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Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1: Post-Match Thoughts and Player Ratings

13/14: West Ham 1-3 Arsenal - Olivier Giroud

The Gunners ended a great year on a high defeating a Newcastle side that was in a superb run of form, winning seven from nine games in the Premier League. All it took was a stunning header from Olivier Giroud (thanks heavens, he has finally scored!!!) from a Theo Walcott assist and the Gunners held on to seal a victory that sent them back to the top of the Premier League on the halfway mark.

In his post-match press conference Arsene Wenger was delighted about the team’s resilience and mental strength but his hands were a bit tied in terms of selection. Mesut Ozil missed the game because of an inflamed shoulder and he would be odds on to miss the New Year’s day clash against Cardiff. Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal fell ill but luckily, Laurent Koscielny returned to the fray alongside the BFG.

Listed below are the Gooner Daily player ratings for Arsenal’s victors in St. James Park:

Wojciech Szczesny: The big Pole dominated his area by coming out to claim some tricky crosses and he also made some outstanding saves in the course of the game. 7/10

Bacary Sagna: Sagna had a stellar performance and kept the free-scoring Yoann Gouffran at bay all game long. His distribution wasn’t as sleek as it has been in recent times but it was a great performance from the French fullback. We need to sort out his contract soon. 8/10

Kieran Gibbs: Gibbs struggled initially after being stretched by Mathieu Debuchy but as the game progressed, he found his footing. Like Sagna, his output in the final third wasn’t all that till he was replaced by Mikel Arteta in the second half. 6/10

Per Mertesacker: The captain of the day put up another exemplary performance in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, using his height to great effect as well as making those trademark Merteceptions. 8/10

Laurent Koscielny: After missing two games with a gashed knee, the unsung hero joined forces with his right hand man and they became a tight-knit bunch in the defense. With performances like this that culminated into another clean sheet, one can agree that it would take only injury or suspension to bring Thomas Vermaelen back into the side. 8/10

Mathieu Flamini: The Flanimal was a rather surprising inclusion ahead of Arteta but he justified his selection with another rugged performance protecting his back line with an iron fist. His utility was on show again when he was drafted as an auxiliary left back to accommodate Arteta in the middle of the park. 8/10

Jack Wilshere: Many (I included) had thought that Aaron Ramsey’s absence in midfield would offer Wilshere a chance to strut his stuff in his favored box-to-box midfield role but despite “fresher” than any of his teammates on the pitch, Jackie Boy put up a rather sub-standard performance and his passing was very erratic. He needs to step up his game or he’d find himself a warm cozy spot on the bench when everyone is fully fit. 5/10

Tomas Rosicky: One tends to wonder if Rosicky is really 33. His work rate, tackling and energy were the major highlights of his performance but he didn’t really offer much from an attacking perspective, despite playing as the creative hub of the team. 7/10

Santi Cazorla: After giving the fans a glimpse of the old Santi Cazorla on Boxing Day against West Ham, the diminutive Spaniard put up a rather subdued performance and failed to make his mark on the game. He’s really struggling on the left wing this season but I don’t see him displacing Ozil from the No. 10 role anytime soon. 6/10

Theo Walcott: Walcott was a somewhat peripheral player in the course of the game but he had his moments of immense quality as he provided a neat assist for Giroud and almost scored another but was stopped by the woodwork. The stunning thing about Walcott’s play this season is that you won’t feel his impact in the course of the game but in one moment he provides a clinical edge, which becomes a potent weapon. 7/10

Olivier Giroud:

29 12 2013 GifNumber 36 1 0 to the Arsenal: Olivier Giroud v Newcastle [GIF]

That was a moment that Giroud needed and you could see the relief in his celebration. Strikers are judged on goals and when a drought sets in, it clearly affects their confidence. Hopefully, this would spur him on to have a great 2014 with his team but he’d be mindful of the club’s dealings in the January transfer window. 7/10

Mikel Arteta: Came in for Gibbs and added some solidity to the midfield as you would expect from the imperious Lego-haired Spaniard. 7/10

Carl Jenkinson and Nicklas Bendtner didn’t play long enough to get ratings.

Do you agree or disagree with Gooner Daily’s post match thoughts and match ratings?

Feel free to share them with your comments below.

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In other news, I finished the Canon Crested Arsenal Prediction League in second place and I’m getting a price soon, but a new season starts in January and it would be a good opportunity for more Gooners to join the Prediction League to win amazing prices. For further enquiries contact @CanonCrested and you can also visit the site

You can also join the Gooner Daily Fantasy Premier League, where the top three players win cash prizes at the end of the season but the winner also walks away with a branded jersey of his choice and it would be delivered to him anywhere in the world. To join the Gooner Daily FPL 2013/14, create a team in the Fantasy Premier League site, click on “join league” and insert this code,

971894-486230

Sayonara.

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Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1: Kos the Boss, Champions League Football, St. Totteringham’s Day

Kos scores the match winner on the final day of the season. Deja fucking Vu

The nerves were tingling, the stage was set and the curtain was closing on the 2012/13 Premier League season as Arsenal marched out one final time with their destiny clinging on the result after 90 minutes. Elsewhere, Tottenham hosted Sunderland while Chelsea hosted Everton in David Moyes’ final game as Toffees boss before he embarks on a new adventure as Manchester United’s manager.

Many Arsenal fans (me included) had hoped for the manager would tweak things a bit from the team that ran riot against Wigan. With Mikel Arteta suffering an injury last time out, I gave some permutations on his possible replacements. I also voiced my concerns about Lukas Podolski’s recent outings through the middle as he had not convinced me enough that he was up to the task.

Even if a part of me believed that Podolski’s brace was enough to keep him in the side, I was astonished when I saw Arteta leading the line at the starting lineup. Despite suffering an injury a few days back, the ‘captain’ was desperate to play at the expense of his health. The manager named an unchanged squad from the team that dispatched Wigan and Howard Webb’s whistle signaled the start of Arsenal’s game of the season.

Santi Cazorla was making his 38th Premier League appearance as he was the only player in the team to play every league game this season. The Spaniard lofted a corner that was nodded to safety by Fabrizio Coloccini but it fell into the path of Theo Walcott that blasted his effort over the bar. At the other end, make-shift left back, Mapou Yanga Mpiwa, made mince meat out of Per Mertesacker before supplying a cut back that was blasted over by Papiss Cisse.

Cazorla swung in another dead ball that was flicked across the goalmouth by Laurent Koscielny. With no Gunner attacking the ball, the Frenchman’s effort skewed wide off the mark. Moments after Koscielny almost contributed to a potential goal in Newcastle’s half, he made a vital interception when he and Per Mertesacker hit the deck to block Yoann Gouffran’s effort after some good work down the right from Matt Debuchy.

Gouffran fashioned a great chance for himself when he waltzed Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna but his tame shot was miles apart and it clearly didn’t match up the decent buildup from Gouffran. At that distance, the least he could have done would have been to test Wojciech Szczesny’s goal.

It was puzzling enough that Arteta started the game and it became more puzzling when he suffered a recurrence of his injury only to be replaced by the Ox, which was out of scope, I taught. Yes, he excelled in the role against AC Milan last season and Norwich this campaign but playing him in the holding role was a big ask in a game of this magnitude.

As Arsenal pushed on for the all-important goal, Kieran Gibbs made some space for himself creating a good pass for Cazorla but the Spaniard’s technique let him down as he launched a poorly-struck effort sailed aimlessly over the bar.

Yohan Cabaye fired a long range drive that was easy pickings for Szczesny but on the Polish goalkeeper’s opposite end, the Newcastle faithful honored the 38-year-old Steve Harper in the 38th minute, as they sang his praises and applauded the stalwart that had served the club for 20 years even through he was on the fringes, serving as a back-up to Pavel Srnicek, Shaka Hislop, Shay Given and more recently, Tim Krul.

Football – It can make a grown man cry…

Arsenal broke away with Walcott sending Podolski through on goal but the offside flag spared Newcastle’s blushes. The German forward still managed to miss the chance and it would have been very embarrassing if he missed that with the assistant referee’s flag down. The last bit of action of the first half saw Hatem Ben Arfa glide his way through the Arsenal defense before blasting his effort over.

In the start of the half, Arsenal threatened when Harper’s poor clearance was intercepted by Aaron Ramsey before he teed up Walcott on his right. With his eyes firmly fixed on goal, Walcott blasted a shot to Harper’s far post but it was parried by the veteran goalie. On the other end, Debuchy was almost sent through on goal but Szczesny anticipated the situation and reacted brilliantly to smother the ball.

Sagna offered little or no threat whatsoever on the right flank but his improvisation won a free kick for his team not far from the corner flag. Walcott took over the responsibility of the dead ball and swung in a cross into Newcastle’s danger area. After the ball ricocheted off Podolski, Koscielny reacted the quickest and showed off his acrobatic side with a swinging shot that almost took out Harper’s head before going in to give the Gunners the lead.

