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Arsenal 3 Anderlecht 3: The Gunners’ Defense Implode in Typical Style

Nacho Monreal, Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky (left to right) trudge off the pitch after Arsenal are embarrassed

Arsenal 3 (Arteta 25′, Sanchez 29′, Oxlade-Chamberlain 58′) – Anderlecht 3 (Vanden Borre 61′, 73′ (pen), Mitrovic 90′)

Match Report – Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference (Links via Arsenal.com)

It’s one of those mornings when you wake up and be like, “what the fuck happened last night?” :S

It’s the kind of scenario where you feel the stench of alcohol on your breath, some pain coupling with a big swelling on your eye and when you leave your room to see your friends laughing so hard at the sight of you till one of them summons the courage to tell you what you did in the previous night. He tells you how you drank and got so high to the point you slapped the bouncer at the club and received a punch on your face and you didn’t feel anything, then he goes on to tell you all about your escapades…

****

After beating the traffic to rush home to watch this game, I felt that it was going to be a stroll in the park because the team had started gathering momentum from their back to back league wins / clean sheets. Alexis Sanchez was the name on every lips as he scored 10 goals in 16 games making him the second highest ever Gunner to achieve such a feat. It took Ian Wright 12 games to score 10 Arsenal goals, Alexis 16 games, Eduardo da Silva 19, Marouane Chamakh 21, Nwankwo Kanu 24, Jose Antonio Reyes 26, Lukas Podolski 26, Dennis Bergkamp 26, Thierry Henry 28 and Olivier Giroud 31.

From the onset, we looked like we wanted it more and Danny Welbeck was scythed down by some daft bloke in the box. I was so convinced that Mikel Arteta was going to score the spot kick and the manner at which he did it was classy. Then Alexis popped again with a free kick that hit the wall but he had the technique to fire his rebound through the wall and into the net to make it two.

The Gunners seemed to take their foot of the pedal then you see a player like Sanchez working hard to win the ball further up the pitch (remainder: Arsenal were two goals up) to gift it to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that evaded Anthony Vanden Borre like he wasn’t there before placing it past the goalie, we all thought the game was done and dusted. Three goals up, 30 minutes to go, cruise control – so we thought.

Against the run of play, Anthony Vanden Borre, a fullback, that had a torrid defensive display all night long, drifts into the box unnoticed (offside!!!!) to side foot a drilled cross in. Fine. 3 – 1. Not a bad result in the grand scale of things. Just a dent in what seemed to be a great European night. Then the unthinkable happened. With the striker far from Szczesny’s goal, an experienced bloke like Nacho Monreal grabs him and wrestles him to the ground like he owes him a fortune, the ref points to the spot and the foolish Spaniard goes to grab the official’s arm like he’s trying to get a pound of flesh off it like Shylock. Vanden Borre sends Szczesny the wrong way. 3 – 2.

That goal took the wind of Arsenal’s sails and the home side looked clearly rattled. Anderlecht continued to grow in confidence, the Gunners looked bereft of it. With 10 minutes to go, the manager replaces a jaded Ox and an the ineffectual Welbeck for Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky. One must wonder what those two have to do to get a game, especially when Santi Cazorla has been playing shit. That’s a tale for another day.

Late on, the inevitable happened. A simple cross for Aleksandr Mitrovic saw the 20-year-old striker get ahead of the slow Per Mertesacker to head the ball past Szczesny that was poorly positioned. As expected, Twitter went haywire with the fans raining more curses than the amount of thunderbolts at Zeus’ disposal. When things are going on well on the pitch, we tend to sweep the club’s issues under the carpet. In the wake of such capitulation like what we experienced last night, we need to take some more things into perspective.

It is just me, or did anyone notice how out midfield crumbled when Arteta was substituted? To add to our woes, the boss has confirmed that the Spaniard has “done his hamstring” and he doesn’t know how long he’d be out for. This means that we would have some of that Flamini goodness for more games to come. Just Perfect. Speaking of Per-fect, what the hell has happened to the reliable Mertesacker was used to know? Despite having the height of Jack’s beanstalk, Mertesacker has been poor aerially this season. Abel Hernandez did it when Hull visit and Mitrovic has replicated the same feat. His partnership with Monreal looked so shaky and it seemed as if they’d blended when the Gunners kept back to back clean sheets. Maybe the opposition was bullcrap.

We have two months to go before the January transfer window opens and if Wenger chooses not to invest in a proper center back and holding midfielder, we would have ourselves to blame. The stupidity of the likes of Per Mertesacker, Monreal and to some extent, Flamini, has shrouded the good shifts Alexis Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain put today. But that’s football, one minute your team is unstoppable, the next minute they’re shite.

However, the way the defense imploded is a real cause for concern, especially when Dortmund has developed the habit of scoring four goals in consecutive games. The Gunners are five points behind the German outfit and and with two games to go, it has become another case of settling for second place and hoping to avoid the likes of Bayern, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the next knockout round.

All attention will drift to Swansea this weekend and it would be interesting to see how Lukasz Fabianski would react to seeing his former teammates again.

Time to go for my training.

Sayonara.

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Anderlecht Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

With the memories of the Hull game still fresh in our heads, tonight’s match against RSC Anderlecht would give the Gunners another chance to get to winning ways and most importantly, get some points in the bag with Borussia Dortmund setting the pace in the group. Arsenal has drawn six of their first 13 matches in all competitions this season, and have found themselves behind at some stage in eight separate games. Arsene Wenger has stated the Gunners need to kickstart their season, and this game offers the team a good platform going forward.

Anderlecht have not won in eight Champions League matches and Arsenal will need to win both home and away if they are to avoid finishing second for the four consecutive season. The Belgians drew their opening game against Galatasaray before they were thrashed at home by the group leaders, Dortmund. If the Gunners get six points from their double-legged affair against the Belgian outfit, it would set the tone for a mouthwatering encounter against Dortmund, with both teams knowing that victory would the winner top spot.

Team News

Wenger has thrown more light on the injury suffered by David Ospina,

“It is exactly the same one [as from the World Cup]. He had his first injury at Nice – it was a knee problem and he was a bit rushed back and did not use his leg, so his muscle became weaker. Then he got injured in the World Cup. After that, he came to us injured after the World Cup and it took him two months to play again. I had to bring him on against Galatasaray without a warm up and being prepared, so he had a recurrence of that injury. It means he is out for two to three months, now we have to be really careful because it is a recurrence of a thigh injury, which is very difficult. It is a long-term injury.”

Wenger has also talked up stand-in goalie, Damian Martinez, and he’d be hoping for the lad to put up a good shift tonight. The defense has been a major cause for concern this season and Arseblog published an article that echoed on the team’s defensive frailties but I’m hoping that the team puts up a better showing at the back. The club’s failure to sign a new central defender has been a much talked-about affair but nothing can be done till January, to say the least.

With Calum Chambers returning from his suspension, I’d expect him to get the nod ahead of Hector Bellerin with Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and Per Mertesacker retaining their places in the heart of the defense. In midfield, I’d have preferred to see Francis Coquelin in the holding role but I know that Wenger would prefer to play Mathieu Flamini in front of the back four and with Aaron Ramsey still walking his way to full fitness, Jack Wilshere (if he shakes off his knock) and Santi Cazorla would play in front of Flamini. The fast-paced attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, the Ox and Danny Welbeck will lead the line.

Elsewhere, Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Abou Diaby got some game time in Arsenal’s U-21s clash with Blackburn last week and it was really good seeing pictures of the lads, especially Walcott (seems he has joined the #BeardGang movement) whose qualities have been sorely missed.

Injury Updates

Anderlecht: Fabrice N’Sakala

Arsenal: Matt Debuchy (ankle), Olivier Giroud (foot), , Yaya Sanogo (hamstring), Mikel Arteta (calf), Mesut Ozil (knee), David Ospina (thigh), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles tendon), Abou Diaby, Serge Gnabry, Theo Walcott (lacking match fitness)

Team Form

Anderlecht

  • Last Five Games: W W L D D
  • Last Result: Mechelen 1 Anderlecht 1

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: L D W L D
  • Last Result: Arsenal 2 Hull 2

Predicted Lineups

RSC Anderlecht 4-2-3-1 football formationArsenal 4-1-4-1 football formation

Gooner Daily Prediction: 0 – 3

Here’s to three points in Belgium.

Sayonara

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