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All or Nothing: Amazon Documentary to Look at Arsenal

Arsenal will be the focus of the famous Amazon documentary series All or Nothing. The documentary will cover the inner workings of the club across the 2020/21 season, giving fans an insight into the work behind the scenes and also and the kind of preparation required for senior football.

Previous All or Nothing documentaries have focused on Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, the Brazilian national team and Tottenham Hotspur, with Mikel Arteta contributing greatly to the former during his tenure as Manchester City coach.

The documentary series grants a rare, unprecedented level of insight into the inner-workings of the club. Though fans will be treated to seeing how the players and manager prepare for games and an exclusive look at half-time teamtalks, the documentary will also show the work of other important figures at the club, such as Josh Kroenke, Vinai Venkatesham, Edu Gaspar and Per Mertesacker.

The failure of last season was thankfully not broadcast.

The documentary will be filmed across the course of the season and will likely be shown in its entirety at the end of the season in May, exclusively on the Amazon Prime video subscription service.

All or Nothing: Arsenal will be produced by 72 Films, executive produced by Mark Raphael, Clare Cameron and three-time BAFTA winner John Douglas.

Dan Grabiner, Head of UK Originals at Amazon Studios said: “Arsenal is a historic club going through a fascinating period, and we can’t wait to take viewers behind-the-scenes on the journey of this crucial season. All or Nothing is about intimate access to the passion and commitment behind elite sport, and in Arsenal we have the perfect subject for the next chapter. We are looking forward to Prime members around the world experiencing another Premier League season with a new club, through All or Nothing’s signature quality storytelling and access.”

While such unprecedented access to the club is certainly an enticing thought for fans, it is nevertheless a cause for concern. Documentaries of this nature are almost always a “tell-all” kind of scenario that usually leaves no stone unturned and in the case of a disappointing season, often becomes a central hub for memes and unnecessary insight into the way the team works.

All or Northing: Arsenal will arrive on Amazon Prime in 2022.

There is also something sacred about the dressing room atmosphere. Mikel Arteta’s half-time team talks being broadcast for everyone to see, while fascinating, also provides people with insights into how the team works and what sort of tactics the team are likely to use, which is usually best kept behind the curtain.

Much like a magician revealing how he did his trick, some things are perhaps left behind the scenes.

We are looking forward to giving our fans around the world a unique insight into how we work day to day. We have one of the biggest global followings in the game and one consistent thing we hear from fans is their desire to see more about what happens behind closed doors at the club, All or Nothing will give our fans and sport lovers an opportunity to learn more about what makes Arsenal such a special club, our trophy laden history and our ambitions for future success.”

Mark Gonnella – Arsenal’s Media and Communications Director

However, one fascinating question remains, who will narrate the series? Manchester City’s documentary had Ben Kinglsey, where Tottenham had Tom Hardy, so who will narrate Arsenal’s?

Arsenal are not short on celebrity fans, with JAY-Z, Piers Morgan, Dido, Idris Elba, Roger Daltry, Prince Harry, Roger Waters, Mick Jagger and the Queen are all Arsenal fans, though any royal inclusion seems unlikely, if not impossible.

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2021/22: A Look Ahead

The beginning of the transfer window has seen the usual flurry of transfer rumours swirl around the club as Arsenal begin their preparations for the 2021/22 Premier League season. The club faces its first season without European football of any kind, for nearly 25 years and now have the unenviable task of mounting a push to get back into the Champions League for the first time since 2017.

Preparations for the new campaign will begin on the 8th of July, when the Arsenal squad returns from their holidays, though there will be a few notable exceptions; Kieran Tierney, Bernd Leno, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka will all be either on holiday or (hopefully) continuing their excursions at EURO 2020. Meanwhile, Lucas Torreira is unlikely to feature owing to his involvement at the Copa América and as he will likely be sold; meanwhile, both Gabriel Magalhães and Gabriel Martinelli are likely to miss the start of the season, owing to their involvement in the Olympics.

Arsenal will be without Gabriel Magalhães for a while.

Aside from this, there is also a hope that Arsenal will have new signings Nuno Tavares, who is expected to be announced in the coming days, following his successful medical in Portugal, and Albert Sambi Lokonga, who’s move from RSC Anderlecht edges ever closer. Also on the transfer front, is the situation of Brighton defender, Ben White. Though a deal is yet to be struck with Brighton for the England international, it is thought that Arsenal are likely to have the player signed up and a part of the first-team squad after the EUROs are over, though like Saka, Xhaka, Torreira, Tierney and Leno, he will likely require a holiday before joining up with Mikel Arteta’s squad.

Given the absence of Gabriel, Pablo Marí likely will partner one of Rob Holding and Ben White on the opening day of the season. William Saliba would have been in with a chance, though his impending loan move to Marseille means that Arsenal will likely only have one defender to choose from, two if White signs.

Manuel Locatelli remains one of the many players Arsenal have registered an interest in.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s attention will also likely be drawn to the other members of the squad that need to be attended to. Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Mattéo Guendouzi are all expected to depart the club this summer, with the futures of Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolašinac and Alexandre Lacazette still yet to be sorted out.

Arsenal are unlikely to commit to any further deals until they have managed to shift one or two players along the way; not for financial reasons (though these will likely still help) but mainly to help trim the fat of such a big squad. Though rumours have persisted recently that the club has made an opening bid of around €40m for Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, sources at the club deny that such a bid has been lodged, despite the assurances of Sassuolo president Giovanni Carnevali that Arsenal’s bid is “significant”, though Arsenal do hold a significant interest in the player and will likely lie in wait for the midfielder waiting to pounce properly if Juventus are unable to agree a fee with Sassuolo, however, given the relationship between the two clubs and the player’s desire to play for la Vecchia Signora, it seems unlikely that Arsenal will be in the running.

Rúben Neves is an option to replace the outgoing Granit Xhaka.

Though Locatelli would likely be a very attractive signing for Arsenal fans, Rúben Neves of Wolves is thought to be a more immediate replacement for Xhaka.

The new season is also likely to see Arteta finally adopt the 4-3-3 formation that he has wanted to play since he arrived at the club. This would mean that Partey, Neves and Locatelli (if Arsenal were to procure both players) would play in the Arsenal midfield. A very tasty option if Arsenal can pull it off, but given that Neves is likely to cost around £30m and Locatelli around £34m, coupled with the impending arrival of Lokonga for £20m, an £84m outlay for the midfield seems a fairly unlikely undertaking.

Emile Smith Rowe’s future remains a hot topic.

Another issue still yet to be resolved is the future of Emile Smith Rowe. Though Arsenal sources remain outwardly confident that the youngster will sign a new contract with the club, there is still a fair amount of anxiety among Arsenal fans as talks drag on even further. Reports suggest that Smith Rowe will not sign his deal until his holidays are over, however, the news that Aston Villa have made two seperate bids of £25m and £30m respectively is causing a fair amount of unease. Whether these are just inventions of an agent looking to ensure a rise in the wages that the club would need to offer Smith Rowe or are genuine bids, these are still worrying times.

Arsenal have maintained on multiple occasions that they will accept no less than £75m for the Hale End graduate, though Villa seem undeterred by Arsenal’s stance and may yet return with a third bid.

Martin Ødegaard seems unlikely to return to North London.

As for creativity, Arsenal are still in the market for a creative attacker who can relieve some of the workload for Smith Rowe. Mikel Arteta’s first-choice was Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid, who spent the past six months on loan with the club, though the chances of Ødgeaard returning to Arsenal look slim, especially given his most recent Instagram post and with Carlo Ancelotti reportedly keen on giving the youngster a chance to prove himself.

Other targets have been mooted, such as Leicester City’s James Maddison, though his price tag is likely to be an obstacle for the club. There haven’t been any concrete links to other names, although the club’s long-standing interest in Julian Brandt, Houssem Aouar and Christopher Nkunku are known, it remains to be seen if Arsenal will move for any of them in the forthcoming window. Arsenal failed in a bid for Aouar last summer, though may be tempted to return this summer if the leaks regarding Lyon’s financial situation are true and if Arsenal are unable to land any of their prime targets before the end of the window.

Aaron Ramsdale is an option for a homegrown goalkeeper.

Then there is the club’s rather worrying homegrown quota. Though Ben White is likely to be joining, the club are likely to sell Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson this summer, which would see four homegrown players leave the club. The club have identified Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale as someone who can not only become the club’s second-choice goalkeeper, but one who can also provide healthy competition for Bernd Leno, though Ramsdale has mainly been targeted as he would provide additional cover for the club’s homegrown quota, though his price may again prove too costly and Arsenal make look elsewhere, with Brentford’s David Raya and West Brom’s Sam Johnstone both admired by the club.

In terms of the youth players coming through this season, Arsenal will likely hand more chances to Folarian Balogun, who recently signed a new long-term contract with the club and will also likely hand some minutes to Miguel Azeez as well, who has also caught the manager’s eye in recent months. Though it is unlikely that Arsenal will rely on both too heavily, they will provide useful cover for the future.

The lack of European football could be a blessing for the club.

Over the next few weeks, Arsenal will play a series of friendlies with games against Hibernian, Rangers, Inter Milan, Everton or Millonarios, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, which will provide useful glimpses at competitive football before the Premier League season starts on Friday the 13th of August.

The lack of European football in the calendar is a very unwelcome sight for Arsenal fans, but may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Without a European fixture taking up a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, Arsenal will have ample chances to recover for their next few games. Small comfort, especially when the League Cup (assuming Arsenal get far enough) and the FA Cup fully kick in.

Arsenal will be hoping that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form picks up this season.

There will also be a distinct lack of experience at the club this season as well. Following the expiration of their contracts, Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz have since left the club, but so too have Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mesut Özil, both of whom departed in the January window amid a shroud of controversy. Though Arsenal have been known to supplement any younger signings with older players, the club’s recent transfer strategy suggests that Arsenal are aiming for younger players this time around and although stalwarts such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Willian, Rob Holding, Bernd Leno, Pablo Marí and Cédric Soares are all on hand to provide first-hand experience for those who need it, it does look as though Arsenal will be entering the season with a distinctly younger squad than most of their competitors.

The forward line is also an area that will need to greatly improve this season. Though no major departures are expected, Arsenal will be hoping that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been training in Greece with A.O. Mykonos’ academy side, will find form once more. The future of Willian is also one of great interest to Arsenal fans too as the Brazilian has already priced himself out of a move to Inter Miami, with club, fans and player all keen to see an end to the former Chelsea winger’s time with the club.

Héctor Bellerín also looks to be on his way out.

Then there is also the issue of a right-back. While Héctor Bellerín is expected to leave the club this summer amid interest from Spain, Italy and France, Arsenal will need to move for a right-back before the season starts. Calum Chambers deputised impressively in the position last season, but is clearly not the favourite to start there regularly. This could prompt a move for RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams, who Arsenal are reportedly keen on. Adams’ ability to play as a holding midfielder as well as a right-back will make him a very enticing target for Arsenal.

If Arsenal are able to land all of their primary targets this summer, then a 4-3-3 shouldn’t be out of the question, but a 4-2-3-1 is a more likely formation on the opening day of the season.

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21/22 Community Shield FA Cup First Team Friendly General League Cup Match Reports Premier League

Premier League Fixtures For New Season Announced

The fixtures for the 2021/2022 season have finally been announced. Mikel Arteta’s side ended last season in a very poor manner, failing ti qualify for a European competition for the first time in 25 years.

With new boys Brentford, Norwich and Watford now in the Premier League, the fixtures have been announced.

Depending on Arsenal’s progress in the remaining two competitions, the League Cup and the FA Cup, the fixtures are subject to change, as well as their opponents’ progress.

Looking at Arsenal’s opening three matches, the need to strengthen in the transfer market is more pressing than ever.

August 2021
14th: Brentford (A)
21st: Chelsea (H)
28th: Manchester City (A)

September 2021
10th: Burnley (A)
11th: Norwich (H)
25th: Tottenham Hotspur (H)

October 2021
2nd: Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
16th: Crystal Palace (H)
23rd: Aston Villa (H)
30th: Leicester City (A)

November 2021
6th: Watford (H)
20th: Liverpool (A)
27th: Newcastle United (H)
30th: Manchester United (A)

December 2021
4th: Everton (A)
11th: Southampton (H)
14th: West Ham United (H)
18th: Leeds United (A)
26th: Norwich City (A)
28th: Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)

January 2022
1st: Manchester City (H)
15th: Tottenham Hotspur (A)
22nd: Burnley (H)

February 2022
8th: Wolverhampton Wanderers (A)
12th: Chelsea (A)
19th: Brentford (H)
26th: Liverpool (H)

March 2022
5th: Watford (A)
12th: Leicester City (H)
19th: Aston Villa (A)

April 2022
2nd: Crystal Palace (A)
9th: Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
16th: Southampton (A)
23rd: Manchester United (H)
30th: West Ham United (A)

May 2022
7th: Leeds United (H)
15th: Newcastle United (A)
22nd: Everton (H)

Season Ends.

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20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Arsenal 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion: Premier League – 23/05/2021

Thank God, the season is over. A truly disappointing campaign can only be offset by the news that Arsenal, for the first time since 1995, will not play any kind of European football next season.

A truly drab campaign did have the silver lining of allowing fans back into stadiums to watch the final two games of the season and for once, Arsenal fans were treated to a display of the highest quality from Mikel Arteta’s side.

Sunday’s match was seen as a farewell for some players, whether they were picked or not and as a chance to start next season off with a good win at the end of the season.

Nicolas Pépé caps off a stunning performance.

Arsenal started the match at a truly blistering pace. Attacks flew in from all around and Brighton were unable to hold back the tide. The free-flowing movements of Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Ødegaard and Nicolas Pépé proved to be too much.

In fact, Arsenal were exceedingly unlucky not to have a goal in the first-half. Rob Holding managed to scramble the ball over the line, but the goal was disallowed owing to a foul in the build-up.

From there, Arsenal seemed to lack a little more intensity and seemed happy to play the game at a walking pace, which is perhaps why half-time beckoned with the score at 0-0.

However, the second-half saw a more resurgent Arsenal as they began to finally put Brighton to the sword. A low, but powerful cross from Calum Chambers was deftly controlled with the left foot of Nicolas Pépé, before being fired home with his powerful right to give Arsenal a well-deserved lead.

Togetherness and cohesion for Arsenal as they hit Brighton for two.

It didn’t take too much longer before they added a second. A brilliant move from Arsenal saw Pépé once again in an advanced position and ignoring the cries of his colleagues for him to pass, the Ivorian hitman placed his shot into the far corner to cap off an impressive Arsenal performance in style.

However, the result was dampened by the news that Tottenham Hotspur had managed to overcome their result at Leicester and had won, which left Arsenal without European football.

It was a tough pill to swallow, but Arsenal will now have a summer to prepare the players, sign some exciting new ones, jettison some unwanted ones and to really try and make a push for next season.

Thank God the season is over.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
21.) Calum Chambers
16.) Rob Holding
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  3.) Kieran Tierney
34.) Granit Xhaka
18.) Thomas Partey
19.) Nicolas Pépé
11.) Martin Ødegaard (Martinelli 86’)
32.) Emile Smith Rowe (Saka 74’)
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Lacazette 79’)

Arsenal subs:
13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
22.) Pablo Marí
17.) Cédric Soares
25.) Mohamed Elneny
  8.) Dani Ceballos
  7.) Bukayo Saka
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette
30.) Eddie Nketiah

Brighton & Hove Albion team: 
26.) Robert Sánchez
  3.) Ben White
  4.) Adam Webster
  5.) Lewis Dunk (c)
33.) Dan Burn
13.) Pascal Groß
  8.) Yves Bissouma
15.) Jakub Moder
16.) Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Lallana 45’)
10.) Alexis Mac Allister (Alzate 66’)
11.) Leandro Trossard (Connolly 45’)

Brighton & Hove Albion subs:
23.) Jason Steele 
61.) Tom McGill
  6.) Michał Karbownik
25.) Moisés Caicedo
17.) Steven Alzate
14.) Adam Lallana
22.) Percy Tau
  7.) Aaron Connolly
29.) Andi Zeqiri

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20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal: Premier League – 19/05/2021

Before we get into the match report here, there’s something that needs to be said. Last night’s match was the last home game of Roy Hodgson’s career and Sunday will be his final time as manager in the modern game after he announced his retirement.

It’s rare to come across men who have impacted football the way that Roy Hodgson has. While Arsenal’s very own Arsène Wenger normalised the idea of a foreign coach in the Premier League, Hodgson normalised the idea of an Englishman abroad and his legacy as a coach is as undisputed as his class and as great as it was that fans can be back in stadiums, it’s a shame that so few were allowed to wave goodbye to one of the greatest managers football has ever known.

