Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
Latest News: Arsenal draw 3-3 with Liverpool, goals came from Ramsey and Giroud (x2) - match thoughts to come!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The wait is finally over!

Nine years of hurt are finally over! Arsenal's long wait for a trophy came to an end on Saturday evening as the Gunners defeated Hull 3-2 at Wembley after extra time to win the FA Cup. Goals from Cazorla, Koscielny and Ramsey sealed the win in a memorable game which saw us finally win a piece of silverware. It was a spirited, gutsy and brave performance as Arsenal came from 2-0 down to win the cup with just over ten minutes remaining. The line-up was probably the best Wenger could've played on the day as Fabianski continued in goal and Mertesacker and Cazorla returned after being rested against Norwich. Sagna meanwhile played what looks set to be his last game in an Arsenal shirt.
Arsenal's trophy drought finally came to an end as they won the FA Cup
The way we started gave me visions of Birmingham City all over again. Goals from Chester and Davies within eight minutes gave Hull City a two goal lead. The marking for the first goal was criminal as Huddlestone drove an effort which fell into the path of James Chester who managed to divert the ball home. Their second meanwhile saw Fabianski palm the ball straight to Curtis Davies who found the net from a tight angle.

A key thing about this squad is their determination and strength of character though, and that's what certainly helped us through in the end. On seventeen minutes Santi Cazorla helped us on our way and got us right back into the tie. The Spaniard who I thought was brilliant on the day scored an absolute peach of a free-kick. Our first one since 2012 as it happens.

After that goal it looked as though we were destined to do everything but score. Mesut Ozil failed to connect with a ball into the box from Podolski whilst Giroud and Cazorla were both denied penalties and Livermore also handled in the area. However, Laurent Koscielny managed to bundle the ball home from a corner to equalise with just under twenty mintues to go.

Who better to win the game than Arsenal's player of the season, Aaron Ramsey. In the second half of extra time Giroud back-heeled the ball into the path of the Welshman who fired home at the near post to win the FA Cup for the Gunners - cue wild celebrations from everyone in red!

It really was a fantastic moment and hopefully it'll lead to more success in the future. I'm so happy for this crop of players and they really have deserved it. I'm absolutely delighted for Wenger who we've stuck by and he has produced us with an FA Cup trophy after nine years of hurt. The joy on his face after the game was clear to see and it certainly was a moment to savour.

It's incredibly hard to put into words the emotion that was going through every Arsenal fans body when the final whistle went, but the scenes in Islington and outside Wembley pretty much summed it up!

So, we've ended 2013/14 with fourth place and a trophy. A pretty productive season and if you had offered me that after the opening day and before we signed Ozil, I would've bitten your hand off. Enjoy the World Cup and I'll see you guys when it all gets going again in a couple of months time.

The teams line-ups:

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla(105), Ozil(105), Podolski(61), Giroud.
Subs: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Monreal, Flamini, Wilshere(105), Rosicky(105), Sanogo(61).

Hull City: McGregor, Elmohamady, Bruce(66), Chester, Davies, Rosenior(102), Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Quinn(74), Fryatt. 
Subs: Harper, Figueroa, McShane(66), Koren, Boyd(102), Sagbo, Aluko(74).

My man of the match: Aaron Ramsey.

Referee: Lee Probert.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Arsenal end league season with win over Norwich

Fourth place and 79 points. That's what we've achieved in the League this season. It's certainly a Premier League season that could've been. Manchester City were victorious but led the pack for the least amount of days out of this season's top four. Arsenal on the other hand, spent the most time at the top. We still have the FA Cup final to come next weekend which will hopefully bring success. The Norwich game was a great way to end the league this campaign. Aaron Ramsey ended it the same way he started it whilst Carl Jenkinson also grabbed a goal. It was a convincing performance and we played really well against an all but relegated Norwich side at the time. The team line-up brought about many changes as Cazorla and Mertesacker weren't in the squad and were rested. Fabianski started for the first time in the league in 2013/14 whilst Sagna started at centre back.
Ramsey and Jenkinson were on the score-sheet as Arsenal beat Norwich
It was a game of little significance for Arsenal as we had already secured fourth place. Previous final days have seen us needing a win in order to get Champions League football. There was no drama on Sunday though as we ran out comfortable victors against a Norwich side with little fight left in them. The first half was a slow affair but end to end. Giroud and Podolski both could have put us a goal ahead but Ruddy was having an outstanding game. Aaron Ramsey's goal was one Ruddy couldn't keep out though. Giroud dinked the ball towards the back post in which the Welshman unleashed a sumptuous volley right into the top corner. It was Ramsey's tenth league goal of a breakthrough campaign.

