Category Archives: champions league

Arsenal suffer embarrassing defeat to Stoke City

Arsenal Community Shield

Well, well, well. On the back of three straight wins, you kind of felt that we might be heading into a rich spell of form; but then Arsene Wenger’s not so mighty Arsenal slumped to a 3-2 defeat to Stoke City, in the most embarrassing of ways. After slipping to a 3-0 deficit before the half time whistle, we had to go all in for the second half. Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla both grabbed goals but ultimately it wasn’t enough for us.
What’s most frustrating is that it’s clearly obvious we were missing Laurent Koscielny at the back. We don’t have a backup defender and the January transfer window is too late, we should have had backup for Vermaelen a long time ago. Also, the midfield does not have a solid defensive asset. Mathieu Flamini is done at the highest level. We need a better player than him.
I don’t like to say this, but it looks as if our chances of Champions League success are still on, but it’s not enough for us. We should be growing on the success of the FA Cup victory last season and building on it.
All that matters now is that we’ve got another game against Hull City in the FA Cup, that’s definitely one we can win again and we’ll be happy it’s a home draw. After that, we need to start reversing our dismal league form.
Tomorrow we take on Galatasaray in the Champions League. Arsene must use this chance to play his reserves as our squad is very short. I am curious to see what kind of team Wenger puts out, especially as we all know the benefit of a victory in the CL group stage, another 1 million pounds in the bank. So what is it Arsene, money over another injury crisis? We’ve all seen this before. After we take on Gala, we play Newcastle at home, a game we need to be winning. Arsenal have a decent record against the Toon Army at home and I fully expect for that to continue there.
For now, we’ve got to bounce back before it’s too late.

Brutal Anderlecht comeback delays Arsenal qualification

Alexis Sanchez

Well, well well… that was not fun to watch. When all seemed to be going well, with Arsenal coasting to a 3-0 victory over Anderlecht, the Belgian minnows fought hard and came back to level up the scores at 3-3.
We’ve been used to seeing Arsenal score late goals this season, it’s not fun to see us on the other end of some late action.
Positives from last night; of course, yet again Alexis Sanchez. He scored a wonderful goal after an initial free kick rebounded off of the wall and then he had a second crack on the volley and the ball went past Silvio Proto into the corner of the net. That’s about it.
Negatives; the entire defence – I don’t know what has happened to Per Mertesacker but he is looking well off the pace since he won the World Cup. In addition, Nacho Monreal is not a decent centre half so should not being played there. Why oh why we didn’t sign another centre back when we had the chance is beyond me. I’d love to see Carl Jenkinson back at Arsenal sooner rather than later.
One other positive, we only need a point against a struggling Borussia Dortmund at home or a visit to Turkish side Galatasaray. I think we’re safe, but we’ve made a meal of it.
We now need to focus on our next game in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger has just a little under two months to find a centre back that he MUST sign in January otherwise it could be a trophyless season for us.
We can’t keep conceding goals like this, especially against average sides like Anderlecht.
That’s all for now.

Final day victory for Gunners

MesutOzilNorwich

Well, what a season it’s been. Up and down that’s for sure… but I can’t help but feel most Arsenal fans will be thinking what could have been.

Arsene Wenger went out and spent big at the beginning of the season, at the last minute of course. Mesut Ozil was the player who came in for a big money fee. Initially, and for the first four months of the season, the German was first class. After January though, he looked to be tired and short of fitness. This, as has been in the past, was the story of Arsenal’s decade. A short squad, lacking the players needed to make a title challenge.

The first few months, in and around the Emirates, it felt like we supported a different team. The fans were more friendly, the atmosphere was buzzing; people felt like Arsenal could go on and win some trophies this season. We looked like we could do it and Wenger had finally got it right.

Then the injuries started coming, as they usually do. What we need to look at desperately is firstly our team of physios and also the training that Wenger is adopting. It seems to tire out our players and makes it easier for them to pick up injuries during the big games. Think about this, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was missing this year, Mesut Ozil for a lengthy spell, we lost Lukas Podolski for a while; Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky picked up an injury for a short time, Kieron Gibbs picked up his annual niggle too. There were many. Why does this happen to us at all important times of the season?

