Arsenal Still in Title Race & Hodgson Leaves Palace

22nd February 2024

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Arsenal Challenge

Despite having a superb season so far Arsenal find themselves 5 points behind league leaders Liverpool and in 3rd place. Of course the Gunners have a game in hand over the Reds but so do 2nd placed Manchester City who have swept up the last three league titles. There is a sense that this 3 horse race may turn into a two horse race, a sense that City and Liverpool remain the absolute powerhouses in English football at this time and a sense that Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side are still too emotional and quite frankly not good enough to win the league. Granted, place Arsenal in the majority of European leagues and they would win the title by March but they are a club who have fallen down a few levels and not just since Arsene Wenger left, it has been this way for a good 15 years. 

Arsenal will believe that they are still in the title race and of course they are, but it only takes one slip up when you are battling against Liverpool and City and make no mistake if Arteta was able to pull off a title win this year it would have to go be amongst the very best in the clubs history. They are up against not one brilliant side but two and the odds do seem stacked against them. Perhaps this was highlighted in midweek when Arsenal lost 1-0 against Porto in the 1st leg of their last 16 match in the Champions League. There was a naive pattern of play from the Gunners in the most elite of competitions against a good side but not a brilliant one. However with no away goals now Arsenal may still be looked upon as favourites to advance with the 2nd leg at home. As for the league the Gunners will face Newcastle at home this weekend a Newcastle side who have been able to rest this week and again all it takes is even a draw to start the ball rolling downwards, it is harsh at the top even when you are one of the best teams in the country.

Arsenal to win the Premier League at 4.00

Arsenal to win the Champions League at 8.00


Hodgson Leaves Palace

At 76 it seems as if the end of Roy Hodgson's managerial career has finally come as he left his post at Crystal Palace before the Eagles were due to play Everton in a game that finished 1-1. Hodgson had become ill in training over last weekend and we all wish him the best for a speedy recovery. Hodgson was under immense pressure this season with Palace predicted to fall off by 10 points from their usual finishing position and it looked as if the veteran was going to be sacked at any moment. He held on despite some poor results, but this seems like an awkward and very sudden moment for him to retire from the game and it is unfortunate that it couldn't have come under better circumstances. One does hope perhaps at the end of the season that he will be allowed a lap of honour around Selhurst Park at least, he needs that goodbye and affection and deserves it after all of the years that he has put into the game. Is this really the end for Hodgson after a managerial career that has seen him take charge of 22 teams including his four year stint as manager of England between 2012-2016? It is rare to see someone managing so late in the game and a ballpark figure of 70 seems to be the moment when a lot of managers decide to retire. It does seem unlikely that a top flight side would take him on, but sometimes you have to never say never, look at Neil Warnock at Aberdeen for evidence of that. However Hodgson's health must come first and let us hope he can be with his family and recover from that first. It has been quite an incredible 48 year marriage with football management.


Pep defends Haaland

Is Pep Guardiola still having to justify Erling Haaland's brilliance? Here is a player who has scored 53 times in 55 league games for Manchester City and 74 times in 81 overall games for the club. With 17 goals in the league so far he is the top goalscorer despite missing two months of the season. However, Guardiola had to bite back at journalists and told them that Haaland will 'shut your mouth' in reference to any mutterings and criticisms of the player. It seems that Haaland has reached such a level that if two games go by and he doesn't get on the score sheet then the knives seem to sharpen. However even Haaland's greatest critics who try to nitpick his game, for example whether he scores consistently wonderful goals really fall flat on their face. He is a striker who scores goals and that is his sole job. One could argue that his 2nd goal to clinch the win over Everton was one of his best and the only goal to win it against a resilient and tough Brentford side was equally as good. His power, pace, determination and skill has won City six points recently and that is huge and it is why he has to be regarded as the best centre forward in the world, he produces the goods when it matters.


RIP Anderas Brehme

There was sad news in the world of football with the passing of German legend Anderas Brehme this week. He was only 63 and reportedly died of a heart attack. Brehme becomes another World Cup hero who has passed in the last couple of years with the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona, Paolo Rossi and Franz Beckenbauer being the others. You are reminded of your age when the greats go to the playing field in the sky but in Brehme's case he has died before his time. He leaves us only a month after his World Cup winning manager from 1990 Beckenbauer passed on. For a certain generation Brehme will never be forgotten and he was involved in Serie A at the height of its powers. Indeed Inter Milan signed him and also took on German legends Lothar Mattheus and Jurgen Klinsmann in a mouth watering line up that despite having to come up against the great AC Milan team and Maradona's Napoli won the league title in 1989. The following year at the World Cup Germany came head to head with Holland in what was seen as the best players from Inter facing the best player from AC Milan, and of course the rivalry was raw. To make matters even more special, that game which was won by Germany took place at the San Siro, home of course to Inter and Milan. In the final after crushing England's dreams on penalties it was Brehme's penalty that decided what was an awful and cynical match against Argentina. Brehme's celebrations became a flashpoint memory for Italia 90. He will be missed by many.

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