Tag Archives: FA Cup

Arsenal look to banish Ghost of Nottingham Forest

FA cup 3rd round day 2018. A year ago was when I hit my lowest point mentally as an Arsenal fan.

Walking back from The City Ground to Hooters despondent. The only thing to look forward to from the trip was wings, boobs and beers.

It was an awful performance. The first time since 1996 that The Arsenal had been knocked out of the FA Cup 3rd round. Lost 4-2.

Prior to that defeat, Arsenal had won just 2 of the last 7 league games. 5 wins and 2 draws. The away draw to WBA on New Years Ever especially sticks in my mind.

With just 3 away wins from 11 League games, it was becoming really hard to be motivated to go away, up and down the country, spending my well earned sterling.

Sitting there in Hooters after the game, I was wondering whether I wanted to do it anymore. Keep going away – I spend about £2,500 a year on away games; tickets, transport and drink.

Arsenal would stay in the gutter for some time. Just one more win away in the league on the last day of the season against Huddersfield. It was the shocking second half of the season that led to fans staying away, and ultimately led to Arsene Wenger leaving the club.

I renewed my season ticket, renewed my away scheme, and this year under Unai Emery felt more invigorated to go again.

It has not been plain sailing under the new regime.

There has been a recent wobble in December – the loss to Southampton, thrashing by Liverpool and defeat in the League Cup to Tottenham – but as a whole the Spaniards start has been positive.

FA Cup victories (3 wins in the last 5) have been the only cause of glory for Arsenal fans in the last 12 years. It is probably why that Nottingham Forest defeat hurt so much.

After so much recent success (and historical success) in the tournament, to be exiting in January gave little to hope for in the rest of the season. It was the first of many killer blows.

Today we travel to Blackpool. Due to the trains I am not making the journey (so soon after Christmas and New Year, I have no interest in a hotel stay in cold, wet Blackpool).

Having beaten Blackpool already once this season, hopefully we return to winning ways in the FA Cup.

As we learnt against Nottingham Forest last season, you can not take victory for granted. Even if Amazing Bet are offering 1/14 for The Arsenal to qualify. But I am positive. Both about today and where Arsenal are going.

Fans need to ignore what is happening in the background at the club. We might not look to spend a lot in January. We are looking for the right players at the right place. We do not need to panic buy. We could have over £100m to spend this summer, once we sell one or two, it is important we do not dip into that for a 6 month short term solution.

I expect Emery to ring in the changes. A mixture of first teamers and reserve players. The likes of Konstantinos Mavropanos  will get a start. Eddie Nketiah up top.

Predicted XI:

Cech

AMN Sokratis Mavropanos Jenkinson

Elneny Torreira

SmithRowe Ramsey Saka

Nketiah

Keenos

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The FA Cup & Aubameyang update

The FA Cup

For the first time in 22 years, since 1996, Arsenal are not in the 4th round of the FA Cup. And I am gutted.

I am sitting here at 10:12 writing this blog, really not sure what to do with myself? Do I go and fix the garden up after the rough winter we have had?Or maybe put on my wellies and go for a couple of hours stroll in Epping Forest up to the Owl on High Beach, a few pints then stroll back?

Maybe a trip to the garden centre and grab a couple more house plants? I am unsure, I feel lost. This must feel like what it is to be a Spurs fan, getting knocked out the cups early.

Oh well, at least I have a League Cup Final to look forward too, Pinnacle vip code 2018 states that we are not favourites with the bookmakers

Whilst writing this, David Moyes has popped up on Sky Sports News to discuss the upcoming Wigan v West Ham tie.

“They won the FA Cup and got relegated. I am sure if you asked Wigan fans, they would rather not win the FA Cup and still be in the Premier League”.

What a load of rubbish. It is up there with Spurs fans saying they do not want to win trophies, that playing in the Champions League is more important than winning a cup. It is like top 4 is a trophy. Or staying in the Premier League is a trophy.

It should not be surprising that David Moyes has this opinion, that cups mean nothing.

A manager for 20 years, his only trophy is the Football League second division, way back in 1999/2000.

He spent 11 years at Everton, and never won a trophy.

His target was clearly to finish in the top half of the table, rather than win a trophy.

I feel for West Ham fans that they have a manager who openly says he does not want to win things. How out of touch is he with the fans?

I am sure if you ask Wigan fans, the FA Cup win is the highlight of their lives. Same with Portsmouth fans. The cup means everything.

It is only those who have not won it for decades who devalue it.

I am gutted not being in it.

Aubameyang Update

The deal seems to be at a stalement.

The crack negotiating team have flown back to England as negotiations continue. I is dying a slow death.

