I tend to find that, being an Arsenal supporter, it helps to rather look forward than reflect on the past. There are happy days and then there are painful days. We’ve had a couple of happy days quite recently but Saturday was the most painful of days. I think, of all the games and of all the opponents, this is the one that I most wanted to win. My feeling is that this is pretty much the general consensus for all Arsenal supporters and as much as we have that immense feeling of distaste for our north London rivals, MFU tops them mainly because of the arrogance of their supporters. I’m going to leave it there and just hope that we have more opportunities to face them this season other than the return fixture in the league so that we can show not only them but also our fans that this result was a true aberration. Unfortunately De Gea was a key factor and as I said in last week’s post – “David De Gea in goal is also an obstacle that needs to be overcome and having conceded the least number of goals in the Premier League – six in total compared to our sixteen – we will need to be in our 2015/16 form to find a way around him. Or there again our 2016/17 form. Or even our FA Cup 2014/15 form. Okay, we just need to be on form.” Looks like we just weren’t in (goalscoring) form!
Another two matches this week and we will be enjoying two matches per week for quite a while now, up until Jan 6th or even maybe Jan 14th if we beat West Ham in the Carabao Cup. Interestingly enough, if we do manage the win over West Ham, we will have our first break of only playing one game per week when we play on Jan 14th and then again on Jan 20th. Then it’s likely that the next time we have such a break is at the end of February when we play on Feb 24th and then again on Mar 3rd (presuming that we win our FA Cup 3rd and 4th round matches). Admittedly, this is pretty much the same for most teams and although the Carabao Cup is taking up a couple of those weeks (which I expect would affect Citeh, Chelski and MFU), it still is a period which will stretch our resources. I posed the question last week as to how Wenger would manage those Carabao Cup fixtures as well as the Europa Cup ones. This is why he gets paid the big bucks, because firstly he needs to ensure he has a squad that can cope with such exhausting schedules as well as decide who will play and when. Interesting times over the next three months.
The first of our two matches this week is on Thursday against BATE Borisov. This is the proverbially ‘dead rubber’ where the result has no impact on our standing in the table and only on our mental health. He needs to keep the second stringers interested so I expect him to play the same squad as he normally does. He will also only have three substitutes to make so hopefully he will make the most of them by making all three changes at half time. It’s a bit of a non-event and unfortunately it’s a 10:05pm kick off so I’m not too sure how many of us will be watching live.
The round of 16 is shaping up, and it’s beginning to look like the following:
CSKA Moscow Celtic
Sporting Lisbon Atletico Madrid
Napoli Spartak Moscow
RB Leipzig Borussia Dortmund
Villarreal Slavia Prague
Dynamo Kiev Partizan Belgrade
AC Milan AEK Athens
Lokomotiv Moscow FC Copenhagen
FC Steaua Bucuresti FC Viktoria Plzen
Arsenal Red Star Belgrade
Red Bull Salzburg Marseille
Ostersunds FK FC Zorya Luhansk
Zenit St Petersburg Real Sociedad
Any bets that Arsenal will draw Borussia Dortmund just for a change? Watch this space!!
Our second game this week is the first of two away games in the EPL – Southampton. We have had mixed fortunes against this team and as of late we have held the upper hand. Our last visit to the St Mary’s Stadium was in May this year where we won two nil, with goals in the second half coming from Sanchez and Giroud. What is important for us is that we do not lose the momentum of the way we played going forward against MFU. If that can be maintained, and it’s not too long until we have Liverpool visiting The Emirates, then we should beat 99% of our opponents. Obviously, we need to tighten up on our defense. Mustafi’s injury, at the time of writing, is something of a mystery however, I get the feeling that Wenger may revert to a back four that he played with for most of the match on Saturday. I’m no tactician, but it seemed as though we were more fluent with Iwobi coming into midfield, adding that extra option from both an attacking perspective as well as defensive.
Onto our two fantasy leagues, and we’ve had two rounds go by since I last reported. In the Superbru league, GunnerChris has made an appearance at number 3 with MAC10 and tphato still fighting it out for top spot. Our top performer on the weekend was Sportfundi with 8 out of 10 games predicted correctly. That moved him up 8 places to 23rd. The top three are as follows:
In the FPL, top points of 77 was scored by Molemo Moahloli’s Momoah FC – wonder how he thought up that team name? No one has been able to break into the top four with third and fourth teams trading places:
Cannon Hill FC (Earle Brown) 885
Welbz FC (Yusuf H) 854
LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS (Nicholas Da Silva) 849
We Are All Besiktas (Ebrahim Moolla) 843
This week it’s a late Thursday and an early Sunday, so I’ll see y’all on the weekend. The festive period is almost upon us so why don’t you see whether the boys can turn on a similar display against Soton as they did against MFU but this time score a few goals? Could be a magic game so c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun!