The eventful Premier League relegation battle

Premier League fans experienced a season like no other as two clubs confirmed relegation on the final day. The two joined Southampton FC, whose relegation had earlier been confirmed. Three clubs were risking relegation to the Championship; Everton, Leicester City, and Leeds United. The battle was set for the deadline day, a unique phenomenon in the Premier League. After a ferocious fight that displayed the character in Sean Dyche’s men, Everton managed to escape the fall.

The last supper

Like the proverbial last supper, the clubs cautiously approached the last match, knowing its weight on the fan base. Leeds United had been in the league the past three seasons impressing in several matches. Everton had never been relegated since the inception of the new premier league in 1992. Leicester City had won the Premier League title as underdogs two years after their promotion to the league. The three clubs understood the assignment ahead and knew how crucial their wins would be.

Leeds United were sitting in 19th position with 31 points. In the 18th spot, Leicester City also had 31 points but with a superior goal difference to that of Leeds United. Everton was hanging by a thread with 33 points at position 17. All of them needed wins to solidify their chances of survival.

Leeds United suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur FC, who were focused on finishing the season strong. This humiliating loss confirmed to the fans that Elland Road will have to go at least a season without Premier League football. Leicester City held on to a 2-1 win against West Ham United. However, this win did not keep the 2015/16 underdog EPL winners in the coveted league as a defeat for Everton would have been mandatory to secure their position in next season’s PL campaign.

Disappointed Maddison following Leicester City’s relegation. Image: Skysports

Everton will forever be thankful to Abdoulaye Doucoure, whose strike gave them life for another season. Some fans had already started doubting whether they would enjoy the ambiance of Goodison Park next season. Doucoure’s goal proved the saving grace for the Toffees, who had lost their glory.

Therefore, The Championship will have three EPL regulars battling to get back to the EPL next season. Leeds United, Leicester City, and the Saints must adapt to the 44 games season while battling to get a slot back in the EPL.

The manager’s input

Sean Dyche deserves his flowers for powering Everton out of relegation despite finding them worse off. Although he recorded some humiliating defeats, Dyche held on his nerves and secured Everton from the jaws of relegation. Playing deep and utilizing set pieces, Everton survived relegation by a whisker—credits to Sean Dyche for giving some life back to the Merseyside Blue side.

Sam Allardyce, known as Big Sam, could not salvage Leeds United from the sinking ship. Despite looking promising when taking the job, Allardyce faced yet another relegation in the EPL. Having a vast experience in the league, it was thought Sam would find a way to survive the cut. However, he failed to steady the sinking ship and will have to do with the Championship next season.

What next for the fallen giants?

The 44 games a season league awaits the relegated parties in the Championship. They will be facing promising clubs like Coventry, Middlesbrough, and Sunderland FC, who slightly failed to gain promotion to EPL. The battle to return to the Premier League will be an exhilarating affair.

Consequently, the clubs risk losing some of their top cream of players. Leicester City might lose the likes of Harvey Barnes, Wout Faes, James Maddison, and Sinistera. Southampton risk losing Bella Kotchap, Lavia, and Mara, among other stars who impressed individually. Among talented players, Leeds United might lose Gnonto, Rodrygo, and Aaronson.

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Arsenal and Newcastle United Impressive Return to the Champions League

Arsenal and Newcastle United big return to the Champions League

The Premier League 2022/23 season remarkably closed its curtains with the Champions League places recording interesting changes. Three clubs have returned to the competition, while three others have been forced out. Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle United are the notable names to have made impressive comebacks to Europe’s elite competition. Meanwhile, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and Chelsea FC have dropped out and will have to go again next season. Qualifications for Arsenal and Newcastle makes it more impressive when you consider the last time the two played in the competition. They will surely relish every moment when the curtains of the Champions League unfold next season.

The Comebacks

At the beginning of the season, only a handful of pundits thought Arsenal would finish in the top 4. Given their run of form in the last 7 years, the much Arsenal could have been awarded this year was a spot in the Europa League. It, therefore, surprised many when Arsenal gave a proper title chase and finished 2nd, only missing out on the title in the dying embers of the season. No one gave Newcastle United the benefit of the doubt despite showing promise after the Eddie Howe takeover. Last season the Magpies were fighting for dear life in the relegation zone, and to make such a comeback in little time is no mean feat. Howe’s men have played impressively the whole season and rightfully deserved their fourth-spot finish.

