Citi Sports’ editor Nathan Quao believes Arsenal have placed one foot in the door as they hunt Leicester City in the race for this season’s Barclays Premier League title.
He also shares his thoughts on AshGold’s slim win over Bedjaia in the CAF Champions League and the wonderful penalty trick done by Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Arsenal back in title hunt
It was coincidental that the meeting of the Barclays Premier League’s top two teams was on Valentine’s Day.
They were not going to share any love but the romance of their respective title challenges would take on more significance after that clash.
Ultimately, it was Arsenal who prevailed and now, their followers have butterflies in their stomachs when they think of a potential end to the many years of waiting for their next Premier League.
Leicester gave it all they had and they even gave more when Danny Simpson’s folly got him a second yellow card. They had to hang on all afternoon and they almost completed the task.
But they did not and that was the story. They have been asked a serious question and they must give a response. They can either bow to the pressure and back down or they can find energy and drive to the prize.
However, Arsenal won both on the pitch and in the momentum sweepstakes.
They are back in the race for the title but this time, they are right up behind Leicester City. Like Tupac said in his song, Leicester can see them through the rear view mirror.
The Gunners are in a wonderful position because if they put together a great sequence in their subsequent matches, the Foxes can falter. They do not have the experience of the title chase and so, like Liverpool a few seasons ago, they can fall over.
But then, it is not all smooth for the Gunners. They face my dear Manchester United, Swansea, Tottenham, West Brom, and Everton between now and the end of March.
Those are the tests and if Arsenal can pass each one, they will be in a great place but of course, depending on what happens to Leicester and the other teams in the mix.
One goal not enough for AshGold
We have all heard the scoreline between AshGold and MO Bejaia by and so, I will not talk about what went right or wrong.
My concerns are with the scoreline. Too many times, Ghanaian teams have been beaten away because they could only win by a lone goal at home.
Some say, the Algerians could not get an away goal and so, that means they will have to come at the Miners in Algeria to find a way to the next stage.
That is true but what if all their attacks end up as goals and our AshantiGold brothers are left with a huge deficit.
Keeping Bejaia from creating chances will be a tough ask for the Ghanaian league champions and so, scoring a lot more in Obuasi would have made things more bearable.
Of course, I commend them for working hard for the win but with the Algerian league in Week 20, Bejaia might be in too much motion for the Miners.
But I could be proved wrong. I will be very happy if that happens.
Messi and Suarez magic
On Sunday, I tuned in to the Barcelona-Celta Vigo match in the second half and what I witnessed made laugh in complete joy.
I saw football that was beautiful and pure. I saw that Barcelona wanted to win but they also wanted to have fun doing the job on their opponents.
They enjoyed themselves so much and they gave all of us something to talk about.
Messi got a penalty, he decided to play it but what followed surprised all the eyes that were watching.
The Argentine passed the ball to Suarez who slotted home to complete a hat-trick and score Barca’s 4th on the night.
For those who are still wondering if it was a good goal, the referee allowed it to stand. It was done in accordance with the rules. I think that its rarity is what is generating debate but at least, we now know that it can be done.
Cryuff and Jesper Olsen’s version in 1982 might be a bit too old for people in my generation.
The biggest takeaway for me is the seeming joy between Messi, Suarez and Neymar when they play together.
They have built a great partnership of skills, hunger and work ethics.
I asked myself whether this trio was better than the Ronaldinho, Guily and Eto’o combo the Blaugrana had in the 2005/ 06 season.
The answers will come with time but now, these three friends will continue to give defenses a tough time and fans some more wonderful times like in the video below.
Notable mentions to Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves who won the NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest, Klay Thompson for winning the 3-Point Challenge and Karl-Anthony Towns for topping the Skills Challenge.
The West beat the East in the All-Star Match with Russel Westbrook bagging his second straight All-Star MVP.
Those guys were having lots of fun in Toronto and it was great seeing the love and respect for Kobe Bryant who was appearing at an All-Star event as a player for the last time.
Salutes to the Black Mamba!!!!
That’s it folks!!!
Get to me on Twitter @nathan_quao