Sunday, August 9, 2015

Arsenal 2015-2016 - August

Sunday August 9, 2015 Arsenal vs. West Ham 8:30AM EST

After a fantastic pre-season which saw Arsenal pick up three trophies, the season kicks off today at home to West Ham. With the signing of Petr Cech and Arsenal's late form last season, many pundits are predicting that Arsenal could win the title this season. The transfer window stays open for another few weeks and names like Karim Benzema continue to be mentioned in association with the team.

With a Sunday match, a number of other EPL teams played yesterday and there were some interesting results. As was the case often last season, Man United were gifted a win that they didn't deserved. The fact that it was against Tottenham makes it a bit easier to accept. Meanwhile, Moanrinho's Chelsea saw their goal keeper sent off and they hung on at home to draw with Swansea 2-2. Chelsea will now be without their number one keeper for several matches and isn't it ironic that the guy that would have filled in, Cech, is now in goal for us!

So here's to a successful and winning season. Come on you Gunners!

That sucked! What an abject, pathetic, uninspired, disappointing fiasco this was. 

Petr Cech had a shaky start to his Arsenal career while allowing two West Ham goals and despite 62% of the possession and close to three times as many shots on target Arsenal couldn't get on the score sheet.

Arsenal came in to the season opener with momentum riding very high and for whatever reason seemed to not show up. Whether they took their opposition too lightly or it was just one of those days, losing at home to a weaker opponent took away all the positive vibes surrounding the club prior to the match. 

This was one of those matches where a media and Twitter ban are immediately imposed. Let's just hope that this was a one off .

Sunday August 16, 2015 Arsenal at Crystal Palace 8:30AM EST

It's time to get this season going. The Gunner's opening day loss to West Ham has led to a week of media and fan abuse of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Saner minds are looking at it as a one off blip. Meanwhile the media is kissing Alan Pardew's ass as the Crystal Palace manager had the audacity to claim that Palace player Yohan Cabaye would walk in to Arsenal's first team.

It's time to make things right!

Arsenal secured their first win of the season in a tough, but dominating contest versus Crystal Palace.

The Gunners had 59% of the possession and almost double the amount of shots on target. The final scoreline of 1-2 was a bit flattering to Palace as Arsenal were in control for most of the match.

Alexis Sanchez was in the starting lineup and the Arsenal midfield was a constant threat to the Palace goal.

Olivier Giroud scored a brilliant goal from a Mesut Ozil pass in the 16th minute to give Arsenal the 1-0 lead.

Joel Ward evened the score just 12 minutes later and the match went to the half even at 1-1.

While the winner was recorded as an own goal by Palace defender Damien Delaney, it was Sanchez that caused the confusion in the box resulting in the goal. On paper it was recorded as an own goal, but in reality it was all down to Sanchez.

Monday August 24, 2015 3PM EST Arsenal vs Liverpool

It's only the third week, but it is important that Arsenal make a statement about their title credentials with a convincing victory over Liverpool at home.

While Liverpool have traditionally been one of the top clubs in England, I hope that the Arsenal players truly look at the competition that they are up against as opposed to the name of the club they will face. This Liverpool side should not bring fear to anyone and if Arsenal don't overthink it, they should come out with a victory. The level of talent between the two sides is no comparison. It's time that this belief that we hear about among the Arsenal squad shows itself on the pitch.

Come on Arsenal.

Third match and third uninspired performance. Aaron Ramsey had a perfectly good goal disallowed and other than that Arsenal were unable to get on the score sheet. Add to that the fact that Chambers and Gabriel were standing in for Koscielny and Mertesacker.  In addition to some bad passes and giveaways, Arsenal's central defense looked shaky throughout the entire match.

0-0 was the final and it was Arsenal's second home match without getting on the score sheet.

All the talk has been about Benzema joining the club. At this point it's looking more and more like a bit more fire power is needed.

Then again, when Ox and Walcott are on the bench rather than on the pitch one has to wonder what the manager is thinking as his team struggles to break down an inferior club.

Saturday August 29, 2015 Arsenal at Newcastle 7:45AM EST

It's time to truly get this season started and it's a trip to the Northeast on the cards for today.

Wenger shakes up the lineup a bit with Theo Walcott getting a start and the Ox playing along side him in place of Ozil who has a bit of a knock. On defense Mertesacker is still out but thankfully Koscielny is back in central midfield to partner with Gabriel as Calum Chambers has still to convince in that position.

Here's hoping that the Arsenal team that we saw during the end of last season and pre-season is on display today and the Gunners walk away from Newcastle with all three points.

A win is a win, but this was not a vintage Arsenal performance by any means. When Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic saw red in the 16th minute, it should have been a cake walk for the Gunners. Instead, eleven man Arsenal slogged it out with ten man Newcastle and Arsenal's game deciding goal was credited to Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini.

A look at the statistics, however, tell a completely different story. Arsenal had 74% of the possession, 29 shots to Newcastle's 1 and 9 corners versus 0 for Newcastle. Arsenal fans are used to stats like these as there have been many frustrating matches where the Gunners have dominated but not put away the opposition. That was again the case here. The team needs to become more proficient at finishing and worry less about the pretty passing and touches. With players like Ozil, Sanchez, Ramsey and Cazorla setting up the goals, Giroud, Walcott and the rest of the offense need to put the ball in the back of the net on a more consistent basis.

