Arsenal boss needs to find the winning formula against Tottenham

Image Source: FanSided Soccer via Twitter
We’re barely into November and any remaining hopes of Arsenal jostling for the Premier League title are fading fast. The 3-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City was hardly surprising, especially with Guardiola’s side ploughing through every rival they face, but the critics are still keen to dissect every decision that Arsene Wenger makes and every team performance that accompanies those decisions.

The most vocal critic, unsurprisingly, was Martin Keown via his regular Daily Mail column, and the former Gunners defender didn’t mince his words after the result against City. The leading point for Keown was the belief that, although Arsenal focused on trying to nullify City’s dominance of play, they did so at the expense of their own creativity.
Sacrificing their own effectiveness in the final third was a mistake by Wenger, according to Keown, who insists that Jack Wilshere could have provided the service Arsenal were lacking going forward, whilst also suggesting that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were little more than dead weight for their side.

It’s time to look beyond the two contract rebels, in his view, unless they put pen to paper on new deals and show commitment to the cause.

The latter was a point which Emmanuel Petit chose to focus on, highlighting what he believes to be a lack of motivation. “When the chips are down, several of them keep going missing,” suggested the Frenchman in a Metro article dissecting the latest Arsenal defeat. He also felt Wenger had sent out the wrong message to his players, adopting a more defensive approach to start the game.

Image Source: Arsenal FC via Twitter

After the loss against Manchester City, the Premier League betting clearly favours Guardiola’s unbeatable side at 1/6 for the title, whilst Arsenal’s odds have lengthened significantly to 80/1 and essentially, they’re considered to be out of the race now. However, the team must continue to push for a finish amongst the Champions League positions, having already missed out last season after finishing a disappointing fifth.

To do that, a clear signal of intent must be shown in the next game Arsenal play, because it’s none other than the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. Wenger has the international break to ponder his approach to the game and there will be no margins for error because, after falling short against the best team in the land right now, Pochettino’s side will be no less forgiving if the Gunners are an ounce below par.

Spurs might have dropped their beat a little in the EFL Cup and Premier League of late, but they’re still riding high in the title race and, after spectacularly defeating Real Madrid in the Champions League, Arsenal will need to be at their absolute best to get the three points at the Emirates Stadium.

A priceless win against Tottenham might, for the time being at least, silence the critics and restore some belief in Wenger’s side. But he will need to choose his options very carefully ahead of the game, ensuring that every player is 100% fired up to get the result they need. Otherwise, don’t be surprised to see Keown, Petit, and every other critic who cares to voice an opinion, out to twist the knife just a little bit more.

Should Petr Cech still be Arsenal’s Number One keeper?

In the world of soccer today, there is this general notion that older goalkeepers play better than the younger ones! There is this belief among all that the older the goalkeeper, the better! Is this always true? Don’t we have young keepers who have made names for themselves? Must older goalies always do well just because they are more experienced? Is Petr Cech the best goal keeper presently in Arsenal simply because he is old and experienced?

Football is dynamic, from season to season, it changes and improves. A good player this season may find out he won’t be relevant next season, unless he flows along with the change. So, what makes a goalkeeper better? His prowess in between the sticks or the ability of his defenders to do their jobs well?

Petr Cech came to England at a tender age of 19. He was making waves in his homeland before Chelsea decided to bring him to England to give him the exposure needed to be a good footballer. He did wonders at Chelsea, kept plenty numbers of clean sheet, won titles for Chelsea and even won personal laurels in the process! He was young when he came to Chelsea and he achieved all these, despite his relative young age.

Casillas became a first team goal keeper at Real Madrid at the age of 17! He won a lot of titles for Madrid, in between the sticks. He went on to keep for Madrid for more than 10 years and during all those times, he got better. He left Madrid after having issues with ‘the special one’. But his performances at Madrid will never be forgotten.

