I’M NEVER GOING TO GDANSK AGAIN; WHAT NEXT FOR THE GUNNERS?

I’M NEVER GOING TO GDANSK AGAIN; WHAT NEXT FOR THE GUNNERS?

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The Iconic George Micheal song entitled “I’m never going to dance again” has been used to troll English Premier League and former football giants Arsenal as they crashed out of the UEFA Europa League semi-final after an embarrassing performance against Spanish side Villarreal. The final will take place on the 26th of May 2021, in Gdansk, Poland.

In the first leg, Arsenal was reduced to 10 men, as were their opponents, after Dani Ceballos was sent off for the Gunners. They lost that game 2-1 but had that crucial away goal. Needing just one goal, Arsenal floundered by hitting the woodwork three times and having a couple of shots on target, despite having 56% possession of the ball. Villarreal set up with a defensive organization and there was tidiness of the tackling.

This was a hard pill to swallow for the North Londoners as they sit 9th in the league, all but out of the European qualification positions (1st to 7th), which means no extra revenue/exposure for the team. It may be a blessing in disguise, however, with fewer games to be played for the next season.

It has not been the best of time for Arsenal as they were eliminated by Southampton, meaning there would be a new champion as they were knocked out. They also lost to Burnley at home for the first time in over 40 years. They have also been in a bad light as they were a “founding club” of the failed attempt of a Super League, which brought up anguish from their supporters who now want the owner (Stan Kroenke) to sell the club.

All fans are united on the fact of removing the owner, but some fans also want the coach, Mikel Arteta, to be fired/sacked as well. The 39-year-old Spaniard has a 50% win rate at the club in his roughly 15 months in charge, compared to his predecessors, Unai Emery (55.1% ) and the great Arsene Wenger (57.5% ).

Another stat that is worrying is that since he took over (Dec. 22, 2019) no team has accumulated more Red Cards (9) than any other team.

Seeing this season as a write-off, how will they cope next season? Will Arteta still be in charge? Will the Kroenke’s accept Daniel Ek’s bid? I think Arteta will be given until December next season, but you can’t take things for granted. “I’m never going to Gdansk again, guilty feet have got no rhythm, though it’s easy to pretend, I know you’re not a fool.”

Ross Kennerley

DRAFT CLASS 2021

DRAFT CLASS 2021

With the 2021 NFL draft scheduled for Thursday, April 29, 2021, we look ahead to pick who would fit best at which team for the upcoming 2021/2022 NFL season. Now, everybody is waiting to hear commissioner Roger Goodell say the words “with the first pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select……” and we expect it to be Clemson QB, Trevor Lawrence. The six-foot-six-inch strong arm is almost undoubtedly going to be Urban Meyer’s first-ever pick in the NFL draft after being hired by the Jaguars earlier this year.

Seeing as the top 3 picks (Jacksonville, New York Jets, and San Francisco) in the draft are most likely going to be selecting Quarterbacks. Jacksonville is planning to find their head of a new franchise in QB Lawrence. The Jets traded both Joe Flacco and Sam Darnold so a QB would be the smartest bet. Remember the 49ers, who were one pass (overthrown to Emanuel Sanders) away from being Super Bowl Champions in 2019 with Jimmy Garoppolo, who they might be planning to succeed with trading up to number three to show their intention. Atlanta and Cincinnati round out the top 5, with the best-case scenario for Atlanta is to draft Matt Ryan’s successor seeing as the former MVP is 39 years old and is showing evidence of a decline. Cincinnati, fondly called the Bengals, don’t have a QB issue. Joe Burrow, last year’s number one overall pick ended his season abruptly with a torn ACL will be looking to pick up where he left off, and the Bengals can help by getting him some protection in the offensive line.

Some teams will be showing more of an ambition between now and draft night to try and move up the order. For example, New England may have re-signed Cam Newton, but 6-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Belichick may trade up with a team in the top 10 o try and get a QB who isn’t based on legs. Rumors are they might trade with Dallas to get the number 10 pick to draft possibly Justin Fields of Ohio State or Trey Lance of North Dakota. Either way, this year’s draft will be filled with ecstasy and excitement. Will teams get their desired targets, or will they be swept off the board early? Who will cry with joy, and who will cry with disappointment? The NFL draft will be live at 8 pm on Thursday the 29th of April on NFL Network, ABC, and ESPN.

Players to watch
Devonta Smith (WR)
Kyle Pitts (TE)
Jaycee Horn (CB)
Mac Jones (QB)

THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE WILL END FOOTBALL

THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE WILL END FOOTBALL

As I begin this I would like to say Rest In Peace to what was the glorious game after being murdered on April 18, 2021. It had a great run with some fantastic moments such as Liverpool in Athens, Aberdeen winning the European Cup, Kaka’s solo goal against Man United and the illustrious phrase “and Solskjaer has won it” in the historic treble winning Man United team in 1999. Seeing that the billionaires of the world wan to centralize all the money flowing throughout Europe.

I am very disgusted, saddened and angry when the news was announce last evening. The European Super League has 12 founding members with three other teams set to be included. The twelve founders as of April 19, 2021, are Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, with German clubs Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig rejecting the chance to be involved.

Looking at the structure, there will be two groups of 10 teams, with the top four from each side going to a somewhat “knockout” competition for the trophy. I have news for you, we have a competition like that: it’s called the champions league. What these teams are doing is making certain teams remain in a competition for every year. This is unfair to the rest of the footballing world and upcoming teams.

Look at the teams in the competition as well! Arsenal!?! Really?!? Arsenal haven’t been good since 2017 and are currently 9th in the Premier League, only because Leeds and Aston Villa haven’t played their respective games as well. Tottenham were eliminated from the Europa League by Croatian team Zagreb and sit 7th in the league. Juventus are 5th in the Italian Serie A and are atrocious as a football team. Four of the “founding clubs” have never won the Champions League/European Super Cup, but are considered super teams because of money.

Also, the greed involved in this was obvious. Each team will get a “bonus” of between 200-300 million Euros, and receive 400 million Euros each year for competing. A league with no relegation is basically the MLB, NBA or NFL. I’m not saying that those leagues are bad, but with the concept of relegation and promotion it adds a level of excitement to the season. As Sky Sports pundit says “It’s a joke!” Former coach of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson said “It’s a load of Nonsense.”

It will end football because with the popularity and revenue that these teams bring, it would mean that sponsorship deals would decrease. Now they have stated that at least 450 million pounds to the pyramid, which is double what UEFA give to the league pyramids, but that was sustainable with TV rights and sponsorship deals. In 2009, Arsene Wenger, former coach of Arsenal stated that a super league might be formed within 10 years (2019) because of what he was hearing behind the scenes. Coincidentally, Wenger was fired a year before the supposed inauguration and it was shot down by those in high positions.

My view on this is that all those teams are scared. They are afraid of the Leicester City’s, the West Ham United’s, Everton, Real Betis, Atalanta, etc. who are generally better than at-least 7 of the teams in the new league. On the other hand, I am happy with the response from UEFA as the President Aleksander Ceferin has banned the teams from their domestic league and UEFA competitions. They have also banned players from competing for the countries on the world stage for their country.

Ed Woodward is the scum at the heart of all of this. The former investment banker and Manchester United’s Vice-Executive chairman was the one who ran the deals through all the sponsorship and the deals. He contracted JP Morgan, his former employers, to fund the competition. It is with a sad heart that I relinquish my position as fan of Manchester United. I have friends who support the club and have also relinquished their position and those who support other top clubs who have denounced the league and have supporting others. Florentino Perez, Ed Woodward, Joel Glazer and Andre Agnelli. The snakes of the world.

JOEL EMBIID OR DAMIAN LILLARDWHO SHOULD BE THE MVP?

JOEL EMBIID OR DAMIAN LILLARDWHO SHOULD BE THE MVP?

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Arguably the best Centre in the league, Joel Embiid is one of the leading contenders for the MVP of the league. In his 5th year he has never looked as aggressive, or as controlled as he is now. This is the player we all knew would be seen one day, and he has finally come to fruition. He is having a career year averaging 29.6 points per game including 36 in his last game, in only 26 MINUTES. He is shooting 52% from the field, another career high, shooting 38% from the three-point line, close to 11 rebounds per game and a steal a game.

The former 3rd round pick is dominating the league from the centre position and is second favorite odds on to win the MVP award at +450, behind only Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets (-250), as per draft kings. The 7 foot tall Cameroonian has the Philadelphia 76ers in pole position in the Eastern Conference at 37-17, half a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets who have won a game less. Being one of the best players in the league, if he can keep up the career season he is having and fighting the injuries that plague him so, the MVP award might be easily nailed on.

Others in the race behind are last seasons MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (+1200), and even Damian Lillard (+1600). In my opinion, Lillard should be at the top of the discussions for the prestigious award. He is averaging just under 29 points per game in the fifty-one games he’s played this season. Rookie of the Year in 2012 for the number 6 overall pick in that years draft, the 30 year old is very important to the Portland Trail Blazers since he has been drafted including that clutch last second 30 footer against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 playoffs.

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He has been effectively the leader and the go-to guy for the Trail Blazers in his 8 years in the league, and has been overlooked and under appreciated by the league and its analysts. The 6 foot 2 inch point guard might not have the most audacious statistics to his name, but with the “clutch gene” he has led this team through thick and thin, even during a period when there were only 11 fit players.

For me Lillard and Embiid are two of the best and most consistent players in the league, with all types of skills in their locker. “Jojo” is marginally a better player because of his defensive stature compared to the NBA star/rapper Lillard. With all things in consideration, I do think those two players should be within the top 5, or even 3 at the end of the season: Lets see.

Take me out to the ball game cause it’s OPENING DAY!

Take me out to the ball game cause it’s OPENING DAY!

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As we all brace ourselves for the commencement of a new baseball season, we will be hoping it goes better than last season, which was interrupted in its short time by COVID-19. Last season didn’t have the 162 games to accommodate the health and safety protocols, so we’re all hoping for a better time this year round.

With an ever-present financial constraint brought on by the pandemic, it shows in how the way people are being paid in terms of years. Gerrit Cole will earn a MLB pitcher record $324 million over a staggering NINE years being signed by the New York Yankees. Francisco Lindor signed a deal with the New York Mets on Wednesday lasting TEN years and will earn $341 million. The organizations are spreading the money out to accommodate for the financial difficulties they have to work through.

Those are just some of the monumental long term deals that have been made in Major League Baseball during the global pandemic. So, who are the favorites? Vegas has the defending champions Los Angeles Dodgers as favorites at 7/2 odds onto win the 2021 World Series. Second best odds are the New York Yankees at 11/2, with the Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres at 9/1 odds on. As a Yankees fan myself I would take that bet and just mark the calendar for the day of the World Series. The new season begins today April 1, 2021at 1:00 pm est so lets get ready to PLAY BALL!

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