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Arsenal v Bournemouth: FA Cup Match P review

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Arsenal is at the south-coast this evening, facing Premier League rivals Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in a FA Cup fourth round match.

Since lifting the trophy for a record 13th time in 2017, the Gunners haven’t made it past this stage in either of the last two seasons, whilst the Cherries advanced only once past the fourth round in their history.

With both sides experiencing underwhelming league campaigns, the Gunners at 10th-place on the log and the Cherries inside the drop zone at 18th, this cup tie certainly provides a welcome distraction, at least from the weekly burden of bread and butter expectations.

The north London side got to this round courtesy of a 1-0 win over Leeds United earlier in the month, and Mikel Arteta made intentions clear that he is keen on a good cup run when he selected a near-full strength side for that match. In the outfield fringe players Mattéo Guendouzi and Reiss Nelson were the only two coming into the side for then injured Lucas Torreira and ill Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang respectively. In goal Emiliano Martínez rotated with Bernd Leno as has been the norm with league and FA cup games.

So today, I think we can expect that same intent as the Spaniard continues his rebuild of this Gunners side into a focused and workmanlike unit.

Bournemouth come into this match on the back of a good 3-1 league win against Brighton. However, their only other win in their last eight games was the FA Cup third round tie against Luton Town, making their situation a bit more precarious.

So while the Cherries faithful will be hoping the recent victory will see their side turning a corner, Eddie Howe must be faced with a difficult choice; does he go full strength to give his side the best chance at winning this game, or do he give some of his first choice players some needed rest, after a gruelling fixture run, ahead of their league match against fellow strugglers Aston Villa. Who wants to be coach?

Team news

The Gunners will be without David Luiz, as he joins Auba on the sidelines through suspension as a result of his red card at Chelsea.

Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Kieran Tierney and Nelson remain unavailable due to injury, though Sokratis is back in contention after missing the last two games with illness.

Dani Ceballos, whose future faces uncertainty, may get a rare start.

Predictions

With these two sides playing out a 1-1 draw when we visited the Vitality on Boxing day, the general feel may be that this will be another close game. However, I suspect the home side may not go full throttle, especially ahead of an important fixture this weekend. So my money will be on Arsenal remain making it through to the next round. COYG!

@LaboGoon
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Goodbye Yogi’s Warrior. A Cultured Arsenal Fan.

 

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At Christmas 2007 I was given a laptop. I was introduced to the internet for the first time. Within months I had found Newsnow and a lot of Arsenal blogs. This was fantastic for me as previously all I had had was newspapers and Sky Sports, also I seem to remember there was an official Arsenal channel on Sky. Anywho, these blogs were a great new thing for me, I could read, comment and be in contact with other Arsenal fans, for the first time almost.

What I soon found was disturbing. The vast majority of these Blogs were absolute negative crap, and the comments sections were worse. Then I struck gold. I stumbled across peach of a blog and a peach of a blogger at A Cultured Left Foot.

This was a daily blog written by Yogi’s Warrior, or simply just Yogi, as we called him. It was well written, and fully positive, the vast majority of the comments were from smart and articulate fans. I started commenting and it almost became an obsession. The next 3 years I spent on that blog, constantly commenting and occasionally Yogi published a blog I had written. It was a wonderful place and I really enjoyed my time there.

Sadly the prevailing wind on the blog changed and I found myself fighting more than having fun. Yogi tried to keep me in check and despite his best efforts, I overstepped several marks, and my time there came to an end. But a wonderful time I had there.

I still had occasional chats with Yogi on twitter and in twitter DMs. He was always polite and humorous, and that’s not easy with me rattling at his cage. We also had The Slow and Dirty Show, with our friend Stew Black in common, Yogi loved music as well as Arsenal

When some of the regulars on A Cultured Left Foot were expelled and some others decided the mood of that blog was unacceptable, we started Positively Arsenal, basically in the hope we could recreate a comments section like the one Yogi had cultivated. So this very blog came about because of Yogi.