Joe Hart became England’s first choice goal keeper because of his performances for Man City. He did so well for Man City to the extent that the national team handlers had no choice than to invite him to the national team. He is currently not in Man City not because he has lost form, but the coach at Man City didn’t like him! He is doing well at the club he is playing for now.

What am I trying to say here? Petr Cech is still a good goal keeper but his performances this season is not something to write home about. If we are to challenge for trophies next season, we seriously need to be scouting for a young goalie who is a first choice for his current club and who is really doing well. I am not of the opinion that older goal keepers play better than the younger ones, it is all about the defensive set up of the team he plays and the agility of the keeper involved! Cech is too old for a top team like Arsenal. He can be kept as a back-up keeper but as Arsenal’s first choice? No sirs! Anybody here with suggestions of a good, young goalies?

Why are other managers getting involved in Arsenal’s problems?

Good day friends, hope you all enjoying our much-needed break? Well, I tried my best to enjoy my week despite Arsenal losing again! To be honest with you all, I was emotionally down after our lose to West From but then, I just had to move on with life! It is of no use depriving myself of happiness over a club that acts like my happiness as a fan, don’t matter to them!

Well, to the issue on my mind….I read stories on skysports.com and the story that forced a reaction from me was the one about Tony Pulis confidently saying he believes Arsene Wenger will remain as coach of Arsenal for a long time; which means Wenger is not ready to leave Arsenal now. Wow! So Wenger has hired Pulis as his spokesperson or what? Why is Pulis so much interested in what goes on in our club? Is he a relation to Mr. Wenger or what? Could other coaches just learn to face their jobs and stop supporting Wenger indirectly to stay?

Just some weeks back, it was reported in virtually all the papers, what Antonio Conte felt concerning Wenger’s situation at Arsenal. The Chelsea coach felt and still feels, that the fans of Arsenal are being too harsh on Wenger, claiming that Wenger deserves some respect and love for all he has done at Arsenal (as if we didn’t know that).

According to him, the fans were wrong in asking for a change of manager at their own club! Conte, in case you have forgotten, you are working at Chelsea football club and as you may be aware, when results start bad, you will be sacked! Getting hired and getting fired, is all part of a coach’s life sir! If the fans feel Wenger needs to go, it is not because they don’t respect or appreciate him for all he has done, it is simply because they feel he is gone stale as a coach and needs to leave the club to allow a younger coach with fresh ideas to run the club!

As for Tony Pulis, i guess you enjoyed the way your club mercilessly dealt with Arsenal and you wish this will always be the situation. You are afraid of playing an Arsenal team being coached by a progressive manager! Well, the sad thing is, nothing lasts forever sir. You have always had it easy against Arsenal and that is because we have a coach who enjoys doing the same things all over again, while expecting different results. Well, the fans are tired of losing and they are seriously agitating for a change in how the club is being run. This is beyond Wenger sir, this is a movement for a better Arsenal.

Sorry, if I sound harsh to Tony Pulis but i just wish he and other coaches can stay out of our affairs! Wenger does not need other coaches to convince him to stay. He needs to leave after this season because that is the logical thing to do. All these coaches supporting Wenger, are they doing it because of professional courtesy or for selfish reasons?

Where are Arsenal’s set-piece experts?

Free-kicks are very important in a game. It is an opportunity for a team to score a goal, great teams have at one time or the other, scored important goals from the free-kicks situation. World class players like Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo and others, score free-kicks to save their teams from the jaws of defeat! Why does Arsenal find it difficult to score free-kicks? Don’t we have good free-kick takers in our team?

Free-kicks are scored by creative players; a footballer, who is skillful and knows how to create the works of art on the field of play, should be able to score free-kicks at will! Do we have skillful players at Arsenal? Yes, we do…..

Santi Cazorla: Fast, skillful and an eye for goal! He is the engine room of the Arsenal team; whenever he plays, the team plays well but whenever he is out of the team; the team finds it difficult to play. He has scored great goals from outside the penalty box and has a knack for playing powerful shots! But does he hardly score from the free-kick situations?

