Thought of a Lunatic: Arsenal in their Tent, Farmer’s League Revolt and Other Talking Points

The final bend of the season is here. No more international breaks this season. It is sprint to finish from now. The race is most likely for the swiftest. While some are staying permanently in their new found ‘tent’, some are grasping with trying to return to the top or Continental positions. Some are trying to swim out of the murky waters of relegation.

The Lunatic took some lessons from the world of football last weekend and here are his thoughts.

Arsenal’s Permanent Tent

Arsenal and their Youth Corper coach seems to have found home in tenth. They used to complain about going ‘forth’, so they have found a permanent ‘tent’. At a point under Arsene Wenger, finishing fourth was the standard till they started falling below. With Arsenal in it, it used to be a top-four in the Premier League. When Arsenal and Liverpool fell off, it was expanded to top six. If Arsenal are thinking it will be further expanded to top ten, they better wake up.

The most consisTENTH team in the Premier League

They have consistently held on to tenth this season. When it seems they have started to crawl up the table, they always find a way back to their tent. Against Liverpool last weekend, it was men against toddlers. With their Travis Scott captain, they were completely played out of the park.

The bad news for the Gunners with their empty riffles is they may miss out on Europe entirely next season except they win the Europa League. Let’s start welcoming Arsenal to the midtable club.

Pochettino in the farmer’s league

PSG winning the Ligue One is a giving or supposed to be. The ‘havesters’ have always been head and shoulders above the others in the farmer’s league. But it seems the farmers have revolted against the havesters this season. PSG also have a manager that is not used to harvesting and it seems the farmers have noticed it.

While PSG have made some headway in the Champions League, their poor performance in the Ligue One was highlighted by another home defeat against a top side. They had a chance of going top but blew it at home defeat against Lille. They have now lost five times at home this season. As usual, the returning Neymar gets so competitive in this sort of matches that he gets sent off. Just like he got sent off against Marseille earlier in the season, he got another red card against Lille. Anything to show he is committed to the cause.

PSG have been better in the Champions League

At the other place where Pochettino left in England, chaos is brewing. Jose Mourinho as usual throws his players under the bus in public. Questioned about his team conceding a late goal, something not always attributed to a Mourinho team in the past. ‘Same coach, different players’ he said. Maybe a coach is as good as his players after all. No coach be genius.

Atletico Bottlers

Talking about ‘monkey no get skills, na tree near tree’. Atletico Madrid are close to completing a bottling, even Arsenal will be envious of. At the beginning of the year, Atletico Madrid were 10 points away, with a game in hand. With both Barcelona and Real Madrid struggling, it looked like Atletico Madrid winning their second league title under Diego Simeone was a giving.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are back in form and are breathing down Atletico’s neck. They are both one and three points away from Atletico respectively.

In addition to their tepid display against Chelsea in the Champions League. Someone’s sit should start becoming hot. Passion is not enough for the world’s most expensive manager anymore. He must earn his money by ensuring Atletico see this through.

The Lunatic will rest his pen here. Enjoy the midweek Champions League and Europa League matches. Someone said Chelsea were in good form till a President went to London and they got hit for five at home against West Brom. Porto are waiting.

Follow goaldball on Twitter @goaldball

The Super Eagles As A Vestige Of Nigeria’s Unity

The last line of the Nigeria national anthem – peace and unity – seems to have become just a mere recitation in recent years. Peace and unity seems non-existent in the present day Nigeria. There is hardly a time that the discussion of the unity of Nigeria has reached the crescendo it has gotten to recently, bar during the civil war. So many statements of discord and disunity has been flying out of different things called a mouth in recent months. Even as it seems that symbols and signs of Nigeria’s Unity continue to diminish by the day, the Super Eagles – Nigeria’s men national football team stands out, or so it seems.

The Super Eagles symbolises unity

The statement – ‘football unites Nigerians’ – has become so cliche that even a day old Nigerian must have heard it. While we say it and know it, how significant is it?

The Super Eagles have gathered from their various bases to play two AFCON qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho. In the midst of the various dissenting voices, it seems the Super Eagles have stood aloof.

I playfully wrote on my social media, expressing my surprise that one of the regional ‘warlords’ has not called for his ‘kinsmen’ to withdraw from the Nigerian team since he already declared the independence of his region. It is interesting to note that the various discussions and analysis that have been done on the Eagles has had nothing to do with their various regions. The players have been analysed and rated as Nigerians. When Nigerians raise eyebrows over the non-inclusion of certain players, it has had nothing to do with the regions they belonged to.

