Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Arsenal 2015-2016: September

Saturday September 12, 2015 Arsenal vs Stoke 10AM EST

The international break is over and it's back to business for Arsenal. A visit from Stoke is on the table and despite not being the overly aggressive cavemen of the Tony Pulis era, defeating Stoke is always enjoyable.

We're still waiting for the real Arsenal to show up and start banging in the goals and show the form that the team showed during the end of last season and throughout the pre-season. Hearing that Chelsea had lost their third match out of five played in the new season was a great start to what should prove to be a victorious day.

Thank you NBC Sports for broadcasting every EPL match. However, no thanks for not properly listing the channel that the Arsenal match was going to be on today. Having to work today I set my DVR to record the match. Upon arriving home I settled down to watch the match having made sure to not get any information on the already played match. Instead of Arsenal, however, I was disgusted to see that the DVR had recorded the Man City game. Damn you NBC Sports, this was the first Arsenal match I have missed viewing in years!

Once the disappointment had faded I was glad to see that even without my viewership, Arsenal had dominated Stoke and walked away with a deserved 2-0 victory. Theo Walcott got on the score sheet in the 31st minute after a precise long ball from Mesut Ozil. Giroud added a header in the 85th minute and Petr Cech kept a clean sheet.

Once again the stats show that Arsenal bossed the game withe 68% possession and 29 shots versus just 8 for Stoke. Plenty of scoring chances were wasted, but there was also bad luck involved as well with Sanchez hit the bar twice. Regardless of the negatives, it was a good win for Arsenal and sees the team move back to the top portion of the table where they rightfully belong.

Wednesday September 16, 2015 Arsenal at Dinamo Zagreb 2:45PM EST Champions League Group Stages Match Day One

The Champions League is back and Arsenal kick off their first round match away to Dinamo Zagreb. The Gunners are in Group F along with Bayern Munich and Olympiakos. While Bayern has been a tough opponent for Arsenal in recent years Zagreb and Olympiakos should be easily beatable opponents. However, having witnessed last season's Anderlecht match and other past debacles, you can never take anything for granted with Arsenal.

I know that I should concentrate on my own club and not take pleasure in the defeat of others, but seeing both Manchester United and City lose their first round matches after having taken the lead first was a great way to kick off the tournament.

Here's to a great Champions League run for Arsenal.

Utterly embarrassing, unacceptable and pathetic are just some of the words that would describe this Arsenal performance. 

With Chelsea looming on the weekend, Arsene Wenger made a number of lineup changes which shouldn't have been a major issue. At least that's what we thought.

The match started off well enough with Arsenal dominating possession and looking the stronger of the two sides. Sadly Arsenal fans have seen this all too many times. After 20 minutes, it was a complete team meltdown.

Arsenal were caught on the counter attack in the 24th minute when a Josip Pivaric shot was saved by David Ospina but bounced back in off of the Ox.

Things got worse as Olivier Giroud let frustration get the better of him and was sent off for two bookable offenses before the first half finished. Dinamo got a second in the 58th minute when Junior Fernandes scored on a header.

Theo Walcott gave Arsenal a bit of hope when he got one back in the 79th minute. Unfortunately it was too big of a mountain to climb and Arsenal left Croatia with nothing from a game they should have easily won on paper.

Saturday September 19, 2015 Arsenal at Chelsea 7:45AM

Here we go again....Arsenal and Arsene Wenger versus the egomaniacal Moanrinho. Chelsea have lost 3 of their first five games and looked awful in doing so. For whatever reason, no pundit or anyone in the media has taken Moanrinho to task and the "special one" seems to get a pass and many excuses where any other manager would be under the gun. After Chelsea beat the "very dangerous" Maccabi Tel Aviv at home this week during the first round of the Champions League group stages the ass kissing pundits and media were already declaring Chelsea is back.

