26 Comments

Sticky Against The Toffees.

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Good morning positive gooners.

Well that was good, bad  but never ugly. It was a great game of football involving two teams both trying to win the game. Much credit should also go to Everton, who also had both good and bad moments.

Let’s start with the bad and get it out of the way. We conceded two goals from set pieces with some old fashioned Arsenal defending. Much has been made of the set up for the first, specifically  the gap left between Mustafi and Luiz, but for me, if Sead hadn’t been sucked into dropping back as the kick was about to be taken, all the Everton players would have been offside. For the second, there was a bit of panic from players trying to clear the ball, and Leno didn’t cover himself in glory, but I think he was also unlucky, he tried to make himself big, but the shot became a scuff that dribbled under him. He would likely have saved a decent strike.

Another bad was Saka and his last half hour performance. He lost the ball frequently in dangerous positions. We shouldn’t forget that Arteta had left him out because he was gassed, he came on and for almost an hour he was magnificent, so it should be no surprise that he was the one that appeared to suffer most physically. I feel that there were a lot of players running out of gas, but he just, at his young age, suffered the most.

The good though, much outweighs the bad. Although Everton will feel, and rightly so, that they did enough to get something from the game, the way we held on was fantastic. We got three points because when almost every player was dead on their feet, they dug deeper and deeper , and gave every drop of everything.

Then there’s Leno, having made a bit of a gaff on the stroke of halftime, he was unbelievable in that final quarter.

Having gone a goal down in under a minute, we wrestled control and were well on top for the next hour. To a man, all of them played well. Again we saw Ozil benefit from two technical players , Ceballos and Xhaka, being with him and around him, all three were impressive, but Ozil stood out. Personally I though we lost a lot when he came off, but we have to accept his gifts might be less important when it’s a back to the walls situation, all be it that it becomes more “backs to the wall” when he goes off.

Aubameyang was given MOTM, for his two great finishes and his tireless running, he was great, but Eddy and Pepe played their part as well.

For many reasons it was an Arsenal performance that we can be proud of. After three games in a week, to play an in form team that has had two weeks to prepare, suffer two setbacks and still out play them for a good hour, then come away with the points? Great stuff!

46 Comments

Toffees On The Carpet

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Arsenal is hosting Everton at the Emirates Stadium this evening for their Premier League clash; with both teams on relatively good runs-of-form at the moment.

The Gunners come into this match on the back of a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions, whilst the Toffees have just one defeat in their last 11 league outings (W6, D4) to give them a two-point advantage over us in the league standings.

Since taking over the reins at the Emirates Mikel Arteta has made Arsenal a difficult side to beat. Our defenders, who were much derided for their inability to keep clean sheets prior to his arrival and even labelled “uncoachable” by Gary Neville, have really stepped up, and at a time we are missing quite a few through injury.

We went from a team not knowing where their next clean-sheet is coming from to having five in nine matches since the turn of the year, including three on the bounce in our last three matches.

This give credence to the opinion that we have a talented group of players who were either just under-performing or lacking the right guidance in recent times. And with the Arsenal faithful now starting to feel hopeful about their progression under Arteta’s care, concerns about his “lack of experience” has all but fade away.

Our attack still need to improve though, as too often their lack of finishing seems to undercut the efforts of our defence. That’s why it was so good to see Alexandre Lacazette ending his goal drought to score in successive games. If we can get a good spread of goals amongst our attackers, we should have a good chance to qualify for one of the European competitions next season.

Everton head to the Emirates in decent form, however, north London hasn’t been an easy place for the Toffees with their last victory away at the Gunners all the way back in January 1996. Something Carlo Ancelotti will no doubt hope to change.

Whilst defence remains an ongoing issue for the Italian, as their wins mainly comes from them having to outscore the opposition, there’s no doubt about their improvement since the days of fluttering above the drop zone under Marco Silva. Their leading goal scorers Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, with 20 goals and four assists between them, even caught the eye of some Europe’s top clubs.