Into January, the injury to Theo Walcott against Tottenham was the final nail in the coffin. Even though we were top of the league then and flying high, we were short of pace on the flanks, all important in the modern game. Look at any other title chasing team, Liverpool have Raheem Sterling; Chelsea have Schurrle, Salah; Man City have David Silva and Jesus Navas. Arsenal did have Serge Gnabry on the bench, but he didn’t have a go, not really sure why Wenger didn’t put much faith in him. I expect to see Gnabry play a more important role at Arsenal next year. If he’s not guaranteed a chance, then please send him out on loan somewhere Arsene.

Then, everything went downhill into the last 10 games of the season. Psychologically, Arsenal took a battering with the 6-0 defeat against Chelsea. That’s when it was all over. We still continue to show that we can’t compete against the best top teams, that really does hurt. We need to change that if we’re going to compete next year, that means we need a class defensive midfielder, someone like Fernandinho; also a good replacement for Bacary Sagna. We also need to keep Lukas Podolski and think about bringing in yet another striker. We don’t have enough forwards to challenge for the title. I wonder if some of our promising wonderkid’s will have a go next season?

As for the final day for Arsenal, it was a victory and a comfortable one as well. Aaron Ramsey scored a wonderful goal, Marco van Basten-esque in fact. Then Carl Jenkinson also got on the scoresheet as well with an impressive goal. Finding some room in front of goal and spanking home in decent fashion. I wonder if he’ll be brought in to replace Bacary Sagna next year as a straight swap? So very ironic that his first goal for the club comes in Sagna’s last game…

So it’s on to the FA Cup Final against Hull City next week and then it’s job done and on to the World Cup for the majority of our players. We have had a brilliant little spell of form recently, it’s just a shame we couldn’t hold up against the top teams this season and it might’ve been different indeed.

We’ve also got the all important and expected contract signing of Mr. Wenger coming up soon. When will that be announced? How long will he sign for? Is he doing a Sir Alex and will he retire at the end of the season unannounced? Very unlikely, but it is peculiar that Arsene is keeping his cards close to his chest. I expect he’ll sign a two year contract and that he’ll not be spending much money at all this summer. He really doesn’t think he needs to. What he should be doing though is bringing in some experienced heads to join his coaching team. Dennis Bergkamp is doing a wonderful job at Ajax as Frank De Boer’s assistant, how about bringing him onto the coaching team? What about the medical team? Can we bring in some experience from a rival club there? How about the backroom team? In the age of big data, do we have quality people who are analysing our opponents? Can we add some knowledge here… I’m sure most of our rivals do.

Anyway, it’s a final day win and congratulations to Man City. To be honest, of all the teams at the top I was personally happier that City won the league… can you imagine if Liverpool won with that average squad? What about Jose Mourinho with his negatron tactics?

Let’s learn from this season, lift the FA Cup and spend big in the summer. It’s been a mixed season indeed… onward and upward.

Mesut Ozil takes the blame as Gunners slump to 2-0 Bayern defeat

Mesut Ozil

Arsenal were, quite frankly, beaten by a much better team last night. Much will be said at the end of this campaign about how we had so much potential and opportunity to lift some big silverware this year, but one trophy that we will almost certainly not have a chance winning now is the Champions League after a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich last night.

The Gunners were pretty disappointing on the whole. Whilst the referee did us no favours sending off Szcz for a debatable challenge in the box, then giving Bayern a penalty as well, we still looked off the ball and really lacked the final impetus in the final third.

What really hurt the most though, was the performance of record signing Mesut Ozil. Something’s not quite right with the German since the end of December and it is starting to show. He was brought down in the box and then stepped up to take the penalty and with that shot he pumped it straight at German keeper Manuel Neuer. One of the most disappointing penalties I have seen for some time – but regardless of that we need to get behind the German because there is no doubt he is a massive talent.

We move on to a game against Sunderland this weekend which is an absolute must win if we want to stay in the title race. I have a sneaky feeling we will be getting 3 points out of it but Gus Poyet is doing a tremendous job with the Black Cats so we need to be at our best.

Yaya Sanogo seems to be pushing for a first team spot at the moment, I actually liked his performance against Bayern – I suggest keep him there for a bit and give Olivier Giroud an extended spell on the bench.

That’s all for now. Have a good day Gooners.

Arsenal 1-1 Everton – close but no cigar

Per Mertesacker James MCCarthy Everton

So, before the game there was a huge possibility that Arsenal would go 7 points clear at the top of the table. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be yesterday. A spirited Everton display kept Arsenal out for the vast majority of the game, and the Toffees actually controlled the first half. The Gunners were on the back foot for most of the game. I was very impressed with the performance of Ross Barkley, he looks a class act. After the game the press praised the midfielder and suggested that Barkley would be a better prospect for England’s World Cup than Jack Wilshere, I would say they are two completely different players. If we have room, we should think about playing both together in Brazil – anyway it gives the national side plenty of options.

