Monreal on Fire as Arsenal Blitz Crystal Palace

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Before yesterday’s game, the back pages were filled with updates on the transfer saga involving Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s swap deal and there was the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bit, as Dortmund left him out of their squad that drew 1-1 with Hertha Berlin before confirming that the Gunners had made a formal enquiry for their player.

However, there was the business of football to take care of with Roy Hodgson’s side coming to the Emirates on the back of just one defeat in 12 games, unlike their hosts, that had looked out of sorts in recent weeks. Many also wondered whether it was going to be a back three or back four, but a shake up was needed from that sorry outing at Bournemouth and the boss responded with fielding a 4-2-3-1 setup with some injury returnees like Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil breathing some new life into the team. Aaron Ramsey was ill so it was a first start since November for Mohamed Elneny, a player that has been on the fringes for the most part of his Arsenal career. Danny Welbeck had some sort of injury but nobody complained.

With the Gunners failing to record a victory in their last three league games, an early goal would have gone a long way to settle the nerves and it arrived when Monreal reacted the quickest to a corner to put the home side ahead. That was his third goal in his many games for the club and it’s really nice knowing that he can chip in with the goals when needed. Monreal turned from scorer to provider when he was at the end of a good team move before squaring play for Alex Iwobi that side-footed the ball home. Iwobi has been in very poor form in recent weeks so it was good seeing him get one for himself and the team.

Two goals quickly became three when Monreal…, yes, Monreal provided another cut back that was bundled into the goal by the returning captain, Koscielny, but the Gunners saved the best for last when Jack Wilshere and Ozil combined brilliantly and mesmerized the Palace defense before Ozil found Alexandre Lacazette with a neat back heeled threaded pass that allowed the Frenchman end his nine game goal drought to make it four.

In 22 minutes, the Gunners ran riot past Crystal Palace and it was great to see how the lads controlled the game with ease. In the second 45, the home side took their foot off the pedal but Iwobi spurned a chance to make it five when a square pass to an unmarked Lacazette would have been the better option. Petr Cech’s search for his 200th Premier League clean sheet had to move to the next game as Luka Milivojevic fired the ball into the net after some defensive lapses but at 4-1 it was a very comprehensive victory for the side.

The only downside to the game was seeing Monreal substituted for what we believe was a ‘tight hamstring’ and with Chelsea coming to town on Wednesday, one can only hope that he will be fit enough for the duel. There was also one for the stats boys, as Lacazette’s goal was the 500th scored by a Frenchman for the Gunners. To think about half of it was scored by Thierry Henry. What a legend.

The feel good mood is back and the papers are reporting that Mkhitaryan is set for his medicals to complete the move to North London. I can only hope that him and Aubameyang will be available for selection against Chelsea in mid-week.


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Thoughts on the Potential Dortmund Reunion at the Emirates

Image result for aubameyang mkhitaryan

So have you heard about the intricacies involving the mega deal taking Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United?

  • £117m in wages to the Chilean forward
  • £35m would be given to Arsenal
  • £10m would be splashed out to his agent
  • £20m signing on fee for the chap

The best part of this deal is that we would also be getting an Armenian midfield maestro wrapped and stuffed in a shiny box. This chap was in prolific form in his final season at the Bundesliga, scoring 25 goals and providing 26 assists for his teammates. We were linked with the lad that had a year left on his deal but Manchester United, being the bullies they are, shoved us away and got him, only to throw his career down the drain. For some reason, he struggled to make an impact there and was ostracized by Jose Mourinho.

He had a resurgence at the start of the new campaign, scoring a couple of goals in preseason, and that prompted me to select him in my Fantasy team at the start of the 2017/18 season. Five assists in his first four games got everyone buzzing then Man Utd lost Paul Pogba to injury and it seemed to affect him or something because nothing just worked for him. His manager didn’t help his cause either and continued to freeze him out of the first team.

Without Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal has looked bang average with Danny Welbeck and the out-of-sorts Alex Iwobi making fools of themselves behind an Alexandre Lacazette that had no service to the extent he decided to drop deep to get a glimpse of the ball. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a very creative midfielder and I’d prefer to have him on our ranks and playing attacking midfielder rather than the aforementioned duo of Iwelbeck. 

I’m hearing that the club is having issues with wages for Mkhitaryan and I’m just here being hopeful that we would seal the deal. Alexis has wanted out since the summer and his play this season has clearly showed that his heart was no longer at the Emirates. Unlike the Robin van Persie move that kinda hurt a lot when it happened, I’m not even batting an eyelid on Alexis moving to that lot. The sooner this swap happens, the better for everyone involved. Mkhitaryan will get a new lease of life and the freedom he requires to do his thing like them Dortmund and Shakhtar days I hope, while we will no longer remove the hair from our heads for another time Alexis gets dispossessed.

Elsewhere, things are quite intense at Borussia with their star striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, submitting a transfer request to leave the club. Arsenal is believed to be interested in the lad and the papers also say we have agreed personal terms with the Gabonese international. Since his move from St. Etienne to Borussia Dortmund in 2013, PEA’s rise in the team has been meteoric. Shunted out to the right wing to accommodate Robert Lewandowski allowed the lad to hone his attacking skills but when Lewa moved to Bayern, the center forward role was Auba’s for keeps and he made it his in grand style.

He has smashed 16, 25, 39 and 40 goals in his first four seasons with the club and he picked up where he left off, scoring 21 goals in 23 games for Dortmund this season. Arsenal has lacked goals in recent weeks, and bringing in a forward as lightning quick as Aubameyang will be an awesome move for the club.

Aubameyang also forged an extremely good understanding with Mkhitaryan in his Dortmund days and having that reunion at the Emirates is a sign of good things to come. I can wait for both lads to put pen to paper as we aim to salvage what’s left of the season. Qualification for the top four is a long shot at the moment with other teams in good form but we can challenge for the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, two trophies Arsene Wenger has never won with the club.


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

Image result for ibe goal arsenal

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.


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