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!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Arsenal rescue point but same problems still remain

Arsenal once more put in a far from convincing display as their slow start to the season continued. The Gunners had to come from two down against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday evening as late strikes from Ramsey and Giroud rescued a point. It was a game of two halves and it took Wenger to make some bold changes in order for the game to turn around. Over the years matches between Everton and Arsenal have been very interesting and this was no different! Arsenal made a few changes from the opening day win as Ozil and Mertesacker returned whilst Flamini came in for the injured Arteta. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also started ahead of Santi Cazorla.
Olivier Giroud scored a vital late equaliser as Arsenal drew with Everton
It is difficult to describe exactly what Arsenal fans feel like after the draw with Everton. In some ways it feels like a win, and there is a mass sense of relief. However, you can't be happy with the way the side played. It was bold of Wenger to play quite an experimental line-up, as Alexis started up top with Ozil on the left. It was an experiment that didn't quite pay off, especially with Mertesacker playing with Chambers at the back for the first time.

It was clear to see the defense had been shuffled about and ultimately that led to our down fall, as well as the fact we had no runners when it came to our attacking phases of play. The first goal was poor marking at the back post as Ozil allowed Coleman to get round the back of him and head home a cross. As for the second one, Mertesacker was bullied by Lukaku before Chambers dived in and Flamini didn't go to his man. That all allowed Naismith to fire home despite looking slightly offside.

What was encouraging though and for the second week running was Arsenal's will and determination to not give up and to keep going. Arsenal had to go down and make some changes and the main one was that of Olivier Giroud. Sanchez hadn't particularly played as well as he could've done upfront and as a result was subbed at half time. Giroud completely changed the game around and gave us a different dimension up top and showed how valuable he can be at times. He did miss a big chance with his first touch at the beginning of the second half, blazing a volley over from close range. However he made up for that by scoring a vital headed equaliser from a Monreal cross in the dying embers of the game.

Aaron Ramsey was the player to yet again make the difference though. Another of the subs Santi Cazorla played well when he came on as he swung in a low cross to Ramsey who couldn't miss with six minutes remaining. The midfield combination of Wilshere and Ramsey hasn't seemed to work yet and it wasn't until Jack was brought off that Ramsey seemed to have more of an effect on the game. The question remains over Wilshere and he's going to really have to pick up his own game for the good of the team, and for his overall performance levels.

Arsenal's attacking play with Giroud on the pitch was very encouraging but like with all games there are negatives and despite the way we came back the defence does need addressing when it comes to these big games. Hopefully we'll see Koscielny back for the game against Leicester next weekend. First up is the second leg against Besiktas and following a 0-0 draw in Turkey, we simply have to win.

The team's line-ups:

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas(84), Pienaar(9), Lukaku(74), Naismith.
Subs: Joel, Alcaraz, Stones, Besic, Osman(9), Atsu(84), McGeady(74).

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Wilshere(74), Oxlade-Chamberlain(74), Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez(45).
Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Bellerin, Rosicky, Cazorla(74), Campbell(74), Giroud(45). 

Referee: Kevin Friend
Attendance: 39,490. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Late Ramsey goal ensures opening day victory

Arsenal were made to work to ensure they came out of their opening Premier League fixture of the season with a win. Crystal Palace were Saturday's opponents who after Tony Pulis was sacked two days before the season got underway, didn't have a manager. Many predicted because of that the Gunners would steamroller their opponents but it was far from comfortable. Crystal Palace took the lead through a corner before Koscielny equalised and then Ramsey scored a real poachers goal deep into injury time. Arsenal were unchanged from the Community Shield as Sanchez, Debuchy and Chambers were all given league debuts for the club. Yaya Sanogo meanwhile continued up front.
Aaron Ramsey's late goal rescued all three points for the Gunners
Compared to last season's opening day, a game which we lost 3-1, the weekend saw a vast improvement. That improvement wasn't really something to be admired though. It was a slow performance with little attacking penetration. If you look at the win over Manchester City the weekend before there was a lot of interchanging passes on the edge of the area but against Palace they made that difficult as they remained solid at the back and gave us little chance to play the one-two's we find so effective.

All that was proved by the goals we scored. After having gone behind to poor marking to allow Hangeland to head home, Arsenal's first goal also came from a set-piece. Alexis Sanchez floated in a free-kick and Koscielny got free of his marker to flick home the Gunners first goal of the new campaign. The second came after a bit of a goal mouth scramble. Koscielny and Giroud both got up well to keep possession and then Debuchy saw an effort saved. The ball however rebounded to Aaron Ramsey who couldn't miss as Arsenal won the game with a matter of moments left.

Arsenal's late surge was helped by a red card to Jason Puncheon. Earlier in the second half he'd been booked for challenge through the back of Ramsey but then saw red for a clumsy challenge on Nacho Monreal. Monreal had originally been on the bench but due to yet another injury to Kieran Gibbs the Spaniard came on. Nacho had had a good start to life at Arsenal but he struggled for any real consistency last season but when he did come on against Palace he looked assured and gave Arsenal another dimension down the left hand side. Is the curse of the dreaded number 18, which he now wears, finally over? Only time will tell.

There weren't many standout performances but Mathieu Debuchy once again gave Arsenal fans a reason to be happy. There were doubts when Sagna left but Debuchy has been brilliant so far and we haven't missed his fellow Frenchman at all. He's showing clear reasons as to why he's been the preferred choice at right back for the French national side and long may his fine performances continue. He already looks very committed and his passion is second to none. His celebration with Monreal after Ramsey scored backs up that point. He's certainly already one of us despite only playing two competitive games for the club.

Calum Chambers has been thrown right in at the deep end since his move from Southampton but once again slotted straight in at centre back and looked assured. Perhaps not as assured as in recent weeks but his performance was still of a high caliber and he looks the real deal. Koscielny meanwhile saved us on a couple of occasions and apart from the goal we conceded the defence didn't really look in much trouble.

The midfield weren't as good as we expect from them but Wilshere especially is beginning to find his level again. There were instances when Arsenal struggled to keep hold of the ball and that'll have to be improved in the weeks coming. Against the bigger sides it'll be punished and it almost was when Arteta gave the ball away a few times in the Community Shield. Yaya Sanogo it's fair to say has been given his fair share of opportunities but despite scoring four relatively simple goals in the Emirates Cup against Benfica, he was poor against City last week and again against Palace. Giroud gave us something different when he came on and hopefully he'll start to play regularly now he's built up his match fitness.

Next up is a tough away trip to Besiktas for the first leg of our Champions League qualifier before we face Everton away from home next weekend.

The team's line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs(53), Arteta, Wilshere(69), Ramsey, Sanchez, Cazorla, Sanogo(62).
Subs: Martinez, Monreal(53), Coquelin, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain(69), Campbell, Giroud(62). 

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Dann(75), Hangeland, Ward, Ledley, Jedinak, Puncheon, Bolasie(90), Chamakh, Campbell(85).
Subs: Hennessey, McCarthy, O'Keefe(90), Delaney(75), Bannan, Gayle(85), Murray.

My man of the match: Mathieu Debuchy.

Referee: Jonathon Moss.
Attendance: 59,962.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Arsenal win Community Shield with victory over Man City

Arsenal started the new season in the way they finished the last one, by winning a trophy. Sunday afternoon saw the Gunners take on League winners Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley, and despite both sides having weakened line-ups, it was Arsenal who ran out victors with a 3-0 win. Arsenal hadn't had the best pre-season possible having lost 2 out of the 4 games they played but they showed no form of rustiness with a brilliant counter attacking display against City. Alexis Sanchez, Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy all made their competitive debuts whilst new captain Mikel Arteta started in midfield. With Giroud lacking match fitness Sanogo started up front following his four goals against Benfica in the Emirates Cup.
It was a very comfortable display from Arsenal who dominated for many periods of the game and weren't really troubled by a City side who were lacking in strength due to a number of their World Cup players not featuring. Arsenal were without the likes of Ozil, Mertesacker and Podolski but that didn't seem to matter as Cazorla, Ramsey and Giroud sealed another win at Wembley for Arsenal.

Santi Cazorla's goal came at a time where we had been putting an unerring amount of pressure on City. The Spaniard, back from an unsuccessful World Cup campaign, put that all behind him as he swiveled and put the ball onto his left foot before firing past former team mate Willy Caballero in the City goal. The second goal was taken brilliantly by Aaron Ramsey as he linked up with Yaya Sanogo before flicking the ball over the defenders leg and firing into the far corner. The game was to be settled by a bit of rare individual brilliance from Olivier Giroud. He got the ball 30 yards out from goal and hit a dipping effort which sailed into the net for undoubtedly his best goal in the red and white of Arsenal.

Olivier Giroud was bizarrely given the man of the match award despite only playing the second half. In my opinion the young Calum Chambers at centre half deserved it for an outstanding performance. A few eye brows were raised at the £16m price-tag but that has all been forgotten after some brilliant displays at the Emirates Cup were followed up by an excellent display of defending yesterday against City. For such a young player he has adapted remarkably well and looks as though he's been playing for years. He's very assured and composed on the ball, whilst his decision making and reading of the game is also brilliant. He reminds me a little bit of Per Mertesacker, just younger and with obviously more pace.

The other debutantes meanwhile also put in a solid shift. I was a bit apprehensive about the signing of Mathieu Debuchy but having seen him play yesterday he's an absolute warrior and gave his all for the team. He got stuck in and made some brilliant tackles which contributed to a comfortable defensive display for the Gunners. Alexis Sanchez ran himself into the ground in the first half before being substituted at half time. He never stopped running and could've had a goal and a number of assists to himself.
Arsenal lifted the Community Shield for the first time in 10 years
With the Germans to come back into the side, everything looks very positive at Arsenal at the moment. One or two more additions and I think we'd be set but providing the players stay relatively injury free we should be there or there abouts in terms of the Premier League this season. Our first game of the season is against Palace and here's to hoping it'll be a lot lot better than 2013/14's opening day!

The teams line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny(45), Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey(83), Wilshere(67), Sanchez(45), Cazorla(70), Sanogo(45). 
Subs: Martinez, Monreal(45), Flamini(67), Rosicky(70), Oxlade-Chamberlain(45), Campbell(83), Giroud(45). 

Manchester City: Caballero, Clichy, Boyata, Nastasic, Kolarov(75), Fernando, Toure(60), Navas(83), Nasri(45), Dzeko(60), Jovetic. 
Subs: Hart, Richards(75), Rekik, Zucilini(60), Milner(60), Silva(45), Sinclair(83). 

My man of the match: Calum Chambers.

Referee: Michael Oliver.
Attendance: 71,523.