Monthly Archives: December 2013

EPL Preview: Arsenal vs. Cardiff City (Opening match of 2014)

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It’s the opening match of the new year for Arsenal as they host Cardiff City at the Emirates on January 1st, 2014. After grabbing two consecutive away wins, it’s now time for the Gunners to rectify their home form where they had dropped 4 points in December against Everton and Chelsea. Cardiff, on the other hand, are fresh off from sacking their manager Malky Mackay. No game in the Barclays Premier League can be taken lightly so Arsenal must not get hungover after their New Years’ Eve parties.

Team news: Giroud, Gibbs, Ramsey and Ozil are all out of this fixture.

After having a successful 2013 which saw Arsenal from finishing 4th to topping the league in mid-season having won the most points in the calendar year than any other team, it’s time for Wenger’s men to continue their fight to end their 8 year long trophy drought come May, 2014. 

Once again, a very happy new year to all of you from the team of Arsehind.

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EPL Review: Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (The Gunners ends the year on top)

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The Gunners ended the year on top of the Barclays Premier League table and becomes by far the best English club in 2013 with 83 calendar year points which is more than any other team. This game showed Arsenal’s resilience, strength and character to keep fighting to stay in and around the top 3. 

It was a tight affair with Arsenal dominating the first half but not doing anything significant with all of their possession. Newcastle came close to get the lead right at the end of the first half but it was cleared off the line by Arsenal’s defense. Newcastle were better in the second half but they too like the Gunners could not make most of their possession which enabled us to get the lead through an Olivier Giroud cheeky header. It was Giroud’s first goal since his brace against Southampton in November. After getting that goal, Arsenal came close to get a second but both Walcott and Giroud couldn’t bury it. Wenger took a defensive approach in the final 15 minutes when he took off Theo Walcott and Giroud for Jenkinson and Bendtner respectively. But, the Gunners were able to hold on to that 1-0 lead and take home all 3 points. 

It was Arsenal’s second away win of this week and they will now head into the new year being on top of the table. It has been a wonderful 2013 for Wenger’s men. From grabbing that final day 4th place finish in May to buying Ozil in September and ending the year with the old 1-nil to the Arsenal scoreline to finish the year on top, it must be said that the club deserves a lot of credit for that. Hope, the guys keep marching on and fight until the very end of the season to bring that trophy home. Come on Arsenal and I hope to see you all in 2014. Happy New Year. 

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EPL Preview: Newcastle United vs. Arsenal (A year ending blockbuster)

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This match is shaping up to be a real year ending blockbuster as Arsenal faces off against Newcastle United this weekend in the Barclays Premier League. Arsenal went back to winning ways after that 3-1 comeback away victory against West Ham United on Boxing day and Newcastle too thrashed Stoke 5-1 at St. James’ Park. So, it’s a very difficult game for Arsenal in their quest to finish the year at the top of the league table.

Team news: Aaron Ramsey looks likely to miss the game with that thigh injury which he suffered during the Boxing day match. Koscielny could be back to the side.

This season’s Premier League is shaping up to be a real open fight with no team in complete control of their league positions at the moment. It’s the best English League season I have witnessed in my 10 years of following the game. Having that said, I want our team to carry over the momentum which they gained from beating West Ham into this game because they will definitely need to be at their sharpest mindset if they wants to get something out of this fixture. Newcastle are in a real red hot run at the moment with wins one after the other. All in all, it’s going to be a true year ending blockbuster match between the two sides and I hope the Gunners would have enough in their tank to get a decent result at St. James’ Park.

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EPL Review: West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal (A win at last)

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It’s a win at last for the Gunners as they captured their first win in 5 games at the Boleyn Ground against West Ham United. Following their poor showing against the big teams, Wenger’s men needed to start from the scratch again and they certainly did that for which they have moved up to the top of the Barclays Premier League once again.

It was a very tight, scrappy game in the first half with neither team able to break one another’s defense but the match started at a blistering pace in the second half as after a smooth play by Arsenal only to get ruined by Walcott’s poor pass, West Ham hit on a quick counter attacking play finished calmly by Carlton Cole. Arsenal keeper Szczesny was at fault as well for the goal as his blocked shot made way for Cole to finish on the rebound. After conceding the goal, it was Arsenal who woke up and pushed for an equalizer. After a few hit and miss chanced, it was Theo Walcott who got one back for the Gunners as his shot got into the net through the West Ham goalkeepers legs. In a matter of a couple of minutes, Arsenal found themselves in the lead after a neat move led to a brilliantly headed goal by none other than Theo Walcott once again. After that drastic turn of events, it was the Gunners who were finally in full control of the match and the win was under their belt after Lukas Podolski’s comeback goal after 4 months in the sidelines through a hamstring injury. 

