A Great End to a Disappointing Arsenal Season (2016 – 2017)

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It’s Memorial Day today and after returning from a quaint little Jazz festival in Alexandria, Virginia, I just thought I need to make a few blurbs about Arsenal.  I originally wanted to write another hate-filled speech about Cheetos Emperor Donaldore J. Trumpfuckery the 15th and his ties to a secret cabal of one-eyed KGB kickboxers, but that’ll be for another day.  Today is for the vets, and it’s also for me to celebrate Arsenal’s victory over Chel$ki F.C. to win the 2017 F.A. Cup.

Our season in the Prem started out well, and things were looking good between November 2016 and January 2017.  However, losing Santi Cazorla was a massive blow, and as you already know, the wheels started to come loose a little later in the campaign.  Losing to Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Tony Pulis F.C., and Watford, along with ties to fucking Bournemouth and some offsides bullshit with Citeh dented both our hopes and our top four chase, making us 5th for the Europa League.  A big blow to us for sure, but I really REALLY want to stay positive and hope that there’s a silver lining in that as well.  If Chel$ki and United fall into the Europa League with little ire from the press, why can’t Arsenal, right?  (I’m being sarcastic of course)

However, I’m still not in the Wenger Out camp.  I’d only do so in order for Uncle Arsene to be spared of all this stuff.  That’s not to say that Arsenal aren’t without problems.  I’m as sick of it as anyone else when it comes to our pattern of implosion, but to visibly vent our frustrations on Wenger does him or us no justice.  Protest the way we play, or get in the board’s face about investment or even a change in tactics, but for reals folks, please don’t dis Uncle Arsene.  He doesn’t deserve it.

So give the old man credit for that back three.  Give him credit for his selections.  Give him AND the players some cred for smacking Mourinho in the face after beating ManU in the Prem and give him his due for giving us one helluva F.A. Cup final.

If you watched the final, then you know how exciting it was.  I was screaming at Arsenal all day to make sure they didn’t fuck anything up and sure enough, they didn’t.  The first 5 minutes was all Arsenal with some amazing possession and, handball or not, a neat goal from Alexis Sanchez.  I’m glad we got in Chel$ki’s faces and I’m glad we got some fortune for once.  Ramsey offside?  Yeah right.

However, with all the chances we had throughout the first half, the game should’ve been out-of-sight with 4-0.  We dominated the midfield battle and for all the excuses Chel$ki fans can make about not being at the races, save it.  You guys put out THE title-winning eleven and for an occasion like the F.A. Cup final, you guys looked ordinary.  Oh, and that Ozil tackle on Hazard?  Priceless.

The second half saw the Blues amped up with a few more fouls, penetration and pace, which only made David Ospina look cooler and cooler with some fine saves.  Per, Rob and Nacho held Neaderthal Costa back pretty well for the most part.  Well, except for his goal of course.  But that was after the Victor Moses dive.  Which he got a red card for.  Sweet.  Again, you’d think Arsenal would be safe after that but then we got Costa’d.  I kicked a box at home as my head boiled with fury.  For an Arsenal fan like me, this usually means that we would not only implode, but  Per would break all three of his legs somehow, Ox would get a Red card for being Gibbs (again) and Phil McNulty would begin masturbating at the thought of writing another thinly-veiled ‘Arsenal-are-weak-get-Wenger-sacked’ fluff piece.

However, in only a few short minutes, Phil would have to go limp and clean his chin in disgust because when Olly Giroud came on, he made made a beautiful cross to an unmarked Ramsey, where he cannoned a header past Courtois (the best GK in teh Prem mind you).  The roar of the Gooner faithful thundered the air, the blue poop of London groaned and the Red Sea parted in Divine Rapture.  I wasn’t the only one jumping for Joy.  I clutched my Wife, I held on to the sky and was ready for Arsenal to defend for their life.  What a feeling, and what a goal!

