So, it’s FA cup final day 2015, arsenal are taking on Aston Villa in an attempt to retain the cup for the second year.
Read my look at 2014 here.
Half time here.
Arsenal are one nil up and ready for the second half. Ideally a quick goal for arsenal should kill the game, but there’s never a guarantee we won’t start the half slowly.
Typically there’s a scare at 48 minutes at Villa have some space, however they clearly haven’t got into the half yet as the opportunity is wasted before it becomes one. On 49 minutes we get the goal we need, Sanchez scoring am absolutely beautiful one off the crossbar. Walcott looks ecstatic- probably because he’d run offside again rendering the chance to catch a rebound pointless.
By 51 minutes and with another pint in my hand (Iv well and truly lost count), the term ‘camping’ comes to mind as arsenal are sat in the final third toying with Villa. Ozil looking in complete control as balls move through him effortlessly. Villa respond by swapping Zaghbonlahor for N’Zogbia prompting memories of the players is buy on football games because they were young and easy to train.
As Villa can’t get into the game the evil side of me almost wants a Villa goal to put some pressure on Arsenal. Behind me I hear a conversation suggesting Villa scoring first would have been better- in reality that would mean little. A goal now would put the pressure on Arsenal to score again or defend the lead- something they can’t always do. Another pint in hand and Sanchez is limping after another solid tackle. It’s scary to think he’s got an international tournament to play in the next few weeks.
On 60 minutes the beer catches up and I need a wee, “bloody hell I think, it’s bad enough going to the bar.” Of course I come back to arsenal having scored, just in time to see Prince William looking grumpy. Mertesacker has risen up alone in the Villa box to score. I don’t know how you miss a 6ft7 Big Fucking German but somehow Villa did- cue a seriously pissed off looking Tim Sherwood (pleasantly satisfying as a former Tottenham player).
At 64 minutes, the game has settled again- another pint in hand I’m distracted by the realisation that TV flattens long passes so you can’t see where the balls heading until it’s there. A possession stat pops up- 59-41 in Arsenals favour, though I’d have expected a bigger margin.
At 74 minutes I realise I haven’t been watching, instead distracted by moronic people behind me (more on that another day). Walcott and Ozil are taken off for Wilshire and Giroud, who deserve the minutes but isn’t a necessary change. As I’m thinking a Giroud goal would be perfect a shot flashes up of Ozil looking very unhappy to be off the field.
Another trip to the bar as the locals start to stream in for the evenings entertainment (who’s setting up annoyingly in front of the screen). On 87 minutes Bellerin and Grealish have a tussle- highlighted pre game as an important match up Bellerin has controlled him all game.
Giroud gets his goal and Sanchez is taken off for Chamberlain- who I like but didn’t deserve a place on the bench given his lack of match time. Unfortunately I’m quite drunk by now so don’t remember the end match details, but Arsenal won 4-0 and never really looked like losing it.
A few more beers and I’m home in time to make a mess of the toilet. But it’s been a good day for sure.
It’s 1-0 at halftime, though it should probably be more as Arsenal insist on creating nerves amongst their fans. The big chance was Ramseys from Bellerins cross- the flash of Ramseys grin showed his confidence, though the worry was Arsenal would come to regret it if Villa could get hold of the ball.
Here are my thoughts on the players at half time
Sczeszny not seriously tested, but looking confident when needed
Bellerin one minor moment doesn’t detract from the damage his runs were doing
Koscielny two good chances to score, not needing to do much at the back
Mertesacker not being tested, but there
Monreal not being tested, but did take a nasty kick
Coquelin waving about nicely
Cazorla targeted, but working hard
Sanchez targeted, but tireless
Ozil busy, touching lots of balls
Ramsey lots of chances, maybe should have scored/done more
Walcott some good moments and a goal
At this point I wouldn’t be looking to make changes, Though Giroud for Walcott would be obvious if a new approach were required.
At this point the BBc showed a replay of Ryan Giggs solo goal from 1999 Against arsenal, looking at it again- though there’s no denying the sheer quality- there were so many opportunities to
tackle Foul him he should never have got within reach of the goal.
Grabbing another pinto I settle in for the Second half.
So, as you can read about in My pre match thoughts here the starting lineups were announced (with some worries) and we were ready to go. My pint nearby the ball was kicked off.
