29 August 2015

Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM

The first half was all Arsenal as Newcastle defended dogged and at times desperately. Referee Andre Marriner missed a soft but clear penalty call as Bellerín went down in the box but saw sit to send off new man Mitrovic in the fifteenth minute for a studs-up challenge on Coquelin. Ten-man Toon seemed to draw inspiration, though, launching ambitious counters even if they did fizzle out. Despite the man-advantage, Arsenal couldn't get past Krul, and it was scoreless at halftime. Oxlade-Chamberlain finally opened the scoring shortly after halftime, his shot sluicing through Coloccini's legs to beat Krul. Between our quest for a perfect goal and Krul's tenacity, that turned out to be all the scoring for the day. Head down to the poll to rate our lads' performance...

Can Giroud continue to manhandle the Magpies?

The last time we faced Pardew's crew, we eked out a 1-2 victory at Selhurst Park and—oh. Sorry. Wrong dossier. Still, we've lorded it over Newcastle over the last few years, winning seven in a row across all competitions. Then again, we're off to a sluggish start, failing to impress by varying degrees in each of our last three. While Newcastle have failed to win, they've also started with one of the toughest sets of fixtures—drawing at home with Southampton before losing away to Swansea and then drawing at Old Trafford. In other words, they may be winless, but they're hardly gormless.

28 August 2015

Open letter to Newcastle Upon Tyne (or Toon, is it?)...

Dear Magpies.
We've been embroiled in a fair few imbroglios over the years, haven't we, even if you lot haven't been relevant for a while, since—well, since 2010 when you went out and won the whole kit 'n' kaboodle, winnin' the—oh. That was the Championship. Well, good on youse for that. Since then and long before, it's been a bit of a dry spell since you were anything more than a magpie in the ointment. There was of course that epic comeback in 2011 from 0-4 that still haunts us to this day—bit of a sore spot, that one—but you've also played a more-welcome role of late, such as the final match of the 2012-13 season when Koscielny netted to secure fourth while we trolled Tottenham. Thanks for that, by the way. Back to the present, though.

27 August 2015

With UEFA draw done, Arsène turns to confirm SHOCK transfer...

As you've no doubt read by now, Arsenal avoided a Group of Death draw for the Champions League group-stage, joining Bayern Munich, Olympiacos, and Dinamo Zagreb in Group F. In other words, yes, we're again locked in against the Bavarian Behemoth, but we've dodged (for now) the threats posed by AS Roma, Wolfsburg, and Borussia Mönchengladbach. While we've earned ourselves a bit of a reprieve from the perennial palpitations over how we'll qualify for the Champions League before deciding whom to sign, we've merely postponed the angst until the actual draw. Now that we know who we'll be facing, it's only a matter of time before we learn of our latest signing.

26 August 2015

Ahead of the Champions League draw, the Chicken Littles are running amok.

We're off to such a slow start, apparently, that it's only a matter of time before the WOB emerges, pitchforks sharpened and torches lit. A shocking loss to West Ham looks now to be them trolling us, as they've followed with home-losses to Leicester and Bournemouth, and we couldn't find a way past Liverpool, drawing at the Emirates. Ignoring the facts that (a) Liverpool haven't conceded a goal yet and (b) put on a bus-parking display that made Mourinho envious exacerbates a feeling of futility, a gnawing sense all of that preseason optimism was hopeless naïve. The lack of transfer-dealings, save Čech, fuels that fear. With the days dwindling, maybe it's just about time to throw in the towel...

25 August 2015

Buy the Benz! and other lessons of the Scouser stalemate...

One thing's clear: we absolutely positively mandatory-ly have to buy Benzema. We shouldn't care anymore what it will cost. After all, the market for top-shelf strikers is absurd at the best of times, and these ain't them. We've now scored a measly two goals in three matches, one of them an own-goal. Ironically, then, our only goal-scorer of record is the much-maligned Olivier Giroud, whose wondrous goal against Crystal Palace seems to only highlight how maddeningly inconsistent he is: capable of sudden moments of brilliance, reliable for sustained periods of mediocrity. The solution is as clear as an invisible pane of glass recently wiped clean by hydrochloric acid: we must buy Benzema.

24 August 2015

Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM

Arsenal were robbed six minutes in when an Aaron Ramsey goal was wrongly disallowed offside, Škrtel having played him onside, and we went into halftime in a scoreless draw thanks to the efforts of Čech, who made two brilliant saves to deny first Benteke and then Coutinho. Through most of the second half, Arsenal were dominant but without much to show for it despite repeatedly driving deep into the area. Mignolet denied Giroud from point-blank range in the 69th minute. Škrtel almost scored an own-goal while denying Ox's cross into Walcott in the 83rd, and it looked as if Liverpool had no interest in getting forward other than a handful of breakouts. Sitting deep and defending in numbers, they frustrated our attack and killed time well enough to make Mourinho himself envious. When we did break through, Mignolet came up with brilliant saves. Enough for the summary, though, let's get to the ratings poll!

23 August 2015

Simply put, Giroud is the most essential striker in the Prem...

I won't waste your time claiming that he's the best striker in the Prem, because, clearly, he's not. There are others who score more goals than he does. There are others who are more graceful than he is. Heck, there are some who might be sexier than he is. However, among the many pretenders to the throne, I don't think it's a huge stretch to suggest that none of them is as essential to his club's performance as Giroud is to Arsenal. If you scoff, witness how much Arsenal struggled in his absence in the early going of the 2014-15 campaign.

Can Arsenal exploit Liverpool's soft underbelly?

There was a time, believe it or not, when these two clubs vied for supremacy. I’d like to make a play on “Prem” and “supremacy,” but the era defies such word-play. Ever since 1989, when Arsenal won the First Division in epic fashion, the two clubs have parted ways. At one level, that match seems to mark the arrival of the modern game where television revenues are so central to so many decisions. Whether it also marks the decline of a once-great franchise—Liverpool—is another question.