Gunners Sign Off Final Home Game With Win

The home schedule is over for another season at the Emirates, with fourth place secured the only motivation for the Gunners were to get three points on the board to send the Arsenal fans home happy one last time. Of course the FA Cup will be the final thank you (if won) to the fans but as we know the majority won’t have the opportunity to support the team at Wembley.

The football wasn’t the greatest yesterday, the pressure was off after Everton conceded fourth place to Arsenal and even though West Brom tried in the back of their mind they see themselves safe from relegation. Norwich did manage to come away from Stamford bridge with a point as Chelsea’s pathetic end to the season spluttered on however the chances of being overtaken by the canaries still are a very long shot.

Both sets of fans were in a good mood, the weather was sunny and kept the mood jolly. West Brom fans came armed with a variety of beach balls which we’re bouncing around the away end until the stewards got their hands on them.

Giroud saluting his winner

Giroud saluting his winner

 

With fourth placed secured many wondered if most the 1st team would be rested for the game, news filtered through before the match that Abou Diaby was on the bench and Aaron Ramsey would not be involved. I suppose the possibility of wholesale changes would be slim since all week the team would have been set out in training to get the win, the bonus of Everton losing came too late in the day to change all preparation for yesterday’s game. Ramsey was afforded the break which was good however a much weakened team would be expected for the Norwich game.

It would have been nice to see Abou Diaby make an appearance in front of the fans but an injury to Nacho Monreal equated to the final substitution of the day being a forced one. Arsenal’s very own ‘Mr Glass’ is likely to still be around next season, hopefully for a lot longer than he managed this season. The same can’t be said for Kim Kallstrom, he will be returning to his parent club once his contract runs out. After all the kerfuffle over his transfer to the Gunners his impact was quite minimal. No fault of the player himself but by the time he was finally ready; our premiership campaign was effective dead and buried.

One person whose future is still uncertain is that of Bacary Sagna, he hasn’t signed a new contract and the chances of him staying are pretty slim now. In the stands we sung his name during the game, letting him know we want him to stay however we have been in this position many a time over the years . To lose the Frenchman would be a big loss however no player is irreplaceable (ahem. Thierry Henry?) in most cases. Those right-back shoes would be big ones to fill but if it happens we just have to get on with it. My only hope is if Bacary does move on it isn’t to a premiership rival, it just doesn’t sit right with me. The Robin van Persie transfer to man united never should have happened and although the club had a say in that transfer it is more or less powerless with Sagna. We can only ask him to think about the fans that have supported him all these years before signing on the dotted line for another premiership club.

 

sagna

farewell?

 

Looking back now on what could have been this season, a top four finish and (hopefully) FA Cup trophy is far from disaster. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes this season and put them right next.

IMG_1916

The Norwich game is meaningless to me now; all I would like from it is some youngsters to play and stake a claim for next season. Victory on May 17th is vital to finish the season right.

Enjoy your day people.
Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

A Win Tonight Is A Must For The Gunners

It is hoped that the Arsenal players took advantage of their extra days away from action and fully absorbed the football that did take place in their stead. For the results of the weekend should prove enough to motivate the players on what is at stake if they do not capitalise on their remaining home fixtures. Southampton refused to lie down and be walked over by Everton, their victory over the Toffees handed a massive advantage into the hands of the Gunners. Anything but victory over Newcastle tonight and the advantage will have been wasted.
Yesterday whilst witnessing the overconfidence by Liverpool and their fans prior to their game with Chelsea it highlighted how no game is a given. Form is a wonderful thing but it isn’t everlasting, all good things eventually come to an end.

liverpool fans premature

Newcastle are on a run of wretched form but that is not to say they will not cause problems tonight in search of turning things around. It is vital that a four point gap is opened up tonight and not just through expectation but by hard work, concentration and ruthlessness.

Olivier Giroud seems a different player now that some of the classier players have returned to the squad, Arsenal now offer a threat across the pitch; It will certainly keep Newcastle on their toes whilst hopefully a second successive clean sheet can also be achieved.

ozil giroud ramsey

Will project 4-4-2 be used again by Arsene? Probably, Lukasz Podolski is a grateful beneficiary of the change and more goals tonight will certainly cement a new-found niche within the team. I certainly hope he capitalizes on his chance and gives Wenger something to mould in readiness for next season’s assault.

