Arsenal goes Fourth

Arsenal´s bid for a Top Four finish received a boost on Tuesday night as the Gunners overcame West Ham United 3-1 in a London Derby. The win came courtesy of a solid display at the Emirates Stadium as the club puts it recent poor form behind it.

This was certainly the most comfortable win for Arsene Wenger´s team in some time and now the club can concentrate on trying to get that all important Champions League place. Wenger´s men now move above Everton into fourth place, but the Merseyside club still has a game in hand. All Arsenal can do is keep winning and hope that Everton drop points somewhere in the final four games of the season.

Given the recent form of the Gunners, there were gasps and plenty of tension in the Emirates before kick-off. That air of worry got even worse when West Ham took the lead in the 40th minute. The Hammers took advantage of Kim Kallstrom failing to track Antonio Nocerino when the Italian supplied Matt Jarvis to head home. The goal came five minutes before halftime and filled the stadium with plenty of nerves, while Arsene Wenger was probably preparing another difficult team talk. Luckily the gaffer never had to give that talk as Arsenal responded in the 44th minute when Lukas Podolski drilled a low shot into the net to make it 1-1.

We suggested before the game that the linkup between Podolski and lone frontman Olivier Giroud would be key to success during the rest of the season. The duo proved that against West Ham as Giroud gave the Gunners the lead in the 55th minute with a stunning drag down and shot from a Thomas Vermaelen long ball.

Aaron Ramsey arrived to replace Thomas Rosicky, and the Welshman looked sharp on his road to recovery from an injury suffered in December. Ramsey was the architect of the third goal as he found Podolski with a cushioned header. The German controlled and fired the ball into the West Ham net to secure the three points and ease the tension inside the Emirates.

Three Points Essential for Arsenal against West Ham

There is no time for the Arsenal players to celebrate reaching the FA Cup Final on Saturday as the games are coming thick and fast. Today the Gunners will play host to West Ham in a game the club and the fans hope will breathe new life into the Premier League season.

An admittedly tough March brought with it abject displays that all but ended Arsenal´s charge towards the Premier League title. Worse still, the club now sits outside the Top 4 and needs Everton to drop points to qualify for the Champions League next season. The season now stands on the brink of being a disaster or a success, but the run in of the Premier League season will decide which. If Arsenal get fourth and claim the FA Cup, the season could be viewed as one of progress, but if Champions League football is not acquired for next term, not even a Cup win could mask what would be a disaster for the club.

So, fourth position remains ever important (the fans will have to hold off disappointment from a fallen title push) and West Ham is the first hurdle for the club. The Hammers are a typical Sam Allardyce team; strong, robust, hard to break down, and able to disrupt from set plays. In other words, the South London club plays the type of football Arsene Wenger teams struggle against. Nevertheless, the Gunners will be favourites at the Emirates Stadium, but recent form would suggest the players will need to raise their game to get three points.

West Ham will not attack with pace, so Per Mertesacker will have plenty of time to get to grips with an in form Andy Carroll. With Everton winning on the weekend, Wenger needs to approach this game with the intent of winning comfortably, so could the Frenchman be tempted to pair Lukas Podolski up front with Olivier Giroud? That is unlikely, but a more attacking approach from the midfield will be needed if Arsenal are going to maintain pressure on Everton in the race for fourth place.

FA Cup Final Booked for Arsenal after Wigan Win

Arsenal booked a place in the FA Cup final by beating Wigan on penalties to put a first trophy in eight years in sight. However, the match did little to expel the current worries over Arsenal´s form, but a final is a final and that trophy drought could be about to be snapped.

Recent poor form has dogged the Gunners, and the match itself was hugely disappointing. The fact Arsene Wenger´s men struggled to see off a Wigan team with its own problems in the Championship will send fans into meltdown. It was simply another awful display from the team, with the simple truth being Arsenal should not need to go to penalties against a team in a division below. Sadly this kind of form does not bode well for the remainder of the Premier League season.

