Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Arsenal 2015-2016: March

Wednesday March 2, 2016 Arsenal vs. Swansea 2:45PM EST

Optimism has been replaced by irritation, frustration and disgust. In one of the strangest EPL seasons ever, Arsenal have regularly wasted opportunities to take advantage. In a season where Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City are underachieving and pretty much out of the title race, Arsenal still find themselves third behind Cinderella club Leicester and even worse Spuds.

Arsenal are out of excuses. Anything but a win and three points and they can kiss any chance that still remains of winning the title goodbye.

Swansea have been our bogey team in recent years. I can still see Bafetembi Gomis doing his ridiculous lion roaring celebration as he led Swansea over Arsenal in both meetings last season. Then there's goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski. The Arsenal castoff was known as Flapianski for his error prone play. Of course there's the good chance that tonight he will play like a world beater. Arsenal have a habit of making mediocrity look great.

There's nothing else to say. Win and get the three points and then get ready to defeat Spuds on Sunday. Anything less and the frustration level will just continue to grow.

Well that was an absolute travesty.  Just another typical wasted chance from Arsenal. All started out well and when Joel Campbell scored after 15 minutes it looked as if order had been restored and Arsenal would continue to score and put the game away early.

Of course this being Arsenal things aren't always what they seem. The stats said one thing: 63% possession and more shots on target for Arsenal. The final score said another: Arsenal 1 Swansea 2.

Arsenal are fighting for the title and Swansea are currently treading water just above the relegation zone. Based on this performance you would think it was the other way around.

The bottom line is that Arsenal are going through a prolonged period where they are unable to score despite lots of possession and plenty of passing. Add to that, the fact that the Arsenal defense is often left looking foolish and gives up cheap goals to the opposition.

Twitter exploded after this one and the vibe among Gooners is about as low as it can get.

Saturday March 5, 2016 Arsenal at Tottenham 7:45AM EST

Enough is enough. Win or put a fork in it. Any North London derby is a big deal, but this one has more significance than normal. Not only are Arsenal running out of chances to keep their fight for the EPL title alive; but Spuds presently sit above Arsenal in the standings. Hearing the pundits and the media kiss Tottenham's butt while ragging on Arsenal is hard. Arsenal need to restore proper order and reestablish the fact that North London is red.

Moral is at an all time low coming off of that debacle versus Swansea at the Emirates. Fans are turning on the manager and the players. The players need to turn up and show that they have the mental strength to turn things around and get back on to winning ways.

How to explain this one? Was this a wasted opportunity to take all three points and put a dent in the Spuds title charge? Or was this a moral victory to come back from a losing position and insurmountable odds to get a point? Did Coquelin cause us a win? Or did Alexis give us a major boost?

Usually a point away to the hated Spuds would be a good point. However, Arsenal really needed to take all three. However, when Coquelin committed a stupid foul on Harry Kane in the 55th minute with Arsenal up 0-1 everyone knew it was going to take a miracle with 35 minutes still left in the match.

Within seven minutes of Coquelin's red card, Tottenham scored two and were in the lead. Pretty much every Arsenal fan watching could feel the defeat coming.

Alexis chose a perfect time to get back on the score sheet with an equalizing goal in the 77th minute. Despite being down a man, the momentum shifted to the Arsenal side. It took an amazing block to keep Aaron Ramsey from scoring the winner late in the match.

In the end it was a point each and it was Spuds getting the negative press afterwards from not being able to take advantage of the extra man and hold on to the lead.

Another positive was the superb play by keeper David Ospina filling in for the injured Cech. After his howler back in the group rounds of the Champions League, Ospina had come in for a lot of stick. With nine saves in the match, Ospina made the most saves of any Arsenal goalkeeper since 2009.

So is the glass half full or half empty. I suppose today we'll try and be positive and say it's half full.

Tuesday March 8, 2016 Arsenal at Hull FA Cup 5th Round Replay 2PM

Arsenal have to win this. Period. Arsenal dominated Hull back at the Emirates but somehow didn't score forcing this replay at the KC Stadium. Arsenal have not won since defeating Leicester back on February 14th. Team morale is low, fan anxiety is high and the only outcome of this match that will keep a tsunami of angst from coming to shore is a win. A decisive win would be great. However, at this point any win is what is needed and expected.

Well that was more like it. Having made it hard for themselves with a replay at Hull, the players put in a solid performance and easily dispatched Hull and moved on to the sixth round.

It took a while to get going but a defensive error by Hull gave Olivier Giroud a golden opportunity the 41st minute. Arsenal went in to the break with a 0-1 lead. Of course this being Arsenal, a one goal lead does not settle the nerves of fans. It was important therefore for Arsenal to pad on to their lead.

Giroud's goal celebration was a tribute to his new baby boy that had been born earlier in the week. He was joined in the celebration by Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi.

The goals kept coming in the second half. Giroud scored his second with an assist from Theo Walcott in the 71st minute. Then Walcott did himself a favor and got on the score sheet himself with a brace.

In the end it was a solid Arsenal win. Despite that, some fans chose to display a ridiculous Wenger out banner following the match. This caused arguing among fans on Twitter and from what I read, all throughout the Gooner universe. So, it's on to the next round and a meeting with Watford.

Sunday March 13, 2016 Arsenal vs. Watford FA Cup 6th Round

Less than a week after defeating Hull 0-4 in their FA Cup 5th round replay, Arsenal play host to Watford with a return trip to Wembley at hand. Arsene Wenger has been receiving a ton of abuse this week from some supposed fans and a win today would go a long way in calming things down.

Arsenal are going for their third FA Cup title in a row which would equal a record set 130 years ago by Blackburn.

Despite a visit to Barcelona looming later this week, today's match is more important. No one is expecting Arsenal to pull off a miracle in Spain and the FA Cup is within reach. Arsenal are still in the hunt for the EPL title, but with Leicester ahead of Arsenal by eight points, it may be too much to realistically catch up. Therefore the FA Cup is Arsenal's best chance for silverware this season.

A win is a must.

The dream of a third straight FA Cup is over. Somehow the good Arsenal of last week took the day off and the pathetic and inept Arsenal showed up. No disrespect to Watford but this was a game that had victory written all over it. A home game at the Emirates and a chance to move on to the semi-finals should have been enough motivation for Arsenal to put in a strong performance. Apparently, however, it was not.

In typical Arsenal fashion, the team dominated the match but walked away losers. Check out these stats: 71% possession, 20 shots to Watford's 7 and 7 corners to Watford's 1. This pattern of dominating matches, yet losing has become regular thing this season. Losing stinks no matter what, but losing when you dominate the match is just plain embarrassing and inexcusable.

In the end it was a combination of Arsenal's shaky defense and a lack of finishing that doomed the Gunners. 

So, while Arsenal fans argue back and forth and vent their frustration, the team now gets ready to fly out to Barcelona for the second leg of their Champions League meeting with one of the best teams of the world. Sadly this comes after losing to one of the most mediocre teams in the world.

Wednesday March 16, 2016 Arsenal at Barcelona 3:45PM EST Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg

For one of the first times I can remember, Arsenal go in to a match with fans pretty much knowing they have no chance of winning and just hoping that the team don't get totally embarrassed. The morale can't be any lower and the fighting between fans is making things even worse.

Of course miracles can happen and the match needs to be played out. The pregame weather pretty much sums up the mood as the rain is pouring down in Barcelona.

When the only good thing that one can say after a defeat is that at least they didn't get humiliated, you know that the expectations were pretty low.

The highlights were some great goalkeeping from Ospina filling in for Cech and new boy Elneny scored a great goal for Arsenal. Other than that, it was as expected, a easy win for Barcelona who go through on aggregate 5-1 and it's another round of 16 exit for Arsenal.

Saturday March 19, 2016 Arsenal at Everton 8:45AM EST

Back to the league and a win has never been more important. Anything less than three points today will result in even more vitriol than what's been spewed this week towards Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

The club have nothing left to distract them from the remaining league fixtures. There's still hope that Arsenal can catch Leicester and potentially win the league. To be honest, that hope is beginning to look less and less likely, so there is no more room for slip ups. Also important is to not allow the impossible to happen....that is to go a season without a St. Totteringham's Day. To see Tottenham finish above Arsenal would hurt worse than not winning the league.

No ifs, ands or buts....time to get it done today Arsenal.

A much needed win it was. Add in the fact that it was a rather comfortable victory and the mood around Arsenal has been uplifted a bit. After exiting from the FA Cup and the Champions League earlier in the week, the fans needed something to feel good about.

Alex Iwobi was given his first league start along side Danny Welbeck. The partnership worked well with Welbeck being gifted a goal from an Everton mishap in the 7th minute. Iwobi added to the Arsenal lead in the 42nd minute with his first goal for the club.

Everton never put much pressure on the Arsenal goal and the final 0-2 scoreline stood. While it didn't take away the pain of exiting the FA Cup and Champions League, the victory did ease a bit of the tension surrounding the club and its fans.

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