Since my last mail last week, a few things have happened that I view as positive for the club and one specific thing that has not happened that I’m in two minds about anyhow. We beat Chelski in the Carabao Cup semi-finals and so we are going to Wembley again. That will make it four times in the past 5 years if you exclude any Community Shield games and if you would like to aggravate any top 5 team supporters (can exclude Sp*rs here as they tend to play here every other week), these games would then increase our visits to eight times. It was a typical piece of Arsenal fortune that saw us come back from that early lead that Chelski earned through Eden Hazard by playing ping-pong with their defenders. A craftily solutioned cannon, if you’re a billiard follower, and an apt way for a gunner to score. And who else to put it in motion than Nacho Monreal, our star player for the 5 days that have covered the period commencing the Palace game and ending with the Chelski game.
By this time, we had already completed the swap of Sanchez for Mkhitaryan. I really believe this to be a positive move for the club based on where we found ourselves this season. Sanchez was becoming something of a disease, not the same player that we had bought back in July 2014. He was trouble in the changing room (so rumour had it) and had more of a negative influence on the pitch. Mkhitaryan does not qualify to play in the Carabao Cup as he has appeared for MFU already this season so we will all have to wait for our fixture away to Swansea this Tuesday to see him feature – hopefully. The jury is out at the moment but to be honest, anything would be better than Sanchez as our game against Palace showed.
What has not happened is the transfer of Aubameyang. I’m sure you will all have read about the ongoing saga in the electronic media with frustration mounting amongst many desperate to see him join our ranks. Personally I’m not too worried if he joins or not. Sure, he probably could add another dimension to our game and is likely to score goals for us but there is also the negative side which Wenger did not manage so well with Sanchez. Maybe it’s unfair to compare the two of them in such a manner and there are likely to be many differing reasons as to why he is so unsettled at Dortmund. I’ll give him the same opportunity as I did Sanchez and will welcome him with open arms. It would be nice to see him come and make a difference. Lighten up the side and score goals that we were expecting Lacazette to do.
The Carabao Cup final will be against Citeh on Sunday 25th February. This means that our scheduled EPL game will be moved later on in the season. That scheduled game just so happens to be against Citeh. Funny how things like that happen.
This weekend’s FA Cup has been of interest and a result to note is Sp*rs’ away draw to England League 2 side, Newport County. More so than Liverpool’s home loss to WBA due to the fact that Sp*rs’ already difficult fixture list over the next month has become even more difficult and hopefully to Arsenal’s benefit. They are scheduled to play MFU (H), Liverpool (A), Arsenal (H), Juventus (A) and Palace (A). Their FA Cup replay will now take place between the Liverpool and Arsenal games. Slowly I see the tides turning and where Arsenal were once being hard done by due to such fixture list congestion, now Sp*rs are having to get to grips with it themselves. And as Lance Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army famously quipped, “they don’t like it up ‘em”!
We’ve got a couple of Premier League games this week, starting with Swansea away on Tuesday and then Everton at home on Saturday. Swansea tend to be a bit of a bogey team when they come visiting The Emirates however we have won the last three games against them with a 9-3 aggregate and with things having settled down at the club I think we shouldn’t have too much problem in maintaining that ratio on Tuesday. Our last game at the Liberty Stadium saw us come away with a 4-0 victory with two own goals, one O.G. goal and one from Sanchez. Our home game against them this season saw us come from behind with two second half goals from Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Ramsey. Swansea are currently on a bit of a run having managed not to lose any of their last 5 games. A bit of a mixed bag as they did well to beat Liverpool 1-0 a week ago, but have played Wolves twice and Notts County once in the FA Cup and they also managed a draw against Newcastle at St James’ Park.
Saturday see us meet Everton at home. You have to go back over twenty years to January ’96 for the last time they beat us at home. I’m sure they’ll be a bit more difficult to beat than the last time we met, when we beat them 5-2 as they have Fat Sam as their manager. The game will also see the return of Theo Walcott to The Emirates and I expect he will get a friendly welcome from the Arsenal supporters. Hopefully that will be all he gets and he can start scoring again in their next match!!
We are three points behind Sp*rs and five behind Liverpool. As already mentioned, Sp*rs have a tough run over the next four weeks and fingers crossed, we could see ourselves above them when it comes time to meet them in a couple of weeks’ time. Liverpool don’t have it so bad with their next game away to Huddersfield, but hey, we’re talking about a team that have lost to numbers 19 and 20 in the Premier League so who knows what they’ll do.
Fantasy leagues have taken a back seat over this FA Cup period. The standings are as follows:
Cannon Hill FC (Earle Brown) 1427
JELLYS NPO (Eugene Cardoso) 1364
Utete Rockets (Justice Utete) 1351
In the Superbru league, the top three are as follows:
Joffie B 196.25
MAC 10 193.41
We’ll be at the Brazenhead for both matches. Saturday is also a bit of a late kick off – 7:30pm so I’m sure you guys have nothing better to do so c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun.