Category Archives: Arsenal

Match Report: Sheffield United 1 – 2 Arsenal

Sheffield United (0) 1 Arsenal (1) 2
FA Cup Sixth Round
Bramall Lane, Highfield, Sheffield S2 4SU
Sunday. 28th June 2020. Kick-off time: 1.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka; Sead Kolašinac, Nicolas Pépé, Alexandre Lacazette; Bukayo Saka.
Substitutes: Hector Bellerin, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Dani Ceballos, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Rob Holding, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Matt Macey, Matt Smith.
Scorers: Nicolas Pépé (24 mins), Dani Ceballos (90+1 mins)
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 59%
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

And so, the day of our last throw of the dice for silverware in this most troubled of football seasons has now arrived. Much depends, of course, not only on the team selection, but of the attitude of our chaps today, so let’s hope that they throw caution to the wind, and go for it; after all, the FA Cup is our only chance of glory now, so we need a confident, emphatic win in South Yorkshire this Sunday lunchtime, nothing else will do.

A brisk and competitive start for both clubs showed the seriousness and intent for victory here today. Our defenders were put under pressue early on; indeed, after just eight minutes, the home side put a shot across our bows when the first goal of the match was chalked off for an offside call, which became a real wake up call for us. Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a young cool head on his shoulders when he came back to win the ball under pressure and distribute it accordingly to the midfielders; although it was a difficult period of the match, we managed to keep our shape and push the ball between ourselves extremely well indeed. Funnily enough, Sheffield United attempted to replicate our movements when they, too, started to distribute the ball closely in midfield, but thankfully, it was nothing to concern our players, as we were able to halt all attempts to advance towards our goal. After twenty-two minutes, Alexandre Lacazette was fouled just inside the Sheffield United penalty area, and after the usual VAR hand-wringing back in Stockley Park, Nicolas Pépé made no mistake from the penalty spot to put us into the lead, a minute or so before the usual mid-half drinks break. On the half-hour mark, Nicolas Pépé almost got a second goal for himself, when a superb shot was acrobatically saved by Blades goalie Dean Henderson. With a goal under our belts, we started to show our confidence, and dominate the match in various areas of the pitch, much to the growing frustration of the home side. An unfortunate collision between Joe Willock and Oli McBurnie meant that both sets of medical teams were called on to check the players (who went off the field to recover) before continuing the match. Kieran Tierney was desperately unlucky not to score our second when a clever shot just went over the bar, and minutes later, Nicolas Pépé again narrowly missed the target when a low ball from Kieran Tierney deceived the Sheffield defenders with a clever move from the left hand side of the pitch. During the seven minutes injury time period for the Joe Willock/Oli McBurnie collision from earlier, Arsenal were by far the better side of the two, putting together some interesting moves, but sadly unable to gain further advantage before the break.

We started the second half lively enough, but it was the home side that came close to scoring when an Oli McBurnie header was easily plucked out the air by Emiliano Martínez. The much maligned David Luiz went off with an injury after fifty-three minutes, to be replaced by Rob Holding, who speedily got into position, shoring up the defence perfectly. For the next few minutes, the home side started to take the match to us, with a couple of close chances and another disallowed goal which was cancelled for offside. We looked at all at sea at the back, and the home side were looking at their options to break through and score. Lively up yourselves Arsenal! Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah replaced Alexandre Lacazette and Joe Willock after sixty-six minutes (just before the drinks break) in order to seal up this cup-tie, and almost immediately one could feel thet positive change in the team; indeed a snap 25-yard effort from Granit Xhaka gave everyone confidence with sixteen minutes left of the game, in which he was unlucky not to score. With the match settling down, we started to take our eyes off the ball, and sure enough David McGoldrick equalised for the Blades with just two minutes left on the clock. Despite pressure from the home side, just a minute or so later, Dani Ceballos picked the ball up in the opposing penalty area, moved forward quickly and coolly slotted the ball home past an outstretched Dean Henderson to restore the lead to Arsenal in injury time Unbelievable drama!

Well, well, well. Who would have thought it possible? After our results recently, we get to Wembley for our thirtieth FA Cup semi-final. Who knows where this journey may now end? It wasn’t great, it wasn’t pretty football at times, but hey, we got through; let’s not think about it too much at the moment, just be thankful that the result went our way at the end. 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: Norwich City at Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU on Wednesday, 1st July at 6.00pm (Premier League). 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.

The FA Cup returns as Arsenal lose an 89 great

 

Following the resumption of the Premier League, this weekend sees the FA Cup take centre stage.

Tomorrow Arsenal face Sheffield United in the quarter-finals.

It is a competition fans have almost forgotten about with everything that has happened. But it is a trophy that Arsenal are in the running for, and a chance to get into Europe.

The quarter-finals will be interesting, with the top 4 clubs (Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City & Man U) all being drawn away from home.

Trips to Norwich, Newcastle, Sheffield United and Leicester City will not be easy for any of them.

Arsenal travel to Sheffield off the back of a moral boasting win against Southampton – the 1st since football returned.

Sheffield United, meanwhile, are still looking for their first post-Covid19 victory; having drawn against Aston Villa and then been stuffed 3-0 by both Man U and Newcastle.

Having gone into the suspension just 2 points off of Manchester United in 5th with a game in hand, Sheffield United’s poor form has seen them slide down the table to 8th, just 1 point above Arsenal and 5 off 5th place.

