FA Cup Game of the Round: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United

The FA Cup took over from the Premier League for the last week as the 3rd round kicked off and that meant that Premier League clubs could partake. There were not many all Premier League clashes to take place but the one that did stand out was Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Even though both teams did make some changes, many players who ply their trade every week in the Premier League still played. Arsenal won the game 2-0 after an epic battle and the result would have given the Gunners a major confidence boost. Including their good league form Arsenal have now won the last 4 competitive games in a row.

Arsenal were the favourites going into the match and being at home only underlined that status and the Gunners who started with a strong team including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front started better than the Magpies.

Indeed the first half was dominated by the Gunners who found seven good chances and 3 shots on target. Steve Bruce’s team were under pressure from the first whistle and managed zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes which summed up their game and tactics.

Newcastle woke up in the second half and created more chances but this continued to be Arsenal’s to lose and they really should have scored within the 90 minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 we went into extra time as the new rules state no replays at least for this season- however it is something we should expect to be the norm from now.

The game plan looked simple enough for Newcastle who had been the inferior team but had held on to a 0-0, they were going for the penalty shoot-out and riding their luck. And everything was going to plan for the visitors until the 19th minute of extra time when Arsenal finally broke the dead lock.

Of all the players to give the Gunners the lead it came down to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe who scored after being set up by Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette has been in super form for Mikel Arteta’s side of late.

The goal came so late it seemed to demolish any plans Newcastle had of a penalty shoot-out and the final nail in the coffin was provided by Aubameyang 3 mins from the end. The striker who has been desperately lacking form latched on to an assist from Kieran Tierney to grab the winning goal and hopefully for him to reinstall some much needed confidence.

The win seemed more important for Arsenal who need to keep up their winning momentum and good form. As for Newcastle they need to get back to winning ways but they still look too good to get involved in a relegation battle. In this season and the way it has been going not having to play the extra cup games could benefit Newcastle and so they can fully concentrate on trying to finish as high as they can in the Premier League.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has become a reflection of Arsenal’s dire form

Arsenal sit in 15th place with 30% of the Premier League completed, it is their worst start to a campaign in 40 years and perhaps this season for the Gunners has been building up for some time. There have been hints even in the last few seasons with Arsene Wenger in charge- the major difference though is that Wenger’s Arsenal never ever got this poor.

Despite the difficulties since Wenger’s departure, and the travails of both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta there has been one drop of stardust that everyone at the club could count on, one superb player that stood up, scored goals and ultimately won games for Arsenal and that man was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The French born Gabon international was the real star of Arsenal, he was the Thierry Henry of this generation- a driving force and a natural winner, and it was his goals that inspired the Gunners to what felt like a surprise FA Cup win last season, a surprise yes but also a deserved one as Arsenal rolled back the years in that competition.

Aubameyang shouldn’t be questioned on the face of it since he has scored some very important goals, if he scores, Arsenal win games, at the very least they remain in the match with a chance.

It is worth noting just how many goals Aubameyang has scored for the Gunners, it currently stands at 74 in all competitions. In the league he has netted 56 goals from 97 appearances. This summer when Arsenal were quiet in the transfer market all the fans could talk about was if Aubameyang was going to sign a new contract, if the answer was no then he would be available to leave for free next summer meaning that Arsenal may have cashed in on him before this new delayed season had started.

And Arsenal waited and waited, contract negotiations had been on going we were told since March 2020 and yet Aubameyang finally put pen to paper on September 15th, three days after the new season kicked off. He had made Arsenal sweat but at the end of the day the club are known to be notorious for offering lucrative contracts for players over 30. Aubameyang is 31 but his class was so much that Arsenal were willing to give him a new 3 year contract with improved rates.

Arsenal looked like a new team at times last season under Arteta, more creative, more demanding and with more passion that was sadly missing in the last few months with Emery, and the FA Cup win simply seemed to underline that Arteta was the right man to take Arsenal forward. But three months into the new season it is painfully obvious that Arteta isn’t the right manager.

This isn’t a critic on Arteta who may well turn out to be a fine coach, but the timing seems wrong. Why would a club like Arsenal opt for Arteta who had no experience at managerial level? It seems that being Pep Guardiola’s number 2 at Manchester City and the fact that Arteta played for Arsenal was enough qualification. And yet a club like Everton who have been in the shadows of Arsenal for decades appointed one of the best and respected managers in world football in Carlo Ancelotti, that just seemed to speak volumes about how far Arsenal have fallen and that is just one example.

But back to Aubameyang, the free scoring brilliant striker who signed THAT contract extension. It may amaze to find out that despite playing this season Aubameyang has not scored a single goal since he signed his new contract. He has scored just 2 goals this season from 12 games which came in the Gunners first match of the season, a 3-0 win over Fulham, since then there has been nada as Arteta would say in his natural tongue.

In the past we have seen when Aubameyang does the business so do Arsenal. He is the clubs guiding light not just in getting goals but encouraging the team to do better and believe more in themselves. There just seems to be a lack of purpose at the club presently, as if the Gunners are waiting for Aubameyang to get that first goal which could spark some sort of revival. He will have to hurry up as Arteta’s job is surely on the line though.

Mesut Ozil will ask for forgiveness if he is smirking at what is happening at Arsenal after the play maker was frozen out of the squad by Arteta. Ozil could point out that when everything clicked he provided assists for Aubameyang something that the Gambon international is certainly missing. At the same time Ozil did disappear in many games.

The cure for what is happening is a simple goal, a little luck which in turn could start a winning run. But it has been an unfortunate turn of events, the new contract signed and then up until now nothing to show for it.

Arsenal’s next two games are against tough opposition in Southampton and then Everton, lose both of those and everything could come to ahead. We could be speaking about a possible relegation battle. But football can turn on a sixpence is the old saying, and win those matches with a few Aubameyang goals and everything changes. For now though these are worrying times for Arsenal, Arteta and Aubameyang.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Arsenal 1-2 Wolves

Arsenal have lost again. In losing 2-1 to Wolves the Gunners have made their worst start to a top flight campaign since 1981!

How times have changed at Arsenal where once facing Wolves at home would have been looked at as an easy three points. Now there is trepidation and fear and some of the Gunners team showed that at the weekend.

The match got off to an awful start as David Luiz, the Arsenal defender and Raul Jimenez the Wolves forward accidentally clashed heads when the ball was being crossed in from a corner. Luiz missed the ball and caught Jimenez instead with a loud thud. The reaction of the Wolves players said it all about Jimenez who had to be stretched off. It has been reported since that Jimenez has a fractured skull and will almost certainly be ruled out for the rest of the year and will be looking for a mid January return.

As for Luiz he somehow continued at least until half time after Arsenal had given him some tests on the touchline. However the club need to look at themselves especially with the latest news from the FA who want to look into head injuries in football and the long term implications. The fact that the Gunners took Luiz off at half time speaks volumes.

For the next ten minutes the game looked like it would be petering out with all thoughts on Jimenez but Wolves remembered with respect that there was a game to be won. A ;lucky bounce off the cross bar after a good Wolves attack opened the scoring for Pedro Neto.

At this point it would have been easy for Arsenal to crumble and be sorry for themselves but they soon hit back through Gabriel. The defender rose well to score a great goal and looked to be the unlikely hero of the day for the Gunners. However just before half time a Wolves break again and the ball found Neto looking for his second of the day, his shot was blocked but the reaction of the Arsenal defence, just like for the first goal, was too slow and Daniel Podence who has emerged as a quality player for Wolves pounced to drive the ball into the net for 2-1.

The game finished 2-1 and perhaps the saddest realisation was that Arsenal who had to obviously chase the game in the second half did not record a single shot on target throughout it. Neither did Wolves but Nuno Espirito Santo’s team didn’t need too.

There will be a lot of head scratching going on at the Emirates because in the summer, towards the end of the season, there seemed to be a path, a clearing of the leaves and mist left by Arsene Wenger’s final seasons and layered upon once more by Unai Emery. Arteta seemed to be the man that Arsenal needed. A string of results in the league led to an incredible FA Cup run which seen the club beat Chelsea in the final and win silverware from a season where they looked destined to come up short.

