Arteta still only papering over the cracks
Thank goodness that, after an initial early wobble, Unai Emery went 22 games unbeaten with his own new Arsenal vision last season. Hopefully it means that Mikel Arteta’s current achievements can be kept in perspective. He, too, had an awkward start – drawing at Bournemouth and then losing to Chelsea. Since then, Arsenal have been unbeaten, racking up their 10th game without defeat against Everton on Sunday.
There were plenty of signs that something is coming together under the new boss and it was easily Arsenal’s best performance for a while.
But all the time a defensive fragility exists that can put the team on the back foot inside a minute, the whole thing is built on sand.
Clearly, Arteta is putting down some impressive groundwork. But Arsenal is in such a mess that the foundations are not in place.
Emery failed to address that last summer and everything collapsed. Arteta will be judged more fully around this time next year.
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Tottenham not done with daring yet
Jose Mourinho is waving the flag of surrender and counting down the days to July 1 with a third of the season to go.
Can fans get a 33 per cent refund on their season tickets then, Mr Levy?
“To Dare Is To Do,” it says all around Tottenham’s inspiring new stadium. At the moment, the Spurs players are so far inside their shells they would not say boo to a goose.
By living up to their motto, Tottenham overcame their last 1-0 home leg deficit in Europe to beat Ajax last season… also with Harry Kane.
The same spirit was channelled by Mauricio Pochettino to team a squad of nearly-men into regular Champions League qualifiers – and again a top four place is still very much up for grabs.
And how can Mourinho’s FA Cup be half empty when it is only the worst side in the Premier League between Spurs and the quarter-finals?
So goodbye “No Way Jose”. You’ve got “Mour-in-you” than you think.
- VAR referee’s reason for Spurs’ Giovani Lo Celso not being sent off
United finally sign somebody who can be brilliant, frankly
The hop, skip and a jump that preceded Bruno Fernandes opening his account from the spot for United is a sign that he can be a success at Old Trafford.
The club is crying out for a maverick genius to galvanise them again in the way that Eric Cantona got the ball rolling all those years ago.
Fernandes may not have quite that talent, but he more than makes up for it with enthusiasm and work ethic and his tendency to produce something unexpected will make him an instant hero.
Too many ordinary players have come and gone since Sir Alex Ferguson left. This time there are early signs that Ed Woodward may at last have signed somebody extraordinary.
Even his name is perfect for a terrace chant, you know what I mean, ‘Arry.
- Man Utd star Anthony Martial makes Bruno Fernandes joke on Instagram
VAR review – possible sending off
Other sports laugh and the rest of the football world titters at the mess we seem to be getting ourselves into concerning VAR.
Increasingly, it looks to be a Premier League problem, with all the errors and inconsistencies.
Which means it is time finally for one man in particular to come under review.
The whole team at Stockley Park and beyond now need to analyse from every angle the job that referee’s chief Mike Riley is doing, with a culture of blame and fear seeming to exist among officials banned from reviewing the monitors that are provided.
How much longer is it going to take to reach a red card verdict over Riley?
History repeats itself – just not tonight
It was that long ago that the first anybody heard about it was when Frank Bough delivered the result off the famous Grandstand vide-printer.
Liverpool 1 Leicester 2.
After 85 home games without defeat, on January 31, 1981, the defending league champions had just lost to the team rooted to the bottom of the old Division One.
Jurgen Klopp’s run this season has been incredible, but football is such a great game that it could come to an end any time.
A straw for David Moyes and West Ham to clutch to, but let’s face it, it isn’t going to happen!
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