Monthly Archives: October 2013

Rating Arsenal’s Performances in the Month of October

Arsenal began the month of October with a scintillating performance against Napoli which was followed a sub-standard draw against West Brom. An international break followed and the Gunners turned up the style with a five-star performance against Norwich where the midfielders were firing on all cylinders.

The victory against Norwich was followed up with a rather disappointing defeat against Borussia Dortmund at home. The Gunners made up for their midweek disappointment with a nervy victory over Crystal Palace but they ended the month with a poor performance against Chelsea in Capital One Cup.

At the end of each month, Gooner Daily rates the performances of the Gunners using a series of categories. There will be three nominations for each category and the blog’s readers will place their votes on each category. These votes will be used in the season review post that comes up at the end of the season.

SAVE OF THE MONTH

As expected, Wojciech Szczesny featured consistently in the Premier League and Champions League while Lukasz Fabianski had to wait for the Capital One Cup encounter against Chelsea to make his second appearance of the season.

The nominated saves for the month of October include Szczesny’s magnificent save from Mila Jedinak’s sweetly-timed volley when the Gunners visited Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace, Szczesny’s save low save from Saido Berahino that took a wicked deflection when Arsenal played against West Brom and Szczesny’s superb save from Leroy Fer’s fierce shot when Norwich visited the Emirates.

GOAL OF THE MONTH

Arsenal played six games in the month of October, scoring 10 goals in the process. With a plethora of breathtaking goals to choose from, I just had to make do with my top three.

The nominated contenders for October Goal of the Month are Mesut Ozil’s sweet finish against Napoli, Aaron Ramsey’s magnificent individual solo effort against West Brom and Jack Wilshere’s orgasmic finish that came off the end of a brilliant team move.

ASSIST OF THE MONTH

All 10 goals scored in the month of October came off some superbly threaded balls from a teammate with the exceptions of Mikel Arteta’s penalty against Crystal Palace and Olivier Giroud’s improvised finish against Dortmund that was gifted to him courtesy of a defensive gaffe.

The nominated assists for the month include Aaron Ramsey’s impudent chip to Giroud against Crystal Palace, Giroud’s deft flick to Wilshere against Norwich and Giroud’s inch-perfect pass to Ozil against Norwich.

MATCH OF THE MONTH

In the month of October, the Gunners suffered consecutive defeats at home in different competitions which has definitely affected their momentum, but there were some games that stood out from the rest as Arsene Wenger’s men swept the fans off their feet with some scintillating performances.

The nominated match of the month contenders include Arsenal’s Champions League win over Napoli, Arsenal’s decimation of Norwich and Arsenal’s nervy win over Crystal Palace.

WORST MATCH OF THE MONTH

This nomination goes out to the games the Gunners largely under-performed and I can look no further than the disappointing draw against West Brom, the home loss to Borussia Dortmund and the painful home defeat to Chelsea.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE MONTH

This goes to the player that excelled admirably with vastly improved performances in the course of the month. Despite the fact that many players put up improved performances in the month of September, the performances of these three players certainly caught the eye; Mathieu Flamini, Serge Gnabry and Wojciech Szczesny.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH

Arsenal had a somewhat stuttering form in October but there were still some players that produced immense glimpses of their quality in the course of the month that stood out from the rest. Without further ado, here are the top three players in month of October; Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey.

Feel free to vote in the various categories as you please.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2: Mourinho’s Dominance Over Wenger Continues…

No cigar: Mesut Ozil (centre), Aaron Ramsey (right) and Laurent Koscielny look dejected after going two down

Looks of shame on their faces

Emirates Stadium (Capital One Cup)

Chelsea – Azpilicueta 26′, Mata 67′

With half an eye on the crucial top of the table clash with Liverpool this weekend, Arsene Wenger fielded a relatively strong squad ahead of the Capital One Cup encounter against Chelsea with fringe players like Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal, Carl Jenkinson, Ryo Miyaichi and Nicklas Bendtner all getting run outs as well as some first team regulars.

It’s also worth noting that Bendtner made his first start at the Emirates in nearly two and a half years and in the entirety of the game, he was a peripheral figure in attack. His first telling contribution of the ball was a tame header that went straight to Mark Schwarzer in goal after Monreal had lofted a cross that was deflected off Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea threatened through Kevin de Bruyne but his effort went straight to Lukasz Fabianski’s path. Ryan Bertrand skinned Jenkinson and crossed the ball to a Samuel Eto’o that was tightly marked by Laurent Koscielny but the Cameroonian forward still managed to get a back-heeled attempt on goal that skewed wide.

Aaron Ramsey found some space in midfield and chipped a delightful ball for Miyaichi, but the young Jap dinked the ball over Schwarzer and Gary Cahill was on hand to clear the ball to safety.

With close to half an hour gone, Chelsea launched a counter attack through Eto’o and when Michael Essien latched onto the ball, he was tackled by Tomas Rosicky and the ball sailed effortlessly into orbit. Jack WIlshere had his eyes on the ball but he left it for Jenkinson that decided to have a Nastastic moment as he made errant header to Fabianski but the ball was intercepted by a determined Azpilicueta and Chelsea was one to the good.

In it goes: Lukasz Fanianski (left) is unable to get off his line quick enough to close down the Spaniard

Azpilicueta almost changed from a Chelsea hero to zero when he misplaced the ball to Monreal’s path but the Spaniard’s shot missed the goal by a lick of paint. At the start of the second half, Willian fashioned a chance for Eto’o but his rasping drive went wide off the mark.

Shortly after a deflected Ramsey shot, Arsenal had a chance to level the contest when Koscielny intercepted the ball in midfield before feeding Cazorla. The Spanish magician fed Bendtner with a threaded ball but the Dane backed the goal and fed Ramsey instead of having a bite at the cherry. With Ramsey quickly smothered by a Blue wall, he attempted an impudent chip but it was too far off.

Ozil’s introduction into the game was meant to serve as a catalyst to change Arsenal’s game for the better but things got worse as Chelsea doubled their money through Juan Mata. A swift Bertrand throw-in was headed by Eto’o before Willian cushioned the ball for Mata. The Spaniard used his “weaker” right foot and smashed a piledriver past Fabianski.

Not again: Fabianski picks the ball out of the net for the second time in the evening

Fabianski picking the ball out of his net for the second time. What a shame

Wenger decided that he had seen enough from Bendtner and summoned Olivier Giroud in his stead, Giroud almost made an instant impact when he latched on to Wilshere’s loose ball but he fired a shot from an acute angle that was blocked by Schwarzer. Chelsea almost rubbed salt on Arsenal’s wounds when Azpilicueta feed Essien who in turn teed up an onrushing Ramires. The Brazilian eaed past a lounging Vermaelen and lobbed Fabianski but Koscielny blocked the shot on the line.

Wilshere attempted a long range effort that sailed over the bar and there was a comic moment when David Luiz, Eto’o and Azpilicueta all suffered infectious muscle strains simultaneously. Late on, Wenger withdrew Ramsey for the forgotten figure, Park Chu-Young and after weak efforts from Santi Cazorla and Ramires, Phil Dowd decided that he had had enough.

****

Player Ratings

Fabianski (6) didn’t show enough bravery to block the first and might had done a bit better for the second.

Jenkinson (3) put up his worst performance since that humiliating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford. As if the problems in this world are not enough, Jenkinson commits a blunder that led to a goal, was torn apart defensively and his crosses in attack are downright erratic.

Monreal (7) tried to make things happen from the left and even had a shot that drifted wide.

Koscielny (8) made interception after interception and he was always alert to potential dangers.

Vermealen (6) didn’t really stamp his authority on the game as he would have liked.

Ramsey (7) was industrious in midfield, had a couple of shots and almost created a lovely assist for Miyaichi.

Wilshere (7) had a few neat touches all game long and acted as a fulcrum to instigate attacks from midfield.

Rosicky (7) was as sleek as grease. As always.

Ryo (6) was probably overawed by the opposition as he failed to make any impact all game long.

Cazorla (7) didn’t really influence the game as expected but he had a couple of shots that drifted away.

Bendtner (5) was a ghost in attack and offered no threat whatsoever in attack.

Ozil and Giroud (6) failed to influence the game when they were brought on.

