Match Reports

  • Match Preview – Arsenal vs Tottenham

    So the first North London Derby of the season is upon us so early.  Arsenal come into the game licking wounds from saturday whilst Tottenham come into this game still rubbish as they were and always have been.  A lot has been said about the rivalry ‘North London is Red’ or in a high pitched voice ‘North London is Lilywhite’.  The fact of the matter is that Tottenham have still not won f-all with their best group of players they have had in my living memory.

    It is certainly a make or break season for Spurs, if they have another barron year those players will be starting to drift off and probably see similarities to how we were when we moved stadiums, now they are in the toilet bowl we can see how much ambition they have.  It also shows how little ambition we had as a club. Not Wenger, but those above with all of the decisions at the club.

    This match is a simple one, we need to bounce back from our loss at Anfield with a hunger to succeed.  The atmosphere will be buzzing and everyone should be there to cheer on all the lads.  The abuse and stick going to players after a negative result is embarrassing and it does need to stop.  It isn’t just so called Arsenal fans, you have seen the abuse of Paul Pogba and others.  It is disgusting and should be highlighted with tougher laws on social media hatred and abuse.

    Nothing changing with regards to the team selection this week, or long term injuries are still weeks away from action.  I am sticking to my prediction from last week. It is our strongest line up.  This does change obviously if Monreal is sold (stupidly in my mind) as we then need to put another square peg in a round hole.  I predict a nervy game but the front three terrorizing them.

    COME ON YOU GUNNERS

    Prediction : Arsenal 4 Tottenham 2

    Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Through Harmony

     

  • Match Report – Liverpool 3 Arsenal 1

    Unai Emery surprised quite a few people with his team selection ahead of the game at Anfield, a change in shape and responsibilities, but no change in our fortunes at Anfield.  The lads battled throughout the game which was good to see, although despite putting in our most committed performance at Anfield in years we were chasing shadows and struggling to contain the home side.

    Although losing to Liverpool at Anfield isn’t a surprise considering how strong they seem to have become and I would put this team into the same mould as the 1980’s Liverpool sides.  Emery had a plan to try to try and limit the space in the middle of the pitch, when setting out the team in a diamond formation 4-3-1-2.  In ways you can see why he tried to do it, however in reality why would you trial a system that you haven’t used previously in a match and opposition of that quality.

    We gave the wings up against the two most in form wing backs in England and possibly Europe and it was no surprise that they found so much joy to whip balls into the area.  A dangerous ploy against a very dangerous side.  I then thought the decision to drop Lacazette to the bench as a poor one also,  It meant that attacking wise we are unable to get enough players forward to support as most of the time the midfield were left ragged and deep. What was promising is that Joe Willock was also trusted to start in what would have been his biggest game of his young career.

    Whilst in the first half we held our own, we gave up lots of chances for Liverpool as the width and lack of pressure in wide areas took its toll.  We got some joy on a direct counters to Pepe and a little later into the season I expect him to of had a couple of goals.

    Disappointing to lose but we cannot be too disappointed overall.  We lost, and now some big games ahead.

    Kick Off

    Straight from the kick off you could see the intent of Liverpool with a very high press across the pitch with some very intricate passes and minimal time to work the ball out.  Both teams were flying out to press but as early as the 2nd minute Robertson came flying down the channel and fizzed a shot-cum-low pass to the back post that Firmino couldn’t get on the end of.  Every time we got the ball we had to work the ball quickly to try to beat the press,  the times Liverpool switched the ball to the other side also showed how they would start to break down a tactic that was working as the game was tight at 0-0, not so in the possession stats.

    Pepe was giving van Dijk unknown stress levels, as he was constantly standing off from him not knowing what he would do.  They were our only real chances for a break away goal, however we were nearly gifted a goal by Adrian’s calamitous clearance outside his area which went straight into Aubameyang’s path, he controlled the ball and lofted the ball back towards goal but just past the post.

    Another couple of shots for Pepe, one coming after Arsenal crowded out a Liverpool attack to counter themselves with a great powerful run by Willock. We did nearly fall apart in the 20th minute when we tried to play out from the back and with Liverpool’s press we struggled to get out, the ball moved out close to the touchline to Ceballos who must have seen some old footage of our oh so regular series ‘How to give a goal away’.  He saw a risky pass to Guendouzi just outside the area which didn’t reach him, instead the prowling Mane picked it up and then had a shot on goal.  Very lucky to still be level.

