Friday, January 24, 2014

Fever Pitch Redux 4

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 Dormund 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 please 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.


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