Kos the effing Boss

For a considerable chunk of the season, Koscielny spent a lot of time warming the bench because Thomas Vermaelen played alongside Per Mertesacker on merit, because of the mere fact that he was the captain despite his horrible gaffes. It took some balls for the manager to axe the Verm from the squad but the Mertesielny combo has reaped benefits.

Debuchy exploited some space vacated by Gibbs and drilled a cross that was attacked by Gouffran but Mertesacker used his long legs to good effect as he made a trademark Merteception. For those that don’t know, a Merteception is a vital goal-saving interception made by Per Mertesacker. :D

Arsene Wenger replaced the ineffectual Podolski with a refreshed Olivier Giroud. Newcastle continued to threaten Arsenal’s rearguard with several pelts into the box and after a goalmouth scramble Steven Taylor was ready to go for the kill but Koscielny yet again made another vital interception before suffering a blow from Taylor. Moments later Jack Wilshere replaced Santi Cazorla.

Just when we taught that one goal was enough to assure the Gunners of a Champions League berth and celebrate St. Totteringham’s day, Gareth Bale scored a late winner against a 10-man Sunderland which made the final moments of the game very nervy. With Newcastle going for broke, spaces were exploited at the back as Walcott darted past Coloccini before skipping past Taylor and placing the ball past a hapless Harper. To Walcott disgust, the ball hit the post and rolled effortlessly back into the arms of Harper.

In the end, the Gunners held on to grab an absolutely vital result, sealing fourth place in the Premier League. Judging from how badly things were in the start of the campaign, a fourth placed finish was welcome. According to the Premier League Form Table, Arsenal was the best team in terms of recent results and won every away game since that stinging defeat against Tottenham.

Wenger’s post-match interview had it all, with the boss expressing his relief in sealing qualification yet again, knowing what the ramifications would have been if Newcastle somehow snatched a late goal yesterday. And of course, a word for Tottenham,

Sayonara.

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Newcastle Preview: A Champions League Berth Beckons

Finally it all boils down to this…

Win this evening and Champions League football will come to North London for the umpteenth season in a row, anything else coupled with results elsewhere, then we will have ourselves to blame.

Forget about the rash performances in the past, Gervinho’s unfathomable miss against Bradford, Wojciech Szczesny’s poor Parry that led to Colin Kazim-Richards goal in the FA Cup, the shameful first leg outing against Bayern Munich coupled with the spirited performance against the Champions League finalists.

Since Arsenal’s woeful performance that culminated in defeat at White Hart Lane in March, the Gunners have been unbeaten in the Premier League. It started with a sturdy performance against Swansea before dispatching Reading with consummate ease.

The month of April saw the Gunners ease past West Brom before a late surge quelled the threat Norwich posed. A disappointing draw against Everton was followed by a nervy win over Fulham. The newly-crowned champions visited the Emirates in a feisty affair but both sides shared the spoils.

The month of May has seen the Gunners defeat QPR and Wigan with today’s match against Newcastle being the ultimate decider for the club’s aspirations for next season. Fourth place isn’t good enough for a team that has won 13 Premier League titles but it’s more than adequate at this point in time.

There has been talk of a potential playoff with Chelsea but we have to remember that both teams will end up playing Champions League football, irrespective of the result in Villa Park.

Paolo di Canio and his Sunderland hordes will go to the Lane without any pressure of any sort and I certainly do not expect any favors from them, even if Arsenal did them a huge favor by dooming Wigan to relegation. Tottenham will want to do their part in defeating the Black Cats while hoping for the worst for their illustrious North London neighbours.

Newcastle endured a very torrid campaign as they failed to build on their successes from last season. A fifth placed finish earned Alan Pardew the Manager of the Season award in the last campaign but injuries coupled with some atrocious results saw Newcastle flirt seriously with relegation. A French revolution in the winter saw an upturn of their fortunes and the win against QPR confirmed their top flight status for another season.

Arsenal arrive in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in a rich vein of form and would hope to seal a victory that would confirm a Champions League berth as well as celebrating St. Totteringham’s day once again.

To team news, I don’t expect much changes in the squad with the  exceptions being how Wenger would respond to Arteta’s injury, as well as the dilemmas of selections in the left back slot and the center forward position with Giroud’s touchline ban over.

