STONE COLD FRIDAY: Rambo’s Brace Ensures Arsenal Draw First Blood

“Dear Mr Ramsey. Are you Lampard in disguise?”. Granted, you need to notch up quite a few more deflected goals, but keep doing that ghosted-run-in-the-box thing. We like it, especially when you do – what was that again? – Was it a flying volley? Yeah, who cares how the goals go in, we just want the ball hitting the back of the net from the assist machines behind you. Keep playing like this and I’ll personally walk to Ivan Gazidis office and urge him to offer you a few more bob in your contract because it’s worth it. I’ll also encourage him to sell you if you revert to type and go soft on us.

What about the man Lacazette? Is it only me or is this fella hell bent on lifting the Europa League Cup at his former home? That would be a lovely home-coming, wouldn’t it? It’s great to have Lacazette back. There’s just something about his style; his dangerous movement in and around the box, his link-up play, and for sure, his calm and ruthless demeanour to finish moves when he sees the whites of the keeper’s eyes. The mind boggles as to why folks are worried how Lacazette and Aubameyang will be fitted in the same team. Who cares? As long as they’re both scoring goals, they play.

A Job Ain’t Nothing But Work

The job last night was to put clear daylight between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow. The job was completed in style, the panache and verve oozing out of the attacking display. Clearly, the Muscovites didn’t read the memo on how to park the bus against Arsenal. There was a refreshing kamikaze-esque approach to their game, playing right into Arsenal’s hands. The Gunners rode their luck on several occasions during the first half making you wonder whether we were heading for a cricket score. The visitors should have heeded the warning when Ramsey’s goal was disallowed for a justifiable offside.

It only took a few minutes more, our German Maestro conducting the midfield Orchestra while having a game of his life. A probe to Li’l Jack here, a tap back there, a slide to Little Belly Button for a first-time cross for Ramsey to Sweep in. You’re thinking – 9 minutes, we have a game here. Arsenal are Arsenal though, and sure enough, Mustafi’s agricultural clearance, when it was easier to leather the ball into the stands forced Koscielny into a moment of madness and giving CSKA a lifeline.

If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again

Ah Well! Back to square one and advantage CSKA Moscow with an away goal. Aleksandr Golovin’s free kick from Koscielny’s foul on him was a statement of intent. Nothing Cech could have done, and to be honest, a free kick like that deserves to hit the back of the net. If it was Ozil or Li’l Jack’s shot, we would have been waxing lyrical about the technique, the swerve and the dip into the top corner.

Ozil must have remembered that doing that driving-in-the-box-thing at full pelt can yield results. You’re thinking, twice in one week? Again, the ref didn’t give the penalty as was the case with Stoke, the assistant gave it. Platini’s 5th men behind the goal do have their purpose you know. Cool as Ice, Lacazette send Igor Akinfeev the wrong way to restore a bit of order.

Credit to CSKA, they clearly didn’t know they were beaten and kept at it. That was to be their undoing as they gave the Freedom of Ashburton Grove to Ozil, Li’l Jack and Mkhitaryan. Ozil’s excellent vision and execution totally combined with Ramsey’s ghosting run and spectacular decision making. Spotting Akinfeev advancing and deciding to do his flying flick volley with the outside of his boot certainly made that third goal a candidate for Arsenal’s individual and team goal of the season. It reminded me of one of my favourite Arsenal goals; Eduardo’s backheel volley against Burnley in the FA Cup.

We’ve got think big Mo, let’s have the consistency

Considering how this season has gone, it’s great that we’ve drawn first blood in this quarter-final tie. Three goals without reply for CSKA at home against Arsenal is a tall order and gives the Gunners an advantage. But the job ain’t done until the fat lady sings. She’s still very much in the bath and not about to get out and dress until we get to Moscow next week. Meanwhile, there’s that small matter of Southampton checking in on Sunday afternoon.

We’ve got the momentum and save for Aubameyang to replace the injured Mkhitaryan, we should continue with the same team. Winning feels good, doesn’t it? Considering that there’s only a maximum of 11 games left this season, there’s absolutely no reason to change a winning side.

I expect Arsenal to make it to the semi-final from this position. I’m now also of the view that if we do, I’d like us to face Atletico Madrid in the semis. Here me out. We’re good at home and have a great chance of beating them. The away game can be the cup final – the one-off game where anything can happen. Why not give ourselves a better chance of winning by hedging on our home form?

Have a great weekend good people.

32 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Rambo’s Brace Ensures Arsenal Draw First Blood

  1. The home form is great against mediocre sides. Apart from Spuds we haven’t beaten a top side at home. We lost to both Mancs and got fortunate draws against Chelski and Pool. Best to get Madrid in final I’d say

  2. Well written ‘I Odumbe Kute’. Mhki’s injury means we are light on wingers. If there was a way Iwobi could learn from Reiss Nelson, how to dance and skip past defenders, then we would breathe easy.

  3. Good stuff Darius though I disagree with you about Athletico but I’m open to the thought.

    I saw one article that called Ozil’s performance majestic and the Emirates was his playground and that sums it up perfectly. That was the Ozil that I know and love and what made it even better was that players were finishing off the chances he created. Ramsey was good, really good as was Lacazette.

    Special mention to Xhaka and Bellerin who I thought both had good games. Tend to agree with you, Aubameyang for Mkhitaryan and maybe Chambers for Kos but otherwise keep rolling them out.

