Tag Archives: Europa League

Arsenal’s March of the Never Rated

2-2 at full time; 6-3 on aggregate. On paper it looks as if Arsenal have cruised through to the Europa League semi-finals. The reality is somewhat different.

Arsenal survived a scare in Moscow. Trailing 2-0 and under pressure in the second half, a 3rd CSKA goal would see them lead the tie on away goals.

The up stepped Danny Welbeck in the 75th minute to give Arsenal the breathing space with the sides first shot on target.

That single goal by Welbeck turned the tie. Instead of it being 1 more goal for Moscow to go through, they now needed 2 goals just to take it to extra time. It knocked the stuffing out of them.

Welbeck is often derided by Arsenal fans. Deemed not good enough. A frustrating player. One who has all the physical attributes to be world class, but none of the ability. He struggles in front of goal – a massive problem for a striker.

But in the last 4 games for Arsenal, he has 5 goals and an assist – had he joined Liverpool in January, the press will be going on about how great he was, how much he has improved under Jurgen Klopp.

But he, nor Wenger, will get any credit. It will be labelled as “just Moscow”.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup tied and Henrik Mkhitaryan our injured, the role of supporting Alexandre Lacazette has fallen to Welbeck. And he has not disappointed.

In his last 2 second leg Europa League appearances, he has been the game changer.

Against AC Milan, trailing 1-0 at home, Welbeck won and converted the penalty to make it 1-1. He then scored if the 86th minute to put the tie to bed.

Then yesterday Arsenal were on the verge of going out. Shell shocked. It was Roma v Barcelona all over again. Then Danny Welbeck stepped up to the plate with his excellent goal.

Yesterday was actually his 10th goal of the season. If he can do that consistently, as 3rd choice striker, Arsenal have a decent contributor in the squad. Bit like Sylvain Wiltord.

Then we have the man of the match from yesterday. The stats speak for themselves.

During the game, some people began comparing him to Gilberto Silva in the fact that a lot of what he does you do not see.

I am not 100% sold on the comparison, but Elneny has a very simple and effective game. Win the ball, then pass it to someone who is in a better position to create. He understands his limitations and works hard.

Unlike Francis Coquelin; who always seemed to be frustrated and wanting to be involved in the build up, Elneny sits back, covering the back 4.

But he can also play. 2 assists yesterday show this. He might not be as good defensively as Gilberto, but he is better on the ball.

I would like to see him given the chance to play in the middle of the midfield 3 until the rest of the season. We still need a top defensive midfielder, but continual good performances by Elneny will give the manager another option.

Whilst Elneny goes about his business quietly, without much praise from the supporters, a fans favourite is struggling.

Jack Wilshere has a horrendous game. Not for the first time this season, he looked off the pace, his touch and passing deserting him.

He has been average this season, and last night showed why Arsenal are reluctant to invest in him. Whilst the likes of Elneny and Aaron Ramsey have stepped up, Wilshere has gone backwards.

He seemed to spend the majority of yesterday rolling about on the floor and complaining. It is also interesting to see the tide on Twitter turning against him. Many of those backing him to start earlier in the season now questioning his place in the starting XI.

Arsenal clearly think they can improve on Jack Wilshere. That the money he wants could go towards financing a deal on someone who is superior. Fitter. More consistent. And it is hard to argue against that.

The club might even feel that if they secure the right defensive midfielder, it will allow them to push Granit Xhaka further forward. Allow him to be the deep-lying playmaker with a man behind him clearing up.

It is the role he plays so well for Switzerland. The role he played in Germany before he signed for Arsenal. He has never been the deepest of the midfield. He has always played with someone more defensive minded next to him, or behind him.

Xhaka will probably be back this weekend for the game at Newcastle. If he is 100%, he should go straight back in the first team alongside Ramsey and Elneny.

Wilshere is clearly in need of a rest. It might become a permanent one.

So we are through thanks to those who people sit and moan about.

The draw is today at 12noon. RB Salzburg, Atlético Madrid and Marseille are our potential opponents. None of them fear me.

Up the Arsenal

Keenos

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Only The Arsenal matter

Yesterday Liverpool proved that they are the greatest team of all time, with the greatest manager of all time. In Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain they have the most improved player of all time. The hyperbole from the media and fans was almost as cringe as Spurs appealing for a goal to be given to Harry Kane.

Fair play to Liverpool though. They were under dogs against Manchester City and performed well to knock them out – even though they got a huge slice of luck from the referee with a goal disallowed that would have made it 3-2 on aggregate.

Despite running away with the Premier League, Manchester City have now suffered 3 defeats in a row. 4 losses in 6 games, and 3 home losses on the trot.

It is not a massive surprise about Manchester City’s recent stumble.

At Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola’s side always seemed to struggle in the last quarter of the season

In 2013/14, Munich messed up a chance of an unbeaten season when they drew 1, lost 2 on the spin. In April they were also defeated by Real Madrid in the Champions League. A year later, they lost 3 on the spin in the Bundesliga and were once more knocked out of the Champions league at the semi-final stage.

Whilst in both seasons, the defeats happened after the title was sown up, it still highlights a fall off in performance at the later end of the season.

Pep Guardiola is so intense, his training sessions, the way he deals with players, etc, that it is only natural that they get burn out. We are maybe now seeing the same with Manchester City.

A defeat to Spurs at the weekend could see Man City not securing the league title until May. It will be a case of limping over the line for a team that was considered one of the greatest in history (after the current Liverpool side).

Anyway, I did not watch the Champions League game. I have no real interest.

Instead I watched The Island with Bear Grylls. Great TV viewing if you are not already on it. Hopefully in the next episode, whalers will come along and harpoon the 3 poor people. Workshy, lazy, overweight wastes of oxygen. They are a disgrace to working class folk who grind 10 hours a day to put food on the table.

All I care about is Thursday. The Europa League.

At 4-1, you would think Arsenal are comfortable. But last night Barcelona went to Rome with a 4-1 lead from the home leg. They lost 3-0 and went out on away goals.

This result could be good for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger should make players watch the game on the flight to Moscow, to avoid complacency.

To those going out there, enjoy the game, stay safe.

A final thought of the day…

Up the Arsenal.

Keenos

5 reasons Arsenal will beat CSKA Moscow + Starting XI

1) Arsenal are finally taking the competition seriously – Having limped through the group stages with a mixture of reserves and youth, Arsene Wenger has finally realised that the Europa League is the only way we will win a trophy and get back into the Champions League this season.

What this led to was a change of policy in the Premier League clash against Stoke City – where the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Granit Xhaka and Henrik Mkhitaryan were rotated out for not being 100%. Expect all 3 to start tonight

2) After a torrid start to 2018, Arsenal have hit form with 4 wins in 4 games. 11 goals scored and 3 clean sheets.

3) Can Moscow do it on a mild Thursday evening in Islington? They rely so much in the Champions League group stages of teams freezing in sub zero temperatures in Moscow, that playing them in April will be a different kettle of fish. It will favour Arsenal.

Even for the away leg, temperatures in Moscow will be positive, with them being as high as 17c next Monday.

4) Alexandre Lacazette returned to first-team action at the weekend, scoring a goal. His return is timely for the Europa League with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ineligible and Danny Welbeck no good.

5) Arsenal will be out for revenge on behalf of every citizien of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the horrendous state authorised attempted murder of British citizens in Salisbury

Predicted Starting XI:

Ospina

Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal

Wilshere Xhaka Ramsey

Ozil Mkhitaryan

Lacazette

Keenos