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, 27 October 2014

Sanchez at the double as Arsenal see off Sunderland

Alexis Sanchez was once again the star man for Arsenal as he scored twice to give Arsenal a 2-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday. Both sides were low on confidence and it was an extremely scrappy game, especially after the hosts had lost 8-0 last weekend. The Gunners meanwhile were searching for their first league win in over a month and they got that thanks to some horrible individual errors at the back from Sunderland. Sanchez capitalised twice on mistakes to ensure that after this weekends football we sit fifth in the league. Calum Chambers was back in league action after being suspended for the Hull game last weekend whilst Jack Wilshere sat out as he himself served a suspension. Arteta came in for him, otherwise it was an unchanged line-up from last week. Meanwhile, Szczesny was back after missing out against Anderlecht through suspension in the week. The game also saw the return of Theo Walcott who was on the bench after nine months out.
Nacho Monreal improved heavily as Arsenal beat Sunderland
None of Arsenal's victories this season have been very convincing and that was again the case this weekend. We looked dangerous around the penalty area but a lack of end product was evident as we didn't create many clear cut opportunities all game. However it is encouraging that we do look dangerous and do look like scoring goals. It was no surprise to see Alexis grab another two goals as he has been the driving force behind this Arsenal side so far this season. His hard work and willingness to never give up was shown in the way he pressured Brown and Mannone for his goals.

It had been a sloppy start to the game and it was difficult to see where a clear cut chance was going to come from. However Wes Brown aided that, he attempted to play the ball back to the keeper from near the half way line but made a hash of the pass. That allowed Sanchez to steal in and run in on goal before dinking the ball over the despairing Vito Mannone. Mannone, a former Gunner had won Sunderland's player of the season in 2013/14 but he can be heavily embarrassed about the second goal in which he conceded. The ball was passed back to him but his touch was poor and Sanchez was allowed to tap into an empty net.

It was one of the more bizarre wins I think I've seen in recent times from Arsenal, and it was only our third victory in the League in 2014/15. It was a vitally important win though as we gained ground and extended our lead over the teams in front of us and behind us respectively as all of the top sides excluding Arsenal dropped points.

It was extremely encouraging to see us get a clean sheet. We've had some defensive worries this season and that looks set to continue after Gibbs limped off with yet another injury. However we're just about coping at the moment but had we signed more cover in the summer then you feel we wouldn't have these problems anyway. Koscielny is due back after the next international break though. I questioned Monreal's ability to play at centre half after the draw with Hull but he impressed me this weekend. He looked a lot more confident and assured now that he's adapting to the role in the middle. Against the big teams Nacho playing there would be a worry and he may look a little suspect at times but he'll improve in the role as time goes by as he is already showing.

The form of Santi Cazorla is quite a worrying situation and in my opinion he had a pretty average game against Sunderland. He always looks good on the ball but compare his form to his first season at the club and the goals and assists have dried up. Since 2012/13, a Premier League campaign in which he bagged 12 goals and 13 assists, he has only got 4 goals and 9 assists in 36 games. He looks like a player short of confidence and with Walcott returning and Podolski waiting on the wings he'll need to improve if he's going to keep his place in the side. His lack of confidence and composure was shown late on when he wasted two good opportunities as he blazed the ball over on both occasions.

It was great to finally win again though, and hopefully we can kick on now and really start to maintain a challenge at the top end of the league. Next up is Burnley at home which with no disrespect to them, should be a comfortable win and will therefore hopefully bring us added confidence.

The team's line-ups:

Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, van Aanholt, Cattermole, Rodwell(74), Johnson(73), Larsson, Buckley, Fletcher(49).
Subs: Pantilimon, Reveillere, Mavrias, Bridcutt, Gomez(74), Wickham(49), Altidore(73).

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs(73), Arteta(87), Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain(90), Sanchez, Cazorla, Welbeck. 
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin(73), Ramsey(87), Rosicky(90), Walcott, Campbell, Podolski. 

My man of the match: Alexis Sanchez.

Referee: Kevin Friend.
Attendance: 44,449. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Late Welbeck goal rescues point

Arsenal's search for a first Premier League win in almost a month continued on Saturday as they dropped points at home to Hull. It was a completely different game to the FA Cup final in May as Danny Welbeck scored late on to rescue the Gunners a point in what was an extremely poor team display. It was a performance that we've become accustomed to this season though as we sit sixth in the League with only two league victories to our name all season. Only losing once is a thing to be encouraged by but we haven't hit top gear all season and it's extremely worrying. Arsenal were forced into making defensive changes after Koscielny's injury over the international break meant Monreal had to deputise at centre half due to Chambers suspension. That also meant a first league start for Spanish right back Hector Bellerin.
Alexis Sanchez was once again Arsenal's stand out performer
If you're looking for positives out of what was an extremely frustrating game then look no further than Alexis Sanchez. Once again the Chilean was the star for Arsenal as he got on the score sheet and also assisted the other goal. Since signing Sanchez has been a revelation and has added an extra liveliness to the side which was missing last season. He is exactly what was needed with Walcott being out injured and with Theo to return soon we can look forward to some exciting wide play. Most of Alexis' goals have been of real quality for Arsenal and his strike to open the scoring against Hull was no different as he fooled Davies with a step-over before firing into the far corner.

The performances of Danny Welbeck is also something to be encouraged about as he added his fifth goal in Arsenal colours to rescue the game for the Gunners. Sanchez went on a brilliant run to cap off a superb individual display before working the ball to Welbeck who found the net.

