- Match Report – Brentford 2 Arsenal 0
A high octane atmosphere greeted us at the Brentford Community Stadium. It had been a long time since fans were in full voice in the Premier League. Sadly for us we were found wanting in a display that led on from many displays last season losing 2-0.
In a poor first half where Brentford were biting into challenges we looked to be starting the game well into first 10 minutes and looked to be asserting ourselves. However an Ivan Toney pass behind Mari through to Mbeumo saw his tight angle shot rattle the outside of the post. This seemed to spur on the fans and that in turn fired up the home side who hadn’t threatened until that moment. A couple of chances for us after this with Smith Rowe trying to pick out Balogun but a crucial block saw the ball go for a corner and then another break from Smith Rowe who freed Tierney on the left and his cross to the back post found Chambers but a half volley was headed clear.
Brentfords press became higher and it was evident as we scrambled away danger in our box and then when Chambers then half cleared the ball and from pushing out to pressure the ball, we found ourselves 1-0 down with Canos smashing a ball through Chambers and beating Leno at the near post. That was another in a mass catalogue of Arsenal conceded goals. We could have gone in two down but Brentford we happy to allow us the ball in the middle third but when in those danger areas they would crowd us out especially wide with Pepe and Martinelli both facing 2 on 1’s throughout.
Going into half time we expected a reaction and to be fair with the first 15 minutes seeing us create numerous chances but not enough on target. That saw the introduction of Bakayo Saka who came on to a standing ovation from the whole stadium. More chances for Arsenal with Tierney having a shot deflected just past the post and then a Martinelli header flicked just over the from the near post and out for a goal kick. We looked more dynamic going forward and when Martinelli departed for Nelson we hoped we could grab an equaliser however 3 minutes on comical school boy defending a long throw into the box saw us outmuscled and Norgaard powered a header from the bouncing ball in the area into the unguarded net to make it 2-0. A dangerous free kick from Pepe was wasted as it flew over the bar before Brentford nearly grabbed a third from a corner with Leno flapping.
Brentford were so comfortable with Tierney getting the ball and attempting a cross, he had nine crosses and all have been blocked or cleared but he managed one successful cross into the oncoming Pepe who hit a snap shot into the near post and with the ball heading into the net but Raya got down quickly and turned the ball past the post. It was one of those games where we just looked like we would never score, We ended the game with 20 shots but only 4 shots on target.
The biggest concern is the ‘illness’ of Lacazette and Aubameyang and if this was a smoke screen for something else. Have the club guarded this reason instead of the real reason? We are in a real mess right now and we need to break this cycle.
- Match Report – Arsenal 2 Tottenham 1
It had excitement, despair, joy, worry and frustration. Yes, welcome to another North London Derby. The Emirates was ready for the game and when the teams were announced their were many varied views surrounding Aubameyang.
From fans questioning the decision to the press trying to dig to get any scoop or micro detail to turn into something else to bat us down. Arteta has proven he can make tough decisions and especially with discipline. We’ve seen this with Ozil, Guendouzi and now to a lesser extent Aubameyang.
Arteta to his credit played down the issue and that should be the end of it. Aubameyang has broken a rule the squad are bound by pre game and therefore every player abides by them. No exceptions. Whatever has happened will stay in the dressing room and in private. No need for speculation or claiming that Arteta is ‘clueless’. Line drawn.
So Mikel had selected Leno, Cedric, Gabriel, Luiz and Tierney in defence with Xhaka and Partey in midfield with Smith Rowe, Odegaard and Saka playing in behind Lacazette.
The game started well for Arsenal with a real purpose and tempo to the game and Lacazette looked bright early on including a nice nutmeg on Sanchez before winning a foul. Lacazette had a shot blocked on 5 minutes and Tierney hit a low cross into the area which came to nothing.
