Dreams Really Did Come True For Arsenal Against Fulham

Now that is how you start a new season. Yesterday I threw some caution to the wind as promoted teams have the potential to throw a spanner into the works. Luckily it didn’t turn out that way as the Arsenal team ran out comfortable winners against new boys Fulham.

A couple of the new boys in Gabriel and Willian started the match, both of them contributing largely to the win, Our star striker scored a trademark peach of a goal and we kept a clean sheet. What wasn’t to love about that? The only dampener was the fact the fans weren’t able to be there in person to celebrate with the team.

It really was an impressive start and that feeling of being top of the league for however long it lasts does feel nice. Let’s enjoy it while we can as you can never guarantee once you are off the top how long before you return.

So what were the takeaway points from the game? Well I could start with before the game as BT Sports weren’t slow in beaming out footage of a warm up spat between Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah. Yes, things were a little heated in a couple of clashes but the whole thing was over as soon as it started. The two players sharing a picture of solidarity post match to quash any overzealous journalist’s plans to take their first chips at Arteta’s Arsenal amour with a negative story.

With that out the way and the game underway all eyes were on the new boys. It raised a few eyebrows when William Saliba wasn’t even named on the bench given the injury to David Luiz. Arteta has his reasons and the young Frenchman’s chance will come but in his absence Gabriel was given his first start and he didn’t fail to impress.

Gabriel winning over teammates instantly.

Admittedly in the opening few minutes there was one moment where a mix up with Leno could have led to a goal but beyond that initial moment the performance of the Brazilian was calm, composed and dominant. The icing on the cake was a debut goal and clean sheet to make for an instant impact to his Arsenal career. I’m liking this start and there’s capacity for him to get better and better, a massive tick of approval on this signing so far.

As for the other new boy, Willian took to his berth in the Arsenal line-up like a duck to water. Understandably he has bags of premiership experience and has been one of Chelsea’s leading players over the years. His quality was not a surprise and I’m sure that now those that may have doubted his signing might have got a glimmer of what he has to offer.

Willian with a pleased Arteta

A debut with two (or three depending on how rose tinted your glasses are) assists isn’t too shabby at all. His quality shone through and he has laid down the gauntlet of competition to his new colleagues that also occupy his position. Competition is healthy and it will no doubt bring out the best in the players. They cannot afford to rest on their laurels and there will be an expectation to bring their A game when called on to the pitch.

Lacazette chipped in with a goal which is always great for a striker to get off the mark nice an early into the season and of course our skipper contributed with what is becoming a trademark finish.

A finish I’d like to call the reverse Robben, you know that goal where he would fly down the right hand side, cut in onto his left, work an opening and bang! Back of the net. Aubamyang’s finish was almost a carbon copy of his last goal against Liverpool in the Charity Shield in the way he cut himself an opening inside his marker then provided a finish of pure quality, power, bend and accuracy into the far corner. I wouldn’t say you don’t save those but more often than not even the best keepers struggle to handle such finishes. Another goal and the hope is a final conclusion to a new and improved signed contract this week.

One thing noticed was the absence of Emi Martinez from the squad and if reports are correct then he is on his way to Aston Villa. It will be sad to see the Argentinian go. He spent many years as an understudy in the hope of one day becoming number one keeper. Last season really was a defining moment in his career and one he hasn’t needed to look back from since. It has been a meteoric rise in such a short space of time and Arsenal fans can’t begrudge him the ambition he has to be a number one keeper somewhere. There are many keepers out there happy to be a career number two, pick up their wages, play a handful of games and be content with that.

Martinez will be missed but will always be remembered for his contributions.

Martinez has proved himself a very able keeper and a return to the Argentinian national squad and potentially become a feature for them is a very realistic possibility with club football as a number one. From a selfish perspective having two top quality keepers would be ideal but we can’t begrudge one of our longest serving current players an opportunity to be more than a number two.

It’s funny when you look back to that game against Brighton when Leno got injured and the amount of dread that spread through the fans that the season would be seen out with an understudy. Martinez had deputised many times in the past but it’s really from the Brighton game that he proved all those years of hard work were visible in his performances. Can you imagine his worth before the Brighton game compared to now? He will be leaving us for a fee circa £20m which will hopefully be spent wisely on reinforcements.

The Martinez story could act as inspiration to the current crop of keepers and Matt Macey another keeper who has put in the years at the club could take any opportunities that come his way with both hands. Although I think a new keeper may come in, the door is not shut on current personnel to prove their selves. Let’s see how this one plays out.

For now we can just bask in the knowledge that we are top of the league and for our new signing Gabriel dreams can come true.

Enjoy you day people.

