Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Ajax Vrouwen 0 - 1 Arsenal Women (2-3 aggregate)

 Arsenal dominated in this second leg.  Ajax defended very well and made a few good attacking sequences, but Miedema's ruthless strike just inside the left post was enough to send us into the Champions' League group stage.  It would have been disappointing to miss this year's party.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

USA 0 - 0 Saudi Arabia: World Cup Expectations Not High

 Maybe the USMNT will achieve World Cup glory one day, but I don't think Gregg Berhalter will be coaching it.  The quality of our players is higher than the quality of our play.  We're in a fairly easy group, but our last two friendlies show that we're unlikely to get out of it without massive improvement. Once again, Matt Turner showed he was a good shot-stopper but was capable of some near-disastrous distribution.  He'll get five or six games at Arsenal to become sharper.  I really did not like what I saw from the defense, and the offense was even less impressive.  SA did not look good either.  Awful all around.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Arsenal Women 4 - 0 Tottenham Women

 This was a comprehensive beat-down.  A couple of headers off corners (Miedema and Rafaelle), a rocket from Beth Mead, and a ruthless finish from Miedema after a bad giveaway (not in that order).  It could have been a lot worse for the Spudettes had there not been some timely blocks.  This was Arsenal's eighth clean sheet in a row in the WSL, a new record.  Let's hope they can take this winning form to the Netherlands for the second leg of their champions' league qualifier against Ajax.  We were off-color in a 2-2 draw in London.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Japan 2 - 0 USA

 This was a real stinker of a performance from the US.  Japan looked sharp and energetic without doing anything great, and that was enough to thoroughly outclass the poorly organized and decision-challenged Americans.  There wasn't enough movement without the ball and our guys looked as though they had no idea what they wanted to do with the ball.  We did not get a shot on target.  Had Matt Turner not made a couple excellent saves, it would have been worse.  He was probably our best performer today, but that is not saying much.  His distribution was pedestrian too.

Turner was not the only Arsenal man out there, of course.  Tomiyasu played very well at center back, shrugging off the occasional wan "attack," though he was not particularly busy.

Lazy passing and a lack of outlets made the Japanese press look more intimidating than it would have been against a team that had some idea what it was doing.  No one in white looked good today, but coach Berhalter was exposed as having failed to adequately prepare his players for the opposition, or indeed any opposition.  This was more a case of US incompetence than Japanese excellence.  They played well, and that was enough to dominate the US in every phase of the game.  Japan didn't even play their first choice eleven.

Pathetic.  It's three and out in the group stage unless Iran is worse than I think they are.  I can't see us beating anyone.  We may not even score.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

BRE 0 - 3 ARS (and bonus coverage!)

 First, I want to acknowledge the assured performance from Marquinhos in our game in Switzerland against FC Zurich.  He scored once, beautifully, and assisted Nketieh on the other goal, returning the favor.  It was a nice start to the Europa League campaign and a promising beginning to Marquinhos's tenure with us.  Matt Turner looked a bit shaky in goal; but he's getting valuable experience with Arsenal.  In his own words:

“My game has come a long way since I began at Arsenal,” Turner told MLS Soccer.

“Just the speed and the intensity of everything, every single day. Mikel [Arteta] doesn’t accept anything except full-gas at training sessions, so you have to bring it every single day, or else you get found out pretty quickly out there on the pitch.

“For me, it’s the consistency that I have to bring every day in training, being ready for moments where I’m going to be able to get to play and overall just the speed, technical execution of things, making saves against world-class players every day in training, sometimes getting found out by world-class players in training. But all the while learning.”

Turner also revealed how much emphasis the boss places on maintaining a positive attitude when things aren’t going to plan.

“We were playing a small possession game and it was really, really tight.  I tried to make a pass and I gave the ball away. I sort of visually got frustrated and upset and he [Arteta] just came up to me and shoved me. He was basically like, ‘I don’t want to see that. I don’t like seeing that reaction. I want to see you pick yourself up and keep going.’

“I think that really set the tone for my mentality within the club and just to keep going no matter what. If you fail, that’s alright. What matters is how you react and not about the failure in itself. That was a really nice moment.”

