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WEEKEND TAKEAWAY: Unai Emery’s Arsenal Check all Boxes

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Tottenham Hotspur had begun the week on a high, approaching this fixture high in confidence after consecutive wins over both Chelsea and Inter Milan two days later. Spurs haven’t won away at Arsenal since November 2010, making this trip to the home ground of their fiercest London rival a wee bit special. There was optimism that Spurs could do it this time and Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Chelsea only made it more important for Spurs to get a win at the Emirates.

That didn’t happen. Spurs were picked apart like grains of cereal in a morsel of wheat, series of uncharacteristic errors which began with an early howler from Jan Vertonghen and ended with the Belgian getting his marching orders after a clumsy challenge on Lacazette all but summed up the afternoon.

It will be an injustice to ignore moments in the game when Spurs looked like they will actually come off the Emirates Stadium with a win, but Arsenal’s resolve this season is enviable amongst all. Opta stats revealed that the 24 second-half goals scored so far in 14 leagues games is the most by any team in the Premier League this season and three of those came against the team that laid in the third spot before this weekend’s round of games kicked off.

Unai Emery’s Arsenal has not lost a game in three months, a 19-game unbeaten run in all competitions including a draw and a win over Liverpool and Spurs respectively. The next challenge is a trip away to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Err…let’s wait for this one before we grade the Spaniard.

Jordan Pickford’s Howler cost Everton Derby Point at Anfield

Jordan Pickford was having such a good game at Anfield such that my friend roared, “If Pickford keeps playing like this, then De Gea can go to Real Madrid for all I care, we’ll take him [Pickford].”

Ok, that irks. For one, De Gea can no longer think of joining Real Madrid, not with the arrival of Thibaut Courtois last summer also, De Gea is still largely considered to possess the best pair of hands in the Premier League and United are well aware of this. Lastly, he can still give the Red Devils 10 solid years.

Everything went well for Pickford at Anfield until this moment. It is understandable that with time running out and for the fear of conceding a corner kick that can turn the result in its head, Pickford attempted to keep the ball in play. What is embarrassing and bewildering is that Pickford misread the flight of the ball, he was under no pressure, yet he fumbled his handling. Divock Origi had scored twice in the Merseyside Derby before, but Sunday’s goal will be the easiest he will ever score.

Unbeaten BVB Coasts through, Paco Alcacer Dilemma

After 13 matches, Borussia Dortmund are still unbeaten, nine points ahead of fourth-placed Bayern Munich who can’t catch up no matter what they do.

If the win over Bayern Munich in November didn’t suggest anything, their consistency should. It is bad enough that Bayern can’t keep up, an unusual position for the Bavaria giants to be, but it is the new reality and unless these bunch of players at Lucien Favre’s disposal somewhat manage to bottle this advantage, everything points towards a Borussia Dortmund championship.

One last bit; Paco Alcacer endured a peripheral figure at Camp Nou but his summer switch to Dortmund – initially on-loan before his imperious form forced the league leaders to make the move permanent – has revived Alcacer who must have hated playing football at a point. He went from guaranteed starter at Valencia to only getting a couple of minutes at Barca.

With barely eight games, he has scored nine league goals all after coming off the bench and equaling a Bundesliga record in the process. Who says he won’t break that record this season?

The next concern for Lucien Favre now is, when will Paco Alcacer become a starter? For now, coming off the bench works, but someday he will have to throw him in from the start.

Cristiano Ronaldo Stamps his Authority in Italy

It took a while to get going, but once he got his first it became obvious that the floodgates will open. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 10 goals in his first 14 Serie A games is only equalled by John Charles and had stood for 61 years.

Although Juventus did not cough out $116 million just so Cristiano can help the Old Lady win another League and Cup double – they have won the double in each of the past four consecutive seasons – Ronaldo has been brought in to ultimately help the club reach the heights in Europe having failed twice in the last four years. However, with so much energy being exerted just to get going in the league early one, one wonders if Ronaldo can keep up this momentum for the full length of the season and particularly at the business end of the season, which is when the season is decided.

For now, enjoy the magnificence of Cristiano Ronaldo who is now the joint top scorer in the Serie A alongside Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek.

Super Falcons are Champions of Africa for the Ninth time

The girls went to Ghana ill-prepared, barely catered for or attended to, yet they carried such a heavy weight of expectation. They knew failure to win the tournament will spell doom for them, yet little was done to make this unavoidable, yet they emerge victorious.

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty either. It is perhaps the toughest AWCON the Super Falcons have ever played, scoring in only two of the five games played, forced to go the distance in the Semi-final and again in the final; requiring a bit of luck to have even made it to the shoot-out in both games against Cameroon and South Africa respectively.

Eventually, they won, uncharacteristically they won dirty and their performances in each of those games iffy. But it will be best for everyone to remember that, although this win did not inspire confidence, we will celebrate it now and then return to work.

Successful 2018 for Tiger Woods Despite finishing second-to-last in the Bahamas

Tiger Woods may have finished so low on the leaderboard at the Hero World Championship, a tournament that benefits his TGR Foundation, but all of that won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

In 2017, Woods was playing his first tournament in 10 months at this event after a spinal fusion surgery and was ranked 1,119th in the world, whereas, he comes into this one having completed 18 events in the calendar year.

It is good to see Tiger Woods compete again.

Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury serve up a proper heavyweight classic

The bout lived up to the hype. Both Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury could have won it; Wilder surely thought he did after knocking Fury down twice. So did Fury, who had outscored Wilder for much of the bout and could have had the decision swing towards his favour if he was fighting in the UK.

For the first time in his career, Wilder faced a proper heavyweight, although Fury is arguably not at his best, it is hard to think he will do significantly more than he did on Saturday night (depends on what part of the world you are).

So, maybe we will get a rematch. And in all honesty, the chance of getting a rematch is more probable than any thought of Joshua taking on either man next year. For now, we savour this classic that has drawn praise from both fighters, the speculation of a possible clash with Anthony Joshua at this point is not worth it.

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