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Arsenal 2 Everton 1 – Quick Reviews Part 13

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Arsenal 2 (Giroud 36, Koscielny 38) – Everton 1 (Barkley 44)

Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Arsenal overcame a gritty Everton, and shrugged off any pre match question marks over their fitness, after a physically and emotionally draining 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in midweek. There were some changes to the squad, with Gabriel coming in for Per Mertesacker at the back, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced an injured Aaron Ramsey. Olivier Giroud, who scored in his two last substitute appearances against Watford and Bayern Munich, was awarded a starting berth, while Theo Walcott dropped to the bench.

The game had a very cagey opening, with Everton allowing little space and time for Arsenal in the final third. However, the deadlock was broken on 36 minutes, when Olivier Giroud met the end of a Mesut Ozil cross with a subtle touch. And, they were 2-0 up, when Laurent Koscielny headed home from Santi Cazorla. Ross Barkley reduced the deficit on the stroke of half time, with a left footed effort past Petr Cech.

Belgian international Romelu Lukaku had chances late in the game, one of which he struck the bar with. On the second occasion, he was met by a strong unflinching tackle from Gabriel. Giroud and Ozil both struck the woodwork, as Arsenal failed to build on their slim lead in the second half. Phil Jagielka came out the worst in a tackle with Oxlade-Chamberlain and had to be taken off, as Arsenal held on for 3 vital points to move to the top of the Premier League.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in 2015-2016, Match Reviews

 

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Manchester United 1 Arsenal 2 – Old Trafford Conquered!

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Manchester United 1 (Rooney 30) – Arsenal 2 (Monreal 25, Welbeck 61)

Man of the Match – Francis Coquelin (Arsenal)

Ever since I started supporting the Arsenal, I have always had a distaste for anything Manchester United. The club, the manager, the players, the merchandise, and their fans, of course. And, it’s understandable too, for when I started supporting Arsenal, it was the heady days of the epic Premier League rivalry between Wenger and Ferguson. And then, it all died down suddenly. Arsenal’s stadium building activity cost them not only their best players, but also trophies, as a 9 year trophy drought saw Manchester United win 5 league titles, a Champions League and 3 League Cups.

Add to that, the barren run against Manchester United themselves. Arsenal haven’t beaten their Northern rivals since a sunny day in May 2011, when Aaron Ramsey scored the winner in a 1-0 win at the Emirates. Arsenal haven’t won at Old Trafford in a long time either, with the last win being a 1-0 win in 2006, Emmanuel Adebayor scoring a late winner past Tomasz Kuszcak. In the FA Cup, the teams have met 15 times, Manchester United winning 8, Arsenal 6, including the Final twice, in 1979; when Alan Sunderland scored a late winner, and in 2006, when Patrick Vieira scored the winning penalty after a 0-0 draw. And, more recently, Arsenal were drawn United at Old Trafford in 2008, where they were pummeled 4-0  and in 2011, where they lost 2-0 to a side that had 7 defenders in the starting line up.

Arsenal beat runners up Hull City 2-0 in a replay of last year’s final, Brighton away 3-2 and Middlesbrough 2-0 at home, while Manchester United beat Yeovil Town 2-0 away, Cambridge United in a home replay 3-0, and Preston 3-1 away. Recent form suggests both sides are in a mixed vein, with Arsenal winning league games against Aston Villa, Leicester, Crystal Palace, Everton and QPR, but also suffering the blips against Tottenham and Monaco, while Manchester United beat Burnley, Sunderland and Newcastle in recent games, but lost to Swansea.

Olivier Giroud was named on the bench in a surprising decision by the manager, and former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck startup up front against his old side. Tomas Rosicky was taken ill, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in his place. Nacho Monreal started in place of Kieran Gibbs, while Wojciech Szczesny kept his place in the Cup games, instead of David Ospina. Manchester United started with Ecuadorian winger Antonio Valencia at right-back, with Chris Smalling and Argentine Marcos Rojo in defence, while Shaw faced his old pal Chamberlain on the flank. The trio of summer signings Ander Herrera, Angel di Maria and Daley Blind all started alongside Marouanne Fellaini, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney.

The opening exchanges between the two sides were cagey, as both teams looked to get a foothold of the game. Alexis was the first to have a shot on target, when he forced David de Gea into a save. Hector Bellerin picked up a yellow card for a foul on Ashley Young, but everyone’s guess is the bald diver conned the referee again with his theatrics. He then had a shot on target after being set up by Marrouane Fellaini, who was then involved in a clash of heads with French defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin, who seemed to have inflicted further damage to his nose.

Arsenal were looking composed on the ball, but rarely threatened against a Manchester United side that was putting together some disjointed attacks, but nothing too dangerous either. Arsenal then showed some spark, when Bellerin was released on the right, and his cross was cleared for a corner, but shockingly not given; before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was making Luke Shaw work hard, flew a shot over the bar.

