07 December 2013

Match Preview: Arsenal v. Everton, The Emirates, December 8 (11 am EST)

Another game, another win.

Nicklas Bendtner
The Great Dane had a successful return
(Photo courtesy wonker)
This one was a little different, though, as it featured a goal from the rarest of sources: Nicklas Bendtner. The Great Dane headed Carl Jenkinson's superb cross in to the back of the net after just 93 seconds to score his first Arsenal goal since March 2011 in his first Premier League start for the Gunners in 1005 days. The early goal was followed by a period of dominance, in which it seemed that Hull couldn't keep the ball more than 30 yards from their goal; despite not scoring again during this spell, it looked like the Gunners were going to run away with it. Eventually, though, Arsenal won 2-0, Aaron Ramsey finding Mesut Özil with a delightful reverse through-ball early in the second half to complete the win. Bendtner himself had a decent match, apart from missing a sitter (to be fair, he was probably surprised the ball even came to his feet off the keeper), and his performance has encouraged Arsene Wenger as well as NB's fellow players; if this signals a full return to form for Bendtner, it can only be good for Arsenal's title challenge.

06 December 2013

Daily Links: The World Cup Draw Bonus Edition

Maracanã stadium
Estadio Maracanã, venue for the WC Final
(Photo courtesy Leandro Ciuffo)
Well. We finally have it. After an interminable wait, with bizarre video histories of the World Cup, musical interludes, and an equally bizarre draw (Pot X?), we now know who each country will be facing in their quest to reach the knock-out stages. Why can't FIFA and UEFA make these thing quicker? We don't really need eight different people drawing from the pots. There are understandably geographical concerns to take into account, with so many European teams in the draw, but I could have performed it in 5 minutes. When did it become such a song and dance? It seems they are meant to be exciting for fans, but when the show starts at 11am EST and the first team is drawn from a pot an hour later, you have to wonder what the attendees are thinking. I'm sure they'd rather just get in and get out, while fans must get bored by the point their team is drawn - I know I did. Zinedine Zidane, one of the ex-players involved in the draw, certainly didn't look amused about the process.

03 December 2013

Match Preview: Arsenal v. Hull City, The Emirates, December 4 (2:45 PM EST)

With roughly one third (13/38ths for the perfectionists out there) of the 2013-14 Premier League season having been played, Arsenal begin December 4 points clear of Chelsea at the top of the table. The Gunners will be happy to have come through a difficult - on paper - November, in which they only suffered defeat away at Old Trafford. The home wins over Liverpool and Southampton were especially convincing, and the positive atmosphere around the Club was boosted with an away win in the Champions League against last season's runner-up Borussia Dortmund.
Giroud celebrates his goal
Arsenal celebrate yet another victory
(Photo courtesy Ronnie Macdonald)

Focus will now shift to another difficult looking December; Arsenal will play title contenders Manchester City and Chelsea, London rivals West Ham, a decent Everton side and face a tough away trip to Napoli, looking to ensure qualification to the CL knock-out stages. First though, the Gunners welcome Hull to the Emirates. Last time out, Arsenal beat Cardiff away, with 2 goals from ex-Bluebirds midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Rambo did the decent thing (*ahem* - Judas van Persie) and refused to celebrate, and even earned praise from his former club's fans who sang his name after another great game for Wales' best player.

02 December 2013

The WAT: Arsenal's title hopes to be crushed by the transience of time

Arsenal extended their first place lead to seven points on Saturday, after a 3-0 demolition of Cardiff City -- no small feat, given the well-drilled and newly promoted side earned a draw at home against Manchester United, the current title holders.
Aaron Ramsey, who scored a brace on Saturday,
and will someday die, whether we win this thing or not.
[credit: Ronnie Macdonald]

However, ecstatic Arsenal fans were once again reminded of Father Time's brutal and unyielding transience when, the following day, that lead was diminished to four points -- three points less than the day before.

When reached for comment, Arsene Wenger, who is French and therefore spends a lot of time thinking about this, said: "Euhhh, yes, it is true. Time passes inexorably, but we have trained for this. I think it requires a little bit of mental toughness, and the players know how to take the season one game ... one day at a time."