• Chelsea’s Key Cast Members In 2016/17

    March 9th, 2017 The story of the Chelsea season so far largely gets written through the prism of Antonio Conte. However, we should also take a look at some his chief characters whose own efforts best represent the work done by the entire team. If Chelsea do win the title, they will have needed some... ...

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  • Might Sir Alex Ferguson Have Built His Fourth Great Manchester United Team Had He Stayed?

    March 17th, 2017 In Sir Alex Ferguson's last ever programme notes as Manchester United manager, he wrote: "It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so. The quality of this league-winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one." ...

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  • What Is Wojciech Szczesny’s Arsenal Future?

    March 16th, 2017 When Arsenal signed Petr Cech from Chelsea in 2015, it seemed that their goalkeeping situation was sorted for the next four or five years. The 34-year-old came into the club having just won his fourth Premier League title (albeit as second choice to Thibaut Courtois), alongside the four FA Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League trophy already sitting in his accomplished trophy cabinet. Cech would bring experience and leadership to the dressing room, but more importantly, a winning mentality that would gradually propel the club to its former heights after back to back cup victories. ...

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  • Rob Holding Has Enjoyed A Good Arsenal Start, Nothing More

    Having come through a difficult period in the last few months, Arsenal fans are keen to grab onto positives as and when they arrive. Reaching an FA Cup final is one of them, obviously, as is the recent tactical change implemented by Arsene Wenger. For many the Frenchman was utterly inflexible in that regard, wedded to a back four, so the use of a back three has been a pleasant surprise. ...

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  • An Evolution, Not An Overhaul: Why Valverde Would Be The Tweaker Arsenal Need

    “You're going to be a f**ing legend at Athletic,” Ernesto Valverde was told by an English friend of his. Now, having brought European football to Bilbao in each of his first three seasons at the club – including a rare Champions League appearance – and with another Europa League berth within reach this campaign, Valverde well and truly is a legend around the Basque city and he is respected far beyond it too. ...

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  • Professional Careers Will Always Hinge On Luck And Circumstance

    As with almost any anecdote concerning Brian Clough, John Robertson’s story is well known. In fact, no Clough biography is complete without loving chapters dedicated to Robertson’s emergence from the haze of the Nottingham nightlife and his rise to becoming one of best players in Europe. His story never grows old: from the shoddy confines of a creaking County Ground to the Olympic Stadium and that perfect cross for Trevor Francis.  ...

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  • Morning Editorial: Stakes Higher Than Ever For Mourinho And Guardiola Ahead Of Derby

    The prospect of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho going head-to-head for the Premier League title was a mouth-watering one in August, but it hasn’t quite worked out the way either manager would have hoped. They meet again at Etihad Stadium on Thursday, and Guardiola's City side will go for a repeat of their win over Mourinho's United in September. That win put City top of the table, but it is a long time since either Manchester club was in that position. ...

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  • Chelsea Edge Forward Together

    If the feeling in the stands was more than a little nervy, Chelsea's players seem to have wrenched the crutch of confidence from somewhere else as this title run-in plods steadily on. Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, a little like Wembley three days before, seemed on-edge. The element of swagger, seen in no short measure in recent years but severely depleted by the disaster of last season, was absent once more. Antonio Cote has done much to restore it this season, with his emphatic, emotional, slightly crazed reaction to events on-pitch. Awaydays, in particular, have been dosed-up on confidence this spring – and not just the sort you buy over the bar. ...

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  • In Praise Of James Milner, His Many Roles, And His Consistency

    To say James Milner burst onto the scene as a teenager would be pushing it. Mainly because James Milner, pretty much from the first time he made any sort of impression on a professional football game, had the physical resemblance of a hardened pro. When he scored for Leeds against Sunderland in December 2002, he was 16 years and 357 days old, making him – at that time – the youngest scorer of a goal in Premier League history. But he quickly became part of the scenery. ...

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  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic Denied The Right Ending At Manchester United

    The pain in Zlatan Ibrahimovic's face when he landed so awkwardly in Manchester United's win over Anderlecht in the Europa League semi final was hard to watch. Footballers have a terrible reputation for overselling the pain they are in, to try and extract cards from referees for their opponents or simply to waste time. Ibrahimovic does not really fake it, nor does he have any real history of picking up serious injuries. So when he looked hurt, even before those horrible replays showed that his leg had bent in a manner in which legs are not supposed to bend, it was immediately worrying. ...

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