Monthly Archives: March 2014

Arsenal 2 Swansea 2: The Gunners Crumble at the Death

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Everyone needed a response from the horrid affair on Saturday. As expected, the manager shaked things up in the starting line up and handed starts to Thomas Vermaelen and Mathieu Flamini.

Arsenal were the quickest our of the blocks as Mikel Arteta’s cross to Olivier Giroud was blocked by Ashley Williams. The resulting ball fell to the Ox’s path and he lashed a volley that was saved by Michel Vorm. Against the run of play, Swansea grabbed the lead when Neil Taylor lofted in a cross for Wilfried Bony that jumped ahead of Vermaelen to head the ball home with Szczesny rooted to the spot.

Not the start Arsenal had envisaged.

Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla attempted one-two passes to get in behind the defence but Rosicky chose to pass instead of attempting a shot at goal. Typical Arsenal. The resulting corner was headed to the side netting by Per Mertesacker.

After Giroud had created a chance for himself that was blocked, Swansea was almost two goals to the good when they instigated a counter attack that put Arsenal on the back foot but the final shot was blocked by Cazorla.

After some tame attempts from the Ox and Sagna, Cazorla evaded a couple of markers before firing a weak shot at Vorm. Arsene Wenger had seen enough from the Ox and replaced him with Podolski that went on to have a stormer. The German was directed involved in Arsenal’s equaliser as he latched on to Gibbs’ superb cross to side foot the ball home.

While the Gunners were basking in the euphoria of getting a vital equaliser, it took Podolski just 66 seconds to send an inch-perfect cross into the danger area that was slammed home by the much maligned Giroud. That was his 19th for the season and it was a good that sent the Emirates into raptures.

At that point in time, I’d already thought of my headlines for today’s post and it was going to have some Podolski splattered all over it.

There was time to get Kim Kardashian Kallstrom his long awaited debut and he came in for a clearly exhausted Rosicky. Swansea brought the warning signs when Bony’s header went straight to Szczesny’s direction and Rangel was having a lot of free space on his side but he failed to create a good chance.

Right at the death, Wenger brought on Sanogo for Giroud with the aim of winning down the clock to what would have been a hard – fought victory but at the end, disaster struck…

Leon Britton was allowed to run at the Arsenal defence and he attempted a one-two with an unmarked Rangel. With the diminutive midfielder bearing down on goal, I had feared the worst as he went down but it got worse as Szczesny kicked the ball aimlessly and it ricocheted off Flamini into the net.

That was an utterly frustrating moment and the fact that Everton whooped Newcastle puts them in contention for a fourth place finish and if the Gunners continue to falter like this, I fear for the worst.

It’s only normal for bloggers, journos, pundits and fans alike to dwell on some performances after a disappointing result but I must say that it was painful watching Bacary Sagna yesterday. A player that was renowned for his consistency in the yesteryear, he looked out of sorts and lacked confidence when he received the ball. It’s in moments like this that you would see why the Gunners have taken such a stance on his contract situation and he certainly didn’t play like someone that deserved £100,000 per week.

Another player that failed to impress yesterday was Arteta as age is slowly creeping in on the midfielder. With Flamini stationed in the anchor midfield role, Arteta played the box to box role and he was largely disappointing.

It just a shame seeing out season crumble at the business end and at this point in time, qualifying for the Champions League and a FA Cup win will be ‘good enough’ to add some gloss to what is turning into a difficult campaign.

Sayonara..

Swansea Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

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After the debacle at Stamford Bridge, the Gunners have a chance of setting things right against a struggling Swansea side in front of their home fans. The club had set a media lockdown in the wake of their embarrassment in West London but the vice – captain, Mikel Arteta, has come out from his shell to share his thoughts,

“It hurts deeply inside. It’s embarrassing to be on a football pitch in that situation. I promise everyone that we have that hunger to put it right. On Tuesday we have an opportunity again at home and we just need to bounce back.”

Arteta alongside his teammates were piss poor to say the least and watching them get tossed around the pitch was a horrific sight. However, the game against Swansea offers a perfect platform to put that defeat behind them and see if the Gunners can resurrect their dying title challenge. A lot of things can happen in eight games but the Gunners need to win their matches and hope for favors elsewhere.

Wenger had also voiced his opinions on the disaster, labelling it as an ‘accident’,

“An accident has happened, that doesn’t mean that you’re not a good driver. It just means that we have played about 40 games this season and it’s not what happened on Saturday that reflects the quality of this team.”

In Wenger and the team’s defense, there have been a lot of positives this season. The extended contracts of key playing personnel as well as good great performances on the pitch. This is the same side that has a date with destiny when they take on a Wigan Athletic side in the FA Cup semifinal and there’s still a chance that they can go all the way in the Premier League.

