Tag Archives: Ox

The Ox Leaving Arsenal?

Published on The Arsenal Review

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


















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


So, let us all examine his chances of success.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


That is down to the player himself.


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

Theo Walcott – The Facts

Published on Goonersphere

Amidst the maelstrom of transfer rumours, one of the particular gusts of hot air pertained to the interest of West Ham for two of our players.

Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott were the players in question, and whilst the actual story was about as truthful as a Time Magazine cover featuring Donal Trump, the reaction on social media was a fascinating look at the barometer of opinion on the attacking pair.

There was a potent mix of shouts to both keep and sell Giroud, with most looking to improve our attack with wholesale changes. There was a fair percentage who could acknowledge the Frenchman’s talents though, and his effectiveness as an alternative option from the bench.

The concensus on Theo Walcott though, was heavily in favour of letting the England man go.

Throughout last season and through to this latest link to his exit, our fanbase have not exactly been impressed with our longest serving player. When pressed, most indicated his poor control, his lack of endeavour in tracking back and his wastefulness as key reasons why he is not a player who improves us.

I disagree though, and have done for some time.

If you give me until the end of this article, I hope to at least show you why Walcott is far more than loose debris we need to shake from the rug at London Colney.

Firstly, Walcott scores goals when he plays.

The first nine games last season saw Theo score five times. with two assists. He then missed one game versus Sunderland through a slight injury, and then played the next seven, scoring three. The winger was then injured for five games, but when he did return, we all expected him to hit the ground running again. It took him another five games to hit the net.

It is his slow starts when his rhythm is disrupted that cost him dearly. With many players able to cover his position, it means there can be no adjustment periods. Every player must perform every week and any dip means a spell on the sidelines. 

This is the sole criticism that can be levelled at Walcott. He should be more than acclimatised for returning from injury, but he does take some time to wind up before he begins to hit top gear. Think of him like a car with an awful gearbox but with a fantastic top speed.

The Crystal Palace fiasco then saw him relegated to a bit part role, and no player can produce their best when they are unsure if they will get even the slightest of cameos. Sound like I’m fighting a losing battle?

Stay with me.

19 goals last season. That return is not to be sniffed at. Especially when he was utilised primarily as a wide man and he still bagged three more than his handsome striking counterpart Giroud. What cannot be underestimated is how difficult it is to maintain that elusive sharpness that all goalscorers desire when they are getting splinters in their shorts on the bench.

What about Walcott’s perceived lack of fight and tracking back then?

When placing Walcott, Alexis, The Ox and Raheem Sterling (to add some perception) into a comparison matrix for last season, some surprising numbers popped up.

Well, Theo scored more interceptions than a player famed for his desire and running – Alex Olade-Chamberlain. Walcott also outperformed Raheem Sterling in successful tackles. This is all despite playing less games than both of these players. Interceptions and tackles would not be accrued by sitting on your heels and waiting for possession to come to you. Theo has been working.

Then there is shot percentage. Theo Walcott was equal best with our top scorer Alexis with 58% of all of his shots being on target. As for being wasteful, his percentage of take-ons falls just below The Ox and far above Sterling. His passing percentage is also higher than Alexis’s too.

So, Theo isn’t quite the waste of space people would have you believe. this is not to say the winger is infallible. Far from it, he is still one of the most likely to induce screaming and blood from your eyes through sheer rage. His passing choices are still in question, and he often goes missing.

What is now hopefully clear though, is that Theo is useful. His 19 goals should have been enough to spell that out, but he is a player we could well need next season. 

Why? He makes things happen. He may be completely ineffective for 85 minutes, but Walcott can score a goal even when he has appeared to let the game pass him by. There have been many players who do not add much to the game other than goals, but Walcott gets far more criticism than most.

He is a luxury player, but he is also the Ace in the deck that completely rips up the form guide and changes losing hands into winning ones. Theo Walcott is a far better player than most give him credit for, and we should get behind him.

If he stays fit, then he will get goals. 

Stoke Vs Arsenal Preview

The flurry of fixtures continues, and just three days after we fought past a stubborn Southampton side, we are again on our travels as we go to the Bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City.

The spirit shown in getting maximum points from the Saints was pleasing to see, but this game will need this level and more if we are to get the win we need to keep our top4 hopes alive. This venue is not a happy hunting ground for Arsenal – we have not won there since 2010 and the last six games have been winless at the home of the Potters. 

This is an abysmal record, and Arsene Wenger must look to end this if he is to continue to exert pressure on Manchester City and Liverpool. It isn’t just Stoke that have got a great record against the Gunners, as Mark Hughes is unbeaten in the last eight home league games.

It seems that this game is destined for dropped points, but let’s not abandon hope yet. Laurent Koscielny will again be tested before the game for fitness, but a few days rest will have done him the world of good. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went off injured in our win against Southampton, but he should come back into the team. This is a huge boost as The Ox has been quite excellent in his new position. 

Alexis was back to his best midweek with a goal and a hand in the second, and the Chilean will have a hard game trying to get anything out of Stoke’s defence. He will have to be at his best. Mesut Ozil was another who seemed to be finding some form too, and both must deliver yet again. 

Stoke are a different team compared to the Tony Pulis-inspired eleven which bullied us off pitches in the past, but they are still more than formidable at home. Mark Hughes may go for the lesser-spotted Saido Berahino in attack, but he will be looking for a win which could seal a top8 finish. 

His team are not in the best form though, with only one win in their last nine matches. This just increases the odds of ‘one of those games’ for Gooners, where the opposition keeper summons the spirit of Lev Yashin and repels at least 39 shots, and the only goal is past our own keeper via a horrendous foul. We are all familiar with these games, but if it does occur, we need to rol our sleeves up, as there can be no dropped points.

A player we must watch out for is Peter Crouch. The lanky striker is one who has haunted us prolifically over the years, and his height will mean our defence will be stretched aerially. Mustafi, Holding, Koscielny and whomever makes up our proposed back 3 must track his movements in the box and Ramsey and Xhaka must cut out the supply. 

Even after this game, we then have another midweek game against a Sunderland side free from pressure, and then ending our season with a game against Everton. All must be won. First though, let’s take the points from Stoke for once.

Predicted lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Predicted Score – 2-1 Arsenal

The Ox at Wing-Back

Published on Goonersphere. ​

New ideas bring new viewpoints. Standing in a different position gives a completely different look on proceedings, and this may just have happened in recent weeks for Arsenal – and certainly for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


The stagnation of Arsenal looked to have taken root. Four consecutive away losses, of which we conceded three goals each time. A royal hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich. Falling away in the Premier League. The rot appeared to have gone all the way through the squad and there was no fight evident, there was no resistance. Only a meek surrender akin to an injured gazelle, too exhausted to keep running from the chasing predators. We were easy prey, rivals and smaller clubs taking advantage of an apparently stricken beast.

Arsene Wenger looked to be devoid of ideas, arms wide and raised in a desperate signal to the gods. His tried and trusted tactics were no longer up to scratch, they were in fact dragging the team down. The players also looked unable to find the extra gears they required to simply avoid defeat.

Wenger picked up the dice and threw. He opted to change formation and go with three central defenders at the back for the first time since 1997. On that occasion, we had Steve Bould, Tony Adams and Martin Keown in the team. Three of the hardest, most disciplined and organised defenders the Premier League has ever seen. This time though, we had Laurent Koscielny marshalling the errant Gabriel and the inexperienced Rob Holding.

The formation may have been branded as wholly new by all and sundry, but the only difference was it gave our fullbacks a bit more license to roam forward.

It also gave Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a bit more responsibility – and he has taken it and run with it.















In the games it has been employed, we have looked more alive than in recent months and The Ox has been instrumental.

We were all aware of his attacking threat and his intent with the ball. We were also aware of his tendency to lose the ball as he takes on players. This season has seen a wiser Ox though, and his utilisation at central midfield earlier in the season saw him in a far more efficient light than in previous seasons.

It is his work in a wing-back role in this 3-5-2 that has been revolutionary though. Who knew that The Ox could double-task? He has been asked to patrol the right side of the pitch – both in defence and attack, and he has done so with zeal and merit.

He has changed games in attack as he searches for the early ball or to torment his opposing fullback. The Ox has enhanced his dribbling and he has lessened the wastefulness that has blighted his time an a Gunners shirt. He has improved his final ball and has made sure he has lifted his head up rather than ploughing on into blind corners. He has made the difference.

It is in defence though that he has proved his worth. He has been quite excellent in covering the defensive part of the field, he has helped out Gabriel in that part of the pitch in a massive way.

