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We’ve Got A Semi.

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Well how best to sum that game up? Perhaps that we played well without anyone playing outstandingly well? That’s not to say they all didn’t perform well, they did. It was a good set up and well executed.

If I take my tinted glasses off I would say that they had a stinker. But that’s not our problem.

Once Lacazette scored it was game over. Napoli had 70% possession and their goal threat was woeful. 20 shots with only 2 on target.

I’m not a fan of having 30% possession, but I can live with it if we keep clean sheets and win.

I think if we had kept a midfield 3 of Ramsey Torreira and Xhaka on the field we would have had much better control than we did. But we lost Ramsey ,I just hope it’s not the last we see of him.  His replacement, Mkhitaryan, was not at his best, or anywhere near it. Then Xhaka was removed and ElNeny, tidy as he is, is a step down.

On the positive side, AMN had a very impressive game.if we are going to persevere with a back 3, I think he and Hector are ample going into next season. I know he is supposed to be a midfielder, but you take your chance where and when it comes. I love the kid.

What is outstanding, is we have kept another clean sheet away from home, the upturn is coming just at the right time for us,i’m more confident of a top 4 finish now than at any time of the season. All in all it was a decent defensive performance.

With Aaron out for at least a few weeks it gives Ozil a clear run for what could prove to be a great end of the season.

Have a good night positives.

43 Comments

The Italian Job

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Good day one and all.
Arsenal is in Italy this evening to play Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo in the second leg of their Europa League encounter, holding a two goal lead as they look to reach their second consecutive semi-final in this competition.
The Gunners’ away form has been uninspiring making the first leg 2-0 not seem like much, but taking into account that we kept the Italian side from scoring what could have been a crucial away goal, gives us an advantage because as things stand the hosts need to beat us by at least three goals to progress in normal time.  Of course if they win the tie 2 – 0 after extra time the game will go to a penalty shoot-out.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side will remain hopeful though that they can get a positive result as they’re unbeaten in five European fixtures in Naples this season (W4, D1), with an aggregate score of 10-2, the last a 3-0 win over RB Salzburg.
Arsenal have mixed fortunes playing on Italian soil. They won five of their last nine matches, their most recent a 2 – 0 win over AC Milan in last season’s Europa Round of 16.
Both teams go into the game on the backs of league victories. Napoli a 3 – 1 over Chievo Verona and Arsenal a rather timid 1 – 0 win at Watford. I’m not entirely sure if we should read too much into our performance on Monday night. We took the lead early in the 10th minute and the Hornets lost Troy Deeney soon after, meaning, with the quick turnaround to our game tonight we didn’t really have to go full tilt, but instead pace ourselves. So a review of that match ought to be looked at as ‘job done’ because at this late stage of the season it is more about getting the right result than aesthetics.
Needless to say Arsenal weren’t the most pleasing on the eye in recent weeks but did win five of our last six games in all competitions, outscoring the opposition 10 – 1, and to get over the line tonight we could do with another decent defensive display.
The onus will be on Napoli to do it all if they are to turn this around, while Arsenal can afford to just sit back, soak up that vibrant Italian atmosphere and slow the game down while lying in wait to hit them on the counter. The Gunners just need to have one goal in them to open the hosts up, two goals … well … then they will have to put five past an Arsenal defence that has been resolute of late.
There has been concerns for Unai Emery on Laurent Koscielny and Lucas Torreira after Watford took bits out of them, but he did travel with a strong side to Italy, including Big Papa Sokratis who sat out Monday’s match due to league suspension. So it’s very unlikely the boss will leave this one up to chance and pick a much stronger side than the one that took the field against Rennes in our last Europa away match.
With Napoli being compelled to go for goals I don’t see this going to a penalty shoot out, because by playing offence they should play in our hands to open the game up and give us scoring opportunities. Our most important task will be to keep our heads and not risk getting anybody send off.
Now the only question is: can Arsenal do it on a Thursday night in Naples?
@LaboGoon
40 Comments

A Win Is A WIN……I Suppose.

 

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Let’s start with the positives, this being Positively Arsenal and all. We won away from home, got 3 very valuable points and we are in the top 4. Fantastic, Marvelous.

Aubameyang did wonderfully well on 10 minutes to close down Foster and was brave to hang out a leg and get the goal. It was real Emery stuff. So that was great as well.

Troy Deeney, almost immediately decided to show five foot five Torreira, what a hard man he is. He deliberately elbowed him and was rightly sent off. That was more than fantastic, Deeney is a prick.

Mesut came on for the second half and exerted a little bit more control, but it was just a little bit.

That’s about it for positives because ,truth be told, that was a woeful game from Arsenal. In fact that might be me being kind, dreadful is more like it. I mean 83 minutes against 19 men and we were by no means the dominant team. Well I say 11 vs 10, but I thought Iwobi and  Mkhitaryan barely added up to a man between them.

I’m going to say no more because the sooner this game is forgotten ,the better.