The game was an interesting one indeed. Gary Neville is one of the most annoying commentators in the history of the game. For most of the first half he slated the Gunners and their tactics and referred to the importance of Everton’s dominance in possession. To be honest, we looked a bit under pressure but our defence seemed to have the game under control for most of the half. Into the second half, and we looked to have bucked our ideas up a bit. Then came Wenger’s last throw of the dice. A triple substitution introducing Flamini, Walcott and Rosicky – I can’t remember ever seeing Arsene Wenger substitute three players at once? Anyway, it seemed to work as in the 80th minute Mesut Ozil spanked home from a Walcott cross. The Gunners arguably weren’t the best team in this game and Everton were behind. Almost immediately, Deulofeu scored a leveller, well deserved to be fair. He looks one heck of a player and Barcelona will be lucky to have him, let’s see how long it is until he makes barca’s first team. Speaking of performances, Aaron Ramsey was absolutely below average yesterday – he needs a rest. Let’s hope he gets a chance soon before we knacker him out.

Overall, it wasn’t the best of performances. I think this Everton side are the real deal and could challenge for honours this year. It’s a realistic achievement that they can one day win the FA Cup or even challenge for Champions League qualification. Roberto Martinez is an excellent manager – possible Wenger replacement in a few years time? possibly.

Now we have a visit to Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday in what is a very crucial game. We just need to not lose by 3 goals to ensure that we will win the game. After that, it’s a trip to Man City on Saturday… very nerve racking indeed. Anyway, after seeing Everton win at Old Trafford last week I think the most of us would’ve taken a point yesterday. On to Wednesday it is, then.

Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Liverpool puts Gunners 5 points clear

SantiCazorla2013ARSENAL

What. a. result. I don’t know about you but the Liverpool win was probably one of my favourite Arsenal moments in the last 5-6 years. From start to finish we were simply outstanding. Up front, you had Giroud who was bouncing around all over the pitch, picking up the ball in the air and bringing others into play. In the middle, Santi Cazorla was outstanding, picking up the ball and driving forward. Rosicky was sublime. I love the way the 33 year old is coming back as an important player even though he’s into his mid 30′s, long may it continue. Ozil had a quiet game but made all the difference with an assist. Aaron Ramsey. Absolute class. Mikel Arteta, one of his best games for the club…. then finally the entire defence: BEAUTIFUL!

This was one of the best Arsenal performances I’ve seen for a long time and puts us in good track for the Borussia Dortmund game on Wednesday.

We started off the game in great fashion, this was as Mesut Ozil put on Twitter ‘Formula 1 football’. The first goal by Cazorla was great. A cross from Bacary Sagna met the head of the Spaniard, which bounced back off the post, only to fall back into his own path to spank the ball into the roof of the net. 1-0

Aaron Ramsey is having the season of his life and took his tally to 10 when he spanked home a glorious volley over the head of Simon Mignolet and into the top of the net – 2-0.

What more can you say? That defence held their own for the whole game. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are simply a superb duo. All that needs to happen is for Per to clear the last bits of dodginess in his game whilst Koscielny needs to stop giving away bad penalties and we can really make a go of it this year.

So, onto Germany we go. If we can get a win that would be simply outstanding and go a long way to guaranteeing qualification for the next round.

Team must bounce back with three points against Palace

MarouaneChamakhTonyPulisIanHolloway

Morning all,

Happy Friday it is indeed! So, we had a disappointing week in the Champions League. It really was a hard ride back down to earth after that defeat, considering we’ve been on such decent form of late. But, it’s important as well for a few reasons. The lads can’t get too carried away with this early season form. We’ve got a difficult November coming up and the Gunners are famous for losing the plot around that period. Secondly, we weren’t actually that bad in the game on paper. I think we could’ve and should’ve earned a draw from the game against Dortmund, but alas it wasn’t to be. Now we have to beat or get a point at Dortmund and the same applies to a tricky visit to Napoli. Still, remain confident that we will progress to the next round. We’ve got Marseille at home and we should hopefully get three points against them, leaving us in a wonderful position to qualify. Fingers crossed.

