Arsenal v Chelsea

I said in my email last week – “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.” How true that was but I never imagined it to be under the circumstances that we saw on Saturday where we meekly succumbed to a team that really had no business in beating us. The reaction on twitter said it all. The interesting thing about twitter is that most of what is said is generally heat of the moment stuff, knee jerk reactions that after considered thought can be put to one side and not taken to heart but ignored at one’s peril. Maybe a strange combination of reactions being suggested here but what I’m trying to suggest is that these heat of the moment reactions that supporters have, do not really consider the full story and have taken a scenario out of context from the entire journey that we have been experiencing as Arsenal fans.

Yes, we were truly diabolical on Saturday and having arrived at the 22nd game of the season, we were expecting to see something better than what was dished up. Bottom line for me though, as I write this blog, is that I tend to write about upcoming events rather than dwell on the past and this time I’m grateful for it. Arsenal tend to up their game too for the bigger matches (except for Liverpool away) and I’m hoping that’s the case this weekend as we come up against Chelski. Had we won our match last weekend, the game this weekend would have had the incentive of pulling us level with them if we won, but that is no longer the case. What it does mean though is that if we lose, we’re going to be a whacking nine points behind plus MFU are likely to go ahead of us (they play at home to Brighton). So all in all, it’s what one might call a must win game if we are going to try and make the top four. Personally, top four is somewhat ambitious. Okay, we had that great run earlier in the season where we didn’t lose for twenty odd games, but that was more the fixture list being kind to us than anything special we did. So, being realistic, with Emery trying to introduce a new style of play (which many of us are trying to figure out), plus having inherited a group of players that may not exactly match that style, plus having personal issues with our number one playmaker all contributes towards the expectations that we really should have and that is that we finish no better than last year. Let’s just take it on the chin, get behind the man that still has a lot to do and be true supporters. Remember, MFU were in very much the same situation when Sir Alex left and only now do they see a ray of hope with the baby faced assassin at the helm.

How are we positioned player-wise as we enter the weekend. Sadly, I don’t think the Ozil/Emery situation is going to change much and reports are that Emery is suggesting to Ozil that it may be best for him to leave. What this could mean however is that Ozil will need to put in some good displays to promote his talents to possible suitors and Emery may just give him such an opportunity. So what I’m saying here is that it’s possible for Ozil to be back in the match day squad over the coming months but don’t expect him to be a long term player. We’ve also see the impact that Ramsey has had in recent games and team morale is an important factor as is our performance in Europa. I believe both Ozil and Ramsey both need to start and be part of our team for the remainder of the year to give us the best possible chance of pulling off a surprise in the Europa competition. This would place us well for next season and may allow Kroenke to loosen the purse strings in the summer transfer season.

Continuing with the squad, we have seen the success of Xhaka and Torreira in midfield in the past and as much as the energy and enthusiasm of Guendouzi is refreshing, he may need to bide his time before he becomes more of a fixture. Iwobi I believe can also fit into the starting XI as this dual strike force of Aubameyang and Lacazette is not really working and bring Lacazetter on after 60 mins seems to have a better overall effect. Not too sure how Lacazette would feel about that though.

And finally the back line. Is there really one fit defender that gives us confidence? I really don’t think so and I’m not going to analyse them one by one. Emery needs to try Mavrapanos out as soon as possible, but I’m not sure whether Chelski are the correct opposition for him to restart his career. Back four or back five? I prefer the former. One extra at the back doesn’t really help and if anything adds to the confusion plus a back four gives us more options up front and I think the Wenger tactic of trying to score more than we concede is our best hope of winning games. It seems like we’re never going to keep a clean sheet ever again this season with the players that we currently have. And then Leno in goal. We bought him to be our number 1, Cech is retiring at the end of the season so let’s give him the experience he needs. Plus he’s better at playing out from the back than Cech is.

This weekend’s game is truly winnable. Chelsea are not a great side. They are currently sitting third in the Away games table, having won 7, drawn 1 and lost 2. The two games they lost were in consecutive away games to Sp*rs and Wolves and their last three away games have only been won by a single goal. Their last two games have been at home where they nicked a win by a single goal to Newcastle and drew 0-0 to Southampton. So all in all nothing earth shattering. They really only have one player that makes things tick, that being Hazard and if we can keep him quiet, which I believe Torreira can do if he gets back to his pre-Liverpool form, then we have a good chance of getting something out of this game.

Our head to head with Chelski is positive having competed 176 times with them, beating them 9 times more than losing with 51 draws. Over the last fifteen games, going back to April 2015, we have won 6 times, they have won 5 times with 4 games drawn. So yes, we can beat them and if Unai puts out the right team and they’re motivated, we will beat them, so come on you gunners!

Onto the ArsenalSA FPL where the top three are playing musical chairs and the gap to fourth is slowly growing. Top scorer for the week was Ashraf Ismail’s ARSENAL ASSASSINS XI with 90 points that’s moved him up to 39TH spot. Ashraf had a grand total of zero Arsenal players in his team which is very disappointing Ashraf – have a little faith my man. Tip for the week, put Ozil in and have him as your captain!! The top three are as follows:

Bony & Clyne FC               Nicholas da Silva               1325

Wolves of Witkoppen    Richard MacKenzie          1304

Im Gunning for you!!      Cedric Angelo Nappies   1302

In the Superbru league our leader for the round was last year’s league winner Leonardo Geral with 14.5 points with seven correct results. Where’ve you been Leonardo? Congratulations, this also pushes him up 2 places into sixth position, fourteen points off the leaders. It’s getting close. The top three look as follows:

Gunner for life                   243,5

Sayso                                    237,0

Davyboy                              235,5

Joffie B                                 235,5

Just the one game this week again and again it’s on Saturday but the last match of the day. The club will be meeting as usual at The Brazenhead in Fourways and we have booked out the deck expecting a large crowd through. The game cannot be any worse than last week gooners so what better way to remove those blues (see what I did there?) and join us at 19h30 on Saturday. So, why don’t y’all come on down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun.

 

West Ham Utd v Arsenal

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:

Sayso                                    229,5

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.

 

FA Cup – Blackpool v Arsenal

Happy New Year to all the SA Gooners out there. And let’s hope Unai and his band of merry men can make it such. We were going along quite nicely last year until injuries started to amass and we had to go to Southampton with a back three of Lichtsteiner, Koscielny and Xhaka with only Maitland-Niles on the bench as cover. The rest as they say is history and we proceeded to concede 12 goals in five games with only a single win and a draw to our name. I did write back in September that we may have major selection problems come January due to players injuries accumulating due to the number of games they are playing. This was in reference to Emery selecting strong squads to play in Europe whereas Wenger was one to temper his teams with some second team players and a few of the youth squad. So, it seems the prediction has come to pass somewhat a little earlier than expected. In fairness, we only really seem to be impacted in our defense and it will be interesting to see the team Emery puts out this afternoon, three days after the Anfield hiding.

A lot has been said about that result at Anfield. There have been the typical dumbass comments about getting rid of Emery, which should be instantly dismissed. Emery has arrived at Arsenal where it could fairly be said that the club has been in a minor crisis. Wenger’s team dropped out of the Champions League qualification spots in his last two years at the club with finishes of fifth and sixth respectively. Emery’s arrival should not have raised anyone’s expectation to resolve this instantaneously. There have been a number of comparisons in the media to where Klopp found himself at the beginning of his Liverpool reign and where Emery found himself at Arsenal at the beginning of the season. Time and patience are two ingredients required by both club and supporters before we can find ourselves competing for the top spot. However, it is the third ingredient into this mix that will have a distinct effect on whether we achieve our ambitions or not and that is money. This was also the case when Wenger was at the helm and even though we had our marquee signings in Ozil and Aubameyang, as of late, we never truly had the overall quality in the squad to make us competitors for that top spot. There are very few supporters that feel that Kroenke is allowing us the funds to purchase the key players to push us forward and until this happens, we are always going to be the bridesmaid.