Now, back to the action.

On the back of an entirely undeserved victory over Chelsea, Arsenal encountered their second London derby in as many weeks. While Arsenal fans are all scrambling for this season to be over, there is still a certain amount of pride left to play for and the chance to possibly leapfrog their great rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.

Arsenal started well. A number of quick and precise attacks seemed to show Palace what Arsenal were capable of. Though Palace had a few chances of their own, it was Arsenal who looked the more likely to score, dominating possession and keeping the midfield as tight and compact as possible.

Nicolas Pépé gives Arsenal the lead.

It therefore came as no surprise to see Arsenal take the lead. Quick play down the left-hand side by Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney saw an intricately mesmeric move come to a flourishing end as Nicolas Pépé latched onto Tierney’s cross to bundle Arsenal into a deserved lead.

It was a stunning Arsenal move that had everyone off their feet and seemed to dispell the notion that Arsenal were unable to create.

The second half however, brought a very different story. Arsenal completely took their foot off the gas and Palace hit them hard. With the added bonus of having their fans back in the stadium, Crystal Palace fought hard to pin Arsenal back. Their efforts were soon rewarded as Andros Townsend’s cross found its way into the box and Christian Benteke headed the ball home for a Palace equaliser in the Ian Wright derby.

It will be a controversial decision for Arsenal fans, who would argue that Benteke was lucky to remain on the pitch following a controversial tussle with Mohamed Elneny in the first-half which Var inexplicably failed to turn over.

VAR decisions aside, Arsenal looked decidedly run through. Wilfried Zaha’s tendency to fall to the ground in the box was starting to give Arsenal a route back into the game as the Ivorian focused more on pantomime theatrics than actual goals.

A few sweeping changes by Mikel Arteta saw Arsenal regain a slight foothold. The pace and power of Gabriel Martinelli, the intricacy of Martin Ødegaard and the firm approach of Granit Xhaka appeared to be exactly what Arsenal needed.

The former two combined beautifully in the dying embers of the match as Ødegaard drifted in a sumptuous ball that would have had Mesut Özil on his feet, which was met by Martinelli who scrambled the ball in to give Arsenal a not entirely deserved would-be winner.

Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli were some of Arsenal’s bright sparks on the night.

Palace heads dropped and Arsenal were able to round off the scoring nicely with a superb run from Nicolas Pépé, who rounded thee Palace players before doubling his tally for the game.

It was hardly a vintage Arsenal performance, but the three points are all that matters and Arsenal have those.

VAR was once again shrouded in controversy as Crystal Palace were granted two VAR reprieves. The aforementioned incident with Christian Benteke and Mohamed Elneny was matched by an earlier incident wherein Cheikhou Kouyaté crushed Calum Chambers’ ankle in an early tackle which was bizarelly not given a red card by VAR or on-pitch referee Anthony Taylor.

It was an infuriating call, especially as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been dismissed for the same tackle at the same ground last season.

It was another promising showing for Arsenal’s youngsters. While Bukayo Saka was perhaps not at his very best on Wednesday night, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli more than made up for it, combining well and creating chances galore for Arsenal.

Thankfully, the season draws to a merciful end on Sunday and Mikel Arteta will be glad to know that Arsenal fans are back in the stadium for Sunday’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion, but more importantly, that focus can begin for next season as Arsenal look to right the wrongs of this unacceptable season.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
21.) Calum Chambers
16.) Rob Holding
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  3.) Kieran Tierney (Xhaka 78’)
25.) Mohamed Elneny
18.) Thomas Partey (Martinelli 78’)
19.) Nicolas Pépé
32.) Emile Smith Rowe
  7.) Bukayo Saka (Ødegaard 65’)
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c)

Arsenal subs:
33.) Maty Ryan
22.) Pablo Marí
17.) Cédric Soares
34.) Granit Xhaka
  8.) Dani Ceballos
11.) Martin Ødegaard
12.) Willian
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

Crystal Palace team:
31.) Vincente Guaita
  2.) Joel Ward
  5.) James Tomkins
24.) Gary Cahill
27.) Tyrick Mitchell
  8.) Cheikhou Kouyaté
22.) James McCarthy (Riedewald 82’)
15.) Jeffery Schlupp
10.) Andros Townsend
11.) Wilfried Zaha
20.) Christian Benteke (Ayew 79’)

Crystal Palace subs:
  1.) Jack Butland
34.) Martin Kelly
17.) Nathaniel Clyne
  3.) Patrick van Aanholt
39.) Jesurun Rak-Sakyi
44.) Jaïro Riedewald
14.) Jean-Philippe Mateta
23.) Michy Batshuayi
  9.) Jordan Ayew

Categories
20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal: Premier League – 12/05/2021

Arsenal have in recent years seemed to reverse the trend of Chelsea being their bogey team. Gone are the days when Didier Drogba would taunt the Arsenal defence for fun or when José Mourinho would make it his personal mission to unsettle Arsène Wenger before a match.

Nowadays, it’s Chelsea who struggle with Arsenal. Arsenal do seem to grind a result out when they least deserve it, but they usually have something on the line to scrap for.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side happen to be in utterly blistering form of late, having reached both an FA Cup final and a UEFA Champions League final in a short space of time since Tuchel’s arrival in the wake of Frank Lampard’s subsequent (but utterly telegraphed) sacking.

Arsenal’s set up saw them revert to the back three formation that won them an FA Cup last season. It seemed as though Mikel Arteta was more interested in frustrating Chelsea than relying on his team’s doubtless attacking qualities.

