The Spaniard and the Gunners kicked off 2020 in grand fashion, edging Manchester United 2-0, but their debut in this year’s FA Cup doesn’t project to be a walk in the park. Leeds are currently the Championship’s top-of-the-table side, with only four losses to their name.
That said, there is a significant chance Bielsa – the man who Arteta’s teacher, Pep Guardiola, has referred to as the “best manager in the world” – will not focus on the tournament, and instead will double down on promotion.
Arteta on Bielsa: “When you talk to players that had him as a coach, the words that they have for him are always positive.”
Bielsa on the importance of playing against Arsenal: “Of course it is a big challenge for us. It is enough to see the players and the prestige and level they have. When people think that we are the favorite in one match, we don’t consider things like that, neither with the opposite, which is in this case. Every time we compete we trust in our resources and respect our opponent’s resources.We will always do this with the wish to impose our style and we will try to do this on Monday.”
Arsenal will go for blood from the start and probably until the end, while Leeds day dreams about promotion. Arsenal, 3-1.
After an aerial clash with Swansea City’s Leroy Fer, Fabio lay motionless on the Liberty Stadium pitch for a significant amount of time, and as the medical staff attended to him, it became apparently quickly that the Middlesbrough defender was at least suspected of having suffered a concussion.
The former Manchester United man finally sat up, still woozy, and was helped off the field. As the stars cleared, he looked to return to the field.
No so fast, said the medical staff.
The Middlesbrough medical team did something not seen often enough in today’s game, physically restraining Fabio as he attempted to return to play, instead clearly signaling for his substitution to keep the player out of danger. The 26-year-old looked visibly frustrated at his inability to rejoin his teammates in the relegation battle against Swansea, but with the medical staff not convinced of his health, the right call was made.
With new regulations regarding concussions instituted in the English top flight before the 2014/15 season, the medical staff has the final say regarding head injuries on whether a player can continue. Earlier this season, Manchester United came under fire when Anthony Martial suffered a clear head injury, but he returned to the field, only to make a bad mistake that led to a Watford goal. He was then substituted, clearly in some discomfort.
This time, Middlesbrough should be praised for its ability to keep players safe. Despite his protests, Fabio was substituted, replaced by Adam Forshaw in the 65th minute, six minutes after the Brazilian came off the field.
For a lot of us, that meant delving into statistics and seeing what matched the eye test. Many started Googling the name “N'Golo Kante“, the dynamic disruptor who’d move to Chelsea in August.
He’s a household name now, with some personalities even arguing that he should buck the trend of Ballon d’Or nominees including only major statistic producers (There was a time when names like Fabio Cannavaro and Matthias Sammer claimed the honor, you know).
For our purposes, we’ll use a pair of advanced stats sites and the good ol’ eye test. (Of the sites we’re using, Squawka seems to skew toward high attack scores, while WhoScored tilts a bit toward the back, so life is good if a player hits both sites’ Top 50).
Before getting into our team — we promise no 10-picture, click-to-reveal-next stuff — some stats that stood out.
— Three players have had outstanding “short” seasons for different reasons.
Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi took a short spell to adjust to the Premier League after arriving in January, but has been the Foxes’ most influential player in their recent turnaround).
Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake essentially was the Cherries’ first-half success before heading back to Chelsea where Antonio Conte won’t move him ahead of Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses (and that’s actually understandable as you’ll see below).
Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas just doesn’t feature a ton for Conte, but in limited time his per-90 stats on Squawka trail only Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
Ander Herrera (Manchester United, 7.44, 36.64) – Long-heralded at Athletic Bilbao, Herrera is finally showing what made him so sought. One odd stat that may be explained by his willingness to run to any situation: he’s very high in average times dribbled past.
Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, 7.34, 20.57) – The best player in Aston Villa’s awful 2015-16, he’s been arguably as effective as N’Golo Kante. Seriously.
Matt Phillips (West Bromwich Albion) – Once the top player on a relegated QPR, Phillips is fifth in the Premier League in assists despite missing the last four matches with injury.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur, 7.41, 31.89) – Second in the PL in key passes, he doesn’t get the plaudits of English teammates Dele Alli and Harry Kane. The relationships are very symbiotic.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, 7.44) – On an under-achieving team, Zaha’s statistics are wild. He’s the most-fouled player in the league, and attempts/completes the most dribbles in the PL. He gives the ball away a lot, too, but that happens when you’re the focal point of everything your team does in the attacking third.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, 30.54) – The Nigerian turns 21 in May, and has four goals and seven assists across all competitions.
Lukasz Fabianski was the first player to deal with danger, despite the fact that Swansea came out with better possession, passing, and tackling.
But Boro went ahead with its second chance of the day, a terrific strike from Negredo. Adam Clayton cut back and forward to shake his mark on the left wing, crossing behind Negredo. The big Spanish striker reached back to make a very difficult chance look gorgeous: 1-0 Boro.
Adam Forshaw then added to Swans misery, by cutting past Jordi Amat forcing the defender to chop him down in the box. Negredo could make it 2-0 with a penalty conversion, and wront-footed Fabianski to do just that.
Leicester City drew 2-2 against Middlesbrough at the King Power Stadium on Saturday after scoring two penalty kicks.
Boro went ahead twice through Alvaro Negredo but penalty kicks from Algerian duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani pegged Boro back twice, with Slimani’s spot kick coming in stoppage time to spark wild scenes from the home fans.
With the point Leicester has 13 points for the season, while Boro now has 12.
Middlesbrough were rewarded for their fine start as Negredo collected a long ball from Calllum Chambers and clipped it out to Ramirez on the left. The Uruguayan then cut the ball back to Negredo ton the edge of the back and his slightly scuffed effort found the top corner.
Boro deservedly led 1-0.
17 – Since August 2015, Leicester have taken (17) and scored (13) more penalties than any other Premier League team. Foxy.
Before half time Leicester pushed on as Shinji Okazaki hit the crossbar with an acrobatic effort from Mahrez’s cross and the Foxes then drew level as Mahrez scored a penalty kick after Chambers was flagged for a handball in the box. Boro weren’t happy but Leicester continued to push forward with Jamie Vardy tapping just wide.
Late on Leicester pushed for an equalizer and they were awarded another penalty kick in stoppage time. Wes Morgan was brought down by Marten De Roon and Slimani scored with one of the final actions of the game. 2-2.