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Arsenal vs Aston Villa, match preview

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It’s the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures of the 2019/20 campaign and Arsenal is on the road again, going up against relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
The Gunners will be hoping to make it three-straight wins across all competitions, whereas the Villains, well, they’re staring down the barrel and fighting for top-flight survival.
Good day one and all.
Arsenal put their past failings against both Liverpool and Manchester City behind them with two impressive wins within four days. First beating The Reds 2-1 in the league on Wednesday, then booking their spot in the finals of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory over City on Saturday night.
With three games left on our calendar the aim now is to maintain that good run, culminating in the Wembley clash against Chelsea to show that the club is indeed heading in the right direction under head-coach Mikel Arteta.
For the Gunners to make European football through the league, well, Crystal Palace is playing in flip-flops so we would need Chelsea to beat Wolves on the final day, as well as us winning our last two games by a few goals. However, if that doesn’t go our way, we have an escape route of winning the FA Cup final to keep the continental hopes  in our hands.
Conversely, it has been a very disappointing return to the Premier League for Aston Villa; who with just eight wins from 36 games are 18th in the league table, three points and a 4 goals worse off than 17th-placed Watford.
Dean Smith, however, will feel that avoiding defeat here would give them a real shot at survival going into the final matchday, considering the managerless Hornets have Man City (tonight) and Arsenal still to play.
That said, having lost each of their previous six matches against the Gunners the odds are not looking good for the Villains. So if they are to turn that around, they will need to dig into all of their mental resources and ability tonight.
Team news
Arsenal is likely to go with a similar XI as the one from the Reds game with Cédric Soares, Rob Holding, Bukayo Saka, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson and Sead Kolasinac all expected to start.
Eddie Nketiah also returned from suspension and could lead the attack, while if Mesut Özil has fully recovered from a back problem, may well make his first appearance since the restart.
Prediction
This is a massive game for Villa who will be desperate for all three points, however, with Arsenal determined to finish the season on a high they will not be in a charitable mood. COYG!
— @LaboGoon
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Humble In Victory After Man City

After the historic defeat of Manchester City in the FA cup semi-final, the Arseblagger, Blackburn George, while ecstatic is humble in victory and cautious about the future.

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Arteta’s Arsenal Defies The Odds.

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They say that one Swallow does not a summer make, well ok, but that was a golden eagle sized swallow we saw last night. Some of us have believed in Arteta for a while, this particular someone was advocating for him to be our next manager while he was still playing for the club, but the tide of opinion must now be firmly on his side? Surely?

We started the game off being battered and giving the ball up for fun, 17% possession in the first 10 minutes and it was looking ominous. Then Luiz played a through ball from midfield to Aubameyang, he took it under control and a goal looked certain, only for him to fire it straight at the goalkeeper. Although he should have scored, it was a turning point. Suddenly we were more composed on the ball. Soon after, Emi had the ball and after passing it around the back for a while we broke out, 17 passes later Auba scored about the best team goal we have seen from any team, this season. It really was a work of art.  City continued to dominate the ball, but we pressed and defended magnificently.  Auba got gifted the ball in the box and fluffed an easy lay-off which should have been 2 nil.  But we looked the most dangerous side of the rest of the half,  despite having much less of the ball.

City came out for the second half , with a flea in their ears, started moving the ball quicker and turned up the heat. It was almost one-way traffic for the entire half, but once again some neat decisive play saw Tierney set Auba free and he finished with the aplomb of the great finisher he is.

Every single Arsenal player excelled. It was a phenomenal defensive display. Not the desperate stuff we saw against Liverpool, this was organised hard work, planning and execution. David Luiz turned up with a performance that I have not seen bettered by any Arsenal centre-back in a very long time. Despite the magnificent of his performance, for me, Xhaka excelled even that. We have not witnessed a centre-mid play that well since the days of Vieira.  I kid you not.  Xhaka is our leader and heartbeat, his critics should “F*CK OFF” as he might say to them.

What a night, what a result, what a future we might have if Arteta gets the support he deserves.

One swallow? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

Pedantic George.

