Hammers Can Dent Guns

I had thought that the days of Arsenal ruining my weekends were starting to fade out, but it seems the same old Arsenal keeps coming back to haunt us. Saturday’s display against West Ham was an absolute drag to watch, and based on how we played that day, we deserved nothing but a loss.

When the team sheet was released, I initially couldn’t see any problem with it. I mean, with the likes of Aubameyang, Lacazette and a somewhat in form Iwobi, surely we’d score goals right? Also, not to mention a back 3 of Mustafi, Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny giving their partnership one more try. I also feel a bit more confident when I see Kolasinac playing, because I know what quality he can bring to the team. Bellerin was on the bench, which was a great thing to see, but strangely there was no Özil. Arsenal and himself had been bragging that he’s got a full week of training in, but the German was no where near the bench once again, which frustrated a lot of fans, including me. We can’t be paying 350k a week to someone who is hardly getting any game time. I don’t know if Emery is ‘tactically’ deciding against Özil, or if Özil is getting injured/sick again, but either way, something has to be done about it! I can’t even remember the last game I saw Özil play in. It really bothers me.

But enough about him. I was confused as to why Torreira was on the bench as well. I get that Emery might have wanted to rest him, but he had his week’s rest after he didn’t feature in that FA Cup win against Blackpool. Maybe Emery wanted to save his energy for the Chelsea game? Once again, I don’t know… but what I do know is that we needed him. Guendouzi was all over the show again, and a lot of his passes weren’t coming off. Granted, he did have a few shots at the goal when no one gave him options up ahead, and one of those shots came really close to being a stunning goal, so I’ll commend him for taking the initiative in those situations.

Our defence looked quite solid throughout the game, and I was happy with the effort they put in. One poor clearance from Xhaka was our downfall in this case, which just goes to show you that all it takes is one mistake and the game could be lost. But it wasn’t so much the defence that bugged me than our attack on the day. There was absolutely no creativity on the day, and Auba and Laca played really, really, poorly. Iwobi was threatening and probably was our best attacking player on the day, but it simply wasn’t good enough. All of the above had chances to score, but absolutely squandered them. I would say Kolasinac also had one of the best chances of the game to get a goal, but opted for a pass instead, which disappointed me heavily, because I know he can hit them low and hard.

Our creativity on the pitch improved a bit when we brought Ramsey on. He was the link between our three attacking players and our midfield, and you could see the team performed a bit better when he came on. But this is a player who should’ve come on in the beginning of the second half, or even better, started the game, especially during the mysterious absence of Özil. I still simply cannot believe that we’re letting him go for free at the end of the season. It really grates my cheese.

But what really pisses me off more than that, is the fact that we can’t sign any new players on permanent deals in this transfer window. Unai Emery admitted that we were only capable of loaning players and I went on a rant about this before I read this well written article which gave me a new insight as to why we can’t spend any money. Basically, the gist is that there are these bloody rules put in place which says we can’t exceed a certain wage limit in the club. Our wage bill is almost filled up, and to make matters worse, it’s the bang average players who are weighing us down in this regard. Players like Carl Jenkinson, who is no where near breaking into the first team at the moment, earns just 5k less than Torreira, and Elneny, who is also a very average player, earns 5k more than Torreira. Mesut Özil earns 350k a week but isn’t even starting games these days. And if he’s not selected, then he’s probably sick, and surely isn’t spending his wages properly when it comes to health. Petr Cech, who also hasn’t been great, is taking a whooping 100k out of the wages, as well as Mhkitaryan, who hasn’t played his best this season, taking 180k home after every week. The only player who seems to be worthy of his wages is Aubameyang, who demands 200k a week. His recent goal scoring form justifies this figure and I wont argue with that. All in all, I really hope we offload some of the deadwood this season to free up the wage bill so that we can accommodate other players with better skill.

All in all, that was a shit performance from the boys on Saturday. We looked extremely flat and had no desire to win this game whatsoever. I think Emery may have got his tactics wrong for this one, but hopefully he learns from his mistakes. A lot of fans already questioning whether the boss is the right man for the job, and already want him out. That’s just pure ridiculousness. Give the man 2 seasons at least before you start with that nonsense. We face Chelsea next, who have widened the gap between us by 6 points after they beat Newcastle. We’ve got to beat them at the Emirates to close that gap back to 3 points and stay in the fight for top 4.

Come on you Gunners!

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New Year, New Hope

We may have started 2019 off with a bang, but it still hurts to think about how we ended 2018 off. That hiding we received at Liverpool really highlighted the gap between us two and it put our shambolic defense in the spot light. I can only hope that 2019 will be a bit of a better year for us.

