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Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1 – Gunners exact Reds Revenge!

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Arsenal 4 (Bellerin 37, Ozil 40, Sanchez 45, Giroud 90) – Liverpool 1 (Henderson 76 (pen))

Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

About 14 months ago, Liverpool made complete mockery of Arsenal’s then position at the top of the league, by thumping a beleaguered Gunners side 5-1 on a cloudy afternoon at Anfield. Liverpool, at the time, were slowly rising as real contenders for the title. A season without European football had left their team fresh, and with a strike force of the explosive Uruguyan Luis Suarez and in-form Daniel Sturridge, supported ably by youngster Raheem Sterling, Liverpool were demolishing teams in the final few months of the season.

Of course, it would all end in agony, as a costly slip from iconic captain Steven Gerrard, handed Chelsea a 2-0 win at Anfield, which would eventually end Liverpool’s chances, as Manchester City clinched the title. But, Liverpool seemed unstoppable at some point. Fast forward a year, and how things have changed. Liverpool hesitantly sold off Luis Suarez to Barcelona for a whopping £75 million, and have replaced him with a series of flops. They signed Southampton duo Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana for a combined £29 million, midfielder Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen for £10 million, Serbian winger Lazar Markovic from Benfica for £20 million, Belgian striker Divock Origi from Lille for £10 million (he was loaned back), left-back Alberto Moreno for £12 million from Sevilla, and finally Mario Balotelli from AC Milan for £16 million.

The biggest disappointment probably has been Balotelli, who has scored a meagre 4 goals all season, 1 in the league, the winner in a 3-2 win over Sp*rs. To be fair, the Reds have fallen considerably after the highs of last season. Liverpool had a mixed March, starting off with a fine 2-1 over Manchester City, and followed it up with successive wins over Burnley and Swansea, with a 0-0 draw against Blackburn in the FA Cup sandwiched in between. The ended the month with a 2-1 loss at home to eternal rivals Manchester United.

Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil returned to the first team, with Wojciech Szczesny missing out through a rib injury, which gave a place on the bench for rookie keeper Matt Macey. Liverpool were missing both Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel, both serving 3 match suspensions for their actions in the feisty clash with Manchester United. Former Arsenal defender Kolo Toure started.

Arsenal got off to a brisk start, creating the first opportunity, after just 30 seconds, Alexis shot going wide. Santi Cazorla then tested Belgian international keeper Simon Mignolet, but he was up to the challenge. Arsenal created a chance of real danger in the 5th minute, when Aaron Ramsey was put through, but his weak left-footed effort struck the post, and Liverpool managed to clear the danger before Cazorla could pounce upon the loose ball.

Arsenal’s brisk start was slowly being nullified, as Liverpool slowly drifted into the game, but Arsenal still seemed to have the upper hand. Up until, the Reds created a chance of real danger. Markovic got in behind Arsenal’s defence, and his cross was too heavy for Sterling to tap it in. He could have taken the chance himself, as he had only Ospina to beat.

Brazilian midfielder Coutinho’s shot went narrowly wide, with Ospina stretching, and Sterling nearly capitalized on a mispass from Cazorla, as he could only find the side netting. Liverpool managed to create another chance, when Sterling found Henderson, who had to beat the keeper, but the cross had too much weight in it. When it looked like Liverpool were getting the upper hand, Arsenal scored.

It began when Ozil played in Ramsey on the right, who played it to the speedy Bellerin. The young Spaniard raced into the box, easily rode a challenge and neatly tucked home a curling left footed finish past a stunned Liverpool defence. It was a brilliant finish for a young right-back, playing in his first full season.

And, before Liverpool could recover, Arsenal had begun their rampage. Mesut Ozil was fouled by centre-back Mamadou Sakho right outside the box. The German took the free kick, and he curled the ball expertly into the far corner, the side which Mignolet was positioned.

By now, Arsenal were on fire, and Liverpool struggling to douse that very fire. Bellerin played in Ramsey, who took the ball from a roving defender, played in Alexis, who stepped inside of Kolo Toure way too easily, to smash one past Mignolet, to score his 20th goal of the season. It was a whirlwind finish to the half from Arsenal, and Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers bought on Daniel Sturridge for the ineffective Lazar Markovic.

Arsenal made a change early in the second half, Gabriel Paulista coming in for Laurent Koscielny, who had to go off with a groin problem. Arsenal began the second half with the same verve as they had ended up the first. Ramsey and Cazorla combined to set up Giroud, who tested Mignolet. And Mignolet denied Arsenal their 4th goal in the 55th minute, when an Ozil cross was dangerously heading towards the goal.

David Ospina had to be alert, too. A shot from Emre Can threatened to go in, but the Colombian was equal to it. Arsene Wenger decided to bring off Aaron Ramsey for the defensive minded Mathieu Flamini, as the manager looked to shut shop. This gave Liverpool more space to exploit, and Coutinho’s shot dragged just wide, as Arsenal looked non-committal.

Emre Can shot over the post, as Liverpool enjoyed possession, but didn’t really make use of it. Danny Welbeck came in for Mesut Ozil in the 74th minute, and 2 minutes later, Liverpool were awarded a penalty when Hector Bellerin, who had managed to keep Raheem Sterling quiet all afternoon, bought the England man down in the penalty box with a rash challenge. Jordan Henderson stepped up and scored, despite Ospina getting a hand on it.

Welbeck forced Mignolet into a save, before he was fouled rashly by Emre Can, and the Liverpool midfielder was sent off for his second yellow card. Giroud then had a chance to connect to a volley, but Kolo Toure managed to avert the danger for Liverpool. Cazorla struck the post, having been set up by the trio of Alexis, Welbeck and Nacho Monreal.

When it seemed like the game would end at 3-1, Arsenal scored yet again, in injury time. Alexis played in Giroud, who had Welbeck and Cazorla for support, but decided to go for it himself, cutting inside and unleashing a shot past Mignolet, to make it 4-1.

A fine with that strengthens Arsenal’s position in the top 4, and a 7th consecutive win in the league. Good omens for FA Cup success, surely.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on June 7, 2015 in 2014-2015, Match Reviews

 

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Top 10 Arsenal Goals of 2014

10. Aaron Ramsey vs Hull City, FA Cup Final, Wembley, 17th May 2014, W 3-2

Aaron Ramsey produces a quality finish to end Arsenal’s 9 year trophy drought after playing a beautiful 1-2 with Olivier Giroud who places a perfect backheel for the Welshman.

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9. Santi Cazorla vs Hull City, FA Cup Final, Wembley, 17th May 2014, W 3-2

Cazorla fires in a fine free kick to halve the deficit as Arsenal fight back from 2-0 down to 3-2, to lift the FA Cup.

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8. Tomas Rosicky vs Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, White Hart Lane, 16th March 2014, W 0-1

Tomas Rosicky’s belter in the 2nd minute leaves French international keeper Hugo Lloris with no chance.

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7. Olivier Giroud vs West Ham United, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 15th April 2014, W 3-1

Olivier Giroud produces a Bergkamp-esque finish, after taking down a hopeful long ball hoofed up by Thomas Vermaelen, with his right foot.

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6. Olivier Giroud vs Manchester United, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 22nd November 2014, L 1-2

Olivier Giroud latches on to a long pass from Mikel Arteta to unleash a thunderbolt on his return from injury, but Arsenal still lose 2-1 at home to Manchester United, despite dominating.

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5. Alexis Sanchez vs Borussia Dortmund, Champions League Group Stages, 26th November 2014, W 2-0

Alexis Sanchez scores his best Arsenal goal yet, under pressure from Neven Subotic to beat Roman Weidenfeller with a fine curving shot.

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4. Olivier Giroud vs Manchester City, Community Shield, 10th August 2014, W 3-0

Olivier Giroud’s wonderfully dipping shot leaves Wily Caballero with absolutely no chance to save.

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3. Jack Wilshere vs Manchester City, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 13th September 2014, D 2-2

Some fine passing culminates in a brilliant goal from Jack Wilshere who leaves his England teammate Joe Hart rooted to his spot with an angled finish.

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2. Tomas Rosicky vs Sunderland, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 22nd February 2014, W 4-1

Tomas Rosicky makes a fine run, exchanging passes with both Cazorla and Wilshere, before being beatifully dinked by Giroud, for a subtle chip over Mannone.

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1. Aaron Ramsey vs Galatasaray, Champions League Group Stages, 10th December 2014, W 1-4

Aaron Ramsey smashes a left-footed volley from 35 yards to stun Sinan Bolat (and Wojciech Szczesny), and nominate himself for Champions League Goal of the Season.

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Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Best of the Best

 

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10 Worst Arsenal Games of 2014

10. Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 22nd November 2014

(Arsenal – Giroud 95; Manchester United – Gibbs (O.G) 56, Rooney 85)

This was a strange match really, and till this day I can’t understand how an Arsenal side that dominated the entire game against Manchester United’s worst side in years, contrived to lose. When Louis van Gaal named a defense of Paddy McNair, Chris Smalling and Tyler Blackett, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for rubbing their hands in delight. Arsenal created chance after chance, which they either wasted, or shot them straight at the mercurial United keeper David de Gea. Manchester United got their first goal, completely against the run of play, and even without a shot on target, as Antonio Valencia’s shot was deflected into the goal by a wayward leg from Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal created more chances, but just couldn’t score. Wayne Rooney scored his customary goal in this fixture from a quick break. Olivier Giroud scored a fantastic goal late on, but it was too little, too late.

Full Match Report

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9. Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal, Premier League, Britannia Stadium, 1st March 2014

(Stoke – Walters 76 (pen))

Arsenal’s title challenge looked to be slowly fading away as they slipped up at Stoke. In a dull afternoon of football, barely any chances were created. The Gunners looked insipid and Stoke were happy keeping Arsenal at bay. The decisive moment came when Laurent Koscielny was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area as he went for a challenge with Jonathan Walters. Walters scored the ensuing penalty ensuring Arsenal’s drop to 3rd position.

Full Match Report

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8. Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich, Champions League Round of 16 First Leg, Emirates Stadium, 19th February 2014

(Bayern – Kroos 54, Mueller 88)

Arsenal were again undone by a red card on the European stage as they slumped to a home defeat to Bayern Munich for the second season running. Despite Arsenal’s faltering domestic form, optimism was still high ahead of the Champions League clash with mighty Bayern. The shocking news was a start handed out to rookie striker Yaya Sanogo, preferred to Olivier Giroud. Both sides started the match at a quick pace, and Arsenal forced two saves from Manuel Neuer off Sanogo and Chamberlain, who was causing Austrian left back David Alaba plenty of problems. The big chance of the match fell to Mesut Ozil on 14 minutes, when he beat Jerome Boateng in the penalty box, and his compatriot bought him down with a trailing leg. However, Ozil’s weak penalty was saved easily by Neuer. Arsenal lost their direction after the miss, as Bayern started rolling the ball around. The Gunners suffered a setback when Kieran Gibbs had to be taken off due to a hamstring injury. But, 6 minutes later disaster struck, as Szczesny was sent off for colliding with the onrushing Arjen Robben in the 37th minute. Robben made the most of it, but Bayern missed the penalty as Alaba screwed it wide. The Gunners stood no chance in the second half as Bayern drew their tanks closer. Toni Kroos scored a beauty in the 54th minute, leaving Fabianski with no chance. Arsene Wenger would have been happy with a 1-0 loss, but Laurent Koscielny went too far ahead late on in the game, allowing Mueller space to convert the second goal for the visitors.

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Full Match Report

7. Swansea City 2-1 Arsenal, Premier League, Liberty Stadium, 9th November 2014

(Swansea – Sigurdsson 75, Gomis 78; Arsenal – Sanchez 63)

Arsenal suffered a disappointing loss on a watery evening at the Liberty Stadium, days after they succumbed to a 3-3 draw against Belgian champions Anderlecht. Swansea dominated initial proceedings before Arsenal showed flashes of brilliance in the lead up to half time, but neither side could take advantage. Arsenal had the lead in the 63rd minute, Alexis with a simple finish past former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. Swansea equalized through a brilliant free-kick from Gylfi Sigurdsson, after Kieran Gibbs fouled debutant Modou Barrow. However, Swansea turned the match on it’s head, when Ecuadorian winger Jefferson Montero, who ran Callum Chambers ragged all afternoon, crossed in for France international striker, Bafetimbi Gomis for the winner.

Full Match Report

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6. Stoke City 3-2 Arsenal, Premier League, Britannia Stadium, 6th December 2014

(Stoke City – Crouch 1, Bojan 35, Walters, 45; Arsenal – Cazorla 68 (pen), Ramsey 70)

Arsenal’s miserable record at the Britannia Stadium continued, as they were beaten 3-2 by the Potters, in a game where they failed to show any sort of formidable threat. Arsenal’s form seemed to be improving, after they registered 3 consecutive wins over Dortmund, West Brom and Southampton, but they were undone in the very first minute, as Peter Crouch took advantage of a calamitous moment of misunderstanding between stand-in goalie Emiliano Martinez and Callum Chambers. After Olivier Giroud missed an open header, Stoke scored their 2nd goal in the 35th minute, when a Jon Walters cross allowed former Barcelona, Milan and Roma man Bojan to make it 2-0. Walters then got one of his own at the stroke of half-time, making it an unbelievable 3-0. Arsenal briefly rallied when Cazorla scored a penalty and Aaron Ramsey’s fine finish in the 70th minute, but in honesty, Arsenal deserved to lose by a bigger margin.

Full Match Report

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5. Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal, Champions League Group Stages, Westfalenstadion, 16th September 2014

(Dortmund – Immobile 45, Aubameyang 48)

Arsenal were outrun, outfought and outbattled by a side struggling for survival in the Bundesliga. Dortmund, who have suffered a terrible start to the domestic season so far, showed it didn’t matter in Europe as they heckled Arsenal to a 2-0 win. The Gunners, without Olivier Giroud, Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy, struggled to get anything going for them, in a match dominated by the die Schwarzgelben. Italian forward Ciro Immobile put the home side in the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 2-0, minutes after the second half started, following a confusion between Szczesny and Koscielny.

Full Match Report

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4. Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal, Premier League, Stamford Bridge, 5th October 2014

(Chelsea – Hazard 27(pen), Diego Costa 78)

Arsene Wenger’s poor record against Jose Mourinho showed no signs of letting up, as Arsenal put up a pale performance yet again at Stamford Bridge. The only positive probably was that the Gunners didn’t get pasted 6-0 this time round, but that was little excuse for a insipid performance, devoid of any sort of creativity. Chelsea, as usual, stuck to their game plan, stifled the hell out of Arsenal, and scored two goals on counters. The highlight of the match was Wenger and Mourinho having a go at each other on the touchline after a Gary Cahill challenge on Alexis. Eden Hazard was bought down by Koscielny in the box, and the Belgian duly stepped up to make it 1-0. Fabregas, who got a mixed reception from the away fans, provided the assist for the second goal, to set up his Brazilian born compatriot, Diego Costa for a fine second goal.

Full Match Report

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3. Everton 3-0 Arsenal, Premier League, Goodison Park, 6th April 2014

(Everton – Naismith 14, Lukaku 34, Arteta (O.G) 61)

Everton stepped up their pursuit of 4th place, with a thumping win over a subdued Arsenal. Steven Naismith scored the opening goal after Lukaku’s initial shot was saved and the Belgian striker made it 2-0, 20 minutes later, after he heaved his way through Arsenal’s leaky defence. The afternoon was made more miserable as former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta scored an own goal on his return to his old stomping ground, when he was pressurized by Kevin Mirallas. This win put Everton just one point behind Arsenal, with a game in hand, and 5 games left for the Gunners to play in the season.

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Full Match Report

2. Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal, Premier League, Anfield, 8th February 2014

(Liverpool – Skrtel 1, 10, Sterling 16, Sturridge 20, Sterling 52; Arsenal – Arteta 69 (pen))

Arsenal were thoroughly demolished in a 20 minute blitz of super attacking football by Liverpool. Arsenal arrived at Anfield, top of the table but were made to look like a pub side suffering from a bad hangover in the opening minutes, as Liverpool carved them open again and again. With barely a minute gone on the clock, Slovenian defender Martin Skrtel put Liverpool ahead with a header from a Steven Gerrard’s corner. Arsenal had barely got the ball rolling, when Liverpool and Skrtel struck again. Steven Gerrard provided the assist again, as Skrtel’s header glided past Chamberlain on the goal line. Liverpool should have added a 3rd just seconds later, but his chipped effort went just wide. Then, a low cross from Sturridge failed to find Suarez. Then, the Uruguyan unleashed a powerful volley straight at Szczesny, who managed to save and Kolo Toure missed with the goal gaping open. Arsenal were clinging on to their lives, but on 16 minutes it was 3-0, as Sterling converted rather easily from a Suarez cross. 4 minutes later, Sturridge beautifully made it 4-0 collecting Coutinho’s pass from the deep. There was absolutely no way back for Arsenal, who barely mustered anything going forward. Defensively, well they held on till half time, and 7 minutes after half time, when Sterling scored his second and Liverpool’s 5th. Arsenal got a consolation goal back, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was fouled in the penalty area by Steven Gerrard. Mikel Arteta scored to make it 5-1, but the scoreline was still an embarassing one.

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Full Match Report

1. Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal, Stamford Bridge, Premier League, 22nd February 2014

(Chelsea – Eto’o 5, Schurrle 7, Hazard 17 (pen), Oscar 42, 66, Salah 71)

On what was supposed to be a momentous occasion for Arsene Wenger, who reached the milestone of 1000th game in charge of Arsenal, it turned out to be one of the most shambolic displays in the Frenchman’s reign, as Arsenal were ruthlessly taken apart by Jose Mourinho’s rampaging Chelsea side. Samuel Eto’o scored with just 5 minutes on the clock with his left foot, and just 2 minutes later German international Andre Schurrle scored a similiar goal. The comical/disastrous/strange moment of the match came 10 minutes later, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stupidly handled the ball in the penalty area. In the melee, Andre Marriner sent Kieran Gibbs in a case of mistaken identity much to Arsenal’s fury. Eden Hazard scored the resulting penalty. All so typical Arsenal. Chelsea 3-0 up inside 17 minutes. Then came a period of brief solidity, as Brazilian Oscar scored an easy goal having been set up by Fernando Torres. Arsenal’s 10 men displayed some sort of steel in the second half, but couldn’t prevent the Blues from scoring. Oscar doubled his tally and then new signing Mohomad Salah, beat the offside trap to score an easy goal past a bewildered Szczesny. A rather disastrous display on a day that was supposed to be a memorable one.

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Full Match Report

Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in Best of the Best

 

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10 best Arsenal Games of 2014

It’s been a topsy turvy year for Arsenal Football Club. From the lows of thumpings at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, to the highs of lifting two pieces of silverware. Here are Arsenal’s 10 best games of the year.

10. Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, 13th September 2014

 (Arsenal – Wilshere 63, Sanchez 74; Manchester City – Aguero 28, Demichelis 83)

Arsenal garnered only one point from an exciting Premier League clash against Manchester City, despite putting the defending champions on the backfoot several times during the match. Danny Welbeck made his debut in Arsenal colors, and almost put the home side ahead after a poor back pass from David Silva, but only managed to strike the post, with only Joe Hart to beat. Jesus Navas was running Arsenal ragged and assisted Sergio Aguero for the opening goal in the 28th minute, a low finish past Szczesny. Arsenal equalized only in the second half, when some fine passing played in for Jack Wilshere, who beat Hart with an angled finish. 11 minutes later, Arsenal had the lead, as Alexis thumped home a volley off a Wilshere header. When it looked like Arsenal would hold on for a win, Demichelis struck an unmarked header with 7 minutes left to play.

Full Match Report

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9. Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Arsenal, Premier League, White Hart Lane, 16th March 2014

(Arsenal – Rosicky 2)

Arsenal edged Tottenham in a tense encounter at the Lane. The Gunners, a side ravaged by injuries, took the lead with only 72 seconds played as Tomas Rosicky unleashed an unstoppable thunderbolt past Hugo Lloris. Despite Sp*rs creating several chances, Arsenal defended their hearts out to seal a vital 1-0 win on their way to secure a top-4 finish in the Premier League. The best moments came after the match, as Arsenal players took selfies on the pitch, much to the bemusement of the Tottenham faithful.

Full Match Report

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8. Galatasaray 1-4 Arsenal, Champions League Group Stages, Turk Telekom Arena, 10th December 2014

(Galatasaray – Sneijder 88; Arsenal – Podolski 3, Ramsey 10, 29, Podolski 92)

Arsenal’s second string put in a commanding display at the Turk Telekom Arena, to put to rest some ghosts of the recent 3-2 drubbing at the hands of Stoke. Much maligned German international Lukas Podolski put Arsenal into the lead with a typical thunderous left-footed volley, after having been put through by Aaron Ramsey. The in-form Welshman turned scorer 7 minutes later, when he latched on to a Chamberlain pass to make it 2-0 past Sinan Bolat. After Podolski had struck the post, Ramsey scored a contender for Goal of the Season, with a rocket of a effort. After a cleared corner, the ball fell to Ramsey, 30 yards from goal, and he unleashed an unstoppable first-time shot which ended up at the back of the net, stunning some of his own teammates. Wesley Sneijder scored a consolation free-kick in the 88th minute, but Podolski restored the 3 goal win with a simple finish in the 92nd minute.

Full Match Report

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7. Arsenal 2-0 Borussia Dortmund, Champions League Group Stages, Emirates Stadium, 26th November 2014

(Arsenal – Sanogo 2, Sanchez 56)

After consecutive losses in the league to Swansea and Manchester United, Arsenal registered a much needed 2-0 over struggling German side Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund, whose Champions League form is a complete contrast to their domestic form, where they languish in the relegation zone struggled to get their game going against a determined Arsenal side. With many fans concerned over the inclusion of Yaya Sanogo in the squad, the young Frenchman put the home side in the lead with just over a minute played, after a one-two with Santi Cazorla. He could have made it 2-0 in the 9th minute when he was put clean through, but he typically made a hash of it. It didn’t matter, as Alexis scored a beauty in the 56th minute, past Weidenfeller, under close pressure from Neven Subotic. Arsenal’s passage to the knockout stages was made simpler with this vital victory.

Full Match Report

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6. Arsenal 4-1 Galatasaray, Champions League Group Stages, Emirates Stadium, 1st October 2014

(Arsenal – Welbeck 22, 30, Sanchez 41, Welbeck 52; Galatasaray – Yilmaz 63 (pen))

Danny Welbeck showed the Arsenal faithful what he is capable with a stunning hattrick in the Champions League Group stage game against Galatasaray. It was only the first hattrick in the young England international’s career. Welbeck beat Brazilian inernational Felipe Melo, before sliding the ball under Fernando Muslera for his first goal. The second goal was a gift, as a wayward back header from Aurelien Chedjou allowed Welbeck to race on to it, to beat Muslera again. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez combined for the third goal, before Welbeck made it 4-0 in the second half, lifting a Chamberlain pass over the keeper.

Full Match Report

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5. Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup 3rd Round, Emirates Stadium, 4th January 2014

(Arsenal – Cazorla 31, Rosicky 62)

It was easy peasy against expensively assembled Sp*rs, as the Gunners entered the 4th Round of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over their North London rivals. Young German Serge Gnabry put Santi Cazorla through for the first goal, who scored past French international keeper Hugo Lloris with a fine shot. Arsenal finished off the game with a beauty from Tomas Rosicky who robbed a sleeping Danny Rose near half line, ran the length of the pitch before beating Lloris to put the Gunners 2-0 ahead. The enduring image of the night was Theo Walcott signalling the scoreline with his fingers to the Sp*rs faithful as he was stretchered off later in the game.

