14 December 2017

Wilshere, our Man of the Match, played a full 90'. End of.

It's truly hard to get excited about West Ham. Unlike the truly detestables—Chelsea, Stoke, Tottenham—and the plucky admirables—Burnley, Brighton, Southampton—West Ham elicits little more than a mild distaste such as one might experience from room-temperature coffee, stale beer, or toilet paper hung in improper underhand fashion. To therefore suffer a draw is irritating, disappointing, or even chafing, respectively. We should have found the three points. In the short run, we failed to do so, but it was not for a lack of effort on at least one player's part. In the long run, the fact that Jack Wilshere played a full 90' for the first time in 577 days should warm your weary heart.

13 December 2017

Wilshere looks ready to lay waste to West Ham. Will he? We'll see...

Ah, West Ham. So inept. So backward. Why, they're the dumping ground for the once-were's and might've-been's: Joe Hart. Pablo Zabaleta. Chicharito. Andy Carroll. The list goes on. David Moyes. Ah. That last one's different. After obliging his erstwhile Everton employers with a 4-0 loss at Goodison Park, Mr. Moyes does seem to have set West Ham on a course altogther different from the one on which the Irons had previously been so thoroughly hammered. After a depressing start to the season had seen Slaven Bilić sacked, Moyes has steered West Ham to an impressive resurrection, punctuated all too recently by a 1-0 win over Chelsea on the weekend.

10 December 2017

Southampton 1-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

Barely three minutes in, our defense collapsed—quite literally, it turns out—as Per Mertesacker fell to the ground, and Dusan Tadic skipped to find Southampton's Charlie Austin, who made no mistake on the chance given him, blasting past Petr Čech before most fans could even find their seats. From there, it looked like it woudl be another miserable visit, our hosts dominating proceedings for most if not all of the half and well into the second. It was only after the introductions of Welbeck, Wilshere, and Giroud late on that we started to look interested in scoring if not winning. Finally, in stoppage-time, Giroud found a late equaliser to help us save face as well as a point. Well, it's perhaps better than we deserved and more than we had a right to hope for after that start. Let's get to the poll and rate the lads!

07 December 2017

Arsenal 6-0 BATE Borisov—Vote for Player-Ratings and MOTM!

Arsenal blitzed BATE Borisov, scoring five goals on their own and adding an own-goal along the way. This doesn't really change anything because we had already won Group H, but it's a confidence boost after the disappointment at the weekend against Man U. Goal-scorers included Debuchy, Giroud, Wilshere, Walcott, and Elneny. Not much else to say, to be honest, by way of analysis or take-aways. We'll wait for the draw for the knockout stage, in which we could conceivably find ourselves reunited with our old friends at Borussia Dortmund. Time for that later. For now, let's get down to the poll!

02 December 2017

Arsenal 1-3 Man U: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Arsenal conceded two sloppy goals in the first ten minutes, all but gifting the match to the visitors before it had even begun. Minutes into the second half, though, Lacazette found a goal to breathe some hope back into the squad. It was short-lived, however, as Lingard scored again. Even a straight red to Pogba for a studs-up "tackle" on Bellerin didn't invigorate us enough to find a way past de Gea although he was tested on several occasions. It's a disappointing result, obviously, as it suggests yet again that we're not quite cut from the kind of cloth that champions or even contenders wear. So it goes. We'll have to dust ourselves off quickly and get right back to work after this setback. More on that later. For now, let's rate the lads...

01 December 2017

Mou, Man U, and Malignant Narcissism (oh, and Mkhitaryan, too).

José, José, José. Poor little Mou-Mou. No matter how much those sugar-daddies spend, it's never quite enough, is it? How can one be expected to contend for silverware after only having spent—what was it? Oh, yes—£148 million to improve a squad that was already worth more than the GDP of 42 actual countries.This is part of a disturbing trend on Mourinho's part, but this is not yet another post on the oiligarchies that have infected football or of the financial steroids that certain clubs are on. Instead, we're here to look at something much more personal than that. We're here to peer into Mourinho's soul. Bring your antibacterial, kids; this could get messy.

29 November 2017

Arsenal 5-0 Huddersfield—Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring just three minutes in, finishing from a slotted pass from Aaron Ramsey, and that's where it stood until halftime. In the second half, however, the floodgates flew open as Giroud, on for Lacazette, bagged a brace to which Alexis and Özil added goals of their own. All in all, it was a domineering performance of the sort that we just haven't seen yet against smaller sides, against whom we've eked past or slipped up against. We've opened up a bit of space and keep pace with Chelsea and Man City, who also won today. More on the bigger picture later; for now, let's rate the lads!

Arsenal-Huddersfield Preview: Can Arsenal climb to third in the Prem?

A weekend that was both exhausting and exhilirating for very opposite but parallel reasons leads to Wednesday's clash. Arsenal, of course, might have a spring in their step after nabbing a late and controversial winner against Burnley. Huddersfield might very well feel hard done by after seeing a potentially glorious result slip away after City found a controversial equaliser and rather-lucky winner. Whether they can bounce back in short order will be a pressing question, all the more for a side that has not won away from since matchday one, beating woeful Crystal Palace. Arsenal return home, where we have been dominant.

27 November 2017

Herbert Chapman: Huddersfield Legend.

Huddersfield, newly promoted to English soccer's top-flight, struggle, bravely but barely grasping at anything to stay up. Bigger clubs with more resources can bully them. Enter a young, new manager with fresh ideas about fitness, about positive, flowing football, about tactics and flexibility. He energizes the squad and propels them towards to the league title. I'm not talking about David Wagner, however. I'm summarising the exploits of one Herbert Chapman before he became the Arsenal legend that we know and love. In West Yorkshire, Chapman might be even more respected and beloved among the Terriers faithful than he is among Gooners.

Ramsey, Sterling, and the Art of the Dive...

Arjen Robben. Luis Suárez. Didier Drogba. All gifted in their own ways, but especially when it comes to simulation. Few if any could pantomime what it must feel like to get shot by a sniper and what it looks like to flop around like an electrocuted fish in the hull of a dory. It's a pity that such thespian theatrics are not rewarded by the Academy Awards. It's more of a pity that those antics are so frequently rewarded by the referees. With that in mind, we have two case studies: the penalty that Aaron Ramsey earned against Burnley, and the the penalty that Raheem Sterling earned against Huddersfield. 'Twixt the two, can we split any hairs?

26 November 2017

Burnley 0-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Wave after wave of the Arsenal attack crashed up against Burnley's defense but looked like we'd never break through. The hosts had a number of chances in the first half but seemed to settle on defending with tenacity in the second as Arsenal probed and pressed for a goal. It was always going to be tough to score here; Burnley have only conceded two goals in six matches. It seemed like we'd squander a chance to gain ground on Tottenham, Liverpool, and Chelsea, who all drew on Saturday. Then, in stoppage time, Tachowski brought Ramsey down in the box and Lee Mason pointed to the spot. Alexis made no mistake, and that's 0-1 to the Arsenal. Let's get down to the poll!

