Tag Archives: Manchester United

David Ospina, New Tottenham Stadium & Race for Top 4

David Ospina

Over the weekend on loan goal keeper David Ospina suffered a horrific head injury whilst playing for Napoli.

Arsenal already have one goal keeper that plays in a protective cap, it is not yet unclear whether Ospina will have to follow the lead of Petr Cech.

I am actually surprised this kind of injury does not happen more often to goal keepers.

When you consider how often they do dive at the feet of opponents, putting their body on the line, serious injuries are irregular.

Irregular enough not to make any changes; however there is an argument to be made the goal keepers should all have to wear protective headwear. I do not think it will come in now, but it might be something that happens in the future.

Hope Ospina recovers well and Napoli continue with their plan to sign him permanently.

New Tottenham Stadium

Nearly a year late, Tottenham have finally announced when the first game in their new stadium is.

I feel it is a disgrace that the Premier League are allowing them to play games at the new ground this season, meaning that they would have had 16 away fixtures at Wembley and 3 at the new ground.

Hopefully they suffer from the new stadium slump and end up 6th.

It is also laughable that they have been praised for “freezing ticket prices as a thank you for their fans loyalty”.

The pricing structure for the new ground has already caused anger from Spurs fans; who feel they have been lied to and priced out of games. The cheap tickets are so minimal that they are not worth mentioning and fans are paying up to 33% more for a similar ticket in the old ground.

Is it really something to celebrate that they are freezing ticket prices on tickets that would have been used 3 times this season? Is it really something to celebrate that the side who have the highest ticket prices in the country for an unopened stadium are freezing ticket prices?

I guess when you have so little to celebrate in your recent history, you end up celebrating things like “the most expensively build stadium in English football history.”

And I will not comment about Tottenham spending years petitioning TFL and the London Mayor to get the name of White Hart Lane station named. They so desperately want to be The Arsenal…

Race for Top 4

Last week I blogged that Arsenal would need 75 points to finish in the top 4. A few people replied that we would need closer to 80; ignoring the historic fact that only once has a team reached 75 points and not made the top 4.

They seemed to ignore that Chelsea and Manchester United are not the title winning teams of the past. They have lost games, and will lose more games prior to the end of the season.

This was shown in the defeat Chelsea suffered at the hands of Everton.

Manchester United to win 7 of the last 8 games is an unreasonable expectation. Especially when they are still to face Manchester United and Chelsea.

With Chelsea’s defeat to Everton, it leaves Manchester United as incumbents of 5th place. They are on 58 points. For them to reach 75 they would need 17 points from the last 8 games.

That would be 6 wins or 5 wins and 2 draws. Taking into account the two aforementioned big games at home, as well as having to face Wolves and Everton away, 5 wins will be a tough task.

At the weekend Manchester United lost away to Wolves in the FA Cup. This highlights why Arsenal should not take needing 15 points from the last 8 games lightly.

We still have to travel to Everton, Wolves, Watford, Burnley, and Leicester. All mid table teams where 3 points will not be a given.

Arsenal need to win their remaining 3 home games – which will bank 9 points. I would then hope we can get 2 wins from those 5 away games, but it will not be easy.

The next round of games could be a big one for Arsenal; as Tottenham travel to Liverpool and Arsenal are at home to Newcastle.

This could see Arsenal move above Tottenham and in pole position to grab one of the 2 remaining Champions League spots.

A later sees Wolves host Manchester United (again). If Man U lose, they are facing being 2 points behind Arsenal having played a game more. At that stage they will have 5 games to go, and would need to win 4 out of 5 to challenge that 75 point mark. and still have Chelsea and Manchester City to play.

Plenty of twists and turns to come I am sure of it.

Keenos

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Arsenal target 15 points from 8 games for top 4 finish

My Arsenal v Manchester United preview spoke about how the result could make or break our challenge for a top 4 place.

The 2-0 victory leaves it very much in Arsenal’s hands to finish top 4.

Prior to the weekend, very few would have thought that Tottenham would have lost to Southampton and Chelsea would have got just 1 point at home to Wolves. But that is what happened.