And yet here we are just four months later and if you thought Arsenal salvaging 8th place on the last day of the season was heroic think again. After 10 games Arsenal are in 14th position with 13 points. Five points from a Champions League place doesn’t seem like the end of the world but they are also just six points from the bottom three. If Arsenal were to keep to this standard for the rest of the season they would end up finishing with under 50 points.

Simply put one can look up at the starting 11 for Arsenal and wonder with all conviction if they actually have a good team anymore? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a brilliant player, but he has gone off the boil over the past few weeks. Questions will now turn to next weekend when Arsenal will face Tottenham away from home and what a crunch game that promises to be.

Some believe that a heavy loss could result in Mikel Arteta being sacked. The omens do not look good for Arteta with Arsenal having lost more games than won now and the fact that this latest home defeat was their third in a row, only sharpens ink on the P45.

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Should Arsenal be judged on how they have reacted during the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world and affected jobs and businesses the likes we haven’t seen since perhaps the second world war. But football clubs especially in the Premier League have still spent hundreds of millions on players over the last transfer window and it has become clear that even with no fans in attendance TV money certainly talks.

Good luck to the clubs and the structure of the Premier League, because a lot of hard work and promotion has gone into the product to make watching football in England’s top tier the most popular in the world. And this article is not about attacking one club in the Premier League but only because certain stories have surfaced that simply seem a little mind boggling.

The owners at Arsenal for example have made some questionable decisions that in a sensitive time have made very little sense. The first of which was letting 55 admin staff leave. Yes it’s true that the staff were not really needed anymore because of the virus meaning that there was less work available. But these were loyal staff and one wonders if the owners of the club really made the best choice, if not for them the right one?

It had been reported that the 55 staff laid off were going to save Arsenal just over £1m, that’s a lot of money, but in Premier League terms it feels more like a drop in the ocean. Countered only days after Willian joined the club on a free from Chelsea but was then given a reported £10m signing on fee. That’s one employee receiving 10 times the amount of 55 laid off staff and their years salary.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta came out and said that he understood the clubs decision. But did he really? Was this really what Arteta was thinking? He’s just been given the managers job and hardly wants to come across as controversial but of course was asked the question which would have put him in a position.

Just recently Arsenal made the decision to let their mascot leave the club, a mascot that had spent many seasons at Arsenal and only on a small wage not that much more than the minimum. Again the decision in black and white made sense. Mascot’s are not needed at empty grounds. But Arsenal can afford the mascots wages until hopefully the pandemic blows over within the next 6-12 months and Arsenal can afford their admins wages and try to give them different roles within the club.

But of course football is a business and money seemingly can’t be lost unless it is lost on a player or a manager. Arsenal isn’t a badly run club but maybe they have made some questionable decisions and of course like everyone else have been caught out by the virus. But if you’re spending £45m on one player, the recent purchase of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid one does have to wonder why loyal staff couldn’t have somehow been kept on for a small fraction of that price?

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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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Finishing 8th is terrible for Arsenal but there might be light at the end of the tunnel under Mikel Arteta

What a disappointing season it has been for Arsenal. Not many fans could have predicted that the Gunners would have fallen so far, finishing 8th in the Premier League for a club like Arsenal is just not acceptable.

It was an odd season for the club who saw 2 different managers in charge, this coming after having the same one in Arsene Wenger in the hot seat for two decades. Unai Emery was sacked at the end of November after a poor run especially away from home and Mikel Arteta was brought in.

Arteta’s arrival did raise eyebrows simply because this was his first managerial job but he had been working under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for several seasons and that was deemed good enough for the job at the Emirates.

Arteta has a win rate of 55.5% with Arsenal since December, at the same time and with more games under his belt Unai Emery had a win rate of 55.1%. Also when Emery was sacked Arsenal were in 8th place in the league, in that respect Arteta has not improved the club. From the 20 Premier League games that Arteta was in charge for the Gunners earned 33 points. On average in a season Arsenal would currently finish on around 60 points under Arteta, again no huge improvement.