Arsenal celebrate the game’s only goal.

And that seemed to be the tactic for a long while. Chelsea were all over Arsenal for the majority of the game, with Arsenal’s only real attacking promise coming down Kieran Tierney’s left-hand side.

Despite this, Chelsea were undone by an utterly gifted goal. While Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has copped a lot of flak in his time with the club, he wasn’t to blame as Chelsea midfielder Jorginho rolled a pass back to the goalkeeper that was scrambled off the goal line, fell to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who promptly squared it for Emile Smith Rowe who gave an Arsenal a surprising and utterly undeserved lead.

It was a comedy of errors and the kind of goal that Arsenal usually give away not this season’s Champions League finalists.

From there, it was one-way traffic. Arsenal struggled to even get out of their own half, such was Chelsea’s dominance. Though Chelsea did have the ball in the back of the net through Christian Pulisic, it was rightly ruled out by VAR for an offside, with the American himself seemingly aware even as he was reluctantly celebrating.

Emile Smith Rowe was one of the team’s standout performers on the night.

Chelsea came close a few more times with a lopping header from Kurt Zouma being tipped onto the crossbar from Bernd Leno and former-Gunner Olivier Giroud smashing the subsequent rebound against the post.

The final whistle was perhaps the most welcome sound in the world for Arsenal fans as the team staggered to a very undeserved three points to keep their Europa League tilt alive.

It was a very poor performance from Arsenal. Though a clean sheet is always a welcome bonus to a win, it has to be said that the team really did not play well at all. Exceptions can be made for Thomas Partey, Rob Holding, Bernd Leno and Emile Smith Rowe, however, the rest looked either tired or poor.

A win was very much against the odds and the fire shown by Mikel Arteta in his post-match interview with Sky Sports seemed to serve up something his team would have been good to show in the match.

It was however, a very uncharacteristically solid performance from the Arsenal defence. Rob Holding was solid, while Pablo Marí and Gabriel Magalhães struggled early on, they soon grew into the game. It’s clear that the defensive improvements this season are palpable from Unai Emery’s tumultuous teure at the club, however, it may not be enough to rely on defence over attack alone moving forward.

Arsenal will need to be better as they face Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
16.) Rob Holding
22.) Pablo Marí
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  7.) Bukayo Saka (Bellerín 66’ (Chambers 88’))
25.) Mohamed Elneny
18.) Thomas Partey
  3.) Kieran Tierney
11.) Martin Ødegaard
32.) Emile Smith Rowe
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Lacazette 79’)

Arsenal subs:
33.) Maty Ryan
21.) Calum Chambers
  2.) Héctor Bellerín
17.) Cédric Soares
  8.) Dani Ceballos
12.) Willian
19.) Nicolas Pépé
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

Chelsea team:
  1.) Kepa Arrizabalaga
28.) César Azpilicueta (c) (Ziyech 78’)
  6.) Thiago Silva
15.) Kurt Zouma
24.) Reece James
23.) Billy Gilmour (Hudson-Odoi 45’)
  5.) Jorginho
21.) Ben Chilwell
19.) Mason Mount
10.) Christian Pulisic
29.) Kai Havertz (Giroud 65’)

Chelsea subs:
16.) Edouard Mendy
57.) Tino Livramento
  3.) Marcos Alonso
33.) Emerson Palmieri
55.) Tino Anjorin
22.) Hakim Ziyech
20.) Callum Hudson-Odoi
11.) Timo Werner
18.) Olivier Giroud

Categories
20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Arsenal 3-1 West Bromwich Albion: Premier League – 09/05/2021

With their European fate all but sealed, Arsenal entered Sunday’s match with Wes Brom with an air of failure ripe in the air.

Crashed out of the FA Cup fairly early on, a humiliating exit to Manchester City in the League Cup and a humbling defeat from former-manager Unai Emery, it’s no real surprise that Arsenal fans want this season over and done with.

This would seem to be the ideal time for Mikel Arteta to start shaking things up a little bit, try some youngsters out and stop giving game time to those on loan. However, while the absence of Folarian Balogun and Miguel Azeez were offset against the continued selection of both Dani Ceballos and Willian, there were still some bright choices in the selection. Bukayo Saka was returned to left-back, Emile Smith Rowe was given an unencumbered look at a central creative role and Gabriel Martinelli was started as the lone-forward.

Emile Smith Rowe celebrates his first-ever Premier League goal.

Arsenal started off fairly slowly. West Brom had the majority of possession and continued to create chances as they continued their fight for Premier League survival.

It therefore came as a hammer blow to the Baggies as Arsenal took the lead throigh a stunning goal from Emile Smith Rowe. A brilliant ball down the line from Willian was met by Bukayo Saka, who’s quick cross into the box was volleyed home in superb fashion by Smith Rowe for his first-ever Premier League goal.

West Brom seemed to accept their fate from there as Nicolas Pépé sprung forth barely six minutes later, cut onto his left-foot in Arjen Robben-like fashion and curled an unstoppable effort into the far corner to double the home-side’s advantage.

Half-time seemed to give West Brom new life however, with Sam Allardyce clearly reminding the players that relegation met anything other than a win that night. A brilliant and mazy run from Matheus Pereira gave West Brom a lifeline and led to some nervy moments from Arsenal, with former-Gunner Kyle Bartley reportedly shouting to his teammates “Come on boys, one goal and they’ll shit themselves!”

Nicolas Pépé and Willian, Arsenal’s two other goalscorers.

Thankfully, Arsenal did no such thing and despite some nervy moments, Arsenal kept control of the game well. West Brom’s fate was sealed when Willian stepped up to curl home his first-ever Arsenal goal from a free-kick in his 37th apperance for the club(!).

