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Arsenal 18yo excels on loan amid referee controversy
Mark McGuinness helped Ipswich Town to keep a clean sheet on Tuesday night in rather controversial circumstances.
To be clear, there was nothing controversial about Mark McGuinness’ individual performance itself as he took on Northampton Town on Tuesday.
The defender made three clearances, one interception, one tackle, blocked a shot, and won nine of his 12 duels without being dribbled past once. He also completed 88% of his passes including three of four long balls as his team kept a clean sheet.
Yet the match ended in far from normal fashion. With Ipswich Town pushing for a goal, their midfielder Alan Judge was booked for simulation as he looked to win a penalty.
Bizarrely, the referee squared up to the player before showing him the yellow card.
Referee Darren Drysdale appeared to square up to Alan Judge before booking the Ipswich player in their goalless draw against Northampton this evening. pic.twitter.com/ZexMTxYIx7
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) February 16, 2021
The ref then sent off Ipswich’s Flynn Downes for violent conduct a few minutes later, and there’s already talk of an investigation into the official’s actions towards the end of the match.
Thankfully, McGuinness helped his 10-man side over the line for their second clean sheet in the last three games.
Arsenal 19yo blocked from playing due to loan limit
Arsenal loan centre-back Harry Clarke missed out on Oldham Athletic’s defeat to Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday due to a limit on loanees.
When Oldham Athletic named their team to face Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night, Harry Clarke was a surprise absentee. Clarke had started their last 12 league games and there were no reports of an injury problem ahead of the match.
Contrary to some of the fan theories on Twitter, Clarke also wasn’t suspended. Though he did recently pick up his fifth yellow card of the season, that was after the suspension deadline. He already featured in another match after the fifth yellow anyway.
So, why didn’t he feature? It comes down to the EFL rules on loanees. Though you can sign more than five loanees if you want, you can only name five at a time in your matchday squad.
On Tuesday, Oldham boss Harry Kewell decided to have Ian Lawlor, Marcel Hilssner, Alfie McCalmont, and Bobby Grant in his starting lineup, with Serhat Tasdemir on the bench.
That meant he couldn’t include any more loanees, which led to the exclusion of Clarke and Ben Garrity.
The good news for Arsenal fans is that excluding Clarke proved disastrous for Oldham defensively. They let in four goals for the first league game all season in a 4-3 defeat. You’d expect Kewell to pick someone else to leave out next time.
Clarke initially joined Oldham Athletic on loan until January, but he extended his deal to the end of the season in the winter window. For the most part, things have gone well, so hopefully he was only selected for exclusion on Tuesday to give him a break.
Bizarre: William Saliba blocked from playing for Nice vs Marseille
William Saliba can’t play for OGC Nice against Marseille on Wednesday night, because of when the fixture was initially scheduled to take place.
There’s no doubt that Arsenal loanee William Saliba is starting to become a key player for OGC Nice. He won their Player of the Month award in January, and put in another strong performance against Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend.
Yet when Nice face Marseille on Wednesday night, Saliba won’t be involved.
The Ligue 1 fixture was initially scheduled for November, before Saliba joined Nice, yet it was postponed to 17th February after a number of Covid-19 cases in the team.
According to reports, only players who were eligible for the initial fixture can feature in the rescheduled one. That clearly doesn’t include Saliba or Jean Clair Todibo, who weren’t registered with Nice at the time.
It’s a big shame for the club, who started Saliba and Todibo as a pairing on Saturday and now have to leave both of them out. The duo can return to the team this Sunday against Metz at 14:00 GMT.
William Saliba caught the eye with his performance for OGC Nice against PSG on Saturday, despite defeat to the reigning Ligue 1 champions.
Despite spending two seasons in senior football with Saint-Etienne, William Saliba had never played against Paris Saint-Germain before this week.
In his first season in senior football, Saliba was on the bench for both PSG clashes. Then, after becoming a starter in his second campaign, he picked up an unfortunately-timed injury that ruled him out of two further matches against the side.
There were still another two chances to face PSG that season, but the early cancellation of Ligue 1 due to the pandemic meant the first one was called off, and Arsenal and Saint-Etienne couldn’t reach an agreement for the second (the cup final).
As a result, Saliba got his first chance to face PSG on the seventh attempt when he made the starting lineup with OGC Nice on Saturday.
By all accounts, it was a solid individual performance, even though PSG ended the game 2-1 winners.
Saliba made two clearances, one shot-block, three interceptions, and a tackle without being dribbled past. He won all three of his individual duels and didn’t make a foul across the 90 minutes. He also completed 92% of his passes and five of seven long balls.
The 19-year-old didn’t seem to lack in confidence, showing good composure under pressure.
Saliba showing off his skills pic.twitter.com/ssOHUP7BF3
— Taddy™️ (@tmusuka_17) February 13, 2021
It wasn’t a perfect performance, as he perhaps could have anticipated the header back across the box for PSG’s winning goal. But those are the situations you learn from as a teenager facing a top club. On the whole, Saliba will be happy with his display.
Konstantinos Mavropanos is completing almost as many tackles a game as anyone in the Bundesliga, after making another 10 on Saturday.
VfB Stuttgart and Hertha BSC played out a 1-1 draw this weekend, and Arsenal loanee Konstantinos Mavropanos was particularly busy. The centre-back made three clearances, five interceptions, and 10 tackles, winning 16 of his 22 individual duels.
Overall, Mavropanos has made 3.67 tackles per 90 minutes this league season, which means only Dominik Kohr, on 4.12, has a higher total in the Bundesliga (minimum 10 appearances).
Even then, Mavropanos has the higher tackle-success rate of the two, at 72%.
Up until the last month, Mavropanos wasn’t playing as often as he would’ve liked. He only made one appearance in the first couple of months of the season due to a torn meniscus, and he was in and out of the team for a while after he returned to fitness.
That’s starting to change now. The Greek defender started Stuttgart’s last four games in all competitions, completing 90 minutes in the last two.
It looks like he’s in favour at the moment, and will hope to hold onto that starting space for as long as he can.
Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac kept a clean sheet together for FC Schalke on Saturday, but draws may not be enough for them right now.
In January, Arsenal sent two of their defenders away to Germany to join FC Schalke. Sead Kolasinac joined the club on loan, whilst Shkodran Mustafi moved on a permanent deal – six months before the expiry of his contract in North London.
The pair didn’t have the best first game together last week, losing 3-0 to RB Leipzig. However, they turned things around with a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against Union Berlin this weekend.
It was the team’s first clean sheet in six games, with Mustafi putting in a particularly strong performance. He won 13 of his 16 individual duels and made eight clearances in a busy evening.
Yet, Schalke fans will still end the game feeling disappointed. Their team dominated the possession and yet they were outshot four-to-one.
It’s all well and good keeping clean sheets, but they really need wins. They’re nine points off safety as things stand, having only picked up nine points in the first 21 games of the 34-game season.
Schalke director Jochen Schneider has admitted the club want to sign Kolasinac permanently, but it’s not going to happen if they can’t stay up. So they need to start scoring if Mustafi and Kolasinac’s defensive contributions are going to mean anything.