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Aaron Ramsey, The Last Legend

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Aaron Ramsey has played his last game for Arsenal after suffering a muscular injury during their Europa League quarter-final against Napoli. The midfielder pulled up feeling the back of his thigh in the 33rd minute and was replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

What a sad way for it to come to an end. After 11 years our top scoring Center midfielder of all time is literally limping out of the club. It’s a devastating blow for him and Arsenal. I saw a stat recently that we have averaged twice as many points per game with him this season, than without him. I’m not at all surprised.

The lad has scored or assisted 129 times in his 369 appearances for Arsenal.that’s better than a 1 in 3 games,direct contributions to a goal, outstanding for a center midfielder. And a center midfielder is exactly what he is. At times he has covered as attacking Mid and even as a wide forward, that is testament to his general overall value to the team. Under Arsene Wenger, when fit, he played. He played no matter who else was fit, he played somewhere.

His work ethic, professionalism and heart are everything anyone could ask from a professional football player.

I won’t go into his history and injury record because everyone knows all about it but I will say that without the initial leg smashing attack and the subsequent muscular problems that have blighted him, he would likely have doubled his goals and assists total.

He is a quiet ,well spoken ,polite family man, that was shown loyalty by Arsene Wenger and returned that loyalty in spades. I have never seen him shy away from the ball or put in less than 100% effort in the 11 years he’s been at the club. He is brave and adventurous on the ball and is almost always the player that has covered the most distance at the end of each game. When in midfield with Arteta he regularly was in the mid 90s in % passing stats. He is the complete box to box player.

On top of all that he is staggeringly good looking, immaculately well dressed and campaigns for animal welfare and other green topics. Seriously, what is not to like about the lad?

Yet despite all this “opinion on him is divided”. Why? Well I would suggest it’s because many of our fans are as thick as mince.

Now he is heading off to Juventus on £400k per week, so we don’t have to feel sorry for him, oh no, but we should feel sorry for ourselves. Why? Well because we could be losing or last legend, that’s why.

Football has changed and support has also changed, and not for the better. It used to be that if a player was committed to the club for a few years and scored ,or just contributed, to the winning of silverware, his legendary status was assured. But not anymore! Oh no, a few perceived bad games, an injury or a transfer can all lead to his status being revoked by our over demanding fans.They turn on, and turn their back on, players as quickly as they can scurry to their twitter accounts. That and the tendency for players to maximise their wages by moving, or the clubs wanting to profit from player sales, mean the day of the one team man is dead, It’s very hard to become a legend if a player only has a short window to cement their status.

Well Ramsey has put in the years, the effort and conducted himself with the class that put him firmly in the legendary status, and that’s before we add the two FA Cup winning goals.  Add to this that he refused to shake Piers Morgan’s hand and allegedly sat RVP on his arse with a right hook and he is elevated to super legend.

So make no mistake Aaron Ramsey is an Arsenal legend, and perhaps the very last of them.

Goodbye, good luck and thanks for the memories sweet prince of Wales.

This is how I will always remember you.

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Or as Bob might say

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin”

And of the game tomorrow, here’s Labo

Thanks George for that fitting tribute to One Aaron James Ramsey.
Arsenal is hosting the low flying Seagulls at the Emirates who just secured their Premier League survival, courtesy of Cardiff losing to Crystal Palace. Seem like a good enough reason for them to be at the beach right?
However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the business of the day, getting three points to keep that sprinkling of hope alive should either Chelsea or Spurs drop any points in next week’s last round of league fixtures. And after treating the last three PL games like that chore they just can’t be bothered with, they can’t afford their minds being elsewhere.
We still wondering how we conceded nine goals in that three rather forgetful league games, we can take comfort that Brighton don’t seem to enjoy the attacking part of the game these last few months. Their goal vs Newcastle last weekend was their first in eight games.
So go out there Gunners, you know what you need to do. Let Aaron “Arsenal last legend” Ramsey and Petr Cech bow out in style as the Emirates faithful says their heartfelt farewell.
@LaboGoon
21 Comments

Arsenal with a Slow Start and a Fast Finish

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Well that was a funny old game.

