Monday, March 24, 2014

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

Saturday, March 22, 2014 8:45AM EST Arsenal at Chelsea

Today's match is a chance for Arsenal to show whether or not they are truly title contenders as they visit Stamford Bridge for Arsene Wenger's 1000th match as Arsenal manager. Three points would put Arsenal 1 point behind Chelsea with a game in hand. A solid performance would shut up a lot of the naysayers.

Well that was the most embarrassing performance I have ever seen from Arsenal (outside of the 8-2 at Manchester United). It was truly men against boys and Chelsea had their way from start to finish. There's really nothing more to be said other than, the club is still not good enough to win the EPL title. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best and it's obvious that Arsenal's players can't handle the pressure. This was not just a one off...after losing at Manchester City 6-3 and being humiliated at Anfield 5-1 this was the opportunity for the players to show their mettle and prove the critics wrong. Instead they "celebrated" Wenger's 1000th game by proving the critics right.

On a side note, referee Andre Mariner added to Arsenal's woes by awarding a penalty to Chelsea after Oxlade-Chamberlalin handled a ball that was flying wide of the net. As the hand ball had no bearing on whether the ball went in or not, it was obviously not a clear goal scoring opportunity and therefore should not have been a penalty. But wait, there's more...he then produced a red card for the handball that was not a goal scoring opportunity and then SENT OFF THE WRONG PLAYER. It looked as if Oxlade-Chamberlain was clearly telling Mariner that it was he who handled the ball, but Mariner didn't listen and sent off Kieran Gibbs instead. Arsenal were already getting their butts kicked so it really didn't matter, but it was completely ridiculous.

After the embarrassment over the weekend at Chelsea, it will be interesting to see how Arsenal respond to this match versus Swansea. Hopefully the humiliation will inspire these players to put in a complete performance...the fact that a humiliation would  be necessary to motivate the club is a problem, but for today it is imperative that every player gives their all throughout the entire match.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Manchester derby is also taking place today and I was so looking forward to taking the piss out of ManU on Twitter, but after Arsenal's display over the weekend, I don't dare open my mouth. While it would be best for Arsenal if United won, there's a part of me that would lover to see United thrashed and humiliated worse than we were. That's for 2 reasons; first it takes the spotlight off of Arsenal's debacle and second, after so many years of cocky ManU fans and players, it's so enjoyable to watch them wallow in mediocrity.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Well that SUCKED. Against a team battling relegation, Arsenal looked uninspired and lacked any creativity. Swansea took a 0-1 lead in to the second half and it looked as if Arsenal were never going to score. Frustrated is  too kind of a word to how I was feeling. I remained confident, however, as I've seen Arsenal turn slogs like this one around....and so they did once Lukas Podolski entered the game. He scored in the 73rd minute and set up Giroud one minute later. All Arsenal had to do was retain possession and keep Swansea at bay for 12 more minutes...that they did...until the last minute of the match when a ball kicked in to the Arsenal box ricocheted off of two players and then bounced in off of Mathieu Flamini who really didn't deserve to be credited with an own goal. This must win match ended in a 2-2 draw.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

I am a part of the fan base that has not called for Arsene Wenger's head and have supported all of his decisions on players and tactics. After this mess, I am really starting to think that change might just be needed. Arsenal's passing was off and they rarely threatened the Swansea goal. Giroud has been taking a lot of stick and he may deserve some of it...BUT, how can Wenger think that having just  one striker out there in every match is going to work. There were at least a half dozen times in this match where Sagna or Gibbs sent in a great cross in to the Swansea area yet there was NO ONE in the box waiting to receive the pass and shoot.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
I'm resigned to the fact that we are now fighting for our usual third or fourth place finish and sadly that's not even guaranteed after recent results. I hate to say it, but if Arsenal do not win the FA Cup that has been pretty much set up for the club to win (thank you Wigan), heads need to roll.