I learned today that Yogi (Stuart) had passed away after some weeks of illness.  It’s a sad loss to all that crossed his path, both real and virtual. He was a lovely man, a true gentleman and he, his blog, his enthusiasm and love of Arsenal will be badly missed.

I thanked him many times for all he did for me and all he gave me, and I thank him again, one last time.

Rest in piece Yogi, you will never be forgotten.

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Arsenal Refuse To Lose

In this latest podcast, yours truly Shotta and Blackburn George, the Arseblagger, analyze Arsenal’s magnificent draw at Chelsea. The Gunners refuse to lose, repaying the faith manager Mikel Arteta placed in the team after they went down to 10-men, when he declined to make any immediate substitution.

Remember to  Like and Subscribe to our podcasts wherever you listen and spread the word about our belief in free-flowing, attacking football by a club with integrity and class, the Arsenal-Way .

This podcast is available at Spreaker, Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcast and Google Podcast by searching for Uncensored Arsenal.

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Arteta’s Team Might Embody His Spirit?

 

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Good day you wonderful positive gooners.

Next time some miserable git declares “only winning matters”  remind them about the feeling we had a getting a mere draw. We beat United at home, but let me tell you this point away at Chelsea felt much much better to me.

The game started with Chelsea slightly on top, they were energetic and quite fluent. We appeared to have the intention to attack down the flanks, this was evident from Ozil’s positioning out wide. Him being wide did leave Xhaka and Torreira outnumbered in midfield, It was a tactic that may or may not have worked, but we will never know because about 25 minutes in, disaster struck.

Mustafi, who up until that point had look as nervous as a kitten on the ball, played a horrendously under hit ball to Leno, who seems a bit slow off the mark to me, Luiz tried to get back ,made the foul and got his marching orders. There has been a big discussion on social media as to whether or not it should have been yellow or red, I think it could have been interpreted as a yellow, but was probably a red. At this point I was about to tweet “that’s that then” but thought better of it, lucky old me? What followed the dispatching of the resulting penalty was about 70 minutes of football that made me proud of Arteta and every player involved, it was a magnificent effort.

Every single player stepped up to the mark, the effort an bravery was clear for all to see,  What impressed me most was that although we sat deeper, that did not in any way mean that when we had the ball we didn’t try to both keep it and attack with a passion.

Soon after the sending off Arteta had Rob Holding stripped and ready to go, but he was not introduced at this stage. Odd? I though as this would be the stock response of more coaches. What was going on? Xhaka had dropped into centerback and stayed there for the entire game, he was , by the way, magnificent, an absolute warrior and played fantastic to boot. Arteta has since explained his decision.

“on whether he was thinking of bringing off Martinelli for Holding…

Not Martinelli, but I did change my mind. I was thinking about that and I said, ‘I don’t want to send that message to the team’. We decided to keep it as we were and give them a chance. I wanted to see how they could respond to that. I didn’t want to make the response for them because I want them to be accountable for what they do and I didn’t want to make a decision so they wouldn’t decide for themselves. It’s a great response from them”

I can’t stress how brave a decision this was for Mikel, had it gone wrong the media and many fans would have rounded on him, because that’s not what they would have done, but that is what makes some managers special.

Last night I said this on twitter

“Some credit” is an understatement, I can’t imagine how low he must have been, but he fought like a gladiator.

No need for me to describe the goals, Martinelli, with the assistance of Kante, showed speed and composure that is incredible for such a young man and Hector surprised the world with a left foot shot that will be remembered long after his career is over.

That was as good a point as I can remember us winning.

64 Comments

Arsenal v Chelsea match preview

 

 

 

th (13)

Arsenal take the short trip across the capital for their Premier League clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this evening; with Mikel Arteta looking for payback having suffered the only defeat in his short reign against the Blues.

Both sides come into this match on the back of disappointing results this past Saturday; the Gunners drew 1-1 with Sheffield United, with Newcastle United scoring in the last minute to run out 1-0 winners against Frank Lampard’s side.

It was always going to be a trying season for Lampard as his arm got forced by their transfer ban over the summer to bring in quite a few young players into the side.

