Champions League UCL Review: Same old Arsenal; (finally) a merry welcome...

UCL Review: Same old Arsenal; (finally) a merry welcome for Emery at PSG

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Same Old Arsenal

At this point there has to be a feeling among football fans that we’ve seen this movie one too many times. You’ve probably seen several memes and tweets about Arsenal’s latest capitulation at the hands of Bayern Munich. Arsenal haven’t made it past the round of 16 since March 2010 and with all due respect to the Gunners, they won’t be doing so again this year. The good news for Arsenal fans is that as per their predictable nature, they would most likely finish in the top four again—only for them to fall short again at this stage next year.

PSG finally welcome Unai Emery

There was something to be said about the executive decision to get rid of Laurent Blanc last summer. It certainly wasn’t for lack of domestic success (3 Ligue 1 titles and 6 other domestic trophies). With the hiring of Unai Emery, a 3 time successive winner of the Europa League with Sevilla, it had become clear what the priority of the PSG board was. While it is true that they have had a few unforeseen hiccups in the league this season, their first leg result against Barcelona grabbed the attention of the football world. If their dismantling of Barcelona is any indication of their intent in this season’s competition, Emery might just turn out to be PSG’s most significant transfer in recent years.

Gauging Aubameyang

“So what’s all the hype about then?” That’s a question many football fans might have been asking themselves upon watching Aubameyang struggle against Benfica on Tuesday. The Gabon international had a night to forget in Portugal as he wasted chance after chance to give Dortmund a crucial away goal (including a missed penalty). Eventually Tuchel subbed him off after an hour because of his “body language”. It obviously goes without saying that any footballer can have an off day and Auba’s goal record is nothing to snort at. However, it is games like these that might give teams like Real Madrid and Manchester City pause when transfer season comes around.

Real are alright under Zidane

If 2016 was a year of perfection for Zidane in terms of success, 2017 has so far proven to be a tad more realistic. Two losses at the hands of Celta Vigo and Sevilla has seen his team get knocked out of the Copa Del Rey and give Barcelona a glimmer of hope in the title race. When Insigne opened the scoring on Wednesday evening, the Frenchman might have been fearing the worst. However, goals from Benzema, Kroos and Casemiro have given Real Madrid a good platform ahead of the second leg in Naples.

Let’s not go crazy

By the end of PSG’S demolition job against Barcelona, there were uncomfortable parallels to be drawn with their 2013 semi-final defeat to Bayern Munich. They played away from home in the first leg of both ties, they conceded 4 goals each time and they could only muster 1 shot on target both times. Unsurprisingly in the aftermath of their latest game, there have been talks of eras ending, dynasties dying and managerial changes happening. This is premature. If Enrique and his players can evaluate their performance (or lack of it) honestly and openly, then they might be able to  move forward and not only salvage their season but take important steps towards their future. This could involve better recruitment, more efficient tactics and less reliance on the MSN trident. If not, then they should brace themselves for parallels between the second legs as well.

 

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