Oh...and Man City did embarrass United at home 0-3...hard to gloat though when Arsenal are blowing everything they worked so hard for.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Saturday, March 29, 2014 1:30PM EST Arsenal vs Manchester City

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

After a recent dip in form and embarrassing beatings at the hands of Chelsea and Liverpool, most fans were not feeling too optimistic about the visit of Sheikh City to the Emirates (actually a Sheikh in the Emirates...UAE...makes sense). Of course a win would greatly help the Arsenal cause, but most fans were just hoping to not witness a thrashing.

I watched this match at The Blind Pig with other Gooners and overall it was not a bad match. Arsenal seemed timid in the first half and found themselves trailing by 1 after a David Silva goal in the 18th minute. The second half was a different story as Arsenal more than held their own, and in fact seemed the side more likely to score. That they did in the 53rd minute when Mathieu Flamini equalized and confidently encouraged his side to stay focused. In the end a 1-1 draw was a good result and hopefully gave the team a needed confidence boost.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Sunday, April 6, 2014 8:30AM EST Arsenal at Everton

Arsenal have been wobbling recently and this trip to Everton is extremely important in guaranteeing that Arsenal actually finish within the top 4. A win is a must and the players better be up for the fight. When the club's met last month in the FA Cup Arsenal walked away 4-1 winners. Let's hope for more of the same.

Total shit all around. Crap performance, lack of any creativity and another embarrassment for Arsenal. Whatever confidence this team once had is gone. For the first time in a long time I can honestly say that I am completely disgusted with the players. The only player that looked like they gave a crap was the Ox and he didn't come on until there were 20 minutes left in the game.

I usually defend the players but since I am beyond pissed off at this moment here's a list of players that are not pulling their weight and/or are just not good enough: Nacho Monreal, Yaya Sanogo, Olivier Giroud, Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen and we most definitely need a REAL goalkeeper. Szczesny has proven that he is reckless and often makes the wrong decision.

Arsenal must win their semifinal FA Cup match versus Wigan next weekend and must win their remaining five league matches to have any chance of saving face. Absolutely pathetic.

Saturday, April 12, 12:07PM EST Arsenal vs Wigan at Wembley FA Cup Semi-Final

After all the negativity surrounding Arsenal, today is an opportunity for the club to do something positive. Arsenal head to Wembley Stadium to meet 5th place Championship side Wigan for a place in the FA Cup Final. With Hull and Sheffield United contesting for the other final spot, Arsenal are in pole position to win the FA Cup and end the "9 years without a trophy" mantra that has been hanging around the club and its fans. We've been here before, however, and we all know that nothing is guaranteed. No club should be taken lightly and each opponent needs to be respected. Wigan in particular deserve respect. They are the defending FA Cup holders, having beaten Manchester City in last year's final. To prove their worth, Wigan defeated City again in the quarter finals to get to this point. Arsenal are easily the better side on paper, but it's on the pitch that matters.

Well, they did it. Arsenal are through to the final. BUT, and that's a big BUT, they made their entire fan base nervous wrecks and were given a run for their money by Championship side Wigan. The free flowing Arsenal that was on display earlier this season seems to have left the room. The team's inability to score, or even cause the other team's goalie to have to work has become a major worry. When Mertesacker gave away that penalty and it looked like we would go out, I knew that I could never look at Twitter again. I couldn't take reading all the negativity and all the "piss taking" of fans of other clubs.

Luckily Mertesacker got one back and it then went on to extra time. I was dreading penalties as it's always a crap shoot, but of course that's what it came down to. It turns out we did have a hero in the squad on this day...the once maligned Lukas Fabianski saved Wigan's first two penalties, allowing Arsenal's players to step to the spot with a little wiggle room. In the end, Arsenal went through on penalties 4-2. Of course negative folks want to be negative win, lose or draw and they were out in full force. Yes, Arsenal should have easily beaten Wigan, but they won and on this day, that is enough.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 2:45PM EST Arsenal vs West Ham

Having secured their spot in the FA Cup Final, Arsenal need to get back to ensuring their rightful place in the Champions League spots in the EPL. Having seen Everton jump in front of them by one point, Arsenal were looking to win their remaining five league matches to regain their position in the top four. Despite all the jokes about 4th place being a trophy for Arsene Wenger, the fact is, anything less than that would be a major setback.

