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A Soccer State of Mind: Your week in football: 17/4 - 23/4

Theres more to life than Villa. Almost. A wacky mid-week of make-up matches was followed by a weekend composed of both cup ties and league fixtures, as Barca win their first trophy of the season, and Arsene finally admits that it’s time.

Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish Copa del Rey Final Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Despite what you may think - there’s a world of football outside Aston Villa. Jake’s here to find his voice, air his thoughts and have a glance of the goings on outside of Villa Park.

Another week goes by, another jump in my blood pressure. Villa wins, so does everyone else around us. 2 games left, I cannot get all of the scenarios out of my head if we do face the inevitable: the playoffs. I get chills thinking about winning the final, but I clam up thinking about getting bounced from it. All I want at this point is for us to be playing Premier League football next season.

In other news, I almost teared up, once again, as I watched Iniesta do the same while he was subbed off the field during Barca’s rout. 5-0 over Sevilla to win the Copa Del Rey. Surely they’re on the way to the double, but how much is that really worth when you get bounced by Roma, and stripped of the chance at the treble in the Champions League? Anyways, happy potential retirement from Barca, El Ilusionista.

Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish Copa del Rey Final Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Speaking of retirement, regardless of how you have felt about these last few seasons, the legacy that Arsene Wenger has built at Arsenal cannot be overlooked. Yup, that’s right, #WengerOut finally came true. Wenger announced he would be leaving Arsenal at the end of the season... but does that necessarily mean he’s done coaching for good? From the hundreds of jacket zipper malfunctions, to 4th place finishes, all the way to finishing 2nd in a 2-horse race (lol Spurs), he’s been an icon for the club. Anyways, best of luck to the only manager I’ve seen at Arsenal in my 21 years of living. Insane.

Alrighty! Getting to the week of footy, my head was all over the place trying to keep up.

Starting out Tuesday, I didn’t even bother with watching Bayern’s rout of Leverkusen in the German Cup, and they win 6-2. Smart choice by me, if I say so myself.

Barca survived a scare from Celta Vigo, to keep their unbeaten season in the league. After being up 1-0 and then 2-1, Sergi Roberto made things a little more difficult when he was sent off shortly after taking the lead, still with like 20 minutes left in the game. Aspas took 2 points away from Barca with his equalizer, but then Barca were the ones who were hoping for at least a point because man-up Celta Vigo looked the more likely to score, but time ran out and it ended 2-2, Barca are still unbeaten.

I didn’t even bother to watch the Premier League matches Tuesday or Wednesday. Tuesday, I had class and I assumed Spurs would get it done against Brighton & Hove Albion, but they didn’t and tied the score. Still pretty glad I didn’t watch that game, to be fair. Wednesday, Man U-Bournemouth did not have the most attractive sound to it, so I didn’t get to see Smalling and Lukaku score as United cruise (again, good decision, Jake). Spurs-United would meet over the weekend for the FA Cup Semis

Late Tuesday night, the first leg of the CONCACAF CL final took place. UEFA CL only has a one game final in a predetermined location, but CONCACAF does the way the other rounds are and still does a home and away fixture. I didn’t catch most of the game, but after conceding early, Toronto bounced back and got a goal of their own, before conceding later in the game, losing 2-1 at home. Not an impossible situation, but definitely not easy, as Toronto know they have to go to Guadalajara and score at least 2 now.

Chivas v Toronto FC: CONCACAF Champions League 2018 - Final - Leg 1 Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

I didn’t really watch much of anything Wednesday, the NBA and NHL playoffs kind of had my attention, but I did see Ronaldo once again do Cristiano Ronaldo things, as he rescues a point for Real at home against Bilbao, late in the game.

Thursday was in sort of the same boat, with 2 Premier League games that I didn’t really care about, but I had on in the background before I went to class again. Southampton play frustrating footy and tie Leicester, and Chelsea fight hard to earn all 3 points against Burnley, before Chelsea and Southampton’s half of the FA Cup Semifinals.

Burnley v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Friday was a fun day, I actually watched and witnessned a double-red card situation FOR THE SAME TEAM! In the MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps went down to 9 men after the 40’ for violent conduct. Even if you’re not familiar with the sport completely, you can understand that 11 versus 9 would not be a fair matchup, especially with a whole second half and then some to play. It was already 3-0 before the red card(s), and Sporting KC go on to score 3 more, and absolutely slaughter the Whitecaps, 6-0.

