Gunners Endure Frustrating Result but it was Fair Enough

Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0

Match ReportMatch Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

I’ve been very busy all day at work but this would be probably be the only ‘free time’ I’d get before going for another meeting scheduled for 4.00pm. Maybe I should return to the habit of blogging at night and publishing the article, first thing in the morning. It worked better for me. Sometimes, you’d wanna publish an article in the office and your boss is like ‘Enigma, remember the presentation slides for this’ and you’re like, there goes another day without a post.

Enough about my office shenanigans.

I watched some damn good football from my team against a side I kinda despise a lot because of their c*ntbag Rent Boy b*stard of a manager, Jose Moaning-H*E. From the onset, he set a team out with no center forward with the sole aim of frustrating the home side or in Chelsea English, ‘parking the bus’. However, that didn’t deter the Gunners from playing some top-notch football. Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey in particular bossed the midfield but Alexis Sanchez was at his sloppy best, conceding possession to the opposition and building up some frustration for the home fans. But he’s a good lad. You can’t doubt his effort.

I must say I’m a huge fan of Michael Oliver because he’s turning out to be a referee with some big balls between his legs. He proved his mettle in the Gunners FA Cup win over Manchester United at Old Trafford and if there’s anything I learned from the official on that game, is that he doesn’t take shit from players that try to cheat. So when that rent boy, Cesc Fabregas, who claims he still loves Arsenal more than a dog loves his master, comes to the Emirates turf, dribbles past Santi Cazorla and dives on the turf like someone that was shot with a sawn-off shotgun, you could see the sheer delight when the ref brandished a card for his attempt to cheat his way to win a penalty kick. Even if I hate everything Chelsea stands for, I feel the Gunners can count themselves extremely lucky that David Ospina remained on the pitch, especially after his rash challenge on Oscar that was meant to warrant a penalty and a sending off. The Gunners also have every right to be aggrieved that the ref didn’t award the penalty for Cahil’s handball in the box but hey, it happens innit?

There were no clear cut opportunities as the game progressed but it was heart in mouth stuff for me when Ramires the Great Lizard was sent through on goal and he missed a sitter. The Chelsea center backs had good games with John Terry shining like a knight in a new armor but it was troubling to see how Olivier Giroud was smothered from making any impact whatsoever. The attacking substitutes, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott offered minimal threat thanks to some resolute Chelsea defending but the Gunners did well to quell the attacks they posed, especially through counters.

In the end it was a frustrating result for the Gunners but in the grand scale of things, we can take some positives from the performance of the players, rather than the overall result. Aaron Ramsey faced the media at the end of the game and was quite Wenger-esque in his comments to the media. The Welsh Jesus touched on how the team would have won and the chances not falling to the right players. However, here was my pick of the bunch,

I think so. It’s going to be quite difficult for Chelsea to drop the points that we need to go top. Second probably is progression from last season definitely and from a couple of seasons where we have been battling for fourth. We’re in another FA Cup final so maybe you can say that’s an improvement on last season.

Things have definitely improved for the team and I’d rather end up in second place and win the FA Cup rather than scraping for the bread crumbs of Champions League qualification, which has become a norm for the Gunners in recent seasons. I was also astonished to know that this was the first time the team was drawing a match in 2015, and bar the poor results against Southampton, Monaco and Tottenham, the Gunners have won every other game in the calendar year.

I’m pretty sure that the players can’t wait to get their hands on some of that Hull goodness.

Gotta run now. 4pm meeting in a bit.

Sayonara.

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Chelsea Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

After watching Manchester City steal a narrow win over Aston Villa, it was a constant reminder that there was no room for complacency in this league. However, their win has sent them to second place, albeit temporarily, till Manchester United takes on Everton and of course, Arsenal hosting Chelsea in what’s undoubtedly the game of the weekend.

A lot has been said in the build-up to this one with Cesc Fabregas ‘returning home’ and of course, the long-standing rivalry between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho. The boss has a very pathetic record against the Portuguese manager (no wins in 12 against Mou) and as expected, the journos decided to remind the boss ‘what he didn’t know’. Arsene Wenger was quick to point out that today’s game isn’t about history, but form,

“We have not always lost, first of all, in 12 attempts. We have come close to beating them a few times and they’ve always had very strong teams. I’m not a great believer in history. I just think football is down to the fact that the performance on the day will decide the game and the result, so let’s focus on that.

