Premier League round up (of sorts)

 

It’s been a tough few weeks for Arsenal fans; another transfer window has been and gone in an all too familiar fashion. Just like so many others before, it was another window in which the club had again failed to do anything other than the bare minimum. Then of course, just prior to our transfer window hilarities there was the standard humiliating defeat in a big game away from home. This time around it was at the hands of Liverpool away at Anfield. At this point it is almost baffling that the club don’t seem to recognise that those two events seem to have a strange symbiotic relationship with each other. Who’d have thought that indeed there is in fact a direct correlation between our poor run of results in early August and the fact we always seem to have a shambolic transfer window. It’s the stuff of genius. 

It surely must be that same sort of out of the box lateral thinking, that makes a football manager of over 20 years’ experience at the top level, completely unnecessarily shoehorn a clearly want away Oxlade-Chamberlain at right-wing back and disjoint the entire team in our first big crucial away fixture. But the biggest sledgehammer to the bollocks wasn’t in fact leaving our fit and raring-to-go Bundesliga team of the year left back on the bench, as even more comically Chamberlain actually signed for Liverpool a mere 4 days later.

To say that things were starting to feel a ‘bit samey’ would’ve been understatement of the fucking year. It truly has been, or at least feels like a really calamitous period of time for the club, even by Arsenal standards. It genuinely seems like we have been trying to out Arsenal ourselves at times. But please forgive my cynicisms – I am honestly trying to be positive. I didn’t even mention the fact we lost to Stoke ‘beyond the wall.’ I thought it would be best to completely gloss over that absolute shocker of a result entirely in an attempt to spare my own sanity.

So what positives have there been? Okay so we didn’t lose to Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge which was obviously a huge positive. Especially considering we haven’t won there since the Dutch Skunk ran clean through on goal after John Terry’s (hilarious) unfortunate slip on the halfway line in 2011. So looking at things from a wider perspective, going away to the current Champions, a place where we normally roll over and get beaten easily, and not doing that this time around was 100% a good thing.

However being at the game myself and seeing things first hand, when the final whistle did go, I couldn’t help but think that we should’ve done a little more. Even whilst walking away from the ground I couldn’t shake the feeling that we should’ve won the game. My thoughts on the 90 minutes were given even greater credibility when I was on my journey back home. Whilst crammed into the tube back to West Brompton station, I overheard some (cunts) Chelsea fans discussing the match between themselves. Their general consensus was; they were all extremely disappointed with the result and their teams’ lacklustre performance (which was obviously amazing to hear). They too felt that their team lacked a lot energy and ambition going forward, and that they never ever really got going at all.

Not to give Chelsea fans any sort of credit whatsoever, but their views probably were a fair assessment of the way the match panned out. I didn’t get the privilege of continuing to listen in on their conversation for too much longer as I fortunately had to change trains at Clapham Junction. But I am fairly sure that their disappointment would’ve been compounded further by David Luiz and his ludicrous tackle on Kolasinac and subsequent red card. All jokes aside, it genuinely was a leg breaker. Had his leg (or foot) been firmly planted in the turf – that would’ve been a really bad injury, which probably would’ve called an end to his season prematurely. We’ve not had too much luck regarding injuries in the past, as we all know, so I suppose seeing him get up and continue to play on was also another positive to take away from the game.

Although speaking of injuries, I was gutted to see Danny Welbeck go down with what looked like at the time, and has since been confirmed as a groin strain of some description. I thought he put in a serious shift on the day. And I know he does seem to lack the clinical finishing that will maybe prevent him from becoming a top player. But with that being said, he is a seriously decent squad player to have around, so I think he will be a big miss over the coming weeks when the fixture list start’s building up.