Newcastle United Players Celebrate. (Image: Capital FM)

This will be the first time in 6 years that Arsenal will play in the Champions League. Arsene Wenger was the last manager to play in the competition, and that was back in the 2016/17 season. Mikel Arteta has, therefore, done an impressive job in bringing back the Gunners to the Champions League.

Since 2002, Newcastle United has yet to taste Champions League football. It all seemed like a dream until the Arabian takeover that exposed their potential. With Eddie Howe at the helm, Newcastle brushed off competition from Liverpool to secure the spot. All credits have to go to the gaffer for unleashing the beast in these players. Very little has been witnessed in terms of financial injection by the Arabian ownership. To, therefore, pick these group of boys and lead them to a Champions league qualification ranks top with manager of the season displays.

These impressive comebacks will be why both the Gunners and Magpies fans will enjoy UCL nights.

Flowers for the managers

Mikel Arteta deserves his flowers for a job well done. He took over an Arsenal side underperforming domestically and in European competitions. He had to shape his squad and perfect his tactics patiently. Three seasons in, Arsenal gave Manchester City a run for their money in the EPL title race. Furthermore, they have qualified for the competition honourably.

No one would have predicted that Eddie Howe would lead Newcastle United back into the competition so soon. He turned average players like Joelinton and Almiron into superb players who have significantly impacted their results. Adding players like Botman and Bruno Guimares ensured the St James Park outfit competed favourably with EPL greats. In the end, the players secured the qualification at the expense of Liverpool FC.

What it means to the fans

The Emirates and Saint James Park will feel excited when the Champions League anthem is playing next season. They have waited for ages for these special moments to be witnessed again. The aura in the two stadiums will be top-notch as the competition is adored by fans worldwide.

Football is set to be properly enjoyed by the two fan bases. A sell-out of tickets is expected next season as the fans will be back to enjoying football again.

Liverpool in the Europa League

The Reds have again found themselves in the Europa League territory despite finishing second last season. This season, things have gone badly for the Merseyside giants. Finishing in 5th spot, they have only managed a Europa League qualification. The last time they got to a final of the competition, they were dismantled by Unai Emery’s Sevilla FC.

Salah devastated to miss out on Champions League. (Image: Reuters)

However, Liverpool FC are not amateurs in this competition. They have won it at least twice in their history. Most of their key players are likely stay, a massive boost for Jurgen Klopp. If he can then be able to keep most of them fit throughout next season, he has a strong potential to add another European trophy to his tally. The gaffer will aim to outshine all the other clubs on Thursday nights to bring the trophy back to Anfield.

The upcoming European season is set to offer massive entertainment to fans in both the Champions League and Europa League competitions. We now wait to see if the coveted silverware pieces will return to England.

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Manchester United Register interest in Neymar Jr.

Manchester United have reportedly registered their interest in Paris Saint Germain and Brazilian star Neymar Junior. This is not the first time the Red Devils have been linked to the talented winger. Since his days at Barcelona, he has been mentioned as one of the targets Man United have been craving to have. The Old Trafford outfit has always admired the Brazil National team captain as they know what he can bring to the club.

Neymar’s fallout with the PSG Ultras

An unfortunate fallout with the PSG Ultras is one of the key reasons Neymar could fancy a move to England. Having failed to impress their fans, the star has found himself in the bad books of the top fans in Paris. So tense is their relationship that the fans held a protest outside the star’s house. They have also been constantly booing him at the Parc De Princes, another reason he could leave. This harsh treatment could play a key role in making his move to England.

What Neymar brings to the table

Neymar Junior needs no introduction to football enthusiasts. He is famously remembered as a member of the MSN trio of Messi, Suarez and himself. This trio rocked the European football world 2015, winning the Champions League with FC Barcelona. Neymar played a crucial role in recording over double figures in both goals and assists. He is one of the most prolific dribblers in Europe, only comparable to the likes of Messi and Eden Hazard.

The likes of Jadon Sancho have failed to live up to their hype. This season, he has only recorded a handful of goal contributions. Neymar Junior could boost the Manchester United attack with entertainment and a good contribution to both goals and assists. He is full of flair and could excite Old Trafford, that almost always sells out their home game tickets.

Neymar with Brazilian teammate Casemiro. Source: The Athletic

The fans’ opinions of the Brazilian star

Some Red Devil fans are super excited about the signing of Neymar due to his quality. Having watched him since his Puskas winning days in Santos, they know what the talented star can do with the ball. However, others have been sceptical about his signing due to his injury-prone nature. Despite the fan’s divided opinions, Neymar Junior might make his long-awaited transfer to England if Erik Ten Hag fancies his talent.

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Lionel Messi set to depart PSG

World Cup-winning star Lionel Messi is focused on a move away from Paris Saint Germain after two seasons at the club. Messi has been playing for the club for two years and is now reluctant to extend his stay with the Parisians. Despite being one of the top-earning players at the club, Messi wants to move elsewhere after falling out with the club. As talented as he is, several clubs are already eyeing his signature. At 35, the world cup winner is still regarded a top talent and would be a key addition for whichever club he chooses to join.

A Barcelona Reunion?

A Barcelona reunion is reportedly a possibility. The star left Barcelona due to unavoidable circumstances but still has a soft spot for the club. He was signed from Newells Old Boys and developed at the famous La Masia academy. This is the same academy that churned out greats like the iconic midfield duo of Iniesta and Xavi. Xavi is the current FC Barcelona coach, and he played with Messi for several years. The gaffer is interested in working with Messi again before he retires from the beautiful game.

Lionel Messi back in his Barcelona days. Photo Credits: Sky Sports

FC Barcelona President, Laporta, has been quoted talking about Messi’s last dance at the club. His fans still adore him for the significant success he achieved at the club. They would be excited to have him back at the Camp Nou. Messi might be back at Camp Nou if the Catalan giants sort out their fair play and signing issues.

The cash-strapped Saudi League calling

The Saudi league is also on the heels of Messi trying to convince him to play for them. After the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi is also wanted in Saudi Arabia. Al Hilal FC has offered him the most prominent football deal ever to lure him to the club. The contract is rumored to be about £400 million a season, which would be the highest ever in the game with an astounding proportion. Cristiano Ronaldo has made the Saudi League much more lucrative, and several fans have been attracted to watching him play. Lionel Messi is also seen as a player who could increase the Saudi League fan base. Therefore, he is badly wanted, and his recent visit to Saudi Arabia is thought to indicate that he could be headed there.

All balls are in Leo’s court now who is expected to make a decision at the end of the current campaign with PSG. Whether or not he decides to continue in Europe will rely on Barca’s financial situation and the player’s willingness to keep on trying on the big stage. For Al-Hilal, all is set to warmly welcome this mercurial talent to their prestigious ground to help steer them to future glory.

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The Treble Winners versus the Invincibles; who did it best?

On one side, Arsene Wenger lifting the invincibles trophy, on the other, Ferguson posing with the treble trophies.

English football had one of the fiercest rivalries around the beginning of the 21st century. Two clubs had carved out a niche in the elite category courtesy of their managers and style of play. They amassed trophies at will and set unique records only held by the two specific clubs. While one won the impressive Treble, the other won a trophy currently considered impossible to lift, the Golden EPL trophy (the invincibles). Indeed Manchester United and Arsenal gifted the EPL fans an unforgettable era of entertaining English football. Despite both groups winning their accolades impressively, some fans still decide whose feat was more memorable. Before deciding who did it best, let us examine both teams and how they ran their games.

The outlook and quality of both the Treble winners and the Invincibles

Both teams comprised two elite managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, famously referred to as the Professor. Before taking over their respective clubs, both managers had shown promise in their respective clubs before being given the jobs. They took over the clubs with the zeal to improve the legacies already made by Manchester United and Arsenal. Despite having their unique tactics, both managers wanted their teams to be possession based and dominant over their opponents. 

David Beckham holding the Champions League trophy. He setup Teddy Sheringham in the dying seconds of the Champions League final
David Beckham holding the Champions League trophy. He setup Teddy Sheringham in the dying seconds of the Champions League final. Photo Credits: Manchester United

The quality of the midfield

They, therefore, ensured that their midfielders were full of quality to run their games perfectly. The treble winners had the no-joke Roy Keane as their central defensive midfielder. He was backed up by the sharp-shooting Paul Scholes and the free-kick specialist David Beckham. Academy coach Nicky Butt completed this midfield four that collected the three trophies in the 1998/99 season. 

The Invincibles had Patrick Vieira as their captain and defensive midfielder. The Frenchman was known for his bullish style of play that made opponents shudder with fear whenever playing against him. He played with Robert Pires and former manager Fredrick Ljungberg. Current sporting director Edu also played a crucial role in shaping this midfield that went 38 games unbeaten in EPL. Their midfield was physical and creative, taking points from other clubs at will.