Carl Jenkinson notched Arsenal's second goal and it was the young full-backs first goal for the club. I'm sure everyone involved with the club was delighted for him. He celebrated like it was a last minute strike of great importance but can you blame him really? If it was an audition for the likely departure of Bacary Sagna it was a very good one. He looked fairly solid down the right hand side and got up and down the pitch well.

Bacary Sagna, who does indeed look set to leave in the summer will be a huge loss. Despite two leg breaks in recent years he's been one of our most consistent players. It'll be incredibly difficult to find a right back as committed as Sagna, who in 2013/14 has proved himself to be very versatile at times. He's played at left back and in this game had a brilliant game at centre back which I thought merited him the man of the match award.

Jack Wilshere made his return after a couple of months out whilst Abou Diaby also made his return to first team action for the first time in 13 months. Both of them coming on in the second half was extremely encouraging and both looked comfortable on the ball. They've been two of the most injury prone players and it'll be key that they remain fit next season.

It was interesting to see that Wenger went with Fabianski instead of Szczesny for the final league game. That could've been his final game for the club as who starts in the final next week remains to be seen. I won't complain either way because both have been outstanding this season. Fabianski deserves it because of his role in the Cup this season but Szczesny is our number one.

Anyway, lets hope that 2014/15 brings us better fortunes in the league and we can mount a title challenge until the very end. First, the FA Cup final awaits!

The teams line-ups:

Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Turner, Bennett, Olsson, Redmond(75), Tettey(58), Johnson, Snodgrass, Howson, Elmander(58).
Subs: Bunn, Whittaker, Bennett(75), Fer, Murphy, Loza(58), Hooper(58). 

Arsenal: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Sagna, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey(63), Rosicky(74), Ozil, Podolski, Giroud(74).
Subs: Szczesny, Monreal, Flamini, Kallstrom, Wilshere(63), Diaby(74), Sanogo(74). 

My man of the match: Bacary Sagna. 

Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 26,848.    

Monday, 5 May 2014

Giroud goal seals win in final home game

With Everton losing to Manchester City a day earlier, the game against West Brom no longer had any real significance for Arsenal. Everton's defeat meant that before we even played we were guaranteed a place in the top four. The 1-0 win over West Brom asserted our position amongst the top four teams in the country as we stretched the gap to seven points over the Merseyside club. Olivier Giroud's goal fourteen minutes into the game was the difference as we played our final game at home in the 2013/14 campaign. The line-up saw just one change to the side that beat Newcastle on Monday as Mathieu Flamini replaced Aaron Ramsey who missed out through a slight thigh problem. Meanwhile Abou Diaby was back on the bench for the first time in over a year having been out of the side for so long with yet another injury.
Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the game
One loss. That's all we suffered at home in the league this season, a run of unbeaten games that stretches back to the opening day against Aston Villa. Our season looked as though it wasn't going to go well from that point on, but in theory it got better, but then slightly worse again. We've lead the Premier League this season for longer than any other team but come next weekend it will not be us lifting the trophy. That job will be over to Liverpool or Manchester City as we sit in fourth place for yet another year. However a Champions League spot, and an FA Cup final to come, means we've had a very productive season.

The win over West Brom on Sunday afternoon signified that it was a typical end of season game. We have nothing to really play for and you could tell with the intensity of the game. The match perhaps warranted more than one goal and had it been earlier in the season I think we would've pushed harder for it. Podolski, Ozil and Cazorla all passed up pretty decent chances during the game but it was Olivier Giroud who tucked away his opportunity.

The Frenchman impressed a lot against West Brom and his performance was reminiscent of his early season form. His goal was a well taken one as he got ahead of his marker to find the net from Santi Cazorla's corner. Giroud's start of and end of season form has been brilliant. In his first five games he bagged four goals and in his last 5 games he's found the net three times. Whether or not he'll be the main striker next season though remains to be seen. Surely we'll sign another forward though won't we?

Mesut Ozil also put in another good performance after his brilliant display against Newcastle and he looks back to his best again. The impetus of Aaron Ramsey was of course missed but with Arteta and Flamini we had a more disciplined midfield line.

