Wednesday, December 25, 2013

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 2:45PM EST Arsenal at Napoli Champions League Matchday 6

Arsenal head in to the last match of the group stages on top with 12 points. Normally that would be enough to have already qualified, but Arsenal were given one of the tougher draws and cannot guarantee their progression until today. It's possible that Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli could all finish equal on 12 points. With regards to Arsenal, a victory or a draw in Naples will see the Gunners top the group. Even with a defeat Arsenal could still qualify, as long as they don't lose by three or more goals.

Ironically, ManUre have been mediocre all season, but qualified for the group stages before their last match with 11 points. Like Chelsea, United were drawn in a much less competitive group than Arsenal.

For the first 45 minutes Arsenal were pretty much in control. They didn't create too many chances, but they prevented Napoli from mounting any threat of their own. Unfortunately all I got to watch was the first half. I had to run downtown and tried following the game on the BBC website. When I got home and actually saw the second half I was glad that I had missed it. It was a complete let down from what the team displayed in the first 45 minutes. Napoli had more of the ball and were starting to look dangerous. Gonzalo Higuain scored with a great strike in the 73rd minute. The match got a bit nervy when Jose Callejon gave Napoli a second goal in the 93rd minute. With only one minute remaining, Arsenal held on and secured their passage to the knock out rounds of the Champions League.

Throughout most of the match it seemed as if both Arsenal and Napoli would advance as Dortmund were being held by Marseille. Then, Dortmund scored a winner with just three minutes remaining to lock up the top spot of the group and drop Arsenal to runners up. Higuain cried (was it because Napoli was out or because he could have been a Gunner if he hadn't spurned them in the summer?)

In what can only be called, unfair, Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli all finished the group stages with 12 points. Napoli were the hard luck losers due to goal differential. When teams like Zenit (with 6 points and a -4 goal differential) and Galatasary (with 7 points and a -6 goal differential) get through to the knockout stages when teams like Napoli (12 points) and Benfica (10 points) don't it may be time to rethink qualifications. Perhaps it should be the top 16 point gainers rather than the top 2 in unevenly matched groups.

While Arsenal are through, it's a bit disappointing as they were in control of their own destiny to win the group. Also, due to their second place finish, Arsenal will get an extremely difficult draw. Their options are Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and Atletico Madrid.

Saturday, December 14, 2013 7:45AM EST Arsenal at Manchester City

At the slightest hint of negativity the media and nervous fans go in to crisis mode. The Sheikh's team have been brilliant at home and this should prove to be a very tough test for Arsenal's potential title run. Hopefully the team will go in with confidence and fight as opposed to the fearful way they approached the Man United match. It's the third match in 7 days for Arsenal, but if you want to win titles, then you have to be able to handle a heavy fixture list.

This was a bad end to a terrible week for Arsenal. Man City took the lead in the 14th minute courtesy of Sergio Aguero. Arsenal came back fighting, however, and Theo Walcott equalized in the 31st. Unfortunately, City retook the lead in the 39th minute and went in to the half with a 2-1 lead.

After going down 3-1 Walcott scored again and brought Arsenal within one in the 63rd minute. That was pretty much the end of any chance that the Gunners had of getting back in to the match. The final score of 6-3 showed the difference in class between the two teams' attacking options. City have a wealth of striking options while Giroud was replaced by the only other option in Niklas Bendtner.

Arsenal's lead is down to 2 after Chelsea barely got by Crystal Palace and City are now just three points behind. Based on this performance, as much as it kills me to say this, City look like the team to beat. Their home form has been incredible and dominant. The only thing that's held them back so far is their away form. Let's hope that continues.

Other negatives from the match were Koscielny having to be stretchered off after suffering a huge gash to his leg courtesy of YaYa Toure's high boot. Kos will be out for a while, yet for some odd reason, Toure didn't even get a yellow card, let alone a red for recklessness. Jack Wilshere allegedly gave the middle finger to City fans following the match and Per Mertesacker was seen scolding Mesut Ozil for not applauding the travelling fans. All in all it was a day to forget after a week to forget. Arsenal now have nine days until their meeting with Chelsea and hopefully the down time will help the team recover and come back strong.

