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Arsenal 2-1 West Ham: Nketiah Delivers Sucker Punch

Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah combine for winning goal against Arsenal  against West Ham a week on from bust-up before Fulham game

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham (Lacazette 25′, Nketiah 86′ – Antonio 45′)

Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka (D. Luiz 89′); Willian (Pepe 64′), Lacazette (Nketiah 77′), Aubameyang

The fans expected more from the team following the convincing victory over Fulham last week, and they faced a West Ham side bereft of confidence after their poor showing against Newcastle at the London Stadium. There was a cause for concern at the start of the game when Kieran Tierney pulled up short and had to be replaced by Sead Kolasinac shortly before kickoff. The gaffer confirmed in his post-match press conference that it was a small muscular problem and Tierney complained about it before a decision was made to replace him in the matchday squad. 

For some strange reason best known to Lord Voldemort and his cohorts, Arsenal put up a very disjointed performance early on, misplacing passes, engaging in sloppy play and in all honesty, the opening goal seemed to come against the run of play, with some good attacking play on our favored left hand side saw our contract signing club talisman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang loft in a sumptuous cross that was headed home by Alexandre Lacazette. It was a relief for Lacazette as he had spurned an early chance created by Willian in the beginning stages of the game.

The equalizer for the visitors came at the stroke of half time when a non-existent midfield did nothing to stop the attacking threat from the Hammers and Bukayo Saka was caught in No Man’s Land as Jarrod Bowen and Hendricks charged down on Kolasinac before executing a neat cut back that was buried aplomb by Michail Antonio. Rob Holding had a disappointing night and should have done better to close down the West Ham forward but it was not to be as both teams went into the break level. One would have expected Arsenal to come out firing on all cylinders in the second half but it was West Ham that had the better chances with Antonio clipping the cross bar with a header and the Arsenal defense continued to be barraged by the visitors.

Mikel Arteta responded with some attacking changes, bringing on Nicolas Pepe for a clearly jaded Willian and Eddie Nketiah for Lacazette. Despite his goal, he had one of those frustrating nights where his blushes were spared by a teammate replacing him. The move turned out to be a stroke of genius as Nketiah turned to be Arsenal’s match winner after some brilliant work from Saka and Dani Ceballos. The Real Madrid man returning for his second loan spell fed Saka and drifted into the danger area, only to be located by a special pass from the youngster but he had the presence of mind to see Nketiah on the clear before feeding him on a platter.

The score line clearly didn’t show a true reflection on how things fared in the game but we are on the back of two wins from two games, sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League. Yes, we are under no illusions but it is a very good position to be bearing in mind that the club has a tough run of fixtures. However, we have to give credit to the lads for not giving up, even if they didn’t perform on the level expected of them.

More on the Liverpool game in the coming weeks.

Sayonara

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Aubameyang Signs and Martinez Leaves to Aston Villa

Arsenal news: Martinez breaks down in tears during emotional interview  after FA Cup win | Metro News

The picture above shows Emiliano Martinez and club captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sharing a moment in Wembley as they basked in the euphoria of the Arsenal’s 14th FA Cup victory. Martinez, despite being on the fringes for pretty much the entirety of his Arsenal career, did a pretty amazing job in the short duration he deputized as Bernd Leno’s replacement.

I had shared my thoughts on Martinez leaving but it’s something I can touch on again. It was evident that his performances at the end of the 2019/20 campaign had put the gaffer, Mikel Arteta, in some type of dilemma, but on the back of what was a very successful spell in the side, Martinez was not going to spend another season as a deputy, waiting to feature in only Europa League and Cup games. You could bet in the best online casinos on whether he was going to leave the clubs and the odds would have been low. 

Prior to when the Aston Villa move was officially announced, Martinez took to Instagram to share an emotional message with the fans about how he had his struggles with us and how he’s leaving through the front door. That meant a lot because we know how irksome some departures can be, like in the Robin van Persie situation or more recently, a loved player like Alexis Sanchez. We also need to consider the financial aspect of this deal – if a Premier League club had offered 20 million quid for Martinez while Leno was still fit, we would have bitten their fingers, wrapped the Argentine goalie in plastic, added a fragile stamp on him and ensured he got to the new club unscathed.

