Just over 3 weeks ago, Arsenal faced Chelsea in what was an evenly matched game. My prediction on the day proved right. Not just the result, but in the manner it came about. A close fought game ending in a heartbreaking loss. Of course, VAR or whoever Riley appointed to man that screen, played a role that day just as it did in our last game. That’s just how it is in the rich man’s playground that is the Premier League.
Speaking of the money league, we’re in the middle of an unusually quiet winter transfer window. Not that I’ve been keeping track but hardly anyone seems to be doing any major deals. Partly that has to do with Liverpool’s dominance. They don’t need anybody, and everyone else has no urgency this season. Except, maybe, Arsenal. We could do with some reinforcements, what with injuries and previous transfer decisions leaving us short of quality players. It’s also kind of shocking that after 23 games our goal difference is still negative.
However, I’m of the view that we shouldn’t try to force our way into the top-4 but rebuild patiently the right way. We’ve made too many rash decisions in the past season and a half. Arteta in his press conference indicated the same; that he wouldn’t be upset if we don’t buy for the sake of buying.
Another chance to catch up
Our results haven’t been great. In fact, we’ve won just 1 PL game of our last 5. That was against the old enemy, ManU. We drew 3 others and lost to Chelsea. Chelsea won against us and Burnley but drew with Brighton They also suffered losses against Southampton and, most recently, Newcastle. That is just the way this season has gone.
Which means we have the chance to catch up. We’re 10 points behind Chelsea in 4th, and 5 behind ManU in 5th. We’re also just 2 points behind Spurs. It seems like we keep saying this, but with just 16 games remaining, we won’t get many more chances if we slip up again.
It certainly won’t be easy. Chelsea are a good side, with a good mixture of youth and experience. Tammy Abraham is their main man up front. Willian always carries a threat, and then there’s Mason Mount who has been impressive. Chelsea actually miss a lot of big chances, but they are also second in shots created. They also have more passes than everyone except ManCity, because their midfield of Jorginho and Kante provide them a good base to dominate possession.
Once again, midfield will be our biggest challenge. Whoever partners Xhaka (I am assuming he will start) will have to be really on their game and aware of the danger at all times. Full backs are the other worry.
Good performances, disappointing results
The more I talk about Chelsea, the more I am talking myself into believing we will lose this game. So let’s focus on Arsenal instead. Despite the disappointing results, our performances have been quite good. We need to keep our intensity up throughout the 90 mins. That’s something we’ve had problems with, including in the last game against Sheffield United.
Injuries haven’t helped. Bad man-management by the previous full-time head coach destroyed cohesion and continuity. Since Arteta arrived there has been very little time between fixtures to prepare for game. But we know the score. That’s just how it is.
Apart from our improved tactics under Arteta, we also seem fitter. I think we’ll be fired up for this one. The key will be keeping confidence and belief high.
Auba’s suspension robs us of our top threat up front. Lacazette hasn’t been scoring and I’d say he’s been feeling the pressure. He did give us a couple of good moments in the last game and maybe he can take confidence from that. Ozil too needs to step up and create more. Easier said than done, but if we can get the ball to him in the spaces he finds, then he could be vital.
Two youngsters, Martinelli and Saka, have been the bright sparks. Both are stepping up at a time when they are sorely needed. Martinelli has been a revelation. For him to be promoted to the PL level and not look out of place is a testimony to his talent. It’s also encouraging that he looks humble and keen to learn. Saka, meanwhile has filled in admirably while both our left-backs are out of action. His crosses in particular are great. Maybe another youngster Eddie Nketiah, formerly of Chelsea who let him go for being too short, can produce a similar impact on our season. Starting with this game. How sweet would that be?
Team News: Sokratis will be assessed if has recovered from his illness. Mustafi had a good game on Saturday but I’d feel more confident if Papa was back. Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson are both still out. Tierney and Chambers remain long term injuries. Bellerin has been slowly working his way back in training and was on the bench at the weekend. This might be the game he makes his comeback. He might face his nemesis, Marcos Alonso, who is also returning from injury for Chelsea. Maybe Hector can get his own back by assisting or scoring the winning goal.