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.

December 29, 2013 8:30AM EST Arsenal at Newcastle

A win at Newcastle will guarantee Arsenal remain top of the table to close out 2013. Newcastle have been in good form, so this could be a tough match. Ramsey is out injured and Ozil is being rested. Regardless, Arsenal are putting out a strong starting 11 and three points is the goal.

This was an old school Arsenal match reminiscent of the Tony Adams era 1 nil to the Arsenal days. Indeed the final score was 1 nil to the Arsenal, but it was the grit and determination to grind out a win that made it impressive.

Newcastle have been in great form and a trip to St. James' Park is always difficult...but especially tough when you are playing your third match in six days. Arsenal had the bulk of the possession in the first half but neither side was able to get a breakthrough goal.

Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners the lead in the 65th minute and then Arsenal dug in and defended like a team determined to get the points and maintain their lead atop the table. It was a rare defensive based display from an Arsenal side that usually serves up a ton of offense. It might not have been pretty, but Arsenal held on and picked up the points.

An interesting statistic that Arsenal and the club's supporters should be proud of is that Arsenal are also top of the table for points scored during the 2013 calendar year. Let's just hope that form continues and leads to trophies.

January 1, 2014 10AM EST Arsenal vs. Cardiff City

Arsenal finished 2013 at the top and a win over Cardiff will guarantee that they begin 2014 in the same position. A visit from struggling Cardiff should be a welcome sight for Arsenal fans looking to see a Gunners' victory at the Emirates.

This one reminded me of the match I attended last year when Arsenal hosted QPR. Arsenal dominated play and held an inferior opponent from staging any type of real attack. Unfortunately, the home team was unable to convert any of their chances. Luckily this one ended in a similar fashion to that QPR match where Arsenal fans bit their nails throughout the game, only to leave happy due to a late goal.

Once again the match was played in terrible conditions with a steady downpour drenching everyone. Arsenal have a number of players out injured including (Ozil, Ramsey, Gibbs, Giroud and the Ox) so
Podolski was given the opportunity to start up front and Cazorla took over the creative role in midfield.

The first half ended 0-0. Arsenal had a number of chances and what looked like a penalty claim by Jack Wilshere after being tripped in the box, was not given.

The second half continued in pretty much the same way. Per Mertesacker missed two consecutive golden opportunities to bury the ball in to the back of the net on free headers, while Walcott came close but hit the side netting. With Podolski unable to make much of an impact, he was replaced by Niklas Bendtner in the 64th minute.

As the clock wound down and the score remained 0-0 after 85 minutes, it was beginning to look as if a draw was on the cards. Anything less than a win would leave Arsenal behind Man City and in second place.

Then it happened. In the 88th minute and with time running out, the much maligned Bendtner was in the right place at the right time. With Arsenal upping the pressure, Nacho Monreal sent in a cross and Bacary Sagna headed the ball. Sagna's shot was saved by Cardiff's keeper David Marshall, but Bendtner was there to slam the rebound in to the back of the net and send the players, fans and manager in to celebration. Unfortunatelly, Bendtner twisted his ankle and had to leave the game.

Walcott added an impressive goal off of a clever pass from Jack Wilshere in extra time and the match ended 2-0 to the Arsenal.

The title contenders all won today, however, Judas' Manchester United suffered another humiliating defeat at Old Trafford. This time, the woeful Spuds took all the point with a 1-2 victory over the fading champions. Some of the tweets were quite entertaining.

Saturday, January 4, 2013 12:15PM Arsenal vs. Tottenham FA Cup Third Round


As always seems to be the case with Arsenal, whenever there's a tournament draw they are almost certain to get the most difficult matches. That was the case yet again when the draw was made for the FA Cup Third Round. While other top clubs drew minnows such as  Bristol City or Rochdale, Arsenal got stuck with yet another meeting with the Spuds. On the positive side, the game will be played at the Emirates.

Two weeks ago the media was declaring a crisis at White Hart Lane as Spuds weren't scoring goals, were dropping points and eventually dropped the much maligned AVB.