Team News

Mesut Özil, Hector Bellerìn and Lucas Torreira all missed the trip to Greece but are expected to return; the former two to the starting lineup, the latter on the bench as Dani Ceballos continue his midfield partnership with Granit Xhaka.

The front-three could be the dream team of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pépé and Alexandre Lacazette, with the latter leading the attack.

Sead Kolasinac could replace Bukayo Saka, for some rotation to give the young ‘un a rest ahead of more games to come. Pablo Mari may be named on the bench, with Cédric Soares and Sokratis missing out.

Prediction

The last time these teams met the match ended 0-0 as both coaches watched on from stands, but Ancelotti will fancy his teams chances this time round.

However, Everton’s good form is mostly at home with them somewhat inconsistent on the road. If you add their miserable history away to Arsenal, it certainly doesn’t look for the visitors. Ergo I think the Gunners may just edge this one, even if it could turn out being a very competitive match. COYG!

@LaboGoon

35 Comments

To Olympiakos We Go

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Arsenal return to Europa League action with a trip to Greece, taking on Olympiakos at the Karaiskakis Stadium for the 1st leg of their last-32 tie. Mikel Arteta, of course, will oversee his first game on the continental scene.

The Gunners go into this match on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run across all competitions since the turn of the year. Even though half ended in draws, the Gunners will still be in high-spirits following their 4-0 second half razing of Newcastle United in a league encounter this past Sunday.

However, Arteta does not shy away from saying the players still have a long way to go to meet his expectations, while also recognising that they’re moving in the right direction. The progress they have made is something we can all be proud of because it implies that the Spaniards message is filtering through.

We have reached this ’round of 32′ as group F winners, however, with a mixed bag of results. After winning the opening three group games, we went winless in each of their last three (D2, L1). So no doubt Arteta will be hoping we hit some consistency to continue the progression as he targets success in the Cup competitions.

Meanwhile, Olympiakos play their first game in this season’s Europa, after being bumped down from the Champions League. They come into this match on the back of a comfortable 4-0 win themselves this past weekend on the domestic front and will be full of confidence.

Pedro Martins’ side is on a great run of form at the moment, in fact the last time they lost a match was on the 26th November against Tottenham in the CL. They are unbeaten after 24 matches in the Greek Super League (W18, D6); boasting a formidable goalscoring record of 50 league goals with only nine in reply.

They lead PAOK by two points and play them this coming weekend. So while that match will likely take priority with them targeting domestic success, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking they won’t try advance to the next round of the Europa at our expense. Arteta made no bones about seeing them as tough opponents:

“Papa [Sokratis] has made us even more aware of that, if we had any doubts… He knows everything about Olympiacos, about the country, about the type of fans that we are going to find here.

“I’ve been very aware from the games that I’ve watched about them and their passion, their quality and the atmosphere that we are going to have to be playing in tomorrow. So yes, it’s a difficult trip away from home and we’re going to expect a tough game and we’ve prepared for the game knowing that it’s going to be a difficult challenge.”

Team news

Of the notable absentees from the travelling party are Lucas Torreira, who misses out through illness, and Mesut Özil, him and his wife are expecting their first child – congratulations to Mr and Mrs Özil.

With the Europa providing an alternative route into next season’s Champions League Arteta could have a selection dilemma – does he rotate or pick the strongest XI from those available?

There have been some impressive performance of late though and some on the fringes that have really put their hands up. So whomever gets selected we can be sure deserves it.

Having ended his goal drought on Sunday, Alexandre Lacazette is likely to lead the attack with Eddie Nketiah dropping to the bench.

Mattéo Guendouzi made the flight and could come in the side with Dani Ceballos, who excelled on his return, likely to retain his place with Özil at home.

At the back Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac are all in line for recalls, with new signings Pablo Mari also available for selection, while Arteta expect Cédric Soares to step up his recovery in the coming days.

Prediction

The Gunners are favourites to make it through over two legs. However, with home advantage the Greeks will be tough to beat and if we make more than a few changes to the lineup we could find ourselves in for a long night.

Be that as it may, we can expect a hard-fought and very entertaining game with both sides giving it their all. COYG!

@LaboGoon

28 Comments

Ozil is the Star as Arsenal Trash Newcastle

In this podcast yours truly Shotta and Blackburn George express our enjoyment as Arsenal trash Newcastle 4:0 in the EPL. We both agree that Mesut Ozil was Man-of-the-Match, once again making a mockery of his critics. But we are both cautiously optimistic about the future.

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.

Click on the link below and enjoy our no-nonsense point of view.

25 Comments

Artetaball Makes An Appearance.

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I’m tempted to say something like that was a game of two halves,but I wont because that would be pathetic, so i’ll say it was a game of one third and two thirds. The first half an hour was none too impressive, but after that, we were well on top.

Arteta set the team up, with his selections, to best combat the deep block in a disjointed game, and it worked. With Xhaka and Dani in the midfield it allowed Ozil to do his Ozil thingamabobs, drifting into space, with a good chance the ball would reach him. And it did. Xhaka did what we have seen him do recently, and played in a hybrid CM/CB/wingback/fullback position, which allows Saka to bomb on and gave Dani more time and space. Xhaka will not get many plaudits, but he had a huge effect on the game.

I keep banging the drum that Ozil has not regressed, and he just needs the team to find him in space, i think that was exactly what happened today. He had a great game.

Ceballos also had a fine game, his passing both penetrative  and accurate. I hope this is the start of a nice little cameo from him that lasts until the end of the season.

I would be mean to not mention Saka, what a talent he is, but as I mentioned, he should say thanks to Xhaka for allowing him the freedom that he took advantage of.

Another player that had a fine game, was Mustafi. He is an exceptional defensive header of the ball. In fact he has been good consistently under Mikel, it’s a shame that he gets no recognition because……. well because he’s Mustafi.

Oh what joy it is to have our Arsenal back. Ok , I know, but it feels like a corner has been turned.

76 Comments

Hope Returns, We Hope.Arsenal v Newcastle

Empty Emirates
After sharing the spoils in each of their last four Premier League outings, Arsenal will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon. Both clubs are level on 31 points in the league standings; 11th and 12th-place respectively.
Having our feet stuck in the midtable mud is far from ideal for a club of Arsenal’s stature but to be fair to Mikel Arteta, a lot of what went wrong this campaign precedes his arrival and what he is trying to achieve is something that lasts beyond a quick-fix.
A positive thus far is our defence being more structured, without being setup to defend from deep. In recent weeks the much-maligned Shkodran Mustafi particularly has come a long way, playing some of his best football. He’s a smart guy though and will know that even with Arteta having only good things to say about him, he still has some way to go before winning over a fanbase that are very reluctant to give him his dues.
A cause for concern now is our misfiring attack, and it’s not like they’re short of goal scoring opportunities but just lacking confidence. Be that as it may, hopefully their time out in the desert was just the right tonic. There’s already two-thirds of the season gone, so if we want to keep hope alive of a top-six finish they have to get their mojo back because we simply have to beat the Geordies.
Newcastle will be making this trip to North London with ideas of their own, which does not include being pushovers. They’re on a current eight-match unbeaten run across all competitions, with an excellent 1-0 win over Chelsea the highlight in that run.
Steve Bruce do seem to have a certain blueprint when coming up against “the better sides”. It’s one of those where instead of going for a win, he just set his team up to be very hard to break down and on the odd occasion even gets a smash-and-grab. It’s a formula with varied success but against the top-six sides they’ll take what they can.
The Geordies got their issues but their fans can be relatively pleased at this stage of the season, enjoying a seven-point cushion over the bottom-three. A further nine points from their last 13 games should be enough to ensure survival and give them something to build on.
Arsenal have a good head-to-head record versus Newcastle, winning 13 of the last 14 encounters. That includes seven straight home wins in which we outscored them 20 goals to five. Hopefully we extend on that.
Team news
Sead Kolasinac is expected to return to the lineup after his recovery from injury. Reiss Nelson is also back and could make the bench.
With Arsenal short of goals Arteta may consider bringing Nicolas Pépé back in, to likely replace Alexandre Lacazette who hasn’t scored a goal in his last eight starts.
New signings Cédric Soares is still nursing a knee injury, while Pablo Mari may have to wait till later in the week to make his debut with our Europa League trip to  Olympiakos.
As for Newcastle, they got quite a long injury list but we might get to see a familiar face with Danny Rose expected to make his debut at left-back.
Prediction
In games following a break teams usually struggle for fluency, over hitting passes and the timing of runs not quite there; and this afternoon may be no different. So with Bruce well aware of his sides miserable record against the Gunners he may just opt to keep things tight for as long as he can, hoping to catch us against the run of play.
However, the Arsenal could grow stronger as the game goes on with their class eventually coming through in the latter stages to just do enough to keep all three points at the Emirates. Therefore, I foresee a home win, yet low scoring affair. COYG!
— @LaboGoon
47 Comments

