30 December 2016

From Pulis to Pardew to this plonker, is Palace takin' the piss?

Arsenal have staggered towards the New Year with all of the aplomb and grace of a over-served reveler, losing twice by 2-1 scorelines before finally finding a way past West Brom's parked bus in the waning minutes—long gone, it seems, is the swagger that saw us go undefeated across 20 previous matches (sorry, League Cup; in fairness, though, I also overlooked two wins in the competition to prove my point). Then again, the Baggies' visit opened a string of fixtures from which we simply must and really should take all the points on offer. Enter Crystal Palace.

26 December 2016

Arsenal 1-0 West Brom: Giroud smashes Pulis's parked-bus!

West Brom enjoyed nearly 86 minutes of success, filling the box with as many defenders as could fit, and Ben Foster dilly-dallied all day long, but all of that success was shattered when Olivier Giroud, despite being mugged while doing so, headed over Foster from a beautiful cross from Özil. Foster had made some brilliant saves but couldn't quite get fingers to this one. Alexis was denied numerous times, once striking the woodwork, but all of the frustration from the last few weeks were forgotten. It wasn't pretty, but it's a vital three points as we look at a softer stretch of fixtures coming up. Check out the highlights below, and savor those points!

24 December 2016

A batterin' for the Baggies on Boxing Day...

Saturday, December 9th, 1663. Samuel Pepys, a British diarist, parliamentarian, and naval administrator, wrote "Thence by coach to my shoemaker’s and paid all there, and gave something to the boys’ box against Christmas". What's that got to do with Arsenal? Other than the British military association, it sheds the slimmest sliver of light on Boxing Day. For those of us unfamiliar, Pepys is referring to a tradition in England that happens on the first weekday after Christmas when servants and other workers would receive a gift or tip in a box. The custom itself seems to date back to the Middle Ages; the tradition of Boxing Day football dates back to 1860.

22 December 2016

Julian Draxler French-kisses his future...

If rumour has it, then Julian Draxler, late of VfL Wolfsburg and later still of Schalke 04, has signed with French giant PSG. If so, thus endeth another episode in the apparently unending saga of "Whom Won't Wenger Sign?" For those not yet in the know, Draxler was once heavily linked with a move to The Emirates under the assumption that he would be converted to a striker and in one fell swoop restore the Arsenal to our rightful role of Prem contenders. Alas, it was not to be.

17 December 2016

It's a depleted Manc squad; can Arsenal make mincemeat of it?

After going 22 matches without a loss (sorry, League Cup), Arsenal's strong start finally stumbled at Goodison Park. That it was our third match in a week is one asterisk, as is the controversial non-call when Mirallas seemed to upend Alexis in the waning moments. Be those as they may, the sad fact is that we lost an away-match for the first time since March against Barcelona. That's a pretty fine little streak and one that should still inspire confidence ahead of Sunday's trip to the Etihad.

16 December 2016

Alexis lowballed, Özil demands Draxler, and Gooners struggle to stave off PTSD...

Arsenal lost at Goodison Park midweek and, despite this being only the second loss of the campaign (with apologies to the League Cup), that's enough bad news to send many otherwise sane, stable, and rational fans into a tailspin of doubt, paranoia, and gloom. In other words, it's the perfectly toxic time for the tabloids to dredge up whatever dregs of semblances of truth they can find to conjure up panicky clickbait and lurid headlines. One would think it was the summer of 2011 or 2012 as we peruse those headlines, some of which are claiming that we're lowballing Alexis to the tune of £80,000 per week or that Özil is insisting that we sign Julian Draxler as a condition of keeping him.

09 December 2016

Can Theo do to Stoke what Lucas did to Basel, what Alexis did to West Ham?

Arsenal brushed away any lingering disappointment of losing just our second match of the 2016-17 campaign in stirring style, erupting for nine goals over the following two matches to heap pressure on Chelsea to somehow sustain their form and to win our Champions League group over PSG. Finding that kind of form after sputtering a bit through November should come in handy as an old nemesis pays a visit: Stoke. Of course, the man at the helm these days has put more than a few over Arsène in his day. It's up to our lads to ensure that he can't do the same again on Saturday.

07 December 2016

Arsenal win Group A only to face...Real Madrid? Bayern Munich?

Courtesy of a swash-buckling demolition of FC Basel coupled with PSG's craven capitulation to Ludogorets Razgrad, Arsenal have won their Champions League group. Ordinarily, this might earn us a chance at facing a somewhat-weaker opponent. However, Arsenal being Arsenal, the opponent we're most likely to face is Real Madrid, who finished second in their group after drawing at home to Borussia Dortmund. So it goes. Of the other second-place finishers, we might also draw once again to none other than Bayern Munich. Drop down below the fold to assess our odds and rate our chances of advancing past the round of 16 for the first time since 2010...

06 December 2016

WE—ARE—TOP—OF—THE—LEAGUE, WEARETOPOFTHELEAGUE!

So. Arsenal have won Group A by virtue of blitzing FC Basel. That the accomplishment might earn us the right to again face Bayern Munich, or to face Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, or Juventus is all too Arsenal. Far be it from us to win our group when the second-place finishers might include a fair-few cream-puffs. Then again, there might be something in the fact that we won our group by virtue of someone else slipping on a banana-peel—all PSG had to do was win against the hapless, "we're just happy to be here" Ludogorets Razgrad. PSG failed. We succeeded. What's next? Sizing up our opponents in the knockout phase. There are a few giants who finished second in their groups, and still a bit of uncertainty in Groups G and H. Get down to the poll below the fold and register your opinion—and don't be shy about letting fly in the comment-section as well!

25 November 2016

Cherry-poppin' Gunners gotta get back to winning ways...

e knew that November would be tough, and it has been--enough to see us slip from the top of the Prem table and to let slip through our fingers the same position in our Champions League group. Three consecutive draws have blunted the momentum that we created in September and October; after tense matches against Tottenham, Man U, and PSG, we might like to lick our lips as we size up the Cherries. Howevever, if we're to regain any of the form we did enjoy earlier on, we can't afford to drop our guard just because we're facing a club with a somewhat less-polished pedigree.

30 September 2016

Are Burnley banana-peel or simply brown trout?

There is optimism, and there is overconfidence. Arsenal have just emerged from a dense, dense thicket through which the squad played no less than four matches in just 12 days. That we won all four has bred a fair amount of chest-pounding and back-slapping, The feeling of braggadocio has only swollen as we look ahead to fixtures to come and reckon that the next half-dozen or so should, by rights, end with maximum points. Burnley, newly promoted though they may be, represent just the sort of banana-peel we can ill-afford to slip on if we expect to match or improve on our second-place finish of last season.

13 August 2016

Look to Theo to lay waste to Liverpool...

After a season in which our lads achieved their best finish since 2004-05, it's strange but also all too familiar to fret about our chances going into 2016-17. Despite pipping Tottenham to finish behind Leicester's legendary season, the same qualms and doubts persist. With Guardiola and Mourinho to contend with, it's anyone's guess whether we have what it takes to stay in the top four, much less replicate last season's theatrics. Sunday sees us kick off the season against Liverpool—but we're already in mid-season form, at least as far as injuries go. As dire as the situation seems, we do have one ace up our sleeves—Theo Walcott.

15 May 2016

Who gives a toss about St. Totteringham's Day?

Okay, I'll admit it—it's all but impossible to resist the glee and the joy that came from Sunday's results, in which we not only smashed Aston Villa 4-0 again but also witnessed, absolutely gob-smacked, as Tottenham out-Tottenhammed themselves by losing to ten-man Toon 5-1. Three of those goals came after Newcastle lost Mitrović to a red-card in the 67th minute. I've been saying for weeks that Tottenham couldn't handle the pressure of being chased, but even I could not have foreseen this meltdown. While I'm sure that we've all tucked into a tidy celebratory dinner of lasagna chased down by a few Newcastle Brown Ales, I hope I'm not ruining the party by suggesting we have bigger fish to fry.

14 May 2016

Aston Villa Preview: could Arsenal still top Tottenham?

So it comes down to this. On one hand, we've secured a top-four position with one match to play. On the other, there's still a glimmer of a chance that we could pip Tottenham to finish not third, but second. It would take a win for us and a loss for them, but stranger things have happened. Resist the urge to resurrect memories of 2013, when it was us facing Newcastle and Tottenham hoping for help. With roles reversed somewhat, do we dare to dream? Far better that we take care of our own business without worrying about results elsewhere. Much.

11 May 2016

A £30m Granit Xhaka move to Arsenal all but set in stone...

With Arsenal's top-four position assured, it appears that Arsène Wenger has already turned his attention to the transfer window, with stories of a £30m transfer of Borussia Mönchengladbach defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka all but done. Said to be a taller, flintier, more-durable version of Jack Wilshere—think perhaps Bastian Schweinsteiger or Xabi Alonso, but younger and, you know, mobile—Xhaka is said to be keen on a move to the Prem. With just a point from our match against Aston Villa needed to qualify for the Champions League outright, could we see the confirmation of Xhaka to Arsenal within the week?

09 May 2016

Čech, please: Has Petr Čech proved his worth to Arsenal?

When we signed Petr Čech this summer, it seemed like a master-stroke. Here we were nicking one of our most hated nemeses' classiest players, rescuing him from the Machivaellian Mourinho, achieving some semblance of justice after the Fàbregas fiasco, and adding to our points-haul a tidy 10 to 15 points, at least according to John Terry. However, in a season in which we've struggled mightily just to finish exactly where we always seem to finish—in a season in which Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man U have circled the drain by degrees—the best we can do is to finish on 71 points, four points less than last season. That this could see us finish second says a bit about the season. What does it say about the signing of Čech?