We went one nil down after about twenty minutes and it was lucky it was just one. They were well on top and we looked like a team that’s been shipping goals for fun.

However, HOWEVER !!! I say, then we turned the tide. A beautifully constructed goal involving Ozil Aubameyang and finished by Lacazette seemed to give us a boost of confidence, we got on top and ran out 3-1 winners. It could,and should, have been more too. Aubameyang missed an easy chance and Lacazette missed 2 absolute sitters.

I was surprised when Ozil was subbed off for Mkhitaryan but I have to say that Henrikh did very well for his cameo.

Not wanting to point fingers, but I was happy to see the back of Mateo, to my eyes he had a poor game.

We go to Spain a week tonight full of hope. All in all it was a good night.

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ARSENAL v VALENCIA: Europa League Semi Final (1st leg)

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EXORCISING THE GHOSTS OF MAY?
It’s 1980, a world as far away from today as the 1920s were to us then.
Yet all the same things existed just in different forms. 79/80 was my second full season, and every player was a hero, my best friend, and Mr Brady was the friend of friends. To me in those days, nearly everything in life was about Arsenal FC.
Arsenal that season played a phenomenal amount of games (70) and going into April and May the fixture list was so congested it seemed like we were always playing. And always one sub per game. We played four outstanding games (and torturous they were to listen to on the radio – especially game three) in our FA cup semi final v Liverpool, and we were burnt out and sterile in the final, against an equally boring and sterile West Ham side, on a dog-tired boiling day in May.
Watching Liam and the lads walking off dejected at the end said it all: everyone there was saying goodbye him (like Mr Ramsey, he was off to Juve) and despite the final league games to come against Wolves (we won 2-1), Boro (we lost 5-0) but we still had a game in mid-week, against Valencia and Mario Kempes, the king of the world cup in ’78. The Cup Winners Cup final.
Getting to the final had been special to me, seeing the 5-1 win against Gothenburg, discovering the strange names of places on the way to the final, Fenerbahce, Magdeburg (going past the city on the train sixteen years later brought back instant Arsenal CWC memories), the semi against Juve (I still have the ticket from the home leg), and recall the sinking feeling that 1-1 was not enough and asking how would Arsenal beat the incredible Juve line-up, in fortress Torino?
It was 0-0 for most of the game, and we were going out, and up stepped in minute 88 Mr Paul Vaessen and headed in a Rix cross and the stadium went silent (which was spooky on the radio).  Juve fans started lighting fires on the terraces.
And that was it, we won.
What a feeling to be in the final. Four finals in my opening years. Then I thought this is what it would always be like (“How wrong you are” said the Years that followed). And the moment of jubilation was captured in the Arsenal handbook for the next season, with a photo of Terry Neill hugging Paul Vaessen.
Trouble was I had to go on a school trip to the Gower in Wales; London overspill kids wandering around in what was then a then small paradise. We departed on the Monday following the final v West Ham.  Still smarting from the loss, but still hopeful with the Valencia game looming.
It came to the big night (14th of May) and this was even worse than listening to the radio, it was on the tv but we weren’t allowed to watch (why?), and they made no exception for me (cheers).  I was so nervous it was horrible.We had to go to our bunks in the creepy dorm and mine was on the top, at the end. I was lying there with my mind flying in all sorts of directions.  The teacher came in and came over and said it was still 0-0.  Unfortunately a few bunks along, was a Spud. And the rancid potato had a radio. He kept it too himself so that only he could hear and would relay one or two things every now and then. It was late on at this point and it had gone to penalties. And you know what happened next, Rix missed, we lost and the Spud gloated and couldn’t stop going on about it. Big laughs.
I was so gutted I had tears in my eyes, and turned over and pulled the covers over my head and wept silently.  What a lonely moment.  To lose two finals in a week was such a soul-destroying feeling. I wished I could have just got up and bogged off somewhere else. Later I met one guy who was at the game and he confessed he sat down and fully cried at the end, so I wasn’t the only one with the waterworks. I heard it kicked off pretty badly after the game. Football’s that kind of weird game though, in that it brings emotions up which are always intense, probably because most of the game is ‘play’ rather than goals (frustration rather than relief)?
My brother sent me a bit of a match report later on a postcard, how O’Leary had crossed it to Alan Sunderland who scored but it was offside; how Liam had missed a penalty, Kempes too and Rix failed with the last one and how their goalkeeper moved around when the rules said it wasn’t allowed.
I can still remember most of the wording of that postcard, trying to change the words as if he had made a mistake and that really we had won. I did that a lot in those days.  Denial doesn’t work though.  Later, about thirty years later I saw the highlights on YouTube.  Even then I watched it as if we would win.
Alas, we still lost.
That was the end of that opening Arsenal chapter for me. Arsenal seemed to fall apart for a few years, Brady was gone and the rest of the team soon broke up. But the Valencia game was always there, lingering like a ghost, for years I couldn’t even read the word ‘Valencia’ without feeling a kind of pain and frustration and the haunting of the Spud and his radio. A game I didn’t see live, but one that burnt into my mind as if I was there.
However, this week’s game isn’t the final, and neither team are the same;  different stadiums, different type of athlete and a different world. It’s been a long, tough run in the EL – and somehow the season as a whole – and to speculate on any outcome is a bit futile on my part. And we know it depends on team selection and from there how we go in, or that seems the case of how AFC are operating at the moment? Plus are all comparisons a kind of wrong perspective? Arsenal is one big stream (but not in isolation) but it’s always changing …?  What was, is, but is not?
I could ask myself what have I learnt by all this?
All is just an idea, when we pull it apart, it isn’t really there, so what is there to be uptight or angry about? Yet to hold onto that is nearly impossible; as always, theory and practise, two very different forms, connected but different, as any smart manager knows.
Desire is an odd thing. We are rarely satisfied, and it is an important driver, no matter the pain it seems to give us. Sometimes it seems that hope is linked to desire despite it often leading to suffering.
In truth I desire a victory for us, 4-0 in the first game, 0-2 in the second.
And a 4-0 win in the final – lets hope so.
Cheers and enjoy the game.
COYG!
Mills 
84 Comments

Another Bad Day For The Arsenal

I find myself unable to write a review that could be considered Positively Arsenal, so I have ducked for cover and our friend Mills has taken up the reigns
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LCFC 3   ARSENAL  0
Who forgot to bring the bullets? KO Gunfight at the King Prawn Corral.
Years ago, a New York art critic had seen the surrealist sculptures of Alberto Giacometti in an exhibition. The review of these works he published was pretty much this: ” Ive been staring at my typewriter for half an hour and I can’t think of anything to write about these absurd works”.
The feeling after the game seems pretty much like that doesn’t it? Well, Alberto left the Surrealists and went on his own way and later arrived at a new style and created a truly new addition to the world of art. Out of pure humiliation, came some strong and ground-breaking work……COYG???
The basic facts were, (all apologies to those who like more analysis) our Guns were again packed with blanks and damp squibs, a rare thing; in days of yore it was often in big games, but we seem to be breaking a few records with stats and facts that leave us red-cheeked. Letting in three to Chelsea or whoever was pretty horrible, but to mid table teams is embarrassing. But like all egos, maybe ours needs shrinking a bit? Hope the therapy works! What looked like the easy run/in at the end of the season, has been a been a tough time for those on the Arsenal trail.
LCFC got on top pretty quickly and everything yet again seemed a struggle. Mustafi went in and didn’t get booked and we threw a few other tackles in, then Ainsley got booked, which seemed to be pay back for the other challenges. Iwobi had a chance which was pretty weak. Ainsley got book a second time, and Olivers army saw red. Big laughs. As Ed said: 12 versus 10.
We held on to HT and to be honest I felt like UE would pull off one of his talks like he did earlier in the season and we would come out top gunslingers, however it was not to be.
0-1on 59 mins and it looked like the coffins were already being assembled and things started feeling like the Alamo.Some subs here and there, yet even these didn’t really get the geist going, in fact it looked like it had given up and gone off to graze on the high plains.
0-2 on 86 mins and things looked pretty much finished despite Leno looking very good again with lots of fine saves, although all of us would rather the had nothing to do all game.
Mr Emery looked like he was thinking about the Valencia game the more it dragged on..Eddie N always looks like he wants to impress, 4 mins were added on, and the LCFC fans started winding the Gunner faithful up, which seemed cheeky for a Championship side like themselves (anyway, they are up for the 8th place trophy) and then goal number three sneaked in on 90+5 and the whistle blew for rant time for the professionals on YT, twitter and the nefarious blogs everywhere. The third goal made the score seem meaner and more humiliating.And that was that, we died with our boots on.
We find ourselves now two uphill points outside the top 4, and to “av a CL laugh” we need Chelsea to mess up (again) and us to start winning. Odd that we could have been way up in 3rd rather than stuck in Tombstone City 5th.
But we aren’t finished. Was it really the last chance gunfight at the KO corral? Just because it looks bad doesn’t mean it is? Even the PL top four shuffle hasn’t finished yet. There might be a final hoedown yet? Does Doc ‘St.Totteringham’ Holliday has some special moonshine to pick us up? Will there be a Tom Mix-up?
Valencia is a bigger game, and we like those, surely there’s some hope? What that you say, don’t call me Shirley? But if we concentrate on what might have been, how can we concentrate on what might be? Will we be True Grit or Butch and Sundance getting slaughtered? I dont know, but a cup game is very different from a league game…
And top stuff for the Arsenal Women today. Making us proud even when we feel buried and forgotten. See? Always something to smile about and feel good.
COYG!
116 Comments