Only two home games left and I’m feeling the withdrawal symptoms already, for all of you who are going to the Emirates tonight get behind the boys. We are the 12th man and can make the difference for the players.

Enjoy your day people.
 
 
Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.
 

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

Returning Players Make The Difference For Gunners

The season is truly spicing up at the business end of the season for Gunners. The midweek defeat for Everton by Crystal Palace sent the pendulum swinging firmly into North London hands. The events of yesterday did little to divide the two clubs. Arsenal made short work of their trip to Hull while Everton also made easy work of a supposed banana skin in the form of a woeful Manchester United team.

With top 4 confirmation in Arsenal’s hands all they need to do is focus firmly on their games, winnable on paper but in hindsight stress inducing affairs. From now until the end of the season the psychological effect of every decision in games will be massive. With every goal conceded the doubt has potential to set in and affect the players’ performances. Not every goal will be a consolation after going four goals up, it could be an equaliser or the opener in a game and it’s from such situations that prove a team’s mettle.

Many suggest Arsenal has experience of chasing top 4 in the latter stages of the season and know what it takes to see it through whereas this is new territory for Everton and the cracks showed in midweek. Valid point to a certain extent however Arsenal have usually been the chaser, catching up to and then eventually overtaking a spluttering Spurs team with the kind of momentum being exhibited by Liverpool. This season (well recently) however the spluttering, sporadic form has been exhibited by the Gunners themselves meaning they can be also be seen as travelling in unfamiliar territory.

One of the main factors (fixture list aside) that could help the Gunners see it through to the end is the timely return of some of the more creative, game deciding players to the squad. It’s not hard to deduce that many of the poor recent performances have been at the times when the team has been stripped to the bare bones. The performance yesterday versus Hull containing Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil showed a marked improvement in the Gunners. Although far from perfect it was more reminiscent of the kind of performance the Arsenal put in pre February when things were going so well.

ramsey celebrates

The verve and swagger had returned and despite having the pressure of the top 4 race hovering to upset the apple cart the Gunners were focused and determined on the Job at hand. It does make you look back with slight regret at what could have been if the injuries suffered did not occur but equally there were opportunities to address the more long term setbacks in the January transfer window.

The return of Laurent Koscielny also resulted in a long overdue clean sheet for the team, goal difference could be vital and so it was important to shut up shop. I’m not sure why but we never seem to keep a clean sheet when Thomas Vermaelen plays in the team, the goals we concede are not necessarily his fault but it was turning into some sort of hex. I think Tom next time one of those gypsy women in the street offers you one of those little flower things you better take one and give her 20 pence because you have certainly upset someone out there.

Next on the agenda is Newcastle next Monday, although a team in wretched form Arsenal learned the other week when they played a Swansea team in a supposedly similar run of form that when the pressure is on these teams can smell blood and often take advantage of it. Additionally Everton will have played their game on the Saturday so if they take three points from their game it will make things extra nervy.

Anyway, let me move away from the pessimistic doom and gloom, Arsenal won yesterday with a performance much like we know they can put in. With Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil back to boost the squad there is no reason why they cannot finish the job. The toothless performances will be a thing of the past.

Photo 21-04-2014 08 36 53

Enjoy your day people.
Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

 

 

Gunners keep in the mix with victory over Spurs

Coming into the weekend it looked like a tough one for the Gunners, could they potentially lose ground on the title contenders as they prepared for a North London derby. Man city had pulled off an impressive victory taking into account they were down to ten men after ten minutes of their game v Hull City, Chelsea were likely to follow suit and stretch their lead to a morale sapping ten points. Aston Villa had something to say about that and following a crisp finish from Fabian Delph the ball was firmly planted back into Arsenal’s court.

When opportunities come your way you have to take them, Aston Villa’s win would have all been in vein if the Gunners did not get a result at White Hart Lane. Especially given the fact that Liverpool quite impressively dismissed Manchester United in the earlier Sunday kick off. They avoided their banana skin and so the Arsenal needed to follow suit and get something from the game to shove two fingers up at the doubters that have prematurely written them out of the title race.

Whether you think Arsenal will win the league or not the additional threat from teams below the top four places provided the motivation for the Gunners to do all they can to keep them at bay. It may seem farfetched to believe Tottenham, given their past 7 days were storming towards nicking the Arsenal’s position in the top four but as the saying goes forms goes out the window in derby games. The Bale inspired teams of the past have given Spurs the belief they can get something out of games against Arsenal. Not so much the matches hosted at the Emirates but certainly games at White Hart Lane provide a threat, a defeat would have sparked the ‘squeaky bum time’ comments whilst a victory would ease the pressure somewhat. A draw would have been good for Everton who have been creeping under the radar.

So taking all that into account the silky humdinger blasted in by Tomas Rosicky in the second minute to settle the game provided a welcome result for all connected to Arsenal. Mathematically it is still possible for the current top four teams to be caught but psychologically it’s a massive blow to the chasing pack.

rosicky

The goal itself was something special, the return ball to Rosicky from Oxlade-Chamberlain may have been somewhat fortunate but the finish there was no doubts over any fortune. The connection was so sweet the ball whistled into the back of the net as sharply as a bullet. The kind of finish you would expect from Rosicky. There are certain players that produce special finishes as if it’s programmed into their DNA. It can be 50/50 whether the ball flies into row Z but when they do connect correctly there is nothing more beautiful in the game of football. Andrei Arshavin had a similar knack for the special though it was his work rate that set him apart from Rosicky.

The defence as well deserve plenty praise for their performance yesterday, they stood strong and dealt with everything thrown at them. It wasn’t easy for the back four, the early goal adjusted the game plan slightly as the team were encouraged to soak up the pressure and hit on the counter. Although comfortable in the first half it was a different prospect in the second half as the expected pressure from Spurs intensified. Adebayor was always a threat and 100% concentration was needed for the entire 90 minutes. All the hard work was almost undone by a crazy moment from Szczesny when he dropped a routine catch at the feet of Chadli but a combination of Mertesacker and Koscielny doing their best Gandalf impression ensured the ball did not pass the goal line.

At the end of the day you have to take your chances if you want something in a game. Arsenal took one of their chances while Spurs wasted their gift, the stats showed that the Gunners had one of their lowest possession stats in a Premiership game but it’s what you do with the ball that makes that stat relevant.

The visit of Chelsea is next for the Gunners, never an easy game especially against a Mourinho team but the victory yesterday should give them great confidence leading up to the game. Roll on Saturday!

Enjoy your day people.
Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

Wembley Awaits Arsenal, Who Will Join Them?

Wembley here we come! After the dispatching of Everton yesterday in the quarter finals of the FA cup a trip to Wembley for the semi final now looms. Opponents will be decided today after the remaining three quarter final games are played.

One major obstacle in the shape of Manchester City could stand in the Gunner’s way of a second trip to Wembley in the form of the actual final. It is the utmost importance they are avoided in the draw today. That’s not to say Arsenal are not capable of beating Man City, that is every bit possible but to meet them in the final would make for a more fitting centre piece of the competition. I mean no disrespect to the other teams in the competition, they all hold a threat and recent history is likely to inspire any of the other teams that victory is certainly possible in a one-off game. Last season cup exits to Bradford City and Blackburn Rovers, not to mention that Carling Cup shocker against Birmingham City. These are all reminders that the level of the opposition does not equate to a textbook victory for the Gunners, anything can happen on the day.

Yesterday the possibility of winning a trophy became a distinct reality; under current evaluation the FA Cup holds the best chance for a trophy after Tottenham gift wrapped Chelsea three points in the Premier League game yesterday. The Chelsea result strengthened Arsenal’s position in the top four slightly however I would be a lot more content with the club’s focus being on catching the teams in front of them rather than thinking about what is going on over their shoulder from the teams playing catch up. The team owes it to themselves as much as the fans to give it 100% on all fronts until the end of the season. Priority and focus on the FA cup can be assessed a bit more once the club know who they are playing.

The fate of Arsenals destiny ironically lays at the hands of one of their former greats as Ian Wright has been granted the honour of facilitating the semi final draw alongside his son Shaun Wright-Philips. I’m pretty sure if Wrighty pulls Charlton or Sheffield united out of the hat (or bag) he may just get a statue commissioned to keep Dennis, Tony and Thierry company around the Emirates Stadium. If he pulls out Manchester City he may need to consider disabling his twitter account for a few days.

wright

In all seriousness though it is what it is, whoever Arsenal draw in the next round they know what is required of themselves to get to the final and win that trophy. The draw today is at 4pm (GMT).

Possible opponents in the draw:

Hull City  or Sunderland
Sheffield United  or Charlton Athletic
Manchester City or Wigan Athletic

Fingers crossed.

Enjoy your day people.
Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter