Tag Archives: she wore a yellow

Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 1 Brentford

Arsenal (2) 3 Brentford (0) 1

Carabao Cup (EFL Cup) Third Round
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Wednesday, 26th September 2018. Kick-off time: 7.45pm

(4-2-3-1) Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Elneny, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Smith-Rowe; Iwobi, Welbeck.
Substitutes: Bellerín, Ramsey, Lacazette, Torreira, Martínez, Kolasniac, Nketiah.

Scorers: Welbeck (2), Lacazette
Yellow Cards: Welbeck, Lichtsteiner

Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 49,586

Our first appearance this season in the Carabao Cup (aka The English Football League Cup) comes around again tonight, with a home tie against Brentford, who currently hold seventh position in the Championship; of course, The Bees didn’t always play in lowly divisions, as there was a time when they were one of our rivals back in the old First Division before the corrosion of relegation and decline set in for them in the post-1945 football world. Apropos to Brentford, they do actually play an important part in our history, as our 2-0 victory at the Old Place on 2nd May 1939 was filmed and used in the feature film The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, which incidentally was the last official league match before hostilities broke out four months later.

Back to tonight. Straight from the kick-off, Arsenal assumed dominance, but to be fair, it did look rather dicey in the goalkeeping department (again) with just a minute or so on the clock. A simple pass-back found Bernd Leno lose his footing and as the ball slipped away for a Bees corner, a collection of hands on heads from home fans could be seen around the stadium. Whoops. All forgotten though, three minutes later when, after a short corner from Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Mattéo Guendouzi looked up, and wasted no time in getting the ball across to Danny Welbeck who opened the scoring with a sublime header. Although shell-shocked Brentford started to come back into the match, our defence held firm, and thus became the bedrock for more forays into the opposition 18-yard box. It was one of these attacks that the second goal came rather inevitably eight minutes before half-time. Building from the back, we appeared to simply move at a canter through The Bees’ midfield in a familiar pattern of perpetual movement; Leno-Lichtsteiner-Mkhitaryan-Iwobi-Monreal-Welbeck. And it was indeed so that Danny Welbeck got both his second (and Arsenal’s too) of the night by merely stroking the ball into the net after this wonderful exhibition of pass-and-advance. Despite one or two failed attempts, we went into the break the leading team on the night, and deservedly so.

Returning after the break, we carried on where we left off, with missed chances that should, by rights, increased our goal tally. Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan must have regretted their squandered efforts, as  literally out of nowhere, Brentford got one back just before the hour with an incredibly well-taken free-kick that hit the back of our net. How can it be? Suddenly the mood in the stadium went from one of elation and confidence to one of nervousness and doubt all around for a period of time. In an effort to score again, Emile Smith-Rowe was subsituted for Alexandre Lacazette, and things started to look a bit better for us, briefly. After more close Bees’ chances, we made two more substitutions, and as per usual more wasted chances in front of the opposition goal became the fate of our strikers. But wait! A breakaway, a chance, and Alexandre Lacazette puts the match beyond doubt with our third and final goal of the night. A minute later, this game was done, and we can all be thankful that Mike Dean blew the whistle when he did, and we therefore find ourselves in the hat for the fourth round draw on Saturday.

Arsenal really made hard work of this victory in North London this evening. We allowed Brentford back into the match on several occasions, when by rights, we had enough talent and firepower to put this game to bed quite early on in the proceedings, but we denied ourselves the luxury of an early win by mere indecision and, it has to be said, periods of self-doubt, which Mr. Emery must quickly stamp his authority on when the team get back to London Colney tomorrow. Watford lie in wait for us on Saturday afternoon; we have to firm, dominant and ruthless at The Emirates then, and show everyone (not least our supporters) our true credentials in the Premiership race. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners.

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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What should Arsenal prioritise this season?

P 18 W 17 D 1

At the time of writing, that was Manchester City’s results in the league so far this season. It is awesome form that is seeing them average 2.88 points per game. Keep it up and they will end up with a record breaking 109 points.

They have blown the rest of the Premier League away this season. A mixture of having a top coach in Pep Guardiola, and having a squad that cost £632m has seen them have the strongest set up in the Premier League since those early Jose Mourinho days at Chelsea.

If the first XI is not working, Guardiola has a bench which contains £100s of millions worth of talent, including the likes of Bernardo Silva who cost £43m.

When Sergio Aguero, has easily been the best striker in Premier League over the last 5 / 6 years is no longer guaranteed a start, it shows the strength of their squad.

It is not just the money they have spent, the football that Guardiola is coaching his players to produce puts them a cut above.

This brings me on to the main part of my thoughts.

Whilst it is frustrating that it is Manchester City and not Arsenal running away with it, the fact is,. For 2017/18 at least, Man city are going to win the league, Arsenal or not.

So what else then do Arsenal have to play for?

  • Top 4 finish
  • Finishing above Spurs
  • League Cup
  • Europa League
  • FA Cup

There are 5 motivations for the players. What is important now is that as we are not going to win the league, we re-organise our priorities this season.

Firstly, finishing above Spurs and a top 4 finish can be put into one box.

Personally I think that Manchester United and Chelsea will both be good (and consistent) enough to finish top 4. That leaves one more place for Burnley, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal to battle over. Finish top 4 and we finish above Spurs.

Also, bar bragging rights, finishing above Spurs does not really mean much in the long course of history.

In the 1992/93 season, Arsenal finished 10th. Spurs finished 8th. Arsenal became the first ever club to do the domestic cup double. Spurs won nothing. I imagine if I asked the question (before I told you the answer) as to where Arsenal and Spurs finished in 1993, you would not have a clue. Bit if I asked who won the cups, you would know both.

This brings me on to the next point. If we are not going to win the league, should we be prioritising league games over cup competitions?

We got mocked for the Top 4 Trophy for 10 years. During that period, many Arsenal fans who have consistently called for Arsene Wenger’s head moaned that Wenger was prioritising a top 4 finish above winning cups. He was disrespecting cups.

Last year Spurs finished above us, they showed progression, they competed but ultimately they won nothing.

It seems now Arsenal fans have done a 360. Rather than win a trophy, suddenly that want the team to show progression and compete, to finish top 4.

The same people moaning that top 4 is not a trophy now what us to finish top 4, even if it means no trophy. They want us to prioritise the top 4.

My fear is, Wenger, and the board, will go the same.

They will go back to the old thinking that finishing top 4 is more important than winning a trophy. They will prioritise it, and continue to play a second XI in the cups. Ultimately this could leave us with no trophies and, on current form, outside the top 4.

Personally, I would actually like us to prioritise the trophies over the league.

Last season Manchester United won the League cup and Europa League. They made the decision to prioritise the cups over finishing top 4. Their hand was forced due to being about 10 points behind a top 4 position going into Christmas, but ultimately they won the trophies.

In years down the line, Manchester United will remember the trophies they won in the 2016/17 season, but will anyone remember who finished top 4? Probably not.

At the time of writing, there is just a single point between 4th and 7th, with Arsenal in 7th. But is there actually any difference between finishing 4th and finishing 7th, bar the Champions League football and finances it brings?

Now this would be controversial.

I would not be too unhappy if we played a B team in the league games that occur before a mid-week cup tie.

I would not care if we finished 10th, if it mean winning a cup.

Football is all about winning trophies. The winners are remembered. We entered 4 competitions at the beginning of the season. One we can no longer win, 3 we can. So why prioritise the completion we can no longer win?

Over the years, Sky and UEFA have brainwashed fans to believe that the only trophies that matter is the Premier League and Champions League. Sadly, some fans now believe this calling the FA Cup no longer the competition it once was.

Tell anyone who was at Wembley in May that finishing top 4 was more important, or those Manchester United fans in Sweden that finishing 6th means everything whilst winning a European trophy means nothing.

Now let’s play a game.