To be fair, despite the fact that Coloccini was credited with the own goal, it was the Ox that made that goal.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Arsenal kick off the new EPL season at Wembley as the Gunners face Chelsea in the Community Shield

It's just 64 days since Arsenal won their second consecutive FA Cup over Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium and the new EPL season is upon us. First up is the traditional season kick off of the league winners taking on the FA Cup champions. So it's a match up of the egotistical one versus the very classy Arsene Wenger. Arsenal are being talked up as possible title contenders this season and this is a great opportunity to make a statement.

Arsenal have had a great pre-season winning all of their five matches and two trophies; the Asia Trophy in Singapore and the Emirates Cup at home in North London. At the same time, the egotistical one and his crew of pampered superstars have not won a match in their pre-season preparations,

It would be great to see the so called "specialist in failure" give Jose "the ego" Moanrinho at taste of his own medicine.

So here's to an Arsenal win and a great start to the 2015-2016 season.

Sunday August 2, 2015 10AM EST Arsenal vs. Chelsea at Wembley Stadium FA Community Shield

Well what do you know....the "special one" and his club were very ordinary as Arsenal never looked in any trouble as they captured the first trophy of the new EPL season.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Arsenal the lead in the 24th minute with a powerful strike in to the top corner and that was enough to secure the victory for the good guys. Arsenal showed a defensive side that had often been missing in seasons past and in the end it was the Gunners that were celebrating with silverware.

The highlight of the post match celebrations was Wenger's snubbing of Mourinho and the egotists subsequent tossing of his runners up medal in to the stands. He proved once again what a classless sore loser he truly is.

Up the Arsenal and here's to the new season!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Wilmer Flores Makes Me Proud To Be A Mets Fan

As a lifelong Mets fan living in a Yankees town you get used to taking grief from fellow sports fans. The Mets have a way of breaking their fans' hearts on a regular basis and causing frustration, depression and downright angst. However, when you're a true fan you stick with your team through all the misery with the hope that one day they'll turn it around and you'll finally taste victory.

Sports is a business, however, and players come and go. Generally they are looking out for themselves and are out for the biggest paycheck. The days of player loyalty to an organization are pretty much gone and, to be fair, I can understand the concept of looking out for number one. When you look at it from a fans perspective, however, it feels like betrayal when a player you've supported and cheered for leaves your team and suddenly changes allegiance to a new club and set of fans.

That's why a player like David Wright is a favorite among Mets fans. When he had the chance to leave the Mets for greener pastures (or at least a team with a winning record) he sat down with Mets management and declared that he wanted to stay a Met. He signed a contract that would keep him with the only professional organization he had ever been with through 2020 when he will be 37. He wanted to be part of the solution in helping make the Mets a winner instead of taking the easy way out and joining an already stacked team.

Then there's Wilmer Flores. While not yet a superstar like David Wright, Flores has been with the Mets organization since he was 16 years old and has yet to really establish himself as an everyday player. He's had a number of ups and downs this season as he's finally getting the chance to play everyday. Flores has been questioned by fans and has at times looked shaky in the field. Yet, the player has kept his mouth shut, never complained publicly and has continued to conduct himself like a professional and go out everyday and try to improve his game and help the Mets win.

Wilmer Flores is no longer an unknown ballplayer. That's not because he's suddenly become a superstar, it's because he showed something that is rarely seen in sports these days...real human emotion and loyalty.

With the trade deadline approaching and the Mets in need of a strong bat to keep any hope of making a playoff run alive, reports started circulating on reputable websites and then Twitter. It was reported that the Mets had traded pitcher Dan Wheeler and Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for former Met Carlos Gomez. Even the MLB website had the story posted.

News of the trade spread and Flores was informed of the trade during a home game versus the Padres at Citi Field.  Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling discussed the trade during the broadcast and even questioned why Flores was still in the lineup after being traded.

As Flores went to play the field in the top of the 8th it was apparent that he had been crying. He did his best to wipe his eyes with his sleeve but he couldn't hide the fact that the news of the "trade" had come to his attention and it was obvious that he was not happy about it.

When Manager Terry Collins was alerted to the fact that Flores was upset and had been crying he had no idea why. When he asked why, he was told that Flores had been traded.

Collins response was, "To who? For what"

It was only after the game had ended that the real story emerged. Apparently a deal had been in place, but in the end it did not go through. In post game interviews General Manager Sandy Alderson made it clear that there was no trade.

Whatever the reason was, the trade never became official. Reporters had jumped the gun in reporting the story and social media had rapidly spread the news to fans. Everyone seemed to know that Wilmer Flores had been traded...except for the fact that he hadn't been.

After the dust had settled, Flores explained that he had become emotional as he did not want to leave the Mets organization. He had signed for the club when he was 16 and news that he would be moving on truly upset him.

Flores became a lead news story on sports shows and even the major television network news programs. He was lauded for showing human emotion that is rarely seen by professional athletes.

That was on Wednesday.

On Friday, the story took another turn and Wilmer Flores became a true cult hero.

After making a great play in the field, Flores received a standing ovation from the fans at Citi Field. The same happened every time he came to the plate and when he drove in the Mets first run with a single.

Then came the bottom of the 12th inning in a must win game versus the Mets' division rivals, the Washington Nationals. Hollywood could not even have scripted what happened next. Flores came to the plate and cracked a long game winning home run over the center field fence.

Flores was mobbed by his teammates, cheered by the fans and became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

In an age when all news seems to be horrible and tragic, it's great to see a feel good story fueled by true emotion being recognized and applauded. Thank you to Wilmer Flores for making us Mets fans proud. Your loyalty and commitment are inspirational and maybe that's what this team needs to FINALLY get a championship team for all of us loyal and committed Mets fans!

Let's Go Mets!