What is stopping Aubameyang from signing a new contract at Arsenal?

You either love the club you play for or you don’t? You either believe they have ambition to match your own, or you don’t? So why hasn’t Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signed new contract yet?

It is a question that every Arsenal fan wants to know, but it is also interesting for any fan of football. Speculation has been raging since the beginning of the year as it became clear just how important Aubameyang is to Arsenal. Since his arrival in 2018 the Gunners have struggled by their standards, but Aubameyang has got them out of jail so many times his boots may might as well hold chance and community chest cards from Monopoly.

In short Aubameyang is a quality player, perhaps Arsenal’s one and truly only quality player. He scores goals, he creates goals, he is a delight to watch and is worth every penny of the reported £56 million that Arsenal gave Borussia Dortmund for him.

As it stands Aubameyang is entering his final season with the club, one which has not been able to qualify for the Champions League since his arrival. Surely this is the competition he wants to play in. He is 31 now and time is running out. Arsenal’s options are for him to sign an extended contract, or sell him within the next month, otherwise he will go for free at the end of this season coming up.

Usually statistics can be overused and to some extent make little sense in relevance of how the game is actually played out, but in a strikers case, all is transparent, after all they are on the pitch to do one thing, to score goals, that really is their job. And Aubameyang is surely one of the deadliest strikers in Europe. But there is irony that he is playing for a top club in Arsenal, but who are going through one of their worst situations of the past 30 years. Forget the recent FA Cup win, that was great and yet again it was Aubameyang’s goals that brought home the trophy, remember instead that the Gunners finished 8th this season. That was poor, and shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet.

So for much of the year the papers and media around the world have told us Aubameyang is going to sign a new contract, no doubt about it. The season because of the delayed response to the pandemic finally ended in mid July, we are now in September and no contract has been signed that we are aware of. In mid August the rumour mill went into overdrive when Aubameyang himself tweeted an hour glass suggesting that there would be a countdown and he would be signing a contract. Three weeks later we have nothing.

Maybe admin is simply getting in the way, maybe he is asking for too much, contract tweeks and the like, and it really is only a matter of days before he signs. But even if he does sign, which of course will be great news, why did it take him so long? During the season made sense in a way as he wanted to know if Arsenal would be in Europe next season, and what would their standing be? Could it be that he is waiting to see who Arsenal sign?

It looks likely that Aubameyang will sign, with just a few days until the new season kicks off that would feel like a low blow to the club if they had to sell him. At the same time the window doesn’t close until October 5th.

But even if he signs the fact that he has waited this long almost shows a lack of belief in his employers, and one has to wonder if that is a good thing or not going into the new season.

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Is Aubameyang bigger than Arsenal as the Gunners beat Chelsea in FA Cup final?

All of a sudden Arsenal seem back. After a poor season which saw Unai Emery sacked before Christmas and former player Mikel Arteta brought into the dug out it seemed like Arsenal would be waiting a long time for any type of silverware. However they have ended the season by winning the FA Cup against the odds.

Arsenal came from a goal down to beat Chelsea 2-1 to lift their 14th FA Cup which is a record. Indeed Arsenal have won 4 cups in the last decade and their name is becoming part of the cup itself- just go ahead and put red and white ribbons on permanently why don’t you?

A burning desire and their name to be scripted onto the cup seemed to come when they upset Manchester City at the semi-final stage. Arteta had changed up the system and even David Luiz was playing with confidence. This was the first glimpse that under Arteta Arsenal could end up being a force to be reckoned with.

In the final it was going to be incredibly difficult given that the last time Arsenal had faced Chelsea in a cup final was in the 2019 Europa League showpiece where Chelsea simply outplayed the Gunners as the game went on and ended up running out 4-1 winners. Sure Eden Hazard who is now at Real Madrid orchestrated the win but still that game surely had to be playing on some of the minds of the players?