Initially, I wasn’t planning on writing about that shit show at Anfield, but maybe I should at least touch on a few things briefly. My hopes for getting something out of that game were non-existent, especially with our shortage of players, but when I learned that Mustafi was back in the squad, there was a glimmer of hope in my eyes that we could maybe steal a point or 3, because it meant that Xhaka was back in midfield alongside Torriera, where he belongs. There was no Özil in the squad, but that didn’t worry me, because let’s be honest, he doesn’t turn up in the big games anymore and we’ve also showed that we’re capable of getting something out of those games without him. Ainsley Maitland-Niles started as well, but that was expected given that Bellerin has been out and we needed pace on that right wing. The main thing that bothered me about our lineup was how absolutely thin our bench was. Guendouzi and Lacazette looked like the only players we could look to if we needed help.

The game started really well for us, with Iwobi playing really well to set up AMN who ran in at the back and put the ball in the net for us. I leapt up with joy but I didn’t know my euphoria was gonna get cut off so short after we scored. We had angered the beast. Horrible defending at the back and missed opportunities to clear the ball meant that Firmino could just walk the ball into the back of our net. Shortly after his equaliser he made our defenders look like a nervous kid was spamming the tackle button on FIFA. One dummy, two dummy, three and goal. Way too easy! Salah got in behind our defence and played a great one touch pass to Mané, strangler of Swiss defenders, who put it in for 3. Sokratis, frustrated by everything going on fouled Salah in the box just before half time and the Egyptian put the penalty away to make it 4-1 going into half time. Our defence was shambolic on the day. Absolutely horrendous. With a gap that big in the scoreline, there was absolutely no way our beloved Second Half FC could make a comeback. We played a bit better in the second half and controlled the game more, but that’s only because Liverpool took their foot off the gas as they had won the game in the first half already and had Man City to think about in the week. Liverpool got one more in before the game ended 5-1. I was disappointed and embarrassed, but I wasn’t surprised. We received a huge wake up call after that result and I hope that we work on the mistakes we made. The only two players who could hold their head up high after that game were Maitland-Niles and Iwobi. Torreira disappointed me as well and was also shockingly bad.

I wasn’t too negative after that match though, because 3 seasons ago Liverpool were in the exact same predicament as us, which only makes me think that if we give Emery enough time to bring in the players he wants, we’ll be as good as Liverpool are in a few seasons time. We as fans just have to have a bit more patience, which is difficult, I know.

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We had to start 2019 off on the right foot against Fulham, and luckily that’s exactly what we did. Arsenal were just 1 goal shy of replicating the scoreline of the reverse fixture last year, where we ran out 5-1 winners. The game started off really horribly though, as you could see that our defence was experiencing PTSD after the Liverpool game. No communication and very nervous body language on their part made me extremely anxious and super uncomfortable. Xhaka was back in the midfield again, and was supposed to playing well, but looked out of it. As I was slagging his performance off on Twitter, he scored his first goal inside the box for us, and put us ahead 1-0. His performance thereafter didn’t improve much unfortunately. After halftime, Lacazette then got us 2-0 up after some brilliant play from Aubameyang and Kolasinac, two players who performed brilliantly on the day. Aubameyang should’ve had more goals, but Rico decided to deny him brilliantly on a couple of occasions. Fulham got 1 back after some poor defending once again and were right back in it. That wasn’t the only defensive mistake we made in this game. Earlier in the first half, Sessegnon could’ve put Fulham ahead twice but thank God his finishing wasn’t on point. These stupid school boy errors in defence are starting to have me believe that Steve Bould is not the right man for the job anymore. Sure, our defenders are to blame as well, but we definitely need a new defensive coach along with some new defenders. I really hope Emery sees that and sorts it out, stat!

Luckily we were able to grab 2 more goals before the game was done. Lacazette was subbed off (again) much to the disappointment of many Arsenal fans who, like me, thinks he deserves a full 90 minutes on the pitch. Boos rang down from the crowd but the French striker clapped and reassured the fans that he trusted Emery’s decision to bring him off. Class. His replacement, Rambo came on and scored for us, silencing the fans critical of Emery’s tactics. Aubameyang finally got past Rico after that goal to put the cherry on top of a commanding win. A 4-1 win to the Arsenal was a great way to start 2019. But something I had noticed from that match was that the Emirates was irritatingly quiet on the day. Perhaps everyone had hangovers from the previous night, or lost their voices at their respective parties, but either way I was mortified at how quiet the crowd was. You could see the around 50 odd thousand fans in the stadium, but really it sounded like there were only 500. I don’t what’s going on there but I feel that if fans want to see the team play better, they’ll have to raise the atmosphere in the Emirates. It was literally a fucking library on the day. But anyways…

Transfer window is finally open, which means we can maybe dip into the market and buy ourselves a few new players. I really hope Emery and Mislintat get at least 1 player in. I also really wish we’d try one last time to re-sign Ramsey to a new deal. I really envisioned him as our club captain and main man one day, but due to some poor player management from the old regime, it looks like we’ll be losing him. I’ll commend him on his attitude though! The guy is most likely leaving, but hasn’t once spoken badly about Arsenal to the media and has always tried to put in a good shift whenever given a chance to play. He will be remembered as an Arsenal legend in this era I rate.