12 minutes in we were still in control and possession 75/25% in our favour. A though ball saw Lloris come flying out of his area to clear but get in an awkward situation and then has the slide in to clear from Odegaard. Luckily for Spurs the ball didn’t go to an Arsenal player.
Smith Rowe then produced a fantastic strike on goal when he found himself in space 25 yards from goal. He unleashed a shot not too unlike Odegaard’s goal last Thursday. Sadly for him the ball didn’t dip enough in the end and hit the lower side of the bar and bounced away. That would have been a fitting goal from the youngster who deserves some good fortune after the decent performances this season.
A good sight for Arsenal fans was when Son went down after attempting to chase down the ball. One thing for certain was that he would play no further part in the game, on came Lamela. We continued to dominate the half although Spurs were getting a bit more possession. On 26 minutes Smith Rowe got past Doherty and then cut ball back to Lacazette who mistimed his effort and sliced it out for a throw.
Lamela was involved in a few things since placing central and included a couple of kicks firstly on Xhaka and then Luiz. He is just a nasty type of player. A few minutes later though against the run of play Bale floated a cross to the far side of the area and Lamela then hit a rabona shot between Partey’s legs and a slight curl into the far corner of the goal. That was an outrageous goal.
That goal spurred Arsenal on as another attack formed once again down the left with Smith Rowe getting the better of Doherty again the cross was cut back and the oncoming Lacazette dummied the ball when looking like it was a good position to take the shot himself. Cedric won the race to the ball on the edge of the area and fired another low powerful shot which smashed against the post.
Feelings after these chances were ‘one of those games’ so often the case with us. Shortly after Saka was brought down by Reguilon, who was booked. A minute before the break though we were level and deservedly so. Doherty again beaten on our left wing by Tierney who hit a cross into the area and into the path of Odegaard whose shot took a deflection into the net.
Two goals in two goals for the on loan Real Madrid youngster as we went into half time level at 1-1.
At the start of the second half Saka was replaced by Pepe, potentially due to the heavy tackle late in the first half. Tottenham were very poor in the first half and sure that Mourinho would have told them that so for all our control in that half going in level was worrying.
Into the first stages of the second have we still was dominating possession and Spurs were still very poor, Mourinho hooked off Bale on 57 minutes who was really poor and Kane had still had no touches in our area. Hojbjerg should have been booked for a block on Partey but came into the game with as many lives as a cat.
The hour mark saw us press further and with Mourinho making all his changes I started to feel a bit more comfortable. A minute later Pepe played a nice pass to Lacazette who controlled the ball well in the area and took a swing at the ball and scuffed the connection kicking more air however the recovery challenge took Sanchez into Lacazette in the act of the shot and was given as a penalty and soft or not it was an out of control attempt to get the ball, which he didn’t.
Lacazette picked the ball up and placed it on the spot. Huge pressure and expectation was on this kick and he delivered an unbelievably cool and calm penalty into the corner of the net to make it 2-1 to the Arsenal.
For the first time in the match Arsenal were now deservingly in front and had thirteen shots to Spurs one. Another foul by Hojbjerg on Odegaard without booking was laughable on 67 minutes and then Lamela flew into a challenge with Partey which brought his first yellow card.
Five minutes on the barbed character Lamela was shown his second yellow card for being a bit too forceful with his hand off to Tierney. Smith Rowe came off for Willian in yet another brilliant, bright performance for the club.
But knowing that Spurs are capable to get back into the game we started to defend deeper and become more reserved in our play. A Spurs corner flashed across goal with no touch and then Xhaka was booked for a tackle outside of the area. There was now a sense of nerves creeping into our play.
The ensuing free kick was swung in and having done precisely nothing all game Kane managed to head the ball into the far corner away from Leno. However the linesman’s flag was up and VAR confirmed that Kane was offside.
A few other chances late on for Spurs before Kane bought a free kick backing up into Partey, bent forward and collapsed on the floor. So up stepped Kane who hit the ball well into the far corner, Leno was completely beaten but the ball smashed against the post and the rebound fell to Sanchez who diverted the ball goalwards only for Gabriel to be in a great position to head the ball away.
Into injury time the stress wasn’t over as another free kick was awarded. Up stepped Kane again and he sent the free kick over. Panic over, calmness restored and happiness begins. The game finished 2-1 and North London is Red.
All in all we controlled large portions of the game, hit the woodwork twice and we deserved the result.
- Match Report – Olympiakos 1 Arsenal 3
It was a fantastic performance on Thursday. We played with a great tempo and when out of possession we were excellent in the press to win the ball back. From the start we were impressive with Odegaard pulling an early shot wide when found by the penalty spot. On 5 minutes Aubameyang had a header well tipped onto the bar. On 22 minutes Aubameyang hit a strong free kick but was straight at the keeper.
On 33 minutes Odegaard moved forward after Partey intercepted the ball and unleashed a shot which was reminiscent of a 1990s football video game with a shot power up. It was hit with great technique and the shot flew in after the keeper got into a muddle on how to deal with it only managing to get a forearm on the ball before going into the net.
On 39 minutes we almost had a carbon copy of the Burnley game with David Luiz trying to play a ball through two oncoming players only to be dispossessed inside the area and a shot 10 yards from goal hit over. That was a warning sign.
The second half started and whilst we were in control on 57 minutes but when Gabriel played the ball to Leno, who was outside of his area on the right side. The keeper then played a soft accurate pass through a two man press to Ceballos who was quickly dispossessed and with Leno scurrying back into goal El-Arabi steadied himself and steered a shot into the net. Another goal gifted to the opponents.
This goal seemed to give the Greeks more confidence and so the game looked a lot more even. Arteta was looking at making changes as we were reaching last 10 minutes when a worked looping cross from a corner was clipped into the back post and Gabriel drifted in and leapt high and headed the ball into the far corner past the keeper to give us two away goals.
On came the subs and with us recycling possession the ball was passed into Elneny who had no one around him so moved forward with the ball and hit a low swerving shot away from keeper to give us three away goals and more importantly advantage going into the 2nd leg.
- Match Report – Burnley 1 Arsenal 1
The day started with much optimism for the game, but also I had a feeling which was worrying me in that what kind of performance we would see. As the team sheet was released I felt reassured that we would see another decent performance continuing our good run of form.
I expected further changes to the starting lineup especially as we are about to hit a very important week for the club. Fast approaching is the first leg against Olympiakos on Thursday then the North London derby on Sunday. Chuck in the return leg in the Europa League and another London derby again West Ham the following week, we know this is going to be a big challenge.
The game started with us taking control of possession and looking composed on the ball. Signs were there indicating that Burnley can mix it up also by playing ball longs but from the moment Partey picked up the ball and played a pass forward to Willian who ran with the ball towards the area and passed it to Aubameyang on the edge of the area and with a couple of of step overs he cut inside to then fire in a shot to the near post which Pope got a hand to but there was too much on it for him to keep out.
A slip at the wrong time saw Aubameyang saw him strike a shot wide after Partey send a ball over the top. We then forged a great chance when Aubameyang and Saka linking up in the box with a clever one-two only for Saka to shoot wide of the goal, the finish was rushed and he went for a quick flick of the outside of his boot rather than placing it with the inside of the boot or just the laces. He probably was expecting a crunching recovery challenge when the ball became loose, but we should have been two goals to the good.
Another chance, this time for Partey who was found on the edge of the area by Odegaard but the strike went sailing over the bar. As the half reached the latter stages Burnley’s press became visibly higher and on 39 minutes we gave away another Arsenal ‘gift’ goal when Burnley pressed well on the first phase forcing us back from Tierney to Mari who then passed to Leno. Xhaka retreating into the box in the middle to offer a pass from Leno was given the ball and with a first time pass on and available to free Chambers on the right he took a touch which then remove the angle for the pass and when attempted it was too late. The ball cannoned off Woods hip and bounced into the net with the keeper helpless.
