Two good wins this year, which is a bit of a turnaround from this time last year where we were unceremoniously knocked out of the FA Cup by lowly Nottingham Forest and had also drawn 2-2 at home to Chelski in the league. If you’re a numbers/statistics man then it was coincidental that Nottingham Forest faced the holders of the FA Cup both this year and last year in the 3rd round. And then in 2017, they faced Wigan Athletic who were FA Cup winners in 2014. Both results this year have been good for us and important too considering the way we succumbed to Liverpool in the last game of 2018. Having said that, they were both easy games and a lot still needs to be done for us to keep up there in the pack, contending with the other top six teams.
At this time of year we start looking at transfer rumours and the name on everyone’s lips is Denis Suarez. A bit of a surprise because, although we’re definitely losing Ramsey and it looks as though Ozil is out of favour, neither of these players are lost to us until the end of the season (and according to the odd titbit in the media, Ozil is going nowhere). Our problem areas are surely the central defense as well as cover for Bellerin and Monreal. It could well be tactics by Sanllehi & Mislintat to do some work under the radar and create a smoke screen with the Suarez deal. Who knows, but we’ve been screaming out for a decent central defender since Mertesacker stopped playing (which was before he actually stopped playing if you know what I mean, basically at the beginning of the 2016/17 season). If we bought two world class central defenders, that would sort out most if not all of our problems.
It’s never really that easy though. We’ve got Konstantinos Mavropanos coming back from injury and although he has not yet been proven as the central defender we need, he played three matches last season where he was rated 8 out of 10 in our 2-1 defeat to MFU. He then kept a clean sheet in the home game against Burnley before being sent off in the away fixture against Leicester City after 15 mins. He is someone that must be given an opportunity but with Kos being a fragile specimen these days, especially after pulling out of the Blackpool game squad with a back pain that appeared during the warm-up phase to that match and Mustafi both being a liability plus also spending a growing number of visits to the treatment room, that just leaves Sokratis who apart from his fire, leaves much to be desired when you watch that Liverpool game over. Based on this, one world class central defender surely has to be the minimum we require before 31st January.
We’ve got two derbies coming up over the next two weeks with a visit to West Ham being our first hurdle. Thereafter it’s a home game to Chelski. 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. West Ham were in dire straits at the beginning of the season when we first encountered them and we were one of four teams in their first four fixtures that they lost thus garnering zero points out of twelve. They have slowly picked themselves up and have managed to get to 10th spot in the league, however they do remain 13 points behind us.
We have met West Ham 123 times in total and have come out on top 61 times with them winning 28 times. Our last encounter at their home ground was a dour nil all draw back in December 2017. Prior to that you have to go back to as far as November 2006 for when they last beat us at their home ground which was a one nil 88th minute victory. The last time they beat us however was in the opening game of the 2015/16 season when they came away from the Emirates with a two nil victory. In our last six encounters, there has been just a single nil all draw with all other games going Arsenal’s way with a total of 16 goals to 3 being scored. This averages out to 3 – 1 which I think is an acceptable scoreline for this weekend.
West Ham’s current form is a bit scratchy in the league with the last five games producing 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw, against teams, the highest of which being Watford. Overall, we should win this game. Arnautovic was back for their last league game however it was reported that he may have picked up an injury in their two nil FA Cup victory against Birmingham City. The Fantasy Premier League however give him a 75% chance of returning which is almost like saying that he is likely to play,
The ArsenalSA FPL is grinding on. The top three are still there from the end of 2018 albeit in a different order, however they’ve opened up a 26 point gap to fourth position. Top scorer for the week was Bryan Binneman’s AUBAMEBLOODCLAATYANG with 81 points that’s moved him up to 22nd spot. Bryan had Aubameyang (his only Arsenal player) as captain, so we’re okay with that. The top three are as follows:
Bony & Clyne FC Nicholas da Silva 1267
Im Gunning for you!! Cedric Angelo Nappies 1251
Wolves of Witkoppen Richard MacKenzie 1242
In the Superbru league our leader for the round was Sayso with 14.5 points with eight correct results. This also pushes him up 5 places into a share of the lead with Gunner for life:
Gunner for life 229,5
Joffie B 225,5
Just the one game this week and it’s on Saturday. The club will be meeting as usual at The Brazenhead in Fourways and we will be in The Cellar. Hopefully everyone has got their lives back to normal so what better way to get into the groove than join us at 14h30 on Saturday. So, why don’t y’all come on down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun.