Sheffield Weds 3-0 Arsenal – One word to sum it up… Sh*t!

Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Arsenal – Capital One Cup – 27/10/2015

One word to describe the Arsenal performance… SH*T! Possibly one of the worst performances I’ve seen in recent times from an Arsenal side – maybe not the worst but it was up there! An all round crap night topped off by two injuries to two very important players in our squad. Firstly the injury to the Ox – the old ‘precautionary’ substitution (which normally leads to 3 weeks out with our players). Followed by the bigger blow – the injury to Theo Walcott, the man who’s been bang in form lately.

I think for me the most disappointing thing is the way the Walcott injury happened… Watching it I was fuming because I genuinely believe he sustained that injury because he didn’t warm up properly. I know he didn’t have long but you know what, play with ten for 5 mins until the guys warmed up. The only person to blame here is Theo himself because as a professional you should be warmed up and I’m sure if he had said ‘boss I need a few mins to warm up’ Wenger wouldn’t have gambled with his fitness. Especially having just lost the Ox & Ramsey already on the treatment table.

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(The view from the away end – thanks to Kyri Christodoulou for the photo)

Wenger kind of said after the game that he felt they were not experienced enough and with that I agree 100%. Some of the youngsters in last nights team were well out of their depth and will only learn from this experience. Honestly I wouldn’t have played the first team last night, we have some huge games coming up and I probably would have done the same as Mr Wenger last night. Truth be told I believe that some of his senior ‘squad players’ let him down more than the kids, that ultimately cost us the game.

Gibbs, Debuchy, Chambers, Flamini, Campbell and even Per Mertesacker & Olivier Giroud didn’t perform. Granted the majority of these players are not in the current starting 11, but they’re all members of the first team squad & should have done better. Flamini was hopeless in the middle of the park & having the young Kamara next to him didn’t do him any favours. Calum Chambers is forever showing us that he’s not quite the centre halve we all hoped he would be & in my opinion is not good enough yet to play for the Arsenal.

Gibbs, Mertesacker & Giroud don’t usually perform at that level so I’m putting that down to an off night and in Giroud’s case a lack of service but Debuchy has been poor every time he’s appeared this season & last night was no different. Is he up to the standard of Bellerin? No way! Is he anywhere near the standard required at AFC? On current form no way!

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I suppose for me the most disappointing one was Joel Campbell. After successful loan spells around Europe in recent seasons & a really impressive World Cup with Costa Rica many of us have been waiting to see him get a chance. I thought he was poor, granted he didn’t have the likes of Ozil and Cazorla to supply him but he just seems so wasteful and raw still. I’d imagine his days at Arsenal are numbered.

It will be interesting to see if he gets the opportunity in the league now with Theo, The Ox and Ramsey all out or if Wenger will reshuffle something else. That’s one to keep your eye on, I certainly will be. The selection on Saturday will give us a good indication as to whether Wenger see’s him as having a future at this club.

Huge credit goes to the championship club though, Sheffield Wednesday are something of a sleeping giant. Huge fan base, big old fashioned ground and a club with tradition. It’s refreshing to see these bigger lower division clubs heading in the right direction. They’ve been very difficult to beat this season and have had an encouraging start and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the play off mix come May!

Ultimately, last nights result wasn’t the end of the world and I know people have said it before but the capital one cup is definitely not our priority. Do I think that it will effect us going forward this season? Overall probably not but it’s a shame to halt the momentum that we’ve built recently. A good result this weekend and it will all be forgotten, just a distant memory!

Let’s see what happens at Swansea this Saturday – COME ON YOU GUNNERS!

Harry Symeou

Harry talks – ‘Arsenal’s title credentials’… What are your thoughts?

Is Arsene Wenger equipped with a side that are capable of mounting a serious title challenge this year?

Based on the start to this season you have to say yes – 7 wins from the opening 10 games. Just two defeats, the opening day disaster vs West Ham and that farce of a match at Stamford Bridge (Don’t get me started on that again). As a Gooner you’ve gotta be pretty optimistic so far.

A lot has been made recently of the form of Theo and the fact that Giroud has been coming off the bench and making an impact for the Gunners. People starting to talk about the fact that Arsenal have two very different striking options at the moment and Wenger seems to be using them very well.

In the recent win over Bayern at the Emirates I thought Arsene was tactically spot on. We sat and soaked up pressure and used Theo and Alexis’ pace to hurt the Germans on the break. After half time, Bayern began having a lot of possession and we just couldn’t get out. Goal kicks were being launched up the pitch and with Theo being the lone front man and no physical match for the Bayern centre halves it was coming straight back.

On came Olivier Giroud to relieve the pressure, we now had a physical presence, someone to aim the goal kicks/set pieces at. Someone that offered a completely different threat to the one Walcott had posed the defenders all night. And hats off to Arsene because it paid off. The big man grabbed the goal that set us on our way to victory.

Saturday’s win over Everton was also encouraging and reinforced the fact that at the moment we have two very useful strikers that can both do the job. Up to now the boss has called it right as to when to use Theo and when to use Giroud.