Starting XI: Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Sokratis, Saka, Xhaka, Torreira, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Lacazette
Subs: Martinez, Mustafi, AMN, Guendouzi, Willock, Ceballos, Nketiah
Prediction: I expect Chelsea to dominate possession and put us under pressure. Stamford Bridge has been a difficult ground for us and their confidence will be high. But we’ll keep up the intensity and take our chances. 2-1 confidence boosting away win for Arsenal to kick start the rest of our season.
Hey Shard. My major concern is how we create more chances. You are demanding more out of Ozil but, as the stats from Saturday prove, he is working his ass off to tackle and win the ball back while creating the most chances for the team. How about demanding more from our 72 million pound attacker down the right. Frankly that is an area which needs a whole lot of improvement.
Personally, I wouldn’t have spent the money on Pepe. Keep Iwobi and Miki, add depth at RB and a quality CM, and we’d be a better team with more depth.
But I like Pepe. I think he can be a star, as long as he maintains a good attitude and doesn’t get kicked out of the league. You are right to demand more, but I think you’re also harsh on him simply because he is a Raul Sanllehi and Jorge Mendes signing. It’s not his fault.
A player needs at least a 6 month adaptation period. In addition, Pepe came in late in August, while the shapeshifter Emery was in charge. That would affect his adaptation. Pepe’s doing ok, he’ll improve I am sure, now that he’s got a good coach in charge. I’m fine with him taking some more time.
First I don’t blame Pepe for the club overpaying and valuing him at £72 million. We all know who decided to shit away two years of our precious transfer kitty on someone nobody else was willing to pay that much. But I still expect more in assists and goals by a player of his pedigree. In 2018 City paid big money for Bernardo Silva, same kind of player and from from a foreign league, and he became more and more effective as they gradually increased his minutes. Meanwhile Pepe gets a pass while others must step up. Why?
I’m more worried then usual after the Ladies’ result against our biggest rivals. Hopefully I am wrong and it was a good omen.
But the fact that I am worried at all is because at the least our football team is now playing a level of footy that could allow them to overcome both their opponents and the undeniable cheats at the cheating pgMOB.
Shotts, querying the status of the obvious fraud at the club who has equivalent damage done to the Gunners in eighteen months which took Woodward eight years to achieve is not called doom mongering it is called “not being a gullible mug for the maws of Pedro Risdale”as exemplified by the Pepe boondangle
Pedro Risdale himself said the last window was all on him. And so it should be: and as a consequence Pedro Risdale should be out the door! This is simple stuff for a simple mind like mine. Not rocket science is it?
I am confident some of our mantras have been picked up and repeated elsewhere by the more commercial click seeking blaggers as I hadn’t heard them before we started our mantras, and this has happened more then once this season.
We know how Football Relations AKA PR AKA propaganda work: with repetition! (Certainly NOT rocket science!!).
More power to your elbow Shotts. Most fans here this season have accepted how corrupt the pgMOB is as it is now undeniable when you can all see them fixing in spite of video evidence to the contrary when they have access to said evidence.
The joke is Liverpool didn’t even need such blatant fixing to help them same as last season with City depleted at CB. Riley has exposed himself more then he imagined as a result. The hopeless clown that he is (please refer to England’s record in the football whilst this clown has been clowning around).
The blaggers are as behind the curve on this one as they were on Emery, their attempts to brush off cheating as “not a conspiracy theory” is an attempt to deny that cheating can exist in sport and most sports fans listening in will have appreciated that lame effort as: total bollocks! It’s over for Riley and the pgMOB that’s why they broke with UEFA they are desperate and their next step will be to completely unleash the English nationalism card, been happening for a while but I expect to actually fail, all in an effort to support their internationalist match fixing syndicates. Wankers that they are.
The injury to Chambers has been a big blow with Holding still unfit and Papa out ill.
Mustafi played his part in the team’s double comeback after that earlier error. Think most will feel that is a good result in the end given the early red card.
Bellerin scoring with his left after the op on that leg was the highlight for me.