What Next For Arsenal?

It was a one week to forget for Arsenal as they failed to pick up a single point in two games. First was at Goodison park where a host of school boys error changed what would have been a routine win for Arsenal. Much has been written on that match. Next was the clash with Manchester City at the Etihad stadium on Sunday. Again, lack of urgency and seriousness cost Arsenal what would have been a routine win if they had maintained focus.

However, one denominator was consistent with both games; Arsène Wenger crying foul about the officiating of both matches. At Everton it was the manner in which the toffees made the game physical while the ref failed to control the game accordingly, gifting very crucial decisions in Everton’s favour and denying Arsenal of very clear calls. Koeman was not having that and accused Wenger of being a “sore loser”. The game at Etihad picked up from where the previous one stopped at, gifting city two goals which were clear offside. Truth be told, Arsenal were piss-poor on the day, but does not make Martin Atkinson right in leaving those two goals to stand. Arsène, rightly, was less than impressed by those unfortunate outcome, as he voiced his frustration:

“The two goals are two offside goals and in a game of that stature I feel enough is enough for us. We got some bad decisions for the whole season and today I looked at the goals and both are offside.

“The second one is five yards offside. The first one is still offside. But what can I do? We have to live with that. We have to look at ourselves and analyse why we lost the game.”

Sanè scored Man city’s first goal. It clearly was offside.

Here is a detailed piece on refereeing in England as written by Untold Arsenal.

Recently, Alexis and Özil contract situation have made headlines in the media. Apparently, their agents are looking to milk Arsenal as much as they can, given their clients form or lack of it. Personally, I think they went too far with their demands. A club from China offered Alexis £400k/wk which his camp is using as leverage to demand a king’s ransom from Arsenal. Özil, in spite of his bad form in recent weeks, is demanding in excess of £300k/wk from Arsenal. It must be recalled that the said player was a passenger on sunday at Etihad stadium. So much that this meme was made by Arsenal fans in that respect: 

Gary Neville couldn’t put his situation more nicely:

You talk about Sanchez and Ozil as though Arsenal Football Club is going to end if they leave. Arsenal have had far better players than them over the last 20 years. I wouldn’t worry too much about them holding the club to ransom. Make them an offer and if they don’t stay let them go. Arsenal Football Club will still be here in a 100 years’ time.

Souness had this to say on the matter:

They are asking for money that is only given to players who have won the big trophies. And they haven’t won any big trophies.

Henry speaking on the matter said:

At the moment they are holding the club hostage. They are amazing but if they are on that amount of money, I want a hat-trick every week – and also when there’s no game! You need to be in a situation where you’ve won something already for the club to ask for that amount of money.

Sanchez at the Etihad stadium. Is he being affected by the contract situation?

I agree with these legends. They won it all, played for so long on the big stage, but never held their clubs hostage as this two are trying to do with Arsenal. I am all for giving them a new contract, but not on those terms. Özil will have to earn it. Sanchez is working his ass off in every game, but £400k/wk? Way too much.

So what next for Arsenal? First, the gunners must rediscover the form that took them almost 20 games without defeat across all competition. They must hope that Mustafi returns, at the worst, on schedule. They must handle these contract negotiations in such a way that it does not interfere with the productivity on the pitch. Lastly, Arsène must strengthen the squad this January; increase competition in the squad by getting one or two players in. Payet and Draxler will not be bad.

Let’s hope that Arsenal’s form will start to improve starting with the next game at home against the Baggies on boxing day fixtures. COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner 

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Gunners Lay Down Their Guns To Hammer West Ham At The Olympic Stadium.

                        Hat-trick hero!

They have been sort of a bogey team to Arsenal in recent years. After the opening day 0-2 defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates stadium in 2015/2016 season when they exposed our noncommittal attitude, reminding us that no match was easy, West ham followed up the assault with a memorable come back at Upton park on the reverse fixture-led by Andy Carroll. Arsenal were up 2-0 before being pegged back at 3-3.
This week 14 fixture was made even more suspense packed; Arsenal tettering on the brink of average/lack of form in recent weeks and their London rivals all picking up maximum points. Chelsea won Man city 1-3 at Etihad while Spurs thrashed Swansea 5-0 at the lane. So Arsenal had everything to play for against the Hammers.

The match started evenly and the Gunners were on the front foot just as Arsène Wenger said in his pre match press conference. The attack was mainly coming from the left flank where Chamberlain, who had been average in most of his recent starts in the side, was at the heart of everything good. Monreal also made good use of our width to stretch the West ham defence to breaking point.

The breakthrough came midway through the half when Alexis capitalised on Coquelins sublime close down on the hammer’s  Italian defender Ogbonna to slip Alexis in one on one with the last defender. The Chilean made no mistake of it, brushing off Winston Reid before squaring it unselfishly to Özil who had the easiest of goals to tap in.
This closing down and breathing down the neck of opposing defense has come to characterise Alexis front play this season. He did the same thing last weekend against Bournemouth and forced Cook into an error which directly resulted to a goal. Now everyone thinks the Chilean best position is CF as opposed to fan’s earlier preference that he played on the left flank. On this note, Arsène, as always was right in making him the main centre forward.

The two very good things Arsène did for this team which has transformed the gunners into a genuine title contenders are :

1. Buying Mustafi
2. Moving Alexis to C.F.

Otherwise we are almost the same team as last season.
As the game wore on, it became evident that the gunners came with a game plan: pacey and direct play. Did they execute it to perfection?
Xhaka/Coquelin axis had both the defensive and attacking discipline necessary for a team who wants to play a fast flowing attacking football. The timely interception of Coquelin complimented Xhaka’s quick incisive passes into the channels which overloaded the West ham defence and left them in wonderland for the entirety of the match.
Inasmuch as Cazorla/coquelin offers much more to Arsenal, this combination on show at the Olympic stadium is the best alternative central midfield pairing we have seen this season.
In defence, the central defenders were an understanding unit as they shut out almost all the West ham attacking threats save for that one moment of ingenuity from Dimitre Payet that allowed substitute Carrol to nod home after the ball hit the woodwork. Gabriel struggled with a knock for a while, but later shook it off to finish 90 minutes, even though he didn’t offer the same attacking threats as Bellerin. Monreal was his usual calm self on the left back and pushed the West ham’s defence to full stretch.
This was one of the most complete performance of the Arsenal side this season; Mesut Özil scored and assisted, Sanchez scored a hat-trick and assisted one, chamberlain also scored from 25 yards and assisted too. Up next in the Premier league is the visit of the Potters to the Emirates stadium, but not before we travel to Basel on Tuesday to play our final group game in the champions league. It’s been an almost perfect weekend for Arsenal. Let’s hope for more of this performance in the coming weeks. COYG !!

-Fair Play Gooner