It was a decent win for Arsenal all things considered and was probably a good sign for Arsenal’s continued (albeit unlikely) push for a Europa League place next season.

The questions were still there though, why was this performance not replicated a few days ago against Villarreal? Why was it that Dani Ceballos was only able to provide this kind of performance against relegation fodder and why has it taken Willian so long to score a goal?

Questions that will likely never have a definitive answer to them any time soon and questions that most likely stay long dormant into next season as a summer of upheaval beckons.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
21.) Calum Chambers
16.) Rob Holding
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  7.) Bukayo Saka
25.) Mohamed Elneny
  8.) Dani Ceballos (Partey 76’)
12.) Willian
32.) Emile Smith Rowe (Tierney 63’)
19.) Nicolas Pépé
35.) Gabriel Martinelli (Lacazette 60’)

Arsenal subs:
13.) Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
  2.) Héctor Bellerín
17.) Cédric Soares
  3.) Kieran Tierney
18.) Thomas Partey
11.) Martin Ødegaard
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
30.) Eddie Nketiah
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

West Bromwich Albion team:
  1.) Sam Johnstone
  2.) Darnell Furlong
  6.) Semi Ajayi
  5.) Kyle Bartley
14.) Conor Townsend
  7.) Callum Robinson (Diangana 68’)
35.) Okay Yokuşlu
10.) Matt Phillips
12.) Matheus Pereira
18.) Conor Gallagher
17.) Mbaye Diagne (Robson-Kanu 56’)

West Bromwich Albion subs:
25.) David Button
45.) Taylor Gardner-Hickman
22.) Lee Peltier
49.) Caleb Taylor
27.) Dara O’Shea
  8.) Jake Livermore
11.) Grady Diangana
29.) Karlan Grant
  4.) Hal Robson-Kanu

Categories
20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal: Premier League – 02/05/2021

Given the state of things at the moment, Arsenal’s season hangs in the balance. With all the talk of proposed takeovers, European Super Leagues, talented youngsters signing new contracts and a Europa League tie with a former manager that threatens Arsenal’s European chances next seasons, its understandable why the Premier League has been on the back burner this season.

Heading into Sunday’s game against Newcastle, it’s clear to see where Mikel Arteta’s priorities are at the moment. After naming a fairly understrengthed side against Fulham, it seems Mikel Arteta has once again placed all his eggs in the Europa League basket.

The team saw a number of key changes to the side, including Maty Ryan once again displacing Bernd Leno.

Arsenal started off well, creating chances and giving Newcastle plenty to be concerned about. Usually, in these instances, Arsenal start well and create plenty and then slump to an early and entirely preventable goal, but this was not the case this time around.

Mohamed Elneny fires Arsenal into the lead.

Clever work from David Luiz to find Héctor Bellerín meant that the Spaniard could easily pick out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the middle of the park, only for the Gabon captain to inexplicably miss the chance. It made no difference though as Mohamed Elneny was on hand to smash the ball home from outside the box to mark his first-ever Premier League goal.

It was a well-worked goal that would have likely been even better had the initial chance converted. Arsenal continued to create but never really tested Martin Dúbravka very much, but for a speculative effort from Granit Xhaka, which nevertheless forced the Slovakian goalkeeper into action.

The second-half saw more of the same. Newcastle seemed utterly uninterested and Arsenal never really needed to push out of second gear.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s acrobatic effort rounds off the afternoon nicely for Arsenal.

It wasn’t before long that Arsenal added their inevitable second. Good work on the left-hand side from Gabriel Martinelli allowed him to fizz a tantalising ball across the box and this time Aubameyang made no mistake with an acrobatic effort making its way into the back of the net to double Arsenal’s tally and round-off the scoring.

The rest of the game passed without incident, until the dying embers of the match, when Newcastle defender and former teammate of Mohamed Elneny, Fabian Schär needlessly threw himself into a tackle from behind on Gabriel Martinelli, ensuring that Mike Dean didn’t end a game without brandishing a red card.

It was a stupid, needless tackle and seemed to sum up the home side’s performance on the day.

Many have said that it was a stunning performance from Arsenal, but that feels like hyperbole. That’s not to say that Arsenal played badly, because they didn’t, but it did feel like Arsenal never really got out of second-gear and didn’t need to. Newcastle were so lethargic and so uninterested in the match that it was surprising that the even found their way onto the pitch.

In terms of performances, it was a good day for Mohamed Elneny. Though the midfielder is often maligned for his lack of ingenuity or his propensity to play the ball sideways or backwards, the Egyptian was virtually unplayable against Newcastle and his importance to the team was noticeable in the club’s recent Open Mic YouTube video.

It was yet another bravura performance from young Gabriel Martinelli as well. His assist for Aubameyang’s goal was simply stunning and a sign of just how talented Martinelli really is and it seems essential that the Brazilian simply must start against Villarreal on Thursday.

Thursday beckons now for what will be a season-defining game. Is Arsenal’s European fate sealed or are they about to bring off an unprecedented comeback against Europe’s perennial Europa League specialist who will be out for blood at his old stomping ground?