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And finally, Happy New Year to all my readers! Thank you for the support so far, and may you have a blessed 2019. I’ll also try get back into my podcasts this year again after I put them on the back burner last year. I for one have high hopes for Arsenal this year, and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna progress well under Emery… we just have to give him a chance.

Happy new year you Gunners!

Defenseless December

Apologies for the late post. This festive season has been quite a busy one for myself and my family and I’ve just never found the time to sit down and type. I know I’ve missed the blog posts for the Southampton game and the Burnley game, but I’ll try cover as much as I can remember in this post.

December is always the busiest time of the season in the Premier League. With back to back games, week in and out, it’s no wonder players get tired, making them vulnerable to injuries. This is where squad rotation really helps, but when your rotation players are also injured or out of form, that can pose a serious problem. We have that problem. Ever since Danny Welbecks injury, it feels like our players have been dropping like flies. Our first December casualty was Rob Holding, who unfortunately sustained a major knee injury, ruling him out for the rest of the season. He was proving to be a big player for us at the back in the absence of Koscielny, and it’s a shame to get injured when you’re making positive strides in your career, as he’s been doing for us. Next up was Mustafi, who started proving himself in the important games. His injury wasn’t too bad though, and I hope he’ll be back in time for Liverpool. Hector Bellerin got injured in that horrible loss to Southampton, which will keep him out for a bit longer than we’d hope. The latest on the injury list was Mhkitaryan, who broke his foot in Carabao Cup action against the scum, which sets him back around 6 weeks or more.

That’s a significant injury list! And 3 of those injuries are 3 of our first choice defenders, which has really made our defence uncomfortably thin. Koscielny has at least returned from injury, but is yet to play a full match as Emery eases him into the intensity of the competition again. He didn’t have the greatest game at Southampton, and some Arsenal fans were extremely harsh on him, blaming him for all 3 goals. I however was just grateful that he was back and helping (or trying to, at least) when we clearly had no back up in defence. Monreal also returned, but has been in and out of the squad. He hasn’t been his old self, and with Kolasinac putting in decent performances, Monreal can expect to warm the bench a little bit longer. I think age is also a factor here, as both Monreal and Koscielny are in their 30’s. Their experience is vital, but you can see that their performance is degraded, especially after their long term injuries. My only hope is that the board back the manager and give him funds to go buy a few new defenders, but let’s be honest here… with Stan Kroenke running the club, any additional funds are out of the question, so we’ll have to rely on selling some deadwood (*ahem Elneny*) in order to get more money.

With shortages at the back, and his preferred 3-5-2 formation, Emery has opted to play Xhaka as one of the CB’s and I could not disagree more. Xhaka belongs in the midfield alongside Torreira and the sooner we get Mustafi back in there, the better. At the moment it’s Koscielny/Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Xhaka as our 3 preferred CB’s, which doesn’t look very solid to me. Koscielny and Sokratis’ partnership is still quite new and hasn’t solidified yet, but when Mustafi comes back, maybe he’ll be the glue in between the two to form a strong unit at the back. One can only hope. Kolasinac has been magnificent since his return though. That LWB position really suits him and has caused the opposition a lot of problems when we go forward. He was arguably the man of the match in that home win against Burnley, and I’m so glad he’s made a great comeback. Our RWB position has been filled by Maitland-Niles and Lichtsteiner since Bellerin’s injury, so we’re not as effective down the right anymore, but hopefully Bellerin makes a speedy recovery.

Enough about our defense though. I was bitterly disappointed when our winning streak came to an end against Southampton. We always seem to make them look like a 5 star team whenever we play them in December and my only Christmas wish this year was that we never have to play them in December ever again. That loss was followed by another shit-show when we allowed the Tottenham scum to beat us 2-0 at home and kick us out of the league cup. That one hurt a lot! But after 2 consecutive defeats, we started our unbeaten streak again with what was quite a comfortable victory at home against Burnley, and a mediocre display against Brighton. Some of our players have been doing well in this festive period, especially Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker is racking up the goals and is currently the top scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals. I really wish Lacazette would also start adding some goals to his name as well, but Emery keeps subbing him off early, much to the strikers dismay. His clear signs of frustration after being subbed during the Burnley match just shows how annoyed he is, which is completely understandable. At least the coach has been playing him and Auba together though, and Lacazette has contributed with a few assists. I myself was a bit frustrated when Emery brought him off during the Brighton game, and in my opinion that was a poor decision from Emery. Even the Özil substitution was mind boggling. Yeah sure, the German playmaker wasn’t at his best during the first half of that match, but Emery’s impulsive substitutions early on in the match can be a little annoying sometimes as we’d like to see the player maybe redeem themselves a bit later. But anyways…