I expected that Mikel Arteta would have fired the team up at half time obviously visibly angered by the equaliser and how it came about. However the goal gave Dyche a chance to rip into his players and turn the game into a battle and the second half showed it.
We struggled to get any flow to our game much to the way Burnley set up and how they defended and so the hour mark in the game was reached with very little happening. Arteta was readying his first change with Lacazette coming on for Odegaard.
As the game was going on you got the feeling that we had to step up the tempo and Saka having been booked already was getting involved in a few situations which could have given the referee a decision to make. On 69 minutes Willian came off for Pepe before Pieters clattered through the back of Lacazette, cue horrific screams and worries of a serious injury but the Frenchman got up and carried on.
Pepe looked bright and when in the box we saw drama when he knocked the ball up which hit Pieters arm but would have been harsh to be given. However as play continued Pepe knocked ball past Pieters who approached the ball with an arm outstretched which surely was handball with the current rules. VAR decided not to intervene so no penalty.
Leno was called into action twice in minutes, first tipping over a shot from Pieters and then Woods found himself one on one with the German who spread himself well to block with his leg. This marked the start of the action for the half and this time Tierney played a ball across the box for Pepe who mistimed his strike and kicked fresh air 8 yards out. That was a big chance into last 10 minutes of the game. Two minutes later Saka got free and sent a cross into the box and again it fell to Pepe who volleyed the ball goalwards the ball flew off Pieters (who else) on the goal line and up and over the bar. The referee was very keen to blow for a penalty and a red card for Pieters but VAR review showed it clearly was off his shoulder.
Into injury time and the ball breaks to Aubameyang who shoots on goal except a brave block by Mee. Another ball into the Burnley box and it eventually could its way to Ceballos who shot and it crashed off the post.
So a point earnt feels like two dropped with the amount of chances created. Disappointed in the end but the team carried on, it just didn’t go out way on the day.
- Match Report – Leicester City 1 Arsenal 3
My nerves were jangling around before kick off wondering how we would perform in a tricky game against Leicester. Another loss would be inconceivable at this time and with the games coming up we need to maximise the points we take.
Burnley, Olympiakos, Spurs, West Ham and Liverpool await over the next month and so it is hugely important that players step up to the plate and take the reigns to guide the Club along with the youngsters through this tricky patch.
That’s exactly what they did yesterday. A lot of negative comments for the starting lineup was short sighted in my opinion. The likes of Saka and Aubameyang and others have played a lot of minutes recently. Saka has been leaned on heavily due to the high quality of his performances, but still needs to be guarded against burnout as he is still only 19.
So the team picked was more about spacing the game time amongst the squad we have. In came Mari, Cedric, Pepe, Willian, Lacazette and Elneny and some had to give more than what the have shown previously when called upon. After six minutes though there was the sense of here we go again. We had controlled the game until Xhaka and Willian tried to be a little too intricate in a two v two situation on the left touchline and were robbed of possession and Youri Tielemans picked up the ball and ran forward. With Tierney up field Mari should have stepped up and in to slow his progress down but kept going backwards with one eye on the run of Vardy. The Belgian struck a shot across goal into the far corner of the net.
That was far from convincing stuff at the start of a game that meant so much to us. We then settled into a groove and really started to take a hold of possession and worked numerous opportunities and with multiple fouls on Pepe wide around the penalty area we had knocked in a few free kicks and corners. Just before half time we won another free kick which Willian delivered into the box for a moving David Luiz stooping header into the net to equalise. This was then tempered just a few minutes later with an injury to Smith Rowe with Odegaard coming on.
The half and ended there and when Pepe had a shot blocked by a high Leicester arm in the area VAR stepped in and awarded a penalty. Up stepped Lacazette who coolly sent the keeper the wrong way taking us into the break 2-1 up.
Seven minutes into the second half our desire to win the ball back saw Xhaka bring ball forward to pass to Pepe whom continued the move into the box and finished the move. The game took on a more comfortable feel and we controlled the game well making sure that we took back three points. A job well done and the squad rotation vindicated.
- Match Report – Arsenal 4 Leeds Ltd 2
There has been many times when we as fans of this great club have called for a big performance in a match and we haven’t seen it. Last sunday was one of those times we did see one. Yes we have just beaten a newly promoted team, not in the higher reaches of the league. However we know that they are a team who never give up and carry on playing their expansive brand of football.
We needed to get back to winning ways and we know every point is going to be important to where we finish this season. We see ourselves currently sitting 2 points off Spurs having played a game more but the table is a very weird one to predict or really work out what is happening as there are so many clubs with games in hand so whilst we look closer to the top 4, we are in fact a lot further away than we think. The reality is that we need to go a big run again and if we can hit that level of consistancy we can potentially get close.
Getting back to the game Mikel Arteta named a bright looking starting line up with Odegaard coming in for his first premier league start. Leno and Luiz came back in after suspension and Aubameyang returns to the starting lineup up front with Saka and Smith Rowe down the flanks. We started the game well enough with good tempo but it was Leeds who had the first real opportunity when the dangerous Bamfords flicked header was covered by Leno with a standard save.
Up the other end though a nice move with Xhaka feeding the ball wide to Aubameyang who was weaving a run inside the area to fire a shot into the near post in between two advancing defenders, I expect the keeper thought he would have gone into the other side of the goal, but anyway he was caught flat footed and unable to cover the open near post of the goal. That was just what we needed.
The game was exciting from the start and you could sense whenever Leeds broke quickly and through Raphinha they could cause trouble and they did on 26 minutes when the brazilian beat Cedric and then cut inside to feed Harrison who hit the squared ball straight at Leno. A couple of minutes later David Luiz picked up the ball and ran with the ball from the halfway line and managed to get into the box, after an exchange he got to the byline and pulled back a pass to Aubameyang who hit a shot first time. Unfortunately that was deflected by Ayling as he threw himself in front of the shot.
On 34 minutes further fuel to the fire was added to the VAR/ Poor decisions debate we have been witness to over many weeks. This time another direct run from Saka who was running at pace into the area, he tries to ghost past the oncoming defender who goes to lean of the youngster and the winger went down. It was a clumsy challenge and with all other decisions we have seen in the league would have been given as a penalty. It went to VAR and they reversed the decision after the referee watched the touchline monitor replay, much to the displeasure of Saka and Arteta.
Four minutes later there was no doubt. A ball was passed back to the young Leeds keeper who dallied on the ball too long which game the pace of Saka a real chance who gets the ball. In trying to win the ball back the goalkeepers challenge goes through the back of Saka and brings him down. Aubameyang stepped up to take the penalty and he fired it in cooly sending the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-0 to the Arsenal.
Another Arsenal attack saw them pass around the edge of the box but managed to get some space. Bellerin managed to keep the ball in possession with a header from a cross to Odegaard who played it to Ceballos. He nutmegged a defender threading a pass into Bellerin, he turned on goal and fired a shot low into the near post again to beat the keeper to make it three just before half time.
The second-half started like the first with Arsenal fast out of the blocks with a promising Smith Rowe running into the box and providing a questionable shot come cross into the back post for Aubameyang to score to make the score 4-0.
For goes up should’ve meant Arsenal were safe￼But we know all about Leeds United this season. They never know when to give up and have already seen this￼ when they played Manchester United. Just before the hour mark Leeds won a corner and we went to sleep and a towering header at the near post gave Leeds a lifeline. 11 minutes later Leeds had another goal.
This time Bellerin was caught out by a pass behind which saw the ball cut back for Costa who finished it well. The last 20 minutes was uncomfortable to say the least although we did hold on to get the 3 points.
