Tag Archives: chelsea

Arsenal’s Near Future

The gulf has stretched in the last decade, transforming into a hungry chasm.

Manchester City and Liverpool have both taken the initiative over the last two to three years and left the chasing pack with nothing but dust clouds to latch onto. Chelsea only won the Premier League three seasons ago and yet if we inspect their current situation – it is enough to dispirit even the most ardent optimist.

Chelsea possess some truly world-class players. Ngolo Kante, Antonio Rudiger, Kepa – all wouldn’t look out of place in most top European teams.

But heed their failures and you can see what it really takes to establish yourself with success in the modern era – an era which barely resembles its old self from a decade ago.

Replacing a player of the ilk of Eden Hazard was always going to be difficult, but they also failed to replace mercurial midfield talent too. The likes of Juan Mata, Oscar and Cesc Fabregas could conjure something from nothing, but instead they have the more industrial strengths of Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho. Not without their merits, but very different players.

A change in coach has heralded a change in tack from Chelsea – and most importantly, Roman Abramovich. No longer are they completely reliant on the Roubles he provides. They want to be self-sustaining – or as near as they can be without their new stadium plans. That means a certain air of frugality in the transfer market in comparison to how they acted in order to escape the realms of obscurity when he took over.

However, they’ve also recruited wisely. Timo Werner and Ziyech look like astute purchases.

All this combined has led to Chelsea still fighting near the top – but unable to keep up with Klopp and Guardiola.

As Gooners, we are also seeing two managers at the top of their game, duking it out at the same time, leaving others not so qualified or talented, feeding from the scraps left by the German and the Spaniard.

It makes for some pretty depressing reading when you look at the face of things. We all are hoping that the decision to bring in the fresh-faced Arteta, his belief in our values and most importantly, the testimonials of those who have worked with him, that this move will bear precious fruit if given time.

We see promising signs. Our destruction of United this season showed exactly the cornerstones of what Arteta wants. Pressure on the ball. Obtain possession high up the pitch and attack and defend as one. Responsible positioning – but most importantly, clear instructions for the players.

Something that was apparently lacking during Unai Emery’s tenure.

We are still in recovery, but can we hold out hope of a title challenge any time soon?

arteta training ground

Next season – after this season in terms of growth for Arteta and the embedding of his tactics – will probably come too soon, but improvement is key. A top four finish and a shrinking of the gap would suffice for the majority – and it would also give his charges the evidence that this is working. Belief is key – but the proof is in the pudding… or top four.

A decent – and first – pre-season for Arteta could prove crucial. The more time he spends with his squad, the better we will become. You get the feeling that all of the players are completely behind him and his staff – and that is an excellent foundation to build from.

Pep Guardiola normally gets an itch and searches for pastures or challenges new after a few seasons and this is well overdue. For Jurgen Klopp? He’s now won the PL this season, his job will be mission accomplished and he will be so sought after, that he will definitely have his head turned by one of the bigger Euro teams.

Chelsea are rebuilding. Man United will look to plug some big gaps and will always have the resources to do so. It is vitally important that after our hiatus from the Champions League that we regain that position sooner rather than later. We are living off of our reputation right now when it comes to luring talent.

If you also take into consideration that our young stars will be one year older and wiser – and with a season of growth behind them – we will be stronger regardless of who is signed and who isn’t.

It is time to make some new memories.

The good times are coming, but we will need patience to see it bloom.

Giroud – A Tainted Legacy

105 goals in 253 appearances.

Not a ratio to be sniffed at, but at the base level, this is what Olivier Giroud brought to the table for Arsenal.

Just looking at numbers renders other, valuable facets somewhat invisible however.

We overlook the way he held the line valiantly, alone, for so many seasons.

We miss out on him holding up the ball not only with his physical edge, but his nous in and around the box.

We also miss out on the fact he tarnished his Arsenal legacy with his actions in a Chelsea shirt.

Giroud came so close to cementing his reputation as a Gooner favourite. While we lamented the fact he was never a 20 goal a season man, the majority of us saw him and his talents as precious – he helped the team with his actions.

Giroud badge

 

He wasn’t just about goals, but the above ratio is not poor. Upon joining Arsenal, he had just been the talisman for Montpellier winning their first Ligue Un Championnat. He joined in the same window as Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski – we had signed attacking players that would boost our threat.