24 November 2017

FC Köln 1-0 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

A bit of a dead-rubber match as we had already booked passage to the knockout stage of the Europa League, but it might have been nice to have earned at least a point here so that we could count ourselves among the eight seeded teams and thereby avoid facing any of the clubs that finish third in the Champions League. Despite dominating most of the proceedings, we just couldn't break down the hosts, who knew that a win could see them climb to as high as second in Group H. However, Debuchy was guilty of letting a few of his molecules get too close to Sehrou Guirassy, who dove faster and deeper than Jacques Cousteau ever did. The Russian referee quickly proved that Russians can interfere in outcomes other than French or American elections—although he did show that he can be finicky about where the ball is placed for a penalty—and that was that. Elsewhere, BATE Borisov drew with Red Star, allowing us to win the group anyway. It may not be sexy, but it's enough to warrant a quick review of the lads' performance. Let's get to the poll!

18 November 2017

Arsenal 2-0 Tottenham—Vote for Player-Ratings and MOTM!

Arsenal bossed Tottenham all around the pitch, scoring two goals in short order to put the game away. First, it was Mustafi floating a header from an Özil set-piece over the flat-footed Lloris. So inch-perfect was the header that it glanced neatly in off the post. Just five minutes later, Alexis got his first Prem goal, blasting home from point-blank range from a fizzed-in Lacazette cross. From there, it was all Tottenham could do to try to find a goal without conceding yet another. Wasteful shooting crashed up against stalwart defending and fine keeping from Čech. It was a fantastic result that showed who's the best club in London, at least for today. It's enough to see us climb to within a point of that other club and perhaps enough to launch us on a run. Well, let's get down to the poll to rate the lads!

17 November 2017

Pick Your Poison: Harry Kane? Mike Dean? (A Tottenham Preview...)

For the first time in living memory, in what is surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse, we finished below Tottenham. There was no St. Totteringham's Day. London, it seemed, would be white. Somehow, however, the sun still rose. Pigs did not acquire any aerial abilities. Hell, sources, say, did not freeze over. Certain realities, it is true, must be acknowledged. We cannot blithely (arrogantly?) assert our superiority. Truth be told, Tottenham look like the better squad at the moment, and we go invite our new overlords on Saturday if not with open arms then at least with eyes wide open.

05 November 2017

Man City 3-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

Arsenal played far better than the scoreline suggests, as Man City needed a penalty (which was a bit harsh but the right call) to get to 2-0. After Lacazette came on and scored in the second half, the game looked like it would be up for grabs as Arsenal looked energized and determined. However, City found a third despite both players involved being offside. Ah, well. In the end, this looked like one most of us would have written off as a loss. So be it. We played tolerably well and will feel hard done by the referee. In the end, though, we lacked the quality and concentration we needed against a side of this quality. Be gentle as you get down to the poll.

02 November 2017

Arsenal 0-0 Red Star—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

To be honest, Red Star gave as good as they got, coming uncomfortably close several times only to be denied by Matt Macey, who turned in a fine performance. Going forward, we rarely if ever threatened, with Wilshere coming closest only to see his tame flick cleared off the line. Still, in a match from which we only needed a point, and against an opponent all too happy to play for a draw, I can think of worse ways to spend my time. Faint praise? Perhaps. We're through to the Europa League group-stage, thanks in part to FC Köln's 5-2 demolition of BATE Borisov. Fine and dandy. We may still have a bit of work to do before we can win Group H, but that's another question for another day. Let's get down to the poll to rate the lads...

30 October 2017

Resurrection of the Welsh Jesus—Rambo II: this time, it's personal.

Almost lost amidst all of the other sturm und drang of the early season—whether it's the hullabaloo over Alexis's potential move to Man City, Özil's flirtations with Mourinho and Man U, Cazorla's Sisyphean struggle with injury—has been the quiet but occasionally emphatic resurgence—nay, resurrection—of a player almost forgotten. It's more than a bit ironic, perhaps paradoxical that a player once all too prone to trying to draw too much attention to himself has found his resurrection instead by putting his nose to the grindstone and just work. Gone, for the most part, is the pointless flair, the "cute for the sake of cute" flicks and backheels and rabonas. Gone, it seems, is the pompadour. In their places has been almost-pure hustle, grit, and determination. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Aaron Ramsey II.

28 October 2017

Arsenal 2-1 Swansea—vote for player-ratings/MOTM!

Arsenal dominated most of the first half only to see Swansea's Clucas score on a counter, and it looked like Swansea's defensive set-up would be enough to keep the clean sheet. However, we came storming out of halftime with two goals, as Kolašinac scored during a scramble and then assisted Ramsey moments later. There was a ten-to-fifteen minute stretch there during which it looked like Arsenal would blow the game wide-open. In the end, though, things settled down into a comfortable rhythm, more or less, or Swansea never really rose to the occasion after that. It's three points in the bag against a club we've struggled to beat in the past, and it's enough to see us climb into the top four, if only temporarily. Good enough for now. Let's get down to the poll to rate the lads!

27 October 2017

Arsenal vs. Swansea: cakewalk or banana-peel?

Swansea. They've been a bit of a banana-peel over the years, one of those squads that we really should do better against than we have since they were promoted in 2011. However, they've frequently given just as good as (if not better than) they've gotten, even going so far as to win at the Emirates in two of their last three visits. As such, we'd do well to look past their recent form and focus on our own, which, Everton not withstanding, has hardly inspired confidence.

23 October 2017

Wengerball, revived—this time, with actual purpose!

Finally. For the first time in this tumultuous, topsy-turvy campaign, we finally went out and absolutely battered an opponent. Yes, yes, there are the small matters of allowing Rooney to score—although, let's face facts: that has more to do with being polite to our hosts than anything else. It would be rude of us to say the least to arrive at Goodison Park so soon after Rooney deigned to return there himself without letting him score. There are social niceties to uphold, after all. Good on him for reminding Evertonians of what might have been had he not bolted at the first chance. I will say though that we were more than a bit generous in gifting a second late one. That almost takes a bit too far, akin to being invited to dinner only to stay long enough to do the dishes and walk the dog. So be it. Arsenal finally found a way to thrash someone.

22 October 2017

Everton 2-5 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Arch-nemesis Wayne Rooney scored just 12 minutes in—his 15th against Arsenal, most against any club—and it was starting to feel like we'd again dominate possession and pass it about without ever really finishing a sequence. All of our shots, it seemed, were straight at Pickford, until, finally, Nacho Monreal lashed in a rebound from close range. This seemed to take the air out of Koeman's side, and shortly after halftime, Alexis found Özil gliding into the box. After having created a half-dozen chances for others, Özil glanced his header past Pickford to make it 1-2. Referee Craig Pawson finally saw fit to send Gana off after a series of late tackles, and that's where the wheels came off. Lacazette and Ramsey scored nifty goals to just about kill it off. A sloppy late goal for Everton offered small consolation for the hosts, but Alexis sliced one more in to leave no doubt. Let's get down to the poll!

