Stoke City Away Saturday 18h30

Our favourite match of the season and it is coming so early on. It will be good to get it behind us. There was a time when we would always lose these matches, however you have to go back three years for our last loss at the Britannia Stadium, which ended 3-2 after being 3-0 down at half time. I didn’t get to see the Everton v Stoke match last weekend, but Stoke lost 1-0 allowing Wayne Rooney a triumphant return to Goodison Park after so many years in the wilderness. Stoke have some useful players, specifically Shaqiri and Bojan whilst they have supplemented their squad with Kurt Zouma, on loan from Chelsea and Bruno Martins Indi from Porto. The more positive news from an Arsenal perspective is that Marco Arnautovic and Jon Walters are no longer Stoke players. Both of these players have been a thorn in our side over the past years and their absence makes life somewhat easier for our boys.

I don’t think anyone was ready for what happened in our first game of the season against Leicester City last Friday. Such a great start after 2 minutes, what we thought was a blip after 4 minutes and total frustration after 30 mins left Arsenal supporters a little shell shocked. To add to this, Okazaki and Mahrez had opportunities in the first half that didn’t go far wide. Welbeck managed to equalize in first half injury time using his third left foot by all accounts and things looked a bit brighter at half time. Leicester were going to have none of this though and took the lead again in the 56th minute giving Vardy a double for the game. He could well have had a hat-trick had Cech not been lucky in what looked very much like the last man in a “no-man’s land” area, however Vardy’s control was not as tight as it could have been and the Czech was able to boot the ball away. And then Arsene came up with his master plan – confuse the enemy! As Arseblog put it, he “brought on Ramsey and Giroud for Holding and Elneny, resulting in us playing two left backs at centre half, a right back at left back, a midfielder at right back, our record signing striker on the left of midfield and another striker on the right of midfield”. No wonder poor old Shakespeare (that’s the Leicester City coach) was confused! And what happened after that is now history. Ramsey BOOM, Giroud BOOM BOOM! And we steal it. Not that we didn’t deserve it *cough* And made all the sweeter when the group of people in the adjoining room at the Brazenhead were Leicester City supporters who had taunted us earlier when we went 2-1 down.

If I were to choose three key players from the weekend, it would be Kolasinac, Lacazette and Giroud. Kolasinac was huge in that game and the ArsenalSA supporters at the Brazenhead were singing his praises. We haven’t seen a hard man like that in the Arsenal squad for many a year. Lacazette, purely for his second minute goal. So well taken and being in the right place at the right time. And Giroud. Our super sub. He continues from where he left off last season and the fact that Wenger gave him the option to leave and he turned it down just makes him even more admirable. He must surely have gained a few extra brownie points in the eyes of the disbelievers.

News is that we have got both Mertesacker and Mustafi available for the game this weekend and my feeling is that they will walk straight into the side. Unfortunately, Koscielny is still serving out his red card ban and so I would expect Holding to retain his place. Then we have an abundance of wing-backs, Bellerin, The Ox, Monreal and Kolasinac to choose from. My preference would be The Ox and Kolasinac. I expect Ramsey to step in for Elneny and the front three to remain the same.

We are now into our first week of the season and this is a gentle reminder for members to pay their annual subscriptions. This really is a small amount of R150 per person and affords you a number of benefits of which 20% discount on PUMA Arsenal wear and 10% discount at the Brazenhead in Fourways are but a few. It also allows you to enter the annual raffle which this past season was an air ticket to London and a match ticket to an Arsenal home game. We will be negotiating with our sponsors what prize can be put up this year. As that great Arsenal supporter, Teddy Kennedy once said “Don’t ask what ArsenalSA can do for you, ask what you can do for ArsenalSA”

The current list of paid up members are:
Rob Theunissen, Ketan Patel, Gavin O’leary, Ronald Campbell, Chris Herbst, Keshiv Singh, S.West, Dorith & Steven Foxton, Andrew Lee Sun, Devashin Govender, Kalu Chika, Lebogang Nkoana, Mpazi Siwale & Nikhil Bhogal.

Thanks to these guys and girls, we rely on subscriptions to fund us going forward and hopefully there will be more to come. There are 4 other payments that have been made that cannot be identified, 2 by EFT and 2 by SnapScan. If you believe you have made one of these payments, please reply to this email and verify your details.

Payments by SnapScan have been suspended so please, when paying your subscriptions, either pay by cash directly to me on match day or by EFT using the following details:

Arsenal Supporters Club
Standard Bank
Rivonia Branch, 001255
Acc No: 22982744
Reference: Your First and Last Name

Our ArsenalSA Fantasy League and SuperBru kicked off as from last week’s game. Early days, but the top of the respective tables look as follows:

Fantasy Premier League
LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS  Nicholas da Silva               90
nigels thornberries             Benjamin Hay                    85
Tank AFC                           Tarquin Bishop                   80

Joffie B                                                                          11,5
MitchyK                                                                         10,75
ZeZou                                                                            10,5

Well done, but remember we have another 37 rounds to go!

So we have a Saturday match this weekend which may become a bit of a rarity going forward this season due to our Thursday night Europa involvement so enjoy whilst you can. It’s more likely to be Sunday games and the odd Monday game. So let’s keep the groove going and c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have some fun.

Kind Regards

Arsenal South Africa

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