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Arsenal: A long week over and the race run …..

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Good morning Positive people,

I am the wrong man to provide any form of detailed match review today. “Not much difference this week then” I hear some of you say, but this week   I did not seen the game live or on stream, but listed to it on the radio and followed it on Twitter. God it was hard work. I did later supplement the audio experience with the highlights on Sky and on MotD so I saw most of the good bits. And of the bad bits ? Well I heard the howls of rage and frustration via the radio. As for the main target of the ire, in the ground and on the internet,  referee Tierney can never, ever have been described so frequently by the same digital descriptors in so short a period in his life.

Of my impressions of the match itself ? We came into the game physically tired and it showed.Part of that fatigue was down  to injuries and that we had no Ramsey and Ozil and the same layers had to turn out again for another hard working performance against game opponents.  I can see, I think, why UE started with Laca and PEA up front. His  aim was  breaking the Terriers open early and being a goal or two ahead after which, after half time, we could control the game and ease off. We had a comfortable win against them last year and they have let in a lot of goals away from home. I could see his logic. Unfortunately when that opener did not come there was no opportunity to lower the team’s gear and I thought we were forced to work as hard against the Yorkshiremen as we had in either of our previous two contests against loftier opponents.

Despite that frustration however we did keep our concentration. Our energy did not wane.  With 80%+ possession we pressed until, finally, the visitors cracked and our Uruguayan dynamo flew through the air. It was a very good goal, the ball from Matteo, the take down and control of Auba and, most spectacular of all, the scissors kick from Lucas.

The second positive in the game, which proved as decisive as Torreira’s winner, was the success the defence had in stopping Huddersfield scoring. It was as long ago as September since we had last had a “0” in the Premier League.

Man of the Match award for the game though ? For his constant energy yesterday and on Wednesday step forward and hold out your hand Matteo Guendouzi.

Of our opponents read and heard a lot of abuse about their approach to the game but what I saw they defended well, albeit stretching the rules to the limit.  12 months of PL football has made Wagner less starry-eyed I suspect. They will be disappointed that they did not have another 12 minutes in them to cling on. As last year though I fancy they will survive.

So a decent interval until Southampton and every prospect of taking advantage of the chaos at St Mary’s, a tricky ground  in recent years. In the interim Qarabag, and you will be pleased to hear I am in the Clock End for that one. I shall spare no gory detail.

Enjoy sunday.

102 Comments

Arsenal Must Be Ready To Go Again.

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Good day one and all…

As festive fixtures continue to pile up Arsenal will be hosting their Premier League cousins Huddersfield Town at the Emirates this afternoon.

Following the last inter-break we had to navigate our way through some tricky fixtures, but with a more favourable run of six fixtures, bar Liverpool on the 29th, till New Years Day against teams at the bottom half of the PL table one feels we have a good chance to cash in – starting with the Terriers.

These two teams couldn’t have more contrasting fortunes; while Unai Emery’s side are looking to maintain their strong position in the race for top-four and bettered by only Manchester City on the goal-scoring charts, David Wagner’s Terriers look toothless having scored the least number of goals and their only hope is to be spared falling through the relegation trapdoor.

We had little trouble dispatching them 5-0 in this fixture last season and it doesn’t look like they have improved much since. They are amongst the league’s worst travellers having failed to win 17 of their last 19 and conceded 16 goals in their last 7 away games.

With the hosts in good goal scoring nick one can’t help but feel the visitors may be in for a long afternoon, which of course wouldn’t cause them much concern. With injury concerns and their next two fixtures at home to Newcastle and Southampton… it would be a matter of knowing which battles to fight. Who want to be a Terriers supporter eh?

Rob Holding out for the rest of the season has left us a bit short at the back at the moment, which could see us going back to the more conventional back four. The extra attacking player being add may be Alexandre Lacazette as one sense Unai want him and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to build a partnership upfront as they are both key to our season. Auba of course is the PL’s leading goalscorer and the French striker has been impressive off the bench recently. With Granit Xhaka back from suspension to continue building on an already imposing partnership with Lucas Torreira in central midfield, Arsenal wouldn’t be short of quality.

With the Terriers’ lack of attacking impetus its really hard seeing them coming to the Emirates to outscore a free scoring Gunners side, so this may turn out to be a straightforward game for the hosts.

@LaboGoon

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Poor Performance, Decent Result.

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A late injury to Andy Nic brings me into the fray.

I have to be honest, it was a disappointing game. Disappointing that we didn’t win and disappointing performance quality wise. But it was far from a disappointing effort put in and 20 games unbeaten is enough to keep us all happy.

I thought Iwobi and Guendouzi were poor in the opening period, although Guendouzi came into it better in the second period.

