Don’t think I need to say anything about the game last Saturday, the boys did all the talking for us on (and off) the pitch and apart from a few issues around a cup of tea I don’t think there were too many Spurs supporters shouting the odds! So quickly onto this week’s games. Cologne and Burnley, both away.
Good news for all Arsenal SA supporters is that the game against Cologne starts at 8pm local time on Thursday. Don’t ever say there are no benefits to playing in the Europa league, don’t think I could face a 10pm start. As we all know, we have qualified for the next round already and all Arsene needs to do is make sure of top spot. One point from the next two games will do it as it is only Red Star Belgrade that could realistically make top spot although BATE Borisov could pip everyone if they won both their next games (of which one is against Arsenal) and Cologne also did (ditto), plus they would need to beat Arsenal at the Emirates by a better score than the 4-2 that we beat them by. Not really worth thinking about. What is worth thinking about is how the teams that end up third in their UCL groups can affect the next round. There are 12 Europa groups, which means 24 teams go through to the next round. There they will be joined by 8 teams from the UCL who finished third in their groups. The teams are split into two groups, being seeded and unseeded. The top teams of the 12 Europa groups plus the four best third ranked teams from the UCL are seeded and the other 16 are unseeded. If we look at the tables at this point in time, the four unseeded teams from the UCL would be Dortmund, Napoli, Atletico and Celtic. Any bets anyone?
On the weekend, we’re up against Burnley. In the past we would have expected to glide past them which was not always the case and this weekend’s game poses a different set of expectations. As most of you are aware, Burnley are equal on points with us and are a place beneath us due to a three goal poorer goal difference. Not much in it, which I think is probably the biggest surprise of any club this season. You actually have to go back to 2008 for the last time Burnley beat us. It was a league cup match in December where Arsene was definitely playing a ‘league cup’ side with the likes of Fran Merida and Mark Randall starting. However, Ramsey, Wilshere, Bendtner and Vela were also in the starting XI, so all a bit of a mix. The last time Burnley took a point from us was in 2009, also in December. That year, Burnley were relegated and we finished third, ten points behind United and eleven behind Chelsea. Since Burnley have rejoined the Premier League, back in the 2014/15 season, we have struggled at Turf Moor with two 1-0 wins. The last victory was when Koscielny managed to get the ball across the line in the third minute of added on time. I can’t see there being any difference this time round either.
Burnley started this season with a surprise 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge and then subsequently lost at home to West Brom. Since then, they have lost only once, to Manchester City at the Etihad, 3-0, with the last two goals coming in the last 20 minutes. They have also visited both Spurs and Liverpool and come away with very credible 1-1 draws. Their home and away form is the same, 3-2-1 whereas Arsenal’s away form is poor, 1-1-4. A lot has been said about improving our away form and Sunday could be the day to do that.
So, an interesting week lies ahead. Europa, where we probably will take a junior side to Germany and the Premier League where, in all honesty, we face a team as strong as the last team we faced and we need to put in a similar performance. I haven’t heard too much on the injury front but, if ever there was a game where we need Giroud on the bench, this would be it. It was interesting to note that Walcott was not on our bench on Saturday and it would appear that he seems to be a firm fixture in our second XI. Iwobi, Welbeck and Giroud on the bench leave no room for him any more and come the end of the season, if not in January, I can see us parting ways with him.
In our two fantasy leagues, we have the following situations. In the Superbru league, shyday was our top performer, with 9 out of 10 games predicted correctly. That moved him up 8 places to 7th. The top three are as follows:
Joffie B 98.25
Looks like tphato is closing the gap on MAC10 – down to just under ten points now. In the FPL, top points of 92 were scored by Adrian Garden’s Adriatic Gunners XI. Ebrahim Moolla’s We Are All Besiktas has crept back into the top three and separates Cannon Hill FC and LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS with Welbz FC dropping to 4th. The top three, now separated by 25 points are:
Cannon Hill FC (Earle Brown) 723
We Are All Besiktas (Ebrahim Moolla) 700
LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS (Nicholas Da Silva) 698
Sunday’s game is at 4:00pm. We had good turnouts for both the Spurs and City games so don’t be shy, c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun!