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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

West Brom Vs Arsenal Match Preview

The last few weeks have seen protests, mounting pressure and a fog of mystery surrounding our key players and manager. This return to Premeirship action at least could offer Gooner some respite from the constant stories, rumours and furore. 

Manager Arsene Wenger can at least reflect on a victory last week rather than a loss, and last weekend’s FA Cup victory over non-league Lincoln City has given Arsenal some optimism as they can now look forward to a trip to Wembley and a real chance for silverware.

We currently sit in fifth spot  in the league, with five points separating us from Liverpool in 4th spot. Although we have two games in hand over the Reds, those two games must be won to enable us to stay with the chasing pack. 

All provided that the Gunners defeat West Brom.

This won’t be an easy. Tony Pulis has taken the Baggies to 7th place in the table. They may have lsot their last two games, but West Brom will be rigid, organised and a threat. 

Not to mention the corresponding fixture, where we eked out a scrappy 1-0 win, thanks to ill-suited tactics. Opting for Olivier Giroud against aerially adept defenders who are petrified of pace and movement was the main reason why we struggled to break the Baggies down. 

Arsenal will have few injury worries. Mohamed Elneny has returned from his ankle injury and could be involved in the squad, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs will have fitness tests before the game to judge whether they can take part.

Aside from this, Arsene Wenger can afford to rotate his team, but with their last game a week ago, every player should be fit and raring to go. This means a return to fitness for Mesut Ozil after a bout of sickness which has ruled him out or restricted to cameo rules for the last few weeks. 

Tony Pulis is sweating on the fitness of one of his brightest lights this season. Winger Matty Phillips looks to be out of the game with a hamstring injury, but striker Salomon Rondon will be ready to give our back four a rigorous examination. 

The Gunners have lost three of their last four Premiership games, and are in real danger of losing ground on those coveted spots in the top four.

West Brom could well decide much for Arsenal, and for our manager’s future. If the win is not achieved, then the already huge pressure could become obstructive. 

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

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal 

Arsenal Vs West Brom – The Warm Up

It’s Christmas Eve, but despite the festivities elsewhere, there are precious few who are full of good cheer as Gooners.

Two consecutive defeats have happened before in our past, but few of our losses have been so surrendered so voluntarily as when we lost to Everton and Manchester City.

It has left many who follow our club wondering if the positive start we had made in the season was another false dawn, and that the same frailties that have blighted our seasons gone by still course throughout our team.

One of the few things to raise optimism is that with the defeats coming in the thick of the fixture congestion, we have an opportunity to remedy the losing run in quick fashion. 

Next up is West Bromwich Albion.

Our two losses have coincided with the loss to injury of Shkodran Mustafi, who will again be out of the team. Gabriel is again expected to deputise. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out with a hamstring injury, but Aaron Ramsey has recovered from a similiar ailment and is in full training. It may come too soon for the Welshman, but a spot on the bench is not beyond his hopes. 

Danny Welbeck is another who has returned to training, and what the England striker brings to the team cannot be underestimated. This game will not be within his sights, but a first team recall is nearing after not playing since April. With The Ox out and Welbeck still nearing a return, it should mean that Alex Iwobi has another chance to return to a semblance of form, and the same goes for Mesut Ozil.

The German has been firing this season, but a player of his talent was strangely anonymous in our last two games – both of them we lost. A player such as he has been through critical moments before and will return to his best, but it is not unfair to expect a little more from a man who is capable of destroying a whole team with one pass or movement. He has had a great season so far, but all eyes will be in him to see if he rises above the critics as he has done before.

The opponent could have been easier, as any team managed by Tony Pulis will test the fibres of their opponents, and the Baggies are a threat at both ends of the pitch.

West Brom have a reputation of a rock solid defence, but have only one clean sheet in their last fourteen. They will be helped by the return of Jonny Evans however, although James Morrison looks to be out. Salomon Rondon will carry the weight of goal expectation for the away side, and aerially, he will run the rule over Gabriel to see if he has the mettle to survive in the Premiership. If he dominates, then Rondon could very well see the long term prospects of the Brazilian at Arsenal hampered.

