Category Archives: Football

Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool: That’s What Champions are Made of

Saka's goals keep Arsenal top of Premier League in win over Liverpool

Match Report – Match Highlights  Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 3-2 Liverpool (Martinelli 1′, Saka 45′, 76′ (pk)  | (Nunez 34′, Firmino 53′))

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu; Partey, Xhaka; Saka (Vieira 90′), Odegaard (Tierney 82′), Martinelli; Jesus (Nketiah 90′)

The atmosphere was electric ahead of what was going to be an all-important clash against Liverpool, a team that has been a constant thorn in Arsenal’s flesh in recent seasons. Jurgen Klopp’s men also had a very decent record at the Emirates and despite their indifferent form, they felt they’d get an edge over Mikel Arteta’s young Guns.

Arsenal came out all guns blazing as early as the first minute, with Bukayo Saka launching an attack from the right hand side, feeding Martin Odegaard that sighted an onrushing Gabriel Martinelli before threading the ball in behind the Liverpool defense. The Brazilian winger hit the ball first time and the Gunners were ahead with the fans still trying to settle into the game.

That set the tone for what proved to be a pulsating encounter. Most of the lads in the starting lineup got deserved rest by not featuring in the convincing win over Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League on Thursday, so the expectation was for the lads to step up their game against a worthy adversary in the form of Liverpool. As you’d expect from a top side, the visitors punished the home side after some comical defending from Gabriel Magalhaes allowed Luis Diaz to tee up Darwin Nunez that dispatched the ball past Ramsdale’s near post. It was certainly against the run of play and Liverpool didn’t care. 

However, the Gunners took the lead heading into the break when the brilliant Martinelli ran Jordon Henderson ragged before finding Saka on the back post for a sliding finish. The atmosphere was fantastic and the manager touched on it in his post-match press conference

“I’ve never seen it like this, you cannot imagine how much it helps the players, how much belief it gives, how much confidence, and support. It’s one of the nicest things we’ve done since we are together here, to unite everybody and feel like you go here and you’re going to have some experience and it’s great”

Despite the feel good factor at the Emirates, Liverpool leveled the contest yet again when Diogo Jota located Bobby Firmino in behind the Arsenal defense and the silky Brazilian placed the ball past Ramsdale. With the game delicately poised at 2-2, the next goal was going to be a potential clincher and it arrived when Thiago Alcantara was adjudged to have tackled Gabriel Jesus in the box, forcing Michael Oliver to point to the spot. Saka stepped up for the high-pressure penalty and slotted it past Alisson Becker to make it 3-2.

What ensued afterwards was amazing game management from the lads and the gaffer did his own bit with some substitutions that knocked the wind off Liverpool’s sails. The ref’s whistle sent the Emirates to raptures and it was evident to see what the victory meant to the lads. With each passing win, the confidence level of these lads keeps sky rocketing but I was pleased to see Martinelli speaking about the players keeping their feet on the ground

The mentality of the team a whole lot different from other seasons and the quality cannot be doubted as well. The recent acquisitions have been inspired and this team has a lot of potential to go all the way. Some would call it early days, but what is important is that Arsenal are currently playing like title contenders, wining convincingly in some games and grinding out wins in others.

That’s what champions are made of.

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Arsenal 3-0 Bodo/Glimt: A Good Night at the Office

Arsenal 3-0 Bodo/Glimt: Vieira shines as Arteta's men maintain perfect  start in Europa League

Match Report – Match Highlights – Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 3-0 Bodo/Glimt (Nketiah 23′, Holding 27′, Vieira 84′) 

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney (White 70′); Lokonga, Xhaka (Odegaard 58′); Marquinhos (Saka 58′), F. Vieira, Martinelli (G. Jesus 58′); Nketiah (Nelson 82′)

With a crunch fixture against Liverpool coming up this weekend, Arsenal had the business of the Europa League to handle with the reigning Norwegian champions, Bodo/Glimt, full of confidence, as the table toppers had earned an away draw with PSV Eindhoven and defeated FC Zurich. Arsenal has a very good record against Viking opposition, winning five out of their six encounters with Norwegian contigent.

It was evident that it was going to be a long for the visitors with their goalie, Nikita Haikin, making save after save but Arsenal grabbed the lead from a swift counter attack. The ball was won in the defense and the elegant Fabio Vieira cushioned a defense splitting pass to Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian dallied on the ball a bit before feeding Kieran Tierney that was in acres of space who wasted no time in blasting a goal-bound shot that beat Haikin hands down but the post came to his rescue. Unfortunately for the goalie and the Bodo/Glimt defense, the ball fell to Eddie Nketiah that showed great composure to guide the ball into the unguarded net. If poor technique was applied, the ball would have gone wide off the mark.

Arsenal doubled their money three minutes later after some good work from Fabio Vieira. The Portuguese maestro swung in the initial corner that was dealt with by the Bodo/Glimt defense, and the ball returned to the diminutive midfielder, allowing him a chance to take a second bite at the cherry. He launched a sumptuous cross that was headed home by Rob Holding. It was a good goal for the squad player that had gone further down the pecking order following the emergence of WIlliam Saliba. The opposition hardly had a sniff at the Arsenal rearguard, and Mikel Arteta’s men went into the break with a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Arsenal picked up where they left off in the second half with more attacking play, but Matt Turner kept his concentration levels in check with a vital stop when Amahi Pellegrino got a rare foray in goal and fired a low drive that was parried well before a clearance. Arteta went on to make a triple substitution of Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka for Martinelli, Xhaka and Marquinhos. The former two needed a breather bearing in mind that they are odds on to start against Liverpool, but Marquinhos wasn’t really influential in the course of the game. Interestingly, Jesus remained on the left with Nketiah spearheading the attack, while Odegaard played in the Xhaka role behind Fabio Vieira.

