Viv Anderson: Arsene Wenger still the right man for Arsenal

first_imgArsene Wenger remains very much the right man to lead Arsenal into a sustained challenge for the Barclays Premier League title, according to former Gunners’ defender Viv Anderson. The veteran French coach earlier this week celebrated 19 years in charge of the north London club, but has seen his position come under scrutiny once more following a shock home defeat by Olympiacos which has left Arsenal facing a battle to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. Wenger, though, continues to knock down the constant criticism of both his own tactics and the character of his team, which will again be tested by the visit of Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. Anderson, an ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK and who will be cycling to Amsterdam for the charity next June, feels Sunday’s showdown between his old clubs is a close one to call. “With Arsenal getting beaten in the midweek game, and United winning, they will of course have the momentum and are top of the league,” he said. “Arsenal, though, have some really good forward thinking players at any given time and are capable of beating anyone on their day, “It will be really difficult for both sides, with Arsenal expected to put on a display in front of their own fans, so I guess I had better sit on the fence and go for a draw.” Anderson hopes the Prostate Cancer UK Football to Amsterdam cycle challenge from June 3 to 5 2016 will help raise awareness of the fight against the disease. “It is a really good cause, so the more people who can get behind it the better it is going to be to get the message out there,” he said. :: Prostate Cancer UK, the Official Charity Partner of The Football League, will stage the Football to Amsterdam cycle challenge from June 3-5 2016 with riders now able to roll out from London and a new start point in Yorkshire, Oakwell home of Barnsley FC. For more information about the ride, visit www.prostatecanceruk.org/amsterdam or contact the cycling team by calling 020 8222 7158 or emailing cycling@prostatecanceruk.org Anderson – who joined the Gunners from Nottingham Forest in 1984, winning the League Cup before becoming Sir Alex Ferguson’s first signing at the Red Devils – sees no reason why the club should not continue to have faith in the 64-year-old. “What Arsene Wenger has achieved at that club, he keeps on qualifying for Europe every year and if you look at that team, there are some really good exciting players. I know there have been cries for him to leave, but they should stick with him,” Anderson told Press Association Sport. “I like the style of football he plays, it is the passing and moving game which is very attractive. “They won the FA Cup for the past two seasons, which was a big thing after everyone saying it had been nine years without winning anything, so they managed to bridge that gap. “With the players Arsene Wenger has got in the squad now, they should be there or thereabouts for winning the title now, and I don’t see any reason why not. “They could probably do with some more defensive cover, particularly at centre-half, but all in all, I think there are some really good players, it is just a matter of them all clicking at the same time. “Arsenal, though, remain a bit in-and-out, I don’t know if they took Olympiacos a bit lightly, they might have fallen into that trap. “However, I would expect Arsenal to be one of the three or four challenging for that Premier League trophy at the end of the season.” Press Associationlast_img read more

MLB Opening Day Power Rankings: Dodgers, Yankees a tight 1-2

first_imgCasey Mize. Spencer Torkelson. Keep looking to the future, Detroit fans. It’s almost, almost here.30. OriolesThey perplexingly gave up Jonathan Villar, one of their best offensive players in 2019, in the offseason. Trey Mancini is battling cancer and won’t play in 2020. Brighter days are still ahead for Baltimore, but 2020 won’t hold any of them. Generally speaking, power rankings are a futile exercise.We get it. You’re mad (or about to be). Oh no! Your favorite team is disrespected. The media hates you. You feel slighted. No one is talking about how good your team is. Your team is definitely going to win the World Series this year.  