It was a welcome win for Arsenal as they begin their year end festive fixtures with a vital 3 points which took them back to the top of the table with Liverpool facing Manchester City later in the evening.

EPL Preview: West Ham United vs. Arsenal (Let’s start again)

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Let’s start again would be the thought on the Arsenal players mind as they visits the Boleyn Ground to face West Ham United on Boxing day in the English Premier League.

After their failure to prove themselves on the big stage against the big teams, the Gunners will have to start from the scratch again during these holiday fixtures. There’s no time to rest and think about the shortcomings in the big matches, the next game is the most important and that’s West Ham United. Arsenal must get back to winning ways after what has been a terrible month of December so far for Wenger’s men. Although West Ham too are having their own problems this season but as it is an away match, Arsenal can’t let them settle into the game too much. From now onward, the Gunners have to show their steel and try to stay in or around the top three if they are to have a real say in this seasons Barclays Premier League title chase.

EPL Review: Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (Boring game + the mental block continues)

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It was a boring game on a windy, rainy night and the mental block of Arsenal against the big teams continued as they once again failed to beat a big team. Yes, it ended as a goalless draw but the point is more beneficial to Chelsea than Arsenal as Wenger’s men needed the 3 points desperately following the draw and the defeat to Everton and Manchester City respectively but Arsene’s tactics on the night was more of a cautious one than of attack as he didn’t even made a single substitute to change the game. I don’t know if that’s because of our lack squad depth but considering the team had 9 days of rest the team should have been able to perform much better than they did against one of their top rivals for the title.

It was a frustrating game with Chelsea dominating the first half with quick counter-attacking play. Lampard came close to give them the lead but he was restricted by the bar. There were no other clear cut chances for them but for Arsenal it was worse as throughout the entire first half, they didn’t had a single shot on target and their attempts on goal was none against Chelsea’s 7. In the second half, the Gunners did show a bit more urgency but they just could’t break Chelsea’s defense and when they did broke it, their striker Olivier Giroud failed to convert his chances which again signals Arsenal’s desperate need to sign a striker in the January transfer window. The match ended in a boring 0-0.

With that draw, Arsenal have collected only 2 points out of their last 3 league games which isn’t just good enough for a team dreaming to lift the title come May, 2014. Arsenal are now joint top with Liverpool with 36 points. 

EPL Preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea (Time to wake up)

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It’s a time to wake up for Arsenal as they prepare to host their London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates in the Barclays Premier League in a mouthwatering clash. After suffering defeats in the Champions League and Premier League, Wenger’s men are back to play their first match in 9 days. On the other hand, Jose Mourinho’s men are fresh off from their exit from the Capital One Cup as they were beaten away 2-1 at Sunderland in midweek. 

Team news: Jack Wilshere is banned for two games for showing his middle finger to the Manchester City following Arsenal’s 6-3 defeat at the Etihad. Laurent Koscielny is also out with a knee injury while long absentee Lukas Podolski is back and available to play.

Arsenal’s good start to the season has reached an end following a series of bad results but they can put things right and get back to the top of the table if they can achieve a rare victory over their London rivals Chelsea. But, that’s a big “if” as Wenger has never been able to beat a side managed under Jose Mourinho. Mourinho knows just exactly how to beat the Gunners. But, this time around, apart from that loss to Manchester City and Manchester United, Arsenal have really had a very bright start to the season for which they were able to stay at the top for the last 4 months and are still well capable of staying there if they win their game in hand and that game is against the large spending Chelsea side. Chelsea are having a stop and start kind of a season thus far with inconsistent results week-in and week-out so Mourinho will hope that his side gets a good result against the red & white side of London to start a bit of a consistent run heading into the hectic Christmas fixtures. All in all, this match is shaping up to be a really tight affair and it will take a moment of true inspiration to get something out of this for both the clubs. 

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EPL Review: Manchester City 6-3 Arsenal (Tennis score, lightweight and just not good enough)

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Once again, Arsenal looked lightweight and scared and hence suffered another embarrassing defeat at the home of one of their title rivals i.e Manchester City. Just like the last 6 years, when it comes to playing big games, Arsenal are just not good enough even if they have improved this season. It’s a shame that although the Gunners are still top of the table, they are yet to beat a regular top side in this seasons Barclays Premier League.

Manchester City dominated the opening 30 minutes. It was City’s attack vs. Arsenal’s defense and it was the Gunners who had to gave up to City’s ruthlessness as they got their lead at the 12th minute through a Sergio Aguero goal from a well taken corner kick. After the 30 minute mark, the Gunners started to put together a series of passes which helped them to get back on level terms when Yaya Toure lost the ball to Ramsey in the middle of the park who gave it to Arsenal’s assist king Mesut Ozil and Ozil found Theo Walcott who netted it in. But, Arsenal could not hold onto the 1-1 score till half-time as after about 8 minutes Negredo tapped in a brilliant pass from Zabaleta to give City the lead at the interval. Arsenal’s in-form defender Laurent Koscielny had to be taken off after sustaining a cut on his knees while making a tackle on Negredo which led to their 2nd goal. Same as the first period, the Gunners yet again started on back foot as Flamini’s sloppy pass gifted City their 3rd goal at the 50th minute. The goal was scored by their new signing Fernandinho. After that, Arsenal showed a bit of hunger and character but Giroud’s missed pass to Theo who was in a tap in position and his missed header restricted the Gunners to capitalize on Manchester City’s passive approach. Arsenal did get back to 3-2 through a beautiful goal from Theo Walcott but again conceded almost instantly on another City counter attacking goal scored by David Silva. Arsenal tried to make a comeback but the match referee denied the little chances they had as he turned down a couple of offside goals which weren’t really offsides and a penalty. Fernandinho got his 2nd goal of the day in the final 10 minutes of the game. Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker gave the league leaders a consolation goal in the injury time. Again, the Gunners conceded straight after scoring the 3rd goal as Szczesny brought down City’s player to give them a penalty kick which Yaya Toure scored to give the Blue half of Manchester all 3 points against the current league leaders Arsenal.

As a result of this defeat Arsenal’s lead at the top is cut back to just 2 points. The Gunners are now without a win in their last 3 games in all competitions and will now get a much needed break of 9 days before facing Chelsea in another top of the table clash in the English Premier League. 

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EPL Preview: Manchester City vs. Arsenal (The moment of truth)

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It’s the moment of truth for both Manchester City and Arsenal as they face-off in the opening match of this weekends Barclays Premier League action. It’s a true top of the table clash where both the teams have something to prove. 

Team news: Sagna will have a test prior to the match and Podolski is available but is still short on match fitness according to Arsene Wenger.

Going into the match, it’s Manchester City who would be fully confident of beating the current league leaders as they are fresh off from beating Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe in the final group match of the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week. On the other hand, since that impressive away victory over Cardiff City, Arsenal have looked a bit jaded and it has shown in their last couple of matches as they dropped points in the league against Everton and missed out on a top of the group finish in the Champions League after losing to Napoli 2-0. So, the pressure is definitely on Arsenal. Manchester City had an extra day of rest while the Gunners would have to play their 2nd away match in a matter of just 48 hours. But, the Arsenal manager have said that they won’t use the hectic schedule as an excuse and have also termed this match as an opportunity to make a statement by getting a result at the most daunting stadium in the whole of the English Premier League.

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UCL Review: Napoli 2-0 Arsenal (Somehow it’s job done)

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Yes folks, we somehow did the job and went through to the knockout rounds for the 14th consecutive year in the UEFA Champions League. But, there was a sense of disappointment as our performance on the night was very poor, casual and too defensive minded and at the end we were just a goal short of going out of Europe’s most prestigious tournament. Having said that, as we were in the most difficult group also known as the “Group of death” we have to give credit to the team for defying the odds and making in through to the next round.

Arsenal handled the match very well in the first half and also had the chance to get the lead when a brilliant build up play allowed Giroud to get a clean strike on goal which was saved by Napoli’s goalkeeper. However, in the second half, Napoli came out firing. Knowing that they does no longer have to win by a 3-0 scoreline as Dortmund, at that time, were drawing away at Marseille, the Italian giants grew more confident of getting a result. Arsenal sensed Napoli’s urgency and could not cope up with their attack and finally gave up to Napoli’s pressure as their star striker Gonzalo Higuain gave them the lead. With 20 minutes to go, the Gunners made another blunder when Mikel Arteta got his second yellow card of the night and had to leave the pitch. So, the task got even more tougher. Elsewhere, in the last 5 minutes, Dortmund lead against Marseille, therefore, Napoli had to score twice more to qualify to the next round. They came very close as in the dying seconds of the match, they scored another goal through a lovely lobbed goal by Callejon. But, at the end, it was too late for the Italian side as right after the second goal, the referee blew the whistle to conclude this seasons Champions League group stage campaign. 

All 3 teams, Dortmund, Arsenal and Napoli finished on 12 points but unfortunately for Napoli, they had to go out on goal difference. Arsenal, on the other hand, had the chance to top the group had they been more positive minded and aimed for a draw instead of avoiding a 3-0 defeat. But, all in all, it was a successful campaign by the men in red & white at this years UEFA Champions League group stage.