Tag Archives: EPL

Emery’s Second Season

It eventually came down to the finest of margins.

Our last two matches in the Premier League and the Europa League final.

After more than fifty matches throughout the season, it boiled down to how we would perform in 270 minutes.

If we won all three?

It would mean a return to Champions League football at the first time of asking from Emery – and a big shiny European trophy to boot.

We would be competing in the summer for the European Super Cup, we would have banished our European hoodoo and announced our comeback to the big stage in the best possible way.

Instead, we were treated to an insipid 1-1 draw at home to Brighton, followed by a win over Burnley (too little, too late by this point) and then a calamitous performance in Baku where we were sent back to London with our tail between our legs by Chelsea.

From where we sit now, looking back, hindsight really does bring things into focus.

We could be remembering what constituted to be a wonderful season, culminating in a win over our London rivals on a European stage, lifting the Europa League.

We could be looking forward to a return of that famous Champions League anthem and more importantly, the extra clout and transfer budget that comes with inclusion of the European Cup.

Unai Emery would be looked upon as taking us in the right direction, instead of doubts on whether he is the right man for the job.

Never mind a little common sense – we missed out on all of the above because of our own failings!

It would be fantastic if everybody could take the equivalent of a mental cold shower, and look at things from a different perspective.

Yes, it is our own fault that we are in what is now a compromising position thanks to missing out on the Champions League.

However, have we not closed the gap?

Has Emery not made progress on where were when he took over – with largely the same squad that Arsene Wenger had?

 

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Woah there, gib me a shance!! 

 

We missed out on the top four by a solitary point. We missed out on the top3 by two points. Despite us picking up just one win on the home straight, we still only fell short by the finest of margins.

Jurgen Klopp, the buck-toothed, bespectacled coach heralded by all as a genius, finished in eighth spot in his first season.

Granted, he was then awarded a wad of cash to spend to revitalise his squad, but it shows what margins a new coach can bring. Klopp didn’t manage to do much in his first season, other than probably the most important factor – one that isn’t instantly tangible.

The roots of his tactics, his famous press, the demanding fitness ability that all players had to adhere to? That was instilled in that disappointing first season. The window of transition from where they were, to where they can now adapt their formation and tactics dynamically? That takes time.

Emery too, needs the time to ensure his tactics are bedded in. That press we saw in the games we flickered to life? The wins over Chelsea, spurs, United? That is what we can now expect next season, albeit a lot more frequently.

We dropped off constantly last season, our defence struggled to adapt to new instructions, plus last season began with two tough fixtures, which in turn put pressure on subsequent games.

Emery will be under no illusions regarding who he needs in and shipped out in order to strengthen and carry out his formulas into battle. The list will already be drawn up, and pre-season will see us again begin to hit the cardio emphatically in order to maintain the lung-bursting orders from Emery. The very same orders that will see us improve once again.

Our fanbase needs a dose of realism. Emery, nay, all coaches, need a window of time to instil their own virtues. Even the mightiest of oaks still need years to flower.

Yes, our transfer activity may not be as it should be for a club of our standing, but as we are self-sustaining, we can only spend what we make. We cleared around £40m last season?

Well, that’s how much we’ve got to work with.

Fear not though. Emery’s expertise will start to show next season. His excellent pedigree wasn’t obtained in a cereal packet, he earned it and if given time, he can show us how.

We have to support, rather than call into question everything.

At the end of the season, when the dust settles, let’s see where we are.

 

Skipper On Our Shopping List

The summer transfer window may cure some ills for Arsenal, but at least one of our failings may well be carried over into next season.

It will require targeting from our recruitment team to rectify the situation, otherwise our next campaign we will still be bereft of a true captain.

Unai Emery changed much in his first season, and one of the myriad of variants he brought in to dispel the old era was to appoint five nominated skippers. All five brought a little something different to the table and perhaps combined, they made one true leader.

Mesut Ozil brought a true example to look up to for the younger players, and his ice-cool temperament is a skill that many could need.

Petr Cech is a born winner and has been victorious in every club competition he has entered.

Granit Xhaka is a motivator, rallying the troops vocally and attempting to rouse the warrior within them all.

Aaron Ramsey is the consummate professional and is the prime example of where hard work can take a young prospect as the Welshman is the purest evidence of this.

Then there is Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman has been at Arsenal for eight years and has put his injury-ravaged body on the line every time he has put on the shirt. He is still probably our best defender at a tender 33 years of age and the squad look to him for a mixture of all of the above.

Next season is a different story though. At times we have missed a captain of the ilk of our previous luminaries. Players who can grab their teammates and the match itself by the scruff of the neck and change things.

