Sunday, November 10, 2013

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy - Part 2 - November - December 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013 1:30PM EST Arsenal vs. Liverpool 

There's a lot of hype surrounding this one as Arsenal and Liverpool are currently 1 and 3 in the table. There were plenty of nerves for Arsenal fans pre-match but there was also plenty of belief in the current league leaders.

What a game. Despite the negative pundits and Liverpool ass kissers predicting Liverpool's Daniel Sturidge and Luis Suarez to be too much for Arsenal to handle, Arsenal put on a great display and easily dispatched Liverpool 2-0. It was another solid team effort with Mikel Arteta proving to be a rock, Santi Cazorla dominating the midfield play and Olivier Giroud running his socks off. Cazorla got the first goal in the 19th minute after his header bounced back off the bar and he confidently drove the rebound in to the back of the net. Ramsey scored a screamer in the second half and it was pretty much done and dusted. The defensive performance of the entire team was so solid that it actually took the spot light off of Arsenal's offensive play. Top of the table with a 5 point lead and the doubters saying Arsenal have only played "easy" clubs are suddenly quiet. As an added bonus, Chelsea and their egotistical manager were outplayed away to Newcastle and were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline. Next up Borussia Dortmund in midweek, followed by a visit to the home of Judas and 8th place Manchester United.

Wednesday, November 5, 2013 2:45PM EST Arsenal at Borussia Dortmund Champions League Match Day 4

When articles appear with headlines such as this one below, it's easy to see why Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp is gaining admirers throughout football. While it's great to see Wenger and Arsenal getting such high praise, it's hard not to be cynical and think that Klopp is really trying to get inside the head of the club prior to the teams' meeting tonight in Germany.

Arsenal are better to watch than Barcelona and Arsene should be SIR Wenger, claims Jurgen Klopp 

With Napoli, Dortmund and Arsenal all even on six points after three matches, tonight's game takes on MAJOR significance. 

Wow....what an amazing night for Arsenal...with almost everyone predicting Dortmund to easily defeat Arsenal, the Gunners silenced their critics with an impressive 0-1 victory. Once again the team's defensive performance was excellent and Arsenal kept Dortmund at bay throughout the match. 

In what's becoming a common theme, Ozil to Giroud to Ramsey, produced the game's only goal in the 62nd minute. Ozil's pass went to Giroud who expertly headed the ball in to the path of the oncoming Ramsey who slotted home. Ramsey is having a season to remember and is rewarding Arsene Wenger for never losing faith in the player.

Of course Arsenal haters that predicted a drubbing at the hands of Dortmund still won't give the club credit. Before the match the haters lauded Dortmund as world beaters. After the match, the haters claimed Arsenal were lucky and Dortmund were just ordinary.

Results are what eventually will shut these folks up...prior to the Liverpool match last weekend the negative slant was that Arsenal hadn't beaten anyone of substance. To date, Arsenal have defeated the alleged title contenders Tottenham, Liverpool, Napoli and Dortmund. Next up is a trip to the home of Judas and the gold medalist in diving Ashley Young. #COYG

Sunday, November 10, 2013 11AM EST Arsenal at Manchester United

For the first time in a long while Arsenal head to Old Trafford with a better record and, even more importantly, a real belief that they are the better side. Aside from the usual rivalry, a win by Arsenal would send a major message to the league and leave the Fergie-less United 11 points behind the league leaders Arsenal. Even better, it would be a big F-U to Judas van Purse Strings who left Arsenal in an acrimonious fashion as he didn't like "the direction" the club were going in. Right now that direction is to the top of the table while United are sitting eighth.

A little boy named Judas scores for his 7th place club

It's amazing how one game can ruin your entire weekend and put you in the most foul mood. Normally a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United wouldn't be seen as the worst thing in the world, but this was different. United didn't beat Arsenal, Arsenal beat Arsenal. The Arsenal on display today were not the teams that I've been watching for the past 2 months. The passing was awful and the team looked like they were trying not to lose rather than win.