He immediately made up for it, minutes later, when he received the ball from Mesut Ozil, after the German combined with Nacho Monreal on the left flank. Chamberlain skipped past a couple of static Manchester United defenders neatly, and picked out Nacho Monreal, of all players, who was in a free position, unchallenged in the box. The Spanish left-back took one touch before calmly slotting the ball past David de Gea. 1-0 Arsenal on 25 minutes.

Arsenal’s joy lasted, just about 3 minutes, when Manchester United struck. Angel di Maria, primarily playing on the right flank, cut in to deliver a perfect cross to Wayne Rooney with his favored left-foot. The England striker was in a free space between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny and headed past a stranded Szczesny. 1-1 on 30 minutes.

Arsenal looked to hit back through Danny Welbeck, who looked keen to impress upon his return to his beloved Old Trafford. He was tugged by Marcos Rojo, near the edge of the box, but a penalty wasn’t given, and then he forced David de Gea into a fine save from a header, as the half came to a close.

Louis van Gaal rung in the changes at half-time, bringing on Phil Jones and Michael Carrick in place of the ineffective duo of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera. It was a strange decision bringing on Phil Jones at left-back. And, Arsenal were forced to make a substitution 3 minutes into the half, when the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain complained of a hamstring problem, and Arsene Wenger threw on Aaron Ramsey, instead of Theo Walcott, most probably to bolster the midfield.

The game started getting scruffy, as both teams made silly fouls. Marrouane Fellaini was lucky away to get away with most, but then picked up a booking for a foul on Ramsey. Ashley Young then fouled Welbeck and took a yellow card for his troubles. Danny Welbeck, who had put in a hard-working shift all evening, then struck a fatal blow to his former side.

Antonio Valencia inexplicably back-passed the ball to David de Gea, when under little pressure. However, the ball had little conviction. Welbeck, was alert, and raced on to the ball, rounded de Gea and slotted the ball into the net from 12 yards out. He wasn’t shy in celebrating his strike in front of the Old Trafford faithful either! 2-1 Arsenal.

Manchester United got even more grumpy after this, and started to cynically foul Arsenal players. Marcos Rojo received a yellow for a foul on Cazorla. Hector Bellerin escaped a second yellow, mostly by slyly walking away from the scene after a tackle on Ashley Young. He was immediately replaced by Callum Chambers. Chris Smalling then contrived to miss from a yard out when the ball had fallen to his feet. A Fellaini header was then saved after an assist from Young, before Alexis saw his shot from the edge of the box being saved. de Gea was called into action again when he had to make a brilliant save from a Cazorla close range volley.

Louis van Gaal used up his final substitution bringing on Belgian-Albanian-Turk-Kosovan-English midfielder Adnan Januzaj for Rojo while Welbeck left with a decent applause from the Manchester United crowd, as he was replaced by Olivier Giroud. The game then turned over its head when di Maria made full meal of a Ramsey challenge diving on to the floor like a piece of cardboard. Upon receiving yellow, he reacted angrily tugging at the referee’s shirt, and rightly received his second yellow and marching orders. This, at the most important stage of the game, with United searching for an equalizer.

Arsenal on the other hand were looking for a third, but weren’t able to put together a final pass in United’s third, while Manchester United, despite the numerical disadvantage were pushing for an equalizing goal. Most were directed towards Fellaini in search for a header, but Mertesacker and Koscielny were having a brilliant game. The multi-ethnic Adnan Januzaj tried the same cheap tricks again, which were employed by Ashley Young and Angel di Maria, and was booked for his dive in the box, when he tried to con the referee into thinking he was nudged by Nacho Monreal, when infact there was little or no contact.

The board showed 5 extra minutes, and Alexis had the chance to score a third, only for de Gea to pull off another stunning save. Arsenal held on for a deserved win, and knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup, which was realistically their only chance to win a trophy this season. There were several players who stood out on the night. Nacho Monreal manned his flank against Angel di Maria impressively, while Francis Coquelin won 10 of his 12 duels against Fellaini, albeit with a broken nose.

It may not have been the most fluent performance, but the win certainly felt good. The fact that it was despicable Manchester United, and one of their own driving the final nail, made it even more enjoyable. On to Wembley now for a semi-final against Reading!

Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in 2014-2015, Match Reviews

 

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Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

Man of the Match – Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

I am actually at a bit of a loss of words, right now. Even though its been well over a day since one of the worst games of football I have witnessed, I still can’t find enough words to jot down a match review.

The worst game I saw this season, before this was the 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Liverpool. Both teams played crap, and were just happy to kick the hell out of each other. It also had a little racist incident, by the way. And next was the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Tottenham. Not that I give a shit about them, but the game’s result was important to us. What ensued was piss poor football. But, yesterday’s game topped it all. Here is an attempt at a match review.

Arsenal’s major injury concern before the Chelsea game, was in all obviousness, Mikel Arteta. He has been ruled out for the remaining 4 games of the season. However, there were returns for French defensive midfielders Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin. Also, Yossi Benayoun was ineligible to play against his parent club. Brother of Calamity, (thanks to god’s blessings), was replaced by Laurent Koscielny, who returned after his 2 game suspension. And, a timely return it was. Arsenal started with Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield.