Aston Villa on the other hand, have their goalkeeping issues to deal with, as star goalie from Burnley, Tom Heaton, suffered a long term injury, forcing the club to sign a 136-year-old goalie to hold the fort, and we all know how they leaked goals like baskets. Martinez is going to a club where he will be a nailed-on first choice goalkeeper, so it was a win-win situation for both player and club.

Speaking of win-win, Arsenal and its talisman, Aubameyang, finally reached an agreement that saw the star forward sign a three year contract with the club. When you consider how important Aubameyang is to this club and what he has achieved for us and with us in his stint, extending his contract was the best piece of business this summer. The forward had some nice words to say as well,

“Signing for this special club was never in doubt. “It’s thanks to our fans, my team-mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here. I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is to come for Arsenal.”

Since Aubameyang joined the club, he has been in very prolific form, despite the fact he’s been played out of position. A striker of his immense talent and ability would have grumbled for not featuring in his natural habitat but he considered the team first and has been putting a great shift on the left to allow his best mate, Alexandre Lacazette, and fledgling forward, Eddie Nketiah, flourish in attack. 

The news of Aubameyang staying in the club for the foreseeable future is very welcome for everyone concerned with the club and we will be hoping he crowns it with a goal or two against West Ham at the home of football.

Sayonara

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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Potential Departures to Italy

 

Lucas Torreira attempting to pick up Sokratis is exactly the level of  ambition I aspire for in 2020. : Gunners

Football, first and foremost, is a business with dealings in the transfer window playing a major role in the club’s finances. Arsenal is no different as the club swiftly swooped for Chelsea’s experienced maverick, Willian, on a free transfer before signing the highly-coveted center back, Gabriel Magalhaes, and securing a successive loan spell for midfield maestro, Dani Ceballos. 

There are some departures that have been expected with the Italian Serie A being the expected destination.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

With some additions, it only makes sense to expect some departures and the goodbye wagon started rolling with the club confirming the departure of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to AS Roma by mutual consent.

The decision to swap the Armenian attacking midfielder with Alexis Sanchez remains one of the most puzzling deals in football history, bearing in mind that Arsenal rejected a lucrative offer from Manchester City to sign the Chilean forward. Mkhitaryan joined the squad with a fat pay check and was quite inconsistent and underwhelming for a player of his calibre.

Things went sour and he joined AS Roma on loan where he managed to pick up some decent form to the point they offered Arsenal 10 million euros for his services and the Gunners rejected that as well – only to allow him leave for free a few months later. Good business indeed. The only positive I can think of from Mkhitaryan leaving, besides watching him of course, is the wages that have been freed up, which will be offered to those more deserving, like a certain Gabonese talismanic forward.

Lucas Torreira

Switching from permanent to potential departures, it seems like our love affair with the diminutive Uruguayan defensive midfielder, Lucas Torreira, is coming to an end. He came to the club and offered us something we had missed for a while – that dogged, swashbuckling, hard tackling, combative style we craved and we certainly loved it, as he missed only four Premier League games from 38 in his debut season.

His second season with us didn’t have the same zest as expected and he even lost his place in the team to a younger Matteo Guendouzi under Unai Emery and Dani Ceballos under Mikel Arteta. This led to him voicing his thoughts about not playing regularly and giving green lights to his potential suitors about his availability. It is believed that Italian Serie A outfit, Fiorentina, have declared their interest in signing Torreira in some sort of loan with mandatory option of buying kind of deal.

I am certain that Torreira will not pass on an opportunity to return to the country he started his football career, having played with Pescara and Sampdoria before joining Arsenal in 2018. In as much as I would love Torreira to stay, I understand his sentiments if he wants to leave for regular playing time, especially with the fact that he featured sparingly went football returned in June 2020. 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Finally, we visit the situation of Sokratis Papastathopoulos who has clearly fallen out of favor with the manager. Despite the fact that Calum Chambers has been injured for a lengthy period and there were fitness concerns with Rob Holding, Arteta still preferred to feature full backs like Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac as center back options with Sokratis watching from the bench.

The fact that he has also entered the final months of his contract with no hopes of renewing makes him a prime target to be axed this summer and his wishes might come through with Napoli declaring their interest in acquiring his services.

With their key asset in midfield, Allan, already departing to Everton and star defender, Kalilou Koulibaly, a long-term target for Manchester City, Napoli will want to bolster their defensive options and I am elated with the fact that the potential exists for Sokratis to be sold to them, even though it will certainly be for cheaps.

Sayonara.

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