This was certainly true for the three above, but Giroud never materialised as we thought he would. He scored valuable goals and always earned a respectable number, but he was never a goal machine. Still, his biggest asset was that his touch and awareness led to him being part of some magnificent goals and moments.

In his career in our red and white, his highlights reel will live on. Some truly breathtaking goals were bagged, and his part in Aaron Ramsey’s late winner in the 2014 FA Cup Final cannot be overstated. Giroud loved the club while he was here and never wanted to leave, but squad competition meant if he wanted regular gametime, he would need to find pastures new.

His move to Chelsea was a stark reminder that professional football is still, at the bottom line, just a job to the majority of players. He made the right choice as his modus operandi in choosing a new destination was that he wanted to stay in London for family reasons.

Chelsea needed a frontman, and Giroud embarked on a trip to West London.

This was more than enough for some fans to cut the ties we had with Giroud, but his over-exuberant celebrations after one of our worst days on a football pitch – the 4-1 hammering at the hands of the Blues in the Europa League final – was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of his Arsenal legacy.

Mocking Arsenal

Olivier Giroud, if he had kept his nose clean and performed in the respectful manner that he did in his time with us, would have always had a home with the Arsenal faithful. We would always remember his efforts kindly. He stayed while we struggled. He gave his all for us and left us with some truly treasured memories.

Instead, he is now just remembered as being part of the Arsenal framework that led to our slide out of the Champions League. Even looking back at his famous, Puskas-winning scorpion goal doesn’t do it anymore. Giroud has burned the nerve endings.

Giroud

It isn’t as bad as the likes of Ashley Cole, Robin Van Persie or Adebayor – those players ended up being panto villains. But where there was real affection for the player – now there is just a vacuous space.

Oivier Giroud could have left something truly special, but in his job search and his antics thereafter – he tainted what he had left us.

 

Who Will Win The Top4 Race?

There was a time when making the top four for the hallowed Champions League spots was much maligned.

 

When Arsene Wenger performed miracles on a shoestring budget by squeezing his Gunners side into the top table of European football season after season, instead of being lauded he was ridiculed for valuing the financial merits of making the Champions League.

 

Now though, making it into the top tier of club football is a huge deal, and one that six teams not only desire – but in order to maintain their standing and financial clout – they also need.

 

This season looks to be the toughest to call in regards to who slips into the top quartet of the Premier League. Manchester City and Liverpool have gone from strength to strength as they propel each other in their title fight, but the other two spots?

 

That is a straight fight between four teams.

 

As you can see in the graph on this page on the Premier League odds, the current odds on which team will get into the top4 is an ever-changing landscape, and no team can be sure of where they will stand at the end of the campaign. Tottenham were shaping up to be a third player in the title battle only two games ago, and now they are looking nervously over their shoulder with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United breathing down their necks.

 

It is even closer between Chelsea, United and Arsenal, with one point separating the trio – should Chelsea win their game in hand.

 

Ozil-Hazard-And-Pogba-300x225

 

So who has the advantage in the run-in? Who is nearer to pocketing the 70-100m of readies for Champions League involvement?

 

Arsenal

 

Much will depend on their next two games. Fixtures against tottenham and United are huge games and neither can be confidently predicted..Once those are out of the way though, the key is the away games for the Gunners.

 

From the remaining eight games after the United match, Arsenal have four games on the road. With Unai Emery’s men far from convincing on their travels, they will need to take advantage of the fact that they will have played all of their games against their fellow top6 colleagues.

 

United

 

United have three fixtures left against their top6 rivals, and a key spell will be April 24-28, which will have United host City and Chelsea in the space of four days.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made his team resurgent after the dour tenure of Jose Mourinho, and their climb up the table has been remarkable.

 

One thing to watch is their injuries, especially after three players were replaced in the first half in  their 0-0 draw with Liverpool recently.

 

If they can keep their big men fit, they will be there at the end. The likes of Pogba, Lindelof, Rashford and De Gea are vital to their cause.

 

Chelsea

 

March is crunch time for Chelsea. A London derby at the start of the month, then a trip to Anfield, a tough game against Burnley and then closing out the month with an away game against United.

 

Chelsea are also hugely reliant on Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante. Without those two and the Blues lack the proper world class to change games.

 

Maurizio Sarri has had a perplexing first season. On one hand, he has earned some big wins, and on the other hand, they have looked insipid at times, mocked by their own fans for their unimaginative substitutions. There have also been the odd blip – huge losses to Bournemouth and City made them look ordinary.

 

If Sarri can muster the better end of the blues performances, then they can keep pace with the pack.

 

So, to surmise, it is going to be ridiculously tight to call.

 

One thing is for sure, every match will be unmissable.

Chelsea Vs Arsenal PL Match Preview

An opening loss against Manchester City makes this game that little bit tougher, as we go to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea.

 

The fixture list wasn’t kind to Arsenal, and had no reprieve for Unai Emery’s new regime, with the last two winners of the Premier League as our opening two opponents. It means Unai Emery may be waiting a wee while before getting his first win.

 

Still, Blues boss Mauricio Sarri is also dealing with a new club and new players, so this game will be a truer vision of where we stand for this current campaign. We have a better chance in this game than against a rampant and unmatched City team, and Emery will have watched Chelsea’s opening day win over Huddersfield very closely for any signs of weakness that we can exploit.

 

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We could change a few things in our team, but one of them won’t be who takes the gloves. Emery alluded to the fact that Cech will again start the game in his press conference, ahead of summer signing Bernd Leno, so the Czech stopper will get the chance to play against his former team.

 

Our defence will be boosted by the return of Nacho Monreal – and just in the nick of time. With Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles out for the foreseeable, the Spaniard will be a welcome addition. Stephan Lichtsteiner played well on the left, and his solidarity and experience at the back may just oust Hector Bellerin in this tough away fixture.

 

In midfield, another summer signing, Lucas Torreira, may come in to tighten things up in the face of Jorginho and Kante. Matteo Guendouzi played well against City despite his errors, and his mobility and transitional play were a highlight, and could be vital at The Bridge.

 

A lot has been said about incorporating Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette into the same side, but this game may see Lacazette remain on the bench, and Emery may wait to unleash both players together for a slightly less fraught game where defensive solidarity will be just as important as firepower.

 

It will see Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil play just behind the Gabon striker, and our bench should be a strong one, with Lacazette, Iwobi, Welbeck and perhaps Xhaka waiting to come on when needed.

 

Our recent record versus Chelsea is strong, but on our last six visits to Stamford Bridge, we have one point, with very few goals to show for it too. We have lacked in away games versus the so called ‘Top6’ in the last few seasons – a win here would show that Emery is making good progress on our squad.

 

Our new coach will be looking to squeeze the best out of his squad, but this will take some time to achieve, so a tight game is on the cards. Expect Chelsea to hit us hard, and with Hazard ready to start after appearing as a late sub last weekend, we know how we could be hurt if we lose concentration.

 

Then there is the small matter of Olivier Giroud making an appearance, with most fans still affectionate for the French striker. Giroud may start too, as Morata is desperately short of confidence in front of goal.

 

Three points is a big ask, but with an attack as potent as ours, if we click then we can take the win. We will have to utilise our pressing and make precious few errors though, as Chelsea looked in great shape in their win over Huddersfield.

 

Keep the faith Gooners – and remember that we need patience to see the fruits of Emery’s work. UTA.

 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang.

 

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Chelsea and spurs Money Woes is Deja Vu for Gunners

The current situations of Tottenham and Chelsea are, first and foremost, hilarious.

Chelsea owe billionaire owner Roman Abramovich over a billion pounds in unpaid, interest free loans that the Russian has forked out since his time as Oligarch of West London.

The money has seemingly dried up at Stamford Bridge. Case in point was last season’s curb on spending that led to Conte having an unhappy attempt at regaining the title with an ageing and limited squad.

Now, plans for a lavish new stadium to replace the decrepit Bridge have been canned, with Chelsea accountants having kittens and waylaying any plans for growth in an attempt to get out of the red and back in black.

Chelsea and their plans for a new stadium

Then there is Tottenham.

Our neighbours in North London are currently way over budget for constructing their new home, as they seek to complete it in time for the 2018/19 season.

At this moment in time, this is looking unlikely, and an option to retain Wembley as their home ground next season is looking more and more likely to be taken.

