Monthly Archives: February 2016

Gunners Disappoint Against Depleted Red Devils

Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

For the first time in a very long while, I was confident going into the game against Manchester United due to the vast amount of injuries at their ranks. Heading into yesterday’s game, Louis van Gaal was without Chris Smalling (shoulder), Matteo Darmian (shoulder), Phil Jones (lack of match fitness), Luke Shaw (leg), Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (knock), Antonio Valencia (foot), Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Marouane Fellaini (thigh), Ashley Young (groin), Wayne Rooney (knee) and Anthony Martial (hamstring).

Wenger fielded a very strong side and I was quite happy to see an attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott but sadly, Sanchez and Walcott performed very poorly. Early on, Nacho Monreal had a chance to replicate his heroics in the FA Cup quarterfinal last season but this time, David de Gea (who had recovered from a knee injury) made a strong save. The Gunners went behind in typical Arsenal circumstances. Varela swung in a cross that was fluffed by Gabriel Paulista, and the ball fell to Rashford that placed the ball to Petr Cech’s roof. I really don’t know what was going through Gabriel’s head but if that was how he was going to replace Per Mertesacker, he wasn’t putting a good audition.

Rashford’s fairy tale debut continued as Jesse Lingard and Varela did some good work on the right before dinking a cross that was headed home by an unmarked Rashford. How he was allowed that much freedom was shocking to me but for a team fighting for the title, losing 2-0 wasn’t going to help their cause. The Gunners pulled one back when Mesut Ozil crossed a ball that was headed to the net by former Manchester United boy, Danny Welbeck. The forward didn’t celebrate the goal as the Gunners went into halftime trailing by a single goal.

Theo Walcott was a largely anonymous figure in the first half with only 16 touches of the ball (including the mistake that led to the first goal) but for some strange reason, Arsene Wenger left him on the pitch for an additional 15 before replacing him with the man that hasn’t scored in eight games. Walcott’s goal tally was two in 22, even though the most recent came in the victory over Leicester.

Those that were thinking that the Gunners would get the equalizer were deeply mistaken as schoolboy defending was the order of the day for the home side’s third goal. After yet another wasteful corner kick, Manchester United instigated a counter attack with Rashford and he dallied on the ball before teeing up an unmarked Ander Herrera at the edge of the box (where the hell were his markers). Herrera curled a shot that Cech might probably had saved but the ball deflected off Laurent Koscielny’s chest to put the game beyond doubt.

Arsenal reduced the deficit with a rather scrappy effort from Ozil and at that point, a draw would have been a good result because the performance was so disappointing. Wenger bewildered the fans by bringing on Alex Iwobi for Welbeck and the young Nigerian looked out of his depth. Even after Mike Dean gave five minutes of stoppage time, it wasn’t enough as the Gunners lost further ground on the title race when it looked as if they were actually gaining momentum following the win over Leicester.

With Leicester getting maximum points at home to Norwich and Tottenham edging out Swansea, Arsenal has been left further behind and will be hoping to bounce back against a Swansea side that bested them last season. Wenger’s post-match conference was even more disappointing and as things stand, I’m so ashamed of the lads for bottling things up yet again.

Just when you think that the Gunners can make things work, they go out and slap you in the face with another shocking result. All hope is not lost yet though.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Performances and Injury

The dust that had Barcelona written over it has settled with the Gunners returning to Premier League duties ahead of tomorrow’s clash with fierce rivals, Injury Manchester United.

Louis van Gaal’s side is terribly ravaged with injuries but he still managed to assemble a squad that took FC Midtjylland to the cleaners in the Europa League. Arsenal is a team that has had its fair share of injury problems too, with Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta currently at the treatment table.

However, they’d be joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that suffered an injury after a collision with Javier Mascherano on Tuesday. In all honesty, it could have been an injury that would have been avoided if the Ox wasn’t too clumsy with the ball, but that has been his story this season – all direct and determined with the ball but no end product. He had a chance to make himself a hero when he was left unmarked in the six-yard box with Barcelona’s goalie on the ground but he fired a shot that gave off collective groans by everyone connected with Arsenal.

