Arsenal v Spurs

Yo, things are so hectic as we approach the end of the year
that I just haven’t found the time for my weekly blog. So this is going to be a
quick one to let you know that we are still around and expecting a big crowd
for what is probably our biggest annual encounter against that crowd from up
the road. And to add to that we’re doing another raffle with two shirts up for
grabs, so don’t miss it.

Spurs seem to be gaining the upper hand as of late, having
won two of the last three encounters. However, it has been eight years since we
have lost an NLD at our home ground when Spurs scored three second half goals
to come back from a two goal deficit at half time. Historically we have beaten
them 16 more times and as is the case with derbies in general, form goes out
the window and hunger and passion make a bold entry.

Spurs have been on a six game winning streak since losing at
home, 1 – 0 to Manchester City. Last weekend they ended Chelsea’s unbeaten
start to the season and even though they have lost one more game than us they
find themselves three points ahead of us courtesy of not having drawn any
matches and winning two more matches. In midweek, they saw off Inter Milan 1 –
0 with an 80th minute strike by Eriksen. This places them precariously
in second position on the same number of points as Inter with a trip to the
Camp Nou still to come. Can they qualify for the knock out stages or will they
join Arsenal in the Europa competition?

Arsenal are still on their unbeaten run which now totals
eighteen matches. They had a bit of a dip where they managed three draws over
four games starting with a 2-2 draw with Palace and ending with that very poor
1-1 draw with Wolves. They seem to have snapped out of that phase with their
battling 2-1 victory away to Bournemouth and then the kids took over midweek
with the 3-0 away win against Vorskla that sealed their position at the top of
the table with one match still to play.

Sunday’s match is going to be a cracker and quite an
experience for those newbies in the team including our manager Unai. I’m not
too sure whether he will persevere with the 5 man back line and hopefully we
will be looking at an attack minded set up. What does this mean? Possibly a
similar line up to the game we played against Liverpool with one of Ozil and
Mkhitaryan making way for…..? The options are Iwobi or Ramsey with the latter
being accused of being too similar to Ozil and thus the possibilities are Ozil
and Iwobi or Ramsey and Mkhitaryan. A lot has been written about Mkhitaryan
with there being general frustration all around as to his touches on the ball
being poor yet his movement off the ball which is much more difficult to assess
when watching on TV have been highlighted as a major contributor to our victory
over Bournemouth  last week.

On to the Arsenal South Africa fantasy leagues quickly and
in the FPL Sibongumusa Shongwe’s BAFAN’ ABAFUN FC has jumped into second spot. The
table looks as follows:

Sons of Pitches                  Jean Raath                          778

Bafan’ Abafun FC              Sibongumusa
Shongwe 768

Im Gunning for you!!     
Cedric Angelo Nappies  766        

The Superbru league as usual keeps first and second places
in check and welcomes Gunner for life into third spot. Gunner for life also top
scored for the week with a nice 15.5 points picking 7 correct results. He’s
putting the pressure on the top two and maybe we’ll see a bit more movement
this week. The top three are as follows:

StevieZ                                 151,5

Davyboy                              150,5

Amith                                    149,0

So, after two away games we now return to home ground. Not
too sure whether it’s going to be a relaxing Sunday afternoon but with three
points up for grabs and the opportunity for Arsenal to move above Spurs in the
table, this is a must watch match with the added incentive for those of you
that can get down to The Brazenhead with yet another raffle sponsored by
ArsenalSA and once again it’s two snazzy Arsenal shirts up for grabs. So guys
and girls, why dontcha come on down to the Brazenhead on Sunday and see whether
we can beat the auld enemy and take advantage of this fixture.

Arsenal v Bournemouth v Vorskla

I get confused with this January transfer window talk. First
we’re told that we’re not going to be participating unless there is a real
emergency at the club and that players that are available at this time tend to
over priced and under qualified. Then I see we’re looking for someone to
replace Danny Welbeck as it appears that he’s a major cog in our plan to bring
back Champions League football to The Emirates and that Eddie Nketiah does not
yet cut the mustard.  Well, whatever
transfer business we do try and do in January, let’s hope that none of our
targets saw our last match against Wolves! After a slow and gradual rise to a
top four position with an eleven match winning run, we now seem to have put the
brakes on and dropped six valuable points in our last three Premier League
matches with three consecutive draws, culminating in a disappointing
performance against Wolves. It really was terrible, possibly our worst game of
the season and we really need to move away from such performances. I would
truly have preferred for us to have played much better and lose than see such a
wretched performance. Fortunately, that is now behind us and there is only one
way to look, that being forward where on Sunday we can enjoy a visit to Bournemouth.

The equivalent match last season was something not to be
savoured and was probably the equal of our last match against Wolves, so this
fixture will prove whether we have made an improvement or not over the last ten
months. Bournemouth are a handy team to say the least and with players such as
Wilson, King and Fraser, we need to be alert. We can do it as long as we
maintain our concentration and not go walk about as sometimes happens with the
back three. Mustafi is a culprit in this case and when called on, he can be
quite brilliant but as per the Palace game, he can have these tendencies of not
being in the moment and lacks that 100% concentration that’s the difference
between conceding a goal and keeping a clean sheet. Holding has been playing
well of late and seems intent on keeping his place, however for this weekend’s
game one of these tow must be replaced by Sokratis and I’m not too sure who it
will be, probably the former. Nacho was on the bench against Wolves and I’m
hoping he will be back to match fitness to face Bournemouth although in all
honesty I feel he is getting a bit long in the tooth. I don’t think AMN will
get much of a look-in in midfield with our abundances there and I believe it’s
about time that Emery played him more in the left back slot, more for being an
excellent cover for our first choice in the future than making that position
his own. Bellerin can remain on the right and his attacking prowess makes up
for his defensive lapses.

From defensive midfield to our front striker I would say
more of the same and keep Iwobi in instead of Mkhitaryan. Of course, I think
most people would agree that Leno has become our number 1 between the posts. He
has made a number of crucial saves as of late, especially in that Wolves games
and inspires more confidence than Cech which is so crucial when it comes to the
way our back four play.

Bournemouth are a place behind us in the league with four
points less than us. They have just come off two consecutive losses and
therefore have garnered the same number of points in their last three games as
we have. They have not had a particularly good run of late, losing to both
Newcastle and MFU and drawing at home to Southampton, but had some great
results prior to that, beating Watford at Vicarage Road 4 – 0 and a home win
against Leicester 4 – 2. I wonder which Bournemouth will turn up on Sunday?

Looking at the table, the top four are slowly getting away
from us with Sp*rs, in fourth spot, three points ahead of us. We cannot afford
to drop any further points and with a Chelsea/Spurs fixture taking place on
Saturday, we really need to take advantage of whatever that result may be.
Especially as we face Sp*rs the following week!

Our midweek game in Europe is against Vorskla and although
we have qualified, we need one more win to make certain of top spot. I don’t
think Emery will put out too weak a side, especially with the match against
Sp*rs looming, so expect the Nketiahs, Smith-Rowes and likes to be on the team
sheet. It’s only a pity that we don’t have the services of Reiss Nelson at the
moment as he’s plying his trade with Hoffenheim, on loan, this season and
making a good job of it by all accounts. They will be up against Shakhtar
Donetsk on Tuesday.

On to the Arsenal South Africa fantasy leagues and in the
FPL we have third place dropping out and a new entry into the top three. Top
scorer for the week was Shannon Poulton with her team 2STEPSAHAEADOFAKEEN14.
Shannon scored 69 points which moves her into 29th position. New
entry into the top three this week is Cedric Angelo Nappies and IM GUNNING FOR
YOU!! Where he has taken up second place. This all means that top spot has
opened up a 17 point gap;

Sons of Pitches                  Jean
Raath                          748

Im Gunning for you!!     
Cedric Angelo Nappies  731        

Candytjie FC                       Candice
Claasen               730

The Superbru league has a new third spot with Amith coming into
the picture at the expense of Maggot. Stone top scored for the week with a reasonable
12.5 points. Looks like he got 6 out of ten results correct, not bad for what
was a difficult week of predictions. Those points saw him climb 2 places into
43rd spot. Well done Stone!! The top three are as follows:

StevieZ                                 142,5

Davyboy                              142,5

Amith                                    135,5

So, two games this week, Sunday and Thursday. It’s a must
win away game to Bournemouth and we should know exactly what that will do for
us as Chelsea will have already played Sp*rs, so why dontcha come on down to
the Brazenhead on Sunday and see whether we can improve on our last result – oh
and also have some fun.

Back To Winning Ways

The international break had finally ended and once again it was time to watch our beloved Arsenal play once more. Thank God that was the last interlull for the year, as we head into a very busy end-of-year fixture list for Premier League clubs. First up on the list was Bournemouth, a side who beat us in this fixture last season for the very first time ever.

Bournemouth have been very confident lately, and their results have been showing it, so this away fixture was going to be a lot trickier than playing against any of the other clubs outside the top 6. And plus, we had drawn our last 3 games in the Premier League, so it was time to pick up another win and gain our confidence back… especially because of who were going to play in our next 2 fixtures. So yes, I was a little nervous for this game but I had the reassurance that some of our key players didn’t participate in the international break and were well rested. That reassurance died down a bit once I saw the team news released. No Lacazette? Özil on the bench? Holding, Mustafi and Sokratis playing? “What’s going on!?” I thought as I looked at this new look to our team. But I tried to look at it from a tactical approach, and I tried to see it how the experts would see it. With all 3 of our center backs playing, as well as Bellerin and Kolasinac, this meant we were resorting to 5 at the back, something we haven’t seen Emery play with before. You see, with the 3 central midfielders, this meant that Bellerin and Kola had license to bomb forward more, and provide the width… but it also meant that there would be more stability at the back. Maybe he realized the attacking threat of Bournemouth and decided that he needed more defenders, or maybe he took a chance on a new system just to see how it pans out? Either way, it worked, but only just.

We were extremely lucky not to have gone 1-0 down in the opening
7 minutes. Brooks scored for Bournemouth but his goal was deemed offside
luckily. Looking at some of the replays, you could see that has was marginally
onside as the ball was played to him. It’s those kind of decisions that won’t
go in our favour next year when VAR is implemented. Lucas Torreira struck the
post not more than a minute later after a great interception ad run. That
would’ve been the Uruguayans first goal for the club, and it was too bad he was
denied by the upright. In terms of first half displays, it wasn’t too bad, but
it wasn’t the greatest. Our defenders couldn’t really cope with the speed of
Bournemouth’s attackers, and so resorted to some wresting moves occasionally to
bring them down. However, from an attacking perspective we did a little better.
Kolasinac and Bellerin worked really hard down those wings and were often the
outlet for all our attacks. One of those balls that Kola crossed in led to one
of the most beautiful own goals I’ve seen since Carl Jenkinson scored for us in
pre-season a few years ago. Lermer tried to block the cross coming in but
instead toe-poked/volleyed it past Begovic to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal.

It seemed like we were going to go into the break with the lead for the first time this season, but on the stroke of half time Bournemouth hit us with a counter attack after we committed too many bodies forward in search of a second goal. Josh King was unmarked in space, as Brooks played the ball to him, only for him to curl the ball beautifully into the top left corner of Leno’s goal to make it 1-1 before half time. Fuuuuuuck… So close! But at least we weren’t in a losing position. I knew that we were stronger in the second half, so I wasn’t too worried at this stage.

We looked a better side in the second half, and grabbed a goal
half way through after Lerma brought down Mustafi. The free kick was taken
quickly, and Alex Iwobi played a beautiful ball in for Kola to latch onto, who
then played it across the face of goal towards Aubameyang, who slid to get a
touch on it and placed it in the bottom corner. 2-1 to the Arsenal and we had
our lead back. A few moments later, Torriera was subbed off for Guendouzi,
which shocked me a bit, because when you’re holding a 2-1 lead, you need
someone like Torriera to help see out the game. But Emery stated in the post
match conference that Torreira seemed to be tiring and didn’t want to risk him
getting an injury. Fair enough. The other substitution saw Iwobi come off for
Ramsey, which baffled me even more. I really thought Emery would bring Mhki off
as he was having a torrid game in my opinion. Bournemouth continued to threaten
for the rest of the half and came close as Lerma struck the same post that
Torreira did in the first half. They had a 95th minute free kick outside of our
box as well after Mustafi pulled one of his classic fouls out at a dangerous
time. I genuinely thought they were gonna score from that, I mean, that’s the
luck you deserve when your defender makes stupid decisions like that, right?
But alas, Stanislas blasted it over and the referee called an end to the game,
meaning that we were 17 games unbeaten and 1 point behind Chelsea in the top 4.

My Player Ratings:

Leno: 6/10

Didn’t
have much to do. Make a couple of good saves but his distribution on the day
was off.

Bellerin: 7/10

Provided
a constant threat down that right hand side. Good running on the day.

Mustafi: 5/10

Not
bad, but not his greatest game. -1 for conceding a foul in a dangerous area at
a dangerous time. Had me real nervous.

Holding: 6/10

Pretty
standard game for him. I think he struggled to cope with the pace of
Bournemouth’s attack at times.

Sokratis: 6/10

Great
to have him back, although showed some signs of a Greek wrestler within him.
Still made a couple of good tackles though.

Kolasinac: 8/10

Great
game from Kola today. Misread a couple of passes but was a threat down the left
and bagged 2 assists in the end. Probably my MOTM.

Xhaka: 6/10

I
thought he captained the side well today in the absence of Özil. Controlled the
midfield quite well.

Torreira: 7/10

Good
game for him as well. Passed well and made a shit load of interceptions to win
possession back. Came close to scoring by hitting the post.

Mhkitaryan:
4/10

Probably
the worst player on the day if you ask me. Nothing was coming off for him and
his passing wasn’t great. Also, what was going on with his hair on the day?

Iwobi: 6/10

Had
an average game, showed some attacking promise at times. Fed that beautiful
ball in to Kola for the second goal, therefore he assisted the assister.

Aubameyang:
7/10

Won
the game for us in the end, but went missing for a large portion of the game
which frustrated me. Great finish though… Tied on top of the list of most goals
next to Sergio Aguero.

Subs:

Guendouzi:
6/10

Still
shows so much confidence on the pitch! Passing was good.

Ramsey: 6/10

Didn’t
have much time to play but linked up well with Xhaka in Midfield.

Nketiah: N/A

Was
on for way too short for me to rate him

So
in the end we triumphed and walked away with all three 3 points. That was a
much needed win to get our spirits up before the big North London Derby on
Sunday. First up we’ve got some Europa League action on Thursday, but with us
already through to the knockout stages,  hope Emery rests a lot of the key
players so that we can put out a strong side for Sunday’s match. I think we’ll
win it!

Come
on you Gunners!

Arsenal v Sporting v Wolves

Well, well, well – three holes in the ground as the old joke
goes and as indicated in my last post I’m overjoyed with that point we got on
the weekend. Being a typical Arsenal supporter I feel we could have got more,
but for now 1 point and being overjoyed does it for me. That makes it a
fourteen match unbeaten run and we can look far into the future before we
encounter a game of that intensity again. To be honest, that was the first game
I’ve seen us play this season that brought back memories of The Arsenal of old,
and even though there were concerns that need to be addressed, it has brought
back a new level of confidence in me and I expect in the team that we are one
of the big fish in the big pond. If anything our back four performed better
than our front four with our two midfielders both being outstanding. Mustafi
was a different player to the game against Palace and he truly is becoming a
Jekyll and Hyde character. Holding was pretty damn solid and for a first game
back, Kolasinac did very well. In midfield, Torreira was dynamite as he hounded
and harried as well as steadied and pushed forward with incisive passes
allowing Xhaka to play his game under less pressure than when he partners
Guendouzi, producing his own range of passing as well as interceptions to
blunten the Liverpool attack. Up front, we were not as good as we know we can
be and both Mhiki and Ozil were not as inspiring as we know they can be. Mhiki
is a bit of a worry these days, as it has been a while since he has put in a stard
performance and as much as we all want him to succeed, he is just not cutting
it. When Iwobi came on in the 68th minute, there was an immediate increase
in the tempo to the game and our opportunities increased in number and quality
to eventually create the goal that came from an Iwobi assist. Still plenty of
work to do but if Emery can maintain this level of play then the future looks
bright.

Earlier in the week, we struggled to a 2-1 victory over
Blackpool in the Carabao Cup that has earned us a quarter final home tie with
Spurs. This game will be played two and a half weeks after our Premier League
encounter with them which is on 2nd December. Guendouzi was the
player making the headlines in that game, creating an assist for Lichtsteiner
to open the scoring and then earning himself two yellow cards that saw him miss
out on the Liverpool game. I have my doubts as to whether he would have got on
the field against Liverpool had he been available, however I think it was a
lesson well learnt that you cannot afford to be so reckless with your tackling
once you have received an initial yellow card. Guendouzi is certainly having a
whirlwind start to his career in the big league with Arsenal and this is just
another stage in his development.

This week we are back to the Europa League and it’s the
reverse leg of our last match where we beat Sporting 1-0 in Lisbon in what was
a relatively early kick off in a game that failed to reach any great heights.  To be honest, I’m not exactly expecting any
great heights for Thursday either. Emery does have a different approach to this
competition than Wenger did and a win against Sporting would see us almost
definitely top the log so maybe he will put out a relatively strong squad or at
least a strong bench as insurance. As I have written previously, it’s important
that we top the log as that will ensure a weaker opposition in the first of the
knock out games – at least, that is the expectation.

Then onto the weekend, which sees us play the final team of
the three newly promoted sides, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. What a great name
for a side and they are truly steeped in history. I remember as a youngster a
chap called Derek Dougan with his long sideburns and handlebar moustache – a bit
like The Sundance Kid from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Apparently, his
nickname was ‘The Doog’ and he hailed from Northern Ireland. And he wasn’t the
most famous of the Wolves players, Billy Wright was, who captained England a
record 90 times and was the first player to win a century of international caps.
But that’s going back some years (1939 – 1959) and later on he came to manage
The Arsenal (1962 – 66) where he enjoyed limited success, finishing seventh in
the ’62 season which earned Arsenal their first ever foray into Europe. One of
Wright’s signings was goalkeeper Bob Wilson who featured in goal during the
famous 1971 double winning season. Wolves have won the tier 1 (Premier League)
league three times, the FA Cup four times and the League Cup twice. The last of
any of those achievements was the League Cup in 1980 where they beat Nottingham
Forest.

Wolves were three goals down to Spurs on the weekend when
they managed a mini revival to come back with two goals (both penalties) and
they are definitely the strongest of the three promoted teams. They are
currently in eleventh spot, nestled between Leicester City and Brighton. They’ve
scored 11 and conceded 12 goals with their top scorer being Raul Jiminez. This
is a team that we should get past without too much trouble, but like any team
we play, Wolves have the ability to bite back and make a go of things.

On to things fantastical, and there’s been a bit of a shake
up at the top of the ArsenalSA FPL with His Excellency being dethroned and a
new face entering the top three. Top honours for the week go to Zaid Kola and
his team LING FC with a haul of 97. With Sterling as his captain and Aguero and
Chilwell both earning double figures, that 97 points seems an easy haul. Well
done Zaid, and you did manage to squeeze one Arsenal player in your side. This
is how the top of the league is looking:

Sons of Pitches                  Jean
Raath                                                          695

Candytjie FC                       Candice Claasen                                               681

Chesa Mpama FC              His Excellency Sir Max Mohapeloa              674

In the Superbru league, the top two stay the same once again and third place
sees a new face. Sayso top scored with an impressive 19,5 points which pushes
him into fourth spot overall, up 8 places from last week. He correctly
predicted 9 of the 10 games. Well done squire! The top of the Superbru league
looks like this:

StevieZ                                 136,5
Davyboy                              136,5
Maggot                                 129,0

Two games this week, and the Thursday game is a late kick off in Europe. With
the clocks going back and playing at the regular time slot, it means a 10pm
start for this one. The weekend is a Sunday affair and we share the final kick
off spot with the Manchester derby at 6:30pm. So take your pick or chose both
but either way, get on down to the Brazenhead in Fourways and have yourselves
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.