Save the angry tweets. Put aside the hate, please. Here’s a small spoiler alert: Power Rankings are all based around one person’s perspective backed up with a combination of cherry-picked stats coupled with the eye test. Everyone sees things differently, after all. Baseball is no exception to that rule. I could make a case that the Royals could win the 2020 World Series. OK, maybe that’s hyperbolic, but you get the point. (Sorry, KC fans.)The idea of power rankings being largely pointless is especially true in a 60-game season. While it’s all fun to debate who belongs where, does anyone really know who’s good and who isn’t in a year as odd as this? What’s the purpose of it all? After all, a team that starts 5-15 is pretty much out of it, even if they go on a ridiculous run after that. None of it matters. Everything is dumb. Eat Arby’s.MORE: Nine questions for the 2020 MLB seasonThere are roughly 20 teams in MLB that could make a serious case for a playoff bid, whether it’s via division or wild card. Add in a shortened season in which no one knows for certain how it’s going to go, and we’ve got a recipe for chaos that’s best suited for a bad action movie.So, keeping all that in mind, on the eve of the first game of the shortened MLB season, here are the SN MLB Power Rankings courtesy of Joe Rivera. As is tradition, do not @ him.1. DodgersThe Dodgers, still loaded with talent top to bottom, are right up there with the Yankees as the two deepest teams entering the 2020 season.They were upended in the NLDS in 2019, shockingly, by the eventual World Series champion Nationals. But they’re still good: Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Justin Turner are all returning, and in case you forgot, they added Mookie Betts this offseason. Yikes. Lineup from hell.Their rotation is still tops, too, though they lost Hyun-jin Ryu in free agency and traded Kenta Maeda to the Twins. Expect Dustin May to play a role there, too, especially with David Price opting out for 2020. You can also expect their run of dominance through the NL West to continue, and a World Series ring might be in their future if all goes well.2. YankeesSigning Gerrit Cole this offseason not only helped the Yankees, but it hurt their No. 1 competition in the American League, the Astros. The loss of Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery before the season deals a big blow to their pitching depth, but a trio of Cole, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka can toss with anyone else in the American League.The lineup is, well, the lineup. Aaron Judge should be good to go, as should Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, who is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Those are all absolute wins for the Yankees, who are dealing with World Series-or-bust expectations in 2020 and beyond.3. AstrosThe Astros are facing a lot of questions in 2020, some of those stemming from the bombshell report that they were stealing signs in 2017 and parts of 2018.Here’s the biggest mystery of them all: Does anyone really know who or what the Astros are? Well, if we believe the 2019 Astros were clear of any form of cheating, then there’s reason for Houston fans to believe they’re a legit team, trash cans or not.Still, we simply will not know what the Astros will be without Gerrit Cole. A “full year” of Zack Greinke could help alleviate the loss of Cole, and a returning Lance McCullers Jr., who has looked sharp, solidifies a very good top three in the rotation. The lineup has minimal worry.4. RaysIt’s going to be a weird season and there is arguably no team weirder than the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year, they had one starter (Charlie Morton) make 30 or more starts. Some of that was by design, a lot of it was not.This year, they’ll have Morton, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell shoving, and they’ll likely deploy various bizarre strategies featuring openers and bullpenning that will make Old Hoss Radbourn roll over in his grave (or on his Twitter feed). The Rays aren’t a cutesy-cuddly underdog team anymore. With an improved offense that includes José Martinez, they’re a legit contender, and 2020 could mark their best opportunity to win that elusive championship ring.5. TwinsMash, mash, mash. That’s the goal for the Twins right now. And with the addition of Josh Donaldson, that prophecy could continue in 2020. Adding Kenta Maeda to the rotation solidifies a decent top three of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Maeda, with Homer Bailey and Rich Hill rounding out the starting corps. Many of last year’s bangers are returning to Minnesota’s lineup, meaning you shouldn’t expect their pummeling to stop any time soon. 6. NationalsThe loss of Anthony Rendon to the Angels is going to hurt the Nats’ lineup more than you’d think. While they kept the rotation together by re-signing World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, the offense is still going to have to piece together runs without Rendon. Also, Ryan Zimmerman chose to opt out this year after signing a one-year deal to return to Washington.While Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin are still a very good 1 through 3, in such a short year, if any one of those guys is off his game, the pressure will be on the Washington offense to provide. They’ll need big efforts from Juan Soto, Trea Turner and Adam Eaton for that to continue. 