Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Stalemate in Turkey

Besiktas 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal flew back to North London last night, having secured a 0-0 draw away to Besiktas, not really knowing what they should feel about the end result.

It was a game they could have won had they been sharper in the final third to exploit little gaps that appeared and in the last few minutes the Gunners saw Oxlade-Chamberlain’s excellent effort unfortunately come back off the post. Yet it was also a match Wenger’s men could easily have lost as Besiktas created a number of gilt edged opportunities to take the lead.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Just in time

Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace

Saturday saw the return of Premier League football at the Emirates after a summer in which Arsenal fans’ expectations have increased significantly. The manager has made relatively early moves in the transfer window, strengthening a squad which was only seven points away from title glory last season. The signing of Alexis Sanchez in particular was a real statement from the club, following on from last summer’s capture of Mesut Ozil, indicating that the Gunners have well and truly entered into a new and exciting era, while the 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield also hinted at an exciting season ahead.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

This time last year Arsenal were being heavily linked with Gonzalo Higuain, with several media outlets as well as numerous Higuain family members confirming a deal was imminent. Yet despite these assertions, ultimately the transfer never materialised resulting in great disappointment. The Gunners of course did go on to sign a world class player in Mesut Ozil but no one could have blamed the Arsenal faithful for feeling slightly sceptical when rumours linking Alexis Sanchez to the Emirates recently surfaced.

Last night, however, just before the launch of the new Puma kits, Arsenal confirmed the signing of the Chilean international in a clear statement of intent. This is now a club that is moving forward, is focused and has the ability to attract the World’s best players. Ozil’s move was the first building block, a sign the years of austerity were over and that club was ready to mount a serious challenge for the game’s biggest honours. Arsenal were no longer a selling club and having now ended their long trophy draught with the FA Cup win in May, the Gunners have also restored a winning mentality at the Emirates. The arrival of Sanchez is the latest piece of the puzzle.

The former Barcelona man has all the attributes to become a roaring success in the Premier League. Strong, agile, skilful and fast, Sanchez adds a whole new dimension to the Arsenal attack. Although it will of course take time for the Chilean to settle into life at the Emirates, Sanchez will not be easily bullied. He has great strength and is not overwhelmed when the game turns physical. Renowned for scoring wonder goals from seemingly impossible angles, Sanchez also has the ability to change the course of a match in the blink of an eye.

His searing pace is also a welcome addition to the Arsenal squad as with Walcott out injured for the latter half of last season, the Gunners lacked any pace in their forward line which allowed the opposition to press high up the pitch, a key feature of those humbling defeats to Liverpool and Chelsea. The presence of Sanchez will force defences to sit deeper, providing more space and time for the Arsenal midfield to pick out passes. Ozil will therefore benefit greatly from this new acquisition as Sanchez specialises in finding space and making clever, well-timed runs in behind the opposition defence, which will provide the German assist master with plenty of options.

Sanchez was deployed mainly on the right flank by Barcelona, but he can also play through the middle, offering an alternative to Olivier Giroud, who struggled to maintain his fine form as last season wore on. The Frenchman must also be pleased with the new arrival as Giroud specialises in providing deft little flicks for those willing to run beyond him. The prospect of Wenger fielding a front three of Walcott, Giroud and Sanchez, with Ozil just behind them and Ramsey a little deeper, not only excites the Arsenal faithful but must also strike fear into every Premier League defence. 

The Gunners cannot rest on their laurels however. Wenger and Gazidis have done a fantastic job in securing such a quality signing as early as possible, but must now also address other areas of the squad. A backup goalkeeper, right back and holding midfielder should now be top priorities, while another defender and striker could also be required. According to reports Mathieu Debuchy is all set to join, while Athletico Madrid’s young right back Javier Manquillo is also said to be in advanced talks over a loan move. A deal for Loic Reny however, appears to have stalled due to the Frenchman’s wage demands. Rumours have also surfaced linking Sami Khedira with a move, which if true would cause Arsenal fans to pinch themselves continuously to make sure they weren’t just having a beautiful dream. 

One thing is for sure, Arsenal now mean business.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Finally the wait is over!!

Arsenal 3-2 Hull

A week ago today Arsenal were gearing up for the most important game of their season. In fact as Arsene Wenger later revealed, it was also the most important game in the manager’s reign at the club. The Gunners went into the FA Cup final against Hull City carrying the weight of nine long years without a trophy as well as a league campaign which had promised so much for so long, but ultimately petered out as the pressure mounted.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

It's Happened Again!

Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle

It’s happened again, Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again! This chant rang round the Emirates last night as the Gunners secured a crucial three points in the race for fourth place against a poor Newcastle United side last night. It was also a victory that ensured Arsenal would once again finish the season ahead of their North London rivals, despite Spurs’ lavish £110 million summer spending spree. A wise man once proclaimed that change is inevitable, but it would appear that some things just never change.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gunners back on form

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham

Having secured an FA Cup final spot on Saturday, Arsenal turned their attention back to the Premier League yesterday and the race for a top four finish.

Arsene Wenger had to reshuffle his starting eleven following 120 minutes of semi-final action which had taken its toll on several Gunners players. Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs both failed to overcome injuries and with Koscielny returning to first team action, Thomas Vermaelen was deployed at left back. Further forward, Kim Kallstrom made his first start in an Arsenal shirt alongside Thomas Rosicky, who had missed the semi-final through injury, while up front; Yaya Sanogo made way for Giroud. The result was that Wenger fielded the second oldest team of his tenure, with an average age of 29.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Curse is over!

Arsenal 1-1 Wigan

Pens      4-2

Until Saturday evening, when Santi Cazorla’s penalty sent the Gunners through to their first FA Cup final since 2005, Arsenal had appeared to be cursed when it came to playing at the new Wembley.

The old stadium saw the Gunners record historic victories under those famous twin towers, such as securing the double in 1971 and 1998 as well as that remarkable 3-2 victory over Manchester United in 1979. However, under the new Wembley landmark, the Wembley arc, Arsenal have suffered crushing 2-1 defeats to Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final and Birmingham in the last minute of the Carling Cup final.