Category Archives: Football

Arsenal’s No. 14 Delivers the Club’s 14th FA Cup

Miracle worker' - Chelsea slayer Aubameyang earns praise after ...

What a brilliant finisher!

Match Report Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal (Aubameyang 28′, 67′) 2-1 Chelsea (Pulisic 6′)

Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Martinez; Holding, D. Luiz (Sokratis 88′), Tierney (Kolasinac 113′); Bellerin, Xhaka, Ceballos, Maitland-Niles; Aubameyang, Lacazette (Nketiah 82′), Pepe

Arsenal went into the FA Cup final against Chelsea knowing that anything less than a victory would be more than enough to grant them passage to the Europa League, a competition that the Gunners featured for three consecutive seasons. They came up against the same opponents in the finals of the competition last season, but Eden Hazard was in the form of his life as Chelsea tore Arsenal apart. thereby blowing the Gunners’ chance of featuring in the Champions League.

With the way the Gunners began the campaign under Unai Emery up until his unceremonious departure in December 2019, it’s fair to say that the FA Cup was the one competition that Mikel Arteta had his full grip on, starting with the narrow win over Leeds United, before the away win at recently relegated Bournemouth. This followed a routine win against Portsmouth and Dani Ceballos inspired a late winner against Sheffield United leading the Gunners to Wembley against the FA Cup defending champions and sure-fire favorites, Manchester City. That was one of the most disciplined performances I witnessed from the lads and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sheer class proved to be the difference in just his first FA Cup this season. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, I guess.

The FA Cup final match against Chelsea was expected to be an intense affair, bearing in mind that they white washed the in-form Manchester United to earn a place in the finals. Arsenal and Chelsea met in the same round three seasons ago with Per Mertesacker playing with what proved to be his best match in Arsenal colors that afternoon. The Gunners didn’t have the most auspicious of starts with Olivier Giroud being the scourge yet again with a neat flicked pass to Christian Pulisic that saw the swift winger waltzed past his man before side footing the ball past the onrushing Emiliano Martinez. With just six minutes gone, Arsenal were on the back foot. 

Conceding that goal also took the winds off the sails of the Gunners with Chelsea on the ascendancy in the early proceedings but if you watched Mikel Arteta’s tactics in recent games, there has been one consistent move where Kieran Tierney loops the ball into space to allow the captain use his blistering pace to great effect. It provided a goal in the semifinals against Manchester City and it proved to be vital yet again, as Tierney sent Aubameyang through with the same ball, leading to a contest between Auba and Cesar Azpilicueta which ultimately saw the experienced defender concede a penalty for infringement. Despite VAR’s best efforts to probably prove otherwise, the penalty decision stood and Aubameyang finished with aplomb.

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double clinches FA Cup for Arsenal - Los ...

Aubameyang sending Caballero the wrong way

That goal brought life back to Arsenal’s FA Cup campaign but the disappointment of conceding to Arsenal turned to despair when Azpilicueta pulled up short when chasing for the ball, leading to lengthy treatment and his eventual substitution with youngster, Andreas Christiansen, coming on to replace him. Chelsea had more injury concerns at the start of the second half with Pulisic also pulled his hammy as he attempted a sprint, and with Will.i.an having his own injury problems, Pedro came on to replace Chelsea’s live wire. 

That didn’t matter to the Gunners as Aubameyang scored his second goal of the match, which I must say, was sweeter than the sweetest thing I could ever think of at that frigging moment. After receiving the ball from Nicolas Pepe on the right, he shimmed past his marker and dinked a sumptuous ball past a hapless Willy Caballero. The acrobatic celebrations were on show and Arsenal was truly in control of the contest. Their cause was helped when Mateo Kovacic earned an early bath for his tackle on Granit Xhaka. Both lads were combative all game long but Kovacic was on the end of two bookings from infringements on Xhaka, leaving the ref no choice but to do the needful. The Chelsea horror show continued when substitute, Pedro, landed awkwardly and injured his shoulder, which led to a very lengthy treatment and stoppage time as he had to be stretched off.

The ref’s final whistle was like music to the ears of Mikel Arteta, the players and the fans watching worldwide, as their heroes won their 14 FA Cup, making Arsenal the undisputed kings of the competition. Hell, they even inspired me to write my first blog post in the best part of two months, and I hope to remain consistent in the coming days and weeks.

As expected, Arteta waxed lyrical about his captain and even bantered him about his goofy moment when the trophy fell off his hands. At least, I don’t think there will be any bus parade, so Aubameyang will not have his Sergio Ramos moment to drop the trophy under the team bus

Everyone associated with Arsenal is rightly proud of Mikel Arteta at this moment, as he joins the league of extraordinary gentlemen that have won the FA Cup as a player and manager. More importantly, this is a real silver lining at the end of what has been a very dark season. Started terribly, failed woefully in the transfer market and finished in our lowest position in many years. However, we can look back on this season with some restored hope that things can get better again, if we do the important things like somehow convincing Aubameyang to remain at the club, getting rid of the deadwood and doing the right business in the transfer market.

Sayonara.