7. CubsFirst-year manager David Ross has his hands quite full for a first season. First, he’s replacing Joe Maddon, under whom Ross won a World Series in 2016. Second, he’s dealing with a shortened schedule in the middle of a global pandemic.Consider the 2020 season a trial run for Grandpa Rossy, but the Cubs are too talented to not put up a fight, even in their manager’s rookie year. If everything is clicking — offense, starting pitching, bullpen — then the Cubs are as talented as anyone in the NL, on paper. There are still some questions about the bullpen, which could hurt them in a short year. But the offense is good enough to overcome any shortfalls on the back end.8. RedsThe Reds have one of the top rotations in baseball, all returning, and to help supplement that, they signed Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. Last year, the Reds were one of the worst offenses in baseball, but Castellanos and Moustakas should help take the pressure off Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez and improve their production at the dish greatly. With Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer all coming back, the Reds were the only team in the NL Central that decided to make marked improvements to their team. Don’t laugh: Cincy is going to be legit. 9. BravesNot signing Yasiel Puig after he tested positive for COVID-19 is a tough beat for Atlanta. The Bravos could use a little more thump in the lineup, especially after Nick Markakis opted out for the year.In case you forgot — we don’t blame you, because it’s been a while — Atlanta let Josh Donaldson walk in free agency, attempting to replace his MVP-level production with Marcell Ozuna on a one-year prove-it deal. Ozuna largely underperformed in two seasons with the Cardinals after a monster 2017 that saw him earn MVP votes.The Braves got embarrassed in the finale of the 2019 NLDS, and there’s no telling if that will carry through with them in 2020. That said, they’re young and talented and pose as much of a threat as any team in the NL.10. PhilliesPhiladelphia added Didi Gregorius and Zack Wheeler this offseason, giving them some much-needed reinforcements in the rotation and the lineup. With Andrew McCutchen back, Bryce Harper in a second year in Philly and Joe Girardi driving the bus, Philadelphia poses as much a threat as any team in the NL East should all go according to plan.Middle of the pack11. MetsThe Mets have a loaded, loaded lineup if Yoenis Cespedes can return to form, and the universal DH is going to help them a lot. The offseason drama featuring Carlos Beltran is firmly in the rear view mirror, too, as Luis Rojas seems to be a natural in the manager’s office.Reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom is going to have his work cut out for him, and one of Steven Matz, Rick Porcello or Michael Wacha is going to have to step up to help him as long as Marcus Stroman is on the IL. A massive blow to them early in the season. A lot of the Mets’ issues in 2019 came from their bullpen and the massively disappointing year from Edwin Diaz; make no mistake, Diaz is on a short leash entering 2020, so one blown save or shaky outing could mean the end of his tenure as Mets closer.12. ClevelandShane Bieber opened eyes last year, and a lot of what Cleveland may or may not do this year is going to come from its starting pitching. A Bieber-Mike Clevinger-Carlos Carrasco 1 through 3 could be very, very good. Domingo Santana added to the Cleveland lineup could offer a big help to Francisco Lindor, too. 13. AthleticsWith 2020 MVP finalist Marcus Semien, plus Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Khris Davis and upstart catcher Sean Murphy, the A’s are built to last past 2020. If Jesus Luzardo is the goods, then Oakland could finally have a team worthy of vying for a championship.14. RangersA long time ago in an offseason far, far, away, the Rangers traded for Corey Kluber in a highway robbery of a deal with Cleveland. Under Chris Woodward, the Rangers had a surprisingly good 2019. They’re still something of a question mark heading into 2020, but they deserve the early benefit of the doubt.15. AngelsMike Trout. Anthony Rendon. Justin Upton. Shohei Ohtani. Andrelton Simmons. Joe Maddon at the helm. That’ll play in a short season. The rotation is still filled with question marks; Los Angeles, which lost out on the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, is going to need a lot from Ohtani and Griffin Canning at the top of the rotation. They’ll also see whether they can continue to build Dylan Bundy. 16. Red SoxArguably the most perplexing team of them all. Without Chris Sale, David Price or Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi — Nathan Eovaldi — is stepping into the No. 1 starter role, with Eduardo Rodriguez coming back from coronavirus to aid him in the rotation.Even with a very good lineup, the starting pitching and bullpen depth are question marks. That might not matter in a 60-game sprint, but the offense — which still features J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi — could be enough to push them to challenge for a wild-card spot in the American League.17. CardinalsThe Cardinals’ very veteran lineup hinges on which Harrison Bader shows up this year: the all-world defender with the pretty good bat from 2018, or the guy who looked lost at the plate in 2019? With Marcell Ozuna gone, they could use another outfielder to step up, and Bader has to be that guy.18. BrewersThe NL Central is going to be a really interesting this year, with four of the five teams in the division having a decent shot at winning it. But the Brewers didn’t do much this offseason — aside from a trade for Luis Urias — and they still don’t have the horses in the rotation to compete with some of the others in the NL Central. 19. DiamondbacksOh, wow. Madison Bumgarner is a Diamondback. Crazy! So is Starling Marte. Wow! No one has shuffled their roster more over the years than the Diamondbacks, aside from maybe the Mariners, and 2020 is the latest case study in that. The Diamondbacks probably aren’t going to win the division, but could be a fun team to watch for the NL wild card this year.20. White SoxCould the White Sox be good? Sure. Will they be good? Who knows? Lucas Giolito finished six in the Cy Young voting in 2019, Yoan Moncada seems to have taken the next step and Chicago South is adding Luis Robert to the fold. With Dallas Keuchel landing in Chicago, too (remember that happened?) the South Siders could throw a monkey wrench in the AL Central plans if their young players continue to progress as expected.Bottom third21. PadresThe Padres were a feisty bunch in 2019. At least for the first half. They heavily relied on young arms and, while they fell apart late in the season, you saw early glimpses of a farm system people have been raving about for years. A shortened season with lowered expectations could help ease new manager Jayce Tingler into the manager’s chair, but don’t expect much from San Diego one way or the other in 2020.22. Blue JaysToronto has a sturdy foundation to build upon, but in a weird year like this, you likely won’t find out which pieces will stick and which might not be legit. Hyun-Jin Ryu could certainly help their rotation, too.One name to watch who could help that staff in 2020: Nate Pearson — if the Jays decide to turn to him at all this year.23. RockiesThe Rockies can still bang with the best of them, but their pitching (rotation and bullpen) will likely put them in more slugfests than they can handle. Wash, rinse, repeat for Colorado, until the Rox figure out a way to develop or sign proven pitching commodities. 24. PiratesFirst-year manager Derek Shelton is walking into a tough situation with a team in flux and a short year. No Chris Archer (injured), Jameson Taillon (TJ recovery) or Starling Marte (traded) means minimal reinforcements are coming back Pittsburgh’s way. 25. GiantsThe Giants are stuck in an impossible spot. With big money still owed to Johnny Cueto, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria and Jeff Samardzija, they don’t have much financial flexibility unless they start shedding money. They could conceivably challenge a wild-card spot. But under Gabe Kapler (that’s right, Gabe Kapler), that … might not be likely. The team has rebuilt a farm system from scratch, headed up by top prospect Joey Bart, but the fruits of SF’s labor won’t be seen this season.26. MarinersThe Mariners’ hot start in 2019 lasted about two weeks, and then they played horribly for the remainder of the year. While Jerry Dipoto seems to finally have a direction set for Seattle, 2020 isn’t going to be the year you see that course developed.27. MarlinsWith some shrewd moves, the Marlins are in the process of rebuilding a once-barren farm system. What was considered one of the worst in the majors just a few years ago is a top-five system now. That won’t manifest in 2020, but you could see an influx of talent this year to get some guys experience for the future. They could be a very fun team to watch.28. RoyalsHard to see what, if anything, will go right for the Royals in 2020. Not unlike the bottom two teams in these rankings, they’re going to have a competitive team in a few years, but 2020 won’t be that year.29. 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