Last night was a bit underwhelming, but I’d have taken a bore-draw at Stamford Bridge with gleefully open arms had it been offered before kick off. After the debacle in Nottingham, consolidation and re-grouping was important and we got a result to take back to the Emirates. Obviously, a score-draw or a victory would have out us in a better position, but we could have come out a great deal worse.
In a game of few chances and little notable incident, it was the performances of Mustafi, Chambers and Holding that caught the eye. All 3 have had their uncomfortable moments over the course of the season and all 3 have had their doubters. Chelsea fielded a very strong team by comparison to ours and I have to admit to fearing the worst 30 minutes before kick-off. I was dreading it, in all honesty. But I needn’t have – the back 5 all performed their duties well and it was obvious the game plan was similar to the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season; stifle Chelsea’s creativity and hope we can hit them on the counter.
We didn’t offer too much in attack. Welbeck and Iwobi showed a great deal of endeavour and retained possession well – the latter had a decent chance after surging through midfield but finished with one of the tamest attempts on goal I think I’ve ever seen. However, to focus solely on that moment would be unfair to Iwobi who did have a good game. He may not have done anything electrifying or immediately striking, but he put in a shift for the better of the team. Arsenal fans do love a scapegoat and it appears Iwobi has the baton of blame in his possession for the moment. That said, after his partying endeavours, I was surprised he started the game. It was a risk by Arsene but I would assume any punishment for his actions will have remained between Club and player, as it should. It’s something best forgotten about and hopefully it’ll be a kick up the backside for Iwobi.
All in all, it was a dull, uneventful 90 minutes of football that’ll be quickly forgotten but it served a good enough purpose. The reverse fixture at the Emirates has everything riding on it and we have a very good chance of making it to only our second League Cup final in Arsene Wenger’s time as manager – the less said about the first, the better. I still hate you, Obafemi Martins.
The one downside was an injury to Jack Wilshere. A cross intended to go into the box struck Jack on the end of the foot as he has defending and it caused enough of a reaction for him to be replaced. It looked innocuous to me, and I hope the decision to remove him was purely precautionary. Given his history, the slightest of tweaks has everyone fearing the worst. A bad injury now would be a terrible shame as he’s beginning to establish himself again and his resurgence has been one of the high points in a season that’s been relatively forgettable up until this point.
Of the injury, Arsene said:
“I don’t know if he’ll be available on Sunday but it’s definitely an ankle sprain,
At the moment we have five big injuries and we’re hoping to get some back. The earliest to come back is [Aaron] Ramsey and that is quite welcome because it’s an area we’re a bit short”
With Ozil also unlikely to return Sunday, that would leave us with just Xhaka and Elneny. We are a little short now that Francis Coquelin is on the verge of completing a move to Valencia. Didn’t see that one coming at all, but it’s certainly an understandable piece of business for a player who had become surplus to requirements. I had assumed he’d stay in London and move to somewhere like Palace or West Ham, but I guess warmer climes and a less-competitive league had the greater allure.
He was a decent servant for Arsenal and contributed to some of our recent success in the FA Cup. After he came back from a loan spell at Charlton, he was a real surprise in the holding midfield role and formed a very effective partnership with Santi Cazorla.The change of formation essentially ended his Arsenal career as he just didn’t fit into it at all. I hope he has a good time in Spain and things work out for him. Good luck to him.
Whether or not he’ll be replaced, or whether Arsene sees Ainsley Maitland-Niles as a promotion from within, remains to be seen. With more players appearing likely to move to pastures new, you’d assume there is a plan. Well, you’d certainly hope so – it’d be pretty f*cking stupid to start shaving the squad size down without reinforcing at the same time given our record with long-term injury. We shall see, but I’m going to remain positive. It’s not like our 2 best players are out of contract in 6 months or anything ridiculous like that…
That’s all for today, folks.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more.
Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
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