From time immemorial, the Super Eagles have been made up of players from various regions and backgrounds. When Paul Onuachu netted to give the Super Eagles victory against Benin Republic last weekend, all Nigerians celebrated not questioning the state or region the goalscorer comes from. In time past when Nigerians have won accolades in football, all Nigerians have celebrated not minding where the players come from.

The Super Eagles have always been made up of people from various regions

The Super Eagles are one of the best teams in Africa and a force to be reckoned with in the world. It is hard to see any of the regional national teams being as strong as the Super Eagles if there is a division. For instance, how much will a South-Western team be different from the Benin Republic team? Or a North-Eastern team better than Niger national team? Together, with the various constituents, the Nigeria national team is stronger.

The stories of many of the players is also the typical Nigerian story. Some of them southerners born and bred in the north. Started their footballing trades and honed their skills in other regions and that didn’t stop them from getting to the top of their careers. It is a message of how a Nigerian can become successful and reach the top of their endeavours in any region in Nigeria.

All and sundry comes together to make the Super Eagles thick

Like in the Super Eagles, if we focus more on bringing our various strengths together, we become stronger as a nation. Like the Super Eagles, if we see our challenges as our opponents and face them together, we have a better chance of winning. Even those born and bred in diaspora join forces with the home breeds to make the Super Eagles stronger, we are all seen as one and derive joy as one.

If the Super Eagles is seen as a microcosm of Nigeria and the lessons are taken and put into practice, Nigeria will be a better place for all Nigerians.

Written by: Babatomiwa Ojo, @10qmedia on Twitter

Super Eagles Squad To The 2022 AFCON: Who Is On The Bus? Who Is At The Boarding Lounge? Who Might Miss Out?

With the AFCON ticket already in the bag, it is not too early to start planning towards what is expected to be a successful outing by the Super Eagles in Cameroon in 2022. Winning Nigeria’s fourth title will be tagged a success. Finishing on the podium might be acceptable depending on how it is done but it will not excite Nigerians.

Some players are still playing for their spots

The Super Eagles play the Crocodiles of Lesotho in their last qualifying match, in what is a dead rubber but for some of the players, it should be more than that. Some of them are already playing for a spot on the 23 that will be chosen for the quest in Hayatou’s country. Barring injuries, drastic loss of forms and change in technical crew, we take a look at how the traveling party is shaping up.

On The Bus

All things being equal, the following players are already in the bus and should be ready to defend the green and white Ankara jersey in Cameroon next year.

Goalkeepers Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho should slug it out for the starting spot between the sticks but both of them should be in Cameroon. Okoye has become Rohr’s darling recently but he still rates Uzoho, both are young and should be in the team for long. Reminiscent of Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide being first and second choice for over a decade.

The ‘Oyinbo wall’ – William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun are still Rohr’s preferred choice, both should be in Cameroon. Chidozie Awaziem is Rohr’s Mr Utility, he should be in the team. Zaidu Sanusi seems to have tied down the left-back spot. Ola Aina’s versatility also makes him a sure choice.

Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo and Oghenekaro Etebo will go as Rohr’s midfielders. The team is shot of options in this area, the aforementioned three will hardly be displaced. Alex Iwobi is one of Rohr’s trusted players, he should be in the team.

Musa should lead the team to Cameroon

Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze are Rohr’s trusted weapons in attack, they should be in the team. Ahmed Musa is captain and should be back playing by then, he should be in the team.

At the Boarding Lounge

These ones are part of the team but they are not yet in the bus and may have a boarding ticket or may not have. They are likely to be in the team but not as sure as the first group. Their inclusion also depends on the availability of some other players and or their own forms.

One of Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa might be the third choice goalkeeper due to their experience and familiarity with the team.

Jamilu Collins, Tyrone Ebuehi, Kenneth Omeruo, Kevin Akpoguma, Shehu Abdullahi and Semi Ajayi might battle for four or five slots as backup defenders. Ajayi and Shehu might miss out here but still make it as backup midfielders. Hence, only one of this six might miss out.

Moses Simon and Samuel Kalu are Rohr’s favorites and should make it, but it might depend on the availability of some outsiders, Henry Onyekuru is another option amongst the wing-forwards. One or two of the three might miss out. Kelechi Iheanacho and Paul Onuachu should make it as backup forwards but they can not be too sure yet. Michael Olise’s name was on the last list, albeit on standby, means something is brewing. The highly rated Reading youngster plays for France at youth level and is eligible for England. He will likely make the list if his switch to Nigeria is confirmed.

Kelechi Iheanacho is doing enough not to miss out on back-to-back tournaments

The Outsiders

The chances of these ones are bleak but never say never, an upsurge in forms for them and a drop in form by the more likely players will open the door for them.

Sebastian Osigwe and John Noble can make the party, especially Noble, as there is a chance there is at least one home based player in the squad, especially if Ezenwa does not return to form.

Adekunle Adeleke, Bryan Idowu and Kingsley Ehizibue must hope something happens to like three or four of the regular defenders to have a chance.

Frank Onyeka could still get a chance to impress in midfield after a disappointing debut last year.

Anayo Iwuala must keep working and hope fortune smiles on him

Anayo Iwuala, Peter Olayinka, Emmanuel Dennis, Josh Maja, Chidera Ejuke, Simy Nwankwo, Sadiq Umar, Cyril Dessers and Taiwo Awoniyi are waiting in the wings for a place among the forwards.

The Gatecrashers

Between now and January next year, some players not available now will become available while some players will emerge from seemingly nowhere.

Ademola Lookman might make it if he switches allegiance to Nigeria on time. Ovie Ejaria might get a chance to impress before January, if he seizes it, he might be one of the midfielders.

At least one player not mentioned at all might make it, it happens. A largely unknown gatecrasher might emerge.

For some of the players, the audition begins with the game against Lesotho. It is however good that the team is spoilt for choices.

Five Lessons From The Super Eagles Win Against Benin Republic

The Eagles went to Benin by sea, outplayed the Squirrels on land and soared in the sky. Unlike in 2020 when the Eagles did not win any of their matches, they kicked on 2021 on a winning note. With qualification for the 2022 AFCON already sure before kickoff due to Lesotho’s draw against Sierra Leone, the Eagles had to play for pride and they didn’t disappoint. Here are five lessons we learnt from the match.

Rohr’s Team Has A Spine

When everyone is fit and available, Gernot Rohr already has the spine of his team. Even if Rohr has been accused of upsetting the balance of the team too regularly at times, Rohr has some constant players that should always be in his starting XI and it was further demonstrated in Benin.

The team is beginning to have a spine.

While the likes of Chidozie Awaziem, Kenneth Omeruo, Semi Ajayi and some others can always come in to do a good job in central defence, the oyinbo wall – William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun are still the best pair at centre-back. The pair produced a dominant display that further buttress this against the Squirrels.

With Wilfred Ndidi shielding the defence, the team plays with more authority and assuredness. Samuel Chukwu and Victor Osimhen are a menace in attack.

Some players can come in to add to the flesh and make the team thicker but the aforementioned players are the spine of the present team.

Rohr’s Tactical Switch

Gernot Rohr has been regularly accused of being too rigid but he was different on Saturday. Maybe due to Alex Iwobi’s absence or as was planned, the in-form Kelechi Iheanacho played behind Victor Osimhen in attack. It looked like a 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 at times, due to how Iheanacho floated between midfield and attack but it became an outright 4-4-2 when Paul Onuachu replaced Iheanacho.

Given the plethora of attacking options at Rohr’s disposal, it has often been suggested that Rohr should deploy a 4-4-2 system to have more presence in attack, especially when the Eagles are playing more on the ascendancy.

It paid off on Saturday, maybe Rohr will consider to be more pragmatic with his formations and set-up going forward.

A Case For and Against Iwuala

Anayo Iwuala has received lots of plaudits for his impressive 10 minutes cameo against the Squirrels. He showed promise but that may be as good as it gets depending on his next career moves. It is difficult to see him get more playing time when the regular players are fit and available. The Super Eagles are spoilt for options on the left hand side of attack. The likes of Samuel Kalu, Moses Simon, Ahmed Musa, sometimes Alex Iwobi plays there when they are available. With reports of Ademola Lookman also ready to play for Nigeria and the likes of Chidera Ejuke, Emmanuel Dennis and some others still on the fringes, Anayo has a lot of work on his hands.

Iwuala has a lot of job to do to stay in the team

As also noticed before the match and during the match, Anayo seems too star-strucked and does not feel at home in the team yet. He has to come out of his shell quick to prove he belongs in the group. As we have also seen with some home based players that have made it to the Super Eagles in the past, a move to an obscure league in search of needed greener pastures might just end his Super Eagles career before it takes off.

Onuachu Leading The Race

There has always been a battle for who will be the Super Eagles backup striker when Idion Ighalo was first choice and now that Osimhen is. There has been Simy Nwankwo, Paul Onuachu, Cyril Dessers and some others. The last time the Super Eagles played some friendly matches last year, Onuachu was on standby behind Dessers but got drafted into the team due to some withdrawals. He started and wasn’t impressive again.

Aribo has to improve greatly or an upgrade is found

He was also initially on the standby list for this match despite his impressive record in the Belgian league. Some withdrawals, he got in the team again and also got on the pitch and on the score sheet. With Sadiq Umar, Cyril Dessers, Josh Maja, Peter Olayinka, Taiwo Awoniyi and some others waiting on the wings, Onuachu has stolen a match on them with the winning goal against Benin.

The Super Eagles Still Need A Creative Hub

Joe Aribo has come into the team to be the ball-carrier in midfield and the owner of the number 10 jersey. He is a decent footballer and got off to a good note with two goals in his first two matches but the team can do with an improvement.

Especially in the first half when the Eagles had most of the ball, they comfortably passed it between the defenders and the deep midfielders as there was no one to make the brave incursions. The centre-backs resorted to switching it up to the flanks most of the times. While Aribo is good and a valuable addition to the team, the team needs a better ball user to play in that position, especially against better teams.

Written by Babatomiwa Ojo, @10qmedia on Twitter.

Three Things To Watch In The Super Eagles Match Against Benin

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are set to do battle against the Squirrels of Benin in their penultimate AFCON 2022 qualifying match. Even though the Eagles went to Benin by water, they are expected to soar in the sky and prey on the squirrels.

The Eagles have been positive in training

It is the Super Eagles first match of 2022 and the first since the abomination that happened against Sierra Leone. The team has a lot of points to prove as qualifying is seen as assured. One point needed in two fixtures against Benin and Lesotho should not require carrying a bowl of sacrifice to the Eagles Square.

As we saw at the last AFCON and even in the first leg, where the Eagles had to dig deep to win, the Squirrels are no easy prey. But they should still be prey to the Eagles, no matter how hard. We look at three things to look out for in the match.

The battle for the right-back slot

Since Ambrose Efe lost his spot in the team, there has hardly been any consistent right-back, despite the plethora of options Gernot Rohr has at his disposal.

Ola Aina has been in good form for Fulham, though sometimes he has played at left-back and other times part of a back three in a 3-at-the-back system. His best performances for the Super Eagles have also come at left-back. Tyrone Ebuehi is in good form at Twente Enschede but has never enjoyed a consistent run in the Super Eagles. Abdullahi Shehu used to be Rohr’s man in this position but seems to have lost his place to more natural right-backs. Chidozie Awaziem excelled in the role at the last AFCON but he his naturally not a right-back. Luckily Kevin Akpoguma is unavailable to add to Rohr’s headache. He was Rohr’s choice in the position in the last two matches but he struggled and it was clear to see, it isn’t his preferred position.

Akpoguma’s unavailability might be a blessing

It will be interesting to see who starts in the position against the Squirrels. Defending well and supporting the attack from the fullback positions will be key to how the Eagles play. Rohr seems to have settled for the in-form Zaidu Sanusi as his first choice left-back, it will be nice to start having some clarity on the opposite flank as well.

Ndidi, Etebo and Aribo in midfield

Rohr’s formation is most times a 4-2-3-1, with two holding midfielders. Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo are Rohr’s men in this position. The two are always constant when they are fit and available. However, since Joe Aribo burst into the scene with a different style of approach to the aforementioned two, Rohr has never had the three together in the team before.

Aribo may drop out of the Starting XI

With all three available, it will be interesting to see who drops out or if they all start together. Without Ndidi in the last home match against Sierra Leone, the midfield was badly exposed in the second half, leading to the team’s collapse. It seems certain Ndidi will start, to shield the defence. However, Rohr may have to choose between Etebo and Aribo. Etebo will give the team a better defensive balance but Aribo carries more goals threat and contributes more to the attacking forays. It will be interesting to see what Rohr goes for.

Iwobi and Iheanacho combination

Kelechi ‘Senior man’ Iheanacho is in very good form and should be allowed to carry the momentum into this match as it should be beneficial. With Victor Osimhen expected as the lone center-forward, it is likely Rohr decides between Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi to play in the hole behind the striker. Iwobi has been Rohr’s man in this position but hasn’t been consistent at club level.

