Arsenal 2-1 West Ham: Nketiah Delivers Sucker Punch

Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah combine for winning goal against Arsenal  against West Ham a week on from bust-up before Fulham game

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham (Lacazette 25′, Nketiah 86′ – Antonio 45′)

Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka (D. Luiz 89′); Willian (Pepe 64′), Lacazette (Nketiah 77′), Aubameyang

The fans expected more from the team following the convincing victory over Fulham last week, and they faced a West Ham side bereft of confidence after their poor showing against Newcastle at the London Stadium. There was a cause for concern at the start of the game when Kieran Tierney pulled up short and had to be replaced by Sead Kolasinac shortly before kickoff. The gaffer confirmed in his post-match press conference that it was a small muscular problem and Tierney complained about it before a decision was made to replace him in the matchday squad. 

For some strange reason best known to Lord Voldemort and his cohorts, Arsenal put up a very disjointed performance early on, misplacing passes, engaging in sloppy play and in all honesty, the opening goal seemed to come against the run of play, with some good attacking play on our favored left hand side saw our contract signing club talisman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang loft in a sumptuous cross that was headed home by Alexandre Lacazette. It was a relief for Lacazette as he had spurned an early chance created by Willian in the beginning stages of the game.

The equalizer for the visitors came at the stroke of half time when a non-existent midfield did nothing to stop the attacking threat from the Hammers and Bukayo Saka was caught in No Man’s Land as Jarrod Bowen and Hendricks charged down on Kolasinac before executing a neat cut back that was buried aplomb by Michail Antonio. Rob Holding had a disappointing night and should have done better to close down the West Ham forward but it was not to be as both teams went into the break level. One would have expected Arsenal to come out firing on all cylinders in the second half but it was West Ham that had the better chances with Antonio clipping the cross bar with a header and the Arsenal defense continued to be barraged by the visitors.

Mikel Arteta responded with some attacking changes, bringing on Nicolas Pepe for a clearly jaded Willian and Eddie Nketiah for Lacazette. Despite his goal, he had one of those frustrating nights where his blushes were spared by a teammate replacing him. The move turned out to be a stroke of genius as Nketiah turned to be Arsenal’s match winner after some brilliant work from Saka and Dani Ceballos. The Real Madrid man returning for his second loan spell fed Saka and drifted into the danger area, only to be located by a special pass from the youngster but he had the presence of mind to see Nketiah on the clear before feeding him on a platter.

The score line clearly didn’t show a true reflection on how things fared in the game but we are on the back of two wins from two games, sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League. Yes, we are under no illusions but it is a very good position to be bearing in mind that the club has a tough run of fixtures. However, we have to give credit to the lads for not giving up, even if they didn’t perform on the level expected of them.

More on the Liverpool game in the coming weeks.

Sayonara

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Aubameyang Signs and Martinez Leaves to Aston Villa

Arsenal news: Martinez breaks down in tears during emotional interview  after FA Cup win | Metro News

The picture above shows Emiliano Martinez and club captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sharing a moment in Wembley as they basked in the euphoria of the Arsenal’s 14th FA Cup victory. Martinez, despite being on the fringes for pretty much the entirety of his Arsenal career, did a pretty amazing job in the short duration he deputized as Bernd Leno’s replacement.

I had shared my thoughts on Martinez leaving but it’s something I can touch on again. It was evident that his performances at the end of the 2019/20 campaign had put the gaffer, Mikel Arteta, in some type of dilemma, but on the back of what was a very successful spell in the side, Martinez was not going to spend another season as a deputy, waiting to feature in only Europa League and Cup games. You could bet in the best online casinos on whether he was going to leave the clubs and the odds would have been low. 

Prior to when the Aston Villa move was officially announced, Martinez took to Instagram to share an emotional message with the fans about how he had his struggles with us and how he’s leaving through the front door. That meant a lot because we know how irksome some departures can be, like in the Robin van Persie situation or more recently, a loved player like Alexis Sanchez. We also need to consider the financial aspect of this deal – if a Premier League club had offered 20 million quid for Martinez while Leno was still fit, we would have bitten their fingers, wrapped the Argentine goalie in plastic, added a fragile stamp on him and ensured he got to the new club unscathed.

Aston Villa on the other hand, have their goalkeeping issues to deal with, as star goalie from Burnley, Tom Heaton, suffered a long term injury, forcing the club to sign a 136-year-old goalie to hold the fort, and we all know how they leaked goals like baskets. Martinez is going to a club where he will be a nailed-on first choice goalkeeper, so it was a win-win situation for both player and club.

