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.