Jack Wilshere mentioned it on ‘Goals on Sunday’ this week – there are certain games Theo is more effective and some where Giroud is the better option. Let’s hope Monsieur Wenger continues to call it right!

Enough about the strikers – and while I think they’ve been fantastic in recent weeks I also think it’s worth mentioning the form of Mesut Ozil. The German international has been much more involved in games and has contributed to the recent form as much as anybody else. I’ve been known to criticise him in the past so I thought I’d better give him the credit he’s due.

As for Alexis Sanchez… I don’t need to bore you with a paragraph, the man is simply incredible.

Aside from the talk about the strikers though I’ve been most impressed with Arsenal’s defensive record. In my view this has been the difference and this is what makes us contenders this season. We are one of four teams with the joint best defensive record in the premiership this year.

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Petr Cech has been outstanding in recent weeks and after that first game blip against West Ham has proven what a great goalkeeper and addition to the side he is. He’s pulled off wonderful saves and just reassures the defence . Not bad for £11m eh?

The whole defensive unit has improved – the team now defends as a team. In recent seasons how many times did we see our back four left completely exposed by our ‘goal-hanging’ midfield. The emergence of Coquelin and the more disciplined displays recently from the likes of Cazorla & Monreal amongst others has seen a huge improvement!

The Final player I want to mention is Gabriel Paulista… The Brazilian made himself a hero amongst Gooners after his spat with Diego Costa. (In my eyes anyway). Since then he has proven he is capable of stepping into the side in place of either CB and do a job, a bloody good job! Did I mention he’s as ugly as Martin Keown and hopefully grows into as good a player as him!

I think it’s now or never for this Arsenal squad and Wenger looks as buoyant as we’ve seen him in recent seasons. I just hope his players can keep focused and get this huge club back to the top of English football.

So to answer the original question…. yes I do think this Arsenal side are very capable and on their day as good as any other side in this division.

I do believe they CAN win the title this season its’s what Professor Arsene deserves.

Harry Symeou

Arsenal gun down United in just 20 minutes… read my thoughts here – Harry Symeou

THATS MORE LIKE IT! – Wengers men blow away Utd in 20 mins!

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It was another roller coaster week at the Emirates. After the huge disappointment of defeat vs Olympiakos, yesterday’s performance went a long way in silencing the Wenger out boys. At least temporarily.

So after the doom and gloom from Tuesday night we are now once again firm title challengers? Based on that performance yesterday and the inconsistency of the premier league all around this season you have to say yes. As always with our beloved club there were a few of those ‘just clear it’ moments and I did find myself at times thinking ‘why are you trying to play your way out of this, get rid of it!’

Having gone 3-0 up I couldn’t stress enough to my fellow Gooners how important it was to go in at half time without conceding. Not saying that United were going to come back or anything but it was important not to give them that glimmer of hope & we have Petr Cech to thank for that.

He made a crucial stop and spread himself brilliantly to keep Martial out before half time. Once again showing that at 33 he still can still produce a good save in what I believed to be a crucial moment. Your probably sitting there thinking ‘how is that a crucial moment when we’re 3-0 up?’ When you know Arsenal as well as I do and after all the talk about how fragile our defence is I just felt it was vital not to give United a sniff before half time.

Now I want to focus on that opening 20 mins, absolutely brilliant is the only way to describe it. Arsenal came out of the traps like a side with a point to prove. Our players were hungry, sharp and everything was done with such precision. We saw everything we know a Wenger side is capable of. Alexis Sanchez was immense, power, pace, skill and above all the desire to score goals. The first goal was a fantastic move and Mesut Ozil played a huge part in it and ended up with the assist. Alexis Sanchez’s cheeky back heel to put us in front was a delight to watch.

There were 74 seconds between the first & second goals, Theo Walcott running at the shaken United defence before finding Ozil to steer the ball into the corner and put the Arsenal fans into dream land. Two goals up within 7 mins, not a bad response after the Olympiakos game!

Ever since Ozil joined Arsenal I can think of many occasions where I have criticised him for not ‘taking control of the game.’ I like to see the more talented players get on the ball and dictate the play wherever possible and I sometimes criticise him for not getting into those positions often enough and scoring the goals we know he can. He’s a player with so much ability but at times he plays in such a modest way.

Certainly couldn’t say that yesterday. That was the Ozil I’ve wanted to see for so long and on a more consistent basis. Involved, sharp, creative & carrying a goal threat of his own!

Back to Sanchez ‘El Nino Maravilla’ – there’s talks of the club offering him a pay rise. My response is ‘Give him whatever he wants!’ He’s a sensational player with bags and bags of ability but there’s one thing he possesses that puts him among the worlds elite, he has an unbelievable desire to win and score goals.

His two goals yesterday proved that better that point for me. The first goal saw him come sprinting across the near post to back heel the ball into the net. This is the man playing on the opposite wing! As soon as he sniffed the chance he was on his bike and across that front post to meet Ozil’s pass. For his second goal he almost lost the ball but had the tenacity to battle through and came out with the ball to unleash that rocket of a shot at De Geas goal! Have heard so many people calling him lucky, I’d say it’s a reward for being tenacious and having more desire than your opponent to make the ball yours.

There were plenty of other brilliant performances yesterday in Arsenal shirts, all the way from the goalkeeper to the forwards. A couple of players I really wanna mention that I haven’t already are Ramsey, Theo, Cazorla & Coquelin. Our midfield at times were a bit wasteful on the ball but their work rates were brilliant… Pressing players even in the late stages of the game when your 3-0 up! ??

Just couple of points I’d like to make on Man Utd also, thought Louis Van Gaal got his team horribly wrong – they’ve been on a decent run lately and would have gone into yesterday’s game full of confidence.

For me the key mistake was including Carrick & Schweinsteiger or however you spell his name! Two very experienced players yes but two players that lack the engine required to play in a midfield away to a top club. Whilst they both were assured on the ball and calm as always, the pair lacked the mobility to plug in the gaps and Arsenal’s talented midfield were allowed to run riot.

Im still shocked Schneiderlin wasn’t included and when I saw the selection before kick off I took a lot of confidence from it. Ashley Young at LB? Options were limited for LVG but that was never going to work was it!

He’s a funny manager Mr LVG, still haven’t worked out if he’s any good or not. One thing I know for sure is United certainly don’t carry that fear factor they used to.

Away from the Emirates it’s been a good weekend for us in general. Moving up to 2nd place just a couple of points behind the leaders. Chelski slumped to another defeat & Jose’s well and truly lost the plot. He claimed that his side were harshly done by when Falcao took a tumble in the second half. But in fact the Saints were the ones denied not just one but two stone wall penalties! When he was asked about Koemans sides penalty claims he just stormed off like the petulant baby he is.

Brendan Rodgers got the chop, guess that’s bad news because Liverpool might actually get a decent manager in. Southampton will be gutted… Who’s gonna pay well over the odds for their average players now?

So in conclusion a brilliant performance from the Arsenal, tactically spot on and one for the ‘Wenger out’ club to swallow. Lethal going forward & solid enough at the back… Nobody can have any complaints after this one. Back in the title race (for now) and all is good at the Emirates, long may it continue! Anthony Martial who? Haha

Harry Symeou – AFC Fan

The Typical Week of a Gooner… By Harry Symeou

The typical week of a Gooner…

After last Wednesday’s win in the league cup away to our bitter rivals Spurs & then an emphatic win on Saturday away to the premier leagues only remaining unbeaten side I’m sure we all thought ‘that’s more like it.’

Starting at the lane, it was a pretty solid performance from the Arsenal in my view. A magical performance from Monsieur Flamini having the game of his life & scoring not one but two goals! The second of which I’ve probably seen 15-20 times and still can’t believe he’s produced that! Arsenal stayed strong and defended pretty well overall I thought. Bringing on Sanchez after the Spurs equaliser definitely was the push that got us over the line in the end. Constantly causing panic, picking up the ball in good positions and running at the Spurs back line seemed to peg them back at a time they will probably say they were on top.

Apart from the obvious positive of Flamini’s performance I want to make the point that Calum Chambers looked a lot more assured at centre back and had one of his better games. I know he scored an own goal but how many times have we seen a centre back stick his leg out in reaction to a cross and it end up in his own net. It can happen even to the best.

On a less positive note I thought Mathieu Debuchy looked completely out of his depth! Constantly Spurs were pushing down our right hand side & giving the Frenchman a hard time. Every time Spurs picked up the ball I always thought his starting position was too narrow. This was something I mentioned in the opening ten mins, Chadli & Rose in particular had the pace to constantly get away from him. A friend I was watching the game with made the point it could be his fitness? Perhaps it was…but I was baffled as to his positioning. Having seen it again, he looked both unfit and positionally all over the shop. Bottom line ‘Not good enough’ – fortunately we got away with it on this occasion.

Now onto the weekends game at the King Power – away to Claudio Ranieri’s unbeaten Leicester side. This was never going to be a walk in the park and after going a goal down il be honest, I feared the worst. Up steps Theo Walcott to make his claim to be the no.1 striker. The debate will continue as to whether that role is best for him or not but he’s certainly scoring goals when he’s given the chance. Sometimes he needs 3/4 chances and that is where the uncertainty comes from but his goal record speaks for itself.

A cool left footed finish from the England man put us level and from there on we were playing some irresistible stuff. Alexis came up with a hat trick having not scored all season and announced himself back at the King power. Fantastic performance and between the Chilean and Theo they were a constant threat on the break. Credit to Leicester though they went for us and probably should have scored more than the 2 goals they got on the day. Offensively… Arsenal in full flow. Defensively… Well probably the less we say about that the better. Probably to an extent papering over the cracks but if we go and score 5 away from home then we shouldn’t really have too much complain about.

Now onto the champions league, the one we’re all dying to discuss. As Arsenal fans we are very quick to criticise the manager and to an extent I agree with it. Before I go into the reasons I believe we lost at home to Olympiakos let’s look at the whole picture.