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Arsenal vs Manchester City: FA Cup semi-final

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Arsenal and Manchester City will battle it out at Wembley Stadium this evening for a place in the showcase finale of the FA Cup.
Both teams have a great history in this competition with the Gunners having won it a record 13 times, whereas the Citizens, who are the defending champions, have lifted the trophy on 6 occasions.
Good day one all.
Arsenal come into this game on the back of a 2-1 victory over Liverpool. And whilst it may not have been pretty it will certainly have given a boost to morale heading into this match, especially after disappointment of defeat in the North London derby.
Mikel Arteta furrowed a few brows with his matchday XI for that Reds clash, but it may well be that he prioritises the FA Cup as it now represents our best route into European football. And should we manage to win the competition it’d be quite a special way to cap off the season, considering everything that has happened throughout this season.
Be that as it may, the odds aren’t exactly in Arsenal’s favor, having lost each of our last seven meetings against City. However, the last time these two teams met in the FA Cup it was the Gunners that came out on top, winning 2-1 at this same stage before beating Chelsea with the same score to lift the trophy in the 2016/17 edition.
So while there will be plenty of crossed fingers to see a repeat of that, getting past the Citizens won’t be easy. We have already lost 3-0 to them in both Premier League matches and may need to try something other than taking them on in their own game. Which seem to be the thinking of our head-coach:
“Like any other team, they have some weaknesses […] and as well, it’s about stopping their strengths, which they have a lot of. This is part of any game plan, it’s not about City or any other opponent that we’re facing, and tomorrow we will do exactly the same.”
On the other hand, Pep Guardiola has not been in a good mood lately. He had quite the rant telling everybody how he feel unfairly victimised at the hands of UEFA and he may need a bit of time, or a rather sizeable transfer kitty to get over it. But for now there’s matters of the day.
Man City come into this match on the back of a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Bournemouth, that put them on a run now of three-straight wins following a shock defeat to Southampton. In fact, since that loss at Saints they have scored 12 goals and conceded just once in their last three outings.
For that last match Pep, just like his Spanish counterpart, rested a few key players who could come back in as they look to continue their superb run against Arsenal.
That either Chelsea or Man United will be waiting in the final makes this clash even more special, and there is simply no diluting it’s importance for both sides who will look to finish their domestic campaigns on a high.
Team news
Man City are without goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and Sergio Agüero. Whilst Eddie Nketiah will once again miss out for Arsenal through suspension, as well as Cédric Soares, who is cup-tied. Other than that, there are no fresh injury concerns from our last match.
Prediction
The Gunners will feel good about their chances after that victory midweek, but it’s also so hard to ignore the Citizens’ strong record against us. So if we are to get the better of them today… things may need to get a bit agricultural. COYG!
— @LaboGoon
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A Great Result From A Shocking Performance.

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I could not be happier with that result. Coming back from a goal down against the League and European champions. A spectacular backs to the wall victory with every player leaving it all out on the pitch. Fantastic.

However, the flip side is that we played shocking football. We were dominated from start to finish by a side that has already gone on holiday.

The two goals we scored were not the result of our good play, not even the result of us pressing as a team forcing a mistake, they were the result of two Liverpool players , under very little pressure, dropping huge clangers. They were so much against the run of play that I physically burst out laughing.

Take those 2 gifts away and we had one attempt on their goal in 95 minutes of play. At home.

We had 31% possession, the lowest recorded by any Arsenal team in the Premier League, at home, at our own F*cking home.

This was not a park the bus, restrict their chances and hit them on the break performance, it was a we got battered and somehow clung on by the skin of our teeth performance. They had 23 attempts on our goal, so it wasn’t a great defensive effort, it was desperate stuff.

Of course we deserve huge credit for the commitment ,spirit and effort, but I can’t be happy with the performance because it was frankly pathetic.

Our passing was non existent, no fluency or creativity.

I thought Lacazette, playing this false 9 role, was fantastic. Which is rather ironic in that he is the current whipping boy of the squad.

Also we seem to have got an upgrade in the goalkeeping department, which is odd because Leno was perhaps our player of the season. Two busses come at once eh?

I’m confused, because I 100% believe in Arteta but we should not be so bad so often, even with the worst squad in 25 years.

If ever a result has masked a performance, this was it. But don’t let that take the joy of getting 3 points against Liverpool, that has to be enjoyed separately.

Pedantic George.