08 May 2016

Man City 2-2 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Arsenal went into the Etihad with asnowball's chance in hell of finishing above Tottenham, who lost at home to Southampton earlier in the day. Olivier Giroud answered Sergio Agüero's early goal with one of his own, and Alexis equalised after de Bruyne scored early in the second half. However, that's where it stood even deep into stoppage-time with Arsenal apparently content to play for the draw and the hosts pressed urgently for the win. That's all she wrote, however, and Arsenal hold onto third place, two points back of Tottenham and two above Man City with one to play. Madness to think that we could still finish as high as second or as low as fifth. Ponder that for a moment, then get down to the poll to rate our lads!

06 May 2016

Can Arsenal again astound the Etihad?

How the once-mighty have fallen. This one was meant to decide the Prem title. Instead, it has slipped a few rungs and will now merely split the difference between third and fourth place in a season in which one had dedicated itself to winning the Champions League and the other had, well, shot itself in the foot more than it had shot its way past opponents. While it's true that each has taken home silverware, these will feel more like tin-cup than trophy.

04 May 2016

Man City's down and out, or is it bound and determined?

Despite putting almost all their eggs in the Champions League basket, Man City crashed out against Real Madrid, losing Vincent Kompany yet again to injury. The Belgian limped off just ten minutes in, having reaggravated the same calf injury that has Diabied him all season. On one hand, there's reason to celebrate ahead of our trip to the Etihad: a depleted, depressed squad will greet us. On the other, there's ample reason to worry: that same squad now has to fight a bit to stay in contention for a Champions League spot. Would it have been better for our own fortunes had the Citizens advanced to the final?

02 May 2016

Open Letter to Bottlin'ham—er, Tottenham: yes, we hate Chelsea, too...

First things first, let's all congratulate Leicester on a wondrous, glorious Prem title. They've fought hard and won it well, and no one outside of Hollywood could have written a better fairy-tale than this—other than to have let the Foxes win it outright at Old Trafford, denizen of the dominant for so many years, rather than having to wait on results elsewhere. Even if Tottenham's hopes for a Prem title were razor-thin at best going in, we at Arsenal understand how it feels to let something that was oh-so-close slip through one's fingers. I won't go so far as to suggest that I was gunning (catch the pun, eh?) for you to win the Prem, but there's just enough in this one to let us commiserate—if you're willing.

01 May 2016

We're all Fàbregas-fanboys now...

So, it's come down to this. We've eked past Norwich to secure another vital three-points, but the bum-squeaky tightness of it all only reminds us of just how piss-poor we've been over the last five to seven weeks months. Still, it's a marker of just how bang-average everyone else has been that we now find ourselves in third place three points clear of Man City after they were thrashed by Southampton. After a season in which we've been frustrated and infuriated in equal terms, dare we still dream of finishing above Tottenham? Irony of ironies, our chances of doing so depend in part on the prodigal pariah-gal son: Cesc Fàbregas. Tottenham goes into Stamford Bridge on Monday, and anything short of a win lets Leicester win the Prem. Should they stumble to a draw or, better yet, defeat, I daresay we swallow our pride and hope that Fàbregas does them in.

30 April 2016

Jack-Jack on the Attack: Can Wilshere save the day?

This is it. This is the one we've had circled since the fixtures werepk first released, the one on which we have pinned all of our hopes and dreams. It would be a clash between two—oh, sorry. Those are my notes on next week's match, the one at the Etihad. This one may lack the marquee billing, but it more than makes up for that in significance. While there was once a time when we could look past Norwich's visit, but we have to seize all three or see an already lack-lustre season slip away all the more.

24 April 2016

Loyalty to the club always; to the squad & manager when it's earned...

To have watched the match against Sunderland was akin to inhabiting a parallel universe, a bizarro-world in which Sunderland were fighting for a top-three finish and Arsenal were staving off relegation. Yes, Arsenal dominated possession, but the lion's share of chances went to the Black Cats. Were it not for Defoe's wastefulness or Čech's class, we would have left the Stadium of Light empty-handed. As it stands, we escaped with a point we scarcely deserved but sorely need. Instead of standing two points clear of Man City, we're now level on points and trailing on goal-difference. With Man U in the FA Cup final, Liverpool in the Europa League semifinal, and Man City in the Champions League semifinal, all bets are off. Fourth in the Prem assures us nothing. To paraphrase the American satirist Mark Twain, rumours or the club's death are greatly exaggerated.

Sunderland 0-0 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings and MotM!

In a match that looked for a long, long time like it was Sunderland seeking a top-three finish and Arsenal mired in a relegation scrap, Gooners' frustrations had to boil over time and time again. While it's true that Mannone came up with a few fine saves, we failed to really ask any stern questions of him, and the fact that we coldn't score on one of the Prem's leakiest defenses asks plenty of questions of us. The fact that our most-vital performances from Koscielny and Čech indicates how poor we often were going forward and how careless we were tracking back. If Jermaine Defoe had been a little less, well, Defoe, Sunderland might have claimed a few goals. If there was a highlight to point to, it have ceom through the appearance of Jack Wilshere. Four added minutes seemed only to inspired the Black Cats into seeking a glorious winner. Fortunately for Arsenal, it was not to be, and the Gunners might be lucky to have escaped with the point. We'll look at the deeper ramifications of that later. For now, get down to the poll to rate the lads...

23 April 2016

Please let's just score early so Mike Dean can't screw us over...

We've been offered a gift, and we'd do well not to look this one in the mouth. Just days after dropping points from a winning position for the second straight matchday, a result that dropped us from third to fourth with a wary eye on Man U creeping up behind, we witnessed the heretofore unthinkable as lowly Newcastle bravely held Man City to a draw. Suffice it to say, we now owe Toon a small debt. While we now have an inside track on fourth, we have to make the most of the opportunity. We can start by doing Newcastle a solid by smashing Sunderland on Sunday.

22 April 2016

Özil's quixotic quest: can he succeed against Sunderland?

As we all know, Özil needs two assists to equal Thierry Henry's record of 20 Prem League assists. There was a time when this achievement looked to be all but assured. After all, he had 16 assists by Boxing Day—that's 19 matches played, by the way. Extrapolate that out to a full season of 38 matches, and he'd finished with the un-earthly sum of 32 assists. Instead, however, he's been mired in a rut of sorts with just two assists in his last 14 and may miss out on a chance at eclipsing Henry, at least by this one metric. Even if he falls short, he'll emerge far and away as the best creator Arsenal's ever had.

Brilliant Bellerín, scintillating Sánchez...woeful Walcott?

We waltzed to a comfy win over West Brom, but they sit comfortably above relegation, so it's hard to take much of meaning from the result. Still, there's something stirring in the Arsenal squad, and it might be just enough to secure a top-three finish even after a shambolic second half of the season saw us slip from the top of the table. With four matches to play, we're two points above Man City (who look like they're focusing on the Champions League, four above Man U, and five below Tottenham. Driving this little resurgence has been the superb play of Héctor Bellerín and Alexis Sánchez. The former was the only Gunner named in the PFA team of the year. The latter has erupted for five goals and three assists in his last six appearances. With the two of them rampaging on the right, we might still salvage a third-place finish.

19 April 2016

Game on: Man City proves that it's not just Arsenal who can bottle things...

Well, well, well. Turns out that rumours of Arsenal's demise were greatly exaggerated...at least for a few more days, at least. Manchester City went into St. James's Park on Tuesday with a chance to secure third place all to themselves. The perennial relegation-fodder that is Newcastle would surely offer little resistance against the Leviathan that loomed before them. After all, Man City arrived in the midst of a purple-patch of sorts, having defeated PSG in the Champions League and having scored nine goals in their previous three Prem matches. Game, set, and match to the Citizens, yes? In a word, no. Like us, they found a way to drop points from a winning position against an overmatched opponent.

17 April 2016

From AKB to WOB, something like scales fell from my eyes.

It's official. I'm now a card-carrying member of the WOB. After the disappointing draw at home against Crystal Palace, I've converted. For the second straight week, we've bottled it. All we had to do in each case was defend a lead against an inferior opponent, and we couldn't do that. At least against West Ham we could claim that we were away to a motivated opponent. This time through, well, there are few if any rationalisations. Palace didn't need this point and barely played like they wanted one. Still, we gifted it to them all the same, and we now teeter precariously. I've tiptoed along the line of supporting Arsène through thick and thin, but this is the straw that broke the camel's back.

Arsenal 1-1 Palace—Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

A beautifully headed goal from Alexis Sánchez sent Arsenal into halftime with a 1-0 lead only to see Bolasie send a rabbit-chaser squirming through a thicket of defenders and past a surprised Petr Čech's outstretched fingers. Four minutes of stoppage-time only compounded the frustrated as, for the second straight week, we've dropped points from a winning position. The result leaves us level with Man City and five points behind Tottenham with just five matches left. This isn't a nail in the coffin, but it does look like we have really screwed up. We've got our work cut out for us, I'll say that much. Well, get down to the poll and rate the lads...

Open Letter to Crystal Palace: beggin' yer Pardew.