    Wave after wave came the Liverpool attacks, and more so we seemed to start struggling to clear our lines instead gifting the ball back to the home side.  On 30 minutes came our best move working the ball out from our area, Willock nutmegging Trent-Arnold to gallop forward playing ball inside to Auba who kept the ball moving to Pepe who was facing Robertson 1 on 1, the defender gave him a lot of room with Pepe teasing a curled shot just past the post. 34 minutes saw Pepe running on goal but rather then trying to guide the ball home with his right foot he prodded it with his left straight at the keeper.

    1-0 Liverpool

    Approaching half time you sensed there was a need to get in at half time without conceding to get further instructions on what was so far a good display but another corner came in and with our defenders seemingly only concerned about Van Dijk, left Matip available to power a header in to finish the half in disappointing fashion.

    Half Time

    In big matches there are big decisions, one was made by David Luiz early on, in fact 2 minutes into it.

    2-0 Liverpool

    Liverpool work another attack with a clever pass and link up between Firmino and Salah only for Luiz to grab his shirt to give the referee a decision to make, most games as there was little, minimal fuss made by the player it would have been play on as the attacker had the ball.  However not this game,  we contrived to give the game away ourselves , the penalty was dispatched confidently, an absolute belter of a penalty.

    On 51 minute a sporadic attack and run by Pepe unleashed Aubameyang who though in a marginal offside position dallied on the ball enabling the covering defender to clear the ball.

    3-0 Liverpool

    Another goal and another error again with Luiz involved, he has no need to charge in to Salah with the ball, who skips past him to run into the area and slot a neat low shot into the far post.  Game over on the hour.

    Man of the moment Caballos had a baptism of fire and looked off of the pace of the game, easy to understand why though.  He was replaced by Torreira, this moved Willock to a role supporting the strikers.  I love his energy and direct running, I am sure he will be a star for the club.  Mane came off for the Ox before a tricky run by Pepe saw him get crowded out and the ball cleared. On 80 minutes Lacazette came on for Willock.

    3-1 Liverpool

    Torreira picked up the ball in the area and a scrappy deflection into his path after an attempted shot fell kindly for him and he side footed the ball home.  On 85 Mkhitaryan came on for Guendouzi and we reverted to a shape with 3 up top.  Lacazette showed lots of effort but you do wonder how he felt being dropped for the start.

    Full Time – LIVERPOOL 3 ARSENAL 1

    Our first defeat of the season, yes can say it was poor, however it was an improvement on recent visits, and who knows what would have happened would we have taken a chance or two in the first half.  Onwards and upwards.  NLD

    Victoria Concordia Crescit

    Victory through harmony

  • Match Preview – Liverpool vs Arsenal

    When people mention this game each season I seem to get goosebumps. This is probably due to the fact that we have has some horror shows in recent seasons.  Our last win there was in 2012 when we beat Liverpool 2-0 with goals from Podolski and Cazorla scoring, there were summer signings then for us. Since then we have drawn two and lost four. Notibly some heavy defeats 5-1 in 2014, 4-0 in 2017 and another 5-1 last season.

    Defensive Errors

    This is a game where we need to see all of the team stand up and give 100% effort and desire to the cause.  We know Liverpool have the players to hurt us but we also have the players to hurt them.  I think there will be many goals in this game also with no fewer then 30 goals scored in the last 6 games at Anfield, we have only scored 8 of them.  Defensively we need to be more alert, more brave and positive in the tackle.  If we back off and back off like we did last season.  We had around 3 minutes of jubilation last year when Maitland-Niles slid in at the back post to give us the lead.

    The goal that was scored by Liverpool to equalize was horrendous where they basically walked the ball in via a sliding tackle by Papa.  I remember that goal and seeing two Liverpool players with the ball in the area with 7 Arsenal players all in the box.  They just seemed to watch Firmino finish off the chance.  Maybe a little bad luck with the way the ball fell into the path of the striker from the tackle, but still the awareness was not there.  The third goal scored was the one where we had Firmino running at goal with three defenders trying not to tackle the player who just went round all of them to then score.

