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Arsenal Revive the FA Cup

Manchester United’s participation in the Club World Cup in the early part of this century was widely reported to be the reason for the FA Cup’s demise.

The club decided to prioritise the tournament instead of the oldest cup in the world, and the devaluation of our domestic cup was such that it was put on the back burner in terms of importance for clubs.

The influx of money has seen the tides shift yet again though, and now, with the dial of competition firmly ramped up to 11, the once-derided FA Cup has now risen, phoenix-like from the ashes.

It’s now seen as a saviour from ignominy. The Champions League is a pipe dream for most clubs, the Premier League is a trophy that requires a huge slice of luck with injuries, as well as top level consistency.

It means that clubs need to maximise every opportunity to lift silverware – and the FA Cup is a genuine chance to keep supporters on board and keep the club relevant when it comes to transfer targets.

Success breeds success, so having your name etched on the cup means that next season gets a firmer foundation to build from. It also makes the lustre of the club a little more alluring for any potential new players.

Our own relative woes have exacerbated the FA Cup’s rise to prominence once more. Winning the Cup in 2014 against Hull, and in such dramatic circumstances that really turned heads at other outfits.

Then, when we won it the next year by smashing Aston Villa, we not only regained it, we yet again saved our season with the lifting of the old cup.

Two seasons ago was perhaps the best example. We slipped out of the Champions League places for the first time since 1996/97, we also slipped below our hated neighbours for the first time in over two decades, but the fact we won the FA Cup, meant we had silverware in our trophy cabinet.

The ‘drought’ we suffered between 2005-14 may seem a long time, but as the top teams get better and the gap becomes more disparate, decades between cup wins will become commonplace for most.

It means any cup win should be embraced – just look at City and United in recent years when winning the League Cup. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are considered to be among the leading lights of world football management – and lifting this cup meant a fair amount to them.

The FA Cup is a grand old competition, and our previous wins are amongst our most glittering. The recent cup wins are among them. The 2014 final snatched from the jaws of defeat especially seems vivid upon recall. The Cup matters hugely.

Being knocked out by Nottingham Forest last season smarted a fair bit, and FA Cup fixture weekends without our club – the most successful side in FA Cup history – seemed a tad remiss.

We can glow with pride at the fact we’ve won this famous cup more than any other side – but we can also take a little satisfaction that we’ve reminded other clubs that the Cup is well worth winning indeed.

It grants you a European place, it gets you a slot in the Charity Shield – but it also gives us fans a memorable day – and those memories are what binds fans to a club.

Arsenal Vs Man United Match Preview

So, it’s time for another round of Arsenal versus United.

This game has been the poster boy for the Premier League for decades. It may have tumbled down the pecking order a little in recent years with the surfacing of Chelsea and City, but it matters no less to us fans.

Now, there is also the added bonus of inflicting misery on Jose Mourinho – who doesn’t want to do that?

Both teams are in form. United have won four of their last six – their losses were against Chelsea and Huddersfield – and they lie in second spot, four points above us before the game.

We have won four on the bounce since our loss to City, and have conceded precisely zero. That is the key to any confidence we carry into this game. Our defence has been exemplary and the trio of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are really acting as a unit.

They will need to when facing Lukaku, Pogba and Rashford.

They possess very different traits, so we will be stretched. Our midfield has to be awake to the runs of Pogba, so the improved showings of Ramsey and Xhaka is crucial to our hopes.

In terms of who makes the team, our fantastic 5-0 win over Huddersfield in midweek came at a cost. Alexandre Lacazette was subbed at half time due to a groin injury, and he may be ruled out for the foreseeable. Seeing as December is crammed full of fixtures, he could miss a fair amount of games.

Step forward Olivier Giroud. He scored two in the second half of our 5-0 smashing of the Terriers, and he will need to be at his best against United.

We were all surprised when Wenger named a full team for the Huddersfield win. We all expected a few changes to prepare for this match, but Wenger opted to maintain rhythm and an unchanged side, aside from the inclusion of Ozil.

Now, the argument must be made that if players can’t maintain levels for three games in eight days, then the level of professional sportsmen they claim to be must be called into doubt. On the other hand, this is arsenal, and fitness is no god-given right.

Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott are both available for inclusion, and Jack Wilshere will be hoping his positive cameo against the Terriers will do his stake no harm.

United have a wealth of options in attack, with Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Lingard all vying for a limited number of spots. Jose will have his defence drilled though. Away from home against a rival, he will have his team set up not to lose, rather than all out to win. Professional, pragmatic, but bloody boring.

We are still unbeaten at home, and we need to continue that if we are to keep the pressure on the top3 – and keep the gap between us and that lot down the road.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs Huddersfield Town Match Preview

This may seem one of those games that we could take our eye from and still get the points.

We are The Arsenal though. We know there are no gimmies.

Let us look at the facts.

Huddersfield lie in 11th spot. Their last game was a heartbreaking late loss to runaway leaders Manchester City, where the Terriers can feel aggrieved not to have picked up a point at the least.

David Wagner’s team have already beaten Man United this season, and are looking like they more than deserve their place in the top flight.

Aaron Mooy is the fourth  most successful crosser in the entire league this season, and the third most successful tackler. They have a disciplined attack, perhaps lacking a few goals of course, but they pose a threat. It is their defence that will be the tough part of the game, and we will need every bit of nous we can muster.

We cannot afford to shift concentration toward the weekend and our crunch game against Jose Mourinho and Manchester United. 

Huddersfield deserve more than that.

We will probably rotate our team to a degree though. We do have a squad that can allow a few changes without impacting too much on our strength.

Mesut Ozil will most likely miss a second consecutive game with illness. Our attack could well be heavily changed with the depth we have. Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck are players who can jump into the side without losing any attacking power. Theo 

Walcott should be back after illness, but a spot on the bench should beckon rather than an instant return to the side.

Our midfield could also see a few changes. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have been in great form of late, so a drop to the bench could disrupt our rhythm. Three games in a week however may be too much for them to be at optimum levels for the United game. This paves the way open for a combo from Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Jack Wilshere. Although Jack has primarily been used as an attacker, his natural role will be in the centre. This could be his chance to shine.

Laurent Koscielny has intermittent tendonitis issues, so a rest for the Frenchman makes good sense. Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are vying for his spot in this game.

We toughed it out against Burnley, and we may have to do the same again. Huddersfield will clam up the midfield and look to utilise set plays a little more, as they lack the attacking players Burnley have. They don’t have any less grit and ambition though. 

They know they can get a result at The Emirates.

We need to knock the confidence they have out of them early on. An early goal could prove the difference. The later we leave it, the more buoyed they become, and the higher the panic rises in the stands.

The players that come in must perform higher than they have done in the last couple of Europa League games. If we are to continue our assault on the top 4 and keep our spot there, we need three points.

Lastly, we need the confidence for the United game. Our team normally feed from it, and we have to be at our best to beat Jose’s United, who will be as stubborn as ever.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Wilshere, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Iwobi, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 3-1 to The Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Man Utd – Match Preview

Kickoff – 1600GMT

Before our humbling at the hands of our North London neighbours last weekend, the situation was clear;

Win the rest of our games or the lucrative and vital Top4 slot is out of our grasp.

Now, our team stand on the precipice of our worst season under Arsene Wenger. To make matters worse, he next faces a manager who he has never defeated in the Premier League.

Tomorrow’s match versus Manchester United now leaves us with the daunting reality that we could win the rest of our games and still be barred from entering the VIP section that is Champions League qualification. 

Five games remain in our league campaign, and all five must be victories. We then must sit on the edge of our seats and wait for Liverpool, City and United to slip up. The way things are right now, this is quite easily our worst season. 

So, how do we defeat United and salvage any semblance of hope?

Firstly, United have a huge task in fielding a competitive team that isn’t suffering from fatigue or injury. After defeating Celta Vigo in Spain on Thursday, Jose Mourinho has intimated that he may rest some of his first teamers as the Europa League takes priority. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Ashley Young ruled out through a combination of injury and suspension, and Marcus Rashford looking to be in pain when he was substituted on Thursday, Mourinho will surely ring the changes. 

Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney may well be part of his plans and so too should be Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. The England pair were thought to be injured, but it has been revealed that they will be in the squad for the game. 

Arsene Wenger will also have his own players returning from injury, with David Ospina and Shkodran Mustafi both back in training. Will the German defender’s return to action see Wenger shift back to a back four? Or will we continue with the Back 3 experiment? The jury is out in regards to fan’s opinion, but no one can predict what Wenger will go with. 

A big dilemma is what our midfield will look like for this game. In his last press conference, Wenger said that Granit Xhaka only has a ‘little chance of playing.’ That leaves Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny to fight it out for the two spots, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed since playing as a wing-back in our new formation. 

A lot will depend on Alexis. The Chilean has been responsible for keeping our slim hopes alive, but his record versus the big boys leaves a lot to be desired. He has just one goal in the last nine games against the teams above us, and Sanchez must finally show everyone what he can do against top class opposition – even if it is to entice another team.

United have won the last four games that have followed Europa League games, so they will be prepared. They will also come to the Emirates well drilled and hard to break down. We must utilise pace and movement and abandon the plodding, sedate passing of more recent seasons. We must find the Arsenal of old if Arsene Wenger is to finally vanquish Mourinho and Arsenal are to keep up the chase. 

Twenty four games it has been since United tasted defeat. It is going to take an almighty effort for that to be broken, but break it we must. The least we expect is effort. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Ramsey, Gibbs, Theo, Ozil, Alexis

Predicted Scoreline – Screw it – 2-0 to The Arsenal #UTA

Mourinho and Wenger – The Class War

On the eve of a titanic tussle between two teams, the usual fare from the respective managers is to talk about team selection, and to talk up their opponents. This shows that they take the threat seriously, that their own team is more than ready to match whatever is thrown at them.

The press conferences pre-match are a chance to peer behind the veil of secrecy that shrouds these clubs that are now businesses. The managers offer delectable nuggets of information surrounding preperation, and each syllable offers the opportunity to surmise and interpret life at the training ground. It is fascinating, but at times it offers up a stalemate between the prying press and the defensive chief in front of the cameras.

Jose Mourinho though, doesn’t do convention. Tradition is bucked wildly whenever a topic of passion is tossed toward him. One of these subjects he cannot ignore and gnaws on chronically is Arsene Wenger. This weekend was no different.

Instead of talking about the merits of his team and how they are aiming far higher than where they currently reside, the Portuguese boss opted to aim a bony fingered prod into the chest of his French rival – and in turn, he answered his own query.

Courtesy of The Independent newspaper, when Mourinho was asked about Arsene, in an attempt to stoke the old flames of adversity which have burned now for over ten years, Mourinho said of him and the titles they both had won:

I have three, I think. Mr Wenger has three or four – I don’t know. Does that mean we should be respected even in periods where our results are not the best? I think Mr Wenger has that respect from all of you. I don’t think I have especially because my last Premier League title was 18 months ago. It was not 18 years ago. 

Again, this comment offered a fascinating glimpse at the inner workings – but of Mourinho’s thinking, rather than the inner sanctum of a club. 

It is common knowledge that the two old foes cannot abide each other. They both are the antithesis of each other. Much like a classic comic story thread, the two are opposites. Mourinho complained of a lack of respect, and that he should be offered the same as his counterpart, but would Wenger ever lower his guard enough to aim an attack like this?

Wenger has had his fair share of run-ins, with Ferguson, Jol, Pardew, Allardyce and a few more, but whilst his actions on the sidelines have often raised eyebrows and exhibited a well-concealed temper, the Frenchman hasn’t often peeled away the veneer which reflects the majority of journalists barbed arrows. 

When Wenger has a press conference, the onus is on the representatives from each media organisation to wriggle past the defensive mines that Wenger has placed, and attempt to manouevre him into a cul-de-sac where he cannot rely on his usual armour of dry wit and deflection. 

It is like a duel. With each question and succinct answer, it is an unheard swish of a fencers foil. A delicate flick of the wrist, and the journalist’s laden question – instead of burying itself deep in the targets psyche and craw – finds itself somehow lying futile on the floor.

After over twenty years, Wenger has perfected the art of combining a soundbite that sates the writers, and also never truly revealing his modus operandi. Why give information away when it could prove vital?

Mourinho on the other hand, grasps each question from the baying masses with abandon. He is a journalist’s dream as he cares little for what they write – or does he?

He weaves and concocts, and when it works, it adds to the high turrets and walls of the seige mentality that is the foundation for most of his successes. He takes the heat from his players, and acts as a shield. It is martyrdom at its finest, but it isn’t pretty. 

The main difference is when they are both under duress. Wenger’s composure is a still lake, and when ripples occur, he manages to keep them under the surface. Mourinho creates a foaming, thrashing lake that garners headlines and exposure. 

In his post-match press conference, after Arsenal secured a barely-deserved point thanks to a late header from Olivier Giroud, the contrast between both managers was palpable. 

Whilst Wenger admitted his team were lacking – even inferring they may just suffer from a mental block playing at Old Trafford – Mourinho’s offerings were laughable.

His words were not veiled, he aimed straight for Wenger. He did not bolster his sides confidence, he just went all out, swinging wildly for his opposing manager, his nemesis. 

Mourinho claimed that Wenger had FINALLY beaten him, after twelve attempts in the Premiership

It was a dig to show that Mourinho still had the upper hand, and still had his precious record of never losing to his enemy. 

It speaks volumes though, that despite Wenger never defeating Mourinho in the Premier League (seven draws and five losses after this weekend), the playing field in terms of public opinion is even – or even tipping in the balance of Wenger.

In truth, shouldn’t success earn respect? Yes, but it isn’t just silverware that constitutes this most precious commodity. Wenger’s longevity may be in part due to the aims of the board, but his adaptability and where he has brought the club has given him a begrudging respect from the press. Mourinho though, is blinkered to the constant undermining that Wenger has had to deal with.

Arsenal are not beloved by the press. The team that constructs such beauty, but is intertwined with frustration, is constantly held up as a failure due to their lack of first silverware, and now a title. They are the posterboy for underachievement, even though standing next to them in the same Premier League outfit is Liverpool and tottenham – teams who have won less despite spending the same, and occasionally more. 

Wenger’s defensive stance is down to years of exposure to the armament of the press. Mourinho’s constant attacking stance is now down to his struggling.

Jose has never truly had to deal with scrutiny, as he has always had a constant stream of tangible success to back himself. Now that he has skulked away from Chelsea, and now helms a struggling United side, he is exposed. What happens when we no longer have shelter, and we have to face a threat? We revert back to our basic hardwiring, what is intrinsically built into us. Fight or flight. 

Mourinho is in uncharted territory, and he is showing us is hand. He is not talking of the strengths of his team, he is whinging. His comments smack of a selfish streak. He is thinking of himself, not of his team. What does it matter if you are not afforded a certain level of respect, when your team is underperforming? 

It simply isn’t true that he is not respected either. What is happening and that he is failing to recognise is that he is under the spotlight after his struggles at Chelsea, and now at United. The glowing halo has slipped, and now he must sweat under the glaring light like every other manager has done – including Wenger.

The difference is, Wenger has applied sunscreen. He’s done this before. Wenger bears the tan from the rays, but he is now accustomed to the heat. Mourinho is the equivalent of the pasty ginger kid who really should be anywhere but on a sunbed. 

He must get used to the scrutiny, or he will continue to give papers headlines. Not only that, but he will continue to crack. He could learn something from the man he continues to pin pictures of on his office dartboard. 

Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal – 5 Key Points From The Game

Much like last season, United were there for the taking.

Thankfully though, the result didn’t correlate too, as supersub Olivier Giroud thumped in an equaliser to cancel out Juan Mata’s great finish. 

The team selection carried a couple of surprises, as Aaron Ramsey was brought into the side on the left of attack, and Mohamed Elneny was given a start alongside Francis Coquelin, with Granit Xhaka on the bench. The rest of the side picked itself, aside from Hector Bellerin. The Spaniard has been ruled out for a month at least with an ankle problem picked up in the North London derby, and this gave Carl Jenkinson his first Premier League start in a Gunners jersey since May 2014.

Perhaps surprisingly, Jose Mourinho opted to leave Captain Elbows (Marouane Fellaini) out of the side, and opted instead for finesse, with Ander Herrera getting the nod. Wayne Rooney was left on the bench, with Marcus Rashford hoping to do as well as his Premier League debut last season, when he bagged a brace in the 3-2 win.

The first half was a cagey affair, but there were chances. Alexis Sanchez should have done much better with a header in the box, which he screwed horribly wide. United were not to be undone though, as they tested Cech on a couple of occasions, which the Czech dealt with well. It was a see-saw half, but the 0-0 scoreline at half time was probably fair.