“We are on a good run and we have an opportunity to beat them at home, and we want to take it. From a good run of form you get a good belief and we have good solidarity. We know we have passed many tests recently where we were questioned.

“It’s the first time we’ve won away from home against Manchester City [in a while] and other things like that. We have passed many tests and we have another test on Sunday that we want to pass. It is very important for us to beat them. I think everybody on board is highly focused to achieve it. We will prepare well to do that.”

With six games left for both Arsenal and Chelsea, the Gunners would be hoping to cut down the Blues’ 10-point lead to seven as they still harbor slight hopes of gunning for the title. Chelsea has been the most consistent team in the league and if anybody deserves to be on top, it’s them. They have won ugly and I mean, Abdoulaye Faye ugly. Chelsea have kept four clean sheets in their last six clashes with Arsenal, conceding just two goals in total. This essentially means that Jose Mourinho might use the same approach he used last week against Manchester United where he packed an armored tank and caught them on the break.

When both sides met at Stamford Bridge in October, Arsenal failed to have a shot on target for the first time in a Premier League match since September 2003 (Manchester United away). At least, it wasn’t like the 6-0 mauling the Gunners received last season. The Gunners would have to be mindful about the threat Didier Drogba would pose today as the Ivorian has scored eight times in 11 Premier League appearances against Arsenal in his career. Arsenal would also put sentiment aside when they come up against their forgotten son, Cesc Fabregas, as he currently tops the assists charts this season. Cesc Fabregas has a league-high 16 Premier League assists this season. Only Thierry Henry (20 in 2002-03), Frank Lampard (18 in 2004-05) and Fabregas himself (17 in 2007-08) have ever registered more in a single Premier League campaign.

Team News

Wenger recently spoke about the fitness of Per Mertesacker and stated that Gabriel can come him for him if he fails a fitness test,

“Last week against Reading, Per Mertesacker got injured and he has not been out [training] since. He’s still in the treatment room and I don’t know if he will be available or not. [He is] 50/50 [to start against Chelsea] at the moment. Apart from Mertesacker, everybody else [from last weekend] should be available. He’s ready [to step up]. He came on in the FA Cup semi-final and I think if Per is not ready, Gabriel will start”

However, he confirmed that Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out of contention and one wonders when they’d make any first team appearance with the season reaching it’s climax.

Injury Updates

Arsenal: Per Mertesacker (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring)

Chelsea: Diego Costa (hamstring), Loic Remy (muscle)

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W W W W W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 2 Reading 1
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexis Sanchez (22)

Chelsea

  • Last Five Games: D W W W W
  • Last Result: Chelsea 1 Manchester United 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Diego Costa (20)

Predicted Lineups

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Debuchy, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud

Chelsea (4-2-3-1 ‘Park Le Bus’): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Zouma, Matic; Ramires, Fabregas, Hazard; Drogba

Gooner Daily says 2 – 0 to the Arsenal

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What’s with the Gonzalo Higuain Rumors?

Is it just me, or have you guys noticed how silent things seem to be when we are winning games?

The official site has been doing its bit to keep staying afloat with post-FA Cup articles littered everywhere. Arsene Wenger has spoken about his decision to play Mathieu Debuchy ahead of the in-form Hector Bellerin and the boss also stated that the team had learned from their hiccups. Per Mertesacker was all about his happiness in reaching the final yet again and with Francis Coquelin keeping Mikel Arteta out of the side, the BFG could be the man to lead the lads out. The most recent article on the site is about Santi Cazorla telling Arsenal Player how spectacular Alexis Sanchez is. Like we didn’t know yeah?

The summer transfer window is two months away but the media vultures haven’t stopped in cooking up articles for reasons best known to them. That’s how the Daily Star has reported that the Gunners are in “pole position” to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli this summer. lol! The Argentine forward has scored 13 Serie A goals this season but he has been in scorching form in the Europa League, netting eight times and with his three strikes in the Coppa Italia his current goalscoring tally stands at 24.

