Category Archives: FA Cup

So Much for a Title Defense as Arsenal are Knocked Out of the FA Cup

 

Reiss+Nelson+Nottingham+Forest+v+Arsenal+Emirates+in9fUOAuHVvl

I had expected the manager to name a makeshift lineup with the ‘fringe’ players and expected them to do a job against a Championship mid-table outfit like Nottingham Forest. The lineup had a 3-4-3 outlook about it but it looked more like a back four with Matt Debuchy and AMN on the fullback positions while club captain, Per Mertesacker, and promising youngster, Rob Holding, played at the heart of the defense. Alex Iwobi was at the tip of a midfield that had Joe Willock and Mo Elneny while Danny Welbeck spearheaded the attack with Theo Walcott and Reiss Nelson on both flanks. This was like a typical Europa League squad and at the very least, I expected them to do enough to take the Gunners to the fourth round. Some expectation yeah.

The game itself was a horror show for the Gunners as they had all the possession and did zilch with it. It was actually the home side that had the better efforts on goal and it was no surprise when they took the lead from Eric Lichaj headed an indirect free kick from point blank range, leaving David Ospina stranded. Apparently, the defenders tried to keep him offside when they forgot that the defensive wall from the free kick kept him on. Arsenal pegged them back an equalizer from Mertesacker following a goalmouth scramble but getting the game level did nothing to improve the performance of Steve Bould’s side. It was actually Lichaj that put the home side ahead again with a well-taken volley at the edge of the area with Ospina rooted but you have to wonder how he was allowed to pick his spot and shoot without any pressure.

Imagine a Nottingham side that had failed to score in their last two games finding the net twice against Arsenal. Their 18-year-old forward, Ben Brereton was a constant thorn in the flesh of Mertesacker and Holding, getting the better of the supposed more experienced defenders on several occasions and Holding’s night changed form bad to worse when he conceded a needless penalty, allowing Brereton to show composure beyond his years and send Ospina the wrong way from the spot. Lichaj would have fancied to score a hat-trick from the spot kick as he revealed after the game that his wife promised him a dog if he netted a hat-trick. Coming from a guy that has never even scored a brace before in the Championship.

Arsenal reduced the deficit when Smith failed to handle the ball well, allowing Danny Welbeck to creep in and place the ball to an unguarded net with 12 minutes to spare. One would have expected an onslaught as Steve Bould sent it Norwich hero, Eddie Nketiah, and Chuba Akpom into the fray but as you’d expect from Arsenal, they just found a way to cock things up as Debuchy fouled ex-Gunner, Armand Traore, in the penalty box with Dowell scoring the penalty that sent the defensing champions crashing out with their tails in between their legs. There was some suspicion of double touch for Dowell’s penalty but that was dismissed by Jon Moss and the goal stood. Akpom had an effort late on but he tried to lob the keeper when using power would have been a better option.

Nowhere close to contention for the Premier League title, out of the top four, star players not signing contracts, have money to spend but certainly won’t, now out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle. Arsenal is in such a mess and sadly, the fans know that it can only get worse. The Europa League offers the Gunners their only change of silverware this season unless they want to turn up with an outstanding performance against Chelsea in the semifinals and potentially, Manchester City in the finals.

It’s really sad to see how poor our second string eleven is, and we got a glimpse of that in the Europa League this season, as they turned up well in some games and were pretty woeful to see the least in others. I’m in no mood to start singling out individual performances because I wouldn’t stop, but if these guys think they can come to the first team any time soon in the Premier League, then they must be joking. If they can’t prove their usefulness against a mid-table Championship side like Nottingham Forest, what use will they be to us when we play those extremely tough Premier League games. It’s also funny how none of the players that featured yesterday never complain about their consistent time on the bench because, putting it in simple terms, they are not good enough and I’m terribly ashamed of that lot.

With the FA Cup out of the way, all focus will go to Stamford Bridge as the Gunners prepare for their Carabao Cup semis and one can only wonder the kinda Arsenal that will turn up.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on the FA Cup Semi Final Draws

Image result for kante goal man utd fa cup

Following the rather intense game between Chelsea and Manchester United last night, the FA Cup has been reduced to the last four and there would be no minnows, or lower echelon sides in the competition as Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea will battle it out at Wembley for the right to win the world’s oldest cup competition.