19 October 2017

Red Star 0-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Olivier Giroud rescued a misfit, mismatched squad full of youngsters and could've-beens by scoring late on in Belgrade, a beautiful overhead bicycle, and Arsenal remain atop Group H and look to be ready to advance past the group-stage and on towards what is sure to be the pinnacle of the season: a Europa League title! More seriously, for as dour and as uneventful as the match was, it was somewhat gratifying to see the squad bounce back from the debacle at Vicarage Road to brave the seething cauldron and find a way to win. There were times when it seemed like some squad members had to introduce themselves to each other. Name-tags might have been useful. Be that as it may, we won, and that's all that matters at the moment. Let's get down to the poll, shall we?

14 October 2017

Watford 2-1 Arsenal—Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM. It'll be cathartic!

Captain Per Mertesacker scored in his first Arsenal start since April to disrupt what had been a stultifying first half, and it looked like this would be enough to earn our first away-win of the season. Alas, Héctor Bellerín was caught off-balance and tripped in the box, and Swarbrick pointed to the spot. It was a bit harsh, as there was contact. Truth be told, though, Pereira sold the contact well, and we exposed ourselves to the dangers by failing to kill off the match. An old friend in Troy Deeney coolly scored it. From there, it looked like Watford would be more likely to find a winner, and indeed they were lively enough to hit an upright late on. Disaster struck in stoppage time when Tom Cleverley smashed it in during a scramble in front of our goal. Well, not much else left to say other than to rue the dropped points. Let's give the lads what they deserve...

13 October 2017

Kos and Özil? Out. Kolašinac and Alexis? Out. Who's available for Watford?

Well, we return from the international break predictably worse for wear, with Koscielny and Mustafi injured and various others, such as Alexis and Kolašinac road-weary as well. On top of that, the break came at an inopportune time, interrupting a tidy little run of form that had seen us go undefeated, winning six of seven, and flirting with the idea of starting to dominate opponents. Yes, we did benefit from a softer stretch of the schedule, but we made the most of it and will need to refind some of that form as we travel to face Watford. Do not underestimate them. If nothing else, they've got Troy Deeney. And Capoue. Oh, and Cleverley.

01 October 2017

Why the hell can't Lacazette play a full 90'?

After all of the breathless hype and exhilaration that accompanied Alexandre Lacazette's arrival at Arsenal, there has arisen a few mutterings and murmurs around the fact that the man has not played a full 90' since doing so against Leicester on opening day. Seeing him subbed off late on has become a regular feature of recent fixtures, so much so that Lacazette himself is probably peeking over after an hour to make sure that someone is warming up. That can't be good for his confidence or his fitness over the long term. Having spent £48m to bring him in, shouldn't we expect Arsène to be getting more for his fee?

Arsenal 2-0 Brighton—Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Nacho Monreal opened the scoring for Arsenal in the 16th minute during a scramble in front of Brighton's goal, and Brighton never really looked ready to answer. Alex Iwobi scored his first goal in January to make it 2-0. Arsenal were turned away time and again in a splendid performance by Mat Ryan, assisted by numerous goal-line clearances and the woodwork as well. The result is our sixth win and fifth clean sheet in our last seven outings, and we're making the most of a softer stretch of the schedule. We're now level on points with Chelsea, no small feat when we consider where we were after the loss to Liverpool. Enough of the big picture for now; let's get down to the poll to rate our efforts against Brighton!

Will Alexis finally snap out of his preseason sulk? It might be nice...

After what felt like a disastrous start to the season, Arsenal have now gone on a little run and look ready to start closing the early gap that threatened to open into a gaping chasm into which the entire squad if not the club itself might disappear. However, we're now undefeated in our last six, with only a draw at Stamford Bridge to mar an otherwise perfect record since leaving Anfield. Having returned from Belarus, we welcome newly promoted Brighton & Hove, whom we've never met in the Prem but know fairly well from two FA Cup clashes in 2013 and 2015, both 2-3 wins to the Arsenal. They're off to a tolerably good start and should not be underestimated.

30 September 2017

Will Wilshere wither, or will he weather the storm?

Safe to say there was underwhelming expectation for Jack Wilshere as we entered the 2017/2018 season.  Our fan base has clamored to the idea of signing an additional central midfielder for obvious reasons.  For Wilshere, there was more expectation from our fans for him to be sold or loaned than to play any part this season given his injury record as well as the loan circumstances when he went off to Bournemouth. However, as the summer progressed, and our transfer activities stalled, I became open to the notion that Arsène might just be planning to utilize him for central midfield depth.  Of course, this roll of the dice all rides on Wilshere’s maintains fitness and our ability to properly manage him.  Sure enough, here we are at the tail end of October and we are seeing positive signs thus far. Slowly but surely,  Arsène has brought Wilshere back into the fray.

Starting with matches for the U-23’s (okay, no need to mention his role in the brawl vs Manchester City U23’s), working his way up to a cameo in the Europa League opener against Cologne, and finally starts vs Doncaster in the Carabao Cup and BATE in the Europa League, it's time to evaluate Wilshere's role in the squad.

In Woolwich 1886's own post-match voting, Wilshere earned himself man of the match performances in both matches against Doncaster and BATE, with 7.9 player rating vs Doncaster and an 8.44 rating against BATE. For me, he was easily the best player on the pitch in both matches.  He did seem to fade away a bit and become less influential as both matches wore on past the hour mark.  Part of that might have been due to him not quite being where he needs to as far as match fitness, bu another part comes down to our side collectively fading. Let's look at a few variables to consider for both matches...

Difference in Roles
Against Doncaster, Wilshere was partnered with Elneny as a deep central midfielder in a 3-4-3 shape. Within this shape, he operated from deep, a lot of times picking the ball up from our centre backs, demonstrating his passing range, swinging balls out to our wing backs who were constantly getting into advanced positions as well as making some good advanced runs in their final third.  From my perspective, he was running the game from midfield and was one of our most influential figure on the pitch.  I thought the dinked chip to Giroud was brilliant when he volleyed the scissor-kick and smashed the crossbar.  He also had some neat short combination passing links with Alexis.
We’ve missed some of that when operating in the final third. We saw him operate in a more advanced role against BATE. However, this shape was more of a 3-5-2, with Walcott pushed further forward as a second striker with Giroud as opposed to shared responsibilities playing just behind the main striker. Wilshere operated as the highest central midfielder, forming a CM trio when necessary and acting in a number 10 role between the opposition's midfield and defensive lines as our creative hub.  Since Walcott was pushed further forward as a second striker, this gave Wilshere more room to operate freely as a 10.
Jack's first-half passing agaisnt BATE, courtesy of Squawka.

In the first half, Wilshere completed 23 of 24 passes and created two chances, (credit Squawka) one being a very nice chipped assist to Walcott.  I also enjoyed his pass to Maintland-Niles which completely cut the BATE defense open.  Thinking ahead to what position he would be preferred in, I would lean towards his role against BATE. Playing this position with two strikers ahead of him is probably not as realistic in a Premier League setting; however, it is very much attainable in the Europa League.  As far as the Premier League is concerned, I think one of the advanced roles behind the striker will call for a little less physical demand than playing as a deep central midfielder. 

