Season Preview 2015/16

And so, in what seems like a ridiculously quick turnaround, the new season is upon us. And I, like every single other blogger, media organisation or random fucker with a Twitter account, am here to make my utterly meaningless and highly-unlikely-to-be-correct predictions. Although saying that, I didn’t do too badly last year

“Chelsea, who were only really let down in their title challenge last season by their lack of a top quality striker, have signed Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid – effectively getting rid of their only real weakness. They’ve also been strengthened by the return of Courtois from his loan at Atletico, and the signings of Filipe Luis, also from Atletico, and of course former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona. Chelsea are probably the only team whose transfer window I am envious of – I believe Arsenal have had a better one than all of the other potential title challengers, at least so far. As such, Chelsea are by far the favourites for the title, and if they don’t win it Mourinho has failed dramatically.

Man City, on the other hand, have been uncharacteristically quiet in the window so far. They’ve signed Caballero from Malaga, midfielder Fernando, and Bacary Sagna on a free transfer from us. So for the first time in a long time, Arsenal have spent more than City, signed more players – and overall had a better transfer window. But City’s squad was incredible in the first place. It still is. It’s certainly stronger than ours, and as such I think they’ll finish second to Chelsea.

Beyond those two though, I’m confident. Arsenal have a better squad and have had a better transfer window than teams like United, Spurs, Everton and especially Liverpool, who having sold Suarez I believe will struggle to even finish fifth. Admittedly, United have looked strong in pre-season and it’s quite obvious that Louis Van Gaal has reinvigorated them, but their squad still simply doesn’t look good enough. They should however have an excellent start to the season, having been handed a suspiciously easy first few fixtures – something Arsenal haven’t been blessed with. But over the entire course, I can’t see them finishing higher than fourth, just behind Arsenal.”

Forgive me for that brief moment of smugness, it’s rare I get something as right as that.

Anyway, back to this year. So far, Arsenal’s transfer window has not been particularly busy, and we are yet to sign someone like Alexis Sanchez who you could’ve announced in a similar manner to the Queen’s entrance at the 2012 Olympics and it be entirely reasonable and proportionate to the magnitude of the situation. That is, of course, not to do any disservice to Petr Cech, who is a wonderful and greatly needed signing – Arsenal have needed a top class goalkeeper for over a decade now. It is simply to say that, despite the enjoyment of poaching a Chelsea legend at Mourinho’s annoyance, and the fact he is one of the best in his position in the world, there is something about a 33 year old goalkeeper that isn’t quite as exciting as a skilful Chilean winger who had until recently been in the same front line as Lionel Messi.

We are of course still being linked with others, and given it’s not even August yet you would hope so too. Karim Benzema is yet again being linked with a move to follow Mesut Ozil on the path from the Bernabeu to the Emirates, a rumour that just a couple of years ago would have been dismissed as the bored creation of an under-worked tabloid football journalist, or some 12 year old on Twitter. Things are different these days, as the signings of first Ozil and then Sanchez mean Arsenal fans are now willing to believe absolutely anything. No wonder hacks are so willing to exploit our huge online presence. [see also: Llorente rumours. Hah!]

If there is some substance to the Benzema stuff, then I will be as delighted as every other Arsenal fan. But I am yet to see any reliable sign that there really is a possibility of him linking up with Ozil once again, and after the Higuain ordeal I promised myself I wouldn’t get drawn into the over-hyped, under-sourced excitement of a nice transfer rumour once again. It obviously hasn’t actually happened, but I try to keep myself in a state of permanent cynical scepticism. I just find I’m happier that way.

As it is, we have made one signing. Chelsea have also been oddly, even worryingly, quiet, signing only Falcao on loan, Begovic as a replacement for Cech, and probably some poor kid whose career will now collapse under the weight of his new car, watch, and pyramid of cash bundles. Other than Cech, they have sold Filipe Luis after a disappointing season, Drogba’s left and Thorgan Hazard (potentially the first ever player signed for millions just to keep his brother happy) has also departed. Man City have been only a little more busy than their oily counterparts – at least in monetary terms – paying a huge amount for Raheem Sterling to come in and be inconsistent on their wing instead of Liverpool’s, and then also bringing in Fabian Delph after his whole “no, I will stay at Villa, for I have sporting principles! Ooh, money…” thing. City, too, have brought in a young player whose agent has no consideration for his future and simply wanted his big pay-day now. Negredo has gone permanently, as has Nastasic, but other than that not much of note has been happening for Manchester’s second team.