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Please Don’t burst Any Bubbles On Day One Arsenal

And so we have arrived at the dawn of a new season. The optimism has returned, the belief, the hope, the expectation; it’s all there in abundance. With a new season comes a reset of sorts, many fans instantly dismiss the roller coaster ride of the previous season and address the new one with a clean slate. The title is on despite finishing the last season 20/30…40 points behind the champions. A cup is obtainable this time, top four? Top 6? Upper half of table finish? Avoid relegation.

Ready for new season

We as football fans start the season with many bubbles which inevitably burst as the season progresses but it’s nice to be at that point until that reality kicks in. My club has every chance as much as the next team to win everything on offer until the first ball is kicked and the first round of games complete to calibrate some home truths.

You can’t blame Arsenal fans for feeling optimistic leading into this new season. Of course the league title is very far fetched but… but there’s a feel good factor that has returned to the fan base. A feel good factor helped in part by the rewarding end of season silverware earned and a promising charity shield victory over the reigning champions.

There’s been some shrewd transfer dealings too but with the window still open for a few more weeks yet there’s plenty that could change on the incomings and outgoings of the playing staff.

Our new Head Coach has won over many of the doubters that questioned his initial appointment. The new respect has been well earned and I’m sure that the same way the players are clearly buying in to his idea and philosophy the fans are mirroring that.

As Arsenal fans although many of us may seem demanding but in reality we just want the good football back. With the good football the rewards will follow, the DNA of the club had been siphoned out over the past few years and it’s about time we instilled some discipline and quality that many fans were raised on and always associated with Wenger Arsenal teams.   

The club I feel is on an upward trajectory however it will be a bumpy ride, plenty highs and lows but the important thing is to acknowledge we have the right man in the job and we stand by him through the good and the bad until we get back to where we belong.

So first up is an away trip to newly promoted Fulham, no offence Fulham fans but I really wanted Brentford to win that playoff final. Nothing personal but we’ve been there done that with Fulham, would have been nice to get a new entity in the mix. From what I recall there haven’t been a massive influx of major signings pouring in to Craven Cottage so it seems much reliance is on the team that won promotion (many who saw through relegation too). The keeper coming in Areola is a good acquisition but it seems a lot of hopes fall on Mitrovic and how impactful his anger management sessions over the season break have been.

On paper you wouldn’t be laughed at for expecting an Arsenal win however its opening day of the season, a promoted team with the motivation to prove they aren’t dropping straight back into the Championship and with no fans it’s still unclear who the advantage lies with anymore. 

With the news of the David Luiz injury it’s highly likely we will see one if not both of William Saliba and Gabriel in the starting line-up. I’d expect Arteta not to radicalise the back line instantly and sway to more familiarity at the back meaning Holding and possibly Tierney occupying centre back positions if we go with a back three leading to either Gabriel or Saliba joining them.

Will Saliba start today?

We may see Willian for the first time, it will be interesting to see some competition in those wide areas between Willian, Pepe, Saka and Aubamyang.  It’s actually quite difficult to predict what the line-up will be today but most importantly it’s exciting to get some football back again. We might not be able to go to games and a lot of opening day traditions will have to be put on pause but my God it’s great to have it back. A lot of questions may be answered such as will Ozil and  Guendouzi ever appear in a squad again, will Nketiah start up front ahead of Lacazette, will Ceballos slot straight back into starting eleven, will Arteta wear a tracksuit or slim fit designer clobber?

One thing I do hope is that many of those bubbles I alluded to earlier stay intact after this first game. Let’s start this season well and see where Arteta can take us.  Come on Arsenal!

P.S. As it’s a new season I’m sure many of you have been tearing your hair out deciding your final FPL squads,  hopefully you are now is a settled place and are ready to take on your respective leagues. Well, why not add another league to your bow and join mine. I’m looking to reward the winner with a prize. Come join up, take me on, it’ll be fun. Sign up with the link below or use the following code:

Good luck.

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Victory From The Jaws Of Failure: The Arsenal Way

If Carlsberg did endings to matches… they probably wouldn’t do it like that but hey, what an adrenaline rush. The roller coaster of emotion that Arsenal fans experienced yesterday was enough to hospitalise the strongest of hearts.

After a weekend of favourable results from those clubs around the Arsenal it was important to maximise the advantage and obtain all three points from the game. I’m sure the players would have been aware of the Liverpool Swansea result and been reminded of the potential banana skin a fixture against one of the lower opponents in the league could pose.

In fairness the performance was positive despite some questionable wastefulness in front of goal. The chances were coming but the ball wouldn’t hit the back of the net, always a dangerous situation the longer the game goes on. However you felt it was only a matter of time before the Gunners would break the deadlock. When Shkodran Mustafi rose to head home Ozil’s corner in the second half a huge sigh of relief was expelled and then it was a case of when the second goal would come so we could relax and enjoy the rest of our Sunday. More fool anyone who thought the match would play out to script, that script was ripped to shreds for good measure. From a state of total comfort our very own Granit Xhaka had other ideas with a red card challenge, I know fans have been divided in opinion of whether he deserved to go or not.