Onto activity on the field and we take on Fulham this afternoon. The reverse game in October was one of our better games having come off some uninspiring wins against Cardiff, Newcastle, Everton and Watford. Although we still didn’t manage to get a half time lead, our four goal salvo in the second half, which included Ramsey’s wonderful team goal gave us a boost which allowed us to continue through to a 22 game undefeated run. We now face Fulham with home ground advantage and as indicated by Bernd Leno, it is probably a good thing that we can get back onto the field and rectify matters as soon as possible. And what better way of doing that than by beating Fulham on the first day of the new year. Fulham are coming off just their third victory of the season, a 1-0 win against Huddersfield Town on Saturday. There’s not too much to say about this team that had to go through the end of season playoffs to gain promotion last season and although they have a new manager, Claudio Ranieri, they seem a good bet to go straight down again with the likes of Huddersfield Town and one other.

On Saturday, it’s back to the FA Cup and a competition we like to think belongs to us except for last year when Wenger was trying to be clever by putting out an inexperienced team and ended up from being the holders of the FA Cup (courtesy of our 2-1 victory in 2017) to being the noodles of the FA Cup by losing 4-2 to Nottingham Forest. This time round, we’re off to Blackpool who incidentally we’ve already come across this season in the Carabao Cup. In that game, we were at home and we won 2-1, having been two goals up and managing quite comfortably to then conceding a goal and seemingly holding on for dear life. Interestingly enough, we had Julio Pleguezuelo playing in our defense for the first and last time. Hopefully we will see him there again as he had a reasonable debut and he is a defender! It’s difficult to tell what the status of our player’s coming back from injury is when reading the Arsenal.com website but it’s clear that Danny and Rob won’t be seen for a long time and Hector, Nacho, Mesut and Shkodran are all being assessed prior to today’s game. Looking at the training pictures that are posted, it would appear that only Mustafi was involved so we’re unlikely to see any of the other three.

It’s been a while since reporting on all things fantasy related and how things have changed. Out with the old and in with the new (with a few familiar faces making a revival) The top three in the Arsenal South Africa fantasy league are:

Bony & Clyne FC               Nicholas da Silva               1200

Wolves of Witkoppen    Richard MacKenzie          1186

Im Gunning for you!!      Cedric Angelo Nappies  1183

In the Superbru league we have three points separating the top 6:

JustinT                                  218,0

Gunner for life                   218,0

Davyboy                              217,0

StevieZ                                 216,0

Joffie B                                 216,0

Sayso                                    215,0

The club is back in action this weekend with the FA Cup third round game against Blackpool which kicks off at 19h30 on Saturday. So why don’t y’all come on down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun.

 

Manchester United v Arsenal

Wow, what a game that was. And did The Brazenhead rock on Sunday afternoon! We certainly shut up our noisy neighbours, powershift and all. So that’s 19 games in a row for Unai and the boys and the question on everybody’s lips is can we keep this run going especially as we have a midweek trip to Old Trafford to deal with. Similar to our NLD, this match does not really worry about form and desire once again comes to the fore. Either way, you would think this is Arsenal’s game for the taking and as much as we would all like this to be the case, we have proved on so many occasions that we just couldn’t take advantage of our superiority. Was it a Wenger thing? Every Arsenal supporter is hoping so, hoping that Unai has brought some new found confidence in the team where history doesn’t matter and skill, ability, determination and togetherness drive us on to victories that should be ours no matter the mind games that come to play.

If we look at statistics and history, United have the advantage when it comes to overall results with seventeen more victories totaling 80 all in all out of 186 encounters. Arsenal have only won fifteen times away from home with the last such occasion being in March 2015 in the FA Cup when Danny Welbeck cancelled out Rooney’s equalizer to make the whole of the red side of Manchester regret the sale of their England forward to an opportunistic Wenger on the last day of the transfer season whilst visiting the pope in Rome. Is there a song about that? Maybe we’ll repeat that situation however replacing FA Cup with Premier League and Danny with Henrikh?

We have lost our last two encounters since our 2-0 victory in May 2017 but it was the 3-0 victory a further two years earlier that was our most memorable recent victory, which turned out to be the Ozil – Sanchez show. 20 minutes and we were done and dusted and after that we put a little bit the handbrake on.

All in all our record against United  is not that great. During Wenger’s reign, we only managed 19 wins out of 60 games, losing 28 times. We are now looking to Emery for a period of dominance over a side that we owe so many hidings to, so many last minute goals, so many fine goalkeeping performances. Ferguson did us well and proper during his reign and since he left we have not been able to take advantage in the way we are now looking to Emery to do!

Confidence levels before the Spurs match was not high amongst the supporters’ base, nerves were tingling at kick off and losing a 1-0 lead to go in at the half 2-1 confirmed those fears. But Arsenal are gaining a reputation as a second half side and with three unanswered strikes, Emery has gone a long way to gain the trust of players and supporters alike. Let’s hope we can continue in that vein on Wednesday.

With that performance against Spurs, it’s going to be difficult to make any changes to the starting XI, however I believe a fit Ozil for Mkhitaryan would be a possible option and even maybe Ramsey to start ahead of Iwobi – this after I indicated in my last blog that the two are too similar to be on the same pitch!! Either way, in Emery we trust and we’ll leave the team selection to him.

Things are also hotting up in the Arsenal South Africa fantasy leagues, more so with the FPL than the Superbru league. Top scorer for the week was Haanim Galvaan’s GIEMBAS UNITED with 80 points. 32 of those came with the captaining of Aubameyang – love it! Last week, 12 points separated 1st and 3rd places, this week 13 points separate 1st and 6th place with top place being shared by Jean Raath and Cedric Nappies – things are getting a little hot out there. The table looks as follows:

Sons of Pitches                  Jean Raath                          837

Im Gunning for you!!      Cedric Angelo Nappies  837

Rockets                                 Andrew Bray                      834

In the Superbru league it’s all a little bit zzzzzzzzzzzzz with the same three in the same top three positions. Top scorer for the week was LEGEND who amounted 16 points with nine correct results. Pretty damn nifty. That’s moved him up 5 places to 27th. The top three are as follows:

StevieZ                                 162,0

Davyboy                              161,5

Gunner for life                   158,5

With such an important result tucked neatly under our belts, we cannot afford to belittle it with anything but a rare victory at Old Toilet as we look to cement our entry into the top four. With Chelsea making a visit to Wolves and Spurs receiving managerless Southampton (shame, poor old Sparky just couldn’t cut the mustard) and then on the weekend Huddersfield coming to the Emirates whilst Spurs travel to Leicester and Chelsea meeting up with City, who knows which teams will fill 3rd 4th and 5th places. Things are hotting up, that’s for sure, so where better to be than in the generator equipped Brazenhead and get an early start in with the game on Wednesday against MFU. Be there or be square – c’mon down and have some fun.

Newcastle United v Arsenal

Just a bit of admin to get everyone in the mood. Our Arsenal SA website suffered a crippling web attack about a month ago and I’m sure most of your reactions will be something like “We have a website?” So the answer to that is yes, then no and now yes again but not 100%. So we have resurrected the arsenalsa.co.za website to a large degree although it’s not quite all there as it was. We have got the 2018/19 season’s content all set up so this basically is these blogs that I write plus action photos (supplied by the Arsenal Supporters Club) of each match day. In addition, we are hosting commentary from Gunnercast ZA where he gives his take on the latest game that Arsenal have played. If anyone has suggestions for other content or functionality that we can host then feel free to reply to this blog and let me know. You can access the website from your PC, tablet or smart phone and some of the pictures are pretty nifty, so take a look.

Onto this weekend’s game and it’s up to the far reaches of the north where the Magpies await us. It’s probably the furthest ground that we have to travel to in the Premier League, as it will be for a lot of the clubs. Looking it up on Google, it shows Arsenal to Newcastle is the tenth longest trip in the Premier League, being 280 miles which is 450 kms. About the distance from The Brazenhead to Mooi River. The longest trip is Newcastle to Bournemouth, which is 369 miles / 593 kms, in which case we would have just made it to Durban!

