Here are 5 stories from European soccer this weekend:
Arsenal: At the Summit of the Premier League
Teeming with confidence, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal put forth perhaps their most convincing display yet against Chelsea.
The scoreline won’t reflect the dominance but Arsenal’s 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge feels like a harbinger of things to come.
Gabriel Magalhaes’ 61st-minute winner put Arsenal back at the top of the Premier League as former gunner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was taken off early after an ineffective performance.
To add insult to injury, goal scorer Gabriel was happy to offer a retort to Auba’s pre-match promotional snippet. “It’s nothing personal” indeed.
Gerard Pique Retires
A tearful Gerard Pique played his last home match for Barcelona in front of a record 92,605 fans at Camp Nou.
Though the last few years of his Barca career ended on a whimper, it was a fitting celebration for a player who was once the backbone of one of the most iconic teams in football history. In his farewell speech, The 35-year-old promised he would be back at the club in the future as Barca fans serenaded their club legend.
Osasuna La Liga’s Surprise Team
While fellow Basque clubs, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad tend to get most of the attention, Osasuna have been flying high under the radar in Spain. Jagoba Arrasate’s squad, filled with academy players with some select journeymen are currently 5th in La Liga and only a point out of the Champions League positions.
Osasuna’s play on the pitch mimics their approach off it: Pragmatic, secure and committed. Not to mention, Osasuna are doing this on a shoestring budget, a welcome sign in a footballing world dominated by big spending.
Ralph Hasenhuttl Facing the Sack?
According to The Athletic, in the aftermath of yesterday’s 4-1 loss to Newcastle, Ralph Hasenhuttl is soon to be out at Southampton. Hasenhuttl’s departure will be somewhat bittersweet for Saints fans, but with Southampton recording just three wins in their first 14 matches, it was perhaps inevitable.
Since his appointment in late 2018 Hasenhuttl has worked minor miracles to keep Southampton in the Premier League, but as of late, he’s struggled to find consistency despite constant tinkering.
Ex Midfield Maestros Lead from the Touchline
Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen team recorded an impressive 5-0 victory over second-place Union Berlin, in a clear sign things are beginning to turn around for Die Werkself. Swift counterattacks and sharp movements in the final third have been a core tenet of the Spaniard’s approach and it’s paid dividends:
Over at Wolfsburg, Niko Kovac is beginning to turn things around after a rocky start. Undefeated in October, Wolfsburg continued where they left off with an impressive 3-0 victory away to 6th-placed Freiburg. Wolfsburg are now five points back of the European places.
Photo credit: IMAGO / AFLOSPORT