The money situation is not healthy either for spurs. With the new stadium causing Daniel Levy to dig deep and the playing staff failing yet again to win a trophy, tottenham are on the precipice.

Do they spend what available loot they have to keep their key men? Or do they put it toward strengthening, and cash in on one of their big players?

The likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli both know that if they were to talk to interested parties, they would be hearing figures that absolutely dwarf their current deals. They know they can get far more elsewhere, so a contract extension must be a lucrative one for both of them.

Then there is the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Eric Dier. All are wanted elsewhere, and all would command far more than they currently earn at spurs.

Levy knows this, but if he pumps all of the available cash into keeping them, then the status quo remains, and they can’t significantly strengthen. Pochettino has worked wonders at the club, but the bottom line is that even with their current squad, they are still potless.

So something must give.

Meanwhile, Gooners are sitting back and enjoying the cash crises that both clubs are embroiled in.

You see, we’ve been there, and we had to make those tough calls, we had to shed our leading lights, we had to endure the cheap purchases that risked much. We had to pay back the bills – and yet we managed to do so whilst maintaining a Champions League place.

What Arsene Wenger managed to do in the years that followed the completion of The Emirates is nothing short of miraculous, and should be seen as one of his finest achievements. He managed to keep a side that contained the likes of Philippe Senderos, Manuel Almunia and Andre Santos, and kept them on the straight and narrow, instilled the same attacking values that he had done throughout his tenure.

Chelsea enjoyed the fruits of Abramovich’s deep pockets unhindered for nearly fifteen years, spending lasciviously and flagrantly ignoring the concept of a healthy balance and an independent outlook to club ownership that didn’t involve relying so heavily on one man.

Now the piper is knocking on the door and wants to collect.

Chelsea, in order to truly keep their place amongst the elite, NEED to move to a new stadium, to build that complex. The longer they stay at The Bridge, the worse their situation will get, and the risks become ever greater.

Spurs need to ride out 3-5 years of cost-cutting and balancing the books. These years will either see them maintain their position as one of the perma-Champions League clubs, or they will slip and find it much harder to find their way back.

What about us though?

Well, we’ve got our new home, and we’re raking it in – but with our new owner almost invisible and minding the pennies, it isn’t as if we are out of the woods. It means that the positions that our London cohorts find themselves in is a leveller – and the next few seasons will be us duking it out for the supremacy of the capital.

Should be a real slugfest.

Thank you Olivier Giroud

The arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a double-edged sword for us Gooners.

It was first and foremost great news. We have captured a player we’ve all had our lusty eyes on for some time. One who rampaged his way through the Bundesliga as part of a slowly dismantling Dortmund side, outscoring the majority of players with his pace and accuracy.

Then, there is the fact that we lost one of our favourite – and most effective – players as a result of the signing.

Farewell and thank you Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman was marginalised at first, perhaps for the fact that his handsome features meant he wasn’t the right mould to puncture the rigorous defences of a Premiership team.

Then, his frustrations and rolling around on the turf added weight to the claims that he didn’t have the mettle for the rough and tumble of our league.

Giroud was made of sterner stuff though. He adapted, his frame was used to great effect and we saw that he was more than a front post poacher. His approach play was in tune, his link-up play was perhaps the finest of any striker in the Premiership.

He never made the magical 20-goal mark, but it dawned on us all how very useful he is.

Last season really showed us though, that he had an affinity with Arsenal. He told us how he was warned that he wouldn’t be first choice with the arrival of Lacazette, but he decided to stay and offer his services to further our cause.

This season saw him rise valiantly from the bench on more than a few occasions and make a difference, so much so that his goals landed him level as the equal most scorer as a substitute in the Premier League.

He earned his starting role with Les Bleus, but with a World Cup on the horizon, could we be selfish enough to keep him with us for those sporadic cameos he does so well? Knowing that doing so would most likely ruin his World Cup dream?

No, we did the right thing by letting him leave. Unfortunately, it was to Chelsea. The destination may not suit us, but it will keep him firmly in the eye of Didier Deschamps.

He’s done enough for us that we wish him well, even though he’s joined a London rival. That is a testament to his actions for Arsenal.

Giroud joined us after winning a surprise Ligue Un title with Montpellier, for a bargain £12m. He scored over 100 goals for us since his arrival in 2012. That is some return for the money.