We were drawn in a group with arguably Europe’s top team at the moment and with two sides from Greece & Croatia respectively. Do we have the right to walk through this group? Not in a million years is what I’d say to that. Olympiakos have dominated Greek football for as long as I can remember and have a number of talented South American players in the ranks including Esteban Cambiasso (who regardless of his age brings pedigree to the team).

Dinamo Zagreb – Croatian champions, went the whole season unbeaten last year and have a few talented and very useful players themselves.

Peoples response will be ‘but they play in weak leagues’ – in my opinion people who use that excuse are naive and really don’t understand the game they are watching. Ever heard the saying you can only beat what’s in front of you? Every club in the champions league group stage is there on merit and are there because they are of a certain standard. People live under this illusion that the premier league is by far the best standard in the world – well wake up mate because it’s not. And before people start going crazy I’m not saying that the Greek or Croatian leagues are. I’m making the point that the premier league clubs don’t have this devine right to beat everybody else.

Because these sides don’t spend £40-50m on single players doesn’t mean they can’t compete over 90 mins with the likes of Arsenal or any other club for that matter. England are in danger of losing the 4th champions league spot – this tells us that English clubs haven’t been dominant for a while – it’s not under threat on the basis of one season. Yet the majority of plastic fans think we should still be battering everyone and anyone across Europe home and away.

Moving onto Tues game specifically it was an under par performance from the whole team! Yes I said it, the whole team! Not just David Ospina.

I was at the Emirates and watched us ease off after creating a couple of half chances and let the Greeks grow into the game. You could see it from the stands they were gaining confidence as the mins passed. Cambiasso pulling the strings in the middle of the park and keeping his team focused and organised. A true leader. Where was ours?

A smartly worked corner, a weak shot & a weak attempt to block the shot from the Ox led to them taking the lead. As the Olympiakos players ran over to the scorer in celebration my eyes were glued to Esteban Cambiasso who calmly walked over and made a gesture to the whole team to ‘calm down’. Again…the leader, the most experienced player in the side taking it upon himself to take ownership of the situation.

Fortunately their joy was short lived as Theo broke away and a howler from their goalkeeper Roberto gifted us the equaliser. Now we were level, 10 mins to go to half time. Where was our leader to say ‘right lads were level after a scare, let’s keep it tight go in at half time and re group’…. Nothing. No instructions from Arsene who went straight back to his seat after the goal. The next goal we conceded was a howler from Ospina – nothing more to say about that, an individual error.

Wengers been highly criticised for his selection but having said that. I bet you all thought we were gonna win comfortably and I’m sure nobody can think of times where Ospina has let us down before. So why doesn’t he deserve to start? Yesterday’s poor display was more than just one error from Ospina and he’s been made the scapegoat for it. Me personally, I’d have played Cech because I always wanna see our strongest side in the champions league. But I don’t make the decisions.

65 mins gone and Sanchez pops up with a well placed header to level it… 2-2 & Olympiakos surely now are thinking ‘right boys lets hold on to the point and get out of here’. But don’t worry lads Arsenals naivety kicks in again – where were the leaders (plural) to say ‘right lets be patient here we have 25mins to find the winner’ – ‘concentrate on not throwing this away again and push them back onto the edge of their 18 yard box and we will create something’

Obviously I can’t be sure that nobody said that but if they did my god nobody listened. Typical Arsenal …headless chickens leaving gaps every where and once again gifting Olympiakos the third and what turned out to be the winner. This is the champions league and it goes back to my previous point… There aren’t any sh*t teams in this competition so you can’t be so naive and go around gifting people opportunities. They will punish you at this level.

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Truth is I could sit & talk about why Arsenal fail in big games for hours & hours. I’m not a Wenger out man just yet but its his players that he picks and that he has brought to the club that are forever letting this huge club down.

We now realistically face the prospect of failing to qualify for the last 16 and it’s because we simply haven’t been good enough.  Is it time for a change at Arsenal? Will we keep falling short with Wenger at the helm? It’s a serious question – even for the Wenger In crowd!

From highs to lows in the space of a week – the typical life of a Gooner!

Harry Symeou – AFC FAN

Chelsea vs Arsenal Saturday 12:45 – Preview by Kyri Christodoulou

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Chelsea had a much needed break from domestic football this week and their champions league campaign started well when they beat Maccabi Tel Aviv at home last night. A much needed boost to the likes off Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa who got on the score sheet and a boost to the whole Chelsea team really was much needed for Saturday’s game against Arsenal. Early on in the game though it looked like it was going to be the same old when Eden hazard blazed an early penalty over the bar and into the shed end. But a routine 4-0 win is exactly what they needed at this point with Arsenal up next for them.

Going onto Chelsea’s start in the league and I don’t think anybody could have predicted the champions shocking defence to their tittle would start this way. Many peoples favourites to retain their crown before a ball was kicked. Chelsea currently sit 11 points behind league leaders Manchester City and just above the bottom three and any sort off drop points at home to Arsenal at the weekend and it really will be hard for Chelsea to make up that ground even this early in the season. Whatever your opinion on Jose Mourinho’s philosophy on football his teams usually defend well in numbers off the ball and are a very hard defensive unit to break down and it usually works more than it doesn’t were ever Mourinho has been, that’s why it’s so hard to understand even after 5 games why they have the worst defensive record in the league. Not the best time for them to loose Thibaut Courtois to injury for 2-4 months.

For me Chelsea’s trip to Goodison Park last Saturday was the perfect example off Chelsea’s season so far. Everton started the game with a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield with Kone and Lukaku as the two strikers and both off them getting in-between Zouma and Terry with ease and managed to create space and chances for the themselves on a few occasions especially in the 1st half and really gave the Chelsea defence a tough afternoon. Another Chelsea defender who has been far from his best is Branislav Ivanovic who over the years has been one off Chelsea’s most consistent and reliable players, which is a surprise considering his experience in the game, we’ve been used to the Serbian throwing himself in front off shots and bullying players for fun and being a real rock at right back and centre half in his Chelsea career. So far this season he is giving the opposition so much time on the ball, wide players beating him constantly this season and is far from the Branislav Ivanovic that we’ve seen. then there’s Matic and Mikel who sat in front off the back 4 who applied no pressure and allowed time and space on the ball for the Everton midfield, none off them tracking any off the Everton midfielders runs into the box and Everton players passing rings round them way to easy at times they were chasing shadows for a lot off the game even though Matic did produce a great strike to get Chelsea back in the game before half time. Matic is another player is season who doesn’t know weather to press the ball or sit deeper and over the past 18 months since he re-signed for Chelsea from Benfica he has been a player that reads the game well breaks up play and is also a bully in the middle off the park. in the past 5 games this season he looks confused off what his duties are and that’s very unlike him. The likes off hazard and Fabregas, two off the best players in the premier league if not in world football and on there day are a joy to watch who can’t seem to control, pass or even keep the ball for Chelsea at the moment and have been pretty much none excitant in games this season who haven’t delivered anything to Diego Costa at all. Even Diego Costa who last season was so energetic who used to come from deep link up play who used to get himself in very good positions was constantly moving around off the ball getting in between defenders and was always a threat on and off the ball, defenders last season at times in games had no idea were Costa was. Now it seems like he’s waiting for the service that isn’t coming his way and seems less confident in front off goal and is guilty off taken one to many chances in front off goal than he did last season when he does get the ball to his feet and times as well looks like he feels sorry for himself. Funnily enough last Saturday will probably one off john stones easiest games he’ll play this season. Many people have their opinions on why Chelsea have started the season so badly many people seem to think that they have a lot off problems off the field which looks like one off the cases but Chelsea looked exactly the same during pre-season and still haven’t rectified their problems. Did Mourinho not do the correct business in the summer which some people are also saying? That is also a possible explanation as well. If I’m being honest I still expect them to finish in the top 2 come the end off the campaign but that remains to be seen.

So Chelsea welcome london rivals Arsenal to Stamford bridge on Saturday lunchtime. Arsenal like Chelsea were in Champions League action on Wednesday night away in the Croatian capital off Zagreb and the Gunners were dreadful. Arsene Wenger made 6 changes to the team that beat Stoke on Saturday and it showed. I can’t say I blame Wenger for rotating the team he didn’t really have a choice with 4 games away from home in 10 days but the good news is that Arsenal will field a much stronger team on the weekend. Got to give a lot off credit to Dinamo Zargreb they had a game plan and it worked they sat with two banks off four off the ball and didn’t let Arsenal settle at all and caught the gunners on the break and it worked. Arsenal with the ball were pretty bad with no movement, creativity or imagination what so ever. Arsenal couldn’t keep the ball and kept giving it away in a very sloppy fashion. These sort off results do happen in football not just to Arsenal and it could also be a wake up call for Saturday but these wake up calls seem to happen to Arsenal way to often than they should. I still expect Arsenal to qualify from their Champions League group with 5 games left in the group but still a very disappointing night.

Before a ball was kicked this season Arsenal were a lot off people’s favourites to be Chelsea’s closet challengers for the premier league tittle until the transfer window slammed shut at the beginning off the month and not to mention Manchester City’s perfect start to the season in the league. For some reason people seemed to have forgotten about City before the season started which is strange because of the likes off Kompany, Silva, Toure and Aguero and co in that team and if they stay fit and have good seasons then I feel their the most ruthless team in the league and without question have the leagues best centre forward and have also added the likes off Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling two young and very promising players for big price tags.

Back to Arsenal and for me looked sharp, fit and exciting in pre-season and looked very promising for the start off the season but we’re shocked on the opening day by a 2-0 home defeat to West Ham (another wake up call) and since then I think Arsenal have done ok and responded well from a shock opening day defeat apart from Wednesday night in Zargreb but have certainly created a lot off chances in games but seem to be very wasteful at the moment but the goals will come at some point no question about that. I think Arsene Wenger has again put together a very good team and squad together again and even though he only brought in 1 player in the summer it was rectifying the goalkeeping situation which was a problem before but bringing in the Petr Cech was a big step forward for me. Cech returns to Stamford Bridge in Arsenal colours for the 1st time on Saturday after 11 successful years at Chelsea and managed to keep a clean sheet on his Arsenal debut against his former club in the community shield. he will probably feel mixed emotions returning to Stamford bridge for the first time as an opposition player but he will definitely get a warm reception from the Chelsea fans.

