Week of woe looms large for Arsenal

first_imgLONDON (AP):Out of the Champions League. Out of the FA Cup. Out of the Premier League title race?A miserable week for Arsenal would be capped on Saturday if the team fails to beat Everton.The Premier League trophy, which the Gunners haven’t won since 2004, will become increasingly unobtainable if their three-game winless league run continues.At the start of the year, Arsenal were two points in front of Leicester in first place and in contention for three trophies.Three months later, Arsenal trail Leicester by 11 points and are sitting third. Arsenal’s FA Cup defence was surprisingly ended by Watford on Sunday, before Barcelona beat the Gunners in the Champions League.As so often, barring a collapse by Leicester, Arsenal’s season could come down to securing a top-four place and Champions League qualification. That’s not enough for some Arsenal fans, who expect more from their wealthy team.But as Everton manager Roberto Martinez prepares to host counterpart Arsene Wenger, he is amazed that a vocal section of Arsenal fans is calling for the Frenchman to leave after 20 years in charge.RUTHLESS GAME”It seems it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in a football club, how you’ve built it or if you’ve been the best manager in the last 20 years in European football, the modern game is ruthless,” Martinez said yesterday. “On the back of a defeat, you are going to get criticised. Everyone has gotan opinion, everyone knows better than you and that’s disappointing.”Martinez was playing for Wigan when Wenger took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and two years later led them to the first of three Premier League titles.”The management that he brought into the British game has changed British football,” said Martinez, who has also coached Swansea and Wigan. “What he has achieved at Arsenal is a model that many, many football people have been inspired by. The short-term situation of one or two results sometimes overshadows the incredible work over the years.DON’T PUSH ASIDE”The style that Arsene Wenger represents shouldn’t just be put aside. It’s just a reflection of the modern times when we are easily led to criticise a manager who has done incredible things in the game.”Arsenal will be hoping Tottenham slip up at home to Bournemouth, given that their London rivals are six points ahead and have played a game more.Leicester, who are five points ahead of Tottenham, face a Crystal Palace team which has dropped from sixth in December to 15th by winning only one in 16 games.last_img read more

Laurie Foster: Treat Taylor with kids’ gloves

first_img Gateway to greater achievement The mere thought is disturbing, as it ignores crucial elite competition, which is a gateway to greater achievement. One can recall when the great coach, Glen Mills, took over the reins of the current phenom, Usain Bolt. He pulled him from junior activity as his performances informed that he was way past that level. For those who would replicate that type of action, be reminded that Bolt was then 18 years old and had behind him the exposure and experience of four World level events, including the 2004 Athens Olympics. Taylor, in comparison and in that context, is still a mere toddler at age 16. A respected sports analyst with panoramic insight, Earl Bailey, has a well-rehearsed mantra: “If you are good enough, you are old enough.” Sorry, ‘Bald Eagle’, not going with you on this one. History will recall times in the past when a brilliant overperformer was thrown to the wolves to disastrous effect. Although available sources are silent on the matter, this columnist remembers a situation back in 2004. Vere Technical standout, Simone Facey, blasted all in her path to a Champs 200m win in the staggering time of 22.71. The field included Anneisha McLaughlin from the camp of arch-rivals Holmwood Technical, who was the World Junior silver medallist from two years prior. Facey’s eyes and heart were firmly set on the sprint double at the Grossetto World Juniors, only a few months away. But her handlers wanted more. With the traditional top six guaranteed a seat on the flight to the Athens Olympics in that August, she was entered in the trials to run with the big girls. Suffice to say that a resultant injury made it her last race of the season. Foster’s Fairplay, to satisfy the ‘Taylor for Rio’ lobby, will say this: Put him in the junior trials. Say he runs sub-45 in the final. Given that such a performance has him in the top seven at both junior and senior levels, then include him on the Olympics relay squad. Precedence has been established, especially where there are medal prospects. Just being there should do him a world of good. [email protected] Social media is currently awash with talk of Christopher Taylor. The Calabar High School World Youth champion, with last year’s 45.27 over the 400m, is being hailed as the next great campaigner over the one-lap distance. This, despite his slender body structure, as against the traditional towers who continue to dominate the event. To counter that thought, one could argue that the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin dos Santos is making strides, but in terms of size, he too, cannot be seen as the quarter-mile stereotype. Taylor’s 4x400m relay anchor leg success of Kingston College’s Akeem Bloomfield (another giant) – with more physical development expected – has opened up other possibilities. The still-talked-about feat has catapulted the youngster into Rio Olympics territory. To facilitate that, the suggestion is that coach Michael Clarke should send him to the senior trials to contest with the big men, jostling for a place on that team. There have been ayes and nays as the point has received active consideration from many sides. Arguments in support of the former position are time-centric. His personal best from 2015, with the extra preparation and competition leading up, could improve to a 44+ clocking. In good or bad times, that ought to be sufficient for top six and an automatic booking for Rio. The naysayers acutely aware of the awesome talent come with a wider range of reasons. These all point to letting this one pass; “Give him more time to mature”, “maybe a year until the 2017 London World Championships”, they say. Some even, given a rugged road to and during Champs, cite what is itself a burnt-out word, that of ‘burnout’. To remind, he was exposed to the 200m, 400m and both 4x100m and 4x400m relays, significantly enhancing the Calabar victory cause by winning all four. Foster’s Fairplay has sympathy, with the ‘spare him’ sentiment. What strengthens the view is that several of the persons airing their opinion, whether deliberately or not, make no mention of Taylor’s likely participation in the July World Junior Championships. This would be the traditional and natural stepping stone to the senior global level, having conquered the Youth best in 2015.last_img read more