It’s been quite a frustrating festive period in terms of football, not only are Arsenal struggling a little bit, but the Tottenham scum are playing well and climbing the table. Man City have been losing, which is nice…but I’d much rather have those homeless wanks lose and sink to the bottom of the table. We’re up against the league leaders Liverpool at Anfield next, and with our current status, I don’t fancy us in that game to be honest. If Mustafi returns in time for that game, and Xhaka moves to the midfield again, we might stand a chance, but we’ll have to wait and see. At least Torreira will be available for that match though! He managed to evade a yellow card which would have suspended him for that next match. All yellow cards for the Premier League will be wiped after the 29th, which means that even if he gets a yellow against Liverpool, he’ll still be available for the next match. Above all, the officiating in the Premier League has been suspect of late. The state of these officials has become somewhat unbearable and I cannot wait for VAR to be introduced next season.

Well I think it’s time for me to sign off again. Again, sorry for the lack of posts and player ratings these last couple of days. Things have been hectic but they should be calming down soon I hope. I’ll see you all after the Liverpool game.

Come on you Gunners!

Torreira, Our Saviour.

If there was ever a match I felt more confident about, it would be a home match against a struggling, relegation placed, Huddersfield Town. But once again the Premier League proved that even the smallest of teams can give the giants a scare, and they did just that.

This seemed like the type of game Unai Emery would use to rest some of his key players ahead of a very busy December, and a lot of people were hoping that the likes of Torreira, in particular, would be rested for this match to give him a break from the shifts he put in against Tottenham and Man United. I however, was hoping he’d play a strong squad, get a good lead and then take Torreira off to rest. The manager went on to say that he was going to give this match 100%, as not getting a win against Huddersfield would make the draw at United pointless. I was ecstatic to hear this, as a lot of managers make the mistake of underestimating smaller clubs in the Premier League, and get bit in the arse more often than not.

Image courtesy of Arsenal on Twitter @Arsenal

The boss put out an interesting squad to say the least. With Holding out for the rest of the season due to a ruptured knee ligament, this meant that our veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner would take his place, only on the right. Emery then also decided to play all three of our prospective defensive midfielders in the center of the pitch. Of those 3, it seemed like Guendouzi would have more of a free role going forward, and it seemed to me like he was given the responsibility of being the creator in the centre. No Iwobi or Mhkitaryan starting, which I was a little bit bleak about because I thought they could use this game to rack up more minutes and potentially increase their confidence. We need our players firing on all cylinders for this December period and these two haven’t been bringing anything to the table as of late. However, Emery went with a new formation on Saturday, playing a 3-5-2, with Aubameyang and Lacazette starting alongside each other as the front 2. I was damn sure that they would at least get a goal each. Oh, how wrong I was.

The match also saw Paul Tierney officiate his first game at the Emirates, and boy, I really hope it’s his last there. This ref was so inconsistent with his decisions and calls, which pissed the Arsenal fans off immensely. Three bookings given to our players for dives, where only one of those was the probably the right call, and that was Guendouzi’s dive in the box around the 80th minute. Perhaps the kid thought it was the only way we were going to get a goal and tried to help us out, but such behaviour is embarrassing and very Tottenham-like. I really hope that’s the last time we see that from him. Huddersfield however, also had two dives, and had no yellow cards for either. The worst decision on the day was probably the one which saw Lacazette’s goal disallowed in the first half. A horrible back pass gave the Frenchman the opportunity to take advantage and put it in the net, but oh…what’s that? The officials decided to call it offside. Fucking ridiculous.

It wasn’t the best of matches to be honest. Huddersfield’s offence hardly threatened us, but they were keeping a tight defence at the back and denying us where they could. Aubameyang and Lacazette both had brilliant chances in the first half to give us a comfortable lead, but sadly none of them capitalised on them. Laca at least put it in the net afterwards, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, the goal was unfairly ruled offside. It wasn’t until the 82nd minute that we finally scored. Guendouzi played a beautiful ball into the box which Auba brought down brilliantly. Auba couldn’t get his shot off, but improvised and chipped the ball into the box, where our little Uruguayan lion was waiting ever so patiently. Torreira, having been denied by a brilliant save in the first half by Lössl, decided that this time, the keeper wasn’t going to get to it, as he leapt up in the air and smashed the ball past Lössl with an acrobatic volley that left the rest of us, and Bellerin, astounded.

