Tag Archives: League

Focus on Europa League creates challenges, but also provides opportunity

Chelsea’s 3-0 win last night moved them back into the top four ahead of Sp*rs, and the gap between us and the Champions League places is now eight points. Given that Chelsea play Manchester United before we play again in the league, the gap could be eleven points with just 11 games left to play.

That’s a lot. Our maximum points tally from this season is 78, that’s if we win every game, home and away, which would mean beating both Manchester teams along the way. It means we’d need 3 points from every game, which is not impossible but highly unlikely for a team which is averaging 1.66 points per game this season.

Thierry Henry spoke on Sky Sports last night about what was left for this season, and said:

Should they focus on the Europa and let the league go? I don’t think you can do that, but you should go really strong on trying to win the Europa League. At the end of the day, that brings you back into the Champions League – and you are winning a trophy.

The danger, of course, is if you publicly prioritise one tournament you run the risk of players switching off for other games. It may just be subconscious but it can happen, I think we saw it last season with Man Utd, and that definitely makes life a bit more challenging in terms of team selection, performance, maintaining momentum (such as it is anyway) and so on.

Still, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that at this stage, even with 33 points left to play for, our best shot at making this season a success is to target the Europa League in a big way. And it would be a success whatever way you wanted to look at it. It wouldn’t excuse our poor Premier League performance, but it would put a European trophy in our cabinet – and as a club we don’t have many of those to our name.

The 1970 Fairs Cup, and the 1994 Cup Winners Cup are all we have to show for our many seasons in European football, so I don’t think we could dismiss winning the Europa League as unimportant in any way. The bonus of victory in this tournament is entry into next season’s Champions League, and that’s no small thing either.

I can strongly envisage a situation where this particular Arsenal team refocuses very strongly in Europe for the rest of this season. Regardless of what Arsene Wenger might say, the players are not stupid. They’ll be as aware of our situation as anyone else, and I think it’s going to be very difficult for the manager to get them up for league games when they know there’s basically nothing at stake.

Our record in knock-out football in recent seasons has been excellent, and while people point to the quality of teams like Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League, we have beaten every ‘big’ team in England on the way to our FA Cup triumphs in recent seasons.

Sp*rs, Liverpool, and Everton were dispatched on the way to winning in 2014; Man Utd beaten at Old Trafford as we made our way to the 2015 final; and Wembley triumphs over Man City and Chelsea last season helped us set a new record in cup final wins, so we know this is a team that can do it in a winner takes all situation.

The fact that the games will be played over two legs may have an impact and change the dynamic slightly, but ultimately these are knock-out games and we’ve got some prowess here. It will require the manager to pick his strongest team in every game in this tournament, regardless of what’s happening in the league either side of these fixtures, because realistically it remains our best opportunity to win something this season.

It would also provide a wonderful opportunity for Arsene Wenger to go out on a high this summer, something I really hope happens. It would be amazing for him to call time on his many years at the club having led us to a European trophy and back into the Champions League, at which point the new manager we need could come in and pick up the reigns.

You could argue that winning another trophy and securing a place at the top table of European football next season should mean he continues into the final year of his deal, and I do see that point of view. My feeling, however, is that this season – with our continued woes away from home – has absolutely hammered home the need for managerial change.

Arsene Wenger is now 68 years of age. He is experienced and wise, but the game has changed, and despite his best efforts and working as hard as he can, he’s struggling to meet the very high standards that he himself has set at the club. I say this with the utmost respect, but whatever happens between now and May, success or failure, it’s time for things to go a different direction, and for me I’d dearly love to see the final act of a remarkable career at this club be a successful and triumphant one.

It’s something James and I talk about at some length on this week’s Arsecast Extra, as well as looking back at the North London derby, Alexandre Lacazette’s current woes, the abuse and threats leveled at some of our players via social media and lots more. Listen and subscribe below, I’ll have more tomorrow as we prepare for our Europa League tie with Swedish side Ostersunds FK. Until then.


Porto vs Liverpool predictions: Champions League preview & probable line-ups

101 Great Goals prediction: Porto 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool to beat Porto 2-1 is 8/1 with Paddy Power.

Even away from home, Liverpool’s deadly attack is likely to be too much for an injury-ridden Porto side to handle.

Porto vs Liverpool football betting tips

Porto at home in Europe are notoriously touch, so 2/1 on a home win looks great value.

Liverpool are 13/10 to win, the draw is 12/5.

Think Jurgen Klopp is going to stuff it up? Porto are 11/5 to qualify the tie.

Paddy Power: Porto vs Liverpool odds

Mohamed Salah is 13/8 to score anytime, while Roberto Firmino is 5/1 to score first.

Virgil Van Dijk is 10/1 to get on the scoresheet anytime.

Back BTTS at 4/7, while the against is 5/4.

PORTO, PORTUGAL – JULY 30: Iker Casillas of FC Porto in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between FC Porto and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Estadio do Dragao on July 30, 2017 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Porto vs Liverpool: Champions League Round of 16 preview

Liverpool travel to Portugal for their round of 16 first-leg clash against Porto at the Estadio Do Dragao on Wednesday night.

The Reds head into the match in fairly decent form, with January’s 1-0 defeat at Swansea the only blemish to their recent form.

Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah bagged a goal and an assist each as Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 on Sunday. Salah is just one goal away from reaching 30 goals in all competitions for the season.

Sergio Conceicao’s Porto side sit at the top of the Primeira Liga table, two points above Benfica, with a game in hand.

Tiquinho (2), Moussa Marega and Sergio Oliveira all netted in Sunday’s 4-0 away win at Chaves.

Porto are currently on a 15-match unbeaten run at home in all competitions.

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2004 winners against 2005 winners

Despite winning only half of their group stage matches, Liverpool managed to top Group E above Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor.