I usually sit on the fence but if I’m being honest it was a red and he has only himself to blame. If this was a one off out of character error of judgement the benefit of the doubt could be given but sadly the young Swiss is beginning to get a reputation for such moments in games. I believe in the player strongly and do feel he offers a lot to the team but the disciplinary side to his game needs to be curbed because once painted with such a brush the referee is more likely to rule he is in the wrong for any contentious 50/50 split decisions. Arsenal can’t afford to have referees making their mind up on our players before a ball is kicked because you end up in situations like yesterday fighting an uphill battle with 10 men on the field. It’s not his first bit of controversy this season and there can be a thin line between reliable and liability.

Xhaka now faces a four match ban at a time when player numbers are stretched enough as it is. You would argue that Coquelin returning is perfect timing to soften the blow until you see the challenge he put in to concede the penalty against Burnley. Ok, that’s a bit harsh I am glad to have the Frenchman back but now he needs to be wrapped in cotton wool for the next four games at least as their aren’t too many options after Coquelin and Ramsey to fill that central role right now.

So as I have alluded to the red card switched the dynamics of the game from one of comfort to one of unease and tension.  Burnley gained a spring in their step and despite a spirited effort to keep the team with the player advantage at bay the inevitable happened in injury time. A penalty won after a trip by Coquelin put the club and the fans in the horrible position of witnessing us throwing away maximum points when seconds away from victory.

When Andre Gray blasted in that penalty the heart sank, all the negative feelings came flooding in; you could almost hear the collective beeps of mobile phones nationwide in synchronisation of whatsapps, tweets and texts flooding Arsenal fans’ phones from their Spurs, United, Liverpool and Chelsea supporting friends mocking the predicament the club had just witnessed. It started to kick off on the side-lines too; Arsene was apparently sent off by the ref and had some afters with the fourth official that is likely to put him in some very deep water.

The script that was rewriting itself had not finished though, there was one final twist to this story and thank goodness that worked out as a happier ending for the Gunners. With even fewer seconds on the clock a free kick into the box resulted in a kick to the face on Koscielny and the ref awarded another penalty. There were claims that Koscielny was offside but a kick to the face is a kick to the face. It was an unbelievable turn of events as the emotion had now switched from utter dejection to hope once again. An awarded penalty is great but you still have to score it, a moment like that required nerves of steel and there was no other player on the field you would entrust with the honour than Alexis Sanchez. With a touch of nonchalance the penalty was dinked down the centre of the field and the Gunners were now 2-1 up.


How as a fan could you not explode with excitement and joy at such a finish to the game? Many rival fans have mocked our celebrations but for reference think back to Man united scoring in the last minute at Hull or Tottenham scoring the last minute at West Ham to name a few. We didn’t celebrate like we had won the league but we did celebrate like a team that regained a victory in the dying seconds of the game when everything seemed to have gone against us; call it what you want whilst sucking on those bitter lemons.

As it stands we just need to take each day as it comes, the fallout from this game will become clearer as the week goes on. 2nd in the league now and a game against Chelsea not too far off in the future, dropped points yesterday would have been the worst possible outcome. Now we roll on, yesterday was far from enjoyable but the final result was the most important factor. Hopefully the players will learn from all the negatives but also take encouragement from the positives. Enjoy your day people!

 

 

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Gunners recover to reach next round of FA Cup

I’m not sure what to make of the Arsenal of 2017, another win salvaged after another rotten start. I’m not sure the ticker can take such a roller coaster of a ride, on paper it’s a victory but to witness performances like in the first half do not make for an enjoyable experience.

The FA Cup is a different experience to the league games and a fired up lower league team will always be looking for a big scalp. Preston North End were not going to lay out the carpet for Arsenal, it was a one off cup tie that could go anyone’s way on the day. It was no secret many of the Arsenal big guns would be rested and/or were injured and Preston smelt blood.

The Bournemouth game is still fresh in the mind and it was a question of which Arsenal would start the game on Saturday night. Unfortunately the start was slow and after conceding an early goal it was a worry as to how many goals Preston would score.

To say the team rode their luck is an understatement but rode their luck they did and having survived up to half time at just one goal down it worked in the Gunners favour. Arsene’s team talk at half time is probably one of the easiest he has had to make in his time at the club. The players will have known they were rotten but they had 45 minutes to prove they are far far better than the rubbish they displayed in the first half.

It needed a good start to get the belief back and it worked perfectly as Aaron Ramsey scored within a minute of the restart. 


