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?