Early on Aston Villa allowed Walcott to pick up a loose ball and an initial thought of hope was kindled in me that he could punish them, until a few moments later when he was caught offside for running too fast. This being a major issue given his speed, and one that his experience should have overcome by now.
Ten minutes in a few of the Villa players were looking exhausted, which made me realise these ‘top’ footballers are still human, and so only have a limited capacity. Presumably it’s about recovery and stamina over being able to not look tired after ten minutes of top level football. Another key moment at ten minutes was Arsene Wenger looking at his watch irritably and looking thoroughly bored. As a man known for his love of football it shouldn’t be surprising he looked fed up as the game had been fairly turgid with few (no) incidents of note so far.
A few minutes on and Cazorla was fouled again- clearly a targeted approach. At 14 minutes an intentional foul also went in on Monreal, with Sanchez getting a few solid hits too. Sczeszny got his first touch of the ball coming confidently for a punch and not messing it up, which was a relief.
Ramsey had some chances, and was looking as though a goal was inevitable (that’s what he felt at least). Koscielny also showed his strength on corners has he hit a ball barely wide and then had a good effort saved by Given.
By 20 minutes the feeling was the goal was going to come, yet as its arsenal there’s always that doubt- that knowledge they have this incredible ability to make opposition keepers look good (sometimes they are).
After a quick flash of Prince William wearing some odd glasses we flashed To Wenger at 26 minutes looking frustrated (clearly feeling The same way I do about a 0-0 score line- that The longer it goes on the more nervous it gets).His mood probably wasn’t boosted by Ramzeys decent chance straight at the keepeR- nicely set up by Bellerins pace. Additionally the shots showed 7 for arsenal and 1 for villa- 3 on target against none respectively.
At this point I heard a comment behind me that villa had ‘parked the bus’ however this didn’t seem fair to arsenal, villa just weren’t able to get into the gameAnd arsenal had then pushed back. At this point ‘what’s the story (morning glory) by oasis’ Came in the jukebox setting up a horrible feeling of dread that it would just be the same old story for Arsenal.
At 30 Ramsey showed a flash of skill leading to him handling the ball, I wonder if this is overconfidence or a teenage fantasy being lived out- either way it’s nice to see him try something special. A minute later Bellerin showed his inexperience as he brought the ball back inside towards his penalty area but the danger was minimal. Sczeszny also had a less confident punch than previously , yet villa lacked any will to make it matter.
34 minutes in and Coquelin popped up on the left to help out Monreal, showing that ‘clearing up’ ability he’s added to the team.
36 minutes and a flash of Randy Lerner waving off some criticism from behind him, clearly his history as owner of Villa is fairly poor.
With halftime approaching it was becoming worrying, villa regrouping at halftime would be dangerous; especially as arsenal had had chances and pressure. Yet at 39 minutes Walcott justified his starting place with a Nicely taken goal. This was followed up by a few more moments of him looking sharp, but the though now was ‘when will villa score?’ My money had been on a 4-2 score line.
With that is was halftime, arsenal went in 1-0 up and looking the stronger- yet there are always doubts Whilst it’s only at that score line.
So, previously I looked at last years cup final and my predictions (which weren’t a million miles away), You can read it here. this time I’m looking ahead to Saturday’s game and what we can expect to see.
Going into this game things are different, gone is the 9 year wait for a trophy, in have come some truly talented players. A decent season (despite the raft of injuries) even if we started slowly and didn’t challenge for the title. Having said that, we dropped points in the last few games which cost us second place.
We’ve also had a good run of form and beaten Man City, Liverpool and Man United, as well as not losing to Chelsea. So confidence is high- however the last few games hint at fatigue making the lineup a little unpredictable.
Last season there were few doubts about the strongest lineup, and largely it’s the same again, however things have changed in recent games. It’s also a worry that for the second season running our goalkeeper situation is uncertain.
Here’s how I’d expect/hope to lineup
Bellerin Koscielny Mertesacker Monreal
Ramsey Ozil Alexis
In goal Ospina gets the nod based on game time, he’s been solid since taking over from Szcesny in January though has had a few wobbles recently. I prefer the Pole but his lack of game time isn’t going to be helpful.
Defensively things largely pick themselves at the minute, an injury to Debuchy opened the way for Bellerin who hasn’t really looked back aside from a few early issues, so he’ll start. In the Middle Mertesacker and Koscielny are the top two centre backs at the club, despite some solid performances so far from Gabriel. left back is the only area of doubt, Monreal has been far better than Gibbs this season so should start, though Gibbs’ attacking threat may be more desirable.
In midfield things are also fairly decided- probably not what pre season predictions would have been. Coquelin has been another player given his chance by injuries to first team players, he hasn’t put a foot wrong that I can recall, feeling like a huge upgrade on Flamini. Alongside him Cazorla has been impressive from a deeper position and his form seems unlikely to see him replaced. Ahead of them sees Ozil, who’s form has been good this year, Alexis who has an ability to turn a game, though has looked jaded recently, and Ramsey who’s doing well enough out of position that he can’t be dropped.
Upfront is an uncertainty, Giroud has improved again this season and would have been a certain starter, however five games without a goal and Walcott getting a hat trick in the last game casts a little doubt over the position. Does Wenger want Girouds ability to bring others into play or Walcotts speed? I’d opt for Giroud for his experience and overall form over the inconsistent Walcott.
Jack Wilshire is another player who could come in having impressed in his previous game, but once again a season of injuries has held him back. I said last year this could be a breakthrough year of his ankle could stay strong, yet he’s now not even necessarily first choice off the bench, let alone in the starting XI.
On the subs bench I’d expect to see
Sczeszny, unless he starts
Gabriel, a potential sub if we need fresh legs in defence
Gibbs, not likely to get on.
Wilshire, another potential sub if the more direct option is needed
Walcott, the alternate to Giroud if Aston Villa play high
Rosicky or Oxlade Chamberlain, dependent on the fitness of the latter.
Outside chances go to Chambers (who had a decent start but tailed off) and Flamini (who’s likely to be gone in the Summer as his forms dipped), as well as Debuchy and Arteta dependent on fitness.
The match itself is really hard to call, Aston Villa seem an Arsenal lite- potential for defensive nightmares but plenty in attack, so the worry is a repeat of last seasons start, however equally likely could be a few arsenal goals. Either way I’d anticipate a high scoring game, hopefully this time with less stress and drama.
A 4-2 score could be worth a bet
so, last year I took a brief moment out of focusing on my life and my hobby to take a look at the upcoming FA Cup final between arsenal a Hull City, which you can read here.
As you’ll see, I anticipated a lineup of
Sagna mertesacker koscielny Gibbs
I was wrong on a couple of counts, firstly in goal. At the time there had been uncertainty about the starter due to Fabianskis performances previously but as he was leaving it seemed odd to potentially disrupt the confidence of Sczeszny- but Wenger opted for Fabianski anyway.
I also expected to see Flamini in to help with the anticipated ‘roughing up’ from Hull (this isn’t to detract from the,, I merely felt as the underdogs they’d be organised and try to disrupt our play). Wenger opted for Podolski instead, which I found odd given his indifferent form over the season.
The match itself did not go to plan, as Hull hit hard and fast (almost like the arsenal of old) and were 2-0 up very quickly, leaving arsenal on the ropes- I’m almost certain there was call for a third too. Arsenal then recovered- or rather started the match- and came up against the anticipated stubborn defence of Hull, only a fantastic Cazorla free kick giving us hope at 1-2 at half time.
As play resumed arsenal had clearly had a bollocking from Wenger and kept the pressure on Hull, however as penalty appeals were denied and chances missed it felt as though it was too little too late, until Yaya Sanogo (On for the anonymous Podolski) hooked the ball out and the referee
mistakenly ruled for a corner. Up rose Koscielny and thumped the ball into the net. Typically, with Hull seemingly some we missed chances to end the game and we reached time at 2-2
After a short break it was down to extra time, and as an arsenal fan this worried me, we have this terrible habit of pushing and pushing before being caught by a single goal, and with tired legs and time short this seemed a distinct possibility.
As time dragged on and Giroud and Ramsey missed chances Wenger went for the more direct approach, taking of Ozil and Cazorla for Rosicky and Wilshire. Finally a break through was made as Ramsey got his goal and put us ahead midway through the second half of extra time, meaning we just had to hold on for a bit longer. Typically it wasn’t without drama as Mertesacker (solid most of the game) slipped and we suffered flashback of Birmingham in the League cup final, making matters worse Fabianski came flying out of the box leaving the goal open for the hull player- in a stroke of luck he hit it wide, his legs probably gone.
The final chance of the game again went to Hull as Fabianski redeemed himself for charging out by saving the shot in the last moment of the game. Arsenal had won- not on the style of have liked but still a win is a win.
Another strang r,one that occurred as ‘club captain’ Thomas Vermaelen lifted the trophy despite spending the season warming the bench, whilst it was a nice touch it wasn’t necessary.
Within days Vermaelen, Sagna and Fabianski were gone.
In the next post I’ll look ahead to this years final Arsenal vs Aston Villa
So, I don’t really want to talk much about football on the blog, there’s so many topics already, but as an arsenal supporter I wanted to cover my thoughts ahead of next weeks fa cup final.
We had a decent season, although we finished fourth again, we were top of the league for most of the season, hopefully if we spend a bit of money in the summer we can kick on further next season.
Next weeks fa cup final is a big deal, we haven’t won a trophy in 9 years, so we need it. We’re also playing hull city, so it should be ours for the taking, unfortunately a few years back we all thought the same about the league cup final against Birmingham city. That time a mistake between koscielny and szceszny cost us. Both have improved massively since then and I hope the team have learnt.
Anyway, my preferred team for the final would be
Sagna mertesacker koscielny Gibbs
Despite the fantastic efforts of fabianski in the cup this season, he’s leaving, so better our no 1 gets a potential cup win
Our defence has been solid all season, aside from a couple of mega blips, so it mostly picks itself, it could be argued that like fabianski, sagna is leaving and so jenkinson should play. If this happens then fair enough, but sagnas a far superior player and experiences, whereas jenkinson has barely played this season.
Midfield, the toughest bit. Flamini returning has been fantastic, he should never have been allowed to run his contract down, I’m not sure why he’s played less in the second half of the season, but alongside arteta it’s been a solid midfield base. Ramsey picks himself, he’s been awesome all season (apart from the injury), ozil and cazorla have the ability to win a game with a pass so both should be there.
Upfront, probably the easiest decision, do you play giroud who’s massively improved this season or sanogo, who’s played a handful of games and not done much? Yeah, it’s giroud.
Other contenders will of course be wilshire, rosicky and podolski. Rosicky has had a good season, whilst podolski has started scoring more recently so either would be an acceptable place, I don’t know who I’d want dropped to fit them in though, it may come down to fitness. Wilshire, whilst clearly very talented, just hasn’t impressed this season. I expect next season to be his second big breakthrough as long as he can keep his ankles in one piece at the World Cup.
As for the game itself, I expect arsenal to struggle initially against the plucky underdogs (maybe even concede) before class and fitness win out in the second half- much like a good number of our games this season.
I’d expect wilshire, sanogo and kallstrom to appear from the bench, though vermaelen, rosicky and podolski would of course be potentials too.
As for arsenals future assuming wenger signs his contract, I expect the summer to be a little underwhelming.
Fabianski, sagna, and kallstrom will leave. Fabianski has proved what a good keeper he is, but he needs to be a number one, someone’s going to get a bargain there. Sagna has been a solid consistent performer for years, it’s a shame to see him go, but who can blame him seeking out one final big contract. Kallstrom arrived on loan to a little bit of fuss, as far as I can tell he did ok when he played, I think if he were available cheaply he’d be a decent signing in midfield,
Another potential exit is vermaelen, who just can’t get back into the team. I’m not sure why he’s still captain if he’s isn’t playing, but I expect him to want to leave this summer in any case.
As for buys? I could list a whole load of signings we could make, and arsenal will make a few surprises instead. It’s widely accepted we need a goalkeeper, centre back (two if vermaelen goes), a right back, a vieira type midfielder and a centre forward. Given that three of those will just replace departures, I think the majority of fans are going to be disappointed by September, at least until arsenal look like challenging for the title,
Next season i think we can potentially win the title, but our injuries need to drop, for a few seasons now we’ve missed too many key players from too many games, so that needs to be sorted. Also, when January comes around, if we look to be short, then a signing must be made.