Quality of Opposition
Before we all jump back on the Wilshere hype train, we need to consider the quality of opposition. Let’s face it, Doncaster and BATE are not Premier League level sides.  The difference is Wilshere will not be afforded the time the same time and space. The Premier League opposition will not be quite as forgiving either.  It is just a different level of intensity and physicality.  Wilshere showcased that he still has some very good technical qualities, but I think anyone calling for him to start Premier League matches at this point in time should pump the breaks.  The last thing we need is to mismanage him and cause another horrific injury setback.  He’s incurred enough of those. 

If anything, I think the unexpected revival of Wilshere gives us fans something to finally be positive about given all the turmoil so far at the start of this new season.  He may not currently be the central midfielder we need, however having a player of his technical quality in that position is a commodity we definitely need to utilize efficiently when possible.  For now, Arsene needs to continue with his gradual integration and progression working up to playing Premier League matches.  If he continues his progression and remains fit, he will get his chance sooner than later.

Emory Stern has been an avid Arsenal supporter since the days of the Dutch-duo of Overmars and Bergkamp. He loves beautiful, fluent,attacking football and appreciates a good run to the near post—a Gooner through and through.  You can find him under his Twitter handle @emorystern. 

28 September 2017

BATE Borisov 2-4 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Theo Walcott bagged a brace but could have, should have had more; Rob Holding opened his Arsenal account, and Olivier Giroud scored his 100th Arsenal goal as the Gunners mostly waltzed past their hosts in Belarus. The match started to get ragged late on, and BATE had numerous chances but were wasteful or were denied by fine saves from David Ospina. In any case, it was enough to see us win for the fifth in six matches, and we're comfortably atop Group H. Not much else to say other than to invite you down to the poll to rate the lads!

27 September 2017

One man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...

After a fine run of form during which we've gone undefeated in five consecutive matches, including a stout visit to Stamford Bridge, we journey east beyond familiar borders. While it's true that a trip to Turkey to face Beşiktaş or Ludogorets in the Champions League is a longer trip, it's something else to make a trip to Belarus to face BATE Borisov in the Europa League. For one thing, there all those capital letters in the club's name. At least they don't have any accents dangling or protruding. For another, there's the weather. If we're lucky, it'll be 10℃ (50℉). For another, it's Europa League play—still exotic if not quite erotic. At any rate, we have a chance to slam the door shut on Group H with a win on Thursday.

26 September 2017

Lacazette bags the brace, but Monreal steals the show!

It doesn't often happen when your mate bags a brace and your squad boasts of almost 70% possession that you, a wide defender in a 3-4-3, get to claim MOTM honors, but when you're Nacho Monreal, well, you floor that like Koscielny floors opponents of questionable personality and repute. On a day when we pushed Pulis's peons around like—well, like peons—we voted none other than Monreal as our Man of the Match. It's almos as if Nacho looked at Pulis's "tactics" and decided he would show the man how football is played, proper. Not to slight the man he dislodged from the position, but Monreal showed us just how irrelevant Gibbs had become. Let's look at some numbers...

25 September 2017

Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

In a match in which Arsenal seemed bound and determined to highlight their reputation as long on style and short on substance, and in which West Brom seemed just as determined to confirm the reputation of Pulis-managed sides for physicality, it was set-pieces and penalties that made all the difference. Lacazette pounced on a well-saved free-kick from Alexis to make it 1-0. He then slotted home from the spot after Ramsey was barreled out of bounds. West Brom felt hard done by on a few non-calls that could have changed the complexion of the game, but the run of play was firmly if not always under Arsenal's control. After all the to-do about Gibbs's return to the Emirates, there's not much to say about his impact for good or for ill. Let's get down to the poll to rate the lads!

22 September 2017

Kieran gives the kiss of death to Arsenal's "British Core"...

There was a time, not so long ago, when Kieran Gibbs might have been the left-back of choice for England and for Arsenal. It wasn't so far-fetched to think that he would eventually overtake Leighton Baines as the heir-apparent to none other than Ashley Cole for country if not club as well. Then, along came Nacho Monreal. Way back in January 2013, as the transfer-window was about to slam shut, Gibbs suffered an injury, and Monreal's signing—potentially set to happen in the summer window to follow—was pushed through. The significance of this sequence of events is brought into high contrast as West Brom, the club that finally agreed to take Gibbs off of Arsenal's hands, pays a visit to the Emirates on Monday.

20 September 2017

Arsenal 1-0 Doncaster—Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Arsenal waltzed and/or sleep-walked past League One Doncaster Rovers, allowing Theo Walcott's 25th minute goal to the be only excitement of the evening. Well, Rovers did make it more interesting than it really should have been, coming up with numerous interesting chances in the last ten minutes. The outcome was never seriously in doubt, however. Arsène had named an unusually ambitious XI for this match, but they looked disinterested on the whole. Still, it was enough to see us through to the next round of the League Cup (one round further in than our old friend Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, for what that's worth...).  Not much more to be said, to be honest, other than to invite you to get to the poll below the fold!

17 September 2017

Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

Arsenal looked like the better squad for long stretches of the match and came agonizingly close when Ramsey poked past Courtois only to strike woodwork, and Lacazette couldn't redirect the rebound. Midway through the second half, Mustafi headed home from a Xhaka cross but was rightly ruled offside. With five minutes to play, David Luiz was shown a straight red for a reckless challenge on Kolašinac. All things considered, I might even go so far as to say we should be disappointed to come away with only a point.

Let's get to the poll and rate the lads!

Arsenal nicks a point at Stamford Bridge...

Match Preview: Chelsea vs. Arsenal - Premier League - 17.09.2017 

 Let's all heave a collective sigh of relief after finding a way past FC Köln, who did give us quite a scare before doing the decent thing in letting us have our way. It's only fair, after all, considering how rudely we've been treated by the Germans on previous visits. Whichever way we slice it, we've now found a way to win two on the bounce, scoring six along the way. While it's still far too early to say we've righted the ship, we've at least progressed beyond rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Having stabilised, we can now go into Stamford Bridge with something approaching momentum, perhaps with enough of something that will earn us a point, if not three.

14 September 2017

Arsenal 3-1 FC Köln—vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

Arsenal overcame an all-too-familiar shaky start, conceding a silly but stil-exquisite goal when Ospina was forced to come off his line to clear the ball only to see Cordoba score from 50 yards out. From there until halftime, it looked as if Köln could get away with sitting back to defend the lead. However, Kolašinac came on in the second half and electrified the Emirates with a stunning strike, doing his level-best to channel Lukas Podolski, and from there, Köln crumbled. Alexis and then Bellerín got in on the action, and Arsenal come away with a much-needed Europa League win. That's two on the bounce as we prepare to invade Stamford Bridge. Enough for now; let's get down to the poll to rate the lads!

09 September 2017

Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth: Vote for Ratings/MOTM Poll!