There were plenty of nerves among fans as the game remained goalless through the first 40 minutes. Unfortunately the first goal didn't help matters as it was West Ham that made the breakthrough first.  However, West Ham were unable to retain the lead heading in to the half as Lukas Podolski evened the match in the 44th minute.

The second half was all Arsenal and Olivier Giroud scored in the 55th minute with Podolski sealing the victory with his second goal of the match in the 78th.

Sunday, April 20, 2014 9:05AM EST Arsenal at Hull

This one is a preview of next month's FA Cup Final. While Arsenal had to beat Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton to reach the Final, Hull had an easier road with matches against Brighton, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Sheffield United. Arsenal are a superior team and this should prove no trouble for the Gunners.

And so it was no trouble for Arsenal. The Gunners controlled the match from start to finish and an Aaron Ramsey goal in the 31st minute was followed by yet another Lukas Podolski brace. Based on this performance, Arsenal's meeting with Hull in the FA Cup Final will see Arsenal as a heavy favorite to lift the cup and end their nine year trophy drought.

 Monday, April 28, 2014 3PM EST Arsenal vs Newcastle

With Everton's loss to Southampton over the weekend, an Arsenal victory over Newcastle would give the club a 4 point lead in their quest for Champions League football next season. After a run of bad form many pundits (and some fans) were predicting that Arsenal would fall out of the Champions League spots and be overtaken by Everton. What these folks forgot is that form is temporary, but class is permanent. Arsenal have gotten back on track while Everton could be accused of "bottling it" under pressure. Confidence was high going in to this match.

Arsenal controlled this match from start to finish and the outcome was really never in doubt. The only question was how many goals Arsenal would score.

Ozil and Ramsey were back in the mix together and Ozil had an excellent performance that should shut up some of the critics.

Koscielny gave Arsenal the lead in the 26th minute when he got on the end of a Santi Cazorla free kick. Ozil scored the second just before the break. He then set up Giroud who headed home for a sensational goal.

The 3-0 victory gave Arsenal plenty of breathing room over Everton and also secured the yearly celebration of St. Totteringham's Day. After all the negativity, it's good to see the club getting back to winning ways and good health as the FA Cup Final is now just several weeks away.— Vince_Brighton (@ShuhratDjurayev) April 28, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014 8:30AM EST Arsenal vs West Brom

Everton's one week lead over Arsenal for the final Champions League spot is looking like a fluke as Everton have faded since their victory over Arsenal just a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Arsenal have won three straight EPL matches since and secured their spot in the FA Cup Final. West Brom are holding on for their EPL survival so this should be a win for Arsenal.

An Olivier Giroud header in the 14th minute was enough to see Arsenal win their fourth straight league match since their defeat at Everton. Despite the close 1-0 scoreline, the game was never really in any doubt as West Brom hardly threatened. With fourth place secure and just one league match remaining, Arsenal fans are now turning their thoughts to the all important FA Cup Final on May 17th.

Sunday, May 11, 2014 10AM EST Arsenal at Norwich

Today's last match of the EPL season has little riding it as Arsenal have sealed fourth place and Norwich are all but relegated. The most important thing on every Arsenal fans' mind is next week's match....the FA Cup final at Wembley where Arsenal can finally end that "it's been 9 years without a trophy" mantra and show idiots like Jose Mourinho who the real "specialist in failure" really is. Of course we want Arsenal to finish the season with as many points as possible so a solid victory over Norwich is expected today.

This was a pretty easy Arsenal win and saw Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson score. The Jenkinson goal in particular was special as most fans know that Jenkinson is a boyhood Arsenal fan and scoring his first goal for the team he's always supported must have been a special moment. 

Next up, the FA Cup on May 17th at Wembley.

Arsenal 2013-2014: The Lows, the Highs and the Trophy - Part 5 - The Trophy - May 2014

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