I felt when Mustafi scored we had gotten, all be it slightly, the upper hand. Sadly, within about 3 minutes we were pegged back. I saw some people blaming Leno, but I thought he did well pushing it out to the touchline, however some real lack of effort from some of our lads led to be ball being allowed to get into the middle of the box for Martial to have an easy finish.

By half time we had lost Holding and Ramsey to injury, but I don’t think we suffered much as their replacements did ok.

I thought Emery once again showed his bravery by bringing Lacazette on fairly early, given we had then used all 3 substitutes. I also thought we immediately looked better. Following a bad mistake by United he and Mkhitaryan linked up to put us in the lead. Then 13 seconds of playing time latter a catalogue of errors allowed them to level the score for the second time.

In the last half hour or so I thought we had our best period. Both Amamayang and Mkhitarayan really really should have scored.

I predicted the team would struggle without the glue that is Xhaka and the guile that Ozil brings, and it proved to be the case. United were poor and we were only marginally better. But, WE DIDN’T LOSE.

We have a run of 4 very winnable PL games now and we are on the coattails of Chelsea and Spurs. We could easily be sitting in 3rd place come Christmas.

Onward and upwards.

 

 

72 Comments

Will Arsenal be United After United?

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Good day one and all.
The football season is into it’s Christmas stride as we kicked off festivities with an absolute firecracker of a game at the Emirates with a commanding victory over arch-rivals Totnum; and it’s off the back of that Arsenal hurtle along to Old Trafford in good spirits to take on Manchester United with one goal in mind… which is to maintain our position in the Premier League’s top-four.
The Red Devils won five and drew two of their last eight games, which would usually make one wonder what all the fuss is about the club at present, but closer inspection tells us that in their last five PL home games they won just two, lost one and had draws against bottom half sides Wolves and Crystal Palace. It’s that hit and miss home form, not helped much with a 2-2 draw away to league strugglers Southampton in their last game, that see them at 8th on the current log standings.
So José Mourinho will need to do something special, or at least different than relying on Fellaini, who has been delivering the goods for him, to win back the “respect” he demand from his seemingly omnipresent critics. He has been talking a lot about “mad dogs” recently and his number one cheerleader Gary Neville ever so subtly told him to set them on one Lucas Torreira. Good luck José, our little terrier doesn’t look like one to back out of a fight.
This is the third PL game in a seemingly difficult run following the last inter-break; and Unai Emery has proven himself to be no slouch when it comes to adjusting to the physical demands by clearly being the better team against both Bournemouth and Spurs. He also turned around our travelling fortunes and in our recent five away league games we recorded four wins and a draw, in which we scored a total of 14 goals. The PL leading goal-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang must be licking his chops to add to this tally to help the Gunners to their  first league win at Old Trafford in 12 seasons.
Granit Xhaka who started an amazing run of 65 back-to-back PL games miss out today through suspension, so it will be interesting to see if Aaron Ramsey gets the nod after finding himself on the fringes of first team this all season. When he came on as a HT sub this Sunday the Welshman changed the flow of the game and was instrumental in our fightback. *eyes peeled*
It’s difficult to predict how this game will pan out, with Manutd’s flaky defence I doubt José, who is in desperate need of a win, will take the game to Arsenal. He may well instruct his team to be ultra defensive and look the sneak in a winning goal right at the death. Arsenal who registered their first win against a top-six side will look to build on that against another who’s manager said the best they can hope for in May is to finish, well, 6th.
Either way this is hands down the blockbuster fixture of this matchday and hopefully the Arsenal stretch their unbeaten run to 20.
Let’s go!
@LaboGoon
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Arsenal: Rock, Paper, Scissors

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Good Morning Positives,

We anticipated a keenly fought contest yesterday between two teams determined to secure a Champions League place, if not better, this season and the almost 100 minutes of action did not deviate from the script. Both sets of players left the field drained of energy and great credit to them all. Last game against Bournemouth  I noted we had 20 shots  and warned we would get far fewer chanced against the pride of Middlesex in the NLD. I see we had 22 shots yesterday. Experts eh – what ARE they like ?

Of the match itself we set about the visitors from the first whistle and battered their defence. Our best opening phase of the season  and, almost,  inevitably the Totties cracked with Verthongen flailing at the ball amid a jumble of heads. A tidy despatch by PEA and the mood in the crowd around me became more confident. We ‘should’ have added to the opener but a combination of indecisive finishing and desperate defence kept the score at 1-0. And ever so slowly the opposition got off the floor, get over the half way line and  put two passes together.

