Arsene Wenger

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Season Review: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal

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The 2018-19 Premier League season is officially in the books, and while we know who finished where, it’s time to discuss who did (or didn’t) live up to expectations.

[ REVIEW: Man United, Wolves, Everton, Leicester & West Ham ]

Manchester City are champions; Liverpool are record-breaking runners-up; Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal round out the top-five, in the order.

[ REVIEW: Burnley, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace & Watford ]

Arsenal

Finishing position/points total: 5th / 70 points
High point: Beating Tottenham back in December might be the greatest single accomplishment of Arsenal’s season, which says a lot about where the club is today.
Low point
: Three straight defeats — to Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City, by a combined score of 9-3 — at the same time Tottenham were tripping over their own feet and leaving the door wide open for a top-four heist.

Our opinion: Arsene Wenger left, but did anything really change around the Emirates Stadium?
Star player
: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Most memorable goal
: The goal that wasn’t — Aubameyang’s 91st-minute penalty kick against Spurs — was one of many moments that wound up being the difference between fourth and fifth.

Manager grade: Unai Emery: C+
Hopes for next season
: In a perfect world for Arsenal, Spurs won’t sign a player for the third straight transfer window and Arsenal will have signed a soon-to-be world-class replacement for the departed Aaron Ramsey, at which point Arsenal could accidentally finish above Spurs for the first time in four seasons.


Tottenham Hotspur

Finishing position/points total: 4th / 71 points

High point: Reaching the Champions League final is the obvious answer, but we’re only talking about the PL here. Finishing the season’s last game with 11 upright players was quite the accomplishment given Spurs’ season-long injury crisis.
Low point
: Predictably, a club that signed no new players in the summer, and is still competing in the Champions League, ran out of gas down the stretch. Spurs won just three of the final 12 games, while losing seven.

Our opinion: Mauricio Pochettino has proven himself to a miracle worker year after year, and he deserves better from chairman Daniel Levy.
Star player
: Harry Kane
Most memorable goal
: Son Heung-min didn’t score his first PL goal until the end of November, but it was worth the wait and kicked off a brilliant second half of the season for the South Korean.

Manager grade: Mauricio Pochettino: A-
Hopes for next season
: If Spurs sign some players in the summer — hardly a given — the existing core has yet another level (or two) to reach. They’re as likely as anyone else to solidify their place as the third-best side in the PL.


Chelsea

Finishing position/points total: 3rd/ 72 points

High point: Starting the season unbeaten in their first 12 games, though in hindsight the early-days discussion of a three-horse race for the title was premature and misguided.
Low point
: Losing 3-1 to Spurs to break the unbeaten start was bad, but losing 6-0 to Man City (just days before losing in the League Cup final to them) was worse.

Our opinion: For a team with just one capable midfielder (N'Golo Kante) for the vast majority of the season (Ruben Loftus-Cheek came on strong once given a chance to play), finishing third almost seems like an overachievement.
Star player
: Eden Hazard
Most memorable goal
: Hazard is irreplaceable, which Chelsea will quickly find out if he leaves this summer.

Manager grade: Maurizio Sarri: B-
Hopes for next season
: If Hazard can be convinced to stay another season — until the transfer ban has passed — they’ll scrap for a top-four place again. If he leaves and Christian Pulisic is the only player they can register, it could be a long season.


Liverpool

Finishing position/points total: 2nd / 97 points

High point: How about the 30 games that they won? Or, the 37 games that they didn’t lose?
Low point
: The lone league defeat, to Manchester City at the start of January, comes to mind.

Our opinion: Finishing with 97 points is bafflingly impressive, but conceding just 22 goals in 38 games is equally impressive. To match Man City step for step all season was something not many thought the Reds could do. 97 points would have won the title in all but two seasons — last season and this season.
Star player
: Virgil Van Dijk
Most memorable goal
: You’ll notice it doesn’t say “best” or “favorite” goal. Divock Origi‘s 96th-minute winner was stranger than anything else.

Manager grade: Jurgen Klopp: A+
Hopes for next season
: They’re still young and awaiting breakout seasons from Naby Keita and Fabinho. If either of those players ascend to PL stardom next season, they could very well end City’s run.


Manchester City

Finishing position/points total: 1st / 98 points

High point: Leroy Sane’s game-winning goal to top Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium. Without it, Liverpool might have never lost the lead in the title race.
Low point
: Losing three of four games during the December holiday period to fall seven points behind Liverpool.

Our opinion: The team that broke ever conceivable PL record last season, then went out and signed a player of Riyad Mahrez‘s ability, bordered on unbeatable once again. Though slightly more defensively fragile this season, Pep Guardiola‘s men are worthy champions.
Star player
: Raheem Sterling
Most memorable goal
: Vincent Kompany‘s winner against Leicester City in the penultimate game of the season, with Liverpool two points ahead after playing earlier in the weekend. He’ll never ever score another one like it.

Manager grade: Pep Guardiola: A+
Hopes for next season
: Newsflash: They’re going to be good again, and again, and again. Here’s hoping for another brilliant title race between City and Liverpool, one with even more many twists and turns.

Report: Wenger, Allardyce both considering returns

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According to a pair of reports by the Daily Mirror, former Premier League managers Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce are both considering opportunities to return to positions in the coming months.

The first report claims that Wenger, after taking a year off following the end of his 20 year run at Arsenal, is ready to make his return in the French top flight. Wenger is reportedly being watched by both Lyon and PSG, with both clubs wanting him in a general manager position.

Lyon could part ways with manager Bruno Genesio once the season comes to a close, with the relationship strained between the two parties. According to the Mirror report, Lyon is interested in bringing Wenger on in an executive role with his first duty being to hire the next manager. PSG, meanwhile, has been reportedly looking for a technical director for some time, with Thomas Tuchel under fire given the Champions League failure and poor finish to the league season. He would likely have a heavy role in transfer scouting and recruitment, relieving some pressure on Tuchel to manage the team.

Allardyce, who was spent just 67 days in charge of England before he was relieved of his duties, he is reportedly being watched by the Indian national team after they saw Stephen Constantine resign earlier this year following the country’s elimination from the 2019 Asian Cup in the group stages.

According to the report, Allardyce is interested in the position and has contacts in the country, including Phil Brown, current manager of Indian Super League club Pune City and Allardyce’s former number two at Bolton. India currently sits at 101 in the latest FIFA rankings.

Adebayor reveals reason behind that celebration against Arsenal

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Just about everyone remembers it (If not, watch it here on Youtube).

Then Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor finds himself in space between two of Arsenal’s centerbacks, Adebayor’s former teammates, before the Togolese striker heads home a terrific goal. Adebayor then go on a 100-yard sprint down the left side of the field, finishing in an epic knee slide right in front of the Arsenal away support at the Etihad, then called the City of Manchester Stadium.

[MORE: MLS still has a long way to go]

It was audacious. It was outrageous. But we didn’t know why he truly did that until now.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Mail, Adebayor said that racist abuse from Arsenal fans that day was what led to his famous celebration for Man City. Racist abuse has been back in the news recently, as many Afro-descended players including Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose and Daniel Sturridge have spoken out about the hate, abuse, and vitriol they experience on a weekly basis.

“I remember getting to the stadium and Arsenal fans were there,” Adebayor told the Daily Mail. “All I heard was the the chant ‘Your mother is a whore and your father washes elephants.’ My father worked in currency exchange and my mother is a businesswoman. But this went on and on. So how can I reply? I didn’t have a voice to go against thousands of supporters.

“And now the same FA are trying to stop racism? I’m sorry. It does not work that way. Today is too late. We are tired. Enough is enough. I see Mario Balotelli and Didier Drogba on Instagram. How many times do we have to post something? We have to react. We have to leave the pitch.”