41 Comments

Gunners Go Into The Hornets Nest

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With the Premier League title chase nearing a feverish climax, the jockeying for two remaining top-four places continues apace…
Good day one and all.
Arsenal is visiting a “triumphant” Watford side for their homecoming after securing their first FA Cup final appearance since 1984.
The Hornets is doing a good job turning Vicarage Road into a fortress in the second half of this season. They’re currently unbeaten in their last six games at home (W4, D2), a run that stretch back to the 29th December.
Not a great read for a Gunners side desperate to overturn their dire away form in pursuit of top-four – winning just two of our last 12 matches on the road in all competitions. Making this a much more daunting prospect than one would usually imagine.
Arsenal hit the buffers at Goodison, failing to get it together in the middle of the park but got back to winning ways via an impressive 2-0 win against Napoli thanks to an imposing midfield performance  – which should have Unai Emery’s side in good spirits ahead of tonight.
The Hornets are well rested following the joys at Wembley and like their manager Javi Gracia said, thinking about the FA cup finals won’t be any distraction. Troy Deeney’s also got this weird inferiority complex as he always feel he has to prove himself against us. So be certain they’ll ‘have a go’.
Now that we’re left with nowhere to hide it’s time for Emery to quit being too cautious on the road. The return leg against Napoli is around the corner and to beat them in Italy, we’ll likely need to outscore them. So a good display and result are needed for an all important morale boost.
Torreira and Koscielny returns to the team from the one that faced Everton, but we now lost Sokratis to suspension. With Xhaka too in line to make his return, I suspect most eyes will be on the midfield pairing when the team sheet gets released an hour before kickoff.
Arsenal is 6th on the table but still have their destiny in their own hands. We have played two and one games less than Chelsea (4th) and Manutd (5th) respectively, a win tonight will lift us above both. Drop any points and it’s going to be a squeeze as we go into the last fours weeks of this campaign.
@LaboGoon
36 Comments

Ramsey Shows Italy what they Are Getting

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Well that was quite fun.

A nice two goal lead to take to italy and no away goal. By no means game over but we should be favourites.

Ramsey was magnificent, Ozil was glorious, Torreira tenacious and young AMN played a blinder.

We played really well in the first half and adequately well in the second half. Many people were questioning why Ozil and Lacazette were substituted when playing so well, but I thought it was just Emery wanting fresh legs for the last 20 minutes. To be fair Iwobi and Mkhitaryan were not as effective as Ozil and Lacazette had been, but they might have been more effective that they would have been running on empty for the last 20.

No point me rambling on about a game you will all have seen and judged for yourself. Suffice it to say we play better with Ozil and Ramsey and that was what Emery served up to us. So well done to the head coach. Credit where it’s due.

 

17 Comments

Is Home Where The Heart Is For Arsenal?

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Arsenal and perennial Serie A runners-up Napoli square off in the 1st leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie at the Emirates Stadium.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side is without a doubt the toughest team the Gunners could have draw in the last eight, but get past them and it’s one step closer to opening up the backdoor to Europe’s premier club competition next season with the Premier League route too tough to call.
Our miserable PL away form has spilled-over to continental competition as we lost both our previous knockout stage 1st leg away ties against BATE and Rennes respectively, but with the backing of the Emirates faithful, few tactical and personnel tweaks, Unai Emery and the boys turned things around at home. Thus making it imperative that we take full advantage of home comforts or risk being up against it with the 2nd leg in front of an animated, vociferous and passionate Stadio San Paolo crowd.
Napoli don’t have fond memories of playing on English soil.
Since 2010/11 they lost on each of their five trips away to PL opposition by an aggregate of 11-3, however, they did had the upper hand in Naples with an aggregate score of 8-4 (W4, D1).
So the take away here may be that whichever team makes the most of their opportunities in their home fixture will have the better chance at progression to the Europa last four.
On teams news: a worry for Emery is still the fitness of two key players, Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka, but hopefully both will return to action ahead of another crucial PL game on the road for the Gunners on Monday night. With Lucas Torreira also back after missing the weekend due to suspension, we can expect to see a very strong matchday lineup.
The prospect of Arsenal against Napoli in whatever competition is certainly something that will have many football fans salivating… and here’s hoping the Gunners get off to a great start to leave us with a good chance in Italy next week.
@LaboGoon
49 Comments

Poo……………r Old Arsenal

 

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I was going to leave this review until tomorrow, because I didn’t want to do it whilst angry, but I realised I’m not angry, just very disappointed. So here we go………….

That was very poo……………..r, I joke, it was a bit worse than poo, it was stinking diarrhea.

When I saw the team and the first two substitutions at half time, I though, fair enough. I can’t fault the manager today. His resources were limited. I had no intentions of being critical of Emery, then I started to think (always a dangerous thing for me to start) and I thought wait, actually he’s had a mare.

Five at the back can work well, we’ve seen it work well, but it needs two players in center midfield that can keep the ball and progress it through midfield. Namely Xhaka and Ramsey,but they were both unavailable to start. ElNeny and Guendouzi just can’t do that.

Now of course I am entering the realms of hindsight management. The easiest of tasks. Still, bollocks to it.

We should have gone with 4 at the back and put an extra man in midfield.Poor Matteo had an awful game. ElNeny did ok so I was surprised that he was substituted rather than the youngster. I would have left them both on, brought Ramsey in to help them out and replaced Mkhitaryan , who was having a worse time than Matteo, with Aubameyang . Gone 4 3 1 2.

Finally Emery brought on Iwobi, who along with the Ramsey substitution, did make a marginal improvement, but Ozil was the last person he should have replaced. Mesut, while not creating much (due to the set up IMO) was playing well. I mean , if you need a goal, why take of the best player and the man most likely to fashion an opening?

This is the first time in over 5 years of this blog that I have written a blog suggesting what should have been done. Perhaps doing what I suggest would have made no difference, but lets be honest, it couldn’t have been worse.

I’m presently watching the game between Wolves and Watford, and if I’m honest, I don’t fancy our chances at their grounds. It may turn out a very unhappy end to the season.