  4. Lacazette has spoken:

    “I know I can do more but I need more time because it is really different than with Lyon,” said Lacazette. “It is better and better every day. A few times before the surgery I felt pain and after I decided with the medical staff it was the best solution. It was really frustrating but now I don’t regret it. The surgery is in my past so now I can play 100 per cent and I am happy.”

    “He is different player, he loves the space and I’m a player who loves to get the ball to my feet,” said Lacazette. “I think we can be good together. Auba is a nice guy and, after the first penalty, he told me, ‘If there is another one I will give you the ball’, so it was nice from him. It was good for my confidence. It shows that, even if we are strikers, we can think about everyone in the team and we are not focused only to score goals.”

    “It would maybe be the best day in my life,” he said. “I want a trophy and that is why I came to Arsenal.”

  5. Great review Darius.

    Yesterday was awesome. We were brilliant. We played solid defense and we attacked at pace and repeatedly got the ball into the final 1/3 before the defense set up and that changes everything. Why couldn’t we make an effort to play more like that more often. It does not take a degree in football quantum physics to figure out what we would be more successful if we left tippy tappy in the dressing room and played at pace on a more consistent basis. Ultimately Arsene gets the blame for the struggles that we have seen on the pitch for most of this year but there is nothing about his tactics that prevents us from playing like yesterday. I guarantee that he will not be screaming for us to throw on the handbrake during training sessions before our next game. Every season we have one good reason n of form and yesterday is evidence that we have found it. Let’s keep this going for the rest of the season and hopefully we can win the Europa league.

  6. If Ramsey, Ozil, Xhaka Wilshere all divide opinions to some extent but that would not happen if they played like yesterday more often.

  7. Thanks for the post. Great review.
    The boys did v well last night (where has this been all season) so hopefully the semis are calling.
    Eduardo’s goal one of my faves to. His fist match back after THAT injury if my memory serves me well

  8. Arsene on Mkhitaryan:

    “He has a scan this afternoon but his medial ligament is touched so he will not be available for Sunday. The first impression is not too positive today. I fear [it could be several weeks] and I hope I’m wrong.”

    Arsene on Ospina:

    The scan today was reassuring, he will be out for two to three weeks. Yesterday we were scared it was a very serious injury but the scan was reassuring. Yes [he did it in training] – he just moved back from a shot and sprained his ankle, without any contact. It was just a bad movement.

  9. Really hope we can continue this and push on. I know people say Athletico waltzed over Sporting but i ended up watching the highlights and Sporting missed 2-3 sitters: one somehow went over the goal from 6 yd out, one the player was threw on goal but hit thr GK and the last was hit wide.

  10. C,

    There’s every reason to change the team. The Southampton game is largely irrelevant. Rest at least five of the team, don’t risk anyone with even a slight injury and give some game time to the promising lads like Nelson who don’t play enough. If a first teamer got injured on Sunday that would be ridiculous

  11. Henry Root,

    I could see that and know the case for both sides of the discussion. Only players that I would rest would be Ramsey, Kos and Nacho. I would love to see Macey in goal and Elneny in midfield. But I also get sticking with the team for continuity purposes.

    Personally I want to see Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette play together so that they are able to start getting that onfield relationship for the rest of this season but also moving forward for next season.

  12. No confirmation yet, C, with Wenger only confirming that there will be a scan today. However, given he claimed it was medial ligament damage, I’d be surprised if he’s back inside four weeks.

  13. YW,

    Well we know Arsene’s track record with things like that don’t we. I would imagine he is done for the rest of the season which really hurts us in the Europa given he was playing well. Guess we will now get Iwobi or Welbeck on the flanks.

  14. Pep has a way of really screwing with Mourinho, he just said that Railoa:

    “I don’t understand why I am such a bad guy. But being this guy, two months ago he offered me Mkhitaryan and Pogba to play with us. Why?

    “Why did he offer them? He was interested in Mkhitaryan and Pogba playing with us.

  15. YW:
    If I had to guess, I’d say it will be Iwobi with Welbeck held back as sub in case Lacazette gets injured.

    I would tend to agree with that. Shame because the drop off in quality is telling. Iwobi should have scored yesterday and I hope he finds confidence because we will need it.

  16. First time I’m reading positivity and optimism in YW post in several weeks. A breath of fresh air from the team recent outings.
    What a good team performance we had yesterday.
    Hoping for more victories ahead

  17. It was a terrific attacking performance, it really was. Defensively? Not so much, a better team could have scored two or three.

    Take the positive but that negative will come back and bite us.

  18. Henry Root:
    There’s every reason to change the team. The Southampton game is largely irrelevant. Rest at least five of the team, don’t risk anyone with even a slight injury and give some game time to the promising lads like Nelson who don’t play enough. If a first teamer got injured on Sunday thatwould be ridiculous

    Agree….this IS Arsenal after all. Injuries are starting to occur.
    It is easy to say ‘play them’ for continuity’s sake but the people saying that aren’t the ones who have to run 10+ kms at breakneck speed with only a few days’ recovery.

    Keep’em sharp and rested. keep’em healthy.

  19. philmar,

    I’m coming around to it but I do think certain players need more rest than others. For instance, Ramsey, Jack, Kos, Nacho we know will break and fortunately we have Elneny, Sead and Chambers or Holding to take mins against Southampton. We shall see though but I also understand the continuity.

  20. Indeed Bobster – the negative will but such is this season, I believe we should enjoy the good when it arrives. We might just fuck it up next week…

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