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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Monday Reflections On The Gunners

A good weekend for the Arsenal, after the dispatching of Burnley… Eventually the Gunners found their selves sitting in the top four after all games played. All be it quite a few teams seem to be sticking in a quicksand like position where dropped points can lead to a substantial drop in the table. Apart from the cushy placing held by the likes of Chelski and Southampton the rest are cobbled together and share in being consistently inconsistent.

The events of Saturday have most likely been reviewed to death and so I will alternatively take this chance to reflect on some of key points noted from the game.

sanchez

Alexis is a gift from the Gods.
It would be hard to find anyone out there Arsenal fan or not that would not applaud the performances of Alexis Sanchez right now. The Chilean is literally carrying the Arsenal team at present and drawing comparisons with the impact provided by Luis Suarez to the Liverpool team last season. He has very much been a topic of discussion the past weekend given Arsene’s kind words in his pre-match press conference. You do have to wonder what kind of predicament the Gunners would be in considering the current underwhelming start to the season if Alexis had not been acquired in the summer. If the fighting spirit exhibited by Sanchez could be mirrored by just one or two more of the current squad then the team would benefit and provide more of a challenge to Chelsea.

 

santi jinx

Santi is Jinxed.
Anyone who has watched the last few Gunner’s games will have noticed how unlucky Carzola has been. The Spaniard has struggled to finish off a number of chances in the past few games and that continued into Saturday’s match. These are not difficult chances I am talking about here but straight forward chances that players of the quality of Santi could score with their eyes closed. It’s just not happening for him right now and I hope Carzorla takes out the time this week to say a few Hail Marys and checks his boots for signs of chicken dust to break whatever hex is over him. With Aaron Ramsey getting closer and closer to full fitness the Spaniard’s place could be under threat if the misfortune continues.

Walcott returns.
It was great to see Theo Walcott return to Premiership action. The Gunners did miss the pace he provided last season. That problem was addressed this season with the acquisition of some pacy players to the squad but Walcott still provides a unique set of skills that can be utilised once he gets into full swing. If anything patience is required as Theo eases back into the first team picture. He won’t be the answer to all our problems but if managed right he will play a significant part in any success this season.

Welcome clean sheet.

It’s always nice to get a clean sheet especially considering the makeshift back four the Gunners are forced to field at present. Yes, I know it’s only Burnley but 100% concentration is required at all times no matter who you play. A consolation conceded can lead in a slippery slope of cheap goals creeping in on a regular basis. It is important that the players who occupied the back four get into the habit of shutting teams out whilst building on their understanding week by week. Bigger tests are due in the next seven days against Anderlecht and away to Swansea so the clean sheet on Saturday was vitally important.

That’s all from me, enjoy your day people
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