I said in my email last week – “The hype of beating Chelski will be somewhat diminished next week if we don’t beat the Hammers this weekend and that’s not as easy as one might expect.” How true that was but I never imagined it to be under the circumstances that we saw on Saturday where we meekly succumbed to a team that really had no business in beating us. The reaction on twitter said it all. The interesting thing about twitter is that most of what is said is generally heat of the moment stuff, knee jerk reactions that after considered thought can be put to one side and not taken to heart but ignored at one’s peril. Maybe a strange combination of reactions being suggested here but what I’m trying to suggest is that these heat of the moment reactions that supporters have, do not really consider the full story and have taken a scenario out of context from the entire journey that we have been experiencing as Arsenal fans.
Yes, we were truly diabolical on Saturday and having arrived at the 22nd game of the season, we were expecting to see something better than what was dished up. Bottom line for me though, as I write this blog, is that I tend to write about upcoming events rather than dwell on the past and this time I’m grateful for it. Arsenal tend to up their game too for the bigger matches (except for Liverpool away) and I’m hoping that’s the case this weekend as we come up against Chelski. Had we won our match last weekend, the game this weekend would have had the incentive of pulling us level with them if we won, but that is no longer the case. What it does mean though is that if we lose, we’re going to be a whacking nine points behind plus MFU are likely to go ahead of us (they play at home to Brighton). So all in all, it’s what one might call a must win game if we are going to try and make the top four. Personally, top four is somewhat ambitious. Okay, we had that great run earlier in the season where we didn’t lose for twenty odd games, but that was more the fixture list being kind to us than anything special we did. So, being realistic, with Emery trying to introduce a new style of play (which many of us are trying to figure out), plus having inherited a group of players that may not exactly match that style, plus having personal issues with our number one playmaker all contributes towards the expectations that we really should have and that is that we finish no better than last year. Let’s just take it on the chin, get behind the man that still has a lot to do and be true supporters. Remember, MFU were in very much the same situation when Sir Alex left and only now do they see a ray of hope with the baby faced assassin at the helm.
How are we positioned player-wise as we enter the weekend. Sadly, I don’t think the Ozil/Emery situation is going to change much and reports are that Emery is suggesting to Ozil that it may be best for him to leave. What this could mean however is that Ozil will need to put in some good displays to promote his talents to possible suitors and Emery may just give him such an opportunity. So what I’m saying here is that it’s possible for Ozil to be back in the match day squad over the coming months but don’t expect him to be a long term player. We’ve also see the impact that Ramsey has had in recent games and team morale is an important factor as is our performance in Europa. I believe both Ozil and Ramsey both need to start and be part of our team for the remainder of the year to give us the best possible chance of pulling off a surprise in the Europa competition. This would place us well for next season and may allow Kroenke to loosen the purse strings in the summer transfer season.
Continuing with the squad, we have seen the success of Xhaka and Torreira in midfield in the past and as much as the energy and enthusiasm of Guendouzi is refreshing, he may need to bide his time before he becomes more of a fixture. Iwobi I believe can also fit into the starting XI as this dual strike force of Aubameyang and Lacazette is not really working and bring Lacazetter on after 60 mins seems to have a better overall effect. Not too sure how Lacazette would feel about that though.
And finally the back line. Is there really one fit defender that gives us confidence? I really don’t think so and I’m not going to analyse them one by one. Emery needs to try Mavrapanos out as soon as possible, but I’m not sure whether Chelski are the correct opposition for him to restart his career. Back four or back five? I prefer the former. One extra at the back doesn’t really help and if anything adds to the confusion plus a back four gives us more options up front and I think the Wenger tactic of trying to score more than we concede is our best hope of winning games. It seems like we’re never going to keep a clean sheet ever again this season with the players that we currently have. And then Leno in goal. We bought him to be our number 1, Cech is retiring at the end of the season so let’s give him the experience he needs. Plus he’s better at playing out from the back than Cech is.
This weekend’s game is truly winnable. Chelsea are not a great side. They are currently sitting third in the Away games table, having won 7, drawn 1 and lost 2. The two games they lost were in consecutive away games to Sp*rs and Wolves and their last three away games have only been won by a single goal. Their last two games have been at home where they nicked a win by a single goal to Newcastle and drew 0-0 to Southampton. So all in all nothing earth shattering. They really only have one player that makes things tick, that being Hazard and if we can keep him quiet, which I believe Torreira can do if he gets back to his pre-Liverpool form, then we have a good chance of getting something out of this game.
Our head to head with Chelski is positive having competed 176 times with them, beating them 9 times more than losing with 51 draws. Over the last fifteen games, going back to April 2015, we have won 6 times, they have won 5 times with 4 games drawn. So yes, we can beat them and if Unai puts out the right team and they’re motivated, we will beat them, so come on you gunners!
Onto the ArsenalSA FPL where the top three are playing musical chairs and the gap to fourth is slowly growing. Top scorer for the week was Ashraf Ismail’s ARSENAL ASSASSINS XI with 90 points that’s moved him up to 39TH spot. Ashraf had a grand total of zero Arsenal players in his team which is very disappointing Ashraf – have a little faith my man. Tip for the week, put Ozil in and have him as your captain!! The top three are as follows:
Bony & Clyne FC Nicholas da Silva 1325
Wolves of Witkoppen Richard MacKenzie 1304
Im Gunning for you!! Cedric Angelo Nappies 1302
In the Superbru league our leader for the round was last year’s league winner Leonardo Geral with 14.5 points with seven correct results. Where’ve you been Leonardo? Congratulations, this also pushes him up 2 places into sixth position, fourteen points off the leaders. It’s getting close. The top three look as follows:
Gunner for life 243,5
Joffie B 235,5
Just the one game this week again and again it’s on Saturday but the last match of the day. The club will be meeting as usual at The Brazenhead in Fourways and we have booked out the deck expecting a large crowd through. The game cannot be any worse than last week gooners so what better way to remove those blues (see what I did there?) and join us at 19h30 on Saturday. So, why don’t y’all come on down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun.