Tag Archives: Premier league

Man at the match; Chary: Theo buttresses scoring junks

A swiftly taken, and started, first half hatrick from Theo Walcott ensured the most relaxed atmosphere to an end of season game for an age as the Arsenal set themselves up nicely for the FA Cup final with a comfortable 4-1 win against Pullis’ West Brom.

The expected rotation was there, Gabriel for Kozzer and Walcott for Giroud, in addition to the replacement of Gibbs for Monreal and Jack for Ramsey from the previous game.

However neither Santi nor Alexis got the breather I felt they needed, but then that may have been too much change for a game in which victory was desirable as it would set the mood for the FA Cup preparations.

Only the most doom laden Gooner would have feared losing third spot today as a seven goal swing was required for that to happen and fearing a repeat of the previous weekends performance from the today’s opposition against Chelsea some would argue pre match concerns like this were not entirely invalid.

Surely any Pullis side would be defensively tight, unadventurous and looking to frustrate ?

Panoramic from North Bank

Panoramic from North Bank

Having taken my seat in the north bank lower within a few minutes of the start I could see this was not the case, even though Arsenal were attacking the Clock End, as usual, in the first half and my sub par vision would make details hard to pick out.

West Brom looked to push forward early on and hence left gaps behind them, which after a short time was the wrong tactic.

A threaded ball from Santi found Theo wide right, who then unleashed an unstoppable rising drive that gave the Baggies keeper no chance.

Instant relief and the crowd could relax as the mini goal drought ended less than five minutes into the game.

Distant view after Theo scores

Distant view after Theo scores

And so started the Wembley songs which then continued for the rest of the afternoon.

In addition to the relatively open nature of the game another feature was Jack’s surging runs through the middle of the park, which drew much appreciation from the crowd, one of these led to some interchange with Özil that fired a cross into the West Brom box which Theo efficiently dispatched for his second.

Barely had we stopped cheering Theo’s brace then another attack led to some ping pong n the away penalty area which the Baggie’s defenders failed to clear and a lose ball was rifled in by Jack for the third.

The English core had now scored three goals and the ludicrous bad luck that dogged Arsenal’s goal attempts in the last three games was well and truly banished.

A Pullis side surrendering so tamely didn’t seem right and looking at the man himself he watched impassively, arms folded, without even attempting to look at all concerned.

The only semblance of order was a touch of the Stoke City’s that whenever there was a West Brom goal kick, as the ball looped down, the West Brom player was always giving out a sneaky shove to the Arsenal player attempting the clearing header.

The Baggies still came forward, even at three down, however Berahino’s early threat seemed to subside and all their approach play seemed to fizzle out impotently.

At three nil up a surge of exiting Gooners making for front of the queue for half time food missed Theo’s hat trick goal as Santi completed a move involving Özil, Alexis and Jack by firing across the goal for Theo to tap in a poachers goal.

Sign him up Arsène!
Sign da ting !

Half time came and as the score in the Stoke-Scousers game was flashed up much delirium ensued, clearly Stevie Me’s swansong would not end well as Liverpool were being battered 5-nil by Pullis’ former charges.

After such a breathless, enthralling first half, the second would struggle not to be an anti climax, and a weird starting second half it was.

First off Hector went lunging into the West Brom number 11 and received an unnecessary yellow card and then indecision in the the Arsenal defence led to a corner.

Then, after having looked so secure for nearly all his time in goal, Ospina seemed to flap at the corner and let a header in.

The excessive/ironic celebration of the Baggies fans at this point was the highlight of their day and only a mild irritant to the home support.

With the FA Cup in mind some of Arsène’s prospective starting 11 were taken off, Coquelin and then Theo to take the applause for his masterful hatrick; only the most churlish of us would take his little wave to the west stand as he walked off as a “wave goodbye”.

To my eyes if Villa allow us space to play then Theo should start; if not his replacement today, Olly, should start. Luckily that difficult decision is not mine to make.

Finally Jack was replaced by the Ox and the reception he got proved that his mid season indiscretions had been forgiven and his on field efforts very much appreciated.

The introduction of Ramsay and the Ox didn’t stop the fluidity of the mid field and chances were still being created.