Earlier in the interview, Adebayor also stated he did not want to leave Arsenal, but said he was forced to by then-manager Arsene Wenger. The now 35-year-old striker also admitted that Arsenal didn’t do enough to hold onto its top players, allowing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie, along with himself, to leave and win titles and earn more money elsewhere.

“I did not just wake up one morning at Manchester City,” Adebayor said. “I had signed a five-year contract at Arsenal. I came back for pre-season and Wenger said ‘You have to leave’. I said ‘Why should I leave?’ I asked for one more year and if it does not work, I will walk off. He’s like ‘No.’ He said if I stayed he would not put me in the squad. When you hear that, you have to go.”

The rest of the interview is worth your time, in which Adebayor reveals he nearly committed suicide as a teenager in the Metz academy, what it was like seeing death flash before his eyes in Angola during the 2010 African Cup of Nations, when the Togo team bus was attacked by militants, and, on a lighter note, who his favorite teammates were.

Arsenal tops ten-man Watford to move back into top four (video)

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  • Arsenal moves back into top four
  • Away win is Arsenal’s first since Feb. 9 at Huddersfield Town
  • Deeney sent off in 11th minute

All it took was one Ben Foster error for Arsenal to secure a rare road victory in the Premier League this calendar year.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for Arsenal, blocking and re-directing a long pass from Foster into the Watford goal, which was enough for a 1-0 Arsenal victory at Vicarage Road, Monday evening. With the win, Arsenal jump back into the top four of the Premier League table.

Watford, on the other hand, stayed in 10th place with 46 points.

The entire game changed around a 98-second span early in the first half. First, Ben Foster’s first touch got away from him and before he was able to make a clearance to his forward line, Aubameyang chased him down and blocked the clearance. The ball ricocheted into the net, giving Arsenal the 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Watford’s captain was given his marching orders after leaving an elbow or forearm in Lucas Torreira‘s head as Troy Deeney passed him. Deeney protested but the referee’s decision was final, leaving Watford down to ten men.

The Hornets still created chances through the rest of the game, finishing with six shots, two of them on target. But Bernd Leno held steady and kept Arsenal their first clean sheet since Arsene Wenger‘s last performance.

Arsenal adds friendly match at Colorado Rapids in July

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Arsenal is taking full advantage of its preseason tour in the U.S. to develop its links with the Colorado Rapids.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

The Gunners and the Rapids announced that Arsenal will be coming to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park outside of Denver for a friendly match on Monday, July 15. It’s the first time Arsenal will play the Rapids in Denver, despite both clubs being owned by Stan Kroenke. Kroenke purchased the Rapids from Phil Anschutz in 2004 and first invested in Arsenal in 2007.

“We are excited to be hosting one of Europe’s most iconic teams in Arsenal,” Rapids general manager Pádraig Smith said in a statement. “They are one of the top clubs in the world and we’re looking forward to testing ourselves against them on the field and providing sports fans in Colorado with the opportunity to be part of this outstanding matchup.”

Unai Emery‘s appointment didn’t only bring in a new era for Arsenal in terms of his management, but also for the club’s preseason plans. During Arsene Wenger‘s reign in charge of Arsenal, the club often began preseason training with a camp and a couple of friendly matches in Austria before either staying in Europe for additional matches or traveling to East Asia, where Wenger had links due to his time in Japan.

Arsenal has only come to the U.S. on two occasions in the last three decades, for one match in 2014 and a two-match spell in 2016, including taking part in the MLS All-Star game. This summer, Arsenal will be spending a considerable amount of time in a region that contains likely millions of Arsenal fans.

With the Rapids game on the schedule, Arsenal now has friendly matches on:

July 15 v. Colorado Rapids in Denver

July 17 v. Bayern Munich in Kansas City, Kan.

July 20 v. AS Roma in Charlotte, N.C.

July 23 v. Real Madrid in Landover, Md.

The latter three matches are part of the International Champions Cup, the preseason tournament put on by Relevant Sports.