The perfect way to deflate the momentum of belief the Preston Players had prior to the second half. It was a much better second half performance and once the equaliser went it you couldn’t help but think the winner would follow shortly. It didn’t exactly work out that way as it wasn’t until the last few minutes that Olivier Giroud finished off a quality back heeled pass from Lucas Perez to seal the tie and avoid an unwanted replay.


So into the fourth round draw the Gunners go, they made hard work of it but unlike against Bournemouth a winner was found. Olivier Giroud again the key man up front, he’s now in a run of form that makes him un-droppable. Arsene has a dilemma on his hands once he has a fully fit squad to pick from.

Danny Welbeck who it was great to see get a run out will add to the options up front. Hopefully a positive addition to the squad given the battle the club is in to gain silverware on three fronts this season.


The games will be coming thick and fast and the wheels have slightly come off the Arsenal train since the injuries started to build up so players returning (and hopefully a signing) will aid the Gunners as they march on. We are in the next round, the cup is out the way for now, focus now turns back to the Premiership where it is hoped the poor starts are a thing of the past and Swansea will be a team that wont get a chance to even test us as we stamp our authority from the first whistle. Enjoy your day  people!

 

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Big blow to Arsenal momentum despite 3 goal comeback

Yes it was a comeback; there are certainly some positives to list from salvaging a point from being three goals down but in the grand scheme of things the events of last night were a massive blow.

Losing ground yet again in the race for the championship only further strengthens the claims that maybe this Arsenal falls short on the required quality and strength to be genuine contenders. It should never be a case that Arsenal fans now sit down to watch a Spurs game in which a victory would be in their best interests. Yet here we are, not just falling behind in the race for first but now sucked back plump into a fight to stay in the top four. 

It can be argued that fixture scheduling has been unkind and Liverpool also suffered an away day set back due to the short window for recovery but on reflection you have to question why the effort to comeback couldn’t be applied prior to conceding three goals. Physical fatigue can handicap a performance but mental complacency cannot be excused. Watching the game in the first half you couldn’t help but notice a body language amongst the Arsenal players that screamed “rather be at home”. It’s never enjoyable to see the players not put in the effort and the final score at least showed signs of a change in attitude.



It’s fair to say some of the decisions went against us with the goals, the penalty was harsh and the third goal despite a pathetic show of strength from Bellerin was effectively a foul but no matter how much decisions go against you, you never give up. That’s what it looked like to me from the outside, a sort of acceptance that it wasn’t their day from a few players. To rub further salt in the wounds seeing Ramsey arguing with Sanchez on the pitch was plain embarrassing.

The team at the moment looks threadbare; admittedly Arsene Wenger’s team choice is forced given the loss of players to illness, injuries and international call ups. Maybe this game came at the perfect time given the transfer window has now opened. To be honest there is cover for most positions in the squad but how long can we continue without Santi Cazorla? The player is central to all our good play when Arsenal is firing on all cylinders. Without him there have been multiple combinations to plug the gap but none have quite filled the gap adequately.

 I am not sure how far Santi is from returning to the team but if the club has serious intentions to win the title this year than waiting for the injured star man to return rather than finding a sufficient replacement sums it up. I love Santi but the same thing happened last season and all our momentum derailed in his absence. There’s nothing to guarantee on his eventual return he may not break down again and that is why I feel business needs to be done to ensure a player is brought in to challenge Santi if not replace him. No one currently in the squad is of the level to fill the void and that there is the main problem.

The defence did have an off day but each of the back four have proven themselves this season,  the attack has brought the goals more often than not but the key department of the team which is the midfield engine room has been hit and miss. That extra bit of quality that separates Arsenal from being a good team to a serious title contender is missing and it needs to be addressed before the leading pack are too far out of sight by time the Arsenal get it together.

Please Arsene, make a signing to make us not miss Santi, I know it seems harsh but I honestly believe one of our biggest Achilles heel is the unbreakable bond of respect shown to players in the treatment room. Returning players become like a new signing way too often when in reality returning injured players become more like signing a new injury prone player.

OK, enough of the negativity. I will sign off by congratulating the team on coming back from three goals down, congratulate Olivier Giroud on his continuing to justify his inclusion with vital goals and assists, congratulate Sanchez on his vital goal and continuing to give his all despite being shunted from his central striker position and I would like to congratulate Lucas Perez on getting his first premiership goal and playing his part in the comeback.



Teams don’t often come from three goals down and to think that despite pulling back level Arsenal fans still felt disappointed that all three points weren’t gained shows the belief the fans have in their team. Rival fans will have to delay their visit to the Arsenal Fan TV YouTube page for another time.

For now, let’s hope things get put right with a win at Preston and away to a rejuvenated Swansea team. Until then enjoy your day people. 

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