Image courtesy of Stuart MacFarlane on Twitter @Stuart_PhotoAFC

Scenes. The whole Emirates erupted after being disappointingly quiet for majority of the second half. The “One-nil to the Arsenal” chant followed shortly and it felt like everything was at ease again. Ref decided to add the majority of the first half’s stoppage time onto the second half’s stoppage time, and coughed out an extra 7 minutes which would’ve made Alex Ferguson proud. Is Tierney under Fergies payroll? Perhaps, but we were able to see it through until the final whistle. Arsenal 1 – 0 Incompetent Refs & Huddersfield. Bernd Leno finally got his first Premier League clean sheet and we extended our unbeaten run to 21 games! Wow. 

I’ve rated the players here, but the man of the match award was given to who other than Lucas Torreira. That’s his 5th MOTM award in the last six games! Signing of the season? Most probably, but he had this to say after the match:


I am really happy, really happy. I work really hard throughout the week to make these moments happen at the weekend, because that’s the most important thing.


These goals help the team to keep winning, keep improving and keep building confidence. We have a fantastic team and a great group and we enjoy playing together.


The goal is for the fans too – they show up every week and follow us to all the different stadiums. They’re always there so this goal is for them first and foremost.

Lucas Torreira

Arsenal fans are absolutely adoring him! So much so that Sampdoria FC had to ask Arsenal fans to stop flooding their Twitter timeline with #ThanksForTorreira tweets! You’ve got to love him! Our little Uruguayan maestro has saved our skins this time and it’s only right that Emery gives him a proper rest this week. We’re up against Qarabag at the Emirates on Thursday, and because we’re already through to the knockout round, you can expect Emery to play the youngsters and give the more senior players a rest. Who knows, maybe Koscielny will feature for us on Thursday night as well? Hopefully we get the win to take us to 22 unbeaten going into the Southampton game. We’ll be without Mustafi and Sokratis for that one, but I’m sure Koscielny and Monreal will be able to help us out there.

Come on you Gunners!

Arsenal vs Huddersfield – Player Ratings

In what was arguably one of our poorest performances this season, the Gunners came away with a 1-0 victory at home against Huddersfield Town. Here are my player ratings for that match.

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Leno – 7/10

Was hardly tested throughout this game. No brilliant moments but no dull ones either. Got his first clean sheet!

Bellerin – 7/10

Really played well! Found spaces behind the defenders and did some good running today. His face after Torreira’s strike was priceless.

Lichtsteiner – 6/10

Probably shouldn’t have got that involved after the tackle on Torreira. Booked for his reaction. But at the same time, we need defenders who don’t take shit from anyone. Played well enough for the half.

Mustafi – 6/10

Pulled his hammy and I hope it’s not too serious. Was a threat in their box once again, and should have won a penalty after being fouled. Got booked for a dive instead and misses the next game.

Sokratis – 8/10

The man has got passion running through his veins! Had a really good game. Ran well, tackled well and called Depoitre a diving bastard. Celebrates good tackles like he’s won the league. Love it!

Kolasinac – 6/10

Kola wasn’t the main outlet today, as it looked like our attacks were coming in from the right. He was limited in the second half when we switched to a back four, but for the times he did go forward, he showed good speed to get in behind the defenders and try to pick out a cross.

Torreira – 9/10 *

Where would we be without our little Uruguayan Lion? That’s another stellar performance he’s put in, and he grabbed the winning goal with a beautiful acrobatic volley. Also had a beautiful shot saved. Arsenal fans really loving him now. My MOTM goes to him.

Xhaka – 7/10

Captained and controlled the side well today. Got the first yellow card of the game. I think we missed him in Manchester.

Guendouzi – 6/10

Had an off day in my opinion. Passing wasn’t the greatest and he was given the responsibility of creativity in the midfield. Booked for a silly dive, but was responsible for that lovely ball floated into the box which eventually led to our goal.

Lacazette – 6/10

Had a torrid time out there. Fucked a beautiful chance up by slipping. Also had a goal wrongly disallowed. Subbed off at half time, which will probably dent his confidence a bit.

Aubameyang – 7/10

Didn’t have a great game either. Missed his chance to get his 11th of the season. Frustrating day for him as he didn’t get the service he wanted but at least he chipped in with an assist in the end.

Subs:

Iwobi – 6/10

Sent on to provide width and creativity. Had a few bright moments but other than that, nothing special.

Mkhitaryan – 6/10

Same as Iwobi.

Monreal – 7/10

Came on for an injured Mustafi. Slotted right in and handled the back 3 well. Nice to have him back again!

