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Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1

December 11, 2016

Since beating Basel I was really looking forward to the Stoke match. For some reason beating the men from Modor always makes me feel good. Once again Arsene picked an attacking looking line up.

After thirty-five minutes, I was thinking “here we go again” the only have to step onto the pitch and we’ve won this attitude ploy was prevalent.

Passing was a lacklustre, coming forward was laboured, giving the orcs plenty of time to re-group. The seven fingered, one eyed mob were making a few chances because the team did not seem awake. No surprise when Modor FC grabbed a penalty and went 1-0 up. All opponents are getting penalties at the Emirates nowadays, it is written in FA laws, Rule 35 (sub section 2(b))

Not sure what Mason was playing at either when Sauron the Dark Lord keeper of Mordor FC started wasting time  whilst getting ready in the changing room before the match even kicked off. I get it, that if your winning away with ten minutes to go you might start time wasting, gamesmanship, but not that early, surely? Moss just kept turning his back, until shortly after half time when he had a word.

Arsenal finally started to click with around ten minutes left of the first half and were rewarded with yet another well worked team goal. Xhaka-Ozil-Monreal-Coquelin-Oxo-Bellerin-Xhaka-Sanchez-Bellerin and then tucked away by Theo

Much better second half as Arsenal took total control. This was rewarded with a superbly flighted ball from Oxo to Ozil and he actually chipped a header over the time wasting, waste of space, seven fingered Mordor FC keeper. Now waste time You muppet.

On came the lanky streak of piss that is Crouch and he almost got an equaliser with his first touch, which, surprisingly was with his head., but Cech saved well.

Iwobi-Sanchez (who was fouled and stamped on by the odious Adam), the ref let the game go on and Iwobi picked up the ball and passed his shot past the time wasting piece of space Henryesque into the net, 3-1 Arsenal.

Some of the football in the second half was once again a joy to watch. Arsenal starting to look the real deal. When Arsenal play the passing game that has speed, control, accuracy and looking to go forward and not side wards they are a different animal.

Xhaka run the game. The Defence benefits from not giving the ball away cheaply going forward. Ozil it not making assists. But wait! Ozil is scoring goals instead. Sanchez is a phenomenal player in everything he does, including work rate.

Coquelin was once again everywhere and biting back at our opponents, in their faces. Theo is looking stronger and less afraid on putting in a tackle or being tackled. Oxo benefits from more minutes. Bellerin is such a good footballer and very dangerous going forward. I like Iwobi a sort of morphed TH14/Kanu type player who could go a long way

Finishing the day top-of-the-league (albeit for maybe only twenty-four hours) was also a nice bonus as I was going out for meal last night and boy doesn’t it seem a lot better. Our next two opponents both got tuned over yesterday so this could be a good week. Not expecting much from WBA today – said in hope with reverse psychology. Having really looked forward to this match, I left having enjoyed the match.

I once went to the “Doctor and told him I can’t pronounce my F’s, T’s and H’s” He said “Well you can’t say fairer than that then” Which sums this yesterdays match nicely.

Cheers

@Harlowgooner

 

Basel 1 Arsenal 4

December 11, 2016

Arsene Wenger picked a strong team even though many including myself thought it might be better not to do so, seeing how it looked odds on that PSG would win the group after our home draw with them. Fair play to him, he got it right.

Gabriel once again kept at right back. Mustafi rested for Holding. The never complain Gibbs at left back. Xhaka teaming up with Ramsey. Iwobi back in. Ospina taking up place between the posts for the Champions League.

When the match kicked off and I saw Arsenal pass the ball along the back four of Gabriel to Koscielny to Holding to Gibbs and back again about four times, I though Arsenal are going to control this game, and control it they did.

Perez bagged a hat trick with a hat trick of assist from Gibbs. The first a tap in after a good chipped pass from Sanchez found Gibbs who crossed to Perez whose good control and composure then tidily dispatched the ball into the net.. The second after a thirty-seven pass move that saw Gibbs a shot saved and Perez pick up the loose ball and put it into the net for 2-0

The third and flick by Sanchez saw Perez free on goal and he tucked his shot away nicely with a cross shot into the bottom corner. Then after lovely chipped pass from Sanchez to Ozil, who in turn crossed the ball low into the path of Iwobi saw Arsenal go 4-0 up and game over.

Sanchez had a superb shot from a free kick which hit the bar with venom after it swerved and dipped. WOW! That would have taken me back to memories of the FACup Final v Aston Villa had it gone in.

Another very professional away performance from Arsenal. I doubt many expected Arsenal to win so convincingly. OK! Basel were not that great but I felt much of this was down to Arsenal’s play, than how Basel set themselves out for the match.

With PSG unable to beat Ludogorets Arsenal ended up topping the group and now could face Bayern or Real Madrid. A wink and a nod from Paris maybe? No way did expect that to be happening at 7.45pm on Tuesday night. I suppose if you want to win the Champions League you have to play the other big opponents at some stage and at least you get second leg played at home.

Maybe with the League Cup now a distant memory, Internationals not back till end of March and the Champions League placed on the shelf until Mid-February this gives Arsenal and other teams a break to concentrate on domestic football for a while. Hopefully Arsenal can capitalise on this.

I’m starting to enjoy going to watch Arsenal recently. I felt was getting to the stage I was simply going for the sake of it as the football of last eighteen months was not that great, save in patches. This is what us football supporters do, we support our team, thick or thin, during matches. We praise or criticise after the match. However, it’s always better when you team is playing well and bossing games and look like they could make a proper challenge for the Silverware being dished out come May.

