The words of a gutted David Luiz on Wednesday shortly after an ignominious display at the Etihad “It’s not the team’s fault, it was my fault“. Luiz was seen getting ready on the touchline when his compatriot, Pablo Mari was injured in the 24th minute. But he would never have dreamt or thought of having such a frustrating display before stepping on to the Etihad turf.
The fact that Arsenal collectively was not closer to the kind of quality the Cityzens brought to the game was ignored completely and Luiz was held responsible by the fans of the club for the loss. While Luiz would live to remember this unimpressive performance until whenever.
This goes to show that what some of the most revered football managers have tried to correct about Luiz is sadly hasn’t been corrected at least for now. And this complexity has made Luiz one of the most enigmatic players in the Premier League but his comments after the match showed how remorseful he was with the display.
Going down memory lane, one would discover that Arsenal has recorded huge success throughout their years in the English Premier League but much of that success has been tied to their steady flow of top-class defenders.
The club was founded in 1886 but didn’t parade the finest of talents until after many years of establishment. But through the evolution of the game and the few success the North Londoners recorded at that time, many of Arsenal‘s greatest players emerged. But how the narrative suddenly changed in the 2000s is a “mystery” to many pundits and it has become an aspect of worry for every fan of Arsenal.
When Kevin De Bruyne’s pass skimmed off Luiz’s thigh into Raheem Sterling’s path on Wednesday night, you could almost hear the collective groan from North London, expressing their disappointments in the Brazilian and also reminiscing on the amazing displays they’ve enjoyed from the likes of Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell et all.
Another truth that the Gunners faithful cannot shy from is that David Luiz on his day can be a hard defender to contend with and can also dictate the pace at which the game will be played right from the heart of the defense, his spells at PSG and Chelsea is an attestation to that.
But the rate at which he and his colleagues at Arsenal are prone to errors is alarming and must be attended to.
The Arsenal fans shouldn’t forget so quickly that there were times they’ve endured watching worst defenders than Luiz, yet heaven didn’t fall. For a fact, many other defenders cost Arsenal more than David Luiz has done since joining the club in less than a year now.
For example, A certain Mikael Silvestre who joined Arsenal from Manchester United had a calamitous stint with Arsenal. Almost from the day at the gates of the Emirates Stadium from Old Trafford, Mikael Silvestre was a disaster.
Silvestre was a big liability in the Arsenal defense. His positional sense was abysmal, and every time he was forced to face threats from opponents, Arsenal fans would cringe at the thought of attackers exploiting the defender’s weaknesses. He was later released on a free transfer after numerous hideous displays.
Another defender that had a shoddy campaign at Arsenal was Sebastian Squillaci. The Frenchman was signed by Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2010. But all that people expected and wanted, and what ensued at the back can only be described as a defensive debacle.
So, using the Nigerian phrase, “nor be today” meaning it doesn’t start today, Arsenal’s defensive woes didn’t just start last Wednesday. It’s not that Arsenal fans should get used to the errors from the defenders, but there are ways to go about avoiding such errors from these defenders in subsequent matches.
Arsenal Defense Woes? What To Do
There’s certainly a way out of every problem, It’s not the fault of David Luiz that Arsenal are in this precarious situation they’ve found themselves.
The defense of a team becomes vulnerable when the midfield lacks coordination and stability, it then collapses and leaves the defenders at the mercy of the attackers from the opposition.
Arsenal collectively must try to avoid the kind of unfortunate statistic that emerged during the defeat by Pep Guardiola’s team, where Luiz became the first player to be sent off, concede a penalty, and commit an error leading to an opposition goal in a Premier League match.
The last player to do that was Carl Jenkinson while playing for West Ham against Bournemouth almost five years ago. That for sure won’t have helped the Brazilian’s mood but it might’ve come as a result of frustrations he was having during the match against City.
Because there’s a reason Luiz, at 33, has won 19 major club trophies and amassed 56 caps for Brazil. He therefore cannot suddenly become a useless defender in less than a year after leaving Chelsea. Something’s wrong with the Arsenal team as a whole.
What Arteta must first do is that Luiz must be backed and be given every support he needs during this period. The first few matches of Arsenal under Arteta has shown that he fancies the Brazilian international and can work with him for years. Thereafter, Luiz’s transfer issue that has been dragged must first be put to rest.
When there’s a certainty that the Brazilian will stay beyond this season at the club, he then has his mind at rest and will also focus on other areas.
Having a solid defense also depends on the kind of pairings a manager is making. David Luiz technically seems as though the creme de la creme of Arsenal Defenders. Hence the need to figure out the perfect tactic and a partner that will suit his style because it will be illogical and detrimental to pair David Luiz with an inconsistent and unreliable Xkodran Mustafi.
Only the aged Sokratis and the new Pablo Mari who hasn’t really shown what stuff he’s made of stands a chance of forming this formidable partnership with Luiz – maybe by then, the much-needed flow of consistency and resilience will be brought back to the Arsenal defense.
In addition, no man would dare retire on a journey when he hasn’t reached his destination, Arsenal may just need to bring in another defender to complement the efforts of the ones on the ground, but in doing this, some tired legs must be released too.
And finally, someone or something needs to spur the entire Arsenal squad and make them competitive again. The team lacks confidence, fighting spirit, and consistency. Not necessarily a new manager but if the Arsenal hierarchy does not find Arteta capable, opting for a new manager won’t be a bad decision after all; but even at that, the players must be made to realize that there’s a spectacular reason for donning the Gunner’s shirt at every matchday.
2 Potential Manager To Replace Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick awesome reign with the Bavarian giant is gradually winding down, as it’s looking likely that he may not further manage the Die Roten next season.
Bayern Munich’s quest to win the Champions League consecutively came to end on Tuesday night, via the UEFA’s away goal rules having lost the first leg at home to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals despite being the better side at home.
The Bavarian giant will now focus on league duty and they’re no doubt the team in pole position to win the Bundesliga, as the 2020-21 campaign is gradually coasting home with fewer games left to be played. In that regard, there is a great need for Die Roten to start preparing for next season administration and coaching wise.
The friction relationship between Hansi Flick and the Sports Director has broken down to such as extent that the manager has decided to terminate his current contract.
Hansi Flick sent shock waves through German football on Saturday after a 3-2 win over Wolfburg which keeps the Bavarian in pole position to retain the league title. Hansi Flick issued a statement about his decision to exit when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I told the team today that I informed the club during the week, after the game in Paris, I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the season.
“It was important to me that the team learn this from me because there was already a lot of hallway rumours going around.
“We’ve done a great job together for almost two years. I’m absolutely impressed with this team, their quality and their attitude.”
He added: “I also want to thank the club that gave me the chance to manage this incredible team.
“This decision was not easy for me. I’m a fan of this club. Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all were childhood idols for me.
“I’m eternally grateful to the club for the chance they gave me to become head coach here.”
It’s quite evident that a new manager would be appointed to pave way for a new rebuild of the team especially with the looming departure of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez.
Two potential top managers that could succeed Hansi Flick, should he accept Die Mannschaft managerial position.
- Julien Nagelsmann – (RB Leipzig)
Nagelsmann has been rumoured as a possible replacement to succeed not one but many managers in Europe’s top-flight leagues whose future with their respective clubs are not guaranteed. This time around, the 33-year-old has been rumoured to be one of the possible potential managers to succeed Hansi Flick.
It could be argued that Nagelsmann is the tailor-made manager to take over the reins at the Allianz Arena, and there is no doubt RB Leipzig manager would certainly harbour the dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Nagelsmann is presently focusing on the job at hand with RB Leipzig, plus the fact that he’s still under contract with his employers until the end of the 2022-23 season.
With RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann flying high in the Bundesliga in terms of team performances, with next season European football spot already secured, the club’s Executive Director Oliver Mintzlaff may consider letting him leave to join their rival.
However, it’s left to be seen how things would shape up at the end of the campaign.
READ ALSO: 10 Managers Currently Managing Former Clubs
- Jurgen Klopp – (Liverpool)
The relationship the German tactician has achieved thus far with Liverpool started in 2015 when he joined the Kop from Borussia Dortmund, since then he has achieved quite an incredible success with the Reds winning their first league title after thirty years and a Champions League triumph.
Liverpool were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions and failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it’s quite impossible to say that the Kop will defend their title with their current epileptic form in the Premier League especially when it’s looking done and dusted that the cityzen would clinch the title.
Having used close to six years with Liverpool since he joined the Anfield side, this could be the perfect time for the former Borussia Dortmund manager to take up a new challenge. However, despite Liverpool’s unpalatable 2020-21 campaign, the German has often reiterated that he is in no way finished at Liverpool, despite been link to the Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft managerial position.
Given his incredible success with BVB, it’s quite evident that he would one day go on to manage either Die Roten or Die Mannschaft. Should Bayern secure the service of Klopp, he would certainly be the right and wise choice for the Bavarian giant.
At the end of the campaign, there would be a breath of fresh air in the Bavarian giant camp, with the new CEO Oliver Kahn taking the mantle of leadership from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In that sense, it’s left to be seen if the incoming leader would sanction the appointment of a new manager or stick with Hansi Flick. Only time would tell.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.