    I hope we learnt from that defensive performance and are more astute to look at stopping that player with the ball with a foul or even just make sure you are standing in the way of the ball and the player as opposed to being to the side of the player and dangling a leg out and not even touching the player.

    Okay that was last season…

    This season we will see a more solid Arsenal team then last season, I know, I know it won’t be hard because we were woeful at times.  I think we have more control in our shape and with the signings this season we have added experience to the defence in Luiz.  I actually think him and Papa could form a good partnership this season.  The main focus for the defence will be to not get isolated. out of possession.  Can we get numbers in and around the ball to force mistakes?  Not sure what formation we will see tomorrow.  Will we see a similar shape to the games against Newcastle and Burnley or do we see a return to a back three which was the formation we used last time out.

    Pleasing news is that Ozil and Xhaka are both back in full training. I am hoping that Arsenal set up really well in the middle of the pitch.  Can we isolate and keep the ball the wider areas and try to stop Liverpool hurting us like last season with their front three?

    My predicted line up is below

    My thinking is that we stay solid in shape with the back four. Two deeper controlling midfielders who are disciplined out of possession. They need to be when in possession and the transition when we lose it.  Ceballos playing higher up linking with the front players which have huge amount of speed.  Monreal and Maitland-Niles have the license to push forward with the added security of players holding position in the centre.

    COME ON YOU GUNNERS

    Prediction : Liverpool 2 Arsenal 2

    Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Through Harmony

  • Match Report – Arsenal 2 Burnley 1

    Later then I expected here is the match report for the game.  Memorable for me was the fact that when I got the alert that Lacazette scored to make it 1-0, I was driving in the Alps at 2000+ metres above coming back to good ‘ol blighty.

    The first home game of the season was always going to be an important game due to the games that we are faced with in the next few weeks. I said in my preview that Arsenal had to match Burnley for desire and commitment and we certainly did that.  Debuts of Luiz and Ceballos were greeted to a buzzing stadium atmosphere and with our promising youngsters Willock and Nelson starting also there was a real sense of intrigue.  Goals from the imperious Lacazette and Aubameyang in between an Ashley Barnes equalizer proved enough for the 3 points.

    Kick Off

    Nacho man was captain for the game in Xhaka’s absence and Arsenal started the game with patience knocking the ball around.  It was clear to see when we did lose the ball the young players were snapping back at the players to win the ball back.  Burnleys game plan was clear from the outset.  Whenever they got a chance to ping it into the box from set pieces they would. A nervy zipped pass across the box 2-3 yards from goal from Luiz made a few fans gasp but actually we managed to work the ball out and attack resulting in a sweet attempt on goal from Ceballos who could not get the ball to bend enough.  A few other chances came and went with a succession of corners but Arsenal really pushing to get the opening goal.  Lacazette heading the ball on goal and it was pushed over for a corner.

    1-0 Arsenal

    On 13 minutes this spell of pressure and the corner following from the header culminated with the ball being in the area saw Lacazette being held and as the ball seemingly lost as he fell to the ground hook the ball home in a style suited to playground football. Great awareness to try the shot, it is great to see Lacazette with such confidence.

    A Burnley corner was smartly saved by Leno at close range on 17 minute before a chance for Luiz saved by the keepers legs.

    1-1 Burnley Equalize

    A searching ball down the right side to Wood saw him play ball inside to McNeil who cut further inside 25 yards out after getting past Ceballos.  I think he was looking at a shot but this was deflected into the patch of Barnes behind Luiz to put Burnley level and he missed a chance from a tight angle at the end of the half. Before that chance Nelson thought he had but Arsenal back in front but the goal was ruled out for offside by VAR as Monreal’s foot was offside. A disappointing end to a half which Arsenal had controlled well.

    Half Time

    Emery made a change at half time bringing on Pepe for Nelson. He showed some fantastic signs including a lovely pass into Aubameyang who shot on goal was saved by the keeper and cleared away. The impressive Ceballos had another great shot saved by the keeper, this time it was bending into the far corner.

