Tag Archives: valencia

Match Report: Valencia 2 – 4 Arsenal

València (1) 2 Arsenal (1) 4
UEFA Europa League, Semi Final Second Leg
Mestalla Stadium, Av. de Suècia, s/n, 46010 València, Spain
Thursday, 9th May 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Čech, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Torreira, Xhaka; Kolašinac, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Elneny; Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Leno, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Nketiah.
Scorers: Aubameyang (3), Lacazette
Yellow Cards: Özil, Lacazette
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
Attendance: 49,500

There are certain Arsenal matches this season that truly defy description (almost); this game may just fall into that category when the curtain descends on everything in a few weeks time. Make no mistake about it, Arsenal were professional, clinical, utterly single-minded in their approach to ultimate victory and it has to be said truly magical. Despite going behind to a well-taken Kevin Gameiro goal after just eleven minutes, we were neither fazed nor bothered by this unfortunate situation; we just simply dusted ourselves down and started all over again.

The electric partnership between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette simply terrorised the València defence, and when the former equalised the scores seven minutes later, it was to be the start of something truly special here at the Mestalla Stadium. Previous to this, the home side sere in the ascendancy, buoyed by their early goal; their inability to capitalise on this showed their limitations and defensive frailties. Mesut Özil suddenly became the player that we all know he can be; time and time again he popped up to liberally stoke the ball here and there at will to ensure that Arsenal kept up the momentum. By the end of the first half, it was becoming apparent that the eternal triangle of Özil-Aubameyang-Lacazette was completely running the show for Arsenal.

Just five minutes after the restart, the fantastic Alexandre Lacazette left his indelible mark on the game at last. Receiving a pass in the penalty area, he was magnificent in his strength, unbeatable in the turn, and when he finally struck the ball firmly with his trusty right foot, it was only going to end up in one place – the back of the València net. All this seemed to be forgotten when Kevin Gameiro scored his second goal of the night a few minutes later, but hey, who cares? Off we went again. And again Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came to the rescue with yet another goal, only this time his second goal completely destroyed the spirit of the home side, so much so, that their supporters started to leave the stadium with twenty minutes still remaining on the clock. By now, we appeared not to be bothered by the opposition as we controlled play completely. Two minutes from the end of the match, València were unceremoniously snuffed out by the man of the match, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; receiving the ball, he advanced with speed towards the València goal, and as goalkeeper Neto stepped forward to attempt to narrow the angle, the Arsenal man blasted the ball into the roof of the net to finish the night’s proceedings perfectly to propel us into the final of The Europa League, where Chelsea lie in wait for us.

Truthfully, this match was far more than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat-trick or Mesut Özil’s vision; it was a brilliant mix of teamwork, effort, work ethic and an incredible desire to win at all costs. Most impressive was tbe attitude of not worrying about the system of play from the home side; our thoughts were quite simply along the lines of “we’re here to win, play however you like, but tonight we are truly unbeatable.” And for ninety wonderful minutes, we really, really were. Arsenal are now just one match away from returning to the Champions League, and if we hold our nerve, concentrate on our game plan, we can do just that. Oh, and also pick up a trophy along the way too, of course. Next instalment in this tale is in Baku on Wednesday, 29th May against our old adversaries Chelsea; don’t be late. 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.


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.

Wet day in Vauxhall trumps sunny Spain

I have made better decisions in life.

It is 17°C in Alicante this morning. Today’s highs will be 26°C. Arsenal fans are gathering in the Spanish city for a couple of days of sunshine boozing before getting a 2 hour train north to Valencia on Thursday for the game.

I turned down the chance to go to the game. Most of my mates flew out Monday lunchtime. They have been sunning themselves for 2 days already.

The reason why I turned it down? I had tickets for today’s ODI against Pakistan at the Oval.

So instead of waking up this morning in lovely Spanish sunshine, I am looking at of my window at grey clouds, could air and rain until 4pm. Cold and wet. It must be the start of the cricket season in England.

Earlier this year I spent a couple of weeks in Antigua watching England get thrashed by the West Indies. I did not care about the result, it was a cracking bit of time away.

The Vauxhall Oval is going to be very different to the Sir Viv Richards Stadium that I sat in earlier this year. Instead of looking for a bit of shade to sit in, I will probably be looking for somewhere to stay dry.