Koscielny deserves the armband, but is he vocal enough? Does he have the right mixture of fear, adulation and respect?

Only the squad can answer that, but at times last season we looked a little rudderless, games slipping from our grasp because of our sloppiness, mistakes that could have been weeded out by a captain who makes sure everyone is accountable.

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When was the last time we had a skipper who gave the team that 5% that lifted them above the ignominy of another poor show?

Previously, we awarded the armband to our stars as a makeweight of sorts, another thing to add to the plate that is offered to a star that is looking at pastures new; “Instead of leaving, please stay, you can be the captain of the team.”

Patrick Vieira then, was probably the last time we had someone who was the embodiment of a captain, someone who naturally has an air that lends itself to turning heads, opening ears, inspiring performances.

Koscielny is the nearest we have to that in our squad. He never lets the side down, he gives his all. Those are mandatory for the captain, they need to show the level that is expected.

We may need to look for a player in the window that has the DNA strand that is true leadership though. With Koscielny on his last legs and Rambo no longer a Gooner, we are in more need than ever of a player to take the armband.

Our rivals have players of that ilk, or at least captains who can scream a player into playing a little better. Cesar Azpilicueta and Vincent Kompany especially are true leaders and give their sides that little extra when they struggle.

Now Raul Sanllehi and Emery must put someone on their shopping list that isn’t weighed down by the armband. Instead, they see it as an honour and use it to eke everything than can out of themselves and their comrades.

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

In Sickness and Health, We’re Still All Gooners

Supporting a club is intrinsically linked to matters of the heart.

We take joy from victory, and we mire ourselves in misery when things take a turn for the worst on the pitch.

This season has been a particularly tough one for us Gooners, as our Premier League campaign has hit the skids as soon as it started – we’ve never been further away from bidding for a first title since 2004.

This season is by far the worst under Arsene Wenger, and has seemingly been the watershed moment for the majority as it is unavoidably clear that in order to move forward, we require a change in direction to shake us from the reverie we seem to be in. That change is now happening this summer.

Another change this season though, has seen another alarming rise in negativity.

There seems to be far more people who take what appears to be glee from defeat, as each demoralising defeat pushes Wenger one step closer to a corner he cannot escape. We have a large portion of so-called fans, that rear their heads whenever we lose, and use it as a catalyst to push their hate-filled agenda against Wenger.

The bottom line is clear – and always has been for Gooners.

A defeat is not to be sought, and anyone who enjoys the opportunities that come from us losing, is surely supporting the wrong club.

We enjoy it when our rivals lose, especially now that tottenham seem to be enjoying their moment in the sun. When they, United, Chelsea and Liverpool lose, it is always a positive, and normally allows us to either catch up, or in recent seasons, overhaul them for a superior position. So for one of our own to what can only be described as ‘revelling in’ it when we are beaten?

That is not supporting your club.

The vitriol aimed at Wenger has been disgraceful at times. Yes, the Frenchman seemed too stubborn to recognise that this is the time to go, and his enduring stay could well end up being a detriment to our season, and beyond. But the names and words involved have been horrible, and have no place directed at our own manager.

The very reason you are so disappointed, is the high standards you now expect. Those same standards have been instilled by Wenger. Without him, then you wouldn’t be as hurt, or angry.

Criticism is just, and some of the fare served up thus far has been dire, and deserved booing, as well as calling Wenger out on some decisions. His failure to address certain long-term issues have been a massive reason why we’re playing catch-up with the rest.

He doesn’t deserve hatred though.

Anger? Of course, and if you can’t separate the two, then you may have missed a year or two of education. It is quite easy to express displeasure without wishing harm on someone, or calling them hateful names.

Wenger has had his chips at Arsenal, and a better suited man is being lined up to come in, but Arsene should always have our respect. Even the most outspoken of our critics can see that. Lee Dixon and Ian Wright have spoken of our malaise and how Wenger needs to go, but notice the omissions of shocking language, and the need to pour scorn on the man himself.

Wenger’s results haven’t been good enough, but the man himself doesn’t warrant anyone destroying him. His capacity to do the job, perhaps, but not of himself. He has always carried himself with the utmost dignity, such is the Arsenal Way, and even in the face of some terrible results and fierce questions from the press, he has always done everything with class.

We could learn a thing or two from that approach.

It is his time to go, and at the end of the season we will face the decision to replace him. Until he goes, we judge what happens on the pitch. So let him know if things weren’t good enough, but refrain from verbally attacking him, either with keyboard or voice. It isn’t how Arsenal conducts itself.