In terms of goalscoring ability, Spurs have been a class apart with their players lighting it up in the tournament. Their last resounding win against Millwall came at a price with their talisman, Harry Kane, suffering an ankle injury that can sideline him for the rest of the campaign. It’s a big blow to lose a striker that has registered over 20 goals for the club in the last three seasons but they’d have to soldier on without him. That’s actually a good thing though, as the Gunners would know that their arch rival’s title challenge could be dented. Not like they can do better.

The draws are out with Chelsea’s reward for knocking out Manchester United being a Wembley date with the red hot Tottenham and that would be very interesting, bearing in mind that Chelsea’s last defeat after 13 wins on the spin arrived at the hands of the North Londoners. Mauricio Pochettino’s formation is somewhat similar to what Antonio Conte lines up with his Blues, which made the last game really feisty. Dele Alli turned out to be star of the night but his side would be looking for him to pop up with the goods when they play the runaway leaders next month.

The other semifinal sees Arsene Wenger stand in the way Pep Guardiola’s chance of winning his first silverware with Man City. The Citizens have had a topsy turvy campaign thus with several bouts of indiscipline, injuries and inconsistency rattling the squad. Claudio Bravo has turned out to be a calamity, which shows that the treatment of Joe Hart was unjustified. then the usually reliable Sergio Aguero has struggled for form. It’s not like Arsenal has been on fire as well. Five defeats in the last seven games still rings a bell.

The games will be played on the 22nd and 23rd of April.

Sayonara

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Preston 1-2 Arsenal: Giroud to the Rescue, again!!!

Olivier Giroud v Preston North End

Match Report Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

It’s been ages since I published any article on this blog. Apologies for the hiatus but I’ve been involved in a whole lot of things and with no one to hold the fort, there have been a lot of cobwebs in this place.

So I dashed away from a wedding reception I attended to ensure I made it to a bar in time to watch Arsenal’s game against Preston. With the prior knowledge that some of the big guns were going to be rested, as well as the niggling injuries and a certain Mohamed Elneny joining his country on international duty, Arsene Wenger didn’t have many options on his team selection strategy for the team.

However, he had places for David Ospina in goal as Petr Cech got a breather, but Kieran Gibbs hadn’t recovered from his knee injury on time, allowing Nacho Monreal to continue as the left back. Laurent Koscielny was rested to accommodate Gabriel alongside Skhodran Mustafi but it was very interesting seeing Ainsley Maitland-Niles as a right back ahead of Carl Jenkinson. I strongly believe that Jenks is leaving on loan to another English club this January, but the boss probably didn’t want to cup-tie the lad. The paucity of options in midfield saw the RamXhaka combination with newly crowned CAF Youth Player of the Year, Alex Iwobi, in the Ozil role. Lucas Perez and the Ox flanked the captain of the night, Olivier Giroud.

To be honest, the first half was pure shite from an Arsenal perspective. Preston scored an early goal from a young bloke called Robinson, they had a drilled effort across the goal that would have put them two up if any player touched the ball, and they even had a chance that Monreal cleared off the line. It was that kinda half for Arsenal. Going into the break with a goal behind a lower division team was embarrassing to say the least and everyone demanded a response which Arsenal obliged.

Straight from the restart, the Gunners pressed hard for an equalizer and found it from Ramsey, a player that had been bereft of goals all season long. Iwobi has to be hauled for some brilliant player in the link up to the goal. The early equalizer settled some nerves and the visitors continued to push for the winner but it wasn’t forthcoming. Just when we thought that we would have an unnecessary FA Cup replay on our hands, the Gunners nicked it right at the death, thanks to Giroud. Ramsey played a good ball to Perez who noticed the French forward in his path then he executed a neat back-heeled pass. For a lad not renowned for his speed, Giroud reacted really swiftly to Lucas’ pass and bundled the ball into the net to send the Gunners to the fourth round.

Olivier Giroud v Preston North End

The highlight of the night was the return of long term injury absentee, Danny Welbeck, to first team football action. He almost capped with with a brilliant curled effort but the Preston goalie denied the forward a fairytale comeback. In the end, it was a job well done from Wenger’s men and they’d be hoping to put up better performances as the season progresses.

Like Bournemouth a couple of days ago, the Gunners were terrible and for some reason, the defense is no longer impregnable, as the team continues to leak in goals from all classes of opposition. All focus would turn to Swansea away.

More on that game in the coming days ahead.

Sayonara.

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