Let's face facts, shall we? You at Crystal Palace have done a job, and it's time to put it in neutral. No sense in exerting yourselves any further, now that you're assured a position in the Prem or another year. Villa's been relegated, and you're seven points clear of a squabble that will consume two of Newcastle, Sunderland, and Norwich. You're in the clear and have nothing to do but play out the season. We at Arsenal however are locked in a cataclysm of sorts. We're sandwiched between the Manchesters and can ill-afford any more dropped points.  What say you?

16 April 2016

Time to put Pardew—and Palace—in their place...

We're into a tetchy, bum-clenching time of year when we have to anxiously assess not only our rivals' ambitions but those of the squads fighting relegation. So it is with Crystal Palace. Though they may look to be safe, they have to know that every point matters. Think of the time and energy you've put into figuring out how we might overtake Tottenham or hold off Man City. Parallel-universe calculations are coming out of Selhurst Park. Leave that to them, though. We know full-well that we have to smash them to keep alive our slender hopes of Champions League qualification, not to mention a St. Totteringham's Day.

15 April 2016

Adebayor eagerly plots his return to the Emirates...

SOUTH NORWOOD, LONDON—Alan Pardew's lads had just finished a spirited training session, the kind all but guaranteed to ward off relegation. They had after all earned positive results of late, what with an away-draw with high-flying West Ham, victory at home over Norwich, and another draw against prolific Everton. As the players ambled off the pitch, all eyes were on one former Gunner, one who has long had a score to settle with his former club. Emmanuel Adebayor meandered on over to reminisce with another former Gunner about what once was and what might yet still come pass.

12 April 2016

Six matches. Eighteen points available. Can Arsenal still catch Tottenham?

With just a few weeks left in the season, Leicester have quietly morphed into a stubborn, George Graham-esque side that calmly grinds out 1-0 results and looks like they've sewn up first place. Hot on their heels (but not hot enough), Tottenham could conceivably end the season with a goal difference figure larger than the goals scored by many squads. Such is the madness that this season has been. Trailing them, of course, is our beloved Arsenal, nervously hoping to reel in Tottenham while fending off Man City. Talk about upside-down. There's a three-point gap (assuming we make the most of our game in hand). Is there enough time to salvage something from the season that's looked like it might go off the rails?

10 April 2016

And it's Arsenal, not Arsène FC...

The writing's on the wall, now: with six fixtures left, Arsenal have to close a six-point gap on Tottenham or go without St. Totteringham's Day for the first time in Arsène Wenger's reign. It's been since 1995 that we've had to cancel a holiday that many Gooners had assumed was a birthright. 21 years—not that we're done counting, what with those six fixtures left. The younger ones among you—those who have known nothing but a guarantee that we would always finish above Tottenham come hell or high water—should remind themselves that this is a club, not man, and that the club has finished below Tottenham before. That Arsène hasn't ever done so is more his business than anyone else's.

09 April 2016

West Ham 3-3 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Arsenal leapt out to an 0-2 lead courtesy of goals from Özil and Alexis, both assisted by Iwobi, and
looked well their way to a comfortable win. However, three goals from Andy Carroll—two within minutes of halftime—brought the hosts level. His third, just a few minutes into the second half, inspired despair as it looked like Arsenal would crumble. However, Koscielny turned one home after Welbeck deflected Özil's pass to bring things level once again. The second half was absolutely mad-cap, end-to-end stuff as each side knew it needed all three points and a draw would serve little purpose. Sadly, that's where it ended, and we're going to need help from Man U if we expect to catch Tottenham. Well, get down to the poll and rate the lads' efforts...

West Ham were the last to win at Highbury? We'll close the Boleyn Ground!

Set aside all of the calculations and permutations about how many points this and that squad need to secure a top-four finish. Forget for now who'll win the Prem and who'll settle for sloppy seconds in this silliest of seasons. We at Arsenal have a score to settle, quite apart from goal difference, games in hand, or table-position. I'll lay my cards out on the table: West Ham were the last away team to win at Highbury. As such, they've earned a special spot in my heart—the one I'd live to carve out with a spoon.

08 April 2016

Payet? It's Kouyaté who stands in the way of Arsenal's chances...

We're up against now. With only seven matches to play, we somehow have to close an eleven-point gap between us and Leicester. Failing that, we simply must overtake Tottenham, who are four points clear having played one more match than we have. After obliterating Watford last weekend, we have to go into Boleyn Ground to face a stubborn opponent that's added a bit of verve going forward, enough to be harbouring dreams the gap between a team or two above them on the table.

02 April 2016

Sánchez, Iwobi, and Welbeck, oh my! Arsène unlocks a lethal trio!

After what has to count as Arsenal's cakewalkiest of cakewalks, it's starting to look as if Arsène might have a few tricks up his sleeve even as the baying for his dismissal continues unabated. For the first time since doing so against Leicester way back in the old days when scoring against the Foxes was easier than scoring against Aston Villa, we put our past a Prem opponent and did so with a swaggering style that we haven't seen in ages. On one hand, we might say to ourselves, "yes, but it's only Watford", let's also say "this is the same Watford that had conceded just five times in its previous five outings." As for us, we've now scored eight in our last three. Arsène may have not found a magic potion, but he's not the snake-oil salesman some have suggested.

Arsenal 4-0 Watford—Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Arsenal waltzed to the comfortable victory over Watford that we should have had just a few weeks ago, with goals from Alexis, Iwobi, and Bellerín amounting to our most-confident and commanding performance in recent memory.  Midway through the second half, the real challenged seemed to lie more in how many cheeky little flicks and backheels we could string together rather than how many more chances we could create and convert. Walcott came on late and scored the fourth, more of an afterthought if anything.Nice as it was to see a bit of swagger on the pitch, one must remember that it was nothing less than the kind of result we should simply expect rather than celebrate. If this ushers in a winning streak to end the season, so much the better. For now, though, get down to the poll to rate our lads' efforts...

01 April 2016

Arsenal vs. Watford: Revenge, yes, but a chance to gain on Tottenham!

Watford. Watford, of all clubs. Travel back just a few weeks, and the club with an elk as a logo and a Hornet as a mascot would have looked like just another speed-bump between Arsenal and a possible double. A third-consecutive FA Cup was still in the sights; the Prem was still within reach. Then, the unthinkable happened, and we're left grasping at straws. We've crashed out of the FA Cup. The Prem, however, still dangles just barely within reach. Barely. Arsenal must exact a measure of revenge.

20 March 2016

What could Iwobi and others achieve under Guardiola?

So. The Alex Iwobi—or should I say Alex I-WHOA-bi—hype-train is loaded up and ready to leave the station. We've queued up for this before only to be disappointed by varying measures. With the apparent fading into oblivion of one Theo Walcott, and the melting away of the mercurial Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the insurgency of another Alex offers tantalizing if not Sisyphean delights. At a risk of proffering delights even more unearthly, what would the likes of Iwobi or Bellerín, not to mention Alexis or Özil, achieve under the managerial mastery of a certain Spanish manager? He's been promised a sinecure in the Mancunian area, but with those Myrmidons squandering any chance of a Champions League appearance, might Guardiola jettison that jaunt in favour of a London lark?

19 March 2016

Everton 0-2 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MotM Poll!

Danny Welbeck got Arsenal off to a much-needed strong start, scoring through a beautiful sequence just seven minutes in, and Alex Iwobi opened his Arsenal account just before halftime by running onto an audaciously lofted ball from Bellerín and slotting right under Robles. The second half opened with Everton showing a bit more intent and aggressiveness, signified by Lukaku sliding into Ospina, who needed assistance but stayed in despite wincing and limping for most of the rest of the match. For what it's worth, that also signified referee Mark Clattenburg's resistance to warning or booking anyone wearing Everton blue on the day. Imagine what might have happened had Gareth Barry had been available. Be that as it may, Arsenal found a vital three points to draw just a bit closer to Tottenham and Leicester (perhaps Palace and Bournemouth can each do us a solid...).  We're back to winning ways; get down to the poll to rate our lads!


UPDATE: something has hijacked the poll. Please check back later, after I've had a chance to investigate the cause.

18 March 2016

Arsenal set up to salvage a season against enervated Everton...

Can it be the international break already? Please? The last few weeks have been especially unkind to Arsenal, what with getting dumped out of the Champions League and FA Cup and winning just once in our last eight outings. It's hard to believe that just a month ago, there was distant talk of a treble, but that talk has slowed to a trickle as Arsenal face not only a season without significant silverware, but one in which we might finish below Tottenham for the first time since 1995. And so we go into Goodison Park clinging to slender hopes of resurrecting something from a season that feels like it's teetering on the edge of catastrophe.

16 March 2016

Why the #&%£@$ can't Arsenal play like that against anyone else?

3-1, the final scoreline. 5-1, the aggregate. On its face, we had our arses handed to us. However, looking past that, we did far better than expected, regardless of form going into each leg. Against one of the most-fearsome three-headed hydras the world has yet seen and may ever seen, we more than held our own for the lion's share of three hours of football. In fact, in this and in the previous encounter, all that separated us, really, was a handful of glitches at our end and just as many moments of brilliance at theirs,  Yes, on paper, there's a massive, yawning chasm in class between us and them. No real shame in that, to be honest. On the pitch, however, we showed that we can bridge that chasm. Why, then, can we not play to that level more often?

Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MotM Poll

An early goal from Neymar looked to kill off all of Arsenal's chances just 18 minutes in, but courageous attacks and a goal from Elneny revived some hope of a second-leg fight-back. Cartoon super-villain Luis Suárez found a second goal and, unfortunately, ter Stegen came up with numerous vital saves from there, perhaps none so vital as three in the space of seconds after a free-kick from Alexis in the 80th minute. Messi did what he seems to always do to make it 3-1 in the waning minutes. Despite bowing out, we'll have to wonder whether we can summon this level of play on a more-regular basis against less-intimidating opponents. It wasn't quite as inspirational as other second-legs we've seen, but it offered a glimmer of hope that, in the remaining nine Prem matches, we can put up more of a fight than we'd seen previously. At any rate, get down to the poll to give our lads what they deserve!

15 March 2016

Brace yourselves for a Barça-battering—of the best kind!

Look, I know that we're all battered and bruised and bereft of hope ahead of a fixture that looked likely to result in an historic hiding even at the best of times. To go into the Camp Nou having lost four in a row at home for the first time since 2002 hardly inspires anything remotely resembling hope. If you're anything at all like me, the last few days have been defined by a numbing feeling of disbelief alternating with white-hot flashes of indescribable rage. It's an existential crisis deep enough to belittle any abyss, enough to make one reconsider continuing to be a Gooner or, worse, to start agreeing with Piers Morgan. Despite all of that, however, I believe in something even if it's so ineffable that I can't quite put it into words. Whatever it is—call it naïveté, stupidity, or worse—I think we're going to shock a few folks on Wednesday.

13 March 2016

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand at the Emirates...Near them, on the pitch,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
'My name is Arsèmandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. 'Round the decay
of that colossal Wreck, boundlesss and bare
the lone and level sands stretch far away."

Thus standeth Arsène's reign, crumbling to dust, slipping through his fingers just as he was on the cusp of seizing a destiny he had envisioned for so many years...

Arsenal 1-2 Watford—Vote in the Player Ratings/MotM Poll!

Well, I can barely bring myself to type anything, but here's the best I can do under the circumstances. After dominating proceedings for the first fifteen minutes, we settled into a rather grim torpor until Watford opened us up on their first shot on target in the match, adding a second from a screamer that seemed to go staight through Ospina. Welbeck pulled one back after being subbed on but missed a sitter that migth have earned us a replay—not that we'd've deserved one. Our mythic quest for a third straight FA Cup lies in ruins, and we have to pin all of our hopes on an epic finish to our Prem campaign to at least finish second. Well, let's get down to the poll and slate, er, rate our lads...

12 March 2016

Let's all laugh at Chelsea, the gift that keeps on giving!

Never mind what's going on with Arsenal; this has been a glorious week when it comes to our erstwhile enemies. Not only did Chelsea crash out of the Champions League courtesy of PSG (thanks in some small part to the sale to the same of David "don't call me Sideshow Bob" Luiz), they also crashed out of the FA Cup in ignominious fashion, watching all but helplessly as one-time loanee-cum transfer Romelu Lukaku rampaged to a brace to secure Everton's advancement to the semis. Toss in Diego Costa's first-ever red card in the Prem, and we have a schadenfreude-sundae that's fit to be served. Of course, all of this and a ticket to the FA Cup semifinal gets Arsenal to the FA Cup semifinal, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's indulge, if only for a little bit.

11 March 2016

Walcott will lay waste to Watford. You read it here first.

After a frustrating season of inconsistent football, Arsenal may have finally ound its footing by smashing Hull City in a fifth round replay. For the first time since September, we scored more than three goals against an opponent with both Giroud and Walcott, themselves suffering from poor form of late, bagging braces. The sting of seeing Mertesacker, Gabriel, and Ramsey leave through injury still lingers, though, and we'll have to regroup quickly before Sunday's clash.

10 March 2016

Dortmund troll Tottenham; they really are kindred spirits...

It was a tough one to assess—on one hand, Dortmund and its fans are easy to like. Their experience has paralleled ours of late, what with players lost to league rivals, not to mention Champions League group-stage brouhahas. Who could root against them? On the other hand, Tottenham. Ugh. Who could root for them? Then again, the further that they progress in the Europa League, the more they might suffer in the Prem—and, let's face it, we might need a bit of that this season. With these competing factors in mind, it might have been hard for a Gooner to make up his or her mind. Fortunately, Dortmund settled the issue early and emphatically, winning 3-0. To add icing to the cake, Puma, their sponsor and ours, tweeted out a bit of drollery to tweak those Tots.

08 March 2016

Walcott? Pffft! Nothin' but a flat-track bully, that one...

After Arsenal's confident 0-4 thrashing of Hull, the one that advanced the Gunners to the FA Cup's sixth round (at home against Watford on Sunday), the headlines will surely be all agog over Theo Walcott's performance. After all, two goals and an assist are nothing to shake a stick it. The superlatives will fly: "He's resurrected," they'll say; "Henry-esque on that first goal!" and "that's the Theo they've all been waiting for" and so on. In so doing, won't those headlines miss the larger point? After all, didn't Theo bag his brace against a Championship side that was down 0-2 and had all but thrown in the towel already (if it hadn't already done so even before the match began)?

Hull 0-4 Arsenal—Player Ratings/MotM Poll

Olivier Giroud pounced on an errant back pass in the 41st minute to blast Arsenal to an important 0-1 lead in this FA Cup fifth-round replay. He made it two in the 71st when Walcott threaded a nifty cross and Giroud volleyed it home. Not quite done—Walcott turned scorer just minutes later, running onto a brilliant ball into the box from Campbell and slotting home. He got his own brace in the 88th minute when his deflected shot snuck past Jakupovic. It was the kind of dominant, swash-buckling performance we've waited for for all season, and it shuffles our weekend. The West Brom match will be rescheduled to make way for our FA Cup sixth round clash with Watford, which will happen on Sunday at the Emirates. More on that later. For now, get down to the poll to give our lads what they deserve!

Arsenal's season, Arsène's legacy hang in the balance against Hull...

Dare I say it? A double dangles just out of our reach. A draw at White Hart Lane does just enough to entice us into believing that we could still win the Prem. However, by unhelpful contrast, a draw at home against Hull has threatened our ability to win a third consecutive FA Cup—a feat unachieved in more than a century. Blackburn Rovers did three in a row from 1884 to 1886. 1886 is a nice number, come to think of it. Vintage year, that one. Anyway, back to the present. If we lose, it's back to the Prem we go at home against West Brom on Saturday. If we win, though, we rejoin the FA Cup fray at home on Sunday against Watford, with the West Brom match to be rescheduled.

07 March 2016

Even at their worst, Arsenal is still better than Tottenham…

No Kos. No Čech. A spluttering offense that just can’t get on track. Sounds like a toxic mix, eh? We’re not done. Throw in two of the softest yellow cards issued in recent weeks, reducing Arsenal to ten men against high-flying Tottenham, and we truly have a recipe for disaster. Oh—and we’re not quite done. An injury to Ospina inspired the bum-clenching prospect of Ryan Macey between the sticks with the still shaky Gabriel and the still wet-behind-his-ears Elneny, A pulsing North London Derby at White Hart Lane looked like it would be Arsenal’s Waterloo. Instead, however, those Spuds bottled it, and now the pressure is on them to prove that they deserve to be where they are—just three points above Arsenal with 27 points still available.

05 March 2016

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal—Player Ratings/MotM Poll

Arsenal drew first blood when Ramsey delivered a delicious flick, but Tottenham found an equaliser, duped Oliver into sending Coquelin off, and Kane truck to make it 2-1. It looked like it was all falling apart for ten-man Arsenal until Alexis scored to bring it to 2-2 and inspire hopes of a famous victory. Michael Oliver did his level best to make Gooners forget his heroics at Old Trafford, ignoring or waving off any infractions commited by those in white, and a pulsing derby ends in a draw that does little to improve Arsenal's standing in the Prem. We'll have to hope Leicester drop points; they're the only winners in this match. Well, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Is it good enough to keep us in the mix for winning the Prem? Time will tell. For now, get down to the poll to rate the lads...

04 March 2016

Wenger in, Wenger out; let's just hope for a North London knockout!

It's been a generation since a North London Derby has been as pregnant with meaning as this one is. Not since 1993 has so much ridden on the result of this one. Much as we'd like to comfort ourselves with the fact that those twenty years and change reflect just how much better we've been than our noisome neighbours, we face a cold, hard truth and might be staring an uglier one straight in the face: Tottenham are, at least for now, better than we are. We are reeling from two consecutive defeats and are three points off their pace. Forget St. Totteringham's Day for the moment. Our season is on the line.

03 March 2016

Would Alexis lead or would he leave?

There are dark times for Gooners, make no mistake. After losing to a makeshift side at Old Trafford last weekend, we could console ourselves with the notion that it was Old Trafford, after all. However, we followed that by succumbing at home to a similarly-ravaged Swansea side, and there's little if any consolation to be found there. For as much we might rage at Madley for ignoring the Mugging of Mesut at Midfield, the one that led to Routledge going through on goal to equalise, we have only ourselves to blame. We now face a do-or-die situation that lays waste to the difference between the figurative and literal meanings of the phrase. Into the breach steps Alexis Sánchez with words of warning.

02 March 2016

Not with a bang but a whimper...or is it simply darkest before the dawn?

Words can't really express how I'm feeling after this result. Fifteen minutes in, we were up 1-0, Tottenham were down 0-1, and I was starting to think we could go into White Hart Lane level on points with a wobby Leicester in our sights. Oh, how wrong I was. Heart-breakingly wrong. I thought I was undone by the loss at Old Trafford. I thought no loss could sting as much as that one. Now, I realise my naïveté. After all, I could console myself by saying, "it's Old Trafford. Tough venue, even against a threadbare squad." Heck, but for 71 seconds or so, we actually looked tolerable. Against Swansea—Swansea, for feck's sake—we looked, well, terrible. Is this how Arsène's reign will end?

