Giroud scored two first half goals from an early spell of dominance in which we might have scored three or four goals, after which Newcastle were the brighter side for long, uncomfortable periods. An early goal from Sissokho made it 1-2, and it was all Newcastle in the second half as they chased the equaliser. Manic, panicked defending from Arsenal, vital saves from Ospina, and wasteful finishing from Newcastle raised the tension without affecting the scoreline. Four minutes of added time were not enough to allow the hosts a chance to salvage the point, and Arsenal were just good enough to escape with the win. How'd our lads do? Vote in the ratings-poll below the fold...
21 March 2015
20 March 2015
Having observed our annual purging of the Champions League, we can now turn our sights squarely on the Prem, and standing in the crosshairs is Newcastle, who sit 11th and might be content to coast along through the run-in secure in the sense that they will not finish among the top four, nor will they sink down to the relegation-scrap. This does not mean, however, that we can mail it in at St. James’s Park, not by a long shot.
19 March 2015
Amid all of the build-up (and letdown...) around the Monaco match, we might have looked past a more-ominous issue: a week prior, after Danny Welbeck scored the winner against Man U in the FA Cup, a 15-year-old tweeted out some vile abuse against the man. On Monday, the lad was arrested and then questioned on suspicion of racial abuse before being released on bail until 13 April. This side of the pond, we have our own racism-row after white college students were caught on video gleefully chanting how there will never be a person of a certain skin-color in their fraternity. Immature hijinks or ingrained racism? Potato, potahto? We can slate Chelsea for certain fans denying entry to a train in Paris, but we should be wary of scapegoating when racism lingers and skulks along the edges of our society in whichever country we live.
After a disappointing win at AS Monaco, one good enough to win the battle but not the war, we turn our attention back to the Prem. With Chelsea and Man City having been dumped from the Champions League as well, only Everton (remember them?) carry on with continental commitments. In other words, the fight for a top-five finish has tightened quite a bit, with only Liverpool and Arsenal still fighting through fixtures in the FA Cup. Chelsea still look to have first place pretty well in the bag, but the race for second place has tightened considerably, with three teams now separated by only two points. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see us locked in such a struggle rather than desperately hoping to climb into the top four. Without further ado, then, let’s get to it…
17 March 2015
We're out of the Champions League again, eliminated on away-goals, despite getting one of the most favourable draws we might have gotten. It hurts. I won't deny it. I had gotten my hopes up before the first leg, thinking we'd find a way past this ballyhooed bastion of bus-parking, but I was wrong. One freak-goal and two moments of madness, and we're reliving the Bayern nightmare, only this time it wasn't a German juggernaut; it was the Monaco minnow. I dared to dream about the Miracle in Monaco, and it looked for long, long stretches as if we would pull it off. Again, however, we fell short. Fine. At least we left a turdblossom behind at the Stade Louis II, proving if nothing that Monaco are not quite the defensive titans they'd been made out to be. Closer to home, we should come away with more than enough momentum to dive back into the Prem run-in with dogged determination.
Well, it's happened again. Despite a desperate fight, Arsenal go out on aggregate again, coming up one goal short of what was needed to overcome a steep deficit from the first leg. One goal from Giroud in the 36th minute and one from Ramsey in the 79th were not enough, and we'll go home again, knowing that we dug a deep hole and didn't have quite enough to climb back out. So much for the treble, eh? Well, if there's a silver lining, we can now focus on the FA Cup and the Prem. Cold comfort, that. If nothing else, we at least undermined that legendary AS Monaco defense, carving it open on numerous occasions. We had our chances; we just couldn't quite finish them. Ah, well. Have a go at our players in the poll below...
16 March 2015
First, the bad news: AS Monaco haven't conceded more than two goals in a single match since Bordeaux blitzed them 4-1 back in August. Since then, they've conceded two goals just twice—two weeks ago against PSG in the Coupe de France and back in November against mid-table Rennes. Against that back-drop, our task on Tuesday looks all the more daunting, especially given the fact that all Monaco has to do advance is to not lose by three goals. As with Chelsea, we can expect them to hunker down, defending their area with eight or nine defenders, and dare us to find a goal. An opponent already committed to defending tooth and nail has all the more reason to do on Tuesday. This brings us, eventually, to the good news. Bear with me...
15 March 2015
If you had watched Saturday's thrashing of West Ham, you might assume that we were top of the league, through to the FA Cup semi-finals, and punching our tickets to the Champions League quarter-finals. Of course, you'd be only one-third right, but the form we've been in since we last faced AS Monaco has been pretty convincing—especially the last two, winning a bum-clencher at Old Trafford in the FA Cup's Sixth Round Proper and then tearing up West Ham like they were Kleenex™ at a snot-convention. Surely, we rue the routing we endured at the Emirates a few weeks ago, but, as history shows us, we're quite good when we decide to be.