Where things have got a bit busier is at Liverpool and Manchester United, two clubs known for their recent history of splurging money in a panicky hope that something might work out. Liverpool have made three big (monetarily) signings, bringing in Benteke for £32.5m, Roberto Firmino for about £29m and Clyne for £12.5m. Of the three, Clyne is likely to be the best signing, all taken into account. He’s a young player in a position they needed to strengthen, and they’ve got him for a reasonably good fee. Benteke, on the other hand, is an injury-prone, inconsistent striker who they’ve paid over the odds for, while few had heard of Firmino before he was standing in front of a camera holding a Liverpool shirt. The Brazilian may turn out to be a steal, but for £29m you’d hope for a player who people had actually heard of – combine that with the fact that Liverpool have positions in much greater need of strengthening than attacking midfield.

United have had by far the busiest transfer window out of all the big teams, in what appears to be a case of Louis van Gaal simply throwing money at a problem he doesn’t really know how to solve, possibly in the hope that the pile of cash might fill the gaping hole in his defence while simultaneously blocking David De Gea’s sprint to the exit door. By bringing in Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger and Depay United have undoubtedly strengthened their midfield, but it wasn’t really the midfield that was the problem – Herrera, Mata and Di Maria (although he looks like he wants out) are, believe it or not, actually quite good players. United’s recent issues have been down to their defence looking about as solid, experienced and frightening as a porous puppy, and both Moyes’ and then van Gaal’s failures to get their on paper excellent strike force firing. The one defender United have signed, Darmian, is a wing-back – hardly solving their issues – and their only other addition at that end of the pitch is Sergio Romero, a goalkeeper potentially brought in to replace De Gea, who is frankly just a little bit shit. United have not dealt with their huge, long-running problems, and the decent signings they have made look likely to basically just be replacements for Di Maria and Van Persie – as Rooney has to move forward from midfield. However much money they’ve spent, I don’t see them having a particularly good season.

And so, we come to prediction time. There’s a lot to be said for stability, and at present, the three of Arsenal, Chelsea and City appear to have it. Arsenal have dealt with their weakest position – the goalkeeper – while Chelsea have largely just added a bit more depth the an already incredible squad. City, I feel, have focussed on the wrong areas, much like their neighbours. I suspect that, unless something radical happens over the next month, they will look back on the transfer window as a poor one. Liverpool and United are once again set for seasons of transition, and don’t underestimate the effect Champions League football will have on van Gaal’s lot.

My predictions, therefore, are these: Chelsea and Arsenal will fight it out for the title, as the two sides with the strongest squads and the greatest stability. If Arsenal do manage to bring in a striker – even as just a like-for-like backup for Giroud, such as Llorente (but it won’t be him) – then I genuinely think they have a real chance. If little more happens in the transfer market for Arsene Wenger’s side, Chelsea will retain the title. Either way, first and second is between those two, with City finishing third. Liverpool, who only really have to focus on the league, will take fourth, while United will drop out of the Champions League spots and finish fifth.

We may now commence hoping that I get it as right as I did last season. Unlikely, I feel.

How important is Cech actually going to be?

In summer 2003 Arsenal only made one notable addition to the senior squad, signing Jens Lehmann for around £2m from Borussia Dortmund. The arrival of the mad, experienced German goalkeeper turned a very good team – which had finished second the season before – into a legendary one. Lehmann was the final piece in the Invincible puzzle. He added yet more experience to a squad already overflowing with top players, he added confidence, and he added a voice – both in the dressing room, and marshalling the defence. The goalkeeper is an often overlooked position – particularly in the last decade at Arsenal – but it is an absolutely crucial one.

Petr Cech can be this squad’s Lehmann. He can do all that Lehmann did, bringing an experienced voice to the dressing room, and finally allowing the defence the satisfaction that behind them is a top-class goalkeeper. Cech has won all there is to be won, significantly more than any other player in the Arsenal squad – including Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. The team needs leaders, players who have done it before, who know what is required, who can point the way to the younger players. Ozil and Alexis managed that to some extent, but even they are still reasonably young, both 26. And neither have the experience of winning the Premier League. Cech does. Four times (Chelsea have only won five in their entire history).

