Football news - The Warm-Up: Arsenal can't defend, Morata can't score, Spurs can't build a stadium
It's a Europa League special as... wait. Where are you going? Don't go! Lots of interesting things happened in this brilliant competition!
FRIDAY'S BIG HEADLINES
Arsenal still can't defend
Once one of the most laughable brands in Europe, Skoda's path back to respectability was prompted by the Velvet Revolution - the non-violent transferral of power in 1989 which moved Czechoslovakia away from a one-party state. New investment was welcomed. Volkswagen took a stake in 1991, but it wasn't for a decade or so that the brand's reputation for producing creaking Communist-era rust buckets was really transformed, and people realised they were actually building pretty decent cars now.
The point, buried somewhere in an opening paragraph as clunky as anything Skoda sent scooting round the streets of Prague in the 1970s, is that change can be slow. Rebranding exercises are lengthy projects and sometimes institutions, or companies, cling to their less desirable attributes for longer than you might wish. All of which brings us to Arsenal and their pathological love of conceding goals.
They just can't help themselves. Cruising 4-0 up at home to traditional Ukrainian fermented beetroot delicacy Vorskla last night, Unai Emery's side kindly allowed their unheard of opponents to score twice, denying the new boss his first clean sheet at Arsenal. In fact, his six games in charge have seen an average of 4.2 goals per game - Arsenal scoring 14 but conceding 11 too.
There was plenty to admire in attack: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the star of the show with his two goals, as well as hitting the post; Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil also scored; Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi both got assists; emerging talent Emile Smith-Rowe even made a late cameo. And yet, both Aubameyang and Welbeck had to concede in post-match interviews that Arsenal's defending had once again disappointed. Emery too:
" We are speaking before each match to take a mentality of ‘don’t concede chances easily’. I think today is a good opportunity for not accepting goals, but the last 30 minutes, we needed to be better on this competitive aspect. It’s our disappointment today. But I also, with confidence, little by little we are conceding a few chances to the opposition, the same like in Newcastle. But we need to continue to improve on this because in the last minute in Newcastle and again today in the last 20 minutes, we conceded two goals. Our challenge is to be competitive for 90 minutes of each match and this is one thing to improve."
Arsene Wenger's legacy isn't going to be erased that quickly...
Chelsea absolutely batter PAOK 1-0
Alvaro Morata during the matchReuters
If the Emery revolution has proved rather slow to get going, there have been fewer reservations with Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. A 1-0 win over PAOK last night was their sixth out of six in all competitions and showcased the strides they are making under the Italian - particularly in attack, as Chelsea swamped their opponents and enjoyed 22 chances. The only minor problem is that seven of them fell to Alvaro Morata.
It was fortunate Willian got an early goal for Chelsea as Morata, handed a chance at centre-forward, managed to waste a succession of brilliant chances and eventually had to be hooked with nine minutes remaining. His confidence wasn't so much shot to pieces as obliterated in a hail of machine-gun bullets in scenes reminiscent of a particularly bloody Quentin Tarantino set-piece.
Sarri didn't seem particularly warm towards his striker when speaking after the match:
" Alvaro has to gain confidence with one, two, three goals. I am not able to give him confidence. In this match he had three or four opportunities. He was unlucky. I hope for him in the future I can help him. But the confidence can come with goals. Maybe two goals in two matches, I don't know. "
Old Firm on form
Scott Arfield of Rangers celebrates after scoring his sides first goal with his teammates Ryan Kent (L) and Kyle Lafferty during the UEFA Europa League Group G match between Villarreal CF and Rangers at Estadio de la Ceramica on September 20, 2018 in VillGetty Images
Completing a fine night's work for the British clubs in Europe's most reviled continental cup format, the two Glasgow giants picked up good results too.
Celtic defeated Rosenborg - who, fact fans, they already beaten 3-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round of the Champions League this season, before both clubs tumbled into the Europa League - courtesy of an 87th-minute effort from Leigh Griffiths.
Even more impressive was Rangers' 2-2 draw away from home against Villarreal. Steven Gerrard knows a thing or two about dramatic European comebacks and Rangers had to twice fight back from a goal down to take a point, Scott Arfield and Kyle Lafferty scoring on 67 and 76 minutes respectively.
Also of note: an assist for Santi Cazorla 2.0.
IN OTHER NEWS
This is a decent hit:
The Warm-Up isn't sure how much additional context you need for this clip:
" 'I’ve not worked on a site like that in a long, long time,' one source says, claiming: 'There were people off their heads, drinking cans first thing in the morning before going on to site and snorting coke in the toilets.'"
It's not every day - or every year, in fact - that The Warm-Up tips its hat the way of Construction News. But this big expose into Tottenham's issues with the construction of their new stadium is really quite something.
HEROES AND ZEROS
Wilfried Zaha trained with Crystal Palace on ThursdayPA Sport
Hero: Wilfried Zaha
" I went through so much with United, with England. There were rumours that the reason I wasn’t playing for United was because I slept with David Moyes’s daughter, and no one attempted to clear that up. So I was fighting my demons by myself, these rumours that I knew weren’t true. I was dealing with this at 19; living in Manchester by myself, nowhere near anyone else, because the club had a hold over where I lived. They hadn’t given me a car, like every other player. Nothing. I’m living in this hell by myself, away from my family, and I thought: ‘If this doesn’t make me stronger, what will?’ When I was at United I had money but I was still so down and depressed. People think your life’s different because you’ve got money, you’ve got fame, so they don’t treat you the same."
Zero: Emre Can
Okay, he's apologised, but that can't spare him making this fateful segment. As a reminder, this is what Emre Can said yesterday about the Ronaldo red card: "That's meant to be a red card? Come on, we're not women. I heard that it was for him pulling hair. We're not women. I think we're playing football here."
There's a smattering of European matches in the usual places - but to be honest, nothing to write home about. Instead, why not watch the special bonus episode of The Bradley Wiggins Show, previewing the upcoming UCI World Road Championships!
Marcus Foley is steeling himself to report on Tottenham's fourth successive defeat when he takes care of Monday's Warm-Up.