5 weekend stories from European soccer

Here are 5 stories from European football this weekend:

Arsenal: at the top of the Premier League

Brimming with confidence, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal put on perhaps their most convincing display yet against Chelsea.

The score won’t reflect dominance, but Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge feels like a harbinger of things to come.

Gabriel Magalhaes’ 61st-minute goal returned Arsenal to the top of the Premier League, as former striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was withdrawn early after an ineffective performance.

Adding insult to injury, goalscorer Gabriel was happy to offer a reply to Auba’s pre-match promo snippet. “It’s nothing personal” in fact.

Gerard Pique retires

A tearful Gerard Piqué played his last home game for Barcelona in front of a record 92,605 fans at the Camp Nou.

Although the final years of his Barca career ended with a groan, 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 that he would return to the club in the future as Barca fans serenaded their club legend.

The surprise team of Osasuna LaLiga

While Basque clubs Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad tend to get most of the attention, Osasuna has been flying well under the radar in Spain. Jagoba Arrasate’s squad, full of homegrown players with some select day laborers, is currently in 5th position in LaLiga and just one point behind the Champions League positions.

Osasuna’s game on the field mimics that of the outside: pragmatic, safe and committed. Not to mention that Osasuna is doing this on a shoestring budget, a welcome sign in a footballing world dominated by big spending.

Ralph Hasenhuttl facing dismissal?

According to The Athletic, after yesterday’s 4-1 loss to Newcastle, Ralph Hasenhuttl will soon be out at Southampton. Hasenhuttl’s departure will be a bittersweet one for Saints fans, but with Southampton recording just three wins from their first 14 games, it was perhaps inevitable.

Since his appointment at the end of 2018, Hasenhuttl has worked minor miracles to keep Southampton in the Premier League, but has struggled to find consistency of late despite constant tinkering.

Former midfield masters lead from the touchline

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen team recorded an impressive 5-0 victory over second-placed Union Berlin, in a clear sign that things are beginning to change for Die Werkself. Quick counter-attacks and sharp moves in the final third have been a main tenet of the Spaniard’s approach and it has paid off:

In Wolfsburg, Niko Kovac is beginning to turn things around after a rocky start. Unbeaten in October, Wolfsburg picked up where they left off with an impressive 3-0 win against sixth-placed Freiburg. Wolfsburg are now five points off the European places.

Photo Credit: IMAGO/AFLOSPORT

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