Our visit there last season in April was not a happy one even though we opened the scoring with an Aubamayeng / Lacazette combination allowing Lacazette to score in the 14th minute. Newcastle came back with two of their own to end up 2-1 victors. Prior to that match we had beaten them in every game since March 2012, including that 7 – 3 thriller just before New Years Day where Theo scored a hattrick and got two assists. Head to head, we come out better by 7 wins in 159 matches and although we are still not as fluent as we would like to be, there’s no reason to believe that we cannot extend that to 8 in 160 based on the fact that Newcastle have only managed a single draw from their four matches. In all fairness to The Magpies, they did lose their three games, all 2 – 1, to Citeh, Chelski and Sp*rs and the point they did manage was away to Cardiff. Still, it’s gotta be three points to The Gunners for this one as we need to win these games if we hold any chance of finishing top four.

As for the squad this weekend, I don’t see Emery making a change between the posts. Cech has played well other than his distribution and “playing out from the back” which Emery is looking to impose on our style of play. I like the idea, we just need to get the execution right and I’m sure there are ways and means of countering the opposition when they press our players who are trying to receive the ball from him. It’s a learning process and it will take time. I just hope that we do not lose any games from careless play in this area that gift goals to the opposition. It’s been close a couple of times this season with the ball straight to Harry Arter in the Cardiff game being the most recent,

I’m really hoping that Torreira starts. It was he that put Lacazette through on goal for the winner against Cardiff and although he was pulled off at half time in Uruguay’s match against Mexico, apparently it was only precautionary. I know Wenger used to try and rest Sanchez after a long trip back from South America during international competitions however The Daily Cannon reports on Torreira being present during some Arsenal training sessions on Tuesday. Let’s hold thumbs that he’s good to start at St James’ Park.

Other than that, Iwobi is back from injury and available for selection. He is not everyone’s favourite and neither is Xhaka however I think Xhaka is better with Torreira on the pitch and thus the only change I see for this weekend from the last game is Torreira for Guendouzi. I think that Torriera will also help with the “playing from the back” scheme and because of his defensive nature will allow Ozil and Ramsey more freedom to go forward and supply Laca and Auba with those key passes.

Onto all things fantasy league related and I have to admit that I’ve used my wild card. I’ve had such a dreadful start that I believe there’s no time like the present to correct the status of my team. For the record, there are no MFU players in my team, one Sp*rs, one Citeh, 2 Chelski, two ‘pool and three Arsenal. I should have put a rule in that everyone must have three Arsenal players in their squad – sounds fair?

Feedback on the leagues is that we have a new name in the top three of the FPL but it’s the same old three in the Superbru. Top scorer in the FPL was Sibongumusa Shongwe and his team Bafan’ Abafun FC with 75 points that moved him up into second place overall – great stuff Sibo, just one point behind the leader. The top three look as follows:

Im Gunning for you!!      Cedric Angelo Nappies   284

Bafan’ Abafun FC              Sibongumusa Shongwe 283

Wolves of Witkoppen    Richard Mackenzie          281

In the Superbru league, S4 shot up 17 places to thirteenth overall with a haul of 14,5 points, but the top three remain the same with just second and third spots changing around. Top three brus are as follows:

StevieZ                                 58,0

Minty_Mint                        51,5

Cat                                         50,5

Another Saturday game so what better to do than come on down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun. See y’all there.

Cardiff City v Arsenal

The “what” and the “how”, two of the things we Arsenal supporters analyse after a game. So let’s start off with the “what” – a 3 – 1 victory at home against rock bottom of the league, West Ham United, The Hammers, or should one say, the hammered? Goals from Nacho Monreal, O.G. and Danny Welbeck. Before the game we were 17th in the league and after the game we were 11th. After Palace losing to Watford on Sunday, we climbed another spot to 10th and all depending on what happens tonight between MFU and Sp*rs we could move up another place to ninth (*Yes we did!). All in all, a very satisfactory result on the “what” front and it’s not going to get much better than that. If you want to stretch it then you could also add that we shortened the gap between ourselves and Citeh by two points, courtesy of their draw at Wolves, but yeah, that is stretching things.

