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Season 2014/15 – Part One July – December 2014

May 28, 2015

July/August.

Arsenal started with a friendly 1-0 defeat away in New York v the Red Bulls where a certain Mr Coquelin was on the subs bench and a certain Mt Henry was playing for our opposition.  New signings Alexis Sanchez and Manuel Debuchy did not figure

Next up was the Emirates Cup where Arsenal beat Benfica 5-1 with Sanogo scoring four goals. Callum Chambers made his first appearance and Alexis Sanchez made his first start. The following day Arsenal was robbed of the draw in the match v Monaco with the worse penalty decision not given I’ve seen. Akpom was well inside the area and Atkinson took the word of his linesman and gave a free kick outside the area. This was followed by Arsenal’s third visit to Wembley in the space of three months, where Arsenal ran out easy 3-0 victors over Manchester City. Sanchez, Chambers and Debuchy all got run outs.

The league started with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace with Alexis Sanchez, Manuel Debuchy and Callum Chambers all making their full debuts for the club. This game was much harder than it looked, Palace took the lead and Arsenal equalised right on HT with Koscielny converting a Sanchez cross. Late in the game Puncheon got sent off and almost immediately Ramsey scored the winner right on full-time. I then took flight to Antalya in Turkey for holidays and followed the Besiktas match on Twitter and a lucky escape for Arsenal  as Besiktas played well, so a 0-0 draw was good. Everton could have been away with the fairies by half time. However, Arsenal were much better in the second half and goals from Ramsey/Giroud gave Arsenal 2-2 draw and a deserved point. Besiktas at home was also close, however a goal right on half time by Sanchez proved to be the winner and send Arsenal into the Champions League proper. A League game at Over land and sea (and Leicester) was up next. Once again it was Sanchez who grabbed the goal to give Arsenal a draw against a spirited Leicester side. Giroud was ruled out till January with a broken leg after a late injury picked up in the 2-2 draw away at Everton. Arsenal finished the month with five points from three games and seventh in the table. Not the start many fans would have expected.

Table as of August 2014

September

A deadline day signing saw Arsene sign Danny Welbeck from Manchester United. This month saw Arsenal win just one match out of five in all competitions. It started with a 2-2 home draw against Manchester City where Augero gave City the lead after a sucker punch break. Wilshere got Arsenal back in it and then Sanchez scored a beauty to put Arsenal ahead. Arsenal fell to not defending a cross when Demichelis headed in with six minutes to go.

Arsenal’s first Champions League group match was away at Dortmund  and resulted in a 2-0 defeat. Arsenal were just not at the races, even though possession wise they had more of the ball. The reality is possession does not mean goals and with less possession it would not have been unjust if Dortmund had scored five.

In the league the next match was away at Aston Villa who had started well and sitting in second place behind Chelsea in the table. Arsenal played well for three minutes and scored in the 33rd, 34th and 35th minutes to win 3-0 with goals from Ozil, Welbeck and an OG by Cissokho. A game where neither side had a shot at goal after the 53rd minute. The Capital One Cup saw Southampton who were also having a good start to the season come to the Emirates. David Ospina made his debut for the club.  Arsenal started well and Sanchez scored a cracker from a free-kick to put Arsenal ahead. However, goals from Tadic and a cracker from Clyne gave Saints a 2-1 win and saw Arsenal depart the competition early.

The month ended with the North London Derby, Tottenham at the Emirates. Arsene left out Sanchez and Cazorla from the starting line up.. Spurs went 1-0 up through Chadli, though Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the equaliser after seventy-five minutes. Disappointing not to have beaten Spurs having had control of the game for long periods. Arsenal finished the month with ten points from six games and in fourth place.

Table as of Septemkber 2014

October

The month started with a good win at home to Galatasaray in our second Champions League group match. Arsenal running out 4-1 winners. Goals from Sanchez and a Danny Welbeck hat-trick put Arsenal 4-0 up and from then on it was hand brake on. The first league match of the month was away at Chelsea where our opponents run out 2-0 winners with goals from Hazard (pen) and Costa. I have no doubt Chelsea should have been down to ten men when Cahill made a very poor tackle on Sanchez. Had Cahill been sent off I also have no doubt Hazard would have gone off and replaced by a defender.

Hull City were the first team to visit the Emirates in October and it was Sanchez who put Arsenal in the lead. Hull with typical fighting spirit scored within minutes of the Sanchez goal and then again right after half time to go 2-1 up which was a shock for the home crowd. Arsenal had to wait for a ninety-first minute equalise from Welbeck. There was just enough time for a Gibbs chance of a winner but his effort was saved.

Champions League Group stage match three was up next against Anderlecht. A scrappy match where both sides were hardly on top form and the first half was dire. On seventy-one minutes Anderlecht got the goal their play deserved as they came more into the match. . Arsenal looked to be struggling however, on came Podolski. Gibbs scored an equaliser in the eighty-ninth minute and one minute later Podolski slammed home the winner and Arsenal got a victory out of a game they looked like losing. Sunderland away in the league was the months last match and Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners with two goals, one in each half from Sanchez, the second coming right on full-time and was Arsenal’s 1500th in the Premier League. Arsenal ended the month in fifth place on fourteen points from nine games.

Table as of October 2014

November

Burnley were the first visitors to the Emirates in November and Arsenal run out 3-0 winners, pretty much as expected. Arsenal though were made to wait till the seventieth minute for Sanchez to open the scoring. this was followed two minutes later with Chambers getting his first goal for the club. Sanchez rounded off the win in the ninetieth minute. Champions League group match four against Anderlecht was next at the Emirates. A penalty from Arteta put Arsenal 1-0 up after Welbeck was fouled.  Sanchez scored a cracker after his original free-kick shot came back of the wall and with fifteen minutes gone in the second half Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a screamer for 3-0 to Arsenal and the game looked dead and buried.  However, at 3-0 it was that Arsenal switch off mentality that came into play as if the manager says that’s enough lads, take it easy, play your football and see if the goals come, don’t force the game anymore. In this case Arsenal paid the price and goals from Borre (2) and right on full-time Mitrovic gave Anderlecht a 3-3 draw. Arsenal simply threw the game away.

The next league match was away at Swansea. Arsenal went 1-0 up through a superb Arsenal move which ended with Welbeck setting up Sanchez to score from six yards. Make no mistake Arsenal were in control but yet again somehow managed to mess things up and let Swansea back into the game.  With fifteen minutes left  first Sigurdsson  and then three minutes later Gomis put Swansea 2-1 up and this is how the game ended. Once again all very frustrating.

Manchester United’s visited the Emirates and how United left with all three points is anyone’s guess. An OG from Gibbs and a second from Arsenal’s nemesis Rooney saw United go 2-0 up. As much as Arsenal pushed forward all they got was a late cracker from Giroud to reduce the arrears. It has to be said United wasted two great chances late on to put the game to bed.

Arsenal then beat Dortmund 2-0 at home in their fifth Champions League group match which assured qualification into the last sixteen of the competition. Sanogo opened the scoring for Arsenal with his first competitive goal after only seventy-five seconds. Sanchez scored the deciding goal after fifty-seven minutes to give Arsenal the victory. Arsenal’s next game and final game of the month was away at West Bromwich Albion where Danny Welbeck scored the winner after sixty minutes. Arsenal ended the month in sixth place on twenty points from fourteen games.

Table as of November 2014

December

Arsenal started the month with Southampton currently second in the table and playing well. It was also the visitors second visit to the Emirates this season, having won the first. A game where Arsenal played well had enough chances at goal, quite a few on target but had to wait till the last-minute for Sanchez to bag the winner. Next up was the game every Arsenal fan loves – away to Stoke City. No sooner had the game kicked off, when Crouch gave Stoke the lead. Arsenal were shocking in the first half with Stoke scoring two more to go in 3-0 ahead at the break. Arsenal were much better in the second half and pulled back to 3-2 with a penalty from Cazorla and a Ramsey effort. Arsenal looked a comfortable bet at this stage to get something out of the game when Chambers stupidly got himself sent off. I thought the referee seriously helped Stoke here. The game ended 3-2 to Stoke.

Champions League again and the last group match away in Turkey v Galatasaray. Would Arsenal take it easy? Well Arsenal were 2-0 up after eleven minutes through Podolski and Ramsey. After nineteen minutes Ramsey surely scored the goal of the season in all competitions with a cracking effort from distance. Gala pulled one back, but Podolski scored his second to give Arsenal a 4-1 win. This left Arsenal on the same points as Dortmund, but the Germans won the group on goal difference. A few days later Arsenal entertained Newcastle and won 4-1 with goals from Giroud (2) and Cazorla (2). Arsenal then travelled to Liverpool the scene of their 5-1 hammering last season. Coutinho put Liverpool 1-0 up yet almost straight away Debuchy grabbed his first goal for the Arsenal. 1-1 at HT. Giroud then put Arsenal 2-1 up and only a late goal by Skrtel stopped Arsenal from bagging a good win.

Arsenal’s sixth match of the month saw Queen’s Park Raisins come to the Emirates. Sanchez put Arsenal ahead midway towards the end of the first half. Giroud was then sent off for a headbutt. Rosicky made it 2-0 twenty minutes into the second half and Austin pulled one back for raisins, but ten man Arsenal held on. Arsenal then travelled to East London to play West Ham.  Arsenal won 2-1 with late first half goals from Cazorla and Welbeck. West Ham pulled a goal back, but Arsenal should have scored more as chances for Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain went begging. Arsenal ended the month in  joint fourth with Southampton on thirty-three points from nineteen games.

Table as of December 2014

The first half of the season then was not as good as I would have expected from Arsenal. Going into the New year a full thirteen points behind the leaders Chelsea, eleven points behind second placed Manchester City and somehow Manchester United who were not playing particularly well were also ahead by three points. Injuries once again were played their part.

However, the shape of the team was not right and too many players played out of position. The teams tactics against opposition was at times poor and some games were lost and drawn with ease. Opponents were setting themselves up to counter our style of play and finding it all to easy to stifle us. The team did not look like it could gel at all. New signing and worth every penny of his £30m price tag Sanchez saved Arsenal  many times from results being even worse than they were. His all round game simply put a smile on supporters faces and he never gave up and full of running and battling qualities as well as the obvious bags of skill he has. Young Bellerin also looked like a good player for the future.

However, having not played as well as expected the injuries started to get better and the team did look like they were picking up in December. Arsenal ended the year losing only one of their last nine matches, drew one and won seven in all competitions. What with qualification into the knock out rounds of the Champions League sorted there was hope that the second half of the season could be a good one for the team

Part Two and my awards for the season up soon after the Cup Final.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

A few thoughts on the West Bromwich Albion match

May 26, 2015

Arsenal went into their last game of he season knowing that should they lose then Manchester United, if they won away at Hull could take third place in the table thus leaving Arsenal with the task of pre-qualifying for the Champions League. However, United would also have to turn round a plus seven goal difference currently in Arsenal’s favour.

Arsenal’s team :

Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs, Cazorla, Coquelin (Ramsey), Wilshere (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott (Giroud) Arsene brought in Gabriel for Koscielny, Coquelin back for Ramsey and Walcott in for Giroud.

Arsenal with no goals to show from their previous three games at the Emirates including two 0-0 draws and a 0-1 defeat, needed a good performance and a few goals to lift spirits before the FA Cup this coming Sunday.

The game was only four minutes in when Arsenal broke their recent goal scoring duck, when the ball found Walcott and he hit a rocket of a shot past Myhill into the top far corner for 1-0 Arsenal! Arsenal really started this game strongly and playing some lovely football. Lovely football being good, but lovely football also needs end product. With fourteen minutes gone the team that put Chelsea to the sword six days earlier found themselves 2-0 down when the ball bounces round in the area, fell to Walcott who skipped his man and toe poked the ball into the net. Three minutes later more Arsenal pressure results in a third goal when again with the ball bouncing around the area, Gabriel set up Wilshere who simply lashed the ball into the top of the net from twenty yards, unstoppable! 3-0. (to be voted GOTS as Arsenal twitter did their job 🙂 ). Myhill saved well to stop Theo grabbing his hat trick. Wilshere, The BFG and Sanchez all went close.

Arsenal scored a fourth when Cazorla miss hit his shot across the goal and there was Walcott on the far stick to tap in his third goal in thirty-three minutes. 4-0 game over. This can only mean one thing. Yes! the hand brake comes into play.

HT 4-0

I noticed at this stage that Arsenal had score seventy-one goals for the season the sane as Chelsea and it would have been nice to end up with more goals than the champions. However, that damned hand brake put paid to that. Cazorla shot saved. Arsenal concede a goal when Ospina came out for a cross, missed and McAuley made it 4-1. West Bromwich a bit more lively now, but then maybe also a bit of Arsenal having done the job already. Ramsey and Giroud came on for Walcott and Coquelin. Straight away Arsenal liven up. Ramsey shoots and hits the far post. Once again the game simply winds down, well it is end of season.

Wilshere had a very good game, as did Walcott who looked lively. No real injuries which is good with the Cup Final on Saturday.

FT 4-1

Arsenal really do need to stop easing off in matches. When winning and looking comfortable the team should go for the juggler. Smashing teams when you have the chances, makes teams scared to play you. Arsenal always look like a side willing to give the opposition a route back into any game and this needs to be stopped.

However, the last day of the season, you win 4-1. A player scores a hat trick, team plays some good football, mainly in the first half. The team finish third, one place higher than last season and no extra games at the start of next season. It’s not all doom and gloom.

Thoughts on the season, well I will give that in a different blog.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

A few thoughts on the Sunderland league match

May 21, 2015

The math was simple. Arsenal five points behind Manchester City with a game in hand. Arsenal win both matches and City lose at home to Southampton and Arsenal would come second.

First Arsenal had to navigate Sunderland, the game-in-hand. Sunderland also needed just one point to secure another season in the top flight and leave Hull City and Newcastle fighting out the remaining relegation spot this coming Sunday. So I think we all knew how Sunderland were going to play this game.

Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny , Gibbs, Cazorla , Ramsey, Wilshere (Walcott), Ozil, (Rosicky), Sanchez, Giroud. Gibbs in for Monreal. Jack in for Coquelin.

The first half was all about Arsenal having the ball, coming forward in waves, Sunderland clearing the ball and Arsenal coming back in waves yet apart from a few chips over the top from Wilshere for Ozil and Giroud Arsenal never really came that close to breaking down a stubborn Sunderland defence. For me it was typical Arsenal and how bloody frustrating it all was. Yes sometimes you have to patient as a fan, but when you have seen this over and over and over again, enough for Paddy to have stood up a thousand times it all becomes the same old, same old. Is it good to watch? Well the football and passing in certain parts of the pitch, maybe yes – if that’s what floats your boat. However, what’s the point of it all if you’re not going to make chances and take them. You may as well take the goals away that Arsenal are attacking and simply watch the lovely passing moves that come to nothing.

The second half was not a great deal better.  It starts with Koscielny getting the benefit of the doubt form Referee Taylor for a handball shout from Fletcher’s pass to Defoe, who would have been in on goal.  Fletcher then has a shot blocked by Ospina and that was followed by Ospina again saving Arsenal’s blushes with a save from Aanholt. I really cannot see why people dig out Ospina so much. OK! he might not be the worlds best, but right now surely he is doing a good job for the team.

Finally Arsenal made an effort when a good low cross by Bellerin was flicked on by Giroud only to see Pantilimon make a good save and then a couple of minutes later saved again from a Gibbs header. Sanchez had a shot blocked by Coates, then Defoe plays in Fletcher and once again Ospina is the saviour as he pushes wide Fletcher’s chipped shot. Fletcher is then clearly offside but the officials waved play on and you wonder how Fletcher managed to put the ball over the bar. Walcott had a chance but after beating his man he lifted the ball over Pantilimon and agonisingly past the far post.

Arsenal best chance came from a Sunderland player as a cross going nowhere saw Jones heads the ball onto the post with Pantilimon beaten but Sunderland cleared. Rosicky came on for Ozil, did a one-two with Walcott and could only put his shot wide of the far post. Ramsey and Theo both have chances but alas nothing comes of them as Pantilimon saves and the defence cleared. Sunderland were still keeping Arsenal out. Pantilimon saved again from Theo, yet another Keeper coming to the Emirates and choosing a good day to play his best game of the season.

Referee Taylor blows the whistle and it’s 0-0. Arsenal played their third successive match at home, over sixty shots at goal and failed to score. So much attacking play, so many play-makers and yet no goals. It’s all to bleeding obvious and teams are finding it easy to shut us out and our failure to take our chances only helps. I’m not a negative supporter though I was dubbed this on twitter the other night, because I dared to say that our football on the night was poor, average at best. It was about the Sunderland game, maybe even the Swansea game, where we simply look to run out of ideas once we get to within twenty yards of our opponents goal.

How many passes can you make across the area? How many times can you reach the twenty yard line and then come back on yourselves? How many times can you pass the ball across the area and then as soon as you make that pass forward, you simply lose possession of the ball? How many times can you do a one-two on the edge of the box and instead of shooting, pass again? I’m sure many of you were feeling the same frustrations as me on the night. Too many Indians and not enough Chiefs .

OK! having said this, it would seem that after getting a top four place the team shut down somewhat and still have a Cup Final on the horizon. It can also be said that baring a complete meltdown the point against Sunderland will see Arsenal finish third and avoid the need to play those two pre-qualifiers to get into the Champions League proper at the start of next season which is only seventy-eight days away.

Has it been a good season? Well another Cup Final (hopefully victory) and one place higher than last year would be a slight improvement for me. Yes we may have ended with fewer points, but then so have other top sides as the Premiership gets harder each year.

Hopefully we can now end on a high beating West Bromwich Albion in the last league match and defeating Villa in the final. Then it’s down to the club to get the right additions in place to make a better and more sustained challenge on the title and Champions league next season.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few thoughts on the Swansea league Match

May 17, 2015

Sorry this blog is a bit late. Had a few issues since last week and forgot to post it.

Arsenal went into this game on the back of a very good run. However, City hammered Queen’s Park Raisins 6-0. United won 2-1 at Palace which made it all the more reason that Arsenal beat Swansea to make second place a reasonable target. Arsenal started with the same team for the fifth game running, which is good for some, but when you lose not so good for others.

Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, (Wilshere ), Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, (Walcott).

My gut feeling was Swansea would come and play football, they are a footballing side. How wrong can you be? For the first ninety seconds Swansea did not touch the ball and though Arsenal had all the ball the Swansea set-up looked like Harry Monk had taken his tactics from the Jose book of tactics. OK! maybe it’s understandable as they are right on the heels of Southampton and if they catch them a European place could be up for grabs. Needs must.

After the early Arsenal training session Cazorla plays the ball to Sanchez who is wiped out by Shelvey and no booking given. Williams now in Giroud another free-kick, no booking. Arsenal; have racked up about two-hundred  passes to Swansea’s five and yet not a clear effort on goal yet. It’s all a bit drab. Fernandez not with a knee in the back of Giroud, they shall not pass is added to Swansea’s tactics. Taylor grabs Sanchez’s shirt, he goes down, Friend waves play on. I’ve seen them given.

Finally a booking for Swansea as Shelvey goes in the black book. The first half was simply one of pass, pass, pass from Arsenal and no threat on goal. A mixture of one pass to many, failure to want to shoot and Swansea defending very well made it quite frankly a bit of a bore fest.

Sanchez has a couple of early half chances in the second half but still no goal. Ramsey into the side netting. Cazorla straight at Fabianski. Everything seems to be going straight to Fabianski. Crosses shots, headers. Monreal, then Ramsey again both at the keeper. Sanchez in… Shoots straight at Fabianski, though to be fair it’s a snap shot, however, the ball runs nicely for Theo – surely 1-0, but no! half-hearted shot straight at Fabianski. Theo really should have scored. Pressure is mounting from Arsenal but whatever they do, the ball is attracted to our ex-keeper who I’m not sure is either having a blinder or Arsenal are making this game easy for him.

The game had this written all over it. Montero crossed to Gomis, header down, Ospina can’t keep the ball out and Cyclops shows the ball crossed the line 1-0 Swansea. Smash & Grab, theft, nicked the goal, stealing  (to take, get, or win insidiously, surreptitiously, subtly, or by chance:). Undeserved, I’m not having that :). Then Theo with back to goal, lays the ball to Jack who with time running out surely has to shoot, but no! This is Arsenal, he bloody passes the ball and another chance goes begging. Frustrating second half with Swansea defending with everything they had, some good play, some luck and they got the three points to do the double over Arsenal. Arsenal had twenty-three shots at goal with nine on Target at Fabianski.

After such a good run it was all a bit of a shock that with all the talent Arsenal have no one could fashion up a few proper decent chances to stick the ball in the net. I’m not going to get all medieval on Arsenal’s arse too much though as if Arsenal beat Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion at home nothing can stop them from finishing in the top three, even if we lose at Old Trafford.

Hopefully that will not happen as this game against Swansea should be a huge kick up the arse for the team and a win at United would seal a top three place and then there will be less pressure with the FA Cup final on the horizon. Hopefully this Swansea team can do us a favour when they play Manchester City this coming Sunday.

Cheers

@Harlowgooner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few thoughts on the Hull City league match

May 5, 2015

In the battle for 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Premiership Saturday saw Manchester United lose 0-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion, thus keeping Arsenal two points clear of them and with two games in hand. Liverpool beat Queen’s Park Raisins 2-1 with glory boy scoring the winner, which left Arsenal six points clear of Liverpool with two games in hand. Sunday saw Manchester City beat Spurs at Shite Fart Lane 1-0 and move three points clear of Arsenal although Arsenal now had two games in hand over City. Spurs defeat meant that they were left trailing Arsenal by nine points with only three games remaining. This meant Arsenal would have to lose all five remaining matches and Spurs win theirs for Spurs to avoid St Tottering’s Day from occurring. Even if the unthinkable did happen it would need a swing in-goal difference of 28 for Arsenal to mess this up.

Moving onto Monday night and Arsenal faced Hull with the following team :

Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud. Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Flamini, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott.

Arsenal totally dominated the first half save a short spell where Hull managed to swing in a few dangerous crosses. The way Arsenal play opponent’s will always get a few chances, but Arsenal’s defence is better at dealing with opponents today than it was at the start of the season and our shape is so much better.

After some good play passing the ball with confidence to each other and on point Arsenal took the lead when Tottenham Hull’s Huddlestone lost the ball, Livermore gave away a foul on Sanchez, who took the free and placed his shot past the Hull keeper via the head of Dawson. Could Arsenal’s twentieth successive season above Spurs being decided by ex-Spurs players?

Arsenal kept up the pressure and Cazorla who was having a very good match found a cracking pass to Ramsey with his back to the goal. Ramsey controlled the ball well, turned,  hit the ball towards goal and a defection of Brady sent the ball looping over Harper into the net for 2-0 to Arsenal.

N’Doye broke well leaving Bellerin for dead, however, the Arsenal defender is fast and his chasing back on N’Doye made him think and with this in mind N’Doye played a back pass to Ospina, what a wasted chance. two more good Arsenal moves threatened to extend the lead but both Cazorla and Ozil shot straight at Harper. Huddlestone again holds onto the ball to long, Ramsey find a superb pass through to Sanchez, who rounds the keeper and it’s 3-0 Arsenal. That was probably the best half of football Arsenal have played this season.

At half time I wondered if Arsenal would call it job done and I think that’s how the second half panned out. Arsenal came out and played within themselves and if a goal came then so be it, but if not ride the game out. Early good ball from Sanchez was just to far for Giroud and a good bit of control from Ramsey saw him get in a shot. Suddenly Hull attacked Meyler went in hard, but ultimately fair on Koscielny, a good cross in from Elmohamady, and Quinn  headed home to reduce the arrears. A couple of minutes later another cross found McShane who headed over.

Then it’s Ozil’s turn to do the flick thing and what a flick to put Sanchez in. Nothing comes of it though. As flicks go this is an 11/10 one, top-of-the-range. Wilshere on for Ramsey goes on one of his runs and after beating at least three players is brought down on the edge of area, but of course this turns into a debate about how Jack picks up his injuries, not how bad the tackle could have been. You want some of Koscielny then you get some back when Meyler gets one in the eye from Koscielny and a Chimney to boot.

Wilshere with another good run, plays it to Giroud-Bellerin who shoots and sees his shot blocked, it drops for Wilshere, who has a go, this is also blocked  and finally Sanchez from an acute angle tries his luck but nothing doing. Jack was doing well since he came and another run into the box saw him go down, Penalty? Maybe not. Jack then only has to put the ball into the net and puts his shot on target only to see a clear handball by the Hull defender and yet Phil Mitchell waves play on. Sanchez sticks one wide when it might have been better playing in Theo

FULL TIME: HULL CITY 1 ARSENAL 3

The team played well in this match and yet if I had to pick one player who did not perform to well with the ball then that would be Giroud, however, he took players out of the game, gave other freedom to play and for me is the glue that helps Ozil, Sanchez, Ramsey and Cazorla the room to play and create trouble. This Arsenal side only need fifteen minutes to kill opponents. With Coquelin solid in every match and Cazorla also assisting with his non-stop all action play Arsenal have a good shape and can look to play games out of needed.

Arsenal’s win brings to a close another season where Arsenal finished above Spurs and the now legendary St Tottering’s day had arrived, this time for the 20th season in succession. Think about that, 20 years. Two decades, or as Trigger would say “I wouldn’t go that far” To think if you’re an Arsenal fan celebrating your 20th birthday this year, you’ve never known finishing behind Spurs. It also brought Arsenal Champions League football for the nineteenth year running as they could not finish lower than fourth.

Now Arsenal are joint second in the table with Manchester City only with a game-in-hand. Five points clear of Manchester United with a game in hand. Nine points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand and twelve points clear of Spurs with a game in hand having played thirty-four matches.  It takes me back to Saturday 7 February when a certain Mr Kane scored twice to give Spurs a 2-1 victory over Arsenal and above us ion the table. They were once again on the up, Arsenal on way down. The shift had changed again, North London was white, they had come out of the shadows, this was the re-birth of the mighty Tottenham who went to see the Pope with a different outcome. The table does not lie!

Table

Arsenal had played twenty-four matches and yet since that glorious day for Spurs fans the rest is history and a nightmare for them. Arsenal have not lost since that date. Arsenal simply blew Spurs out-of-the-way, game-by-game winning and yet Spurs fans will never learn. Their sponsors should be called Under Arsenal as shown here by @sharpy58

Under armour

So our next match is another Monday night affair where we yet again play catch-up, but with three at home and only one away to United I do believe second place should be ours. If Arsenal could manage this and win the FACup surely this must be seen as an improvement.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few thoughts on the Chelsea league match

April 30, 2015

Manchester City scraped a 3-2 win over Aston Villa (Arsenal’s Cup Final opponents) to jump ahead of Arsenal in second place on Saturday evening, yet Arsenal now had two games in hand over them. Manchester United had been hammered 3-0 at Goodison Park by Everton just before Arsenal kicked off on Sunday, so Arsenal had to win to go back into second place.

There was no place for any forwards in the Chelsea line-up. Cesc, Oscar, Fraud & Willian were going to have to spearhead any attacking options Chelsea might make.

Arsenal started with : Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez, Giroud. Subs: Szczesny, Debuchy, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Walcott, Welbeck.

Chelsea started with eight buses in defence.  After some early Chelsea driving round the pitch trying to find a good place to park Arsenal started to play a bit themselves, but these buses are bloody hard to break down, leaving little room to get behind or though them.

Now I’m told Arsenal have a great CCTV system, so I am somewhat surprised how three or four Snipers managed to be in amongst the crowd and on the roof of stadium and not spotted. Also how did they manage to get through the search on the way into the stadium. After eight minutes Oscar was the first to be targeted by one of the snipers when Bellerin went to tackle him Oscar was being clipped on the shoulder by a .308, but on this occasion no medical staff were needed.

Ivanovic was tasked with looking after Sanchez and made sure he never got passed him by hook or by crook, you’d like to think players get protection, but …… I think Ivanovic could easily have picked up a couple of yellows or at least deserved one. Hazard has the ball, then he don’t and takes his usual position on arse having just had a meeting with Coquelin.

Cesc in his own half lofts a super through ball to Oscar. Koscielny cannot cut it out and thus Oscar if left one-on-one with Ospina to beat. Oscar lobs Ospina and luckily enough for Arsenal Bellerin saved the day covering at speed even with the full weight of carrying Hazard in his shorts pocket. In the attack Ospina clattered into Oscar who was down and out and needing treatment, I mean how dare Ospina have the cheek to actually come out, try to stop the ball and also stop on a sixpence so Oscar would not be clattered? I do wonder if Oscar could not have stopped and clattered Ospina Jose would have been happy to see Oscar sent off? The fact is it was down to momentum and both players coming together.

Fabregas goes into the area Cazorla’s knee slightly touches him and you could hear the faint puff from the sniper’s silencer as Cesc took a .300  to the temple and down he went. Chelsea scream for another penalty. It’s a conspiracy I tell you, they give Chelsea nothing. Mertesacker has Oscar attacking him, decides to stand his ground and takes the ball from Oscar like candy from a baby, so Oscar is again taken out by the sniper.

Bellerin kept the ball in play, laying it into the path of Giroud who shot but the ball hit Cahill’s knee and flew up onto his outstretched natural position arm.  I tried this natural arm position as the day went on and boy does it ache after a while, you know why, because it isn’t bloody natural.

Willian found himself in space, a good through ball took out the Arsenal defence and there was Ramire’s in on goal and yet he shot straight at Ospina, lucky escape for Arsenal but then Ramire’s didn’t really know what to do as there was no one in the box for him to foul. The half ended 0-0 and The Avengers would have problems breaking down this Chelsea defence.

Chelsea brought on Dogsbreath (the scourge of Arsenal) for the second half in hope of later nicking one on the break. The second half was basically Chelsea showing a master class on how to defend. Arsenal could not break them down. A snap chance for Mertesacker saw him shoot wide after a melee in the area and towards the end of the game a Monreal break to the touch-line and cross miss Ozil and Welbeck we just not able to turn the ball towards the Chelsea goal.

The crowd were chanting boring, boring Chelsea. Boring, boring Chelsea near the end. How many times over the years have I heard this sung to Arsenal by opposing supporters. Did the media ever make a big deal of it? Of course not, they just lapped it up and went for it. 1-0 to the Arsenal, it’s dull as dish water. However, dare the Arsenal fans chant the same at Chelsea and BANG! The media sing a different tune.

Spurs beat Chelsea 5-3, Jose shat himself and decided it was time to revert to the “park the bus approach”.  In twenty-one games since that Spurs defeat Chelsea have only scored more than one – nine times.

The game ended 0-0, Chelsea kept their ten point lead over the now joint second placed clubs Arsenal and Manchester City. Jose’s tactics had worked and his ability to park buses and get results are right up his street. When you start a match against a rival with six games to go, a ten point lead and no forwards don’t you be telling me that it’s not a boring approach.

Of course it’s Jose’s choice how he wants to play and it gets results and trophies, but it’s boring.  I understand that at times you have to play the right team, the right tactics to get a result, but Jose takes the bloody biscuit. I don’t want to pay £1500 for a season ticket to Arsenal so I can watch over fifty boring games and win a trophy at the end of the season. That doesn’t mean I don’t want trophies, what it means is I want to watch entertaining football and win trophies.

So after all the weekends matches had finished Arsenal were sitting joint second on the same points as Manchester City with a game in hand and two points clear of Manchester United with a game in hand. Now we have two Monday night games on the bounce, so our rivals for second place will play ahead of us for the next two weeks.

Oh! Finally it was nice of Bellerin to let Hazard out of his pocket so he could attend the Player of the Year award and receive the trophy. Boy! The bar been lowered for this season.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

A few thoughts on the Reading FA Cup Semi-Final

April 19, 2015

The weather was all good for the match. Harlow-Epping-Wembley Park-Green Man-Nosebag-Stadium.

The Green Man

Very good atmosphere in the grounds of the pub/hotel. Always enjoy the Away Boyz on big match days and the tent was full with supporters singing along. Many dancing with beer in hand that was ending up on the floor and at £4 a pint :).  As I don’t drink or at least one/two max on a blue moon or special occasions, I took two pints in and a Burger at the stall. The queues to get a beer were awful and you would have had to stock up on each visit to the bar to get drunk. The toilets had long queues. There were even bouncers dotted around to stop fans pissing in the bushes. Piss patrol bouncers, a new low in their industry. I think each visit to Wembley in such as short time has created the Green man as the place to be and while it’s great to be in amongst so many Arsenal supporters the place was packed solid. Not sure I’d visit there again.

The match.

I must admit I did expect Arsenal to win this one easy and by at  least by fours goals, but this was more about Arsenal’s poor play than anything Reading did to stop Arsenal.

On taking my seat about 25000 feet above sea level with my Son and waiting for the clouds to dissipate so I could see the pitch (I was flying lower in the plane on the way to Barcelona last weekend) I had most of the match blocked by people in our row getting up and going to the toilet or get food during the match. One guy got up five times during the full match. On top of this in all my years of attending football matches, I have never, I say never! Seen so many people getting up and down to go to the toilet of food stalls during a football match, it was constant. As I looked around the Arsenal end it was going on everywhere. How can any atmosphere be created at our end when this is going on?

Around five minutes before kick off twenty-two ants Players walked out of the tunnel for the first 2014/15 FA cup Semi-Final. Arsenal hardly set the match alight. I did think before game that only changing the team would give Reading any hope (and that was small) of gaining a victory. Well Szczesny was installed in-goal. Debuchy brought back at right back and Gibbs in at left back. Welbeck was also chosen ahead of Giroud. I like Danny he is a fighter and at times you need that in tough games. I also think Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez and Ramsey play better with the one touch stuff when the have Giroud linking their play together. Once Giroud came on Arsenal looked a much better shape.

Arsenal had many good passages of play that failed to come to anything and much of the play in the first half, but apart from a Mertesacker header well saved by the keeper there was not much else to threaten Reading save a glorious Ozil pass and take by Sanchez who finished well. The second half was pretty much hum-drum and then Reading scored their equaliser. You could argue that both full backs were in some way at fault. Gabriel had a good header saved by the keeper. A good cross by Ozil saw at least three Arsenal players in place to head home, but somehow Gabriel header over. Ramsey I felt, like Sanchez were just holding onto the ball for too long. While others were in the first time pass mode, the moves slowed down when the ball reached either of Sanchez or Ramsey. Both wanted too much time and too many twists and turns. However Ramsey then battled his was though, couldn’t beat the keeper, the ball ran loose and Ramsey’s second shot hit the upright.

Once Giroud came on to replace Welbeck Arsenal’s play changed and suddenly our play makers had a player who could link it all up. Giroud played very well and along with Ozil and Coquelin would be my men of the match.

Sanchez collected the ball on the edge of the box, came inside his man and hit a low hard shot and it looked for all the world that the keeper had it covered and saved the shot, however the ball slide underneath him and squirmed into the net 2-1 Arsenal!

A BBC report said this.

Hold on

Which sort of surprised me as after Sanchez scored Arsenal had the better chances. Not sure how Reading did not get more bookings during the match either. Not the best football match you will see that’s for sure, but none the less there can be no doubt (taking aside sympathy for underdogs) Arsenal fully deserved their victory. Commentators, their sidekicks, experts, Journo’s love the underdog, which is fair enough, but at least tell the game as it was, not through some fairy tale story of what they would have liked to see happen.

Hold on or not though, Arsenal won their record 28th FA Cup Semi-Final and are now in their record 19th FA Cup Final. It would seem only right that when Spurs reach their first domestic final for years, Arsenal go and reach the FA Cup Final. What was that they say about shadows?

Chelsea beat United in the Premier League and went ten points clear of Arsenal in the table having both played same number of matches. While I hoped United could have beaten Chelsea or draw to at least to give Arsenal some (albeit small) hope of winning the title, Chelsea’s win did keep Arsenal second, one point in front of United with a game in hand and finishing second would be no mean feat after the start to the season.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

A few thoughts on the Liverpool league match

April 5, 2015

Arsenal played host to Liverpool the media darlings who came to the Emirates knowing only a win would do to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four and playing Champions League football next season alive. Also keeping the their media darlings from looking like the complete idiots most are.

Liverpool were shorn of Lallana, Gerrard, Skrtel and Sturridge was to start on the bench. Arsenal third in the table knew a win would take them to second in the table, even if only on a temporary basis as Manchester City do not play until Monday night away at Crystal Palace. Apparently Arsenal had every player back in training this week and free from injury for the first time since 2005, yet before kickoff Szczesny was ruled out due to damaged ribs and young Matt Macey was brought into the squad as replacement

The team : Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny(Gabriel), Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey (Flamini), Sanchez, Ozil (Welbeck); Giroud.

Arsenal started the game on fire, getting right into Liverpool and never let them settle on the ball. This helped create chances for Sanchez whose shot went wide, Cazorla whose shot was saved low down by Mignolet and Ramsey who should have scored from a couple a yards but he shot straight at Mignolet. Experts typically saw this as Liverpool giving the ball with very little credit given to Arsenal’s play which was forcing the errors. What credit was given was through gritted teeth.

I have noticed before at times this season after a fast start from Arsenal and missing a few chances the team become laboured, trying too hard to score and go off the boil. This allowed Liverpool to slowly work their way back into the game. Liverpool were venturing forward a lot more but not really making chances. Then good ball from Coutinho found Markovic who maybe should have shot and scored but for some reason decided to pass left to Sterling, got his pass all wrong and the chance went. On looking at the chance again Markovic’s first touch was not that good and his body shape I think made up his mind to pass rather than shoot. Saying that he should have just “put it in the net” was like saying so should have Ramsey, yet even if Markovic did shoot, he did not have an empty net and still had to beat Ospina. Yet the pass from Markovic was poor. 

The game at this stage was pretty even with Liverpool looking good coming forward with their pace up front.  The issue though, was who was Sterling, Coutinho and Markovic being creators, creating for? The three are good players but none are really goal scorers in their own right, so when push came to shove, Liverpool were not really that much of a threat.

Arsenal came to life again. You see these periods where Arsenal look to be off the boil is also where they can also be at their most dangerous. When you have creative players with footballing brains like Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez, Ramsey and a forward like Giroud who is playing with confidence, his hold play and touch getting better every game it only takes a few seconds to score. Welbeck and Theo were on the bench. Oxo was not in squad. Arsenal apart from maybe Sanchez started with little pace, yet our pace was our passing which at times is so precise and quick the ball goes through six players to shot so quick you don’t need pace. A fully fit squad is giving Arsenal have a variety of options now.

With this lack of pace, our creative football came to the fore, Ozil spotted Ramsey on the right and found him with a good pass. Ramsey saw Bellerin, laid the ball into his path, Bellerin dropped his shoulder, glided past Moreno and curled a lovely left footer past Mignolet and into the bottom right hand corner. A superb goal for the young left back and 1-0 Arsenal! A very good and typical Arsenal move, but wait! The goal was only scored because Liverpool gave Ozil too much space, Moreno was not watching Bellerin and Mignolet should have saved the shot. (pattern emerging here)

Arsenal now lifted by the opening goal came forward again. Coquelin into Ozil who turned Sakho but the Liverpool defender brought him down for a free-kick to Arsenal 20 yards out. Ozil lined up to take the free kick and curled his shot past Mignolet into the keepers bottom right hand corner (again) for 2-0 Arsenal! Very good free kick from Ozil, but wait! The keeper should have saved it. You see this was a very good free kick, curling out and then back in. Mignolet never really had a chance, but according to some experts the keeper should have saved it. Had Gerrard been playing and scored that free kick the wankfest would have gone into Orbit. However, this was Ozil and far too many Experts and media have been knocking him, so with every assist and goal Ozil has they are made to look idiots. Therefore, praise is going to be a rare commodity amongst these types for Ozil.

Liverpool defence was all over the place now as Arsenal came forward again and Toure had to blast the ball out in panic for a corner with Liverpool under pressure. Ozil’s corner is headed wide by Giroud. Back came Arsenal again who are now swarming all over Liverpool. Coquelin to Ramsey to Sanchez who skipped past Toure and blasted the ball from the edge of the area past Mignolet for 3-0, but wait! This was more poor Liverpool defending and keeping and nothing to do with Arsenal’s style of play. Teams makes mistakes, teams can defend poorly, but also teams can force errors and makes teams play poorly and this was Arsenal did yesterday, same as against Villa. It’s not how poor Villa or Liverpool were, it’s about how good Arsenal were.

Liverpool ended the half with not one shot on target. I said to my Son Liverpool are going to have to find four shots on target in forty-five minutes to win this game and that was never going to happen.

3-0 Half time.

As expected Arsenal took their foot off the pedal, applied reverse gear and put the hand brake on. It was a case of taking it easy, avoid picking up injuries, don’t try to force more goals, if they come they come. Liverpool had no choice but to try to go for it to get back into the game. First real note of second half was a foul by Can on Cazorla in which the young German was booked.

Kosceilny went off injured to be replaced by Gabriel. Cazorla and Ramsey couldn’t make their minds up which one should not shoot and in the meantime the ball runs free to Giroud who shot low but was an easy take for Mignolet. Giroud had a good header saved well from the Liverpool keeper (sick of typing Mignolet). Straight away Ospina got his first real action with a save from Can.

Ramsey and Ozil were replaced with Flamini and Welbeck. Sterling was then fouled in the box by Bellerin and referee Taylor awarded a penalty to Liverpool, no arguments but maybe the referee Taylor did Arsenal a favour for once as he did not send off Bellerin for a second yellow card. Henderson took the kick and scored 3-1 Arsenal.

Can then took out Welbeck and Taylor got his yellow card out, added it to his yellow earlier for Can and also pulled his red card out. Liverpool down to ten men. Chances were now falling to Arsenal and a fourth goal was on the cards with Welbeck just failing to get his shot away in the area and Cazorla almost finishing off another good yet hitting the post. Arsenal came forward again and the ball found its way from Sanchez to Giroud who took on one defender and hit a very good shot past the keeper for 4-1 thus keeping up his good recent record of scoring.

Full time 4-1 and Arsenal went second in the table at least until Manchester City’s game away at Crystal Palace on Monday night and ten points clear of Tottenham. This took me back to the 7th February when superstar Harry Kane, scored two goals to help Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-1 . Tottenham went one point clear of Arsenal and it was all about how the balance of power had chanced yet again in North London to those deluded people at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

Liverpool the form team who had not conceded in their last six away games conceded four away to the current form team. Arsenal won their ninth successive home game and tied as leading goalscorers in the premiership for a few hours. Right now for me Arsenal are currently playing the best football in the Premier League, by a quite a way.

Seven league games left and four of those at home. A win away at Burnley next week and the pressure is heaped onto Manchester United and Manchester City.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

 

A few thoughts on the Newcastle League match.

March 22, 2015

After the death of English football in Europe for this season it was back to the domestic scene. A victory for Arsenal currently lying in third place would be welcome at Newcastle as many of the other top seven sides save Manchester United and Liverpool pretty much had bankers wins on the cards.

Saturday : Manchester City were first up at home to West Bromwich Albion, which they won 3-0 taking them four points clear of Arsenal. Of the three o’clock kick-offs Tottenham won 4-3 at home to Leicester and Southampton beat Burnley 2-0 at home.

Arsenal : Ospina, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Sánchez (Flamini), Cazorla (Rosicky), Welbeck (Bellerin – 89), 12 Giroud. Chambers in for Bellerin. Gabriel in for Mertesacker.Ramsey in for Ozil.

I had a feeling, like many this match was going to be tough after the work Arsenal put in mid-week against Monaco and so it turned out. In the first half Arsenal were lively and had quite a few chances to make better of some good moves which lacked an end product. Welbeck put a great chance wide after being set up superbly by Sanchez and he should have done better.

Welbeck’s chance was sandwiched in-between two Giroud goals in four minutes. The first from a Cazorla free kick that was headed on by Welbeck and went in off Giroud’s knee. The second was a header from a Cazorla corner. A game that up till half time Arsenal dominated and maybe should have had more than a couple of shots on target even though both ended up in the net.

Then then proverbial game of two halves took place as Newcastle decided to make a game of it with Arsenal wilting a bit from the Monaco match. Newcastle came at Arsenal and it only took a couple of minutes into the second half for Sissoko to reduce the arrears by doing exactly what Danny Welbeck should have done in the first half with his shot.

Perez wide. Gouffran with a back pass to Ospina. Sissoko again with a back header and reflex save by Ospina. Janmaat shot wide. Danny Welbeck had Arsenal’s best chance outstripping Williamson and pulling off a save from Krul. Final real chance of game was from Perez whose low shot was saved well by Ospina. Newcastle couldn’t muster another shot in the last nine minutes and Arsenal run out 2-1 winners. I often feel that sometimes what looks pressure it not always real pressure.

I could only watch extended highlights on Sky match choice, but what I saw was Newcastle pouring forward but not really creating too much in the way of real chances and apart from their goal, the chances they did have were well saved by Ospina. In other words like Arsenal in the first half a lot of piss and wind and no end product. The way I see games is not to piss my pants every time out opponents cross the half way line or have a few long shot that go wide.

Even when Arsenal are dominating a team you’ll normally find during a match our opponents will have a few chances. It’s part of the game. After the whistle went the facts were Arsenal dominated play the first half yet ended with three shots on target and Newcastle had the better of the second half and had four shots on target. I thought as Arsenal were looking tired from mid-week they could not press Newcastle in attack after half time, so the second half turned out to be a let’s keep them out ploy. Defending and keeping Newcastle to mainly long-range shots. Had Arsenal attacked and threw the game away, we no doubt would be having the usual Arsenal debate of the team being naïve and not playing the game out correctly.

I have seen many fans who want us to be more aware of our opponents and us the correct tactics as each game requires. yet even when we do it still somehow doesn’t seem enough for some supporters.

Myself! I’m not going to lose sight of what is currently happening by looking back at a poor start. No! I’m looking forward. I’m enjoying the victories and the FACup run. I’m not going to sink into the pit of doom & gloom and look to find negatives. Yes there have been some, there still are some, but there are also a lot of positives.

Three away victories in fourteen days against Manchester United, Monaco and now Newcastle. Surely that’s a positive and how we approached each game. It does look like the injuries are subsiding and the team are learning. Sixteen wins in nineteen matches and no draws. That’s cracking form.

