Category Archives: Arsenal

Match Report: Arsenal 4 – 0 Standard Liège

Arsenal (3) 4 Standard Liège (0) 0
UEFA Europa League, Group F, Matchday 2 of 6
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Thursday, 3rd October 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney; Lucas Torreira, Dani Ceballos; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson; Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Bernd Leno, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pépé, Calum Chambers, Mattéo Guendouzi, Sead Kolašinac, Granit Xhaka.
Scorers: Gabriel Martinelli (13 mins, 16 mins), Joe Willock (22 mins), Dani Ceballos (56 mins)
Yellow Cards: Hector Bellerins
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 62%
Referee: Sandro Schärer (Switzerland)
Attendance circa 50,000

Such a definitive scoreline, such a night for youth and exuberance as well. With ten changes on the team-sheet, Unai Emery was taking a calculated gamble with his academy players in the North London rain. Could they perform at this level? Would they rise to the challenge of a Europa League home tie? Should they be risked? Affirmative to all three questions asked, m’lud.

Of all the young guns that played tonight, 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli was the name and the man who stood out, and not just because of his brace of goals either. His awareness on and off the ball is truly other-worldly, and his desire to win is unbelievable; what is even more incredible about him is that he was playing for Ituano in the fourth division of the Brazilian League this time last year. He has now scored four goals in two starts for us, and he shows no signs of slowing down nor stopping, which is great news for us, and bad news for the rest of the Premiership.

Arsenal started very sharply, with more than just a spring in their step. The visitors struggled to contain us, let alone create a decent goalscoring chance in the early stages of tonight’s match. Indeed, it was the excellent Gabriel Martinelli who broke the resolve of Standard Liège after just thirteen minutes with a breathtaking glancing header provided by full-back Kieran Tierney with a superb pinpoint cross from the left; two minutes later, our Brazilian wonderkid struck again with an unstoppable shot expertly drilled past goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic who had absolutely no chance in keeping the ball out of the back of the net. Six minutes later, the match was firmly placed beyond the Belgians’ reach when Joe Willock (who is going from strength to strength with each match he plays) scored our third of the night. All this excitement in the first thirty minutes of the game! The rest of the half saw the visitors trying desperately to stem the tide of Arsenal’s forwards, which to be fair, they just about got away with.

The second half saw more of the same, which completely frustrated and perplexed Standard Liège to the point of annoyance, which of course led to them being handed two yellow cards for their trouble. Eight minutes after the restart, man-of-the-match Gabriel Martinelli turned from goalscorer into provider with a slick movement on the right that led to an inspired lob over the Liège goalie for Dani Ceballos to run in and bundle the ball over line; four-nil to Arsenal, thank you and good night. Unai Emery made his usual substitutions in the last half hour of the match; Nicolas Pépé for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mattéo Guendouzi for Joe Willock and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Reiss Nelson, all of which were merely a case of fresh legs replacing tired ones. By the time the final whistle came, the relief of the victory that echoed around the stadium became evident.

A great win, and hats off to the manager for having the foresight and intelligence to give the young ’uns a well deserved run out here tonight. They all played with youthful verve and vigour and kept their shape throughout, which at this level is an extremely difficult thing for any young player to do. But let us not get too carried away here; the real success will come when these players are able to carry on their good work when playing bigger clubs with tougher, battle-hardened professionals in their ranks. That will be the real victory. Tonight was great, put it away in the top pocket and remember it for future reference. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: AFC Bournemouth at The Emirates on Sunday, 6th October at 2.00pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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Europa League is the place to be

This year the Europa League could be an enjoyable competition to be in.

Whilst we have been conditioned by the media to look at the Champions League with envious eyes, it is a competition which gave Arsenal fans very little joy in the 2 decades we played in it – there really is no joy being smashed 7-2.

2006 and the odd big away win aside, it become a competition that Arsenal fans became jaded of being in during the later years.

Whilst the Europa League might be the second competition, and frustratingly playing on a Thursday means more Sunday games, it is also a competition which has been enjoyable than the Champions League.

Arsenal have been awful in the Champions League, following the same blue print almost every season.

Cruise through the group stages before being knocked out by Barcelona, AC Milan or Bayern Munich. It was a competition we had little chance of winning. The Europa League, meanwhile, is a much more realistic chance of a trophy.

In the 2 years we have played in it, we have been semi-finalists and then finalists. The next logical step is that we go on to win it. A European trophy. Something which Arsenal have very few of. Something which Arsenal would unlikely achieve if playing Champions League football.

As the quality is also lower; it has provided a fantastic opportunity to watch our kids play.

The Champions League – the group stages especially – became boring. At least with the Europa League, you know that by turning up tonight against Standard Liege, you are going to see a load of youngsters play.

Against Eintracht Frankfurt we saw starts given to Emile Smith Rowe (who is out tonight), Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka. Tonight against Liege I expect Gabrielle Martinelli and Reiss Nelson to also be in the start XI – although Saka might be given a rest having played 90 minutes against Man U and likely to start on Sunday against Bournemouth.

So we will see a whole host of academy products in the starting XI as well as Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding continuing their rehabilitation. It will be a young, exciting team. Something that would not happen in the Champions League.

The Europa League has also bought up some fantastic trips.

Whilst in the Champions League, it felt like we were continually being drawn against the same times. Olympiakos, Marseille in the group stages. Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knock outs.

The Europa League has seen us visit some new places in Central Europe and some fair flung places in Eastern Europe.

Liege away before Christmas will be a decent trip, as will Vitoria in a few weeks. Cologne is one trip that will be talked about for years. And those who made the long trips to Eastern Europe and beyond bonded over cheap beer and vodka.

I do miss the Champions League, mainly because I miss playing on Saturday. But I do not miss the boredom and predictability of the competition.

Lets turn up tonight. Embrace the Europa League, and back the kids.

 

Expected line up:

Martinez

Belelrin Mustafi Holding Tierney

Willock Maitland-Niles

Nelson Ozil Ceballos

Martinelli

Keenos

Positives-a-plenty for Arsenal fans

We are 4th

‘On tonight’s performance, and from what I’ve seen recently of United, and Arsenal, if you’re these over teams out there, West Ham, Leicester, Chelsea, if there’s ever a chance for them to get in the top four it’ll be this season.’  – Roy Keane

 ‘We are not going to finish top 4 if we can not beat that Manchester United team’ I some say.

The response from Roy Keane and others has been absolutely laughable and ignored the fact that Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United took the club 4th in the table.

Earlier this season, Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 at home. So if the draw between United and Arsenal was proof that The Gunners would not be top 4, what did Chelsea’s defeat prove?

It is also a joke that Keane says ‘if there’s ever a chance for them to get in the top four it’ll be this season’ considering that Chelsea were top 4 last season. He really is a rent-a-quote gobshite who should stick to walking his dog.

The truth is Arsenal are top 4, despite not playing well yet this season.

3rd is still our realistic goal.

A case for the defence

Little has been written about Arsenal defensive injury crisis; with 3 of Arsenal’s 1st choice 4 defenders having yet to play a league game this season.

Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding are all on the cusp of returning and it could transform us.

We have conceded 11 goals in  games which is far too many – but still less than Chelsea who Roy Keane claims will finish ahead of us.

The fact that we are top 4 without Bellerin, Tierney and Holding means we have plenty to be optimistic about when they return.

With all 3 in the team, we will be better. So 4th without them, finishing top 4 with them is not too unimaginable.

Big games played

7 games in and we have already been to Old Trafford. Already been to Anfield. Already hosted Tottenham in the North London Derby.

We have played 30% of our games against the top 4 this season, whilst only playing 18% of our Premier League games.

4 of our 7 games have also been away.

Despite a tough, front loaded start of the season, we are 4th.

Up next is Bournemouth. We should win. We should go 3rd.

New players yet to settle

We spent a lot of money over the summer, with Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos being the most exciting signings.

Due to injuries, Tierney has not yet started in the league. Whilst Nicolas Pepe has not yet really settled – he was very poor against Manchester United.

Dani Ceballos has looked good in his cameo roles, but that is all at has been so far.

Once Tierney is fit, Pepe and Ceballos have settled, we will be like a different team – especially going forward.

We are top 4 with our 3 key signings having contributed very little, if anything. Exciting times ahead.

Boys done good

With all the moaning and negative around the club, it has gone unnoticed by most how well our kids are performing.

Bukayo Saka looks a star in the making – Alexandre Lacazette has opened up the door for him to make the left wing position his own. Whilst Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have both looked good when called upon.

20-year-old Matteo Guendouzi is putting in performances that deify his young age and he now has to be considered our 1st choice midfielder. The fact Manchester United tried to foul him out of the game is testament to his ability.

Add in Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal have 6 lads under 21 looking good.

As the season go’s on these boys are only going to get better. If we are 4th with them now, how much further could we go with them?

So in summary are 4th in the league, despite having not played our best defence and despite our new boys not settling. On top of that we have a lot of very exciting youngsters coming through.

Plenty to get positive down The Arsenal if you ignore those who leach of negativity.

Keenos