It is hard to avoid how bad we’ve been, and he knows more than anyone how bad we’ve been. Just because he stops short of laying into his players, doesn’t mean he is oblivious to it. Picking out positives where he can is his way of maintaining what semblance of confidence he can for his players, who need that in order to play better.

Plus, if fans are stopping short of doing the same, it doesn’t mean we are crazy Wenger fanboys. We all pretty much recognise this is the end, it doesn’t mean we aren’t a little nostalgic, and even a little sad.

We want better just like the outspoken people do.

Let us unite behind the team until the time comes. Heaven knows, our team could do with the support.

Arsenal Vs West Ham PL Preview

With the news of Wenger finally declaring the end of his two decade stay at Arsenal, it’d be easy to forget we’ve got a Premier League match against West Ham to hurdle.

Arsene Wenger’s final games will rightfully hog the headlines, but the man himself will make sure that our team keeps their heads. Hopefully the players will rally behind his cause and end this season on a high.

That starts versus the Hammers.

Arsenal at The Emirates take on West Ham in the PL

It’s a home game, and our form at The Emirates is far removed from our away form – which is the worst in the top four divisions in England in 2018.

Not only that, but opposition boss David Moyes doesn’t have the greatest of records against Wenger.

In terms of team news, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in action but the Armenian will most likely be restricted to a role on the bench, in anticipation for our real priority – Thursday’s Europa League Semi-Final first leg against Atletico.

A pattern has emerged in recent league fixtures, where several members of our team have been rested to save their legs for our European adventures. This may mean that Mesut Ozil is kept wrapped up, and that opens the door for Jack Wilshere, who has been in poor form of late.The England midfielder is in the last few games of his contract, and with a new manager inbound and the World Cup coming, Wilshere needs to step up.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started with Alexandre Lacazette in our last game – the abysmal 2-1 loss to Newcastle – but our goal came as a direct consequence of both of these strikers linking up. They both could feature in the same way in this game. Danny Welbeck has been in decent nick of late, and with the likelihood of rotation being pretty high, Welbeck could get the nod, as well as Alex Iwobi.

Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are both fit, but one at least will most likely be left out for resting purposes. Mohamed Elneny has been in rude form lately and the Egyptian should be playing this match.

Our defence pretty much picks itself, but Shkodran Mustafi has been pretty dire in terms of high profile errors. The German could well be left out if Wenger were picking simply on form, and Calum Chambers would the probable replacement.

West Ham have drawn their last two games, versus Chelsea and Stoke – and Andy Carroll was the man that rescued a point against the Potters. The big striker has a history of scoring against us and whoever lines up against him will have their hands full.

West Ham have other threats too, but David Moyes has rotated his dangermen recently, and the one in favour right now is Joao Mario, with Lanzini on the bench. Marko arnautovic is another who is capable of producing game changing performances – in short, this game could be a toughie.

West Ham have shown real battling qualities to rescue points in their last two games, and with the side now six points away from the relegation zone, Moyes’s main task when he took over is so nearly achieved – avoiding relegation.

Still, they’ve got a really tough run-in and they’ll be looking to wrap things up as they come to The Emirates. We need to send them packing and get our winning habit back on track. For Wenger and our season.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Welbeck, Wilshere, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs Stoke PL Preview

After an intolerable international break – what already seems like the 89th this season – we can finally look forward to the Premier League returning, as Arsenal take on Stoke City at The Emirates.

Before the international hiatus, we had recovered a little from a hellish period that saw us slump out of contention for any sort of respectable league placing, but our handsome wins over AC Milan and a professional victory over Watford has seen at least an improvement.

We’ve got plenty of work to do though.

The Europa League is only at the Quarter-Final stage and we’re still eight points behind fifth place, so every game is pretty much win or bust at this stage. Good thing we’re playing Stoke City then, right?

Before we panic and hark back to the many nightmares we’ve had against the Potters, there is a contrast to this match-up that has a derby feel of sorts. When we travel to Stoke, this is when the nightmares begin and we have a truly sketchy record against them at their home ground.

When it comes to welcoming them at our ground though? They’ve never won at our place in the Premier League era. In fact, you have to go back to 1981 to find a Stoke win at our ground.

Can we make it continue though? We need to, and we have the chance to nudge Paul Lambert’s side towards the exit door a little more.

In terms of our team, Wenger revealed that Alexandre Lacazette should be fit for consideration for the game, but the length of his layoff should mean a probable substitute appearance for the French striker. Lacazette will be keen for minutes too, with the World Cup looming.

Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey were doubts too, but both have been passed for fitness according to our manager. Chambers may slot in to preserve Koscielny for the CSKA game on Thursday. Jack Wilshere may miss out though, after injuring himself whilst on England duty, although he’s in full training.

