Monday, 18 January 2016

Over Halfway, And Top Of The League

Let’s face it, it probably should be slightly better than this, we should be a few points clear at the top of the league. In an ordinary season, the title winners at this stage, having the opportunities to build a gap probably would have. 3-2 up at Liverpool and not holding on, a draw at Norwich, a loss against West Ham, a draw against Spurs, losing to West Brom having missed a last minute penalty and losing to a poor Chelsea side (even if we did have ten men) were all opportunities to increase the gap at the top.

 That’s all good and well in a ‘ordinary season’ and we probably should have got better results in some of those games but looking at the league, these games are now becoming ‘ordinary’ and maybe, this is how a normal season will pan out and going forward, teams will drop points more regularly and we will see surprise packages such as Leicester more and more.

As football supporters, we naturally focus on the negatives but forget how we held on to beat Palace away from home 1-2 or the one goal victory against Newcastle (home and away!), or the character we showed at home to City when there was only one goal in it for the last ten minutes. We have gone to Leicester and won (City Drew, United Drew, Chelsea lost) and got a point at Stoke (City, United and Chelsea all lost there as do Arsenal…normally). We forget how we beat Manchester United at home in such a convincing fashion or how we demolished Watford and Swansea in the second half after an average first.

It seems like a ‘Southampton away’ or a ‘West Brom away’ will happen from time to time but changing the ‘time to time’ losses into draws actually represents a good result – a point at Stoke is a good result. The Liverpool result was highly frustrating and annoying but looking at the bigger picture, we haven’t done an ‘Arsenal’ too often this season by conceding late on (something it felt like we used to do every other week in seasons past!) 

To win the league, you can afford to have the odd bad result, but you must limit them. It looks like this season’s champions will lose at least six games. It may seem like a lot and questions and debates about the quality of the Premier League may start up, but Arsenal lost six games in the 97/98 campaign but won the league. They did however, only lose 3 in 2001/2002 and off course none in 2003/2004.

Two points from two games normally isn’t great and in truth, being 3-2 up with a few minutes to go should have resulted in four points from two games but it’s when you look deeper, you rethink if 2/6 was a good return. Arsenal’s record at home is pretty impressive since the opening day of the season, Manchester City’s away record isn’t great – their win at Watford was their first win on the road since the start of September. Arsenal played the last two games away and Manchester City were at home. In truth, I was expecting Manchester City to win both but they only managed 4/6 points – they dropped points against Everton at home.

Let’s be clear – there is a long way to go and our away trips are TOUGH! We still need to go to United, City and Spurs to name a few but are roughly where we wanted to be. A mate of mine who supports Liverpool thought they had a shot at the title purely because they have been to most top clubs already and play all their big games at home; but one thing he forgot to mention was that you need to actually beat the big teams at home and that is something we have managed to do and have another opportunity to do it on Sunday against Chelsea and this is the reason why we lead the race rather than sit in seventh.

The title is there to be won and Arsenal are bang in the race – they just need to last the distance and get a bit of a second wind and that is very possible with the return of Alexis Sanchez and co.

A week off for us supporters then we go again!

Up the Arsenal.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Can Theo Walcott Make The Difference?

I’m going to put myself on the line – Theo Walcott is the man to keep Arsenal in the title race (with the help of Mesut Ozil and a returning Alexis Sanchez in a few weeks)….as long as he stays bloody fit! 
Many argue that he does not have a trick or sometimes join the ‘not having a football brain’ bandwagon but he has two attributes that many dream about – pace and finishing.

Even the football brain nonsense can be argued – the runs he makes have become intelligent and perhaps working with Thierry Henry has helped him too but in my opinion, he can make a real difference.

Theo Walcott between 2010-2013 (before he was out for a year) scored 13, 11 and 21 goals in the three seasons when he played more games than he missed. I totally understand the argument about his fitness but when someone argues his ability to change a game or influence a game is questioned, I struggle to understand.

The Spurs game a few years ago when he got bashed in the first half but came out for the second and scored two HUGE goals seemed to be a turning point – a few long drawn out contract negotiations meant there were a few hairy moments but Theo Walcott felt his place was at Arsenal and stayed.

With Alexis out and Giroud playing the role of an inconsistent number nine and Ramsey still coming back into the goals, Theo’s goals could make or break a sustained title challenge. There may be games when he plays out wide and some he will play up top and it may even help motivate Giroud as it did earlier on this season.

Theo scares defenders who tend to push deeper but the way Mesut Ozil is playing, many defences / midfields will be in two minds. Theo and Ozil from minute one away to Sunderland on Ozil’s debut seem to click when Theo could have had a first half hatrick with three Ozil assists!
Let's hope for some more but this time it resulting in the ball in the back of the net.

Big week in Europe and in the league at Villa and Theo could be key.

Up The Arsenal

Thursday, 3 December 2015

A conversation with Sami Mokbel from the Daily Mail (Sport)

A podcast with Arsenal following (not supporting but writing about) Journo from the daily mail.

We talk injuries (we have a few if we didn't know!), last few results, look ahead to Sunderland and discuss specific players who may get a big chance over the next few weeks.


Can be found on iTunes under The Gooner Ramble

or on YouTube:



You can follow Sami on twitter -

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