Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie - Eddie Nketiah‏ Becomes an Instant Arsenal Hero

Being an Arsenal fan can be exhilarating at times, however, it can also result in feelings of dejection, misery and absolute frustration.

The team put in a great performance this past weekend in dispatching Everton 2-5 at Goodison Park. It was therefore unnerving to follow Arsenal's home fixture versus Championship side Norwich City in the Carabao Cup just two days later.

It was expected that Arsene Wenger would field a team of fringe players and youngsters, but with veterans such as Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere nothing but victory was expected.

I was unable to see the match on television but listened and followed along on radio and the Internet.

After 85 minutes it looked as if the "good" Arsenal from the weekend had been replaced by the "bad" Arsenal side of recent years. Here are just a few of these forgettable and embarrassing performances:

The commentators of the match were already sharpening their journalistic knives proclaiming how awful a loss this was going to be for Arsenal.

Wenger looked to the substitutes bench for a possible last gasp roll of the dice. Unfortunately, there was no Sanchez, Ozil or Lacazette ready to come in and save the day. So when it was announced that 18-year-old Edward Nketiah was coming in to replace 17-year-old Reiss Nelson it didn't make the fans super confident. In fact, most supporters had no idea who he was.

His only other first team appearance occurred last month when he came on as an 89th minute substitute in Arsenal's Europa League victory over BATE Borisov.

15 seconds later...he scored the equalizer which saved the club from complete humiliation. Yes, it took this unknown kid 15 seconds to change the entire mood of the stadium and the match. (Sadly some of the less supportive Gunners fans had already left so they missed this amazing moment).

The goal sent the match to extra time and as if scripted the kid did it again. In the 86th minute Nketiah headed home the ball and sent the Emirates in to bedlam. The final was 2-1 to Arsenal.

Five minutes from misery turned around by an unknown youth team player. It's special moments like these that make the game so amazing. Yes it can be tough being an Arsenal fan, but it can also be fantastic.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Arsenal are back! Time to kick off the 2016-2017 season

It still amazes me how long the EPL season really is. After 9 months of ups and downs, frustrations and more frustrations the end of the season is often a great time to decompress and focus on some other sports related frustration, such as the New York Mets. The next thing you know, it's mid August and it all begins again.

Arsenal have had a relatively positive preseason with some of the youngsters getting their chance to show what they got. Chuba Akpom, Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide displayed positive signs which gave fans cyring for a new striker a moment to wonder if perhaps the answer lies within.

Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both performed well which is a major positive with both once highly touted players coming off of sub par years.

Many of Arsenal's star players were given an extended break following Euro 2016 and the Copa America. This leaves Arsenal with Giroud, Ozil, Sanchez, Koscielny behind in preparations for the new season.

Of course this being Arsenal, the word crisis is never too far behind any team story. Injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel during preseason have left the team short in terms of options and rookie Rob Holding has a good chance to be thrown right in to the fire alongside Calum Chambers.

Outside of Granit Xhaka and Holding, Arsenal have yet to make a significant summer signing. Of course fans have been complaining all summer long as Arsenal have been linked with the likes of:
With over two weeks left in the transfer window there is still the possibility that Arsenal will welcome new signings. However, rather than complaining and whining about what the team doesn't have it's time for fans to get behind the players that will take the pitch for the season opener versus Liverpool.

Despite all the negativity it's easy to forget that Arsenal did finish second last season behind Cinderella winners Leicester City. Of course the pundits have moved on to kissing the butts of new managers Guardiola, Conte and Mourinho. Why Mourinho is treated like he's royalty is behind me. He single handily led 2014-2015 champions Chelsea in to the relegation zone last season before being canned. ManU have made some good signings, (including paying 89 million pounds for Paul Pogba a player that Manchester United had and let leave for almost nothing four years ago) but the team were a mess last year and despite how the media portrays him, Mourinho is no miracle worker.

Arsenal were given a tough fixture to kick things off with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool visiting the Emirates. 

Here's to the start of the new season and to a successful Arsenal campaign.

Sunday, August 15th, 2016 Arsenal vs. Liverpool 11AM EST

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Arsenal 2015-2016: May

May 8, 2016 Arsenal at Manchester City 11AM EST

We're coming to the end of the season and with Leicester having wrapped up the title the only thing left to be decided for Arsenal is whether they can continue their record of celebrating another St. Totteringham's Day by finishing above Spuds. Going in to the match against Man City, Arsenal know that Spurs dropped points by losing at home to Southampton. 

Also to be decided is whether City can catch Arsenal in the race for the top 3. While a win would be the best outcome, a draw would all but secure that Arsenal would finish higher than the billionaires of City.

Arsenal held their nerve and showed some resiliency by coming from behind twice. In the end a draw was a reasonable result and it left Arsenal in a good position to finish above Man City.

Auero's 8th minute goal was answered within two minutes when Giroud evened things up. Giroud scored with a header from a corner that was conceded after former Arsenal defender Gael Clichy made a bonehead back pass to Joe Hart which the goalie had to let go out for the corner.

Kevin de Bruyne gave City the lead again in the 51st minute on a shot that Petr Cech really should have saved. Luckily Alexis Sanchez tied the score with a strike in the 68th minute. Arsenal remain in third behind Spuds by two points and ahead of City by three.

Sunday May 15, 2016 Arsenal vs. Aston Villa 10AM EST

While the score was the same as last May's FA Cup Final, the 4-0 victory didn't have the same excitement level of last year's win. With Aston Villa having been relegated, a win was expected and would put an end to a season that offered lots of hope but ultimately led to frustration and in fighting among supporters.

The only thing left to be decided on this last day of the season was whether or not Tottenham would be able to finish above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years. Spuds held a two point advantage and a superior goal differential heading in to the match. All they really needed to do was get at least one point away to already relegated Newcastle.

Common sense would say that there was no way Tottenham could screw this one up. However, I had a feeling that Newcastle could come up with a surprise victory for their home fans before heading down to the Championship.

Giroud gave Arsenal the lead within five minutes. From there it was a big of a slog but Aston Villa really never looked like they could score. It was 1-0 Arsenal at half time while Spuds found themselves behind Newcastle 2-0 at the interval.

Giroud went on to complete a hat trick with goals in the 78th and 80th minutes. In his last Arsenal match, Mikel Arteta came on in the 88th minute and finished up the scoring with a shot that bounced off of the back of Villa keeper Mark Bunn.

After the match both Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta were recognized for their contributions to Arsenal as they will both be leaving the club this off season.

Meanwhile, wouldn't you know it but up in Newcastle Tottenham pulled off the most amazing display of bottling an opportunity by ending up losing 5-1 to a relegated Newcastle team that had been reduced to ten men. 

While disappointing overall, the season ended with Arsenal in second place and celebrating St. Totteringham's Day for the 21st year in a row.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Proof that you should watch what you say on Twitter - Dedicated to Leicester City, the Club's Fans and Especially the EPL Manager of the Year Claudio Ranieri

Being a big Twitter user for football related matters, I distinctly remember the reaction to Leicester City's appointment of Cladio Ranieri as the club's new manager. The negativity and vitriol was almost universal. Before a ball was even kicked Leicester seemed to have already been relegated by pundits, betting sites and fans.

Well Leicester City fans this one is for you to enjoy. Perhaps you'll even want to print it out and hang it on the wall. We all know that social media can be dangerous as everything you say (or tweet in this instance) is permanent. Well what follows is a collection of some of the best anti Ranieri and Leicester to be relegated tweets. What will make reading this even sweeter for Leicester fans is seeing that these tweets have come from fans of "title contenders" Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham. There are even tweets from fans of club's who are currently scratching and clawing to stave off relegation while Leicester are sitting pretty at the top of the table.

Claudio Ranieri must have some thick skin. I hope that he's getting his middle finger ready for a big salute to those that doubted him when Leicester eventually lift up the EPL trophy. Where egotistical, it's all about me managers such as Jose Mourinho get stroked by the media; Ranieri has been vilified.

So while Mourinho was sacked and now sits on the sidelines, he gets to watch as Ranieri guides his underdog squad with nothing but grace and class. I hope Mourinho is watching as Ranieri and Leicester lift the trophy while his former side languish. Funny how the the "great" manager was sacked months ago, while the manager predicted to be sacked first continues to rack up victories.

So congrats to Leicester City, the fans and especially Claudio Ranieri. It's great to see that fairy tales can actually come true in real life!

In the meantime enjoy this look back at some of the tweets from last summer when the season was just getting started.

From Manchester United fans

From Arsenal fans

From Chelsea fans

From Spurs fan

From Liverpool fan

From a couple of guys about to lose their homes

Never go with these guys' predictions 

In the midst of all the negativity and anti Ranieri tweets, there were those that didn't buy in to all the pessimism and were believers from the start. Kudos to them:

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Arsenal 2015-2016: April

Saturday April 2, 2016 Arsenal vs. Watford 10AM EST

You can call this one a grudge match. The last time these two teams met at Emirates Stadium Watford stunned Arsenal by booking their place in the semifinals of the FA Cup. It was a humbling and unexpected defeat and the team has pretty much been treading water ever since.

Arsenal continue to confound fans and pundits. They can come out and put on a masterclass in how to play football...then they can come out and look completely inept while allowing lesser competition to get an advantage. Which Arsenal will show up today?

Today it was the good Arsenal that showed up. With 69% of the possession and almost three times as many shots on goal as their opponents, Arsenal's dominance resulted in a rather easy 4-0 victory.

Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead early on with a fourth minute goal. Alex Iwobi was given the start up front along with Danny Welbeck and repaid his manager's faith in him with a great performance. He scored his second goal in as many games and worked hard for the team.

Arsenal's 2-0 half time lead became 3-0 within three minutes of the restart. Hector Bellerin's shot deflected in to the back of the net. Theo Walcott came on as a sub in the 74th minute and finished off the scoring in the 90th minute.

In addition to Iwobi's performance, new midfielder Mohamed Elneny had a match high 127 passes with 96% of them completed successfully.

The hope is still there for a miracle title push, but there is no room at all for slip ups.

Saturday April 9, 2016 Arsenal at West Ham 10AM

West Ham have had an amazing season and currently sit 7 points behind Arsenal and just three points off of the top four. As for Arsenal, this match is a must win if they have any chance of pulling out a miracle finish and winning the league. Regardless of results elsewhere, Arsenal need to take care of Arsenal first. Despite what West Ham have achieved this season, Arsenal have the talent to get a result.

Petr Cech is back in the squad but Ospina gets the start and Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are up front while Giroud and Walcott only get a place on the bench.

Let's hope the "real" Arsenal show up.

If ever a match summed up this season, this was it. It all started out well. Back in the starting lineup, Alex Iwobi proved that he's one for the future. He played provider for Mesut Ozil who scored Arsenal's first in the 18th minute. In the 35th minute Iwobi passed to Alexis Sanchez who slotted home Arsenal's second.

It looked as if Arsenal were going to roll and that the outcome would be a victory. That was until the 44th minute. Within a two and a half minute period Arsenal's ugly side appeared. It should have been easy enough for Arsenal to tighten up the defense and go in to the half with a two goal advantage.

Of course this being Arsenal that's not what happened at all. Instead, Andy Carroll scored twice before the half time whistle blew. He was given too much space in both instances and instead of a two goal advantage it was all even at the half.

Within seven minutes of the restart Andy Carroll had completed his hat trick and Arsenal trailed. Laurent Koscielny got one back in the 70th minute but in the end it was another two points dropped and another frustrating outcome for supporters.