The Brazilian has come on leaps and bounds with the security offered by Chamberlain. The Ox’s reservoirs of stamina means he has been up and down his flank like a clock pendulum on meth amphetamine.

If this formation sticks and we adopt it, then The Ox will be as vital a player as any other on the field. His adaptability has seen him rise to the fore and this in turn may just get him the improved contract he desires – and now warrants.

Arsenal Vs Leicester City – Match Preview

For the first time in a while, we are looking to a Premier League fixture with a dash of optimism. 

Our win over Manchester City in the FA Cup showed guts and character – traits we have been painfully short of – and hopefully it sparks a run of positive results that we so desperately need.

It isn’t just confidence that we will take from our Semi-Final win – tired legs will be an issue as well as the players left everything out on the field at Wembley. Rotation may come into the equation so players who have been on the sidelines may figure against a resurgent Leicester City side. 

There was no fresh injuries incurred in the weekend, but Santi Cazorla, Lucas Perez and David Ospina are again out. What is of interest is the players who may come into the side. Danny Welbeck was originally thought to be out of the game against City, but was fit enough to make the bench. With Olivier Giroud registering a blank in his last game, could Welbeck again return to lead the attack? His pace could be key against a Foxes defence who will be without captain Wes Morgan. 

Alexis is pretty much undroppable at present, as is Mesut Ozil, and both were industrious and key against City. One player who has really enjoyed some form of late is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and his excellent grasp of our new formation has seen The Ox rise to prominence. His deliveries, his running at the defence, has been chief among reasons why we have won our last two games. 

Theo Walcott has missed out in those two games, despite his excellent run of goals. The speedy attacker may just come back into the side in order to keep legs as fresh as possible, and with our next game being the North London Derby, eyes may drift toward the weekend rather than this game. 

Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi may all feature in this game as it is the least demanding when compared to the next two – which is tottenham and Man United. Objectively, should our peak-fitness footballers be able to hack these fixtures in such a small space of time?

Shkodran Mustafi is one who looks to be out for the game, and with our switch to 3-5-2 coinciding with his time out of the team, will the German find a passage back into the team as easy as before? Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding have taken to the tactical switch like ducks to water, and with the formation still new, a change in lineup at the back may be detrimental to performance.

One thing is for sure, the game won’t be easy. The Foxes have been in imperious form, and Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his touch in front of goal as well. We failed to beat them in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, and now they have found their form again, a real test to grab all three points is on the cards.

With the negativity of recent months just a bad result away and our European hopes resting on every ninety minutes, it will be the true characters who come to the rescue in every game. We need every one of them to stand up and be counted. 

One thing to note, Leicester have not won in their last four games in all competitions and their record against us is pretty awful – one win in the EPL in 21 attempts. Then again, so was Palace’s record against us and look how much that counted for. 

A win here would be the first time in over three months we win back to back PL games. That is something that needs to be rectified immediately.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0

Arsenal Vs West Ham United – Match Preview

Sunday’s draw against Top4 rivals Manchester City was a distinct improvement on the last couple of months in terms of result and performance. 

It still was not good enough to improve our chances of reaching the Champions League places though.

With Liverpool winning as well as our North London neighbours, the gap has been stretched again. The mission is clear for our team with ten games remaining – avoid loss and pick up the majority of points available. 

This of course will be easier said than done. With a fixture list that contains trips to White Hart Lane and matches against Manchester United and Everton still to come, a winning run of form is mandatory but ever so difficult.

It was made that little bit tougher when club captain Laurent Koscielny limped off in our game versus City. It was an achilles injury that claimed Koscielny, and it looks like he will miss out for this game against West Ham. His long term outlook is looking bleak for the rest of the season as well.

Our midfield against City consisted of Coquelin and Xhaka, but Aaron Ramsey may return to the side, and a popular choice would be to come in instead of Coquelin. The Welshman is more dynamic on the ball and his budding partnership with Xhaka was showing signs of promise. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also in the reckoning, and the England international has been in good form in the centre this season. A Rambo and Ox midfield could be the key to this match. 

A key development is David Ospinapicking up an injury. Coupled with Petr Cech already being crocked, it means 24yr old Emiliano Martinez getting a first PL start since 2014 – and a real chance to elevate his chances next season. 

One change that could happen is Danny Welbeck being replaced in the striker position. A rotation is well within the bounds of possibility, and that leaves a straight fight between Alexis and Giroud. Giroud has a good record against the Hammers, but Alexis edges it, with four goals and one assist in the last two games he’s played against them.

Arsenal have a great record against their opponents. One loss in the last 17 games means the Gunners will be favourites, but that one loss was in the corresponding fixture last season. With Andy Carroll proving to be a regular thorn in Arsenal’s side, Giroud’s defensive efforts may be better suited to this game.

Slaven Bilic seems to be unable to secure the backing of the West Ham board despite his favourable standing with the Hammers faithful, but the return of Diafre Sakho will boost his hopes of a result. Andy Carroll will no doubt start the game, but Sakho off the bench is an ace up Bilic’s sleeve. 

The fight showed against City was a welcome change, and this will be vital to securing points here. West Ham have dropped 20 points from winning positions this season, more than anyone else, so if we go a goal down, a fighting stance could well reap rewards.

With City taking on Chelsea, three points here could ensure we at least stay on the coattails of one of our rivals. Win or bust.

Predicted Lineup; Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Theo, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal. 

The Ox Looking for New Pastures?

Originally published on Arsenal Mania

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been at Arsenal now for over six years. In that time, the man known as ‘The Ox’ by fans, has accrued 122 appearances in the Premiership.

He has also earned international recognition during his time at the club. From the raw but exciting winger the Gunners purchased all those seasons ago, The Ox has firmly established himself and has been reaping the rewards of a higher echelon player.


Oxlade-Chamberlain has also suffered a raft of injuries in his time at The Emirates, disrupting his progress and hampering his opportunities in the first team. Looking back at his career sees a series of peaks and troughs, where he injures himself, has a lengthy layoff and then has sporadic gametime in an effort to reestablish himself on Arsene Wenger’s plans.


That is not to say the versatile midfielder hasn’t been given adequate chances however. There have been ample opportunities dished out to the England man, but until this season, The Ox had a severe case of butterfingers, as chance after chance fell through his grasp thanks to his weaknesses on the field.


Poor decision making, a tendency to hold the ball for too long, gifting possession to the opposition repeatedly. The Ox has been exciting to watch, but careless. It is his ability to successfully take on his markers though, that has affirmed his status as a fan favourite amongst a large percentage of Gooners. His fearlessness, especially when the chips are down, means he raises bums from seats. He raises the emotional level of the fans in the stands when he is on the ball.


Although the source is unconfirmed, there has been smoke billowing around the player’s future. Stories of The Ox looking to pastures new where so plentiful recently, that it was presented to Arsene Wenger in a recent Press conference. Of course Wenger reaffirmed his wish for the Ox to stay, and with so much faith and time invested in the young man, this is certainly no surprise to hear.


The whole thing smacks of the dark arts engineered by an agent keen to up his client’s market value so a new contract will be as juicy and lucrative as possible. A wanted commodity is always a more valuable commodity after all. If some transfer furore can be whipped up and Arsenal can be reminded of what they could lose, then they will be keener to tie up The Ox to a long-term deal.


If there is substance to the story though, then The Ox is showing his true colours.


Much like Robin Van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered many injuries, and has also received a ludicrous amount of faith placed in them by a manager who chooses to see the promise in a player above their flaws. Wenger believed they would come good and he resisted all overtures to drop them from the team when fit.


Now, if the rumours are to be believed, The Ox is looking to betray that faith by leaving the club, after finally fulfilling that promise he has always failed to deliver. This campaign has seen The Ox rise to the fore in a central role, getting the all-important numbers in the goals and assists column and showing everyone just what he can do.


Wenger always knew this was the player he signed, but if The Ox wants to go, then he should be allowed to. We cannot want a player who is willing to sever ties with our club so easily. Apparently he believes that he has been taken for granted. All this sounds like is a player who has been given much and is not willing to return the favour with loyalty.


We shan’t miss him. We have had far better than him and coped just fine. More than likely, The Ox is just angling for an extension, but if there is the slightest hint of truth, then we should leave the gate open for The Ox to depart from his comfortable pen.


I am more than sure he will find that wherever he goes, he won’t find circumstances so forgiving anywhere else. 

Chelsea Vs Arsenal – The Warm-Up

With the disappointing – and quite frankly anger-inducing – loss to Watford, this game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea could not carry any more weight.