If the deal does not go through, it perhaps highlights that the problems at the club are bigger than just Arsene Wenger.

Previously, whenever a transfer feel through, Wenger (rightly) got the blame. But this deal is showing that the club is rotten from the manager up.

How the deal has not been done yet is incredible.

Dortmund want to sell, Arsenal want to buy, Aubameyang wants to join. It should be an easy deal to get over the line.

Reports were that Dortmund want ~£55-£60m. That Arsenal wanted to initially pay £40m. This is the start of the negotiations.

Arsenal were apparently concerned with paying over the club-record £46.5m that they spent on Alexandre Lacazette in the summer. And this is where the frustration begins.

We are talking about Dortmund wanting about £10m more than this. Arsenal need to learn to ignore the milestones, stop being concerned about the criticism, and just get the deals done.

With the sales of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott, and the money made in the summer, Arsenal have a net spend of nearly £45m.

Are we really trying to break even for the season? That is lubricious.

We moved to compete with the best, for the best. Now I am not saying we should be spending the £200m on players that Manchester City are – we can not afford that – but we should not be looking to break even every season, in terms of transfer spend.

We have the money to get Aubameyang in. Let’s get it over the line.

Keenos

Who is in line to start v Nottingham Forest

Who is in line to start v Nottingham Forest

When Arsenal have been drawn with lower league opposition in the early stages of the FA Cup, Arsene Wenger has rotated his squad.

This policy has proved correct for Wenger, as he has never been  knocked out of the FA Cup at the 3rd round stage, and only ever once lost to a lower league side – the 5th round defeat to Blackburn Rovers in 2013.

I have spoken before about how Arsenal should prioritise the cups over the league in the second half of the season. That winning silverware is more important than finishing 4th.

That being said, Arsenal have a very busy January – from December 28th to February 3rd, we are due to play 11 times. That is just 36 days (I think). With FA Cup games, and the League Cup double header against Chelsea, we need to rotate the squad.

We play Nottingham Forest on the Sunday, then Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday, before visiting Bournemouth next Sunday.

Wenger will want his first team for the Bournemouth fixture. It will be interesting to see how he shuffles the squad for Nottingham Forest and Chelsea.

Will he play 2 separate sides? The first XI in one fixture, the 2nd XI in another? Or a mixed XI with key players split across the 2? Or will he play his second XI in both the Nottingham Forest and Chelsea games, giving his first team a 10 day rest before Bournemouth?

What is for certain is David Ospina will start in goal against Nottingham Forest. I imagine he will also play against Chelsea.

The make up of the team will be further confused by the formation.

In the last round of the League Cup, we went to 4 at the back with Rob Holding partnering Calum Chambers. We have recently returned to 3 at the back in the league.

With Laurent Koscielny likely to be rested as he continues to have his career managed due to a troublesome Achilles, we will certainly see Per Mertesacker return in the middle of the defence. I doubt Wenger will risk Shokdran Mustafi – who is still returning from his own injury issues.

Having played the last few games, I would not be too surprised if Chambers drops out with Rob Holding starting alongside Mertesacker. Partnering Holding and Mertesacker in a back 3 will either be Krystian Bielik or Julio Pleguezuelo.

My opinion is that whoever does not start between Holding / Chambers and Pleguezuelo / Bielik will be in line for a start against Chelsea (with Mustafi coming into the middle).

It will be interesting to see what Wenger decides at wing back.

Mathieu Debuchy will be in line to start ahead of Hector Bellerin on the right. On the left, Sead Kolašinac and Nacho Monreal are almost certainly out injured and, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles on first XI duties our options are limited. Utility youngster Josh Dasilva might get the nod, or Wenger might choose to go for someone like Chiori Johnson.

I do not expect Granit Xhaka or Jack Wilshere to start in the middle of the park. Wenger will surely go for the experience pairing of Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny. Do not be too surprised to not see Wilshere until the Bournemouth game.

Another interesting talking point will be who plays behind the striker.

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will both surely be rested. The worry is Wenger will go with Theo Walcott who does not suit playing narrow, behind a striker. But he does need match fitness, even if it is to prove he is ready for a transfer. Personally I would prefer to see Reiss Nelson get a wrong out.

Alex Iwobi was dropped for the game against Chelsea in the cup, he will surely come back in, playing behind Danny Welbeck.

All in all, it should be a strong XI filled with internationals. Beating Nottingham Forest should not be a problem.

Expected XI:

Ospina

Holding Mertesacker Pleguezuelo

Debuchy Coquelin Elneny DaSilva

Walcott Iwobi

Welbeck

Now I am off to Hooters

Keenos