But these are all small steps and under Arteta the play of the team and the way he has changed up the system is showing positive signs. Arsenal lost 5 times under Arteta in the league, four of those were away from home and it is clear that the Gunners will need to improve on their away travels.

But what has been encouraging is some of the results the club have churned out. Beating Liverpool, only the 3rd club to do so this season was impressive even if the league title was over by then.

Despite a poor season by Arsenal’s standards their season isn’t over just yet, and this is why there could be light at the end of the tunnel under Arteta. The young manager has steered Arsenal into the FA Cup final where they will meet Chelsea in an all London derby. Even without fans present this is sure to be a cracking game.

Arsenal will want revenge after last seasons Europa League final where Chelsea crushed the Gunners. A trophy would justify for now Arteta’s appointment and really give the club a boost they need ahead of the new Premier League season which is due to start on September 12th.

On the face of it then Arsenal haven’t improved under Arteta, stats wise. However overall there has been quite significant improvement on the pitch. He has his own philosophy which is natural and it is taking time to implement that onto his team. We have seen flashes of it.

The future is looking a little brighter for Arsenal, you just have to look deeper to find it, but surely Arteta will find his way and next season will be a huge improvement for the Gunners.

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Mikel Arteta discusses Arsenal’s defeat to Brentford in recent friendly

If you had asked any sports bettor what they expected the outcome of the Arsenal versus Brentford friendly match to be, they would have suggested Arsenal as the victors. Yet, that wasn’t to be, as the Gunners experienced a 3-2 loss on their home turf. That was quite the stunning outcome, considering the team had just romped to a 6-0 victory against Charlton Athletic the previous Saturday. There was even a hat-trick in that game thanks to Eddie Nketiah.

However, the same sports bettors who claimed pay-outs on Saturday after the match would likely have had to see a loss form which is what was reported at the 22Bet sportsbook. There’s a 22Bet mobile app for iOS devices that can be used as well, with mobile betting having gained heavily in popularity in recent times. Despite the fact that this app was probably used for bettors to wager on the Arsenal versus Brentford game, it likely didn’t herald the results that most users were expecting.

The Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has spoken out and said that Arsenal’s players are focusing on finding their rhythm and fitness. While Arsenal may have taken the lead early on in the game against Brentford, they were not able to hold on to that lead, and Halil Dervisoglu added Brentford’s third goal. “We’re trying different things,” Arteta added during an interview with Sky Sports.

Arteta Looks to Different Training Methods and Gameplay

“We’re trying to give minutes in their legs to all of the players, obviously you have to change a lot of players through the games,” Arteta said. He made mention of the fact that it may take some time to fully become accustomed to playing in empty stadiums, due to there being no energy coming from fans.

However, the head coach spoke of it potentially being difficult for all Premier League clubs to get used to the lack of a crowd while playing their games once the season restarts. “I think that’s a big question mark”, he said. Time will obviously tell if the Gunners are able to overcome the lack of the fan attendance moving forward, but the result and performance against Manchester City were both disappointing.

“I think it will be very difficult to sustain big rhythms for 90 minutes for the first few games at least,” Arteta noted and that is something which was evident against City.

The Arsenal match against City took place on Wednesday, June 17th, and it took place at the Etihad Stadium. The first two matches which took place upon the return of the Premier League began with a one minute silence, in honor of all of those who have passed away in recent times due to the global pandemic.

Losing to Manchester City should not dishearten Arsenal who can still have a strong finish in the Premier League

For many it was the way Arsenal lost to Manchester City when the Premier League re started on Wednesday night that would have been the biggest concern.Losing 3-0, having David Luiz sent off (is he the gift that keeps on giving)? And then looking at a meaningful statistic that was certainly damning, Arsenal had 0 shots on target. Ouch!

Many expected City to win and Arsenal to lose, after all the Gunners have been poor on the road now for a few seasons, and they were playing the current champions. However there was an uncertainty given that the game of course was played behind closed doors. But it made no difference, City would have won 3-0 with or without fans and played some great football.

As a result Arsenal remain in 9th place and despite their 7th loss of the season the mid week didn’t turn out too bad for the club given that Sheffield United who are above them only earned a point. In short they didn’t lose pace for a European place.

