The last time we faced West Brom, we won via an emphatic header from Olivier Giroud, a victory that clinched fourth place and ensured that we would again appear in the Champions League. Fast forward from then ‘til now, and we’ve made good on that promise, advancing to the Champions League knockout-stage thanks to goals from Sanogo and Alexis, but thanks also to stalwart defending and a stand-out performance from Damián Martinez, who looks to again deputize for the injured Wojciech Szczesny (whether the injury is physical or psychological is another question for another day). More important, perhaps, will be the returns to fitness of a few Frenchmen at opposite ends of the pitch.
28 November 2014
26 November 2014
Yaya Sanogo opened his Arsenal account in stunning style, scoring 70 seconds in, Alexis scored his 13th goal in 20 matches, and Arsenal dominated in long stretches on its way to the 2-0 win. It sends us through to the knockout stage and keeps alive a slender hope that we could still win the group. If we beat Galatasaray in Turkey and Anderlecht beat Dortmund in Germany, we'd finish on 13 points, one above Dortmund. There are other scenarios which we can examine later. For now, savor a strong performance from top to bottom, marred though it may be by a light knock suffered by Arteta. Everyone seems to have turned a in solid performance, with some stellar ones from Gibbs, Ramsey (yes, Ramsey), Chambers, and Cazorla. I'm not omitting Alexis on the assumption that it's safe to assume that, yes, he again scintillated. We're through to the knockout stage for the 15th time in a row. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the highlights!
We've become quite familiar with Dortmund over the last few years, having been paired in the Champions League group stage three times in the last four, and it feels very much at times like looking into a mirror, whether we consider results, form, transfer-woes, injuries, among other issues. In the eight total matches we've played, each has won three, and there's been one tie. Each side has scored eight goals. Each of us has lost a key playmaker and goal-scorer to a league rival (eventually, if we admit that Fabregas to Chelsea counts) and have struggled to overtake or keep up with our league's giant(s). In the last decade, we've each made it to the Champions League final only to come away empty-handed (Dortmund did win it in 1997). However, rather than sympathy or commiseration, I hope we offer our visitors today the coldest of shoulders, pummeling them roundly to restore our own pride even if it batters theirs.
25 November 2014
This weekend saw things seem to go almost entirely off the rails, with only a Crystal Palace win over Liverpool to keep Gooners from complete despair. Aside from our own depressing loss to Man U, it seems everyone else got a positive result. The picture gets muddier as we might have to wonder whether Newcastle, who have now won at White Hart Lane and the Etihad (league cup, that one, but still…) while rolling to six straight wins. I’m going to hold off for now if only to While it’s still true that no one bar Chelsea is playing well, it seems that only we and Liverpool are fading while key rivals get their footing. If we don’t get our own act together and sort the issues that continue to plague us, well, the WOBs will win the argument. Whether it proves Pyrrhic is another debate for another day. For now, let’s take a look at how things turned out this weekend.
24 November 2014
I have to confess up front that I am close to tears at the moment, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with our loss to Man U, our frustrations at our faltering form, or my concerns over rumors regarding Wilshere's ligaments. I have spent most of my adult life teaching in Chicago, Illinois, mostly in its roughest and toughest neighborhoods, and the events in Ferguson, Missouri—an unarmed black teenager was shot by a police officer—cut awfully close to the bone. I have worked closely with young black and brown men who have had similar brushes with the law. To date, I have not seen any of them suffer a fate similar to Michael Brown's. There have been some close calls. Arrests. Hospitalizations. Jail sentences. But no deaths. So far. When Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, my mind raced back to the hundreds of students who share a background similar to Brown's. With Monday's announcement that there be no trial, my heart broke. Among the many other reactions I have each and every time there is a similar incident, one of the more-trivial issues I have to confront is what it means to support a club known as the Gunners.
Amid the dross and rubble left behind after Saturday's debacle, we've now slumped to our worst start in some 32 years. 17 points from 12 matches means that we've only managed to collect a meagre 47.2% of the points available. Over the course of a 38-match season, that would leave us with 53.8 points—good perhaps for a mid-table finish, which would almost certainly end our streak of Champions League appearances, among other outcomes. Would it spell the end of Arsène's time as manager? Perhaps. We're already talking about this as the worst start in more than three decades and our worst start under Arsène. However, rather than poring over the details of the past, let's take a look at what the future holds and what get a sense of what's possible.
23 November 2014
With only 26 fixtures left, the final run-in is already here and there is simply no time to waste, no margin for error, not when a mere 78 points are still available. Having played to this point like a Championship side just happy to have been promoted, a yawning, unbridgeable chasm separates us from Champions League play—two points. Two. If that figure doesn't set your faces to stun, well, have a seat and put your hair in curlers for this one: We're eight points off the pace set by Man City, who sit second with 25 points. Never before in the history of anything ever has any side closed such a gap. Heck, that eight-point gap might as well lay down and take a nap, becoming the symbol for infinity along the way. Before that can happen, though, here's a SHOCKING recipe for how Arsenal can save its season for complete and utter annihilation.