For now though the club and the players can celebrate getting to the FA Cup Final where they will play against either Hull or Sheffield United. The Gunners have put themselves as strong favourites to lift the trophy in May, but another abject performance like this could spell disaster in the Wembley showpiece.

Arsenal started the semi final on top, passing the ball nicely and creating chances. However, it was clear that Wigan had come organized and when they got the ball the players remained calm and carved their own chances in the game. After a goalless first half, the underdogs took the lead when Callum McManaman had been brought down by Per Mertesacker. Jordi Gomez stepped up and scored the penalty in the 63rd minute.

Wenger´s men struggled under pressure for the next 20 minutes, but an equalizer arrived in the 82nd minute when Mertesacker headed home at the back post, making amends for conceding the penalty earlier. The teams continued to trade throughout the remainder of the game and through extra time, but the stalemate could not be broken. Lukasz Fabianski was the hero in the shootout for Arsenal as he saved two penalties to send the Gunners to the final, and the fans can now dream of that long awaited trophy.

Arsenal Looking to Cruise to FA Cup Final

Today’s FA Cup semi final against Wigan has become the biggest game of the season for Arsenal, as they look to keep their season alive. It has been a bitterly disappointing two months for the Gunners as the team has slipped out of the Premier League title race and crashed out of the Champions League.

The FA Cup remains the only glimmer of hope as the club might even miss out on Champions League football next season thanks to the humiliating defeat at Everton last week. Now the cup has become a chance to win a long awaited piece of silverware and possibly put some gloss on what has admittedly turned into a disastrous season.

However, Arsenal will first have to pass Wigan. On paper, playing a Championship side in the semi final of the cup looks an easy task, but two factors make this a worrying match for the club as it travels to Wembley Stadium. The first is the fact Wigan beat Manchester City to get to this stage, and as defending holders will be no pushovers. The second consideration is Arsenal´s own recent woeful form.

With everything to play for, Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly play his strongest possible 11, and Aaron Ramsey could feature more prominently after returning from injury. The problem remains how to get Olivier Giroud more into the game, with the midfield struggling to find the French striker enough. Wenger will also be looking for more pace and urgency in the passing to catch a Wigan team that likes to foray forward in numbers.

The good news for Arsenal is that Wigan´s league form has also been poor of late, so with that in mind it should be a relatively easy day out at Wembley for the Gunners. Although, who knows with this club!

Arsenal’s Top Four Ambitions Hang in the Balance

Arsenal´s Premier League season continued to crumble on the weekend as the Gunners crashed to another humiliating defeat against a Top Four rival. The team traveled to Goodison Park to play fifth placed Everton and was soundly beaten 3-0 to put qualification for the Champions League in doubt.

Picking apart the when´s and why´s of Arsenal´s decline is no easy task, but it seems a simple case of being another season where the club has flattered to deceive. Just two months ago the club was top of the league and this campaign had the air of something different about it. Now in April the Gunners are out of the title race and are clinging onto 4th place. Just as worrying is the fact Arsenal has shipped 20 goals against rival Top Four clubs (6-3 Man City, 6-0 Chelsea, 5-1 Liverpool, and 3-0 on Sunday). It is a humiliating run that shows that the current squad is not up to the task of a sustained title challenge, at least mentally.

Sadly, Everton deserved to win the game, looking sharper and more skillful, and actually reminding of Arsenal teams of old. You know, the ones with a steely heart that could mix it with both skill and brawn. We have known for some time that Arsene Wenger´s current assembled ensemble is no match for his perfectly built teams of old, but this season has served as a starker wakeup call than most. The FA Cup may deliver a long awaited trophy, or it may not, but even a cup win would not stop the campaign from being a relative failure.

Everton took the lead in the 14th minute when the ever threatening Romelu Lukaku had a shot saved by Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny. The ball kindly found its way to Steven Naismith, who slotted home for 1-0. The Toffees doubled their advantage 10 minutes before half time when Lukaku dazzled with a run and finish. The rout was completed in the 62nd minute when former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta scored an own goal for 3-0.

In between the goals Everton was the better team. Driven by the ever impressive Ross Barkley, the Merseyside club pressurized and outplayed the Gunners, despite the stats seemingly favouring Arsenal. The win put Everton one point behind Arsenal with a game in hand, their quest for 4th place now in their own hands. Arsenal will need to hope Everton drop points in the remaining five games to qualify for the Champions League.

Arsenal Faces Stern Test against Everton

Another weekend brings another crunch match for Arsenal as the Gunners prepare to take on Everton on Sunday. The team will make the journey to Merseyside to play an Everton team that is Arsenal´s nearest threat in the fight for fourth place and qualification to the Champions League.

Manager Arsene Wenger has made it clear that the players will fight for the title until it is impossible to win, but the gaffer must also look over his shoulder and secure 4th place in the Premier League. Everton represent a strong challenge and have been on a roll of late, with home advantage also giving the Toffees confidence.

The Arsenal players will know that success on Sunday will all but secure fourth place and they can then concentrate on finishing as high as possible. A loss would be disastrous, placing Everton just one point behind with a game in hand, with their fate in their own hands. In such a high stakes situation, Wenger could be forgiven for being happy with a draw.

Form suggests Everton will fancy their chances against an Arsenal team that has been missing Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, and Aaron Ramsay of late. However, when Arsenal welcomed Everton to the Emirates for the FA Cup just a few weeks ago, the Gunners run out comfortable 4-1 winners. Wenger will be hoping for the same kind of result on Sunday, but much will depend on the supply to Olivier Giroud who has cut a lonely figure up front in recent weeks.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez will expect a better display than that FA Cup collapse, and the Spaniard has brought sexy football to the Toffees; so much so he is being touted as the next Barcelona manager. Romelu Lukaku will be a danger for the Blues, as will the ever dynamic and classy looking Ross Barkley.

This will certainly be a tough test for Arsenal, and a draw would probably be a good result considering Everton´s recent form.

Pires Calls for Striker, but who should Wenger Buy?

Former Arsenal favourite Robert Pires has suggested that much of the clubs problems are due to a lack of firepower up front. The French wing legend said that a new striker is a priority for the club during the summer to give the team options and to relieve pressure on Olivier Giroud.

Pires played 189 games for the Gunners and was an integral part of a team that became the greatest in the clubs history. The “Invincibles” team of which Pires was a part was the last great Arsene Wenger side and the club has since gone on a trophy drought. Pires knows better than most what the current team needs after spending some time training with the players during last season.

So who could Arsenal buy to add extra scoring prowess to the team this summer?

Diego Costa

The Atletico Madrid hitman has exploded onto the scene over the last 18 months and is now among the most feared forwards in Europe. The Spain international has been at the forefront of an Atletico team that is challenging in both La Liga and the Champions League this season. Interestingly, the Spanish club needs to sell their star man and his buyout clause is thought to be 35 million Euros. Costa would prove a potent partner for Giroud and will surely be someone Wenger is looking at. However, just about every other big club will also be keeping tabs on Costa, with Chelsea reportedly leading the chase for his signature.

Karim Benzema

Wenger has been a long term admirer of French ace Benzema, and the addition of the hitman would add extra strength to the Arsenal attack. Sadly, it seems the time to get the Real Madrid forward was last summer when his future at the Bernabeu was in doubt. This season Benzema has fired 17 goals for Los Blancos and is once again a key component in the Madrid team. Prizing him away from the Spanish giant would be hard, and would certainly cost a lot.

Edinson Cavani

Rumors have persisted that the Uruguayan is unsettled with Paris Saint Germain since joining the French club in the summer. Cavani is entering his prime at 27-years old and has carved a skillful reputation with strong finishing. Arsene Weneger has expressed interest in the past, but will he stump up the cash to take the player from Paris?

Other Options

While the big name strikers of the European game would prove fantastic for the club and fans alike, the chances of securing such a name is uncertain. Wenger is unlikely to compete with 50 million bids coming from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United. Instead the boss may have to look at talented youngsters such as Kevin Volland from Germany or Real Sociedad´s in form striker Antoine Griezmann. Also, if winger Julian Draxler arrives from Schalke, Wenger could instead move Lukas Podolski or Theo Walcott into more advanced roles.

City held by Arsenal at the Emirates

Arsenal restored a little bit of pride by holding Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening. Of course, a win would have been more welcome to the players and the fans, but in the light of recent games against title rivals it was a much better display. After losing 6-0 to Chelsea, 5-1 to Liverpool and 6-3 to City last time, this game was about restoring some dignity and keeping the clubs slim title chances alive.

A loss would have all but ended Arsenal´s chance of winning the Premier League this season, but a draw keeps the team 5 points behind Chelsea at the top of the league. That position could change if Liverpool and City win their games in hand, but at least this draw keeps the hope alive while also strengthening the teams hold on a Champions League spot.

City Manager Manuel Pellegrini named an unchanged 11 from the midweek destruction of rivals Manchester United, while Arsene Wenger named Lukas Podolski in the Arsenal team. The German has been proving a goal scoring threat for Arsenal and some fans are calling for him to start upfront. However, with the lack of supply coming the way of Olivier Giroud up top, perhaps Podolski is better off staying as a wideman and influencing the game from there.

A bright 45 minutes for Man City saw them dominate much of the game, and there was tension in the stands at the Emirates as the Gooners sensed another thrashing from a Top 4 rival. That worry turned to panic when David Silva stumbled into a deflected Edin Dzecko shot to give Man City a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. Despite the visitors enjoying the best of the match for the remainder of the half, Arsenal responded with better mentality than previous games and held on to keep the score at 1-0.

Wenger´s team talk seemed to do the trick as once again this season the Gunners emerged for the second half like a team transformed. Now it was Arsenal´s turn to be on the front foot, but City remained dangerous on the counter attack. Arsenal´s improved play led to an equalizer in the 53rd minute when a bout of possession football led to Podolski breaking into the City area and supplying Mathieu Flamini for a shot from 12 yards. The Frenchman slotted home to equal the game, and although Arsenal kept pushing for the remainder of the game the score stayed at 1-1.

Arsenal restored a little bit of pride by holding Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening. Of course, a win would have been more welcome to the players and the fans, but in the light of recent games against title rivals it was a much better display. After losing 6-0 to Chelsea, 5-1 to Liverpool and 6-3 to City last time, this game was about restoring some dignity and keeping the clubs slim title chances alive.

A loss would have all but ended Arsenal´s chance of winning the Premier League this season, but a draw keeps the team 5 points behind Chelsea at the top of the league. That position could change if Liverpool and City win their games in hand, but at least this draw keeps the hope alive while also strengthening the teams hold on a Champions League spot.

City Manager Manuel Pellegrini named an unchanged 11 from the midweek destruction of rivals Manchester United, while Arsene Wenger named Lukas Podolski in the Arsenal team. The German has been proving a goal scoring threat for Arsenal and some fans are calling for him to start upfront. However, with the lack of supply coming the way of Olivier Giroud up top, perhaps Podolski is better off staying as a wideman and influencing the game from there.

A bright 45 minutes for Man City saw them dominate much of the game, and there was tension in the stands at the Emirates as the Gooners sensed another thrashing from a Top 4 rival. That worry turned to panic when David Silva stumbled into a deflected Edin Dzecko shot to give Man City a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. Despite the visitors enjoying the best of the match for the remainder of the half, Arsenal responded with better mentality than previous games and held on to keep the score at 1-0.

Wenger´s team talk seemed to do the trick as once again this season the Gunners emerged for the second half like a team transformed. Now it was Arsenal´s turn to be on the front foot, but City remained dangerous on the counter attack. Arsenal´s improved play led to an equalizer in the 53rd minute when a bout of possession football led to Podolski breaking into the City area and supplying Mathieu Flamini for a shot from 12 yards. The Frenchman slotted home to equal the game, and although Arsenal kept pushing for the remainder of the game the score stayed at 1-1.

Arsenal Looking for Title Fight back Against Man City

It has been a poor few weeks for Arsenal, but the team will look to get its Premier League title charge back on track today when Manchester City visit the Emirates Stadium.

After losing 6-0 to Chelsea last week and drawing to Swansea midweek, there are many who now think the Gunners are out of the title race. Even we fans are realistic enough to know the setbacks of recent weeks have really hampered the club´s Premier League ambitions. However, it was nice to see Arsene Wenger come out on Friday and say the club is still focused on winning the league and that fourth place was just a minimum requirement.

Of course, the visit of Manchester City gives Arsenal a chance to defeat one of their key rivals in the chase for the title, and a win would put the team back amongst the challengers. That is a simple equation on paper, but beating Man City in practice will be easier said than done as the team is currently in a rich vein of form. City are coming off a moral boosting 3-0 win over rivals Man United in the Manchester Derby and the club is favourite to win the league with games in hand.

There is little doubt that the Arsenal players will have to be at their very best, and Wenger will need to work hard to get the team ready mentally. It is a sad fact that Arsenal has already conceded 6 to Man City this season, 6 to Chelsea, and 5 to Liverpool. Wenger will be expecting the players to acquit themselves better against a title rival this time, especially as this looks like the last roll of the dice.

The Gunners will buoyed by the fact that Man City will likely be without Sergio Aguero, but Wenger faces the more pressing issue of getting his midfield to supply striker Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman has been left woefully short of support in recent outings and Wenger will be calling on the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to give Giroud more help in attack.

Flamini own goal gives Swansea share of points

Arsenal suffered another setback in their fading title challenge as the team was held to a 2-2 draw against Swansea at the Emirates Stadium.

The visiting Welsh team grabbed a vital point in their pursuit of Premier League safety, but the result is another blow to the Gunners. While it has been easy to sugarcoat the recent run of form, the recent heavy defeats and lost points at Stoke must now be considered a mini collapse. A dire February and March from Arsenal has all but ended the clubs´ chances of lifting the Premier League trophy this season.

It was a sluggish start to the game from Arsenal and the players were clearly feeling the effects of Saturday´s drubbing against Chelsea. Swansea began much the brighter of the two teams and the Welsh club took the lead in the 11th minute when Neil Taylor´s cross was met by Wilfried Bony in the Arsenal box. The striker wasted no time in clinically slotting the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.

Arsene Wenger has named a strong team, ignoring this weekend´s clash with Manchester City by bringing Mathieu Flamini into the team and sticking with Olivier Giroud up front. Arsenal perked up after the goal as the players hunted an equalizer, but the Swans remained a threat on the counter attack throughout the remainder of the first half.

Once again Giroud was left to cut a lonely figure up front as the midfield struggled to supply the killer pass to the Frenchman. However, the Gunners equaled the match early in the second half when Kieran Gibbs exploded down the left and cut the ball back into the area for Lukas Podolski to fire over Michael Vorm in the Swansea goal. With the score at 1-1, Arsenal settled and took less than two minutes to take the lead. The second goal arrived when Podolski finally found Giroud with a cross and the striker drove into the net to give Arsenal a 2-1 lead.

The team was closing the game out comfortably, but Swansea still looked dangerous on the break. Disaster struck in the 90th minute when Leon Britton´s shot deflected off Per Mertesacker and Szczesny before hitting the back of Flamini and landing in the goal. A tragic own goal that could well have cost the club the Premier League this season, but ultimately it is the form over recent weeks that has put paid to Arsenal´s title ambitions.

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