Mesut Ozil: A world-cup winner with the Germany national team. Very skillful with a good eye for a pass. He also loves to assist and just recently, he added goal scoring to his hobbies. He is an attacking player with class. I watched him score a wonderful free kick against Liverpool three seasons ago and I knew he could be a regular free kick scorer if only he practiced more. He is my candidate for taking free kicks but he needs to learn how to convert them to goals.

Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean international player is a world class player in all ramifications! He is fast, very skillful and a good dribbler. He is currently our highest goal scorer at Arsenal this season. Personally, I expected him to have mastered the art of scoring free kicks as this will aid him in his quest to score more goals. Sanchez should really step up and start scoring free kicks at will.

Granit Xhaka: The swiss international came to Arsenal with reputation for scoring goals from long ranges. He is a powerful shooter of the ball and has even scored goals from shooting positions at Arsenal! With his shooting abilities, one would have expected him to know how to score from free-kicks but I guess, we expected too much from him.

In all honesty, Arsenal should be scoring from free kick positions for fun but why that is not happening, I don’t really know. What can be done to turn our players to free kick scorers?

West Brom v Arsenal – What the stats said….

WEST BROM 3-1 ARSENAL; WHAT THE STATS SAYS AS REGARDS TO THE GUNNERS 3-1 LOSS TO WEST BROM.

The Gunners were hammered a big blow at the Hawthorns as Arsenal were beaten 3-1 under the view of 24065 spectators. The host started brightly as they took the lead through Craig Dawson who found some room in Arsenal’s defence to head home from a resultant corner-kick in the 12th minutes of the game.

The Gunners came back into the game through who else but Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal eventually lost 3-1 to the host.
This result makes it 4 loss out of the last five games for Arsenal s questions continues to get towards the Arsenal side and Arsene Wenger in particular for what a torrid season it is turning to be for the London side.
With the 3-1 loss we take a look at some match statistics as it happened at the Hawthorns.

FULL STATISTICS
SHOTS ON TARGET
6 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 3
The Gunners were beaten on numbers of shots on target by the home side. West Brom had six strikes on goal which resulted in the corner-kick that produced both goals for the home side as they downed Arsenal 3-1 in the game.
Arsenal’s 3 shots on goal produced their equalizer as Alexis Sanchez showed composure and confidence to finish past the goalkeeper following a brilliant ball from his teammate Granit Xhaka who looped a decent ball over the West Brom defence to find Alexis Sanchez in the box.

SHOTS OFF TARGET
3 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 3
Both sides produced a total of six shots off target in the game as both sides shared the spoils here on 3 shots apiece away from goal.
In the end it was Arsenal who paid the price in the match as they were dealt a huge blow with the 3-1 win in the game.

POSSESSION (%)
31 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 69
It was no surprise as the Gunners produced quality and flair in transition. The likes of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka sat deep in midfield as the duo produced some good moment to dominate the host in the middle of the park.
The Gunners though were unlucky as they could not convert their dominance into the much needed three points as Craig Dawson got the job done for West Brom with 2 headed goals.

CORNERS
4 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 5
The Gunners had 5 corner-kicks in the game as regards to West Brom’s 4 corner-kick in total.
The host made use of their corner-kick to effectiveness as two of their goals came from corner-kick set play from one player Craig Dawson who scored in each half to open and end the scoring in the match as Arsenal were given a soccer punch in the wake of what is turning out to be a bad and unfruitful season and a one to forget.

OFFSIDES
2 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 1
The home side had 2 offside calls in the game while the visiting side Arsenal were caught offside on one occasion as the host threw every ball at the Gunners in the wake of a 3-1 win despite Alexis Sanchez equalizer in the game.

FOULS
5 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 5
The host committed about 5 fouls in the entire game while the visitors were forced into 5 fouls themselves in the match. This is as a result of the flair exhibited by both side in midfield particularly from Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as both sides attempted to get the ball off each other in the wake of the contested duel at the Hawthorns.