I remember how the Sun published a piece that he had agreed a deal with Arsenal, only to see him move to Italy. When he was linked with the Gunners in the summer of 2013, many believed that he would be an automatic starter in the team ahead of Olivier Giroud. Then Arsenal’s ‘interest’ waned as they pursued Luis Suarez, which turned out to be a futile affair as well. This summer, an injury to Giroud saw the Gunners  snap up Danny Welbeck from Manchester United but with eight goals in 31 appearances, it doesn’t look as if the team could really rely on him if anything happens to Giroud.

In the Gunners last game against Reading, Wenger gave Giroud a breather and fielded Welbeck as the center forward with Alexis and Aaron Ramsey providing support from the flanks. Welbeck is usually renowned for his good off the ball movement and positioning but he was flat and offered the team no focal point in attack. The attacking play had some bite immediately Giroud came on for Welbeck and it’s fair to say that the team ‘attacked better’ with the French forward’s linkup play.

With the FA Cup final in the bag, the Gunners have five more matches to secure a strong Premier League finish and Arsene Wenger would need his ‘goalscorers’ to come up with the goods between now and May.

We can worry about Higuain in the summer.

Sayonara.

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All Roads Lead to Wembley and it’s against Aston Villa

I must say that I felt it wasn’t ‘right’ fixing Arsenal’s semifinal tie against Reading with the Chelsea vs. Manchester United clash from a neutral perspective. But in all honesty, I didn’t really care about the game at Stamford Bridge because Wembley was the place to be and as expected, the Gunners almost gave me a heart attack but Alexis Sanchez’s goals were enough to send Arsene Wenger’s men to the final. Credit to Reading for putting up a good fight as well as giving Arsenal fans some fright but it the end, it was the Gunners that would fill up Wembley on the 30th of May.

The million pound question was – who was going to join the Gunners? Aston Villa or Liverpool? The Villans have endured a tumultuous campaign this season which ultimately led to the sacking of Paul Lambert. There were two spells in the league were Aston Villa lost five games in a row and seven game in a row as well, much to the dismay of their loyal fans from Birmingham. Liverpool is another club that has had a hot and cold campaign and the fans must have felt heartbroken losing out in the semifinals of the League Cup to Chelsea. Their European campaign was rather pathetic in the Champions League and they didn’t fare any better in the Europa League either.

The game itself was a feisty encounter with Liverpool getting the early goal through Phillippe Coutinho but Aston Villa got an equalizer through their in-form striker, Christian Benteke. Fabian Delph scored the all-important goal that proved to be the match winner, which ruled out Liverpool’s chances of silverware this season. With the money the club spent this summer (£117m on eight players), it’s obvious to see that the club hasn’t been able to cope with the loss of Luis Suarez and to some extent, Daniel Sturridge. Raheem Sterling has been on the back pages for the ‘wrong reasons’ and a lot of burden have been placed on his shoulders this campaign.

However, some credit should go to Aston Villa and Tim Sherwood for what has been a great FA Cup campaign. It began with wins over Championship outfits, Blackpool and Bournemouth, before wins over fellow Premier League sides , Leicester City, West Brom and most recently, Liverpool.

There’s a lot of football to play between now and the FA Cup final, so we can focus on finishing strongly in the Premier League.

All roads lead to Wembley and it’s against Aston Villa.

Sayonara.

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Klopp’s Resignation: The Captain Runs Away from a Sinking Ship

…I want a brand new house on the episode of cribs,

I want a bathroom I can play baseball in,

and a king-sized bed big enough for 10 plus me… – Rockstar (Nickleback)

Human beings, naturally, want the very best for themselves. No one wants to suffer, especially when there are better opportunities out there. Let’s try a couple of case studies out there. Enter Emmanuel Adebayor, the Togolese forward that joined Arsenal from AS Monaco on a £35,000-per-week contract. After a very good campaign, he was rewarded with an £80,000-per-week deal before he began his flirtations with AC Milan. He eventually sealed a move to Manchester City under the leadership of Mark Hughes and he received a pay rise of £170,000-per-week and he actually scored a couple of goals for the club, before Roberto Mancini came around and told him that he was surplus to requirements. A loan deal was struck with Tottenham but he was still earning that fat pay check as both teams ‘split the bill’. Manchester City didn’t want him, but he was still under contract. Bad for the club, perfect for Ade.