But after just one point from their opening two league games they went on a decent run, winning eight of their following 10 (D1, L1), and things started to look on the ups. Then with fixture congestion after the November inter-break, the inexperience of his young side showed with them struggling to find consistency, losing six of their 11 matches since.

All things considered though, even with their ‘implosion’ thus far this winter months, they’re still in control of their own top-four ambitions, thanks to their strong start to the season.

In comparison the North London side have struggled all season, despite recent “improved performances”. Not because of matches lost per se, only three teams got less defeats than our current six, but largely due to a league high 11 draws from 23 matches.

Since the Spaniards arrival we drew four out of six league matches, including our last three away at Everton (watching from the stands), Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Only one of our draws ended goalless and we surrendered the lead in seven of the other 10. This is such a frustrating stat because you’d expect us to do a better job seeing games out, especially with seven of those coming against sides outside the traditional top-six.

Another bit of info is that, despite our issues on the road, we haven’t lost an away match since that 2-0 loss at Leicester on November 9th. But once again, the draws are keeping us mired in midtable. If we are to claw our way up the table, we have to find a way to convert draws into wins so our results can start match our performances.

Just looking at our two recent fixtures; the Gunners looked on their way to wins against both Crystal Palace and the Blades after going 1-0 into the break, however, we failed to hold on. It’s true that we were let down by questionable officiating in both outings, but we also didn’t do ourselves any favours by being so off-colour in front of goal. These two results can be seen as wasted opportunities because if we had that four-point swing, we would be going into this game with a chance to close the gap on 4th-placed Chelsea to three points.

Which begs the question; are we really having a crap season that merits the term “relegation form”, or just an unfortunate one?

Team news

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is suspended, with Reiss Nelson and Sead Kolasinac only expected back after our trip to Burnley. Sokratis, who missed our last game due to illness, will be assessed ahead of the game.

Prediction

Chelsea have struggled at home in the league recently, winning only two of their last five at the Bridge. So Arsenal definitely got a chance here if we take the game to them, we have to put away our chances though, because that has been our biggest letdown since Boxing day.

Difficult games to call, especially with history not our side; we haven’t win there since the 5-3 back in October 2011, a game both head-coaches played in. I do fancy our chances though, with both teams to score. COYG!

@LaboGoon

 

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Burgled- Because We Left The Door Open

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Good morning to one and all.

Normally I like to do the review at the first opportunity, but because I had to watch on a stream, I had to wait until after midnight to watch it again. I like to watch games twice as it possible to be more observant ,when the fear and tension are removed.

So let me be clear, I think we were robbed, but we helped the burglars by leaving the back door open. By that I mean that had we been awarded the deserved penalty on Pepe, we would have won, but we didn’t do enough to score the additional goals that would have made the result safe. It’s possible to be robbed, unlucky and still be guilty of not making the game safe.

As ever, social media went to work and found the scapegoats, and then social media rode into the rescue of said scapegoats. Rather than me looking at the game, a game you will all have seen, I want to have a look at how I think some of the players actually performed within Arteta’s new improved structure and style.

I will start with Mesut, many claiming he had a poor game, the conclusion drawn because he slightly over hit two balls to Martinelli. Well he did slightly over hit one, the other was a good ball that young Gabriel was slow do see. Here are his stats

88% pass accuracy – highest on pitch

29 opp. half passes – most on pitch

18 final third passes – most on pitch

7 ball recoveries

4 chances created – most on pitch

4 duels won

3 crosses (2 acc.)

2 dribbles (2 succ.)

2 tackles 1 long ball (1 acc.)

Not the numbers of a man having a bad game.

Xhaka, he had a very good game, but he spent much of his time deep and to the left, I presume in an attempt to support Saka. He did though have a good game, as did Torreira. For anyone with a short memory, Xhaka was the one that got back on the line to block a shot on his chest and then clear it, he literally got us the point.

Mustafi , the unredeemable one, had an excellent game. he made no mistakes that I could see, was strong in defence and drove forward with the ball at most opportunities. People point to him losing the ball ,early in the game, on the edge of the box, while trying to shepherd it out. I think this view is most unfair, he was fouled when he got between the ball and the attacker. Luiz also had a decent game, but he made a lot more errors than Mustafi.