The winners get a trip to Wembley as their reward for a semi-final clash.


It was sad to hear about the passing of Theo Foley yesterday.

Theo Joined QPR as a reserve team coach. Whilst in West London, he struck up a friendship with another up and coming coach, a certain George Graham.

Graham took Theo firstly to Millwall, and then to Arsenal in 1986.

Theo became the father figure to what was a young Arsenal squad – overseeing the progression of the likes of Tony Adams, Michael Thomas and David Rocastle. He was the good cop, the approachable man, to Graham’s bad cop, disciplinarian.

Overseeing fitness and the defence, Theo was integral in Anfield 89.

Theo left Arsenal in 1991 to take a managerial role with Northampton.

Two years ago we had a question and answer session with Theo where he shared his views on Highbury, the move to the Emirates, Anfield 89 and George Graham.

Theo Foley was a true football man and will be missed by many.

RIP Theo, give us the ball before you go.

Match Report: Southampton 0 – 2 Arsenal

Southampton (0) 0 Arsenal (1) 2

Premier League

St. Mary’s Stadium, Britannia Road, Southampton SO14 5FP

Thursday, 25th June 2020. Kick-off time: 6.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Emiliano Martínez; Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Kieran Tierney; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pépé, Eddie Nketiah; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Özil, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Sead Kolašinac, Matt Macey, Matt Smith.

Scorers: Eddie Nketiah (20 mins), Joe Willock (87 mins)

Yellow Cards: Shkodran Mustafi, Bukayo Saka

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 48%

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

 

In Act I, Scene IV of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Marcellus speaks these immortal words to Horatio; “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. One can feel the similarity of the current plight of Arsenal Football Club with the concern of Marcellus. It has now become evident that there is no leadership, no direction from the very top of the club, which of course permeates through Arsenal something akin to a rotten apple in a barrel. As fans, we are both angry and perplexed, whilst some of the players appear to be wishing they were somewhere else, and subsequently playing for somebody else; meanwhile the press corp vultures are circling, looking for easy pickings at the Emirates. By the way, in case you were wondering, Horatio’s reply to Marcellus was “Heaven will direct it.” With all due respects to the Almighty (and the Bard), we cannot wait that long, as time is now of the essence here. Something needs to be done, before we drift into several seasons of mid-table obscurity.

With Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Marí, Gabriel Martinelli, Cedric Soares and Lucas Torreira all on the injured list, and David Luiz on the naughty step, tonight’s match is going to be a case of all hands to the pump, gents. After a fairly competitive start from both clubs, which included some interesting attempts on both goals, the game started to settle down and we were unlucky to get a Bukayo Saka goal chalked off for offside as early as the seventh minute. A few minutes later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the crossbar when it was easier to score than to miss, and in the early stages, Arsenal were looking like they were playing with purpose. On the twentieth minute a thoughtless pass-back and an indecisive moment by Alex McCarthy in the Southampton goal, led to the quick-thinking of Eddie Nketiah capitalising superbly on the error to open the scoring for Arsenal with a simple tap-in. The home side started to test both our midfield and defence with quite strong passing movements, but thankfully, we managed to soak up their attempts on our goal, despite one or two careless moments by Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi (who got himself booked for his trouble). Despite all that, our patience in trying to break through the Saints’ midfield was far better than we have seen in recent matches, and it was noticeable that concentration could be an issue for us here. Just before half-time, Eddie Nketiah was unlucky not to score on two occasions, and ultimately we went into the break with a lead worth having, as they all are, of course.

A couple of minutes after the restart, Bukayo Saka was a trifle unlucky to get booked for a firm, but decent challenge on Kyle Walker-Peters, and as a result, things started to get a little lively now. We were unlucky when a long ball from goalie Emiliano Martinez found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (after a fantastic run); he tried to flick the ball over to Eddie Nketiah, but the outstretched leg of Jan Bednarek nearly turned it into his own net! Joe Willock replaced Nicolas Pépé just after the hour, just as the home side started to wake up and cause us problems at the back. After the drinks break, a distressed Kieran Tierney gave way for Sead Kolašinac, as the home side started to grow in confidence now. Emiliano Martinez made a match-saving save from Shane Long, and a minute or so later, Eddie Nketiah and Dani Ceballos made way for Alexandre Lacazette and Ainsley Maitland-Niles with just ten minutes of the match remaining. Jack Stephens got a red card for a last-man challenge on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; the subsequent free-kick bounced and pinged around like a pinball until Joe Willock finally put the ball away from point-blank range with three minutes left of the match, which sealed everything up rather nicely.

Really and truly, the lads picked themselves off, dusted themselves down, and were prepared to start all over again, credit where credit is due here, and it was great to see them pick up three points away from home. Eddie Nketiah is utterly priceless and is surely going to grow into a top-class international footballer, as is Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles also; but win or no win, and wherever we end up at the end of this troubled season, the fact remains that Mikel Arteta desperately needs to reinvent both the club and the team. The jury, however, is still out as to whether this likeable, progressive young manager will be given the adequate funds he needs to propel Arsenal back to winning ways. Somehow, deep in our hearts, we all know the answer to that particular question, don’t we? 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: Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, Highfield, Sheffield S2 4SU on Sunday. 28th June at 1.00pm (FA Cup). 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.