We can never claim he was prolific, but we can definitely say he was useful and gave everything for our badge. He was charismatic, he played his part off the pitch and on the pitch? He did more than enough to earn our affection, which he has got in spades.

He deserves our well wishes. We can overlook the shirt he currently wears, because we all know that underneath it, his heart will always beat red and white.

Merci Olivier.

Arsenal Vs Chelsea – Match Preview

This game is a return to The Emirates for us, which should see us turn in a decent performance, right?


Currently, we have no idea what version of our side will turn up. Our performance in our last game – the 1-1 draw against West Brom – was slow and contained very little attacking threat. We will need to raise the level well above that if we’re to win this game, as Chelsea come to The Emirates on the back of some good form.


The Blues last game was a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke, and they can afford to rotate their attack and not feel any impact. Pedro, Fabregas and Willian are just three names that can come in after not featuring regularly and freshen up tired legs. Antonio Conte will have had this game in the forefront of his mind, so to see his team win at a canter in their last game would have afforded Conte breathing space with his substitutions and his selection.


We have some real worries on the injury front. The usual suspects – Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey – are still sidelined, but our 1-1 draw against the Baggies hurt more than just our league position.


Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac both limped off in the game, and Mesut Ozil failed to make the matchday squad. All three are integral to our side, so we will be sweating on them all the way until the eve of the match. Should these three miss out, then Per Mertesacker, Ainslie Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi all wait for selection.


Mesut Ozil will be especially missed for this match. His absence in the 1-1 draw against Pardew’s Albion saw us plod and look out of ideas in the final third. It was clear what the German brings to the side during the game, and his brain could prove the difference between victory and defeat.


If we are to make a dent in Chelsea’s team, then it could be in the centre of the park. Tiemoue Bakayoko is a really great player, but the midfielder is struggling to maintain the levels needed for the physicality of a whole Premier League campaign. If Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere both press him and have a blinder, we could run the game and keep the ball away from dangermen Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata.


The ominous facts are that Chelsea haven’t lost in six games, and haven’t conceded in the league for four matches. They have a settled backline and have been lucky enough to avoid key injuries. If Antonio Conte can name a similar side to the one that defeated Stoke, then we may find the going tough.


On the flipside though, we are the home side that needs the points more – in the recent wins we’ve had over Conte’s side we have shown that if we take the game to them from the first whistle, then we can win it – there is no room for the methodical, slow football that we are prone to at times. Chelsea will destroy that tactic quickly.


The league table doesn’t lie. The gap between us and the top of the table is a massive one, and the gap between us and the top 4 is widening. What is clear is that the first half of the season wasn’t good enough, and we need to improve if we are to have any hope of breaking back into the Champions League. That is the aim this season, as well as a decent punt at the Europa League. If 

we fail at either, then this season will have been the worst in Wenger’s tenure.


Time to be ruthless. Win or bust. Mike Dean and co may have a bearing in the future, but if we play well enough, it shouldn’t matter.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Chambers, Xhaka, Wilshere, Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck, Alexis, Lacazette.


Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Ladies Gunning For WSL Title

September 23rd sees the WSL begin its reimagination as a winter competition and if the recent Spring Series and Euro2017 is anything to go by, then Arsenal Ladies are well placed to return to the summit.

Pedro Martinez Losa seems to finally have grown a team that can challenge the might of Manchester City and Chelsea, with his team peppered with international class throughout. 

The Spring Series, which acted as a filler for the change in the fixture calendar, saw Chelsea and City take the top two spots, but the Gunners unbeaten record belied their bronze position in the table. As well as being undefeated, they also reminded Chelsea and City of their strength in their respective matches,  with a 1-0 win at the Academy Stadium being City’s first defeat at home in quite some time. 

It isn’t just prior form that sees Losa’s squad well placed for a title tilt. The recent Euro2017 championship was illuminated by the home side, with the Netherlands firing on all cylinders thanks to Gunners players Danielle Van De Donk, Vivianne Miedema and goalkeepr Sari Van Veenendaal all adding to the Oranje cause. There was one other Gunner in the squad too, with Dominique Janssen, so Arsenal are well stocked.