Since then, Spuds have picked up ten points in four matches and  most recently defeated Manure at Old Trafford. Now the fickle media are declaring that this is a tough time to have to face Tottenham (??????)
As Theo Walcott said in an interview, "I think it’s going to be a bad time for them to play us as well".

Yes, it seems the media have conveniently ignored the fact that Arsenal have also picked up ten points in their past four matches, sit atop the EPL table, (8 points above the North London pretenders) and have a far superior goal differential. In fact, Tottenham currently have a -1 goal differential which does not bode well for a team aiming to win titles. Additionally, when the two clubs met back in September, it was Arsenal that came away with the points.

Wow, that was one of the best Arsenal performances of the season. It was right up there with the team's performance against Napoli earlier this season. Arsenal bossed the game from start to finish and put on a defensive performance unlike one we've seen from this curren t Arsenal team. Every time a Spuds player was on the ball, there was an Arsenal player winning the ball back, blocking a pass or simply just causing havoc.

Lots of fans on Twitter were voicing their concern pre-match when they saw that Vermaelen, Monreal, Gnabry and Fabianski were starting over some of the regular first team members. Each of these guys did very well...especially Gnabry who set up the first goal and showed great pace and decision making.

The first goal came in the 31st minute as Gnabry made a great run and then layed the ball of to Santi Cazorla who fired home the shot. His celebration and the noise from the crowd were incredible.

Arsenal could have scored several more times but went in to the half up 1-0. Of course a one goal lead can make the fans nervous wrecks, but there was something in the swagger of the Arsenal players that made me confident that they would not concede and would add to their tally.

Then it happened. In the 62nd minute Tomas Rosicky (who was everywhere) caught Spuds defender Danny Rose napping, nicked the ball and was off to the races. His finish was terrific and he lifted the ball over the head of the Spuds keeper. Rosicky celebrated and the crowd went nuts.

Perhaps the highlight of the game occurred not during play, but when Theo Walcott was stretchered off in the last minutes of the match. While being pelted with coins and other items, Walcott smiled and held up his fingers to show the Tottenham fans the score 2-0 to the Arsenal.

Monday, January 13, 2013 3PM Arsenal at Aston Villa

With the rest of the league having already played their matches over the weekend, Arsenal head in to today's match in third place. An expected victory will put Arsenal back atop the pack one point ahead of the billionaires of Man City and two points ahead of the multi billionaires of Chelsea.

A win at Villa Park should be easy to obtain as Paul Lambert's side have been in poor form. Of course Arsenal will want to inflict maximum pain on Villa as revenge for their surprising opening day defeat at the Emirates. At the time it seemed as if Arsenal fans were watching the beginning of the demise of their beloved club. In retrospect, perhaps it was the kick in the ass that the club needed to motivate them to quiet the haters and prove the quality that the squad possesses. Whatever the case, Arsenal have moved on from that day and want to repay Villa by defeating them in front of their own home fans.

Wow, that was definitely a tale of two halves. Luckily I was home to see the good part and had to miss the bad part.

Arsenal had 71% of the possession in the first half versus Villa and really should have buried them right away. Instead, JackWilshere scored Arsenal's first goal late in the first half and then played provider one minute later for Oiliver Giroud. At half time I had to step out and set the DVR to record the rest of the game.

I expected to watch the second half and find out that we demolished Aston Villa and improved our goal differential. Instead, I saw a rather lousy half of football where Arsenal allowed Villa to get back in to the game and then defended a 2-1 advantage until the final whistle.

Rather than dwell on the negatives, the game was an example of how a team with the goal of winning the league, grind out wins even when not playing at their best. Three points were all that mattered and Arsenal are back on top for another week.

Saturday January 18, 2013 10AM EST Arsenal vs. Fulham

This one should be a cake walk. BUT, the team need to do it on the pitch. Hopefully they won't ease up and let their guard down like at Villa. Let's just embarrass them and run up that goal differential.

It was another tale of two halves but this time it was the second half where Arsenal showed their stuff. To be fair, Arsenal never looked in any major trouble, but towards the end of a goalless first half I could feel the tension level rising inside of me. Still I remained confident that the team would get the job done.

They did just that within a five minute span. In the 57th minute, Santi Cazorla finished off an amazing run of passing to give Arsenal the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later he scored his second and it was pretty much game over at that point.

More impressive, however, was the overall team play. Everyone on the pitch put in a full shift. Giroud might not have scored, but he was backing up the defense and contributing with his physical play and passing ability. Nacho Monreal, who one week earlier was thought to be out for a while, also played his part on both sides of the ball and sent in a cross which resulted in Cazorla's second goal.

City and Chel$ski both won so the top three remain the same. Liverpool cheated their wavy to a draw so they dropped two points and finally, Manchester United lost for the 7th time this season. Hope RVP is happy.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
I almost feel like Arsenal scheduled a rare Friday night match so that I could see it. That's because tomorrow I am off to London to see Arsenal's next 2 EPL matches away to Southampton and at the Emirates against Crystal Palace. So, as I pack for my trip I get to sit on my couch and watch Arsenal host Coventry.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
When I first started following Arsenal, Coventry were in the EPL. It now seems like a long time ago. Arsenal should easily handle Coventry and move on to the next round. Of  course as we've learning in the past (Birmingham City, Bradford) nothing can be taken for granted. I don't see that happening as this Arsenal squad take care of business.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In the end if was a 4-0 victory for Arsenal, but to be fair Coventry certainly did themselves proud. The first half was all Arsenal as Coventry could barely string two passes together. 2 Podolski goals gave Arsenal a commanding 2-0 lead at halftime.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In the second half, Arsenal seemed to be playing a bit too casually and Coventry actually looked threatening at times. They had a good number of chances but couldn't find the target. Fabianski made one great save, but for the most part he had little to do. Arsenal were looking for a third goal to put the game to bed and within five minutes of Olivier Giroud coming on for Podolski, he did just that. Cazorla closed out the scoring with a goal in the closing minutes of the match. In the end Arsenal had 61% of the possession and outshot Coventry 19-8.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Hopefully the draw for the next round will be kind to Arsenal and we can continue our quest for the club's first FA Cup since 2005.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Following the Coventry match I headed over to England to take in Arsenal live as opposed to on my couch. With some amazing help from fellow Gooners I was able to secure tickets for Arsenal away to Southampton and for the return of Marouane Chamakh to the Emirates with Crystal Palace. There was also an outside shot of securing tickets for Arsenal's visit to Anfield, but that wouldn't be known until closer to that match.

Along with my friend Paul, we took an early evening train from London's Paddington Station to Southampton. The train was packed with commuters and we stood for the entire trip. 

My view at St. Mary's Stadium
Once in Southampton we walked in the pouring rain to St. Mary's after stopping off at a bar/club where Paul used to play with his band when he was a teenager growing up in Southampton.

After a pre-match pie and a pint we joined the other 3000 travelling Arsenal fans for the match. (Truth is that Paul is a lifelong Saints fan, but he kept his loyalties hidden so as not to put a target on his back.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
To put it bluntly, Arsenal overall stunk on the night. They looked lethargic, their passes were all over the place and Southampton looked the better side for large portions of the match.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Southampton scored on header in the 21st minute and took this lead in to the half. Once the second half kicked off, it seemed as if Arsenal appeared. Within ten minutes of the restart Arsenal had the lead with goals from Giroud and Cazorla. The players celebrated in front of the travelling fans and finally looked up for it. Unfortunately, within two minutes, Adam Lallana scored and the match was level.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The final 2-2 draw was a decent result for a tough trip to Southampton, but it really felt like a loss. With Arsenal sitting atop the table and the critics just waiting for the club to fail, this match really was a must win for Arsenal.
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

I prepared for the Sunday afternoon match versus Crystal Palace by visiting Piebury Corner for an Ian Wright Pie and then met some fellow Gooners for pre match pints at the Tollington Pub. Then it was off to the Emirates where it was actually sunny and I was determined not to lose another coat at the game. (I left my leather jacket at the Emirates last year when I attended a match and it was never seen again).