This was the season I thought the Ox was going to hit those heights expected of him but I have been very wrong. The Englishman has featured in 33 games this season and he has managed to score just two goals – the opener at the Community Shield way back in August and the match clincher against Bournemouth.

With his latest injury, the Ox is set to spend some more time on the sidelines, paving the way for either Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott to stake claims for a first team berth. Walcott will always be known for his prowess in front of goal but he has been reduced to being an impact player this season because of his somewhat peripheral performances. Joel Campbell on the other hand has shown his work rate and some measure of end product in the final third but somehow he has proved to be nothing but just a bit part squad player.

I really like the way Chamberlain loves to take on the opposition without fear but his output in the final third has always been a problem and as it stands, it doesn’t look like changing.

I’m pretty sure that Aaron Ramsey will take that spot on the right wing when a player like Santi Cazorla is fit but the Welsh Jesus continues to enjoy a run out in his preferred central role.

I wish Chamberlain all the best and I hope he recovers soon.

Sayonara

The Ticket Price Debate: It Could Be Worse…

ticket price

It’s no secret Arsenal have the heftiest matchday tickets in the Premier League. It’s less known that they also have the priciest in the Champions League. But nevertheless, we know a trip to the Emirates is expensive. We know that you could be charged as high as £64 a ticket. We know you’ll be forking out almost £4 for a pie, and a cup of tea is nigh on extortionate. So it would be utterly pointless discussing the Emirates. We all know this.

However, what we will discuss is why it is always Arsenal are forever used as an example. Yes, they have the most expensive tickets, yes you won’t get a season ticket for less than £1,000. But it’s not exactly cheaper going away either.

In the Premier League, Gunners fans will often be subject to rises in prices when they roll into town, and when it comes to the Champions League, Arsenal fans have already spent at least £740 on tickets and travel for away fixtures according to The Champions League Price Index.

Including the recently played fixture against Barcelona game on Tuesday, that’s a huge sum for just four matches, working out at £185 per match. And what’s more, it could be worse.

Arsenal’s draw in the Champions League fell kindly to them with the Barcelona tie the second cheapest possible draw available to them in the Round of 16. For Chelsea however, it’s a little different. Fans at Stamford Bridge have already had to shell out around £1,050 away from home and also don’t have the benefit of seven cup games included in their season ticket cost.

At Arsenal of course that is the case, and fans did not have to pay extra for the three group games at the Emirates, however they were asked to pay a surcharge of £20 for the Barcelona game.

ticket two

Naturally, this is still a poor move from the board and things still aren’t good when it comes to the price of football. If we were to reach the final of the Champions League – and it’s a very big if – it could cost a staggering £2,500, and that’s discounting season ticket costs, away games in the Premier League, and an FA Cup campaign. Considering the average UK yearly salary is £21,200 post tax, it’s quite phenomenal.

It appears away from the Emirates is just as bad for the cost of tickets. Arsene Wenger rightly pointed out the cheapest ticket price is cheaper than anywhere in London, and the most common ticket price is lower than many other clubs in England.

Liverpool fans have taken the attention away from Arsenal recently, and rather than an Arsenal problem, it’s being realized that it is a common problem across the whole of football.

We’ve suffered the brunt and rightfully so in some cases. But now other clubs also need to stand up, particularly when it comes to how they treat away fans. Sadly, our men upstairs have shunned the idea of a £30 cap on away tickets, but the Football Supporters Federation would like that even lower.

A spokesperson for the federation, who run the Twenty’s Plenty campaign said,

“Away fans are at the sharp end being subjected to the highest match day prices and don’t have access to discounts that home fans benefit from. This is before the huge cost of travel and accommodation.”

Time for change not just at the Emirates, but across the Premier League and even Europe? We think so…

 

This guest post was written by Richard Greenwood of Blueclaw Search.

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