Other:

Emery – 6/10

Nearly got it wrong this time but when you have limited options due to injuries I guess you have to make do with what you got. I thought the decision to bring Lacazette off so early was the wrong one. Celebrated greatly though and managed the team on the sideline throughout the game.

Fans – 5/10

From what I could hear, the fans were not at it today. For long periods of time the stadium was quiet. Not good enough.

Refs – 0/10

The ref was absolute horse shit on the day. First time at the Emirates, but will hopefully be his last. So inconsistent with his decisions. Booked 3 of our players for diving, but when the other team dived, all we got was a free kick. Lacazette’s goal unfairly disallowed! And what was up with the 7 minutes of stoppage time at the end? Did he combine the first half’s stoppage time with the second half’s? I suspect he works for Fergie.

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There you have it. Let me know whether you agree or disagree in the comments below.

Robbed At Old Trafford

Old Trafford has always been a difficult place for Arsenal to travel to in the league, as we’ve seen for the last 11 years. Our last win there was in September 2006, when Arsenal won 1-0 thanks to Adebayor. So naturally, we as Arsenal fans have feared travelling up North because history tells us that we’ll struggle.

But this time around it felt different. You see, Man United have started their season horribly, and with Arsenal hot in form after a sumptuous victory against Sp*rs, now was as good a time as any to go to Manchester and grab all 3 points. I wasn’t feeling too good about the game, but the faith drilled into me by Emery gave me the sense that we could win this, so I was a little more confident than what I normally was for this fixture. A part of me was hoping that we would beat them senselessly, so that Mourinho could be sacked as a result of Arsenal…oh how great that would be! But another part of me wanted us to do okay, just so that he can keep his job a bit longer and drive United’s bus a bit further into the mud. Well, it turns out we went the latter route and did okay, only for us to bring 1 point back home.

Mourinho made a shitload of changes to the squad that drew 2-2 to Southampton, whereas Arsenal only made 2. Granit Xhaka was serving a 1 match suspension, which gave Guendouzi the chance to start alongside Torreira, and after an impressive display off the bench against Tottenham, Ramsey made it into the starting 11, only for Mhkitaryan to make way after a spell of poor performances recently. I was wondering how we would get on without Xhaka in the squad, and whether Guendouzi was ready for a fight against United scum. Turns out he did just fine, but I do get the feeling that the team missed Xhaka a bit. I say this, because for most of the first half we didn’t really have control in the midfield. Our players really looked nervous on the field, which made me nervous. But all of those nerves seemed to die down after we took the lead. I’d said it before, and I’ll say it again: Mustafi thrives in big fixtures like these! The man is always a threat in the oppositions box when set pieces are being taken. Granted, De Gea gave us that goal by basically throwing the ball into his own net, but it was Mustafi who found the space and headed the ball towards goal, only for De Gea to do the rest for us.

Image courtesy of David Price on Twitter @priceyd101

That lead didn’t last long though, as Martial went down after Guendouzi supposedly fouled him outside the box. The free kick was saved by Leno, but also parried back into play whereby an offside Herrera latched onto it, crossed it in to Martial, who shot and scored. I’m not blaming Leno completely for that goal, but maybe he could have just tipped it out for a corner? I don’t know. What I will blame is our sleepy defenders in that situation and the linesman. We had barely kept the lead for 5 minutes and the score was back at 1-1. The rest of the half wasn’t appealing to watch though, as fouls were being thrown around, players were play-acting and Andre Marriner was handing out yellow cards like an unsigned rapper handing out their mixtapes on the street. So yes, we went into half time again without the lead, but on a side note though, I wonder what would happen when we do eventually go in with the lead. Will we lose in the second half though? I’m not sure, but I sincerely hope not, because it seems like us going in with a draw or loss gives Emery something to talk about at half time. Anyways…

We brought Ramsey off at half time due to injury which gave Mhkitaryan the chance to do damage to his former employers in the second half. That wasn’t the case until Emery finally decided that Iwobi was playing absolute horse shit, and brought Lacazette on for him. I don’t know what’s going on with Iwobi, but it seems his form has dropped ever since we switched to the 3-4-3 formation. Maybe that formation doesn’t suit him? But I digress…

Mhki and Laca had some good link up play which eventually lead to our 2nd goal of the night. Lacazette’s dangerous presence in the box forced Marcos Rojo to make a tackle on the ball which accidentally put it past De Gea for an own goal. That’s the 4th own goal teams have scored for us now! But our celebrations were cut shorter this time, with Jesse “Angry Bird Eyebrows” Lingard capitalising on a horrible defensive mistake by Kolasinac to make it 2-2 not even 15 seconds after kick off. Kolasinac was clearly distraught about the incident after the match, but our classy manager had this to say to him afterwards:


Sead you had a very good match, offensively you give us a lot of circumstances. 
It can happen this action in defence, but you need to continue and most of all, be positive and learn from this action.