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The Crystal Palace fans sang their hearts out and, to be honest, made the 57,000 Arsenal fans look pathetic. We sang, but not in unison, not consistently and not with the passion that the Palace fans had. The only time we really turned it up was when it was obvious that we were going to win. We then serenaded the Palace fans with a never ending chorus of "You're Going Down".

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
As for the game, Arsenal once again looked lethargic and a shell of the club that they are when they are firing on all cylinders. Palace played solid defense in the first half and soaked up every Arsenal attack. Palace didn't mount much of an attack themselves and the half ended 0-0. 

Going in to the match expecting an Arsenal mauling, I was beyond frustrated at the half. Crystal Palace was supposed to be a walk in the park and this was not looking like that.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
In the second half, the Ox came alive. His pace created problems for Palace and Chamberlain scored twice; in the 47th and 73rd minutes. In the end it was a clinical 2-0 victory for the home team and Arsenal remained at the top of the table.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

When I was planning my trip to the UK there was a possibility that I would be able to get tickets for Arsenal's visit to Anfield. All I can say is THANK GOODNESS I didn't spend the money and travel all the way to Liverpool. for this one.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Instead, I went with my friends to a pub to watch the match. Within 16 minutes it was 3-0. The match ended 5-1 and Arsenal's goal was really a consolation penalty. It was a humiliating defeat and Liverpool made Arsenal look like pure crap.
I couldn't bear to look at the Twitter posts after this one, so just suffice it to say it was PATHETIC.

Pathetic (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The return of Judas
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Following the drubbing at Anfield, it was important that Arsenal bounce back and show what they're made of. In years past a visit from Manchester United would be a tough test. This year, Manchester United are rather ordinary and at the Emirates, Arsenal should be able to win this match.

This was one of the worst matches I've seen in general. Both teams looked slow and lethargic and the match ended 0-0. Normally a point against ManU would be considered good. Instead, this was a wasted opportunity to defeat a wounded ManU and earn three valuable points. 

Once again I couldn't stand the thought of dealing with fuming Gooners on Twitter,so I stayed away following this match.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Two weeks after being humiliated by Liverpool at Anfield, the two clubs were meeting again with passage on to the next round of the FA Cup on the line. To say that Arsenal need to right the wrong and get some revenge on Liverpool is an understatement.

Finally something for Arsenal fans to be proud of. Oxlade-Chamberlain ran the show scoring Arsenal's first and setting up Podolski for the second. Liverpool had a majority of the possession, but outside of a Steven Gerrard penalty, Arsenal were able to keep them at bay. In the end it was a 2-1 victory and passage on to the sixth round of the FA Cup.

 (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

February 19, 2014 2:45PM EST Arsenal vs Bayern Munich Champions League Final 16 First Leg

If it seems like we've been here before, that's because we were. Exactly one year ago on this date Arsenal hosted Bayern Munich in the first leg of their home and away Champions League knockout draw. The 1-3 result didn't tell the true story as Bayern pretty much owned Arsenal. The fact that Arsenal won the 2nd leg 0-2 in Munich doesn't make this rematch any easier. Bayern are the best team in Europe and have conceded just 9 goals in 21 Bundesliga matches while scoring 57. They also have yet to lose a league match.

So, while I am hoping for a miracle, I am prepared and pretty much expect that Arsenal will not make it out of the final 16. Not because Arsenal are bad....because Bayern Munich are out of this world good.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
In the end Bayern walked away 0-2 winners, but Arsenal really put in an effort and it seems that the majority of supporters appreciate the level of intensity on display.

Arsenal looked very dangerous from the start and for about the first half hour or so, they outpaced Bayern and put together some scoring opportunities. Unfortunately that ended when Mesut Ozil missed a golden opportunity to take the lead. Ozil was judged to have been fouled in the box and went to the line. As he did earlier this season, Ozil delivered a crap effort that was saved. From there the momentum changed. Add to that the fact that Wojciech Szczesny fouled Arjen Robben in the box and was red carded. Bayern missed their penalty as well, but being down to 10 men against an insanely talented team was not a good omen.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
And, so it proved to be true. Toni Kroos scored a wonder goal in to the top corner of the Arsenal net in the 54th minute. From there it was all Bayern, and despite a valiant effort from Arsenal, Bayern added to their lead with a second goal in the last moments of the match.

