Tag Archives: kolasinac

Attack on Kola and Ozil – The Ripple Effect

The recent knife attack on Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and their wives was thwarted thanks to the selfless bravery of our Bosnian defender.

The long-lasting effects may well cast more harmful ripples however.

The CCTV footage showed how the assailants pulled up to Ozil’s vehicle on a moped and brandished a large knife. Kolasinac then exited the car and Ozil drove the respective partners to a position of safety while the left-back aimed to either stifle or incapacitate the criminals.

Thankfully, no harm was done. Well, at least physically.

This footage will no doubt have spread worldwide via social media. Professional footballers will have seen this and the violence on show could act as a deterrent to any prospective moves to the Premier League.

Do we see footballers in other nation’s being attacked by blades? Aside from the volatility of South America, can we say anywhere in Europe has seen similar recently?

This is not to say that knife crime is more prevalent in London or the UK as opposed to Europe, but simply that this sole act occurred in our capital rather than in Italy, Spain or Germany.

Footballers lead a lavish lifestyle and are on the highest of pedestals. The barrier between player and fan is higher than ever before. These sportsmen are now fully removed from everyday life and the fleeting moments that they take part in fan activities or social media interactions are pretty much the only times they put their feet on the same ground we walk on.

This attack could well pull that drawbridge up a little further, distancing us and them even more than before. Players have the ability to seclude themselves in their own world. Their houses are like resorts, they attend exclusive events and venues, and the streets that we share? They will be less and less frequented.

What of potential signings thinking of relocating to the UK? This potentially has a dampening effect, as perception is everything. The news stories that hype the supposed torrent of violent crime on our streets, now exacerbated by our players being nearly killed while attending a restaurant? It will do nothing for enthusiasm to sample the delights of the city.

The reason why the video made such a splash is because of the seriousness of the potential repercussions. Should Sead Kolasinac have failed in his heroic efforts? It doesn’t bear thinking of.

Sead and Ozil

With such riches to protect and these men recognised anywhere they go, it does mean that for the more nefarious of us Joe Publics, these professional players do have a target on their heads. It is easy pickings and ripe pickings at that.

The days of players liaising with fans like they did in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s? That is a thing of the past, and the moat that sees us look longingly at the greener grass of celebrity sportspeople yawns ahead of us, growing wider each year.

We can be thankful that both players and their wives were unharmed after this attack, but the threat of further incidents of the same nature potentially could ripple outward for quite some time.

Kolasinac Deserves the Spotlight

Unai Emery has brought with him many changes since he was drafted in to herald in the post- Wenger era.

 

Many of them were not his choice. Backroom staff such as Raul Sanllehi were brought in slightly beforehand but are very much part of the new dynasty that Emery is meant to hone into success.

 

Others are very much stamped with the Spaniard’s touch. Matteo Guendouzi is part of the new breed for Arsenal, but some of the existing players have transitioned to the new methods far better than others too.

 

One of those is Sead Kolasinac.

 

The burly Bosnian has been the stampeding horse on our left hand side, so often providing the outlet our play needs when we are stemmed in the final third. Kolasinac has also been perfectly placed for Emery’s experiments with the wing-back system – five technically at the back, with the left and right backs flying forward to also provide the width sorely needed by our team.

 

It requires excellent stamina and the decision making that allows the player to gauge when to fly forward and when to sit back.

 

The stamina has never been in question, but the ability to judge when to assist his attacking brethren is sometimes lacking.

 

On more than one occasion we have seen a gaping maw on our left hand side that has been vacated by yet another Kolasinac rampage. The truth is though, that unless we have a full-back that is of the ilk of Bixente Lizarazu, Maldini and our legends of Dixon and Winterburn, we will never truly eradicate ourselves of that occasional weakness on the flank.

 

Mistakes will be made, no player is infallible. Kolasinac though, has at the very least, truly optimised his exertions in the final third.

 

Sead+Kolasinac+Alex+Iwobi+Arsenal+Training+cSbi_GK_tKrl

 

His unstoppable runs to the byline have seen him create more chances this season than any other Arsenal player. That is quite some feat with the creative talents on show at the club. The next best player in terms of opportunities made?

 

Another vilified player in Alex Iwobi.

 

Both have combined well and offered something different. True, both have their failings, but they are at least justifying their spots in the side.Iwobi is enjoying his best ever season in terms of return – at the time of writing he has four goals and six assists – yet both do not enjoy the favouritism that some players enjoy. The adulation never quite reaches them, but take them away and what do we have?

 

A team completely devoid of thrust, instead choosing to pass sideways. Like it or not, our left side has been predominant in terms of where our goals come from.

 

Kolasinac especially, has done himself proud whenever he has donned the shirt this season. Compare this to last season when he was very much a fringe player, lurking in the shadows created by the reliable Nacho Monreal.

 

This campaign has seen the player that terrorised the Bundesliga come to roost at the Premiership, and we are benefitting from it. The Bosnian is one of our dangermen – and we should recognise how good he has been, rather than choose to focus on the one mistake he makes every two or three games – which is far fewer than most.

 

Kolasinac has been fantastic, and long may it continue.

 

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

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

Arsenal 3-1 FC Koln – Away Fans, Howlers and Alexis is Back

An hours delay is not the best start to a game in a competition most deride as superfluous. 

Someone said that to David Ospina, and the Colombian decided he would try and beat it.

Thanks to masses of Koln fans making the trip to London without a ticket and trying to cram into the Clock End – and succeeding to a degree – it meant that safety was compromised and kickoff could not take place until 2105hrs – over an hour after it was designated.

Still, when our fans did all manage to take their seats, they were treated to the sight of our goalkeeper going a little unhinged and allowing the equally crazed Koln fans the opportunity to make more noise and set off more flares.

Our Cup Keeper raced out of his box to snaffle up a ball over the top of our defence. The problem wans’t that he didn’t get to it first. Oh no, Ospina was the proverbial greyhound. No, the problem was what he did when he got the ball.

The South American goalkeeper booted it flatly and straight to the opposition, and Ospina’s fellow countryman Cordoba lifted it over our keeper who was in No Man”s Land from all of 40 yards. 

1-0, and the first half was now a chase.

We did make chances when we were not busy wasting the opportunity for a final ball, but Koln’s Timo Horn was equal to Olivier Giroud’s header, and Theo Walcott wasted a good chance when found in a good position.

The first half was frustrating, and the boos that followed our players trudging off the pitch were born from a performance that was quite flat at times.

The second half was different though. With a much changed side, we began to find our verve, and it took five minutes to get the equaliser. 

Theo Walcott was at the centre of the action, and his finishing may have been wayward, but his positioning and running could not be faulted. He was found with a superb ball from Mohamed Elneny, and his touch took him wide. His cross was deflected upwards, and the rampaging bull that is Sead Kolasinac took just one touch to lash a volley past the Koln keeper Timo Horn.

From there, it was all Arsenal, and we were looking fully intent on getting the win, as opposed to the first half when there was just vague interest. 

Then, there was a sight to behold for all Gooners to rejoice in. Something that has the potential to change our season dramatically.

It wasn’t Jack Wilshere making an appearance, although he could make a huge dent.

It was the return of Alexis.

Sure, he has made appearances this season, but the goal he scored in this game was pure Chilean spice.

Taking the ball from out wide, he drifted inside, beat two players and from 25 yards, curled an exquisite effort into the top corner, where no goalkeeper’s fingers dare to tread. It was beautiful, it was Alexis.

Whilst he may still want to leave, my love for him will be compromised. However, I say we play him until his legs fall off. Make use of him in the short space of time we have him. 

There was time for one more goal, and it was Hector Bellerin who scored it. Theo Walcott was again involved. Alexis and Big Sead interchanged well, and the Bosnian crossed in. Jack Wilshere dummied it and left it for Theo who took a shot which Horn saved well. The rebound though, fell for the onrushing Bellerin who did manage to beat the German.

A job well done, and the Europa League has been started well. We can really make a go of this competition and it was a big plus that we fought back against a team who were better than their domestic form suggested.

Not only that, our team was massively different than the one we saw last weekend – and very different to the one that will line up against Chelsea this Sunday. 

The way we deal with the short recovery time will be crucial, but we have good form against the Blues recently. Time to convert that to a performance away from home for once. 

Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth – PL Review

Arsenal returned to winning ways in comprehensive fashion, thumping Bournemouth by three goals – and it could well have been more.

Caution must be applied to any Gooners who think recovery is now complete, but we can at least find solace in the fact that a win has been achieved, we are again looking threatening – and we have a left sided player on the left once again!

Arsene Wenger chose Sead Kolasinac on the left, and the Bosnian was instrumental in our first half showing, setting up the opener for Welbeck and rampaging on the flank to great effect. Hector Bellerin on the right also showed some signs that his form is on the up.

Our midfield too, kept tabs on the Cherries midfield runner, with Aaron Ramsey often being the deepest of the midfield duo, as Xhaka stretched his limbs with some great passing. It was the Welshman’s discipline though, that was most pleasing. We will need every ounce of that when we play our next Premier League fixture – next weekend at Chelsea.

We were two goals up by half-time. Danny Welbeck, picked ahead of the returning Alexis, nodded us in front early on, a deft header coming from an incisive cross from Kolasinac. 

Chances came and went for us, with Ozil testing Asmir Begovic with a great free-kick, but we would have to wait until around the half hour mark before we made it two. Mesut Ozil was deep once again, and his foraging ball along the turf found Alexandre Lacazette, who passed to Welbeck, who immediately returned the favour. Lacazette teed himself up, before lashing a high finish over Begovic.

Bournemouth were trying, but lax in defence. They did have a good chance though, but Jermain Defoe could only head onto the post. 

We would make them pay for their profligacy.

The second half saw a similar pattern. Arsenal pushing Bournemouth back into their half as we sniffed for goals, and when the Cherries got ideas above their station, we hounded their men until the ball was retrieved. We can still improve our attack, but we did look a far better outfit that in recent weeks. 

Seven minutes after half time, we had our third, as Aaron Ramsey found Welbeck, who finished well into the far post area from an acute angle. 

It could – and possibly should – have been five or six goals, but let us not look a gift horse in the mouth. We played well, we scored a few goals, and we kept a clean sheet. This was exactly what the doctor ordered, and hopefully the confidence is flowing on the eve of a massive London derby next weekend.

Lacazette is looking like the lethal striker who banged in plenty in Ligue Un, Danny Welbeck has already beaten his last season’s total of goals, and our defence is finally settled. With Alexis looking likely to return in the next game, we have plenty to worry the Blues. 

Can the Chilean wonder come straight back into the side with Welbeck playing so well? Will Ozil do what he did to Chelsea last season in our 3-0 win? Can Kolasinac run his own brand of rulie on the left as he has done so far? 
So many questions, but for now, let us just enjoy a tranquil few days after what has been an incredibly turbulent few weeks. It is the calm after the storm, let us all hope we have weathered the worst of it. 

Arsenal’s Closed Window

We thought that this time would be different.

Even though we had seen it all before.

A fantastic start to business, which put us in a prime position to finally close the gap on the regular challengers for the title. 

Then, the inevitable lull in proceedings, which then led to the demise of hope.

In the previous few seasons, we had gone out early and purchased players in June/July. Not just any players, but of the ilk to push us forward. 

This season’s incarnation of the annual false dawn was Alexandre Lacazette. On a singular basis, the Frenchman is a fantastic addition to the squad and his talents will benefit our team undoubtedly. 

One purchase does not make a team though, only a very glittery band-aid. 

Sead Kolasinac was another player who joined, but the lack of monetary fanfare in the form of a blockbuster transfer fee resulted in less hype surrounding the bulky Bosnian. His skills though, are of the highest order, and I think we have all seen from his pre-season and early Premier League displays, that Kolasinac is an absolute bargain.

A defensive addition, allied with the striking purchase we all craved. Sounds like a recipe for success, no?

The stormclouds on the horizon in the last few years refused to dissipate though, and it all stemmed from the inadequacies in our team which have cost us dearly. 

If we are all able to spot it, how can Arsene Wenger repeatedly refuse to remedy the situation?

The faith he shows his players can mean an extra 10-15% torque from their engines. Players want to do their utmost for someone who has their back, and Wenger always backs his men. The trouble is, the arm round the shoulder can also be constricting and problematic. 