Iheanacho scored for the Eagles in his last start

However, Rohr can and should consider playing the two of them together. One of the Super Eagles best away matches under Rohr was away at Zambia during the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. The Eagles won 2-1 to get that qualifying campaign to a good start. Iheanacho and Iwobi scored on the day. Their combination that day was the bedrock of the Eagles victory. Their movement and passing accuracy was too much for the Zambians to handle. It was Iheanacho in the hole and Iwobi on one of the flanks. With Samuel Kalu out, Rohr can shift Iwobi to the left to accommodate Iheanacho in the middle of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their movements and passing will be key to unlocking a Benin defence that is expected to sit deep. As we have also seen in recent weeks at Leicester, Iheanacho thrives when he has a striker ahead of him.

Nigerians expect the Super Eagles to secure the AFCON ticket in Benin, anything short of that will raise further questions.

Our projected Starting XI: Okoye: Aina, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Sanusi – Ndidi, Etebo – Chukwueze, Iheanacho, Iwobi – Osimhen

Boald Codes: FA Cup, Old Firm Derby and Others

Even if last week was not so green, we go again. Person wey dey find greens no dey rest. We have gone through the plethora of matches to pick those we believe will help us make some coins this weekend. As usual, we have our Bankers, Banana Peels and Boald Calls. As we always say, bet responsibly, neither we nor you will play the matches. So, we die there does not suffice.

BANKERS

All things being equal, Chelsea should beat Sheffield United comfortably in one the FA Cup quarter-final ties. Chelsea are still unbeaten under Tuchel, they play a Sheffield side that are out of sorts. Chelsea is valued at 1.26 for a win.

Tuchel is unbeaten in Chelsea

Be careful with the other FA Cup ties, they could be tricky. Everton vs Manchester City should produce an over 1.5, at least.

Atletico Madrid have only La Liga to hold on to now, they should win at home against Alaves, at 1.41. Alaves have not won any of their last five matches.

Bayern Munich should win at home against Stuttgart. Stuttgart are in good form but should find Bayern too much. Bayern win is valued at 1.28.

Hertha Berlin vs Bayer Leverkusen should produce goals. Both can score and concede. Over 1.5 is 1.25.

Juventus have the Serie A to try fall back on after crashing out of the Champions League. They should do enough to defeat Benevento. It comes at around 1.22. Benevento have not won any of their last ten matches in the Serie A.

Lille will want to return to winning ways in Ligue 1. They host Nimes and should win. They are valued at 1.30 for a win.

Lyon vs PSG is the match of the weekend in Ligue 1. They are second and third, level on points. PSG double chance is 1.40. Though they have been inconsistent in the league this season, they should do enough to at least avoid a defeat against Lyon.

Lyon vs PSG is delicately poised

Portuguese league in-form team Sporting Lisbon should defeat Vittoria Guimaraes at home. It comes at 1.5. Vittoria lost their last two matches. Only FC Porto have been able to pick a point against Sporting in their last eight matches.

In the South African PSL, giants Mamelodi Sundowns should win at home against Black Leopards. They are valued at 1.30. Sundowns are top of the table while Black Leopards are bottom. Sundowns have won all of their last 10 matches against Black Leopards.

BANANA PEELS

As stated earlier, be careful with the FA Cup matches in England. Form could be thrown out the window in cup matches.

Aston Villa host Tottenham in one of the Premier league matches. Tottenham are wounded but they go away to a very difficult Aston Villa. It is a match that will struggle for goals. Avoid a Tottenham win especially.

Barcelona go away to the Anoeta, always a tough ground for them bar two of the last three seasons. Barcelona have found some form recently but will find Sociedad very difficult. Avoid a Barcelona win.

Roma vs Napoli looks finely poised. It could swing either ways. Napoli’s recent penchant to make this sort of ties low scoring means you should avoid the goals game.

BOALD CALL

Schalke 04 are almost dead and buried in the Bundesliga and have been in terrible form. They host a Borussia Mochengladbach side low on confidence. Schalke could pull a shocker. Schalke double chance is 2.5. Go for it, if you are bold. Gladbach have not won any of their last six matches in the Bundesliga, coupled with defeats on the continent.

In the Old Firm Derby, Celtic host Rangers. Rangers have won the league but Celtic have pride to play for. Rangers are also coming off the back of a rough night in the Europa League. Celtic win is around 2.5. Go for it, if you are bold.

The Old Firm Derby is always feisty

There you have our picks for this weekend. Once again, bet responsibly. Don’t stake your school fees or house rent, you might win becoming a dropout that sleeps under the bridge. If you win, pay your tithes here. Have a swell and green weekend.

Thoughts of a Lunatic: The Ex One, Blood on Lampard’s Hands and Other Talking Points

In the world of football these days, be careful of what you say or do because what you say or do shall be used to drag you in the court of banter.

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League quarterfinal draws must have been made while you are reading this. We already know those that were booted out. Some GOATs were pulled out with their horns, no one confused their bleatings for the roaring of lions. One of the GOATs even promised to deliver a Champions League trophy, just as a Nigerian musician promised to deliver the Grammy. To be nice to him, he was one of those that inspired those that have finally delivered it. Back to the GOAT, the matter is about even keeping him in his barn right now before there can be talks of delivering another Champions League trophy.

The Ex One

Jose Mourinho has had many monikers in his managerial career. The first and the most popular one being The Special One. He was indeed special, he delivered trophies wherever he went to. The name Mourinho became synonymous with success. He called fellow managers names and dragged many of them in the mud.

Once a special one

On joining Tottenham, he gave himself a new moniker – the Experienced One. According to him, he had seen it all. The highs and the lows, getting fired and getting hired. After the disapointment of Manchester United, he appears to have seen it all, there is barely any top club that will want to take the risk on Mourinho any longer. He however made a mistake, the moniker should start with ‘Ex’ but should be the Expired One. Taking over at Tottenham was seen as a sign of his fallen stocks and it wouldn’t have gotten worse than losing a 2-0 first leg lead against Dynamo Zagreb. By the way, Dynamo Zagreb’s manager left his post on the eve of the second leg as he is set to go to jail. This is win should have been his get out of jail card but his imprisonment has nothing to do with football.

Blood on Lampard’s Hands

Since Thomas Tuchel took over at Chelsea, there has been a complete turn around from the Frank Lampard years. Chelsea seems to be enjoying more than a new managers bounce under Tuchel. They have not lost in 13 and have kept 11 clean sheets in that time. Chelsea and clean sheets were hardly in the same sentence during Lampard’s reign. They drank goals like 33 Lager beer. Though Kepa ‘Aribisagba’ had his own shortcomings, he was largely a scapegoat of a poor system. The team looks very solid under Tuchel, with the same set of players.

Chelsea could barely defend under Lampard

Many of the players looked bad bar Lampard’s beloved son – Mason Mount. Lampard has blood on his hands for how bad he made Chelsea look.

It is not absolute fun saying positives about Chelsea or anyone as far as the Lunatic is concerned. I hope Roman Abramovich feels bored very soon, sacks Tuchel and brings in maybe Didier Drogba, so we have more fun things to say.

In other matters. So Arsenal does a clear out that involves Sokratis Papastho… whatever. He plays against Arsenal with Olympiakos Piraeus at the Emirates stadium and he leaves with a clean sheet. Luckily for Arsenal, they had done the job in the first leg. And also luckily for them, they won’t be playing against Schalke 04 anytime soon.

That’s all that came to the mind of the Lunatic today. See you some other time.

Follow Goaldball on Twitter @goaldbal

On Facebook and Instagram @goaldball

Boald Codes: North London Derby, Seville Derby and Other Predictions

Congratulations to those that have followed our calls in the last few weeks, majority of which came through. Just that you have not been paying your tithes here.

We go again. We have gone through the weekend matches to pick the Bankers. They should come through if the players don’t decide to help bookies chop your money. We have the Banana Peels, the matches you should avoid. Some times we are wrong, most times we are correct, you can read previous editions to confirm. Then we chose our Boald Call, only for the brave. Let’s get into our picks for this week.

Bankers

Leicester are valued at around 1.5 for a home win against Sheffield. Sheffield are all but relegated, Leicester are doing all to hold on to a top-four place. Leicester should benefit from a whole week of rest. Go for a Leicester win.

Kelechi Iheanacho is in good form for Leicester

Crystal Palace defeated West Brom 5-1 in the first leg. Both sides are struggling, Crystal Palace have not produced that sort of goals scoring performance again since. West Brom have changed manager since then and are more disciplined defensively. It is a match that will struggle for goals. Under 3.5 comes at around 1.2.

Real Madrid should win at home against struggling Elche. It comes at around 1.24. Or you could go for Real Madrid to win either half.

For the Seville Derby, Sevilla have gone off the boil in recent weeks but should still do enough to avoid defeat at home against Real Betis. Sevilla double chance comes at around 1.2. It is usually a game of goals, you could also go for over 1.5.

Borussia Dortmund, basking from qualifying for the Quarter-finals of the Champions League should win at home against Hertha Berlin or produce an over 2.5. Both comes at around 1.5.

In France, PSG should win at home against Nantes. It comes at around 1.2.

Mbappe and co should get the job done against Nantes

In Russia, leaders Zenit St. Petersburg have struggled since resumption, but should win at home against 11th placed Akhmat, who have lost their last two.

In Turkey, third-placed Fenerbahçe should win at home against bottom-placed Genclerbirligi. It comes at around 1.2.

Benfica are unbeaten in their last six in the Portuguese league, they play at home against 14th placed Boavista. Benfica should win, it comes at around 1.3.

In Uganda, third-placed Express should win at home against Kyetume, who are 13th. Express won the reverse fixture away from home. Express win comes at around 1.3.

In the NPFL, go for Dakkada to win at home against Katsina United, it comes at 1.30.

Banana Peels

If you can, avoid the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham. Both team’s inconsistencies makes it difficult to predict how the tie will shape up.

The London Derby looks finely poised

Be careful with Werder Bremen against Bayern Munich, especially for a Bayern win. A safe bet might be goals. Werder Bremen have lost just one of their last seven.

Cagliari vs Juventus could be tricky. Cagliari are in the relegation zone but have avoided defeat in their last three. They also won this tie last season. Juventus may also still be struggling from the hangover of their Champions League ouster.

Boald Call

In France, fourth-placed Monaco host leaders Lille. If you are brave, go for a Lille win at around 3.2. Both sides are in good form, though Monaco lost their last match. It could go either ways but Lille win is worth risking.

Those are our picks for this week. Wishing you the luck of the green as you bet responsibly.

Thoughts of a Lunatic: Musa Still At The Gate, Anfield Poultry and Other Talking Points

The various top European Leagues are gradually reaching the business end. Some titles already won and some relegation cards already signed, ready to be delivered. Some European places dreams are also becoming mirages. In England, Harry and Meghan can not take the shine from VAR.

There is also the matter of national teams gathering at the end of the month for various qualifiers. In Nigeria, Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles list has come with its usual controversies and talking points.

Anfield Poultry

How Liverpool’s home ground – Anfield went from being a fortress to a forest has to be studied in the university. After going for three years without a defeat at home, a record 64 matches. They have started another record with six straight defeats and still counting at home afterwards. In that time, they have scored just one goal at Anfield, albeit from the penalty spot. Anfield has gone from a Lion’s den to becoming a poultry where teams just go to slaughter chickens for dinner. Rather than opponents failing to come out alive, they come out alive with goodies. Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah have gone from destroyers to destroyed. Thiago Alcantara was supposed to improve the team in midfield but the only positive stats he has are his number of thumbs up. In his short time in England, he has given more thumbs up than any player in the Premier League history, something in the region of hundred thousand or thereabout. Liverpool are blessed with the presence of ‘thumbs-up Xavi’. More bookings than goals and assists.

Thumbs up Xavi

Jurgen Klopp should find a solution as Liverpool have gone from title contenders to European places contenders, before they slip into relegation contenders.

After all said, Klopp and his Liverpool team have delivered the once elusive Premier League title, the first in 30 years. Maybe Liverpudians will have to wait another thirty years for another triumph.

Musa still at gate

Wetin Musa no dey see for gate? Ahmed Musa has been in the Super Eagles for so long that he has seen it all. But even Musa has hardly seen a clubless player invited to the Super Eagles. The last time Musa kicked a ball in anger was in October 2020 but he still gets an invitation to the Super Eagles, ahead of active players.

Rohr could as well invite the likes of Daniel Amokachi, Kanu Nwankwo and the others since it is for experience, as some have posited. What if Musa is injured? He will still be in the team on crutches, since Musa must be at the gate to see it all.

Musa is at the gate.

Musa must be at the gate to also make sure COVID-19 protocols will be observed when the Super Eagles play in Lagos. There is a lot Musa does in the team than can be explained.

In a team, just as you have playing footballers, you also have non-playing footballers. People should understand these things.

Ole Stealing The Show and The Points

Manchester United dilemma continues. They don’t look like they will really challenge for the title anytime soon but there is a new knack for stealing the show.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge, the Red Devils have produced some very impressive results that ends up leading nowhere. Solskjaer has a good record against Pep Guardiola and he continued that at the weekend. Manchester City were on a winning run of 20 matches but Ole struck again. Dem no reach 21. That is an achievement.

Well, it is part of keeping the tradition of the Red Devils as ‘kill-joys’. Arsenal were on a 49-match unbeaten run back in 2005, Manchester United stopped them from reaching 50 by returning them to factory settings. Even if Ole has not delivered titles, he is bringing back the tradition.

It seems Manchester United fans must get used to celebrating these wins as they seems like the one thing Ole will always deliver.

Ronaldo in Black and White

Cristiano Ronaldo’s time in Juventus so far has been black and white. Of what use is Ronaldo at Juventus if they won’t win the Champions League?

Ronaldo is still delivering the goals and has an impressive goals record in Turin but Juventus have failed to make it beyond the Quarter-finals of the Champions League since he joined. Of what use are the goals? They are on the verge of losing the league title, which was like their birth right.

Ronaldo in black and white

It is looking like, when he is done in Juventus, he will have an impressive goals record to show but little in terms of silverware, meaning Juventus will have nothing to show for signing Ronaldo. While you can not blame Ronaldo, the recent defeat against Porto was the type he used to ‘single-handedly’ decide. Anyways, he is in good company with the likes of Gianluggi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini in a group of pensioners enjoying their benefits.

Boald Code: Madrid and Manchester Derbies, Der Klassiker and Other Betting Tips

If you followed our tips last week, congratulations. We came through with almost all our calls. We dey feel like Nostradamus right now.

It is another week and we have carefully gone through the various matches once again. We have selected those we believe are the Bankers – that we believe will come through, the Banana Peels – the games you should avoid and the Boald Call – big odds you should play only if you are bold.

Bankers

We start from Africa where the CAF Champions League takes center stage. We are going for home wins for Al Ahly and Wydad Casablanca against AS Vita and Horoya respectively. Al Ahly are defending champions, Wydad are penultimate champions. You can always trust this top guns to get the job done at home.

In the English Championship, in-form Norwich host Luton. Norwich have won their last six and are top of the table. Go for a Norwich win at around 1.4/1.5 across platforms.

In the Premier League, West Brom vs Newcastle should be a cagey affair. An under 3.5 should be a good choice. You could also go for no goal in the first 30 minutes. Or first half under 1.5 which comes at around 1.3.

In La Liga, Real Sociedad are unbeaten in six. They host Levante at the Anoeta. Levante could be tricky customers but Real Sociedad’s form should be enough to get a win. It comes at around 1.4.

The Madrid Derby should be a cagey affair. Under 3.5 full-time or under 1.5 halftime should be good choices.

A Madrid derby with title-deciding implications

In the Bundesliga, Der Klassiker is always a game of goals. Over 2.5 should come through or go for a Bayern Munich over 1.5. At around 1.3/1.4 odds across platforms.

In the NPFL, go for home wins for Plateau United, Rivers United and Enyimba against MFM, Jigawa and Ifeanyi Ubah respectively.

In Turkey, title-chasing Besiktas host Gaziantep. Besiktas are in good form and have won their last four. Go for a Besiktas win at around 1.4.

In Ukraine first-placed Dynamo Kiev host Minaj, who are in twelfth. Dynamo Kiev are in good form, back them to win.

In Scotland, Rangers host St. Mirren. Stephen Gerard’s men have won all of their last five against St. Mirren. Go for a Rangers win.

Banana Peels

In the Premier League, there are so many banana peels.

Avoid Leicester to win away at the Amex stadium. Brighton are usually a compact side, though they struggle for goals. Leicester are injury-plagued and may be at that point where their performance level starts dropping.

Manchester City should win at home against Manchester United but you don’t know the Manchester United that will turn up. Manchester United’s likely defensive approach makes it difficult to predict. It may also not produce goals.

The Manchester derby seems tricky

Barcelona seems to be in good form but they have shown some level of inconsistency this season. They should win away at Osasuna but a goals game might be a safe option. Osasuna won at Camp Nou last season.

Boald Call

In the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg are in good form. They play away against a stuttering Hoffenheim side. Wolfsburg have won on their last two trips there. If you are bold, go for a Wolfsburg win at around 2.4.

Those are our picks for today. Don’t forget to bet responsibly.

If goes the other way, hold the clubs and the players responsible. Terms and conditions apply.