More in Match Analysis
Mar 16, 5 days ago

No Swanning Around: Swansea 0 - 2 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Swansea 0 - 2 Arsenal

As Arsenal begin their long search for a top four finish in the Premier League, they visited Wales to face a dangerous Swansea side. The Gunners were confident on the back of a good performance away at Bayern Munich, and Swansea were still feeling the good effects of their Carling Cup glory.

The Gunners started off the game well, looking energetic going forwad and composed at the back. Within the first five minutes, Santi Cazorla picked out Chamberlain on the left wing, who beat his man and rattled a shot off the Swansea crossbar. The opening signs were positive for Arsenal.

“The second half was a tactical struggle. Neither side seemed to have the creativity to muster up a typically well-fashioned chance…”

But as the game progressed, Arsenal slowly took their foot off the pedal, as The Swans grew into the game. As expected, Michu was indeed causing problems for the Arsenal defence, slipping in dangerous passes and placing a shot not far wide of the post.

Arsenals offensive display wavered as time went on. Olivier Giroud & Theo Walcott both had quiet games against Bayern Munich, and were continuing their mute performances today. A mixture of poor crossing, passing and positioning saw many attacks break down.

The second half was a tactical struggle for both sides. Neither Swansea or Arsenal seemed to have the creativity to muster up a typically well-fashioned chance, and fatigue was setting in fast.

Santi Cazorla was looking lively, but lack of movement from Chamberlain, Giroud & Walcott meant that attacks went as quickly as they came. Swansea weren’t an offensive threat, but were looking defensively solid.

However, in the seventy-fourth minute, Arsenal’s luck changed. Nacho Monreal picked up a loose ball in the Swansea area and fired a relatively poor shot towards goal. The ball deflected off a Swansea defender and beat Vorm. It was scrappy, but it was Golden.

“As the final whistle blew, a wry smile was seen on Arsene’s face, and warm handshakes were exchanged”

With their priceless goal, Arsenal’s confidence began to grow as the clock wound down. Swansea were looking to get back into the game with a late goal, but a stern defensive display from Arsenal kept The Swans at bay.

Then, in the ninetieth minute, the unthinkable happened. Aaron Ramsey was set free down the right flank, with Gervinho racing down the middle of the field, completely unmarked.

Ramsey’s pass was poor, but Gervinho did well to rescue the chance and slot the ball home. Arsenal were smiling again.

As the final whistle blew, a wry smile was seen on Arsene’s face, and warm handshakes were exchanged. Two back-to-back away wins is good for any side in trouble.


Arsenal Player Ratings

Fabianski: [6/10]
Due to some good defending, Lukasz didn’t have too much work to do. Distribution was good though.

Jenkinson: [7/10]
On the back of a great performance away at Munich, Carl did himself proud once again today. Good defending, great crossing. A poor pass in the first half across goal was not what we want to see though.

Mertesacker: [6/10]
Seemed a bit nervous under pressure at times, and gave a few balls away as a result. Apart from that, Per was solid enough.

Koscielny: [7/10]
Commanding and hard in the tackle, and won his fair share of aerial battles too. Vermaelen may just find it difficult to get back into the squad at this rate.

Monreal: [8/10]
Defended brilliantly all game, and consistently made runes forward. His goal, although lucky, was perfectly timed.

Arteta: [5.5/10]
Sloppy defending and silly fouls have let Arteta down today. He needs to work on winning more 50/50 challenges. Needs a rest.

Diaby: [5.5/10]
Visibly tired. Abou’s performance was epitomised by his excellent run through the centre in the second half, beating many Swansea players - only to take the ball out of play with a bad touch. Needs to be eased back into first team football.

Cazorla: [8.5/10]
MOTM. Santi was energetic all game, and let off two extremely good shots from long range which tested Vorm. His passing was sound, and his defending was useful.

Chamberlain: [7/10]
The Ox was in and out of the game at times, but looked very dangerous when on the ball. He hit the crossbar in the opening few minutes, and provided some opportunities via crosses and clever passes.

Walcott: [6/10]
Once again Walcott found himself quite isolated today, but failed to do anything about it. He needs to drop deeper and cut inside if he is to make a difference. Not in his best form.

Giroud: [5.5/10]
No direct errors, but it’s easy to see that Giroud is badly out of form. Poor first touches and awful positioning at times. Needs a rest.

Subs:

Gervinho: [7/10]
I made a jokey tweet regarding the introduction of both Gervinho & Ramsey, but their efforts paid off. Gervinho showed good pace and skill to round a player after coming on, only to provide a poor cross. But his goal was taken well, and we’ll all be hoping that he can grow in confidence. 

Ramsey: [6.5/10]
As mentioned above, I was not happy with Ramsey’s introduction. However, in the ninetieth minute, Aaron got himself an assist, albeit via an extremely poor pass.


No Swanning Around

It’s good to see Arsenal back to their winning ways. Two touch away fixtures have now been dealt with in a relatively confident manner, and that may be exactly what we need for this run-in for fourt spot.

Santi Cazorla was brilliant today, as was Nacho Monreal. Olivier Giroud & Theo Walcott will need to step up if we are to produce an Arsenal-esque comeback in the Premier League, but for now, these three points will do just fine. Next up, Reading.


What did you think of the Swansea Vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Mar 13, 8 days ago

Out With A Bang: Bayern Munich 0 - 2 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Bayern Munich 2 - 1 Arsenal

Following a miserable defeat at the hands of Tottenham, Arsenal travelled to Germany to face European giants, Bayern Munich. As the Germans reclined on their three away-goal cushion, Arsenal took a gamble by resting a few key players, looking to prioritise the Premier League. Their gamble almost paid off.

Arsenal began the game focused. A dream start would include a very early goal after a confident, creative build up. And in the third minute, that’s exactly what they got.

“As the half time whistle blew, it seemed that both Bayern Munich and Arsenal were content with the scoreline. Munich had comfort, but The Gunners had hope.”

Aaron Ramsey took the ball down the left flank, passing inside to Rosicky who was lurking on the edge of the box. Rosicky passed the ball to Theo Walcott who pushed the ball into the danger area and slammed the ball across goal. An unmarked Olivier Giroud was waiting for the delivery, and hammered home the finish from close range. It was exactly what Arsenal needed.

Unfortunately, The Gunners failed to build momentum following Giroud’s opener.

Bayern Munich knew they still sat on a comfortable lead, and were dedicated to slowing the tempo of the game down. Kroos & Robben were providing the offensive threat when Munich ventured forward, but for the most part, they were happy to pass the ball at a slow, controlled pace. Meanwhile, Arsenal were getting frustrated.

The first half drew to an end with very little chances for either side. As the half time whistle blew, it seemed that both Bayern Munich and Arsenal were content with the scoreline. Munich had comfort, but The Gunners had hope.

The second half reflected the mood of the first. Bayern were happy to sit back and absorb the occasional attacks thrown at them by Arsenal, and were not too worried about getting forward themselves.

Due to a lot of chasing in the first half, Arsenal were looking fatigued in the middle. Aaron Ramsey & Mikel Arteta in particular were sloppy with their passes and were regularly being caught out of position by the fluidity of Bayern’s offensive movement.

As Munich struggled to run the clock down, Arsenal increased the pressure in their search for the two away goals they so badly needed. Gervinho & Chamberlain were thrown on in place of Walcott & Ramsey in order to speed the process up.

“Unfortunately, The Gunners had nothing left in their lockers to see out the comeback. It was valiant, but it simply wasn’t enough.”

In the eighty-fifth minute, Arsenal’s glimmer of hope was magnified. Chamberlain did well to win a corner, which was swung in by Santi Cazorla. Laurent Koscielny rose highest and nodded the ball into the Bayern goal. Arsenal players rushed to the ball in an attempt to restart the game faster, leading to scuffles inside the goal mouth. Passionate scenes, but it was simply too little, too late.

The closing minutes were dominated by Arsenal’s aggression going forward, matched only by Bayern’s stern defending. Mikel Arteta showed extreme immaturity by giving away foolish fouls in various areas, just when Arsenal needed the game to flow.

In the end, The Gunners had played brilliantly, and had got themselves a deserved two goal lead. Unfortunately, The Gunners had nothing left in their lockers to see out the comeback. It was valiant, but it simply wasn’t enough.


Arsenal Player Ratings

Fabianski: [7.5/10]
Excellent shot stopping throughout the game, and did well to hold on to some well struck efforts. Seemed commanding & confident, and managed a clean sheet away to Bayern Munich. Impressive. 

Jenkinson: [8/10]
Carl worked hard all game, and put in some stellar challenges when they were needed. Linked up well with Walcott on the flank, and did brilliantly to recover his defensive position on numerous occasions.

Mertesacker: [7/10]
Per was tested on various occasions both on the ground and in the air, and came out on top every time. His reading of the game was good, and he made a great block against Robben in the closing minutes.

Koscielny: [8.5/10]
MOTM. Laurent was commanding and aggressive from start to finish. His tackles were hard, headers were assured and his passing was confident. Kept a cool head when under pressure around his own area, and deserved his well taken goal.

Gibbs: [6.5/10]
Kieran had a quiet game, which is expected given his recent injury. He got forward on occasion and held his own defensively against the likes of Robben & Lahm.

Arteta: [5/10]
Started the game reasonably well, but gradually diminished. Mikel’s passing became sloppy and he looked visibly tired. His foolish, immature fouls in the closing minutes played right into the hands of Bayern Munich. Not the leadership we were hoping for.

Ramsey: [5/10]
Much like Arteta, Aaron began the game well. His forward run helped set up Giroud’s opener, but he soon returned to his usual poor self. Lazy passing paired with poor defending is never a good combination for a central midfielder.

Rosicky: [6/10]
Unlike Aaron & Mikel, Rosicky started the game terribly. His passing and first touch were both poor and he seemed regularly out of position. However, as the game went on, he gathered himself to produce a decent performance.

Cazorla: [7/10]
Santi was once again played on the left-wing, and did well whenever he was on the ball. His quick feet came in handy many times, and he helped the ailing midfield by tucking inside when necessary. Good corner for Koscielny’s goal.

Walcott: [6.5/10]
Isolated for most of the game, but never helped himself by dropping deeper. He made a few good runs off the ball, and did well to assist Olivier Giroud.

Giroud: [6/10]
Well positioned for his goal, and harassed Dante all night long. Aerially Olivier was useful, but on the floor his first touch was lacking quality. Definitely out of form, but good to see him on the score sheet.

Subs:

Gervinho: [6/10]
Did brilliantly to turn in a tight space in the box, and managed to poke the ball across goal. However, the Ivorian is not interested in defending whatsoever. 

Chamberlain: [6.5/10]
Didn’t have much time on the ball, but did brilliantly to win a corner leading to Koscielny’s goal.


Out With A Bang

As widely expected, Arsenal are out of the Champions League, and trophyless for yet another season. But at least we went out with a bang, with a well earned victory consisting of two good goals and a solid performance. It may not be everything we want it to be, but the confidence gained from the victory may just make a difference in the Premier League.

Regardless, Arsenal now have to look to the League, and look to it with determination. Thirty point are up for grabs, and We’re going to need every single one of them if we are to hope of finishing fourth. First up, Swansea.

What did you think of the Bayern Munich Vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Mar 3, 18 days ago

Who Needs Tactics: Tottenham 2 - 1 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Tottenham 2 - 1 Arsenal

A major battle in the season-long war for Champions League Qualification was to be waged, as Arsenal visited Tottenham’s White Hart Lane. Spurs began the game four points ahead of Arsenal, and were looking to stretch it to seven, dumping Arsenal out of the race for top four in the process.

Arsenal began the first half with purpose. Despite good closing down from Tottenham, Wilshere, Arteta & Giroud were all doing a brilliant job of holding on to the ball in tight areas.

“In the thirty-seventh minute, Arsenal’s entire season took a nose-dive.”

Spurs were struggling to cope with the movement of Olivier Grioud at times, and for large patches of the first half, it looked as if Arsenal may grab a goal. Unfortunately, typically poor Arsenal finishing ensured that the score stayed level.

In the thirty-seventh minute, Arsenal’s entire season took a nose-dive.

Gareth Bale timed his run perfectly behind the poorly organised Arsenal back four, and was played through by Siggurdson. The Welshman was onside and one-on-one with Szcesney. He calmly poked the ball past the Pole, and put Tottenham ahead. Arsenal, despite being dominant, were rattled.

Conceding first to Spurs is common for Arsenal, but just two minutes later, an unscripted event was sprung on The Gunners. Aaron Lennon made a brilliant run diagonally through Arsenal’s sleepy defences, rounded Szczesney, and slotted the ball home. White Hart Lane was in jubilation, and Arsenal were looking doomed to finishing outside the top four.

The second half held more promise for The Gunners, but it was simply too little, too late.

Arsenal had picked themselves up and were attacking well throughout the opening minutes of the second period, and in the fifty-first minute, they finally had a breakthrough. Theo Walcott whipped in a corner, and Per Mertesacker rose high to nod the ball past Lloris. Arsenal had a life line.

“It’s difficult to fathom, but Tottenham’s greatest weapon turned out to be none other than the Arsenal manager.”

The goal had rattled Tottenham, and shaky errors began to creep in to the overall play. Arsenal were gaining momentum, and everything was looking on track for a comeback. Then, Arsene Wenger did something unthinkable.

Carl Jenkinson, who had been putting in useful crosses all game, subbed of for Tomas Rosicky. Aaron Ramsey, a player already out of his depth, was asked to play right-back against the rampant Gareth Bale. The change immediately ruined the shape of the already nervous back-four, and the momentum was shifted back to Spurs.

Just when Arsenal were looking at their weakest in midfield and defence, Arsene Wenger decided to make yet another tactically inept substitution. Mikel Arteta was taken off for Lukas Podolski, and The Gunners were left with almost no shape at all - anywhere.

The two bizarre substitutions stifled any potential comeback, and the rest of the game was easy for Spurs to see out. It’s difficult to fathom, but Tottenham’s greatest weapon turned out to be none other than the Arsenal manager.


Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesny: [6/10]
Could do nothing for either of the goals, and did well to hold on to a few good shots. Undone by his own defence, or lack thereof.

Jenkinson: [7/10]
The boy-hood Arsenal fan was in his element today. He defended well and linked up with the midfield on numerous occasions. His crosses were yet again, superb. Bizzarely replaced by Thomas Rosicky.

Vermaelen: [6.5/10]
Made some tough tackles and showed real passion when the chips were down. He needs to replicate these performances in games with less ‘importance’ . However, he should have organised the defence better for both goals.

Mertesacker: [6.5/10]
Did well to grab himself a goal, and was solid in defence also. However, he was the culprit playing Bale on-side for the opening goal. Needs to be more alert when dealing with fast attackers.

Monreal: [6.5/10]
Did brilliantly when on the ball, and did his best to get forward. But yet gain, he was sleeping for the Aaron Lennon goal. Needs to be more alert to runners.

Arteta: [6.5/10]
Started the game terribly, giving away silly fouls. But he grew into the match and played his role well in front of the back four. The victim of another bizarre Wenger Substitution.

Ramsey: [5/10]
Put in one or two good tackles, but was poor for the most part. Hesitant to make passes and slow when on the ball. Keeps getting dispossessed too easily.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]
Jack was not himself in the middle of the park today. He failed to show his trademark pacey runs forward, and his final ball was also lacking quality.

Cazorla: [6/10]
Santi was, unsurprisingly, ineffective. Imposing opposition is usually all it takes for Cazorla to go missing, and that’s exactly what happened today. Managed to put in a good few tackles in the second half though.

Walcott: [6/10]
I lost count of the runs Theo made in behind the back four, but I failed to count any valuable passes or through-balls to set him free. He was definitely isolated, but he needs to do more to get into the game too.

Giroud: [6/10]
A real mixed bag from Giroud. His first touch and movement were both of the highest quality, but he yet again failed to finish his chances. Not in the greatest of form.

Subs:

Podolski: [6/10]
Didn’t have a great deal of time, but showed some good touches. 

Rosicky: [6.5/10]
Despite being part of an extremely weird substitution for Carl Jenkinson, Rosicky came on and provided some great short and long passes. How Aaron Ramsey starts when a player of Rosicky’s quality sits on the bench - is beyond me.


Who Needs Tactics

On the 100th anniversary of the Arsenal - Tottenham rivalry, Spurs hold a sizeable seven point lead over The Gunners in the Premier League, making a top four finish look almost impossible for Arsenal.

The turning point of the game was unfortunately, not Mertesacker’s goal. It was Wenger’s decision to replace Jenkinson with Rosicky, and pushing Ramsey to right-back. Aaron Ramsey was struggling to cope, and the logical swap of Rosicky was staring Wenger in the face. His inept tactics were Arsenal’s undoing. With ideas like that, it’s hard to see how Arsenal will over turn a seven point deficit.

What did you think of the TottenhamVs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below.

Feb 23, 26 days ago

Santi Delivers: Arsenal 2 - 1 Aston Villa – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 2 - 1 Aston Villa

Arsenal were looking to bounce back from their defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich by welcoming Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium. All week, Arsene Wenger had been dealing with mountainous pressure from fans & media alike. The Gunners needed three points.

The first half was, for the most part, unremarkable. Arsenal were dictating the tempo as expected, although Villa looked particularly dangerous via pacey counter-attacks.

“The second period was certainly more entertaining than the first. Unfortunately, the entertainment factor was masked by the sheer tension leading up to the final whistle.”

In the opening five minutes, Jack Wilshere was set free down the left-flank. He raced into the box, but instead of crossing to an un-marked Theo Walcott, he opted for the shot, which was easily saved by Guzan. I was almost certain Jack would make the right decision, but his failure to do so left me in fear of ‘another one of those days’ in front of goal.

Just two minutes later, my concerns were alleviated. Santi Cazorla’s blocked shot fell to his right foot inside the Aston Villa box. The silky Spaniard didn’t think twice about smashing his shot home, easing the atmosphere around the Emirates. It was a welcome relief.

The remainder of the half consisted of Aston Villa mounting quick counter-attacks on our shaky defence. Monreal & Jenkinson were being tested by the pace of Weimann & Agbonlahor, and Szczesney was forced into a brilliant save early on.

The second period was certainly more entertaining than the first. Unfortunately, the entertainment factor was masked by the sheer tension leading up to the final whistle.

Aston Villa began the second half with purpose, and were looking to  capitalise on their speedy counter-attacks. Arsenal continued to press, but were looking vulnerable defensively. As usual.

In the sixty-eighth minute, The Villians exposed that vulnerability. A failed Arsenal corner was quickly converted into an Aston Villa four-on-three counter attack. Weimann, who had threatened all game, sprang forward and unleashed a shot at goal. Szczesney was not prepared, and the ball slipped past his hands as he dived. Arsenal were in deep trouble.

“Santi Cazorla may just have saved Arsenal’s ailing season.”

For a long period of time, Arsenal did not look like they even wanted to re-gain the lead. Olivier Giroud was missing opportunities, and crosses were being constantly misplaced. Podolski was thrown on in place of Jenkinson, and the final push was issued.

It took until the eighty-fifth minute for Arsenal to finally break through. Wilshere played a beautiful lofted pass to Monreal, who cut the ball back into the box. Santi Cazorla had made a late run into the box, and slotted the ball into the corner. Santi Cazorla may just have saved Arsenal’s ailing season.

The remainder of the game was edgy for Arsenal. Villa were keeping the ball well, and were putting long-balls into the box. But The Gunners stood firm, and a huge sigh of relief was heard around the stadium as the final whistle blew.


Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesny: [5.5/10]
Extremely poor attempt at saving Weimann’s shot, but made a brilliant save in the first half. Dealt well with crosses.

Jenkinson: [7/10]
A solid game from the Englishman. Dealt with a number of attacks well, and put in some extremely useful crosses. Should have done better to clear the ball leading to Weimann’s goal though. Replaced by Podolski.

Vermaelen: [6.5/10]
A steady game for the Skipper. Made one or two good tackles and managed to get forward during open play when Arsenal needed a goal. Can’t complain, but needs to step up his game.

Mertesacker: [6/10]
A better display than the one he gave against Munich, but Per is certainly not in the best of form. Didn’t make any major mistakes, but he isn’t reading the game as well as he usually does.

Monreal: [7/10]
Nacho had a good game defensively, but flourished when going forward. He put in one or two good crosses, and linked up well with Cazorla all game. Did brilliantly to get an assist.

Arteta: [6.5/10]
A few misplaced passes and a soft defensive display, but overall Arteta kept the game flowing from deep. I noticed a sharp improvement in his performance when he was pushed further up the pitch. Hardly surprising, considering that is his natural position.

Diaby: [7.5/10]
Abou, who for some reason was benched for the Munich game, played a number of excellent aerial balls forward. His passing was neat, and his sheer presence always comes in handy. disappointingly injured, again, and replaced by Ramsey.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]
Not one of Jack’s finer days, but he still worked hard for the team. His passing was not as crisp as usual, and he made a terrible decision in the opening few minutes, by not passing to Walcott in the box, and instead opting for a hopeless shot on goal.

Cazorla: [8/10]
MOTM. Today, Santi Cazorla finally put in the performance we’ve been longing for. He was played on the wing for the majority of the game, and thus couldn’t boss the midfield, but he certainly bossed the scoreline. His first goal was well struck, and his second was a combination of a good late run into the box and a clean, composed finish.

Walcott: [6/10]
Theo was in and out of the game, and didn’t really pose much of a threat to the Villa defence. Although in fairness, I can think of at least two occasions where his team mates chose not to pass to him, despite being in a great position.

Giroud: [5.5/10]
Olivier had a plethora of chances to score today, but he just couldn’t put them away. Header, left foot, right foot. Nothing seemed to work. Giroud always works hard though, and he is movement off the ball was superb. Needs to work on his finishing.

Subs:

Podolski: [6/10]
Had limited time to get into the game, but he allowed a cross to go past him inside the six yard box, despite the Goalkeeper being out of goal.

Ramsey: [6/10]
Didn’t creat anything of any value. He was played in a defensive role, and one can argue that he played that role well.


Santi Delivers

Phew. The final half our was extremely tense, and for patches, Arsenal looked down and out. Dropping points would have certainly doomed Arsenal to Europa League Football next season, but right at the last moment, Santi delivered.

Arsenal now have a week’s rest before facing Tottenham away from home. Without doubt, it is the game of the season. A win is needed if Arsenal are to claim fourth, and a loss will be the death-blow to our 17-year Champions League qualification dream. No pressure then.

What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Aston Villa match? Share your views in the comments section below.

Feb 19, 30 days ago

Bayern Bashing: Arsenal 1 - 3 Bayern Munich – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 1 - 3 Bayern Munich

As the enormous pressure from the FA Cup defeat against Blackburn mounted, Arsenal reluctantly welcomed Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium. The German giants had been rampant in the Bunderliga all season, and were looking to make quick work of an unconfident, out-of-form Arsenal side. And they did just that.

The opening five minutes were dominated by an excited Arsenal side. Our passing was tidy, and we looked confident enough to maintain our composure in front of goal, if only we could get ourselves in such a position.

“In the twenty-first minute, Arsenal’s night went from awful to mind-numbingly painful…”

However, in the sixth minute, Arsenal’s entire season continued it’s nose dive.

The ball was crossed to an unmarked Toni Kroos on the edge of the area, who volleyed his effort into the ground. Mertesacker reacted too slowly, and the ball fizzed past Szczesney, and Arsenal were undone. An away goal shipped in a matter of minutes.

The Gunner’s exuberant start immediately lost it’s shine. Bayern Munich began to grow into the game, and our midfield was falling apart at the seams. Arteta & Cazorla in particular seemed nervous, and were having trouble keeping possession. This left Theo Walcott completely isolated up top.

In the twenty-first minute, Arsenal’s night went from awful to mind-numbingly painful. Munich whipped in a near-post corner, which was flicked on by Mandzukic. Szczesney parried, but yet again, his save was pointless. The ball ended up less than a yard away from him, and Muller had no problems tucking it away. Arsenal had conceded two away goals in twenty minutes. It was already game over.

Arsenal now looked hopeless. Rash challenges, misplaced passes, and poor defensive organisation plagued the Arsenal team. Despite getting his tactics all wrong, Arsene Wenger simply sat, and watched.

The remain=der of the half was unremarkable. Bayern knew they had basically won the tie, and although it pains me to say it, so did Arsenal. Chances were few and far between, and the atmosphere in the Emirates was epitomised by the boos at the half time whistle.

The second half saw vague improvements made by Arsenal. They re-started the game with shades of determination, passing the ball more calmly. Bayern Munich however, remained unphased.

In the fifty-fifth minute, Lukas Podolski offered Arsenal a distant glimmer of hope. A poorly defended corner, which ironically shouldn’t have been given, was missed by Bayern Munich’s defence and goalkeeper, allowing Podolski to nod the ball into an open net.

“Booming boos from home fans filled the Emirates Stadium at full-time. Arsenal’s season, the club’s future in European football, and perhaps Arsene Wenger’s job now all hang in the balance.”

For patches after Podolski’s goal, Arsenal looked like they could mount a comeback. But as time ticked on, Wenger yet again refused to make changes. It took him until after the seventy minute mark to finally throw on Giroud & Rosicky for the hapless Ramsey and Podolski. Both of whom were on yellow cards.

The changes made an immediate impact, nobodies surprise except Arsene Wenger. Rosicky played a remarkable ball to Walcott on the wing, who crossed to Giroud. The Frenchman’s volley was directed right at Neuer, but the move itself was fantastic.

But it was too little, too late for Arsenal. In the seventy seventh minute, Poor tracking back from Cazorla allowed Lahm to cross for Mandzukic. The ball ricocheted off Sagna, back on to Mandzukic, and into Szczesney’s goal. Now it really was game over.