 

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Arsenal vs Liverpool

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With European hopes hanging on by a wing and a prayer, Arsenal host 2019/20 Premier League champions Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium this evening.
Good day one and all.
The size of the job facing Mikel Arteta was once again laid bare for all to see during Sunday’s 2-1 North London derby defeat. Of course, with two-thirds of possession we weren’t necessarily outplayed, but it took us a wonder-strike to go a goal up, only to then just gift them both goals without reply.
With our dropped points from winning positions now at 21 for the season, a swing that could have had us up at 3rd in the league table – just one point behind Man City, it yet again raised all too familiar questions about our mental strength and character.
Be that as it may, we need to acknowledge that Mikel came in to do a repair job and not allow our frustrations to take away from the noticeable improvements since. Before the NLD loss we were on a run of five games without defeat (W4, D1) and we are still unbeaten at home in the league this calendar year.
So for me, the doomsday prophecy of us descending into mid-table mediocrity is over the top. We did well before the lock-down and always knew following the restart, especially with the congested schedule, that we were heading for a rough patch with 4 away fixtures on the bounce, bit of a breather vs Norwich only to go again for four straight league games against teams above us on the log and then, just because the football gods have a sense of humour, an FA Cup semi-final against Man City.
Our issues precedes Mikel’s arrival and I believe he’s committed and deserving of patience from the Arsenal faithful. I take encouragement from this words in his pre-match presser:
“At the end of the season we are going to have to assess where we are in terms of the club, what is the ambition and where we want to head.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool is flying as high as that bird on their crest and their fans couldn’t be more happy. However, with Jurgen Klopp now chasing the all-time English top-flight points record, things hasn’t all gone his way.
Since being crowned champions The Reds have won just two of their four games (D1, L1). And this “drop in form” is something Klopp want an improvement on, because if they are to break Man City’s 100-point haul they have to win each of their last three outings.
But whatever happens… nothing will take the shine away from their remarkable league campaign.
Team news
Arsenal will once again be without the suspended Eddie Nketiah but Mesut Özil was back in full training. However, his involvement in this game may be subject to a late fitness test; at best he could make the bench and hopefully get a cameo towards the end to give him a run before our FA Cup match at Wembley.
Prediction
The Gunners haven’t beaten The Reds in all competitions since 2015. However, the visitors had to share the spoils on their last two trips to the Emirates.
Overall the expectation is that this should be a routine win for the league champs, but with Liverpool chasing a record and Arsenal needing an immediate reaction after recent slip-ups… this could be an open and very entertaining game. COYG!
— @LaboGoon
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Arsenal Face Future Of Mid-Table Mediocrity

After falling to defeat in the North London derby and news that Manchester City escaped serious punishment for violations of UEFA’s fair play rules, the Arseblagger is depressed about the future of Arsenal and the Premier League. He is convinced the Gunners will descend to mid-table mediocrity. Tune-in to this podcast.

We welcome your feedback and comments to this critical issue.

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A Trip To The Chicken Farm.

