Arsenal overcame a tricky FA Cup quarterfinal in style by beating Everton 4-1 to progress to the semi-final stage. The Gunners looked comfortable, especially during a classy second half which put the match beyond reach.
Mesut Ozil showed glimpses of a return to form and it was the German who opened the scoring in the 7th minute with a sliding shot past Everton stopper Joel. Arsenal continued to press after the goal, but the visitors remained a constant threat and kept the hosts busy in the final third. The ever dangerous Romelu Lukaka grabbed an equalizer for Everton on 32 minutes when he netted after an impressive run and cross from supposed Arsenal target Ross Barkley.
The first half had been end to end and a good old fashioned exciting FA Cup tie, and after 45 minutes it was anybody´s game. The second period started in much the same way, with Arsenal and Everton going close on several occasions. However, it was the Gunners who broke the pattern to retake the lead and take command of the match.
Everton midfielder Gareth Barry tripped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box and a penalty was awarded, with Mikel Arteta stepping up to slot home for a 2-1 lead. The home team continued to look the most likely and the addition of Oliver Giroud from the bench proved decisive. The Frenchman arrived late in the game and added a third in the 83rd minute and then a fourth two minutes later.
Arsene Wenger was delighted that his troops won and progressed to a Wembley semifinal. A trophy is in sight for the manager after years of waiting, while he also said after the game that the team could use the confidence boosting win in their pursuit of the Premier League title.
Everton will visit the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal attempt to reach the semifinals of the FA Cup. After a rocky few weeks, the team will face a stern test from an Everton team that is in solid form leading into the match.
Arsenal´s season is at the make or break stage as losses to Stoke City and Bayern Munich have put the club on the verge of slipping out of the Champions League and the Premier League title race. Manager Arsene Wenger has promised to continue to fight on all fronts, but the Frenchman was eager to affirm this week that the FA Cup is a fantastic chance to win a trophy.
The Gunners are 10 time winners of the famed competition but have not lifted the Cup since 2004, adding further woe to the 8-year trophy drought. Arsenal has faced a tough path getting to this stage, seeing off North London rivals Tottenham, and then downing Coventry and Liverpool. Everton will provide a fresh challenge as the Merseyside club is thriving in the Premier League this season and is one of the surprise packages of the campaign.
However, Wenger will know that at home Arsenal´s destiny is in the hands of the players, although the six week injury to Jack Wilshere will hamper the manager´s midfield options. Everton tactician Roberto Martinez has his own injury problems with lynchpin defender Phil Jagielka out with a hamstring injury.
Whether a strong Arsenal team will be named is another matter, with the second leg of the Champions League tie with Bayern Munich next week. However, with the FA Cup representing a chance at a long awaited trophy, expect the Gunners to come out all guns blazing.
Nicklas Bendtner has come out in the media recently and explained of his desire to leave Arsenal at the end of the season. The Danish centre forward has been at the club since 2004 when he joined as a 16 year-old but his career has never sparked and he has been a frustrated figure at the Emirates.
His contract is up at the end of the season and despite scoring vital goals against Hull City and Cardiff City this season, Arsene Wenger doesn’t look set to extend the contract of the 26 year-old. Bendtner is well known for being a very confident footballer and despite his claims that he would be one of the best strikers in the world in the past, his game ratio, let alone his goal ratio fails to justify this.
His departure is largely down to the fact that he wants to have more game time and he is well behind Olivier Giroud in the pecking order. It also seems that the emergence of Yaya Sanogo has seen Bendtner further pushed down. Wenger’s reluctance to buy a striker in January gave Bendtner some hope he could play a part in the rest of the season but the Dane has finally said enough is enough.
The destination for Bendtner in the summer is still unknown but the centre forward will no doubt have a number of clubs going after his signature. You can’t overlook his international record where he has 24 goals in 56 games for Denmark. Mid-table Premier League clubs may be interested in taking him on a permanent deal but his wage demands could prove a stumbling block. Alternatively Bendtner could opt for leaving England and move to either Serie A or the La Liga teams.
It will leave Arsene Wenger short in numbers in attack and it would be very surprising if the Arsenal manager didn’t sign a striker either to challenge Giroud to a starting place or as backup to the Frenchmen. Bendtner’s confidence off the pitch will no doubt be missed but fortunately for Arsenal fans they will probably forget his footballing ability rather quickly.
Arsene Wenger will send his troops out onto the Emirates field on Saturday and hope confidence is not shattered further as the Gunners welcome Everton in the FA Cup.
After defeat to Stoke City last weekend, the Premier League season is on the brink of fizzling out, while progression in the Champions League looks unlikely with the team trailing 2-0 ahead of a trip to Munich. Even though Wenger will never admit it, he now faces a decision over which competition he should target for success.
A few short weeks ago the team was top of the Premier League and any fan would have sacrificed the FA Cup if it helped the club win the league. However, since then a poor patch of form has left the team third (potentially fourth) and with a tough run of fixtures ahead, winning the league looks a tall order. Suddenly Arsenal are in the Quarter Finals of the Cup and struggling in the league, which has left some fans I speak to urging Wenger to go all out to win the FA Cup.
However, while the Frenchman should focus on this weekend´s visit of Everton, he simply must really go for the league. To throw the towel in now would be the same as quitting; surely it would be better to go out all guns blazing so to speak. Admittedly the league is looking less likely, and Wenger´s activity in the January transfer market must be questioned come May, but there is still hope.
With Man City and Chelsea on the horizon Arsenal could take points of their two nearest league rivals and once again be deep in the mix for the title. Of course, losing those games would virtually end the chances of winning the league. There is no reason why the Gunners cannot balance the FA Cup with a league push, especially should the team see off Everton this weekend and progress to the Semifinals.
Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky have both secured their long term future at Arsenal after both players signed new contracts on Tuesday.
German international Mertesacker has become a fixture of the Arsenal rear guard and has contributed to the team´s better defensive record this season. While the 29-year old has had rocky moments and has often been criticized for his immobility, he is a part of manager Arsene Wenger´s first choice central defence alongside Laurent Koscielny or Thomas Vermaelen. The big man revealed his delight at signing the new deal.
“I have become a real Gunner… I am truly thankful to the club and all the supporters for the time I have had here so far.
“And today I am deeply proud to have extended my contract with Arsenal. I’m proud to be a Gunner.”
Rosicky´s signature will be more surprising to Gunners fans as the Czech Republic captain was widely believed to be the player who would be sacrificed after the arrival of record signing Mesut Ozil. However, injuries to key men such as Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Aaron Ramsey at various parts of the season have kept the playmaker in the frame. He has played 29 games this season and at 33 years old as surely been secured to maintain squad depth in the coming years.
The biggest dilemma that has faced Arsene Wenger lately is the question mark surrounding Mesut Ozil. The 42.5 million signing from Real Madrid set the Premier League alight with some strong performances but his form has somewhat deteriorated just when Arsenal needed their record signing the most.
He played just 24 minutes against Stoke City and had no effect on the outcome of the game. It never seemed Ozil would really stamp his authority on a game against a side that are extremely physical. This was more than likely the thinking behind Wenger’s exclusion of Mesut from the starting 11.
His body language indicates that he isn’t particularly a player who is prepared to graft and cover the yards to retain possession and with Arsenal at home to Swansea City this Saturday the midfielders will need to press high to win the ball. But his defensive contribution is what seems to concern Arsene Wenger the most and Mesut may be considered a luxury player to have at this point.
However, the German playmaker still possesses the natural killer pass instinct which can unlock any defence at any given time. Olivier Giroud will thrive off this type of service. His ability to hold onto the ball in crowded areas is one of his strongest attributes. Swansea City, their next opponents are a team who like to keep hold of the ball so Arsenal will need to be equally as efficient with the ball.
His ability is obvious for all to see and it is just a spell for the German where he is low on confidence. Wenger will need his record signing to start performing if Arsenal stands any chance of maintaining a realistic title challenge for the rest of the campaign and giving him 25 minutes here or there isn’t going to improve his confidence which is why the German’s return needs to be sooner rather than later.
Arsenal slipped to a disappointing defeat at the hands of Stoke City to put the clubs Premier League title push in doubt.
A frustrating game saw the Gunners fall to a single goal, a penalty from John Walters in the 76th minute. We wrote in our preview of this game that three points was the minimum requirement from this game with a difficult March coming up for the team. Now the team has lost there is a real danger that the club could fall further off the pace by the end of the month.
Arsenal struggled to get started in the game as the clubs´ recent poor form once again caught up with the players. Indeed, despite a starting lineup that included Jack Wilshere, Oliver Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Santi Cazorla the team could only muster two shots on target. With Arsenal looking unlikely to score, Arsene Wenger would have hoped to at least come away from the Britannia Stadium with a draw, but it was not to be.
In the 76th minute referee Mike Jones adjudged Laurent Koscielny to have handled the ball in the area and awarded a penalty. Arsene Wenger protested after the game that the penalty should never have been given, describing the award as “generous,” but nevertheless Walters stepped up and slotted home to give Stoke the lead and ultimately the win.
Arsenal dropped to third in the Premier League as Liverpool took second with a 3-0 win over Southampton. Manchester City can relegate Arsenal to 4th later today if they win their encounter, and suddenly it looks worrying for the Gunners at the top of the league. The team had a poor February and from leading the chase they have slipped to possibly fourth.
Fans will be understandably worried that the title challenge is slipping away and the normal fight for 4th is now beginning. With the Champions League looking unlikely this season, the Premier League should be the focus of the club for the remainder of the season. If Arsenal is to lift the trophy come May, the team will have to navigate a tricky March which includes matches against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Manchester City.
Arsenal travel to the Britannia Stadium today for a tricky away match against Stoke City, a club that has often caused trouble for the Gunners. However, times have changed for both Stoke and Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger will want nothing less than the full three points to keep his team´s title fight alive and kicking.
Under the stewardship of Tony Pulis, Stoke became known as a rough and tough football team and the clubs dogged tactics often disrupted Arsenal. However, this seems to be a mentally improved Gunners team and new Stoke manager Mark Hughes has injected more fluid football into the team. Yes, Stoke can still mix it, but their style plays into Arsenal´s hands for the first time in years.
Wenger will need to be wary though, after-all, Stoke took a headline grabbing win at Old Trafford earlier this month. With Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich coming up for Arsenal, the team will need to claim all the points here against a lesser team that has won just one game in its last 10 (albeit against Man Utd).
Arsenal won 4-1 against Sunderland last week, but the manager will certainly look to freshen up his team this week, with all eyes on Mesut Ozil. The club´s record signing has been off the boil of late and missed last week with a knock, but many perceived that he had in fact been dropped. Wenger and Ozil have spoken about the German´s struggles in adapting to the league, but he will likely start on the weekend, replacing Lukas Podolski.
The gaffer may be tempted to bring the inform Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back into the fold after he yielded his starting place to Tomas Rosicky last weekend.
Whoever takes to the field, a win will be imperative as the club stares down an extremely tough March.