Tag Archives: Chelsea

The Final Countdown

European finals do not come around often for The Arsenal.

If there is one part of our trophy laden history that is disappointing, it is success on the continent. Still yet to win a European Cup, we have only been in 6 European finals in our history – winning just two.

That is why, regardless of whether it is a Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Cup of European Cup Winners Cup final, it is something to be treasured.

It is also why the decision by UEFA to host the final in Baku is such a frustrating one.

Baku is simply an unsuitable venue. From it’s airport, the lack of flights and lack of hotels, it was always going to be unable to take thousands of travelling supporters no matter which 2 teams qualified. You have to wonder how exactly they won the bid to host the final.

UEFA will celebrate that hosting the final in Baku has enabled fans from around the globe who usually would have been unable to go to such a game attend. They will say that the decision has to host in Baku is justified as it is football for all.

The issue with hosting it in Baku has meant that fans who go week in, week out are unable to go. Finals are the reward for fans who go every week, maybe for years, without seeing success. That is why Arsenal prioritise season ticket holders when it comes to the allocation of tickets.

In future, UEFA need to ensure that host cities are accessible from throughout Europe regardless of which country they are travelling from. They must have an airport to cope with the capacity of thousands of travelling fans, have enough hotels and not restrict people from certain nations.

Even in UEFA’s own bid documents, they admitted that Baku was an unsuitable venue

But the decision has been made, and fans are making their way to Baku as we speak. Whether it be direct flights, via Riga, Istanbul or Tbilisi, there are a few thousand making their way out there. Fair play to them all.

For those going out there, our friends Arsenal Azerbaijan Supporters Club have put together a guide to Baku.

Anyone looking to watch the final in Islington, we have put together a comprehensive pub guide. Our advice; aim to wherever you want to watch it early and be prepared for your 1st choice pub to already be full.

We have lost our last 3 European finals in a row. Hopefully tomorrow night we put an end to that run and finish the season on a high.

Keenos

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Defeat to Wolves not as damaging as Crystal Palace loss

That target of 75 points seems impossible now.

With just 3 games to go, Arsenal sit on 66 points; meaning we need to win 3 from 3 to reach the 75.

The Wolves defeat was disappointing, but should not have been surprising. They are a good side who have performed well against the top 6 this season.

Whilst they are a newly promoted side, they won the championship with a team of Premier League players. Experienced internationals who were clearly playing at a level below where they should have been.

Ruben Neves is a perfect example of this.

He was Porto’s captain as a teenager, playing in the Champions League. He should never have been playing in the Championship. The owners links with certain agents enabled them to sign players who would not have joined any other Championship team.

Now in the Premier League, they are exactly where they should be. 7th.

I have seen some say that Nuno Espírito Santo should be manager of the season. But when you look at the players he has, 7th or 8th is probably Wolves par. They have just as good squad of players as the likes of Everton and Leicester City.

Wolves have done brilliant against top 6 sides this season. It is the performances against the sides at the bottom end of the table that has stopped them challenging for a top 6 place.

This season Wolves have beaten Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal at home, and Tottenham away. They have lost just 3 games against top 6 sides – away to Manchester City &  and at home to Spurs & Liverpool. They are unbeaten against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal

Meanwhile, against the bottom 6 they have lost 6 games.

Beaten twice by Huddersfield,  as well as defeats to Cardiff, Brighton, Southampton and Burnley. They have failed to beat both Huddersfield and Brighton either home or away this season.

A few weeks ago I wrote how we needed 75 points to finish top 4. We needed to win both home games and 2 out of 4 away.

Things started well beating 10-man Watford. That left us with needing to beat Palace & Brighton at home and 1 of Burnley, Leicester & Wolves away. more than achievable.

But then we collapsed at home to Crystal Palace. The defeat killed us.

Losing away to Wolves was always slated in, was always predicted. Their form against top 6 sides and our form away from home. Arsenal were always going to do well to get 3 points from the Molineux

The Palace loss killed us.

There used to be a time when playing safe, mid-table team towards the end of the season was what you wanted. Their minds would be on the beach, not scrapping to remain in the division or for a Champions League place.