Bacary Sagna put in another very consistent shift in what could potentially be his final home game in an Arsenal shirt. His contract is up at the end of the season and he is yet to renew his current deal. If Sagna does leave it'll leave a massive hole in that Arsenal defence. He's been one of our most consistent players during his seven years at the club, and it'll be very difficult to find a right back as good as him that is available to sign.

We now have one league game left which is against relegation threatened Norwich who will desperately trying to win in order to stay up. Wenger may well chose to rest players for that game ahead of the FA Cup final the week after though.

The teams lineups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal(80), Arteta(62), Flamini, Cazorla(70), Ozil, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen(80), Jenkinson, Kallstrom(62), Diaby, Rosicky(70), Sanogo.

West Brom: Foster, Dawson, Lugano, Olsson, Brunt, Amalfitano(80), Mulumbu(86), Dorrans, Morrison, Sessegnon, Berahino.
Subs: Myhill, McAuley, O'Neil, Yacob, Sinclair, Vydra(86), Anichebe(80).

My man of the match: Olivier Giroud.

Referee: Mike Jones.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Arsenal maintain form with win over Newcastle

Arsenal took advantage of an Everton slip up against Southampton to go four points clear of their top four rivals on Monday night. A 3-0 win over Newcastle United meant Arsenal extended their lead over Everton in fourth place. The win against the Magpies was an extremely convincing one as we continued our fine form throughout the back end of April. Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil all bagged goals in a comfortable display against a side who can't wait for the season to end. It terms of the Arsenal side, it was an unchanged line-up from the win over Hull as Ramsey and Ozil continued their return to full fitness. The only change was on the bench where Thomas Vermaelen replaced the injured Chamberlain.
Mesut Ozil was instrumental as Arsenal beat Newcastle
Perhaps the most encouraging thing from the game was the performance put in by Mesut Ozil. Having just returned from injury it was like he'd never been away from the side at all. He managed to score in his final appearance before getting injured which meant that his strike against Newcastle meant he now had two in two. The German play-maker was at the heart of everything. He played in a precise ball for Giroud's headed goal which sealed all three points. Giroud himself could've had another in the first half after missing a one-on-one that fell to the feet of Ozil who couldn't miss as he made it 2-0.

The scoring however was opened by Laurent Koscielny who scored just as he did last year against the Magpies. Cazorla swung in a free-kick that Koscielny managed to get a touch on to guide home. Cazorla and Koscielny were two of the stand out players from the game. Despite the fact that Koscielny picked up a rather unnecessary first yellow card of the season for kicking the ball into the crowd, he had a very solid game. His composure shone through and it was a surprise to see Kompany ahead of him in the PFA Team of the Year. Cazorla meanwhile now has 3 assists in his last three games after going through a quiet spell in the previous two months.

We now have two clean-sheets on the bounce. It's great to see we're picking up some momentum and the similar sort of form which saw us sit at the top of the Premier League for such a long time. Having the likes of Ramsey and Ozil back has been such a big boost. It's been a time for players to step forward and be counted as the race for the top four starts to hot up. Nacho Monreal has stepped in for Kieran Gibbs a lot this season and hasn't really been as consistent as he'd like to be. Against Newcastle on Monday though he was a lot more solid than we've been used to this season and also provided a threat going foward. He almost managed to score a fourth late on!

Lukas Podolski has been another man in form and could've added to his four goals in two games in the second half as Ozil laid the ball back to him on the edge of the area. However the German could only find the side netting with his attempt. It was a game that probably merited more than a 3-0 win. Had it not been for Krul in the Newcastle goal we definitely would've scored more!

With Everton losing to Southampton at the weekend its given us a massive advantage going into this weekend's fixtures. Everton face Manchester City on Saturday and if they lose we could already be guaranteed a place in the top four regardless of what we do against West Brom and Norwich in our remaining two games!

The teams line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey(75), Cazorla, Ozil(75), Podolski, Giroud(84).
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Flamini(75), Kallstrom, Rosicky(75), Sanogo(84). 

Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy(84), Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Gosling(70), Anita, Tiote, Gouffran(89), Sissoko, Remy. 
Subs: Elliot, Yanga-Mbiwa(84), Haidara, Taylor, Obertan, Ameobi(70), Armstrong(89). 

My man of the match: Mesut Ozil.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick. 
Attendance: 60,023.