Unai Emery on Kolasinac’s mistake.

That’s really nice to hear from a manager, and I hope that optimism and faith in him helps him learn from the mistake and improve. Arsenal pretty much bossed the game from then on and came close to scoring on a few occasions. De Gea brilliantly denied Aubameyang twice, as well as Torreira in the dying minutes of the game. Mhkitaryan came so close to putting us 3-2 ahead but his effort went over the bar. I really hope he works on his finishing and regains his confidence back soon. Near the end of the match Fellaini also fouled Guendouzi by pulling his hair, and I still cannot believe he didn’t get a red card for that. The Belgian clearly jealous and resentful by holding onto something he let go. I was livid, and I was hoping some action would be taken after the match, but as I’m typing this I’ve just learned that no disciplinary action will be taken against him, which is utter bullshit!

Image courtesy of David Price on Twitter @priceyd101

So the full time whistle blew and all ended square at Old Trafford. I can’t help feel that we were robbed a bit, but with the way both teams played, I guess a draw is a fair result? The fact that the Arsenal players were disappointed not to get the win, speaks volumes and is a sure sign of progress. We see that result as 2 points dropped… not 1 point gained. You can find my player ratings for the match here.

We’re still unbeaten in 20 games though, which is a very impressive feat! I really hope the boys rest up well before Huddersfield come to town, and I hope the injuries picked up during this game aren’t too serious. We’ve got a string of fixtures coming up that we should win, so it’s a chance to build up confidence before we face Liverpool at Anfield on the 29th of December.

Come on you Gunners!

North London Is Red!

What a wonderful morning and start to the week! I mean, after yesterdays triumphant win over Tottenham, Arsenal fans all over the world are absolutely buzzing and deserve the bragging rights , once again. I myself couldn’t help but wake up with a wide smile, knowing that there are Sp*rs fans out there who woke up salty as fuck.

Going into this match I was confident that we were going to beat them, but I didn’t think we were going to give them a hiding. I knew it was going to be tough, especially because Sp*rs had a 12th man on the pitch in Mike Dean, and oh man I was dreading the controversial decisions he was going to give in Sp*rs’ favour. I caught a glimpse of the line up as we were heading to the Arsenal Supporters Club in Johannesburg, and I was a tad surprised to see Emery go with a back 5 again. I was also dumbfounded when I saw that Özil was nowhere near the squad or the bench, which had me worried a bit if I’ll be honest. Lacazette was also on the bench, which made me think that Emery would use him as a super sub, which he did indeed.

Due to some technical difficulties with generators and Eskom’s load shedding bullshit in general, I was forced to watch the opening 20 minutes of the game on my phone, but the way I see it, no data is wasted when you’re watching the Arsenal. The Gunners took an early lead when Jan Vertonghen handled the ball in the box and I was pleasantly surprised when Mike Dean decided not to turn a blind eye to the situation. Yellow card for a Spurs player and a penalty for us meant that this game started exactly the way we would have wanted it to. Up stepped Auba and put away his 9th goal in the Premier League. One nil to the Arsenal!

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When the generators came back online, we carried on watching on the televisions and were treated to some very beautiful attacking football from the Gunners. Sead Kolasinac was ripping up the left wing and was the outlet to most of our attacks, but Son from Tottenham was giving us just as much trouble. The South Korean forced Leno into a save after some brilliant dribbling in our box, and later then drew a foul out of Sokratis to win a free kick. That free kick then led to Sp*rs’ equalising goal, with Eric Dier who got on the end of it to put it past Leno, who in my opinion, should have done much better. His celebration of “shushing” the Arsenal fans was deemed disrespectful by our veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner, who tried to calm the situation. Sissoko then pushed the Swiss quite violently and that’s where the Arsenal bench got involved in the bust up. Nothing like a good old fight on Derby Day. I thoroughly enjoy these types of moments when you can see the passion from the players and how much this means to them. I particularly enjoyed some of the new boys getting involved in it all, especially Guendouzi, who has never experienced a North London derby before, but showed enough fight to make a certain Jack Wilshere proud.