He is a top professional and world class keeper who was made 2nd choice at Chelsea in his last season after Courtois came back after 3 seasons on loan at Athetico Madrid but with Chelsea winning the league tittle you couldn’t argue with Mourinho’s decision to make Courtois no.1 goalkeeper last season, he certainly didn’t want to sell Cech to Arsene Wengers side he made that clear. Cech will want to go back there and make a statement with his new club.

Many people still feel Arsenal are still missing a top top centre forward to compete for tittle and people argue that Arsenal also needed a defensive midfield player which I also agree with but I like Coqualin who put in fantastic performances since he was called back from on-loan from Chalton in January. Didn’t have the best off games against West Ham and maybe lucky to stay on the pitch before being substituted at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace and still lacks experience in that position but since then has again put in good performances and was very good against Stoke on Saturday.

Chelsea HAVE to win and cannot afford to drop points and theirs a lot off pressure on them which as an Arsenal fan scares me. I think it can be a good time for Arsenal to play Chelsea because they are obviously lacking confidence at the moment and their is clearly problems on and off the pitch at the bridge but also you can argue its a bad time to play them because Chelsea have to respond and have to win the game. As an Arsenal fan attending the game in South West London on Saturday I can happily say that I’d settle for a point considering Arsenal’s record at Stamford bridge over recent years how times have changed When pre-abramovic era how Arsenal always used to get a least 4 points off Chelsea a season it’s certainly been the opposite since the Russian took over at Chelsea. Jose Mourinho’s long unbeaten record against Arsene Wenger came to an end when Gunners saw off Chelsea at Wembley in the community shield at the start off the season which for me is a massive mental believe that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger can believe they can beat Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

As the starting 11 for both sides on Saturday i think Mourinho Will play Terry and Cahill at the heart off the defence. I know Cahill hasn’t been in the team and has been replaced by zouma recently even though he did start in midweek in the champions league I’d expect Terry and Cahill for the experience and the they seem to have a good partnership and understanding together and both good readers off the game. I expect Chelsea to sit deep and have men behind the ball at a lot off the time on Saturday and look to catch Arsenal on the break just like Dinamo Zargreb did and Chelsea have against Arsenal in the past. Apart from that I don’t expect the Chelsea team to be much different to the side that played against Everton. I expect the two holding midfielders in Matic and probably Mikel to play and protect the back four with Fabregas Hazard and Pedro to play infront off them and Diego Costa to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

For Arsenal I’d expect the same 11 that beat Stoke last weekend I’d expect Ramsey to sit with Cazorla and Coqualin in a midfield 3 without the ball in front off the back four, for me Ramsey is an engine and he’d get behind and the ball and sit with coqualin even if Ramsey is put out wide id expect him to slot in more off a central position off the ball and cover the right ground when arsenal don’t have position and he’d also bring the ball forward quickly on the break Then you have Santi Cazorla who can spread the ball around the pitch quickly. Then Theres Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil who will be left right and central at times in the game anybody who watches Arsenal regularly will know that the likes off Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey love to rotate and switch around the pitch at times in the game and I don’t expect any different on Saturday. A lot off Arsenal fans have been saying a lot at times this season that Alex oxlaide-chamberlain should start more games but I don’t think he deserves to at the moment, ok he was injured for a long part off last season but for me when he picks the ball up from deep he’s very quick and direct and looks very threatening on the break and can probably beat most full backs in this league but his decision making and end product lets him down for me his stats with assists and goals will prove that and I think the manager doesn’t trust him so much at the moment.

