Gunners On Cloud 9

“We’ve got our Arsenal back!” were the chants as the Gunners walked out of Craven Cottage on Sunday with a 5-1 victory over Fulham. That thrashing of the Cottagers was not only our 9th consecutive win in all competitions, which by the way is something we haven’t done since 2015, but it also meant that we were going to move above Sp*rs on the table, and definitely finish in the top 4 by the end of the weekend.

I won’t lie though, the team news surprised me a bit, with the likes of Özil not making the squad and Aubameyang being dropped to the bench, but shortly after seeing these changes I learned that Özil was struggling with his back again, and Aubameyang was coming back from an illness that kept him out of Thursday nights victory in Azerbaijan. That meant that Mhkitaryan could come in again and fill that #10 role, while Welbeck, who has been showing some form of late, could grab another start in the Premier League in place of Auba. With Ramsey being dropped to the bench as well, this meant that the hot-in-form Alex Iwobi could once again prove why he should be starting more regularly. One thing I was worried most about was Mustafi starting instead of Sokratis. The German didn’t have the greatest of games last weekend and was going to be tasked with handling a tough striker in Mitrovic, who has been scoring quite a few goals this season already. I think I speak for a lot of Arsenal fans when I say that I was genuinely worried about this. Thank God he proved us wrong on the day and put our doubts to bed.

It was a pretty open game in the first half. Both teams were putting on the pressure and attacking the other, running from box to box, which made it quite entertaining to watch. Fulham were right up in our faces though, recording more shots than us at the end of the half, but a lot of those chances were created because we struggled to play out from the back. I was growing quite frustrated with the way we were foolishly giving away possession, and it felt like we couldn’t pass the ball out of our half. One of those Fulham shots early on, deflected and forced Bernd Leno, who was making his first Premier League start, into a quick reflective save. However I could sense that we found a weakness in Fulham’s defence on the left, and Arsenal were constantly getting in behind with Iwobi, which made me think it was only a matter of time before a goal came from exploiting that vulnerability on the left side. And so we did.

IMG_20181007_180013

Iwobi found himself in space and had the ball on the left, holding it up well while waiting for Monreal to make the overlapping run before passing it to him. Monreal then cut it back into the box where Lacazette took a touch, turned and then fired it into the bottom left corner of the goal, leaving the keeper no chance. Arsenal looked dominant for the most part after that, until Monreal, who created Arsenal’s goal, essentially created Fulham’s equalizing goal before the break. The Spaniard struggled to play the ball out from the back and gave possession back to Fulham, who sliced our defence open, allowing Schurrle to chip the ball over Leno to make it 1-1 going into half time. Emery stormed off to the dressing room after the whistle blew and you could tell the team were about to get kak’d out for letting the lead slip.

Arsenal started the second half off very strongly, applying the pressure on that left wing again which, after a cleared cross in the box, fell to Bellerin who I was urging to shoot. The Spanish full back did just that and forced a tremendous save from what was quite a powerful shot. I was literally tweeting about that shot when all I heard was the commentator scream Lacazette’s name after he scored the second. Ecstatic with the goal but angry with myself for typing so slowly, I put down my phone for the majority of the half because I didn’t want to miss a moment like that again! Great finish from the Frenchman to put us in the lead and take his tally up to 4 goals in the Premier League so far. The game carried on and between the 60th and 70th minute Unai Emery decided that he was going to make two inspired substitutions, bringing on Aubameyang for Welbeck first in the 62nd minute, and then Ramsey on for Iwobi on the 67th minute mark. The Welshman quickly got into the thick of things, and immediately after he was brought on, he started and finished one of the best team goals this season will have to offer. Watching the likes of Lacazette, Ramsey, Bellerin, Mhkitaryan and Aubameyang collaborate with flicks, tricks and the most fluid of passes took me back to that beautiful goal we scored against Norwich a few years ago. This goal wasn’t better than that one in my opinion, but my word… what a beautiful sight to see. It was at this point where the Arsenal fans started chanting “We’ve got our Arsenal back!”, because we hadn’t seen such an attractive team goal in quite a while. Is this what Emery Ball has to offer? Because if so, then I can’t wait to see what else we have in our locker.

