New Year, New Hope

We may have started 2019 off with a bang, but it still hurts to think about how we ended 2018 off. That hiding we received at Liverpool really highlighted the gap between us two and it put our shambolic defense in the spot light. I can only hope that 2019 will be a bit of a better year for us.

Initially, I wasn’t planning on writing about that shit show at Anfield, but maybe I should at least touch on a few things briefly. My hopes for getting something out of that game were non-existent, especially with our shortage of players, but when I learned that Mustafi was back in the squad, there was a glimmer of hope in my eyes that we could maybe steal a point or 3, because it meant that Xhaka was back in midfield alongside Torriera, where he belongs. There was no Özil in the squad, but that didn’t worry me, because let’s be honest, he doesn’t turn up in the big games anymore and we’ve also showed that we’re capable of getting something out of those games without him. Ainsley Maitland-Niles started as well, but that was expected given that Bellerin has been out and we needed pace on that right wing. The main thing that bothered me about our lineup was how absolutely thin our bench was. Guendouzi and Lacazette looked like the only players we could look to if we needed help.

The game started really well for us, with Iwobi playing really well to set up AMN who ran in at the back and put the ball in the net for us. I leapt up with joy but I didn’t know my euphoria was gonna get cut off so short after we scored. We had angered the beast. Horrible defending at the back and missed opportunities to clear the ball meant that Firmino could just walk the ball into the back of our net. Shortly after his equaliser he made our defenders look like a nervous kid was spamming the tackle button on FIFA. One dummy, two dummy, three and goal. Way too easy! Salah got in behind our defence and played a great one touch pass to Mané, strangler of Swiss defenders, who put it in for 3. Sokratis, frustrated by everything going on fouled Salah in the box just before half time and the Egyptian put the penalty away to make it 4-1 going into half time. Our defence was shambolic on the day. Absolutely horrendous. With a gap that big in the scoreline, there was absolutely no way our beloved Second Half FC could make a comeback. We played a bit better in the second half and controlled the game more, but that’s only because Liverpool took their foot off the gas as they had won the game in the first half already and had Man City to think about in the week. Liverpool got one more in before the game ended 5-1. I was disappointed and embarrassed, but I wasn’t surprised. We received a huge wake up call after that result and I hope that we work on the mistakes we made. The only two players who could hold their head up high after that game were Maitland-Niles and Iwobi. Torreira disappointed me as well and was also shockingly bad.

I wasn’t too negative after that match though, because 3 seasons ago Liverpool were in the exact same predicament as us, which only makes me think that if we give Emery enough time to bring in the players he wants, we’ll be as good as Liverpool are in a few seasons time. We as fans just have to have a bit more patience, which is difficult, I know.

We had to start 2019 off on the right foot against Fulham, and luckily that’s exactly what we did. Arsenal were just 1 goal shy of replicating the scoreline of the reverse fixture last year, where we ran out 5-1 winners. The game started off really horribly though, as you could see that our defence was experiencing PTSD after the Liverpool game. No communication and very nervous body language on their part made me extremely anxious and super uncomfortable. Xhaka was back in the midfield again, and was supposed to playing well, but looked out of it. As I was slagging his performance off on Twitter, he scored his first goal inside the box for us, and put us ahead 1-0. His performance thereafter didn’t improve much unfortunately. After halftime, Lacazette then got us 2-0 up after some brilliant play from Aubameyang and Kolasinac, two players who performed brilliantly on the day. Aubameyang should’ve had more goals, but Rico decided to deny him brilliantly on a couple of occasions. Fulham got 1 back after some poor defending once again and were right back in it. That wasn’t the only defensive mistake we made in this game. Earlier in the first half, Sessegnon could’ve put Fulham ahead twice but thank God his finishing wasn’t on point. These stupid school boy errors in defence are starting to have me believe that Steve Bould is not the right man for the job anymore. Sure, our defenders are to blame as well, but we definitely need a new defensive coach along with some new defenders. I really hope Emery sees that and sorts it out, stat!

Luckily we were able to grab 2 more goals before the game was done. Lacazette was subbed off (again) much to the disappointment of many Arsenal fans who, like me, thinks he deserves a full 90 minutes on the pitch. Boos rang down from the crowd but the French striker clapped and reassured the fans that he trusted Emery’s decision to bring him off. Class. His replacement, Rambo came on and scored for us, silencing the fans critical of Emery’s tactics. Aubameyang finally got past Rico after that goal to put the cherry on top of a commanding win. A 4-1 win to the Arsenal was a great way to start 2019. But something I had noticed from that match was that the Emirates was irritatingly quiet on the day. Perhaps everyone had hangovers from the previous night, or lost their voices at their respective parties, but either way I was mortified at how quiet the crowd was. You could see the around 50 odd thousand fans in the stadium, but really it sounded like there were only 500. I don’t what’s going on there but I feel that if fans want to see the team play better, they’ll have to raise the atmosphere in the Emirates. It was literally a fucking library on the day. But anyways…

Transfer window is finally open, which means we can maybe dip into the market and buy ourselves a few new players. I really hope Emery and Mislintat get at least 1 player in. I also really wish we’d try one last time to re-sign Ramsey to a new deal. I really envisioned him as our club captain and main man one day, but due to some poor player management from the old regime, it looks like we’ll be losing him. I’ll commend him on his attitude though! The guy is most likely leaving, but hasn’t once spoken badly about Arsenal to the media and has always tried to put in a good shift whenever given a chance to play. He will be remembered as an Arsenal legend in this era I rate.

And finally, Happy New Year to all my readers! Thank you for the support so far, and may you have a blessed 2019. I’ll also try get back into my podcasts this year again after I put them on the back burner last year. I for one have high hopes for Arsenal this year, and I’m pretty sure we’re gonna progress well under Emery… we just have to give him a chance.

Happy new year you Gunners!