Cheers

@Harlowgooner

 

West Ham United 1 Arsenal 5

December 4, 2016

Apart from Coquelin, the team rested against Southampton were all restored for this match. Jenkinson was apparently taken out of the spotlight from his mid-week  performance against Southampton and replaced at right back by Gabriel who this week had, had his own nightmares to contend with.

 

How refreshing it was to see Arsenal play and dominate most of a game of football. Right from the off it was clear Arsenal were winning this match. I reckon the players could have taken their feet off the pedal, put the handbrake on, played with less intensity, feel exhausted from previous matches, no urgency, lack focus, played Sanchez strapped in a wheelchair and we’d still have won. The most one-sided Arsenal v West Ham match since I saw Arsenal beat them 6-1 at Highbury in 1976 with Brian Kidd scoring a hat-trick Alan Ball grabbing two and the legendary George Armstrong getting the other.

 

OK! West Ham had injuries, but that’s something Arsenal have had to put up with for years. I could not believe the amount of times Arsenal attacked down the left and crosses from Oxo and Nacho were put into the box and we could not finish. I thought some of the balls were placed into the right areas and yet Sanchez, Theo and our midfielders were simply not gambling and expecting the ball put on a plate to them towards the edge of the box.

 

A few minutes spell of West Ham pressure saw the first shot of the match in anger came from Lanzini as Cech saved at the near post. Then West Ham’s make shift defence lost the ball under pressure from Coquelin (who I thought was superb) the ball run to Sanchez who cleverly knocked the ball past the West Ham defender and squared to Ozil for a simple tap in 1-0 Arsenal. The beauty of closing down your opponents and not letting them play.

 

The rest of the half was all about Arsenal not having composure going forward and wasting chances with poor final balls. The half ended 1-0. I have mentioned it before, I’m not sure what the half time team talk is all about in the dressing room but like Sunderland away Arsenal came out half-a-sleep. West Ham started to rally, the crowd grew in voice and you could almost feel a typical Arsenal coming up.

 

Arsenal then brought on Ramsey and were back to their full compliment of eleven players. Then after more chances at being wasteful and not being composed enough in front of goal, a pass from Mustafi was pinged into Sanchez who with his magnetic feet, controlled the ball, turned, beat two players and rifled the ball into the net with an authority that he made his mind up it was going to be goal.  I do love it when a player finishes with purpose.

 

Sanchez was at it again eight minutes later with a twenty yard half volley that was placed just out of reach of Randolph. West Ham then got a soft free and Payet’s superb shot hit the bar and who else would be there to stick the ball into the net from the rebound with his head but Carroll. This bloke is simply a head, the rest of him is pointless.

 

Oxo was up next planting a cracking shot from all of 25/30 yards in to make it 4-1 (I though Oxo also looked good and should be given a longer run the team). Two minutes later Oxo set Sanchez free and though offside the play was allowed to continue. The West Ham defender was beat, Sanchez bored down on goal, did a step over, sat the keeper on the seat of his pants before chipping the ball into the net for 5-1. This season we have seen two goals from Ozil and Sanchez that have been world class.

 

Many of the West Ham faithful had, long  enough since left and swaths of white seats reflected their displeasure. I do tend to feel a bit sorry for West Ham fans the move has hit them hard. It’s not a football stadium. The Arsenal fans chanting is “is this the Emirates” saying loudly what modern football has become.

 

Gabriel played well at right back. Koscielny is simply superb and though not yet there with Adams and O’Leary in the legend stakes the bloke is a proper defender. His partnership with Mustafi is looking very good. At the back of them we have a superb keeper in Cech, the man is the epitome of cool. Xhaka should start from now on as his partnership with Coquelin suits out style of play. Ozil was simply Ozil.

 

I still have my doubts though about Arsenal. We turned up for about seventy minutes of yesterdays match, yet when we play like that at Everton and City, I’ll really start to believe we have moved on.

 

How nice to be able to feel really good about a win. It would not be to outlandish to say it could have been 10-1.

 

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

Manchester United 1 Arsenal 1

November 23, 2016

The following article was written by my 15-year-old Son. It is his wish to go into Journalism as a career and he has taken over this blog  as a learning curve. Should you have any comments please do feel free to leave constructive criticism and maybe even a bit of advice that may assist him going forward.

Mata (68′) Giroud (89′)

The first fifteen minutes of the match neither team were able to control the game for any length of time. Both sides seemed more interested in not wanting to concede early on rather than try to take the initiative. The game was littered with poor passing and fouls. Following this period only tame efforts from Pogba and Mata for United and an Alexis header that went well wide was all either team could muster.

Then ten minutes before half time, Mata became the first player to test either of the goalkeepers, when his low driven shot across the goal was well saved by Cech. Elneny then had a shot but way to high to worry De Gea. Then it was Martial’s turn to have a shot which was well tipped over the bar by Cech. the half time whistle went with the level.