YELLOW CARDS
1 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 0
The game produced only one yellow card in the entire 90minutes encounter. It was no surprise as the team with the less possession of the ball tends to hit the dominant side in the course of the game.
West Brom’s James McClean was booked in the 42nd minute as the only booking of the entire match.

GOAL-KICK
5 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 7
The game produced a total of 12 goal-kicks in the game. Players like Sanchez and Salomon Rondon spearheaded their team’s attack (forward play) as this resulted in a stern attacking match for the opposing defence as Arsenal conceded 7 goal-kick behind their goal as compared to the 5 goal-kick at the end of West Brom goal area.

TREATMENTS
0 (WEST BROM) (ARSENAL) 2
The Gunners had 2 treatments in the game as compared to the host none in the game. It was no surprise as Arsenal players are prone to injury and might have fallen prey to any sort of knocks or some physical constraint during the game in line with Alexis Sanchez injury before the Chilean Superstar was replaced by Nigerian attacking talent Alex Iwobi later on in the game.

Is the Chelsea boss just being nice to Arsenal?

Chelsea may not be in the Champions league but their form this season has been awesome! They started this season on a wrong foot under the tutelage of their new Italian coach but as time went on, he discovered his winning formula and now, Chelsea are on their way to being premiership champions. Probably, if they had been in the Champions league, they would have done better than the rest of the English clubs without doubt.

However, not being in the Champions league, has not stopped their coach Antonio Conte from giving his opinion on the outings of the other clubs in the Premiership. Conte believes that Arsenal and other premiership clubs, where just unlucky to lose in the Champions league, claiming it was one of the surprises of football that while established premiership clubs found it difficult winning their games, Leicester city are doing well in the competition “I can talk about the difficulty in this case City and Arsenal, Tottenham faced.

“It is very strange to see Leicester struggle to keep the Premier League, now they are playing the quarter-finals of the Champions League. This is football because there are these kinds of surprises”

“This is football because there are these kinds of surprises.

“It is a shame for City and Arsenal.”

While I may want to agree with him that surprises do happen in football, I will also want to add that teams like Arsenal and Tottenham lost out of the champions league because they had players who were not built for a competition like the premier league. Manchester City may claim they were unlucky against Monaco and I will totally agree with them because Monaco were not so spectacular on the night they played the Citizens, Guardiola’s team just didn’t have things going their way that night.

In addition to not having the right players with the right mentality for the competition, Arsenal’s major problem was their coach, who probably does not know how to win trophies again. I will accept the fact that Conte was just trying not to sound harsh on his professional colleagues but if truth must be told, he won’t help them by being diplomatic. He has played in the Champions league before and he should know what it takes to succeed in the competition and that experience is what I expected him to share with his colleagues, and not trying to pamper the issue or am I wrong in my assessment?

Arsenal just need to win a couple of games?

It’s been a very challenging past month for the Gunners, with some truly shocking performances. Defeats against Chelsea and Liverpool were bad enough, yet to mix in the absolute embarrassment against Bayern Munich over two legs is just something that is unforgivable for Arsene Wenger. Big changes need to happen soon at the club, but one player, Nacho Monreal, believes a rise in form is just around the corner.

Monreal, who much like Arsenal, has been largely inconsistent this season. Often hailed as one of the best defenders in the league, Monreal has not given that impression off at all this season and has been very poor in comparison to previous campaigns.

There is poor moral around the squad at the moment, especially with the uncertainty surrounding both Alexis Sanchez and Arsene Wenger. The team needs a boost on the back of their poor string of performances and Nacho Monreal claims the Gunners are close to achieving that.

Monreal told Arsenal.com: “We have had difficult games, but maybe our commitment hasn’t been enough [lately]. In the past few games we haven’t played our game and maybe that’s why we’ve lost too many times.”

“When you lose one, two or three games in a short time, it’s obviously difficult because your confidence goes down. We have to win a couple of games and then I’m completely sure that the team will go up again.”

It’s always good to know that the squad moral is improving because that is likely to boost the performances and thus bring results in itself. Confidence is key in a successful team and along with leadership and passion, confidence is one of the areas this club seems to lack most. But can we actually have faith in Monreal’s statement?

A lot of the players seem uncertain as to whether their futures remain with Arsenal beyond the season and many look like they desire for the campaign to end sooner rather than later.

Big changes may be needed in terms of management, but Wenger isn’t going to be leaving before the end of the domestic campaign. This means that the Gunners are unlikely to see a revolution in tactical approaches. It will therefore be down to the players alone to pull their fingers out to change the final results for the club this season and they must realise that if they don’t achieve the top four at the very least, then things at the club will become a lot more miserable than they already are.

Arsenal v Burnley – FIVE players to watch out for today

The host Gunners entertains the visiting side Burnley in the return fixture of the Barclays Premier League with so much to expect as the big guns minus the main rival (Chelsea at the top of the Premier League summit) like Liverpool, City and Tottenham Hotspur while United needed a late goal from their Veteran skipper Wayne Rooney to draw United back in the game which was cagey at Britannia Stadium (Stoke City).

Arsenal at home are expected to win especially with the improved defensive stability as regards to the combo of Mustafi and skipper Laurent Koscielny in the Arsenal backline. It will be a tactical tussle in the touch line though as players do the battle on the field of play. It looks like both teams have some players in form as they look set to pick something from the game. On this note we evaluate the five players that can make a difference in the game between Arsenal and Burnley.

ALEX IWOBI
The young lad had been impressive in games and will likely be handed a starting shirt as always ahead of English forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the Arsenal set-up. His performance in the last two games against Preston North End and Swansea City have been commendable especially at Swansea, where he was instrumental in the huge score line Arsenal recorded in the game. He caused Swansea all sorts of problems with his flair and directness in the final third and expect the young lad to shine against Burnley in front of Arsenal home fans. The forwards ability to score goals just like in the Stoke City and Crystal Palace games will come handy for Arsenal chances going into the fixtures.

ANDRE GRAY
The Burnley man will have a say in what might happen at Emirates Stadium this weekend as they visit Arsenal in the Premier League. With top sides like Liverpool and Manchester United all dropping points against Swansea and Stoke City respectively with the center forward notching a goal, the Burnley star will fancy his chances.
Despite the fact that Arsenal may have the pair of Koscielny and Mustafi in the Burnley game Arsenal defensive renovations as regards to Hector Bellerin’s absence due to injury may trigger certain level of imbalances in the Arsenal vital areas that the big forward can capitalize on. The forward is in good form following recent exploits in the top flight this season and a test awaits Arsenal from the Big forward who have all it takes to crack the Gunners defence with his guile and physical strength especially in aerial duels where Arsenal have proved vulnerable all times long in the season.

ALEXIS SANCHEZ
The diminutive forward might have put on a show which drew headlines last week as regards to his commitment to the club in recent days but when the Chile star is on the pitch, he is a different can of worms for the opposition. The forward got a goal despite his substitution against Swansea City and was in confident mood following decent link-up play in the final third as he set up the run of Welsh midfield player Aaron Ramsey with a well-tailored pass that forced Swansea goalie to make a decent save. Sanchez’ directness along with Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain in transition have been explosive for Arsenal this season causing the opposing sides to be pegged back into their defence. This was evident as Arsenal hit five goal past West Ham United away from home in December with Sanchez getting a well-deserved hat-trick and this is why Burnley will have their hands full against the Arsenal forward when the ball is set into play.

