Category Archives: Match Report

Arsenal’s Terrible Away Form Continues with a Loss at Bournemouth

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News of Alexis Sanchez’s potential move out of the club dominated the back pages but there was the business of football to handle on the pitch as the Gunners traveled to the south coast to play a Bournemouth side struggling to find any form. When I saw the lineup and read that Sanchez didn’t travel with the rest of the squad, it was evident that a move was imminent.

With Mesut Ozil still having niggling issues with his knee, Arsene Wenger more or less featured the same squad that earned a draw a draw against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semifinal. The first half was a dour affair and we certainly hoped for a better second 45 minutes as the Gunners struggled to find any rhythm whatsoever but we thought it was going to be a better outing for the Gunners when Hector Bellerin crept in behind the defense and fired a shot straight at Asmir Begovic that passed through him and bounced into the goal. So the Gunners were ahead and all was well in the world, but as you’d expect from Arsenal, they found a way to cock things up in grand style.

The fans have been buzzing about the emergence of Ainsley Maitland-Niles at the left back, even to the point it cost Sead Kolasinac his place on the team, but it’s high time the boss ends that experiment, as AMN is no left back. He’s skillful on the ball and has decent technique but he has been culpable for a lot of chances created from the opposition as he lacks that positional awareness to play as a full back. It was no surprise when Ryan Fraser coasted past Maitland-Niles and swung in a cross into Arsenal’s danger area with the hope of a teammate latching onto the ball to do some damage. Yes, the cross was dangerous and there was some potential for a Bournemouth player to get it, but when Petr Cech dashed off his line to anticipate the ball, only to miss it to Callum Wilson, it showed how frail Arsenal’s defending was. To add insult to injury, Jordon Ibe, a player that had not scored a goal since he joined the club fired it past the Arsenal goalie to make it two.

Classic Arsenal, capitulating in grand style. The introductions of Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott did nothing to improve the Gunners’ attacking threat but at the end, it was another defeat to add to the Gunners terrible away form. It’s really sad to see how things are panning for the team and with Liverpool’s win over Manchester City, Arsenal is now eight points behind a Champions League place.

Without Sanchez and Ozil, this Arsenal side looks like a mid-table team at best, and it’s really shameful seeing the likes of Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck not doing anything to justify their places in the starting XI. I dunno whether it’s the 3-4-3 setup or not, but a massive shake up is needed at the club, and Arsene Wenger has to go. I mean, he’s the one that prepares the squad and their performances are the reflection of his ability.

Crystal Palace visit the Emirates before the Carabao Cup second leg, and I’m pretty sure that Sanchez will have new employers before then. Only the good Lord knows the replacements he will bring, but some injection of freshness, like Andrei Arshavin, is needed at the club.

Till then.

Sayonara

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

 

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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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Don’t You Just Love the English Premier League?

After a long hiatus, the Premier League graced our screens with a highly anticipated clash between Arsenal and Leicester City. Both clubs endured disastrous campaigns last season by their fair standards with the Gunners failing to qualify for the Champions League while Leicester’s defense of their triumphant EPL title was torrid to say the least.

All eyes were on Arsenal and their new club record signing, Alexandre Lacazette, and it took just 90 seconds for him to make his mark on his new club, adjusting his neck muscles to head home a lovely swung effort from Mohamed Elneny. His celebration was ice cold as well and we were very excited for the new signing scoring such an early but like we do every season, we just had to ‘Arsenal’ it. Captain of the night, Petr Cech, was caught in No Man’s Land as a Macguire header to the danger area from the back post was flicked home by Shinji Okazaki. Things went from bad to worse when Mark Albrighton’s cross was finished aplomb by Jamie Vardy.

What followed was a series of shocking football from the home team with the crowd voicing their frustrations on their side. Right at the stroke of half time, Sead Kolasinac found Danny Welbeck clean on goal and despite his best attempts to miscue the ball, it still crept into the net, leveling the contest at half time. Going into the break at a stalemate wasn’t bad and we were hoping for an improved performance from the side but when Vardy reacted quicker to Riyad Mahrez’s corner, Arsenal was down again, conceding yet another cheap goal that would have been averted.

We needed a response and we got it when the manager brought on Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey for Welbeck and Elneny. The visitors chose a defensive approach, bringing on Daniel Amartey to protect the rearguard but the incessant Arsenal pressure  paid off when Granit Xhaka, who was having a nightmare by the way, dinked one over to Ramsey that blasted the ball in at close range to make it 3-3.

We waited patiently and prayed earnestly to see if the Gunners would get a fourth and they obliged with that gorgeous bearded French bloke, Giroud, nodding what proved to be the winner and his 99th goal for the club. Say what you want about Giroud but he has been a massive player for the club since he joined the team from SC Montpellier in 2012.

Another Premier League season beginning with a roller coaster ride, as Arsenal took its fans through different emotions, starting with sheer delight and elation when Lacazette scored to a feeling of frustration when Leicester got their equalizer. Frustration switched to despair when the visitors extended their lead but that swiftly changed to relief as Welbeck leveled the tie. In the second half, we plunged from our relieved state to depression when they scored a third, and the curses on the time took center stage. I’m pretty sure I saw a few “#WengerOut’ responses but those fans nerved were calmed with Ramsey’s equalizer with the mindset that a draw would not have been a bad result while hoping for a win.

All it took was a Giroud late late goal to send us back to delirium and we danced long into the night celebrating three hard earned points!

Don’t you just love the Premier League?

Sayonara

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