Thursday, December 26, 2013

Arsenal's First 2 Matches of the "Festive" Holiday Schedule

Monday, December 23, 2013 3PM EST Arsenal vs. Chelsea

For the first time in weeks, Arsenal head in to a match not in first place. Due to their late match, Liverpool and Man City had the opportunity to jump Arsenal (at least for the time being). Hopefully, Arsenal will do the job over the Ego and his underachieving Chelsea team. This match is important for so many reasons, but the main ones are:
  • Arsenal need to bounce back from their loss at Napoli and their 3-6 beating at the hands of  Man City. A strong performance will once again answer the critics.
  • A win gives Arsenal sole possession of first place again.
  • Arsenal need to beat the "big" teams if they are to seriously mount a title challenge. City were crazy good last weekend, but we were not at our sharpest on defense. As for the loss at Manchester United, I truly believe Arsenal beat themselves in that one mentally. It's time for Arsenal to make that statement.
  • Wenger needs to beat Mourinho and keep that blowhard egotistical snob in his place.

Well that game was a complete let down all around. The weather conditions in London were abysmal with torrential rain and high winds. The reports were that the game would have been cancelled if the visiting team was from anywhere outside of the capital. Unfortunately the game went on and both teams struggled to pass the ball and play  a fluid game. Arsenal had over 60% of the possession but Bore-INHO parked the Chelsea bus and played the game not to lose. The 0-0 score was the inevitable outcome of a rather crap game all around.

It must be pointed out, however, that Mike Dean must have been on the Chelsea payroll for this match. John Obi Mikel should have seen red for a rash tackle on Mikel Arteta in the first half and a penalty was not awarded to Arsenal on what looked like a trip on Theo Walcott in the box.

The one point keeps Arsenal tied for top spot in the table, however, they now trail Liverpool on goal differential. Plus, the race has tightened with the Mercenaries 1 point behind and the Sheikh's squad and Everton each 2 points behind.

Before even getting to the Boxing Day match, this video of the Arsenal players putting their own spin on the 12 Days of Christmas is a must watch:

Arsenal travel to West Ham for Boxing Day and while Arsenal are expected to win, no team can ever be taken for granted. A win would put Arsenal back in first place pending the outcome of the late day match between Man City and Liverpool.

This match was reminiscent of the type of wins that Arsenal produced last season. In other words, they caused their fans to sweat and grow aggravated before they turned it on and put the match to bed. Arsenal controlled the game in the first half but were unable to get on the score sheet. They went in to the break 0-0.

Soon after the restart, Carlton Cole cleaned up on a deflection off of a Szczesny save to put West Ham up 1-0. There was still plenty of time for Arsenal to come back and that they did.

Lukas Podolski provided the spark that led Arsenal to victory. First Theo Walcott scored the 68th minute. Then Podolski, in his first match back from injury, provided a cross that Theo Walcott headed home to take the lead. Podolski then put the match to bed with a super strike in the 79th minute.

The only real negative from the match was that Aaron Ramsey had to be taken off with a thigh injury. The extent of his injury is not yet known but he is expected to miss the remaining holiday fixtures.

With Liverpool losing at Man City, Arsenal are back in first place. The gap is tight, however, with the top 6 clubs separated by just six points.

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