Category Archives: Match Report

Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal: 10-Man Gunners Salvage Draw at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea Arsenal

Martinelli breezing past Kante

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal

Goal Scorers: Chelsea (Jorginho 28′ pen, Azpilicueta 84′), Arsenal (Martinelli 64′, Bellerin 87′)

Arsenal XI (Subs) (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, D. Luiz, Mustafi, Saka; Xhaka, Torreira; Martinelli, Ozil, Pepe; Lacazette

With the games coming thick and fast, there was no time to sulk over the draw against Sheffield United last weekend, as the Gunners arrived at Stamford Bridge, 10 points behind the inconsistent Chelsea. Both teams were in a poor vein of form and someone joked that it was the kind of game that both of them could actually lose.

There was some concern around the inclusion of Shkodran Mustafi in the starting lineup for the second league match in a row, because with Mustafi, you would always expect a calamity as he is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and we got just that when the German defender gifted the ball to Tammy Abraham, putting his team on the lurch. David Luiz, that was jeered by the home crowd all game long, tried to cover his defense partner’s mess but a late tackle on the Chelsea forward that earned him his marching orders.

Jorginho stepped up and dispatched the penalty aplomb. 

As you’d expect from a team with a man down, Arsenal was on the back foot with Chelsea on the ascendancy but it’s worth noting that Granit Xhaka dropped deep as an auxiliary center back and became a colossus in defense. Against the run of play, Arsenal grabbed the equalizer when Gabriel Martinelli latched onto Mustafi’s headed clearance from a corner kick, made a 67-yard dash that coincided with a hilarious slip from N’Golo Kante before coming clean on goal and side footing the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.

The game was delicately poised with all three points there for the taking, Chelsea must have thought that they had done enough for a victory when Cesar Azpilicueta guided the ball home from point blank range with all the Arsenal defenders ball watching, but Hector Bellerin salvaged a point for the away side when he showed great determination to swing a hopeful left footed effort that somehow found its way past Kepa. The away team didn’t care about the nature of the goal, but snapping a draw from the jaws of defeat when you’re 10 men down is very commendable.

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, spoke about the spirit and commitment from his team with their backs against the wall. Equalizing twice in an away ground with a deficit is no mean feat, and I am proud of the lads for the performance they put up.

All focus will be moved to the Bournemouth game in the FA Cup, as the Gunners will feature without their most improved defender, David Luiz, following his red card. No thanks to Mustafi.

Sayonara

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Arsenal 1-1 Sheffield: Gunners Drop Points Yet Again

Image result for martinelli goal sheffield

Arsenal (Martinelli 45′) 1-1 Sheffield United (Fleck 83′)

Match Highlights  Post-Match Press Conference

When the preview of this game was published, the collective expectation from Arsenal fans was to get a victory against Sheffield at home. Yes, with the opposition performing above expectations on the top half of the table, but with the Mikel Arteta resurgence, as well as the team playing a better brand of football, hopes were high. 

Arsenal started the game brightly with Granit Xhaka making a rare foray forward before dinking the ball to Mesut Ozil. The German schemer was aware of Nicolas Pepe’s positioning and flicked a beautiful ball to the Ivorian but his shot was poor. Pepe showed some good dribbling skills to evade his markers and tee up Gabriel Martinelli but the young Brazilian’s snap shot went wide.

Arsenal continued to attack the Blades and got their just reward when Bukayo Saka swung in a cross that deflected its way to Martinelli’s path and the Brazilian was on hand to side foot the ball home. The manager needed someone else to step up in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence and it was good to see Martinelli grab the bull by its horn and score a well deserved goal. For what his worth, I hope he retains his place when Auba returns.

The turning point of the match arrived when Pepe was impeded in the box but the combination of the erratic Mike Dean and the VAR decided, in their infinite wisdom, that it was not a penalty. Sometimes you tend to wonder the usefulness of technology when it cannot be utilized for what is required of it. I guess it comes down to the competence of the folks using it then.

As you would expect in an unforgiving competition like the Premier League, Sheffield attacked late on and the Arsenal rearguard switched off as usual, allowing John Fleck to blast the ball on the ground, which flashed past Bernd Leno to level the contest.