Prior to the weekend, Chelsea’s game in hand made me fearful. A win would put them 2 points ahead of Arsenal.

Had Arsenal then lost yesterday against Manchester United, it would have left top 4 out of our hands. We would have needed Manchester United to drop 4 more points & Chelsea to drop 3 more points than us in the last 8 games. It would have been an uphill struggle.

But we won, Manchester United lost and Chelsea drew. Also Tottenham lost to Southampton which drags them back into it.

Instead of it being 3 teams fighting for 1 spot and Arsenal being the bottom of those 3, it is now 4 teams fighting for 2 spots and Arsenal have to be favourites.

Even if Chelsea win their game in hand, Arsenal are still 4th. There would be just 3 points covering 3rd to 6th.

The wheels are coming off Tottenham.

Just over 2 weeks ago they were 10 points ahead of Arsenal. They could fall out of the top 4 next weekend if they fail to get a result away to Liverpool.

They are without a win in 4 games, and their only point came courtesy of a 90th minute missed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.

With games against Liverpool and Manchester City to come and tough home games against West Ham, Everton & Crystal Palace to come, it is hard to see Tottenham getting more than 15 points. That would leave them on 76.

Manchester United are still to face Manchester City and Chelsea at home.

They were on a great run under Ole without really playing a top team. Like Arsenal’s 22 game unbeaten run, it will be interesting to see how they respond. Like Tottenham, they will probably not be too far from the 76 point mark.

Chelsea have the trickiest of run ins, although they do have a game in hand.

They will do well to get points from trips to Manchester United and Liverpool, and also have tricky trips to Leicester and Everton.

Their draw at home to Wolves shows how fragile they are. I think they will struggle to make the 75 point mark.

So that will make it around 75-76 points to finish in the top 4.

Only once in the history of the Premier League has a team amassed 75 points and not made the top 4 – Arsenal in 2016/17.

To put that into perspective, Arsenal finished 2nd the season before with just 71 points.

Arsenal need 15-16 points to finish top 4.

My feeling is 76 will be enough for 4th. Anything above will be enough for 3rd.

The issue Arsenal face is we only have 3 home games left – Newcastle, Crystal Palace & Brighton. We need 9 points from those 9 games.

We have dropped just 7 points at home in the league this season – 5 of which were to Liverpool and Manchester City. It is not unreasonable to expect Arsenal to win all 3 of those games.

It is the 5 away games that will be key.

Arsenal are 9th in the Premier League away table with just 5 wins from 14 games. Although it has to be taken into account that 5 of the 14 away games were against sides in the top 6.

If you take games against the other top sides out of it, our away form reads a lot more favourable:

P 9 W 5 D 2 L 2 Pts 17

If we mimic this form in the 5 remaining away games we should get 9 points. If we add the 9 points from 3 home wins, that would leave us with 78 points in total.

From those 5 games, even if we end with 2 wins and 1 draw, that takes us to 76 points as long as we win those home games.

Ultimately it is winning those home games that is important. Do that and top 4 is ours. Maybe even 3rd.

Keenos

Pitch invaders should not face imprisonment

I was sitting there at Sunday lunchtime having a cup of tea (Assam tea, little splash of milk) with the Birmingham v Aston Villa game on in the back ground. I was not really takingnotice when it happened. A fan ran on the pitch and punched Jack Grealish.

It was shocking.

Like many others, I like a drink before the game and get myself well up for the North London Derby. Adrenaline is running, you are on edge. Anything could happen. But running on the pitch and punching a player – that is simply idiotic behaviour.

A few hours later, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored his penalty, an Arsenal fan ran on the pitch and pushed Chris Smalling before attempting to join the Arsenal celebrations.

Now I do not know whether this fans had watched the Birmingham v Aston Vila game prior, and was inspired by what he saw, but it was another silly act.

These two incidents were on the back of a Hibernian fan attacking Rangers’ James Tavernier on Friday night.

Three incidents in the space of 3 days.

The authorities will come down hard in all 3 cases, using the full of weight of the law to prosecute and punish.