Arsenal need to regroup and refocus, the display they put in against City and Luiz’s sending off will give their next opponents Brighton cause for celebration, and Graham Potter’s side may well be welcoming Arsenal and thinking that they are there for the taking. Brighton have had some very good results lately against the Gunners and have beaten them 2-1 at the Emirates earlier in the season.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be disappointed with the way his team lost at City but won’t forget that before the break for the Coronavirus Arsenal were one of the inform teams who had just recorded 3 wins in a row.

The Gunners are only 5 points from a Europa League place and whilst the Champions League looks a little off for them being 8 points adrift of Chelsea, if they can finish the season strong who knows what can happen?

Let’s look at Arsenal’s remaining fixtures. The Gunners have 2 away games in a row coming up facing Brighton and Southampton. Whilst those games look tricky a good Arsenal side can win those. After that they will be at home to Norwich who are bottom of the league and one would expect another 3 points from them. Then they are away to Wolves and at home to Leicester, these will be difficult games, but still Arsenal could win at least one of them.

After that they face Tottenham in the derby, a game that could go either way with no fans and atmosphere. Their last 3 games are against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Watford. The match against Liverpool could be easier than expected given that the Reds should have wrapped up the title by then. But matches against Villa and Watford where both teams could be battling relegation could be close affairs.

It’s possible though that Arsenal could finish the season with 59 points, that’s the prediction here and yes that would fall too short for a Champions League place. Possibly a Europa finish is on the cards, but even then Arsenal might fight and play better not to finish so low in the league.

It must be incredibly surreal for fans to see their club down in 9th place, and without all of their draws (there have been 13 so far) the club would actually be fighting in the relegation.

The game at the weekend against Brighton is a huge one then, lose that and Arsenal could already be losing their direction so soon after the restart. The club are better than that and Arteta must break their away day hoodoo.

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Premier League return: Manchester City need to make a statement whilst Arsenal have not given up on Europe

The Premier League will return on June 17th with two fixtures and both look like being mouth watering matches despite the fact that games are having to be played behind closed doors.

Aston Villa will take on Sheffield United in what will be the first Premier League game to take place in 99 days since the Coronavirus pandemic halted football. The evening game sees current champions Manchester City play Arsenal at the Etihad.

Aston Villa are in desperate need of all three points when their campaign restarts given that they are in 19th place, although a win would take them out of the relegation zone. Sheffield United are having a terrific season so far and could go into 5th place with a win. Both teams have a game in hand over the teams around them and that is why this is such an important game for them.

All eyes though will be in Manchester. How will Pep Guardiola’s team react after such a long break? If we look at the Bundesliga in Germany and for example compare City to current German champions Bayern Munich then they should be just fine. Bayern have been in incredible form not only winning games but scoring by the bucket load.

However with no fans it has also been proven in Germany that the home win rate has nosedived. From 46% to just 18%. Whilst City will be raring to go and have the better players they will also find it rather odd to be playing this way.

Arsenal are currently in 9th place and a visit to the Etihad would in normal circumstances have been a daunting trip. Now a team who have really felt the pressure from their own fans may just be able to throw off the shackles and possibly play better and more confident football behind closed doors.

The game will have added spice given that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is returning back to City, of course he was Guardiola’s assistant for a few years before making the switch to Arsenal earlier in the season.

The omens do not look good for Arsenal who have lost five games in a row to City, who also find the back of the net rather too easily. Arsenal’s play usually suits City’s attacking although it will be fascinating to see if Arteta who knows City so well can out do Guardiola.

If Arsenal win then all eyes will be on Liverpool who could then wrap up the league title on Sunday. That would be unique in itself given that they are playing the derby against Everton.

As for Arsenal they have had a poor season by their standards so far and are in 9th place, though they were showing good form before the season had to be stopped. There has certainly been an improvement since Arteta replaced Unai Emery.

For City whilst they do have a game in hand over 3rd placed Leicester- this is the match and they are just 4 points in front of Brendan Rodgers team and would like to pull away from them. This season there is no catching Liverpool but at the end of the day if City were to finish 3rd for example it would really underline a forgettable season for the club.

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