The intimidating shot-stoppers

The treble winners had the gigantic Peter Schmeichel as their showstopper. The Dane intimidated strikers with his big body size and made several crucial saves that won United games. On the other hand, Jens Lehmann was at his best during their golden EPL campaign. He kept 15 clean sheets and was one of the goalkeepers who won the golden gloves that season. The goalkeeping docket, therefore, played a crucial role in ensuring both clubs achieved their feats.

The walls that secured trophies

A famous football quote by Sir Alex Ferguson goes, attack wins you games, and defense wins you titles. This could be one reason he ensured he formed a wall in his defense that proved a hard nut to crack. Denis Irwin and Jaap Stam combined with the Neville brothers forming a wall that proved a menace to opponents. The three trophies testify to how good that defense must have been.

The Gunners utilized the services of Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy, Sol Campbell, and Kolo Toure. The likes of Keown, Cygan, and Lauren also played a crucial role in delivering the unique piece of silverware home. This respected defense ensured that Arsenal went unbeaten for 38 Premier League games. 

Attacks full of talent

The attacks of these two clubs during their respective seasons were firing from all fronts. Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole accounted for at least 35 of Manchester United’s premier league goals. Despite being a substitute in most games, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also played a crucial role in both the EPL and champions league. 

The London greats had the talented Denis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, who entertained the 2003/04 season and left the fans with great memories. Reyes, Wiltord, and Kanu also made an indelible mark in the hearts of the fans with some crucial goals. This attack will consistently rank as one of the best the Arsenal fans experienced at Highbury.

Both attacks were highly rated and definitely deserved to achieve their individual successes. Regarding squad quality, both clubs were well-equipped with enough firepower to win trophies. None of them had a deficient squad.

Individual Honours in the respective seasons

After Manchester United won the Treble, David Beckham was ranked second in the Balon D’Or rankings. Six other Manchester United had been nominated for the awards. These included Schmeichel, Giggs, Yorke, and Cole, among others. 

After Arsenal’s Invincible season, only three of their players made it to the Balon d’Or’s final nomination list: Henry, Vieira, and Reyes. Henry finished in 4th spot in the final rankings. These nominations might indicate how challenging it was to lift the Treble than the golden EPL. 

Thierry Henry celebrating a past goal for Arsenal. He was part of the invincibles and was among the Balond'Or nominees, emerging fourth
Thierry Henry celebrating a past goal for Arsenal. He was part of the invincibles and was among the Balond’Or nominees, emerging fourth

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The trophies won

Manchester United was rewarded with three trophies for their impressive campaign in the 1998/99 season. These were the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League trophies. 

The Gunners won the Premier League trophy during their invincibles campaign in 2003/2004 season and were given a special golden trophy. Taking part in three competitions and winning them is a more significant challenge than winning a single trophy. In terms of trophies won, the Red Devils have the upper hand.

The difficulty of achieving each feat

Alex Ferguson’s side is respected for being the first and only English club to win the Treble. They did this after English clubs had been given a 5-year Champions League ban breaking the jinx of no English club making it to the finals in 8 years, and winning the trophy. Determined and unstoppable, United went on to add the Premier League and FA Cups to their accolades.

However, other European clubs have also replicated this feat, winning trebles on various occasions. In 2013, Bayern Munich won the Treble in Germany. Inter Milan also won the Treble in 2010 under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho. In 2009 and 2015, FC Barcelona also won the Treble. This could indicate that more clubs might achieve this feat in the coming years.

Juventus has only replicated the Invincible season in the top flight of European football. They did this in the 2011/12 season before winning the Scudetto. This proves that winning the league unbeaten might be more challenging than winning the Treble. It might take several other years before another unbeaten record is made in Europe.  

The treble winners celebrating their great feat. No English club has been able to replicate the same feat.
Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes celebrating their great feat. No English club has been able to replicate the same feat. Photo Credits: Manchester United

Beyond the Thrills: Reliving the Unforgettable Seasons of the ‘Invincibles’ and ‘Treble’ Winners

The Gunners managed to win 26 games and drew 12 in the invincibles season (2003/04). Despite having that impressive season, they faced some challenging games. At the beginning of the season, they drew 1-1 with Portsmouth FC. Thierry Henry later said that they drew the game given luck after being gifted a penalty late to draw the game. During that season, Arsenal scored 73 goals in the league in 2004. They scored 113 goals in all competitions.

