Our Dominance in the North London Derby

Many fans and pundits alike thought Tottenham Hotspur were favourites going into the North London derby at the Emirates last month.

Heading into the match Spurs were joint second in the Premier League and four points above us languishing down in sixth position.

They had unconvincingly beaten Crystal Palace 1-0 and Real Madrid 3-1 at Wembley Stadium before the international break.

However, only one team turned up on the day and that was the mighty Arsenal as we ran out 2-0 winners on 18 November 2017 – with goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez before half-time.  Heading into the match there had been no clear favourite in the football betting odds with both team odds against to pick up the three points.

In truth, the scoreline could have been greater but the result and performance was the most important thing.  It was a game where Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez showed their World Class abilities left all Arsenal fans praying they will extend their contracts beyond this season.

This was followed up by victories over Burnley (1-0) and Huddersfield Town (5-0) before being beaten at home by Manchester United last weekend.  Even then we still produced 15 shots on target and were denied any points from the game through a mixture of David de Gea’s superhuman effort, and two defensive errors in the opening 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, our victory over Spurs was the start of a winless streak for them.  They have since been held 1-1 at home by West Brom, beaten 2-1 at Leicester City and held 1-1 at Watford.  Subsequently we are now three points better off than our neighbours in the Premier League table, though still one point outside of the top four ourselves.

Last month’s North London derby victory was our 65th in the league against Tottenham and it’s not the only head-to-head record that’s better than theirs.

In terms of the trophy count we’re also way out in front.  Our 13 top flight titles embarrasses their two – which, by the way, is less than the likes of Huddersfield Town, Wolves and Blackburn Rovers.

Our record 13 FA Cups is five more than Spurs have, though they do beat us four to two in the EFL Cup count but that’s nothing compared to the two major domestic competitions.

We’re fighting on all fronts this season, looking to get back into the Champions League, either via a top four finish or potentially through winning the Europa League.  We’re at mid-table Championship outfit Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round in January too.  Later this month we have our EFL Cup quarter-final tie at home to West Ham – though that will be another chances for Arsene Wenger to give the youngsters and fringe players a run out during a busy Christmas period.

The graphic below from Betfair highlights the biggest derbies in English football and has a look at our head-to-head record against both Tottenham and Chelsea, as well as the all-time Premier League London derby records.

football derbies

 

Gunners gearing up for life after Arsene Wenger

Arsenal’s chances of winning a first Premier League title since 2003-04 were already decidedly remote as it was, but the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium extinguished the last remaining hopes.

There’s still plenty left to play for in the current campaign, with Champions’ League qualification via either a top four Premier League finish or by winning the Europa League now being the priority.

For the hopelessly optimistic among the Gunners’ faithful, you can now back Arsenal at odds as big as 125/1 (with Bet Victor) to win the Premier League.  More realistically, a ‘Top 4’ finish can be backed at 6/4 with Paddy Power, whilst Europa League success is a 6/1 shot with William Hill (which looks less than generous with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund all potentially destined for the competition via the Champions’ League).

Anyone predicting a fourth FA Cup success in five seasons will be tempted by the 10/1 offered by Bet Victor and you can get a tempting 7/1 with Unibet for Carabao Cup glory.  All those betting odds will be subject to change over the coming days and weeks, so be sure to check out the Freebets.co.uk Arsenal team page for all the very latest bookies prices and football news from a Gunners perspective.

Events off the pitch could be equally fascinating at the club over the coming months, with changes clearly afoot at the Emirates Stadium.

It seems increasingly unlikely that either Alexis Sánchez or Mesut Özil will still be Arsenal players by the time the 2017-18 season gets underway.  Speculation that either player could be sold in the New Year seems wide of the mark, with Arsène Wenger being unlikely to sanction any sales with so much left to play for this term and with the January transfer window being notoriously difficult to sign top quality players should he require replacements.

From the player’s viewpoint, both Sánchez and Özil could almost certainly get better personal terms by moving at the end of the season on free transfers (and they can of course agree a pre-contract from January), so there’s little benefit in either seeking a move prior to then.

The summer transfer window could be hugely significant for Arsenal’s future, with the comings and goings being a good indication as to how the club will operate post-Wenger.

With Aaron Ramsey, Petr Cech, Danny Welbeck, Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott all out of contract in 2019, the club will want to avoid a repeat of the contract situations with Sánchez and Özil, so there could potentially be some significant changes to the Gunners squad on the horizon should the players they want to keep not put pen to paper on new deals.

The imminent arrivals of Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment and Raul Sanllehi (Barcelona’s former Director of Football) as head of football relations, added to the earlier appointments of Jens Lehmann (first-team coach), Darren Burgess (Director of high performance) and Huss Fahmy (contract negotiator) are further signs of the club’s gradual transition process towards the eventual departure of Arsene Wenger.

Wenger’s announcement that he is set for an end of season review was seen by some as an indication that he might be leaving halfway through his current (and surely final) two-year contract, but this is just his customary annual review and is unlikely to signal anything more contentious taking place.

There’s no clear favourite in the managerial betting odds as to Wenger’s successor as yet, with Thomas Tuchel, Diego Simeone, Patrick Vieira, Massimiliano Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti being among the market leaders at present.

Could Manchester United Be Any More Lucky or Negative??

What a game, unfortunately though we got a result we didn’t deserve.

3 shots on target and 3 goals, typical of a extremely negative Jose Mourinho side.

At the end of the game, I was proud of Arsenal. Yes, 2 stupid mistakes lead to the first 2 Manchester United goals but mistakes happen and it’s not as if Koscielny and Mustafi misplaced those passed on purpose. After going 2-0 down after 11 minutes, all Arsenal could do is respond and did they.

After the United sucker punches our response was (almost) perfect and we dominated the game, with chance after chance. The only problem was David De Gea was on world class form – some of the saves were sensational and he kept Manchester United in the game – because against any other keeper we would have scored 4 or 5 in the first half alone.

Manchester United have a reputation for being very negative under Mourinho but today he took that to a whole new level. It was as if he thought he was up against Barcelona in their pomp. A squad that cost around £500 million to assemble was reduced to a defensively desperate mess by Arsenal, and for that I am proud of my team.

And any Arsenal supporter who is critical of Arsene Wenger is an absolute joke – could be legislate for the 2 mistakes? No. Was it his fault that a side that cost half a billion to assemble played like a non-league side at The Emirates? No.

Arsenal gave it everything and our recent form has been outstanding.

Arsenal fans need to put things in perspective.

Arsenal Dominated Chelsea From Start To Finish

Before the game I was optimistic as you can be when Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge:


But on this occasion, I am more than happy to eat my words.

In the last decade, we’ve only won once at Stamford Bridge, when Arsenal won 5-3 and Robin van Persie scored a hat trick and John Terry decided that he forgot to move his legs and just gave up. While that was a great game and performance from Arsenal, the background to that match was that Andre Villas Boas was losing control of the Chelsea changing room.

And recently, we’ve been abysmal at Stamford Bridge, hence the above bet and tweet. It seems like every time we visit Stamford Bridge or Anfield, we play far too open and end up losing 3-0, 4-0 or 5-0.

But today, Arsenal played like a team.

Which this season hasn’t happened yet.

For the first time in a while, the formation, team selection and tactics were all spot on. Arsenal had Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal in the back three, and had Hector Bellerin on the right (where he should be – not on the left!). And finally, finally, we had Sead Kolasinac where he was supposed to be, at left back!

Crazy I know Arsene but playing your full backs in the right positions might work!

Then we had Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey in central midfield, both of whom had excellent games.

But whether Arsene Wenger had intended or not, the front three today were spot on.

With Alexandre Lacazette the spearhead of the Arsenal attack, he was flanked by Danny Welbeck and Alexander Iwobi – and it was a masterstroke.

That front three set the tone for Arsenal’s performance and all three of those players were full of running and ran their hearts out for the cause. They hustled, harried and put the Chelsea defence under constant pressure.

The amount of closing down they did was truly phenomenal and something we haven’t seen this season, mainly because of the way Mesut Özil plays.

Welbeck, Lacazette and Iwobi worked together and if it wasn’t for their example we wouldn’t have been good as we were because they set the tone, lifted the team with their passion and that’s why we should have beaten Chelsea in their own back yard – comfortably.

In terms of chances, Welbeck had a good chance with a header early on, Lacazette forced a good save from Courtois after Ramsey and Bellerin combined well – and overall we caused the home side all kinds of problems.

The performance from back to front was exceptional today and you will not find an Arsenal fan who was not proud of the lads today. They worked their socks off, gave it their all, were well organised and played like a proper team.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the goal we rich deserved and that’s a bit disappointing, but no-one can fault the performance and in a game where we usually get turned over, instead Arsenal have given the fans hope and optimism moving forwards.