Full Match Report

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4. Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool, FA Cup 5th Round, Emirates Stadium, 16th February 2014

(Arsenal- Chamberlain 15, Podolski 47; Liverpool – Gerrard 59 (pen))

A week after Liverpool knocked the wind out of Arsenal’s sails, the Gunners extracted a measure of revenge from the Merseyside club by knocking them out of the FA Cup with a gritty performance on a balmy evening at the Emirates. Liverpool made the brighter start of the two sides, as Arsenal nervously held on. But, it was the Gunners who took the lead, when Yaya Sanogo’s miscued shot rebounded off Gerrard, right into the path of Chamberlain who scored past Brad Jones to make it 1-0. Liverpool, with the attacking brilliance of Sterling, Sturridge, Coutinho and Suarez were held off by a stern Arsenal defence. 2 minutes after the break, the Gunners doubled their advantage. Mesut Ozil released Chamberlain on the right, who cut back for Podolski, the German finishing with aplomb with his right foot. 2-0 Arsenal. Steven Gerrard halved the deficit with a penalty 12 minutes later, but despite all of Liverpool’s chances, dives, and oh a wrong call by the ref, the Gunners held on to ensure progress.

Full Match Report

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3. Arsenal 4-1 Everton, FA Cup Quarter Finals, Emirates Stadium, 8th March 2014

(Arsenal – Ozil 7, Arteta 68(pen), Giroud 83, 85; Everton – Lukaku 34)

Arsenal comprehensively beat another Premier League side to make their way to Wembley for a FA Cup semi final showdown with defending champions Wigan Athletic, by beating Everton 4-1. Arsenal made early strides, as Mesut Ozil latched on to a Cazorla pass to slot home the opening goal on just 7 minutes, his first goal in 2 months. Young Everton keeper Joel Robles kept further efforts from Sanogo and Chamberlain out, before Everton found an equalizer. The talented Ross Barkley crossed in for Kevin Mirallas, whose shot was bundled home by his Belgian compatriot Romelu Lukaku. Everton had the chance of the game on 54 minutes, but Ross Barkley missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was fouled by Gareth Barry on 68 minutes, and Mikel Arteta converted the resultant spot kick. There was no looking back after that as substitute Olivier Giroud scored twice in 3 minutes to knock the Toffees out.

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2. Manchester City 0-3 Arsenal, FA Community Shield, Wembley, 10th August 2014

(Arsenal – Cazorla 21, Ramsey 42, Giroud 60)

Arsenal returned to Wembley, 3 months after breaking their trophy drought, to face Premier League champions Manchester City in the traditional Community Shield clash, in emphatic fashion. With new signings Callum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sanchez on display, the Gunners got off to a flying start, taking the lead in the 21st minute, with a neatly placed finish past Wily Cabellero. Arsenal looked fluid in midfield and solid in defense, as Manchester City struggled to get any sort of grip on the game. Yaya Sanogo helped Ramsey make it 2-0 in the 42nd minute, before Olivier Giroud’s wonderfully dipping shot in the second half sealed a dominant display, sending out a message to the rest of the league.

Full Match Report

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1. Arsenal 3-2 Hull City, FA Cup Final, Wembley, 17th May 2013

(Arsenal – Cazorla 17, Koscielny 71, Ramsey 109; Hull – Chester 4, Davies 8)

Arsenal ended their 9 year trophy drought in typical Arsenal fashion on wet afternoon at Wembley. Coming into the game as favorites against Hull City, the Gunners were caught on the backfoot within 8 minutes of the game, as the Tigers scored twice. First James Chester poked the ball home from close range, before Curtis Davies latched on to a stray ball to make it 2-0. They almost made it 3-0, through Alex Bruce, but for a timely clearance off the line by Kieran Gibbs. Santi Cazorla scored a fine free kick on 17 minutes to make it 2-1. Both teams battled hard for the next goal, and it was the Gunners who got their equalizer, as Laurent Koscielny swivelled home from close range. It was befitting that Arsenal’s best player this season, Aaron Ramsey score the winner that would end a painful period, trophy-wise for the club, as he drove home a backheel from Giroud. It was a classy finish on an emotionally absorbing afternoon. The smile on Arsene Wenger said it all!

Full Match Report

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Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Best of the Best

 

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Stoke City Preview and Lineups – Time to Build!

So, Saturday is here. A December Saturday and that, which means games are going to come thick and fast. The festive period is the most busy one when it comes to football, and there will be a glut of games from now till the New Year.

Stoke City are the opponents today, and as we all know, how much we hate those ogres. It’s a tough place to go to, given the hostile nature of the crowd, awful weather, more awful playing conditions, and despicable football players. Oh, and their manager is Mark Hughes. Stoke have had a mixed season so far, languishing in 13th place in the Premier League, having lost 7 of their 14 games so far, winning only 4 in the process. And they will be looking to avoid a 4th consecutive loss this evening, after suffering defeats to Burnley at home, Liverpool and Manchester United away.

Arsenal, on the other hand, are somehow managing to chug their choking, coal-filled engine along. After some setbacks, the Gunners have made some ground with 3 consecutive wins, and in the process keeping 3 clean sheets as well, something that bodes really well. Mood in the camp should be positive now, given the recent performances, where the Gunners have had to battle it out for their full share of points.

However, fatigue will be a major concern, with Arsenal having played 7 extra Champions League games, as well as an increase in the traffic jam in the medical room. Some players have been overplayed. Take for example, Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey whose performances in recent games have been average to under-par. However, considering the paucity of options, it doesn’t look ideal to give rest to any of the players. Against a Stoke side playing at home, it will be extremely difficult for a tiring side to cope up with the physical presence of the Potters. Arsenal’s record in the last 8 games at the Britannia includes just one win, and last season the Gunners put up an apalling performance in a 1-0 defeat.

There are injury concerns for both sides. Jonathan Walters (knee), Glenn Whelan and Germany international Robert Huth have calf problems. Stephen Ireland could miss out because of illness while Steve Sidwell, Peter Odemwingie, Victor Moses and Dionatan Teixeira are all sidelined. As for Arsenal, Nacho Monreal is out with an ankle injury, Tomas Rosicky has a thigh problem, Laurent Koscielny an Achilles problem, while Yaya Sanogo will undergo a late fitness test. Sigh! Wojciech Szczesny will be back though and will replace Emiliano Martinez, who has played commendably.

With Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere still out, there’s no option but to start with Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey in midfield. I expect a start for Olivier Giroud this time round, with the dynamic trio of Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez behind him. Defense will be a major concern if Koscielny and Gibbs both fail their fitness test. That would mean Chambers playing at centre-back alongside Mertesacker, Bellerin coming in at right-back and Flamini at left-back probably, leaving us short in midfield. This could cause an entire reshuffle, with Ramsey having to play deep, and either of Podolski or Welbeck starting. Under ideal circumstances, this is how I expect the teams to line up.

jNnjNo

Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in 2014-2015, Match Previews

 

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West Bromwich Albion Preview and Lineups

The win against Dortmund, as positive and important as it was, now needs to be put in the backseat. More pressing issues need to be taken care of, in the Premier League, with the Gunners languishing at 8th in the table, level on points with Everton and Sp*rs, and behind the likes of West Ham, Swansea and Newcastle.

The Hawthorns has one of the best away ground in recent years, and the Gunners have picked up vital wins there, none more so important than the final day 3-2 win in 2012, when Laurent Koscielny scored the decisive goal in the 55th minute. Gibbs made a very precious multimillion dollar last ditch tackle, late on in the game, which bought about a cuddly hug from Arsene Wenger to Pat Rice, which also turned out to be the last game for the long-serving Irishman.

It is that kind of steel that the Gunners require today. More substance over style. Wins are all that count from now on. It’s been a story this season to go on and dominate games entirely, yet not make the most of them. Games against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are indicative of that. Arsenal managed to keep their opponents under caution for large majorities, yet failed to take the chances when they came, conceded silly goals on the counter instead, and then huffed and puffed till the final whistle.

The refreshing thing about the Dortmund result, was the willingness of the team to learn from those mistakes. The pressing looked better, and so did the defence look more composed. Attack minded full backs like Chambers and Gibbs maintained their stances against a Dortmund side that could have inflicted damage on counters. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey helped shore up several times.

The Premier League is a completely different ball game though, and pressing always doesn’t suit the purpose against more physical sides, who like playing the long ball, given Arsenal’s obvious discomfort at defending them. West Brom have a host of strikers who can cause the Arsenal defence problems with their physicality. Greek striker Giorgios Samaras, Nigerian duo Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye and the pacy Saido Berahino. The Baggies, have been struggling for form this season, winning only 3 of their 12 games, losing 5 and drawing 4. £10m signing Brown Ideye has failed to impress, but Saido Berahino is a man in form, even earning an England call up for his form.

Right, team news then. Wojciech Szczesny is still out, meaning Emiliano Martinez keeps his place in goal. Laurent Koscielny returns to centre-back. Mikel Arteta’s and Jack Wilshere’s injuries mean Arsenal are thinning out in midfield, and Mathieu Flamini will start in central midfield alongside Aaron Ramsey. Olivier Giroud, should make the starting line up too, with Danny Welbeck and Yaya Sanogo nursing knocks.

Berahino is available for the Baggies, despite recent drunk driving allegations. James Morrison is a major doubt for the Baggies though as he is struggling to recover from a sickness bug. Sebastien Pocognoli (hamstring) is a minor doubt and Jonas Olsson (Achilles) is out. Claudio Yacob starts a three-game ban after he was sent off at Stamford Bridge.

Here is how I expect the teams to line up.

jE5 jE4Let’s hope the Gunners build on from here at least, and take it game by game.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in 2014-2015, Match Previews

 

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A few thoughts on a few things, West Brom Preview + Lineups

West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal, The Hawthorns, Premier League

Kickoff – 15:00 GMT (19:30 IST), 13th May 2012

As we move into the final day of Premier League action for this season, my emotions remain mixed. This has been one of the most topsy turvy season I have been witness to, and I have watched just 8, including this.

Being an Arsenal fan is not easy. It is an extremely hard choice to make, and certainly not one for the faint hearted. While we had to endure millions of jokes butted at our 8-2 mauling, at the hands of Manchester United, earlier in the season, I have also had the pride of rival fans coming up to me and telling “Arsenal were awesome yesterday!”, after we beat AC Milan 3-0. While all Arsenal fans may sum this to be a largely disappointing campaign, the word ‘disappointing’, being used only in the context of lack of silverware, I don’t see this as a disappointment or a success. Rather, I see it as another season gone by. I always have seen it that way. Of course, I would be elated, more than anyone else, if we had a cup to go with it, but then, football is football. It goes on. There’s always next season. Players may go, players may come. But, Arsenal will always be close to my heart.

So, moving on, in our quest for Champions League football next season, is our extremely massive league encounter with Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion. After 37 games of league football, it all comes down to this, and it is still in our hands. If we win tomorrow, irrespective of what Sp*rs do against Fulham, we will be competing in Europe’s premier football tournament. Else, we will be competing in the rather harsh environs of the Europa League.

No disrespect to the Europa League there, but a lot hinges on our Champions League qualification. So much has been talked about this, and all of you know why qualifying for it is of paramount importance to the club’s fortunes at this crucial juncture. A 4th place finish means, we will have to hope Bayern Munich beat Chelsea in the Champions League final next weekend, and while I will be cheering on Bayern, irrespective of our league standing, just because I want the Gunners to be the first club, to bring the European Cup to London, there is no two ways about the fact that we have to win tomorrow.

Much has been said about West Brom players looking to give old man Hodgson a good farewell. On the flip side, we will have the same agenda on our minds, Pat Rice the man in question here. What a fine servant he has been to the club, and a win tomorrow, will be a nice gesture of saying ‘Thank You’.

All games will kick off at exactly the same time tomorrow, and while all of us will be scrambling for live scores, around the grounds, we all know that a 1-0 style win will do the trick. Robin van Persie has had a magnificent season for us, and at times I wonder, where we would be, at the end of the season, without him. Talk surrounding his possible exit from the club has disgusted me enough, and I hope he gets to the 32 mark, to be the Premier League record goal scorer, in a single season, and proceeds to sign a contract.

I don’t believe much in transfers, cos’ they are all a load of bullsh*t. 99% of them never really happen, and with us, it has never happened. This time, though, it seems a bit different, with Lukas Podolski signed even before the present season ends, and the next one starts. This statement of intent has led newspapers to link us with every other professional footballer on the planet. But, for now let’s not talk about it.

Team news, then. Theo Walcott will face a late fitness test, though I doubt he will start tomorrow. Attack wise, we weren’t too bad last week against Norwich, and I think we will stick to that midfield. Bacary Sagna injured himself last week, and is certain to miss the Euro’s, which is quite sad, for him, personally. I would expect natural right-back Carl Jenkinson to start, rather than Francis Coquelin. Another Frenchman, who could miss the Euro’s, not with injury though, is Laurent Koscielny. He has been bloody brilliant this season, and Arsene Wenger wants him to be in the France squad. Also, recent news that Wojciech Szczesny could be out for the final game, because of a knee/back problem, no one knows for sure. Meanwhile, Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie and Jerome Thomas will face late tests. Captain Chris Brunt is out for the Baggies.

West Brom play with a pretty straight-foward 4-4-2 formation, and the injuries to Brunt, Thomas and Odemwingie means starts for Andrews, Scharner and Marc Antoine-Fortune respectively. Without Thomas, I can see them playing a very narrow games, with minimal wing-play. This will also be Paul Scharner’s last game, and incidentally, for him, being an Arsenal fan, it is against the Gunners themselves. Shane Long can be a pretty useful forward, but he also has the tendency to be lacklustre. Fortune is a skilfull player, and Arsenal will have to be at their very best defensively, or we could be slaughtered, like last week against Norwich.

I was impressed by Gervinho last week. He played very well. His dribbling seemed much better, and there was also more pace, and more penetration, and we will require all of that. Benayoun, too, could turn out one last time in Arsenal colors, and, I hope, it’s not the same case for a certain Dutchman. In midfield, there will be an attacking battle between Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Youseff Mulumbu, Keith Andrews. Though the criticism of Ramsey has been a bit harsh, he will look to sign off the season on a positive note.

Last time these two sides met at the Hawthorns, Arsenal fought back from 2-0 down to 2-2, to keep their faint title chances alive. Some calamitous defending was on display last time, and surely, there won’t be any of that tomorrow. There ain’t any room for errors, this time round.

Meanwhile, Keep the Faith.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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