Arsenal also have a problem keeping clean sheets, and Petr Cech hasn’t managed one in his last eight – his worst run in his career. If the Gunners manage to keep out the Baggies, it will be a well deserved end to that run of leakiness. 

Let us not forget last season when Cazorla missed a last minute penalty to earn a paltry point – West Brom will ensure we put in everything to win. 

West Brom in their defeat to United last week really tested Mourinho’s team, and were ridiculously well drilled. It was only down to an Ibrahimovic moment of brilliance, and a deflected shot that Pulis’s men were undone. They will rock up to The Emirates with a gameplan, and the perfect way to undo this would be an early goal.

An early goal would also dispel any negativity in the stands, so Arsene Wenger must instruct his team to go full throttle from the off. That is when we see the best of our side, so hopefully a win and an entertaining show are in store. 

Chelsea are nine points clear, and Liverpool and City have overtaken us. Not only this, tottenham are but one point behind. Three points or bust.

I will be at the game, and an in-depth review will follow the game. It would be much easier to write about a win….

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal

Predicted Team – Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis

Man City 2-1 Arsenal: 5 Key Points 

The cliche ‘ it’s a game of two halves’ was made for this game, as we followed the description to the letter.

The problem is, it was the same description as our previous match – the midweek loss to Everton by the same score.

The first half of both matches was positive, especially versus City. Our front press divided their backline to great effect, but yet again we failed to maximise our superiority. We should have gone in to the break in both games with a two goal advantage.

Then, the second half showed the other side of Arsenal still exists; the side that is still the undoing of them. We failed to adapt to the changes movement of Sane and De Bruyne, and within two minutes of the restart, they were level. 

Our second half showing was so dire we went from being so dominant to not having a shot in anger. Our press was rudderless and Pep’s side were utterly rampant.

On these two showings, we still have some work to do before even thinking we can catch Chelsea. 
Here are 5 pointers as to where it fell apart:
Dropping too deep

Our press in the first half didn’t give Kolarov, otamendi and co any time to build, and we harried them into mistakes. The second forty-five was the exact contrast. They passed around us and the urgency from our play had gone. We also only started to close down when they entered our final third. It was to our cost. 
Fitness an issue? 

The second half was the culprit for this second loss, just as it was against Everton. The abject running, no dynamism, it appeared as if the majority of our players were running on empty. Are they tired? They are going through a fixture list just as congested as the other CL competing teams, why do we look so jaded?
Sanchez can’t do it on his own

Alexis once again showed his superhuman stamina, and he implored his team mates to follow suit time and time again. He was the spark for the goal, and about ninety percent of our goalshave involved the Chilean. It is high time someone else at least lightened the load a little. Theo and Mesut have good figures, but during the whole game, we need more.
We are giving it away

Both losses, the opponent have been on the chopping block, waiting for the blade to come down. We have had them in our grasp and it is only our weakening grip which has allowed them the wriggle room they need. What about when we face a team that is actually in form?
Cech is off the boil

No clean sheet now in eight games for Petr, the longest run he’s suffered in his career. He may not have been at fault for the first, but he was beaten at his near post by Sterling, which he should’ve kept out. He still pulls out saves that keep us in the game, but that consistent barrier which has been the bane of so many teams is flickering. He’ll get it back. 
There was more to point out from the game of course; Gabriel is doing a half-decent job but he is no Mustafi, Xhaka and Coquelin are working hard but they must try harder to link play, and Iwobi looked bright but must try to avoid switching off when it’s time to track back. 

We need to forget about Chelsea for now. We must forge a gap again between us and tottenham, City and Liverpool. We have to concentrate on closing out games.

We MUST win our next game. 

Next up – West Brom at home.

Arsenal 3-1 Stoke: 5 Key Points From The Match

Forget about our recent thumpings of West Ham and Basel; if Arsenal fans are looking for real reasons for optimism – THIS win showed that the Gunners are up for the fight.

A goal down and an injury to one of our starting defenders put us in an awkward position, but we pushed on to grab victory. 

Goals from Theo Walcott, Mesut Özil and Alex Iwobi saw Arsenal come back from a goal behind to emphatically grab all 3 points – and go top of the Premier League in the process.