    2-1 Arsenal

    On 63 minutes again after losing the ball we fought to win the ball back with Aubameyang winning the ball and then running forward and cutting inside to shoot into the goal at the near post to put Arsenal back in front.  Lacazette came off on 71 minutes to a great cheer for Kolasinac. and the man of the match Ceballos came off for Torreira.

    Full Time – ARSENAL 2 BURNLEY 1

    All in all a solid enough game to start with,  Some really promising performances and a perfect tonic before two massive games at Liverpool and the NLD.

  • Match Preview – Arsenal vs Burnley

    Following up on the well earnt win at Newcastle, we welcome Sean Dyche’s Burnley.  I think this potentially has the look of a tough game. Burnley will be set up well, So it will be more to do with how the team start the game and approach the challenge in front of us.

    We have the attacking talent, we know that.  It will be the defensive aspect of the performance which will be key to the result we all want.   Burnley are brimming with confidence coming down to London after an impressive 3-0 win against Southampton.  Southampton looked really poor.  If we do not match Burnley for effort and fight for the right to be on the ball, we will be in a tight battle.

    No further injuries that I know about from the opening game, however I expect Lacazette to come into the team.  I expect a full stadium full of positive energy towards the team pushing the lads onto another three points.  With that said, we do have two massive games next up away to Liverpool and the home NLD against Spurs.  Do selections for these affect who he chooses for this game?.  Possibly, players aren’t fully at they performance and fitness levels so will be interesting to see who he does select.

    My team selection is below


    I am keeping the team consistent to last weeks suprise selections.  Defensively the team were solid and did any of them play themselves out of the team, no in my opinion they had done fine so deserve a second early season run out.  Midfielders were also decent enough.  I expect Xhaka to be captain again so he writes himself onto the teamsheet. He plays alongside Guendouzi who had one of his most intelligent performances for the club.  I can see good performances from him this season as he now is used to the rigours of the premier league.  Lacazette comes in for Nelson to give a little more forward thrust and quality.  Willock keeps his place as he showed great desire to win back the ball throughout the time he was on the pitch, he does look to have huge potential.

    I am putting in Nicolas Pepe for his home debut in place of Mkhitaryan as he was the one player that didn’t really see too many good moments in the last game with misplaced passes and failure to hit the target. Aubameyang keeping the spot up top.

    I am not 100% whether or not Unai will keep the same shape. Or if he will revert to a solid 4-4-2 with Auba and Laca up top. The midfield I picked or with Nelson in place of Willock.

    Come on Arsenal.

    Prediction : Arsenal 3 Burnley 1

    Victoria Concordia Crescent

  • Match Report – Newcastle Utd 0 Arsenal 1

    So the first game of a crunch season for Arsenal ended with a 1-0 away win.  A clean sheet, debuts to almost all of our new signings and two youngsters earning their place in the starting lineup. Not a polished performance by any stretch of the imagination but the result is all that matters here.

    It was pleasing to see Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock getting starting places, due to their promising performances in pre season.  How many more they get will be interesting to see through the season. I was impressed with the directness of both players during the game.

    Another conundrum we all were trying to solve was who was going to come into defence. Also who would lead us out as captain.  Unai Emery selected Granit Xhaka as captain.  In defence he selected Callum Chambers and Sokratis flacked by the Nacho Man (Monreal) and Maitland-Niles.

    Kick Off

    The game started with great energy and desire as there were challenges for both sides.  Newcastle setting up with looking to crowd out Arsenal so patience looked to be the key for Arsenal.  Both teams were dispossessing each other but in the first 15 minutes there was visible signs that the team had been instructed to get forward with pace. The forward running of Willock and Nelson once the transition of play occured was clear.

    In the midst of some nice passing there were some poor passes in areas we should not be giving up possession.  Newcastle started to crank up a bit of pressure on the Arsenal goal and Jon Joe Shelvey almost found the net. Mkhitaryan then fluffed a chance when the ball came to him inside the box but he skied his effort over the bar.

    Half Time

    The second half started with more of the same from the first half with a real lack of cutting edge.

    1-0 Arsenal

    In the 58th minute Ainsley Maitland-Niles ghosted in front of the opposition to win the ball wide and motor forward and with his head up he played a fantastic ball over the defenders into the path of Aubameyang who with a deft first touch and a lovely finish scored to put Arsenal ahead.