So a decent enough performance saw us collect 3 points and with a big week ahead with the return on the Europa League and the visit of Man City on Sunday. Come on Arsenal
- Aston Villa 1 – Arsenal 0 – Villa Park Groundhog Day
We come off the pitch today with some big questions. Where was the energy in our play?, where were the forward advanced runs? And what on earth is the point on VAR.
The game ended and took on a very similar feel to the game last season which ended with the same score line. We dominated possession throughout the game but with very little penetration in both games. When we did get free and create something with purpose we found an Aston Villa body put on the line to block any shot.
It was disappointing this time round as we started slowly and it was noticeable in the first half which team wanted the ball more when out of possession. Villa closed us down with purpose and with more endeavour making it very uncomfortable for us on the ball. We seemed slow to get forward or move with the ball and our passing was below what was needed.
A silly mix up between Cedric and Gabriel gifted Villa a goal inside 2 minutes. This set the tone of the game and it was another frustrating watch. Villa had a plan and there were some individual battles throughout. Saka had been targeted for close treatment and had been taken out a few times before half time.
One of those was when he was able to try and break away from Konsa and as he is just in front of the defender he has gone down with contact from the defender. There was an argument for a red card as he was the last man. But due to a covering defender and the distance to goal a yellow was produced and probably fair. Konsa though had a few fouls in the game and probably was lucky to have still been on the pitch.
Into the second half the game took the same feel. Possession but nothing else really. We saw another controversial decision where the referee game a foul on the goalkeeper Martinez, but when the replays were shown you could see that Martinez had a hold of Lacazette and dragged him down. It is strange that VAR didn’t take a look at it or at least ask the referee to take a look at something he may have missed.
That penalty was the last involvement for Lacazette and Aubameyang came on in his place. Ødegaard came on for 30 minutes and by then we were a very funny shape with both the young Norwegian and Smith Rowe on together and with Partey going off late on for Willian as a precaution as he obviously felt something not right.
Ødegaard was fairly tidy but missed a glaring chance when he opted for power over placement when found by Saka in the box. Villa had the better chances on the break and May Ryan had to come up with some important saves to prevent the score line changing.
Next up is a home game against Leeds Utd and we know this is going to be a test going by our recent games in the cup and league. The players have midweek off as we are out of the FA Cup so a chance to recharge and get an extended period of training.
- Match Report – West Brom 0 Arsenal 4
A potentially tricky trip to a chilly, snowy Hawthorns was in front of us on Saturday evening. It was our first game of 2021 and we didn’t disappoint.
Usually, as I said in my preview last week we would be in for a real tough, physical battle when we have come up against a Sam Allardyce team. We were probably lucky to have played them after 4 games rather than after a bit more time and a transfer window to strengthen his squad.
As the players were warming up you could see the weather rolling in with light snow turning to slightly the heavier white stuff. Towards kick off it was starting to settle.
Once again it was so pleasing to see Mikel Arteta select the same nucleus of players whom have overseen our change in fortunes. Arteta sticking with the same back five with Ceballos coming in for Elneny in midfield alongside Xhaka.
Martinelli made way for Aubameyang on the left, with Saka on the right and Lacazette through the centre. Emile Smith Rowe kept his place in the number 10 role after impressing recently.
In the early stages of the game it became clear that the team were on their game and that the tempo and balance of the team was there. Early chances were created from wide areas with Aubameyang breaking down the left wing, then whipping a cross into the box which Bellerin got on the end of and shot at the West Brom keeper. The keeper made a smart save keeping big and planted a strong leg to block the shot then Saka saw his effort on the rebound blocked.
The movement and chemistry growing between the players was more evident when Lacazette laid the ball off to Saka who ran at the West Brom defence into the box but released a tame shot at the keeper. Further chances for Tierney and then Aubameyang as Saka again attacked down the right before cutting inside onto his left foot and drove a low shot across goal to towards the bottom left corner, however the shot was just going wide and it evaded the sliding Aubameyang on the post.
West Brom then on the break forced Leno into his first save on 21 minutes when Phillip struck a half volley straight at the German. A couple of minutes later we were 1-0 up. Again our play wide was key as this time Tierney picked up the ball and flew past Furlong before cutting inside the defender to get onto his right foot. The Scotsman then unleashed a curling effort into the top right of the net. A great goal to mark his first for the club and to put a stamp on his impressive performances.
Five minutes later it was two. The second goal was a thing of beauty and would not have looked out of place in the Wenger era. It was a great team goal and involved Smith Rowe, Lacazette and Saka as they all linked up together to bamboozle the West Brom defence with Saka finishing the move. On 32 minutes Smith Rowe opened West Brom up again this time working the ball between Tierney and Lacazette before sending the Frenchman down the left inside channel, however his shot was deflected but the keeper managed to tip it over.
One further chance for Lacazette before half time, easily beating Ivanovic with plenty of space to release a shot on goal. Laca went for power and forced a save from the keeper.
Half Time : West Brom 0 Arsenal 2
West Brom came out for the second half as you would have expected after a few choice words from Big Sam in the dressing room. They started with more purpose and within two minutes a lofted pass into the left channel saw Pereira chase and then drill a low shot across goal which hit the post as bounced out into the box. Robinson hammered the ball into the net however the flag went up against Pereira.
Bellerin came off after 54 minutes after getting a knock so Maitland-Niles took his place. On 60 minutes Saka again was causing mayhem down the right before clipping a cross into the box. An attempted clearance saw the ball directed onto the post, Smith Rowe followed up with a shot which was blocked and the rebound fell to Lacazette who hit a low effort into the net to make the game outcome safe.
Four minutes on and Lacazette had his second. Tierney again had lots of space on the left and he drilled the ball into the area and six yards out Laca was unmarked and steered the ball into the net to make it four.
We threatened to add to the tally in the latter stages with Willian coming on for the brilliant Saka and Willock for Smith Rowe. A great performance from the team and has strengthened the belief and confidence.
Full time : West Brom 0 Arsenal 4
Man of the match: Bukayo Saka
This result now makes it three wins on the bounce and with a break from league duties we have a FA Cup game against Newcastle at the weekend. It really was the best all round performance this season where not only were we solid defensively, we carried huge attacking threat and that showed with our shot stats creating 21 shooting opportunities with 12 on target.
So proud of the team watching the game. They deserve these performances and the plaudits that will naturally come. Keep believing and keep supporting the squad, whoever plays in Red and White.
Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Through Harmony
- Match Report – Brighton 0 Arsenal 1
We finally said goodbye to 2020 as we ended the year with consecutive wins in the league. The first time since the start of the season. A familiar score line in Arsenal folklore, One Nil to the Arsenal would have been ringing out to greet the players in the stadium at the final whistle. Sadly we couldn’t be there.
There was a lot of speculation before the game as to who would start. I for one had hoped Arteta would keep the same starting lineup as they all played so well. I also understand the need to keep players fresh so had expected changes.
When the teams dropped I was pleasantly surprised with Arteta only making one change from Saturday seeing Laca drop to the bench with Aubameyang coming back through the middle.
This game was very important for the club and so was a must win game for us if we have any chance of salvaging a decent league position this season.
We started the game in an assured manner with some good possession from the back. For all of that possession there was nothing meaningful to it. Gradually Brighton were suddenly seeing more of the ball and as expected set plays could play an important part in this game. Brighton had a couple of chances which were blocked and cleared before Veltman conceded a free kick wide on the edge of the area. Xhaka not able to add to his goal at the weekend hit it over and not troubling the keeper.