Maybe then it was to no surprise that Chelsea took a 5th minute lead through Christian Pulisic who has been outstanding this season for the Blues. With 56 points earned this season the American international was the 3rd best player for Frank Lampard’s team.

Chelsea started brightly but couldn’t find a 2nd and there was just that feeling creeping in that they were not putting this game to bed. With under 30 minutes played Arsenal were awarded a stone wall penalty and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who else? stepped up to take and convert it and the game was back on.

Whilst the 2nd half had it’s lull periods Arsenal were looking more and more of a threat, how much difference from their second half performance in the Europa League. Chelsea hoped for extra time but the Gunners could sense blood and Aubameyang got his brace and the match winner with just 3 minutes left to play.

True Chelsea will feel that Mateo Kovacic’s sending off was harsh, though he was already on a yellow card. It’s unfortunate though that VAR perhaps isn’t used in the big decisions like this, because on this occasion the referee looked to have got it wrong. It’s also worth pointing out that Kovacic has racked up 8 yellow cards this season from just 14 starts in the league.

This cup win feels like a turning point for Arsenal though because finishing 8th in the league represents their worst season in a generation. Arteta has said the win was his most important of his career, now he will be hoping that his statement won’t hold true in a decades time.

The last word has to go to Aubameyang. He has scored 22 league goals this season and assisted in a further 3, meaning that he has contributed to almost 50% of Arsenal’s league goals. He has been phenomenal, the one truly world class player in the side that can change a defeat into a draw and a draw into a win.

Aubameyang stands above as the lead man in this Gunners side and the club will be hoping that he will sign a new contract and stay with the club. They most likely have little chance of that happening if Barcelona or Real Madrid come knocking but given how teams have had to step back somewhat following the pandemic maybe that call won’t happen and maybe Aubameyang will realise that at Arsenal he is the king of the hill, at another club that might not to be the case.

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From Manchester City to Arsenal who can win the FA Cup this season as the quarter finals get under way?

It may have been easy to forget that amongst the Premier League restarting and we having staggered games as the league tries to finish by the end of July, there is also the FA Cup to complete. England’s oldest prize gets off and running again this weekend and we are at the quarter final stages.

Let’s take a look at the matches due to be played, which is interesting given that every team is from the Premier League, its has been 14 years since we have seen this occurrence.

Norwich v Manchester United (June 27th)

Manchester United will start as favourites and despite focusing on the league and trying to get a top 4 spot they will be taking this game very seriously. The club would love to win some silverware this season. As for Norwich they look certain to be relegated this season and so might as well give everything in this game. Expect goals, but we expect Manchester United to go through.

Sheffield United v Arsenal (June 28th)

A few weeks ago you may have said the Blades would have been too strong for Arsenal. But United have started the league again poorly, not really on the money. Arsenal lost their first 2 games but were impressive and professional against Southampton. This could be Arsenal’s biggest game of the season and they should be ready to squeeze through to the semi-finals.

Leicester v Chelsea (June 28th)

This should be a very fascinating game as 3rd in the league is against 4th. Leicester have not started the continuation of the season well, getting draws and they have seen their gap to Chelsea cut to just 1 point. The Blues have been brilliant and have just beaten Manchester City so they won’t fear any team. This will be another close game but you look at the quality in this Chelsea team and you can see them powering through here.

Newcastle v Manchester City (June 28th)

With the league now over Manchester City will go for this cup and try to beat Newcastle. The club easily have the superior team and will be odds on favourites to win this game. However nothing is a given and Newcastle have shown some qualities of their own lately. There is always one surprise in the rounds, and this could be the game where that happens. After all let’s face it City have actually had quite a miserable season overall. The big egg for them so to speak will be in August when the Champions League kicks off again. We could well see a shock in this game.

 

 

 

The FA would be wrong to punish Tottenham’s Eric Dier

Eric Dier made more headlines off the pitch then on it as Tottenham crashed out of the FA Cup in midweek against Norwich, who are currently bottom of the Premier League table.

