That Was Some Fire From Arsène!

No, no, no, I just went in and watched the game here after. I thought I could stay in the corridor.

There was nothing malicious I just shouldn’t have said some words and kept my control even if it was a hectic time.”

-Arsène Wenger

What a game of football that was at the Emirates last evening! Shkodran Mustafi with his first Arsenal goal, Alexis with a classic 97th minute panenka penalty to ensure the Gunners took home the maximum points on a day ladden with drama and controversies.

For the first time in recent weeks, the line-up was the same as the last match against Swansea. Bellerin could only return to the bench as Gabriel continued at RB. Arsenal started the match with zip and speed. They should have been ahead before 15 minutes if not for Burnley’s deep sitting formation in two banks of five players and Arsenal’s lack of cutting edge in the final third. It must be noted that most teams who play Arsenal in recent years sit deep more than half the time. Burnley were no different.

We got our breakthrough after the break when Mustafi evaded Burnley’s defence to scored a headed goal from a Mesut Özil’s corner, which is his first for the club. We continued to threaten until Xhaka did the unthinkable, and for the second time this season, put the team under untold labour and tension. He lunged with both feet on Defour.

“Our penalty, I saw it on television. I think it was a penalty and red card. Xhaka’s red card? Honestly I have to look at it again. The noises I get is that it was a red card and he has to control his game and not punish the team with lack of control in his tackling. We don’t encourage our midfielders to go down on tackles, we want them to stand up and not to make these kind of fouls. If it’s a bad tackle, it’s a red card.”

-Arsène Wenger 

It was typical Granit Xhaka and needless too. I must be honest, he was bossing the central area until that incident. However, I must congratulate Aaron Ramsey, Mesut and Sanchez who put in 110% after the team lost a man. Their energy and desire to burst their lungs thrusting forward was one of the high points of that nerve racking game.

Must be noted that this game could have gone without much drama if the match officials or whoever it is that assigns extra time didn’t give 7 additional minutes to a team which played almost half an hour with one man down, in a match without much time wastage. I guess they really wanted Burnley to get something from that game. If the normal 2 or 3 minutes injury time was given yesterday, the match would certainly have ended 1-0 and Arsène would not have protested. He wouldn’t have been asked to go to the stands. Most certainly, he wouldn’t have had a physical altercation with the match official Anthony Taylor. At the end of the day, the added 7 minutes was our saving grace.. Koscielny was again at the centre of controversy (having been the focal point in the reversed fixture when he scored a stoppage time winner, after appearing to handle the ball) when Mee rose more than 5 feet to poke the French defender’s face with his stud inside the penalty area. The argument now is: was the Arsenal player offside before being smashed in the face? Well I will leave the FA and PGMOL to answer that and other horrendous decisions metted out to my team in recent seasons. We could have been the recipients. No one talked about Mustafi being clipped inside Burnley 18 yards box.

Arsène speaking after the game said: 

on Xhaka being sent off by Jon Moss twice this season…

We’ve had two red cards and four penalties [given against us] this season at home now. You cannot say that we make it easy for ourselves, or that we get it easy.

 I didn’t know if I was sent to the stands but I was sent out. I thought I could watch it from the corridor, you know. I went inside and watched it on television. 

on if he regrets it…

I regret it . I should have shut up, gone in and gone home, basically. I apologise for that.


on if he’s spoken to the fourth official
Not yet, because I have a press conference to make. It was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football, but overall nine times out of 10, you’re not sent to the stands for that. But if I am, I am – and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm the whole game, more than usual, but just [not] in the last two or three minutes.

on if he’s spoken to the fourth official…
Not yet, because I have a press conference to make. It was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football, but overall nine times out of 10, you’re not sent to the stands for that. But if I am, I am – and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm the whole game, more than usual, but just [not] in the last two or three minutes.

(Source: arsenal.com)

I am not sure if the French tactician will be reprimanded by the FA, but all I know is we got the 3 points which propelled us to within 8 points off the leaders and in second place above Tottenham. I must say that it was quite some fire from the impeccable Arsène. This was a wonderful weekend in which we defied the odds to grab maximum points. I see a new Arsenal!! COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner

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We Are Back Again!

Mesut, Pires and Mustafi in training yesterday.

Happy new year everyone! It’s my first post this year. It’s been an eventful but somewhat unfortunate December for Arsenal. We played 6 games across all competition which saw us produce all manner of performances: from perfect and clinical  (against West ham and at Basel) to poor and abysmal (Everton and Man city). Won 4 and lost 2. On paper it looked somewhat of a good return, but considering we lost 6 points in a very tight looking table, it was a big lose of momentum.

January met us with a hard fought 2 nil win at home to Palace (Not forgetting Giroud’s spectacular scorpion kick goal), then a near disastrous 3 all at Bournemouth, which would have been a demoralizing factor for the team, but the boys put the heat on the Cherries during the last 20 minutes to salvage a draw. A trip to Preston North End lived up to its hype with all the cup drama at play. Here we are today with a tricky trip to Wales to face Swansea. 3pm (GMT)

Cohen Bramall, 20, signs for Arsenal.

In other news, Arsène potentially unearthed a gem from non league division, Cohen Bramall. His story is that of hope and hard work. I wish him all the best and hope he will keep his head on his shoulders and work his way into that first team. Toral was recalled from his loan spell at Granada because they would not give him game time. He was subsequently sent out again on loan to Rangers in the Scottish premier league. I wish him all the best as I have high regards for him. Dan Crowley also left for Holland in the Dutch  Eredivisie for Go Ahead Eagles. Another bright prospect that needs game time. 

Giroud, Koscielny and Coquelin all signed long term contracts with the club a few days ago. Papers claimed Alexis Sanchez is the more likely person  to sign a contract extension between him and Özil. The later came out the other day to rebuff Thierry Henry’s remarks about him, saying that his influence for joining Arsenal was Arsène and would want assurance about the future of the manager. It makes real sense then if that is truly the situation. So what Arsenal need to do is give Arsène a longer contract and the two contract rebels (Özil and Sanchez) would sign on the dotted lines. He returns today to the squad to face Swansea after missing 2 weeks due to some “mystery illness”.

“The club knows that I am here most of all because of Arsène Wenger. He is the one who signed me and he is the one whose trust I have.”

                       -Mesut Özil

Suddenly things have almost fallen in place. The team is building up good momentum again, there are no much injuries, the contract situation of most of the senior players are resolved or being resolved; suddenly we are back in business! We need to win big today to keep the pressure on the top four and go on a winning run again..it’s about time! Let’s hope for better days. Let’s hope that 2017 becomes that year we break the jinx of not lifting the EPL title. I see the potentials this team has got. It’s our year! COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner

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

Yes! Back To Winning Ways.

Alexis celebrates with Daddy Theo at the Emirates 

It’s full time at the Emirates. Arsenal 3-1 Bournemouth. Alexis pounced on a loose ball to open the scoring and Theo added a fine header after the break to restore the lead after wilson converted a contemptuous penalty for the visitors before half time. 

However, Özil released Giroud on the right and a timelycross from the french man into the path of a waiting Alexis Sanchez saw the Chilean grab his well deserved brace of the match to end proceedings as a contest. Arsenal are back to winning ways! It’s been a tumultuous November again, but the boys made sure to at least draw when not playing well.

Now we gathered only 5 points from a possible 9 in the premier league in the month of November. It could have been easily 0 points, hence let’s celebrate our team for their resilience inspite of poor form. To a more productive December for Arsenal! COYG!!
-Fair Play Gooner.