Ibracadabra: Could Zlatan be the man to inspire more magic moments at Manchester United?

This past week has undoubtedly been the best seven days of the season for everyone associated with Manchester United, the Red Devils lifted their first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s era over the weekend, sealing FA Cup glory after an extra time victory over Crystal Palace. The club have also just appointed Jose Mourinho as manager, much to the delight of United fans and his arrival could yet prompt more exciting  news for supporters.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford and now that the ‘special one’ is to be appointed as manager, the popular pairing could be set for a reunion seven years after they were both at Inter Milan. Ibrahimovic’s contract expired at Paris Saint-Germain this summer and the decorated striker is now subject to offers across Europe and beyond, even as far as China. The 34 year-old has never played in England despite winning major titles in Holland, Italy, Spain and France but that hasn’t stopped talk linking him here over the years and now the speculation is stronger than ever. The Sweden captain has apparently made up his mind on where he will be playing next season and if that is in Manchester, would it really be as great a move as its made out?

Mourinho MU

Will Jose dare to Zlatan this summer?

There is no doubt Ibrahimovic is a world class player, his quality is for all to see but wherever Zlatan goes, controversy follows. His arrogant and erratic attitude both on and off the pitch has caused many fans to turn against him in the past. He is a lone warrior, and working with another egotistical  figure in Mourinho could cause problems at Manchester United.

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United once again? Jose and Zlatan won the domestic double together at Inter

However, the self proclaimed ‘Ibracadabra’ will play to his full potential under the right management and with Mourinho and Ibrahimovic’s past relationship being a positive one, both could provide the formula to thrive at Old Trafford.

Granit is set to become the new rock in Arsenal’s midfield

Arsenal are on the verge of completing a deal to sign Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach, a player that would bring something Arsenal have been lacking season upon season- physicality and aggression.

 

 

The Gunners have been crying out for someone to anchor their midfield for years. Even with the emergence and impressive performances of Francis Coquelin, alongside January recruit Mohamed Elneny, the general consensus is that Arsenal need more competition in that area. Mathieu Flamini is possibly set to jump ship this summer and Arsene Wenger has acted quickly to bring in someone with a similar no nonsense attitude. Xhaka certainly fits the bill, possessing solid tackling ability despite amassing a whopping eleven yellow cards and three red cards this season. The 23 year-old is touted as the most promising talent in Swiss football. As a former product of FC Basel, he impressed for his country at youth level, helping Switzerland win the Under 17 World Cup in 2009 and the finish runners up in the Under 21 European Championships two years later.

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Xhaka lead Switzerland Under 21s to the Euro final in 2011

Xhaka made his senior international debut at just 18 years-old and has excelled for both club and country ever since. He has enjoyed an impressive 2015/16 campaign earning a place in the Bundesliga team of the season as captain of Gladbach. As a natural leader, Xhaka is the perfect replacement for the recently departed Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta. Both players share similar traits, including excellent technical ability and passing distribution, with Xhaka completing 85% of his passes over the last season.

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Enforcer: Xhaka has been compared to the likes of Xabi Alonso and Bastian Schweinsteiger

He is by no means the finished article, but Granit Xhaka could become one of Arsenal’s key players over the next couple of seasons. Labelled as the ‘young Schweinsteiger’ by the Swiss national team coach, Xhaka will contest in the European Championships next month, allowing Arsenal fans the opportunity to cast an eye on their newest recruit.

 

Pyrotechnics: Should they be set off or sent off?

One of the most controversial topics in football is whether there is a place for pyrotechnics, but why does the usage of flares and smoke bombs spark so much debate?

Here in the UK, all forms of pyrotechnics are not only banned but widely discouraged. However for some football fans they are used with good intentions, to liven up the atmosphere in stadiums and produce displays for their retrospective teams.

Many clubs across Europe and off continent at all levels produce planned displays containing flares, fireworks, giant banners and tifo to enhance the atmosphere at games. These demonstrations are successful because they are executed in a controlled manner, this could be something that is enabled in the UK.

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No pyro, no party? Displays like this by Lazio are common across Europe

On the rare occasions that pyrotechnics are present in this country, when they are brandished in a tightly packed crowds it causes a mixture of sudden panic but also excitement for some. From personal experience, witnessing the eruption of flares and smoke bombs really gives me an adrenaline rush and certainly spurs up the fans.

PSV Flares

Is there a fire drill?

 

That being said, there is no doubt that there are safety issues involved with pyrotechnics and the usage of smoke bombs and flares may cloud people’s perceptions on the subject. Flares can burn up to more than a thousand degrees and smoke bombs not only decrease visibility but also cause coughing, affecting those with asthma amongst other health issues.

The consequences are dire for those who are caught in possession or for setting off pyrotechnics in and around football grounds. Banning orders can be implemented which ultimately hits football supporters the hardest and in worse case scenarios, perpetrators could be sent to prison.

It’s a burning question whether pyrotechnics are acceptable at football matches and sporting events. Could there be a place for pyro in English football or should they still be shown a red card?

Cheltenham Town fans celebrate promotion with pyro