Now that the wacky week is over, onto the jam-packed weekend of footy! Waking up early Saturday again, I saw West Brom get another unexpected result against a top club. After beating Man U last weekend, they are down 1-0 the whole game against Liverpool after an early Danny Ings goal (yes, I said Danny Ings), he bagged his first goal since 2015, hoping to jumpstart his stalled-out career. Salah seemed to put the game away in the 72’ as he tied Suarez’s goal-scoring record. But then, 5 minutes later, the Brommies pull one back, and then in the dying embers of the game, Salomon Rondon snatches the equalizer in the 88’ for a 2-2 draw, hanging on to a thread for West Brom, as they still sit bottom of the Prem table. Hopefully the only derby in the West Midlands next season is between West Brom and Birmingham City, and we get to avoid that in the top flight!

West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

After this, I got treated to a stunning Watford-Crystal Palace matchup! I definitely was watching this and not playing Fortnite (definitely) and it ended 0-0... As this died down, the FA Cup tie was ready to live up to the hype. Spurs-United at Wembley in the semis. Dele Alli finishes off a tidy move from Tottenham around the quarter-hour mark, but about 10 minutes later, Alexis Sanchez proves his worth and nods home the equalizer. Halftime, 1-1. A little past the hour mark, Ander Hererra caps off his quality performance by getting on the scoresheet with the match winner, as Man U go to the finals of the FA Cup, winning 2-1.

An MLS-filled afternoon that I did not watch live because of the Copa Del Rey and the NHL playoffs (Go Caps go). But in the Copa Del Rey, it did not take long to realize that this would be Barca’s first trophy of this season. Suarez with 2 and Messi with 1 had Sevilla down 3-0 already at halftime. They don’t give up this 3-goal lead as they did in Rome, in the CL. A 5-0 skunk means Sevilla owes Barca a letter, and now it’s almost once again confirmed that Barca will win the double again this year.

Sunday things calmed down a lot. Arsenal took care of business ahead of their huge semifinal matchup in Europa League versus Atletico Madrid, in a tournament that Arsenal need to win to be playing in Champions League next season. 4-1 over West Ham with all goals in the second half. Good to see Laca getting a brace as well, even if they were the 3rd and 4th goals, after the 85’.

Arsenal v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A semi-interesting game between Stoke and Burnley saw them both earn a deserved point, as City absolutely rout Swansea, 5-0, with the wealth being spread all around with 5 different goal-scorers. Clinched the title, but keep balling I guess.

This half of the FA Cup semis was also interesting, as Southampton who are borderline relegation, made it all the way here in this tournament. They match up against Chelsea, who look to meet Man U in the finals. Southampton did not play a bad game by any means, hitting the post a few times, Caballero for Chelsea made some solid saves, but Chelsea took advantage of their chances, Giroud scores a class goal, and Morata, once again, scores from an Azpilicueta cross. Literally all of his goals this season have been from Azpili crosses...bromance? (Picture below says yes) Anyways, Chelsea burn out one of Southampton’s last flames for this season, as now they are completely focused on staying up.

Chelsea v Southampton - The Emirates FA Cup Semi Final Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

In the MLS, home-field advantage seems like it really is a thing, and time and time again, this theory gets proven true. The seriously struggling Sounders won at home against a meh Minnesota United team, which was not all surprising, but on the other hand, with the Portland Timbers at home against high-flying NYCFC, things did not turn out as expected. The Timbers Army comes through for their players and still show up, and the players return the favor, comfortably cruising to a 3-0 win. Maybe this will get them back where they usually are.

Minnesota United FC  v Portland Timbers Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Ending the week on a Monday, cause that’s how we do it in the soccer world, I watched Everton-Newcastle. Well, I half-watched while I half did some homework, before going to play some footy of my own. I saw Jagielka miss a sitter, and I saw Walcott score a goal, that was really all I needed to see from the huge 1-0 win for Everton, as they continue their solid end to the season.

That’s all I got for this week, let me know anything in the comments and look out next week for another edition!