Some get too comfortable, some refuse to push the envelope for progress. We now have a squad that has a capacity for wonderful things, but they rarely find any consistency, they also just as rarely struggle to hit the heights they – and we – know they are capable of.

So, the transfer window enables Wenger to finally rid us of this blight, to use his extensive knowledge of the European game to acquire players that are a perfect fit for the apertures we have in our squad.

Virgil Van Dijk, Jean-Michel Seri, Julian Draxler. Just three names that could replace players that wanted to leave this summer, and not just replace them, but better them. 

Van Dijk is sought after by Chelsea, Liverpool, pretty much the whole Premier League hierarchy. The clamour for his signature is evidence enough that the Dutchman is of the required standard. With Shkodran Mustafi angling for a move in nearly plain sight, why did we not move for Southampton’s star man?

Not only this, but with Gabriel sold to Valencia in the same window, this left us with an injury-prone Koscielny, a retiring Mertesacker, an inexperienced Holding and Calum Chambers, where the jury is out. 

Of course, the transfer fee would have been gargantuan, but Mustafi would have brought in at least half of the transfer fee, so the price cannot be baulked at. 

Then there is Julian Draxler. The German started well at PSG, but the wheels fell off and he is now out of favour in Paris. The fact he was offered to Borussia Dortmund underlines Draxler’s availability. With Alexis practically being photographed shaking hands with Sheikh Mubarak, the left side of our attack was open. 

Why didn’t we go for Draxler?

The fee for Alexis would have been pretty close to that of Draxler. This was a no-brainer. Of course, Lemar was our chosen man, but the fact he too slipped through our fingers typifies our transfer policy in the last decade or so.

Our central midfield is an itch that Wenger doesn’t seem to be able to scratch. When bereft of Santi Cazorla, the mixture of defensive duties and attacking instincts is usually the blade that slips under the ribcage of our title credentials. 

Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny have all played alongside each other in various combinations, but none seem to stick. Coquelin has the passion, but zero technical ability. Xhaka is a fantastic long-range passer and for making connections, but he is lazy in his defensive tasks. Aaron Ramsey is a fine attacker, but needs a player to sit back when he roves forward. Elneny is a solid 7/10 player, but is simply squad-filler.

Wenger has been sitting in this ticking time-bomb for seasons, and a mixture of belief in his men and apparent beligerence has led to us all suffering the results on the pitch.

We need a midfield destroyer. We need that same destroyer to be able to offload the ball further than three yards without losing it. 

Why didn’t this get seen to? 

Instead of pushing our team on in this window, we have made a profit. Just what the team needs, a healthier bank balance. 

For the first time, we are in September as I write this and I have zero confidence in our team doing anything this season. Treading water with the occasional splash, but until the problems are seen to, we are hindered.

Our squad is strong in terms of numbers, but even the most optimistic of us could see what was needed in this window.

And yet again, we have a window closed on us whilst our faces are pressed on the glass, dribbling over the wares we were promised but are well out of our reach.

Wenger is responsible for this error, and it could cost us dearly as slipping down the ranks means a less desirable place to play for transfer targets. 

The players we have, need to repay what Wenger has given them. Hopefully, that will be enough. It has to be. 

Arsenal Win 2017 Community Shield! 

Published on The Arsenal Review.

Arsenal came from behind to defeat Chelsea on penalties and win the 2017 Community Shield.

Whilst some denounce the Community Shield as nothing more than just another friendly, there are some reasons that unfolded on the pitch to suggest Arsenal can be quietly confident this coming season. 

Arsene Wenger was unable to call on leading lights Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil, as well as Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny, so his selected eleven was a weaker one than he would have preferred. 

Alex Iwobi came into the team and Danny Welbeck was in the attacking three also. Per Mertesacker came into the team to once again haunt Chelsea, with Mohamed Elneny taking Rambo’s midfield spot.

Antonio Conte had the luxury of a nearly complete squad, with only Eden Hazard and Tiemoue Bakayoko missing. It meant Chelsea went into the game as favourites, but just like the FA Cup Final – Arsenal paid no heed to their underdog tag.

The Gunners were faster out of the blocks, with Alexandre Lacazette looking in good touch and Hector Bellerin getting forward to great effect.