Sunday April 17, 2016 Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace 11AM EST

Time is running out for Arsenal if they are to have any chance of catching Leicester and even more upsetting, Tottenham. If the Gunners don't get their act together this could be a year without a St. Totteringham's Day. That in itself would be a disaster.

Crystal Palace are currently in free fall sitting just above the relegation zone. A home match against a bottom of the table should be no problem for Arsenal. Three points are a must. Anything less and there will be anarchy at the Emirates.

Well, so much for that easy match at home versus a bottom of the table club. Alexis Sanchez got Arsenal's goal just before half time. It was only the second shot on goal from the home side and it went downhill from there.

It was yet another typical Arsenal match where they dominated possession by a huge amount, 72% versus 28%. YES that was 72% to Crystal Palace's 28%. Shots on goal was dominated by Arsenal as well with 21 to Crystal Palace's 7.

Despite all the domination, Arsenal couldn't score a second goal and it was inevitable that Crystal Palace would ruin the day for the home crowd. That they did, when Yannick Bolasie scored an equalizer in the 81st minute.

This one was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for even the slightest chance of catching Leicester. At this point, finishing in the top 4 is once again the best that Arsenal can shoot for. With five matches left in the season, let's hope that Arsenal can at least accomplish that. 

Thursday April 21, 2016 Arsenal vs. West Brom 2:45PM EST

It's Arsenal's game in hand and we're running out of ways to say this is a must win. With Man City dropping two points at Newcastle it is a vital lifeline that Arsenal must take advantage of to secure a top 3 finish, let alone a top 4. 

In the reverse fixture back in November Arsenal ended up on the losing end of a match that they should have won. Of course all these months later we've become used to these type of results.

The fact that ManU is just one point behind us (despite having played one extra game) pretty much sums up the dire situation Arsenal find themselves in. ManU have been absolute shite this season and yet there they are right behind us. That pretty much sums up how bad Arsenal's form has become.

WIN. That is the only result that will be accepted by a disgruntled and fed up fan base. Anything else and it will be all out anarchy in the land of Arsenal.

It was the Alexis Sanchez show as Arsenal were comfortable 2-0 winners in front of a rather empty Emirates Stadium. The Thursday night kick off was very unusual, but disgruntled fans used the occasion to make a point about how disappointed they were with the team by not showing up. 

Sanchez helped to keep the atmosphere from turning truly ugly by scoring an early and exceptional goal from a Mesut Ozil pass in the 6th minute. The Chilean left Sandro in the dust and ran through three other West Brom defenders to beat Ben Foster in goal.

Then in the 38th minute, Sanchez took a free kick which perfectly eluded the West Brom wall and left Foster standing motionless as the ball flew in to the back of the net.

In the end that was all that Arsenal needed. Once again the Gunners dominated possession 71% to just 29% for West Brom. Finally, however, this domination resulted in an Arsenal win.

It may be too little to late for the title, but with Manchester City dropping two points at Newcastle earlier in the week, it means that Arsenal are back in third position in the table.

Sunday April 24, 2016 Arsenal at Sunderland 9:05AM EST

A trip to relegation challenged Sunderland should be easy. Nothing less than three points will be acceptable from this match. The way the season is going though, you never know which Arsenal team will show up.

So much for an easy three points. Instead it was another disappointing performance and two points dropped.

Saturday April 30, 2016 Arsenal vs. Norwich City 12:30PM EST

Arsenal face another relegation challenged team this week with Norwich coming to town. As has been said a lot recently, a win is an absolute must. If Arsenal are going to finish above Spuds and celebrate St. Totteringham's Day then they need to win matches such as this.

Danny Welbeck scored in the 59th minute with an assist from Olivier Giroud. While not quite a vintage Arsenal performance, the win gave the team the three points and shut up some of the Wenger Out brigade for the time being.