Worst of all, the disgraceful Robin van Purse Strings is credited with the only goal on a header from a corner. Seeing that d-bag celebrating like a lunatic made me want to get on a plane to Manchester and punch the bastard in the face.

What's most upsetting is that Arsenal are definitely the better team. For whatever reason they just didn't show it today. After defeating Borussia Dortmund on the road this week, the team should have come out with nothing but confidence and wiped the floor with United. Instead, it looked like they let the situation intimidate them. If we had lost 1-0 with a real Arsenal performance I could accept it more easily. Instead, we pretty much gave them the game. I hope Wenger tears in to the team.

In the end, Spuds lost, Citeh lost and Chelsea gained just one (undeserved point). Liverpool regained the three points we gained over them last week and sadly the "big" winners of the weekend are the Mancs. Regardless, Arsenal are still top of the league with a two point gap on Liverpool and three points on the club's next opponent Southampton.

Saturday, November 23, 2013 10AM EST Arsenal vs. Southampton

Coming off the international break it's time to get back to the business of the EPL and staying atop the standings. Luckily there were no serious injuries picked up by Arsenal players during the two weeks of international play and Theo Walcott is finally back after two months. Flamini is set to miss this match due to having received five yellow cards and word is that Lukas Podolski and the Ox are getting closer to returning after injury.

Southampton come in to this fixture in third place and have definitely raised some eyebrows across the league. The Saints have beaten Liverpool at Anfield and drawn with Manchester United at Old Trafford so this match was in now way a sure thing for Arsenal. In fact, if Southampton was to win the match, they would draw level on points with Arsenal at the top of the table.

Arsenal's 1-0 lead was gifted by a hysterical goalkeeping howler courtesy of Artur Boruc. Credit does have to go to Olivier Giroud, however, for staying with the play and perhaps causing Boruc to have a momentary lapse of judgement. Giroud is truly proving his worth to the club offensively and by hustling his ass off on set plays and defense as well.

Despite only having a one goal lead throughout the bulk of the match the nerves that used to accompany a slim Arsenal advantage were not really there. In fact, the confidence of those one nil to the Arsenal days of old is starting to return. 

Southampton had some opportunities, but Arsenal's defense held strong and Sczesny was in control throughout. An 86th minute penalty for a tug on Per Mertesacker in the box, allowed Giroud to step to the penalty spot and seal a 2-0 win for the home team.

Adding to the great feeling that comes following an Arsenal victory was seeing Manchester United blow a one goal advantage over Cardiff in stoppage time and seeing Spuds get humiliated 6-0 away to Manchester City. United dropped two points, Tottenham were embarrassed and the countdown to St. Totteringham's Day 2014 picks up.

Of course the Merseyside derby ended in a 2-2 draw which meant two dropped points for both Everton and Liverpool. If only Chelsea had lost it would have been complete. Of course a City win is not something to cheer about, but when it comes at the expense of Tottenham, it's worth it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 Arsenal vs. Marseille Champions League Match Day 2:45PM EST 

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Play continues in the "Group of Death" with Arsenal hosting Marseille and Napoli traveling to Dortmund. A Napoli victory and an Arsenal win would seal passage on to the next round of the tournament for both clubs.
With local TV totally ignoring the Arsenal match for crappy Chelsea, a visit to The Blind Pig was most definitely on the menu.

Arsenal were in command from the opening minute until the last. In fact, Jack Wilshere literally scored within the first minute of play and Marseille never looked like a threat. Arsenal had 67% of the possession and passed the ball around with ease throughout most of the match. Even when Mesut Ozil missed a penalty late in the first half, there was never any doubt that Arsenal would get the victory.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Wilshere added a second in the 65th minute and that was that. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Napoli lost to Dortmund so even with 12 points and sitting atop their group, the Gunners have not yet qualified for the next round of the tournament. It will all come down to Match Day 6 when Arsenal travel to Naples and Dortmund head to Marseille. if Arsenal get at least a draw in Italy, they will win the group regardless of the other match. Even if they lose in Naples, they can still progress. As long as Arsenal lose by less than three goals they will move on.
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
To show how unjust the group stages can be, Chelsea lost both legs of their matches with Basel, yet they have secured their place in the next round. After defeating Dortmund in Germany and Napoli at home, it would be a crime if Arsenal didn't make it through to the next round.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Saturday, November 30, 2013 Arsenal at Cardiff City 10AM EST