In the first fifteen minutes of the second half there were not many chances and again the match was being littered with cheap fouls and both teams poor in possession. This was, until, Arsenal began to give the ball away cheaply coming out of defence and this gave Manchester United the impetus to put pressure on Arsenal. United won a series of corners and this pressure finally lead to the breakthrough as, on the sixty-eighth minute,  Herrera cut the ball back to Mata who finished calmly into the bottom left corner. Both Coquelin and more so Walcott not tracking their men. Arsenals much improved character this season was again to be put to the test

Manchester United could then have put day light between the two teams when Rojo just headed wide from a Blind cross at the back post. However, Arsenal as they have done a few times this season responded with a last-minute goal. Arsenal substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain beat Rashford down the right hand side, put a superb cross in that was just begging to be headed into the net and Giroud obliged with a proper centre forwards header sending the Arsenal fans crazy. Both late substitutes combining well.

A draw was just about a fair result as Manchester United did not play that well themselves and Arsenal’s defence did not deserve to be on the losing side. However, with Manchester City and Chelsea winning both teams may feel disappointed to not have won.

Thanks for reading

@Lukeafc01

Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham

November 22, 2016

The following article was written by my 15-year-old Son. It is his wish to go into Journalism as a career and he has taken over this blog  as a learning curve. Should you have any comments please do feel free to leave constructive criticism and maybe even a bit of advice that may assist him going forward.

Many thanks

Steve

Wimmer (42′ og), Kane (51′)

The much anticipated game of the season for both teams finished with honours even as neither Arsenal or Tottenham were at their best. Arsenal again failing to take their chance to go top of the league.

In the early parts of the match, the game was extremely cagey as it looked like both teams did not want to lose all three points with the top six being as very tight. Spurs were looking the better side and looking more in control.

In the 35th minute, Arsenal started raising their game and began to have some major chances of note. The most obviously being Iwobi’s miss hit shot after possibly the best move of the match and then seeing a Walcott strike cannon back off the bar with Ozil unable to turn in the ball as it rebounded to him.

With only three minutes remaining until half-time, a cross from an Ozil free kick saw Wimmer head past his own keeper Lloris and into his own net giving Arsenal a 1-0 lead going into the break.

Arsenal came out for the second half Arsenal looking nervous, and this was typified by their defending when in the 50th minute Dembele travelled with ease into the Arsenal both and was brought down by Koscielny, with Clattenburg given no choice but to award the penalty. Harry Kane slotted home the spot kick to level and also give Tottenham a bit of hope.

Eriksen then went close for Spurs with a nicely struck volley which was well saved by Cech and Nacho Monreal made a last ditch tackle at the back post to stop Tottenham snatching all three points from Arsenal.

Finally, very late on, Giroud went close with a header hat in the end was well caught by Lloris in the Spurs goal. A spurs free kick also cannoned off the inside of the post after it had travelled over everybody in the penalty area.

Not really the result either set of fans would have wanted, but seeing as both teams were pretty average a draw was no doubt better than a loss to local rivals supporters. The North London derby is normally one of the better of the English local derbies, but this game with both sides only mustering five shots on target was one that won’t be remembered.

Thanks for reading

@Lukeafc01

Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4

October 30, 2016

The following article was written by my 15-year-old Son. It is his wish to go into Journalism as a career and he has taken over this blog  as a learning curve. Should you have any comments please do feel free to leave constructive criticism and maybe even a bit of advice that may assist him going forward.

Many thanks

Steve

Sunderland 1-4 Arsenal

Team Selection

Arsène Wenger made two changes from the last league match against Middlesbrough, with Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing Walcott and Gibbs coming in at left back for Nacho Monreal. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud also returned to the squad and were on the bench.

First Half

Arsenal knew a good win in this early kick off would send them top of the Premier League. The team started well and, after twenty minutes, took the lead when a move made up of 21 passes lead to a superb cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain which was headed home superbly by Sanchez to put Arsenal 1-0 up. All Sunderland looked to be offering was rotational fouling.

If Sunderland were to get anything out of the game they would have needed to open up a bit more and van Aanholt went close from a free kick. Oxlade-Chamberlain played a nice long ball over the Sunderland defence into the path of Ozil whose chip was comfortably saved by Pickford. Arsenal, as they tend to do then strolled to the half-time whistle with most of the possession yet not much threat to the Sunderland goal.

Second Half

Arsenal came and carried on strolling around as if waiting for something to happen rather than forcing something to happen.  Far too many passes that went from the half way line, around the box and ended up back at the half way line.

At 1-0 a game is never safe and this proved the case shortly after Arsenal had a fair shout for penalty turned down, as Whatmore was then deemed to have been fouled by Cech as he rounded the Arsenal keeper after some poor defending from Mustafi let him clean through on goal.

The penalty was converted by Defoe. However, this looked to have given Arsenal a wake up call they needed and five minutes after the equaliser, substitute on the day Giroud turned home a good cross from Kieran Gibbs to restore Arsenal’s lead. Five minutes later with only his second touch of the game. Giroud then scored again with and impressive flick on from a corner to give Arsenal some breathing space late in the game.

Alexis then wrapped the game up for the Gunners after Gibbs had stuck the post, rebounded to Ramseywhose unintentional pass, Fell to the Arsenal forward who turned, took one touch and flicked the ball, cool as you like past Pickford from close range.

In the end it was an easy win from Arsenal which kept them joint top of the Premier league on Saturday evening alongside Manchester City and Liverpool who also scored four each.

Thanks for reading,

@Lukeafc01

 

 

 

Arsenal 0 Middlesbrough 0

October 23, 2016

The following article was written by my 15 year old Son. It is his wish to go into Journalism as a career and he has taken over this blog  as a learning curve. Should you have any comments please do feel free to leave constructive criticism and maybe even a bit of advice that may assist him going forward.

