Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal: Ozils Majestic Vision

Arsene Wenger went with the suspected lineup I posted yesterday, and after much criticism from fans on social media regarding Ramsey playing on the wing, it worked out in our favour.

Alexis Sanchez was brought back in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right, even though he is not fully fit he was fully committed and gave it his all. Hector Bellerin returned to right back and that extra pace was needed against Puncheon and Zaha.

A lot of fans were calling for Chamberlain to start ahead of Alexis after his previous performances, and due to the Chilean not being 100% match fit yet, but his work rate is unquestionable and I’m sure it lifts the rest of the team. Chamberlain is a good player to bring off the bench, much like Theo, against tired legs due to his pace and direct play.

Straight out of the gate we dominated possession and dictated play, we were superior all over the pitch. We nearly scored early on from a counter from a Palace corner. The end of the move saw Ozil feed Alexis, who hesitated for a split second, and scuppered the chance to put us a goal up. In a couple of weeks I expect to see a fully fit Alexis burying them chances.

We didn’t have to wait long after though to get our breakthrough and what a goal it was. Ozil, the creator again, whipped a ball into the box just behind a waiting Giroud who turned and hooked the ball into the corner of the net. A very agile move for the big Frenchman.

Unfortunately the lead didn’t last too long. The ball bounced its way out to the edge of our box and Ward fired low into the bottom corner. Cech had no chance as it was so precise and his view was obscured, it could have potentially been prevented if Koscielny didn’t bottle the block.

Not long after the second half started we nearly went 2-1 down after a Connor Wickham shot hit the post from the 6 yard box. We looked like we were lacking width and pace with Ramsey out wide, this led to calls for Chamberlain to make an appearance. With Coquelin also on a yellow it was clear that Zaha and Puncheon were targeting him and trying to get him sent off. Fortunately Wenger subbed him for Chamberlain and added a new threat to our attack, Ramsey came slightly more central.

We managed to scrape the win through an Alexis Sanchez header, from a Bellerin cross, which deflected off Delaney into his own net. Arteta and Gibbs came on to help out with the defensive duties and we held on. It wasn’t a comfortable game but it’s a win and three points, our first of the season. Something to build on.

Arsene Wenger had this say:

“We had a good, fluent game in the first half and when they came back to 1-1 it was a mental test to see how we could respond. We managed to find a second goal and after that in the second half of the game we just had to dig in, fight, and we did it as well. I’m pleased because we have shown many different aspects that will be very important in the season.”

 

I thought Ozil played exceptionally and pulled all the strings, this should be the benchmark for his performances this season and aim to improve consistently. Wenger had this to say on the German:

“He was magnificent. He works harder than people thinks he does. He is not spectacular in his defending but he wants to do the job, he wants to help the team. What I liked in his game today was he made many runs without the ball behind the defenders, which is a bit new as he likes to come with the ball. Today he mixed up his game better.”

Crystal Palace preview: prove last week was a blip

After last week’s debacle against West Ham, we really need to bounce back and prove it was just a blip. West Ham lost 2-1 yesterday and had their keeper sent off, which saw Jenkinson banter off Leicester and go in goal. As mentioned previously, West Ham were the better team on the day but they aren’t a better team over the course of a season.

Onto Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace. I suspect we’ll see Hector Bellerin return to the starting lineup, in place of Debuchy. The Frenchman is good but he doesn’t quite have what Bellerin brings to the table. The young Spaniard made the right back position his own when called upon to deputise for the injured Debuchy.

The rest of defence picks itself with Cech – Bellerin – Koscielny – Mertesacker and Monreal being our first choice players. In midfield I think we’ll see Coquelin, Ramsey and Cazorla. This trio didn’t have the best time against West Ham but I feel they are Wenger’s go to midfield as they have previously proven to be reliable.

Our forward line is where it gets interesting. Does the manager drop Oxlade-Chamberlain for Alexis Sanchez already? Does Ozil stick to the left hand side? Will he mix it up and put Alexis Sanchez and Chamberlain/Walcott on either wing? I suspect he’ll be desperate to bounce back strong and opt for Ozil on the left, Alexis on the right and Giroud central. Against a physical team like Crystal Palace you need to play Giroud, rather than Theo Walcott, up front as he’ll be competing in the air a lot. My main worry, which I am sure many among us share, is are we bringing Alexis Sanchez back into the mix too early?

The manager had this to say about the importance of bouncing back after a defeat:

“It is always about how you respond and our game is hugely important. Sometimes, we are maybe too nice. If you want to say our aggression level against West Ham was not big enough, then I would agree with you. I’m confident we will be stronger at Crystal Palace. They’ve tremendously progressed and the consistency of their results has been impressive but we have a good record there and we want to maintain it.”

 

Pardew will have watched his former team beat us and try to take aspects of their game into this. Wenger will be aware of this and our quality should lead us to a hard-fought victory today. We need to rebuild our momentum as we can’t allow the other big teams to build a lead over us this early in the season.

I will take a guess at 1-0 or 2-1 to the Arsenal.

Arsenal 2 – 1 Crystal Palace + round-up

We love to make it hard for ourselves don’t we. This was actually the first opening game of the season we have won since 2009, where we beat Everton 6-1 away. Yesterday’s game was extremely tight with Palace being highly disciplined and working hard to win every ball, typical of a Tony Pulis side.

Every time we got the ball in midfield they defaulted back to a deep lying bank of five defenders with three or four in front of that, leaving Campbell or Chamakh to rotate up top. It was very frustrating as we had no space to run into, and it showed as there was movement off the ball from most of our players. Sanchez tried but kept running into a dead-end but he worked hard to get back and make up for losing the ball.