In attack, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be ably assisting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with one spot on the right up for grabs. That will be either Danny Welbeck’s or Alex Iwobi’s.

We do at least have Petr Cech’s 200th clean sheet out of the way, after waiting nearly four months. We will have to be up for a fight as Stoke will bombard on set plays and have the height to cause us problems.

The reverse fixture was another nightmare – a 1-0 win for Stoke where Jese scored his one and only goal in his loan spell thus far – and despite their lowly league placing, they will again pose a threat.

We need to rack up the wins and this game is a great opportunity to not only keep up our slim chances of breaking the top four monopoly, but also giving our match against CSKA Moscow the appropriate foundation.

A loss in this game would quickly see a return of the cloying negativity that has been the hallmark of this season. The only answer is winning, and we really should be getting maximum points in this game. Our home form alone is the biggest factor.

So, let’s see our boys put in a decent performance. #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs Watford PL Preview

Kickoff – 1330GMT

The first steps have been made in forgetting the awful form we’ve had recently, with our impressive 2-0 win against Milan in the San Siro, now we take on Watford in a bid to arrest our slide away from the top4.

This is looking to be an insurmountable task. Our neighbours sit in 4th spot, a massive 13 points better off than we are, with only 27 points left to play for. In realistic terms, we need to win our remaining games, and hope tottenham or Liverpool implode in order to sneak into the coveted Champions League spots.

Before we even begin to think about the implications of such an elaborate plan, we need to win a bloody game domestically first. That starts against the Hornets.

Watford have enjoyed a good recent run against us, beating us the last time we played at The Emirates. We also had the Troy Deeney episode, where the burly striker claimed it was our lack of – for want of a less savoury term – Jacobs, that meant we were easily steamrollered, rather than contentious decisions.

With this season going the way it is, Deeney is looking like he could be right, but we have a chance to right a wrong here too.

Watford’s new boss Javi Gracia is still seeking to find his best layout for his team, especially defensively. They won their last game, 1-0 against bottom side West Brom, but they were far from convincing. Indeed, before Deeney struck the sole goal of the game, West Brom could easily have been ahead. It is evident that the Hornets are far stronger in attack than in being watertight at the back, and if that lends itself to an open game, it also increases our chances too.

We’ll have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back after being cup-tied for the Europa League, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil looking to have found some form in our win over Milan, we could stretch Watford thinly across The Emirates turf. Alex Iwobi could come back into the side to rest Jack Wilshere, as Arsene Wenger will be loath to upset a winning side for the return leg on Thursday.

Granit Xhaka has played a large amount of consecutive games, but Aaron Ramsey is just coming back from injury, so it is tough to call which player will be rested, with Mohamed Elneny most likely coming in to replace. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an outside call for a midfield spot too.

Our Spaniards, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, both missed out the trip to Milan, and both are outside bets to make this game, with Bellerin a little more likely to return, given his less severe complaint. Laurent Koscielny could be rested too, but his performance against Milan’s attack spoke of a man returning to some form. Rob Holding stands by.

Watford boss Javi Gracia has an embarrassment of riches in attack. Troy Deeney will most likely lead the line, but Stefano Okaka and Andre Gray are both excellent options. Ricardo Peyreyra, Richarlison, Carillo and even Abdoulaye Doucoure are all threats from their respective positions too. If they want to funnel play wide and isolate our full-backs, they’ve got the personnel to do so. We’ve got to be switched on at the back.

This is something that’s been bereft in our play, minus our showing on Thursday. Jack Wilshere talked in the media about using the Milan performance as a barometer, that we must play like this every game. He’s spot on. We need that level, as we’ve shown that when we dip, we can’t skate by and pick up points.

So, let’s get another win and attempt to string together a run that we so badly need toward the end of the season. Redeem yourselves boys – oh yeah, and try and get Cech his 200th clean sheet? It’s been dragging on for far too long! #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

Brighton Vs Arsenal Premier League Match Preview

After the debacle at home versus Ostersunds, the Carabao Cup catastrophe and our home smashing against City, we now travel outside the M25 to take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion.

Arsenal have had a horror show recently, and so optimism is thin on the ground right now. The prospect of an away trip, with our quite atrocious record on our travels, and a tie against AC Milan just days away, isn’t exactly filling us with good thoughts.

Arsene Wenger seems to have run out of ideas, but if he did fall on his sword, he has the opportunity to do so by winning Arsenal’s first European trophy since 1994. Before that though, he has to get his team winning again.

The above may be wishful thinking, but being a supporter means holding out for hope, and while we’re still in the hunt, we’ve got a chance. We’ve done our best to extinguish any opportunities that have come our way, but the first step is always the hardest – and that is our trip to the Amex.