Many thanks

Steve

Arsenal 0-0 Middlesbrough

After a relatively comfortable win last Wednesday against Ludogorets, Wenger kept faith in the same team, only making one enforced change as Elneny replaced Santi Cazorla.  With Arsenal having been in reasonably good form of late and Middlesbrough stuttering after a good start, it seemed like Arsenal would extend their winning run in the Premier League to an impressive seven games.

First Half

In the first ten minutes of the game, Arsenal had almost all of the ball in and around the Middlesbrough penalty area. Arsenal, and in particular Coquelin, were also closing down the Middlesbrough players very quickly after surrendering possession and winning the ball back, but unfortunately Arsenal couldn’t quite create any chances of note. Then, completely out of the blue, Koscielny’s miss control deep in Arsenal’s half gifted Middlesbrough a chance to take the lead; but Adama had his shot saved at close range by Cech, and then the follow up from Negredo was also impressively kept out by Cech.

This error from Arsenal looked like a carbon copy of the error by Xhaka last week against Swansea, and similarly like Swansea last week, Monreal struggled against a rapid Adama throughout the game, maybe highlighting to Alex Iwobi that he needs to provide more cover for the Spaniard. The last key chance of the first half fell to Ramirez as his header was saved well again from Petr Cech, after a Negredo flick on left him in acres of space at the back post.

Second Half

With many fans no doubt expecting Arsenal to come out for the restart playing a much higher tempo, the team rather did the opposite and, as the game went on, simply ran out of ideas on how to break down an inspired ‘Boro team. With Arsenal’s opposition gaining more confidence as the half went on, they began to play more counter-attacking football and the next best chance of the game also fell to ‘Boro, when Cech again saved well after Adama beat Monreal and was left one on one with the Arsenal keeper.

‘Boro came forward again and Negredo was put through but only a superb tackle from Koscielny stopped him from putting ‘Boro into the lead. Late on in the game Arsenal increased the tempo a little and a Mesut Ozil chip was disallowed for offside. The draw though did take Arsenal top of the league for at least twenty-four hours after Liverpool had failed to beat WBA by two clear goals.

Overall, it was probably a decent point in the end as Middlesbrough arguably had the better of the chances in the game. Also when you consider Tottenham’s slip up at Bournemouth and that fact the Manchester City may face a difficult challenge against Southampton on Sunday.

Who knows, the weekend could end nicely with Arsenal being top of the league?

Thanks for reading.

@Lukeafc01

 

 

 

 

Arsenal 3 Swansea 2

October 16, 2016

To begin with, like most Arsenal fans right now, I was quite satisfied with Arsene Wenger keeping the same starting eleven as our last match against Burnley. It was nice to see that Wenger recognised that the team did not need too be chopped and changed around an awful lot. Another positive from the team selection yesterday was seeing Lucas back on the bench after recovering from his knee injury just prior to the International break.

First half

When the game kicked off, I expected Arsenal to press Swansea high up the field from the get go, just like the recent home matches against Chelsea and Basel. I was also intrigued to see if Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott would keep up their recent impressive form, with them both seeing a lot of the ball early alongside Mesut Ozil, Alexis and Santi Cazorla.  Arsenal looked the most likely to break the deadlock in the first half. However, like most teams in the premier league today, Swansea had some quality on the field and had the first major attempt to shout about, when a rather impressive Barrow pulled the ball back to Fer who curled his shot just over the bar.

Arsenal then had plenty of possession, but began to look some what more decisive with the ball in the final third. Then, after 26 minutes, Alexis chipped a pass in behind the Swansea Defence towards Bellerin, who headed to ball into the penalty area, but straight at Swansea Defender Amat. A major lapse in concentration from Amat though, set the ball up nicely for Theo Walcott in the six yard box for him to open the scoring for Arsenal. This goal really emulating the hard work that Theo Walcott has added to his game this season.

Shortly after, a corner was taken by Arsenal just in front of the Swansea faithful, which travelled over everyone’s head and flicked up off Sigurdsson’s ankle and set up nicely for Theo Walcott to control, swivel and rifle straight down the middle past Fabianski into the net. With Arsenal now in full control and Swansea’s confidence low, Xhaka then presented them with a glimmer of hope just before half time, when his miss-control on the edge of Arsenal’s penalty area, left Sigurdsson only needing to side foot the ball round Petr Cech and into the Arsenal goal. Arsenal still, however, went in a half time 2-1 up and fully deserving to be in the lead.

Second half

Both teams came out for the second half, and the tempo of the game stayed relatively similar. Arsenal looked comfortable on the ball and Swansea looked slightly insecure at the back. Then, ten minutes into the second half, Alexis picked up the ball just outside the penalty area and put a pin point cross to Ozil who caught a first time volley beautifully which rocketed into the roof of the net, leaving Fabianski no chance in the Swansea goal.

Continuing his good performance, Barrow beat Monreal down the right hand side and held the ball up well whist also picking out a nice pass to find Baston in the middle of the Arsenal penalty area to slot home past Petr Cech while Arsenal defence stood rooted to the spot watching the ball, not the man.. With Swansea back in the game and gaining confidence, the momentum shifted completely to Swansea. Five minutes later, Granit Xhaka cynically fouled Barrow from behind on the half way line and received a red card for his troubles. Apparently new rules brought in this season ex[plains why Moss sent the Arsenal player off. Swansea then went on to make chances with their player advantage, yet failed to take any of them.  The best of Swansea’s chances falling to Sigurdsson who blazed the ball over the crossbar from about five yards out after another Barrow cross into the box.