Last Chance At Leicester

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Good day one and all.
Arsenal is traveling north to the King Power Stadium for a high noon confrontation with Leicester City in what may well be a last chance saloon to keep alive top-four aspirations.
The Gunners lost their way a bit in the last two Premier League fixtures as they conceded three goals in defeats to both Crystal Palace and Wolves, after conceding just one in their seven games prior (all competitions). It made the Gooniverse restless as questions are being asked as to whether they got the gumption to get over the last few hurdles as we approach the finish line. This is the same group of players that registered fine victories over United, Chelsea and Tottenham, and were impressive in draws against Liverpool and Tottenham (a) – both which they were unlucky not to win.
So why did we look so limp and stripped of any kind of heart? Is Unai Emery’s tinkering unsettling the team?
Since taking charge of the Foxes Brendan Rodgers lost his first against Watford but he look to have instilled ‘great character’ thereafter as his team won their next four. However, their last two matches were a loss and draw each, so to avoid three game winless run it’s unlikely we’ll find them in the mood to just rollover. Jamie Vardy too, who had his ups and downs under previous manager Claude Puel, seem to have got an arm around his shoulder and whispers of nonsensical motivational mantra into his ear as he comes into this game having scored six goals in their last six matches.
There’s no hiding that Arsenal was a bit sh** this past week but the battle for Champions League places is not over yet and it will arguably makes little sense to rest and rotate with two weeks left this campaign. Although Europa offers another path for a return to Europe’s premier club competition, being ‘at the beach’ would not be ideal preparation ahead of Thursday night – which indeed pose an interesting selection dilemma for Emery.
Win this afternoon and we will move to within a point of Totnum and also put added pressure on both Chelsea and Manutd – who face each other later at Old Trafford – as the loser may well find themselves out of the top-four race.
That being said, the Gunners’ away form has been pretty dire and beating the Foxes at the KP is a task easier said than done. So while this is a tough one to call, I think we can expect to see a very interesting game because both teams are going to slug it out, and if push comes to shove… the Gunners just need to dig deep.
@LaboGoon
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Arsenal Savaged By Wolves And Their Own Fans

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Please excuse me today as I attempt to put down my thoughts, because honestly they are all over the place. The only thing that is clear in my mind is that I have not got a clear mind. Lets start with last nights game.

For the first 25 minutes we dominated the ball yet failed to have a single attempt on goal. In fact we didn’t have an attempt in the entire first half.

