The right response…

We score when we want...

We score when we want…

The defeat out in Dortmund did not surprise me one bit as they are a very good side and Klopp’s men could beat any team in Europe. However, it was the lacklustre performance that hurt and disappointed me the most. It wasn’t just one player who had a bad match; the whole team looked out of sorts (maybe I’m being harsh on Szczesny who done well to keep the score from becoming embarrassing). Anyway the reaction against high-flying Aston Villa would be important. The key players such as Mesut Özil and Danny Welbeck certainly stepped up to the plate as Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Apart from winning there were a couple of other noticeable points to come from the game. Firstly, the fact that we scored all three of our goals in 3 minutes of football shows that Arsenal can be clinical when they put their mind to it. Although Paul Lambert’s side have got off to a good start in the league, they cannot be classed as a top club (they’re not in Europe, let alone in the Champions League), so did not really pose a challenge. The real test comes against teams such as Tottenham tomorrow, or Chelsea next week, where we have to continue to be ruthless in front of goal in order to take all the points.

Secondly, Mesut Özil began to show his class again and proved that his early season form has been perhaps temporary. Pundits said that Arsene Wenger was to blame for the German’s slump in form but fail to grasp that a manager can only work with him to a certain point. It’s up to the player to perform. Also, many critics have said that Özil played better against Villa because he was in the no. 10 position, but that is a fallacy. Wenger gives the whole of the Arsenal midfield license to roam and swap positions with each other so it’s down to Mesut where he plays.

Most of you reading are probably wondering why I have conveniently left out Tuesday’s Capital One Cup third round defeat at home to Southampton. This is simply because I do not think the result will have much relevance on our future performances in the Premier League and Champions League (where it matters). Obviously it’s always nice to win and I would have liked to progress just to give our squad players some game time, but none of them took their opportunity so they only have themselves to blame. Having said that, the team from the South-coast played extremely well.

I’m getting behind Team Afobe (MK Dons) for the Capital One Cup.

By Glen Shorey

 

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Slow and steady…

More of this please...

More of this please…

I had a good feeling ahead of the match at the Emirates on Saturday. Last season, we fell apart in these early kick-offs against the big teams but it felt different this term. After a few sluggish displays, I could not wait to see how the team would cope with it’s strongest challenge yet; the reigning Champions. We had beat Manchester City back in August to lift the Community Shield but Pellegrini and co. claimed that it was not a serious competition (I wonder if his post match comments would have been the same had the result been different?) so it wouldn’t be a comfortable 3-0 victory this time.

Both teams were certainly fired up from the start this time and were fighting for every ball. The only problem for Arsenal was that they were trailing 1-0 at half-time eventhough Arsene Wenger’s men had dominated for large periods and were creating chance after chance .I am confident that if Danny Welbeck dink over Joe Hart early in the match had gone in instead of hitting the post, the Gunners would have gone on to have comfortably win the match as man city were playing a highline and could not cope with our pace. However, it didn’t and that is football. A matter of millimetres.

The players knew that they had played well in the opening 45 minutes but the score line meant that they still needed to up their game. Jack Wilshere (who for the first time in a while had a superb game in the middle of the park) scored the equaliser with a great bit of combination play with Aaron Ramsey that resulted in a neat goal from the Englishman. Shortly after, Alexis put Arsenal into the lead with an outstanding volley and cemented the fact that the team has definitely got some fight in them, compared to last year. Our need to be ruthless in front of goal and kill off matches was reiterated when Demichelis snatched a draw with eight minutes to spare.

I’m not going to dwell on the Dortmund match on Tuesday because it was quite frankly awful. None of the team played well and they all had an off day so we have to hope that this is a one off. We lost 2-0 but it easily could have been worse so the result wasn’t that bad in the end. Home form in the group stages of the Champions League has always been crucial and this season is not different. As long as we can pick up nine out of nine point at the Emirates, we should be okay. Once again, our defence looked shaky but injuries were perhaps an excuse (we had to play an 18 year old at right back). There is little that Wenger can do now the transfer window is closed but I wouldn’t mind signing a free agent just as cover.

The draw with the Champions was decent and gave me much to be positive about. Obviously, Tuesday night brought me back down to earth but I’ve got to be realistic and say that we can’t win every match. We have had a slow start but now have a run of games, which could define how we will do this season. There is a game every three days or so from now until mid October so it will be a testing period mentally as much as physically but one I’m sure we can get through it if we see more Jekyll and less Hyde.

By Glen Shorey

Time will tell…

He has got a point to prove...

He has got a point to prove…

Since I last posted on here, Arsenal have qualified for the group stage of the Champions League for the 17th year in a row, scraped a 1-1 draw against newly promoted Leicester City and signed another striker in the form of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United. Yet quite a few Arsenal fans are behaving as if we are out of Europe, got thrashed by the Foxes on Sunday and sold a key player (Aaron Ramsey is the best example at the moment). I just want all my fellow fans to stop panicking and remind them that there is much to be optimistic about.

Our record for consecutive Champions League qualifications is only second to Real Madrid but the achievement is nothing to be baulked at. While we haven’t ever won the competition, hearing that famous theme music on a Tuesday or Wednesday night is something that I will never get tired of. People speak of Arsenal’s dark days of not winning a trophy for nine years but I would’ve hated to be a Liverpool fan when they were no longer at European’s top table. The same applies to Manchester United this season. It is an amazing feeling just to be in the Champions League even if you don’t reign supreme and I can proudly say we are in it yet again.

After scraping a 2-1 win on the opening day, fighting back to a 2-2 draw against Everton and only managing a 1-1 draw against Leicester on Sunday, a lot of Arsenal fans have lost a grip on reality and have started to panic. Only picking up a point at the weekend was immensely disappointing but we’re only three games in. Only three other teams (Aston Villa, Swansea and Chelsea) are unbeaten so far, which just goes to show how completive this league will be (the so-called smaller teams can pull off some big shocks). The start could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse.

Manchester City proved last year that having a target to chase rather than looking back at the teams below is a more preferable position to have in the title race. I’d be more than satisfied if Arsenal went the whole season in touching distance of the top but only pounced in the last few weeks. Another positive from our results is that we haven’t crumbled. Last season, we would have not gone on to win that Crystal Palace match after going a goal down. It was 2-0 Everton at half-time last season and we went on to lose 3-0 (should’ve been more) so our resilience is definitely better. Sunday would have ended differently last year as well. Being pegged back to 1-1 probably immediately after scoring would have knocked the stuffing of the team and they would have lost but there is a special fighting spirit around the squad at the moment.

As for the Transfer Window, which closed shut until January on Monday, Arsenal had a very good one in my opinion. Obviously, the £35 Million signing of Alexis Sanchez was the highlight and he has looked impressive so far (let’s just hope he doesn’t dip in form after a few months like Mesut Özil). Then there are the signings of Mathieu Debuchy, Callum Chambers and David Ospina who have all come in to replace three summer departures. All are improvements on Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen and Lukasz Fabianski who departed in the summer. Yet, numerous fans still demanded more.

I have to be honest and say that I thought we should’ve signed a CDM but Wenger obviously believes Jack Wilshere can make that position his own in the future. Everyone else was desperate for a striker but with Alexis proving himself up top against Besiktas and Joel Campbell’s world cup displays, I was content with the situation and more concerned with conceding goals as scoring goals has not been the issue. However, Arsene Wenger’s philosophy has always been ‘attack is the best form of defence’ so our sole deadline day swoop was for 23 year old striker Danny Welbeck.

Whether this calculated risk will pay off remains to be seen but things definitely feel different to last term. Only time will tell whether we’ve improved and are Champions come May.

By Glen Shorey