The FM Side Of Things
After the rather drab affair against West Ham, the boys decided that it might be fun for them to score a load of goals, and not lose. I 100% agree with both of those things being fun, so this bit of run was rather enjoyable to behold. We absolutely smashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0, with Arkadiusz Milik grabbing himself a hat trick. The same marvellous man then led us to a 1-0 victory over Manchester City. The next team to fall under the hammer of our offense was Stoke, as they found themselves on the end of a 5-1 drubbing. We then beat Arsenal 3-2 thanks to a late goal from Emad Hossam. Norwich City were our first draw in the FA Cup, and we beat them rather easily only conceding at the end of the game. We beat Sunderland 1-0 in what was a rather tame performance for us. Liverpool nearly beat us in an encounter that saw us almost lose our unbeaten run, Memphis Depay scored a late goal to rescue the draw for us. We then beat 3rd placed Chelsea 2-0 in another solid performance against a top side. We once again nearly lost our unbeaten run as we barely managed to draw 2-2 against Southampton thanks to a late goal from James Wilson. The latest rendition of the Roses Derby saw us manage yet another 0-0 draw against our fellow Champions League competitors Manchester United. Our next FA Cup challenge would be Bristol City, who we brushed aside in an easy 3-0 victory. A rather boring 1-0 victory against Middlesbrough followed by a 4-1 victory over Swansea sent us into our next FA Cup game. Southampton were our next FA Cup test. and we sent them packing in a 3-1 victory that sees us on to the quarterfinals against West Ham.
For transfers in, we had two key positions that I felt needed to be strengthened if we were to push as far as possible in the Champions League. The first addition was center-back Kurt Zouma from Chelsea. Pontus Jansson and Jamaal Lascelles were not performing consistently enough, and I didn't feel comfortable leaving the defensive duties to the two young wonderkids Ciprian Boghitoi and Luis Pinalla. The other is midfielder Johannes Geis who comes in from Schalke. Our midfielders were under-performing, or were looking at interested teams and were distracted from the game. Some of the younger players were not performing as well as I had hoped, and so had to move them to a more secondary/backup role on the team. Geis has come in to play as a partner to Kristoffer Ajer, or Alberto Grassi when Ajer is injured or suspended.
Champions League Knockout Round 1 Leg 1 - 2/25/20
Napoli in the first knockout round of the Champions League was definitely an easy draw in comparison to the other teams in the hat, but they are still strong European opposition that cannot be underestimated if we are to continue on in the competition. For this game Arkadiusz Milik leads the front line followed by Emad Hassam, Oliver, and Federico Bernardeschi. Kristoffer Ajer and Ronaldo Vieira make up our midfield duo. Ryan Sessegnon, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Mitchell Weiser are our back four, and Timo Horn is sat between the posts.
The game started slowly, but Arkadiusz Milik opened the scoring for us in the 33rd minute. Cedric Bakambu equalized for Napoli in the closing minutes of the first half, though Mitchell Weiser put us back on top at the start of the second half. Kurt Zouma scored an own goal in a rather unfortunate goal scramble. Arkadiusz Milik scored in the 90th minute to give us the win. The 3 away goals we scored here will prove very useful in the second leg, provided we can keep Napoli from scoring as many goals as I know that their players are capable of.
League Game 29 - 2/29/20
These next three games will be quick overviews, as we are focusing on the European campaign this season. Johannes Geis replaces Ronaldo Vieira in a line-up that is otherwise no different than that which played Napoli 4 days prior. The game was an interesting one, with us narrowly edging possession and Everton nearly doubling our total number of shots. In the end, a brace from Federico Bernardeschi assured us the win.
League Game 30 - 3/7/20
Leicester put up more of a fight than they had in the past, and they really deserved a point in this encounter. The same team that played Everton played today, and I did not realistically expect Leicester to put up more of a fight than either Everton or Napoli did. Our wonder kid winger Emad Hossam ensured us the victory with his skillful free kick in the first half. Kristoffer Ajer suffered a stress fracture in his lower back during the game and will be out for 6-8 weeks.
FA Cup 6th Quarterfinal - 3/15/20
West Ham in the quarterfinal of the FA Cup is quite the easy draw when you consider the fact that both Tottenham and Arsenal were in the draw. I think that the team we have will be enough to see them off. Alberto Grassi comes on to replace the injured Ajer and partnet Johannes Geis. West Ham scored in the first several minutes of the second half, and it took us until the 72nd minute to equalize. The game went to extra time, and Ronaldo Vieira scored the winner for us in the 101st minute. This took a lot more out of the boys than I wanted it to, considering our full schedule. We have drawn against Arsenal in the semifinal which will hopefully be the end of it for us, so we can focus on Europe.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE KNOCKOUT ROUND 1 LEG 2 - 3/18/20
The second leg against Napoli is what I thought would be the hardest part for us, as Napoli's away form is immaculate this season. We are playing with the same team as played in the first leg with the one exception of Alberto Grassi standing in for Kristoffer Ajer. This should prove to be another thrilling game in our quest for European glory.
Boy, was I right about it being a thrilling game, and nerve-wracking too. They opened the scoring only seven minutes in, but Oliver equalized for us in the next minute. We then absolutely unloaded on them as we slotted another five past their keeper in the first half to set the score at 6-1 going into the second half. Memphis Depay scored our seventh of the game only 8 minutes into the second half as we continued our route of Napoli. Lincoln scored two in the 71st and 77th minute to at least lessen a bit of the embarrassment for Napoli as we beat them 10-5 on aggregate. Unfortunely both Oliver and Arkadiusz Milik had to come of due to injuries, and both will be out for several weeks. With the international break upon us though, they should have ample time to heal.
Just Another Team To Beat
With that win against Napoli, it has now been 35 games since our last defeat when we were knocked out of the EFL Cup. This is an incredible run of form, and a true testament to the understanding and utilization on my players part of the tactic that I created for them at the beginning of last season. Hopefully we can continue this form as we now go into the Champions League quarterfinals drawn against Spanish giants Barcelona. On top of that, we are chasing another Premier League title, and also the FA Cup. If things go 100% perfectly, we'll win the league, FA Cup, and get to play/beat Manchester United in the final of the Champions League to end with the Roses Derby to beat all other Roses Derbies.
FM fanatic and football pundit