August 30, 2017

FREE KICKS: North London nightmares

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

At this point, Arsenal would be ecstatic to be sitting in fourth.

Their North London rival Tottenham would usually be happy to be a point above the Gunners.

Instead, both clubs are in disarray after a massively disappointing Sunday. Arsenal was outgunned at Anfield while Spurs dropped points at Wembley to Burnley.

Arsenal is currently 16th in the table with just three points and a minus-4 goal differential while Spurs have a single point from two “home” games.

The Gunners couldn’t get a boost from a returning Alexis Sanchez, playing his first game of the season while continuing to be involved in myriad transfer rumours. Mesut Ozil continues to look disinterested while playing out the final year of his contract and Aaron Ramsey was seen yelling at the sideline instead of tracking back.

It’s things like these that bring on the continual calling for Arsene Wenger’s job and why the fans are going to continue to be disappointed by this team that struggling to return to its glory days.

Spurs, on the other hand, just can’t get it done at their new home – which comes as no surprise. Tottenham has always had a spotty record playing at Wembley, though previously those games had been neutral-site games.

Now, even while packing the massive Stadium with their supporters, Tottenham hasn’t been able to get it done. Chelsea outclassed its London rival while Burnley was able to secure a draw with an injury-time goal from Chris Wood.

The struggles start at the top, with Harry Kane being blanked in the first three games. The English striker is taking his shots (24 attempts) but has just six on target. Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have played well, but there’s something lacking.

Both sides will now go into the international break with more questions than answers.

Whether or not Arsenal and Tottenham strengthen before the window closes on Thursday remains to be seen, but it’s clear that both sides need a good kick in the ass to get up to the standards we’ve seen them at in past years.


We have a feeling that Alvaro Morata will earn this honour more than once this season.

In his second home game with Chelsea, he produced a goal an assist against an Everton side that has started this season off well.

It is actually the second time that the Spaniard has picked up a goal and an assist at StamfordBridge this season, doing so in the opener as a substitute when the Blues were chasing the game against Burnley.

If Morata can continue to produce like this, Chelsea fans could be quick to forget Diego Costa.


Charlie Daniels scored an absolute stunner, but what makes it so special is its rarity: According to the Ringer, in the top 5 European leagues, no player has scored from that area with his left foot in the past few years … Raheem Sterling got his first start of the season, but saved his best for last. The City winger scored the winner seven minutes into stoppage time and then, as many do in moments of pure elation when you believe the game is over, went to celebrate with the fans. It’s just too bad that the games were still on, as Sterling was sent off for his second yellow card. We get that it’s a fan safety issue, but, come on man. Sterling shouldn’t have been sent off for that and will now miss City’s first game back … Sergio Aguero didn’t look too pleased to start out on the bench. He also wasn’t too pleased with the steward that seemed to take liberties with a ManchesterCity during Sterling’s celebration … How did Nathan Ake not get a red for taking down Sterling from behind after giving up the ball? He had a clear path to the net and Ake took him down in what’s called a “professional foul.” … West Ham has now conceded 10 goals in three games, this time losing to a previously awful-looking Newcastle side. Slaven Bilic should be feeling some heat and another loss could spell the end for him … Crystal Palace – with all of its high-powered attackers – has yet to score this season. Frank De Boer surely needs time to implement his system, but the Eagles can’t afford to start this slow when facing teams like Swansea … Miguel Britos’ diving, studs-up tackle on Anthony Knockaert was just about as bad as they get. And then to have the gall to argue the straight red from the ref was something else. He deserves at least five games for that terrible showing and he is a repeat offender, with three reds in his past 20 games … Kasper Schmeichel has now saved more penalties at Old Trafford than his dad, Peter, did. The funny thing: Papa Schmeichel played for United for eight years … I guess you could say that Manchester United’s Belgian scored with his Fellai-knee … It’s curious that Arsenal is so eager to sell Shkodran Mustafi to one of two Italian clubs. The Gunners don’t exactly have a ton of depth at CB now that they’re playing in a three-CB system. Having Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding competing for a spot isn’t an optimal situation for a supposed “big club.”


The transfer window closes on Thursday while we’re in the midst of an international break. Quite frankly, I don’t think the timing could be better.

Usually, teams are preparing a game on the weekend while rumours are circulating and distractions abound.

Having players away with their national teams, or just on a short vacation, is probably the best time to negotiate these massive moves.

So who will be on the move?

We’ve already seen Liverpool move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and seal a deal for Naby Keita next year. Chelsea is after Danny Drinkwater. Much to every FIFA 18 player’s chagrin, Renato Sanches will ply his trade in the Premier League with Swansea. West Brom has brought in Kieran Gibbs and Grzegorz Krychowiak. Stoke secured Kevin Wimmer from Spurs.

And there’s still plenty more on the table.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

Leave a Reply