Friday’s big stories
Arsenal were a shambles against Villarreal
Now part – read a lot – of their above predicament is down to poor, misguided recruitment. This Arsenal squad is its worst in years – maybe decades – and they are hurtling towards their worst season in years, maybe decades.
However, the buck for Thursday’s shambles stops with Mikel Arteta, whose bizarre team selection set the tone for an abysmal first-half display that saw the Gunners 2-0 down inside half an hour.
Villarreal’s Argentinian defender Juan Foyth (L) challenges Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe during the Europa League semi-final first leg football match between Villarreal and Arsenal at the Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on April 29,
Image credit: Getty Images
They were, with Emile Smith Rowe positioned at the point of their attack, toothless going forward and looked rudderless at the back. They had two shots on target the whole game and their defending was, at times, laughable. That Arsenal came away from Estadio de la Cerámica trailing by only one goal and with a chance of making the Europa League final was more luck than Arteta’s judgement.
Arsenal sacked Unai Emery – now in charge at Villarreal – following a 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in November 2019 with the club in eighth in the league. The Gunners made that decision 18 months into a two-year contract. A further 18 months down the line and Arsenal are in worse shape.
As it stands, after four years toiling away in Europe’s secondary competition, the club are staring down the barrel of no European football next season. The club are in decline and Arteta – rather than arresting it – is contributing to it. The Gunners are a mess.
Manchester United into the final then
Fernandes scored two and assisted a further two, Cavani scored a brace and laid on a sublime assist for Mason Greenwood and Pogba also got on the scoresheet in a cavalier performance. United are far from perfect – in fact, they are fairly flawed – but they are fun and are relatively successful.
Manchester United run riot to put six past Roma
Image credit: Getty Images
Neither United or Arsenal are perfect, but at least there has been discernible progress at Old Trafford.
Bruno loves a penalty
Bruno Fernandes loves a penalty. Literally loves it. He has now scored 20 for Manchester United. He signed for the club last January.
Barcelona love a crisis
Thursday should have been a good day – it ended up being the day that they lost their chance to win the title. This club loves a crisis.
The fans’ legally enshrined involvement makes those running the club accountable to the members. Bayern Munich supporters, for example, could call for an AGM and remove chairman Herbert Hainer. Such upheaval is extremely rare. But since those in charge don’t own the club, but run on it on behalf of the members, there’s a very different power dynamic. Fans aren’t just consumers, able to vote with their wallet if they disagree — they can actually vote for (or against) the people in charge. And because there are no owners as such, people who lead clubs tend to be local business men or women, as well as former footballers. Their public profiles increase accountability, unlike in England, for example, where many Premier League clubs are being run by faceless administrators on behalf of absentee owners.
Southampton take on Leicester hoping to avenge their nine-goal drubbing earlier on in the season, and the pick of the fixtures over the weekend include United against Liverpool in the Premier League and Chelsea against Bayern in the Champions League.
Andi Thomas will be here on Monday with all the chat from the weekend.