Monthly Archives: March 2016

Thoughts on Elneny’s Performance at Camp Nou

It was always going to be an uphill task getting any positive result against a side like Barcelona, especially in the wretched run of form the Gunners find themselves in. But like in many Champions League second leg Knockout Phase ties before this, the Gunners went to the away side with nothing to lose after cocking up in the first leg…as usual.

Changes were needed from that aberration of a squad that couldn’t get past Watford at home in the FA Cup, so the manager benched Per Mertesacker, Kieran Gibbs and surprisingly, Francis Coquelin and Joel Campbell. Whether he was ‘resting’ the Costa Rican for the game against Everton remains to be seen, but leaving him out on such a spectacle must have hurt the lad. Remember that he’s yet to sign a new deal and it’s moments like this that would make him think about his importance to the team but hey, that’s his problem.

Alex Iwobi bellied his years to put up a virtuoso performance and his impact was felt when he left the pitch, but my player of the night was the new kid on the block, Mohamed Elneny. I know it took a while for him to get settled in and even get some games with the fading Mathieu Flamini even getting minutes ahead of him when the Coq was still out injured but Aaron Ramsey’s injury setback has paved the way for Elneny to make his mark on the team and boy, have I been impressed.

Yes, his shooting let him down against Watford but at least, he was willing to try but what I really love about the guy is his ability to be everywhere on the pitch and dictate tempo of the game. His passing is high up there with the very best in the team and in yesterday’s game against Barcelona, he covered the most distance with a whopping 12.85 km, according to the stats boys.

With Ramsey still out injured, Elneny will get an extended run out as a box to box midfielder but it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Santi Cazorla returns in April. His versatility also ensures that he can play the holding role too, so with Coq dipping in form, his place can be threatened by the tarantula haired chap.

I hope I get my 5,000 bucks from Canon Crested as well

Sayonara.

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The Morning After that Disappointing Cup Exit

Arsenal players rue missed chance

For a season that promised so much, things are looking rather bleak for Arsene Wenger and his team. After so much unnecessary talk of how the players held some top secret closed doors meeting where nuclear launch codes were shared among the lads, it was back to the same feeling of frustration and despair as Arsenal allowed Watford to come to the Emirates and leave with a victory – a game the Gunners dominated from start to finish. We all know possession of the ball isn’t enough – it’s what you do with it that matters.

There were the missed chances, as you expect from a pathetic profligate team like Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny was culpable for the kind of misses we the fans usually throw abuses on Aaron Ramsey. Then there was the goal from Olivier Giroud that was rightly ruled offside. Could he have timed his run better? Of course, yes! With more missed chances I feared that the visitors would show the Gunners how to finish and sadly, I was right. Odion Ighalo used his strength to shove off Gabriel before placing the ball past David Ospina. Its moments like that they showed how important Laurent Koscielny is to the team because I would have been confident that he would not allow a forward bully him like that, inside his box.

After waiting for Wenger to find a replacement for Thomas Vermaelen, Gabriel Paulista has shown that he has a lot to learn and it’s unfortunate to see how his naivety is costing us games. Not like I’m a fan of the blame game but there have been games were better basic defending from a better defender would have been enough to quell a lot of attacking threats. He may grow in strength to become an Alessandro Nesta or something in the future but at this moment, he’s looking more like a liability than an asset.

With the Gunners chasing the game, Watford hit them on the break and I wondered where everybody was when Guerdiora was allowed to pick his spot to send a piledriver through Ospina into the net. A part of me feels that the Colombian shot stopper could have done better but with the Gunners trailing with two goals, I knew the game was over.

Wenger ‘responded’ with three substitutions of Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott. Two of the three made their presence felt in the game, while Walcott proved yet again to be a waste of a substitution. Welbeck huffed and puffed but finally made his mark when he latched onto a brilliant back heeled pass from Mesut Ozil to side-foot the ball home. Iwobi and his Fransceco Totti-esque socks showed great movement and confidence with the ball. His moment of glory almost arrived when he fired a shot that hit the post and ricocheted off the goalie but Welbeck’s rebound was poor to say the least.

At the end, it was Watford that went to the semis and the Gunners are set for more misery with the fact that Tottenham are closing the gap on Leicester with another win over relegation-bound Aston Villa. Everyone will be waiting for Rafa Benitez to work his magic on Newcastle as they take on Leicester tonight but one wonders where the Gunners will go from here.

I like Arsene Wenger and everything he has done for this great club but I’m really scared for him right now. The team has become so impotent in front of goal, especially at the Emirates, and so many players are underperforming below what they are usually capable of.

I am filled with sadness today but as an Arsenal supporter, I must keep the faith that something, could still happen in the Premier League. I have already written off our chances in the Champions League because of the sheer brilliance of FC Barcelona but as long as it is still mathematically possible to win the Premier League, I will not give up hope.

Sayonara.

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So the Players Had a ‘Crisis’ Meeting? Ok…

ArsenalWalcott0903.jpg

Before Arsenal’s resounding win over Hull City, the team had gone on a barren run of form that saw them slip further down in the title race. With the bad run of results, fans became frustrated and confidence was shattered. The nature of the losses to a weakened Manchester United and a struggling Swansea were very disappointing to say the least and with the Gunners currently eight points behind Leicester, it will take a miracle for the lads to make up ground in the title race.

Instead of remaining down casted and feeling sorry for themselves, the club’s stalwart, Theo Walcott has revealed that the players held a crunch meeting without Arsene Wenger,

“We are not going to lie—we know as a unit it has been tough and we all had a good chat amongst us behind closed doors, without even any of coaches or the manager knowing about anything. It is important that as a team [to know] we have got it in us. 

We just have to produce it more often. You had a sense of the Tottenham game especially, when you go down to 10 men in a big game like that, the belief and the character was there. The never-give-up spirit was there as well. In the derby matches, they could be the matches that turn your season and we may have turned the corner.

We have quite a lot of experienced players in the dressing room. It came from [Petr] Cech, Mikel [Arteta], Per [Mertesacker] and Tomas [Rosicky]. We have four good old heads there. I’d like to keep what was said among ourselves but it was very important. We have had a reaction from it.

[The manager] probably knows about it anyway. The manager respects the players’ privacy and what is  happening personally among us all. It was a meeting to express how everyone was feeling basically and it worked.”

Walcott himself, had a great game against Hull, by his fair standards but in my honest opinion, he hasn’t still done enough to warrant a starting berth in the run-in for the title. Arsene Wenger will need every fit player at his disposal to challenge effectively for the FA Cup and the Premier League (yes, I ignored adding the Champions League on purpose) but it’s down to whoever he selects to do the job required of them.

The win against Hull has set things up for a showdown with Watford this weekend and the fans will be hoping that the team goes to the FA Cup semifinals at Wembley without going through another replay. Despite the win against Hull, Arsenal lost Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista and Aaron Ramsey to injury. Wenger can ill-afford anymore absentees to the squad.

The only prayer would be that this win sparks some kind of winning streak that could help the team in their bid to win their first league title in 12 years. It’s been a while since Arsenal fans had a gold barge on their jerseys in the next season.

We as fans would love that.

Sayonara.

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