West Ham hammered as Pod shows Gibbs how to cross

Dear Kieran Gibbs: Here is a GIF file I want you to watch over, and over, and over again. This what we old-schoolers like to call a ‘cross’. It’s not one of those ‘I’ll just chip this upwards and watch the defender nod it away with ease’ types. This is a stinger that causes all sorts of doubt in the opposition and makes hungry Girouds smile.

This isn’t an attack on Gibbs, who had a decent game before being subbed off, but it reflects my wish that Arsenal got more players in the box, more often, and upped the quality of its crosses.

Arsenal triumphed 3-1 over West Ham United at Upton Park last night thanks to Olivier Giroud’s first goal in the Premiership, a pacey Theo Walcott counter and long-distance gem from Santi Cazorla. Continue reading

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Three goals, three points as Arsenal recovers some mojo

Arsenal moved to the top of its Champions League group with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Greek champs Olympiacos, but will be weary after a turgid first-half performance.

Goals from Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and substitute Aaron Ramsey ultimately cancelled out Kostas Mitroglu’s headed equaliser but only after a stern talking to by stand-in manager Steve Bould at half-time.

Arsenal were pretty ordinary in the opening exchanges, still a bit bruised from their home loss against Chelsea last weekend. That match saw Laurent Koscielny receive a bit of a tanning in a disorganised back line, but Per Mertesacker fell ill in the lead-up to the game, meaning the Frenchman kept his place.

Santi Cazorla had a chance from a free kick, out wide on the left with players waiting, but decided to go for it himself from the tight angle, forcing the Olympiacos keeper into a sharp save.

But the rest of the half was almost uneventful, until the last 10 minutes. Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen both got their zones mixed up and missed headers from a right wing cross, which fell to Machado, only for the midfielder to scoop it over the bar from six yards out.

Moments later, Arsenal were ahead. Podolski scuttled won the left flank before sliding a pass across the edge of the box towards Gervinho, who let it bobble on to Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard stopped the ball into Gervinho’s path, who evaded three defenders to make space and fire home from outside the area.

It was a good finish from the once-upon-a-time shot-shy forward, and showed our pre-season promise to shoot a bit more from outside the box. Continue reading

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Brainy Chelsea out-think lacklustre Arsenal

You know it’s bad when you try and think of the ‘good’ moments of a match and the most prominent element is the fact that Man United lost a totally seperate game.

Arsenal lost its way and its first match of the season, coming undone against a thoroughly professional Chelsea side at the Emirates. Fernando Torres’s neat finish compounded some poor defending by Laurent Koscielny, before Gervinho’s tidy work in the box saw us level just before the break. But despite looking an improved side after the break, Arsenal conceded for a second time, again from a free kick, when Juan Mata’s free kick went unchallenged in the box as Koscielny helped it in on its way.

The first goal came after one of many fouls in dangerous areas from Thomas Vermaelen, allowing Mata the chance to size up our defence, which came up seriously short. Koscielny had a nightmare all game, and it started with the total mismanagement of Torres. The defender looked to be in a wrestling match with the forward, but made the crucial mistake of turning his back on the goal, allowing the Spaniard to get a leg around him and toe poke home. Clever stuff from the striker and amateurish from Koscielny.

It was nearly 2-0 to Chelsea when Koscielny again lost out to Torres, who raced into the box, only to trip over his own feet allowing the defence to clear.

Arsenal never found a rhythm, yet somehow found itself level just before the break as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got forward, had time to look up, and belt a good cross at Gervinho in the box. The Ivorian, his back to goal, did well to control the ball, spin and shoot in one movement to lash the ball past Cech and equalise on half-time.

Our most fluid moments seemed to follow the half-time whistle for a period of eight minutes, but again we found ourselves behind after a Mata free kick. The ball evaded everyone, bounced in front of the keeper, and Koscielny could do little but try and flick it away, and instead helped it home.

It was a deflating moment. Though they were playing well before the second goal, taking the lead just confirmed the level of control both Mata and bazillionaire Eden Hazard had over the game. The two forwards were running the show, making our much hyped Santi Cazorla anonymous in comparison.

The game had started badly enough when Abou Diaby limped off after just 10 minutes with what looked like another innocuous injury. Having to immediately reshuffle the line-up so soon did us no favours, but the passing throughout the side was bad yesterday. First touches were heavy and the pass to no-one was frequently deployed at the most inopportune times.

Failing that, the amount of space we afforded Chelsea was really irritating. Surely this team knows how much impetus it gets from closing down and hassling opponents, allowing us to break high up the pitch. On Saturday, no such thing could be seen, neutering the influence Lukas Podolski and Cazorla have been having lately. Mikel Arteta had a rare bad game, with the aforementioned Mata and Hazard constantly speeding past him when he wasn’t able to foul them. Furthermore, his passing was also pretty questionable throughout. Continue reading

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Arsenal’s biggest test yet

Another week, another titanic, end of the universe type clash with some ugly rich kids. Chelsea is the name of the game today as the European champions (get used to it, they’ll be sure to remind us) make their way to the Emirates.

After having to prove ourselves against the domestic champions last week, away from home, there’s a different vibe for this week’s challenge as we get to do it in front of our own fans. The place is buzzing at the moment with the fans getting behind a proper team for once – one that is as exciting in its approach play as it is in defence. Despite this being history’s most expensive football game ever, I’m expecting a full house with wildly enthusiastic crowd, getting behind their own team for once.

We’ll be coming up against a team that has rediscovered its creative flair with the signings of Oscar and Eden Hazard, but are still not that solid in defence. Racist convict John Terry (sounds like a South African migrant living in Australia. Lulz) will hopefully command their back line like he’s wearing nylon socks on a tiled floor.

Nevertheless, we come up against a side that are playing much better than City are, and justifiably (for now!) sit top of the table. This is arguably an even more difficult fixture than last week’s, even at home, so nothing short of our top effort will do. Continue reading

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The John Terry dossier: Arsenal desperate to face Chelsea captain

OMG! It’s John Terry

Ahead of our crucial match against Chelsea tomorrow, I suppose there’s no news as unavoidable as John Terry’s suspension for making racist comments to Anton Ferdinand.

I’m not one who’s going to go on about Terry being a racist (though I don’t write it off). The UK courts settled that he ‘was not’ a racist, and I can live with that. I can also live with the fact that OJ Simpson didn’t murder his wife and that Joh Bjelke-Petersen wasn’t a crook. But even putting the whole Anton Ferdinand debacle aside, there are plenty of reasons to goad the Chelsea captain on Saturday.

For starters, he’s of despicable character, regardless of what Theo Walcott says. Just ask Wayne Bridge in one of the immortal handshaking snubs. He even wears shin pads underneath his suit. He’s quick to whip said suit off for photo ops when his team-mates win him a Champions League. A trophy he was so determined to spoil by getting suspended for making stupid tackles.

Then of course, there’s the crap he does on the pitch. Arsenal are subject to the ‘same old Arsenal, always cheating’ chants in almost every match, even for fouls that break our players’ legs and ankles. So it’s only natural for the bitter, twisted brat inside of me to point out the odd occasion when it happens from the other side of the fence. Continue reading

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