Why am I feeling positive after that? Because the team showed great determination and as Wenger always says, "spirit", in putting up a good fight against the best team in Europe. I was also impressed by the fans. When I attended the Crystal Palace match a couple of weeks ago I was appalled to witness 3000 Palace fans drowning out the 60,000 Arsenal supporters. Today's match was different and the home crowd played a big part in getting behind the team and giving Arsenal a true home field advantage.

The second leg is in two weeks and while it's going to be tough, you never know.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
February 22, 2014 10AM EST Arsenal vs Sunderland

Arsenal are one point behind current leaders Chelsea and a visit by Sunderland should be just what the doctor ordered. Confidence is high and Sunderland currently find themselves in the relegation zone.

A great day was capped by a great Arsenal performance. Following the dedication of Dennis Bergkamp's statue outside the Emirates, Arsenal took care of Sunderland with ease. Giroud had Arsenal on the scoreboard within five minutes and added a second in the 31st. Rosicky added a third before the half and Koscielny headed home the fourth with more than a half hour left in the match. Sunderland got a late consolation and Arsenal walked away 4-1 winners.

Saturday, March 1, 2014 10AM EST Arsenal at Stoke

A visit from Stoke is not the same since Tony Pulis moved on to Crystal Palace. Still, Stoke remain a detested club and are no where near in the same league as Arsenal. Three points are a must for today.

What a miserable and pathetic result that was. Arsenal were unable to break through and gifted Stoke a penalty in the 76th minute. The Gunners were unable to come back and a massive three points were dropped. The atmosphere of course turned nasty and the Wenger Out contingent are back in full force.

Saturday, March 8, 2014 7:45AM EST Arsenal vs Everton FA Cup 6th Round

In their quest to end the club's nine year trophy drought, the FA Cup is a major focus for Arsenal this season. Everton is next up and stands between Arsenal and the semi-finals at Wembley. Home field advantage will hopefully give Arsenal an added advantage to secure a victory.

Arsenal are one step closer to the FA Cup Final after a strong performance and solid victory against a very good Everton side. Mesut Ozil gave Arsenal the lead in the 7th minute only to see Chelsea's on loan striker, Romelu Lukaku drew Everton level in the 32nd minute.

Arteta slotted home a penalty in the 68th minute and Olivier Giroud wrapped things up with two late goals in the the 83rd and 85th minutes. Next stop is Wembley and the semi-finals.

Tuesday, March 11 3:45PM EST Arsenal vs Bayern Munich Champions League Final 16 Second Leg

Having lost the first leg of their Champions League knockout meeting with Bayern Munich at the Emirates, expectations are not high for Arsenal to emerge from today's second leg with a result. Regardless, Arsenal defeated Bayern at the Allianz Arena 0-2 last season so you can never give up hope.

Arsenal are out of this year's Champions League tournament, but they can leave with their heads held high. A Lukas Podolski strike in the 57th minute gave Arsenal a draw with Bayern following a Bastian Schweinsteiger goal in the 54th minute. Arsenal are out of the tournament with a 1-3 aggregate, but their performance in Munich was admirable and showed the team's ability to dig deep. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014 Arsenal at Tottenham 12PM EST 

Nothing like a North London Derby to get the fans going. Arsenal have already defeated Spuds two times this season so confidence is high of pulling off another defeat of the hated Tottenham.

Arsenal were on the score sheet after two minutes from a Tomas Rosicky goal which silenced the Shite Hart Lane crowd and gave Arsenal the momentum they needed to see out the match with just the one goal. It was a different type of Arsenal as they allowed Spuds to dominate the possession and put on a defensive master class. The one goal was enough to give Arsenal all three points and send the home crowd home defeated yet again.

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy - Part 4 - March-May 2014 

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