Below is a list of the seasons we won a cup. I have excluded the seasons where we also won the league. Name the trophy and Arsenal’s league position in the corresponding season:

How did you get on? I bet you were able to write down the majority of the trophies won quite quickly. But how about the league positions? I imagine the more recent ones were easy, but how many of the earlier ones did you guess?

Do you want the answers? They are at the end of the blog.

The point of the exercise was to highlight that history only remembers one league position. And that is first. But you will also remember the other successes. The other trophies won.

I could probably name every FA Cup winner between 1988 (I was 3) and now. I would struggle to name who finished 2nd in those season, let alone 4th.

It will require a change in mentality, but with us being 19 points behind Manchester City in the league, sacrificing the league position to potentially win 3 cups surely makes sense?

And finally, those answers:

Keenos

Special relationship key to Mesut Ozil future

In the last 48 hours, Arsenal superstar Mesut Ozil has been massively linked with a move away from the club with his reported destination being Manchester United.

It is easy to write this off as simple speculation. It is international break, newspapers have little to write about, so not too many hits, so let’s link the Premier League’s best player with the Premier League’s biggest club. Instant hits from the hundreds of millions of worldwide fans who before yesterday were just keeping an eye on ‘injury news’.

Add in that Mesut Ozil is currently in discussions for a new contract, the link could also be put down as Ozil’s side using Manchester’s 2nd club to get him the deal he wants at Arsenal. So often Arsenal have been on the receiving end of this, used to get a player a better deal elsewhere.

When you then mix in Manchester United being mid-table, in the Europa League and a club moving backwards rather than forwards, there is very little substance in the speculation.

But then you remember Paul Pogba.

At Juventus, becoming a global superstar. 4 league titles, 2 Coppa Italia’s and a recent Champions League runners up medal. But he left for Manchester United, and found 300,000 reasons a week to join them.

A lot of rubbish is written about players these days. A desire to play, a desire to win medals. But ultimately, with many modern day players, their biggest desire is that of their bank account.

It is why so many players have gone to the Middle-East, to China, to America over the years. It is why Yaya Toure left Barcelona for Manchester City. Ignore the ‘footballing project’ that they so often talk about, it is all about their bank balance.

Ozil moving to Manchester United would see him more than double his current £140,000 a week wage. Arsenal currently have a reported £160,000 contract on the table. Manchester United would see him probably double that. That would more than make up for the falling pound against the Euro.

And then there is one very special reason why Mesut Ozil would move to Manchester United.

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In 2010, Mesut Ozil left Werder Bremen to join Real Madrid. At the time, Arsenal were heavily linked with the player. He ended up joining Real Madrid for just €15,000,000.6 weeks before he joined Madrid, they appointed their new manager, Jose Mourinho.

Whilst that summer Angel Di Maria was Real Madrid’s biggest signing, he was one done by those above Mourinho. Meanwhile, Ozil was his man. His signing. The man he planned to build the team around.

Ozil picked Mourinho and Real Madrid over Wenger and Arsenal.

Wenger finally got his man in 2013, signing Ozil for ~£45,000,000. His and Arsenal’s biggest ever signing. Mourinho had already left Madrid to Chelsea.

On that busy last 48 hours of the transfer window, Arsenal were also in discussion with Chelsea about loaning in Demba Ba. The deal feel through after Mourinho got a sniff of the Ozil deal. Jose knew how good a player Ozil was, and feared that alongside Demba Ba, Arsenal could shoot to the title.

The Ba deal did not happen, the Ozil deal did. Mourinho clearly loves Ozil.

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“Özil is unique. There is no copy of him – not even a bad one. He is the best number 10 in the world.”

“He made things very easy for me and for his teammates with his football vision and the decisions he made,” he assured, arguing that it was a mistake to let him go.

“Everyone loves him and sees a bit of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane in him. We didn’t accept Arsenal’s offer for Demba Ba because the signing of Özil makes them title contenders.”

Ozil and his special relationship with the Special One could be the most important reason out of the 300,000 reasons a week he has to join Manchester United.

Keenos