Brighton had the better chances as we could not find the penetration in the final third and looked like our recent form had returned. I think that this is just confidence and not wanting to over commit in attack. We went in at the break with Leno and Smith-Rowe to thank. Leno getting down well to make a smart save and grab the loose ball and Smith-Rowe who managed to slide into dispossess Jahanbakhsh who was looking more likely to score.
So in we went with Xhaka’s free kick the only effort of the half. Much to be discussed in the changing room.
We came out for the second half with renowned belief, showing more desire and purpose to our game. So much so that we carved out five shooting opportunities within the first 10 minutes of the restart. Both Saka and Smith-Rowe were finding spaces and were able to get into the game setting up chances for Aubameyang and Martinelli.
Martinelli was substituted on 66 minutes with Laca coming on. Another good bit of management considering Martinelli has been out for months. The lively Bukayo Saka produced a great turn and the turned on the burners to go towards the area and then pick out Laca unmarked in the box and with the defenders retreating to the six yard box had time to control the ball and then curl the ball past a defender into the corner of the net.
What an introduction!!
The game flowed on with Arsenal in control as Brighton made changes, unfortunately Saka looked to have picked up a foot injury and he was substituted for Ceballos. However Arsenal were committed and positive in their approach and so were able to manage the game and see it out.
Man Of The Match – Saka
- That winning feeling – a long time coming – Arsenal 3 Chelsea 1
It was obvious that the nerves of all Arsenal fans were on edge. No win in 7 league games has seen us drop to the lower depths of the league. Putting this poor form together with Chelsea’s decent form which had seen them move within a win of 2nd place, it shows how tricky the game could be.
However, to make matters slightly worse for Arteta we found out that Gabriel was self-isolating due to COVID protocol. Adding to this both David Luiz and Willian were also ruled out due to illness. Due to this Arteta was forced into changes so in came Smith-Rowe and Martinelli along with Mari.
It was a decent opening 10 minutes and then Chelsea started to dictate play and had the lion share of possession. Just after the half hour mark Tierney got down the wing and cut inside, James, tried to chase him but a leg tangle saw the Scotsman go down for a penalty. Lava stepped up and coolly give the keeper the eyes and a delay in the run up saw the goalkeeper commit himself and Lacazette sent the ball into the other side of the net.
A dangerous free kick was awarded to us on 44 minutes. Lacazette and Xhaka lined up the free kick, but it was Xhaka’s moment and he stepped up and drove a curled effort into the net. It was a great strike and the keeper was only beaten because of the pace of the ball. It showed how much it meant to the players just before half time and to Xhaka who has again taken a lot of flack and abuse this season.
Half time came around and we deservedly went in 2-0 to the good.
The second half started with Chelsea making a couple of substitutions with Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho coming on. The game carried on with more of the same. We had bundles of energy throughout the team countering the Chelsea teams possession. The urgency to win the ball back as well as the midfield tracking back to make interceptions was clear to see. Chelsea were gathering control of the game after an angry team talk at half time fuelling their efforts.
On 55 minutes Leno started a move forward involving 10 passes ending with Saka receiving a pass from the impressive Smith-Rowe. Saka then hit a delightful curling lobbed shot over the Chelsea keeper into the far post and in off of the post.
Arsenal continued to create a few chances and could have been at least 4 or 5 goals up before Chelsea started to get some joy with their attacks. They scored with 5 minutes left plus injury time to give them hope and spurred them on to attack with more purpose and tempo and all Arsenal fans hearts were in their mouths when Mari bit into a challenge on Mason Mount in the area to give Chelsea chance to get to 3-2 in the first of five additional minutes. Jorginho stepped up and sent the penalty to the keepers left.
It was well struck to be fair but Leno made his mind up early and got down to make the save and collect the ball. Had they scored that the last 4 minutes would have been very uncomfortable, so after that Arteta made sure of the result by taking off Laca for an extra defender, Mustafi. The whistle blew and queue the relief.