IMG_20181007_180023

A few minutes later saw Mkhi lob a beautiful ball across the field to Bellerin who looked up and found Aubameyang waiting in the box. Aubameyang received the ball, took one touch, swiveled around and volleyed it past the keeper. This goal was almost a mirror image to the first goal Lacazette scored, and you can’t help but wonder if this was something they’d been working on in the training ground. 4-1 to the Arsenal with just over 10 minutes to go and the 3 points looked a certainty. It was at this stage I realised that we would be level on goal difference with the Spuds if it ended this way, and I was hoping and praying we’d score just one more to edge past them. The players must have sensed this as well, as a beautiful throughball from Ramsey gave Aubameyang the chance to make it 5, which he coolly took and put Fulham to the sword. Full Time and the score was 5-1 to the Arsenal which saw us leap frog Sp*rs and finish off the weekend in 4th.

That was probably one of the best performances we’ve seen from this team so far. I loved every bit of it. Torreira and Xhaka were outstanding in the midfield, the former of the two racking up some impressive defensive stats. Welbeck and Iwobi were great at their pressing and providing us with width. Iwobi also showing us some great glimpses of his skill. Bellerin played superbly, and I’m extremely happy that Mustafi had Mitrovic in his pocket at all times. Aubameyang caused the most damage, with 2 goals and an assist and Ramsey scored what could arguably be a contender for goal of the season. But the player who rightfully received the man of the match was Alexandre Lacazette. Laca’s work rate, dropping deep, running off the ball and 2 goals above all made him the most influential player on the day and I’m so glad we have him as our main striker now.

Great way to end the weekend! Sitting in the top 4 above Sp*rs is a glorious feeling. Unfortunately we’ve been hit with another International Break, which will most likely be the second last Interlull of the year, but maybe we need a breather after winning 9 games in a row. I just hope we can carry on with this streak when we face Leicester City again on the 22nd of October.

Come on you Gunners!

Advertisements

7th Heaven for Arsenal

Life for Arsenal and its fans is good at the moment. Saturdays win over Watford made it our 5th win in a row in the Premier League, and our 7th win on the spin in all competitions. Not to mention, it was our second clean sheet of the season, which makes me think we’re doing something right at least.

Unfortunately, I had other responsibilities to attend to this weekend so I couldn’t watch the second half live with the rest of the world, but I recorded it and watched it a bit later on when I had the chance. While I was busy, I noticed that none of my friends were texting me, which was a good sign because they would normally rub it in my face when Arsenal fuck up. But that wasn’t the case as I got home and confidently switched on the TV and watched the rest of the game, knowing that we either won or came away with a draw.

Unai Emery’s team selection on the day was almost unchanged from the team that started against Everton last weekend, with the exception being Sokratis who was left out as he was still recovering from an injury he picked up in that game. Rob Holding stepped up and took his place, which I was quite comfortable with as I’ve admired the shifts he’s been putting in for the team so far. One thing that bothered me, and still does, is the fact that Özil is being asked to play out wide every now and then, and Ramsey being given the freedom to play in that number 10 role from time to time. Maybe Emery is giving Ramsey what he wants, to help with the contract negotiations, or something… I don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s not working as well as what Emery had hoped. Frankly I was surprised Iwobi didn’t start instead of Ramsey, as the Nigerian has been playing really really well for us recently. But I’ll discuss him a bit later on.

IMG_20181001_135721

The first half of this game wasn’t great, but at least it wasn’t as bad as last weekends first half. There were a couple of chances for us to score, one which was presented beautifully to Lacazette, who chipped the keeper but saw the ball roll well wide of the post. Lacazette was also involved in an early penalty claim which should have seen us been awarded a penalty, but he decided to try stay on his feet, and for that, the ref played advantage and gave a goal kick after Lacazette’s shot hit the side netting. The striker was clearly put off from the contact he received prior to the shot, and personally I think the ref should have brought it back and called it a penalty after the missed attempt. On the other hand, had Lacazette gone to ground after feeling the contact, the ref would have given the penalty straight away. You’ve got to admire his honesty though, but at the same time there will be games where we need our strikers to go down and win penalties, because it may be the only chances we get. I’m not talking about blatantly diving like Dele Alli, but if you’re tripped and feel the contact, you may as well go down and see if the decision goes your way. That’s just my opinion, and don’t get me wrong… I love it when players are honest, but honesty won’t always win you games.

