So its now public knowledge that Chelsea’s Brazilian maestro, Willian, is leaving the club after over 300 appearances in seven seasons with the Blues. He also managed to amass some silverware with the London-based outfit, winning two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and last season’s Europa League following their victory against yours truly in Baku.
At 32, you would expect that his last major contract would be in some retirement league, but all indications show that Willian is about to join Arsenal on a three-year deal, which is going to bring up some mixed emotions among the Arsenal faithful.
Many would look at the talent coming into the Chelsea team and see why there’s no more room for a talented individual like Willian in their side, but in all honesty, I believe that he will be a welcome addition to Arsenal and I will share my reasons. Firstly, Willian will give us some much needed depth and quality in attack as last season showed that we were heavily reliant on our dependable captain for the goods, and even though he always delivered, the supporting pack should have done better. Willian is the kind of guy that averages 10 – 15 goals per season from midfield, and that’s a big plus in my books. Another exciting reason for having Willian in our ranks is the fact that he can cut in from the left hand side of our attack, allowing Aubameyang to play through the middle. He’s also versatile enough to play on the right or in the attacking midfield slot. That’s the kind of versatility that modern day coaches dream about.
We also have to consider the fact that he’s an experienced individual that has seen it all, so it can only rub off on the younger wingers in the squad like Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe. Having a figurehead like Willian in the dressing room can only aid their development even further.
Then there’s the financial implication of the transfer – Willian will not cost the club any transfer fees if he joins the club. It will just be the issue of his salary that can certainly be sorted out with mininal fuss. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives and businesses adversely, with Arsenal even confirming that they are going to lay off 55 employees, getting a talented and experienced footballer for free serves as a good business decision.
Well, its all speculation till we get the official communication but I’m certainly a staunch member of the Willian-In brigade.
Final Result: Arsenal (Aubameyang 28′, 67′) 2-1 Chelsea (Pulisic 6′)
Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Martinez; Holding, D. Luiz (Sokratis 88′), Tierney (Kolasinac 113′); Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Maitland-Niles; Aubameyang, Lacazette (Nketiah 82′), Pepe
Arsenal went into the FA Cup final against Chelsea knowing that anything less than a victory would be more than enough to grant them passage to the Europa League, a competition that the Gunners featured for three consecutive seasons. They came up against the same opponents in the finals of the competition last season, but Eden Hazard was in the form of his life as Chelsea tore Arsenal apart. thereby blowing the Gunners’ chance of featuring in the Champions League.
With the way the Gunners began the campaign under Unai Emery up until his unceremonious departure in December 2019, it’s fair to say that the FA Cup was the one competition that Mikel Arteta had his full grip on, starting with the narrow win over Leeds United, before the away win at recently relegated Bournemouth. This followed a routine win against Portsmouth and Dani Ceballos inspired a late winner against Sheffield United leading the Gunners to Wembley against the FA Cup defending champions and sure-fire favorites, Manchester City. That was one of the most disciplined performances I witnessed from the lads and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sheer class proved to be the difference in just his first FA Cup this season. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, I guess.
The FA Cup final match against Chelsea was expected to be an intense affair, bearing in mind that they white washed the in-form Manchester United to earn a place in the finals. Arsenal and Chelsea met in the same round three seasons ago with Per Mertesacker playing with what proved to be his best match in Arsenal colors that afternoon. The Gunners didn’t have the most auspicious of starts with Olivier Giroud being the scourge yet again with a neat flicked pass to Christian Pulisic that saw the swift winger waltzed past his man before side footing the ball past the onrushing Emiliano Martinez. With just six minutes gone, Arsenal were on the back foot.
Conceding that goal also took the winds off the sails of the Gunners with Chelsea on the ascendancy in the early proceedings but if you watched Mikel Arteta’s tactics in recent games, there has been one consistent move where Kieran Tierney loops the ball into space to allow the captain use his blistering pace to great effect. It provided a goal in the semifinals against Manchester City and it proved to be vital yet again, as Tierney sent Aubameyang through with the same ball, leading to a contest between Auba and Cesar Azpilicueta which ultimately saw the experienced defender concede a penalty for infringement. Despite VAR’s best efforts to probably prove otherwise, the penalty decision stood and Aubameyang finished with aplomb.
That goal brought life back to Arsenal’s FA Cup campaign but the disappointment of conceding to Arsenal turned to despair when Azpilicueta pulled up short when chasing for the ball, leading to lengthy treatment and his eventual substitution with youngster, Andreas Christiansen, coming on to replace him. Chelsea had more injury concerns at the start of the second half with Pulisic also pulled his hammy as he attempted a sprint, and with Will.i.an having his own injury problems, Pedro came on to replace Chelsea’s live wire.
That didn’t matter to the Gunners as Aubameyang scored his second goal of the match, which I must say, was sweeter than the sweetest thing I could ever think of at that frigging moment. After receiving the ball from Nicolas Pepe on the right, he shimmed past his marker and dinked a sumptuous ball past a hapless Willy Caballero. The acrobatic celebrations were on show and Arsenal was truly in control of the contest. Their cause was helped when Mateo Kovacic earned an early bath for his tackle on Granit Xhaka. Both lads were combative all game long but Kovacic was on the end of two bookings from infringements on Xhaka, leaving the ref no choice but to do the needful. The Chelsea horror show continued when substitute, Pedro, landed awkwardly and injured his shoulder, which led to a very lengthy treatment and stoppage time as he had to be stretched off.
