Giroud off the mark as Arshavin, Walcott make hay

Arsenal stormed home in comfortable fashion to advance to the fourth round of the League Cup thanks to a 6-1 thrashing of Coventry at the Emirates Stadium.

It was the second straight home game where we put six past the opposition, and it was Olivier Giroud who got both the team and his Arsenal account off and running with a clipped finish past the keeper.

The goal was set up by some quick thinking by Francis Coquelin, who nicked the ball Giroud’s way with a sliding effort. Giroud would have a second chance from the penalty spot after Andrey Arshavin was bundled over in the box, but his effort was well saved.

Arsenal was 2-0 up soon after after a spanking effort from 25 yards by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, before Nico Yennaris won possession high up the pitch to service Giroud, who dinked a pass into Arshavin’s path in the box. The little Russian scored his first Arsenal goal in a year with a lovely volleyed finish.

Theo Walcott made it 4-0 with a 5-2 Spurs-esque finish when put through on the right. Coventry responded to make it 4-1 thanks to a great cross on the right wing put away by substitute Callum Ball, before Ignasi Miquel responded almost immediately for the hosts with a thumping header to reclaim the four-goal cushion.

Walcott rounded off the evening with a great finish from the left hand side, Henry’ing the ball around the keeper. Continue reading

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Arshavin and Giroud must finally let loose

Arsenal’s League Cup campaign kicks off under the Emirates Stadium lights tonight against Coventry City. The usual press about Arsenal not taking the competition seriously continues apace, but ask any Gooner what they’re excited about tonight, and it will definitely centre around the latest crop of talented youngsters at the club.

The goalkeeper could be anyone between Vito Mannone, James Shea or Damien Martinez. As third-choice keeper (despite his run of starts for the first team), it would still be of value to give Mannone another start against Coventry. Yet the nod could easily go Shea’s way, with the Irishman having been on the bench for Arsenal’s one Champions League fixture this season, ahead of the much vaunted Argentinian Martinez.

Andre Santos should be a given for the left back berth while Djourou and Miquel could make their first starts this season. Nico Yennaris should also feature as Carl Jenkinson gets a well-earned rest.

It’s much more difficult to speculate who will feature further forward, with a number of combinations presenting themselves. The likes of Francis Coquelin, Thomas Eisfeld, and Serge Gnabry will all be champing at the bit to feature, while Emmanuel Frimpong should make an appearance from the bench after his very long injury lay-off. Continue reading

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Zonal Mertesacker, Koscielny earn Arsenal stellar point

Arsenal came from behind to secure a deserved point at the home of the champions on Sunday evening, thanks to a fantastic finish from defender Laurent Koscielny.

It could have been three points were it not for Gervinho’s wayward finishing and a poor first touch, as we spurned early and late chances to grab a deserved, if not widely expected win.

A case of the flu saw captain Thomas Vermaelen sit out this match, meaning a first start of the season for Koscielny, thrown into the lion’s den alongside Per Mertesacker. Aaron Ramsey also made his first start, surprisingly picked on the right wing with Gervinho continuing down the middle.

Arsenal started the game with intent, zipping the ball around with command and bossing the game with possession play. Ramsey linked up with Arteta to provide a great through-ball for Gervinho on 15 minutes, but the Ivorian’s touch was awful as he ran towards the box, stumping the ball straight at keeper Joe Hart.

Continue reading

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Mancini fears Djourou and overhypes Arsenal

Holy fudgebuckets, I’m psyched for this one, ladies and gents. A chance for this team, developing on a very encouraging trajectory, to take on the Premier League champions on their own patch.

I’m up for it. You’re all up for it, and I’m sure the team is up for the chance to well and truly announce themselves in the title-chase proper.

We’re coming up against a Man City side that is no doubt dangerous, very capable and very intelligent (more so with the loss of Samir Nasri to injury, nyuck nyuck) that could potentially pummel us into the ground with their megabucks signings.

Or, they could be swept off their feet by the Arsenal possession game. When this team gets it right, not many can withstand them, and we’re all hoping that is indeed the case at Middle Eastlands.

Man City have been defensively suspect in the early stages of the season so far, and I’m hoping that with our added discipline, we could steal a very memorable result. We’re not favourites by any means, but this is football. You just never know.

City manager Roberto Mancini isn’t writing us off either, going the whole hog to big us up as the greatest team to ever play the game. It’s an obvious tactic to 1) soften us up with compliments and 2) snap any complacency out of his own side. So you can guarantee both the Sky Blues and their home fans will be raring to go tonight. Continue reading

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Does Theo still think he’s worth £100K a week?

Theo Walcott’s demands for a £100,000-a-week contract is seriously sticking somewhere awful in my head. I don’t know what his agent is telling him, but in the vain hope he’s looking around the bottom of the barrel of Arsenal blogs (he isn’t), I’d hope some of these home truths become apparent to him.

  1. Theo is not deserving to be Arsenal’s highest-earning player
  2. The team is not reliant on him and thus he should accept a salary more in line with reality
  3. The rumoured £70,000-a-week offer is hardly ‘peanuts’, unless he’s been talking to Ashley Cole
  4. A season spent on the bench won’t get you that move to Chelsea. Liverpool might be a different matter.
  5. His competition for a spot on the Arsenal flank is exceeding him. One is a player who has recovered from the same sort of criticism Theo received (Gervinho), the other is a street smart kid who earns less than him (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain).

Player profile: Theo Walcott

Even within the England squad, Theo has yet to surpass his competition. While age had the beating of David Beckham and mediocrity proved too much for David Bentley, Walcott now finds himself behind the likes of Ashley Young and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Both have pace to burn, but possess greater improvisational skills and acumen than Theo. Young too has a much better sense of where the goal is; a talent Walcott could have possessed with a bit more confidence. Meanwhile Oxlade-Chamberlain comes close to matching Theo’s pace, while adding the brains of a central midfielder. Continue reading

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