Manchester United scored 80 league goals in their treble-winning season and had 128 goals scored in all competitions. They lost 3 league games all season. In terms of the number of goals scored in the league, Manchester United outshined Arsenal. Manchester United offered a more entertaining season than Arsenal.

How the Unbeatable Were Beaten: The Shocking Story of the Invincibles’ and Treble Winners’ Campaign Downfall

During their treble-winning campaign, the Old Trafford outfit lost five games. They lost to Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal, and Middlesbrough in the league. Middlesbrough was the only club that beat Manchester United at home. They were also beaten by Arsenal during the Community Shield match at the beginning of the season. The last loss came at Tottenham in the league cup 3rd round. These were the only dents Manchester United experienced before achieving their greatest success.

In the 2004 season, the Gunners also experienced a fair share of disappointments from opponents. They were beaten by Middlesbrough FC in the League Cup semi-final stage. They also lost to bitter rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Chelsea also eliminated them late in the Champions League, leaving them with only a single title. 

Both clubs won their accolades impressively. However, they also experienced some humiliating losses during the season. This did not deter their seasons from being recorded as successes.

The Legacy of the Invincibles and Treble Winners Lives On

Every football fan can agree that the treble-winning and invincible seasons were impressive. The two clubs offered top-notch entertainment that will forever stay in the outstanding football records. The two managers also offered their highly entertaining, unique, and entertaining football styles.

Furthermore, both squads contained stars who were capable of lifting the trophies. They also had the quality and depth necessary to win accolades, and they eventually did so. Winning the league unbeaten was a challenging feat, especially with the league having the likes of Chelsea rebuilding under Abrahamovic. The Red Devils and the Reds were also impressive clubs at the time, and so Arsenal did a great job.

However, I would go with a treble owing to the quality of the trophies achieved and the number of games played by Man United. The United side had to play several games to win all the trophies. The three are prestigious cups highly rated in Europe, showing how lethal this united side must have been.

Manchester United are set to raid the European market to strengthen their squad

David De Gea in past match for Manchester United. David De Gea has fallen out of favor with the club's fans due to his error-prone nature and style of play.

Manchester United has had a season full of highs and lows. Despite winning the Carabao Cup, they still fight for the top 4 spots with the likes of Newcastle United and Liverpool. With some of their key players out injured, they have lost some crucial matches exposing how low their squad depth is lying. Manager Erik Ten Hag has insisted on the importance of the club raiding the market early enough to give him ample time to prepare for the upcoming season. Several top players have been linked with Manchester United.

A modern goalkeeper needed

Long-time Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has fallen out of favor with the club’s fans due to his error-prone nature and style of play. He has made some easy but crucial mistakes costing the Red Devils essential points. He is also still working on high claims and sweeping of the ball. His build-up play from the back still needs improvement despite Ten Hag trying to encourage that style of play. FC Porto goalkeeper, Diogo Costa, has been identified as the top target for the club. His build-up play from the back is highly rated. Moreover, his high claims and sweeping skills are impressive. If Manchester United miss out on him, all is not lost. David Raya from Brentford has also been mentioned as another shot-stopper they might consider for the job.

The Manchester United defence menace 

Club captain, Harry Maguire, has failed to meet his price tag and might leave in the summer with Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe. He still needs to impress the gaffer, forcing him to use left-back Luke Shaw as a center-back despite Maguire being fit. Scudetto winner Kim Min Jae has impressed this season at the Serie A, with some sources linking him with a summer move to Manchester. Jurrien Timber, who Ajax will sell in the summer, is excited to link up with Lisandro Martinez again. The two have been the most mentioned defenders with links to Manchester United.

Jurrien Timber celebrating a past goal with Ajax at the Johann Cruyff Arena. The defender would be excited to link up with Lisandro Martinez again.
Jurrien Timber celebrating a past goal with Ajax at the Johann Cruyff Arena. The defender would be excited to link up with Lisandro Martinez again. Photo Credits: Jurrien Timber

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The midfield restructuring

Among other midfielders, Scott McTominay and Donny Van De Beek are on the way out of the club. Some new faces might be witnessed at the Carrington soon as the club sets sight on competing for trophies next season. Alexis MacAllister has been mentioned as one of the midfielders to help rebuild the club after impressing for Both Brighton and his national team Argentina. Declan Rice is seen as the perfect long-term replacement for Casemiro and has also been linked to the club. Frenkie De Jong is still the top midfield target as Ten Hag tries to bring him to Old Trafford for the second consecutive season. 