Arsenal, and in particular Walcott, went on to have the best of the late chances as twice Walcott was set up by Chamberlain, in which both times the woodwork denied him getting his well deserved Hat-Trick on the day.

This win then took Arsenals winning streak to six games and joint top of the Premier League after Tottenham and Manchester City both dropped points In their games against West Brom and Everton respectively.

Thanks for reading

@Lukeafc01

 

 

Season 2014/15 – Part Two Jan – May 2015

June 2, 2015

January

After a very good end to 2014 Arsenal travelled to Southampton. Two mistakes from Szczesny handed Saints a 2-0 win and the result could not really be argued. The first Szczesny came out and was lobbed and the second managed to toe poke the ball straight to Tadic who gratefully accepted the chance. One really good chance for Cazorla, a few half chances for Chamberlain and Alexis were all Arsenal mustered. Coquelin started his second full match for Arsenal since being called back from a loan spell with Charlton due to an injury picked up by Ramsey in December. What a difference this guy was about to make to the second half of the season.

The draw for the FA Cup 3rd round brought up a repeat of last season’s final with Hull City travelling to the Emirates. Hull had already visited the Emirates in the league and came away with a credible 2-2 draw. Theo Walcott made his first appearance for a year and only two of the team that beat Hull in the Cup last May started this match. Arsenal won the game deservedly 2-0 a Mertesacker header from a corner and a tidy turn and finish from Alexis.

Next up were our friends from Middle Earth. Ospina kept his place in-goal. Arsenal won with ease. Goals from Koscielny and two from Alexis saw Arsenal run out 3-0 winners. Once again though 3-0 up and the scoring stopped. Debuchy came back in for Chambers, picked up an injured shoulder and would be out for a while. Arsenal travelled to Manchester City with the old “Arsenal don’t do well against the big teams” ringing in their ears. Well this was a different Arsenal performance, more focused on defence as a team and how our opponents play. City threatened in the first half but Ospina did not have a save to make. Arsenal soaked up whatever City threw, minus Yaya and scored twice themselves with a Cazorla penalty and a Giroud header from a Cazorla free kick.. This was a superb win that showed Arsenal could beat the big sides if they set up correctly.

FA Cup fourth round was up next. An away visit to Brighton where Arsenal had beat them 3-2 only two seasons before in the Cup. This time goals from Walcott. Ozil and a cracker from Rosicky helped produce another 3-2 victory and move Arsenal into the fifth round. On 26 January Arsenal signed Gabriel Paulista from Villareal for around £11m which looked a good addition for cover on The BFG and Koscielny. After a poor start to the month away at Southampton.

Arsenal recorded four wins on the spin, finished the month with thirty-nine points from twenty-two games and fifth in the table. January picked up after the defeat away at Southampton and the victory at Manchester City would give the team confidence to push on for the rest of the season.

Table as of January 2015

February

Arsenal started the month turning over Aston Villa 5-0 at home and this without Alexis. The flick of the season from Ozil set up Giroud to start the rout. Three passes from Edge of Arsenal’s box saw Ozil make it 2-0. Four passes from back to front then saw Walcott curl in Arsenal’s third. A penalty from Cazorla and a nice placed finish from Bellerin ended the scoring. Arsenal had kept three clean sheets and taken nineteen out of a possible twenty-four points.

Next up was the North London derby at Shite Hart Lane. Arsene Wenger’s 700th Premiership match and 45th North London Derby. Arsenal started well and went 1-0 early on through a well taken goal by Ozil set up by Welbeck and Giroud (miss-kick?) . Then Arsenal sat back and Spurs poured forward. Spurs players were certainly getting stuck in and maybe Rose and Mason may well have seen red on another day with Atkinson in another of his poor game modes. With Arsenal having held out till half time you could sense a Spurs goal was coming and Kane came up with the goods for Spurs on fifty-six minutes to equalise. Arsenal could not get their game going at all and yet Koscielny could have put Arsenal ahead with a header he put straight at Lloris. With four minutes left Kane rose to head home to give Spurs a 2-1 win. North London was white 🙂 The shift in North London was being mentioned again. Spurs were going to finish above Arsenal. Spurs were nailed on for top four. Those living in the shadows of North London will never learn.

Table as of After Spurs match

Leicester City were Arsenal’s next opponents at the Emirates. Sanchez was back to replace Giroud. Walcott and Rosicky replaced Welbeck and Ramsey. Arsenal won with goals from Koscielny and Walcott both assisted by Ozil. Leicester did well and had their chances and pulled one back in the sixty-first minute. Only a good save by Ospina stopped Leicester maybe getting a well deserved draw. FA Cup firth Round day and Middlesboro were the visitors. Gabriel made his debut for the club. Szczesny back in for Ospina. Cazorla was made Captain. Riding high in the Championship and having defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the £tihad in the previous round, this was billed as a very close match. It never turned out that way a two goals in two minutes from Giroud in the first half settled the match. The first a simply majestic team goal where every player in the Arsenal side touched the ball before Giroud scored. Arsenal dominated and there were to be no heroics from Boro in this game.  in truth if it were not for Mejias in-goal for Boro, the scoreline could have been 5-0.

