- Dirty Sanchez: Wenger set to lose another Weapon from his Arsenal?
- Ibriana Jones: Red Devils of the Lost Ark!
- Chelsea set to win Title at a Kante!
- Leicester face tough choices as losses compile
- The Year of the Roo-ster!
- Marvel at the latest Craven Cottage arrival: Fulham Sign Thanos!
- Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record is a rare piece of Manchester United history. Take notice.
- MOTD: Ibrahimovic salvages United point against Liverpool
- The Crystal (Palace) Maze!
- Glory Days for Andre Gray!
Bay Bay, Arsenal! Gunners pipped against Mighty Munich again!
Arsenal appear doomed to exit the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage yet again, having been drawn against one of Europe’s heavyweights despite winning their group for the first time in five years. It seemed almost inevitable that the Gunners were going to get a tough test in the first knockout round again after manager Arsene Wenger proclaimed he feels “less guilt” when the North London side top their group and still face tricky opposition. This time it is another familiar foe in the form of German giants Bayern Munich, who finished second behind Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the groups. Domestically, Munich are in a battle at the top of the Bundesliga with newly promoted RB Leipzig (whom they meet on Wednesday week), while Atletico are having an underwhelming league season, currently down in sixth position on twenty-five points after fifteen games. Finalists of Europe’s top club tournament in May, Atleti trail city rivals and eleven time UCL winners Real Madrid by twelve points in La Liga.
A Lucas Perez hat-trick helped Arsenal defeat Basel 4-1 last week in Switzerland to top their European table for the first time in five years, but they will now need to overcome Bayern over two legs in February 2017 to break their recent round of 16 exit hoodoo. But, if the Gunners had finished second – like Paris St-Germain eventually did on match day six – they would have been drawn against Barcelona. So, it was a lose-lose situation for Wenger’s men, although the Londoners do need to beat the best to be the best in this competition. They have lost to AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Monaco and Barcelona during this decade alone, with their only final appearance coming more than ten years ago in 2006. In all competitions, Arsenal had only suffered loss twice – both at home – 2-0 to Southampton in the EFL Cup quarter-finals and a 4-3 reverse on the opening weekend of the season to Liverpool. But, after yesterday’s tight loss to Everton, Manchester City are next up on Sunday as the holiday schedule continues to build momentum, after which the club will kick off their FA Cup campaign in early January away to Championship club Preston North End.
The Gunners have been knocked out by Bayern the past three times they met in the knockout stage, so will need to overcome that record this time around to progress any further than have over the last few years. Carlo Ancelotti’s men seem an easier prospect for the in-form North Londoners than on previous occasions, as the German side’s performances in Europe have not been as dominant so far as they once were. Unlike talent show champion Matt Terry (no relation to Chelsea’s John!), Munich do not seem to have the X Factor they commanded under Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola. Arsenal also have the firepower to hurt a backline containing Jerome Boateng, especially with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil on fire. Although if there is one Pole you can still trust in 2016, it is Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who can bang in the goals for Bayern, with nineteen strikes in twenty-two appearances. It could be ‘Bay Bay’ to Arsenal’s Champions League hopes for another campaign after this draw, or an opportunity for the Gunners ‘to do an Adele’ and say ‘Hello’ to success over a European great to finally make the last eight after a long wait!
Full Last 16 UCL Draw and Richard Lewis’ Round of 16 Predictions:
Manchester City v Monaco: Richard Lewis predicts a Man City victory
Real Madrid v Napoli: Richard Lewis projects a Real Madrid triumph
Benfica v Borussia Dortmund: Richard Lewis forecasts a Borussia Dortmund win
Bayern Munich v Arsenal: Richard Lewis foresees a Bayern Munich progression
FC Porto v Juventus: Richard Lewis presumes a Juventus victory
Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid: Richard Lewis anticipates an Atletico Madrid win
Paris St-Germain v Barcelona: Richard Lewis excepts a Barcelona triumph
Sevilla v Leicester City: Richard Lewis foretells a Sevilla success
Ronald’Or makes it Four!
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo overcame fierce Argentine rival Lionel Messi to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award for the fourth time. Four Ballon d’Or titles to his world renowned name makes you think they will be calling him ‘Cristiano Ronald’Or’ sooner or later. The 31-year-old former Manchester United hero is now only one behind Barcelona’s main man Messi, who took the honor for a fifth time last time out. Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann finished third in the final vote, after topping the scoring charts with six at his home country’s Euros. Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win last season’s Champions League on penalties and scored three goals as Portugal won Euro 2016 in the summer.
The underwear displaying CR7 has now managed to win the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016, with majestic Messi the only other recipient of the award during that period since winning it for the first time in 2009. After this glittering year, the tagline for the Portuguese superstar could now be ‘Ronaldo: The Man, The Moth, The Legend’. Meanwhile, Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez was anointed as the BBC African Footballer of the Year 2016 on the same day as Ronaldo’s Golden trophy was prized out in France (he was actually in Japan for the Club World Cup) – it looks like baby Jesus is not the only one to get gold at Christmas! Also, Ronaldo does deliver more than Santa Claus. You could say both Ronaldo and Mahrez are in ‘La La Land’ tonight after the musical movie was also nominated for seven Golden Globes.