This game was pretty stretched, with each team attacking the other instead of one team sitting back and defending. This made for quite an entertaining half to watch as it was spaced out and the play was flowing nicely. The passing from Arsenal was much better but it was difficult to find a way past a stubborn Watford side who had a lot more physicality than us on the day. Unfortunately the half ended with an injury to Petr Cech, who pulled his hamstring while taking a goal kick, but this meant that Bernd Leno finally had the chance to make his Premier League debut and make a case as to why he should be selected instead of the veteran when he eventually returns from his injury. The captains armband was then handed to Ramsey as Cech came off, but there was no more time for the half to carry on as the whistle was blown shortly after the ball was back in play.

Watford came out much stronger than they were in the first half and forced Leno into a brilliant save quite early on in the second half, denying Troy “Cajones” Deeney from opening the scoring. Leno handled himself really well during the half, catching as well as punching the ball out numerous times and showing us that he’s not only good with his feet, but also with his hands. Ramsey was then taken off later and replaced by Alex Iwobi and the armband was handed to Mesut Özil, making him our 3rd captain for the day. Now, I wasn’t a fan of Iwobi until very recently. In fact I always thought that he didn’t fit into the Wenger system and that he wasn’t ready for the Arsenal team just yet… but under Emery he’s been showing a lot of promise and giving us a different edge. He’s also giving us width and a burst of energy that we need sometimes, so for now it seems like he fits the Emery system much better.

Watford had a really good spell of play, which was worrying me a bit because they were really putting us under a lot of pressure. One of Watfords subs, Success, had a very similar chance to Lacazettes first half chance, beating Holding for pace and chipping it over Leno. But fortunately for us, and ironically for him, he was unsuccessful, as the ball brushed the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick. Shortly after that, Dat Guy Welbz came on for Aubameyang, who wasn’t having the best of games. The Gabonese international wasn’t as influential as we’d hoped and was replaced by the Englishman, who has had a bit of form recently, scoring 2 goals in midweek against Brentford. That meant that Arsenal had width on the right with Iwobi and on the left with Welbeck, which paid off not long after he came on. Following a free kick conceded by Cathcart on Lacazette, the ball was played wide to Iwobi, who fizzed a cross into the box looking for Lacazette. Lacazette didn’t manage to get a touch on it, but Cathcart, who was marking him closely unfortunately put the ball into his own net. Finally! 1-0 to the Arsenal after 80 minutes of play.

But like I said in my last post: one goal can definitely change a game, and 3 minutes later the Gunners made it 2-0, with Welbeck and Iwobi collaborating with Lacazette, who put a beautiful ball into the box for Captain Özil to score with that classic finish of his. Great play! There wasn’t to be any more action after that goal, as Watford basically gave up on the chase and allowed Arsenal to dominate possession by passing it around at the back until the final whistle blew.

IMG_20181001_135725

I thought Rob Holding had an exceptional game and he was my man of the match. When Sokratis comes back, I really hope that he replaces Mustafi, because seriously… Mustafi was pissing me off on Saturday, giving away needless free kicks and putting the pressure back on us. We don’t need that kind of shit! I thought Xhaka and Bellerin also played superbly and admired Lacazette’s movement and contribution on the day. Torreira I felt had a rough time, and was often being shunted off the ball too easily.

Overall it was a great weekend! That win meant that we moved up to 5th place in the league and are flying under the radar on our quest to get back into the top 4. Arsenal are the hottest team in form at the moment, winning our last 5 games, and winning all our games in September which surely means that Emery deserves Manager of the Month, right!? Up next is Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday, then we head to Craven Cottage after that to face Fulham on Sunday. It’s a fantastic opportunity to grab 2 wins and keep the run going!