The remainder of the game was muted. Arsenal were resigned to defeat, beaten by both the might of Bayern Munich, and the awful tactics of their own manager, Arsene Wenger.

Booming boos from home fans filled the Emirates Stadium at full-time. Arsenal’s season, the club’s future in European football, and perhaps Arsene Wenger’s job now all hang in the balance.


Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesny: [4.5/10]
Terrible distribution throughout the game, and another poor save leading to Muller’s goal. He was also very weak when coming for crosses. Doesn’t seem to be able to hold on to the ball anymore.

Sagna: [7/10]
Bacary hasn’t had the greatest of seasons, but today was much better from him. Kept Ribery quiet, made some good tackles, and helped out offensively all game. Unlucky not to prevent Bayern’s third.

Koscielny: [7/10]
Despite being under a lot of pressure, Koscielny remained calm all game. He made timely challenges and won important headers.

Mertesacker: [5/10]
Per gave the ball away dangerously in the first half, and was too slow to close down Kroos for the opening goal. Looked nervous all game, and his passing was untidy in general.

Vermaelen: [4.5/10]
The armband on his arm is the only indication of any leadership. Hapless defending, toothless wing-play. Had tough opposition, but should have dealt with attacks far better than he did. Our weakest link in defence.

Arteta: [6/10]
Mikel was out of position on many occasions, and was quite poor defensively for the entire game. Questions can be asked about his whereabouts for Kroos’ volley, and his passing was lacking in quality at times. However, he kept possession in pressurised circumstances, and did his best to feed Wilshere.

Ramsey: [5.5/10]
Most players grow into games, Ramsey grows out of them. He started off well enough, getting into good positions and attacking well. But as the game went on, his tackles became rash and his passing became terrible. Replaced by Rosicky.

Wilshere: [7.5/10]
MOTM. Despite getting my MOTM award, Jack really couldn’t muster anything up of any value. He was isolated for much of the game, and Bayern did a good job of closing him down. However, as always, he worked hard, and looked our brightest spark. Perhaps our only spark.

Cazorla: [5/10]
As I’ve pointed out before, teams who have big, intimidating players, eat Cazorla for breakfast. And that’s exactly what happened. Santi delivered hospital balls all game, and constantly jumped out of the way of oncoming Bayern players. Not strong enough, not hungry enough.

Podolski: [6/10]
Largely out of the game, but Lukas did well to get his goal. He, much like Walcott & Wilshere, was being marked out of the game, and thus barely had any of the ball. Replaced by Giroud.

Walcott: [6/10]
Hardly touched the ball, but did well when he did. Dante and Van Buyten were keeping a close eye on Theo, and he had no joy whilst upfront. He played far better when put out on the wing, and delivered a great cross to Giroud.

Subs:

Giroud: [6.5/10]
Had limited time, but almost grabbed a good goal via a volley. Unfortunately, Nueur was well positioned. Did well to win a header or two, both offensively and defensively.

Rosicky: [6.5/10]
Had limited time, but played a sublime ball to Walcott in the build up to Giroud’s volley. How Ramsey starts ahead of Rosicky is beyond me.


Bayern Bashing

Yet another trophy-less season befalls Arsenal. Unless of course, you count top four as a trophy. In which case, I still may have a point. Arsenal were yet again, gutless. No desire, and certainly no ‘mental strengths’. Bayern Munich simply outclassed us, and Wenger’s stubborn, one-dimensional tactics, made it only too easy for the German juggernauts.

Arsenal now have no choice but to throw everything at finishing at least fourth. March will be a tough month, so it;s important we pick up all three points against Aston Villa this Saturday.

What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Bayern Munich match? Share your views in the comments section below.

Feb 16, 33 days ago

Winning Sweet FA: Arsenal 0 - 1 Blackburn – Analysis & Player Ratings

Final Score
Arsenal 0 - 1 Blackburn

Arsenal welcomed Blackburn to the Emirates Stadium in hope of progressing to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup. The Rovers would have been happy to bring The Gunners back to Ewood Park, but instead, they managed a monumental FA Cup upset.

The first half held nothing of much value for either side. Blackburn had set themselves up to absorb any Arsenal moves, and to perhaps launch a few counter attacks when the opportunity arose. The Rovers were looking to frustrate Arsenal, and they were doing a good job of it.