So onto the “how” and what a totally different story this was. Our defense is still at sixes and sevens and had West Ham been a bit more together in their play, they could have put a few more past us. As it was, it was just the one and a lot had to do with our defense in allowing that one through. I suppose the jury is still out on our central defensive pairing of Mustafi and Sokratis, but that is now six goals conceded in three games with these two players at the helm and the way Emery has set up the team, we are likely to see a lot more passing between these two before the end of the season. I’ve seen suggestions that we should possibly consider a 2-5-3 set up with an extra CD to help out at the back as they are not getting too much help from our wing backs, especially with the back line playing high up the field. Maybe Rob Holding or even Lichtsteiner could come in at the right with Mustafi in the center and Sokratis on the left. I must say, I like the look of Lichtsteiner and think it would be a waste to have him around just as a back- up for Bellerin.

I wasn’t over-impressed with Guendouzi although I believe he has a lot of potential. As the commentators said, he seemed to want to be everywhere instead of maintaining his position and letting the other players do their job. As has been observed though, he certainly doesn’t hide and he does try his heart out. Just a bit more experience I believe will serve him well and Arsenal supporters just need to be patient with his development. I would like to see Torreira start the next game where hopefully his experience can bring a bit of confidence in that department. I see a lot of negativity about Xhaka on the social media sites and although I believe he can do more on the defensive front, his range of passing is impressive and is what we need going forward. Mhkitaryan for me also needs to up his performance. There was talk that we can’t operate with both him and Ozil in midfield, so Saturday was an opportunity for Miki to show us how this would work out with just one of the two midfielders on the pitch. By the end of the game it would appear that we should give the other midfielder an opportunity on his own.

Looking elsewhere, no one really performed that well. Aubamayang just needs to crack a few in to get up and running this season and the sooner the better. Lacazette looks the part when he comes on and this seems to be a good option for Arsenal. Even at 2 – 1 up, we did not look very convincing and only for West Ham’s passing being even worse than ours, it could easily have been 2 – 2. As it was, dat guy Welbeck took a very calm and composed goal in added on time to ease any fears of us losing this one, but the bottom line is that we need one or both of our main strikers to start hitting the spot!

Onto next week and we’re away to Cardiff. Another opportunity for Arsenal to wear their first kit – might have to wait until late in October to view us in our second or third kit in the league. Cardiff were last in the Premier League in the 2013/14 season where we did the double over them. We beat them 3 – 0 in Cardiff where Ramsey scored a pair and Flames got the other, but our last two goals came in the final five minutes. Because of the way we’re playing and because Cardiff will be looking more for a defensive point rather than a spectacular win, we’re going to find it quite difficult to come away with a full haul of three points. Cardiff started off their campaign with an away loss to Bournemouth before holding both Newcastle and Huddersfield to goalless draws. Now that we have our first win under our belt, we need to try and up the momentum with another win before the interlull hits us. Nothing better for the morale than coming back to the league having won your last couple of games.

Had to wait for today for the result of our fantasy leagues before finishing off the blog and it was a lower scoring round than the previous two in the FPL with a couple of 68 pointers, and a single 69 score from Tyrone Gower and his team Ty-Guy that pushed him up to 31st in the standings. The top two places have swapped around from last week with the third placed team catching up on the points front. The top three look as follows:

Im Gunning for you!!      Cedric Angelo Nappies   223
Wolves of Witkoppen     Richard Mackenzie         217
Mr Joes FC                    Gregory Taylor                215

In the Superbru league, it was a very close round with four players getting top spot of 17 points. Well done to Grandpa, Minty_Mint, Tertius14 and Amith. That said, not too much has changed at the top of the league with only Minty_Mint making an appearance in third spot, 8 places up from last week. Top three brus are as follows:

StevieZ                                 46,5
Cat                                        42,5
Minty_Mint                            41,0

Right, this is the last weekend game before the interlull so why not fill your boots on a lazy afternoon and c’mon down to the Brazenhead this Sunday for the game and have yourselves some fun.