18 April 2015

In which I rant against those who whinge and whine. We won. On to Wembley—again.

We're through to the final. No, it wasn't glorious, and, yes, we failed to steamroll Reading as we'd done so many times before. After having scored 16 goals in our last three outings against them, expectations were sure to soar. However, it didn't take long for the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing to set in as we struggled to break down a side that looked bound and determined to hang on by the skin of their teeth until penalties. It's almost enough to make one pine for that time a year ago when we waltzed confidently past Wigan to—oh. Right. Anyone who expected a cakewalk to the final doesn't get the FA Cup.

Reading 1-2 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM

Alexis found his way through after a brilliant pass from Mesut Özil, but it was a scrappy first-half that ended 1-0. Shortly after half-time, sloppy defending gave Reading's Garath McCleary a chance to squib a shot through Gibbs's legs and past Szczęsny, who really should have done much better. From there, things opened up as Reading gained confidence. Gabriel hit the post with a header, and Ramsey had a golden chance in the 83rd but hit the post from close range while being mugged. That's where regulation ended. In extra-time, Reading dropped deep to hold out for penalties, to the point that Coquelin was subbed off for Walcott as we pressed for the winner. Of all the ways to find a goal, Alexis's shot squirted past Federici, who had been massive throughout. The Royals came out angry, though, and created a few chances for themselves. Ultimately, though, they didn't have quite enough to overcome the deficit, and Arsenal are through to the final. Give our lads what they deserve in the ratings-poll below...

FA Cup Semifinal: Can Arsenal run rough-shod over Reading?

Mention “Arsenal” and “Reading” and thoughts surely flash back to that rather-infamous 5-7 League Cup clash, in which Arsenal a 1-4 halftime deficit into a scintillating, breath-taking and heart-breaking (for Reading) 5-7 win, courtesy of a Walcott hat-trick and a brace from Chamakh. Fast forward more than two years and only (a few of) the names have changed.

15 April 2015

Picking apart the Dortmund carcass: Klopp, Reus, Hummels, and more...

Jürgen Klopp's decision to step down as Dortmund's manager at the end of the season has set tongues wagging, with some suggesting that the charismatic German would be an ideal replacement for Arsène. Of course, other Prem destinations have been touted, chief among them Man City, but the salivating doesn't stop there. With Klopp set to leave, the club itself looks likely to enter a period of turmoil, and the vultures are circling. Having already seen talismanic players like Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski bolt to Bayern, and with the current squad languishing in mid-table mediocrity (six points from relegation, 37 points behind Bayern), Klopp has apparently seen the writing on the wall: the Bundesliga belongs to Bayern. His quixotic quest to win the Champions League briefly distracted attention from Dortmund's league woes. The question now is, who in this squad could Arsenal sign?

13 April 2015

And then there were two—Arsenal and Man U...

Only the most optimistic among us would still suggest that we can somehow overtake Chelsea. The weekend’s results all but pave the way for them to claim the title, and all that’s really left is to sort out is the next three positions. Arsenal and Man U are now vying for second place, each getting result after result after result, and Man City seem to be on the verge of collapse—at least enough to revive hopes from Liverpool and Southampton. Those two won’t reappear here just yet because we’re focusing on the top-four, but if City can’t be bothered to try a little harder, well, we’ll see. In news of a more-*schadenfreude*-ian variety, Tottenham lost at home again and risk failing to qualify for their cherished Europa League spot. More’s the pity, I guess. Let’s get to the rundown…

12 April 2015

Well, so much for winning the Prem. Now, we're in Man U's crosshairs...

The weekend started off so well. We won, for one, trudging our way past Burnley. After that result, we had to wait almost a full 24 hours to see how our rivals would fare before knowing whether our aspirations would amount to anything. For 88 minutes, Chelsea enticed, flirted, and seduced, struggling to break down a stubborn QPR before none other than Cesc "I'll always feel like a Gunner" Fàbregas scored on Chelsea's only shot on target, dashing our hopes along the way. Scuttled are our dreams of an historic title-tilt. From there, our attention turned to the Manchester derby with hopes, of course, of a draw marred by multiple red cards along the way. Alas, it was not to be, and we now have plenty to fret and worry about as a resurgent Man U threatens our newly-minted Prem-runner-up status.