Come on you Gunners!

 

A Cleansheet At Last!

In my last post I said that I wasn’t sure when I’d be confident enough again to predict a clean sheet for the Arsenal. I most certainly didn’t predict one for this game against Everton, especially when the likes of a ‘hot-in-form’ Richarlison was returning from a 3 match ban. I thought: “This is just our luck! Why couldn’t we have faced Everton a game earlier when he was still suspended?”, because frankly any one in that kind of form scares me a bit, especially with a defence as dodge as ours.

It seemed inevitable that Everton were going to put at least one past us. However, I had a little bit more faith in our defense, and after the performances Papa Sokratis has been putting in recently, you wouldn’t fault me to assume that he was going to be a brick wall in our defense for the day. But to my surprise it wasn’t the Greek beast who kept us in it. In fact it was Cech, our last line of defense, who put in a solid performance and really came through for us and kept us in the game.

I caught wind of the news quite early that Torreira was going to start his first game in the Premier League, and I was absolutely buzzing! I had no doubt in my mind that we were going to win this game since I read that, and it’s wonderful that we finally have someone in our team that can give us that kind of reassurance. Social media was also buzzing, and the hashtag #TimeForTorreira was being thrown around everywhere. My snacks and beers were in place and I was ready for this one.

The first half of this match was, once again, not really one to remember for the Arsenal. The lack of fluidity and communication in the final third meant that we had very few shots and chances to take the lead early on. A lot of the times our passes went astray and gave the possession away, and that’s something that still needs working on. I have a feeling it’s got something to do with Özil playing on the wing, and I have no idea why Emery insists on him playing there when we as fans can see that he has more of an influence in that number 10 role. But anyways, our best chance of the half fell to Nacho Monreal after some hard work from Aubameyang to set him up, but the Spaniard shot it straight at the keeper. I wished it were the other way around though, as Aubameyang was high in confidence after his two goals in midweek, and probably would’ve finished the chance a bit better.

The majority of the first half was spent in our half, as Everton were piling on the pressure and constantly feeding balls in behind our defenders and giving themselves opportunities to shoot. It also didn’t help that our centre backs were making mistakes among themselves. I thought Sokratis did well for the time he was on, but it was Mustafi who found himself on the floor most of the time and it feels like Sokratis had to cover for Mustafi’s mistakes. In fact, it was one of those mistakes which forced Sokratis into a professional foul outside the box whereby he injured himself in the process and picked up a yellow card. Lucas Torreira also picked up a yellow card very early on in the half, so our two best defensive-minded players on the pitch had to walk on egg shells for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, that injury Sokratis picked up was bothering him and he had to come off for Rob Holding. Everton looked threatening for the rest of the half, forcing Cech into some more saves and Arsenal were forced to just absorb the pressure until half time came around, where we could catch a break and just recuperate. Finally the whistle blew on what was a horrible half to watch, and both sides went in without a goal to their name.

The second half didn’t start any better though. Both sides were struggling to keep possession and couldn’t find their natural flow. I was starting to worry that this might end up to be a goalless draw, but our main man up front put my doubts to bed. It seemed like it was going to be another broken down attack, but a brilliant interception from Torreira gave it right back to Ramsey. Ramsey, who spotted Lacazette in space, found the Frenchman, who took one touch before unleashing a powerful curler into the top right hand corner of the goal. Now that’s what we paid 52 million pounds to see! What a fantastic goal.

It’s amazing how much one goal can change a game. After Lacazette’s opener, Arsenal seemed to have shifted a gear up and went looking for a second goal, which they found not more than 4 minutes later. Kurt Zouma made a mistake by giving the ball back to Lacazette, who picked up Özils run and fed it quickly towards him. The break was on and it was 3 against 1. There was a stage where I thought we fucked this chance up because of the ball being played just behind Ramsey, but Ramsey’s flick found Aubameyang, who put the ball ever so smoothly past Jordan Pickford to make it 2 nil. It looked offside at first and the replay confirmed that it was, but somehow whenever Aubameyang plays against Everton the linesmen can’t seem to spot him offside, even if it’s clear as day light. That was Auba’s second offside goal against Everton, the first being his debut goal against the Toffees in February. I’ll take it, but the day VAR comes to town we won’t get so lucky next time.