Porto finished as runners-up in a difficult Group G, above RB Leipzig and Monaco, but behind Besiktas.

Roberto Firmino heads into the knockout stages as the tournament’s joint-second leading goalscorer, with six goals to his name.

Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar, Liverpool’s Salah and former Red Philippe Coutinho all scored five times in the group stages.

The 2nd leg will take place on 6 March at Anfield.

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 04: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Virgil van Dijk after scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 4, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Porto team news vs Liverpool

Porto will be hoping to have Ivan Marcano available. The defender has a thigh problem and his absense could leave Porto paper thin at the back.

Fabiano is a long-term absentee with a cruciate ligament injury.

Felipe Monteiro is suspended.

Andre Andre will miss out with an ankle injury, while Danilo Pereira and leading scorer Aboubakar all doubtful.

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Liverpool team news vs Porto

Emre Can will serve a one-match suspension.

Alberto Moreno is available again having made the bench on Sunday at St Mary’s.

Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to have Joe Gomez available again. Trent Alexander-Arnold provides an alternative.

Jordan Henderson certain to start, while Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term absentee.

Porto predicted line-up vs Liverpool

Predicted Porto XI vs Liverpool

Predicted Porto XI vs Liverpool

Liverpool predicted line-up vs Porto

Predicted Liverpool XI vs Porto

For more free football betting tips click here.

All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.

Tottenham boost: Numerous key players left out of Juventus’ Champions League squad

Juventus have not named a number of key players in their Champions League squad to face Tottenham Hotspur at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday in Turin.

Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Blaise Matuidi, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Andrea Barzagli are absent from the two-time competition winners’ squad.

Spurs face a few troubles of their own also, with Toby Alderweirled and Harry Winks both missing the trip to Turin.

Juventus’ squad

Key players out

Dybala, Cuadrado, Matuidi, Lichtsteiner and Barzagli deal the Old Lady a huge blow ahead of the visit of Tottenham in the Champions League.

These absentees leave Juve light in squad options, particularly in defence with no Lichtsteiner and Barzagli.

Dybala is no doubt a massive blow for Juventus, but such is the quality of their squad the other four are players not usually in the starting eleven.

Tottenham’s Toby troubles

Alderweirled was a notable absentee from Tottenham’s North London derby squad that beat Arsenal 1-0 on Saturday.

Having completed 90 minutes against Newport during the week, it seemed likely he would return against the Gunners.

The 29-year-old has been dealt yet another setback, being left at Hotspur Way to work on fitness, having met with manager Mauricio Pochettino and his assistant Jesus Perez after Liverpool.

Juventus vs Tottenham preview

For Juve, it has been a spell of utter dominance, winning all 11 of their last fixtures in Serie A, including a 2-0 victory at Fiorentina last time out.

Despite so many impressive displays, the Old Lady still find themselves sat second, behind leaders Napoli, in what has been quite an enthralling race for the title in Italy this season.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side reached this stage of the competition after finishing runners-up to Barcelona in Group D.

For Tottenham Hotspur, this game concludes what has been a tough run of fixtures; but also a period in which they have really flourished.

Taking seven points from their last three league games, coming up against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, they travel to Italy at just the right moment in time.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side made it to the last-16 of the competition having taken a joint-English record tally of 16 points to top a group containing both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

Read 101 Great Goals’ full preview line-ups & football betting tips for Juventus vs Tottenham here.


Wolves want 28-yr-old Premier League midfielder, would be an excellent addition

Wolves want 28-yr-old Premier League midfielder, would be an excellent addition – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Wolves are looking to sign the Bournemouth midfielder Dan Gosling at the end of this season.

As per the reports (via HITC), the 28-year-old central midfielder has managed to impress the Championship leaders with his work ethic and versatility.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are set to win the Championship this season and they will play in the Premier League next year. In order to survive in the top flight, Wolves will need to make some Premier League calibre signings and Gosling would be a wise addition.

Although the Bournemouth midfielder is hardly setting the Premier League alight with his performances, he could be a very valuable squad member for most midtable sides.

Gosling can fill in as a fullback and a wide midfielder as well.

It will be interesting to see whether Eddie Howe is prepared to sanction a sale at the end of this season.

The 28-year-old has been a consistent performer for the Cherries and they are unlikely to let him leave without a fight.

From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog

World class Man City star's agent reveals his client's desire to play in this league

World class Man City star’s agent reveals his client’s desire to play in this league – originally posted on Sportslens.com

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne’s agent feels that the midfielder is likely to end his career in the MLS.

Initially, the player was expected to return to Belgium once he is past his peak. But it seems that De Bruyne is quite fond of America and wants to play there at some point in his career.

However, the Manchester City fans have nothing to worry about as the move is not going to happen anytime soon. The £52million signing signed a new £300,000-a-week deal last month that will keep him at the Etihad until 2023.

De Bruyne has been the best player in the Premier League this season and he will be hoping to win the Champions League with Manchester City before leaving England.

The Belgian could also be a target for Chinese clubs but his agent Patrick De Koster does not see his client moving to China in future.

Patrick De Koster said: “I think Kevin will end his career in the USA rather than in Belgium. He has already been to America many times on holiday, and he loves the country and its culture. He said goodbye to his bachelor life in Las Vegas, and we have often spoken about him ending his career in the MLS. He hasn’t yet had any offers from American clubs because they know it is not worth bothering as he is at the peak of his career. Clubs in China will probably look longingly at him, but I can’t see him going over to play there.”

The 26-year-old playmaker has scored 11 goals and has bagged 17 assists in all competitions for Manchester City so far this season. He is one of the main reasons why City are now firm favourites to win the league title this year.

From Sportslens.com – Football News | Football Blog