It is feasible to suggest that if the Gunners fail to win this game and it is lights out for this season’s title challenge – in February.

Arsene Wenger will again be missing from the touchline, and he takes a security team with him as he will be sitting in the away section of Chelsea’s home. This game is the third of four games he must be absent from the dugout, and how his team will fare without him in the heat of the enemy’s support is up for debate.

Arsenal will have to do without a host of central midfield options for this game. Granit Xhaka is suspended, Mohamed Elneny is still wth his country competing in the AFCON, Santi Cazorla is no nearer to making a comeback from his injury woes – and now Aaron Ramsey is out for this game after straining his calf. The Welshman is expected to be out for three weeks, so his replacement is thought to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox himself had a fitness test, but is expected to make the team.

Besides, who else can do it? Francis Coquelin is the only available recognised central midfielder, so a central partnership of The Ox and Coquelin will be taking to the pitch at Stamford Bridge. Ainslie Maitland-Niles played well last weekend against Southampton, but the opposition is a level up from what he has previously faced. 

Who else will be missing? Olivier Giroud is another Gunner to have faced a fitness test, but Danny Welbeck will be available, as will Theo Walcott. So who plays in our attack? Welbeck and Walcott are very much in form, and their pace and movement will be a nightmare for David Luiz and co. So will Wenger stick with what he knows and include Giroud again? The Frenchman has proved his worth time and again, but what he brings to the table is very much what Chelsea’s defence are extremely adept at dealing with.that sort of battle.

Could they stymie a combined attack of Walcott, Welbeck and Alexis? 

It will also bring the best out of Mesut Ozil, who has been sub-par of late. The German is the best player to spot the abundant runs of the trio above, but it is Wenger’s call. Does he opt for the cut and thrust of the Arsenal of old? Do we finally take the handbrake off? It has seldom been taken off recently.

Elsewhere in the side, Petr Cech returns to the location where he was a huge success. The big Czech criticised his teammates this week regarding their mentality, and the goalkeeper certainly recognises a winning outlook when he sees it. He will be between the sticks for the game, and the recognised Arsenal back four of Bellerin,. Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal are all ready and raring to go.Mustafi was nursing a knock midweek, but should make the game.

The defence will be well versed with the chief threat in the Chelsea camp. Diego Costa has made his presence felt in more ways than goals in previous encounters. Koscielny won the battle in the last fixture between the two – can he do so again?

We have a poor recent record at Stamford Bridge, and with literally our Premier League campaign on the line – it is high time we rectified the situation.

Time for this squad to show what they are made of. 

Predicted Lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Precited Scoreline – 2-0 to Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Watford – The Warm-Up

The last week has been dominated by FA Cup matters, but today sees a return to the bread and butter of our season, as Watford visit The Emirates in our next Premier League match tonight.

Our last match was a satisfying one to say the least. An emphatic 5-0 scoreline, a return to fitness and form for two of our foremost attackers and the defeat of a team who had developed the knack for dumping us out of competitions meant that it was smiles all round – even for the absent Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners gaffer will again be missing from the dugout as this is his second match of four that he will miss through his four match touchline ban. His absence didn’t seem to affect his players though, even though Wenger will have done all of the preparation for the game before kickoff. 

Wenger will have been given some headaches after the 5-0 FA Cup win, as he will have some big shouts from some of his players to start this game. 

Theo Walcott returned to the side in style with a treble, and we have played our best football with the England man in the team. Will two games in four days be too much for his calf? This workload will probably mean the other hero from the weekend – Danny Welbeck – will be rested. 

Mohamed Elneny’s Egypt have continued their AFCON adventure, so it means Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey are the only recognised central midfielders in stock -if you discount who comprised our engine room against Southampton.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ainslie Maitland-Niles were ever so effective together, but more than likely they will both be out of the side for the aforementioned midfielders. Lucas Perez was also in excellent form, but Olivier Giroud and Alexis will likely return to the team, as well as Mesut Ozil.

Laurent Koscielny was rested for the weekend, with a view to this crucial Premier League double header with Watford and Chelsea. Petr Cech will also come back into the team, and he will be facing his former side on Saturday. A return to his previous form would be a plus.

Watford are falling quickly down the table, and Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri has dumped some sandbags to lighten the load. Odion Ighallo has been sold for the ludicrous amount of £20m, and Adlene Guedioura is off to Hull City. They did bolster their side though, with a loan move for AC Milan attacker M’Baye Niang and Mauro Zarate who has had spells at Birmingham City and West Ham.