Shortly after tensions had cooled down, Sp*rs won a penalty thanks to their good friend Mr Dean deeming Son’s dive in the box to be a “legitimate foul”. This ref had done us in again, and the cheating antics of Tottenham gave them the chance to take the lead. No doubt Harry Kane put the penalty away, and the Spuds went 2-1 up before half time, which extended our run of win-less half time scores. Although I was a bit worried, I knew that we still had the second half to salvage a result. I mean, after all, we’re Second Half FC remember?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a manager bring on 2 subs at the start of the second half before. Even if I had, it’s something that one doesn’t see every day, but that’s the thing with our new manager you see? He’s prepared to throw his cards down early if it means he can grab a win, and he knows exactly when to make his substitutions. Off came Iwobi and Mhki, to be replaced by two game changers, Lacazette and Ramsey. It didn’t take too long before Ramsey was in the thick of things. Bellerin played an absolute beaut of a pass through to the Welshman, who laid if off for Aubameyang with his first touch. Auba then shot it first time and curled it into the bottom right of the goal from outside the box. Lloris could do nothing but pray that the ball was going wide, but unfortunately for him it didn’t and rippled the back of the net.

We were all over Tottenham after that. That equalising goal gave us the strength and determination to search for a winning goal, which came in the 74th minute after Rambo won back possession in Tottenhams half and played Lacazette through. The Frenchman took his time with his shot but thanks to a deflection from the shushing Dier, the ball crept into the bottom left corner to give Arsenal the lead. The stadium erupted after that! I erupted after that! Lacazette’s passionate celebration also showed how much it meant to him to score against Tottenham in the North London Derby. Wow I couldn’t believe it. But the best was still to come… Not long after that goal Aubameyang played Lucas Torreira of all people through and the little Uruguayan fired the ball past Lloris into the bottom corner. Everyone in the room absolutely lost it. The fans in the stadium lost it. I lost it, along with my voice. He chose the right match to score his first goal for Arsenal and he’s fast becoming a lot of peoples favourite player. My word… the scenes that ensued after that were terrific. That wasn’t the last bit of action in this match though, as Jan Vertonghen picked up a second yellow after a naughty followed through tackle on Lacazettes ankle. Laca luckily came out uninjured, but the Tottenham centre back was sent off, much to the delight of the Arsenal fans.

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My Player Ratings:

Leno: 7/10

Had a couple of good saves to keep the Spuds out, but was at fault for Tottenhams equaliser. Also seemed to struggle with Eriksen’s crosses.

Bellerin: 8/10

Fast becoming one of my favourites again, and showing that the RWB role is suiting him well. Nearly gave a goal away by passing it to Son, but Leno bailed him out of jail with a good save. Chatted shit to Vertonghen after his red card which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Holding: 7/10

So unlucky to have conceded a penalty due to a Son dive, but had a pretty solid game at the back.

Sokratis: 9/10

Fouled Son which led to the equaliser, but played solidly throughout the game. Showed grit and ugliness during the game which is something we’ve needed for a very long time in matches like these. Also called Son a diving bastard after the match. +1 point for that.

Mustafi: 8/10

Was involved in winning the first penalty for us. Loved his passion after winning the penalty as well as whenever we scored goals. Was extremely dangerous in Tottenhams box during set pieces. I’ve noticed he really thrives in big games like these.

Kolasinac: 8/10

Constant threat down the left hand side and timed his runs really well. Really getting back to his best form, and will probably keep Monreal out of the starting 11 when he returns.

Xhaka: 8/10

Captained the side well today and kept his cool. Solid performance from him.

Torreira: 10/10

Commanded that midfield again and showed grit. Scored his first Arsenal goal to put the nail in Tottenhams coffin. Won man of the match for the 3rd game running. Really happy for him and he’s proving to be the signing of the season.

Mhkitaryan: 6/10

Had a better game on the day but had to make way for Ramsey.

Iwobi: 7/10

Also played quite well in the first half. Came close to scoring but his shot was saved by Lloris.

Aubameyang: 10/10

Put in a stellar performance! I really found it difficult to choose my MOTM, but with 2 goals and an assist, I think Auba just just edged past Torreira.

Subs:

Lacazette: 8/10

Came on and made a difference for the team. Played wide surprisingly and stretched Tottenhams defence. Contributed with a goal to take us ahead of Sp*rs. Loved his celebration.

Ramsey: 9/10

Absolute game changer! Came on and ran riot. Provided the 2 assists that got us level with Sp*rs and then ahead as well. Worked really hard and I enjoyed the beef between him and Dele Alli on the touchline in the first half.

Guendouzi: 7/10

This youngster gets it. Wasn’t on for too long, but played well with the minutes he was given. Also got involved with the touchline bust up and for someone who’s new to this derby, that kind of passion was great to see.

Overall it was a fantastic match to watch and is by far the best match I’ve watched this season so far. It had everything from penalties to red cards to fights and good goals, all of which you’d love to see in a derby. I’m so psyched after that match and can’t wait until we play United on Wednesday night! That’s 19 games unbeaten now, and Emery’s Arsenal is slowly starting to prove that we’re a force to be reckoned with. I’m so excited about the future of our club right now!

Come on you Gunners!