Moving onto Tuesday night’s proceedings against West Brom; can I just say from the off how delighted I was that Tony Pulis was so fucking angry in his post-match press conference on Sky. I cannot explain how much joy that gave me seeing him so irate. Just hearing his deranged ramblings of ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ then literally 10 seconds later going over the penalty incident once again, which in all fairness was absolutely stonewall. But just knowing that Tony clearly couldn’t fathom the injustice of the penalty not being correctly awarded was just all too glorious to watch. Even now I am still marinating in his anger, bathing in his saltiness, basking in the glory of his ire – I could go on and on, but just to recap (no pun intended Tony you cap wearing loser). I was extremely happy that we beat West Brom and the victory was essentially built on an extremely contentious decision that made Mr Pulis enormously unhappy.

With all that being said, I thought we were very fortunate not to be at least one nil down in the opening exchanges. We did really struggle to contain West Brom at times. I know I did gloss over the penalty incident above, but I think Tony Pulis’ anger should be perhaps pointed more towards his own player who literally went on to miss an open goal seconds later. There were a variety of other chances that the Baggies had on the break which I could talk about, but ultimately I hate them, and they didn’t score, so I won’t bother. It was slightly worrying however when you consider a team comprised of much better players would’ve potentially scored a few of those chances had we of been playing slightly more stronger opponents.

In truth we didn’t really get hold of the game until Lacazette put us one nil in front by pouncing on a rebound from a well struck Sanchez free kick 20 minutes into the first half. I think had West Brom made it to the break without conceding. It would’ve made things much more difficult in the second half, because the crowd probably would’ve gotten a bit wound up considering the way we were playing. That nervousness would have undoubtedly made its way onto the pitch potentially causing the players to perform even worse – so getting that goal in the first half was really very important.

I thought in the second half we were much more improved. The tempo to our game was much better and subsequently West Brom really were struggling to contain us. It seemed only a matter of time before we managed to breach ‘the great Pulis wall’ and grab the second goal of the game. Finally in the 67th minute a clumsy tackle in the area by a West Brom player (whose name escapes me now, so I’ll just refer to him as a ‘C U Next Tuesday’) on Aaron Ramsey – who I thought had another excellent game – saw the referee correctly award us a penalty (chin up Tony you loser) which Lacazette converted with ease to grab his second goal of the evening.

At two nil up we were firmly in the driving seat, and the score line could’ve been widen to three nil had Bellerin shot not of been deflected over the bar. When Giroud came on with 10 minutes or so to play he should’ve of really grabbed his 100th Premier League goal had Aaron Ramsey played him in, but the Welshman opted for a first time shot instead which was fair enough considering the game he had. When the final whistle did go I thought we were good value for the points, sure we did ride our luck at times, but considering we had been a bit short of luck in some of the previous games, Stoke away comes to mind specifically, so it was good to see the footballing universe level out a little bit at the expense of Tony Pulis.

So with the tough start to the Premier League out of the way, I am hoping that we can put together a decent run of performances over the next month considering our upcoming fixtures are as follows:

  • Brighton at home
  • Watford away
  • Everton away
  • Swansea at home

The Swansea game takes us all the way up to the end of October, and looking at those teams we should be aiming to take maximum points. We should be looking to use this period as a way of getting our ‘title challenge,’ back on track. Everton away has been a tricky destination for us under Ronald Koeman in recent times, as we do seem to really struggle with the teams that he manages. But hopefully the Everton hierarchy do us a favour in the meantime and fire him before we get up there.

Just quickly, as a side note because I did just want to use this blog post as a way to try and round up our League campaign so far. But I was delighted to see Jack Wilshere wearing an Arsenal shirt again in Caraboa Cup game last week. It’s still far too early to determine whether or not he will remain an Arsenal player come January or the end of the season, because being a player with his injury record, it’s not necessarily the wisest thing in the world to not have the cushion of a longer contract in place. Either way, it was just great to see him back in the mix, and I am really hoping that he has a great couple of months and pushes on to feature as much as possible this season.

Bit of a long one from me but that’s your lot – speak soon.

Follow me @graemejhawk

Graeme Hawkins

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