Let's take a look at this week's contenders for #CaseOfTheMondays.
A sitter; the possible winner; only 6 yards out; Firmino already mid-celebration. There are a handful of reasons Adam Lallana will be feeling terrible about that miss this morning. In a game of missed chances for both sides, it was the most flagrant blown opportunity. It’s especially unfortunate because that moment will eclipse what was otherwise a good game for a player who is known more for his playmaking and his workrate than his goalscoring (even though he was making a splash in that regard in the beginning of the season, too). He did well to make several key interceptions and was an important part of the Reds’ first goal. He ran unendingly, which is normally important but especially so against a team that has run the second-most in the league (behind Liverpool). If he had only just finished that chance, it might’ve gone on record as one of his better games this season.
After a 0-0 draw on the opening game of the season, which isn’t a terrible result by any means, D.C. United have kept their half of the scoreline through the next two games — unfortunately, their opponents have not. After the first three games of the season, they’re 0-2-1 with 6 goals conceded and 0 goals scored, and their home streak of 10 unbeaten (with 4 clean sheets within that) is now broken. To make it worse, they’re the only team left that hasn’t scored in MLS yet this season; even Real Salt Lake, whose fans had begun making bets (jokingly or not) about how long it would be until they scored, bagged one against the LA Galaxy on Saturday. And the last time D.C. was held scoreless through the first 3 matches of the season? 2013. The same year they finished dead last in the table with only 16 points and went on the league’s worst winless streak of the season (13 games). It’s only been 3 games, but Ben Olsen has got to figure it out...and fans are already seeming to doubt whether he will.
Speaking of managers feeling the heat...One of the two planes flying over the Hawthorns on Saturday might be rethinking their position on this “Wenger in” vs. “Wenger out” situation after Arsenal subsequently lost 3-1 to West Brom. To West Brom’s credit, they are only two spots behind Arsenal in the table, so it isn’t the largest upset in the world — but it’s still a game you’d imagine Arsenal would be able to win.But what stings most about the loss is not the loss itself but that it’s just another in the string of disappointments Wenger has served up this season (5-0 FA Cup victory against 5th-division Lincoln City aside). They got battered in the Champions League round of 16 — twice — and continue to drop valuable points as Manchester United and Everton both creep up on them in the table. After the weekend’s results, Manchester United leapfrogged them into 5th and now Arsenal sit in 6th, only ahead of Everton on goal difference. And Arsenal still have Manchester City, Tottenham, and Manchester United left to play...back to back to back.Fans are growing increasingly restless and this is not the season that even another FA Cup title can save, it seems. Third and fourth place are still up for grabs, for the most part, but even a Champions League spot doesn’t seem to be enough for a manager that consistently crashes out of the competition anyway. Arsenal need a more permanent change if they hope to break this cycle.
Call it a Champions League hangover: this weekend, Sevilla followed up their shocking loss to Leicester with a 3-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in La Liga. The league loss allows Atleti to creep up on them in the table. Currently, Sevilla sit in 3rd with 57 points and Atletico sits only two points back in 4th. It also stunted Sevilla’s ability to gain on a Barcelona who haven’t looked their best. If Sevilla lose their footing too much, they could look set to lose their automatic Champions League qualifying spot and have to go through the playoffs – or worse, play in Europa.