The first goal was a well taken free kick but that kick was a result of a needless foul in a dangerous area. The commentators tried to blame the wall for being weak, but I think it just was over them and a great kick. Sadly, that was basically the end of the game as a contest. For me the next 2 goals were the result of rank bad defending and goalkeeping errors.

The second half was not much better although we did get one back from a wonderful Xhaka delivery from a corner. Truth be told we never threatened to get back into the game.

The question is why were we so ineffective? The answer is quite simple, you all know it because we are all experts in the game and could easily put things right ourselves? Right?

Well no, but that’s the problem. If I was to hazard a guess it would be that Ozil was moving wide to find space and the lack of a midfield runner(namely Ramsey), together with Iwobi and Mkhitaryan being ineffective and also not giving movement in and around  the box., meant nothing was created. But really, it’s just a guess.

Anyway, we were soundly beaten by a team that executed their own game plan very well, a huge amount of credit should go to just how good Wolves were.

Once the game was over the fans retreated to their trenches and the attacks began. It was Emery’s fault, it was the players fault or it was Wenger’s fault, depending on which bias you wanted confirmation of.

We were woeful against Everton, dreadful against Palace, poor and lucky against Watford and easy to beat last night. We had a golden opportunity to finish 3rd, let alone 4th, and we have royally ballsed it up. But, this manager and these players also put in decent performances that gave us the golden chance. Yes, it’s all gone wrong, but for a while it was all going well. We tend to forget the good as soon as some bad comes along. It may get worse, then again it might get better.

I long for the attacking jazz play we used to get from Arsene’s teams,but we should also remember the thrashings we got when it didn’t work. There were times when we looked toothless,weak and even clueless.

After the Palace defeat Emery came out and defended Mustafi, that showed class and strength from our head coach. His post match press conference last night was fantastic. He didn’t throw any player under the bus, he knew what had gone wrong and where we could have done better. I think he is too negative and pragmatic, but he seems a very decent man and he has been successful at smaller clubs than us and at a mega club, there is a good chance he can be successful for us.

We had one of the all time great managers for 22 years, if we expect Emery to be as good , let alone better, then we will be hugely disappointed. It doesn’t matter if you thought Arsene was great or rubbish, the comparisons to him are pointless. By all means be critical of Emery, but at least understand the difficulties he has in front of him.

This blog was built on the shoulders of people like Arsenal Andrew,Andy Nic, Zim Paul and Frank, we must remember this:-

“If you are a fan of the club who needs to vent their frustration by denouncing players who are “Notfittoweartheshirt”, or who delights disparaging the efforts of the club’s former or current coaches then the site is probably not for you. If you are an expert in the football transfer market, in sports medicine, in the mechanics of running a £1.5 billion sports business etcetera then it may be that PA is an insufficient platform for that abundance of your accumulated knowledge. There are many other blogs on which you will be much, much more at home.”

And I am talking to you Pedantic George(that’s me for any new readers) as well , by the way.

Finally, our friend Mills posted this. This is what the site should be about,have a read.

It’s always the same, how aftv don’t seem to understand what football is or how it operates. Wolves are having a honeymoon at the moment, the cat shall mew and the wolf have its day, but the woodman( relegation) is always standing next to them waiting. They needed to beat us, it validates them, but for Arsenal, who wants to go to Wolves? Its of little interest, and in a way its a big fault on our part, but I’m sure man yof the other top 6 teams feel the same, in a way its the Problem of the EPL? Don’t get me wrong, its pretty disappointing, how can it not be?
I just don’t think the lads felt inspired and if they play in an uninspired way without parking the bus, bad play and mistakes will happen. Its unlike Leno to make a couple of mistakes, and its unlike Kos to not mark up really well. The whole season has been devoid of getting in a good place mentally and building on it. But we have the potential, we can see it, its all there.
aftv think that Man City and Liverpool and Arsenal of 20 yrs ago just come out of no-where or you can pay. Cash helps but still it needs a geist. Good psychology and getting a unity(or even a general unity) is the key, then all things proceed from there. Of course its not plain sailing, its keeping on the path, reacting to causes and effects and thats easier said than done.It doesn’t come when youre watching either.
For example, the lads now have to get up from these two games and do their best, but if the geist bogs off, how to you get flow and rhythm? How do you keep unity and a good geist in all players?Go on social media and get advice form people who cant kick a ball properly but know everything in hindsight.
It concerns me that people think that going to a game, then slagging the team off afterwards because they didn’t get what they wanted (“im the paying customer!”)because they believe they are the real deal (and a manager) because loud voices and sensationalism get attention, is supporting. No it isn’t. Its only part of the equation. We’ve all spent loads of money going, as did generations before me. Without social media what then for these commentators? Why do they think they are right? If they were in charge what then? What the film the Matrix misunderstood, is that everyone thinks they are the one.