The striking options

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has been linked with Manchester United for some time now. With 22 Serie A goals this season and a scudetto to his name, he is wanted at the club to increase the number of goals scored. Harry Kane has also been linked to Man United in what is being taunted as an identical move to Robin Van Persie in 2012. Harry Kane is a Premier League-proven striker with two golden boots and can bank on that to give Manchester United the elusive Premier League title.

Victor Osimhen celebrating a past goal for Napoli. The Nigerian forward is among the players being sought after by Manchester United. Photo Credits: Napoli Official

Other clubs also eyed these transfer targets, with Ten Hag expecting to make quick signings to avoid missing out on his priority targets. A busy transfer window awaits Manchester United; it will be interesting to see how it goes.

The exciting top-four race is shaping up.

Jurgen Klopp in a past training session with the boys. Liverpool have made a resurgence in a quest for a top-four spot.

The English Premier League top-four race is heating up, with at least eight clubs being mathematically involved in this exhilarating affair. Manchester City and Arsenal have already cemented their places in the top two positions as they chase down the title. Newcastle United is unpredictably sitting in 3rd position with 65 points, while out-of-form Manchester United is sitting in 4th place with 63 points. Liverpool has closed the gap by winning six games on the bounce. Meanwhile, Manchester United have lost seven crucial points in their last six league encounters.

Fighting for Champions League reputation

Three clubs are fighting hard to maintain their Champions League reputation. Manchester United, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur are Champions League regulars who have represented England on several occasions on the big stage. Liverpool have won six UEFA Champions League titles, the most an English club has ever managed to win. Manchester United are three-time winners still craving the title they last won in 2008. Tottenham Hotspur reached the finals of 2019 after at least seven consecutive seasons in the competition. 

These three English clubs are fighting for a top-four spot for the sake of their prestige of participating in the competition for several years. Although five points behind Liverpool, Tottenham have recently improved after Ryan Mason’s appointment as their head coach. With four games to go, Tottenham Hotspur is praying that they collect maximum points from their last games while other clubs slip for them to stand a chance of tasting the top-four spots.

Tottenham are set to play Aston Villa on 13th May, away at Villa Park. Both teams are scrambling for a European spot with only three points separating them
Tottenham are set to play Aston Villa on 13th May, away at Villa Park. Both teams are scrambling for a European spot with only three points separating them. Photo Credits: Spurs Official

Merseyside’s might is back in the top-four race

A few game weeks ago, Liverpool were in eighth position, almost 9 points behind Manchester United. Their recent resurgence has seen them collect 18 points out of 18, winning six games on the bounce. During the same period, Manchester United have only managed 10 out of a possible 18 points. The setback has opened a way for Liverpool, who have been boosted by the return of long-term injured players Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz. The Merseyside side is now eyeing a top-four spot. Manchester United has a game in hand and can open the gap to four points with a win against Wolverhampton Wanderers this coming weekend.

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The underdogs craving for the piece of the cake

Brighton Hove Albion, and Aston Villa are considered underdogs who still believe they can still secure a chance in Europe’s elite club competition. With 55 and 54 points, the two clubs have been aiming for a European place by the end of the season. Although they are still mathematically in the race, the two clubs might have to settle for a Europa League spot with only a handful of matches left.

Dan Burn celebrating their victory against Leicester City in a past match. Newcastle are currently in third place, almost certain of a Champions League spot next season
Above, Dan Burn celebrating their victory against Leicester City in a past match. Newcastle are currently in third place, almost certain of a Champions League spot next season. Photo Credits: Newcastle FC

The crucially top-four games 

The following games will prove crucial in shaping the Premier League table. This weekend Newcastle United will be hosted at relegation-bound Leeds United. At the same time, Tottenham will have to face the impressive Unai Emery, who has witnessed a magnificent turnaround at Aston Villa. Manchester United will have to see off Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to try and reclaim their dwindling hopes of finishing in the top 4. Leicester City will host Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. The results from these matches will shape the table as the English Premier League enters its homestretch point.  

Napoli win the Scudetto

Napoli team celebrate winning the scudetto.

