Monthly Archives: March 2015

Olivier Giroud on Fire at Tyneside

Francis Coquelin (left) and Calum Chambers (right) congratulate Giroud following his second goal of the afternoon

Newcastle 1 (Sissoko 48′) – Arsenal 2 (Giroud 24′, 28′)

Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

With Manchester City winning against West Brom, it was important for the Gunners to maintain their momentum against a Newcastle side they had a quite impressive record against. Arsene Wenger made some changes from the squad that beat Monaco with Gabriel Paulista and Aaron Ramsey coming into the fold with Per Mertesacker rested and Mesut Ozil missing out due to illness.

The home side were the quickest to get off the mark with Ayoze Perez firing a shot that was blocked by Gabriel. On the other end, Alexis Sanchez swung in a cross that was bound for Giroud but Tim Krul anticipated it. Giroud did really well to nick in a lovely pass for Ramsey but the Welshman’s finish was pathetic.

Arsenal opened the scoring when Giroud reacted quickly to a Danny Welbeck flick to guide the ball past Krul.

That was his seventh Premier League goal in nine League games but that wasn’t enough for the Frenchman as he latched unto Santi Cazorla’s corner to give the Arsenal lead some cushion. Prior to Giroud’s second strike, Alexis combined with Welbeck twice but the Englishman wasn’t in the same wavelength with the Chilean. Welbeck went on to have a slalom run but there was no end product from it.

Newcastle began the second half with more urgency and got a goal right from the onset when Moussa Sissoko side-footed Remy Cabella’s cut back past a hapless David Ospina. Maybe the goalie line of sight was impaired by Gabriel but his reaction to the shot was quite comical.

Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina can only watch helplessly as Sissoko's effort nestles into the bottom corner of his goal

That goal took the wind off Arsenal’s sails and it was all Newcastle from then henceforth. Ayoze fired a looping shot that went wide, Gouffran fired a tame shot that was saved by Ospina, Williamson was next to get in the act with a point-blank header that was saved by the goalie then Daryl Janmaat blasted a long range volley that went wide.

Newcastle’s pressure was incessant and I thought the Gunners were going to concede. Arsene Wenger brought on Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini to shore things up in midfield. Following some more pressure on Arsenal, Welbeck had a breakaway on the left where he used his pace to great effect to evade his marker but he couldn’t beat Krul on his near post.

Late on, Ospina made another great unorthodox save from Perez and Arsenal brought on Bellerin to wind down the clock. The young fullback did well to get a clear chance but he attempted to tee up Giroud. Luckily for Newcastle, Krul was on hand to smother the ball.

Wenger was obviously happy in his post-match press conference but he stressed on the next to remain focus and take each game as they come. Giroud deserves a mention for his awesome run of form in recent weeks. Danny Welbeck has even admitted that he’s on fire,

“Oli’s been on flames and he’s worked very hard to get the goals. “He’s winning points for the team and I think collectively everyone has been very impressed with the way he’s been playing in 2015.

“He’s big and strong, and if defenders get tight to him, he can hold the ball up and bring others into play. I think we utilise that strength of his very well.”

Giroud has suffered some criticism from the fans and media vultures but in recent weeks he has made all his critics to watch in awe as he has been blasting the goals in. I’m so happy for the lad and I hope his good form continues.

Sayonara.

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Newcastle Preview: Keep the Momentum Going

What dafuq happened last night?

Don’t ask me, and trust me, I won’t tell.

I have a meeting in 20 minutes time at work (it’s 10.40am as I write this) so this would be a quick one. There’s no point talking about Europe anymore because it’s a thing of the past. All we can do now is to look forward to the run of fixtures left in the Premier League as well as some FA Cup action coming up next month. The Gunners have been in superb form lately, winning five consecutive games in a row since the embarrassing 3-1 loss to Monaco that cost them a place in the Champions League quarterfinals. Today, Arsene Wenger’s men come up against a Newcastle United side that has been in a run of poor form with just one win in their last six games.

John Carver’s men have been carved open in recent weeks with their last result against a pretty shitty Everton side compounding their miseries. The Magpies have lost three of their last four league matches, conceding nine goals in the process. Newcastle is currently languishing in 11th place and I believe that the team has enough in its tank to retain it’s Premier League status. As always, the team is currently plagued with injuries and their captain’s suspension would definitely not help their cause but I’m sure the Gunners don’t care. When they visited the Emirates earlier in the season, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla did the damage in a 4-1 thrashing with Giroud scoring the pick of the bunch. The French forward has been in pretty good form recently, and the Gunners would be hoping that he’d get among the goals today.

The Gunners are unbeaten in the last eight Barclays Premier League games against Newcastle, winning the last six in a row. and they’re the only team ever to not win a Premier League game after being 4-0 up at half-time, when they drew 4-4 with Newcastle at St James Park in February 2011. However, Newcastle have failed to score in their last three Premier League home matches against the Gunners.