SAM VOKES
Samuel Michael “Sam ”Vokes is an integral part of the Burnley set up this term as he have contributed immensely to the success of the newly promoted side (Burnley) in transition. The forward was really impactful as they defeated Liverpool 2-0 earlier in the season. His support and build up play alongside leading striker Andre Gray will be key in stifling out something from Arsenal’s defence in the game. The Welsh forward possesses his own cannon of threat and with the support of guys like Joey Barton and the aforementioned forward (Gray) expect the Welsh forward to come on board in the game causing Arsenal some problems at the Emirates.

GRANIT XHAKA
The Arsenal new signing from Borussia Moenchengladbach Granit Xhaka seemed to have very much acclimatized to the Premier League football and Arsenal team scheme unlike the one in the German Bundesliga and his former Club. He has made the midfield his own leaving competition for second spot between French midfield player (Francis) Coquelin and Egyptian star Mohamed Elneny who is away at the African Cup of Nations(GABON 2017). His performancse have been evident as his passes and distribution have been awesome all season. His level of calmness and awareness in possession is what makes him a priced asset at the club in view of the return of Santi Cazorla as we expected another commanding display from the Swiss International which will certainly influence the Arsenal game performance against Burnley.

 

Obiweluozo Martins

If Arsenal score lots of goals from the start, we can beat Burnley!

Granit Xhaka has only been at Arsenal for six months, but his English has improved greatly. He has even very quickly learned how to say the common cliches that footballers need to say before and after games. But his utterings yesterday make for interesting reading.

His idea is that the best way to beat teams like Burnley is “to score as early as possible and as many times as possible.” This is definitely a great tactic for Arsenal to have against every team we play lol.

Xhaka said yesterday: “We noticed already in the first game (at Burnley) that it was really tough at their place. We needed a late goal to win. They play direct, they’re compact defensively as well and that makes it difficult. But we’re playing at home and we need the three points.

“Against these sort of teams, it’s very important to score as early as possible and as many times as possible. That puts them under pressure, it makes them come out a bit more as well. We want to start positively, we want to force mistakes and if we do that, I’m sure we can win this game.”

I am sure we can with this game too, especially if we are 4-0 up at half-time! But then again, I seem to remember a game against Newcastle once…..

Is Merson right about Arsenal spending?

Paul Merson may be a former Arsenal player, but he’s never too far away from criticising the club in the media. Merson’s criticism of Arsenal today comes in regards to the transfer market, with the pundit now urging Arsene Wenger to spend some money!
There are various players that we all think could improve our current side, but one that most will agree on, is the need to have a real world class striker. We have found new light in Alexis Sanchez up front, but a real top quality striker, one that can win you the league with 25-30 goals a season is what we truly need.
Merson has gone for Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Greizmann to be Arsenal’s number one target, but is there really much hope of a move for the Frenchman? Merson said:

‘They pay top dollar those Arsenal fans. When you’re paying that kind of money you have to be watching world class footballers at the club. You can’t just have two – you should have five and six in my opinion.’

‘With Griezmann, people go ‘they’ve [Arsenal] got that kind of player’. They haven’t. They’ve got two of them but you could do with another one. For me there isn’t a club in the world that wouldn’t want Griezmann.’

The pundit is right when he says the fans fork out big money every single week and with the amount of money Arsenal have coming in, there should definitely be some new investments to the team. There’s no longer the bill to pay off the stadium and so there’s no hanging debt looming over the club. Arsene Wenger needs to invest and a bid for Greizmann would be a great place to start.

Greizmann is in my opinion a very unlikely target. The Frenchman plays for a very competitive Atletico Madrid side and is unlikely to move halfway through the season. However Manchester United have been heavily linked with the striker this January, and according to reports Greizmann may also be interested in the move. So if the player is willing to make the move, should Wenger try test the waters at the very least?

Greizmann is one of the very best strikers in the game at the moment and Wenger is known to have looked at the player in his earlier days at Real Sociedad. Atletico won’t be willing to sell, unless their reported move for Costa comes off, but once again I can’t see all these top class strikers moving halfway through the  domestic season.

By AH