A fifth-minute goal from Danny Welbeck settled jangled nerves around the Emirates, and Arsenal thoroughly dominated a listless, overwhelmed Bournemouth squad still looking for its first point of the season. Lacazette added another twenty minutes later, and Welbeck found his second soon after halftime. Even after we went down to ten men when Coquelin had to come off with an injury (and we had used all three subs, we kept control. All in all, it should amount to a confident if not complete return to competitiveness as we look to recover from an absolutely shambolic start. We needed something to boost spirits, especially ahead of a trip to Stamford Bridge, and the lads delivered. Let's get down to the poll and give 'em what they deserve!

30 August 2017

Ox? Gone. Gibbs? Gone. Mustafi, Pérez, Alexis? Rats...is it a sinking ship...

Oxlade-Chamberlain is off to Liverpool. Gibbs will slink away to West Brom, perhaps suggesting that hsi chances at silverware are better over at the Hawthorns than they are at the Emirates. Mustafi looks to be loaned out to Inter, having been exposed as inadequate in a 3-4-3 if not a 4-2-3-1. Pérez joins the want-aways amidst rumours of a loan to Deportivo, but leading the rat-pack has to be none other than Alexis Sánchez, with persistent rumours of a move to Man City. At some point, it starts to feel as if the ship is sinking, and if these and other rats are abandoning ship, it feels like Arsène is doing little more than dithering over the rearrangement of deck-chairs on the Titanic.

27 August 2017

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

Well, the less said about this one, the better. Liverpool thrashed us, plain and simple. This one brings back memories of the 2013-14 season, the one in which we were beaten repeatedly and resoundingly by our rivals. The excuse of it being early days is already wearing alarmingly thin. It might apply if others were struggling to a similar degree. However, it seems to be only the Arsenal that is suffering so miserably. In three matches totaling 270 minutes, we've only looked like we're ready to play for about 15 of those—the last 15 minutes against Leicester. Since then, we've looked like we're already relegated and are just playing out the last matches of a season. Well, I don't want to skew the results of the poll, so I'll just ask you to be calm and rational as you rate the lads...

Can Arsenal rise above the Scouser curse?

A sloppy win over Leicester inspired us. It was, after all, a feisty turnaround as well as a convenient mirror-image to last season's opener, was it not? However, to have followed it with a stinker at Stoke did put a damper on things even if we gloss it over by convincing ourselves that things would have been different had Alexis been available. Would it have been, though? Doesn't matter--unless the FA has established a hypothetical Prem League for us to vie for. At any rate, we're off to a shaky start, and a trip to Anfield will do little to soothe jangled nerves.

19 August 2017

Stoke 1-0 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings and MOTM!

A typically frustrating visit to Stoke came complete with rain, multiple blown calls against Arsenal, and a defensive breakdown that gave Stoke all the opening it needed. Jese's goal just after halftime allowed Mark Hughes's side to park the bus and dare us to get through. Jack Butland turned in an inspired performance, and we just couldn't find a way past. When Lacazette scored, his goal was waved off because several molecules of his heel—at least three, I don't want to understate how far off he was—were offside. It was a gutsy call by Marriner, I'm sure. He had an afternoon full of them. Well, the less said the better on this day. Let's get down to the poll to rate the lads' efforts...

15 August 2017

Arsenal to sell Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea...for £35m?

Happy birthday, Alex, first off. The lad turns 24 today, and so it seems fitting that he gets what he
wants, which is, apparently, to join Chelsea. On its face, such a sale might make sense. In 200 appearances over six years, after all, he's scored just 20 goals despite being an attacking player for almost all of those appearances. His brief stint in the middle—where he most wants to play—was uneven and unconvincing. He's inconsistent. Error-prone. Injury-prone. Can't find a regular spot. At best, it seems, he's merely a good player to have in the squad. If Chelsea want him, Chelsea can have him, no?

11 August 2017

Arsenal 4-3 Leicester: Vote for Player Ratings/MOTM!

Talk about a sloppy, stirring start to the Prem season! Seven goals scored, and furious flurry from the Arsenal to claw back from a late 2-3 deficit to obliterate Leicester's hopes of a famous away-win. Lacazette opened inside of three minutes only to see Okazaki level, then Vardy put Leicester ahead. This is after just 29 minutes. Welbeck found another equalizer in stoppage time before the half, but Vardy struck again. That one looked to be the winner as Leicester withdrew almost everyone to defend the box. However, late goals from Ramsey and then Giroud came within two minutes to make it 4-3. It was a mess, but our lads refused to give up. Well, enough blather. Get down to the poll and rate their efforts!

Mahrez prepares his Arsenal audition as Arsène looks on...

And so it begins. From winning the FA Cup to winning the Community Shield defeating Chelsea each time we now embark on a Prem campaign with a bit of momentum, if not confidence. To open against Leicester only exacerbates the nerves, and, when you look at the 2017/18 Premier League betting odds, you'll notice that Arsenal aren't considered challengers. Most punters pick us to finish fifth, no higher. Yes, it's been nice to add Lacazette and Kolašinac, but there's been more talk around Mahrez joining Arsenal than about the actual opening of the season. So it goes. Will this be Mahrez's audition? There is still time enough in the transfer-window to consummate. For now, though, the more-pressing matter is to start the campaign properly. With that in mind, nothing less than a proper battering of the Foxes will do.

23 July 2017

An Ox in the transfer-shoppe: why Arsenal should quit Oxin' around...

Editor's Note: This week's guest-post comes from Emory Stern, who first took notice of Arsenal because of the Dutch-duo of Overmars and Bergkamp. He comes to us as an aficionado of beautiful, attacking football—in other words, he is a Gooner. In this post, he weighs in on the speculation regarding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's future with the club. Have at it, Emory!

No team has the type of players who divide (and frustrate) fan and pundit opinion quite like Arsenal players.  One of the players who fits this bill perfectly is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox was signed in 2011 and was full of promise. Initially deployed as a winger who can play either side, Arsène Wenger revealed that he saw Ox's future in the centre of the midfield and viewed him as a “Steven Gerrard” type of centre midfielder.  Fast forward to the conclusion of the 2017 season.  Ox was deployed in the FA Cup final victory versus Chelsea as the left wing back in our new-look, three centre-back system.  As a right footed player, he obviously did not look the natural fit there; however, he did the job and did it quite well, well enough to tantalise us with his future prospects.

16 July 2017

Time to sell Theo. Sorry. Just facin' facts...

With Alexandre Lacazette in, it's time to ask who's out, and the answer comes almost as fast as the player once ran: Theo Walcott. It may sound harsh and unsentimental, but the Theo Walcott Experiment has fizzled. Amid rumours of Everton offering £30m for the soon-to-be 29 year old, we should sell before whatever it is they're smoking over there wears off. In this market, the one in which Kyle Walker was sold at £50m and Romelu Lukaku at £75m, £30m might seem like a pittance. Theo did, after all, score 10 Prem goals (19 total) despite limited minutes. However, it's increasingly clear that we'll ever get a better offer, so it's time to move him on. Let's make it a classic "it's not you; it's me", at least to start.