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

No matter what happens this weekend, Arsenal are guaranteed to head in to December at the top of the table. That being said, Cardiff are coming off of a positive result against Manchester United having scored an equalizer in stoppage time. Although new to the EPL, Arsenal will definitely not take Cardiff City lightly.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
What a game. It was an amazing and memorable homecoming for former Cardiff City youth player Aaron Ramsey. He scored two incredible goals and showed total class by not celebrating in front of the Cardiff crowd. His skill and maturity were both impressive and the long term faith that Arsene Wenger showed in Ramsey, when others were ridiculing the player, is truly paying off.

Past overzealous and disrespectful goal celebrations such as those orchestrated by Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie were made to look even more pathetic when compared to the restraint shown by Ramsey.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mesut Ozil was the provider for a first half header from Ramsey as well as that all important second goal scored by Mathieu Flamini. Walcott then played provider for Ramsey's second in stoppage time.

The Cardiff fans showed their own respect towards their former player with the crowd applauding their native son.

Special props need to be sent out to the often maligned and greatly improved Wojciech Szczesny who saved Arsenal with some great goalkeeping.

Adding to the great Arsenal result was Liverpool's surprise loss away to Hull and Spuds and Manure's 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane. Chel$ki, Citeh and Everton were winners and kept pace with the Gunners.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Wednesday,  December 4, 2013 2:45PM EST Arsenal vs. Hull

As Christmas approaches the fixture schedule begins to get crowded. This week's midweek matches are proof of that. Hull pulled off an impressive victory last time out versus Liverpool so Arsenal will not be taking the EPL newbies lightly. Arsene Wenger made five changes to Arsenal's starting 11 and the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Niklas Bendtner to lead the Arsenal line. A lot of folks on Twitter were not too pleased by this and were questioning Wenger's decision. I personally think it was a good idea to rest some of the core players and give squad members such as Carl Jenkinson and Nacho Monreal a run out. Plus, with the likes of Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere on the bench, Wenger had the A team ready to come on if needed. With six matches coming up before the end of the month, Wenger is doing the right thing.

Arsenal impressed once again. After all the mocking of Bendtner, it was great to see the maligned player score within the first two minutes. Jenkinson sent in a perfect cross and Bendtner headed home.

Arsenal dominated the play and were relentlessly passing the ball around the Hull players. The only negative, was that with all their possession the Gunners were unable to add to their early lead. Regardless, there was never any feeling that Arsenal were going to "bottle" this match.

The second half began the way the first half did and this time it was Mesut Ozil from Aaron Ramsey within two minutes of the restart. From there, Arsenal pretty much passed the ball around until the final whistle was blown. The 2-0 scoreline flattered Hull. Arsenal had 67% of the possession, 20 shots to Hull's 7 and 11 corners to just one for Hull.

Adding to the excitement of the day was the results from Old Trafford where David Moyes' old team, Everton, came in and beat his new team, Manchester United 0-1. It's nice to see Arsenal receiving plaudits while Manchester United are the subject of all the crisis talk. It's about time things turned around.

Sunday, December 8, 2013 11AM EST Arsenal vs. Everton

Arsenal head in to this game with a great opportunity to put some distance between themselves and a number of clubs behind them. With Man United and Chelsea both suffering defeats and Man City drawing with Southampton, the opportunity is there for the taking.

Everton secured a historic win in midweek as they won at Old Trafford for the first time in 21 years. The club are in good form and have lost just one match so far this season. It'll be a tough game, but one that Arsenal should win.

Everton were worthy competitors for this match and frustrated Arsenal throughout. Mesut Ozil broke the deadlock with a goal in the 80th minute only to see Everton equalize four minutes later. A draw at home will be looked at as two dropped points despite being against a strong Everton team.

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy - Part 3 - December 2013 - March 2014

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