Monthly Archives: March 2016

Confidence Restored as Gunners win the Battle of Goodison Park

Welbeck

Everton 0-2 Arsenal

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

There was something about that mid-week loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Arsene Wenger’s men were probably aware of the fact that qualification was going to be impossible after that dismal first leg performance but they gave it a go and played to the best of their abilities. Despite the poor efficiency in front of goal and school boys that led to the Barcelona goals, you could feel the confidence flowing as Arsene Wenger fielded a revitalized squad bereft of those underwhelming performers like Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, that rightly deserved their places on the bench.

With that wisdom, the manager opted for the same squad that played at Nou Camp and many wonders what cult hero, Joel Campbell, was going to do to get into the team. This also meant that the onus was on the players on the pitch to do what was required of them and the goals from Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi justified the manager’s selections of them over Giroud and Campbell. Yes, Alexis Sanchez is still struggling with his form but he still managed to get an assist on the day.

What impressed me about yesterday’s performance was the solidity the team had at its spine. David Ospina was relatively untested and suffered a nasty knock but Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista ensured that their goalie was to have a hassle-free day. Both defenders took turns on who was going to put Romelu Lukaku in their pockets as the Belgian hotshot was quite for the entirety of the game. Nacho Monreal and birthday boy, Hector Bellerin did their bit defensively and offensively, with the young Spaniard lofting the pass that led to watch proved to be the match clincher.

Then what can I say about this…

Boy! The Coq is back! Since his return from injury, the Coq had struggled and people started questioning whether his exploits of 2015 was a fluke but it was good to see the Frenchman issue a reminder to his critics that he’s still the real deal. Then there was Mohamed Elneny, a gem of a player at Arsenal. The Egyptian covered every blade of grass at the Goodison and always made himself available for a pass. The best thing about that Coqneny combination was how they kept complementing each other and their positional discipline was top notch.

Up front, Welbeck made himself a nuisance to the opposition defenders and he harried them into making errors. His own moment of glory arrived when he latched onto Sanchez’ pass, rounded the goalie and dispatched the ball neatly into the net. Had that ball fallen to Giroud, he would have lashed it straight at the keeper or out wide. To justify what I was saying, Giroud had such a chance late on and he found the side netting with his effort.

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck celebrates his opener against Everton in the early Premier League clash at Goodison Park

Welbeck celebrating his opener

Iwobi showed his improved and naive side of the game but I would take nothing from what was a brilliant solo individual effort to score his first senior goal for the club. After receiving a cross field ball from Bellerin, he did so well to wade off a more physical Funes Mori before playing the ball through the goalie’s legs. The player is focused and has stated that he’s enjoying the moment.

This win has gone a long way to restore some measure of confidence to the team and the players will go into the international break with some optimism. Leicester’s narrow win over Crystal Palace didn’t help the team’s title hopes but there is still some glimmer of hope for everyone associated with Arsenal.

Sayonara.

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Everton Preview: Time to Pick Up the Points

In 2016, Arsenal has failed to muster up any form of consistency. According to the stats boys, the Gunners have won just four out of 15 games in the turn of the calendar year and it was against lowly Burnley, Hull, Bournemouth and 10-man Leicester City. Since then, it has been a flurry of disappointing draws and painful losses along the way.

There was a very familiar feeling when the Gunners crashed out of the FA Cup and Champions League in the same week, but Mesut Ozil has urged the team to fight on, as there is still a small glimmer of hope for their fading title challenge. For Arsene Wenger’s men to win the league this season, we have to win all their remaining games while hoping for other teams to do them favors against Leicester and Tottenham.

The record books favor Arsenal in this fixture, as Everton has one just once in the last 18 meetings (D6 L11), but Wenger’s side have won none of the last three league trips to Goodison Park (D2 L1). When both sides met earlier in the season, the Gunners ran out as 2-1 winners.

Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last five games in all competitions against Everton, including in each of the last three Premier League meetings.