On a petty level they give too much ammunition to other teams to throw at the club. 5th columnists, and its unconscious, which makes it all the more scary.

Of course my opinions are as worthless or worthy as theirs, but I don’t claim to be right, just to try and add another perspective. They doesn’t make me righteous either, more than likely a tool. But the world suffers unnecessarily…

The club imo, should ban the players from looking and interacting with social media,(and people like me) its could also stop playing up to the likes of aftv, what for? Because they proclaim themselves the in crowd? Outside any in-crowd circle are people who are also worthy, all that in-crowd stuff is nonsense anyway. All is fleeting.

Every single player who went out last night is a good player, has proved for years they are good players. It didn’t happen, Liverpool and City, just like ManUre and Chelsea and us will also experience this, its football. Wolves are king of their dung heap, let them have it. Soon enough another will come along crowing all knowing.On another day and with the right flow, they would have lost 3-1. and the season isnt lost yet either.

And the ship sails on.COYG!”

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Top-four Hokey-Pokey Goes To Wolves

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Good day one and all.
Arsenal is at the Molineux this evening wanting to get their top-four quest back on track against the Wolves pack of Nuno Espírito Santo.
The Gunners suffered a setback on Sunday as they slumped to a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace – ending a 16 match Emirates unbeaten run. The challenge now though is to get back to winning ways as a statement of intent that we haven’t given up hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
However, we will have our work cut out against Wolves who, for a promoted side, are playing with extraordinary competence and proven themselves worthy to compete against the league best – and they got a good home record to boot. They are unbeaten in their last nine games at the Molineux (all competitions). That is a run that include seven wins, some of which are fine victories over Liverpool, Leicester and United twice. Their last home defeat was against Crystal Palace on the 2nd January – imagine that. They especially seem to enjoy playing against the top-six sides as some of their earlier games this season include excellent wins against Chelsea (h) and Spurs (a), and credible draws against City (h) and Arsenal (a).
What all this mean is that Wolves will play the good stuff, something that usually will suit us but we have been struggling recently against Everton, Watford and Palace who all had a good go at us. And if you add Arsenal only having won two of our last ten away league games… there indeed is cause for concern.
We shouldn’t be too apprehensive though because the gulf between a decent team in form and a truly top class team is still quite significant. Defensive issues aside Arsenal always give themselves chances to put games to bed, our finishing just had been lacking even in games we got results in recent months.
Team news: Monreal, Torreira, Maitland-Niles and Sokratis (back from suspension) are all line to return to the matchday XI tonight, with doubts of Xhaka’s fitness Guendouzi could continue in the centre of midfield.
Going from seven changes to the line-up in one game to at least four in the next at the business end of the season with so much at stake can’t be good for team chemistry. Now I’m not taking anything away from Emery here because he deserves the benefit of the doubt for having us battling for top-four and in the last four in Europa while in transition. However, he needs to get the team settled because his tendency to tinker on a week to week basis could be a worry in the long run.
Wolves got some tricky players that has the potential to trouble and break down shaky defenses but we have to throw caution to the wind and just back our attack, because any dropped points now could inflict some serious damage to our top-four bid.
A win would see Arsenal back in 4th, above Chelsea and one point behind Spurs, with three league to go. Time to step up Gunners AND Gooners.
@LaboGoon
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