Arsenal team:
33.) Maty Ryan
  2.) Héctor Bellerín
23.) David Luiz (Chambers 53’)
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
34.) Granit Xhaka
25.) Mohamed Elneny
  8.) Dani Ceballos
12.) Willian
11.) Martin Ødegaard (Partey 85’)
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Pépé 78’)

Arsenal subs:
  1.) Bernd Leno
22.) Pablo Marí
21.) Calum Chambers
17.) Cédric Soares
18.) Thomas Partey
32.) Emile Smith Rowe
  7.) Bukayo Saka
19.) Nicolas Pépé
30.) Eddie Nketiah

Newcastle United team:
  1.) Martin Dúbravka
23.) Jacob Murphy
18.) Federico Fernández (Schär 72’ 🔴)
  2.) Ciaran Clark (Gayle 84’)
  3.) Paul Dummett
11.) Matt Ritchie
36.) Sean Longstaff
  8.) Jonjo Shelvey (c)
24.) Miguel Almirón (Joelinton 73’)
10.) Allan Saint-Maximin
13.) Callum Wilson

Newcastle United subs:
29.) Mark Gillespie
17.) Emil Krafth
  5.) Fabian Schär
15.) Jamal Lewis
57.) Elliot Anderson
16.) Jeff Hendrick
  4.) Matty Longstaff
  9.) Joelinton
12.) Dwight Gayle

Categories
20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Arsenal 0-1 Everton: Premier League – 23/04/2021

In the wake of the demolition of the European Super League, an extremely awkward fan’s forum in which Josh Kroenke managed to fit his foot and a large portion of his lower leg into his mouth, all before a crunch semi-final match against Unai Emery’s Villarreal, Arsenal fans likely just want this season over and done with.

The backdrop of Arsenal’s Premier League tie with Everton on Friday was set against the backdrop of a large-scale fan protest outside the Emirates Stadium, protesting Stan Kroenke’s continued ownership.

However, on the field, Mikel Arteta and his team needed to put the off-field drama to one side and focus on the football.

And, for all intents and purposes, Arsenal did just that. They started their game well with a couple of quick chances created, followed by long spells of possession. It perhaps speaks to how dull the first-half of football was at the Emirates Stadium, that the fan protests and the humorous signs being displayed on Twitter were far more entertaining things to be looking at rather than the football.

Granit Xhaka’s overcommitment led to the game’s only goal.

Though Arsenal were comfortably in charge in the first half and were perhaps the more likely of the two to score, a much better second-half was needed and Arsenal seemed to respond to that idea.

A more fluid attacking performance seemed to befit Arsenal’s gameplan and soon enough, Arsenal found themselves handed a penalty, which Nicolas Pépé confidently stepped up to take.

However, yet more VAR controversy met Arsenal. Following Dani Ceballos’ opening-goal being disallowed the previous Sunday, yet more VAR controversy followed. Ceballos was fouled in the penalty area and a penalty was given. A quick VAR review deemed that Ceballos was indeed fouled in the box, however, an offside was shown earlier in the build-up, which led to the decision being overruled.

We’re talking mere fractions here, fractions that have come to define Arsenal’s disappointingly poor season. As if the mere infinitesimal molecule of Pépé’s arm being offside in the build-up were hard to swallow, Everton’s first and only goal of the match was even worse.

Granit Xhaka overcommitted himself as Richarlison ran through and his somewhat tame cross was seemingly comfortably dealt with by Bernd Leno, only for the German goalkeeper to slip it through his own legs and arms and into the back of the net.

It was a major blow for Arsenal and the remaining twenty or so minutes were excruciatingly hard to watch.

The final whistle rang out and while the fans outside were protesting an absent and poor owner, had they been inside the stadium, they would no-doubt have booed.

An unusually bad day at the office for Bernd Leno.

The off-field drama may serve as a suitable shield for Arteta and his men for now, but questions still need to be asked.

It was an unfortunate day at the office for the usually excellent Bernd Leno. Leno was unceremoniously dropped from the starting XI for Maty Ryan last Sunday and the move seems to have robbed Leno of a little confidence as a result. Though this was hopefully a mere blip for the goalkeeper, it was a tremendously catastrophic error.

VAR once again was centre of the controversy and Mikel Arteta made his feelings known after the match.

This has been building up. Enough is enough. Today I have had enough, we’ve had many of them that nobody explains. It affects a lot of people, our job and most importantly our football club.

A furious Mikel Arteta post-match

The injustice of the decision still standing and the FA’s inconsistent application of the system has people furious with how the game is being treated. Clear and obvious errors seem to be scrapped for offsides where the rules are constantly changing. Pépé’s arm was offside, slightly, however, given that Pépé is unable to score with his arm, the decision feels harsh and very out of line with the line that the FA have been putting out every week.

Arteta’s game management once again comes under fire as the Spaniard continues to leave his substitutions until far too late in the game. Attacking changes of Ødegaard and Martinelli were not made until the 74th minute and the usual groan-inducing introduction of flop Willian in the 83rd minute was also too late.

All in all, it was yet another poor showing in the league from Arsenal, who now face a trip to a familiar face in Unai Emery, who will be eager to shoot his former club down.

Arsenal team:
  1.) Bernd Leno
21.) Calum Chambers (Willian 83’)
16.) Rob Holding (c)
22.) Pablo Marí
34.) Granit Xhaka
18.) Thomas Partey
  8.) Dani Ceballos
  7.) Bukayo Saka
32.) Emile Smith Rowe
19.) Nicolas Pépé (Ødegaard 74’)
30.) Eddie Nketiah (Martinelli 74’)

Arsenal subs:
33.) Maty Ryan
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
17.) Cédric Soares
  2.) Héctor Bellerín
25.) Mohamed Elneny
12.) Willian
11.) Martin Ødegaard
24.) Reiss Nelson
35.) Gabriel Martinelli

Everton team:
  1.) Jordan Pickford
23.) Séamus Coleman
22.) Ben Godfrey
  4.) Mason Holgate
12.) Lucas Digne
  6.) Allan
21.) André Gomes (Delph 66’)
  7.) Richarlison (Mina 89’)
19.) James Rodríguez (Davies 86’)
10.) Gylfi Sigurðsson
  9.) Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Everton subs:
33.) Robin Olsen
13.) Yerry Mina
18.) Niels Nkounkou
  8.) Fabian Delph
20.) Bernard
26.) Tom Davies
17.) Alex Iwobi
34.) Nathan Broadhead
11.) Joshua King

Categories
20/21 First Team General Match Reports Premier League

Arsenal 1-1 Fulham Athletic: Premier League – 18/04/2021

Given all the talk of European Super Leagues and the potential calamitous fallout therein, Arsenal fans could be forgiven for forgetting that there was actually some football played recently.