****

After a long time out of the English game following stints with Inter and Real Madrid, Mourinho’s impeccable record against Wenger currently stands at zero losses, four draws and five wins.

With the Capital One Cup out of the way, Wenger would have to reevaluate his team and make some key decisions ahead of the Liverpool game this weekend. Bendtner’s lethargic performances has shown that a new striker would be needed in January and Jenkinson’s naivery was exposed yet again as he has proved that he has a lot to learn. Sagna should sign da ting already!

It’s sad to see how things panned out but the real business starts now with quickfire fixtures against Liverpool, Dortmund and Manchester United. It’s fair to say that Arsenal’s ambitions will be put to the test in these fixtures.

Sayonara.

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Chelsea Preview: A Good Chance to Rotate the Squad

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho

An epic rivalry renewed

After some grueling Premier League, Champions League and international football action, the Capital One Cup has taken center stage as the 16 teams left in the competition battle out to claim the crown last won emphatically by Swansea last season. Unfortunately, the Swans were ousted in the third round by Birmingham City which ensures that they won’t even have a chance to defend their crown.

Arsenal has been in a rich vein of form recently but there have been some dents along the way as Arsene Wenger’s men dropped two points to West Brom in the Premier League as well as dropping all three points at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger is renowned for fielding his young Guns in this tournament as a breeding ground to further enhance their football education but he selected a much-stronger side in last season’s quarterfinal against Bradford City but the Gunners were made to rue their profligacy as they lost through the lottery of penalty shootouts. However, Wenger has promised to field a relatively strong side tonight,

“I will rotate against Chelsea, but play with a team that has a good chance to qualify,

“It will be an interesting game. They have a very large squad so we will know we are playing another Premier League team, and on our side, we are at home. So it will be interesting.”

Arsenal has won the competition in two occasions (1987 and 1993) but in Arsene Wenger’s tenure, they’ve always reached the latter stages of the competition with two final defeats to Chelsea in 2007 and Birmingham City in 2011. Only two teams – Liverpool and Aston Villa – have won the tournament more than Chelsea, who have lifted the trophy on four occasions.

Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea to a 2-1 win against Arsenal in the 2007 Carling Cup final

Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho, is returning to the Emirates for the first time in six years and it’s also worth noting that Arsenal hasn’t won the West London outfit in close to two years with the Blues winning home and away against the Gunners in the league last season.

With Mourinho having the luxury of a large squad to choose from, I see the Portuguese manager offering starts to his African powerful midfield duo of Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel, two players that have found games had to come by this season. After his error of judgment against Cardiff that led to what proved to be a consolation goal, David Luiz has been frozen out of first team action and I see him making a return to on the pitch duty and he’d definitely have a point or two to prove.

With the plethora of attacking midfielders in Chelsea’s disposal, Mourinho could hand starts to the attacking midfield trio of Kevin de Bruyne, Juan Mata and the Brazilian’s representative in the Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.an. With Mourinho using a single center forward and with the likes of Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o getting a lot of playtime this season, Demba Ba could be given another chance to strut his stuff. It’s also worth noting that Arsenal was close on sealing an eleventh hour loan move for Ba but it was cancelled by Mourinho as he wasn’t ready to “strengthen a rival“.

At Arsenal, the injury worries keep piling up as Mathieu Flamini (groin) joins the treatment table with the likes of Theo Walcott (abdominal), Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) and like Mourinho, Arsene Wenger has a large squad to choose from while giving some key players like Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud some well-deserved rest.

Arsenal’s skipper, Thomas Vermaelen, has featured sparingly for the Gunners this season and this game will give him another chance to prove his worth to the squad. Nacho Monreal is another player that has lost his place in the team to the incumbent left fullback, Kieran Gibbs, but he has been used a lot as a substitute this season. In attack, the World’s Best Striker, Nicklas Bendtner, would be given another chance to show what he’s made of.

The youngsters like Carl Jenkinson and the exciting Serge Gnabry would be given run outs and its heartwarming to know that the young German winger has signed a new long term contract with Arsenal. I wonder why the Gunners are still wasting time in securing Bacary Sagna’s future as he’d be free to approach other clubs from January 1, 2014.

Here are my expected lineups for both sides,

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formationChelsea 4-2-3-1 football formation

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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