#COYG

Arsenal’s Transfer Deadline Day Reviewed

So we come to the end of Transfer Deadline Day and now I’ve had time to calm down, I can go through what has gone on and give my thoughts on the whole day.

Before TDD, Arsenal had signed Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac, two players of real quality. Lacazette made the perfect start to his Arsenal career by scoring 2 minutes into his professional debut, and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed in his second game against Stoke after he lashed a shot into the top corner with his left foot. He started the Liverpool game on the bench and we all know what happened that day, but no fault could be attributed to the French striker.

Kolasinac looks like one hell of a player. He bossed it in the Leicester game and assisted Danny Welbeck for his goal. I missed the Stoke game but by all account he is a solid, determined player who gives it his all and will be a real asset to the club. He, like Lacazette, was strangely left on the bench for the Liverpool game.

So onto today. Transfer Deadline Day was always going to important to Arsenal (and the supporters) after the debacle at Anfield on Sunday. All the goodwill Arsene Wenger managed to retrieve after the FA Cup win, and the whole “catalyst for change” rhetoric over the summer gave Arsenal fans some hope. The atmosphere was toxic at times last season, with a lot of fans calling for Wenger Out. But winning a trophy helps and the signs over the close season looked promising – we signed players early, there were new people brought into the coaching team (although I haven’t actually seen Lehmann on the bench yet?) and we were told that we had around £150 million to spend.

£52.8 of that went on Lacazette, and Kolasinac was free. Added to that, we’ve sold several players such as Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gabriel, Gibbs and Szczesny meant we were actually in a £30 million profit.

We also left Lucas Perez go out on loan, as well as Joel Campbell and Carl Jenkinson. We rejected a £20 million bid for Calum Chambers and then we have the saga with Thomas Lemar and Alexis Sanchez.

What is going on at Arsenal?

Our defensive issues have been highlighted in recent times and we have conceded 8 goals in 3 games, the second worst defensive record in the entire league. Yet, we let Gabriel leave (who is a very good central defender), and Mustafi almost left and is apparently out of favour with Arsene Wenger. With defensive issues surely getting rid of centerbacks is counter productive?

With Gabriel’s departure and Mustafi and Mertesacker out of favour, our only real options in central defence are Rob Holding, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal – which is not a central defensive partnership that will be anywhere near competing for the Premier League title. Rob Holding is young, Koscielny is injury prone and Monreal is not a central defender but a full back. Calum Chambers is another player out in the cold so what the hell is going on?

So our defensive issues weren’t addressed on Transfer Deadline Day, and if anything Arsene Wenger wanted to sabotage himself and move on defenders!

Arsene Wenger has no idea as our midfield clearly needs strengthening but we sell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (who was played as a wing back anyway) and don’t bring in another midfielder.

Then the whole Alexis Sanchez affair.

Look, I like him as a player but it’s clearly not working out. For months and months now he’s been unhappy, chastising his team mates almost on a weekly basis and showing his disappointment and distain for the club on the pitch. He’s a winner surrounded by losers and Arsene Wenger is delusional if he thinks Alexis is going to perform anywhere near his peak this season. Manchester City offered £60 million and anyone with an ounce of common sense would have bitten their arm off. Why turn that down just to let him leave for free in the summer?

I ask you this – has any other “big” club (or even small one for that matter) let a star player leave for nothing before?! Imagine Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe, Neymar, Cavani, Lukaku, Pogba or Suarez leaving for free? Are you insane?! The mind boggles it really does!

£60 million for a player who wants to leave and only has 12 months left on his contract? It sums up Arsenal that they couldn’t even get that right and completely cock it up.

And the Thomas Lemar situation is just as sad as it is pathetic. We could have got him weeks ago for about £70 million but our crack team of shit negotiators decide to wait until the last day and offer £92 million. Unfortunately Lemar turned us down and preferred Liverpool, but you wonder if we were really in for him after leaving it so so late.

The more likely explanation is that we went in late knowing fully well that it wouldn’t happen, and the £92 million was a complete red herring. I mean come on, think about it – Arsenal signing a winger for £92 million? Do you know how absurd that actually sounds!

Exactly.

Overall, a terrible Transfer Deadline Day and no encouragement whatsoever that this season is going to get better. No doubt that we’ll get a couple of wins on the bounce and pretend everything is okay, and then lose another game because of our midfield and defensive weaknesses and we will go through all this shit again.