Cech has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world for years, with only keepers such as Casillas, Buffon, and perhaps van der Sar really above him for any reasonable stretch of time. Of course, at 33 he is reaching the latter stage of his career, and others like Neuer and Courtois, his replacement at Chelsea, have overtaken him in terms of both current talent and potential. But he is still one of the best in the world – and surely, in terms of a combination of continued talent and experience, currently only Buffon beats him. Arsenal’s goalkeeper has been a weak link for a decade now. Finally, that has been addressed by bringing in one of the world’s best.

It is also a statement of intent, different to that of Ozil and Alexis. This shows that Arsenal are both willing and able to sign quality players from rivals for the league title. It shows a recognition of the side’s continued defensive frailties, and a willingness to deal with them. But, most of all, it shows us that Arsene Wenger has rediscovered his ruthless side, replacing Ospina just a year after signing him, with less than that as first choice, having done little wrong. But Ospina, despite his impressive stats, never struck you with confidence. He clearly never fully convinced the manager either.

In signing Cech, Wenger is making a statement that only the best is good enough for Arsenal. He is sending a warning to his own players not to fall below par, and to the rest of the league in regards to his intentions. The messages from this signing fit perfectly with those increasingly given out by all activity at the club – Wenger wants the league title, and he wants it this season. Cech could be one of the final pieces in the puzzle.

Riots, Speroni and Optimism

The Gooner Zone

Well, it’s been a while, and apologies for that – I do have many, many reasons, but I won’t bore you with them. I’m pretty sure none of you particularly care about my life outside football (yup, amazingly I actually have one!). If you follow me on Twitter – there’s a bar on the right of this page if you don’t, at the bottom if you’re on a phone – you will still have been kept reasonably updated with my ill-informed ravings as this season has begun to draw to a close, and probably will have witnessed my near breakdown as Arsenal almost did an Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final against Reading. Thank god for Julian Speroni, else I’d probably be writing this in a psyche ward.

Largely due to the unfortunate keeper’s unfortunate mishap which I definitely didn’t celebrate ridiculously due to my clear, undying empathy, it does look like this season is actually going to end quite well – although I have probably just jinxed that, so you can all blame me when we get deducted 60 points for not being owned by A) a dodgy Russian oligarch or B) a dodgy Arab Sheikh. I am actually looking forward to the world’s oil supplies running dry, because at least while I’m in the middle of the Sixth Annual London Blackout Riots, watching as my now useless car gets torn apart, I can feel happy in the knowledge that Arsenal may actually be able to truly compete in the transfer market once again.

Until that day, we will just have to rely on Arsene Wenger’s incredible ability to occasionally make us over-perform, of which we currently appear to be experiencing. We should – and there is obviously still a lot to play for – ultimately finish second in the league, and retain the FA Cup against an Aston Villa side that is only now beginning to look safe from relegation. There is obviously the risk that Arsenal do an Arsenal, fall back to our natural home in fourth and hand Tactics Tim victory at Wembley, but let’s just assume that won’t happen. Ever the optimist, me.

Given the start to the season we had, to finish second in the league would be absolutely remarkable – for a little while, it was looking like we were going to struggle even just in the race for fourth. Our title challenge never got going this season, and yet we could ultimately end runners up. It really is a slightly odd situation to be in. Admittedly, we have been assisted hugely by Man City’s apparent desire to finish fourth in a two horse race – who hope to remedy that problem by bringing in Jurgen Klopp, currently eighth in a two horse race in Germany – but the team, and the management, should still be credited for taking advantage of the opportunity that Manuel Pellegrini and his players have so generously handed to us on a plate, potentially the one that Yaya Toure’s birthday cake was meant to go on.

The fact that the opportunity has been taken says a lot about what has changed and still is changing at Arsenal. The team is undoubtedly becoming more ruthless, more willing and able to sacrifice tippy-tappy possession football for the sake of actually getting results. Wenger must be credited for finally being willing to change the habit of a lifetime and recognise that sometimes, just getting the points must be the priority – and for being able to so quickly set the team up to play with that aim. Steve Bould, I feel, has also had a big impact on our new-found ability to park the bus and hit the opposition on the counter.