Starting with Arteta’s injury, I’d expect Wenger to make a decision out of four possible outcomes…one would be to bring on Jack Wilshere (that’s nursing an injury) before sending him to the specialist hospital for his much talked-about surgery. There’s the option of trying an experiment with the Verm, as he certainly possesses a few qualities needed for a holding midfielder.

Wenger can also summon the services of a rusty and washed up Francis Coquelin or make some tactical changes by using only Aaron Ramsey as the holding midfielder while Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla play in front of him.

With all this in place, bringing on Jack Wilshere will be the most plausible option with Ramsey providing adequate cover in the middle of the park.

On the left back dilemma, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs have contested admirably for the right to become Arsenal’s No. 1 left back and this competition has brought out the best in both players. For today, I believe that Monreal will get the nod because of his vast experience and the defensive stability he offers with no disrespect to Gibbs of course.

In attack, I’ll say that it’s good to have Giroud back. Despite his brace against Wigan, Podolski hasn’t convinced me that he can lead the line for the Gunners. His quality is undoubted but he hardly offers a focal point in attack.

With 17 goals to his name, Giroud has enjoyed a decent debut campaign with Arsenal and he was a goal shy of a hat trick in this corresponding fixture in December. With him leading the line with Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla on his flanks, Newcastle should brace themselves up for a storm.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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3 Lessons Learned From Arsenal’s Win Against Newcas7l3

Hat-trick Hero…Please sign da ting

The stage was set for another pulsating Premier League encounter between Arsenal and Newcastle.

As recent as two seasons ago, both sides produced an epic encounter that exposed the frailties in their defensive rearguard as the Gunners self destructed to throw away a four-goal lead despite playing with 10 men for most of the second half thanks to Abou Diaby’s sheer stupidity.

Last season, the crunch clash at the Emirates offered a different prospect as both sides through caution to the wind. When it seemed as if both teams where going to share the spoils of battle, a late Thomas Vermaelen surge upfront saw the Belgian smash in Arsenal’s match-clincher from point-blank range.

Vermaelen has become a more disciplined player this season, and for those that don’t know, he hasn’t scored any goal in this campaign. So much for being the highest scoring Premier League defender huh?

Judging from the team sheets displayed on Saturday, I expected the Gunners to be more than a match for the injury-laden Newcastle but it was important to keep half an eye on their Senegalese duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. While Cisse turned out to be a peripheral figure all game long, the Ba Ba Black Sheep showed that he has more than wool.

After 90 minutes of pulsating action, 10 goals were scored and as expected, Arsenal made me go through too many emotional phases in one game. I had fits of joy, frustration, relief, shock, elation, disgust, euphoria, euphoria and errrr…euphoria.

Without further ado, here are three lessons I learned from Arsenal’s emphatic 7 – 3 victory over Newcastle,

Give Walcott the contract he wants, or someone else will

The Walcott as a Center Forward Chronicles began in the emphatic 5 – 2 win over Reading where, in fairness to him, he scored the goal that put the game beyond doubt. Arsenal visited the DW Stadium days later and Walcott was retained in his center forward position yet again, winning a penalty for his team.

Against Newcastle, Walcott spearheaded Arsenal’s attack with Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supporting him through the flanks. Podolski sent Walcott through with a perfectly-timed pass and the forward’s first finish was a strike Thierry Henry would have been proud of.

Podolski was in the thick of things in the buildup to Walcott’s second goal after some good passing play with Kieran Gibbs. The German miscued Gibbs’ carefully-weighted pass into the box but the ball fell kindly to Walcott, that showed great composure in the midst of bodies in the box to slam his shot into the roof of the net.

Walcott’s hat-trick was pretty puzzling judging from the way he waltzed past his markers to when he showed great balance to stay on his feet before asking Tim Krul if he wanted some ketchup for his chip.

Walcott has surpassed his personal goalscoring best with Arsenal this season with 14 goals and he’s odds on to hit the 20-goal mark this season, provided he’s not sold in January, as Wenger has ruled out any move for the forward. (via the Guardian).

Yes, he has been abused for not having a football brain and he doesn’t have the frame of your everyday center forward. However, Walcott uses his pace to devastating effect and his clinical finishing ability has been a major highlight of Arsenal’s campaign thus far.

From the 1st of January, Walcott will be able to sign a pre-contract with any club in the world and there are so many teams out there that won’t waste a second in giving Walcott those six digits he’s requesting for.

Arsenal, if you don’t give Walcott the fat contract he’s requesting for, someone else will.

Giroud offers Arsenal another dimension in attack

The Headmaster

Giroud’s last goal in Arsenal colors came in the North London derby in mid-November. Since then, he has been desperate to get on the score sheet and his shenanigans against West Brom didn’t go down well with a faction of the Arsenal faithful. To add to his misery, his manager handed his favored center forward role to Theo Walcott that hasn’t put a foot wrong in that position.

When Giroud came on for the Ox in the second half, I actually tipped him to end his drought against that shaky Newcastle defense but I didn’t fathom the idea of the Frenchman grabbing a true hat-trick with his head, right leg and left leg. The last player I saw score such a hat-trick was Peter Crouch and you can never guess who the opponents were.

Bacary Sagna teed up Walcott on the right hand side and the forward wasted no time in swerving in an inviting cross that was nodded home by Giroud. Afterwards, Walcott attempted a slalom run on the right that was intercepted, falling into Giroud’s path. The Frenchman guided the ball to his right and beat Tim Krul in his near post.

Giroud was denied his first Arsenal hat-trick when he smashed the cross bar with a left-footed piledriver after some good work from Aaron Ramsey.

He arrived in the club as van Persie’s replacement and his return of nine goals has been heartwarming to say the least. Nothing gives me more joy to know that Arsenal has found a way to play to Giroud’s strengths and we all know that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the air.

This gives the Gunners an alternative route to finding a goal when all other avenues are exhausted.

The problem isn’t scoring, it’s defending

Arsenal has scored a bucket load of goals in all competitions this season. Surprisingly, this was the sixth game Arsenal had scored five or more in a game this season. Tottenham and Reading shipped in five, Southampton and Coventry received six and yours truly, Reading, opened their floodgates to receive Arsenal’s bountiful gift of seven goals.

Despite trying to outscore their opponents in many games this season, Arsenal has been shambolic at the back, and their defensive frailties were exposed yet again by Newcastle. The Gunners failed to hold onto the lead on three occasions before running riot as the game reached its climax.

Ba’s free kick

Wojciech Szczesny was blameless for Arsenal’s first goal as Demba Ba’s free kick took a wicked deflection off Jack Wilshere. The goalkeeper was absolutely livid with his defense for the second goal, as Sylvian Marveaux was left unmarked when Kieran Gibbs lost his positional bearings to allow the midfielder for a simple tap in. Gibbs was culpable yet again for Newcastle’s third goal, as Ba crept behind him to sidefoot the ball past Szczesny.

Funnily enough, Gibbs wasn’t the only defender having a bad day at the office. The usually dependable Bacary Sagna was run ragged by Gabby Obertan and it’s a game he’ll want to forget quickly.

In the heart of Arsenal’s defense, the pairing of Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny wasn’t as formidable as it used to be. On this note, it’s fair to say that Per Mertesacker’s influence was sorely missed.

In my opinion, the Verm and Bosscielny are somewhat alike, that’s why they need the calmness, composure and coordination of the Big Friendly Giant to steady the defensive ship.

Mikel Arteta was also exposed in midfield and he didn’t really protect his back four. Maybe Arsenal needs a recognized holding midfielder after all.

Conclusion

Taking everything into account, it was a great game of football for the neutrals and as what you would expect from Arsenal, the entertainment value of the game was in a world of its own.

Theo Walcott’s hat-trick and Olivier Giroud’s brace showcased Arsenal’s attacking prowess but there are still some unanswered questions at the back.

Feel free to share your own lessons as well.

Sayonara.

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Lady Luck Smiles at Arsenal Yet Again

Yayayayayayayayaya!

Apologies for the lack of blogging activity over the past two days.

I lost an uncle on Thursday and I’ve been spending some time with his family. This meant that I was kilometers away from my laptop and with my mobile telecom’s crappy network fucking up as usual, blogging with my BlackBerry was also out of the equation.

May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

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This is one Premier League season football fans won’t forget in a while. From an Arsenal perspective, this season has offered the good, the bad and most certainly, the ugly. It’s just unfortunate to know that the “bad” has become a norm in recent times.

Yesterday, the stage was set for one of the two “cup finals” the Gunners has in their bid to become the third best team in the land. In a day of landmarks, the stalwart and loyal Arsenal servant, Patrick James Rice, was facing the Emirates crowd for the last time in his career that has been him serve this great club for almost all eternity.