There was a flashpoint in the first 45 though. Nacho Monreal and Antonio Valencia were shoulder-to shoulder going for a ball in the Arsenal box, and Valencia fell to thr ground. Replays show that Nacho’s arm was across Valencia – but since when did that constitute a spot kick? Mourinho was apopleptic with rage at the ignorance from Andre Marriner, but it was never a penalty. 

The second half was a different affair entirely, as United stepped up their pressing, and it paid dividends. The Gunners struggled to exit their own half with Elneny and Coquelin run ragged as they tried to deal with the runs of Herrera, Mata, Rashford and Pogba. On a sidenote, Herrera really has a flair for the flamboyant, there were at least three occasions where he went to ground as if he had taken a shotgun shell to the abdomen, but the contact was little – or none. Something to watch out for in the future. 

The weight of pressure finally told, as Nacho – who had been given the biggest workload by the errant Ramsey – failed to go with his runner, and Herrera cut a ball into the box which Mata expertly met with a first time finish. The Spaniard was unmarked as the defence were ballwatching, and the punishment was severe.

The last twenty minutes of the second half were similar to the first twenty, as United continued to press, but Arsene Wenger shuffled his pack and came up with a hand, as Olivier Giroud found the net from fellow substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain’s perfect cross from the right.

There was much more that occurred during the game, but here are 5 keypoints from the game that really stood out:

Giroud saves the day again – but he must stay as a Plan B

The bearded Olivier Giroud again saved the day with a goal when coming from the bench, just like against Sunderland, and his aerial prowess and linkup play really is an excellent answer to a defence which has our side nonplussed. He is garnering success as the swift change in attacking type is unsettling after facing a certain way for 70 minutes, then having to revert to another method to keep out the bothersome Giroud. The Frenchman will get his fair share of starts, but at this current time, we need to keep working on Sanchez up front, as the signs are that he could be dynamite.

Alexis is the way forward

Whenever we did threaten, it was via the Chilean. With his thigh heavily strapped, he could’ve shirked his duty, but he tracked back, and ploughed a lone furrow up front. Eventually through starvation, he dropped deeper and deeper to try and spark something. He proved a real test to the United defence, and that was all on his own. His goal record when playing up front is testament to what damage he can cause, and the more he plays there, the better he will be. He can undo teams by himself, and while he will have better days, he was still one of the few brighter players.

Ramsey must cement a fixed position

Aaron was our weak link in thi game, and there may be some fervent fans who will disagree, but it was crystal clear that out on the left was not the position to bring the best out of the Welshman. To be honest though, he did himself no favours. He is always full of effort and running, but his positioning was a liability which United nearly exploited – and should’ve done. The reason Antonio Valencia was awarded the MOTM award was because he was afforded the whole of the wing by the absence of Ramsey. This left Nacho double-teamed and undermanned. Ramsey has talent, we know this, but a vague sense of where he plays – and a tendency to be shrugged from the ball too easily – may cost him. This game was one to forget for Rambo.

Jenkinson must take his chance – and it was a good start

Considering it was his first Premiership start for Arsenal since 2014, Jenkinson performed well. He was forced to deal with a lively Marcus Rashford for the majority, and he snuffed out the majority of the threat. He didn’t quite offer the outlet we are used to with Bellerin in the side, but that is to be expected. Plus, this wasn’t the game for rampaging full-backs. It was a solid start from Carl, and he will get the run in the side he craves with Bellerin out for a month. Let’s hope he continues to do well.

Arsenal tactics were wrong

We don’t often see our team play full pelt and truly put our talent on show. When we play our passes at breakneck speed and the runs from each player are unpredictable and frequent. When we do, the results always go in our favour. All teams in the League, with perhaps the exception of City and Chelsea, are not on our technical level, and would not be able to cope with what we are capable of. What is the usual far is we wait and react to our opponents. We are simply reactionary. It is ponderous and frustrating, as it is akin to seeing Max Whitlock playing hopscotch. We should be doing more, especially in this game – and come to mention it, last seasons 3-2 loss was very similar. Mourinho had PHIL JONES and MARCUS ROJO in the centre of defence. All we had to do was attack them, and they would inevitably crumble, but instead we gave them the initiative time and time again. I know it is November, but we are far better than this!!!

There were other highlights that missed the cut, such as Shkodran Mustafi pretty much snuffing out every cross from Antonio Valencia – and there was many -like Oxlade-Chamberlain finally showing he has an excellent end product, and Cech giving us that edge of top class experience he has which made a hige difference. 

It was a point gained after an ungainly performance, but we are still unbeaten since the opening day. We may have lost some initiative, but we showed a fair amount of bottle. We can turn this around, but the next game in PSG, which is no cakewalk. 

Keep working and keep the belief. November was never going to be pretty. 

Manchester United Vs Arsenal – Preview

With the atrocious record Arsenal have at Old Trafford, the last thing we needed was bad news before the game.

That is exactly what was dished out during Arsene Wenger’s press conference though – with the info regarding the availability of vital Spaniards Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin.

credit to Getty Images
On Thursday, Wenger ruled out Bellerin for roughly four weeks after suffering an ankle injury during the Gunner’s last Premiership game, against tottenham. He will miss up to eight games, and not only will he miss this crunch clash, he will be ruled out for the last two fixtures of Arsenal’s Champions League group stage – those being against Paris Saint Germain and FC Basel.

His compatriot Santi Cazorla is also no nearer to a return, as his achilles injury has not healed sufficiently. Even worse is that Wenger confirmed he can not pin down a date for the return of the two-footed midfielder. 

There is room for optimism as we look to this game, as the squad is in ruder health than in many previous seasons, and backup for each position is more than adequate. 

The cover for the players concerned is Carl Jenkinson and a pick of Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka, and it will be a combination of two from those three midfielders that will make up the engine room for the trip to Manchester. Perhaps even the energy and runs of Aaron Ramsey could get a shock recall?

Carl Jenkinson has played well in his few outings thus far this campaign, but the English defender must take his chance while he has it in his grasp. The fan favourite bleeds Arsenal, but if he is to have any future at the club he adores, then he must reassure his boss that he can seamlessly drop into the side and lessen the impact of losing a player of the ilk of Bellerin.

The rest of the team more or less picks itself, aside from two slight niggles. Alexis Sanchez only flew back from international duty with Chile on Wednesday, and after playing on Tuesday against Uruguay despite nursing a troublesome hamstring, Alexis must be fitness tested before taking to the side. 

The other worry is the form of Alex Iwobi. The youngster had to dip eventually after such a blazing start to his professional career, but the dilemma is – do you allow him to play through his bad run, or do you bench him and give someone else a shot? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed recently, and could replace the Nigerian. Iwobi, whilst struggling for form and comabtting poor decision making, has still shown a fantastic ability to pick a pass. 

The choice is Wenger’s.

Jose Mourinho has his fair share of issues to deal with as well, especially with his defence being the opposite of the normally watertight plan of the Portuguese manager – so there is a ray of hope. 

He still has plenty to choose from elsewhere though, but his continuing selection of Marouane Fellaini in the centre of midfield smacks of desperation. When he can take his pick from Schweinsteiger, Mata, Carrick, Herrera and Blind to name but a few in the centre, it shows he is looking for an anchor that simply isn’t one. He is known to prefer a powerhouse in the middle, and if he goes with type again and picks the fuzzy-haired Belgian, then Xhaka, Walcott and Ozil can really take advantage.

United have won two games out of their last five, and are struggling to find a footing, but Arsenal have not won at Old trafford since 2006. This shocking run of results looked to be at an end last season when we travelled to Manchester with United barely able to put a team together and were patched together with youngsters who had barely any top-flight experience.

It didn’t matter though, as United ran out 3-2 winners. Arsenal practically handed the game to the home side with some lackadaisical defending and some prosaic attacking. There was no energy and the plodding players got exactly what they deserved – nothing. 

Hopefully, lessons have been learned. Arsenal again have a great chance to end the Old Trafford hoodoo, and if Alexis is fit and firing, Theo is in tune and Mesut Ozil is fully refreshed after resting during the international break – the Gunners can grab three points and keep pace at the top of the league. 

Predicted lineup – Cech, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis

Predicted Scoreline – let’s be optimistic – 2-0 Arsenal, with Alexis and Theo scoring. 

The Scapegoat Infestation

Originally posted on Goonersphere.
In an hour, we have the next, must-watch instalment of Kim Kardashian’s latest series – The Khardashians Get Athletes Foot – but next up we have a real treat for you on BBC82, Sky Channel 4235. David Attenborough is back, going to all manner of lengths to gaze at scapegoats in their natural habitat.’

“In every country, there are animals that are shunned. Dogs in China, Guinea Pigs in Peru, and sharks the world over, are viewed as unnecessary. Their place in the natural world is shifted, as they fight to adapt upon the stringent conditions placed upon them by humans.”

“In Britain, foxes have always suffered at the hands of man, thanks to their scavenging tendencies, which put these creatures at loggerheads with farmers and their brethren. Thus, they have been persecuted and hunted.”

“In a certain corner of London, a breed of scapegoat has found a home, and the locals are none too happy with this new tenant. Scapegoats can be found in every country, but in North London, the previously rare Cannonus Haterei has flourished. Scapegoats can be found congregating wherever excuses are required, and in this particular location, this animal has more than enough sustenance.”

“Cannonus Haterei – or the Cannon Scapegoat – now lives in amongst the local population, but they are not welcome. People have left scapegoat traps all around their domain, and a clearer message cannot be sent. Yet, they remain, and thrive. How, and why?”

“The Cannon scapegoat has always lived here, but this boom in population has been sourced back to the last few years, and in particular, the malaise that surrounds Arsenal Football Club.” 

“As the frustration grows at The Emirates, more scapegoat pups are brought into the world. As blame is sought, the frequency of scapegoat litters spikes dramatically. In particular, there are even sub-breeds of this highlighted animal – the Mertesackus Pernus, and the Walcotian Theum – which serve to shine a light on just a couple of the reasons why this animal is so plentiful in the area.”

The great scapegoat culling of the ’70’s through to the present day in Merseyside shows an effective, if ignorant, technique to combat the scapegoat plague. And a plague is exactly what it is. Feeding mercilessly from the negativity and hatred that forms when blame is doled out liberally and blindly, the scapegoat culling in Liverpool was so effective as it turned a blind eye to the errors of the local football club, and chose only to blame extraneously. Thus, the scapegoats found a new home at the feet of where the blame lay. The media to this day continue to point a gnarled finger in any direction other than at Anfield, so the scapegoats never again find a home nearby.

This is not the most effective measure. The only true way to combat this pest is to find the root of the problem and flush it out. This crux is the real reason why scapegoats are so drawn to a location. If the local council at Highbury continue to ignore this advice, then the ratio of scapegoats to people will tip wildly in favour of these animals.

The source is a mixture of things, but it is a concoction which attracts this breed from miles around. From unspent riches, to unaddressed weaknesses in the squad, via a splintered group of fans, Arsenal football club must combat this source if the infestation of scapegoats is to be nulified.

Meanwhile, our cameras have picked up another litter of pups sporting a previously unseen facet of their DNA. This litter is completely hairless, and has spawned thanks to the poorly-timed excuses of Ivan Gazidis – Arsenal’s Chief Executive. The ire from fans has created this new sub-breed, and a new name for the pups and their future kin – Gazidor Iveia – is fitting.
It looks as though the scapegoat problem is here to stay. Next week, I visit Manchester, where a virulent strain of pric*has been discovered which had only ever been previously found in Portugal, Milan, Madrid and the Kings Road. 

Jose and Zlatan – Clash of The Ego’s

Original post on Goonersphere.

The dirty, funky guitar strummed him into a relaxed state. Listening to his favourite band – Coffeepot Drive – always was a precursor to his best plans, and this one was going to wreak havoc upon the Premier League and more importantly – Arsene Wenger.

His head bobbed as the bass guitar reverberated around his plush surroundings, and he swivelled around in his executive leather chair.

The last precious piece of his nefarious mental blueprint was due to walk in any minute now…..


Continue reading Jose and Zlatan – Clash of The Ego’s

Arsene 1-0 Jose

The oversized trophy we regained after this single goal victory over Chelsea will not be valued in the same way as our F.A Cup or our gold Premier League silverware. In fact, it means very little in terms of accolades.

The victory that obtained the 2015 Community Shield however – and who we vanquished for that matter – are what really matters. Continue reading Arsene 1-0 Jose