Ospina and the rest of the defense had to then pull in one helluva shift to make sure the game didn’t turn into 2-2, with a brilliant save to keep us all in.  Mesut should’ve scored when Arsenal broke free but had to settle for the post, Courtois’ leg and a corner and I wished to God Giroud got his 100 goals for the club, but when that final whistle came, I didn’t care.  We saw through the challenge.  We beat the deserved Champions of England.  We won the F.A. Cup.  And we did it with our BFG Captain making his FIRST START OF THE SEASON!

I’m not so sure if this ‘saved’ our season because there’s just sooooo much that we still need to work on.  Injuries, motivation, mentality and, overall, contracts.  It sounds like the ‘same old Arsenal’ tag that most shit pundits like to beat us with, but it all happened at the latter half of the season, not the tail-end of November like usual.  We’re starting to slowly find a way to play without Santi, but we need to really rethink our defensive transitions because teams are finding out how to exploit us in our own half.  It’s my hope that the maturation of Xhaka in the Prem will help in that regard, but like many new signings at Arsenal, they usually don’t mature until they take a pounding.  Keeping Sanchez and Ozil are should be the main target of the club this summer, and if we do, we need to drill Sanchez to avoid turnovers at all costs.  I also personally think Giroud and the Ox should still stay at the club, with the former being a beast from the bench and the latter shining as a wing back.  Finally,it’s my hope that with a win like this, we can take a serious look at our problems, use Spurs’ current form as a kind of jealous motivation, and our sinking into the Europa doldrums as a silver lining for experience as we try to recoup ourselves to do something big next season.

Until then guys, let’s savor this win and tell the rest of the naysayers to piss off.

Arsenal vs. Chelsea: EPL (9/24/2016)

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The last time I saw Arsenal whoop Chelsea was in 2011 during the RVP days.  The last few times, it’s been Diego Costa getting away with being a complete jerk without any penalty.  The last few times, it’s been too many goals against us and not enough against them.  The last few times, it was Mourinho being a dick wad.  Specialist in failure anyone?

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It’s Just a Thriller: Arsenal vs. Leicester City (2/14/2016)

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My heart was in my throat for 95 minutes as I watched Arsenal duke it out with League leaders Leicester City.  I’m not going to go for the specifics of the match but it was a roller-coaster of emotions for me as Welbeck came on to nod in the winning goal.  From elation to tears, I couldn’t believe it.  Simply put, football can be a beautiful thing where you ride a tidal wave of feelings from beginning to end.  Despair from Vardy’s dive to pure love for the Cannon on your badge as Danny ran into the crowds for his first goal in forever.  It’s moments like that where legends rise, and I hope for Danny and Arsenal, it will happen.  On to the next game gents!

2015: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

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I wish I had written this before the end of 2015, but to be honest, I dreaded writing this because 2015 was just a bad year overall.  Sure, there were some nice highlights that I savored but so much occurred that I can’t even begin to really write anything coherent but here goes.

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Win Ugly: Arsenal vs. Newcastle United (1/2/2016)

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Watching yesterday’s game reminded me of our mauling in Southampton on Boxing Day, yet Arsenal (thanks in no small part to Petr Cech) stood as the victor in what would’ve been a game that we’d normally lose or draw.  Koscielny’s goal was the difference in a scrappy affair where the Magpies had the better chances to score.  Mitrovic was unlucky to some degree, but Cech did the business to snuff out the danger as Newcastle squeezed past our defenders to fire.  Oh, and don’t get me started on the ref.  The man was atrocious.

Oh, and Ramsey….please, if you’re clear on goal and if your lane blocked, GIVE IT TO CAMPBELL!!!!

Arsenal have always been beaten by the cudgel of “mental fragility” by many a pundit over the years, but it’s nice to see that we can dig out an ugly win with a set piece and get 9 out of a possible 12 points during a very hectic timeframe.  With us still retaining our place at the top of the table, it will become more of an imperative to grind out wins as the next set of fixtures approach (along with an FA Cup tie).  Yes, we’ve got some injuries, but our depth is there (barely).  The worry I have is that our defense and midfield was left exposed quite often against Newcastle so personally, I really think we need to tighten up with some structure / shape.  We’re missing Coquelin’s physical presence in midfield since both Southampton and Newcastle have proven that they could bully us in midfield with little consequence.  Here’s to hoping that we can dig deep and make it happen as we wait for the rest of our troops to return.

 

The February that was for Arsenal: Comments and the BBC have at it!

161954706_crop_exactIt’s the beginning of March, and to be blunt, I’d like to collect all of you fellow Gooners out there and hear about your thoughts concerning the Gunners and what a menacing February its been for them.  Our tragic loss to Blackburn in the FA was too much for me to bare, and with the British media’s Crisis-o-meter set to full blast on Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of an in-form Bayern Munich, it’s reasonable to say that to most non-Gooners, the Arsenal are up the shitter.  Doom and gloom has returned once again, and although they played and won against Aston Villa late in February, that won’t stop the BBC and our own would be Gooners to tarnish and feather the team at large.

However, let’s take a step back to look at what others like to say about the gang we love to call The Gunners.  The Beeb’s own Garth Crooks (a former ‘Spuds’ player mind you) generally writes the “Team of the Week” column and although Arsenal came on top against the Villans on February 23rd (with many a thanks to two goals from Cazorla), Jack Wilshere was given the spotlight on his choice. saying:

When is Arsene Wenger going to wake up and smell the coffee? He’s got serious internationals in his side with much more experience but far less fight than Jack Wilshere. The England international is the only real leader they’ve got and if Wenger doesn’t give this lad the support his talent deserves then he will be off like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie. And it will serve him right.

Where the fuck does this nonce come off from?  No one is even TALKING about club departures from Arsenal!!!  He just signed a new contract and subjects like this aren’t even in the radar yet, let alone on some jackwad’s blog discussing who’s in the “Team of the Week!!!”  How the FUCK is that even relevant?  Is trolling THAT relevant for football coverage??  Garth Crooks, who died and made you judge and jury upon all you see at the Arsenal, eh?  Loads of garbage, plain and simple.

649301-fbl-eur-c1-arsenal-bayern-munichBut let’s track back even further and see what the BBC had to say about Wenger’s “imminent” departure (a la Benitez?) from Arsenal after his FA Cup shock and Munich Massacre shall we?  In all honesty, we had no excuse to lose in the FA, given that it was the most REALISTIC chance for us to gain back a Cup of some sort, but it’s clear that our defense and, dare I say, goal keeping issues need to be addressed.  I love the SZCZ, but he’s gotta be keen as a butcher knife, and with errors like that, some may wonder if he’s sharp enough to cut the mustard.  TV5 needs to grow in stature in terms of leadership and there’s just gotta be more of a “Shut this FUCKING GAME DOWN” mentality if we are to have a real bite into the Top 4.  But alas, Phil McNulty has overdone all of us shameful Arsenal fans and decided to write one of his biggest, steamiest, nastiest piles of journalism in a while, where the headline vaguely seems like it’s there to call for the manager’s head.  In this steaming pile of shit, he writes:

Throw in defeats to League Two Bradford City in the Capital One Cup and more recently Championship Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup and this is a manager and team as far away as it has ever been from restoring old glories.

It is a sorry state of affairs for a classy, decent and dignified man who has brought so much to the Premier League as well as three titles and four FA Cups to Arsenal. Where he once had “The Invincibles” he now has the fallibles.

Contrary to some fairly widespread opinion, the media is not out to “get” Wenger but you cannot turn muck into honey and a simple analysis of Arsenal’s current place makes grim reading. He is held in huge respect, affection too, but past achievements cannot act as a shield against present realities.

Of all the things that irk me the most is this “I know a lot better about this shit than you” attitude that riles me about both of the aforementioned blog articles from the Beeb.  With no positive advice from these sages save for the olde English adages of “Grow some balls Frenchie,” “Buy more,” “Don’t hide behind your past laurels,” and the good ol’  “Gonna lose another player so you BETTER SPEND,”  one wonders if these daft football scribes masturbate themselves to sleep with dreams of becoming oligarchs who do nothing more than to use their coffers to silence their mistresses and fatten their football clubs.  With nothing constructive to contribute to the seemingly “ignoble” fall from grace that Arsenal are “apparently” undergoing, one wonders if that’s really what British football wants.  The irony of it all is that some of the things that Arsene has been accused of during his glory days (bringing more foreign, i.e. French, players to the English game) in such negative fashion have now become things that most clubs do without any sort of reprimand.  Alan Pardew’s grab and bag of French stars is proof of this, irregardless of the fact that he was one of the many people who considered Arsenal’s accomplishments as “not necessarily a triumph for British football”.