Arsenal travelled over the Thames to Crystal Palace in what looked like a tough match as Pardew had got Palace playing some decent football and winning matches. Jack Wilshere out for three months returned to the squad. Arsenal went 2-0 up through a Cazorla penalty and a well worked goal leading to Giroud scoring and taking his tally for Arsenal to fifty goals. the last fifteen minutes Palace piled on the pressure, got one back and then hit the post, but Arsenal somehow held on and took the three points as Palace though with plenty of pressure and twenty odd shots a goal only three were on target.

The final game of the month was at home in the Champions League against Monaco. What looked like a good draw for Arsenal ended up being a nightmare evening as Arsenal played poorly or maybe were made to play poorly as Monaco won 3-1 and totally deserved their victory. Monaco were also shorn of a few of the main players. Only highlight for Arsenal was a late cracker from Oxlade-Chamberlain that might have given Arsenal a small chance in the second leg. Arsenal finished the month with Forty-Eight points from twenty-six games and third in the table. Arsenal won three of their four league games and progressed to the sixth round of the FA Cup. The table also showed Arsenal five points clear of Tottenham who only two league games earlier were one point clear of Arsenal and the pride of North London.

Table as of February 2015

March

Gabriel got his first Premier League start at home to Everton. Arsenal’s first goal saw Giroud score from a Ozil corner. A great chance fell to Ozil but a very good tackle from Jagielka saved Everton. A late Tomas Rosicky shot from outside the box that took a slight deflection sealed the result for Arsenal 2-0. Hardly a classic performance but three welcome points. Arsenal then travelled the short distance to West London to take on Queen’s Park Raisins. A largely uninspiring first half came to life in the second with Arsenal playing some good football. This was rewarded with two goals in five minutes with Giroud stabbing home from Gibbs short cross. Alexis made it 2-0 with one of his weaving runs and near post shot. Austin pulled one back for Rangers. The truth is Arsenal should have won by a bigger margin here. However a fourth consecutive league win was welcome.

BBC Sports decided Arsenal’s away match against Manchester United in the FA Cup sixth round would be played at 8pm on a Monday evening. Manchester United had reached the sixth round beating Yeovil, Cambridge and Preston. Arsenal actually played well and went 1-0 up after twenty-five minutes through a well worked team goal finished by Monreal. Sadly Arsenal only held out four minutes as their nemesis Rooney scored for United to equalise. Valencia then assisted Arsenal in the sixty-first minute with a short back pass that Welbeck anticipated, rounded (shoot straight me) de Gea and slide the ball home for 2-1 Arsenal. Cazorla then shot straight at de Gea, though to be fair it was a good save that should have been 3-1. Signing of the season, Di Maria, all £63m of him got himself sent off . A fully deserved victory for Arsenal as they went through into the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

West Ham then popped over from East London to the Emirates and if you want to talk quick passing and a superb goal at the end of a speedy move, look no further than Arsenal’s first goal in this match right on half time. A cracker into the top corner from Giroud, who simply cannot stop scoring right now. Arsenal should have been at least 3-0 up at half time but wasted chances.  Arsenal’s second came on eighty-four minutes from a thrown-in which saw Giroud and Ramsey have an exchange of passes before Ramsey slide the home. Another superb move only a couple of minutes ended with Cazorla sliding the ball across the area for Flamini to tap in with his first touch of the ball.  3-0 to Arsenal.

After a run of domestic games it was back to the Champions League and the second leg away against Monaco. Arsenal needed to win by three clear goals to progress into the next round. Maybe even a 3-1 victory and win on penalties, but whatever this was going to be a tough ask. In the end a first half strike from Giroud and late goal from Ramsey just wasn’t enough. Arsenal teased as usual winning 2-0 on the night and going out on the away goal rule, yet again.  It was back to the Premier League and a trip up north to play Newcastle United who were not exactly setting the world on fire. Arsenal didn’t really play that well, but two first half goals from Giroud put Arsenal 2-0 up at the break. A quick reply from Newcastle in the second half reduced the arrears and Arsenal held on. Newcastle had plenty of the ball yet only one really good chance to equalize, however, Ospina was up to the task saving from Sissoko.

Arsenal finished the month with sixty points from thirty games and third in the table. Arsenal won four out of four league games, beat Monaco 2-0 away in Champions League and progressed to the sixth round of the FA Cup. Six-out-of-six wins in the month. Four defeats in twenty-games since the beginning of December the team were certainly getting it together and playing taking each opposition into account. Downer was going out yet again at the knock out stage of the Champions League.

Prem table as of March 2015

April

Arsenal started the month with a superb victory over Liverpool winning 4-1 at home and continuing their recent revival of form. Three first half goals in eight minutes put Arsenal 3-0 up at the break with a superb solo run and curled shot from Bellerin. A lovely free-kick from Ozil and a hammer shot from Sanchez. Liverpool pulled one back through a Henderson penalty, however, Giroud scored another beauty on ninety minutes to give the scoreline a better look to it after Can had been sent off for Liverpool. Arsenal then travelled up to the North West to take on relegation candidates Burnley. An Aaron Ramsey goal on twelve minutes settled the game after about four chances in the Burnley area went begging. Arsenal once again should have put this game to bed and though Burnley battled well, but Arsenal should have won by more.