It would be Lacazette who would have the best chance too, linking up well with Bellerin before curling an effort onto the post with Courtois beaten. 

Before that, Gary Cahill smashed his elbow into the nose of Per Mertesacker, forcing the German off with blood pouring from the wound. On came new boy Sead Kolasinac, and the Bosnian would make a big difference. 

Chelsea did have one opportunity, and one they claimed should have been a penalty. William went down and referee Bobby Maddely booked the Brazilian for simulation. Upon close inspection, it could have gone either way as there was contact, but Willian did make the most of it.

Half time came and went and it was Chelsea who started the better in the second half, and Victor Moses broke the deadlock.

The Nigerian, the villain of the FA Cup Final in May, chested down a header from Cahill and slotted past Cech. 

The Blues started to gain confidence, but the ten minutes of pressure after the goal they exerted came to nothing.

It would cost them dearly.

Granit Xhaka stretched Courtois with a ferocious long range strike, but Gooners had to wait until the 82nd minute for the equaliser their team deserved.

The 80th minute saw Pedro plant his studs on the Achilles of Elneny, and the Spaniard was sent off. The resultant set-piece saw Xhaka float in a tantalising ball which Sead Kolasinac met and he headed into the far corner.

There would be no extra time, so penalties were the order of the day. This would be the first fixture where the order of the takers would switch to the new ‘ABBA’ format. The reason? 60% of the sides who took the first penalty in the old format would win.

So, history was made, and Arsenal again were successful in a shootout, with Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata missing their efforts and Arsenal converting all of theirs.

The Shield was won, and again they had won a trophy with holes in their side. It was the display which pleased most of us though. Tough but swift in attack at times, Arsenal look well equipped for the coming season. 

This may or may not constitute a trophy, but it is definitely a great start. 

Welcome to Arsenal – Sead Kolasinac

Arsenal officially announced the arrival of Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac yesterday. It is the welcome early start to transfer business that Gooners have been yearning for, and it is quite excellent business by our club.

The Bosnian defender comes highly rated from Bundesliga experts, and one of them in particular – Raphael Honigstein – had this to say to the Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast about our new signing;

He is one of the better left-backs in the Bundesliga. He is very strong, very physical and very good in the air. He is one of those left-backs that can play as a centre-half.”

Heavy praise indeed when you consider the welath of talent that German football has in its ranks. Not only that, but with our propensity for injuries to blight our season, Kolasinac’s versatility could well come in handy.

So, what do we know of our new guy? Well, he will turn 24 years old this month, and he worked his way up through Schalke’s youth team before making his first team debut in 2012. He did not start at Schalke though. Kolasinac actually put down roots for his hometown club Karlsruhe FC, before going to TSG Hoffenheim and Stuttgart for short spells. He finally found his way in Gelsenkirchen, and his youth team displays soon saw him on the radar.

From there, he quickly settled into the team and 89 appearances later, we have a new left-back. Kolasinac rapidly earned international status too, but it was initially with the German youth team that he played. He decided to play for the nation of his parents – Bosnia Herzogovina – and he now has 18 appearances. 

Kolasinac is known for his physicality, and he won’t be one for shirking tackles. He is more than just a rugged defender though. His touch is impressive, and he has been often seen outwitting markers with his first touch. For a felow with a large frame, he has deceptive speed too, and his five assists were a Bundesliga best for a defender last season.

So, quite the handful. 

What is most impressive is that we have picked this player up for absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. If that isn’t good business, I don’t know what is. After grabbing the starlet Rob Holding for a meagre £2m, critics may pick up on a theme of costcutting, but why spend millions when you can grab quality for nothing?

Kolasinac’s attributes point to a player that will require very little transitional time. He will be more than primed for the rigorous physical examination, and his attacking instincts will be matched for our team’s tactics. Once he builds the necessary rapport with his new teammates, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Kolasinac looks to be the replacement for 32yr old Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard has been an excellent servant for our club, but perhaps his age may prove to be an obstacle when considering another 60plus games for next season. With interest from Bilbao in recent years, Nacho will not be short of offers.

So, we have our first signing of the summer, and Kolasinac is exactly the standard required to improve what we have. 

Excellent first step Arsenal, long may it continue.