A resilient Napoli had to fight tooth and nail to claim the elusive Scudetto they last tasted when Diego Maradona was still playing for the club 33 years ago. The line-up announcer, Daniele Bellini, nicknamed ‘the Decibel,’ was only six years old when he last experienced the feeling of winning the Serie A title. He had to grow up, attend hundreds of matches, secure a job as a line-up announcer, and work for several years before finally tasting the trophy again. While reading Napoli’s line-up, he broke down when he realized how close they were to win the trophy. Napoli’s journey towards winning their 12th Scudetto screams one word; patience. 

The Coveted but elusive piece of silverware

For the past eight seasons, Napoli had only been seeing the Promised Land from a short distance. Finishing 2nd on four occasions is enough proof that Napoli has been a force to reckon with in Serie A. The trophy was elusive even when the Uruguayan beast, Edinson Cavani, banged goals for the club during his prime years. Even a front three of the speedy Dries Mertens, the dribbling Jose Callejon, and the exciting left-footed Lorenzo Insigne could only manage a second-spot finish. Kalidou Koulibaly came to be considered one of the best defenders in the world while at Napoli, but the Senegalese wall had to depart from the club before tasting the Serie A.

The comeback

Juventus have been the most dominant Serie A side in the past decade and took the biggest share of the Scudetto. Inter Milan and AC Milan have also struggled to make a comeback to the scene by winning a scudetto each. Napoli has decided to make the league even more interesting by taking a different approach. Finally, this has paid off, with the coveted silverware returning to Naples. History has been made at the club, with the names of these heroes set to be engraved in the hearts of the Napoli fans for centuries to come.

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Spalletti does it where the Greats failed.

Napoli fans celebrate following their historical win of the Scudetto.
Napoli fans celebrate following their historical win of the Scudetto. Photo Credits: Napoli Official

When Luciano Spalletti took over the squad from Genaro Gattuso on the 1st of July 2021, few would have guessed that he would be the man to break the jinx and bring the title back to the football-loving community of Naples. The community had been craving this piece of silverware and had to always hold on to the Diego Maradona era for solace while their rivals were fighting for the titles. Respected European football managers like Mazzarri, Benitez, Sarri, and Ancelotti had all tried but unfortunately failed to live up to the dream. Like a code that is hard to crack, Napoli winning the Serie A proved to be an uphill task.

A new look Napoli; the key arrivals and departures

Spalletti took in the challenge with several star players having left and more still joining other clubs. Some key departures included Koulibaly, Fabian Ruiz, Arkadiusz Milik, Ounas, Ospina, Mertens, and former captain Lorenzo Insigne. This was a breed of exciting players who only managed a 2nd place finish. The arrivals included little-known players like Victor Osimhen, Kim Min Jae, Zambo Anguissa, Khvicha Khvaratskhelia, and Raspadori. Spalletti has made the players rise from grace to the top of the world by offering performances that have seen them rated among the top 5 best European clubs this season.

Kim-Min-Jae, nicknamed ‘the Monster’ celebrates alongside Napoli fans following them winning the Scudetto. The player has been a wall at the back for the Scudetto winners. Photo Credits: Napoli Official

How brilliant individual performances helped Napoli win the Scudetto

Individually some key player performances have stood out this season. These players have been more outstanding than the others and have posted beautiful statistics. Kim Min Jae has won the most number of duels in the league. With goalkeeper Meret also playing his role, they have amassed 16 Serie A clean sheets. Midfielder Zielinski has contributed massively to the goals by scoring three and assisting seven. Forward Khvicha, from the little-known Dinamo Batumi, has scored ten goals and assisted 12 in an impressive campaign. Nigerian attacker Victor Osimhen has also shown prowess and scored 22 goals for the club while leading the Serie A golden boot race. 

All these performances have contributed to a satisfying season for Napoli, who aim to go for the Champions League next season. The Naples will buzz with energy as they now believe again that they can make themselves the footballing powerhouse they once were. Naples is breathing fine football, and rightfully so.

Crunch UEFA Women’s Champions League finals on the card

FC Barcelona women are set to go head to head with Wolfsburg women in the UEFA Women's Champions League finals

A crunch of UEFA Women’s Champions League finals is on the cards as FC Barcelona women will be taking on Wolfsburg women. Both clubs aim to impress Eindhoven and take the trophy from record holders Olympique Lyon women. The two clubs are familiar with the competition’s finals, with Wolfsburg being a two-time winner and Barcelona being a one-time winner.