Sunday : Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield and Chelsea scraped a 3-2 away win at Hull. So it was a very important win for Arsenal this weekend. So after the weekends matches it leaves Arsenal Third in the table still. Seven points behind Chelsea, though Chelsea do have that game in hand as well. One point behind Manchester City. One point in front of Manchester United. Six points in front of Liverpool. Seven in front of Southampton and Tottenham.

Arsenal have eight games left with only three away and five at home. Second place is definitely on the cards?

Cheers

@harlowgooner

A few thoughts on the Monaco away Champions League match

March 21, 2015

I thought I would wait a few days before blogging on this match. I wanted to first see how the other European fixtures went involving English clubs went.

Arsenal losing 1-3 at home to Monaco and giving that last-minute goal away was always going to make the return match tough as Monaco don’t concede many goals on their own turf. Arsenal also have a habit of messing up first leg matches yet almost, I say almost making up the deficits in the second leg. Milan, Barcelona, Bayern, Bayern and now Monaco. I don’t think Arsenal have played well in any of their previous nine Champions League games this season, at best here have been moments and patches in each, but overall, it’s been pretty average.

Not being one of the lucky supporters to be out in Monaco, I watched the game on ITV (Zzzzzzzzz) I don’t usually watch until the game starts but I wanted to see just how many Arsenal supporters were at the match and take in some of the atmosphere, not that ITV panned into them. Right from when the intro died out and the pundits were introduced it was let’s find a way to slag off Ozil, with that little Ginger twerp the main culprit who digs himself into such a deep hole. You can almost sense in his voice he wanted Ozil to make a mistake with every touch of the ball so it made his agenda work.

A good turn out from the Arsenal away support. Arsene went with: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal (Gibbs), Coquelin 7 (Ramsey), Cazorla, Ozil, Welbeck (Walcott), Sanchez, Giroud. Bellerin back in for Chambers. Cazorla was back in for Ramsey and Welbeck back in for Walcott.

Like a lot of Arsenal supporters my heart was saying the team could over turn the deficit but my head was saying otherwise. Apart from a stale first ten minutes from both sides, Arsenal sprung into life. Giroud was hustle, bustle, good touches and showing a willingness to make up for those first leg missed chances. Danny Welbeck was also showing a willingness to run at Monaco and strong with it, though at times his touch is letting him down. Cazorla and Ozil were class, neat passing, great control and good use of the ball. Sanchez maybe trying a tad too hard was giving the ball away a bit, but defenders cannot rest when he is about. Two good goals from Giroud and Ramsey.

Having control of the game Arsenal’s defence did not really have that much to do, but they kept disciplined, did what they had to and Koscielny showed what a great defender we have. Bellerin is coming along nicely. Coquelin carried on his good form until Arsene decided to make a tactical change having to look for the goals Arsenal needed. Ramsey also carried on his good form since returning from injury also bagging a goal, maybe should have had another but did not shoot when he should have. My only issue on the night was Arsenal’s passing the ball across the area in the last ten minutes which I felt was wasting our own time. I know there is a thing called patience in football but when you need a goal and time is running out you have to take chances by getting the ball in the box hoping the ball falls kindly and taking a few shots.

I felt the whole team busted a gut going for the result and though I can’t say I was proud of the team as overall they went out, I sure as hell was impressed with the performance on the night.  I’d like Arsenal to win the Champions League, of course I would, what Arsenal supporter wouldn’t yet I know it might sound it’s easy for me to say as we went out, but honestly I’m never really that bothered when we go out of the Champions League. I’d be more bothered if we lost to Newcastle or failed to win the FACup when we are clearly the best team left in the Cup

After the game I took some comfort from Arsenal’s recent form where our only defeat in the last ten games was the home game against Monaco, yet winning the other nine. Arsenal are in a purple patch, with few players of note injured. I also thought the game against Monaco was Arsenal’s most complete of the season and there were positives to be taken from it

Arsenal played well as a team for a large part of the match and not in a short couple of ten or fifteen minute spells which is how the season has been going so far. As each game passes Arsenal look to picking up and improving as a team. What with Chelsea looking tired and Manchester City looking a shadow of a team right now, Arsenal could possibly sneak second in the table and at least close the gap on Chelsea (who I think will just have enough to stay at the top). There is also the matter of a second FACup trophy on the horizon. So all is not all lost just yet.

I understand Arsenal need to be in the Champions League for the money side of things but for me that’s mainly what the competition is about money. The Champions League should be just that “The Champions” not the top three or four. Maybe my age is showing here but I preferred the old style Europe, European Cup, Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup. However, domestic football trophies are what I want first every time. Champions League or Europa League are a bonus. It’s getting that every season three or four of the usual suspect clubs are reaching the last eight. The likelihood is that three of those will reach the last four. What used to be something special playing Europe’s top sides happens now every season at some stage.

Of the English clubs involved in Last season’s Champions League Manchester United took home the most money from the pot, thirty-five million pounds. Well the season after next the bottom team in the Premier League will get ninety-million pounds, so maybe the English clubs will not be so reliant for Champions League money as the fourth placed club in the Premier League would get around one-hundred and forty-two million pounds and be able to outbid most clubs in Europe. Maybe then the English clubs will rise again.

So in amongst all the angst of Arsenal’s exit from the Champions League we can see that last week Chelsea went out to PSG on Aggregate. This week Manchester City went out of the Champions League to Barcelona for the second season running. Liverpool got knocked out of both the Champions League and the Europa Cup. Liverpool finishing third in their group behind Real & Basle, then going out to Besiktas in the Europa League. Spurs went out of the Europa League to Fiorentina. Everton went out of the Europa League to Dynamo Kiev. None of the English clubs did well this year. I make no excuses for Arsenal as I said I don’t think Arsenal played well over most of the ten games this season. Yet over the two legs against Monaco, I thought Arsenal deserved to go through, a moment of naivety cost us again.

I still don’t get some Arsenal supporters moaning about our manager right now. Some still hark on about getting rid of Arsene or that he should leave. Would anyone really get rid of him right here,right now?  Arsenal are on a very good run and yes it was one poor defeat in ten that got us knocked out of the Champions league. I was more on the side of Arsene leaving earlier this season, but Arsene hasn’t left and the club are not going to get rid of him just yet, so I just have to get behind him and the team for now.

I’m firmly a believer of what will be will be and managers/players come and go. Arsene’s time will be up at some stage, but moaning about him now when we still could have twelve games left and a trophy (or two?) is crazy.No matter how much you moan about Arsene, nothing, I repeat nothing is going to happen till June so the supporters might as well simply support the club and pick up the debate about the manager when Arsenal’s season is over, should that be sooner or later. I know most will, but I still have a sneaky feeling some would rather it all went Pete Tong so Arsene left or was sacked.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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