Just before the news that shocked the football world to its very core, Arsenal were due to strut their ever-increasingly unimpressive stuff at home to Fulham Athletic.

The team that Mikel Arteta named was drastically different than everyone had been expecting, especially after Arsenal’s recent 0-4 win over Slavia Prague. Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Pablo Marí, Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pépé were all unceremoniously dropped in favour of some of the more fringe players to give them some game time.

Given Arsenal’s upcoming match against Everton on Friday night and the crunch Europa League semi-final tie with Villarreal the following Thursday, the tactical strategy made sense.

The game started fairly well for Arsenal, with plenty of chances being created. Though Arsenal failed to actually put any in the back of the net, there was plenty that happened to give Arsenal confidence moving forward.

The team struggled to actually open the scoring however, with the Fulham defence as resolute as ever, given how different they are from their opening day thrashing from the Gunners.

Gabriel Martinelli in action for Arsenal.

Finally, Arsenal seemed to break the deadlock! An expert cross from the right flank from Héctor Bellerín was met expertly by Dani Ceballos to grab his first-ever Premier League goal, only for the goal to be disappointingly ruled out by VAR. It seemed to be the thinest of margins and Arsenal had every right to enter half-time a little hard done by.

However, Arsenal never really seemed to recover. Fulham found their way back into the game and a somewhat soft penalty courtesy of summer signing Gabriel Magalhães was expertly dispatched by Josh Maja to give Fulham the lead.

Arsenal struggled to create from there. The constant misplacing of passing was a frustratingly prevalent feature of the team’s play and the injury sustained by Alexandre Lacazette did very little to lighten the mood.

Despite their posturing, Arsenal were simply unable to draw level, despite several good chances. Eventually, in the dying embers of the match, Arsenal had a corner.

It’s always comical whenever goalkeepers venture upfield for corners and this was no different as Maty Ryan pushed upfield, however, when his header produced a desperate scramble in the box for a shot to be parried into Eddie Nketiah’s path for the equaliser, no one was laughing then.

The final whistle blew out on a disappointed Scott Parker and no doubt embarrassed Mikel Arteta.

While the post-match press conference featured for some awkward questions about a European Super League that Arteta had very clearly not been briefed about beforehand, the performance seemed to fall at Arteta’s door.

Eddie Nketiah celebrates his late equaliser.

The team selection seemed arrogantly self-assured and seemed to do nothing for the team’s fortunes. Maty Ryan gave a good account of himself once more, but why on earth Bernd Leno was ever dropped from the starting eleven remains to be seen. Another poor performance from Héctor Bellerín did not justify the decision to drop Calum Chambers and Gabriel Magalhães’ penalty incident seemed to leave questions as to whyPablo Marí was dropped as well.

While it can be argued that focus is being reserved for more important matches, this was an equally essential game to win as well! Two points dropped at home to a relegation candidate will not go down well in the cold light of day.

Mohamed Elneny’s performance seemed to be a reversion to type from the Egyptian as well. Capable of stunningly heartful and energetic performances one week and then back to plain and rigid mediocrity for the next six, it’s difficult for Arsenal fans to not lose patience with the midfielder, for whom every pass seems to go sideways or backwards and who was seen constantly demanding the ball from teammates despite his poor positioning.

The substitutions that Arteta introduced were equally disappointing as the Spaniard again left things far too late in the game. Though the subs themselves had a good impact, Arsenal fans were again left stunned that such changes had taken so long to impliment.

The focus now returns to the Premier League with one eye on the Europa League too, and although Arsenal are now out of the proposed European Super League, fans are justified to look at this performance and ask why on earth they were ever invited in the first place.

Arsenal team:
33.) Maty Ryan
  2.) Héctor Bellerín (Pépé 68′)
16.) Rob Holding
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
34.) Granit Xhaka
25.) Mohamed Elneny (Partey 68′)
  8.) Dani Ceballos
  7.) Bukayo Saka
32.) Emile Smith Rowe
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette (Nketiah 70′)

Arsenal subs:
  1.) Bernd Leno
22.) Pablo Marí
21.) Calum Chambers
17.) Cédric Soares
18.) Thomas Partey
12.) Willian
24.) Reiss Nelson
19.) Nicolas Pépé
30.) Eddie Nketiah

Fulham Athletic team: 
1.) Alphonse Areola
34.) Ola Aina
  5.) Joachim Andersen (c)
16.) Tosin Adarabiyo
33.) Antonee Robinson
14.) Bobby De Cordova-Reid
29.) André-Frank Zambo Anguissa
18.) Mario Lemina
19.) Ademola Lookman (Reed 69’)
27.) Josh Maja (Loftus-Cheek 77’)
17.) Ivan Cavaleiro (Bryan 84’)

Fulham Athletic subs:
31.) Fabri
  3.) Michael Hector
13.) Tim Ream
23.) Joe Bryan
  4.) Denis Odoi
15.) Ruben Loftus-Cheek
21.) Harrison Reed
25.) Josh Onomah
  9.) Alexander Mitrović