As the players were leaving the pitch with his side Tottenham having just lost on penalties to the Canaries Dier could be seen to jump into the crowd in amazing scenes. What transpired was that he was reacting to something that was said to his brother who was in attendance. As a fan had shouted abuse, Dier found his tipping point, blood boiling and entered the stands to confront the fan. As cowards go, this fan was top of the list and seeing Dier coming towards him he ran off. Not in a million years did he actually think Dier would jump the advertising boards to confront him, but he did.

Inevitably the FA have got involved and Dier could be looking at a ban, but the FA need not show their power in this incident. When matters of racism arise in England the FA are always quick on the mark and show a zero tolerance attitude and they need to be applauded for that, other leagues can learn from the FA’s attitude on this. But it does seem that the FA love to show their power to other matters.

Take the Everton game when Carlo Ancelotti was sent off for swearing at the referee after seeing a last minute Everton winner ruled out against Manchester United. Whilst the FA rescinded the red card, they still fined Ancelotti £8,000. Pocket money to him, but why the fine for a swear word?

What Dier did was nicely summed up by his manager Jose Mourinho who said it was not professional but he could understand the circumstances as it was an attack on his family member.

Some have tried to compare the incident to Eric Cantona’s infamous kick on a fan in 1995, and that is so wide of the mark. There was no violence in this confrontation, although the fan ran away so we will never know. What Dier did wasn’t correct but there is two sides to the story. No abusive fan bullying his brother and no incident. That is as clear as day and one would hope that the FA would consider this.

The ideal scenario would be to see the fan banned from the ground, if not for life at least for the next couple of years. The season is almost over, so a season ban makes no sense. They should talk to Dier and that should be it, no ban and no fine. But make it clear that they won’t tolerate that behaviour again. For example why didn’t Dier motion to the stewards to act on the incident before he had too?

So Dier was silly to react but he was also protective. Maybe the people who decide his fate need to think what they would do in that situation before handing down judgement.

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This isn’t the Jose Mourinho Tottenham were looking for as season boils down to the FA Cup

So it looks like the season for Tottenham is going to come down to the FA Cup, and they have a manager in Jose Mourinho who wins trophies. Even at his nightmare period with Manchester United Mourinho won silverware and this is the hope that Tottenham cling on too.

In truth has Mourinho’s appointment improved Tottenham as a whole since sacking Mauricio Pochettino last November? Statistically it just about has in Mourinho’s first 12 games in charge he earned 20 points. In Pochettino’s 12 games in charge before being sacked this season he earned 14. But this season under Mourinho Tottenham are on course to earn at least 10 points under what Pochettino earned last season.

Though Tottenham still find themselves in the mix for a top 4 spot, which would mean Champions League football next season, this is not down to how good they have been, but more about how inconsistent Chelsea have been in 4th place. The lack of putting any number of winning games together has given the likes of both Tottenham and Manchester United hope. But the reality is that Tottenham look like they will miss out on Champions League football next season, evidently they are just not a good enough side this season to finish in the top four. That was hammered home again last weekend when they lost 3-2 at home to Wolves, despite being a goal up.

One of the biggest factors in getting Mourinho in and reportedly paying him in the region of £15m a season was that he wins games on a consistent basis and finds a way. His home form in league games is undisputed, but this season under him Tottenham have already lost 3 at home, this under a man who once went 9 years over 150 games without defeat at home. It does feel that Tottenham were looking for the Jose Mourinho of 2005 and have landed with an inferior product.

The Champions League this season is very much in the balance after the club lost the 1st leg against RB Leipzig 1-0. That was a home game and if Leipzig score first in Germany in the return match, Tottenham would need to score at least 2 goals on the night. Tottenham remains a very good side, let’s not forget that they made the Champions League final last year, but they are clearly a few levels below most of the teams left in this seasons competition.

