As I have already mentioned, Arsenal do not intend to sack Mikel Arteta and the club management will back him to turn the Gunners around next season. No one can say for certain if Arsenal have made the right decision but the club intends to bring in more talented players this summer. Serious questions are being asked about the manager’s ability and even in his own dressing room players are looking at him and wondering if he is the right man for the job. At 39 years-of-age Arteta has a reputation, built alongside Pep Guardiola, as a brilliant coach. However, after seventeen months in charge the fortunes of Arsenal have not progressed and many would argue that the team performances are inferior to those of Unai Emery, the man he replaced and who knocked him out of the Europa League. Arteta captained Arsenal and was welcomed by the fans as their new champion but they are getting restless and agitated as they watch Chelsea and Tottenham move further ahead. The Super League disaster will not be forgotten for a long time but I can tell you that the Kroenke owners are going nowhere so it is up to Arteta to mend bridges, build a strong team and get his tactics right next season otherwise the proud Gunners could well crash and burn.
De Gea won’t accept being No2
Despite Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea having a contract until 2023 his agents are testing the waters to see which clubs would be interested in signing him. I am hearing from inside Old Trafford that despite being on good terms with current No1 Dean Henderson, De Gea will not sit back and accept a role on the bench for much longer. I am picking up interest from Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid. The 30-year-old is arguably at the peak of his career although some inside the club believe he has declined slightly over the past two years. Manager Solskjaer said, “Goalkeeper departments are a very tight knit group. They work in preparation, they have different gym sessions, individual sessions to the rest of the squad and they stay together more. Naturally they create a bond and the spirit in the goalkeeping department has been top. It’s a healthy competition.” I am sure the coach is right however if De Gea doesn’t regain recognition for the No1 stitched onto the back of his shirt and is left on the bench in crucial games, I am reliably informed he will move out of Old Trafford.
I take West Brom to bounce back yet again
After one season back in the Premier League we again say goodbye to West Bromwich Albion. The key to yet another quick bounce back from the Championship will be whether or not fire-fighting manager Sam Allardyce can be persuaded to stay. He is disappointed to have lost his reputation as never having been relegated with any club and the board at West Brom have a lot of work to do if they want to keep him. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Conor Gallagher and Okay Yokuslu will return to their parent clubs after being on loan but Matheus Pereira, Callum Robinson, Hal Robson-Kanu and Karlan Grant can impress in the lower league.
Fastest man at City
Who is the fastest player in the Manchester City squad? No, it isn’t Raheem Sterling. Manager Pep Guardiola set up a practice whereby each player had to control the ball and sprint 10 yards. There are some very fast movers in the City squad but Gabriel Jesus proved he was the fastest.
The best is yet to come from Havertz
Thomas Tuchel has been singing the praises of Kai Havertz and pointed to his two goals recently scored against Fulham. Tuchel recognises that since Kai arrived at Stamford Bridge from Bayer Leverkusen, things have not gone well for the German. Moving from a foreign country and having to handle lockdown restrictions made things difficult and of course he caught Covid-19 and had to battle back to fitness. The upcoming Champions League final and the next pre-season, Tuchel believes, will show the best of the attacking midfielder and forward.
Solskjaer is turning United into winners again
Manchester United might have big problems with the fans actively showing aggression towards the owners but inside the club there is a new belief, a new harmony and renewed confidence that they can achieve. The man responsible is Ole Gunner Solskjaer and after speaking with many United staff and supporters this week, everyone recognises that it is time to praise the manager for achieving so much in the last eighteen months. Solskjaer paved the way to sign Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani and both have proven to be excellent additions to United’s line-up. Cavani has confirmed that he is staying for another season and it is mainly his belief in Solskjaer which has persuaded him. Paul Pogba looks settled and happy and his relationship with the manager is at an all-time high. When United fall behind in a matches these days, they get back up, fight and more often than not they win. There is one thing to thank out-going Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward for and that is allowing Solskjaer time to succeed in the job, survive the rough patches and turn his players into winners. Solskjaer is now the most important and the strongest foundation brick of the revitalised United and critics, staff and fans believe this is the beginning of a golden era for the Reds.
Tell-tale sign Kane thinking about leaving
I noticed a significant silence during the match against Leeds at the weekend. Harry Kane usually runs as much, if not more, than any other player and constantly barks out orders and instructions to other players to play more effectively. Against Leeds he was very quiet and more so than I think I have ever seen him. I suspect this is a tell-tale sign that Harry is seriously doubting his tenure at Spurs and is already looking for a way out.
Wolves desperate for a striker
Nuno Espirito Santos has at last recognised that during the transfer window he must prioritise signing a new striker. Winger Pedro Neto and midfielder Ruben Neves are the leading scorers which pinpoints the weakness in Wolves strike force. Fabio Silva and Raul Jimenez are next on the list however Jimenez has been out of action since November after fracturing his skull. Wolves have 13 goals less this season than last year.The Wolves board have promised Nuno money to sign a proven goalscorer. Jimenez by the way will be told on May 18th if he is medically safe to play in the final two games of this season. He has been training for two months but was banned from heading the ball and having physical contact with his teammates.
Sir Alex praises McTominay
When the great Sir Alex Ferguson speaks about Manchester United he is always worth listening to. His admiration for Scott McTominay is immense and the master says the midfielder should automatically play in every United game. “Scott McTominay is now emerging as one of United’s big players,” Sir Alex said. “When you watch United pick their team for an important game, McTominay’s name is in it. He’s a good character and a great trainer. I signed him when he was just a kid of seven or eight years of age and he was actually a centre-forward.” What higher praise can a player receive.
Three astonishing football facts…
*Manchester United have not lost an away game in the PL for a year and four months!
*If they do not win their next game, Sheffield United will become the first team since the 1904-05 season to have gone without winning two consecutive games.