Arsenal managed to keep their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stages alive after a 2-1 comeback victory over Belgian club Anderlecht. The Premier League outfit were trailing 1-0 going into the final 10 minutes of the match. Anderlecht were not given much hope of beating Arsenal prior to the match, but a goal from Najar in the 71st minute change the whole complexion of the match. Suddenly, the underdogs were given something to hold on and it looked like they would get a highly unlikely victory, which would also boost their chances of reaching the next stage.
Arsene Wenger’s team had suffered defeats in the away match against Borussia Dortmund. The 4-1 win over Galatasaray in the previous round gave them hope of maintaining their distance away from the third placed team. Arsenal were indeed coming into the match on a poor run of form that had seen them drop four points in the league from the last two matches. Despite this, they showed incredible resilience in the final 10 minutes to get all three points. Defender Kieran Gibbs provided the unlikely equaliser just a minute before injury time, while forgotten man Lukas Podolski came up with the winner a few minutes later.
After the match, Wenger admitted that using six attacking players in the closing stages was a gamble that one that paid off. “I know by experience that the nerves play a part in the last five minutes in the Champions League. And that we had to get into those five minutes without conceding the second goal. If they had scored the second goal, it was game over. I had hope. It didn’t look likely but it happened. We took all the risks and, in the end, it paid off. It’s a little bit of a gambling situation that happens in this kind of game and it worked tonight,” said Wenger.
Southampton continued their fine start to the season after a 1-0 win over Stoke City that helped them to move into second place. Manchester city’s defeat earlier in the day meant that Southampton came into their home encounter against Stoke with a real possibility to go second in the table. They also had the chance to move within three points of table leaders Chelsea with Jose Mourinho’s men not taking to the field until Sunday. Even with such a pressure on their shoulders, Southampton managed to ride above the expectations and get three points.
The win against Stoke, though, was in sharp contrast to last week’s 8-0 win over Sunderland. Manager Ronald Koeman has said that such huge margins of victory are clearly not possible to achieve every week even when the opposition are not at their best. He said that Southampton were fully deserving of the three points after they created more than five great opportunities during the 90 minutes. The real test for Southampton will come in the next few weeks, as Stoke do not represent the cream of the Premier League. Mark Hughes’ team have been highly inconsistent this campaign, although they have done well enough to keep themselves out of relegation trouble.
“It was difficult because we didn’t kill the game. We created eight good chances and you know if you don’t score the second one it’s difficult. Stoke put everything in, changed the system after an hour and with the physical strength that they have it was difficult. Football is strange because the first half was much better than last week. I think it was one of the best first halves of the season. In the second half we lost sometimes too easy our position,” said the Southampton manager. Southampton are once again up against Stoke in the next match, but this time in the League Cup.
Sunderland parted with a substantial amount of money in order to get Chelsea defender Patrick van Aanholt during the summer. The 23-year-old Dutchman had failed to secure a regular first-team spot at Chelsea. Despite having been at Chelsea since 2007 at various forms of playing levels, he had made only two Premier League appearances for the West London outfit. He has been on loan at various clubs like Coventry City, Newcastle United, Leicester City, and Wigan Athletic during this period. However, his loan spell with Vitesse Arnhem last season has been the most productive.
He made 34 appearances and scored five goals in all competitions for the Dutch outfit and this earned him a place in the professional 30 man squad for the World Cup 2014. Even though he did not make it into the final squad chosen by the Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, this has been seen as a remarkable improvement by the 23-year-old. However, Chelsea decided not to keep him for much longer and sold him to Sunderland for an undisclosed transfer fee. Since joining the north-east outfit, the defender has had a mixed time. Even though he has featured in most of the matches, he was at fault for a few goals scored by the opposition.
Manager Gus Poyet has said that he is a player who needs time to settle at the club. “There’s things he needs to do all the time and that’s the mentality we create in training. In one training session a week ago, I stopped it because of Patrick and said ‘here, every day, every single ball, whether you are ill or not’. He needs to get into that mentality and it takes time. Some people get it in two days, some take three months,” said the Sunderland boss, whose team were defeated 1-0 at QPR last weekend.
Trevor Francis has claimed that Liverpool need to bring in at least one £ 30 million striker before the end of this transfer window if they are to challenge for the Premier league title. Liverpool recently brought in Ricki Lambert for around £ 4 million, as the replacement for Luis Suarez. The Uruguay striker was sold to Barcelona for £ 75 million. He was the club’s top scorer in the league last season after getting 31, which was one of the best in Europe top five leagues. This is despite the fact that he missed the first few matches of last season due to a suspension.
It is clear that replacing a player of Suarez’ ability will not be easy, but Francis says that Lambert was not in the ideal signing that the club should have signed. The former Southampton man has struggled to impress during pre-season and Francis says that the style of play at Liverpool does not seem to suit the 32-year-old. Prior to the move, Lambert was one of the reasons for Southampton staying in the league. His impressive form also led to the World Cup 2014 call-up, although the striker failed to impress in Brazil.
Francis says that Liverpool should consider signing a top-class centre forward rather than look for bargains signings.
“He would have expected more from Lambert. He will try and gloss over it in the best way possible because he wants to keep his confidence high, but this is a player who at the moment is struggling. I’ve watched him in three or four games and in one game he was taken off at half-time and today he struggled throughout. He didn’t look comfortable playing in those surroundings. He is desperate for a goal,” said the pundit after seeing Lambert in the first few pre-season matches.