Hats off to Wolves, Watford, Palace, Everton and Leicester who have remained motivated, even if it is to our detriment.

Such is the performance by Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks that, despite suffering 3 defeats in the last 4 games, Arsenal could find themselves beck in the top 4 come Sunday.

In the lunchtime kick off, Arsenal face Leicester. Like Wolves, it will not be an easy game, but following the loss to Crystal Palace, Arsenal must win.

A few hours later, Chelsea kick off at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

Following the weekend games, Chelsea host Watford and then visit Leicester on the last day of the season, whilst Arsenal play Brighton in London before visiting Burnley on the final game.

Manchester United have the easiest last 2 games – away to Huddersfield and then home to Cardiff.

If Man U beat Chelsea at the weekend, and Arsenal fail to beat Leicester, they are surely favourites for that final Champions League spot.

If Chelsea win and Arsenal lose, it will be Chelsea who would become favourites.

The best result for Arsenal is a draw – meaning that even if they lose to Leicester they would be still be just 2 points off of 4th.

Of course, we need to target a win against Leicester. Put the pressure on the other two by securing the 3 points before they have kicked off.

We do that and it ensures no matter what the result is between Man U and Chelsea, we are in with a shout. We would, at worst, be going into the last 2 games of the season 1 point behind.

If we win and Chelsea and Man U draw, it would leave Arsenal 4th and 2 points ahead of Chelsea in 5th. Man U would be 4 points behind, and surely out of the running.

We need to shake ourselves down, and secure that 3 points against Leicester on Sunday.

Keenos

Top 4 race set to go down to last game of the season

The race for the top 4 rolls on tonight as Arsenal face a tricky trip to Watford.

It was not too long ago that Arsenal were in 3rd place and in poll position to finish in the top 4. A couple of weeks and a single defeat later, Arsenal find themselves in 6th, playing catch up.

Victories for Manchester United and Tottenham have left Arsenal in 6th place, despite a defeat for Chelsea. Win tonight and Arsenal return to 4th.

Looking forward, 75 is still the magic number for 4th place.

To achieve this, Arsenal would need to win both their remaining home games, as well as beat Watford tonight.

With trips to Leicester, Wolves and Burnley still to come, coupled with Arsenal’s poor away form, those 2 away victories will not come easy.

Looking at the remaining fixtures, Chelsea and Manchester United have the hardest run ins.

Taking into account Manchester United’s poor form – despite getting the 3 points against West Ham, they were the worst team – it is unlikely they will come away from the next 3 games with 9 out of 9 points. They could find themselves cut adrift as we go into May.

Tottenham have 1 tough game, and it is up next against Manchester City. After that you would expect them to get 12 from 12. They will probably secure 3rd.

When you look at the remaining fixtures Arsenal face, you can see the importance of winning tonight.

Victory would take the Gunners into 4th place and, with Crystal Palace up after, Arsenal could find themselves in 3rd place with 4 games to go.

6 points from the next 2 games will see Arsenal up to 69 points. That will likely put them level with Chelsea (who will surely beat Burnley at home) and 2 points ahead of Tottenham in 5th (who surely will not beat Manchester City).

The next key weekend will be when Manchester United host Chelsea. At this point Man U will probably find themselves 5 points off Arsenal, and could result in the strange situation of Arsenal fans wanting Manchester United to win.

Were Arsenal to lose to Leicester, that would likely leave us in a situation where 2 points separate Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. With all 3 sides having 2 games to go, 1 at home, 1 away.

At this point, facing Huddersfield and Cardiff, Man U would have the easiest run in, but they would be 2 points off 4th.

This 2 point gap is likely to remain into the last game of the season.

At this point Tottenham would have secured top 4, and only need a draw to finish 3rd.

With 1 point between Arsenal and Chelsea, with both facing away trips to Burnley and Leicester respectively, it will be a straight shoot out between the 2 to finish 4th – at this point Manchester United would be relying on both sides to fail to win to be in with a chance.

And it all starts tonight with Arsenal facing Watford….

Keenos