Monday Reflections On The Arsenal

Well, we’ve had a day or so to digest the game from Saturday night, the three points are on the board and the mood has slightly changed compared to last week. No repeat of Stoke Station-esque outbursts required leaving Gunners fans to enjoy their weekly dose of Match Of The Day.

It’s Monday so it gives me a chance to give my reflections of the game, not a match report as I’m sure many have been viewed since Saturday evening but a reflection of key points from the game.

giroud

Giroud’s valued return

How important is Giroud’s contribution to the team right now? He has returned from long term injury with a hunger to make up for lost time. Although scoring hasn’t been a major flaw in Arsenal’s team so far this season the fact that someone other than Sanchez has their scoring boots on is a big plus. Giroud brings attributes that none of the current strikers bring to the squad. What’s that? Sanogo you say? I actually think they are different types of players and until Sanogo adds goals to his CV then I can’t make a true comparison. During the Frenchman’s absence it was probably debated to death how his less pacy attributes would actually work with the quick fire zip provided by Sanchez, Welbeck and Walcott (when he returns from limbo). Well its working fine enough for now and long may it continue.

Welbeck’s goals

With the welcome return of Giroud and his goals the gloss has been taken off Welbeck’s impact to the team. There’s no denying that Welbeck is a hard working forward and his contribution to the team so far has been satisfactory in his efforts however as a forward it’s always the goals record people value the most. We have come off the back of a run of games against lesser opposition where you would expect your main striker to really bag a few goals, like I said he has offered assists and played his part In some of those games but I still see he has the potential to be more of a regular finisher than a provider. The less prolific return has resulted in Welbeck surrendering the central striking position to Giroud and playing slightly wider, a position he admitted he was less fond of at Man United. In his favour Arsene does like to enforce interchangeable positioning by his forwards and so that door isn’t completely shut. It’s also worth mentioning that Welbeck was stripped of a perfectly legitimate goal on Saturday and so I do sympathise that he was unable to add to his tally however there were other chances in the game he could have taken also. I’ll get off his back as my frustration is only aimed at what he is capable of not coming to fruition just yet

Santi hex finally banished

It’s nice to see the Santi hex is finally over, a short while ago Santi and Ramsey couldn’t hit the back of the net despite all their efforts. Slowly but surely the signs were there that the luck was changing, Santi produced an amazing run and cross to set up Welbeck for a goal at West Brom the other week and that seemed to be the spark needed to ignite Santi’s form back to life. On Saturday both of Cazorla’s goals would not be in the back of the net a month ago but the hex is finally broken and now the mojo is back. I look forward to seeing a lot more contribution from the Spaniard from now on, it’s just a shame that Ramsey picked up an injury as he also seemed to break that hex at the same time.

Defence held firm

debuchy newc

It was nice to see the team came through the game fairly unscathed taking into account the patched up back line that started. Yes a goal was conceded but the back line dealt with what was thrown at them. Debuchy is a welcome return and his performance was probably aided that little but more given the fact he was facing his old club which sparked some extra motivation. A much tougher task is due next week when the team visits Anfield, the scene of one of our worst results last season. Chambers will return however with the news of Koscielny now being unavailable for a few weeks is a concern. Liverpool may have been swept away by United yesterday but if Raheem Sterling had his shooting boots on a draw would not have been an unbelievable outcome, the odds of Sterling forgetting his shooting boots again are pretty short. Arsene will need to make working on the defence this week his absolute priority to ensure a decent result at Anfield is achievable.

Champs league draw

The Champions League draw is today, Arsenal finished runners up so will most likely face Bayern or Barcelona. It’s an annual tradition so I will hardly be shocked if it’s either of those two are drawn as the next opponents. Whoever Arsenal do get I will be excited, you can’t beat the atmosphere in the Emirates when the big guns come to town. The only thing that is an absolute given when it comes to the champions league draw is that Chelsea will get the easiest tie of the round.

Enjoy your day people.
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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.
 
 
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Arsenal claim 4th place ‘trophy’

So that’s it, fourth place secured with a win at Newcastle. No playoff though I doubt Arsenal fans were too bothered about that, Spurs won but that effort was in vain as Arsenal took hold of their own destiny and achieved the win required.

Any Arsenal fan that tells you they were not nervous before or during the match are cold faced liars, the tension was unbearable at times and the final whistle could not come quick enough towards the end.

AFC FINAL WHISTLE

Laurent Koscielny provided the deciding goal to maintain champion’s league football for the Gunners and was a rock at the back to boot. Man of the match in my eyes and it is hoped his form from the second half of the season is here to stay permanently.