The game carried on with Arsenal high in spirit, but Everton were still showing potential signs of getting back into it. However, although they could bypass our defense, they just couldn’t find a way past Cech, who had one of his best games in an Arsenal jersey for a long time. I also thought Xhaka played pretty well to be honest. His passing was sloppy in the game at times, yes, but his intent was good and he never gave up. Lucas Torreira had a great match as well. For someone who was on a yellow card as early as the 15th minute, he picked his tackles very cleverly and stayed with us for the full 90 minutes. He also picks up the ball quite deep and then drives the team forward, trying to make things happen, a quality we’ve been missing in a player since Santi Cazorla got injured.

I thought for sure that we were going to concede at least one goal in the last few minutes of the game, but the lads held it together and picked up their first cleansheet of the season. That goes without saying, that Petr Cech was my man of the match on the day. Earlier, Chelsea dropped two points to West Ham, and Man United also dropped two points against Wolves, which meant that we could capitalize on that, which we did. After our win against Everton, Arsenal now see themselves placed 6th on the table, 1 point away from Watford who are in the top 4. We play them next weekend and, depending on the Spuds’ result, if we win that fixture, we could potentially see ourselves in the top 4 again.

Next up is Brentford in the Carabao Cup, so let’s keep this winning run going, shall we?

Come on you Gunners!

The Run Continues

After what seemed like an eternity, the international break was finally over and our eyes could once again feast upon the Premier League as it returned to our screens for Gameweek 5. I couldn’t wait to get my dose of Arsenal again as I eagerly awaited the kick off, but I knew that it might prove a tricky fixture for us, despite Newcastle being so poor in form as of late.

Travelling to St James’ Park is never easy, as we’ve learned from last season, where Newcastle came from behind to beat us 2–1. Looking back at that game, we didn’t field the strongest team we had — and in fact, it was also one of the first times Wenger started Lacazette and Aubameyang together — so I was hoping we’d put out a stronger team this time round, but still keep Laca and Auba in the starting lineup.

But regardless of our bad away omen, and last year’s loss in this fixture, I was feeling pretty confident for this game. In fact, I was feeling a bit too optimistic when I predicted a 4–1 victory to the Arsenal. That wasn’t to be though, but at least I predicted the win correctly, as well as the opposition scoring at least one goal, sadly. I don’t know when I’ll be confident enough to predict a clean sheet again, because like I’ve said before in my previous posts, our defence is still very shaky and needs vast improvement. You could argue that there is progress though, as we kept a clean sheet for 90 minutes this time… but we switched off at the very end and conceded a stoppage-time goal which put me on the edge of my couch for the last few minutes.

I think I speak for many Arsenal fans when I say that the first half of this match was very frustrating to watch. There was absolutely no fluidity in the squad, and I was quickly growing worried that we were’t getting stuck into this game early on. Eight corners conceded in the first half just shows you the amount of pressure Newcastle were putting on us, so you could say that defensively we were sound, but going forward we were poor, mustering only 2 shots and both of them were off target. However, I did notice some players putting in good shifts in that first half, Papa Sokratis in particular. He was the stand out player for me, as he was finally starting to show signs of a quality defender. Did you see his pace while tracking back? Did you see his clean, crunching tackle? Good Lord, it’s as if the Greek Gods had blessed him on the day as he entered this ‘beast mode’ I had never seen before. Just imagine the prospect of him and captain Kos (granted they both stay fit) as our central defenders for the rest of the season… Marvelous.

Cech also played relatively well. I say this because my stress levels weren’t as high and the TV didn’t stand a chance of getting the remote thrown at it. In fact, I think he had a good game and was unlucky to concede that last goal at the end. During the first half he also starting lobbing the ball up field instead of dilly-dallying with it at the back and some of his distributions actually found the right man up front! That’s more like it, Cech.

But thankfully the whistle was blown on one of the worst halves of football for us this season. We kept Newcastle at bay and went in level with 0–0. I have no idea what Unai Emery told the team at half time, but you could see that they were fired up in the second half. Instant impact as well, especially when he brought Lucas Torreira on for Matteo Guendouzi. I was disappointed before the game to find out that Torreira wasn’t starting this game but I had heard that he had taken a slight knock during the international break, so I was forgiving in Emery’s decision to play him as a sub. But once again, the kid turned up and showed us the difference he makes to this team. You sort of feel for Guendouzi though, being subbed off as early as half time, but I think he’s happy he’s at least getting some minutes in and contributing to the team. I mean, after all he is still a teenager and still has a lot to learn. But you must admit, that Xhaka-Torreira partnership in the midfield looks really promising, and I hope Torreira has proved himself enough to the manager to start the next game. I would also like to point out that Xhaka had an incredible game on Saturday, and besides one misplaced pass (that I know of), he didn’t put a foot wrong in the entirety of that match. The Swiss international has come under heavy criticism from the Arsenal faithful, but he surely shut the haters up after that incredible free kick which put the Arsenal 1–0 ahead. What. A. Strike.

And speaking of criticism, Mesut Özil has also been one of those players to come under fire, but he too proved his critics wrong with a stellar performance on the day. I think the international break was a nice rest for him, as the German seemed more relaxed and was very instrumental in our play, and marked his 200th appearance for the club with a goal. The media must be fuming I presume, as they’ll be forced to write nice things about Xhaka and Özil for a change, or they’ll just take the day off, I don’t know. Either way I’m proud of these two for showing all of us the quality that they clearly possess and proving their critics wrong.

Interestingly enough, Özil’s goal was Arsenal’s tenth goal of the season, with all goals (except that one own goal) coming from different players, namely: Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Monreal, Welbeck, Mustafi, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Xhaka and Özil. I was disappointed that Auba and Laca didn’t get on the score sheet again, but I’m confident that they’ll get back to their scoring ways this weekend coming up.

Overall I had a fantastic weekend! Not only did that win over Newcastle mark our second away win in a row for us, something that comes as a rare occurrence for us lately, but the Spuds also lost to Liverpool, which means we had the chance to get level on points with them on the table. We could overhaul them, but that would mean we needed to score 4 goals at St James’ Park, and we all know what happened last time we did that.

Next up in the Premier League is Everton at the Emirates and I’ve got a good feeling about this one. The Toffees were on a good run, but this weekends 3–1 loss to 20th placed West Ham must have dented their confidence a bit and I’m sure we can capitalize on that. We’re also back in Europe this week with some Europa league action against FC Vorskla, so we might just see some of the youngsters feature, and possibly catch a glimpse of Bernd Leno in goal and Stephan Lichtsteiner in defence, finally! I’m looking forward to that one.

Come on you Gunners!

Episode 5 – An Unwelcome Break

In this short episode I look back at our first win away under Unai Emery this season, and some player ratings for that game.
As we go into an international break that came too soon for our liking, I discuss what the new UEFA Nations League competition is, as well as how it works and which of our Gunners will be partaking in the tournament this weekend.

Work In Progress…

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t used to Arsenal stressing me out like that before. Sunday’s match against Cardiff proved a tricky fixture but we prevailed in the end and brought home all 3 points.

Prior to the match I predicted that this was going to be a tough game for the Gunners and I wasn’t expecting a comfortable win. In fact I had said that Cardiff were going to put at least one past us, based on how suspect our defence has been recently, and make it a really ‘nervy’ game. Well they did just that. In fact they put 2 past us and and really gave us a scare up until the point Lacazette scored the winner.

In fact, those two goals were Cardiff’s first 2 goals in the Premier League. A side who have struggled to score this season so far put two goals in, which just goes to show how brittle our defence is at this moment. But it’s not all the defence’s fault. Stupid mistakes and decisions in the midfield caused us to give the opposition possession, which they then took full advantage of. But I’ll dig into that a bit later.