Meanwhile Arsenal have been less than impressive so far this season but they are in much better shape in 4th place than Chelsea's 17th place. All the momentum was with Arsenal...could Wenger finally beat that egotist and shut him up for good? Then Arsenal lost midweek at Dinimo Zagreb and all of a sudden instead of the media proclaiming that Chelsea was a club in crisis it's Arsenal once again as the "crisis club".

Please Arsenal, win this match. For the sake of your fans, for the sake of the club, for the sake of the players and Arsene Wenger. The 3 points are what we want but the icing on the cake would be inflicting more pain and suffering on Moanrinho and Chelsea.

Welcome to the Mike Dean show. The referee took center stage as he pretty much handed cheating Chel$ki the match with terrible officiating and what seemed like selective vision.

The role of the villain was successfully played by the repugnant cheater that is Diego Costa.

The game started off well with both teams have a strong spell of possession and it looked as if it would be a good match.

That changed as soon as Diego Costa began his reign of terror. He was all over Laurent Koscielny, including hitting him in the face several times. He also kicked several Arsenal players and began a verbal spat with Gabriel Paulista. Mike Dean somehow missed all of this. Then when Costa upped the ante with Gabriel, the two players were spotted by Dean, who gave both players a yellow card.

Seconds later Gabriel was sent off for allegedly kicking out at Costa. (If he was going to get a red he might as well have punched the ugly bastard in the face). Costa put in an academy award performance and acted as if he'd been assaulted.

That was pretty much the game decider. The match ended 2-0 to the cheaters and Mike Dean and a second yellow for Santi Cazorla was the icing on the cake for a complete joke of a match that was decided by Mike Dean and his inept officiating.

POST SCRIPT - After the match the FA rescinded Gabriel's red card and found Diego Costa guilty of violent conduct with a three match ban. Ironic isn't it that the guilty is innocent and innocent is now guilty. How the FA believes that is justice is beyond me. The unfair result stands and it's of little satisfaction that the correct decisions were finally made as they came after the match and Mike Dean's joke of a performance.

Wednesday September 21, 2015 Arsenal at Tottenham League Cup Third Round 2:45PM EST

After two miserable losses it's time to turn attention to the League Cup. This is the tournament where Arsene Wenger usually gives the younger players the chance to prove themselves. This one should be a bit different though for several reasons: many of the younger players are currently out on loan, Arsenal have endured a brutal week with two ugly losses and even more importantly it's against the vile enemy Spurs.

Of course while Arsenal get handed the tough away draw to Spuds, Chelsea get a trip to League One Walsall, Liverpool host League Two Carlisle and Manchester United get a home match with Championship side Ipswich.

Regardless, it's time to right the wrongs and play the Arsenal way. Let's kick some Spurs butt.

Prior to kick off there were tons of groaning and angry Gooners on Twitter proclaiming that Arsenal were doomed and would lose the match due to the inclusion of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. While it's true that both are probably near or past their sell by date, they have performed well in the past and Arsene Wenger wanted to rotate the squad with all the fixtures coming up. By the end of the match there were many Gooners who may have been feeling a bit guilty for writing Flamini off....but that's to come.

Others that were given a run out in the starting lineup included Ospina, Debuchy, Chambers, Gibbs and Campbell. Despite all the pre-match whining from Arsenal fans, the fact is these guys are all part of the squad and at some point they have to be given a chance to prove their worth.

Proving that football truly is a beautiful game that often throws surprises, the much maligned Flamini became the hero scoring both goals in Arsenal's 1-2 victory away to the dreaded Spuds.

While it was the League Cup and generally not considered that important of a tournament, Arsenal had just lost two games in a row in ugly fashion and this was a North London derby. No matter what the occasion, losing to Tottenham is never an option for Arsenal.

Flamini gave Arsenal the lead in the 26th minute after an Oxlade-Chamberlain shot was saved by Michael Vorm but hit back in to the path of the on rushing Flamini.

Arsenal went in to half time with a one goal advantage but that was erased in the 56th minute when a Spuds shot bounced back off of Chambers and in to the Arsenal net. It was yet another own goal.

It got a bit nervy but Flamini saved his best effort for the 78th minute when he volleyed in an amazing shot after connecting on a deflected ball in the air. It was a pretty impressive strike from a very unlikely source. With all the rah rah Harry Kane talk from the announcers it was funny to see last season's wonder kid upstaged by a 31 year old journeyman.

All in all a good win that will bring confidence back to the squad. Arsenal also got a good match-up for the next round of the competition as they will travel to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

Saturday September 26, 2015 Arsenal at Leicester 10AM EST

Coming off of a satisfying North London derby victory in the League Cup, led by Arsenal's leading scorer Mathieu Flamini, here's hoping that a meeting with Leicester will finally kick start the season for Arsenal. Since a flying pre-season where Arsenal looked like potential champions to the club's lukewarm start of the season it's been a bit baffling. Where have all those outstanding performances gones? Where is that confidence we saw during the FA Cup win and the end of last season?

Only six games in, but so far Leicester have been the surprise package of the season. They are the only undefeated club and currently sit fourth in the table, one spot above Arsenal. However, eventually reality sorts these kind of anamolies out and here's hoping that Arsenal bring a heavy dose of reality to Leicester and return to the Arsenal we know that this club should be.

So it seems that the real Arsenal does exist. Despite going down by one goal in the 13th minute, Arsenal had their eye on goal and walked away from Leicester with a strong and dominating victory.

Leicester have been one of the early surprises of the season and Arsenal proved that the bubble may have finally burst for the Foxes. 

Theo Walcott got Arsenal even in the match with a goal in the 18th minute. It was then time for the Alexis Sanchez show to begin. Alexis has taken some stick for his lacks of early season goals, but his display on the day proves that any worry or criticism was unfounded. His three goals were all of high quality and when a guy the size of Sanchez can consistently score headers, you know the player is special.

Giroud came on as a substitute in the 80th minute and sealed the victory with a goal of his own in the 90th minute.

Tuesday September 29, 2015 Arsenal vs Olympiakos 2:45PM EST  Champions League Group Stages Match Day Two

After a solid and dominating win over the weekend Arsenal face Olympiakos at The Emirates in a must win match. The abomination that was Match Day One needs to be put in the past and if Arsenal plan on advancing they have to right the ship so to say.

Arsenal have handled Olympiakos easily in previous meetings so here's hoping the result is what everyone is expecting.

If the trip to Zagreb was a nightmare then this match versus Olympiakos was like a reoccurring bad dream. Shock, horror, embarrassment and anger are just some of the emotions felt by Arsenal fans after witnessing this travesty. In a must win match at home versus an inferior team, Arsenal imploded.

When the starting lineup was released, Gooners on Twitter were going nuts seeing that David Ospina was starting in goal over summer signing Petr Cech. While it seemed a bit unfair considering that Ospina has performed well for Arsenal and is the starting keeper for Colombia, it seems as if fans had every reason to worry. Ospina had one of the worst howlers ever seen and probably went home and locked himself inside his apartment following the match. It was that bad.

A deflected goal in the 32nd minute gave Olympiakos an early 0-1 lead. Theo Walcott helped settle nerves when he equalized just three minutes later. Of course Arsenal were going to win I thought. That first goal from the Greek side was a fluke. At least that's what I was telling myself.

It didn't get much better after that. Ospina did the nearly impossible by scoring an own goal in the 40th minute as he somehow managed to catch and then drop an Olympiakos corner in to his own goal. The refs immediately ruled that the ball had crossed the line and Arsenal were once again behind in a game they should have had no troubles with. 

Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal hope when he equalized in the 65th minute. I was convinced that Arsenal were going to go on and win the match and put things right. Unfortunately I was wrong. Within just one minute Olympiakos got a third and the miserable night ended in defeat.

Arsenal's Champions League hopes are now hanging on by a thread with Bayern Munich home and way up next.