The Rise Of Stupid Aggressive Fans.

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Twitter, blogs, podcasts and “click bait” presenters have changed the face of football support. The more extreme your opinions are, the more aggressive your delivery is, the more successful you will be if your goal is to profit from your supposed support of a football team. Being heard is more important than being informed to many of the new-age fans.

AFTV is both the most unpopular example of this and also the most successful. It doesn’t mater how repulsive the “stars” are, how ridiculous their opinions are, how much damage they do to the club, it’s reputation and standing, as long as enough people subscribe to and follow them, it’s job done. We saw Hector Bellerin point out that it was wrong, for so called fans, to profit from negativity, and what happened? They faked a recording of him slagging off the club, attacked him remorselessly and attempted to turn the fans against him. Their ploy was exposed, but did it matter? No it did not, more people listened , followed and subscribed. Again, job done.

You might think we would have learned, but no, hell no! We then saw the most moronic of them set up their own Youtube channels , some even broadcasting live from the front seat of their cars, they then get a huge following and make even more profit.

As if that isn’t bad enough, but we regularly see TalkSport radio, the biggest sports radio station in the world, going to these most uninformed and objectionable profiteers, for their opinion on matters they are hugely unqualified to give, it’s a joke.

Think about every “famous” blogger, podcaster and Youtuber ,then think of why they became well known. Almost every one of them are negative extremists. Are they known for their understanding of Arsenal, it’s business model, the players or the tactics? No, they are known for their attacks on almost all things Arsenal. Some are just outright rude and aggressive while others hide behind humour and snide analysis, but all have one common thread, they prey on negative feelings.

The question is, are these people driven by popular opinion, or do they drive popular opinion towards a place where they become the stars of the prevailing opinion? Let us not forget that popular opinion had us improving if we could just get rid of Arsene Wenger, it had Emery doing a great job and Raul was “the Don” ! Make no mistake, these people are looking for ways to attract attention and make a profit, the profit might be in direct £ or a surge in their own profile, but looking they are.

Recently, while having a discussion abut Mesut Ozil, I used names like Arteta, Wenger, Pep and Jose, to back up my opinion, the rebuttal expert witness they drew upon to counter me was “Clive from Arsenal Vision” , the justification for using this colossus of football knowledge was that because people paid to listen to him, he must have a valid opinion. This is where we are.

Currently , most people are behind Arteta, but make no mistake, as soon as some of these “fans” see a profit in turning against him, they will. The problem is that those of us that are still on board will give them the oxygen they desire by highlighting their negativity on social media. We have seen the backlash against AFTV and they have recognised the problem by pretending to be positive. But it won’t last because all the profit is in negativity.