Of course injuries have played their part. Not only did they lose Harry Kane but Heung-Min Son who had found his goal scoring boots is also out injured, and both players are missing months instead of weeks. But something else is missing with the club and it could well be that Mourinho is well past his sell by date, or maybe he just doesn’t have the quality of players at his disposal. Will more money be spent this summer, well you can guarantee it, but then all of the pressure will be under Mourinho with nowhere to escape if the club do not pick up and start challenging for trophies.

This season then looks like it will come down to the FA Cup. And make no mistake if Tottenham did finish outside the top four, but qualified for the Europa League and won the FA Cup the fans would take that. For all of the great play under Pochettino and the memorable wins, the club won nada, nothing, zilch. And fans want to see trophies held aloft at the end of the day.

Today the club will turn to the FA Cup where they will play Norwich in their replay and try to qualify for the quarter finals. Lose that and one senses all momentum could depart a ship that sometimes looks worryingly lost at sea.

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FA Cup: Game of the Weekend: Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool

Nobody would have expected the European and club world champions to have many problems when they were drawn against Shrewsbury in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Liverpool were expected to win comfortably against the League one side playing in the third tier, but the match ended in a 4 goal thriller as the underdogs drew the game 2-2 and forced a replay.

Liverpool did not start with their strongest team which seems par for the course for Klopp and domestic cup competitions. However there were still some recognisable faces on the pitch in the form of Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Fabinho and Adrian was in goal. Liverpool opted to play a 4-3-3 whilst the home team had a slightly daring 3-5-2 wanting to try and pack the midfield out. It was risque to see the team happy to play 2 up front and just 3 at the back against the Reds.

The away side dominated possession and it was no surprise that they took the lead within 15 minutes through Curtis Jones who had stunned Everton in the 3rd round. Scoring so early it felt like Liverpool could 5 or 6 goals, but to their credit Shrewsbury held firm and the half time score read as 0-1.

As the 2nd half got under way Shrewsbury would have had the belief that they were still in the game but just a minute after the whistle they found themselves 2-0 down and practically out of the cup. To add insult to the wounds it was an own goal converted by defender Donald Love. Well no home fan was loving this.

But Shrewsbury found a way back, which was handed to them by one of Liverpool’s youngsters Yasser Larouci his foul giving away a penalty. Jason Cummings made no mistake and slotted home- suddenly there was belief that this game was not dead. Ten minutes later the stadium erupted like it had not done so before when Cummings ran through and took a shot, now it was 2-2 and the atmosphere in the stadium was simply electric.

Jurgen Klopp looked like someone who had been told that Christmas had been banned for the rest of his life. Distraught, angry on the touchline he played his ace cards. On came quality, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain but for the final ten minutes Liverpool could not find a breakthrough and the game ended 2-2.

It was a shock result even if we consider that Liverpool did not start their strongest team and the clubs will meet again in a weeks time.

But there will be a bigger fall out from this as Klopp desperately wanted to win this game and has announced that not only will he field a complete second string side at Anfield he will also not be there to coach the team. This is because there is a gap week in the Premier League and players and coaches have taken pre-arranged holidays.

This is great news for Shrewsbury though, who now have a chance to reach the 5th round of the FA Cup. You would think that any neutral will be willing them on to do it now.

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Why Jurgen Klopp is 100% wrong about the FA Cup

At the very moment that Jason Cummings scored his 2nd goal and Shrewsbury’s equaliser against Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th round the Reds manager may well have been thinking about his wife and his holidays. Earlier in the game Klopp saw that his team were cruising 2-0 up, this game looked dead. Except it wasn’t, Shrewsbury tore up the rule book, came back and now a replay will be played. But there is a problem.

That problem lies in the fact that the replay must take place in the scheduled Premier League break at the beginning of next month and Klopp evidently has other plans. The German said: “We intend to honour the original idea of the break, we have respect for the players’ welfare and they need this time off. We got a letter from the authorities in April last year asking us not to organise anything during the week of the break and we haven’t. We have given the players the time off, and some are going away. They will still be keeping fit, but they do not have to play football that week and they do not have to come in to Melwood.”