Arsenal have not been great this season. That is an understatement. And as Liverpool showed last night, the tie is not over.

Valencia did not look great at Arsenal. There only threat was from set pieces. But at 3-1 and with Valencia having the away goal; the 1st goal is key.

Wining the Europa League would turn Unai Emery’s 1st season from a tough one to a trophy laden, successful one.

What it will also do is parachute Arsenal back in the Champions League.

For obvious reasons, the Arsenal transfer budget is not yet finalised. There is plenty of money available with the increase in commercial deals and players leaving on a free. These two factors free up £60million a year to be spent on transfer fees, wages, bonuses, agent fees, etc.

Win the Europa League and qualify for the Champions League could add an extra £40million to that pot for next season.

Tomorrow is a huge night.

I just wish I was out there instead of getting the waterproofs out of the loft for a day at the cricket.

ps: Whilst I am talking about the sunshine, have you bought the banana beach towel yet?


Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 1 Valencia

Arsenal (2) 3 València (1) 1
UEFA Europa League, Semi-Final First Leg
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Thursday, 2nd May 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Čech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Kolašinac, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Elneny, Leno, Mkhitaryan, Torreira, Iwobi, Monreal, Nketiah.
Scorers: Lacazette (2), Aubameyang
Referee: Clément Turpin (France)
Attendance: circa 60,000

If Arsenal can get anything out of this excellent victory here at The Emirates tonight, it would be a collective sigh of relief, followed by a sense of a job well done in this competition, this, the only chance of silverware for us this season. There were times in the match when we were extremely profligate, yet other times when we looked completely in control. Soon after the start, València showed their intent in earnest. The miss by Ezequiel Garay should have been a warning to us, but we failed to heed it; after just eleven minutes Mouctar Diakhaby scored the opening goal with a strong header in our six-yard box which was just the lift that the visitors needed.

Alexandre Lacazette saved our blushes half a dozen minutes later with an absolutely superb goal which showed his class and professionalism. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did the hard work in the box, drawing defenders to him; the visitors didn’t see the danger from Alexandre Lacazette initially, but my word, they certainly did when, just seconds later they were picking the ball out of the net after the equaliser had been scored. Arsenal now saw an opportunity to impose their will (and their type of football) on the match. Our two bandits were constantly penetrating the visitors’ defence, and by half -an-hour on the clock, we were in the lead, with yet another well-taken goal by Alexandre Lacazette. A well-delivered cross by Granit Xhaka found our striker, and as he headed the ball down, València ’keeper Murara Neto could only attempt to try to prevent the ball from crossing over the line by hauling it out at the last minute; thankfully the man in the middle with the vibrating watch knew the truth and gave the goal. Until the break, Arsenal were dominant. Time and time again we penetrated the València defence, but to no avail; it looked fairly obvious that the visitors were mightily relieved when the half-time whistle finally came.

Everyone in the Arsenal camp in the stadium were looking forward to the restart, and the thrill that it may bring. Not so. The visitors appeared to have other ideas and were knocking on the door of a possible draw here. Somehow our defence held firm, and in doing so earned the respect of the Arsenal supporters. Laurent Koscielny, despite carrying an injury, time and time again threw himself into the fray, halting dangerous attacks by the visitors; Sokratis showed both his strength, and positional sense, to halt further València goals, and young Ainsley Maitland-Niles, despite his earlier heart-stopping moment in the first half with the headed back pass that never was, composed himself and showed everyone the footballer that we all know that he can be. To be fair, Alexandre Lacazette should have got his hat-trick, but a series of calamitous shots and half-hearted chances meant that it really didn’t happen. But what did happen, was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s coup de grâce in injury time. After some dilly-dallying on the edge of the penalty area, Sead Kolašinac finally got an awkward ball across for the Gabon international to score the third and final goal from an acute angle.

At last. Not only a win, but an extremely important win at that. Of course we are not in the final just yet, but this victory certainly has gone a long, long way into not only getting us into our first European final in a quarter of a century, but also a massive confidence boost for an otherwise much maligned squad of very good footballers who now need every bit of support they can get in the final weeks of this troubled season. 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.


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.