January 20, 2015

Arsenal shocks the world

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

While the headline might be a bit of an exaggeration, it is somewhat true.

Who would’ve believed that a shorthanded Arsenal side would walk into Emirates Stadium and not just take a point off of Manchester City, but actually beat the title-contender?

Arsenal has a nasty habit of choking against the best teams in the league – it’s one of the main reasons why it finishes fourth most seasons.

While this result would be marginally more believable in London, the fact that the Gunners won in Manchester is incredible. It was just the Citizens’ second loss at home this season and third overall. And in the reverse fixture, the two teams fought to a draw.

With youngsters Hector Bellerin and Francois Coquelin starting for the away side, you would’ve thought a team that ended the game with the attacking talent of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic, David Silva and Frank Lampard on the field could’ve been shutout.

Santi Cazorla was the star for the Gunners, taking the spotlight off of fellow Spaniard Alexis Sanchez for at least one week by scoring a penalty and setting up the second goal off a well-placed free kick.

While any loss is a tough to take in the title race, it’s even tougher when you’re trying to make your homefield a fortress.

This will be tough for City to bounce back from and get in the race, but it has the talent to do so.

But then again, we said that the last time they were defending the title against a juggernaut-looking team, and how did that work out?


Remember when Chelsea was dominating opponents and looking poised to run away with the Premier League?

Well that looks like it might be the case again.

After a couple of awful games, the Blues found their form in a big way against Swansea.

With a 5-0 victory and City’s loss, Chelsea now has a five point atop the table.

Both Oscar and Diego Costa potted a brace, with most of the work looking fairly easy. If the Blues can play like this every week, they won’t even have to make any additions in the transfer window to take the title easily.

With Manchester City coming to Stamford Bridge at the end of the month, that game sets up as a potential title decider – although we have said that already this season and the Blues coughed up that lead.

As for the Swans, they looked particularly out of sync, failing to keep possession and giving the ball away cheaply, leading to a couple of the Chelsea goals.

The Welsh side also made the questionable decision to play Gylfi Sigurdsson in a deeper role, where he failed to make an impact on the game. The Iceland playmaker has been excellent in attack this season, which make this move even more questionable. It was also a damning look into the team’s future without Wilfried Bony – who is at the African Cup of Nations and has been sold to City.


Burnley keeps potting goals, now having scored nine times in its past four games, but couldn’t stop Crystal Palace’s comeback. After going up two in just 16 minutes, you would’ve thought the Clarets would clamp down on Alan Pardew’s new side. Not the case. Plenty of questions will be rightfully asked about Sam Dyche’s tactics as Burnley now sits just a point out of the relegation zone … Another game, another stupid defensive mistake for Southampton. For a side that is so good at defending, it sure makes a lot of mistakes. The Saints were really lucky that it didn’t cost them any points against Newcastle … Eljero Elia scores a brace in his debut, proving again that Southampton is just as good as scouting in the transfer market as it is at scouting youth talent … Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen was somehow called offside while in his own half, robbing the defender of a goal against Sunderland. I don’t know how in the world that the linesman blew that one … Jermain Defoe played an impressive 75 minutes during his Sunderland debut, but failed to keep his lauded streak alive – he failed to score. Defoe had scored a goal in each of his previous debuts, including with Toronto FC last year.


What was Kevin Miralles thinking?

When the Belgian refused to give the ball up to Leighton Baines for a penalty attempt against West Brom on Monday, it was perhaps a sign of bigger problems with Everton.

Miralles missed the penalty, hitting the base of the post – and, really, the keeper would’ve likely stopped the chance if it was going on target.

The Toffees haven’t won in eight games in all competitions and aren’t looking likely to make a return to Europe next season.

Something needs to be shaken up at Goodison Park, where Roberto Martinez’s seat is getting hotter by the day.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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