Another question is who will Arsene Wenger start up top on Saturday? Will he stick with Walcott or will he go with the low on confident Olivier Giroud? People can say what the want about these two but I do think they both have certain qualities about them that are very beneficial to the team. Oliver Giroud comes deep to receive the ball and holds up play well and has good link up play and brings the midfield into play which is one off his strengths and is good in the air but what he lacks for me is pace and movement off the ball and cannot create space for himself and doesn’t run in behind defenders which is frustrating. Then Theo Walcott on the other hand obviously has bags off pace plays on the shoulder and can run in behind which centre halfs don’t particularly like especially against somebody as quick as him, sometimes it’s annoys me that Walcott is so quick but doesn’t use it to his advantage a lot off the time I’ve always said that Theo Walcott is a right forward player but I do think he can play through the middle in certain games depending on who the opposition is or what defence he’s coming up against. None off Oliver Giroud or Theo Walcott are consistent or clinical enough to be Arsenal’s number one striker to score enough league goals and fire them to win them the tittle and as much as people may disagree with me I think Arsene Wenger Knows that. However both are still more than good enough and have certain attributes to be part off a tittle winning squad. If Walcott starts I can see Chelsea sitting deep because off walcott’s pace but I don’t think that’s a good thing for Arsenal, I always prefer arsenal to play against a team who like to play higher up the pitch thats my opinion. if Oliver Giroud starts I can see Chelsea playing a little bit higher up the pitch witch may benefit arsenal but even if they do Oliver Giroud hasn’t got the pace to get in behind but can link up play with the midfield well. I think Mourinho would rather see Giroud play than Walcott at this moment in time. Walcott on the other hand can cause Terry problems with his pace and has a decent record against Chelsea and has shown up in the big games for Arsenal in the past. But who knows maybe Wenger will start both and play Giroud up top and Walcott on the right but I don’t expect him to. I’d expect Wenger to start Walcott over Giroud on Saturday even though Walcott came on as a substitute on Wednesday he only came on because Arsenal were trailing and needed a goal and it was a good finish as well but Wenger clearly wanted to rest Walcott for the weekend. Giroud is having problems at the moment with confidence and isn’t really in the Arsenal or France fans good books and he didn’t help himself last night picking up two stupid yellow cards.

It’s a massive London Derby and it’s going to be a tight game and a very interesting one and what spices it up even more is Wenger against Mourinho who have had plenty off disagreements down the years but as much as they bicker against each other I do believe their is mutual respect their for each other from both off them even though neither manager will probably admit that. unfortunately i wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea discover the form we know their capable off against Arsenal I also wouldn’t be shocked if Chelsea ended up with the 3 points and getting back on track but I hope that isn’t the case. Let’s hope the Gunners can get there first victory at Stamford bridge since October 2011 it’s due if you ask me but But I’m biased. Saying that I’d gladly take a point.

My prediction is a score draw ill happily bight your hand off for that right now and I’m going to predict:

Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal

UP THE GUNNERS!!!!!!

KYRI CHRISTODOULOU – AFC FAN

Arsenal vs Liverpool – 24/8/2015 – Binul Shah

ARSENAL 0-0 LIVERPOOL 24/8/2015

First of all, that was the most entertaining match of the season so far, be it goalless, it had almost everything, end to end stuff, controversy, great phases of proper football. But a special mention has to go out to the keepers; Cech and Mignolet! Both put in an amazing performance and are the real reason it ended 0-0!

Anyway as Liverpool fan, I felt a draw was a decent result considering the fixture (Arsenal away). From losing 4-1 last season, I would have taken a draw before the game.

The big talking point of the game will be Arsenal’s disallowed goal…I will be the first to admit that I think it was a clear goal and it should have stood, but hey, this is football. The controversy makes the game alive! We all hate being on the wrong side of a rubbish decision, but sometimes you are on the right side…It all equals out at the end!

My stand out player for Liverpool was young Joe Gomez. For an 18 year old playing out of his natural position in the premier league for the first time, he was outstanding. The strength, pace and general positioning he showed was top class. He fought his own against the likes of Sanchez, Ozil and Co who are all top class players. He’s now earned his first England u21 call up, which I think is well deserved. Hoping his development continues as well as his performances, I’m confident to say I think Liverpool have real talent on their hands with this kid.

Defensively Liverpool were very good, keeping Arsenal at bay most of the time. Alot of fans have still got they’re jury out on Lovren and alot prefer Sakho. Lovren has started to show why we spent so much on him, 3 clean sheets and a good end to last season. He and Skrtel are starting to form a strong partnership which showed against Arsenal with their relentless attack in the second half. Clyne had also had a great game and is much more of an improvement the Johnson. Another Coup.

A rear appearance from Lucas it seems. Liverpool’s only out and out DM. He had a decent game, however I’m still baffed why he was replaced by Rossiter. Was that a goodbye? I hope not. Against the top premier league sides, Lucas could be key in nullifying the oppositions attacking play. In this case, Arsenal, his constant pressing in the first hour gave the likes of Cazorla a nightmare and provided us with the opportunity to attack. Can and milner were both good too, Can in his preferred position as a CM. He showed his power and drive to get forward aswell as his defensive attributes.

Coutinho and Benteke were awesome, I suppose having Koscielny and Mertersacker both out had something to do with that. Chambers was lost all evening and it showed clearly in the first half. We could have been up by 2/3 in the first half if wasn’t for the heroics of Cech. Mr. Wenger, I think you may need to strengthen your defence if Chambers is your cover. Goodluck with that.

Firmino’s debut, not impressed as of yet, defensively he was useless, leaving Clyne to defend on his own most of the game. He looked lost when we did not have the ball. I think Rodgers has some work to do in that area of Firmino’s development. When on the ball, he looked good, nifty touches and always looking to go forward which is positive. May be a little harsh seeing as it’s his first game in the premier league and he’s probably not fully fit. But he does need to step it up real soon.

