for Pochettino here

A Saint’s Thrashing

Leicester City players celebrate a 0-9 thrashing against Southampton resulting in the Premier League’s biggest ever away win.
Another match week, another astonishing result.

Leicester City made the trip down south to hosts Southampton this past Friday, and delivered one of the worst defeats in Premier League history. Unmotivated? Unsure? Unable? These are only a few words to somewhat explain what went down at Southampton’s St. Mary’s Stadium. The night began pretty standard. Southampton were hopeful that the heavy rain would somehow slow down a Leicester side that has been fairing very well, entering the match as a top five team. Ten minutes in, Ben Chilwell, Leicester’s leftback opened the scoring. It was during the 12th minute where I feel everything went wrong for the Saints. Ryan Bertrand, Southampton’s quick winger, got a red card for an illegal tackle. Southampton were already seen as the underdogs of this match, and going a man down against the former Premier League title holders is not a good sign. 10-man Southampton eventually conceded a second goal five minutes later by Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans. Two minutes after that, Spanish right-midfielder Ayoze Perez made it 3-0 with a fantastic play assisted by Tielemans. At this point, you start understanding that something is wrong. Being three goals down before the 20th minute is never a good sign, and the way Southampton were playing, a bigger margin of defeat was inevitable. The Saints were able to hold off the foxes for about the next twenty minutes, until Ayoze Perez added to his tally with a fantastic first time strike. Right at half-time, Leicester’s striker Jamie Vardy managed to make it 5-0 after squeezing a goal in through some horrendous defending from Southampton’s Japanese central defender Maya Yoshida.

Halftime

Many of the home fans decided to leave rather than see their club get demolished. The remaining fans scattered throughout the stadium hoped the Saints gained some reconnaissance during the demolition and the break. Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl clearly thought there needed to be defensive change, as the starting 6’6 Dane Jannik Vestergaard was subbed off in place of Austrian center back Kevin Danso. Hasenhuttl also decided to sub off English striker Danny Ings for English defender Jack Stephens. The Saints manager was clearly trying to save some face… The tactic change was working well, until the 57th minute when Ayoze Perez scored his 3rd goal of the night. 6-0. At this point, the scoreline is ridiculous. I would venture to say that if you ask any soccer/football fan what a mercy rule scoreline would be, 6-0 would be it. Not even two minutes later Southampton would concede again. Jamie Vardy managed to make it 7-0 with less than an hour played. After about 20 more minutes of game time, the Saints were playing better than they were in the first half, to the home supporter’s dismay. During the 85th minute, James Maddison scored a beautiful free-kick goal just to rub salt in the wounds. At this point the scoreline matched the biggest ever Premier League away win, but nothing would go right for Southampton that night. as the last kick of the game ended up being a penalty. Polish defender Jan Bednarek conceded a penalty in the 93rd minute that would be converted into a goal by Jamie Vardy. Full time. Southampton 0 – Leicester City 9. A disrespectful performance by the Saints that will go down in history. Leicester City with a merciless game that will only give them even more Premier League title motivation.

Watch the highlights here

Watch Ralph Hasenhuttl’s apology here

Current Premier League Standings

My First Premier League Blog

Premier League Analysis

As much as I love to talk in class, writing a blog came with a few writing blocks. Questions such as “What?”, “Why?” and “Who?” kept popping in my head. Then I decided to make one on the soccer world. For the past month and a half now, I have been following England’s Premier League. The league is approaching its second half of the season and so far it’s been a really good one!

Last year, Liverpool FC came so close to clinching the Premier League trophy, coming second with 97 points! That’s the highest amount of points that a team has gotten without actually winning the title in PL history! They only lost one game! This year the tides have turned, and Liverpool lead the top of the table six points ahead of last year’s champion, Manchester City. If you ask me I think that is well deserved. Liverpool have been a wrecking ball of a team this season, still without a loss and having a 1-1 draw with Manchester United be what stopped their 20+ game winning streak.

The player who hasn’t impressed me much on that team is the Egyptian Mohamed Salah. I won’t take anything away from this world-class winger, but he has yet to make quite as much an impact as he did in last year’s Premier League Campaign. I’m sure we’re bound to see him light up the field in the upcoming games, especially when Liverpool are making the final push of the season to stay on top.

My dark horse team, newly promoted Norwich City have certainly slowed down in the season. They began with a bang, with Finnish striker Teemu Pukki scoring almost two goals per the first few games. Recently, Norwich City has been facing a bit of a win drought, moving to the near bottom of the table. They may finally succumb to the best in English football, but hopefully not without a fight. Things could be worse though, they could be bottom-of-the-table Watford… but that’s a story for another blog…

Check out Premier League News here