Onto this weekend, and it’s a visit to Crystal Palace. My, it could’ve been an interesting game if Nicklas Bendtner had joined them in the summer, but instead they opted for the abysmal Marouane Chamakh. Despite my low opinion of the Moroccan, he’s having a decent season for Palace and now that Tony Pulis looks set to take charge, you can expect the team to play a more defensive and negative style of football. What we need to do is take it to them very early on. We need to push forward Ozil and get in and around their box so that Giroud can continue his good goalscoring form. I’d also like to see Arteta get involved, he’s had a few good games lately and  with all the extra competition in the team he needs to push forward to stay a crucial member of the team.

After the Palace game, I’ve already said this, but we will know even more about our title credentials. A trip across London is never easy but we need to get the points against the negative and lower down the table teams. Palace are desperate to win some points here and Chamakh has something to prove – so we need to make sure we continue to keep up the good work and not let them get near our defence.

Elsewhere in the news, Cesc Fabregas has been outspoken and said that he left Arsenal to help out Aaron Ramsey’s career progression. I don’t really buy that, everyone knew he wanted to return to Barca someday and nobody expected Ramsey to ever start scoring goals – my how things change. On top of that, Fabregas also suggested that he would like to return to Arsenal one day. The way I see it is I do miss Fabregas, but we don’t want a 30 year old Cesc back at the Emirates. His best years will be with Barca, anything but that and he’s not good enough for the Arsenal shirt. We love you Cesc, but please don’t come back unless you’re 28 and half the price we sold you for.

There has also been some news from Italy that Llorente is considering a move to Arsenal in January on loan from Juventus. If it’s true, that would be lovely. We need some backup in the striking department desperately.

Anyway, that’s all from the Sensei. Have a good Friday folks.

Gunners romp to 4-1 victory over Norwich

He scores when he wants

Morning everyone! Happy Monday.

Well, what a weekend that was. If the performance against Norwich is anything to go by, I think we are really genuine title contenders.

Across the pitch we looked solid at all times. I was particularly impressed with the performance of Jack Wilshere, he really knows how to bite at the legs of rival midfielders. We lost Mathieu Flamini to injury in the first half and Aaron Ramsey came in to take his place. We all know how well Ramsey has done this season and Arsene Wenger would have been hoping not to use the Welshman; he needs a rest, but he called upon him anyway. And boy, is the kid delivering.

It all started well as Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere combined to score one of the all time great team goals. The Frenchman and the midfielder combined with five one touch passes before Wilshere took one touch to slot it past Ruddy in the Norwich net. I can’t remember a better team goal than that, seriously good.

It got even better later on as Ozil scored with a cheeky header from a Giroud cross. The Frenchman grabbed two assists on the day, and Ozil scored his first Premier League goal. Lovely stuff.

Then, Norwich would grab a goal back through Howson. Squeaky bum time. Arsenal wrapped up the points thanks to a wonderful goal from substitute Aaron Ramsey, who turned two Norwich defenders and then cutting inside to slip past Ruddy in goal. 3-1 and game over.

Finally, Ozil would score his second goal with a pretty simple tap in from a Ramsey cross. Lovely.

All in all, that was one heck of a performance from the lads. What I like the most about this Arsenal team is the way that we seem not to be in top gear yet and we’re still turning over teams. We’ve got a trip to Crystal Palace next (will be interesting to see Marouane Chamakh again!), and you’ve got to be confident of three points there but Selhurst Park is no easy ride for sure.

If all goes well, we can then extend our lead at the top of the league. Speaking of top of the league, Manchester United are currently eight points off of us after they dropped two against Southampton at Old Trafford at the weekend. Love it! Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Spurs all put in good performances so we’re in no way going clear at the top yet. We’ve got to keep up the good form until November. As you will all know, November is a notoriously difficult month for us – so we need to be at our best for that.

Next up is Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League at the Emirates. I expect that if we can get a win in this game, we should be into the next round (fingers crossed and touching wood simultaneously!). If we can play against Dortmund like we did against Napoli, anything is possible. This is the litmus test for our season as well. If we can beat Dortmund, who came 2nd in the Champions League last year to a very good Bayern Munich team, then we can show we can compete with the best.

Long may this good form continue. Have a good day, champs!

Tomas Rosicky to return for Napoli game, Wenger wary of Napoli threat

Rafa Benitez Napoli

Happy Monday folks, there’s not much in the way of Arsenal news this morning yet but of course there is the preparation for the visit of Napoli to the Emirates in the Champions League this Tuesday.

