14 April 2014

Week in Review: Boring, Boring Arsenal

Mertesacker redeemed his earlier mistake with
the equalizing goal.
(CC Licence / Wikimedia)
At least we can say we're going to Wembley! After an incredibly dull match, Arsenal needed penalties to beat Wigan and book their place in the 2014 FA Cup Final. The game started with a bang, as Yaya Sanogo was unlucky to have an early header saved by Scott Carson, before the tempo slowed waaaaaay down after around 10 minutes or so, leading to your humble writer declaring every 5 minutes or so that we were watching a very boring match. Then, of course, the nerves kicked in, as in the 59th Per Mertesacker brought down Calum McManaman in the box for a penalty, which Jordi Gomez converted almost 4 minutes later due to an injury picked up by Nacho Monreal in the build-up to the goal. For the next twenty minutes, it looked like the Gods of Football were conspiring against the Gunners, as several chances went begging, before the Big F***ing German saved Gooners everywhere from months of 'banter' and negative media coverage, by nodding in from close range.

This seemed to wake the Gunners up and they started extra time with much more intent, looking sharper then they had at any point during the game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was unlucky to see his rasping long-range shot hit the crossbar; had that gone in, it's likely we wouldn't have had to go through penalties. However, nerves were very quickly relieved, if not fully put to rest, as Lukasz Fabianski saved Wigan's first two penalties to help Arsenal take a 2-0 lead after 2 penalties each, before going on to win the shootout 4-2. Each Arsenal penalty looked good, and it was great to see Kim Källström step up with a wry smile on his face before burying his spot kick. The relief was palpable on the faces of the players, fans and the manager; however, this of course gave media and pundits - who clearly wanted Wigan to win - an opportunity to question why everyone was celebrating so much. I'll tell you why - because Arsenal just earned the opportunity to play for the FA Cup! Any fan base would be excited about that! The media trash the Gunners for not winning a trophy in nine years, then when they get to a final, they trash the Club and the fans for celebrating. Rant over.

Attention will quickly turn back to the Premier League, as Arsenal host London rivals West Ham on Tuesday at the Emirates. The Gunners will be looking to re-establish themselves in the chase for the Champions League places after Everton took fourth spot by winning their game in hand against Sunderland at the weekend. Arsenal are unbeaten against the Hammers in the last 12 games in all competitions, while West Ham have scored just once in their last five visits to the Emirates. While Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain are unlikely to feature, it is being reported that Mesut Özil, Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky should return to the squad, while Laurent Koscielny may have to undergo a late fitness test.

Elsewhere, there was sad news for the Gunners community as it was announced that legendary goalkeeper Bob Wilson will undergo treatment for prostate cancer. I'm sure you'll all join us at Boston Gooners HQ in wishing him all the best and hoping for a speedy recovery.

Aston Villa: Former Villa striker Stan Collymore has called for owner Randy Lerner to invest in the club to ensure survival.

Cardiff City: After it appeared that someone leaked their starting line-up to Crystal Palace a week earlier, Cardiff stunned Southampton away from home to strengthen their survival chances.

Chelsea: Jose Mourinho's side came from behind on aggregate to beat Paris St Germain in the Champions League quarter final, and followed that up with a 1-0 win against Swansea.

Crystal Palace: The Eagles beat Aston Villa at Selhurst Park to climb to twelfth in the table, making their mid-season appointment of Tony Pulis look like a masterstroke - unfortunately. 

Everton: Everton won their game in hand to move to fourth, ahead of Arsenal, thanks to a Wes Brown own goal at the Stadium of Light.

Fulham: The revival of the Cottagers under Felix Magath continued as they won 1-0 at home against Norwich. The good form of the side is changing opinions of their German manager, who has been described as being like Saddam Hussein.

Hull City: The Tigers reached their first ever FA Cup final by beating Sheffield United 5-3, in what was eminently a more exciting semi-final than the one contested by Arsenal and Wigan.

Liverpool: The Reds went a long way to becoming the most insufferable Premier League champions ever, and the reason your humble writer may have to avoid all media channels this summer, by beating Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield to go two points clear.

Manchester City: Citizens fans were left shocked as Scousers welcomed them to the city in their typical friendly fashion, by throwing bricks at a minibus.

Manchester United: David Moyes' side saw their brief dreams dashed by Bayern Munich, in what could be their last European game for a few seasons.  United went ahead on aggregate before Bayern came back to score 3 goals.
Newcastle United: On-loan striker Loic Remy has told Newcastle he wants to join "a great European club" at the end of the season. I wonder if he thinks the Gunners are great...

Norwich City: The Canaries sacked boss Chris Hughton and replaced him with youth coach Neil Adams, which is a fairly risky strategy with only five games remaining; Adams lost his first game in charge.

Southampton: It was revealed last week that Saints striker Jay Rodriguez will be out for 6 months with a ruptured ACL, ruling one of England's most promising player's out of the World Cup.

Stoke City: Erik Pieters scored a fluke goal to secure a 1-0 win over Newcastle, almost guaranteeing Stoke a mid-table finish to the season.

Sunderland: Manager Gus Poyet has hinted at a rotten culture at the Stadium of Light after noting how many high-profile mangers have failed to turn the club around over the years.

Swansea City: The Swans need two more wins to guarantee safety, according to manager Garry Monk.

Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs are likely to give up on last summer's £30m signing Erik Lamela, but are unlikely to recoup even half of that sum.

West Brom: The Baggies threw away a 3 goal lead to draw 3-3 at home to the Spuds, while young striker Saido Berahino was filmed inhaling nitrous oxide just a few hours after West Brom lost to Man Utd, it was revealed last week.

West Ham: The Hammers prepared for their trip to the Emirates with a weekend off, and apparently did nothing newsworthy, so no links here.

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