27 May 2017

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

Arsenal dominated Chelsea for long stretches of the FA Cup final but went into halftime ruing wasteful finishing, unhelpful woodwork, inspired goal-keeping and not a few goal-line clearances. It looked as if a 1-0 lead, controversially awarded despite a potentially-offside Ramsey trying to get out of the way of Alexis, would disappear in the secdon half as Conte made adjustments. However, that inspired, determined showing carried over into the second half. Despite Diego Costa's equaliser, Arsenal went ahead moments later as Ramsey nodded home. Victor Moses was sent off on a second yellow for simulation, and Arsenal rode out the storm to make it three FA Cups won in four years and a record 17th time. And we did it against Chelsea. Fantastic! We'll have a closer look at it all in another post; for now, get into the poll and give our lads what they deserve!

Injuries mount. Anthony Taylor to preside. What could go wrong?

Cazorla's still out. That's nothing new. Gabriel joins him, also injured. Koscielny's banned. Also sidelined? Maybe Mustafi and Gibbs. At this rate, we'll have no one left to play in the defense regardless of whether we play a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-4-3. Pity that Chambers is cup-tied. At Chelsea's end, of course, they're hale and healthy and have all but coasted across the finish line the Prem. Sure, there have been some hiccups here and there, but does anyone seriously doubt that they'll do the double, adding the FA Cup to that Prem title?

22 May 2017

Do we want Man U to win the Europa League?

Europa League. Thursday nights. Matches in Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, and other hinterlands. We're consigned to it for the 2017-18 campaign, but what do we make of it? There are some who say we should just throw in the towel, treat it like an extended League Cup, and play a weakened side just to get it over with. Who are we at Arsenal to go grubbing around for some second-rate, tin-cup silverware? Then again, maybe there's some silver-lining to be found if we are in fact willing to dig deep enough to find it...

21 May 2017

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

A brave ten-man Arsenal overcame a spirited Everton side to win 3-1, but it won't be enough to scratch into the top four as Liverpool defeated Middlesbrough 3-0. We've seen numerous streaks end, then: finishing in the top four, qualifing for Champions League, and finishing above Tottenham. All good things, of course, must come to an end. Back to the match: goals from Bellerin, Alexis, and Ramsey were enough to at least end the Prem season on a high note, with only Lukaku's penalty to deny us the clean sheet. We'll go into the FA Cup final on a solid run, five straight on the bounce, with a chance at claiming silverware. First, though, get down to the poll to give the lads what they deserve!

Can Arsenal count on Everton to roll over?

There's a toxic mix of ingredients swirling around the final match-day of the season, as all twenty clubs square off. Most of the vital positions are locked in—Sunderland, Middlesbrough, and Hull are relegated; Chelsea have won the Prem, and Tottenham and Man City round out the top three positions. Still hanging in the balance then is that fourth position, currently occupied by Liverpool. They'll host the aforementioned and relegated Middlesbrough and need a win to secure that top-four finish. Arsenal, meanwhile, harbor dreams of overtaking those Scousers. Can we rely on Everton to do us a favor?

18 May 2017

Europa League: It's all ours, whether we want it or not...

So. It comes down to this. Arsenal's annual assault on the run-in, the one that sees us seize something resembling victory from the jaws of imminent defeat, has run ashore on the shoals. Despite having won seven of our last eight, we're still very dependent on help from the likes of Middlesbrough and Watford if we expect to elevate our ambitions beyond the much-maligned Thursday night competition that is the Europa League. That shite-sandwich is already in our hands. Whether we want to be left holding it is another matter. We can't really palm it off on anyone else, so all that's left to do is shove it someone else's face.

16 May 2017

Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland: Vote for Player-Ratings/MotM!

After a stodgy, stultifying first half in which it looked like Arsenal were the relegated club happy to play out a rather-pointless match, the second half offered just enough of a glimmer of a hope that something could still be salvaged of the season. Just past the hour, Alexis struck twice to bring his tally to 112 goals in 143 appearances for the Arsenal. Credit Sunderland, long-since relegated, for their stubborn display. Our inability to break them down is a familiar story, and it took some rather relentless pressure to pick that lock. Still, it's a positive result, and one that keeps open the door on finishing in the top-four and earning a Champions League. More on that later. For now, let's give the lads what they deserve in the poll below the fold!

14 May 2017

We'll always have schadenfreude. Rob Holding, I'm looking at you!

Justice itself may not have been served, but something closely resembling it and offering something almost enjoyable was. For as satisfying as it was to thrash the Potters at their own ground on Saturday, the result still leaves us a bit stranded, hoping against hope that Liverpool will lose or draw at home to relegated Middlesbrough. There's a long week to wait before knowing our fate. In the meantime, then, there's some rather shameless schadenfreude to get to, so why dither when there are so many delectable delicacies on offer?

13 May 2017

Shawcross and Mike Dean and Adam, oh my!

Ah, spring. The run-in. When evey Gooner's thoughts turn to points. Yes, every Gooner, it seems, turns amateur accountant this time of year, frantically assessing how many points are needed to ensure that mythic, enchanted top-four finish: what's our maximum? How likely is it that [detested rival] will drop points against [somewhat less-detested rival] to allow us to sneak in? So it goes. A victory over Man U gives us a chance to finish above them. That's fifth, then. A midweek victory over Southampton puts pressure on Liverpool, but fourth is still just out of reach. Before counting any more eggs (or is it beans?), though, there's the not-so-small matter of Stoke.

07 May 2017

Ramsey's Resurrection, Arsenal's ascendance, Arsène's absolution?

At long last, Arsène has embarrassed Mourinho. At first gloss, it would be easy to shrug off the result as meaningless, what with Mourinho's injury-woes and Europa League priorities. A second glance suggests that these are exactly the factors that play to Mourinho's "big match" preferences: an away-match against a hated rival, with selection-dilemmas, and a vital point the preferred outcome. Indeed, this was one in which Mourinho's tactics and psychological edge should have won the day. That they didn't might just herald something special, if only in the realm of spite if not silverware...

03 May 2017

Mourinho's Machiavellian machinations are manifest...

Zlatan? Injured. Season-ending knee-surgery. Fellaini? Banned, courtesy of a head-butt on Agüero. Bailly, Shaw, Rojo? All ruled out to injuries. Pogba, Smalling, Jones? Facing late fitness-tests. Either side of Man U's trip to the Emirates? Europa League semifinal matches against Celta Vigo. Mourinho would love to claim some kind of silverware, surely, especially in a season in which one rival—Guardiola will go home empty-handed—and another—Arsène may just do the same. Surely, he will then focus his efforts on that Europa League. Les jeux sont fait, then. The cards are dealt, the table is set, the stars have aligned: Arsenal will lose on Sunday.

30 April 2017

Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal—Vote for Player-Ratings/MOTM!

It's a scoreling that might flatter the visitors, to be honest, as Tottenham looked livelier if not more lethal throughout the match. Arsenal found chances few and far between, and the only real question left to ask is what the result signifies: have Tottenham moved above Arsenal not just now for the foreseeable future? They seem stronger at most positions. They seem to have a sharper, stronger vision. And now, courtesy in part of this result, they may now have a mental edge, a belief in themselves, that they've lacked in the past. We'll ponder the imponderables later. For now, get down to the poll to give our lads what they deserve...