That is just one nation however. USA midfielder Heather O’Reilly adds a wealth of experience to midfield, Jodie Taylor showed her pedigree in acquiring the Euro2017 Golden Boot, Danielle Carter is more than adept at plundering goals in the WSL, Jordan Nobbs is one of the leading lights for England, and with Kim Little returning to the Arsenal shirt, Losa has a few selection headaches to deal with. 

Arsenal Ladies have not won the title since 2012, and for the sport’s most successful side, that is something that must change. By acquiring these talents, he has a great chance to bring a title back that has not graced the Arsenal Ladies trophy cabinet since 2012.

There are two big reasons why five years has passed since Arsenal lifted the title however. City and Chelsea have been bolstered by great levels of funding and have used the funds well, their squads bulging with talent too.

Chelsea can look to Fran Kirby, Katie Chapman, Eni Aluko, Crystal Dunn and Millie Bright to fire them to another championship. The Citizens have Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Carli Lloyd to name but three. City are also intent on blazing a trail through Europe which only Arsenal have ever done, so the Gunners will again need to be at their best.

This coming season though, is the first time in a while that Arsenal Ladies can confidently boast of a lineup that can match – or even better – City’s and Chelsea’s. It is players that win titles, and Losa’s team should be rightly viewed as one of the frontrunners.

Can Arsenal’s rivals boast of a player as technically brilliant as Van De Donk? Are any players in the WSL as blessed with attacking verve as Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs? 

So Arsenal have the quality they need in abundance, now it is all down to Losa to show he can rangle the  team together in such a way that optimises these women and their skills. If he can find that magic formula, then surely City and Chelsea will fall by the Gunner’s blast?

If Arsenal have to wait another year for the title, with this squad, then Losa will have failed to make the most of a golden chance. Not only that, but some of the bigger names may well see the packed trophy cabinet at other clubs – even Europe may come calling after Toni Duggan left for Barca – and jump ship.

This season will need to be maximised if Arsenal are to go on and build another great era of success. This coming campaign is a precipice of where Arsenal will stand in the next five or so years.

If the title is won, then the Gunners are back where they belong. 

Chelsea Vs Arsenal PL Preview

Two wins in our last two games have allowed the green shoots of recovery to sprout, but now we have our toughest test so far this season to truly test whether this is another false dawn. 

Do we have what it takes to end our awful away record?

In the last thirteen games away from home versus the Top6 sides, we have failed to win ANY of them. Not exactly the form befitting of contenders. Then there is the small matter of seven defeats in the last eight visits to Stamford Bridge.

There are reasons to be cheerful though, at least three of them. 

We have defeated Antonio Conte’s team in three of the last four times we have faced them. The problem is though, is that the one defeat from that four was at the Bridge.

So, Arsene Wenger’s choice of tactics will certainly be in focus. Can he muster the team which goes for the jugular from the first whistle? Or will it be the ponderous, plodding Arsenal which are merely reactive rather than proactive?

Wenger at least has a nearly full bill of health in his squad. The only injuries are Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla. In his latest press conference, the Arsenal coach said that Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil should make the team after picking up slight knocks. There will be many changes to his side after defeating FC Koln in the Europa League in midweek however.

The strength of our squad was on show against the Germans on Thursday, but the team which does battle with Chelsea today will most likely closely resemble the team which defeated Bournemouth last weekend.

The only point of consternation is regarding Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez.

Welbeck is this seasons top scorer and even without his goals, his team play and work rate is second to none. Does he deserve to keep his place? Definitely. Will he? Alexis may have something to say about that.

The Chilean’s fight for match sharpness reached new highs so far this campaign against Cologne. His excellent goal showed exactly what he brings to the table, and it may well give him the edge over the England striker. 

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will likely have Eden Hazard available, and the Belgian winger is in line to make his first start of the season. It is the new boys that are really firing the Blues so far though. Zappacosta and Tiemoue Bakayoko are showing great signs of melding into the Italian’s way of thinking, and the blistering form of Alvaro Morata means Laurent Koscielny and co will have their hands full.

No clean sheets in twelve games at the home of the Blues could perhaps be telling too. Petr Cech must relive his former glories, as well as the defence ahead of him really keeping tabs on the Chelsea attackers. The first goal could prove huge, and a clean sheet will go a long way to providing a foundation for a decent result.