The match began well, with the home side bossing possession, and Stoke looking to utilise Arnautovic and Shaqiri on the break. The Gunners were edging the game and going through the gears, before Shkodran Mustafi went down with a suspected hamstring injury.

Only just declared fit, Hector Bellerin came on and replaced Gabriel on the right of defence, who took the spot vacated by Mustafi. Three minutes later, Stoke were ahead.

Against the run of play, Stoke were gifted a penalty, as Joe Allen ghosted into the box ahead of Xhaka, who was set to clear. Allen was brought down, and Charlie Adam converted from the spot.

Arsenal were behind, and had only been behind for 73 minutes this season in total. This was proving to be a crunch match, a decisive moment. 

Bellerin made an instant difference, and it was his first time ball into the box which saw a vibrant Theo finish well and equalise. It was Walcott’s 100th goal for Arsenal, and his 50th at The Emirates.

The second half saw the Gunners bring extra gunpowder. The Ox and Theo in particular, were terrorising Stoke’s backline, and they had the Potters stricken in their own last third. 

It took only three minutes for Wenger’s side to convert their dominance into the lead, and it was a thing of beauty.

The Ox had the ball in the centre of Stoke’s half and picked out Özil who had made a run into the box. He then proceeded to lob the ball over Lee Grant, the away keeper, with his head and the ball sailed over the timewasting keeper and into his goal.

It wasn’t over though. Arsenal were playing well and toying with Stoke, who did have a few chances but Cech was equal to them.

Alex Iwobi tied up the points, as referee played advantage with Sanchez being fouled. Iwobi had continued his run and a low finish across Grant made it 3-1.

The game had ample chances and lots of incident, so here are the 5 key points from the 90 minutes;

Bellerin Changed the game

Before the young Spaniard was introduced, Arsenal were having the better of the game. Upon his arrival, he found his team a goal down instantly, but Bellerin showed no signs of rust after his layoff. His constant availability and running was a nightmare to track and it was his ball that brought about our equaliser. Gabriel has been solid, but my, how we’ve missed Bellerin’s fizz.

Özil operates on a different stratosphere

The special players of this world are capable of magic, and Özil’s header was certainly that. Not many players would have opted for his lobbed heads finish, as it was technically difficult, but Mesut made it look like child’s play. Time seemed to stand still, but it certainly wasn’t and he had milliseconds to first decide, and then implement, his plan. Wonderful.

A tip of the hat to the referee.

The match officials get a crapload of stick, so when they make a correct decision that the majority of their colleagues would fail on, it is important to commend them. Lee Mason saw the obvious foul on Alexis as he was looking to get into the box, but had enough savvy to see Iwobi could pick up the pieces of the attack. Fair play.

Stoke may be prettier, but they’re still the kings of Gamesmanship

They may not play constant 80yrd passes, but the fact that Stoke were persistently wasting time – in the first half – tells you all you need to know about their game plan. Arsenal heads kept cool though, which is another plus.

Top of the league – for 24 hours at least

We have been in promising positions before, but regardless, we sit top of the Premier League until Chelsea play later. We have also banged in more goals than any side, and our current league run is the best we’ve enjoyed for six years. If we can’t enjoy being a Gooner now, then when can we?

There was a lot more to write about as well.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is showing consistency and lowering his rate of error, and he was excellent in this game. Coquelin kept it simple, and Xhaka was the bridge between defence and attack. We coped ever so well with whatever Stoke threw at us and we looked like we could break them open at will.
Oh yes, I also called the correct score line in my match preview. You may call me your oracle now. 

Next up is a trip to Goodison Park on Tuesday. On this form, we will be a real test for anyone. 


Crunch Time Coming Up for Arsenal against Leicester City.

A look at this weekends massive match between two of the leading contenders for the title.

At the start of the season, many would not have believed that Arsenal’s home clash against Leicester City next weekend would have so much riding on it. Leicester are flying high at the top of the league but the Gunners remain hot on their heels after a much-needed win over Bournemouth.


Arsenal Members’ Day 2015” (CC BY 2.0) by  joshjdss

Continue reading Crunch Time Coming Up for Arsenal against Leicester City.