Saturday, September 12, 2020

Fulham 0 - 3 Arsenal

 I'm not going to get carried away.  This was Fulham, the club that bettors think most likely to be relegated.  The Cottagers were flat and lacked a cutting edge; their defense was not well organized.  But it was a comfortable win.  Laca, Auba, and new boy Gabriel scored.  Willian got two assists.  Everyone played well.  Elneny and Holding got a run-out and performed.  Leno was called upon to save a goal early.  And most important, we got three points.

Everyone knew we'd desperately want six points from the first two games, and would have expected us to get them.  There's a run of tough games after that.  Let's see where we are mid-October.

Martinez looks to be leaving.  20M pounds is fair, and he'll be making a lot more playing for Villa.  Good luck to him.  

Friday, September 4, 2020

Liverpool 1 - 1 Arsenal (4-5 PKs) -- Community Shield

 Once again, I did not watch this realtime.  Maybe the Shield is considered by some as a meaningless tune-up for the season, but Arsenal hasn't taken it that way and I don't either.  It's minor silverware but it's silverware.

Yes, this one could have gone either way in normal time, but we got the PKs and they were all excellent (even the miss was close and unstoppable had it been a foot lower).  I love how the young guys stepped up and buried their kicks.

I'm very hopeful that this season sees us climbing the table, and maybe we can win a cup or two as well.  Our transfer business is fine:  Sokratis out, Magalhaes in.  Torreira looks as though he will get a chance to start for Fiorentina, and we'll have Ceballos back for another year.  Don't ask me what the problem is with Auba.  Maybe he's insisting Stan rehire the staff he canned last month.  I really hope we keep Hector and AMN.  Who could we buy who'd help us more this season and in future seasons?  Lacazette deserves a chance to star somewhere; he's not going to be the main man in London anymore.  I honestly think Eddie or Martinelli would score as many goals in that position.  I do love Alexandre; he works hard and frequently outmuscles larger defenders.  But he's not scoring at center forward.

Monday, August 3, 2020

More on the final

Arsenal.com finally put the whole game up on video and I just watched it.  Just as Arseblog's "By the Numbers" feature shows, we were the better team in this game and deserved to win it.  It's true that Chelsea was snakebitten, losing Azpilacueta and Pulisic to hamstring injuries at 1-1, and the second yellow on Kovacic was harsh, but I didn't see Chelsea ever scoring another one after their early flourish.  The penalty was definitely a penalty, and if Christensen got Bellerin's knee in his back (I didn't see it) in the buildup to the second goal, it was because his reckless lunge carried him into Hector.  The defender "won" the ball and passed it directly to Pepe.  The Gunners had more quality opportunities.  I was most impressed with the discipline.  The Blues committed 14 fouls, we committed three.  That says to me that Arteta prepared them to position themselves properly, and also drove it home that we can't afford to give away cheap free kicks around the box.

Everyone played really well.  It's hard to single out anyone other than Auba, who of course won this final and the semi.  Xhaka was a beast, and Ceballos a dervish.  If Lampard thought he was going to boss midfield, he got a rude surprise.  The Chelsea defense always looked shaky; Pepe seemed to terrify them.

I'll have plenty to say about how the future looks, but this game has made the present seem quite shiny.  If you'd have offered me this in December, I'd probably have taken it.  It looked unlikely after our terrible form at Villa Park and at home against Watford, but we beat a big team and it was not a smash-and-grab like Liverpool or an against the run of play situation like the semi.  We just plain beat a good team to win a trophy and set Mikel up for a continuation of his very impressive work in four competitions.  What academy player wants out now?  

Well, a word on Pulisic:  he was their most dangerous player, and I hope he recovers from that nasty hamstring injury quickly.  He's going to be a great player for club and country.  Here's some sympathy for Pedro, too.  He's leaving Chelsea but laid it on the line as a sub and got a dislocated shoulder for it.  Azpilicueta has never been a favorite of mine, so his tears left me unmoved.  The Blues have oodles of money to spend and will be in Champions' League, so they're fine.  We needed this one a lot more than they did, and I'm delighted we seized it.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Arsenal 2 - 1 Chelsea (FA Cup Final)

I listened to the Arsenal.com audio.  Whew!

I have been very very happy ever since the final whistle, but a chance perusal of a Tottenham fan site has delighted me further.  They noted that our win pushed them into qualifying rounds for Europa League, as well, of course, as eliminating Wolves entirely.  The comments were about how bad the officiating was (spoiler alert: they felt it was the worst in English history) and curses directed at Chelsea for losing--though they grudgingly noted that the Blues beat Wolves on the last day to keep Spuds in the EL.

Well as Stimpy says, Happy Happy Joy Joy.

The Final

I'm actually relieved this one isn't being televised (for free) in the US.  I'd be a wreck watching it.  After what happened with Watford, I'd feel that no lead was safe; and if we went behind, I'd be anticipating Baku II the rest of the game.  A draw near the closing minutes would be agonizing.  And don't even mention PKs.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Aston Villa 1 - 0 Arsenal

What a dreadful display.  Aside from Grealish, Villa did nothing especially good in the run of play, but they still were better than the outfit that beat Liverpool and City in the last week.  There's no point rating the players; the whole team was awful.  There was little chance for a 7th place league finish even had we won our last two games, so we lost just a few million pounds with this tepid display.  Tenth place...the table doesn't lie.We're not very good.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Arsenal 2 - 0 Manchester City (FA Cup semifinal)

I knew we could beat City, but I was not confident we'd win.  They're just so good.  However, we have the talent to get at their back line and in truth City could have shipped another two goals.  For all their dominance, they had (I think) just one shot on target, beautifully saved by Martinez with the game in the balance.  We were lucky against Liverpool, but we thoroughly deserved this win.

Every Gunner was magnificent.  It certainly looks as though the players are buying into Arteta's project.  The Brighton collapse, our failure at Tottenham, and the Nketieh red card (not a red for me) has made the Cup our last shot at Europe.  It will not be easy.  We aren't going to sneak up on anyone now.