Arsenal Team News

 

Wenger shared some insight on the wretched injury situation ravaging the club at the moment,

“Well, the other night we lost Mathieu Flamini with a hamstring injury, so he will be out. Wilshere is showing good signs now of recovery, Santi is a bit slower. The players who will definitely be back from injury [after the international break] will be Ramsey, Cech and maybe Flamini. But I don’t think Cazorla or Wilshere will be straight after the international break.”

The injuries continue to disrupt the squad but there are some players that will seize the opportunity to make their mark. Mohamed Elneny will want to build on his good performance at the Nou Camp and I don’t mind if he gets a two or two today because goals have been hard to come by nowadays at Arsenal.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Jack Wilshere (ankle), Santi Cazorla (knee), Tomas Rosicky (thigh), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Carl Jenkinson (knee), Petr Cech (calf), Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Mathieu Flamini (hamstring)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Everton Team News

 

Romelu Lukaku was the star attraction when Everton eased past Chelsea to book a place in the semifinals. They have had the luxury of a week’s rest before todays encounter, unlike their opponents that had some mid-week action in a wet Camp Nou. However, the Toffees have somewhat struggled in the league this season, and they would be without a couple of players – most notably, Gareth Barry, that earned himself a red card in the FA Cup victory over Chelsea.

Everton Injury / Suspension News

Tyrias Browning (knee), Tony Hibbert (knee), Bryan Oviedo (illness), Steven Pienaar (knock), Darron Gibson (knock), Kevin Mirallas (suspension), Gareth Barry (suspension)

Everton Predicted Lineup

Everton 4-2-3-1 football formation

 

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: L D W L L
  • Last Result: Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal
  • Leading Goalscorer: Olivier Giroud (20)

Everton

  • Last Five Games: L W W L W
  • Last Result: Everton 2-0 Chelsea
  • Leading Goalscorer: Romelu Lulaku (25)

Gooner Daily predicts a 2 – 0 win for Arsenal.

Sayonara.

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Does Walcott Deserve a Place in the England Squad?

As we are all aware, the Easter weekend has been tagged as the period for the final international break of the season as coaches would have a final look at their squads ahead of their selections for the forthcoming Europeans Championships. For England boss, Roy Hodgson, it would offer him a chance to see the Premier League’s finest strut their stuff at international level. The former Fulham and West Brom manager has named his squad for the friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany and as you’d expect, there are a couple of fresh call ups in the side with the inclusion of Danny Drinkwater, that has been outstanding for Leicester City.

In goal, Jack Butland, Fraser Forster and Joe Hart have done pretty well for their respective clubs with the Southampton goalie’s form recognized as he won the PFA Player of the Month award for February. There are familiar names in the defense with the likes of Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, John Stones, Chris Smalling, Nathaniel Clyne and Kyle Walker in the list but youngsters like Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand made the grade. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs was deservedly overlooked, as I don’t believe that he has done enough this season to warrant selection.

In midfield, it hurts to see my compatriot, Bamidele Alli, in the team list but I’m happy for the lad because he has been in outstanding form for the enemy. There were also call ups for Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and newbie, Danny Drinkwater. In attack, I have no qualms with the call ups for Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck but does Theo Walcott deserve a place in the England squad at the moment?

In all honesty, my answer would be ‘NO’!!!

Many fans feel that his selection is based on the fact that he’s playing for one of England’s biggest clubs because if we were judging based on form, he would be at home watching the game from his TV screen. This has been a terrible campaign for the England international, even though he reached a personal milestone when he clocked a decade with the Gunners.

This season, he has played up front on his own, he has featured on the left wing were he was so peripheral in games and of course, he has gotten a run out on his ‘favored’ right wing position. In 32 games, he has scored eight goals but his importance to the team is becoming questionable because he doesn’t tend to make any impact when he’s summoned to do a job on the pitch. We were all happy for him when he ended his drought with a two-goal haul against Hull but I’m still hoping that he makes a good contribution for the team between now and May.

He has been usurped from the first team by Joel Campbell despite injuries to right wing favorites, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Following Alex Iwobi’s impressive outing at Camp Nou, he may just get the nudge over a non-performer like Walcott.

With his poor form, he has been selected for the Three Lions and it would be interesting to see if he’d get a run out on the pitch.

Sayonara.

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