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It’s North London derby day with Arsenal making the short trip up Seven Sisters to play Tottenham Hotspur; both sides will hope to boost their chances of a top-six finish in the Premier League standings.
When these teams met in the reverse fixture back in September, the Gunners came from two goals down to draw 2-2. Then Unai Emery and Mauricio Pochettino were in opposing dugouts, now both clubs are in a transition period under Mikel Arteta and José Mourinho respectively.
Good day one and all.
For all intents and purpose, the midweek result against Leicester City took us out of the running for Champions League football. But also, to be fair to Mikel it wasn’t really that result, nor the one at Brighton, our problems go a lot further back than that. He came in mid-season, with the team directionless, to do a repair job and emboss a playing style ahead of the new season.
From the table  below (updated to just before this game week) it can be seen that under Mikel we are doing as well as expected and disappointment at our current league position shouldn’t pause the feel-good factor that has returned to the Emirates Stadium.
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Be that as it may, the season is not lost yet. We can still salvage it by qualifying for next season’s Europa League.
After losing the initial two games following the restart, the Gunners show signs that they have found their rhythm since, winning three league games on the bounce without conceding, before the 1-1 draw against the Foxes having played with 10 men. Across all competitions we are currently on an unbeaten run of 5 games and will be keen to extend the current upturn in form.
Conversely, Spurs come into this game on the back of a 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened Bournemouth, without registering a single a shot on target.
They do have recent home wins against West Ham United and Everton, but also those are their only two victories in 11 matches stretching back to mid-February. It is this that has led to José Mourinho facing criticism for his approach to games.
That said, Mikel wouldn’t make the mistake to underestimate our bitter rivals. They got three clean sheets in their last four games, and if Mourinho can just find a way to get the most out of his attacking talent they can still recover their season.
Team news
Notable absentees for Spurs will be Eric Dier, who has been hit with a four-match ban for confronting a spectator. Also Dele Alli is reported to be ruled-out, having already missed the last two games.
For Arsenal there’s no new injuries from our last game, however, Eddie Nkeitah is suspended for three matches following a red card midweek.
Otherwise, Mikel is likely to go with a very similar starting XI from our previous game, with Nicolas Pépé having to wait a bit longer as Bukayo Saka impressed once again.
Prediction
Look, these two teams may have revised their aims regarding their expectations for this season but this is still the North London derby, so the usual flames that come with such a storied-rivalry shouldn’t be dampened.
Given the comments by the Gunners’ social media team following Spurs’ defeat at Sheffield United, this has the makings of being an intense, entertaining and very combative affair.
— @LaboGoon
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Same Old Arsenal, Always Cheated?

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Good afternoon positive people.

Well that game left me with mixed emotions. I was happy that after 15 minutes we wrestled control of the game and dominated them for the remainder of the half. We seemed to attack at will and created many good chances. We could, and perhaps should, have been 2, 3 or even 4 up, come half time. They simply couldn’t live with Xhaka and Ceballos running the midfield, and Lacazette, Saka, Aubameyang terrorised them for a good spell.

However, that happiness is tempered with how we totally lost control in the second half, were dominated by possession, had Eddie sent off and ultimately were hanging on for a point.

We had the best half of football for ages, followed by one of the worst. And yes, the referee didn’t help, but we didn’t help ourselves either.

On balance I feel a point was fair, although disappointing too.

Top four has been a pipe dream all season, so perhaps now we can stop with the wishful thinking and enjoy the fight for a Europa place.

Pedantic George.

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Arsenal vs Leicester City

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The football are coming thick and fast with Arsenal going again, this time hosting Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in a Premier League clash.

The Gunners come into this match on the back of an impressive 2-0 victory at Wolves to continue their recent good run, whereas the Foxes made light work of Crystal Palace to finally get their first win in five games since the restart.

Good day one and all.

With the season now in the home stretch Arsenal have had a timely upturn in form, winning three straight league games without conceding a goal. Mikel Arteta is clearly happy with the defensive improvement, yet cautious:

“The more we improve here, the more solid we are, the more chances we are going to have to win football games.”

Also at the Emirates our form have always been exemplary. In our last six outings at home we kept four clean sheets to go with our still unbeaten league run since the turn of the year – taking 16 points from a possible 18.

Conversely, Leicester are without a win on their travels since New Year’s Day. It’s been a five-match winless run which saw them taking only two points from a possible 15.

The 3-0 win over the Eagles was a vital one for the Foxes as it gives them bit of a bounce as they now start a very tricky run-in; following tonight their final four league fixtures are against Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Spurs and Manutd. Brendan Rogers will be well aware that there is little room for error if they are to maintain their current top-four standing.

The Gunners also have a sticky run-in… but if they are able to extend their winning run here tonight it can only boost their own continental cause even further.

Team News

Mikel Arteta could make very few changes from the team that took the field at Wolves, as he would like to build on that performance.

Two players that could come in are Alexandre Lacazette, he will be hopeful of handed a start after he came off the bench to score, having again missed out to Eddie Nketiah. Nicolas Pépé will be another, who missed out last time due to his wife giving birth, but whether that comes at the expense of Bukayo Saka is a decision the coach has to make.

Mesut Özil could make the matchday squad, subject to a late fitness test due to recurring back problems.

Prediction

Both teams are looking to finish the season strong because they still have much to play for. But also the Gunners are good at home, whilst the Foxes have been out of sorts on the road.

Meaning Arsenal should go into this encounter in good shape to give Leicester’s top-four hopes a mighty dent. COYG!

— LaboGoon

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