Arsenal had had five players in the England squad and two of the players that had impressed heavily were Jack Wilshere, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, they failed to really transform their international form into Arsenal colours on Saturday and we're still lacking in midfield despite having some fantastic options in that area of the pitch. The final piece of the jigsaw is a midfield enforcer, a defensive midfielder that will sit and break up the play as they please. We had the money in the summer and ignored a clear position we've needed for a number of years now. Needless to say, injuries is what is faltering our progression at the moment.

It's difficult to put the blame on anyone in particular for why we've been so below par in 2014/15 as there are a number of reasons for our apparent downfall at the moment. Our defence haven't been nearly as good as last season whilst injuries have haunted us. However, had we signed a few more players in the summer then perhaps the injuries wouldn't have hindered us as much due to the fact we'd have able replacements.

I've got nothing against starting Hector Bellerin at right back but he's had a baptism of fire into the first team this season and still looks a little vulnerable. Meanwhile the decision to keep Nacho Monreal as a back-up centre half is a bizarre one. Wenger tried it in pre-season and he doesn't convince me in my opinion. Saying that, it was Flamini and Mertesacker that were at fault for the two goals.

There looked to be an initial foul in the build-up to Diame's goal and Hull's equaliser in the first half as he had his arms all around Flamini. It's easy to criticise the referee for not giving a foul but Flamini just stopped playing and turned around to have a go at the referee. It was a goal that could've been easily prevented and that's happened on a number of occasions now this season. Meanwhile Mertesacker was caught out for their second goal as he allowed Abel Hernandez to get up in front of him to head home.

It was a poor way to resume after the international break but a game against Anderlecht in the Champions League will hopefully bring us a chance to rediscover ourselves and begin to gather some momentum going into Sunderland at the weekend.

The team's line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini(62), Wilshere(68), Sanchez, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck. 
Subs: Martinez, Ajayi, Coquelin, Arteta, Ramsey(62), Rosicky, Campbell(68).

Hull City: Harper(42), Elmohamady, Chester, Davies, Dawson(84), Diame, Robertson, Livermore, Huddlestone, Ben Arfa, Hernandez(62).
Subs: Jakupovic(42), Bruce(84), Rosenior, Brady, Quinn, Ramirez(62).

My man of the match: Alexis Sanchez. 

Referee: Roger East.
Attendance: 60,004.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Arsenal warm up for Chelsea with midweek win

Arsenal put a laboured performance against Spurs behind them on Wednesday night as they comfortably beat Galatasaray in the Champions League. Danny Welbeck scored a hat-trick whilst Sanchez added to his tally this season as the Gunners sealed a relatively easy win at the Emirates. It was refreshing to see us play with so much confidence and looking ahead to Chelsea at the weekend it should give us a boost going forward.
Danny Welbeck is quickly becoming a fan favourite at Arsenal
Danny Welbeck has given Arsenal a different option since he joined the club. He's the polar opposite of Giroud and showed that with his goals in midweek against our Turkish opponents. Each goal was taken with great assurance and showed our ability to now get players in behind. It meanwhile showed the willingness of Welbeck to impress and assuming he can now kick on he'll prove to be a great addition to the side. The first was a lovely reverse ball from Alexis into the English forward, the second showed great strength and determination to get away from Melo whilst the third was a little dinked finish over the keeper.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have rarely played with each other so far in Arsenal colours but Wednesday showed exactly why they should be playing more often with each other. Ozil was deployed in his favoured number 10 position, where he was against Villa, so it comes as no great surprise that both of our best performances this season have come with Ozil playing in the free role behind the striker. The German provided the assist for Sanchez's goal who stuck his chance away in familiar fashion. It reminded me a lot of a Barcelona type goal he'd score and that made it even more pleasing on the eye.

Alexis Sanchez has been quite brilliant since his arrival in the summer and is already proving why he was worth the fee to bring him to the club. The Chilean now has 5 in 11 games and both his assist and goal were of real quality.

The only negative from the game was the red card to Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal had looked fairly comfortable for most of the night so to conceded was disappointing. The Polish stopper came racing out of his goal but brought down Yilmaz who was denied a goal scoring opportunity and therefore Szczesny saw red. It was then Yilmaz who sent sub Ospina the wrong way to make it 4-1.

With Chelsea at the weekend I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. We've struggled to find any real consistency this season and draws have been an issue. Saying that, I'd happily take a draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. It'll be very interesting to see how we line-up and whether Wenger finally changes his tactics for a big game or not.

As seen with last season's trip to the Bridge, we got completely thrashed as a result of our fullbacks pushing on and us not having a defensive midfielder. Flamini was average against Galatasaray in the week whilst Arteta is out injured. I'd like to see Diaby played there as I think it could be interesting to see what he could bring to that defensive minded midfield role. I think he'd suit it perfectly and providing he's fit enough to play, he could be the midfield enforcer we've been looking for in these big games.

I'm feeling more positive for the Chelsea game due to the win in the Champions League in the week but if we don't change things up tactically we could be on the end of another drubbing. One thing's for sure though, we definitely won't suffer the same sort of embarrassing score-line, and the players will desperately be seeking revenge!

The team's line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain(67), Ozil(76), Sanchez(60), Welbeck.
Subs: Ospina(60), Bellerin, Coquelin, Wilshere(67),  Rosicky(67), Campbell, Podolski.

Galatasaray: Muslera, Chedjou, Melo, Kaya, Sari(67), Kurtulus(45), Sneijder, Dzemali, Telles, Pandev(69), Yilmaz.
Subs: Bolat, Bulut(67), Camdal, Bangna(67), Altintop(45), Adin, Balta.

My man of the match: Danny Welbeck.

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi.
Attendance: 59,803.