    Introductions to new boys Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli for Willock, Nelson and Mkhitaryan respectively added to a really important win and a rare clean sheet.

    Full Time – NEWCASTLE UTD 0 ARSENAL 1

  • Match Preview – Newcastle Utd vs Arsenal

    The start of the season is now upon us and first up is a trip to Newcastle, which will be a strange place.  It will be a loud atmostphere with the home crowd stuck between getting behind the team and protesting that the owner.

    What I am sure of is that we need to hit the ground running this season and with the news that Ozil and Kolasinac were removed from the squad that travelled due to a security incident being investigated by police.  Alex Lacazette will probably not be pushed back with many games on the horizon.  Rob Holding and Bellerin are still a while off being match fit and our other new signings are not looking likely to play with the exception of David Luiz and possibly Ceballos.

    Obviously it does depend on how fit these players are but I am hoping for a team selection that is not hamstrung with players unavailable.  I really want to see the boys stand up to the challenge and deal with the physical battles that Andy Carroll will possess (That is if he is fit enough).  Can we become more solid then last year, that is the question.  We certainly cannot concede the same amount of goals we did last season. Can we become more consistent and together as a team, if we can then it will show us moving in the right direction.

    My line up

    Come on Arsenal.

    Prediction : Newcastle Utd 1 Arsenal 2

    Victoria Concordia Crescent

  • Match Preview – Arsenal vs Newcastle Utd

    The league continues to now take massive importance for us. Considering now that we have a great opportunity to leapfrog Tottenham into 3rd place in the table. I do not agree that we have easy games just because we play one team in the top half of the table. This is why I think that this game tonight will be another tricky game. It will be tight as Rafa sets his teams up very well most of the time. They have kept 9 clean sheets this year compared to our 6.

    As always at home we need to start well and fast. We have to play with a real energy and hunger and keep the tempo up. If the boys do this and the crowd gets engaged then we will go on and win this game fairly comfortably.

    Xhaka, Ramsey and Monreal all look to be back after knocks so we have a full squad to choose from.

    Looks a strong team on paper and hopefully the get in behind a line of black and white players.

    Prediction: Arsenal 3 Newcastle 1

    Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Through Harmony

  • Match Report – Arsenal 3 Rennes 0 – Europa League

    A eager crowd awaited to see if Arsenal could turnaround the tie after the disappointing first leg result. Arsenal needed a good start and they got it inside 5 minutes through Aubameyang. We controlled the game and the again impressive Maitland-Niles scored with a nicely worked move and header at the back post on 15 minutes. Rennes now had to come out an play and after the half time break they nearly got a crucial away goal.

    The game was quickly becoming nervy and the longer the game stayed at 2-0. The game was scrappy and the referee was not helping things. Mkhitaryan and Iwobi came on the add some freshness in attack. Pretty much straight after Aubameyang finished off a great low cross from Kolasinac. This made the game more comfortable and so we created more chances including Aubameyang’s missed hat trick chance but all that mattered was that we were through and into the next round.

  • Match Preview – Arsenal v Rennes

    After the shambles of a week ago we look to reverse the outcome of the game to progress into the Quarter Finals.  Whilst we know we can and should be beating this team, they showed last week that they are no bad team, we just never had an answer to their tactics when down to 10 men.  The referee was weak at times and allowed the vocal crowd to influence him and every contact they would look to go to ground around the box.  No surprise there considering that they are decent with set pieces.

    We go into the game with a 3-1 deficit meaning that we need to win 2-0 or better the score from last week to progress.  It is massively important that we take the game to Rennes and put them under the pressure we stated to exert at the start of the last game.  We have to be ready for a battle and look to take chances quickly and get in front early.  The first goal is crucial in this game, we get it we are in control, they get it and we straight away need 3 goals at the very least.

    There was welcome news from UEFA regarding Lacazette now being able to play in the game after reducing his ban.  Sokratis now completes his 1 game suspension after the costly red card last week. Mkhitaryan looks to be out with his back injury.

    We need a massive effort from the fans inside the ground to become the 12th man and cheer the team on and push them over the line.

    COME ON YOU GUNNERS

    Prediction : Arsenal 5 Rennes 1

    Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Through Harmony