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


Ashley Williams scoresArsenal took an early lead through a Joel Campbell goal but surrendered that lead late in the second half when Ashley Williams sneaked in front of Petr Čech to bundle it home from free-kick in the 74th minute. Long periods of frustration defined the match as we just couldn't find another way past our old friend Łukasz Fabiański, and five minutes of stoppage time looked to simply prolong our frustration and deepen already deep feelings of despair. Not even the knowledge that Liverpool thrashed Man City or that West Ham edged past Tottenham can ease the sting of losing at home when a win was absolutely vital. Even more than Sunday's setback, this result might drive home the final nail in what remains of our title hopes. Well, we'll have a closer look at that later. For now, get down to the poll and give our lads what they deserve...


01 March 2016

Leicester wobbles yet again; Arsenal will seize this season by the scruff against Swansea...

For the third time in as many outings, Leicester, the erstwhile runaway favorites to win the Prem, have flirted with entering the kind of death-spiral that we've long-predicted. We beat them. Again. They won in the waning seconds at home against Norwich. On Tuesday, again at home, they fought hard to come away with one point against West Brom. Their lead over us now stands at just six points, pending the result of our Wednesday scrum against Swansea. I hope you'll indulge as I look just a bit past the fixture itself and to the larger issues at stake. I think we all know what those issues are.

29 February 2016

Rivals collude and conspire to destroy and delude Arsenal...

THAMES HOUSE, London—Authorities will neither confirm nor deny the discovery of a massive conspiracy, apparently conceived in secrecy at some point in the summer of 2015, to first inflate the expectations of the Arsenal FC fanbase—(heretofore referred to as "Gooners")—only to dash them in as cruel a manner as possible. In a scandal sure to rock British football to its very core, managers of three of the Premier League's biggest clubs, once known collectively as members of the "Big Four" after a period of shared dominance of the Prem during the early 2000s, went so far as to stake their own tenures at their clubs, if not their professional futures, on hatching and implementing their plan. Should the existence of such a plot be confirmed, it would prove to be the most explosive discovery in the history of sport.

28 February 2016

Man U 3-2 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Youngster Marcus Rashford stunned everyone including himself by bagging two goals in 70 seconds, and Danny Welbeck restored some hope to the faithful by pulling one baack to make it 2-1 before halftime. Despite some early fight-back early in the second half, Herrera scored a beautiful goal from a devastating counterattack, killing off almost any hope of an Arsenal result. Next, however, it would be Mesut Özil, pulling one back to make it 3-2 in the 69th minute, reviving said hopes. Sadly, that would be all she wrote. With Leicester winning it late on Saturday and Tottenham fighting past Swansea, a gap has opened between us and the top of the table. There's still time to close that gap, but less than we'd like. More on that later. For now, get down to the poll to rate our lads...

27 February 2016

Foxes and Irons and Chavs, oh my! Can the Gunners keep pace?

Manchester United have sent a strong signal of intent with a fearsome thrashing of FC Midtjylland, winning that second leg 5-1 to book a spot in the Europa League round of 16. Surely, all will be on notice now as Van Gaal's minions dominated club that's existed since...well...1999. Sorry, we've lost the plot a bit. Man U's fading Prem hopes suggest that their best path to rejoining the Champions League might be to win the Europa League. However, despite that impressive scoreline, injury-woes continue to mount, and it's up to Arsenal to stick a knife what remains of those Prem hopes on Sunday.

25 February 2016

Alexis sends Man U a signal of intent; there will be blood...

He's been lying dormant lately, though his latent power has been on tantalising display of late. He was a one-man wrecking crew against his former club, dribbling defenders and drawing fouls but ultimately falling short of the promised land, frustrated in his efforts to elevate us over Barça. Though he came away empty-handed, he delivered a determination and drive that had been somewhat lacking in recent weeks—highlighted by his failure to score in more than 400 minutes of playing time across six appearances. Surely, he's set to go off. Did I mention that Man U have barely enough defenders to field a back line worthy of the name? If Alexis isn't already chomping at the bit, he's surely licking his chops...

24 February 2016

Let's all laugh at "Vanchester" (just do it sotto voce)!

Let's put the Barcelona fiasco behind us, shall we, and turn to a subject that should offer us a bit of entertainment: Manchester United. Watching them these last few seasons has been like watching a pregnant turtle on its back, legs wiggling ever so slowly in a vain attempt to right itself. Still, the turtle is after all pregnant, so one must watch warily. In the precious few days between now and Sunday's trip to Old Trafford, anything can happen. Despite several summers of astronomical spending, however, our erstwhile rivals are clinging rather desperately to a top-four position. They're six points adrift of their Mancunian counterparts with Southampton, West Ham and even Liverpool nipping at their heels. It's enough to make one laugh. Not one of those deep belly-laughs—not yet.

23 February 2016

Barça are bootless, boil-brained canker-blossomed bullies. Say "boo" and they buckle. Pity we lost to that lot.

I don't know if I've ever seen a chintzier, cheaper display from such a massive, monolithic behemoth as I did when I watched Barça, they of the half-billion pound squad, dive and flop about the pitch on Tuesday, doing their best impression of one who has simultaneously had a rug yanked from under him while also being shot by a sniper and also uppercutted by Lennox Lewis. The only pity is that they wasted the performances so close to this year's Oscars, when their theatrics will be ineligible for any awards this time through and likely all but forgotten by this time next year. For a squad that boasts no fewer than a half-dozen world-class starters in its XI and could probably field a second-choice XI that might still win La Liga, it was more than a bit pathetic to see them resort to such desperate measures. Still, they're atop their little league and have an inside track on winning the Champions League, so maybe it's my own priorities that are all bass-ackwards.

Arsenal 0-2 Barca—Vote for Player Ratings and MotM!

For seventy minutes, for more than an hour, Arsenal gave as good as they got against one of the most-expensive, deepest squads in Europe. For stretches, it even looked as if it would be Arsenal who would come away with a very famous victory. Instead, it was Barça who hit on a counter to score first.  As the game got more and more ragged with Arsenal chasing an equaliser, Messi found a second from the spot after Flamini did what Flamini does. I guess we can call it a moral victory after weeks of interminable predictions of a thrashing the likes of which the world has never seen. Still, a loss is a loss, and we've have to lick a few wounds and regroup before the weekend. Let's get down to the poll to rate the lads...

22 February 2016

The Turkish Trickster who will turn back the tide against Barça...

Yes, we sleep-walked through a draw against Hull this weekend, but—let's face it—we did so without the wonderful workings of a Turkish talisman on whom we've come to depend in our hour of need. Without him, we seem pedestrian, ordinary, banal; we lack any real insight into the inner workings of the match. Against Barça in this first leg, though, the restoration of this erstwhile Ottoman magician, umlaut and all, will be in full pomp. With him on the pitch, Arsenal's ambitions are restored. His efforts might not be quite enough to turn away the juggernaut that is Barça's three-headed hydra, but Cüneyt Çakır has done just enough to earn a special spot in Gooners' hearts.

21 February 2016

Messi and Suárez and Neymar, oh my! Here's how Arsenal trump that triumvirate...

After struggling to see off Hull City this weekend, enquiring minds will wonder just how badly we'll get beaten by Barcelona, a squad that hasn't lost in 32 matches and which boasts the prowess of Messi, Suárez, and Neymar, not to mention various others who lurk in the long shadows that trio casts. Even before that dour draw in the FA Cup, there was fear of the depths of devastation the Blaugrana would wreak—at a risk of overdoing the alliteration, blitzkrieg comes to mind. Calm yourselves. You can only play the opponent in front of you.

20 February 2016

Arsenal 0-0 Hull—Hull stymie the Gunners and earn a replay!

Arsenal started brightly, dominating the first 15 minutes, but the match soon settled into a cryonic torpor as Hull defended doggedly with an eye towards earning a replay at home. We did ourselves few favors, putting most if not all of our shots straight to Jakupovic, who also added a number of fine saves to frustrate us on the few genuine chances we did create. Even the additions of Alexis, Giroud, and the Ox couldn't do much to turn the tide in our favour. Mike Dean was uncharacteristically unbiased, although he did overlook an early handball that denied Elneny. Four minutes of stoppage time seemed to only prolong the frustration, and we've added one more fixture to our quest to defend the FA Cup. Credit Hull for fighting hard; they've earned the replay. Well, get down the poll...

19 February 2016

What, again? Enough with facing Hull in the FA Cup already...

Let it be said: as Bayern are to Arsenal, so too are Arsenal unto Hull City. For a third consecutive season, Arsenal square off against the Tigers. For a third consecutive season, Arsenal should be strong enough to force their way past those Tigers into the FA Cup's sixth round. That's not to say it will be easy; Steve Bruce has his squad atop the Championship with promotion squarely in his sights. Tempting though it may be to look past him towards Barça, we have a cup to defend.

18 February 2016

Do it for Tomáš! Get him to the FA Cup final; get him a chance to score the winner!

Arsenal have a busy week ahead, with massive fixtures against Barcelona in the Champions League and Manchester United in the Prem threatening to overshadow Saturday's FA Cup clash against Hull. After having won the FA Cup two times running, some might start to suffer from a certain indifference. Surely it would mean more to our season to set aside the FA Cup (been there, done that; no?), see if we can't shock the Catalans, and go into Old Trafford to put another nail in Van Gaal's coffin? Then again, we're rounding back into form after January very nearly ruined us, and with a late charge into the final third of the season, who better to cap it off with a winner in a third straight FA Cup—and possible double—than Tomáš Rosický?