This result leaves Arsenal in 10th place, and 10 points behind fourth place Chelsea. 

One must wonder why the team is still struggling so badly, and at this point, we can not wait for the summer. It has been a shambolic campaign in the Premier League but it can still be salvaged with the FA Cup and Europa League.

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Crystal Palace 1-1 Arsenal: Spoils Shared as Aubameyang Sees Red

Crystal Palace Arsenal red

Aubameyang’s Red Card

Crystal Palace (Ayew 55′) 1-1 Arsenal (Aubameyang 12′)

Arsenal Player Ratings  Match Highlights  Post-Match Press Conference

Crystal Palace is a side that is difficult to break down because of the team’s compactness and the industrious players in their midfield. The likes of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Jordan Ayew add some flamboyance to their play, and they are a mid-table side at best. Arsenal, on the other hand, was on the ascendancy following the appointment of Mikel Arteta, and the Gunners have found some measure of consistency in the games played under his management thus far.

Bar the absenses of Kieran Tierney, Calum Chambers and Hector Bellerin as discussed on the match preview, the manager had a squad with a clean bill of health, making his team selection pretty straightforward. Arsenal’s football under Arteta is a massive improvement from what we witnessed in the first half of the season, as the lads have gained confidence, passing with more intricacy and pressing like a pack of hungry wolves.

The opening goal reminded me of the Wengerball of old with David Luiz threading an inch perfect pass to Mesut Ozil, that wasted no time in cushioning the ball for Alexandre Lacazette. The French forward noticed his captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, making an intelligent run off the Crystal Palace defender and he teed him up with a delicate pass. Aubameyang’s first touch was superb, his second even better as he slotted the ball past a hapless Vicente Guaita to put Arsenal ahead.

Crystal Palace Arsenal goal

We have missed this legendary handshake

This goal took the wind of Crystal Palace sails but Arsenal was meant to strike the iron while it was hot. Even though the Gunners had the upper hand in terms of ball possession and taking control of the game, they failed to make it count and as you would expect in a competitive environment like the Premier League, you will be hurt by the opposition if you do not take your chances. 

The turning point in the first half arrived when Lucas Torreira got hurt and seeing Matteo Guendouzi come in for him at the start of the second half, I had some concern. It is not like I have any bad reservations against the young Frenchman still trying to make a name for himself in the side. My challenge was with the fact that we lost a player that is an absolute beast under Arteta, making those vital interceptions in midfield and protecting the defense better than before. Guendouzi did not to do that and the defense eventually crumbled.

As for Crystal Palace’s equalizer, Arsenal just switched off. A cross field ball went to the right side of the Gunners defense and everyone watched as the ball found itself to Ayew on the edge of the area. The Ghanian forward fired a hopeful punt aimed at the Arsenal goal but David Luiz lounged himself at the ball with the hope of making an interception. What he did instead was to deflect the ball, putting Bernd Leno in an uncompromising position, and the Gunners slender lead was cut off.

Things got from bad to worse when Arsenal’s captain and most influential player, Aubameyang, received his matching orders for his lunge at Crystal Palace’s Max Meyer. The forward received a booking at first but VAR had a second look and he received his matching orders. It was a painful moment for Aubameyang because he felt he had let his team down, and it’s even more painful knowing that he will not be available for the crucial games against Sheffield United and Chelsea.

Aubameyang’s dismissal saw the manager summon Gabriel Martinelli to the fold in the place of Ozil but the young Brazilian was on the end of a lot of nasty tackles and challenges from the Crystal Palace defender. Late on, Arsenal had a chance to grab all three points when Nicolas Pepe, that had another stinker, was clean on goal but his drilled effort clipped the post after a smart save from Guaita. Lacazette pounced on the rebound but his hopeful effort was smothered by Guaita and that chance went begging.

The draw does not help Arsenal’s cause as the Gunners are a massive 11 points behind fourth place Chelsea, that gave themselves some breathing space with the 3-0 win against Burnley. At this point, all focus should go to winning silverware in the FA Cup and the Europa League, as it offers Arsenal their only realistic chance of even playing in Europe next season.

Sayonara

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