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Hectic Premier League Fixture Schedule and Five Substitutions Approved

Granit Xhaka only has one option after telling fans to 'f*** off ...

We were informed that the Premier League was set to resume on June 17, 2020 with Arsenal playing that all-important game in hand against Manchester City but with the expectations in place to wrap up this campaign in swift fashion, there was some probability that the fixture schedule was going to be insane. That’s why it came as no surprise when the FA approved the use of five substitutions, instead of the traditional three when the Premier League resumes in a couple of weeks.

For the remainder of the 2019/20 season, the number of substitutes that can be used during a match will increase from three to five players.

This is in line with the temporary law amendment made by the International Football Association Board last month. 

Shareholders also approved for clubs to increase the maximum number of substitute players on the bench from seven to nine for the rest of the 2019/20 season. 

Here’s the catch, there will only be three substitution windows, like it has always been but the key message here is that there are valid concerns over the fitnesses of players that haven’t kicked the ball in the best part of three months, and are now odds on to feature consistently in what I’d regard as one hell of a provisional hectic fixture schedule as shown below

Date Fixture Venue Time
Wed, June 17 Aston Villa vs Sheffield United Villa Park 6.00pm
Wed, June 17 Man City vs Arsenal Etihad Stadium 8.15pm
Fri, June 19 Norwich vs Southampton Carrow Road 6.00pm
Fri, June 19 Spurs vs Man Utd New White Hart Lane 8.15pm
Sat, June 20 Watford vs Leicester Vicarage Road 12.30pm
Sat, June 20 Brighton vs Arsenal Amex Stadium 3.00pm
Sat, June 20 West Ham vs Wolves London Stadium 5.30pm
Sat, June 20 Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace Vitality Stadium 7.45pm
Sun, June 21 Newcastle United vs Sheffield United St. James Park 2.00pm
Sun, June 21 Aston Villa vs Chelsea Villa Park 4.30pm
Sun, June 21 Everton vs Liverpool Goodison Park 7.00pm
Mon, June 22 Man City vs Burnley Etihad Stadium 8.00pm
Tue, June 23 Southampton vs Arsenal St. Mary’s Stadium 6.00pm
Tue, June 23 Spurs vs West Ham London Stadium 8.15pm
Wed, June 24 Man Utd vs Sheffield United Old Trafford 6.00pm
Wed, June 24 Newcastle United vs Aston Villa St. James Park 6.00pm
Wed, June 24 Norwich vs Everton Carrow Road 6.00pm
Wed, June 24 Liverpool vs Crystal Palace Anfield 8.15pm
Thu, June 25 Burnley vs Watford Turf Moor 6.00pm
Thu, June 25 Leicester vs Brighton King Power Stadium 6.00pm
Thu, June 25 Chelsea vs Manchester City Stamford Bridge 8.15pm
Thu, June 25 Wolves vs Bournemouth Molineux 8.15pm
Sun, June 28 Aston Villa vs Wolves Villa Park 12.00pm
Sun, June 28 Watford vs Southampton Vicarage Road 4.30pm
Mon, June 29 Crystal Palace vs Burnley Selhurst Park 8.00pm
Tue, June 30 Brighton vs Man Utd Amex Stadium 6.00pm
Tue, June 30 Sheffield United vs Spurs Bramall Lane 8.15pm
Wed, July 1 Bournemouth vs Newcastle United Vitality Stadium 6.00pm
Wed, July 1 Everton vs Leicester Goodison Park 6.00pm
Wed, July 1 West Ham vs Chelsea London Stadium 8.15pm
Thu, July 2 Arsenal vs Norwich Emirates Stadium 6.00pm
Thu, July 2 Man City vs Liverpool Etihad Stadium 8.15pm

 

When you add Arsenal’s FA Cup quarterfinal clash against Sheffield United which has been scheduled for Saturday, June 27, 2020, it would mean that Mikel Arteta’s side will play five games in sixteen days, which is pretty insane if you ask me. With the games coming thick and fast, it only makes sense to have five substitutions which will give the gaffer the opportunity to rotate the squad well and keep the team fresh. 

We have gone from there’s no more football to how will we watch all this football!

Finally, our friends at Unisport Store published a very cool infographic that shows a complete overview of all Arsenals kits, what boots the players wear, the gloves that goalkeeper’s wear and small “did you know” stories. Check it out below

 

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Thoughts on the Aubameyang Contract Situation

Quiz: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's 50 Arsenal goals | Quiz | News ...

Aubameyang celebrates goal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the players in the current crop whose contract is scheduled to expire at the end of next season. David Luiz, Bukayo Saka, Mesut Ozil, Skhodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are in the same category, but it’s evident that if Arsenal has an option to keep one player from the aforementioned crop, it will be the man that has scored 61 goals in 97 appearances for the club, in just two-and-a-half seasons so far. 