And then calamity, or double calamity as it turned out! A needless free kick given away by Sokratis, a ball whipped in by Eriksen, a glance of Dier’s turnip-shaped head and in off Leno. A real kick to the guts, though followed by some commendable scuffling as the Tottie player foolishly provoked the home crowd in the corner. Our concentration wavered, it was a setback.

As for the second string of misfortune within a minute a needless challenge from Holding on the dishonest Son, Deano points again to the spot and again the net bulges. Consternation, big, big consternation. At the game it looked a sure penalty, as it did to everyone around me. Son was already being shepherded away from the goal. There was no need to slide in. Watching it again last night I don’t know. According to the Sky Jamie ‘contactscope’ multiple slo-mo review showed a positive reading hence although Son clearly chucked himself to the ground a penalty was the correct decision. Bollocks. It was the wrong decision, although the result of calculated cheating on the Korean’s part. There will be no come-back on it for Son, and no doubt Pochettino will give him a pat on the back for his alleged cleverness, but he will find it harder to get away with next  season. Bastard. He and his Milton Keynes mate took abuse when they were subbed on 80 minutes, people up on their seats and over the back of the Spurs bench.

Our collective balloon was a bit deflated going into half time and a fan one up from me stormed out at HT, never to return. I was happy to get in at 1-2 to be honest. Going into half time a goal down though ? It is the Arsenal way.

I expected Emery to make changes at HT and Mkhi was top of everyone’s list. The Spaniard was more decisive than expected though with Alex Iwobi also benched. Rambo and Laca were however experienced, strong and more direct players and that is what we required. The opening five minutes of the second phase was a bit scrappy and a third for TH would have really floored us for good.  Again however we grappled our way back in, and began to control the ball. Hard work in midfield, decisive defending, and everyone playing as part of the team.

With PEA’s sublime finish for the second we never looked back. We seized the game by the throat, with Lucas dominant in midfield, Aubameyang tormenting Hoyth without mercy and Laca twisting the Spurs Belgian centre back inside and out. The killer tackle then through pass from Rambo to Laca sent us ahead again, courtesy of the finest but decisive touch off Dier to take the ball an inch past the diving Lloris (banned smiley).  Lucas topped the contest off on 77 minutes, excellent strike.

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They were done for, the points were ours and North London is very, very Red.

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No single MotM this week. A team award.

Enjoy Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

125 Comments

Arsenal Vs Spurs, A reality Check, But For Who?

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Good day one and all.
The battle lines are drawn as Arsenal host Tottenham at the Emirates for the first of three North London Derbies this season, and apart from bragging rights the stakes are much higher as a win will not only be crucial in the quest for top-four but will also help not to cede further ground on the early Premier League log leaders.
Following three back-to-back PL draws the Gunners got back to winning ways against a spirited Bournemouth side, and although not vintage we did create the lion’s share of scoring chances. So play as we did then with better composure in front of goal and we will have joy.
Easier said than done though as  this is a much tougher assignment. Spurs got their tails up with a run of six wins in all competitions in which they conceded just 5 goals and scored 13.
No-one really expect them to be troubling the trophy engravers anytime soon, but there was quite a celebration when they ended Chelsea’s unbeaten run last Sunday in a match their attackers danced around the Blues side with incredibly light feet. So we’ll need to show a much more committed performance than ‘Sarri-ball’ to nip in the bud any ideas our visitors may have that today will be another quick-step.
The last time we played one of the big ones second-placed Liverpool gave us quite a stern test, but we fought our way back from a goal down to earn a creditable draw. So whatever happens, today will provide a measure of just what the red half of North London can do in the league this campaign.
Then there is the matter of one Michael Dean. While he was the man in the middle in this fixture last season, a match we won with relative ease, it is worth mentioning he did admit to giving a phantom penalty to West Brom against us a few weeks later. So with a Spurs side who deliberately use tactics to con refs into them penalties the Gunners will need to remain organised and keep their wits about them if Mike is going to look like he wants to steal the show.
Gunner-in-chief Unai Emery’s first NLD and I’m sure he know it will be emotionally charged, so it will be a surprise to see him sacrificing an attacking player to keep with the three at the back he used in our last PL outing against attack minded opponents. While the system suits both Hector Bellerín and Sead Kolasinac’s attacking abilities, the three central defenders will need to be at their best vs a team that offers more of an attacking threat. If a return to a back four is favoured, the coach will have a tough decision whom to leave out of three, while still facing the same challenges Spurs pose. Sort of headache one imagine Pochettino himself to have to keep our attackers at bay.
We can expect these teams to have a good go at against each others to give us a very closely fought, equally entertaining and tense match up… and we can bet the Emirates faithful will not disappoint by providing the appropriate atmosphere.
@LaboGoon
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Arsenal vs Spurs, A Reality Test, But For Who ?

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