Firstly Liverpool did indeed get a letter from the FA requesting that certain games are not played during the break, those are money making friendly matches and not competitive games, that he did not clearly point out.

Klopp will play a youth side it seems, the same that played against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup and were destroyed. So secondly Klopp simply doesn’t want to be in the FA Cup, his total lack of regard for the competition is a little staggering. Yes the league title is more important but the club do have a 16 point lead at the top with a game in hand. The Champions League doesn’t kick off for almost another month and in short Liverpool could have started the replay with a strong squad.

Having said that Klopp rings the changes when it comes to cup matches and he has promised players time off, that is acceptable in a way, so they come back refreshed. However the sticking point here seems to be that he will not oversee the replay. Instead he intends to honour the break. Now giving your players that time off is one thing, but really, does anyone want to see the manager doing the same thing? Really? Don’t lose youngsters want to look over in the dugout and see Klopp there?

Last month he couldn’t be there against Aston Villa and neither could the first team who were playing in the World Club Cup, this time the excuse is holidays. But for Klopp being absent it just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Liverpool have been non existent and to a case very disrespectful of the domestic cups. And yet took FIFA’s World Club Cup seriously, it has prestige maybe only in the clubs trophy room.

Klopp is one of the most likeable managers out there right now, but his likeability slipped a little this week.

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FA Cup: Team of the 4th round

The Premier League took a break at the weekend to make way for the 4th round of the FA Cup. Some Premier League teams were involved and whilst, as ever, there were some lower league teams looking to become the new giant killer of the famous competition. Below we take at the team of the 4th round of the cup based on performance.

Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero- Manchester United

Manchester United pick Romero when playing cup games and United easily beat Tranmere 6-0, but it was still important for Romero to stand firm and focus and brilliant for his confidence to keep a clean sheet.

Defender: Robert Dickie- Oxford United

Oxford United produced one of the ties of the round drawing 0-0 away to Newcastle who put out a strong side. Robert Dickie in central defence saw a lot of the ball and did a sterling job.

Defender: Elliott Moore- Oxford United

Keeping with brilliant Oxford United Moore also had an exceptional game and was focused as the Premier League stars remained frustrated and Moore deserves high praise.

Defender: Conor Townsend- West Bromwich Albion

Possibly the player of the round. Conor Townsend not only helped keep a clean sheet away to West Ham, but he also scored what turned out to be the winning goal as Albion knocked out West Ham 1-0.

Defender: Ryan Tafazolli- Hull

True Hull were knocked out by Chelsea, but the gulf in class and budget was there to see and Hull held their own for long periods of the game. Ryan Tafazolli was a rock in defence and played well, he got unlucky a few times but helped to keep the score low.

Midfielder: Olivier Norwood- Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood did his confidence very well as his side advanced to the 5th round of the cup by beating Millwall 2-0. He also helped keep a clean sheet and scored a goal, for a perfect cup game.

Midfielder: Curtis Jones- Liverpool

Curtis Jones did it again as he scored for Liverpool when given the chance to play. He now has 2 goals in two cup games and is full of confidence. One for the future perhaps?

Midfielder: Ben Close- Portsmouth

Close got the ball rolling and opened the scoring for Portsmouth who went on to score 4 goals and beat Barnsley 4-2. It’s already quite an achievement for the side to reach the 5th round and they will try and go further. His goal was a cracker too.

Midfielder: Sofiane Boufal- Southampton

Sofiane Boufal scored against Tottenham and played a pivotal role as his team Southampton frustrated last seasons Champions League finalists and the game finished 1-1.

Striker: Jason Cummings- Shrewsbury

Jason Cummings will never forget this game as long as he lives. The striker that not many people would have heard of scored 2 goals against Liverpool, who had been cruising and were leading 2-0. Cummings converted a penalty then sealed a draw that will see the club play at Anfield in the replay.

Striker: Gabriel Jesus- Manchester City

A more familiar name, but nonetheless Gabriel Jesus was on top form for Manchester City who made light work of Fulham and beat them 4-0. Jesus scored two goals in what ended up being a stroll for the Premier League champions.