Losing Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck on a free transfer was shameful to say the least, as both players sales would have contributed massively to the club’s coffers, especially with Ramsey being one of the sought after deep lying playmakers in his position, but Juventus acted swiftly and snapped the Welsh Jesus for free when they were supposed to have paid some good millions for him. This prompted the club’s Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi, to state clearly that the club will not allow ‘key players’ leave on a Bosman. A few years have gone since Sanllehi’s famous words and here we are again, with the potential to lose one of Europe’s most feared center forwards for nothing, should the club decide not to sell him this summer.

At least, Aubameyang has not done a Robin van Persie yet, saying things that would irk the Arsenal faithful, but he has said the right words, stating that he’s focused on Arsenal, as confirmed by the head coach, Mikel Arteta. Since Arteta joined the club in December 2019, his impact has been immense and there have been several reports from the playing staff confirming how he has steadied the ship that was sinking without trace under Ser Ebening. Arteta has already proved his worth in the Granit Xhaka situation, after it was evident that he was odds on to leave to Hertha Berlin in January 2020.

This Aubameyang contract situation leaves us with only three plausible options, which I intend to discuss anon.

  • Option One: Sell him off to the highest bidder and reinvest the money in another good center forward
  • Option Two: Play hard ball and shove off all potential suitors, allow him play his final campaign and let him go on a free transfer next summer
  • Option Three: Find a way to get him to sign da ting!!

Option One: Bye-Bye Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

It’s not a surprise that a quality player like Aubameyang approaching the last year of his contract with the club will be on the radars of the biggest clubs in the game, and when the Express reported that FC Barcelona declared their interest in signing the Arsenal ace, I was hopeful it was not going to materialize to something concrete. Barcelona will be a good fit for Aubameyang with legendary forward, Luis Suarez, in the September of what has been an illustrious career. The amount mentioned on these streets is £50 million, and it has also been reported by the Sun that Real Madrid is interested too.

Knowing that such big bad footballing wolves are huffing and puffing at the Emirates to blow the house down and get them some Aubameyang, the club’s resolve will be tested in the scenario where the player and his representatives don’t reach an amicable agreement with his contract. It’s not a good situation to be in, but for what its worth, Aubameyang will not be the first player to be in such a situation, and he will not be the last. 

Option Two: Serve Your Time and Leave for Free PEA…

Arsenal is no stranger to this option as the memories of the Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck situation is still fresh in our minds. With Welbeck, it was evident that the club was no longer interested with his services, especially with the litany of injuries and his overall inconsistent plays, not to forget those world famous air shots. It was the contractual situation with Aaron Ramsey that left a lot to be desired. There are several stories and conspiracy theories of what went down between the club and the player’s agents, but what we know for sure was that Ramsey loved the club so much that he gave Arsenal 11 years of his career, 369 appearances, 64 goals, one broken leg and of course, three FA Cups.

Seeing how he was moved to tears on his final presentation showed his class as a player and what Arsenal represented in his life.

The potential exists for the club to take the same approach with Aubameyang, you know, meet with his representatives in the course of the season with the hope for him to sign a new deal, after closing the door to all the vultures trying to get their claws on him this summer, only for the deal to break down and it becomes evident that the talismanic forward will be leaving on a free transfer.

Yeah, there will probably be some gnashing of teeth and despair among the Arsenal faithful, but as the saying goes,  soldiers come and go, but the barracks stay eternal.

Option Three: Find a Way to Get Aubameyang to Sign da Ting

Who remembers that protracted saga Arsenal had with Theo Walcott to sign a contract extension? At some point, it looked that Walcott was not going to renew that deal, despite all the attempts from the club, probaly some players and especially the fans to persuade him. We came close to another situation with Mesut Ozil, where he signed the famous £350,000 per week deal has become the stick we always use to flog him with. 

The Telegraph has reported an interesting article stating that Arsenal gaffer, Mikel Arteta, is at the forefront in the charge to convince Aubameyang to remain at the club,

Arteta is preparing to initiate talks and hopes to impress the 30-year-old and his father. Rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the club’s contract and transfer chiefs, Arteta believes he can make a difference by taking a hands-on approach to Aubameyang’s future.

He wants to convince Aubameyang that Arsenal can once again finish in the top four and compete for trophies.

Arteta is a much loved and respected figure at the club, forging a wonderful understanding with the fans in his playing days and doing his bit to bring that connection back to the fans as a manager. It is clear that since Arteta took over, there have been massive improvement at everything connected with Arsenal, from the style of play, to the results, to performances of some individuals that performed so poorly under Emery, to even the atmosphere at the Emirates.

He convinced the deposed wantaway club captain that his future still lies at the Emirates and Xhaka became an important cog in the midfield machine. When clubs were struggling with finances following the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arteta convinced the players to take a 12.5% pay cut, which was hugely publicized, earning him the right plaudits. 

He will have it all to do to convince Aubameyang to commit his long term future to the club but with Arteta on the helm, the club has been on the right direction, and Aubameyang has seen it first hand. Going far in the Europa League would have represented the best chance to qualify for the Champions League, but the Gunners still have 10 games in the Premier League to at the very least, fight to the very end.

Finally, it still boils down to one player – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and we can only hope that he makes a decision that is best for him and Arsenal football club.

Sayonara.

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