The Gunners laid on relentless attacks, but the all too familiar problem of actually finishing our chances was ever-present.

“To the average fan, it seemed as though Arsenal had dominated the game. I just wonder if Blackburn were the ones in control all along.”

Tomas Rosicky in particular was working tirelessly to engineer an Arsenal goal, but the harder he worked, the worse our finishing became.

In the dying moments of the first half, he slipped in Gervinho behind the back four. The Ivorian only had the goalkeeper to beat, but managed to steer his tame shot wide instead. Unfortunately, his finish was better suited to a Sunday League Centre Back.

The second period held even less joy for Arsenal fans. Blackburn had succeeded in defending against a hapless Arsenal side, and were now looking to grab their reward.

Arsenal were still creating chances through the midfield, but the front three of Gervinho, Giroud & Oxlade-Chamberlain were all determined to miss ever single one of them. The Gunners were looking hopeless.

In the seventy-second minute, disaster struck. Szczesney pushed out a shot to the feet of Colin Kazim-Richards, ten yards from goal. The Turk drilled his shot into the ground, causing it to bounce over Thomas Vermaelen. The ball bounced off the post, and into the net. Arsenal were in deep trouble, with just twenty minutes to save themselves.

In response, Wenger threw on Cazorla, Wilshere & Walcott, in place of the Rosicky, The Ox, and the dreadful Gervinho. The changes certainly opened the game up, but Blackburn were determined to hold on to their lead.

Chances came and went, cross-bars were rattled, and penalty shouts were waved away by the Mike Dean. In the end, the final whistle blew on Arsenal’s last realistic chance of silverware this season.

To the average fan, it seemed as though Arsenal had dominated the game. I just wonder if Blackburn were the ones in control all along.


Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesny: [6/10]
Had almost nothing to do all game, but should have done better when parrying the shot which led to the Blackburn goal.

Coquelin: [7/10]
Played in a slightly unfamiliar right-back position, Coquelin did well throughout the game. He was solid at the back, and got forward a number of times to help out attacks.

Koscielny: [6/10]
Due to Arsenal’s possession for large chunks of the game, Laurent had almost nothing to do all game.

Vermaelen: [6.5/10]
A solid enough game, didn’t make any real defensive errors, and did well offensively for set pieces. However, in defeats like these, the Captain should always be scrutinised. Where was the leadership?

Monreal: [6.5/10]
Nacho is settling in just fine. He was untroubled at the back, but got forward on a number of occasions, putting in some genuinely dangerous crosses.

Arteta: [6/10]
The Blackburn midfielders were allowing Arteta to circulate the ball, but Mikel’s passing in the final minutes was lacking quality. Also had a chance right at the death, which he slammed wide.

Diaby: [6.5/10]
Did well going forward, and kept the ball in tight situations. But failed to create anything of real value for the front three. Still recovering for a long stretch on the sidelines.

Rosicky: [7.5/10]
MOTM. Tomas was outstanding today. He worked hard to hassle Blackburn, his passing was accurate, and he engineered a few good chances. His long range effort which hit the bar, was a screamer. Replaced by Cazorla.

Gervinho: [4/10]
Dismal. Hardly surprising that Gervinho can;t handle Blackburn, when he struggled against Bradford. His game was plagued by failed dribbles, failed passes and failed finishes. Replaced by Wilshere.

The Ox: [6/10]
Not a great game for The Ox. his passing wa suspect, and he failed to penetrate the Blackburn defence with his powerful trademark runs. Replaced by Walcott.

Giroud: [6/10]
Olivier didn’t have great service today, but there were instances where he certainly could have done better. Tame headers and lazy passes let him down today.

Subs:

Walcott: [6/10]
Looked lively, but had almost no time on the ball. was fouled in the box, but the penalty was waved away due to an incorrect offside decision.

Cazorla: [6/10]
Touched the ball once or twice to make some very safe, standard passes. Needs to innovate.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]
You can always see that Jack wants it more than everybody else put together. Simply didn’t have the time to weave his magic.


Winning Sweet FA

There you have it. Realistically, Arsenal now have to wait another year to challenge for a trophy. Of course, with performances like today, that’s hardly likely.

Blackburn set out to frustrate Arsenal today, and spring a surprise attack. They did that excellently, and they took their solitary chance to win the game. A lesson Arsenal need to learn, and quickly. Bayern Munich will be licking their lips.

What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Blackburn match? Share your views in the comments section below.