Three superb finishes were the margin of victory against the top half Bees, who'd beaten Man U 4-0 earlier this season.  It was another dominant performance against a team we should be beating.  Two minutes were given to 15 year old Ethan Nwaneri at the end, making him the youngest player to come into an EPL game--ever.  He got a touch too.

Odegaard was not in the roster, so Fabio Vieira filled in, and was very good.  Partey controlled the middle of the park, and our center backs had Brentford's forwards in their back pockets.  In fact, Saliba scored the winning goal with a fabulous glancing header off a corner.  A great assist from Xhaka gave Jesus the opportunity to bury a well-taken header for 2-0, and early in the second half Vieira fired in off the right upright from about 26 yards.  It was a very comfortable win.  We needed that before the international break, what with all the postponements.

I was pleased to see that Alex Iwobi had another fine game for Everton, getting the assist on the winning goal.  I was sorry we sold him, but it was a good move all around as it turned out.  He's a regular starter for them (he played every minute of their season so far) and at 26, he should have a great career in front of him.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

MUN 3 - 1 ARS

 I could complain about the VAR decision, but it's pointless.  Sooner or later these are going to start going our way.  I thought it was a great game, and Arsenal played very well.  A few defensive lapses were punished by excellent passing and finishing from a talented United squad.  Arteta likes to play one way--the Guardiola way.  Good counterattacking teams will enjoy playing against us when we're not as clinical as we need to be.  I wouldn't have played so expansively against United at Old Trafford, but the Gunners nearly pulled it off.  If we're pinging the ball around like that every game, we'll do well this year.  If we could get Thomas Partey back, we'd do even better.

I missed commenting on the Villa win.  It was another dominant performance and a deserved three points.

We had to lose sometime.  We're top of the table yet, by a point over Spuds and City.  Surprising Brighton and a resurgent Man U are just behind them.  There will be ups and downs.  We may have to give academy kids some playing time, and we have yet to use Marquinhos.  A challenging period looms, but that's what we want.  Beating up on the likes of Leicester and Bournemouth is easy enough; it's teams like United we'll have to pick up points from.

The amounts paid by Premier League clubs on transfers is astonishing.  Arsenal's net spend was £97M, which is a lot, but United spent more than twice that, as did a couple other clubs.  Arsenal was only 7th in the spending table.  

Saturday, August 27, 2022

ARS 2 - 1 FUL -- Gabriel Gets Himself Out of Jail

 Phew!  The announcer said that on paper this game should have been an easy win for the Gunners.  I don't know where he got that from.  Fulham won the Championship last season and they were unbeaten through three Premier League games.  They played very well, I thought.  Arsenal had almost all of the ball, but could not break through in the first half.  The Cottagers were well organized and resolute.  Early in the second, Arsenal was on top, but a dreadful error at the back by Gabriel Margalhes (we also had Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus on the pitch) gave Mitrovic the chance to show he was quicker and stronger than Gabriel:  he stole the ball and slotted it past Ramsdale expertly.

I'd be lying if I said that I was confident that we'd turn that around in the next 35-40 minutes, but of course that's what happened.  Odegaard's shot took a heavy deflection off a Fulham defender that took it past Leno, but I am not going to complain.  Then, late on, Gabriel put it in from very close range after the ball dropped to him on a corner, and he had the privilege of turning tragedy into triumph in half an hour.  Not many people get that chance.

Both keepers had great games; some excellent saves were made.  The Fulham left back did a fantastic job on Saka.  Our attacking players all looked dangerous; Martinelli was particularly pesky.  The level of play from both teams was high.  But the story Arteta will tell his men is about how they bailed Gabriel out when it looked as though he gave the game away.  In All or Nothing, he said this exact thing after another Gabriel error that led to a goal was followed by an Arsenal comeback.  I haven't seen the post-match comments, but I'm sure that the words "resilience," "suffer," and "belief" will feature.

Still top of the table, for now anyway.

I thought we did well to beat Bournemouth 3-0, but Liverpool put nine into their net today.  Ugh.  I guess the Cherries are not going to be helped by goal difference in a relegation battle.  I'll let my co-author discuss what happened at the Etihad.  Man U must feel they're back on track.