Saka did well, but this was facilitated by the good work that Xhaka and Luiz did, to cover for him in defence.

Now for Pepe, here is where it gets difficult. He excites, he dribbles and runs with the ball in a way that strikes fear into the opposition, he should have won a penalty and he did give Martinelli a couple of decent chances. When you look at what he did, and divorce that from his price tag, he did ok. Unfortunately his game seems best suited to counter attacks, and Arteta wants possession and control, that may prove an ongoing problem. He is definitely not a flop, some of his work is breathtaking.

This was a game we should have won, a game we deserved to win, but once again, a game we did not win. That is a repeating saga under Arteta and it must be driving him mad. We should perhaps have won every game under his stewardship, but we have won just one in the league. However, the improvement in our game is clear for all to see, and it’s now worth seeing. Eventually results will reflect performances, they always do, we will be fine.

 

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Arsenal vs Sheffield United match preview

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Arsenal host Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon, looking to etch their way closer to the top-six sides on the Premier League table.

Despite improved performances and a progressively playing style under Mikel Arteta, the Gunners still find themselves mired in mid-table; whilst the Blades have maintained their steady start on their return to the top-flight, sitting four points ahead of us.

The Spaniard will be aware that it will take a process to get Arsenal to where he wants them to be, a process that will take more than just “improved performances”, as we now need to convert that into points. And with our ongoing struggles on the road, wins at home, especially against newly-promoted sides, are “non-negotiable”.

A win will give the Gunners a major boost, especially given that we have a chance to leapfrog a few teams on the log – which, of course, hinge upon results elsewhere going in our favour. We can also move within three points of 5th-placed Man United who are away at the juggernaut Liverpool tomorrow.

This is not about having top-four or top-six aspirations. Arteta has been fairly consistent in what he wants from the players as they get used to a new way of life; committed performances, leaving their hearts out there by not only doing what is expected of them, but also do it well. Because he has his beliefs that once we get that right, a positive upturn in results will follow.

He will have to do it without the talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the next three matches, who has scored 14 of our 29 league goals. However, this is also a shot for Nicolas Pépé and Alexandre Lacazette, who showed signs of finding form in recent matches, to step up and give good accounts for themselves.

Sheffield United are very hard to beat though, as they continue to punch above their weight. Chris Wilder’s side are 6th on the table and in their 22 league games have conceded just 21 goals; only Liverpool conceded less. It also doesn’t seem to matter whether they play home or away. In 11 home fixtures they earned 17 pts, with 15 pts coming from their 11 on the road, where they only lost twice (W3, D6).

In the reverse fixture at Bramall Lane back in October the Blades ran out 1-0 winners. When they scored after 30 minutes they were happy to let us have possession and shut up shop, and we hardly had a look in. However, that was during our “respect-era” and under Arteta we look more comfortable with the ball, playing higher up the pitch with a four-men attack. So if Wilder play the same tactics, it will certainly be a fascinating match.

Team news

Gabriel Martinelli is likely to step in for the suspended Aubameyang, with Bukayo Saka expected to fill in at left-back for Sead Kolasinac, who picked up a knock at Selhurst Park.

Lucas Torreira trained normally after initial fears that he may miss this game, however, he will still be assessed ahead of the match, with Matteo Guendouzi waiting in the wings. Hector Bellerìn is also expected to make the bench.

Prediction

It goes without saying that the Gunners are not having a great season, but with Arteta at the helm you always feel we have a shot as we do create goal scoring chances. There are still too many nearly moments in front of goal though, and that is where we need to do better if we are to string together a winning run.

That said, the Blades are a very settled side and just so well-organised. Wilder may target Saka at left-back as our weak link as he will have hopes of not leaving London empty-handed.

Be that is it may, this could be a very edge-of-your-seat, running-out-of-nails-to-bite encounter, with the visitors likely to cause us issues. I do fancy our chances though. COYG!

@LaboGoon