Napoli are really looking good this year. Their attacking quartet of Higuain, Callejon, Hamsik and Insigne is young, quick and able to compete with the best. If we’re going to get a win out of this game, our defence will need to be at their very best. Arsenal have been good defensively this year. There’s talk of a possible return for Rosicky, who could be pushed out onto the left flank giving Serge Gnabry a rest. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Rosicky is often deployed in the middle but when we signed him he used to play behind the striker or on the flank. For us to get three points out of this game, we will need to play a smart, passing game. The only way we’re going to get one over the Italian side is by playing intelligent football and hoping our defence can keep up with their speed. On the left, Callejon will be against Sagna, this is where I’m worried. I would actually prefer to see Carl Jenkinson in there. Yes he’s experienced, but he has the pace to deal with the threat of Napoli’s wing play.

Napoli have already impressed in the Champions League this year, as they beat Borussia Dortmund in the last matchday. Wenger said of that performance: “For Napoli to beat Dortmund is certainly something very special and it will lift their confidence.”

That’s exactly right. This is a young team brimming with confidence as they look to be early favourites for the Serie A title. I’m also of the opinion that Rafa Benitez will be eager to produce the goods in front of English football fans, having been dumped by Chelsea at the end of last season; despite helping them win the Europa League trophy.

Arsene Wenger also referred to the pace of Napoli in a comment yesterday: “When they win the ball they come out very quickly with Callejón, [Marek] Hamsik, Insigne and Higuaín – they all come out like bombs every time they win the ball. This means that the transition from our team from offence to defence will have to be very quick.”

The question is can we deal with that little attacking threat, let’s hope so.

Have a nice week folks!

Swansea win sends Arsenal top of the league

Jack Wilshere,Per Mertesacker,Aaron Ramsey

So, Arsenal continued their good start to the season and Aaron Ramsey has kept up his goalscoring exploits. If you compare our season so far to this point last season, it couldn’t be any different. Aaron Ramsey has scored more goals so far this season than he did in the whole of the last two seasons and we’re top of the league, it’s truly amazing!

Yesterday’s game and build up was all about whether or not we could maintain this good form on the road against a big club. Granted, Swansea weren’t a big team until a couple of years ago, but a trip to Wales is always a good test for the boys.

Arsene Wenger decided to keep an unchanged side to the week prior and that meant young Serge Gnabry would be playing three games in a week. It’s experience like this that gives youngsters the chance to prove themselves at the highest level.

We started off on the back foot, but didn’t ever really look like we were going to be challenged by the Swans. In truth, Michu looked like their most dangerous player for the majority of the game, while Dwight Tiendalli and Nathan Dyer often looked like they would cause aggravation for our team from the wings.  However, I have to say, Sagna and Gibbs played excellently stopping the attacking threat of the Swans. It’s amazing to see Gibbs continue to develop after a rough start at Arsenal, but I think in Gibbsy England have a pretty excellent replacement for Ashley Cole.

In the middle of the park, we played pretty well. Jack Wilshere seems to be becoming more of a free role midfielder these days. He’s been given complete freedom to pick up the ball, get stuck into challenges and then roam forward and start build up play. He was saying earlier in the week that he hopes to score more goals soon – to be honest he shouldn’t worry about the goalscoring, just keep doing the simple stuff well. As for Flamini, what can you say… yet another solid game from the Frenchman. What a good start he’s having back at the Emirates. Of course, most of the plaudits will go to Ramsey again. He had an excellent game and bagged another goal, if he keeps this up then we too will be able to continue our good form.

Serge Gnabry opened the scoring with a crisp and composed finish into the corner. I really like the look of Gnabry, the German made a couple of excellent runs and almost created a goal earlier on in the game. It’s going to be hard for the young lad to move back to the reserves after Walcott and The Ox return from injury.

Giroud looked a little lost yesterday and so did Ozil. Luckily when our best two attacking players have bad days this season, we have the strength in central midfield to stay in the game.

Overall, excellent from the Arsenal. There’s not much in the news today, apart from talk of a potential new contract for Per Mertesacker. I have to say, we need to give him a new contract as soon as possible, he’s coming into the best years of his career and he still continues to produce the goods every game I’ve seen him in this season.

The next game sees us take on Napoli on Tuesday. Looking forward to that one. They are in my opinion better than Juventus now and will push for Serie A, and Rafa Benitez is a great coach who can do the business there. Will be looking forward to seeing how well Higuain plays as well of course!

Have a good Sunday, please post in the comments.