Chelsea, on the other hand, were forced to make wholesale changes to the squad that played in absorbing encounters against Tottenham and Barcelona, in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively. Ashley Cole was replaced by young Ryan Bertrand. Branislav Ivanovic, who is still suspended, was replaced by Portugal international Jose Bosingwa. John Terry, Gary Cahill and Petr Cech kept their places. The midfield looked fresh, with Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Oriol Romeu, all of whom have played sparingly this season, drafted in. In what seemed a 4-3-3 formation, Daniel Sturridge, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou were picked in attack.

Now, to the actual match itself. The first few minutes were the slowest minutes I have seen this season. Usually, teams like to start off with some fizz. After kickoff, Arsenal were just happy passing the ball in their own half. And the players, were just walking around, like they were taking a stroll in the park with their girlfriends. This is where the tone for the entire game is set.

Arsenal were very lethargic, and thus allowed Chelsea to have much of the ball. And, when Chelsea have the ball, it ain’t a pretty sight. They were spraying around the ball intelligently though, managing to frustrate the Gunners. However, it was Arsenal who made the first real attempt on target. van Persie managed to direct a Walcott freekick on to the post. Then, Fernando Torres had a great chance, after some good work by Florent Malouda, but he was denied by a last ditch interception from Laurent Koscielny. Minutes later, Malouda caused more problems when he played a ball over the top for Kalou, who missed an onrushing Szczesny, only for Koscielny to come to the rescue again.

In the second half, it seemed like Arsenal had gotten a bit of bashing from Wenger, when they got into the groove. (Mind you, only a little bit). Laurent Koscielny hit the post again with his header, and van Persie’s shot was turned away by Cech. Theo Walcott suffered an injury, which meant he was replaced by Le Forehead, Gervinho. A largely lacklustre Tomas Rosicky, and a dissapointing Chamberlain were soon bought off, as well, to be replaced by, surprise surprise, Abou Diaby and Andre Santos. Now, that’s how you win a match, I suppose.

There were no more real attempts on goal, really, after that, as both sides looked like they had already agreed on a draw, and were just creating chances for the heck of it. Towards the end, Alex Song played in Robin van Persie. Unfortunately, for the Dutchman, his right foot isn’t as talented as his left, and he completely miscued it. Before that, he turned in and out, beating Chelsea’s defence, but was beaten to the shot by Cech.

It took another Koscielny block to deny Sturridge later on.

The only reason I was cheerful come 1:30 AM IST, was that QPR managed to beat Sp*rs 1-0, and I saw a really entertaining El Clasico.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (7.5) – Had a good game, preventing a few goalscoring opportunities for Chelsea.

Sagna (7.5) – A decent game again, but still lacks a bit of cover from Walcott.

Vermaelen (8) – Was caught out a couple of times, and had Koscielny to rescue the situations.

Koscielny (9) – Fantastic defending. He is our best defender by a mile. (Country mile)

Gibbs (7.5) – Looked vulnerable to Chelsea’s attack a few times, but a good game overall.

Song (6.5) – He was poor. Just like the Wigan game, gave away the ball far too often, and never really looked like a defensive midfielder.

Rosicky (7) – Subdued by Romeu and Essien, to make any impact.

Chamberlain (6.5) – Can’t fault his effort, as he is still inexperienced at this level. Rarely got out of the traps.

Ramsey (6.5) – I thought he worked hard, but nothing really worked for him. Strange.

Walcott (6.5) – Ineffective against Bertrand. Stranger.

van Persie (7.5) – Why you no score with right foot? Beats me.

Subs –

Santos (7) – Put in more pace and creativity than Chamberlain on the left.

Gervinho (6.5) – Crossing needs to improve. I have never seen him once kick a football into the air.

Diaby (6.5) – Collecting a yellow card was his only contribution to a timid game

Overall Team Rating – 7.69

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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A brief look at Arsenal’s game + Chelsea preview + Lineups

Arsenal vs Chelsea, Emirates Stadium, Premier League

Kickoff – 12:45 GMT (17:15 IST), 21st April 2012

Hello Gooners. The Champions League football has helped me take my mind off the Wigan defeat, over the course of the week. It wasn’t exactly good to look at, but both the games were tight, and exciting contests, and the second legs can get even better.

But, that’s the week. The weekend is here, and we face a massive tie on Saturday, against an in form Chelsea. Let’s not beat around the bush, with a few abusive words towards our history-less (Oops!) rivals. They are a completely different team under Roberto di Matteo.

I don’t know what the sly looking bald Italian, with a wicked smile has done to the Chavs, but they have really picked up. While their league form is still a bit jittery, they have progressed quite comfortably in the FA Cup, humiliating another club, so lacking of history, Tottenham, by a margin of 5-1. And, by the way, they also managed to beat the world’s best club, thanks to Didier Drogba’s acting lessons to Sergio Busquets, by a 1-0 scoreline.

News poured in this morning, that Mikel Arteta, one of our more influential midfielders this season, is out for the remainder of the same. This is actually quite a blow. We have pivotal games coming up. If Chelsea at home was hard enough, we have to play our bogey away side, Stoke Rugby Club, Norwich at home, who will be playing just for the fun of it, and a tricky last day game at West Bromwich Albion.

While Arteta has been pivotal, he will be replaced by a player, much criticized this season, Aaron Ramsey. No, I am not going to hop on the bandwagon. I really like Aaron Ramsey. He is a good young player, but probably a bit naive and inexperienced. I see a lot of blogs and posts coming out in support of the Wales captain, and I am one too. You just cant be captain of your nation, if you aren’t good enough. While Ramsey may not be the midfield orchestrator like Arteta, or a pass-master like Fabregas, I feel has the quality to become both at once. Yes, he may attempt the odd backheel, or miss a goal, which Harry Redknapp’s missus would have scored, or just give away the ball to the opposition, like he just wasn’t interested. C’mon, that’s part of being young. You make mistakes, you learn from the, and you move on. I have watched almost every Arsenal game this season, and of course seen a lot of Ramsey in the centre of the park. And he runs around a lot, busting his lung. Give the boy some due.

While Arteta’s injury is some concern, another player Arsenal won’t be able to use, for the crunch game will be Israel midfielder Yossi Benayoun. According to rules, a player on loan can’t play against his parent team. He will be another miss. When he has played in the big games, against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, he has been immense. This, of course will give Arsene Wenger a selection headache, as to who to choose on the left hand side of midfield. Does he go for everyone’s favourite, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, or does he opt for the at-times frustrating Gervinho.

Chamberlain was given the free role against AC Milan, where he played in the centre of the park, and used the full breadth and width of the pitch, to produce a game, far too ahead for his age. The role of Alex Song, and the adventure-minded Rosicky allowed Chamberlain to dictate play, and what a fine job he did. On the wings, at times, he seems a bit suffocated, due to probably, a lack of space, to play his game. And, unfortunately for him, most of his appearances come after the 80th minute, when the team is in dire need of an equalizer, or when we just need to hold on to a precarious lead.

Robin van Persie will hope he will be in the same nick in the game, as he was back in October against the same opposition. Chelsea do have some defensive worries, when it comes to really quick forwards. Barcelona managed to expose it time and time again, but they just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net, owing to their own wastefullness, and the brilliance of Cech.

Much has been spoken about the defence in recent weeks, and its susceptibility to counter-attacks. Wigan exposed in the space of 2 minutes, the frailties, which have hampered our campaign.  One swift counter attack off a corner, and another well taken goal, gave Wigan the impetus to close down the game. The problem lies in how Arsenal go forward. Far too often, we see Vermaelen bomb down the midfield, and while our full-backs all love going forward, there needs to be a bit of balance here. It just leaves our defence too open to an attack or too less in numbers. This is where, Laurent Koscielny has been vital this season. I personally feel he is a better defender than Thomas Vermaelen. His nimble movement and pace allows Vermaelen to give that extra bit going forward. However, no such risks can be taken against a Chelsea side, who can put on pace when necessary. Left back will be occupied again by Brazilian Andre Santos, as I suspect Wenger wouldn’t want to risk Gibbs.

The final talking point of Arsenal’s play will be Alex Song, who probably played his worst game this season against Wigan. He gave the ball away far too many times, and he just couldnt balance between attack and defence, probably due to the loss of Arteta. He needs to be at his absolute best tomorrow.

The pressing game suits Arsenal best, and has served us well this season. Manchester City couldnt muster a single shot on target, and Sp*rs couldn’t manage any either, after they got their 2 goals of course. A high defensive line was the norm on both the days, and will prevent Chelsea from completing swift counters.

Let’s have a look at Chelsea then. While we have had respite in between league games, since our exit from Europe and the FA Cup, Chelsea have had a relentless round of fixtures, and they still have a minimum of 7 games left to play in the season. Roberto di Matteo is expected to rotate his squad around a bit, and why not, with the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals against Barcelona coming up, on Tuesday.

Arsenal fans will be happy to hear that Didier Drogba, so often Arsenal’s tormentor in the past is ruled out. And, with the exertions of the past week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the likes of Malouda, Essien and Torres getting a run about. Even Ryan Bertrand being selected ahead of Cashley (Oops!), I mean Ashley Cole wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit.

Ramires has been a real workhorse in midfield. His darting runs can pose a threat to Arsenal’s defence. He has been consistent throughout. Another man to watch out for is Spain winger Juan Mata. He got just 9, yes, 9 touches of the ball against Barcelona, and has been the Blues’ best player this season. His goal in October, against us, was, in the least, sensational.

Fernando Torres has been piss poor in front of goal this season, but hey, never write him off. He can come up with the goods in the big games. Daniel Sturridge’s form has waned a bit of late, but they still have the Ivorian Salomon Kalou, whose incisive runs can be dangerous. A host of different options is what Chelsea have.

Defensively, the ban for Ivanovic means a start for Portugal right-back Jose Bosingwa. They really don’t have a choice, but to play Terry and Cahill in defence. There will be a lot of tired legs, as the match wears on.

Here is how I feel the two teams could line up.

There is no doubt about the importance of this clash. A loss here, for Arsenal would mean, that we would be just 2 points ahead of Sp*rs and Newcastle, having played a game more. A loss for Chelsea will all but end their hopes of a top 4 finish, with so little to play this season. A win would of course keep them in contention for Champions League qualification. A win for the Gunners would almost seal a top 4 finish, of not 3rd spot.

All in all, the game promises to be an exciting battle of tactics and nerves.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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Arsenal 1-2 Wigan Athletic

Arsenal 1 (Vermaelen 21) – Wigan Athletic 2 (di Santo 7, Gomez 8)

Man of the Match – Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic)

I am at a loss of words to say, in the least.

Last night was a representation of what can be so shambolically Arsenal. When the fans really expect a win, over a team that is stuttering at the bottom of the table, we go ahead and lose the game. And it was not a lack of talent, but a lack of determination, last night.

Take nothing away from Wigan though. They have given themselves a great chance to survive in the Premier League, with wins over Liverpool, Manchester United, and now, Arsenal. And, they deserved every bit of the 3 points, they earned last night.

No major injury worries ahead of the game. Jack Wilshere, is however, ruled out for the rest of the season, and also for the European Championships, which I believe, must be a huge blow to him. Laurent Koscielny remained suspended for this game too, meaning there was a place in the starting lineup for brother of calamity Johan Djourou. There was also place in the lineup for inform Israel captain Yossi Benayoun, while Andre Santos continued at left-back, with Arsene Wenger deciding not to risk young Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal did all the early running, with Thomas Vermaelen’s long range effort, ambling just wide. Yossi Benayoun’s fine header was parried away by Oman international Ali Al-Habsi, who has been sensational for Wigan this season. Arsenal maintained the early pressure, as they won some early corners. It came to their own undoing, as the Gunners sent everyone forward. Wigan cleared the lines off one corner, and broke away brilliantly.

It was like clockwork, as James McCarthy, Victor Moses and Jordi Gomez all linked up, before Gomez set up the on rushing Argentina striker Franco di Santo. His initial effort was blocked by an alert Szczesny, but the ball fell perfectly to him, and he finished off to hand Wigan the lead, and end his 17 game goalscoring drought.

Before Arsenal could settle down, after the goal, Victor Moses took on Bacary Sagna, and beat him for skill to set up Jordi Gomez. His first effort was saved by Szczesny, but Gomez didn’t miss the second, and Wigan were 2-0 up at the Emirates in under 7 minutes.

There was more concern, as Mikel Arteta was forced off due to an injury, and according to some reports, his season could be over. He was replaced by Aaron Ramsey.

Arsenal’s response was swift, as they stepped up gears in midfield, with some decent moves. Vermaelen jumped too early for one effort, while Benayoun had another off his header’s clipped brilliantly by Al-Habsi. Tomas Rosicky then fed a delightful cross, and it was met powerfully by Thomas Vermaelen, who headed home.

Johan Djourou shot narrowly wide, and then, Tomas Rosicky played a 1-2 with van Persie, before completely skying his effort.

The second half was almost the same story, with Wigan playing a fine containing game, and even enjoying fair amounts of possession. Arsenal never really threatened Al-Habsi, as Antonin Alcaraz and Gary Caldwell stood firm. In fact, Wigan had the more clear scoring chances of the second half, with Moses terrorizing the naive Arsenal defence.

On one occasion, he was clear of the defence, but shot too early, for Szczesny. He later played a fine ball for Gomez, but the volley was poor. Wigan employed some time wasting tactics, towards the end, much to the frustration of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans, but the bottom line is, we really didn’t deserve to win the game.

Arsenal threw on Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but their inexperience in such circumstances, was clear for everyone to see.

The task doesn’t get easier, as next up is the in-form Chelsea.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (7) – Not really to be blamed for both the goals.

Sagna (6) – Had a poor game. Was literally owned by Moses and Beausejour.

Vermaelen (6.5) – His attacking instincts seem to be costing the team a bit at the back.

Djourou (6) – Guilty on both the ocassions. Could have been guilt for more, but was saved by Moses’ inexperience.

Santos (6.5) – Was never threatened, and did help a bit in attacking.

Song (6) – One of his worst games this season. Lost the ball far too many times. Seems to have lost that extra yard of pace too.

Rosicky (7.5) – The workhorse in the centre of midfield, and assisted Vermaelen’s header.

Arteta (No Rating) – Played too less, to get a rating.

Benayoun (7) – Can’t fault his workrate. Does tend to overdo things a bit at times. His two fine headers were brilliantly kept out though.

Walcott (6) – Lack of effort, or lack of skill, I really don’t know. Just didnt perform yesterday. Beausejour had him pocketed.

van Persie (7) – The frustration seems to be getting to him. Didnt have a good game either.

Subs –

Ramsey (7) – Worked hard all night, but nothing going his way right now. Seems to overplay a bit, and suffers as a result of that.

Gervinho (6) – Rarely got on the ball, to make a worthy impact.

Chamberlain (6) – No impact from him, either.

Overall Team Rating – 6.50

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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The QPR Fallout

Hello Gooners. Football is all about fine lines. Before the QPR game, Arsenal fans were riding high on seven consecutive victories. And, that fact that we had taken an eight point lead over Chelsea and a 3 point one over our bitterest rivals Sp*rs. Few hours later, we find ourselves again in a vulnerable position. After Chelsea’s dogged display at Villa Park, which, surprise, surprise, saw Fernando Torres finding the back of the net, and Sp*rs relatively easy beating of Swansea, and our own capitulation against relegation threatened QPR.

The fine line is applicable at the top too. Everyone had predicted towards the end of February, that Manchester City would power their way to the title. But, oh my, has the title race taken a wicked turn or what. Manchester United’s experience in closing down games, under the guidance of Alex Ferguson, is pretty well known. What we didn’t know were Manchester City’s self destructing powers. The enigmatic Mario Balotelli has been in the thick of things, as he involved himself in an on-field altercation with teammate Aleksandr Kolarov over free kick taking priveleges. With Sunderland leading 3-1, at the Etihad, Kolarov skied his freekick, before Balotelli himself got one back, and Kolarov levelled things soon after. However, it just papered the cracks, that Mancini has created, by assembling an expensive, egoistic squad. With players like Richards, Balotelli, Tevez, Kolarov, and of course $amir Ca$hri, squad management was always going for a toss. Manchester City’s title dream lays in tatters now, as they move 5 points behind Manure.

A bit from the continent then. The Champions League quarter final ties, are still far from over. AC Milan and Barcelona face off at the Nou Camp. I don’t know why, but I have the feeling AC Milan will garner a 1-1 draw and qualify. Barcelona can be bloody brilliant at times, but Milan proved they are a tough cookie to crack, in the first leg. The Bayern Munich-Marseille tie is as good as over, after Bayern’s comprehensive 2-0 win, in France. They have been warned against complacency, though, but it is going to be routine for them as they look to compete in the Champions League final, which is taking place in their own backyard, the fantastic Allianz Arena.

Chelsea vs Benfica, too is far from over. The Portugese team weren’t too good against a rather second string Chelsea side, and I would fully expect Chelsea to ride the wave, and kill of this tie too. I, however, think they will fall at the semi-final stage. They really haven’t got the squad at the moment to beat Barcelona or AC Milan. But then, in football, who knows. Speaking of which, we arrive at the Real Madrid vs APOEL Nicosia. If you told an APOEL fan, that they would be playing Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, they would have taken you for a nutter. But, here they are, brushing shoulders with the elite in Europe. They are as good as out, but they will have fun at the Bernabeu. It is not everyday you get to play there, after all.

Matters closer to the heart then. The defeat to QPR has drawn criticism, from Le Prof. Not stinging, but criticism, nonetheless.

AW on the performance

It is very frustrating because they left us the ball and waited for our mistakes. We took the ball, did not do a lot with it and made the mistakes. At the end of the day that made the result. Our performance was not good enough to win this kind of game, especially in the duels. They had a little bit of extra special commitment that took advantage of us in some specific positions defensively. Overall we can only congratulate QPR for their attitude and be unhappy with our own performance.

AW on the nature of the pitch

Any bad performance you can see coming. Each football game is a new start. It is not what you have made before that decides the game, it is what you produce on the day. And what we produced on the day was not good enough.

AW on the pitch

The pitch is not smaller than any other pitch. The pitch was bad but it does not explain our performance. We did not create enough to win a football game.

AW on the defending

I do not want to single anyone out but of course we made defensive mistakes. It is a good shock to come back to what has made our strength recently. Subconsciously something was missing today. In the Premier League, if you miss something on the commitment front you are beaten. That is what happened today.

AW on complacency

It is difficult to single out one reason but why not? We played against a team who play for survival. We prepared properly but we missed something today and you could see that. Their keeper made a good save.

AW on the goals conceded

We lost a game when our keeper had nothing to do. It is the first time this season, we were too open when we had the ball.

AW on the response

We know how to respond, we have been exposed to this situation this season. We have a good opportunity on Sunday but it will be needed after giving away the points today.

AW on Adel Taraabt

He is a very talented football player,He has shown here that he has talent, that I knew. But he has to produce these kinds of performances on a consistent level.No [I have never tried to sign him]. He was in Lens and then he went to Tottenham. He is a good player with good potential but he has to produce that week in, week out.

