WEEKEND TAKEAWAY: Arsenal’s Win Unmask Sleeping Beast

Chelsea might have played their worst football since Maurizio Sarri became manager, and like I pointed out in Friday’s column, Chelsea looked like a side that would lose this game; and lose they did, I just didn’t think it would be an abysmal performance all-round.

The battle for the top six is close-knit, Liverpool and Man City for the title – at least, for now – while the others battle for the last two available champions league slots, this made the London derby a make or mar game for either side. And for only the second time in seven attempts, Arsenal got a league win against a top six side, albeit a lackluster one.

Maurizio Sarri again complained about an ‘unmotivated’ set of players at Chelsea. It isn’t just a coincidence that the previous two managers at the club equally voiced their displeasure about the same issue.

Before now, we have explained it away by blaming it on two defensive-minded coaches scared of taking risks and as such, the players are possibly bored. Well, this line has run its course, it won’t fly this time.

Manchester United in Seventh Heaven

Seventh successive win, 19 goals scored – 11 of those coming at Old Trafford – Ole Gunnar Solskjear hasn’t performed magic, but he has restored some pride and identity to Manchester United.

Next stop is at the Emirates against Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup, fresh from getting a win over Chelsea, but this Manchester United side is full of confidence. It should be interesting to watch.

Real Madrid Steal Vital Win

For the second time since Santiago Solari took over, Real Madrid won consecutive Liga games, this time over two sides from the same territory – Real Betis and Sevilla.

The win ensures Real Madrid go third on the log in a game they dominated from start to finish. It is possibly the best display from Los Blancos since the appointment of the Argentine and this result is a reflection of the hard work put in to get this victory.

Fast Running Out of Adjectives to Describe Lionel Messi

While I was writing this piece, the Barcelona – Leganes game was tied at 1-1. At 64 minutes, Lionel Messi is introduced. Time check: 71 minutes, 2-1. No prizes for guessing who was at the hat of it. Just watch him combine with Alba for a brilliant third.

Violence-marred Football Weekend

Friday began with the news of the assassination of Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a member of the undercover journalist group responsible for exposing the ills of corruption in Africa. Ahmed’s death sent shock waves across the continent.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to send shivers down the spine of players and spectators in other venues during football games across the continent.

Just look at this from the NPFL this weekend; its only three games into a new season and there has been reports of crowd violence twice.

And then look at players of Wydad Casablanca doing this after a 2-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns away from home in a CAF Champions League game. An utter disgrace.

Two Teams, Contrasting Fortunes

Enugu Rangers is the team to beat in this year’s CAF Confederations cup. If the presence of Gbenga Ogunbote is not enough to convince anyone, then their result on the continent so far should. All six games in qualifying read: Win, Win, Draw, Win, Win, Win and Rangers are through to the Group Stages.

Lobi Stars, on the other hand, have been decent, not exceptional and nothing out of the ordinary. Granted, Lobi have faced ‘tougher’ oppositions by virtue of the competition they are in, but their abysmal away run may eventually come to haunt them at this rate.

VAR Malfunction Raises Legitimate Concerns

Eleven league games since his appointment, Thierry Henry is yet to win a game and Monaco’s unwanted streak continues; they haven’t won at home all season long.

In a technological masterstroke, Monaco’s new signing, Naldo, was sent-off by a VAR assisted decision in the seventh minute of Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash against Strasbourg at home; a numerical disadvantage that only helped to earn Monaco a drubbing. Another unwanted incident.

With the visitors 2-1 up deep in the first half, AS Monaco had a good penalty shout ignored because the referee confirmed that the VAR was no longer working.

The inconsistency of the VAR is noteworthy, having already heard of similar instances in Ligue 1 this season and to be fair, a penalty, if converted, would have drawn Monaco level and could well change the entire course of the game.

Manny Pacquaio is Too Good for a 40-year-old

He is the older boxer, the supposed slower boxer yet he out-boxed his American counterpart by huge margins in every round on Sunday morning.

Pacquaio showed no signs of slowing down as he defended his WBA Welterweight title against Adrien Broner, who surprised many by celebrating at the sound of the bell at the end of the twelfth round as if he won. Such a joker!

For one, this result confirms one opinion I have always held of Adrien Broner: he is not cut out for proper championship fights. This is his fourth big bout and he has lost this one too. Just another fighter aiming for a big payday.