However, I’d like to end this incessant ranting with some clippings I got from McNulty’s comments section in relation to the aforementioned shit-piece her wrote about Arsenal (in numerical order, with Comment #005 being the highest rated).  Feel free to say what you feel, and as you know, I am only highlighting these to only bring perspective to all of you Gooners who may or may not have lost their fucking minds.  Regardless, keep the faith people, and if you really love Arsenal, then do us a favor, CALM THE FUCK DOWN!!!  (Me included)  Either that or just hope that we won’t implode in a frenzy of self-hatred once we get the results from Sunday’s derby with the Spuds.

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Steamrolling Southampton: Arsenal vs. Southampton F.C. (EPL, 9-15-2012)

Saturday’s game with Southampton called for the Gunners to bring a win home at the Emirates without the influence of the reinvigorated Abou Diaby, who was absolutely exceptional against Liverpool before the international break.  Regardless of that, the Gunners brought in that much deserved win, as they ran rampant across the newly promoted Saints with all the attacking prowess they could muster.

The Gunners piled on layers of attack onto the Saints and were given their first goal as Gibbs’ cross was slipped in by Hooiveld for an own goal.  The goal itself was made possible thanks to some impressive build-up between Podolski and Gibbs.  Prince Poldi made it 2-0 however, with an impressive free kick that curled in away from the top corner in top class quality.

And as noble as the Saints were in defeat, things got worse as Gervinho became the central threat on the field, where he squeezed off quite a few chances early into the first half.  However, it was Arteta’s simple throughball that got the Ivorian onto the score sheet as he dashed away carefully and smashed the ball into the net with all the confidence he could muster.  Let it be known that this blogger was thoroughly happy with that goal as it is quite clear that Gervinho has always demonstrated a great deal of skill with some below par finishes, but on that day, he proved he can finish well.

It soon became 4-0 thanks to another own goal from a Gibbs cross as the Gunners pushed yet again.  However, the Saints briefly pressed on and pulled one back as a lapse of judgement from Szczesny allowed Fox to shoot one in.  By the end of half time, the score was 4-1.

As the second half started, the Saints began to show more bite as they pressed forward more, and looked much better compared to the first half, but Arsenal continued to create the chances.  Arteta held well as the DM while Cazorla created havoc once more.  Ramsey came on as a sub and showed some brilliant stuff.  Yes, he skyed another chance, but he’s getting there, the Welshman.  Gervinho soon made a double thanks to Aaron’s pace in the box as he eluded a defender and tried to slide it into the net.  Though he was not quite there in goal, Gervinho was in place to simply tap it in.  The nails were finally set in as Walcott subbed the Ivorian and took one home as he shot a deflected attempt from Vermaelen.  Man, what a day.

The Saints fought hard, and you have to give a rousing clap for Adkins and his boys.  They were down, but kept on trying.  For them to give trouble to both Manchester clubs is something worth noting, but as Adkins himself pointed out, “We turned it over far too cheaply.”  As for Arsenal,  the Gunners are looking great domestically, and are showing fine spirit in both defense and attack.  The worry right now is whether or not they’ll run out of steam as they go toe to toe with the likes of Merc City this Sunday.  Arsenal’s win against Montpellier (which, I for one have not seen aside from a glimpse of the second half) seemed to be a tough one as the fightback in the first half was turned on its tiptoes as the French champions began to dominate the second half.  If there’s any chance for us to tap up the depth we’ve amassed, now is the time.

For now however, let’s hope the Gunners rest up, bring in some of the other boys who are itching to play (I smell Santos and Koscielny!!), rest the ones that have done well for us, pray for a Giroud hat-trick and look forward to what we can offer as we face up against the Champs.