AW on the next game

We have to take the distance with that and put things into perspective. We have to go back to basics; that means to win football games and win your fights first.We have to play like we do. It is disappointing to lose a big run in the way that we did it here. At the end of the day the result does not lie. The focus was missing a little bit and the way we conceded the goals [was disappointing]. I felt that we lacked something, I do not deny that.  We have been consistent recently and you have to give credit to the team. But in this game we were poor and we were not good enough.

AW on the QPR performance

It is difficult to explain because we prepared as usual. Maybe we sensed it would be easier than usual and once you have that in your heads it is difficult to come back to reality.We got a reality check. I just believe that our performance was not at the level we have recently produced. I feel we did not create enough with the time we had on the ball. It was all visual but not really efficient. It is disappointing to lose a game like this. If you do not win you at least want to make a draw, you do not make the mistakes we made. We have some time to recover now and produce a decent performance [against Manchester City] on Sunday.

Meanwhile, captain Robin van Persie, looked subdued in the QPR game, for large parts. Some say he is still suffering the after effects of ‘that’ miss against Milan.

RVP on the defeat

Everyone is disappointed but towards the end of the week I am sure the spirit will be how it was,We’ll have a couple of days to be disappointed but after that our focus is on Manchester City.It is a shame we have wait eight days for the game, but it is how it is. Losing at QPR is a big blow but we have to look forward and the next one is a big one.Man City are second but drew [on Saturday] so they will need the points. We have seven big games to play but if you look at the big-name teams then we have City and Chelsea. As a fan of football I always love to play those games and one of them is next week.We have seven more games to play and I believe we can come third. It won’t be easy, everyone is fighting for every point and our opportunity is next week.Even last week when we were three points ahead [in third] with eight games left we never thought it was done. [Tottenham and] Chelsea won and came closer but we have to look at ourselves.

RVP on his evolution as a striker

I was hoping to play as a second striker… I never thought I would end up as a main striker,We only tried it [at Arsenal] when Adebayor went to Manchester City [in 2009]. The boss didn’t buy anyone else because he was convinced I could do it, but I wasn’t even convinced I could do it. I had not really played there that much, and I hadn’t thought about it much before. The boss said, ‘I think you can do it, give it a go and see where it ends. Play your normal game, don’t go out there to score, go out there to enjoy yourself and help the team’. I had a go and then in pre-season we had a game against Inter Milan and I scored good goal and played well, and he told me after the game, ‘We will see how it goes, I am 100 per cent sure it will work’.Then in my first five or six [league] games I didn’t score, I was making assists and playing well, but I didn’t score and I thought, ‘I am a main striker now, I need to score’ and the boss said, ‘I don’t mind that, as long as you play well for the team, giving assists, the goals will come’.When I scored my first goal I then scored seven in seven, with seven assists, so that was quite good. That was my first step to being a main striker.

RVP on having the element of surprise

It is quite strange because a main striker and a second striker are quite close to each other, you are playing next to each other sometimes or just behind. But it is a massive difference in your game,A second striker is a role where you are doing a lot of running, but one-pace running – closing people down to the left or to the right. Sometimes you will have a high-speed run but it is mainly one-pace stuff.For a main striker you might give everything for 10 to 15 seconds or 30 seconds, whatever it takes. After that you might have a breather and then you go again, it is in intervals from really low straight to the maximum again. There isn’t too much in the middle and it is a bit more of an aggressive game.To be fair I like that though because sometimes you can just surprise an opponent by doing that, having a breather and then, bang, you are off again. It is a different game in lots of ways, that is just one of the reasons. You are, of course, closer to the opponent’s goal, which is handy because otherwise you have to cover all that distance. Even if you are not playing well as a main striker, just that one, short moment in behind means you can still score.

Moving on, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain spoke about his EURO chances, and how he feels England has a great chance, with a trove of young talent emerging.

It would be very nice [to be involved] but I don’t get too far ahead of myself or get carried away,My main focus is to see the end of the season out with Arsenal and help us do as well as we can. We have a long way to go to get a Champions League spot and hopefully top three as well. It would be very nice, but one step at a time is the way to go.We have a lot of really good players in this country and a lot of experienced players,The fact that [the younger players] are pushing on already and are in the England squad, while playing week in week out in the Premier League, can only be good.There are a lot of good teams like Spain and Holland, but you have to say England have what it takes to get to the final and even win it.

There are a lot of English players coming through, such as the likes of Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker, while at Arsenal we have the likes of Jack Wilshere and Theo,As long as everyone keeps progressing as they are at the moment, it will be good for England’s future. We have a lot of English talent here at Arsenal and we will all be working hard to get into the national team.The longer you play with people, the better you get to know them. You bond and being around the same players means that you bounce off each other. It will be good for the future.For their age they are all really mature and fearless,You forget how young Jack is – he is such a confident lad – but at the same time they are all humble as well.When it comes to football they are really focused and just get on with the job. They are technically very good and have the right mindsets to become world-class players.

In other news, peripheral striker Marroaune Chamakh was pictured with international teammate Adel Taraabt, who scored in QPR’s win over Arsenal, in a shisha club in London. Despite speculation from the media, that this could be the beginning of the end of his time in London, the Morocco international denies this.

Am I going back to Bordeaux? For now, no. I have spoken to Wenger and I will stay at Arsenal. I think he trusts my work and I will have opportunities in the first team.When it comes to football they are really focused and just get on with the job. They are technically very good and have the right mindsets to become world-class players.

And finally, former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has warned his compatriot Lukas Podolski, ahead of his reported Arsenal transfer.

He is quick, dangerous in front of the goal, and has a good pass. I’m happy for him if he soon joins Arsenal,It won’t be easy though. He will have to get used to the pace, and he will have to realise that participating is not enough. You must win. Expectations are very high.

Meanwhile, Rennes midfielder Yaan M’Villa, revealed he was flattered by interest from the Gunners.

If the coach calls you and tells you he wants you to make you play, especially a French coach, it changes everything.The important thing for me is getting playing time for the France team.

That’s a wrap. Enjoy the European action.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in General

 

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Queen’s Park Rangers 2-1 Arsenal

Queen’s Park Rangers 2 (Taraabt 22, Diakite 66) – Arsenal 1 (Walcott 37)

Man of the Match – Bobby Zamora (QPR)

So, there we are again. Another miserable week looms large. Arsenal were outfought, outmuscled and completely outplayed, by Queen’s Park Rangers.

So much for marking the 11th death anniversary of David Rocastle with a win, Arsenal just couldn’t come out of their cages as QPR, made most of Arsenal’s physical limitations to power their way to a 2-1 win, which is, of course a fantastic result for them

Laurent Koscielny was declared fit and took his place along side Thomas Vermaelen in the heart of defence. Elsewhere, Aaron Ramsey was given a start ahead of Gervinho, on the left, which is so not the Welshman’s preferred position.

Arsenal were the first to do the initial running, but QPR pegged the Gunners’ back, as they won the midfield battle. QPR, as expected had started with a defensive minded midfield, as Barton, Diakite and Derry all got the nod. Jamie Mackie, who scored an invaluable winner over Liverpool, started on the right.

Bobby Zamora came to the end of Adel Taraabt’s free kick, but it went over. Nedum Onouha’s shot was met with Alex Song’s hand, and he was lucky to escape the attention of the referees. Bobby Zamora was particularly impressive throughout the game, as he used his physical strength to torment Koscielny and Vermaelen. He managed to hold his ground, and kept the ball with him, allowing his teammates to surge forward.

QPR soon had the lead, as some fleet footed movement from Taraabt hoodwinked Thomas Vermaelen, and he finished emphatically past Szczesny. It was the Moroccan’s first Premier League goal, and what a time to get it.

Arsenal’s response was slow, as QPR still manned the midfield. However, Arsenal got their luck, as van Persie drew the entirity of Rangers’ defence into him, allowing Theo Walcott to be in a good position. His first shot hit the post, but the rebound came back to his feet, and he didn’t make a mistake. 1-1.

Jamie Mackie was denied a penalty, while Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs both spurned chances. The chance of the match fell to van Persie, as he ran clear of the QPR defence, and everyone would have expected him to score, but his shot was parried away by Paddy Kenny.

Arsenal soon paid for it, as Jamie Mackie, aided by a Vermaelen slip, calmly placed the ball for Samba Diakite, who scored a fine winner, in the 66th minute. Arsenal just didn’t turn up, in what proved to be an under par performance, from the Gunners, especially after the high of their 7 consecutive wins.

Marrouane Chamakh, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on, but it was always a case of too little too late.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (6.5) – Not helped by his defence.

Sagna (7) – Looked a bit lacklustre going forward. Defensively sound.

Vermaelen (6) – Not his best day in an Arsenal shirt.

Koscielny (6.5) – Like Vermaelen, seemed to be struggling against the physicality of Taarabt, Zamora and Mackie.

Gibbs (6) – Did well going forward, but allowed the dangerous Mackie enough time and space to foray into Arsenal’s penalty box.

Song (7) – Arsenal’s best player on the pitch, as he looked to stem QPR’s midfield.

Rosicky (6.5) – Never looked sharp. Had a couple of moments, but overall poor.

Arteta (6.5) – Was well marshalled by the Rangers’ midfield, who frustrated Arsenal’s passing game.

Ramsey (6) – Not his fault, is it, that he is being played out of position.

Walcott (7) – Apart from the goal, never looked like a danger to the opposition’s defence. Lacked innovation and ideas.

van Persie (7) – Spurned the chance of the game, and got minimal feed from midfield today.

Subs –

Gervinho (7) – Added a bit of freshness on the left, but never a threat really..

Chamberlain and Chamakh – Came on too late to get a rating.

Overall Team Rating – 6.58

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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