I must say we started off well. We bossed possession, looked threatening and seemed comfortable with the ball, well, everyone besides the keeper seemed comfortable. There were a few instances where Cech had my hair standing up straight and screaming to the point where my neighbours may have thought there was an act of domestic violence going on. Now I don’t know if it was also the defenders’ fault for passing it back to him in uncomfortable circumstances at times, but I do know that every goalkeeper should have the decision-making skills to boot it long if they’re not sure what to do. Not pass it to the fucking attacker right in front of you and give him the chance to score. Thank God Harry Arter wasn’t accurate. He must’ve been dumbfounded, just like us, at the chance he’d been given, which put him off and subsequently led him to missing the goal. Either that, or he’s really kak at shooting and needs more practice.

But alas we won a corner, to which Xhaka put a decent ball in for Mustafi to head a bullet of a header in past Etheridge. One nil to the Arsenal, great! And we nearly made it two nil, but Lacazette was denied by the post. So the chances were there, and with the time dribbling down and us in control, we seemed to be going into half time with the lead. Enter Xhaka…

“Play it to Guendouzi! Play it to Guendouzi!” were the words muttered out of my mouth as I watched Granit Xhaka take his time in deciding his next pass. But a young Bellerin bombing forward provoked the Swiss into trying something more delicate than safe, and the delicacy just wasn’t there. That goes without saying, that the pass was shit, the decision making in the moment was shit, and Cardiff went on to score the equalizer before half time. Shit.

The team got on well in the second half and you could sense we were hungry. Mesut Özil came alive in the second half, after having gone missing for the full first half, and was involved in the build up to Arsenal’s second goal: Özil to Lacazette…Lacazette to Aubameyang… Aubameyang takes a touch…shoots…GOAL! Finally we saw our two star strikers combine and score what was a peach of a goal by Aubameyang. But our celebrations were cut short not more than ten minutes later. Harry Arter went down in the middle of our half after Lacazette seemingly fouled him. Wrong decision from the ref to give them a free kick, as the replay showed that Lacazette made no contact after all. I’ll tell you now, where Arter lacks in shooting, he certainly makes up for in falling over himself.

The set piece looked like one from the training ground, and worked to perfection. Danny Ward, who looked quite a threat every time Cardiff went forward, finally got his first goal for the club and equalized the score. That could’ve killed the game for us, but our desire and this new found will to fight for a win, kicked in again. Emery brought on Lucas Torreira after the goal was scored and the little Uruguayan had an instant impact on the game. Not only did he have a 100% pass accuracy for the time that he was on, but one of those passes found Lacazette in the box, who rifled it past Etheridge into the top corner. 3 -2 to the Gunners, with Torreira getting his first Arsenal assist and Lacazette getting his first goal of the season.

We rode the game out pretty well for the last 10 minutes. Emery brought on Mkhitaryan and Welbeck in the dying minutes of the game and I was quite puzzled by this decision. “Why would we bring on more attackers when we’ve got the lead and there’s so little time?” I was so used to us bringing on an extra defender for this kind of situation. But despite some last minute play which led to a Lacazette shot being saved by Etheridge, the attacking subs didn’t have much impact on the game.

Full time whistle blew and jubilation ensued. We won our first away game under Emery. It was a fantastic game to watch for a neutral but a very nerve wracking one for us as fans. A lot of our players put a good shift in, but I was particularly impressed with Ramsey, Mustafi, Torreira and Lacazette. Ramsey worked exceptionally hard in that match and did some good running on and off the ball. Mustafi looks like he’s turning into a very decent player and I hope he keeps playing like this consistently. Torreira, once again, a game changer and Lacazette looks like the striker we’ve been missing for a long time. His pace, strength and positioning as well as his awareness and desire will only do us good this season. He was my man of the match on the day. I also want to mention how great the away fans were on Sunday. Here I am in South Africa, watching the game and all I could hear on the television were them. Wish I was there for the atmosphere!

Despite the win, I’m a bit sad now. International breaks are never enjoyable so soon into the new season. We’ve gone into this one on a high at least, and return on the 15th of September to face a struggling Newcastle away. Hopefully we can bring another 3 points back home with us.

Come on you Gunners!