FA Cup Semi-Final day. The draw had seen Arsenal pitched against Reading who were languishing down the bottom end of the Championship. Previous matches Arsenal had played at Wembley showed that nothing is guaranteed. Arsenal took the lead through Alexis who was on the end of a superb ball from Ozil, to control and tucked the ball nicely past the keeper. Reading battled and got a reward after sixty-one minutes when McCleary scored to equalise. The game went to extra-tine and in the one-hundredth and sixth minute Alexis won the match as the his low shot squirmed under the keeper to make it 2-1 to Arsenal who moved into their second successive FA Cup final.

Chelsea came to the Emirates for a match Arsenal simply had to win if they had any chance, however, small of winning the title. Jose played this tight, no forwards and defence all the way. The result was a not surprising 0-0 draw as Arsenal could not break down Chelsea’s defence, producing only one shot on target in the whole game. A professional result that pleased Jose and put to bed any hope of Arsenal winning the title.

Arsenal finished the month with sixty-seven points from thirty-three games and still third in the table. Arsenal won two out of three league games and progressed to the FA Cup Final. Arsenal now had only four defeats in twenty-four games since the beginning of December. The FA Cup Final would be between Arsenal and Aston Villa who had beaten Liverpool in their semi-final.

Prem table as of April 2015

May

The month started with Arsenal travelling to Hull City on a Monday night. A superb first half performance from Arsenal saw three quick goals put Arsenal 3-0 up by the break. Two goals from Alexis, one a free kick and the other nicely take rounding the keeper and one from Ramsey whose shot took a deflection off a defender. Arsenal then applied the hand brake again. Hull got one back through Quinn but Arsenal saw the game out to go level on points with Manchester City in second and with a game-in-hand.

Seven days later and another Monday night match this time at home to Swansea. Arsenal played some good stuff, had plenty of chances on a night when ex-keeper Fabianski decided to play like a word beater and Swansea defended like Trojans. A late Gomis header sealed the points for Swansea on a disappointing night for Arsenal’s hopes of finishing second.

Arsenal went back to Old Trafford to play Manchester United. A win or avoid defeat meant Arsenal could secure or almost secure third place and no pre-qualification for the Champions League proper for next season. Manchester United did not have nemesis Rooney in their line up. Arsenal didn’t really turn up for the first half and United went in at the break 1-o up through Herrera. Arsenal played better in the second half and a cross from Walcott was turned into his own net by Blackett for Arsenal’s equaliser. That’s how the game ended and Arsenal only need not lose to Sunderland to be sure of securing that third place finish.

Sunderland came to the Emirates fighting to stay in the premiership. Arsenal had plenty of the game, created enough chances to have won two games and yet somehow with some good defending Sunderland got the point they needed with a 0-0 draw. Another disappointing performance from Arsenal having now gone three homes games without scoring a goal. The final league match was at home to West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal took them apart in the first half with four well taken goals and one of them Wilshere’s winning the MOTD goals of the season award. The second half was mainly just going through the motions and that hand break was applied to good use as it was so many times over the. season. However with the game won here and an FA Cup Final only a few days away, it was sort of understandable. Arsenal finished on seventy-five points from thirty-eight games and in third place. Five defeats in the last thirty games. Finishing a full eleven points ahead of the mob down the Seven Sisters Road.

Prem Table as of May 2015

The final game of the season was the FA Cup Final at Wembley against Aston Villa. A comprehensive 4-0 win saw Arsenal take their second successive FA Cup trophy. Albeit the match was one-sided as Arsenal not only stopped Villa playing, but played as well as they have all season, thus ending the season on a high note. Third in the table and a trophy to boot  is a slight improvement on last season.

Fewer points gained than previous season, but that may say more about the Premiership overall last season, only this time with third place there will be no Champions League qualifiers to get in the way early next season. Enough enjoyable games from December onwards, start could have been so much better.

 

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

 

 

 

A few thoughts on the FA Cup Final

May 31, 2015

I got hold of two tickets for the FA Cup Final, however, as my Son was in the South of France, not due back till around 12 noon on the day of the final. Luke was travelling back by coach and ferry to Harlow – over seventeen hours of travel so I decided the trip to Wembley this year was a step to far. I made sure the tickets went to the best of homes, proper Gooners. I then decided just in case all went well and Luke was not too tired I’d get two tickets for the Emirates screening, being nearer and less aggravation than Wembley, but he was knackered and I’ve had a bad cold and cough, so we watched the game live on TV at home.

This year I was as relaxed as I could be in the lead up for a Cup Final. I fully expected Arsenal to win against Villa. When you looked at the two teams, there was no comparison, Arsenal far better. The fifth match at Wembley for many of these Arsenal players in just over year gave me the feeling that they must all turn up at some stage.

Strangely it was nice for a change not to be at the game and see all the things you miss when watching live.

Arsenal were looking for back-to-back FACup victories (for the second time) and winning would take them clear in the all time winners list of FACup victories (12). Arsene Wenger was looking for his sixth win to equal Aston’s Villa’s George Ramsey. History was in the making .

Szczesny, Bellerin, Mertesacker , Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil (Wilshere), Sanchez (Oxlade-Chamberlin), Walcott, (Giroud 76). Szczesny back in the side. Walcott starting above Giroud no doubt due to his hat trick against West Bromwich. Wilshere and Gabriel drop out from the West Bromwich match, Koscielny and Ramsey back in.

Watching from home you sure got a sense the Wembley crowd being up for this final. Villa fans were in good voice, no doubt due to being their first final for many years. Arsenal fans countering the Villa fans. Then it was on to the pre-match Cup Final hymn and National Anthem. Something Arsenal supporters know very well.