On Sky Sports, they talked about making “entering the field of play” a criminal offence. It already is.

Under the Football (Offences) Act 1991 it is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove).

As it stands, the criminal punishment for entering the field of play is a fine. A court will also likely hand out a 3 year Football Banning Order (FBO) if it is a first offence. This banning order can increase to a life time banning order depending severity of offence and previous offences.

Clubs also have the civil power of banning fans from the ground in the same way a pub can ban a punter. It is private land. They can choose to ban however they want for however long they like.

In the case of the Birmingham fan, he will probably receive a life ban. It is not just that he ran onto the pitch, but he also assaulted Grealish.

He will be prosecuted under the Football (Offences) Act for entering the field of play but also likely to be prosecuted for common assault Criminal Justice Act 1988. This could lead to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. (Note: he was given 14 weeks).

The CPS who probably also try and add Actual bodily Harm (ABH) in as this carries a sentence up to 5 years. However as there has been no bodily harm, this will probably fail and he will be convicted of common assault (note: he plead guilty to common assault).

In the cases of the Arsenal and Hibs fans, they will be fined and banned. Probably for 3 years by the courts and longer by the clubs.

All for 30 seconds of fame.

Pitch invasions are not a new thing.

For years in the League Cup Arsenal have suffered from silly children running on the pitch, and recently a YouTube channel decided to invade a Tottenham European tie. Whilst these are harmless acts, all would have been arrested and prosecuted.

The concern for the authorities is 3 incidents live on Sky over 3 days have shamed the English game.

They have a brand to protect, and will ensure that all those involved will be prosecuted to the full extent.

My concern is that the law makers go OTT.

Like with the Dangerous Dogs Act, governments throughout history have responded disproportionally to a minority of offences as they gained public interest. This results in them quickly passing legislation without thinking of the greater impact.

If they add imprisonment to the punishment for those fans that enter the field of play, it could have far reaching consequences.

Yes, the Birmingham fan deserves jail time as he assaulted a player. No one should fear being assaulted when at work – or any other time.

But if they role out imprisonment for all pitch invaders, this could be misused.

There was an incident a few years ago during an Arsenal v Manchester United game that highlights this.

“When Manchester United were away to Arsenal last season,” says Amanda Jacks from the Football Supporters Federation, “Rooney scored a winner and about half a dozen fans went tumbling over the barriers as the crowd surged forward. Clearly they weren’t trying to run on the pitch, it was just the momentum that carried them over. They all got arrested and charged with pitch encroachment. One pleaded guilty, the others pleaded not guilty, but the magistrates were pretty disparaging that the case had been brought at all.”

You could be completely innocent and be punished over a barrier, or simply be caught up in celebrating a goal, and end up with 6 months in jail.

Jumping on the pitch is not the equivalent of assault; so should not have the same maximum punishment.

The UK has a huge knife problem at the moment.

Sentencing guidelines indicate courts must impose a mandatory six month minimum prison term on those caught carrying a knife for a second time.

So you could be caught carrying a knife twice before being handed a 6 months sentence (and only in 63% of cases have people been sentenced to 6 months for their 2nd offence), or you could be jailed for 6 months for entering the field of play once whilst celebrating a goal.

It clearly is not a proportionate offence and the law makers need to think carefully before adding imprisonment to the list of possible punishments.

The bigger concern for me as a fan is that these fans behaviour supports those who do not want to see a return of Safe Standing. It supports the law which bans drinking in view of the pitch at football. And it supports kick offs at noon for big games.

Next season when Birmingham play Aston Villa it will be at 11:30am.

Fans will moan, they will complain, blame the police, the TV companies. The real person to blame is the chap who ran on the pitch and assaulted Grealish.

The actions of a single fan have consequences for every single other fan that go’s.

I do not want early kick offs for “security reasons”. I want to be able to stand and watch the game. Have a beer. But whilst people continue to misbehave.

Those who ran onto the pitch over the weekend will face proportionate consequences. My fear is that we will see a disproportionate response from the law makers and the consequences for the majority of fans could be greater.

Think before you run on the pitch.

Keenos