Monday, 22 December 2014

Gunners steal point

Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

14/15: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal - Olivier Giroud
Arsenal returned to the scene of one of last season’s most humiliating encounters yesterday, with renewed hope and vigour, but although the score was much improved, the performance was equally pitiful.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Ramsey back in the groove

Galatasary 1-4 Arsenal

  • Aaron Ramsey: Celebrates stunning third goal in Arsenal's 4-1 win at Galatasaray
A much changed Arsenal side produced an excellent performance away to Galatasary on Tuesday night, but ultimately the Gunners were made to rue that fatal collapse at home to Anderlecht, as Arsene Wenger’s side finished second in the group and once again await a difficult draw in the next round.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pathetic Gunners

Stoke 3-2 Arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shows his frustration during the Gunners' 3-2 defeat by Stoke

As the television cameras focused on Arsene Wenger on Saturday, his team 3-0 down and hopelessly out muscled by Stoke City once again, the phrase: “only a fool never learns” came to mind.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Super Sanchez to the rescue!

Arsenal 1-0 Southampton


Alexis Sanchez scores against Southampton
A last minute goal from Alexis Sanchez saved Arsenal from yet another frustrating result at the Emirates, on Wednesday, a game in which they struggled to create goal scoring opportunities once again.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Changing of the guard?

West Brom 0-1 Arsenal

Arsenal fans hold aloft a banner reading "Arsene Thanks for the memories but its time to say goodbye"

Arsenal consolidated their mid-week victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League with another victory in the Saturday lunch time kick off against West Brom.

The Gunners came into the game on a patchy run of form to say the least and amid supporter unrest which is beginning to spill out into the stands, as for the first time a banner was held up in the away end, with the words: “Arsene thanks for the memories but it is time to say goodbye.”

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dortmund delight

Arsenal 2-0 Dortmund

14/15: Arsenal 2-0 Borussia Dortmund - Yaya Sanogo

Arsenal returned to winning ways on Wednesday night with an assured victory at home to Borrussia Dortmund, which ensured their qualification from the group stage of the Champions League.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Counter attack again

Arsenal 1-2 Man United


Arsenal were undone by a familiar foe in Saturday’s defeat to Manchester United. It wasn’t the returning Robin Van Persie, who was largely ineffectual, nor was it Wayne Rooney, despite the Englishman maintaining his fine goal scoring record against the Gunners. It was in fact the counter attack which ruined Arsenal’s evening and robbed them of victory for a third successive game.
The Gunners once again simply threw away three points that appeared there for the taking. Arsenal were all over United from the very first whistle as the visitors offered very little going forward, while the home side pressed and harried and were largely impressive until they reached the final third. Numerous goal scoring opportunities were created, but time and time again chances were wasted, either sailing high and wide, off target or frustratingly hit straight at the goalkeeper. After the game Wenger nominated David De Gea as man of the match, but in truth the Spaniard would have been extremely disappointed not to have saved shots which were straight at him.
Of all the chances created, Jack Wilshere spurned the best one after excellent work from Alexis Sanchez who once again displayed his wonderful work rate to apply pressure on De Gea, chasing down a back pass and forcing the United goalkeeper into a poor clearance. The ball fell to Welbeck, who released Wilshere with a perfect pass which sent the Englishman through on goal. Unfortunately Wilshere seemed to have too much time to think about what he wanted to do with the ball and he ended up taking an unnecessary second touch, rather than taking an early shot, which took the ball close to De Gea, enabling the Spaniard to easily smother the shot. In hindsight it is difficult not to look back on this moment as a real game changer, lamenting a missed opportunity to take the lead and seize the initiative.
It can be assumed that had the Gunners been in front they wouldn’t have been caught on the counter attack for the first United goal. But to believe this is to forget what preceded this game. Arsenal had been a goal in front against Swansea, with 15 minutes left, and still recklessly threw men forward, ending up losing the game 2-1. In the match before that collapse at the Liberty Stadium, Wenger’s side had been three goals up before inexplicably allowing Anderlecht to peg them back to 3-3 with some of the most open defensive play imaginable.
How Wenger has comprehensively failed to address this clearest of clear issues, is quite remarkable. Every football pundit and fan alike can see the problem, but the manager either does not recognise it or stubbornly refuses to take action, believing all will come good in the end. As a result, the Gunners have become depressingly easy to play against. All the opposition need to do is sit back, invite Arsenal onto them and wait for the opportune moment to strike on the counter attack, exploiting the vast space available.
Wenger will never change and the team is suffering for it. In the 56th minute, having been second best throughout, United took an undeserved lead. As they broke following an Arsenal attack, the ball was played wide to Fellaini, whose relatively routine cross caused panic in the Gunners defence. Szczesny failed to communicate clearly with Gibbs and the two collided. The loose ball fell to Valencia and the Ecuadorian took a shot at goal, which Gibbs tried to block with an outstretched leg. Unfortunately however, the Arsenal left back could only divert the ball into his own net.
To rub salt into the wound, Szczesny was injured in the build up to the goal and after a lengthy delay was substituted. However the pattern of the game was now set. Arsenal would press forward even more than they had been doing, leave space in behind and duly get caught out. Szczesny’s injury meant there would be a large amount of added time played at the end of the game, but the Gunners still threw players forward before the game had even entered the 90th minute, so much so that there were times Mertesacker found himself on the right flank!
Shocking though it may be, it was no real surprise to see Monreal left all alone, near the half way line, in the 86th minute, as Di Maria sent Rooney clear and the Englishman had all the time and space to dink the ball over the onrushing Damien Martinez to seal all three points. When the fourth official indicated an added time allowance of eight minutes, Arsenal’s senseless approach appeared all the more ridiculous.
There was still time for Olivier Giroud to mark his return from injury with an excellent effort, which flew past De Gea to reduce the deficit, but it was a case of too little too late for the Gunners as they failed to conjure another goal scoring opportunity in the few minutes that remained.

Arsenal desperately need to adjust their attacking game plan as it has become far too easy to play against the Gunners. Against a Manchester United side that had Valencia and Ashley Young deployed as wing backs and a makeshift back three, Arsenal failed to create significant goal scoring opportunities. Throwing men forward is clearly not the answer as the final third simply becomes overly congested and the attack loses any momentum with square pass after square pass played and no real penetration. Conversely, the Gunners are most vulnerable when they attack as the two full backs push high up the pitch, leaving the slow and cumbersome duo of Monreal and Mertesacker hopelessly exposed at the back. It is a frustrating situation which could be easily solved by Wenger instructing one of his full backs to sit back slightly deeper when the other attacks. Yet the manager’s failure to eradicate such a straight forward issue is extremely worrying. A man of such legendary status is fast becoming an outdated relic as he refuses to adapt.