Arsenal played well but lacked that killer instinct as we have come to now know is a normality for them. Alot of possession and alot of nice short attractive football, but fewer shots on target at home is not good enough for club of Arsenal’s stature. Giroud was marked out and defended the whole game, alot or responsibility was put on Sanchez and Ozil to provide and score the goals. Fair play with they’re reputation and ability. But I have one burning question for arsenal fans, why on earth did Ox not start? Against a makeshift left back in Gomez? Playing ramsey out wide? Really? I know all the attacking players or interlink and swap around, but I think that was Arsenal’s main issue. Their centre of the park was so conjested. It was crying out for an Ox or Theo on the wing…no goals at home for quite a few games is worrying for Arsenal. My opinion, stop favouring, the Ramseys, Ozils, Cazorlas and use what u have at your disposal; Ox and Theo.

To wrap it up, all in all a good game that could have gone either way. Early days yet, Anything can happen.

One last thing, Coutinho sent Bellerin back to Barcelona with his magical footwork. What a save by Cech!

Thank you for reading.

BINUL SHAH
LIVERPOOL FAN

Arsenal vs Liverpool 24/8/2015 – Harry Symeou

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Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool,

Well what can I say about Monday nights game… Liverpool had their chances & I thought at times in the first half looked the far stronger team. Benteke dominated our two centre backs and Coutinho’s movement was too much to handle. I thought at times in the beginning of the game the likes of Emre Can & Lucas physically dominated in the middle of the park with Santi not having any time and space on the ball to get us ticking. That was evident in the first half by the amount of times our defenders gave the ball away due to lack of options.

The performance was far from perfect from the Arsenal but let’s not forget the fact there was a perfectly good goal ruled out by the incompetent officials.

Have seen on social media people claiming that it’s a poor excuse – but the fact is the officials got it wrong. Liverpool 3 games into the season have gained 4 points from bad offside decisions. So where do you draw the line and say technology has to come in? The details of how you would implement it would need some discussion but that’s what the football big wigs get paid for.

Putting aside officials and decisions though, there’s something still not right with the Arsenal side. There’s an in-balance in Wenger’s preferred line up.
My thoughts on it are this…

Arsene has a huge decision to make because in my opinion there is no room for Ozil, Ramsey & Santi in that midfield… Franny Coq is the only one that can sit & protect the defence and that for me makes him undroppable at this moment in time. I do understand AW’s dilemma though because it’s a tough question…

Do you drop Mesut Ozil? Who is capable of creating opportunities at will & I thought was fantastic in the second half yesterday and really got involved in the game. He’s often criticised for going missing in games but yesterday he was involved in everything good arsenal did. He found a bit of room out on the left and him, Santi and Sanchez worked that area very well and created a couple of chances.

Do you drop Aaron Ramsey? A real work horse in the arsenal side, always involved in the game, even when he’s not having his best days he always wants the ball and never hides. The engine in the team if you like as well as always carrying a goal threat.

Do you drop Santi Cazorla? Who has really found himself in that deeper role. It was evident vs West Ham that Le Coq needs a ball player like Santi next to him. He has all the qualities to get the moves going. Composed, skillfull, great vision, contributes to our attacking play well & works a lot harder than people give him credit for.

Playing this system with Ramsey as a wide man (or any of the 3 mentioned) just doesn’t work in my view… It causes us to be so narrow and makes defending so easy against us. Our opponents can sit with two banks of four & soak up pressure.
Ramsey wide right will naturally drift infield & so will our left-sided player whether it’s Sanchez, Ozil, Santi or even Welbeck.

Unless you get wide and stretch them, create that room between LB/RB & CB or pull the 2 CB’s apart you’ve got no chance.
I specifically remember one instance vs Liverpool when the Ox took on the fullback on the outside and whipped a low hard cross in that forced a clearance from Skrtel.

Mr Wenger you have a big decision to make because I personally don’t believe you can play all 3 without affecting the balance of the team.

Then who plays on the right? I guess at the moment you have to say the Ox – he’s direct, hard-working but in my opinion doesn’t score enough goals. 37 appearances last season he got 3 goals. Not a good enough return for me. I’m not convinced he’s the finished article people say he is… YET.

Theo as a striker?! Not for me… And I’d argue this one until I’m blue in the face. He should occupy that right wing position in my opinion. Carries a goal threat whenever he is on the pitch but just looks so isolated in that centre forward role. I believe he hasn’t got the presence to be a lone striker but can terrorise full backs on that right side. That for me is and always has been his best position.

But then it poses the question, are we as fans missing something? AW supposedly made him the highest paid player and going by Theo’s interviews he seems like he’s been told he’s a centre forward. He played most of pre season as the lead striker, got a lot of praise (not that you can judge on pre-season) and then Wenger still started the season with Giroud. So what exactly is our highest paid players role at the club?

My final point this week is in regards to Petr Cech – fantastic performance and deserves a lot of credit bouncing back after a difficult start. He joined AFC with so much expectation and it didn’t quite go to plan vs WHU. You could see the confidence come flowing back after those two saves vs the scousers & I look forward to him kicking on from here. ??

Feel free to comment positive & negative! Give us your opinions! That’s what we’re here for, love a good debate??

Harry Symeou
AFC FAN