Jack Wilshere turned in such a dominating, dominant performance against San Marino that they might as well give him the 2014 Ballon d'Or now and save everyone the suspense. Such was his magnificence in a 5-0 shellacking of San Marino.Yes, it was an overmatched opponent. Yes, you could have fit the entire population of San Marino (31,448) into Wembley's empty seats (34,010). As such, we should be careful about just how far we extrapolate from this one result. Still, Wilshere's performance, even if against one of Europe's minnows, should remind us of what Wilshere can do when he's fit and confident. With Özil out until December or January, we'll need this version of Wilshere if we expect to build or sustain any kind of momentum in the Prem or Champions League.
09 October 2014
08 October 2014
I'm sure you've heard by now that Mesut Özil has been ruled out of action by the German Football Federation, meaning we at Arsenal won't see him in action again until January at the earliest. Ten to twelve weeks, they say. He'll miss quite a few Prem matches, the rest of the Champions League group stage, and perhaps the FA Cup third round as well. His injury may not be quite enough to knock us out of the latter two competitions, but there's just enough in it to suggest that maybe, just maybe, there's something more sinister at stake, something...diabolical. Of course, one need not look too far for the source of such conspiracies. When it comes to sabotaging Arsenal's hopes, there is one name that comes to mind. The Portuguese Prince of Darkness. The Specious One. The Machiavellian Mourinho.
If only the interlull could lull us to sleep instead of luring us into a false sense of security. Usually, however, we can wait until after one of these matches is played before finding out that one or another Gunner has succumbed to injury; news today—before anyone actually suits up to play—is that Mesut Özil is in Germany for an MRI to see if and to what extent he's injured his knee. Reports that have come out in the last hour or so from the German Football Association say that we will be without his services for up to three months. This is getting absurd.
06 October 2014
José contemplated the beginning of the interlull with distaste. He did not like his expensive play-things used by other managers, where they might get damaged or lose some of their shininess through misuse. Still, he understood even as he smirked that these distractions affected him less than most, having at his disposal a second and even a third squad capable of beating most clubs' first team. Still, something nagged at him. A lingering feeling wouldn't quite let him rest. Even with Chelsea riding high in the Prem, having taken 19 points from 21 to date, something felt...off. Maybe Mendes could reassure him, find him someone to add to the squad in January, if not sooner? Vexed, José scrolled through his contacts to find his agent's number and clicked to call.
Any weekend that ends with an Arsenal loss is bound to be a tough one even if it stands as a marked improvement on the previous trip to the same stomping grounds that sent us to our worst defeat in living memory. Still, the weekend wasn't a complete loss as we got to see Arsène shove Mourinho not once but twice. Elsewhere, others could barely eke out their various results, with the most-confident one coming from Man City who saw off Aston Villa 0-2. I seem to remember going one better than that, for what it's worth. The chicken-littles of the world will point to the fact that we now sit eighth behind Man U, Tottenham, and West Ham (not to mention Southampton and Swansea). It's still early days, as they say. We're nine points off the pace, and we have an interlull in which to contemplate our fortune, destiny, fate, lot in life, etc. Let's get to the wrap-up (or is it run-down)?
Is that it? Is that the best you can do? C'mon, Chelsea. Even I expected more than this. A penalty to open the scoring, and a (class, admittedly) second one late on? After upgrading to the tune of a mere£94m, including the shrewd signing of that erstwhile prodigal of ours, I might have expected a bit more from you. Yes, you very nearly balanced your books (congratulations!), one must keep in mind that it's easy to sell assets if you've previously stockpiled them in the first place. These are issues for another day. It's to the pitch we should turn our eyes. At first glance, a 2-0 win should look and feel confident if not quite as triumphant as that infamous scoreline back in March. Then again, who would dare think that you'd again for a half-dozen goals after adding Costa and Fabregas?
05 October 2014
Well, we improved just a bit over the last time we faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, for what that's worth. Still, we came away empty-handed and on the short-end of yet another match against Mourinho's Chelsea. I'm nothing if not an eternal optimist and see the result as reason for hope. But for a few calls that might have gone our way, we might even have come away with something a bit sharper. Should Cahill have been sent off for his studs-in challenge on Alexis? Perhaps. Might Atkinson have seen the ball-to-hand against Fabregas? Only Atkinson knows. When it's all said and done, after all, more is said than done. Enjoy the highlights, such as they are, in the video below:
Well, we improved threefold over last march, which is the optimist's way of looking at it. It could have been worse. By the 12th minute, we could joke that we're doing much, much better than we had done. By the 17th, we could laugh at the fact that Gibbs is still on the pitch. Still, a loss is a loss no matter the scoreline, and even if we cut the margin down to one-third from the last trip to Stamford Bridge, well, we still lost. Fabregas found an assist late in the second half, but it didn't feel nightmarish, nor does the result. In fact, I rather feel like we should be disappointed and Chelsea should feel relieved to have come away with the win. We'll examine that later on. For now, rate how our squad did on the day in the ratings-poll below...