Arsène Has A Big Task Of Changing The Team’s Mentality.

I can’t believe I am still talking of mentality in 2017. I can’t believe the team still start a game sluggishly, shoot themselves on the feet and fail to get even a single point from a match they are supposed to win with minimal ease inside the Emirates stadium. I can’t believe that in 2017, Aaron Ramsey would still be just a prospect within Arsenal fold, can’t be trusted to keep composure and concentration for 90 minutes without selling his team out, almost 10 years after the start of his Arsenal adventure.

Maybe it’s time to cut our losses and get him moved on. Maybe he needs a new surrounding. His development seems to have stalled, and he doesn’t have any motivation whatsoever. Looking at him last night lose the ball, from an otherwise low pressure circumstance; when his defenders were all coming out from the 18 area, and trudged back with nonchalance only reminicent of one Andrey Asharvin’s during the last months of his Arsenal career, I was lost for words to describe him; considering the enormous faith Arsenal and Arsène Wenger put in him. It’s just plain pity that he (Aaron Ramsey) thinks he’s doing enough to repay the club with such lackadaisical attitudes. Deflecting an otherwise harmless free-kick into his own net and strolling back after gifting the opponents the ball in a dangerous area directly resulting in a 2-0 deficit inside 15 minutes of the first half, then you go down with injury before 20th minute; leaving your team mates with a mountain to climb.👏👏

Even though the team had no power over the outcome of other title contenders’ results, they had absolute power to determine the outcome of their own match. Their fate was always in their own hands. What did they do? Throw it away to the wind. Chelsea dropped point, Tottenham dropped points to relegation strugglers Sunderland. What an opportunity to close the gap on the top and put a psychological hold on Chelsea ahead of our clash with them at Stamford bridge this weekend. At the end, we did what we know to do best; we bottled it.

“We didn’t start the way we wanted, in the second half it was all us, and we were unlucky to lose the game as well. We did not deserve to lose this game.”
 -Arsène Wenger

Any title chasing side must first be hard to score against, must have the technical skills, must be opportunists, must be psychologically and physically ready every week, must have the dugout tactical prowess to change things in little or no notice; must be able to improvise. Last night caught us wanting on several of these key areas. Arsène Wenger picked a wrong team. Inasmuch as the manager knows best, we football fans sometimes can determine the outcome of a game just by looking at the team sheet. We know them, we know their current form, so we can tell. As soon as I saw that line up yesterday, I was sure that something could go wrong. Whatever happened to the trio we saw at Southampton in midweek?  A team so dynamic that a very good Southampton side did not have any answer to the questions being thrown at them. Welbeck, Walcott, Perez.. You can argue that Welbeck need not to be rushed back, but the truth remains he is still fresh and would benefit from an extended run in the team. With the absence of Xhaka through suspension, why not Chamberlain-after his five star showing against the saints? Why start with Paulista against a saints side which does not boast of any outstanding wing backs, why keep Bellerin on the bench? Why start with Giroud who always have his best days coming in from the bench? Why sub Coquelin just when Arsenal were on the ascendency with Iwobi at the heart of everything good, moving the youngster down into the place vacated by the defensive midfielder? Since I didn’t want to risk Bellerin, why not sub Gabriel Paulista, who never found his touch going forward, bringing in whichever more offensive option you want while leaving Coquelin to man the middle and also snuff out any attempt of theirs down the right wing; thereby overloading Watford defence with goal scoring threats? These are calls which I think should be common knowledge to any good thinking football analyst or enthusiast, but our manager didn’t quite get them spot on; hence Arsenal paid the price. He took the blames head on though. 

Arsène will not always get the calls spot on all the time, but I expect him to instill in these hugely talented group of players a mentality that befits a title challenging team. I do not wish to compare Arsène with anyone, but in his days, Alex Ferguson would be smiling to the title with this set of players at Arsène’s disposal. It’s all a matter of mind set. Wars are first fought and won on the battlefield of the mind. These set of players are proving year after year that they are not up for it. Therefore, if Arsenal will be champions of England come May, nay, if the team has any dream of being in the top four come the end of the season, then Arsène has got a big task of changing his player’s mentality. Next up is a trip across London to Stamford bridge. Lets hope for the best. COYG!!

Here is the full match media conference by Arsène Wenger. Mind you, he’s always got his reasons.

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Road To Wembley.

We return tonight at the EFL in a quarter final home match with the Saints. It’s been an eventful 4 days for the gunners as they broke a run of 3 successive draws with a 3-1 home win over Bournemouth to stay within 3 points off the top of the PL table. Puel’s men are also coming from a 1-0 home win over Everton which lifted them into 10th position on the table with 17 points.

Arsenal: Debuchy (hamstring), Giroud (groin), Bellerin (ankle), Cazorla (Achilles), Akpom (back), Mertesacker, Welbeck (both knee)

Southampton: Boufal, Davis (both illness), Tadic (nose), McCarthy, Target (both hamstring), Pied (knee)

It’s a shame we lost Debuchy and Giroud to injuries at the weekend but I expect Arsène to name a team with the right mixture of youth and experience. I will expect Carl Jenkinson to start at RB though Arsène might give youth player Maitland Niles a nod in place of Jenko. Gibbs is set to wear the captain armband against the Saints and feature at LB. In the central Defence, I expect a Gabriel/Holding partnership. A recall for Coquelin to partner Xhaka at the middle of the park is highly likely. I expect the attackers to be Chamberlain, Adelaide, Iwobi and Lucas Perez as the Centre forward. Emiliano to start in goal. This line-up should be good enough for this tie. 
I won’t speculate on the players to start for Southampton because they are a massive farmhouse for premier league clubs as Arsène Wenger noted. They are the most successful at producing young talents in England since the last 15 years. Such names as Theo Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlain, Chambers, Adam lallana, Luke Shaw and Gareth bale should come to mind. Not to forget their excellent scouting network that scouted Fonte, Cedric, Mane just to name a few. So they are a massive club with massive potentials.

I believe that Arsenal playing at home in this round should provide an added incentive to the Gunners. The home support and the splendid Emirates stadium turf. However, Southampton should not be underestimated as we did in 2014 and were undone at home in this very competition at the third round. Arsène Wenger’s men must play with heart and passion, accuracy and commitment to ensure that Arsenal get to the semi-final stage and play at Wembley stadium. 

Hull city beat Newcastle and luverpool beat Leeds United to book a place in the semis. Manchester United will play West Ham later tonight to decide who gets the nod. Let’s hope that the boys turn out tonight at 7:45 p.m. GMT and give a performance that will ensure the road to Wembley is cleared.  COYG!! To a win!!

-Fair Play Gooner

No victor, No vanquish.

FT Arsenal 2-2 PSG. It was an exhilarating match foe both teams. Arsenal were brilliant in patches. In the second hal they corrected their shortcomings in the first half, however it was not enough to take the whole points from a very strong PSG side.
As it stands now, PSG will qualify ahead of Arsenal as the group leaders, even if we have better goal difference; because of the head to head rules. Well let’s hope we don’t get very strong opponent in the last 16.

I must mention that Gibbs is not producing a performance worthy of an Arsenal player. Ramsey was ok today, but we missed Santi’s crafts. Giroud needs to run more and help defensively. Finally our September run of draws continued in a night where Arsenal showed just a bit more heart than they did at old Trafford last Saturday.

The battle for SUPREMACY has yielded neither a Victor nor a villain, but the balance has been tilted towards the visitors. To better days. COYG!!

Wenger Defends His Old Trafford Selection.

Giroud celebrates his late equaliser against United at old Trafford on saturday. (Arsenal.com)

 “I knew it would be a bit more of a physical battle so I chose players who have experience and fight,”  Wenger told Arsenal.com.

I agree with Wenger on his selection. That team was capable of beating United in their backyard, however they let the big man down yet again. Putting Ramsey at the left of midfield, starting two defensive midfielders was enough to seal off our midfield against a United midfield that had Michael Carrick. They should have run them ragged with long bursting midfield showings. 

If finness and craftsmanship failed, what stopped grit and pragmatism from prevailing? The players should search their soul and regroup. Run more, be a bit more decisive, be ambitious and take your chance once they present themselves. Those are the hallmarks for a title winning team.

Well, just as the boss said before the international break; “if you can’t win, at least don’t lose”. I believe that is a new mentality he’s instilling into them. 2 years back, Arsenal would have conceded a second goal at old Trafford that would put the match beyond them for real. But they fared well even when not playing so well with a United team that was buoyed by their home crowd. If the team can maintain this new found spirit of holding on a bit longer when the chips are down, we might just surprise everybody come May. 

Wenger is usually right in most of his decisions and does not need to defend his team selection. It’s down to the players to repay the trust he has put in them by giving a worthy performance. This is to Tuesday night against PSG at the Emirates stadium. Let’s hope we get back to winning ways and confirm our lead status in the champions league group stage. 

-Fair Play Gooner.




This Would Represent Two Points Lost For Arsenal?

Chamberlain celebrates his assist to Giroud for the equalizing goal at old Trafford-89′

More was expected of the Arsenal team at old Trafford this afternoon, but we saw a non interested Arsenal team show up. If not for a rare Oxlade Chamberlain’s charging run down the right flank in the tail end of the match saw Giroud leap high to score a goal that ensured the two team shared the spoil.

I have always said that no other partnership with the current crop of players is anywhere as close as the partnership of Coquelin/Cazorla in the middle of the park. The former focuses on the loose balls to sweep out and the latter brings in a creativity that is worthy of the name “deep lying playmaker”. They give the whole team a platform to perform better. Side ways passes from El neny can never suffix for the wizardry of the Spanish magician (Cazorla). The team never got going through out the 90 minutes…and one attempt on target from Arsenal says it all.

More woes was heaped on the team with the installation of the “welsh Messi” on the left flank of our attack. To be fair, even the real Lionel Messi hardly start predominantly on the left of midfield for Barcelona. Our attack had little option but to be as  blunt as a 1980 rust blade. I really don’t know what tactical ingenuity that was-from Wenger I mean. Whatever his reason was, Ramsey was very poor for 90 minutes. 

The goal we conceded was so soft hat even the commentator Champeon noted it elaborately. Every of Arsenal midfield players were off duty at that point; El neny, Coquelin, Ramsey and Mesut were all culprits. Surely this was not the performance the team gave against Chelsea earlier on. I strongly believe that something within the intensity and commitment Arsenal players offered that day would have gotten us a win at old Trafford.

Well play to United players as they totally gave everything against Arsenal today. However, I will see this match more as two vital points lost than as one point won. We hoped for a win, but scrapped through to a draw; 2 points lost alright.