29 April 2017

Open Letter to Tottenham: Get Bent. Literally.

It's been twenty years since we at our end have had to contemplate the horrible, awful reality that is about to come to pass. Not only are Tottenham about to finish above Arsenal for the first time in a generation, there's still a sliver of a chance that you could win the Prem. Doing so would allow Pochettino to match Arsène for number of Prem titles won at White Hart Lane, so good on you for that. Yes, this has all come about only because you've been playing out-of-your-minds-football while we've stumbled and stuttered. Ahead of Sunday's clash, then, who are you to dare trying to out-Arsenal us?

28 April 2017

Oi, Tottenham! What do we think of you? (This could be an epic derby...)

They're 14 points clear of Arsenal. They have a glimmer of a chance of winning the Prem. They havn'et lost at White Hart Lane in 15 straight matches, having scored 49 an conceding just nine. With a win on Sunday, they kill whatever last embers of hope we have of finishing above. They're undefeated at home in their final season at White Hart Lane. It's looking more and more like Tottenham will end Arsenal's 21-year run of painting the town red. Could there be any more storybook elements to this derby? After all, all the stars seem to be aligning for Tottenham.

26 April 2017

Arsenal 1-0 Leicester: Vote for player-ratings and MOTM!

For 86 stultifying minutes, it looked as if Leicester would escape the Emirates with a well-earned point. For close to an hour and a half, it looked as if Arsenal's hopes of scraping into the top-four were done and dusted. Then, along came Nacho. He sluiced a pass into the box for Alexis. He tip-toed around the scrum. He caromed a shot off of Huth's chest. He scored. Score, Nacho; score. And so on. The process was a bit tetchy, but I think we can all live with the result. After all, it keeps alive the hope that we can still find that mythic, legendary top-four finish. Along those lines, we have a tense, taut trip to White Hart Lane to prepare for. In the meantime, let's get down to the player-ratings poll!

25 April 2017

Shakespearean tragedy: can Arsène out-fox foes to finish top-four?

Let's face facts: defeating Man City this weekend does little if anything to change our fortunes in the Prem. That said, there has to be some kind of boost in confidence and determination from having won. For those inclined to wonder about these things, Arsenal have now defeated Guardiola at Camp Nou, Allianz Arena, and Wembley, surely, the only club to stake that claim. However, if there's no carry-over to the Emirates, well, we're whistlin' past the graveyard. Enter Leicester. After a brief resugence under new skipper Craig Shakespeare, the Foxes have risen from the relegation-fray for now. Their Champions League adventure came to a cruelly close ending. Waste no time lamenting their losses, though; we simply must take maximum points from here on out.

24 April 2017

About this 3-4-3 of ours, is it the Arsènor's New Clothes?

It was a shift borne of desperation. Having conceded 25 goals across nine fixtures, some kind of shake-up was desperately needed, if only for the sake of shaking things up. After all, it's one thing to conceded five to Bayern. It's quite another to concede three to West Brom. Or again to Crystal Palace. Whatever the case, the shake-up had to happen. The only real question was whether this would happen in the squad or the front-office. With Arsenal's fortunes fading fast, we at least got the former. Whether the latter is still necessary is an open question. For now, let's take a closer look at how well this 3-4-3 worked. After all, we won two in a row for the first time since January. Surely, there's something in it?

23 April 2017

The FA Cup: where Mancs' hopes go to die...

It wasn't supposed to be like this, not after trudging just barely past Middlesbrough and being embarrassed at Selhurst Park. We were supposed to fold, to crumble, to pull up tent-stakes. The early signals were there: we went down 0-1. City had a goal wrongly disallowed and struck woodwork not once, but twice. That new 3-4-3 formation was getting picked apart. However, from somewhere, from the deepest of depths, we summoned something. Maybe it's the magic of the FA Cup. Maybe it's something to do with Wembley. Maybe Guardiola's a bit of a fraud. Whatever the proximate cause, the effect is that Arsenal's going to Wembley for the FA Cup final! Whether that's enough to resurrect a season is another question for another day. For now, it's enough to announce that we defeated Guardiola's Man City squad, denying him silverware for the first time in his managerial career. Whatever. For now, let's get to the player-ratings poll!

21 April 2017

Urgency, Intensity, Desire: can Arsenal one-up Man City?

Be careful what you wish for, the tired old saying goes. And so it is with the FA Cup semifinal. Given a selection of drawing Tottenham, Chelsea, or Man City, how many of us heaved a sigh of relief at drawing City? At this stage of the FA Cup, of course, it's rare that one gets to choose a non-League side. Still, such are the state of things that we'd prefer to avoid our North London rivals, at least for now, preferring to face a side that was finished first or second in the Prem in four of the last five seasons. Man City may not intimidate the way they used to, and we've actually done tolerably well against them of late, perhaps well enough to engender a bit of hope if not confidence?

20 March 2017

The perfect solution to Arsène's situation!

It's Sophie's Choice. It's Solomonic. It's having our cake and eating it, too. For years, as the debate over Arsène's tenure and legacy have waxed and waned, we've pondered what it might mean for the club's fortunes to see the manager of the last 20 years—the only manager many fans have ever known—step down. Would we fall out of the top four? Would we see an end to the twenty-year streak of celebrating St. Totteringham's Day or of qualifying for Champions League play? After all, we've watched it unfold over at Old Trafford even as they've spent bucketloads on transfers and cycled through managers. Wouldn't it be better for Arsène to stay on long enough to win one more trophy and hand the reigns over to someone who can build from momentum? After the debacle at the Hawthorns, however, we might just have our compromise solution...

05 March 2017

And, lo, the scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight...

So. It's come to this, at long last. I'm done with Arsène. I've stood by him through some of the leaner times, defended him with by-now battered canards such as "consistency matters" and "Champions League qualification is an achievement", parried his critics by pointing out that he financed a stadium. I've finally reached my limit. I accept what many others have long ago decided: it's time for Arsène to go. It's not even about the result at Anfield. Or the Allianz Arena or Stamford Bridge. Losses at any one of those is understandable, and losses at three might even be acceptable. However, it's how we've lost that's shaken me.

03 March 2017

Let's make like Leicester and lay waste to Liverpool, shall we?

For those still suffering from the Bayern battering, it might come as some consolation to learn that Liverpool found a way to lose to Leicester, becoming in the process just the sixth such squad to do so. Enough with the alliteration. Such is the state (sorry) of our own squad that the tea-leaves suggest that Liverpool's loss only primes the pump for us to get clobbered at the Kop. Again, apologies. On a more optimistic level, there are few squads more frail at the moment than Liverpool's; it is therefore all the more essential that we turn the screws on their season and, at the risk of mixing our metaphors, drive home one more nail in the coffin of their campaign.

23 February 2017

Tottenham bottle it again, or, on the perils of schadenfreude...