It was also Arsene Wenger’s 900th game in charge of the club. In his 899 games played before yesterday’s enthralling encounter, Wenger had won 513 games, drawn 214 times and had suffered defeat on 172 occasions, giving him a winning percentage of 57 percent in his 16-year stint with the club.

Arsenal began the contest like a house on fire with a goal at 66 seconds from another Gunner that potentially played his last home game, Yossi Benayoun. The Isreali Rabbi received a pass from Tomas Rosicky before shimming past a defender to curl home a superb effort. The game also coincided with his 32nd birthday so it was one to remember for football’s own version of Harry Potter.

His scar is probably hidden behind his long locks of hair, his feet are his magic wands and the tricks he performs with the ball on his feet are no different to the expecto patronums we see from time to time.

The goal didn’t faze the visitors and they pegged Arsenal back through Wes Hoolahan. Norwich executed some intricate passing play and a somewhat easy shot was flapped into Arsenal’s goal by the usually dependable Wojciech Szczesny. That was a moment Manuel Almunia would have been proud of.

A bad day got a whole lot worse when Norwich went two up courtesy of more suspect defending from the home side. A swift counter attack saw the visitors in a three on two situation at Arsenal’s back line and Grant Holt’s effort lofted over Szczesny to silence the Emirates.

Shortly afterwards, there were grim faces at the Emirates when Bacary Sagna was stretched off for a fractured leg. It was the same leg that received the blow last October in White Shite Lane and the Frenchman faces six months in the sidelines, ruling him out from this Summer’s Euros as well as the start of next season.

When Sagna got injured in the tail end of last year, the Gunners struggled badly because there was nobody competent enough to supply those inch-perfect crosses as well as the wit, guile and consistency the full back offered. Francis Coquelin has made a good account of himself in that position but well have to make do with him for the time being.

At half time, Twitter was an unbearable place to be in. Gooners aimed their usual curses on the club’s newly-found scapegoat Aaron Ramsey and I was very ashamed when a “fan” tweeted at the Welshman, telling him to do what Gary Speed did.

The Gunners probed in the second half and the introduction of Marouane Chamakh and the Ox breathed life into the team’s forward line. The Gunners got that much deserved equalizer when Alex Song dipped in another trademark projectile for the Flying Dutchman who wasted no time in dispatching his effort goalwards.

With 10 minutes to go, the captain was on hand to give his team the lead and every frown was turned upside down. Arsenal had the option of holding the fort for the dying moments of the game, but Song’s sloppiness coupled with more defensive frailties saw Morison latch unto a through ball to shoot past the hapless Szczesny in goal.

That finish was reminiscent of James McClean (Sunderland) and Danny Graham’s (Swansea) efforts. For some strange reason, Szczesny’s positioning becomes so poor at his near post and he tends to give strikers the entire goal to aim at.

Despite all these shortcomings, he still has 13 clean sheets to his name.

The aftermath of the Norwich game was no different from obituary preparations as the Gooners prepared themselves for Europa League football next season. After reading Lady Arse’s post on the game, the quotes used to end the article sank deep into my head:

“Finishing below Sp*rs for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s reign is the least of our problems this morning.”

Lady Luck looked at Arsenal fans worldwide and showed herself strong in the fixtures played today. While the impressive Newcastle hosted title hopefuls, Manchester City, Tottenham visited Villa Park to take on that inconsistent lot, Aston Villa.

Papiss Demba Cisse grabbed the headlines with his incredulous finish against Chelsea and he put his name in the Premier League history books as the best player with a goals to minutes ratio in Premier League history, averaging a goal every 71 .8 minutes. Sergio Aguero (22 goals in 2428 minutes came in at second place while King Thierry Henry (176 goals in over 21,000 minutes) still sits pretty at third despite being out of the English game since February.

Yaya Toure started the game in a deeper box to box role but a genius tactical switch by Roberto Mancini in removing Carlos Tevez for Nigel de Jong gave the Ivorian the onus to go forward and it was worth its weight in gold. Elsewhere, Arsenal’s former mercenary Uncle William Gallas deflected Clark’s effort into his goal but Emmanuel Adeba-whore sent Shay Given the wrong way with his spot kick.

Aston Villa held on to secure a vital draw for themselves and Arsenal while Newcastle’s loss ensured that the Gunners still remain in pole position for a third place finish, provided that they win at the Hawthorns.

Lady Luck, thanks for smiling at us on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Hopefully, we won’t need you next week Sunday.

Sayonara.

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