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Arsenal vs Wolverhampton Wanderers preview

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The natives were loathsome at the Emirates last Sunday, with Granit Xhaka bearing the brunt of their rancor as they made their discontent very clear to Unai Emery as we let slip of a two-goal lead.
Good day one and all…
Arsenal return to the Emirates Stadium this afternoon for a Premier League clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers; both sides looking to put midweek Carabao Cup defeats behind them.
The Gunners come into this game not in the best form, that’s being polite considering we’ve only won two of our last eight league outings.
Following the draw at Man United we sat third on the table, looking at a good run toward the xmas crunch with nine fixtures against sides outside the ‘traditional’ top-six; three games later it already feels more like a limp. Xhaka’s outburst at a section of fans that jeered him only seem to distract from the lack of clarity and purpose that has been the story of Arsenal under Emery.
Some may see sitting 5th on the log, just four points off top-four, isn’t that bad. Looking at it in isolation probably doesn’t appear too worrying, however, if you zoom a bit outer you’ll see that there’s also four points between us and 14th-placed Brighton, and that is what gives many pause for concern when it comes to the Spaniard. Can anybody honestly say our current approach to games are any better compared to that of mid table teams despite the obvious gulf in talent?
For a while Arsenal got away with their shortcomings due to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s individual brilliance. With him having now gone three league games without a goal, we registered just one win. We did score three goals in those matches, but from set-pieces as scoring chances created from open play were just scant.
If Emery want to overcome these skirmishes, he has to find a better linkage between the midfield and attack.
Wolves’ midweek defeat at Aston Villa put an end to a handy eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions. It’s unlikely to have bothered Nuno Espirito Santo too much as he gave most of his first teamers the night off, who have been playing in both their league and Europa matches. They had a slow start to their league campaign, ensuing a run of Europa qualifiers, having registered only two wins from 10 league fixtures (D6, L2), to find themselves just four points off the bottom three. However, with their players rested Nuno will be thinking he got a shot here to take advantage of our current funk; looking at a win to move them to within a single point off the Gunners.
They do have a habit of tuning it up against the ‘big teams’ eh, just before the last international break they stunned Man City 2-0 at the Etihad. So it goes without saying that Emery will be aware of their threat and may well be reluctant to throw caution to the wind even when under pressure to produce something special for the Emirates faithful.
Team News
Being confirmed that Xhaka will not make the matchday squad it gives Lucas Torreira a chance for a rare league start. Hector Bellerín could also return, having proven his fitness.
Mesut Özil had quite the night at Anfield and it’s going to be very difficult to leave him out, specially with us not exactly having found the desired consistency in his absence. Dani Ceballos has been preferred ahead of him, but since matchday 2 against Burnley he has been mostly anonymous – ironically something that Mesut often gets accused of. Will Emery end his exile? This afternoon will be telling.
This is a big match for both sides eager to get back to winning ways. We know Wolves took fives points off of us last season and if we don’t want a repeat of that, we have to show a bit more desire than recently to see off their challenge.
Sticking my neck out: the Gunners to keep all the points at the Emirates, but perhaps too close for comfort. CÖYG!
Before that there’s the small matter of South Africa vs England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup finals in Japan. Good luck to both sides and may the best team win… en mag dit julle wees Bokke… #BokBefok
@LaboGoon
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Xhaka’s Non Apology!

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I was going to let this slide, but with the fanbase split once again I thought I would chirp up.

Granit has issued a statement.

After taking some time to reflect on what happened on Sunday afternoon, I would like to give you an explanation rather than just a quick response.

The scenes that took place around my substitution have moved me deeply. I love this club and always give 100% on and off the pitch.

My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply.

People have said things like “We will break your legs”, “Kill your wife” and “Wish that your daughter gets cancer”.

That has stirred me up and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium on Sunday.

In this situation, I let myself be carried away and reacted in a way that disrespected the group of fans that support our club, our team and myself with positive energy. That has not been my intention and I’m sorry if that’s what people thought.

My wish is that we get back to a place of mutual respect, remembering why we fell in love with this game in the first place.

Let’s move forward positively together.

Granit

First thing to say is that this is not an apology, it’s mitigation. It was released on his personal site for a reason. I suspect it’s because he has refused to make the type of groveling apology that the club would have wanted to release on their official site. Emery said he must apologise, he asked him to apologise and he simply hasn’t, and why the hell should he?

Emery is not, and has not helped matters one little bit, it’s almost a week on and he hasn’t given any indication as to whether Granit is still the club captain or not. Make a decision man! This would help to put it to bed, one way or another. It was bad enough that he dragged his appointment as captain out for months, and now this. Back him or sack him, but do something.

It’s quite clear that the players are fully square behind him continuing as captain. Just today Martinez and Chambers have publicly said it in no uncertain terms. Now let’s face it, he’s their captain first, they are the ones he leads, and it’s the team that matters most, not a bunch of prissy little abusive fans that think they deserve a personal apology.

The club had, and might still have, a great opportunity here, back him to continue as captain, no fine and perhaps a mild rebuke for his reaction. This would sent a message to the low life scum that boo and jeer, that it’s not acceptable. Maybe, just maybe, something good can come out of this whole mess if these fans are shown that they have massively overstepped the mark.

People are quick to proclaim that “this is no way for the Arsenal captain to behave”, but I say it’s exactly how he should behave.

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Pressure Mounting On Emery?

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Despite the manner in which Arsenal completely capitulated at the end of last season, Unai Emery appeared to have had the backing of many supporters at the start of this season. Notably from those who have been most vocal against Arsène Wenger at the back end of his tenure.
However, now it seems as if most have lost their patience.
The club has made a considerable investment in the squad over the summer and for a while there was genuine excitement going into season, putting on hold any threat of schism. On social-media the general mood was that in Raul Sanllehi Arsenal finally got their man, their Don, that will drag us into the 21st century after years of being “too stuck in our ways under the dinosaur”. Some fans even volunteered to go fetch the rock themselves of which to carve out a statue for the man.
The 2019/20 campaign started off well enough with back-to-back wins in our opening two league fixtures. Despite some fickle and largely uninspiring performances that ensued we were 3rd on the log after eight games, behind Liverpool and Manchester City, the Champions League and Premier League champions respectively, who are light-years ahead of other teams in the league.
We were ‘the best of the rest’ and to say “Arsenal is just one point off Man City”, one of the most talented teams in Europe, kept Emery in the good graces of those who chose to look beyond the obvious flaws in our play.
This past week though; the defeat at newly-promoted side Sheffield United, the narrow win over a far inferior Vitória Guimarães and the failure to see out a win against Crystal Palace after going two goals up appears to be the most damaging in Emery’s tenure. The proverbial straw that wrecked the camel’s back. It hypothesizes all the concerns there were about his management style;
• the lack of playing identity,
• the continued absence of Mesut Özil, despite the lack of creativity in our attack,
• lack of improvement in defense despite the summer signings, and
* the questionable starting line-ups, particularly in the midfield.
If you listen to any of Emery’s pressers, he always talk about the strength of the opposition and the importance to stop “their press”, it doesn’t matter whether they are top or at the bottom of the league standings, to him we are the underdogs. Which, of course, is a total contradiction of him supposedly being the “protagonist” he claimed to be.
If Arsenal have any hopes of a top-four finish, if Emery himself has any hopes of fulfilling Raul’s clear expectation, then we simply cannot plod along as we currently are. Not with Manchester United starting to show signs of life and neither Leicester nor Chelsea appearing to wane any time soon.
Nothing about him, even with only two wins in our last eight league games, gives me confidence that he has it in him to make the necessary adjustments.
Our next two league games are against Wolves and Leicester, unless our fortunes overturn and there’s drastic improvements in our performances, this next international break could be squeaky bum for the native from Hondarribia, España.
@LaboGoon
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Arsenal vs Crystal Palace preview

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Good day one and all.
Arsenal is hosting Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon for their Premier League clash. This followed having avoided a Europa defeat against Vitória Guimarães after a shock loss to Sheffield on Monday night. Yes, it’s been quite a week.
The tale of Arsenal under Unai Emery has been consistent; flawed ‘build from the back’ style, lack of cutting edge and creativity despite the quality in our squad, with individual brilliance too often having to save the day. For a while the Cup games have offered fans an escape, but from the midweek game it seems that thrifty approach may have crept in there too. If we are honest, this week has been particularly damaging for Emery because it was expected of the Gunners to win both games at a canter. And one can’t help but feel if things continue this way the Spaniard may get called in for an inquisition.
Bit of good news now is that we got our first-choice front three all back. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had to carry the bulk of the attacking burden as Nicolas Pépé, who had no pre-season, still got to grips with the league and Alexandre Lacazette absent due to an ankle injury. With Pépé now having his shot of confidence with those two cracking free-kicks and Lacazette rid of most of the rust, it will be expected of Emery to coax better performances out of a very talented crop of players, especially with us now chasing down a top-four spot.
Roy Hodgson’s Eagles have ruffled some feathers at their nest this campaign with just one defeat in five, however, on the road they’ve been a bit patchy; two wins and two losses from four outings. With one of those wins at Old Trafford. I know, not all that surprising. And they’re 6th on the league table.
Nobody can deny that Crystal Palace has come a long way, at least no Gooner. The last five meetings between these sides the Gunners have only beaten them twice. Last season they took five points off of us and surely the Hodge must fancy their chances again, especially looking at our current form, or lack thereof, and defensive uncertainties.
Where are the days when this used to be a straight forward fixture?
We got Liverpool coming up on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup so Emery is expected to play his ‘league team’ to keep most of those that started vs Vitória fresh for that one.
Despite losing only twice all season the Gunners has been far from convincing. So this could be one of those tight ‘both teams to score’ matches, with Arsenal just doing enough for all three points. COYG!
@LaboGoon
56 Comments

Save By Moments Of Individual Brilliance-Again

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Good morning all.

Since Pepe managed to hit two absolutely glorious free kicks,to steal a result last night ,I’ve been agonising over whether to write this blog. Because it will basically be like every blog I’ve written for months. The story is the same, poor football and bailed out by a moment of individual brilliance. It’s all depressingly familiar.

We played against a team from Portugal, that lost last week in the cup to a third division team of semi professionals and they came to our ground without a point or a goal in the Europa League. And guess what? For 75 minutes they were better than us, on our own ground.

The positives are two dead ball strikes and Matteo running with the ball. I should be cock-a-hoop at turning a game around and getting a victory. That is the emotion I want to feel, but I don’t. I’m depressed by our play and the thought of watching the same thing over and over and over.

Everything I loved and admired about Arsenal seems, just like Mesut,to be fading into the background and taking my joy of supporting with it.

I feel genuine anger towards Emery, and that in itself is irrational. I’m honestly lost, I don’t know where to go.

I feel that I should take a step back, do myself a favour, and take up knitting or something, because this is horrible and worse of all, I think the worst is yet to come.

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Arsenal v Vitória Guimarães

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Arsenal’s eight-match unbeaten run (all competitions) came to an abrupt end at Sheffield, but there’s no time feeling sorry for ourselves as Portuguese side Vitória Guimarães is at the Emirates for our Europa League group match.
This is a fixture between sides at opposite ends of Group F. The Gunners at the top after two wins from their two games, the visitors are winless, goalless and rooted at the bottom following their two.
League form and Monday night’s disappointment aside, Arsenal has performed proficiently in the cup competitions; notably in Europa where we’ve scored seven goals without reply. And as Gooners we do a closer eye on these games because Unai Emery uses it to give exciting youngsters, fringe players and those returning from long-term injuries a run-out as they continue their comeback. Nearly all these players used have made telling contributions to stake claims for league spots where we have been very inconsistent.
A glance at Vitoria’s form show that despite their poor showings in the Europa they have won their last three Primeira Liga fixtures. So while they will be well aware of the Gunners’ earlier group results as well as their own, they wouldn’t necessarily be short of confidence. However, they’re likely to adopt a conservative approach by sitting back to frustrate us and try make the most of the few chances they may get; noting how well that strategy worked for the Blades on Monday night.
Team News
Reiss Nelson is the only injury concern as Emery is expected to stick with his ‘cup team’. At this point it truly is anybody’s guess whether Mesut Özil would play due to “out of favour”? And I’m thinking here about the “wallahi…” chants the away end at Sheffield directed toward the dugout that may not have gone down well. But eh!
Arsenal are likely to find the visitors a bit tough to break down initially but as the game go on our pace and quality should crumble Vitoria’s peu de résistance.
My prediction is us going three wins from three Europa outings at the end of the night. COYG!
@LaboGoon
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Arsenal Have No Defence

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Good morning people, well I say “good” , I mean yuck.

Do you know what? I’m not even angry. I’m not disappointed,and worst of all, I’m not at all surprised. This was not a blip. It was not anything other than a reflection of how we have been playing in the Premier League, all season. That is not a bad performance, it’s the norm. The difference is that the result reflected the performance. Aubameyang was not able to save our bacon, we got what we deserved. Fortunately, we have gotten more than we deserve up until now. We could have lost every game this season, we haven’t dominated a single one, We have been piss poor all season . It shouldn’t come as a shock, the second half of last season should have been all the warning we needed to tell us what was to come.

If Mesut Ozil isn’t good enough to get in that team, well? Dear me.

In the first half we had one shot on target and were out played by the mighty Sheffield United. They scored one goal and were so confident that we wouldn’t score ,that they sat back and let us have all of the ball, I think in excess of 80% at times, and we obliged by creating less than nothing. We were not unlucky, we were terrible.

There is nothing that suggests we are a good football team, despite having a great squad. The sum of our parts is pathetically less than it should be. No fluency, nothing. All the players fight and strive, but the system is horrible, The midfield has zero control and we just aimlessly lump the ball to players that are totally unsuited to hold it up and wait for the play to develop.

There is nothing on show that remotely resembles that which we enjoyed for years and were assured would continue.

There is no point thinking it will get better, because every metric that indicates how well we are playing as a team, is getting progressively worse, despite a spend of around £200m.

How long will Emery’s apologists ignore everything that stares them in the face?

There isn’t a poor player in our squad, and yet we play like a poverty team.

This squad should be walking the top 4, it still could, but not with this head coach, not in my opinion.

We are in a much better position than our performances deserve, and that stroke of luck will mean nothing unless a change is made.

Positively Arsenal eh? Sorry folks.