Watford are a real test, and we have seen the devastating effects that taking our foot off the pedal can incur. We cannot take this lightly with one eye on the Chelsea fixture. Dropped points here and the game at Stamford Bridge will matter little. Chelsea play Liverpool in midweek, and this carries a real possibility of dropped points for the League leaders. It is imperative we can close the gap if the chance arises. 

Arsenal are in deceptively good form though. We haven’t conceded from open play in seven home games, and Watford have not won in seven games home or away. This means on paper that this should be a home banker.

The problem is, we are Arsenal fans and that means we all know there are no such things. 

If we play well, then we should go into Saturday’s crunch match full of confidence. 

Predicted Lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline: 3-0 to Arsenal. 

Everton 2-1 Arsenal – 5 Keypoints From The Game

Everton ended their recent woeful run with a tight 2-1 victory over Arsenal, as Chelsea and the rest of the Gunners title rivals looked on with undoubted glee.

Toffees boss Ronald Koeman has never lost to Arsenal at home with any of the sides he has managed, and he kept up this record with a win earned by way of Ashley Williams first for his new club in the 86th minute.

Arsenal meanwhile, see their run without loss ended with this lacklustre result, which was devoid of any of the spark which has been the signature of their last three games.

Too many of our stars had a rare off day for this game, with Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott in particular shackled well, but the Gunners did take the lead through Alexis and a devilishly deflected free-kick which fooled Marten Stekelenburg.

Everton though managed to level the game at a crucial time which probably changed the game, as Seamus Coleman stole in to head in Leighton Baines cross in the 44th minute.

The second half was a largely frustrating affair, with play being stilted thanks to unforced errors in passing, and not just from the home side who were low on confidence. Arsenal’s midfield were working hard but they could not inject the side with impetus as possession was regularly gifted to Everton.

In the end, Arsenal got what they were asking for, as Ashley Williams capitalised on some poor zonal marking to grab the winner, leaving minutes for the Gunners to salvage something.

Second half sub Olivier Giroud nearly performed heroics, but his effort was blocked on the goal line, and it meant that Everton maintain their unbeaten home record, Arsenal lose ground in the league, and confidence will be dented with our next fixrure at The Etihad carrying more pressure than ever.

There were a lot of talking points in the game, but here are five that seem the most pertinent:



We let Everton back in

The first 20 or so minutes, Everton were as bad as their run suggested. They were ripe for plucking, but we seemed reluctant to press them into errors. Instead, we slowly loosened our grip and it seemed as if we invited them to attack. They were still awful, but we tried to match them for mistakes. Our midfield misplaced SO many passes. If we had cut out at least 40-50% of our misdirected passes, we would have had at least a point.



Where was the rest of the injury time?

Leighton Baines, Stekelenburg and Olviier Giroud all had to recieve treatment, and injury time should have been racked up. Instead, we got the regulation four minutes. What about the lengthy stoppages? Did Clattenburg forget to put on his casio digital and had to use his Transformers talking watch instead? In injury time we almost scored, what could we have done with the extra three minutes we should have had?



Defence is better, but it needs to improve
















We have a world class keeper in Cech, and Mustafi has indeed boosted our backline, but no clean sheets in eleven games tells its own story. Whether it be zonal marking or simply a lack of concentration, it needs to improve if we are to truly break our duck this season.



It was a matter of time, but the manner was disappointing

With our run, it had to end at some point. The manner in which we allowed it to happen is very frustrating though. We loaded the gun and gave it to Everton. We did not click and our opponent was punch drunk for the first part of the game! Ruthlessness would have seen the points bagged.




We must not let negativity take over 

We have lost, and the performance was wanting, but we are still in contention and our record is still impressive. While we hope this doesn’t snowball and we bounce back against City, we should have full confidence they will as their performances on the pitch have earned our trust. We have been burned so many times, but let’s try to be optimistic even if the ninety minutes we just watched felt rather downcast.
There was a lot more to write about, such as Monreal being exposed again, and our widemen really flattering to deceive, but I really don’t fancy going into any more detail about a game that will be consigned to the recycling bin of most of our minds. Like a dog turd in long grass, the lawnmower in our brain will quickly dispatch the offending article and leave no trace.