The whole team deserves praise for holding their nerve to carve out the result when the pressure was surely on, Tottenham had the far easier game to play and it was important that Arsenal scored the first goal to alleviate any extra nerves which could disrupt their performance.

The importance of securing fourth place cannot be stressed hard enough, competing in the champions league is the difference between attracting players of the calibre of Jovetic or settling for players of lesser ability. European football is a bargaining chip in negotiations and will ensure top players will consider signing up at the Emirates, it also ensures the current squad won’t get itchy feet for football elsewhere.

giroud celebrates v newc

Many have commented on Arsenal’s celebrations at the final whistle, saying that they celebrated as if they had won a trophy; I can assure you if fortunes were reversed and Tottenham achieved the fourth place they would have celebrated the same way if not harder. Fourth place was at stake but also was the chance to better your bitter rivals, nothing can be sweeter than achieving at the expense of your rivals. A trophy was not won but the tears of the spurs players at the final whistle is worthy of celebrating 20 times over.

worth it

worth it

Arsenal can now build on this, it will take shrewd business from Arsene Wenger to improve the team and create a squad capable of challenging for honours in an Alex Ferguson-less Premier league. The core of the team is there, there shouldn’t be a Robin Van Persie-esque departure from the squad this summer. The additions from last summer should improve on their solid debut seasons and a clear out of the less involved players should come to fruition.

Andre Arshavin took to twitter to bid farewell to Arsenal, he thanked the fans, his colleagues and all the staff at the club as well as wishing the club well in next year’s champion’s league. It’s a nice touch from the diminutive Russian who never said a bad word about the club during his exiled period this season. He left the club with many quality memories most notably the 4 goals at Anfield and that winner against Barcelona. He will be fondly remembered by Arsenal fans and I for one wish him well in the next chapter of his career.

arshavin tweets

Guys, please take advantage of the bragging rights to all the Tottenham fans you know. Do not feel sorry for them because they would not hold back if roles were reversed. Make them feel like rubbish today and for the rest of the week if you can.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy…

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My big fat pre Sunday nerves – AFC

It’s nearly here, just one more day to kick off and the conclusion of either third place, the uncertainty of fourth place or the embarrassment of fifth.

This almost mirrors the feeling leading up to a wedding. As the big day looms the tension inside starts to build, your realisation that everything might not go perfectly to plan no matter how prepared you are.

The day going perfectly and as planned is equivalent to us taking third

The wedding going well but the camera with the risqué stag pictures going missing the night before could be equivalent to finishing fourth

The realisation that the big fat gypsy wedding folk are filming your big day (men, always be involved in at least some of the wedding decisions) could be equivalent to finishing fifth.

One thing we have to bear in mind is West Brom will not lie down and give us an easy game. It will be Roy Hodgson’s final game in charge before taking up England manager duty, final home game for the baggies too. Every team sets out to finish the season well in their final home game, after all you will be doing your lap of appreciation and as we learned not winning that game takes away from that moment.

I was watching the game between Bolton and West Brom last week and couldn’t help but notice the determination in the West Brom players; even after being 2-0 down they weren’t going to lie down.

They took advantage of the obvious fragile mindsets of the Bolton players and took the game to them. There’s nothing more dangerous than a team with nothing to play for.

They will want to win the game for Roy but not to the extent that they we be distraught if they lose. The gunners on the other hand will be distraught. The football gods blessed us last week with the results of Spurs and Newcastle. They won’t keep handing us gifts if we are not willing to take them. We have to win, end of.

We will be nervous throughout the game, no matter how much you prepare nerves have a way of jumping out on you at the worst possible time. Even at 2-0 up there will be doubt in the back of the mind. They pull a goal back and watch how the dynamics will change completely.

Bolton fell apart at 2-1 and I remember noticing how much the West Brom players celebrated when they got the equalizer. They had nothing to play for yet celebrated like they won the champions league with a last-minute winner. These teams with nothing to play for can be ruthless.

Norwich was the wake up call, hopefully we will have learned from that and will be on it from the get go and try to be as ruthless as possible.

There were some rumours that Chezzer was carrying an injury yesterday and could miss the game but I think that has now been dismissed.

Theo has apparently trained and could be included into the squad. With Sagna out it could mean an opportunity for Coquelin or Jenkinson. I’m sure Jenkinson isn’t injured and if so as a natural right back he may get the nod however according to the Arsenal site Wenger is quoted as saying Coquelin will deputize.

Personally I would like Coquelin as an option in midfield; we don’t seem to have a plan B at the moment as we are down to bare bones in central midfield. Whoever gets the nod at right back we will get behind them, heck we will get behind every player on that field tomorrow.

Come on you gunners!!

Enjoy your day people