16 February 2016

Was this the weekend when Arsenal won the Prem?

Whoa. Could the madness have reached any more of a fever pitch? A wild, wooly weekend has made the run-in one for the ages. Even if the eventual champions finish on fewer points than usual, this past weekend's results suggest that the top four have in fact created some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack, setting up a madcap dash that could very well come down to the last day of the season. In a week in which the top four all squared off against others in the top four, one seeking more drama and scandal would have to find a telenovela. Just six points separate all four, with a another six separating fifth. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen; the rundown is about to begin...

For whose about to doubt, we Giroud you: Giroud proves his worth once again...

Walcott. Welbeck. Čech. These are the players who will have garnered the headlines in Arsenal's dramatic, daring win over Leicester. Walcott and Welbeck, after all, arose, phoenix-like, from the ashes of their hobbled careers to score goals perhaps more-vital than any they'd score before. Čech delivered yet another performance worthy of his reputation, denying Leicester on several occasions and even finding time to punk Jamie Vardy as if to remind him of who's who. It was if Čech was saying to the penalty-earner, "you want to go to ground? Fine, I make you go to ground". Done. Dusted. However, the real hero of the match is one whose performance won't earn any marquee billings, consisting of so much donkey-work as it did: Olivier Giroud.

14 February 2016

Walcott and Welbeck discuss their super-sub scores...

The dressing room had the air and appearance of a cup-final. Having defeated Leicester in stirring, stunning fashion, exhausted and exhilirated players whooped and celebrated as if they had won it all. All that was missing was the champagne. As players milled about, two Gunners in particular made eye contract across the room. Each let a slow grin dawn on his face, a grin that was part celebratory, part relief. Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott, all but forgotten, had reappeared with a vengeance. It was only natural that they sought each other out to cherish the triumph.

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

The leaders do what they do best—earn penalties—when Vardy took advantage of a clumsy tackle from Monreal to go to ground just before halftime, and he made no mistake from the spot to make it 0-1. However, Atkinson saw enough from Simpson, sending the defender off early in the second half, and ten-man Leicester were backed up against the wall. Sure enough, five minutes later, Theo Walcott, having come on for Coquelin, coolly scored on a half-volley from Giroud's header, and the game opened up. Then, the incredible end: Danny Welbeck scores the winner in stoppage-time. Can you believe it? Get to the poll!

A Chilean volcano is set to erupt!

Several recent events suggest that a long-dormant Chilean volcano, which has been showing increasing activity since January, may be likely to erupt. The mountain, known as the Nevado de Durácell, reaches over 1.68m in elevation, and has a set of pectorals totaling over two square meters in area. He has a long record of eruptions, with historical documentation from the 17th century. Radiocarbon evidence suggest that the most recent eruptions that took place about six matches ago. The Nevado de Durácell complex, which had previously averaged about one eruption per match, had been relatively quiescent since an eruption in late 2015. Sticking roughly to that schedule, the complex began to show signs of returning to activity with an earthquake in January 2016. Long story short, Alexis is a rumbling volcano who's ready to explode.

12 February 2016

Putting Leicester on lock-down: how can Arsenal fetter these fleet Foxes?

When the fixture-list first came out to start the season, we all looked ahead to this late-season match, one that could very well decide the winner of the Prem. Coming so late in the season, and between two such presumptive favorites, this clash shone like a beacon over all preceding weeks as well as the precious few that would follow: City. The boys in blue. The Foxes. Those—hold the phone. If anyone had suggested that it would Leicester to whom we would refer as City, and it would be this matchday and not #37 that might decide who wins the Prem, they'd've been carted off. And yet here we are.

11 February 2016

Arsenal have Leicester right where they want 'em...

After positively thrashing Man City at the Etihad last weekend, Leicester lept from impossible underdogs to presumptive favorites, and why not? Not only was the quality of their win off the charts (only a late Agüero goal spoiled a clean sheet for the visitors), it stretched Leicester's undefeated stretch in the Prem to seven, a stretch during which they'd conceded just three goals. The only blemish of late, an 0-2 loss to Tottenham in the FA Cup's third round, might in fact burnish the Foxes' Prem credentials—they now have only the Prem to focus on. Five points clear of the pack and just thirteen matches to play? Yeah, I'd say they've got an inside track. They're now favorites. Perfect.

10 February 2016

One *cataclysmic* weekend coming up in the Prem...

There are just 13 matchdays left, and the fox with an inside track has far-fewer distractions than the hounds chasing it. Leicester—henceforth known simply as "City"—hold a five-point lead over its more-pedigreed pursuers, each of whom has League Cup, FA Cup, and European commitments to distract and degrade their ambitions. It's one of the craziest Prem seasons in living memory, and the top four are separated by just six points. With each passing week, City lay waste to persistent doubts about their legitimacy. With each passing week, the gap between the top four and those chasing them widens. Madness. Let's get to it...

07 February 2016

Ramsey's Barcelona trial fills with hot air after bossing Bournemouth...

After a series of dispiriting performances saw Arsenal slip from first to fourth, knives were being sharpened and expectations deadened. Four straight setbacks had journos penning post-mortems on Arsenal's title-tilt, on Arsène's tenure, on the squad itself. Against this backdrop, it makes all too much sense for other clubs to come sniffing around, kicking the tires and finding a deal along the lines of van Persie to Man U or Fàbregas to Barcelona. Speaking of Barcelona and of central midfielders, Sunday saw a resurgence of another coveted but mercurial midfielder: Aaron Ramsey. His performance against Bournemouth did just enough to tantalize us about what's possible. Will Barcelona beckon? That will have to 'til the summer. Between then and now, there are trophies to be won.

Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings and MotM!

First-half goals from Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (his first in 16 months) powered
Arsenal to an early lead that they would never relinquish. Even if the 88 seconds between the two might have augured even more scoring, the result is good enough to close the gap on the increasingly impressive Foxes, who thrashed Man City at the Etihad. Bournemouth did have a few too many chances to call this a convincing result, but after four straight setbacks, a positive result is important enough not to look askance at. We've overtaken Man City, gone level with Tottenham, and closed the gap with Leicester to five. At the end of the day, that'll have to be good enough. We have a dramatic chance to close that gap next weekend. For now, though, get down to the poll to rate the lads!

06 February 2016

Open letter to Benik Afobe: do be gentle...

Dearest Benik (and I mean that sincerely, post-dated to before your move to Wolverhampton)—
I do apologise sincerely and earnestly for the rough treatment you received upon your departure. After all, you'd been with Arsenal since you were just six years old. Six. Six. There are some who are still wearing training pants that are altogether different from what we normally discuss at that age. You've done some growing up since you left, and you've announced your return to the Prem in fine fashion—your form stands in stark contrast against our own, what with you scoring three goals in four appearances while none of your erstwhile teammates has scored for three full matches and then some. In other words, to some extent, we hope that you remember your time at Arsenal fondly enough to tread lightly upon your return. We may very well depend on your good graces...

Arsenal arrive to pop a few Cherries—a tactical breakdown...

This would be comedic if it weren't so tragic. Maybe it's just ironic. Just as we've finally started to reassemble a full-strength squad, surviving—or so it seemed—an injury-crisis to dwarf all injury-crises, we've stumbled to four consecutive depressing results. A last-second equaliser at Anfield. a stubborn foe at the Brit. Another red-card assisted win for Chelsea. A blinder turned in by Southampton's keeper. Add them all together, and we've now dropped nine points from our last four outings. If we can't get back to winning ways, well, we can write off any chance of winning the Prem.

05 February 2016

Will Arsenal have to struggle for another fourth place finish?

Ugh, I could barely drag myself to the keyboard to type this out. I said a prayer or two, but each time, Fraser Forster popped up out of nowhere to paw it away. So it goes. Arsenal have now slipped to fourth. Worse, Tottenham have risen to second. Even worse, everyone in the race won their midweek fixtures...except Arsenal. An all-too-familiar sensation is sinking in, as Gooners suffering various degrees of PTSD from previous seasons relive the perennial struggle to stay in the top four— a sensation exacerbated all the more by a feeling of what could have or should have been. There's still time to convert those conditional perfects into a future-perfect...but time's running out. Let's get to the actual rundown, shall we?

02 February 2016

Slip slidin' away...or a set-up for a second-half surge?

Liverpool got lucky with a late equaliser at Anfield. It's impossible to win at the Brit. Chelsea were gifted another man-advantage win. We made nine changes to face Burnley. Forster played an absolute blinder. For each dispiriting result, there's an individual excuse, some isolated reason why Arsenal could not find more points. However, we're mired in the muck of a majestic morass at the moment, and no amount of finger-pointing at Lee Mason is going to change that. This misfiring squad has shot itself in the foot too many times in recent weeks. That, however, sets the stage for a stunning surge the likes of which we haven't seen in several seasons.

Arsenal 0-0 Southampton: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Arsenal dominated proceedings for most if not the entire match on Tuesday but could not break down a stubborn Saints defense or put anything past Fraser Forster, a fine keeper who always seem to save some of his best performances for Arsenal. Despite having Alexis back for his first Prem match since November and being about as close to full-strength as we've been a similar time, the best stat we could produce was 67% possession. A result like this one is particularly frustrating, marking as it does a fourth consecutive Prem match in which we dropped points. For those inclined to over-react, we'll drop below Tottenham after their win at Norwich. We do have to find a way to fight through the longer-term doldrums that we're in, though. More on that later. For now, get down to the poll and rate the lads' efforts...