Özil corner

Özil corner

Alexis, as ever, never stopped running and when one of his jinks into the opposition penalty area came to nothing, the crowd showed their appreciation and encouragement with his “Alexis baby” song – I don’t think he knows it his song yet as he just kept his head down while walking back to his position after play restarted.

Cheer up Alexis, every Gooner loves you !

A fifth goal would have been great and a Ramsay shot cannoned off the post as the game drew to a close.

Close from Rambo

Close from Rambo

The end of season feeling was confirmed when the fourth official didn’t bother signalling how much added time there would but when the final whistle blew it was with satisfaction the crowd showed their thanks for the result of the game.

Five points clear of fourth placed ManUre with no annoying Champions League pre qualifier to mess up pre season for the lads, I’d a taken that after our slow League start.

The lap of appreciation started with the handful of West Brom fans remaining holding up a plea on behalf of Sweden for Olsson, which seemed odd as he looked rather clumsy and unathletic on today’s showing, the Swedes must be desperate.

Olsson request

Olsson request

So we wait for the season climax next Saturday for our shot at another trophy; sadly for me I won’t be going as tickets are extremely hard to come by so I’ll thank you the readers for staying with me this season and I’ll see you in the 15/16 season.

Players Lap

Players Lap


By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Match Report: Arsenal v. Sunderland

By Les Crang, at Emirates Stadium behind a buttress of junk

With my birthday on the 23rd of May and more over time than I often get offered, I took the opportunity to catch Arsenal’s penultimate league game of the season, from what looked a relegation bound Sunderland. Funnily, this has been the most games I have seen in a season having seen 3 league games at home (Hull, QPR and Sunderland), a League Cup game against Southampton and the FA Cup game against Hull. I was pretty pleased with that.

But in all that time I had missed out on one major thing: Mesut Ozil. Now, I don’t care what anyone says, in world football, to me, Ozil rules supreme. Ever since I saw him play for Germany in the 2009 U21 final, and destroyed England, that is the player I always wanted to watch:-

When we signed Ozil, I didn’t sleep all night. I was that excited. So, to say I have been looking forward to finally watching Ozil in person is an understatement.

Prior to going to the ground I met Gary Lawrence for a few at The Cannon on Blackstock Road. I’d met Gary a couple times before (prior to the Hull F.A Cup game and at the I am Sam event) and I’m often ‘talking’ to Gary via twitter and he is always a huge help with my research. To my shame, on the previous two occasions I’d not bought a round and wanted to prove I did have a wallet without moths in it.

After a few beers and discussing the usual things (family, football and, uh football) we noticed that we made the classic mistake of the ‘last half’ and I ended up late to the game and missed the first 8 minutes. From the highlights it looked like the heavily booed Jermaine Defoe had a half chance. So, I guess I didn’t miss much.

I then proceeded to watch Arsenal up in the goods (I’m never going in block N again. It’s just not the best view.) As I settled into my seat I noticed that Arsenal then proceeded to pass to someone I had not seen on the team sheet. That person was called ‘the other foot’: whenever Arsenal got around the Sunderland box, the first person they’d pass to was ‘the other foot’. By then, a well marshaled 9 man Sunderland defence, led by an industrious Lee Cattermole had closed Arsenal down.

Again and again Arsenal would either pass to ‘the other foot’ or worst, to a player in space. Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs ably replaced Francis Coquelin and Nacho Monreal respectively, with both having tidy games. Gibbs especially impressed, with his overlapping play and ability to track back. Jack was also a willing runner in the middle, but even with his thrusting runs, space was at a bigger premium than a Spurs EPL challenge.

There were chances. Ozil, who I’d been dying to see, was often driving across the 18 yard box only to cut back the ball to an overmarked and lethargic Olivier Giroud. If Ozil did shoot, it was often from just inside the box and blazed over (he did this twice).

From the stands, Ozil looked disinterested all game and frustrated the hell out of me. He has class though and when the ball is in the air and he brings it down, his cushioning of the ball is very Bergkamp-esque — a bit like the way Dennis cushioned the ball against Argentina in the World Cup quarter-final in 1998):-

He’s not Bergkamp, and he was pretty poor, to be honest.

Aaron Ramsey had a few runs, but much like the rest of the team, when he was near the goal, especially in the first half, picking the wrong pass seemed to be the only option. As Aaron has a stunning shot, his willingness not too use it left me constantly to drop into Tourette’s mode.

Sanchez, as ever was a willing runner. Once in the first half he was dispossessed, got up and hustled to win the ball back. You can’t doubt his stamina and he did try but once we won the ball back, Arsenal were immediately crowded out in the middle and the ball was lost

The player who did impress, actually didn’t have the best game, but that’s how poor we were!

I’d already spoken to Tony Fisher and Cockney Green Gooner about my man love of Ozil, but they said Santi Cazorla is better.

@mzk90 @plasticspam @garythegooner56 @cockneygreen65 #controversial I’d take Santi over Ozil

— Tony Fisher (@vidfish1) May 20, 2015

Now, I think Santi’s been awesome. A brilliant signing, but last night I watched him and having last seen a game at the Emirates had not noted how much deeper he plays since Wenger changed his tactics away to Manchester City earlier this year:-

He was industrious, always looking for the ball. Those that have mentioned he might leave and might be losing it really should watch the Spanish maestro. He really makes Arsenal tick. His loss should not be even contemplated in my opinion.

Half-time came and it was really feeling like Swansea the week before (minus the shots mind). I could remember no real chances for us. Another was pretty obvious in tactics. The middle was congested so why not try a tricky winger at half-time. I mean, it was crying out for Theo Walcott and I’m not a huge fan, but width was needed as Gibbs and Bellerin (more on him later) had not really had much luck on either side.

Of course, Wenger waited for his beloved 68th minute before Theo came on for Jack. Theo was applauded on his 300th appearance for Arsenal. Prior to this Arsenal had a header by Gibbs go just wide (similar to a goal he scored against Shrewsbury. See below):-

Arsenal 3-1 Shrewsbury Town by fun4lyf

Also Arsenal had hit the back post with an audacious angle shot in the 55th minute.

Sunderland, though, stuck to their guns and stayed as deep as possible and kept Defoe as a wide man waiting for any punted clearances upfield, which occurred on a couple occasions. One was with Bellerin caught well out of position. With Per Mertesacker trying to cover the middle and turn (never easy for the big man), Defoe collected Sunderland’s clearance and simply hit a long, hopeful ball in the area of Scotland’s finest striker, Fletcher. Fletcher, who being chased down by Mertesacker, couldn’t clip it over an advancing Ospina. Being Scotland’s finest really does mean you’re not much good, thankfully for Arsenal. Warning signs were there for all to see though.

Sunderland and Fletcher would have a better chance when Arsenal were easily caught out attacking too far upfield. Again, Fletcher proved to be wasteful in front of goal. But then Arsenal then nearly scored when a Sunderland defender chested on the post.

With ten minutes to go, Ozil was finally substituted for Tomas Rosicky. Rosicky was soon pulling the strings with Theo, who really put in some good runs. Rosicky has been sadly under utilised this season and what a shame. He proved how invaluable his bursts are as a sub.

With these two on, Arsenal passed quicker and shot more. Theo had two excellent attempts well saved by the Sunderland keeper (1 & 2). Tomas Rosicky then missed a great chance by some metres to on the 83rd minute. Then the whistle went.

Overall, an annoying game. Sunderland deserved the point, but the game screamed for width and a few more shots at their extremely tall goalkeeper (how we all wished Vito Mannone was playing?)

The good points? Well, Per and Laurent Koscielny underlined it won’t be easy for Gabriel to dislodge them. Cazorla was always trying and working from deep, Plus Theo and Rosicky looked like they showed why they should play Sunday with their great cameos.

On the negative? Well, the no goals scored for a third home game after another team parked the bus (surely Aston Villa saw what they have to do in the Cup final?) Ozil ghosted out too often and Giroud looks jaded. But my main complaint? Héctor Bellerín. Now he’s great player but I can understand why people see him as a replacement for Dani Alves at Barcelona. Like Alves, he loves to get forward, he has speed and he likes to shoot. But just like Alves he gets caught out of position. He over relies on the excellent BFG and Kozza to get him out of trouble. Twice at least he got caught out of position. Once he caught up with the player (he’s fast) but couldn’t tackle without fouling. He’s a liability at times and perhaps Mathieu Debuchy‘s return cannot come soon enough?

Anyhow, I’d gone looking forward to our new signing against Sunderland, expecting a win and came away disappointed. I think you’ve been here before, Tim ? Lets hope we beat WBA Sunday in preparation for the Cup Final.

Wankers, the lot of them

Arsenal v. Sunderland: the time has come to buttress our junks

By Tim Todd, Sr. Junk Buttresser

Whelp, it’s the penultimate Premier League match for Arsenal. The final home game of the season. The last chance for the Gunners to get the points that could propel them into second place. Arsenal’s last chance to buttress their junks.

Second place seems a bit fanciful at the moment. Arsenal are 5 points behind Man City and -11 goals on goal difference. To take 2nd, Arsenal need to win both remaining games and hope that City lose on the final day of the season to Southampton. That could happen but first Arsenal need to win today against a Sunderland side who are still in the throes of a relegation battle and will be looking to get at least a point. A point would ensure survival and mean that they could take the day off on the final day of the season, when they face champions Chelsea.

In a refreshing turn of events this season Arsene Wenger has taken to publicly stating what he thinks the opposition’s game plan is:

“If you are Sunderland, what do you do if you need a point? You play not to lose the game and you hope for a counter-attack or a set-piece. I think that’s what they will do – they will try to be sound at the back, defend well and get the point that makes them safe.”
Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/match/report/1415/pre/first-team/arsenal-v-sunderland-match-preview

Given that, Sunderland are a side where Wenger needs to get the balance right with his squad selection. Arsenal need players with the foot speed to match the counter and defenders who can win the ball in the air. He also needs attacking players who can unlock the defense with a deft dribble, someone who can break through the lines and cause panic.

Ox is the guy I would pick to run the wings but it’s a shame he is broken. In his stead, I’d like to see Wilshere come in for Cazorla. It’s not that Cazorla is bad, he’s just tired and his performance against Man U last week was one of the worst of the season. Far from dropping him, it’s just a good idea to give him a rest, especially since Arsenal play this weekend as well.

I would also give Alexis a break. Arsenal have Rosicky and there is no reason why he can’t play against a team like Sunderland. But I suspect that Wenger will bring Walcott on instead. I’m not saying that the choice makes sense. I don’t expect Walcott to have a particularly full match and he’s not at all a like-for-like replacement for Alexis. But Arsenal need a wing player and he is the closest we have to that.

Meanwhile in the back, Bellerin was abused by Ashley Young in the United match and has looked well out of sorts for a few weeks but I don’t know if Arsene can drop Bellerin, Wenger’s only healthy choice is Chambers and while I like the young man I think he has been exposed one too many times in the right back slot this season. And if Walcott starts in front of him, there could be real trouble because Theo’s not the best at covering his defenders. So, I’m sticking with Bellerin.

Gabriel will probably start paired with Mertesacker in center back. Koscielny has picked up an illness or a knock, or something, and Gabriel is a good replacement for Koz in terms of ability and physique. Judging on the few times I’ve seen him play, he is fast, aggressive, and good in the air. Exactly what Arsenal need in a center back playing against Sunderland.

Wenger doesn’t like to make too many changes at once. So I’m not sure we will see a wholly different Arsenal team with Gibbs, Chambers, Wilshere, Walcott, and Gabriel as some have suggested this morning. Three players will probably be the max rotation, unless there is a major problem physically on the Arsenal side.

After a loss to Swansea and a dour draw to Man U, Arsenal need to get back to winning ways. Sunderland are not going to be easy but Arsenal should have to quality to beat them. Especially if Arsenal get stuck in early and catch Sunderland still tying their boots.

That’s your quick and dirty preview. If you have time, I suggest you check out Rory K. Smith’s  piece on why we (reporters, media types, fans, bloggers, etc) are overhyping the impact that the transfer market can have on a team. It’s an interesting article and matches pretty well with Wenger’s comments about how we would feel if Coquelin had cost Arsenal £40m. There is also a subtext in that article about Özil: he was Arsenal’s record signing and part of the reason why so many people get down on him is because we expect him to be:

a one-man highlight immediately, a scorer of great goals and a great scorer of goals, creative and quick and hungry and immune to poor form or a bad day.

That is something that many of the writers and readers here have said time and again.

After the match, I will do a by the numbers piece on Arseblog News and we are actually going to have a match report from Les Crang later tonight. I’m also recording the ArseAmerica podcast with Chris Toronyi which should be up sometime tomorrow morning.

That’s all.