♬♪Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless, O abide with me ♬♪…..

The team were then introduced to Prince William a Villa supporter.

♬♪ God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen. ♬♪

The referee blew his whistle and got the game under way. Ozil header, chance for Theo but he was offside. Villa chucked one into the box for Benteke, however, Szczesny is up to the job. Sanchez-Cazorla who crossed low and Villa conceded corner. Another corner which Koscielny won but could not direct his header. Szczesny again! This time punching clear from Bentekes’s head. That did him good. Cleverley went into the book for foul on Monreal. What a Save!!! Cazorla cross was met by Koscielny and his header is somehow saved by Given. Bellerin did well getting to the byeline, crossed for Ramsey but he could not steer the ball in. Magic from Ozil taking out two players, crossed the ball into the area and it broke kindly for Ramsey who somehow fires over. All Arsenal and should be leading.

Again Cazorla-Ozil who fired a cross into the area and there was Theo, must be 1-0! No! Richardson with a super block keeps the score 0-0. Maybe Theo should have done better? Hutton booked for foul on Sanchez. Villa dead men walking here. Delph is now shown a yellow card as he pulls back Ozil. Monreal broke free down the left, crossed into Area and the ball was met by Sanchez who headed down into the area. In came Theo who took the ball waist height and slammed the ball past Given to give Arsenal the lead. No more than Arsenal deserved.

Pick that one out the onion bag.

HALF TIME: Arsenal 1-0 Aston Villa

First half went pretty much as I expected with Arsenal dominant. Villa not really offering much and failing to register a single shot on target.

Second half saw an early chance for Ramsey but his shot was weak and an easy take for Given. Arsenal broke and the ball fell for Sanchez. Monreal made a good run to his left taking out the full back. Sanchez came inside thirty yards from goal and I doubt many knew what was going to happen next. After cutting inside Sanchez quickly looked up, showing intention for what was coming next in his head and fired in a rocket of a shot. The ball went up/down/left/right and flew past Given who didn’t move till the ball was nestling in the net. Given just sat there on the floor with a cheeky smile on his face which summer up the moment of magic he’d just been beaten by. On a day when the BBC were looking for viewers to vote on their best ever goal with five candidates, Sanchez should have been added to the list.

Sanchez Goal

Westwood taking time out from pimping his ride brings down Sanchez and gets a yellow card for his troubles. That’s four Villa yellows. Ramsey slide the ball into Walcott who shoots and somehow Given saved again and Jesus Sanchez heads in the rebound. It was given offside against Walcott but that was close. Villa were there for the taking. Bellerin now sets up Cazorla who twisted, turned, shot and there was Given again to save. Ozil sent Walcott away, this is Theo’s game and yet even just getting past Okore Walcott could not get a decent shot away and Given was on hand to cover yet again. Arsenal corner won by Ramsey. Cazorla floats the ball over and there is the unmarked Mertesacker to Joe Hart head & shoulders the ball into the net 3-0 Arsenal. Easy! Easy!

Per Mertesacker makes it 3-0.

Theo collected a pass from Ramsey and should have done better for 4-0 however, his shot curls way past the upright. That was goodnight from Theo as he was replaced by Giroud. Agbonlahor races towards the area and is caught by Coquelin and fouled, yet the referee waves play on. No way was it a penalty, but it was a free-kick. Of course the Commentators and experts had differing views, but that was more a case of a goal for Villa might make the last ten minutes interesting. Grealish is then in a tussle with Bellerin and both go to ground. Penalty they shout! Behave I say! Both players were off the field of play and so was the ball when Grealish touched it. No way a sodding penalty.

Sanchez went off to great applause from the yellow wall and fully deserved. What a player, What a battler. What a great signing. Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace him. Chamberlain then found room on the right, hits a low ball into the area and there was Giroud to make it 4-0. Icing on the cake stuff.

Giroud 4-0

FULL TIME : Arsenal 4-0 Aston Villa

Arsenal lift the cup

Arsenal lift the cup.

Overall this was as I expected an easy game. I do get fed up with the lazy journalistic view that if one side wins easy the other side were poor. For me this was more about Arsenal going at it right from the start. Aston Villa were not allowed to play, Arsenal bossed the game. That’s no slight on Villa, simply a fact of how the game was played. Arsenal have super play makers and if they play then very few teams can cope. However, if Arsenal players, play and take their chances, then in most games Arsenal will win. This is what Arsenal did. They played well, very well, dominated a Cup Final. I get this is not want some people (experts/media/journalists) want, but that’s how it is sometimes. Villa didn’t have a shot on target, that was due to Coquelin, Mertesacker and Koscielny who all gave Szczesny the early evening off. Nacho and Bellerin were superb. Every Arsenal player turned up and played to potential.

Arsenal won a Cup Final without giving their supporters too much tension. No “we always do it the hard way” it was how fans like to win finals. Of course winning 3-2 coming back from 2-0 is superb and more exciting, however, Villa was simply seeing your team play to their ability and winning the game without the need for four or five heart attacks.

So I say “Well played Arsenal, simply superb performance and fully deserved to win the FA Cup two years running. Congratulations to Arsenal Wenger for becoming the FA Cups most successful manager ever. Well apart from George Ramsey who was at Villa for about 100 years and won it when it was jumpers for goalposts. Congratulations to Arsenal FC for becoming the most decorated team in the FA Cups history with twelve wins.

It was also nice to get our biggest ever win in a final.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

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