Team News

The usual suspects are still out injured but Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Tomas Rosicky has returned to the fold following his recent bout with sickness. The manager recently offered his thoughts in resting Alexis Sanchez but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I have a hunch that the manager would make some changes to the squad against Monaco to keep things fresh. Theo Walcott is a player that needs some games and I see him replacing Danny Welbeck in the starting lineup. Aaron Ramsey also came from the bench on Tuesday to score a vital goal and he’d be itching to get some game time in his bid to full fitness but that’s a headache the boss has to face himself. According to the manager, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy are a couple of weeks away.

Injury Updates

Newcastle United: Rolando Aarons (hamstring), Massaido Haïdara (knee), Mehdi Abeid (thigh), Paul Dummett (knee) Cheick Tioté (knee), Steven Taylor (Achilles, ), Luuk De Jong (collapsed lung), Fabrizio Coloccini (suspension), Papiss Cisse (suspension)

Arsenal:Serge Gnabry (lack of match fitness), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Abou Diaby (calf), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring)

Team Form

Newcastle United

  • Last Five Games: L W L D D
  • Last Result: Everton 3 Newcastle United 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Papiss Cisse (11)

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W W W W W
  • Last Result: Monaco 0 Arsenal 2
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexis Sanchez (19)

Predicted Lineups

Newcastle United (4-5-1): Krul; Ryan Taylor, Williamson, Janmaat, Colback; Sissoko, Anita, Obertan, Cabella, Amoebi;iviere

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla, Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud

Gooner Daily says 0-3 to the Arsenal

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on English Clubs’ Disastrous Campaign in Europe

Mesut Ozil looks dejected after Arsenal were beaten on away goals by Monaco in their Champions League encounter

At the end of the 2013/14 Premier League campaign, the teams that were going to Europe braced themselves for what was going to be another intense European campaign, with the only surprise being Manchester United that ended up in seventh place. Hull City, despite their 16th place finish, had a shot at Europe at the expense of the Red Devils and we were ready to see how thing panned out.

In the Champions League, Liverpool was the first club to fall at the first hurdle as Brendan Rodgers men crashed out of a group that had Real Madrid, FC Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad. The club was offered some solace in the Europa League with a double legged affair against Besiktas but the Reds crashed out on penalties when the contest couldn’t be settled after 120 minutes of football. Arsenal and Manchester City failed to tops their respective groups while Chelsea finished in pole position. Sadly, the Blues lost to Paris St. Germain and along with Arsenal’s defeat to Monaco, the London clubs suffered the ignominy of bowing out of the competition courtesy of the away goals rule. Manchester City on the other hand, were ousted by a rampant FC Barcelona side and the aggregate score line would flatter the Citizens.

In the Europa League, Hull City didn’t even qualify for the tournament following their loss to Belgian outfit, Lokeren. Tottenham and Everton advanced to the Group Stages but Tottenham’s second placed finish behind Besiktas saw them lock horns with Fiorentina in the Round of 32. After a disappointing 1-1 first leg outing, the second leg was a disaster for Arsenal’s fierce rivals as they crashed out in Florence thanks to goals from Mario Gomez and Mohamed Salah. Everton received a thumping last night in the hands of Dynamo Kiev and that ended England’s participation in this season’s European tournaments.

The draws for the Champions League quarterfinals are already out with Chelsea’s conquerors, PSG, locking horns again with FC Barcelona (they played together in the group phase), Juventus playing against Arsenal’s victors, Monaco, a local Madrid derby and FC Porto battling with Bayern Munich.

How did things go so bad for the English teams? I remember some seasons ago when Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were always candidates to go to the latter stages of the competition and in my lifetime, I’ve seen Man Utd win it twice, Chelsea once in 2012 and who would ever forget that final between Liverpool and AC Milan in Istanbul. The closest the Gunners have ever come to winning a European crown was in 2000 UEFA Cup final (lost to Galatasaray on penalties) and the painful 2006 final defeat to Barcelona.

For Arsenal, the defeat to Monaco was entirely the team’s fault. The spirited show against the same side in Stade Louis II was commendable but the damage done in the first leg was more than enough to send the home team packing. Yes, the manager has shared his thoughts about the away goals rule but the only thing that can happen now between now and May is for his lads to get their act right and qualify for the competition again. Maybe they’d know better to try and win their group because I don’t think Lady Luck is going to smile on the Gunners again if they finish in second place in the 2015/16 Champions League.

Chelsea’s exit was rather hilarious bearing in mind what happened on the night. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s red card was meant to give the team the edge but PSG played with determination and got the results for their hard work. It was refreshing seeing David Luiz scoring and celebrating against his former employers and Thiago Silva’s looping header was the sucker punch of all sucker punches because of it’s timing. The Blues are on course to win the title this season, so I’d expect them to mount a better Champions League challenge next term.

For all the petrol pounds Manchester City has spent, seeing them struggle the way they have recently has been downright shocking. With four defeats in their last five games, the club is currently in a downward spiral and there are whispers of Pellegrini losing his job this summer. I’d expect them to spend more money this summer as they always do, but one wonders if it’s always the solution.

All in all, it was a truly disastrous campaign from English teams and they’d be hoping to do better next season.

Sayonara.

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