Speaking of win-win, Arsenal and its talisman, Aubameyang, finally reached an agreement that saw the star forward sign a three year contract with the club. When you consider how important Aubameyang is to this club and what he has achieved for us and with us in his stint, extending his contract was the best piece of business this summer. The forward had some nice words to say as well,

“Signing for this special club was never in doubt. “It’s thanks to our fans, my team-mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here. I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is to come for Arsenal.”

Since Aubameyang joined the club, he has been in very prolific form, despite the fact he’s been played out of position. A striker of his immense talent and ability would have grumbled for not featuring in his natural habitat but he considered the team first and has been putting a great shift on the left to allow his best mate, Alexandre Lacazette, and fledgling forward, Eddie Nketiah, flourish in attack. 

The news of Aubameyang staying in the club for the foreseeable future is very welcome for everyone concerned with the club and we will be hoping he crowns it with a goal or two against West Ham at the home of football.

Sayonara

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Thoughts on Martinez Leaving and His Viking Replacement?

Emi Martinez reaches summit of emotional Arsenal journey to FA Cup glory -  football.london

Emi, thanks for the memories

If I had a heart, I could love you

If I had a voice, I would sing 

After the night when I wake up

I’ll see what tomorrow brings

Word on the street is that with Emiliano Martinez set to leave Arsenal to Aston Villa imminently (more on this anon), the Gunners are looking to replace him with a Viking goalie, Ragnar Lothbrok, I mean, Alex Runarsson. I’m pretty sure there’s a link between Runar Alex Runarsson and Ragnar Lothbrok – they are both Vikings! Runarsson will stand behind the sticks at the Emirates, facing a direct free kick from the opposition, instructing his defenders to mount a shield wall to block the Saxon attackers from Wessex and Northumbria. Now, I’m reaching.

In reality, I know nothing about our potential Viking goalie, so I did what was expected of any blogger – research. Starting his career in his native Iceland with KR Reykjavik, Runarsson made a name for himself when he moved to neighboring Denmark to sign for FC Nordsjaelland. It was in the Danish outfit that he was in the spotlight, winning the Player of the Season award in the 2017/18 campaign. Interestingly, he was under the tutelage of Inaki Cana Pavon, a current goalkeeping coach at Arsenal, so I am positive that the prospect of them walking together again at the Emirates would be exciting for both player and coach.

As expected, he was found by some scouts in France for his goalkeeping heroics in Lord Bendtnerland, and got poached by Dijon FCO two seasons ago. According to WhoScored, he notched up 25 appearances in his first season at the second division French outfit but his game time reduced considerably last season following the acquisition of Alfred Gomis from SPAL, with the Iceland goalie featuring mainly in cup competitions. He was part of the Icelandic setup that travelled to Russia for the FIFA 2018 World Cup but he didn’t feature in any game at the mundial. 

Signing Runarsson from Dijon would clearly serve as a cheaper alternative to allow the funds generated from the sale of Martinez and potential sale of Lucas Torreira who seems to be paraded around Italy – first Fiorentina, now Torino! Who knows, he may end up joining Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Roma. We will certainly get a glimpse of Runarsson in the Europa League and cup competitions, while our undisputed No. 1, Bernd Leno, will continue to strut his stuff in the Premier League.

Which brings me to the man of the hour – Emiliano Martinez. Since joining the club as far back as 2010, Martinez has always been on the fringes at the club and was sent on loan to six different clubs to earn some playing time. His appearances at Arsenal were few and far between but one can’t forget that crazy 7-5 League Cup fixture against Reading in 2013. But after so many years waiting for his chance, he got his breakthrough last season following the unfortunate injury Leno suffered against Brighton. In those fixtures he featured, Martinez was a class act and there was a dilemma for the club about who would to be the No. 1 goalie for the new campaign. 

Leno returned to full fitness in the summer and Martinez still got the shot at the Community Shield win against Liverpool. However, the gaffer has favored the German shot stopper ahead of Martinez so it makes some sense for the player to want a move away from the club and with Aston Villa offering as much as 20 million quid, it’s a win-win for everyone – Arsenal get some cool cash that can be invested elsewhere while Martinez moves to a club where he would be the No. 1 till Tom Heaton returns from his long term injury at least. 

Martinez would be missed as he was clearly a dependable back up goalie, but I guess it’s up to the newbie Viking goalie to show what he’s made of when the opportunities present themselves, that’s if Arsenal is really going for him.

I’m off to binge on some Vikings on Netflix.

Sayonara.

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