Tactical Preview: Arsenal v. Southampton

After three disappointing Prem results, we finally got back to winning ways in an FA Cup win over Burnley. Offering a nifty study in parallel universes, Southampton have bounced back from an FA Cup loss with three impressive Prem results. Something's got to give. Here's hoping it's the Saints' little win streak (each of them a clean sheet, by the way). After dropping seven points from our last three matches, we have to get back to winning ways in the Prem. Leicester host Liverpool while Man City visit Sunderland. There may not be quite enough to see us climb top of the table, but we'll have to at least keep pace...

For those who ever doubted that Tomáš Rosický is an Arsenal legend...

Picture the scene: we're up 2-1, clinging tenuously to a lead against Burnley with twenty minutes to play. Arsène makes his customary substitutions, sending on Arteta, Rosický, and Walcott for Coquelin, Iwobi, and Alexis—some cagey veterans to see out a tetchy match. However, tragedy struck almost as soon as Rosický came on; according to Arsène, it was just minutes after Rosický came on that the Little Mozart, who had waited all season to play after signing a new contract last spring, suffered an injury that might see the sun set on his Arsenal career. It's how Rosický responded to what must have been a heartbreaking twinge.

31 January 2016

So we've drawn Hull for the FA Cup fifth round, eh? Long may we be their Bayern...

Well, well, well. So we meet again. "Hello darkness, my old friend" and all that. The FA Cup's fifth round draw pits us once again against Hull City, they of the 0-2 up to 3-2 down in the 2014 final and the somewhat meeker 2-0 loss in the 2014-15 fourth round. At this rate, they'll be talking about us the way we talk about Bayern—if they aren't already. It's now three consecutive seasons in which we've faced off in the FA Cup, and, without making too much of it, the previous two have ended in glorious fashion for us. To face Hull in the fifth round hardly anoints Arsenal in any serious fashion, but it does augur well, I'll say that.

30 January 2016

Of Sinners and Saints: can Theo score? Can Ox convince?

This was his moment, the perfect moment, the one scripted for him above all others. Subbed on late in the match gainst a visiting lower-tier side chasing an equaliser in the world's oldest association football competition, Theo Walcott found himself one on one with the keeper. Heaton was 15 yards off the line when Theo collected the ball, 25 yards from goal. These are the moments Theo lives for and scores from, are they not? However, he bottled it, trying to dribble Heaton only to have the chance snuffed out. With that, he might have killed two birds with one stone; the first being the chance itself and the second being Oxlade-Chamberlain's revival. It's the second I'm more concerned with...

Mohamed Elneny's Debut vs. Burnley: Match Highlights

In what looks to be Arsenal's only signing of the January window, Mohamed Elneny delivered a reassuring if not quite inspiring performance against Championship-side Burnley in the FA Cup fourth round tie, which Arsenal won 2-1. In the highlights below, you'll see a confident, composed defensive midfielder who slotted in quite well, moving about to offer support, drag opponents out of position, or disrupt counters. He might remind you of Alex Song—but without the reckless forays forward or the hopelessly optimistic hoofed-forward passes. He was unafraid to shoot from distance and asked questions of the keeper, coming close to scoring but for a fine save. Time will tell whether he can manage a similarly strong performance against stiffer opposition; for now, he looks like competent cover in the defensive midfield. Give the Egyptian a gander in the highlight reel below...


Thanks go to TerryAFC, whom you can follow on Twitter and to whose Youtube channel you can subscribe here.

Arsenal 2-1 Burnley: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Arsenal fielded a much-changed side, making nine changes from last weekend, and struggled at times with a spirited Burnley side. The return of Alexis brought a much-needed boost as the Chilean assisted Calum Chambers's goal to open the scoring, then delivered the second goal after a beautiful, free-flowing sequence reminiscent of Arsenal at its finest. It wasn't always impressive but it was enough to see us through to the FA Cup fifth round. We'll take a closer look at how the lads performed later; for now, get down to the poll to give 'em what they deserve!

29 January 2016

Unleash Elneny! There. That is all.

After three disappointing results in the Prem, the FA Cup offers a welcome break as we host Burnley on Saturday with a golden chance at advancing to the fifth round proper. The Clarets did make a cameo in the Prem last season only to rejoin the Championship, where they currently sit third behind Hull and Middlesbrough, each of whom has featured in our recent FA Cup wins in recent seasons. Saturday will also reunite us with an old friend in Joey Barton, who I'm sure relishes a chance to play the cartoonish villain yet again. We'd do best to ignore his antics; he's just as likely to get sent off as to get someone sent off.

26 January 2016

Arsenal in CRISIS after dropping seven points from three fixtures!!! What's it all mean?

The bloom is off the rose, at least temporarily, only it's Arsenal's and not Leicester's that's suffered. The Foxes have apparently not gotten the memo yet (Re: fading in the second half), and Arsenal have now dropped points in three consecutive matches, allowing Man City to nudge past and Tottenham to creep closer. If there's a silver lining to the weekend, it's that Man U lost at Old Trafford, creating a bit of space between a crowded top four (separated by five points) and fifth, another five points off the pace. The coming weekend brings us the FA Cup's fourth round proper, with Prem action hot on its heels Tuesday and Wednesday. Your correspondent's scratched cornea might result in a few typos, but bare with him as we get to the rundown...

25 January 2016

Ahh, let those Baby Blues have their Bottle...

Chelsea can't beat Arsenal when both sides are at full strength—or by scoring from open-play. It's that simple. It's astounding how a squad so talent-deep has to resort so often to such skeevy tactics to beat us. It's as if they're parodying a caricature of the villain's role. In the latest installment, Diego Costa did what he does best by getting Per Mertesacker sent off (although this time the fault lay entirely with our centre-backs) and then scoring the only goal, earning three points that does more to resuscitate Chelsea's moribund season and less to undermine Arsenal's optimistic one. Fine. They can win the battle and lose the war for all I care. We have bigger fish to fry than these.

24 January 2016

Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea: Costa revives the lost art of physiognomy...

Diego Costa did what he does best, making the most of a reckless tackle to get Per Mertesacker sent off, and moments later scored at the near post. From then on, Arsenal, despite being down a man, created chance after chance only to come away empty-handed each time. I'd love to see how Chelsea would fare in a fair fight, one in which we get to stay at full strength. This is twice
now when we've ended up short-handed (even if this was was fair-less controversial). Still, no matter which way we slice it, it's a setback and a disappointing result, one that asks many questions of our ability to sustain our title-tilt. Still, we fought hard after going down a man and came so close so many times. There aren't any points for effort, but we showed more heart and fight than we have in similar situations. Keep that in mind as you get down to the poll...

22 January 2016

Arsenal vs. Chelsea: Tactical Preview (bring on Diego Costa, by all means)....

We might be deprived of a chance at rubbing Mourinho's face after he was unceremoniously sacked by—I'm sorry—after he and Chelsea "parted by mutual consent" in December, but that should take none of the edge of an encounter that stil offers plenty of history and perhaps even hatred. For as much as we love the fact that Chelsea sit just a few points from relegation, this is still by and large the same squad that won the Prem just eight months ago. After dropping points at Anfield and the Brit in recent weeks, we simply have to smash Chelsea for all three, both for the schadenfreude as well as the strategic value.

21 January 2016

Dearest Guus Huddink: could you wear a Mourinho-mask, or get Clattenburg to don a Dean?

I'll admit, I'm miffed. Perturbed. Disappointed, even. Ever since Mourinho's minions managed to escape Stamford Bridge despite playing twelve against nine, I've looked forward to this one. I'd been relishing the chance to rub Mourinho's smirky, passive-aggressive face into the Emirates pitch for weeks; meanwhile, I milked the sweet ambrosia that has been Chelsea's flirtation with relegation, eagerly anticipating the chance to not only exact revenge but to do while showing your plastic fans what football should look like—no amount of bus-parking or cynical fouling or hoofing it forward would save you. And then, your sugar-daddy had to go and spoil it all by sacking Mourinho, depriving us at a chance at sweet, sweet revenge. Well, in his absence, you'll have to do.

20 January 2016

Wenger's vision vindicated! Villains and vilifiers vanquished!

It's been a long, sometimes bitter decade (almost) since Arsenal left Highbury and moved to the Emirates, and it's been a bit longer since Arsenal enjoyed the kind of success that has so spoiled so many Gooners who had come of age (or come to know the club) during those amazing Invincible-era days. The Emirates had become an absolute albatross, it seemed, dragging us downward and forcing us to sell off our best and brightest to finance that infamous stadium debt. Meanwhile, other clubs shot past us, financed by sugar-daddies and oil-barons. No more. that albatross has taken flight, and Arsène Wenger, so often mocked and derided, is on the verge of seeing his long-term plan come to fruition. According to Deloitte, Arsenal's match-day revenue is now the highest in the world!


18 January 2016

Arsenal seize a point from the graveyard of empires...

Zero. Manchester United. Manchester City. Chelsea (sorry, forgot my thesis). One: Leicester. Arsenal. Among the serious contenders for the Prem title, only Arsenal have faced a full-strength Stoke at the Brit and come away with a point. The Mancs combined to lose by a collective 4-0. Chelsea, for what they're worth, also got blanked 1-0. Only Leicester, facing a Shawcross-less Stoke, had emerged relatively unscathed, earning a point after falling behind 2-0. Arsenall, playing without Alexis or Özil showed very little fluidity going forward but still bested our chief rivals by grabbing that point. It might not be inspiring stuff to celebrate a point, but it's enough to keep us top of the table for at least another week.