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Man Utd 6-0 Tranmere Rovers; The Red Devils continue to progress in the FA Cup as they cruised past Micky Mellon’s men with ease

After a really difficult week with defeats to Burnley and Liverpool in the league, Manchester United had only two things on their mind, of getting back to winning ways and aiming to end the season with a bit of silverware, as they travelled to Tranmere Rovers for the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Going into the game, majority of football fans were expecting a potential upset and some FA Cup magic, especially if one was to consider the away side’s poor form over the last couple of weeks whilst the state of the pitch at Prenton Park would have surely been an advantage to the hosts only.

However, it was a straightforward victory and a walk in the park for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, as the three goals by the 16th minute mark was more than enough to put the game to bed despite the efforts and hard work that was shown by the Tranmere Rovers players from start till the end.

With the goals coming from the most unlikely of sources in the first half through Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard and even Phil Jones, it was the fifth time this season were the side has scored four goals or more in a single game. On top of that, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood were able to chip in with a goal, two individuals who have to step up in Marcus Rashford’s absence.

Now, we look onto the three key things we learnt from United’s latest match…

The back-three/five formation has it’s benefits when correctly utilised

The back-three/five formation is often seen as a defensive and pragmatic system, due to the number of defenders and lack of attacking-minded players that are utilised within the setup. However, when having the ideal individuals and intelligent players that fit into each specific role flawlessly, then it works out perfectly, just like what the Red Devils had seen from their team today at Prenton Park.

With the likes of Rashford, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay remaining out on the sidelines and are not expected to return from injury anytime soon, United could possibly use the 3-4-1-2 setup more often as they aim to the remaining schedule game by game. Given the energetic wing-backs in Brandon Williams and Diogo Dalot, as well as a playmaker like Juan Mata to link the midfield to attack, the back-three/five formation could be seen a short term solution for Solskjaer and his men.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets back to winning ways and fights to live for another day

It’s not been an easy week for Solskjaer, as the defeats to Burnley and Liverpool have had the United fans and the Premier League pundits questioning if he is the right man for the job, someone who is lacking the needed experience and tactical knowledge in order to succeed at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Though, with the dominant victory over Tranmere Rovers and the players putting on a discipline and composed display, it could possibly be something that they can build on from here.

As the side continue to remain in the FA Cup, Europa League, EFL Cup (not for long) and six points away from fourth-place Chelsea, there is still a lot to fight for as long as Solskjaer can remain open-minded on and off the pitch whilst proving that he can get the best out of the current squad. If he can get maximum points from now until the key players return from injury, then there is a possibility of the team ending the season on a high note, however, it is a big if as the side have not been able to show their dominance, consistency and quality on a regular basis so far this footballing campaign.

The United supporters continue to protest against the Glazers and Ed Woodward

Despite the 6-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers and the fact that the side have qualified for the next round of the FA Cup, the United supporters were still not satisfied, as they went on to directing their anger and frustration to the Glazers and Ed Woodward, who have played the pivotal role to the club’s decline. With the fans raising their voice today and recently against Burnley and Norwich, it looks like they will continue to do so until there is a huge change to revive their football club.

It’s actually been a long time coming, as the hierarchy and the owners have not shown enough attention and care towards the club’s performance and results on the pitch, whilst they are more bothered and focused about the income and profit they have been able to make off it. However, the Manchester United fans are taking a stand and are now saying enough is enough, as the side have failed to make a single challenge for the Premier League title since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Manchester City’s quest for a cup treble continues

Manchester City are through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after an emphatic 4-0 win against Scott Parker’s Fulham. Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and a Gabriel Jesus brace ensured City’s quest for a cup treble continued in a season that could still be an impressive one.

Despite being 16 points behind leaders Liverpool in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City find themselves in good stead in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Champions League, a trophy that has eluded the blue side of Manchester. Continue reading