There were further substitutions for the home side with Ben White replacing a visibly jaded Tierney and Reiss Nelson featuring for the first time since August 2021 as a sub for Nketiah. With some pre match information stating that Oleksandr Zinchenko didn’t train ahead of the game against Bodo/Glimt, it made sense to keep Tierney fresh. As for Nelson, I hope he latches onto the opportunities afforded to him because it looks like he’s not cut it to make the grade here at the Emirates.

The match clincher arrived late on, with Gabriel Jesus making mince meat of three defenders before feeding Vieira on a platter for his first Arsenal goal. The midfielder deserved a goal for yet another amazing display but praise would go to Jesus for showing off his sultry dribbling skills and fancy footwork to create an assist. In as much as he’s the top attacking alpha dog, his penchant for creating chances for his teammates is an amazing attribute. 

The win puts the Gunners in pole position in the group with six points, and they’d be heading to Kattegat, or somewhere close to Ragnar Lothbrok’s abode for the return leg against Bodo/Glimt. 

All roads lead to the clash against Liverpool this Sunday, and it’s odds on going to be tasty one. With the Gunners vanquishing their fierce rivals, Spurs, as well as securing their ninth win in 10 games so far this season, confidence is through the roof. 

More on the Liverpool game in the coming days.

Sayonara.

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A Septemba’ to Rememba’ for Xhaka

Arsenal vs Tottenham: Premier League result and report as Gunners dominate Spurs in north London derby at the Emriates stadium | The Independent

Xhaka celebrating the match clincher against Spurs

Let me take you guys down memory lane to sometime in October 2019 at the Emirates Stadium when Arsenal shared the spoils with Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

The forgotten footballing god from Olympus, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, put the home side ahead after just seven minutes and the lead was doubled two minutes later by the shaggy-haired David Luiz. However, Crystal Palace’s penalty merchant, Luka Milivojevic, halved the deficit from the spot (of course!) and Jordan Ayew got the equalizer on the 52nd minute, much to the disgust of the Emirates faithful.

Then the moment of madness arrived – something you can tell your kids and they might even tell their own kids. With the game delicately poised at 2-2, it was only evident that the manager would seek to make some changes in his bid to win the game. The attacking trio of Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe were pretty much starved off the ball for the entirety of the game, and there was a certain Mesut Ozil rotting in the stands, so the manager, in his infinite wisdom, brought on an 18-year-old winger, Bukayo Saka, for the club captain, Xhaka to add more attacking impetus.

This isn’t the first time Xhaka has been subbed, and if I recall clearly, he was jeered by the crowd when his number popped up on the fourth officials board earlier in the season. This time, Xhaka, for the life of me was having none of it. He threw his armband on the pitch, rather than passing it to his vice captain, Aubameyang, screamed ‘f*ck off’ to the Gooners, cupped his ear to further incite the fans before taking his shirt off and storming into the dressing room. 

These were my words from the Crystal Palace match report on the blog the next day, and at that point, Granit Xhaka’s future in Arsenal in jeopardy, he was stripped off the captaincy by Unai Emery, and his agent was facilitating a deal with Hertha Berlin ahead of winter transfer window move. However, in a certain twist of fate, Emery ebeninged his way out, and in came Mikel Arteta, who managed to convince Xhaka that he still had a home at the Emirates and within months, the Swiss captain, signed a contract extension with the club till 2024. 

Fast forward to the start of the new campaign, Xhaka is given a new lease of life as well as an advanced role in the team, and as early as the second game of the season, the Swiss midfielder scored his first goal of the season, latching unto Gabriel Jesus’ ball in the box and prod the ball home. Xhaka was only available to score that goal because of his new attacking impetus granted to him by his manager. This was followed up with another assist to William Saliba in the victory against new boys, Bournemouth.

Xhaka, like the rest of his teammates, began September in a disappointing manner following the loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford. His second game in the month took place in his home country of Switzerland, as Arsenal visited FC Zurich for the Europa League opener. I’m sure the locals would have been pleased to see their hero from Basel strutting his stuff while wearing the armband for the first time in eons. Xhaka followed that strong showing at Zurich with a great performance against Brentford, which was culminated with that sumptuous dinked assist that was nodded home by the August Player of the Month, Gabriel Jesus.

Known for having such an engine which goes hand in hand with unreal levels of fitness, Xhaka went off on international duty, playing 120 minutes for Switzerland against Spain and Czech Republic. It’s also worth noting that Xhaka has notched up 106 caps for his country, since his debut in 2011. 

Last weekend, Xhaka found his scoring boots yet again in the 3-1 victory over our fierce rivals, Tottenham, taking his scoring tally to two goals in nine games. Prior to that, Xhaka had scored two goals in his last 75 games, which spanned across two seasons. 

His efforts have been recognized by the Arsenal faithful as Xhaka has been voted as the Player of the Month for September. He amassed a whopping 84 percent of the votes with Gabriel Jesus (eight percent) and Bukayo Saka (four percent) completing the podium. 

I am very elated with the massive improvement I’ve witnessed on the pitch from Xhaka, but massive kudos would also go to Thomas Partey as well as Oleksandr Zinchenko for the roles they play in central midfield, which have allowed Xhaka add this new dimension to his game. Due to his amazing technique, he has always had a sweet strike on him, but playing in this new ‘left number eight’ role has allowed Xhaka to provide some attacking output to his repertoire, and with two goals and three assists to his name, it’s evident that it has reaped some dividends.

Let’s hope he keeps this great form going, as he has become a very essential cog to the midfield.

It was certainly a Septemba to rememba for Xhaka

Sayonara.

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