It has been a week of plenty ups and downs for Arsenal fans as the joy of seeing Alexis Sanchez getting back to scoring ways has been largely overshadowed by the midweek Champions League loss at home to familiar opponents Olympiakos.
While life as an Arsenal fan is never as calm and serene as their much talked-about style of football, this Arsenal column will make sure you never miss a big Gunners story to start the day with. And we will also give a few tasters in the buildup to the tasty Manchester United game at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
As if losing both twice in the group stages of the Champions League wasn’t enough, Arsenal have been starkly reminded by a recent nemesis that they need to defend as well to win games, while it isn’t all darkness as one former Chelsea man still rates Arsene Wenger so highly that he has admitted to his desire to play for him. These, and many more stories coming your way.
Arsenal ‘Don’t Want To Defend’
Olympiakos striker and scorer of the winning goal for the Greeks in Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the Gunners, Alfred Finnbogason, has labeled Arsenal as a team that “don’t want to defend.” Finnbogason summed up Olympiakos’ plan for the game which worked to the fullest, judging by the result.
“The first corner is something we practise on the training pitch because we know they have no man on the edge of the box. When you play against this team you know they’re going to have a lot of the ball. You have to defend well, have the lines tight and use your time when you have spaces. And you know you’re going to have spaces because they don’t want to defend. So our plan worked,” the Icelandic striker was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Finnbogason’s words might not sit well with the Gooners, but even defensive stalwart Per Mertesacker has admitted to his side’s naivety in the wake of their shock loss. The German said, “After we scored it looked like we were not ready to win this game. There was a lack of concentration, a lack of discipline. We need to do much better defensively on these occasions because these occasions decide more and more games in modern football. When we play like that, with that lack of concentration and discipline, we have got no chance [of qualifying].”
Ramsey Can’t Remember When He Last Scored
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is so muddled in the club’s recent struggles that he has forgotten when he last found the back of the net. Ramsey is yet to open his account for the season, and the Welshman is keen to get his goalscoring boots on, a la team-mate Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez has now scored four goals in his last two games, and it must be said Ramsey, who scored only ten times last season, has set for himself a pretty lofty target.
The 24-year-old said, as quoted by Mirror: “I don’t know how long it’s been since my last goal. I just know I haven’t got off the mark yet this season, which I’m disappointed with. It’s nice to see Alexis scoring again, though. Hopefully I can be there soon as well.” There is always hope, and hopefully Ramsey opens breaks his duck against least favourite opponents United on Sunday. Ramsey has suffered the most losses against United in his career.
International Call-Ups For 4 Gunners
Amid all the Champions League hysteria, let’s not forget Arsenal have made a pretty decent start to their league campaign and they currently sit in their favourite fourth place in the latest Premier League standings. And this has resulted in a few of their players being called up for national team duties in the upcoming international break.
Theo Walcott, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs have been called up for the senior squad while Calum Chambers has made it into the Under-21s squad. England, who have already qualified for Euro 2016, will square off against Estonia and Lithuania and given none of the three are first team regulars, Roy Hodgson might want to test his options in the inconsequential games, which could mean plenty game time for the trio.
Wenger in Heated Training Ground Inquest
According to Daily Mail, Arsene Wenger subjected his underperforming players to some uncharacteristic rough treatment after their shock defeat to Olympiakos on Tuesday. It is believed Wenger was far from his usual calm and calculated mood, and even accused his players of lacking passion and desire in what was termed as a “fiery training ground inquest” into their loss.
Whether or not the hot head of Wenger in London Colney’s training ground is a solution to Arsenal’s troubles remains to be seen, but the players can’t surely do worse than not turning up at their 100 percent against league leaders Manchester United on Sunday, or else risk being on the end of more wrath of their manager.
Lukaku Would Love To Play For Wenger
One player Arsenal would love in their team is a striker in red-hot goalscoring form. Romelu Lukaku nicely fits the bill, and the Everton striker has revealed how highly he rates Wenger. Sadly for Wenger though, Lukaku rates Jose Mourinho higher. But having already played under Mourinho, and gotten rejected, Wenger might just fancy his chances of bringing him to north London.
But that’s all speculation, and the big Belgian was only answering to a question about which of the game’s top managers he would like to play for in Belgian magazine Le Vif. And he said: “Mourinho is one. (Pep) Guardiola and Wenger. In this order.” Surely Wenger would hate to see the order, but at least he makes the cut.
Manchester United Buildup
Sunday witnesses one of the showpiece fixtures of the Premier League calendar when Arsenal host Manchester United. A top of the table battle which could even lead to swapped places in the standings, as both clubs are separated by three points and three goals.
United manager Louis van Gaal has already got in on the act of criticising Arsenal’s meagre trophy haul in recent years. “They haven’t won so much, so you have to look for that improvement with that team,” said the Dutchman, while also admitting the Gunners could be the Premier League’s top team in a “technical and tactical sense.”
There are worrying news for Arsenal fans as centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who was substituted during the Olympiakos clash, is expected to miss out with a hamstring tear, according to the Telegraph. Without the influential Frenchman, Arsenal will be a poorer defensive unit, and United and Van Gaal would surely take note.
Meanwhile, ex-United player Roy Keane has once again had a dig at the Gunners, this time highlighting their weak defence. He said: “Listen, they’re soft — Arsenal are soft. They’re weak. The goals they give away, you’ve got no chance of winning any big game if you defend like that. I think there’s certainly a weakness to the group, they look like they lack characters, leaders and winners.” Keane is certainly playing his part in revving up the stakes for Sunday.
While the winter transfer window a fair distance away, the rumour mill keeps churning out transfer news, and Arsenal are never away from the spotlight. Even though they showed this summer they have no interest in the transfer market by signing a grand total of zero senior outfield players, the speculations always find their way to Arsenal.
According to Metro who have cited Spanish sources Fichajes, Arsenal are reportedly close to sealing an agreement with Ukrainian forward Andriy Yarmolenko. Yarmolenko will become a free agent next summer, and linking him to different clubs doesn’t get any easier at this point in time.
Meanwhile, Mathieu Debuchy is ready to reconsider his situation at the club after being left out of the France squad for the upcoming international break. The injury-prone Debuchy is keen to make the cut for next summer’s Euro 2016, and after only making one start this season, the right-back is seemingly disillusioned and according to the Telegraph, could seek a move in January.
Social Media Arsenal
Jack Wilshere is currently out through injury, but he has kept himself involved and posted a photo on Instagram on Wednesday, letting it be known to his fans that his better half is keeping him going during a tough time.
There has been a lot of clamour to bring in a change of manager at the club following the Olympiakos loss, and outspoken celebrity Gooner Piers Morgan also jumped in on the bandwagon. With German magazine Sport Bild reporting that Jurgen Klopp is in England to study several clubs and their methods, I wouldn’t mind should any Arsenal fan get his/her pants on fire. Like Morgan did, after the events in midweek.