The exhilarating semi-finals

The exciting semi-finals pitted the Spanish and German giants against two of the finest English clubs. While FC Barcelona was facing Chelsea women in their semi-finals clash, Wolfsburg had to take on a resilient Arsenal aiming for their second women’s European title. 

The first leg of the FC Barcelona women’s clashes ended in a 1-0 win in favor of the Catalan women, with Caroline Hansen scoring the lone goal. Hansen scored again in the second leg to put Barcelona in front before Guro Reiten equalized for the Blues. Despite eliminating the title holders, Olympique Lyon women, Chelsea had to bow out of the competition on an inferior goal difference.

FC Barcelona Women will be battling it out with Wolfsburg Women in the UEFA Women's Champions League finals for the trophy.
The much coveted UEFA Women’s Champions League trophy. FC Barcelona Women will be battling it out with Wolfsburg Women in the finals for the trophy. Photo Credits: UEFA Women’s Champions League

The other semi-finals recorded a first-leg draw at the Volkswagen Arena in Germany, with each club scoring two goals. Pador and Jonsdottir scored for Wolfsburg, while Souza and Blackstenius scored for Arsenal. The second leg at the sold-out Emirates stadium was one to remember, with 5 goals shared between the two clubs. Blackstenius scored first for the Gunner ladies before Roord and Popp scored for the Germans. Beattie equalized for Arsenal before a minute 119 goal dented the hopes of Arsenal adding to their trophy cabinet.

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An exciting Eindhoven final will be a Germany versus Spain affair, with the trophy being acquired from France, who have won 6 of the last 7 editions. 

Previous final performances of the finalists

FC Barcelona won the 2020-21 edition of the Cup after beating Chelsea women by 1 goal to nil in the finals. They have also lost 2 finals to Lyon women. On the other hand, VFL Wolfsburg won the trophy in the consecutive years of 2013 and 2014. They beat Lyon women in 2013 and Tyreso women in 2014. They have also lost 3 finals, all of them to Lyon women, who have always been a force to reckon with in the Cup. 

A UEFA Women’s Champions League final worth your time

This is proving to be a final of veterans and not the first-timers, with the game being predicted as an upcoming cracker. Whoever wins the UEFA Women’s Champions League finals will be adding to another of their European trophies. This is one game to look forward to.  

Ten Hag Is Banking on this Player for the FA Cup Finals

Ten Haag celebrating a past win for United. The Holland national will be looking forward to beat Manchester City to the FA Cup

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag will be banking on Raphael Varane to help his defence when they take on Manchester City in a crunch FA Cup tie in a month. The 3rd of May has been set aside as the D-day for two Manchester giants to battle it out for England’s oldest and arguably their most prestigious domestic cup. 

Manchester City qualified for the finals after dismantling Sheffield United by three goals to nil (3:0) in the semi-finals. On the other hand, Manchester United had to win the penalty shootout against Brighton and Hove Albion to qualify for their second domestic finals this season. The defensive pairing of Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw had to be utilised during the game. Both first-choice defenders, Varane and Lisandro Martinez were out injured.

Raphael Varane celebrating Manchester United’s past win against Manchester City in the Premier League. Manchester United won 2:1 in the game. The two will face each other in the FA Cup finals. Photo Credits: Manchester United

An injured Manchester United back line: Raphael Varane and co.

Raphael Varane got injured in the Europa League first-leg clash with Sevilla and was pulled out at halftime with United leading by two goals. Harry Maguire stepped in but had an error-filled game culminating in an unfortunate goal. In the second leg, Harry Maguire was again on the receiving end, making a mistake that gifted Sevilla a goal. United lost the game, with Maguire failing to fill in the shoes of the absent French national.

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The seemingly impenetrable pairing of Shaw and Lindelof

Lindelof and an improvised Luke Shaw have been impressive in the centre-back position keeping two clean sheets in three games. However, Erik Ten Hag knows how lethal the Manchester City attack is and will need Varane back for the game. The World cup winning defender was present when the Red Devils beat Manchester City 2-1 at Old Trafford. He played a crucial role in taming Erling Haaland, who did not manage a single shot on target for the entire game.

Cityzen’s great run of form

Currently, Manchester City are in good form and it will need a confident Manchester United to stop their ambition of completing a domestic treble with the premier league in their sights. With Lisandro Martinez set to be sidelined for the remainder of the season, Varane will be needed at the club. He is being treated and assessed by the physios at the Carrington to see how soon he might return to the squad.