The Gulls have only lost at home three times this season, and the winners were the likes of Chelsea, City and Liverpool. for us to become the fourth would require a complete u-turn of recent displays.

We can start in our defence. City ran our men ragged at the back. Bellerin couldn’t cope with Sane, Koscielny got nowhere near Aguero and Mustafi looks a shadow of the man who cost £35m. Koscielny could be rested for Thursday, with Chambers or Holding coming in. Nacho Monreal too, could be rested. They’ll have to cope with a different threat in the form of Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray.

Gross is creative as well as a threat in the box, and isn’t far away from the best playmakers in the league with his number of chances created. Glenn Murray already has ten goals this season, and the two seem the perfect blend. Throw into the mix Jose Izquierdo and Brighton have enough about them to get the points they need to pull away from the relegation trapdoor.

Our midfield could lend a hand, but Granit Xhaka is far from a conventional DM, and thus, is leaving gaping holes in the centre of the park for opponents to exploit – which they are. With the attack-minded Aaron Ramsey as his partner, it means our engine room is non-existent. Our boys at the back could really do with a hand, so using Mohamed Elneny as an extra pair of hands could do the trick.

Our attack will most likely be unchanged, save for Danny Welbeck being rested for Milan. That would mean Alex Iwobi coming in for the England man. Jack Wilshere is back training and fully fit, so could either earn an instant recall for this game, or be saved for the AC Milan test.

Could the game versus Milan mean more changes? This is where it gets even more tricky. Do we rest top players so they’re fit and firing for the Europa League – our last hope of salvaging a god-awful season?

That is what Wenger is paid for – to make those decisions. There will be repercussions regardless of what decision he makes – rest players and our Premier League woes are exacerbated – but play them and our European and last trophy hope teeters even more than it is right now.

Brighton will be a toughie, and with their Premier League stay for next season far from booked, they will be fighting for every ball. We need to fight harder, that’s the only way we’ll restore confidence.

Damn, we miss Santi.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Manchester City – PL Match Preview

With the Carabao Cup final humbling still fresh in the memory, the perfect fixture to erase those nightmarish visions is……Manchester City.

The display that our team put in as we were taken apart by Pep Guardiola’s men seems to have resonated more than most defeats – and we’ve had a fair few this season.

Seven to be exact. This year.

Gary Neville’s comments especially, during and after the match, have struck a chord as they were what most were thinking. Why did our players show such an insipid level of effort? Why were none busting a gut? Did none of them recognise this was a cup final?

So, today’s game at The Emirates is far from what we needed. What we need is a win. Then another, And then another. The chances of us winning against City are low, and with us being ten points of spurs who are in 4th spot, two defeats at the hands of the blue half of Manchester could sound the death knell of any prospective success, and condemn us to our worst ever season under Wenger.

Wenger opted for three at the back in the Cup Final,which was suggested by many before the game. We also had Wilshere and Ramsey in the same team for the first time in quite some time.

Surely he has to change the approach? But does that mean the players in the eleven?

Anyone who watched the travesty on Sunday can concur that it wasn’t the choice of personnel that was the problem. It was our strongest side and should be enough of a match to give us a shout.

The problem was the application of any form of tactic. We lost possession frequently, we didn’t pressure their possession strongly enough, and we looked absolutely clueless when we did have the ball.

The first thing we need to do is actually put in a modicum of effort instead of hoping our play will suffice. Without effort, the result is what we saw at Wembley.

There will be changes in the side, although they will be enforced. Nacho Monreal looks to be ruled out for this game and the trip to the Amex Stadium, possibly longer. That means if we stay with three at the back, we’ve got less central defensive options, but Sead Kolasinac is primed for the left-back spot.

What about central midfield though? Granit Xhaka is a cultured midfielder, but he is no DM. He seems unable to track any runners, but if he starts, then he really must learn. Alternatively, we have Mohamed Elneny to fill in.

Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both fit, but fitting them both into the team may require one of them to play in the attacking three behind Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are viable options to play, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in the team after being cup-tied on Sunday.

Pep has to deal with Fernandinho being unavailable, so Ilkay Gundogan will have a new partner in midfield. this could play into our hands if our engine room kicks into life. City may have Raheem Sterling back after being ruled out on Sunday, and Gabriel Jesus is back from a knee injury.

If we are to avoid catastrophe this season, we need to go on a run, and there’s no better time to start than now. We know we’re capable, it’d just be good to see us show it for once. We have a great record at The Emirates, let’s keep it going. #UTA

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – Let’s do this, 2-1 to The Arsenal

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