Sanogo started up front and he couldn’t make a real impact. Alexis Sanchez had a long range effort, which he tried to curl into the top hand corner, float high and wide. Jack Wilshere also had a low dipping shot from the edge of the box that the keeper dealt with comfortably. Was it going to be one of them days?

Szczesny showed he has been watching Manuel Neuer videos and decided to play sweeper. He came rushing out of his goal to make a clearance, which was a poor one, and it fell straight to Chamakh. He hit it first time and it looked like it was going in, but Koscielny came across to put it out for a corner. Unfortunately the resulting corner led to their goal. Hangeland rose well and relatively unchallenged and made it 0-1. Was it to be a repeat of the opener versus Aston Villa?

We managed to get a goal back just before half time. We had a free kick, some distance out, that Alexis floated in to an untracked Koscielny. It was a superbly taken header, and it wasn’t easy, as he had to adjust his body mid-air. Game on.

Wenger brought on Monreal who an injured Gibbs, Chamberlain and Giroud. There was an instant impact and drive provided by Chamberlain when he got on the ball. His willingness to run at players and take them on added some much-needed urgency and desire. Giroud allowed Sanchez to come in a bit more centrally and less deep. The goal was coming.

Chamakh must have made about five fouls before picking up his first yellow yet Santi Cazorla got cautioned on his first foul. Some of the refereeing was atrocious by Jonathan Moss, who did not look like he was fit enough to run on the pitch for 90 minutes. We were denied two very good penalty shouts before the end too, one for a blatant push and another for dragging Giroud to the ground. He also tried to blind Cazorla by, unintentionally, spraying him in the face with the vanishing spray.

Coming up to the five minutes of injury time we managed to break down the left. Puncheon, already on a yellow, caught Monreal late. We tried to play on as we had the advantage but the ref blew up for the free kick and to send Puncheon off. I thought he had just blown our chance to win the game late on. Five minutes to go against the 10 men of an extremely organised defensive setup did not look good. We got a corner, which got cleared, the ball came back to Chamberlain out wide who floated it into the box. Koscielny rose and headed it across to Giroud, who knocked it down to Debuchy who struck it hard at the keeper. The rebound fell to Ramsey, who had been rather poor all match to be honest, and he tapped in the winning goal. Sanchez topped off the evening with a ridiculous bit of chest control.

Overall our performance was not up to the standard it should be. We could not get our passing game together as players were passing to opposition or out of play. The crowd was getting frustrated but stuck behind the team near the end. The atmosphere is always hard to get going on the first day of the season, due to so many first timers or tourists, but it’ll pick up. Always good to see the same familiar faces of other season ticket holders though.

The reason I feel Ramsey had a poor game is because our players expected too much of him. They gave him the ball every chance they got hoping he would do something with it. Other players need to pick up the responsibility as it alleviates the pressure on their team mates. This will come though once our team starts to gel together better. Debuchy put in another good display down the right hand side, but the stand out player for me yesterday was Calum Chambers. He was every so impressive.

Arsene Wenger had this to say on the match:

I believe that our attitude was right, on our fluency we can do better, but that will come. Let’s get everybody physically ready. Having said that, you could see that Crystal Palace played with the same organisation as last year, when they changed the situation from a relegation team to finishing 11th in the Premier League.

 

I almost forgot, Manchester United and their saviour, Van Gaal, got off to the perfect start yesterday. He’s lost his first game at the club on the opening day of the Premiership. They are in dire need of signing world-class players to get them out of the hole they are in. Do players want to join a club with no European football, on the hope they get into Europe next year? To top it off, Ashley Young got a mouthful of bird poo!

Quick rumour round-up. Manolas is expected to have his medical soon, in a deal that is supposedly worth £8 million. A very good deal for the 23-year-old Greek defender. Another player we are looking at is PSG’s Adrien Rabiot. He is a 19-year-old central midfielder. I have no idea if he is box to box or defensive minded as I have not seen anything of him.

We now start to look towards Tuesday’s match against Besiktas in the Champions League qualifier. They are not an easy team to beat and have Demba Ba up front for them now.

Match Day: Crystal Palace

THE SEASON IS BACK AT LAST! Match day is upon us once again and today we have the late kick off against Crystal Palace. Palace are now managerless due to Tony Pulis parting ways with the club. For all the stick we gave him when he was at Stoke, he had actually turned the fortunes of Palace around. They were being threatened with relegation and he dragged them to 11th in the league. He even got them playing decent football.

This game can go two ways. Firstly Palace could come out and just roll over looking lost and deflated, or they will be a stubborn team to break down and play 11 men behind the ball. I would like to see them come and have a go at us so our counter attacking pace can take advantage. If they play a high line and start passing the ball around, Alexis will be able to get a lot of joy down the right.

I believe Koscielny is fit to start, so I expect him to line up alongside Calum Chambers with Debuchy and Gibbs in the wide positions. Speaking of defenders, Per Mertesacker has retired from international football after winning the World Cup. There’s no better way to retire than at the top and this now allows him to focus on Arsenal.

Midfield will probably be Ramsey, Arteta and Wilshere. The front three will most likely be Cazorla, Alexis and Giroud. It really is a coin toss between Sanogo and Giroud as the former is match fit and will want to carry his pre-season form into the season. The latter needs to play matches to help with his fitness and a team like Palace, no offence, are a team that offer that opportunity.

Wojciech Szczesny

Mathieu Debuchy – Laurent Koscielny – Calum Chambers – Kieran Gibbs

Mikel Arteta – Jack Wilshere – Aaron Ramsey,

Alexis Sanchez – Olivier Giroud – Santi Cazorla

We could potentially see Joel Campbell make his Premier League debut today too, exciting. We could also see a couple of other players making their debut soon, if we sign them. The Germans still aren’t ready to play but it shouldn’t be too long before we see them. I’m going for a 3-0 win to Arsenal today.