It is easy to type, far harder to achieve though. Part of our frustrations is knowing what our team are capable of, but only seeing it come to fruition on very rare occasions. We have lost our only two away games this season, and a loss here could compound our malaise. 

It really is win or bust, and at such an early stage this season that shows how far we have dropped. It won’t mean an end to our hopes, but the mental effect it could have would have far deeper ramifications.

Time to send a message that the reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal. Forever the optimist.

The Ox Leaving Arsenal?

Published on The Arsenal Review

It would seem that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is departing The Arsenal.

Latest news – Sky Sports News being the source – is that the England man has turned down a massive rise in the form of £180k per week and sees his future away from The Emirates. The freshest reports are now saying that a bid has been accepted from Chelsea, and Liverpool are also an interested party.


First things first – how in the name of Bergkamp’s holy boots did Oxlade-Chamberlain earn a £180k per week offer? 


The Ox has risen to prominence since last season. Our team’s switch to three at the back has seen an opening at wing-back, and Oxlade-Chamberlain took his opportunity with both hands. 


He seemed a perfect fit, with his stamina being put to great effect covering in defence whilst roving forward and giving our attack another outlet.


The versatile midfielder made more appearances last season than any in his time at the club, and the second most starts. It appeared as though he was finally ready to seize one of the countless chances he had been given – and hold down a starting spot for an extended amount of time.


What none of us banked on though, is that The Ox wasn’t satisfied at wing-back. No, although he prospered, he wanted more.


















Oxlade-Chamberlain feels he warrants a regular spot on the flank, or in central midfield. He also must feel he can obtain this very thing if he departs the club for another – most likely Chelsea or Liverpool.


So, let us all examine his chances of success.


The Ox has nine league goals in all his time at the club. If he aspires to play for Chelsea or Liverpool, those numbers would have to improve drastically if he wishes to make his mark on newer shores.


He primarily plays on the right, so who would his rivals be at each club?


Chelsea Boss Antonio Conte seems to prefer Willian on the right side, occasionally swapping around with Pedro.


Can anyone honestly say The Ox would squeeze either of these established players out of the Blues side?


What of Liverpool? Jurgen Klopp has been settling with players out of position in his side, so surely a player of the ilk of Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a godsend for the German?


Well, as previously mentioned, The Ox isn’t exactly enamoured with playing at wing-back, so James Milner and Albert Moreno can rest easy for the time being. The right wing position has now been filled by new signing Mohamed Salah too. 


Oxlade-Chamberlain should perhaps check if the grass is actually greener before he packs his bags.


From being guaranteed a pivotal role through the season, The Ox could actually be getting LESS games. Added to this, he certainly cannot nail down a spot on the wing at either of the clubs that are interested in him. The only way to do so is to provide an end product to his play, or at least a concerted rise from what he produces currently.


His numbers have never done his talent justice. When he bursts into action, Oxlade-Chamberlain has at times disemboweled entire defences. He has given opponents twisted blood and left them clutching at ghosts as he jinked past them with apparent ease.


Then, with the entire pitch open and the choices in front of him, he fluffs his lines.


It is a script well-thumbed by the Arsenal faithful. The other version of this is the same introduction, but with Oxlade-Chamberlain opting to beat another man instead of creating a chance.


At the crux of the plateau in his growth chart – is his decision-making.


This is where his talent hits a wall. You can stand toe-to–toe with the best there has ever been, but 

if you do nothing with it then it is futile. The Ox has never quite ridden himself of this problem – and this is the root cause of his battle to start every game.


Injuries have played a part, but not to the same effect of Walcott, Ramsey and Wilshere’s careers. 


The Ox has had a myriad of opportunities to establish himself, and has simply failed.


What makes him think that life at Chelsea or Liverpool will be any different?


Arsene Wenger doesn’t want to see one of his young men leave the club. So much time and effort has gone into the player, and the Frenchman must feel The Ox has more to give – hence the ludicrous contract offer.


The bottom line of this whole story is that Wenger has many failings, and chief among them is the faith shown in his players. Even when he is repeatedly burned by his players on the pitch, he continues to show them confidence.


The Ox has been given the same treatment. For a player to still not have a spot in the team rubberstamped even with Wenger’s plentiful ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ cards?


That is down to the player himself.


I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in for a shock if he does leave Arsenal.