The ref’s final whistle was like music to the ears of Mikel Arteta, the players and the fans watching worldwide, as their heroes won their 14 FA Cup, making Arsenal the undisputed kings of the competition. Hell, they even inspired me to write my first blog post in the best part of two months, and I hope to remain consistent in the coming days and weeks.
As expected, Arteta waxed lyrical about his captain and even bantered him about his goofy moment when the trophy fell off his hands. At least, I don’t think there will be any bus parade, so Aubameyang will not have his Sergio Ramos moment to drop the trophy under the team bus.
Everyone associated with Arsenal is rightly proud of Mikel Arteta at this moment, as he joins the league of extraordinary gentlemen that have won the FA Cup as a player and manager. More importantly, this is a real silver lining at the end of what has been a very dark season. Started terribly, failed woefully in the transfer market and finished in our lowest position in many years. However, we can look back on this season with some restored hope that things can get better again, if we do the important things like somehow convincing Aubameyang to remain at the club, getting rid of the deadwood and doing the right business in the transfer market.
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We were informed that the Premier League was set to resume on June 17, 2020 with Arsenal playing that all-important game in hand against Manchester City but with the expectations in place to wrap up this campaign in swift fashion, there was some probability that the fixture schedule was going to be insane. That’s why it came as no surprise when the FA approved the use of five substitutions, instead of the traditional three when the Premier League resumes in a couple of weeks.
For the remainder of the 2019/20 season, the number of substitutes that can be used during a match will increase from three to five players.
This is in line with the temporary law amendment made by the International Football Association Board last month.
Shareholders also approved for clubs to increase the maximum number of substitute players on the bench from seven to nine for the rest of the 2019/20 season.
Here’s the catch, there will only be three substitution windows, like it has always been but the key message here is that there are valid concerns over the fitnesses of players that haven’t kicked the ball in the best part of three months, and are now odds on to feature consistently in what I’d regard as one hell of a provisional hectic fixture schedule as shown below
|Wed, June 17||Aston Villa vs Sheffield United||Villa Park||6.00pm|
|Wed, June 17||Man City vs Arsenal||Etihad Stadium||8.15pm|
|Fri, June 19||Norwich vs Southampton||Carrow Road||6.00pm|
|Fri, June 19||Spurs vs Man Utd||New White Hart Lane||8.15pm|
|Sat, June 20||Watford vs Leicester||Vicarage Road||12.30pm|
|Sat, June 20||Brighton vs Arsenal||Amex Stadium||3.00pm|
|Sat, June 20||West Ham vs Wolves||London Stadium||5.30pm|
|Sat, June 20||Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace||Vitality Stadium||7.45pm|
|Sun, June 21||Newcastle United vs Sheffield United||St. James Park||2.00pm|
|Sun, June 21||Aston Villa vs Chelsea||Villa Park||4.30pm|
|Sun, June 21||Everton vs Liverpool||Goodison Park||7.00pm|
|Mon, June 22||Man City vs Burnley||Etihad Stadium||8.00pm|
|Tue, June 23||Southampton vs Arsenal||St. Mary’s Stadium||6.00pm|
|Tue, June 23||Spurs vs West Ham||London Stadium||8.15pm|
|Wed, June 24||Man Utd vs Sheffield United||Old Trafford||6.00pm|
|Wed, June 24||Newcastle United vs Aston Villa||St. James Park||6.00pm|
|Wed, June 24||Norwich vs Everton||Carrow Road||6.00pm|
|Wed, June 24||Liverpool vs Crystal Palace||Anfield||8.15pm|
|Thu, June 25||Burnley vs Watford||Turf Moor||6.00pm|
|Thu, June 25||Leicester vs Brighton||King Power Stadium||6.00pm|
|Thu, June 25||Chelsea vs Manchester City||Stamford Bridge||8.15pm|
|Thu, June 25||Wolves vs Bournemouth||Molineux||8.15pm|
|Sun, June 28||Aston Villa vs Wolves||Villa Park||12.00pm|
|Sun, June 28||Watford vs Southampton||Vicarage Road||4.30pm|
|Mon, June 29||Crystal Palace vs Burnley||Selhurst Park||8.00pm|
|Tue, June 30||Brighton vs Man Utd||Amex Stadium||6.00pm|
|Tue, June 30||Sheffield United vs Spurs||Bramall Lane||8.15pm|
|Wed, July 1||Bournemouth vs Newcastle United||Vitality Stadium||6.00pm|
|Wed, July 1||Everton vs Leicester||Goodison Park||6.00pm|
|Wed, July 1||West Ham vs Chelsea||London Stadium||8.15pm|
|Thu, July 2||Arsenal vs Norwich||Emirates Stadium||6.00pm|
|Thu, July 2||Man City vs Liverpool||Etihad Stadium||8.15pm|
When you add Arsenal’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash against Sheffield United which has been scheduled for Saturday, June 27, 2020, it would mean that Mikel Arteta’s side will play five games in sixteen days, which is pretty insane if you ask me. With the games coming thick and fast, it only makes sense to have five substitutions which will give the gaffer the opportunity to rotate the squad well and keep the team fresh.
We have gone from there’s no more football to how will we watch all this football!
Finally, our friends at Unisport Store published a very cool infographic that shows a complete overview of all Arsenals kits, what boots the players wear, the gloves that goalkeeper’s wear and small “did you know” stories. Check it out below
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