Oh, to be a Gooner. Am I right? Tottenham have not only been dumped from Champions League play, they've now out-Tottenhammed themselves out of the Europa League, courtesy of a 2-3 aggregate loss to Gent, occupiers of the eighth spot on the highly esteemed Belgian First Division. What's more, Chelsea, shorn of any European entanglements whatsoever, square off against Man U in the FA Cup's fifth round. On top of that, Man City face a dicey FA Cup replay against Huddersfield and an even dicier second leg in UCL play after winning 5-3 over Monaco. In short, our Prem rivals are on the ropes, are they not?

13 February 2017

13 matches. 10 points. It's not too late for Arsenal to chase Chelsea down...

There's still time. Saturday's result over Hull, though there may have been a certain "hand of God" element to it, resurrected some small sliver of hope that we could still be in the title-chase. Fast forward to Sunday at Turf Moor, and Burnley—blessed, blessed Burnley—managed to earn a draw against Chelsea. While one one hand this does make our home-loss to Watford feel all the more wasteful, it still has to revive that sliver of hope. After all, Chelsea has had to be damn-near perfect to go ten points clear, and we've been very wobbly of late. They can't keep play to perfection every week—but it's up to us to put the pressure on them.

11 February 2017

Arsenal 2-0 Hull: Alexis lends a hand [VIDEO]

Handballs or the lack thereof) were the order of the day as Arsenal wasted numerous chances against Hull's packed-in defense. Finally, in the 33rd minute, Alexis scored a ball-to-hand after a flurry on Hull's line. That would be about it as far as clear-cut chances until stoppage time when Hull's keeper had come off his line, full-Fabiański, leading to a scramble in which Lucas's header forced Hull defender Clucas to extend his arm to attempt the goal-line clearance. Clattenburg issued the red, and Alexis slotted the penalty to make it 2-0. It wasn't ever pretty, but it's a result, and we'll take it. Enjoy the highlights below!

10 February 2017

"It's all going according to plan", or "we are Hull's Bayern..."

Don't worry, lads; the master-plan is still coming together as originally drawn. The loss at home to Watford, followed by the capitulation at Stamford Bridge, are but gambits in larger chess-match. The Prem title is not only still up for grabs, we have it right where we want it. Trust me on this. It feels better than acknowledging reality. Reality, of course, has us trailing Chelsea by 12 points with just 14 matches left. While it might at first seem a relief to host Hull, stranded as it were in the relegation dog-fight, they've shown some fight of late and seem more than ready to upset a few apple carts.

09 February 2017

Worried about Walcott: why hasn't the Arsenal stalwart ever quite hit the big time?

Last year, Theo Walcott celebrated ten years as an Arsenal player. And in an era where so many players are attracted by the brighter lights and heavier wage packets of the foreign leagues, that’s a pretty impressive stint. It doesn’t appear to be in danger of ending any time soon, either. At the time of writing, Walcott has scored fourteen times in twenty-seven appearances this season and has been in stellar form. Despite this, his place as an Arsenal legend is still debated. Many will say he isn’t strong enough (despite clearly spending a considerable amount of time in the gym of late), lacks desire, or doesn’t have the football mind that many of his peers have been born with.

13 January 2017

Will Arsenal shake their Swansea-struggles? Lucas Pérez says si...

At first blush, a trip Swansea might be just the balm to sooth Gooners' frayed and tattered nerves after leaving it awfully late in recent weeks at Dean Court and Deepdale. However, a closer look at Arsenal's record at home or away to the Welsh side suggests that we'd do well to be wary, even if they've now named a fourth manager in one season, have shipped 45 goals across 20 matches, and are likely paying closer attention to goings-on in the Championship than in the Prem.

12 January 2017

Arsenal sign three key Frenchmen to bolster title-tilt!

With the January transfer window now open, and with Arsenal's hopes in the Prem, FA Cup and Champions League each suffering to varying degrees, it should come as some consolation that Arsène has seen fit to loosen the purse-strings ever so slightly to shore up the squad. The signings of three vital French players, long a hallmark of Arsène's transfer policy and priority, may not strengthen the squad per se but should at least solidify it for the near-future. I'm referring of course to the new contracts signed by Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, and Laurent Koscielny.

07 January 2017

Pérez puts Preston in their proper place; is he ready for prime time?

It wasn't meant to be like this, not for a second match in a row, as Arsenal limped into halftime on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline—scratch that, at least this second time, we'd retreat down only 1-0 at halftime. Even though the narrow escape from Dean Court should have inspired our squad going into Deepdale, we got off on the wrong foot entirely, and it was Preston who looked much more likely to advance to the fourth round on the strength of their first-half showing. Such a summary would overlook the industry of one Lucas Pérez. Yes, he assisted Giroud for the winner, but it was his overall workrate and industry that, once again, seized the day.

06 January 2017

FA Cup Preview: Preston vs. Arsenal in "Invincibles" Clash!

The FA Cup's Third Round Proper throws together two behemoths of British football, the only two clubs to have ever completed a full campaign, the only two—eh, that's enough of that. I'm sure you'll have read quite enough of the "Invincibles" angle already, so that's about as much ink as I'll devote to it here. After all, for both clubs, that's history, ancient or otherwise. Let's turn our attention instead to the present, one in which Arsenal should look quite keen to advance and Preston might have more to worry about than this competition.

04 January 2017

All hail Spurs, or why Arsenal ❤️ Tottenham!

At first blush, it seems like an embarrassing admission. After all, for the better part of a century, Arsenal have lorded it over Tottenham, whether it was who was admitted to the First Division in 1919 or the more-recent twenty years during which Arsenal have finished higher than their North London counterparts. It therefore does seem strange for Gooners to celebrate a Spuds victory—especially one that elevates those self-same Spuds above the Gunners. That's an ironic inversion if ever there was one. Still, it's an entirely positive result, one that Gooners have numerous reasons to feel good about. Let's get to those reasons, then...

03 January 2017

Bournemeuth 3-3 Arsenal: EPIC comeback [VIDEO]

Arsenal put in a depressing performance for the first 70 minutes, going down 3-0 to the impressive Cherries, and it looked like we'd crumble in an embarrassing final scoreline. However, goals from Alexis and Lucas (both assisted by Giroud) restored hope, and Giroud equalised in the first minute of stoppage-time. That's where it would despite six extra minutes, and Arsenal escape with a point we sorely needed but hardly deserve. It'll keep us hot on Man City's heels for now, and you can think later about how you want Wednesday's clash between Tottenham and Chelsea to play out. For now, enjoy the thrilling comeback at Dean Court!

01 January 2017

Giroud, sexy beast cum scorpion, wins it for Arsenal [VIDEO]

Olivier Giroud delivered a stunning, goal-of-the-year wonder strike to make it 1-0, and earned for himself Man of the Match honours as Arsenal won comfortably over Crystal Palace. Alex Iwobi lofted in a cheeky header early in the second half to make it 2-0, and that was that. Petr Čechkept his 184th clean-sheet, extending his Premier League record, and Arsenal climb to third as Man City lost to Liverpool. Check out the highlights below!