17 January 2016

Stoke 0-0 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

As expected, Stoke set up a stubborn defensive display but did show flashes of flair, especally early on. Arsenal struggled to get any momentum going. The first half saw each side generate just one or two clear-cut chances each. Early in the second half, referee Craig Pawson ignored several penalty-shouts when Walcott and Giroud were each brought down in the area. Stoke had several chances snuffed out brilliantly by Čech, after which things seemed to settle into a tepid morass. Stoke had a bum-clenching sequence in the closing minutes, including a punch-out from Čech, a goal-line clearance from Ramsey, and a sprawling kick-away from Čech. Madness. Well, it's a point taken, enough to get us top of the table again. Get down to the poll to give our players what they deserve...

16 January 2016

Open Letter to the outcake eatin' Potters...

Here we go again, eh? Before getting too far into it, let's bury at least one hatchet, eh? Shawcross's scything of Ramsey is seen 'round these parts as horrific accident brought on by bad timing, not sinister intent. It was horrific to watch, and you can see how shaken Shawcross was in its aftermath. One other factor Gooners overlook is the help Glenn Whelan offered to Ramsey as he lay there on the pitch. To say that the incident only poured more fuel on an already burning fire is an understatement. Keep in mind, though, that by this point, we'd already witness two other similarly stomach-turning leg-breakings, those of Abou Diaby and of Eduardo da Silva. "Once bitten, twice shy" and all. Thrice broken? Well, you can see where we might get upset.

One does not simply walk into Mordor: Arsenal will waltz in and lay waste to Stoke!

Mordor. Orcs. Brittania. Potters. Our effete, wine-sipping dilettantes will flit and flutter about while being bashed, battered, and bruised. At least, those are the stereotypes that come to mind whenever Stoke face Arsenal. These days, however, it's closer to the truth to admit that Stoke under Mark Hughes have been playing some incisive, creative football—not that they have turned over a new leaf. They can still bring the physicality that can do so much damage, be it literal or figurative, to our squad. Players like Bojan, Shaqiri and Afellay have brought a new dimension to a Stoke side still accused of playing something closer to Gaelic rules than to footy.

15 January 2016

From three points down to one point up, Arsenal are ascendant after Anfield...

Look, I know that we have to gnash teeth, rend garments and punch holes in dry wall with our bare fists (mind the studs, though...) after holding a one-goal lead at Anfield for most if not all of the second half. To then concede the equalising goal in the first minute of stoppage-time is especially aggravating. After all, we were just a few precious minutes of earning three points away from home, three gilt-edged points that might make quite a bit of difference in middle-May. However, we caved. We conceded. We capitulated when victory was within reach. Meh. In my eyes, we still earned a point—even if we were minutes away from snatching all three.

13 January 2016

Campbell's made Ox all but obsolete. Will he lay waste to Walcott next?

So we traded three points in hand thanks to a stoppage-time equaliser, leaving Anfield with just one point. Still, the signs, I'd say, are positive. Ask Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, and Tottenham how they feel about dropping points at home. I know that we were moments away for seizing all three, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Speaking of which, it seems about time to recognize
one such player whom we very nearly discarded and have to be counting our blessings to have kept: Joel Campbell. In his first full season with Arsenal, he's started to make an impression, enough of one to consign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to a bit part. He's this season's Coquelin. He's a poor-man's Alexis. If Theo Walcott hasn't sat up and taken notice, he'll be sitting a lot more often in the future.

Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

The eager hosts twice jumped out to an early lead only for Arsenal to reel them back in each time,
goals coming from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud before Giroud seized Arsenal's first lead with a well-struck, wicked turn of a shot to make it 2-3 in the 55th minute. Giroud's brace gave Arsenal a lead that they would cling to tenuously against Liverpool's tenacious but increasingly ineffective attack. It was back and forth and more than a bit madcap at times. Then, in the first minute of stoppage time, Joe Allen put a sharp volley through traffic just out of Petr Čech's reach to equalise. That's where it stood; Arsenal came heart-breakingly close to snatching all three at Anfield but will have to settle for a measly one, just good enough to stay top of the table even as Leicester won at White Hart Lane. More's the pity. Well, let's get down to the poll to give the lads what they deserve...

12 January 2016

Can Liverpool's "reinforcements" upset Arsenal's applecart?

Steven Caulker. The man...the myth..the legend. Such is his prowess that he's already completed a loan from Southampton, widely seen as Liverpool's youth academy, to Liverpool proper, after helping the Saints keep not one but two clean sheets in three appearances totaling 144 minutes. Truly, he is a stalwart foe, one to be reckoned with. One need only understand his name before fully understanding his prowess. "Steven", of course, derives from the Greek Στέφανος, which translates to "all-encompassing." Surely, one could think of no better than for a footballer than this, one whose career will soon encompass all levels of English football? "Caulker" can only refer to his ability to caulk to many leaks in Liverpool's injury-ridden defense.

09 January 2016

Arsenal 3-1 Sunderland: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM!

Arsenal booked passaged in the FA Cup's fourth round proper by seeing off a surprisingly spirited Sunderland 3-1, but it was nervy in the early going. The Black Cats looked more lively and opened the scoring after a gaffe from Gibbs left Koscielny with nothing to do, and Lens pounced on it. It didn't take long for us to respond, with Ox picking out Walcott on the wing, who dribbled to the endline before cutting a cross back against the grain. Joel Campbell sliced in and perfectly half-volleyed it in. There it stood, and it looked more and more like we'd end in a draw, forcing a replay. However, Ramsey and Arteta came on for the impressive Iwobi and less-convincing Chambers, and Ramsey had an immediate impact, doing his level best to imitate Campbell's finish. This seemed to let the air out of Allardyce's boys, and Giroud flattened them with another goal to make it 3-1. Lovely result. Let's get down to the poll!

08 January 2016

When a Black Cat crosses your path, take the Ox by the horns...

The FA Cup's third round proper brings us a Goldilocks story, in a way: Sunderland are not too big, not too small. They're juuussst right. Yes, they're in the Prem—but barely. We know them in a way that we wouldn't know, say Exeter or Scunthorpe. We won't underestimate them as we've done other squads from lower divisions. At the other end of things, they're not quite Tottenham or Liverpool, a squad that can (in theory, at least) match us blow for blow. This draw falls somewhere between 2014's against newly promoted Hull City and 2015's against perennial rival Tottenham. In any case, we have a third straight FA Cup to win, and Sunderland is the first club that stands in our way.

06 January 2016

How do you solve a problem like Oxlade-Chamberlain?

 On one hand, he's perfectly capable in one moment of a jaw-dropping goal such as the one against AS Monaco in last February's first-leg debacle, On othe other, he's just as capable of a head-slapping cock-up such as the one against AS Monaco in last February's first-leg debacle. For the first, he revived hope that we could still salvage a point or at least a manageable goal difference going into the second leg. For the second, he dashed those hopes. In so doing, has he dashed his own? Gone, by and large, is the swash-buckling swerver who could outrun or overpower most anyone. In his place is a forlorn, feckless footballer. In this his fifth year at Arsenal, there are already calls growing in volume if not veracity that he's done and we'd best part ways with him. Hold the phone.

03 January 2016

Is this Theo's last chance to prove his worth?

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be a thing of beauty, not this...this monstrosity. Okay, so “monstrosity” puts it a bit strong, but the idea still lurks. The signing of Mesut Özil was supposed to unleash Theo Walcott’s inner beast, releasing his inner Henry, as Theo and Özil linked up, Özil’s beautifully-weighted passes finding the space in behind a defense where only Walcott would get to it—it might have ever risen to the level of Bergkamp to Henry, but it should have come closer to that than it has. Three seasons after his arrival, however, Özil seems to link up far-better with Alexis or Giroud, and the Özil-Walcott partnership seems almost nonexistent. With the aforementioned trio firmly ensconced as a foundation to our attack, the second half of this season might represent Walcott’s last chance to prove his worth.

These are the results that champions deliver. Period.

For long stretches, it looked as if Arsenal would stumble. At home against an embattled and overmatched squad, our Gunners should have cakewalked their way to an easy victory. Instead, we witnessed a gritty, grubby performance as Newcastle hunkered down in a stubborn 4-5-1 and dared us to unlock them. Their occasional counters proved to be more dangerous than most of what we could muster, and the excellence of Petr Čech should surely earn him a MotM award. However, for as much as we might have craved a swash-buckling display, it's closer to the truth to expect days like these, when a desperate opponent reminds us that anything can happen. To have found a positive result on this day proves more than any lopsided result that we're serious about winning the Prem.

02 January 2016

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle: Vote for Player-ratings/MotM!

Arsenal slogged through a turgid 70 minutes of football as Newcastle sat back behind a parked bus. Then, during a scramble in front of Newcastle's goal, Koscielny pounced on the ball and slotted past Elliot. It might have been an undeserved goal, but there's value in winning ugly. For as unpleasant as it was, we scraped by and scrapped our way to three points to put a bit of distance between us and Leicester, who couldn't see off ten-man Bournemouth. We'll haev to wait to see how Man City fares at Vicarage Road, but we're up to 42 points and have earned a spot alone top of the league. Let's get down the poll and rate the lads...