Playing football is worlds away from being a football manager, and I’m not writing about the simulation video game where everything you know can be done at the simple click of a button. In FM, you get a ‘feel’ of what it is to be a manager and I will not forget that story of how a 21-year-old lad, Vugar Guloglan oglu Huseynzade, got a managerial job in a real football club in Azerbaijan, FC Baku, after because of his Football Manager ‘experience’.

Things are very different in the football world. There are chairmen like Roman Abramovich, that is ‘never really satisfied’ with the work his managers put and since he joined Chelsea in 2003, he has changed managers like babies change diapers. There are men like Silvio Berlusconi that love AC Milan with all his heart but ‘challenges’ off the pitch has seen the club let go of their star players for big bucks and replaced them with some rather mediocre folks. There are the Arab folks like Khaldoon al-Mubarak that would give his manager a blank cheque to sign any and everyone he wants but if he doesn’t match expectations, he’s out like he never got in.

Where I’m I heading with all this? Football clubs are run with different models so it’s up to the manager being hired to adapt to those changes and bring out the best with the players at his disposal. Martin O’Neill fell out with the Aston Villa board after their sale of James Milner to Manchester City,  David Moyes spent 11 years at Everton and worked with a shoe-string budget but things were different for the Scot at Manchester United (we all know how things panned out for him at Old Trafford) and the examples go on and on.

Which brings me to a certain fiery young manager, Jurgen Klopp. Like Ryan Giggs, Tony Adams, Rogerio Ceni, Francesco Totti, Xavi Hernandez, Steven Gerrard, Klopp was a one-club man and he played his entire career at FSV Mainz 05 from 1989 to 2001, playing 337 league games ansd scoring 52 goals. His first stint at management was with Mainz, where he guided the club to their first appearance in the Bundesliga as well as qualification to the 2005-06 UEFA Cup. He suffered the ignominy of relegation with Mainz in 2007 and resigned the season after when he couldn’t bring the club back to the Bundesliga.

Dortmund approached Klopp in 2008 and he progressed well with the team before making history with the team in the 2011-12 Bundesliga season. 81 points accrued by Borussia Dortmund was the greatest points tally ever amassed in Bundesliga history and the 47 points earned in the second half of the season also set a new record. Borussia Dortmund’s 25 league wins equaled Bayern Munich’s 1972–73 milestone, while their 28-league match unbeaten sequence was the best ever recorded in a single German top-flight season. Things were going on well for the team but the performances of some of the players caught the eye with Shinji Kagawa moving to Manchester United. In recent seasons, Klopp rose to prominence in the Bundesliga and he shifted his focus to Europe, were he locked horns with Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 finals but lost 2-1.

Dortmund continued to lose star players with Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski moving over to Bavaria to play for the biggest team in the land, Bayern Munich. Players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ciro Immobile were signed to fill in the void and they have performed admirably but this season, things have turned for the worst at Dortmund. The club has suffered major injuries to key players and their from in the Bundesliga has been downright shocking. The team had lost 11 of their first 19 league games that saw them rooted to the bottom of the table before they picked up some form to record five wins in seven that saw them move up to 10th.

In the wake of two successive league defeats to Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladach, coupled with other niggling issues best known to Captain America and Chuck Norris, Klopp has requested to end his reign as manager of Dortmund with three years left on his contract,

“I always said in that moment where I believe I am not the perfect coach anymore for this extraordinary club, I will say so. I believe this is the right decision at the right time. I have in the last weeks and days asked myself if I was still the right manager and I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t answer with a yes.”

“I have not had any contact with any other clubs, nor have I any plans to take a sabbatical.

“I just wanted to make my decision known now so that the club can plan for the future. I chose this time to announce it, because in the last few years, some player decisions were made late and there was no time to react.”

A classic tale of a captain putting on his life jacket and jumping overboard because his ship is about to capsize. Maybe he wasn’t going to stay at Dortmund beyond his initial contract because he’s one of them ‘sought after’ coaches as the papers would put it but there was still something to play for in the league, as well as some hope for next season. Klopp’s side are going to take on Bayern in the DFB Pokal semifinals and the side can still fight for a Europa League finish.

Many have linked with the Arsenal job in the past and as expected, Piers Morgan took to Twitter to share his thoughts about Klopp taking over from Wenger. Some fans though.

More on the Reading game in the coming days.
Sayonara

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