The Gunners also appealed to the FA in regard to Andre Marriner’s moment of refereeing madness and the suspension to Kieran Gibbs has been rescinded. However, the Ox might be suspended if the FA decides to transfer the punishment to him. Marriner was tipped to be demoted to the Championship for his horrid performance but I’ve been notified that he’s going to officiate the Newcastle game.

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For the stats lovers, Arsenal have won five of just nine league meetings with Swansea City with three wins in the last three games against Swansea in league and cup. (PL2, FAC1).

Swansea won on their last trip to north London in December 2012, Michu scoring twice in a 2-0 win and there have been eight goals scored in the last 10 minutes of the last five meetings in all competitions between Arsenal and Swansea.

Arsene Wenger’s side have won all three of their games against the top flight’s Welsh clubs in the Premier League so far this season and the Gunners have not conceded a first-half goal in any of their last 11 Premier League matches at the Emirates.

However, the Gunners are in a poor run of form, winning just three of their last eight Premier League games (W3 D2 L3). Swansea on the other hand, have lost seven of 11 league games since the turn of the year (W2 D2).

Their floodgates open easily as well, as Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham have conceded more goals in the Premier League than Swansea this season.

To team news, Laurent Koscielny’s calf injury rules him out of tonight’s encounter, so he’s odds on to be replaced by the club captain, Thomas Vermaelen. I’d also expect to see Mathieu Flamini coming into the heart of the midfield and with Olivier Giroud struggling for form, he might be replaced by Yahaya Sanogo.

Arsenal needs to win this game to restore some confidence ahead of a mightily important clash against Manchester City this weekend.

Let’s hope for a better response tonight.

Sayonara

How Do We Pick Ourselves From this Mess?

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Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game was meant to be an iconic encounter against his nemesis, Jose Mourinho. We all thought that this was going to the game his boys step up the plate to put up a great performance against Chelsea but it was shameful affair as the Gunners capitulated in grand style.

Olivier Giroud had a glorious chance to make it 1-0 but as expected, he missed his chance. Chelsea launched a counter attack from that move and Samuel Eto’o should Giroud how it’s done as the Cameroonian curled the ball past Szczesny.

I need not remind us about how the game went but the rout suffered in the hands of Chelsea was a bitter pill to swallow especially when they have a manager as despicable as that mouthy Portuguese egotistical cunthound.

It’s really disheartening to know that Arsenal play like headless chickens in the ‘big’ games. The defensive gaffes and schoolboy errors pop up from everywhere and when you play a team as ruthless as Chelsea, you’d be duly punished.

This season has seen Manchester United go through a transition since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and under David Moyes, the Red Devils have struggled a lot but they still managed to get four points off Arsenal. The clash against Manchester City at the Etihad was an utter disgrace as the Gunners were smashed with six goals and they could only provide half of what they shipped in.

It’s true that there’s more reflection and analysis in the wake of a defeat but when you receive the kind of pummelling we got on Saturday, you ask yourself questions,

Why were we so toothless? Why were we the plotters of our own downfall? What the hell was going through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s head when he decided to go all Szczesny on the ball? :s When will Giroud learn that sometimes it’s just one chance he needs as a striker to kill games off?

So the key question remains – How do we picked ourselves up from this mess?. The manager tried to answer that,

“We have to think deeply about because it is not the first time [it’s happened]. “It all went wrong and I take full responsibility. It is my fault that we failed completely today because we did not turn up.”

“We felt we prepared properly, but we did not turn up, so it is puzzling. After 20 minutes, it was game over and it became a long afternoon, a long dramatic, dreadful afternoon. There is not a lot more I could say, you could blame and blame but it does not help.

“That is the most disappointing thing, that we were never in the game. This is puzzling because we were shocked and knocked down basically without feeling you have had a chance.

‘What is important now is we show we have the capacity to respond, despite that disappointment, on Tuesday night’

Arsene Wenger needs to make the players realize that they can make things right again with a better performance against a struggling Swansea side at home. Shortly after that, Manchester City, a team harboring hopes of winning the title, will be at our doorstep and we need to prove that we have what it takes with at least, a much improved performance.

The Premier League might seem far-fetched for the Gunners with them sitting in fourth place but a lot can happen in eight games. I’m just an optimistic fan sharing his thoughts on this blog but I’d take the FA Cup and Champions League qualification right about now.

Many fans would share their concerns about some of the playing personnel that haven’t impressed this season but that can be addressed in the summer. However, we have to give these lads the support they need to reach the home stretch.

More on the Swansea game tomorrow.

Sayonara.