What is also changing is how we end seasons – for so many years, it’s been a case of a promising start getting derailed by injuries and collapsing into a fight for fourth. This year, almost the opposite has happened. We started the season badly, largely due to a huge proportion of the side being out injured, before things really began to pick up in the second half of the season as key players returned and made their presence felt. The ability to recover from where we were for the first half of the season, the ability to change that mindset and really push forward, cannot be underestimated. If only we’d had it last season, we may have had a Premier League title to go with that FA Cup.

That has to be the aim for next season, to keep building as we have done for a couple of years now, to continue to improve our injury record (which is significantly better in the later stage of the season, as Shad Forsythe’s work takes effect), and to make sure that we start well and keep that going. Despite the horrific start to the season, we are likely to only finish around 10 points behind a Chelsea team that has seemed to have had the title sewn up for a very long time. That is not a huge gap to make up – if we’d managed to beat Leicester away, Spurs at home, Hull at home, Swansea away and Man United at home we’d be on course for the title.

If Arsenal can continue where they leave off at the end of this season, maybe next season we will be.

Arsenal 2-0 Hull City: Match Report

Mark Chadwick

When the draw versus Hull was announced, most Arsenal fans probably thought that the Tigers would be out for revenge. But once the line-ups were released, it was clear which team was going for the win. Hull played a weakened line-up, understandable since they’re in the midst of a relegation battle. Arsenal, however, played a rather strong team, with Alexis, Walcott and Santi Cazorla.

Theo Walcott wasn’t at his sharpest today, but he still found himself in some good goalscoring opportunities that he should be able to convert with ease once he’s regained full fitness. He played more centrally than Alexis or Campbell did, but they all switched around throughout the match. Joel Campbell got a chance to shine today, and he really could have if he had taken his multiple chances. His finishing leaves a little more to be desired, and he’s got absolutely no right foot, but he probably deserves some more minutes after his performance today.

The first Arsenal goal was scored by Per Mertesacker, directly off of a corner! I can’t remember the last headed goal off a corner we’ve scored, and it was nice to see Mertesacker back on the scoresheet once again, the first time since he scored the equalizer against Wigan. Alexis nearly scored shortly after some brilliant team play and nice run from Tomas Rosicky.

In the second half, we went dry for a little bit. We weren’t creating much in attack, but luckily, neither were Hull. They were stagnant for most of the game, not creating any real clear cut chances. We finally got our second goal from Alexis Sanchez, who got the ball at the edge of the box, turned, and shot beautifully into the far corner. The goal was a deserved one for him, as he was fantastic once again. He, Walcott and Campbell all could’ve probably put five or six past the Hull keeper today.

Overall, it was a comfortable victory for Arsenal today. The draw for the next round will take place tomorrow at 7pm, hopefully it’s a relatively easy home match. But it’ll probably be Chelsea away.

Podolski joins Inter on loan

Lukas Podolski has joined Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season, the player has confirmed in a post on Instagram. Full details are not yet confirmed, although it is thought that Inter will pay his wages, but there is no loan fee involved. It is expected that the move will turn into a permanent one, despite the apparent absence of any agreed transfer fee at this point in time.

Podolski, despite his reasonable record of 31 goals in 81 games, has never seemed to quite fit in at Arsenal. He has been unable to adapt to the team’s system of a largely fluid front line, and has been often criticised for his ignoring of any defensive duties. His work rate has also been called into question, as he often goes missing for large portions of the game on the rare occasion he plays.

He was however one of the few direct players in the Arsenal squad, and will be missed by many for his ability to pop up with a goal when needed. But his tendency to fall out of games meant that those goals were not enough reason to keep him, and certainly not worth his teammates having to carry a player for large proportions of the match.

Of course, this does now mean that the Arsenal squad is even weaker in terms of depth, so the hope is that a replacement is brought in before the end of the transfer window.

Transfer Window Preview

The Gooner Zone

Hooray! Another transfer window is upon us, a wonderful month of bullshit, anticipation, and ultimately crushing disappointment. My favourite part is the fact that all those bastards on twitter constantly going on about signing Cavani or Carvalho or some other player whose name begins with a C actually have the ability to do that now without someone reasonable politely pointing out that even if we were interested in these players, because there’s never any evidence that we are, we couldn’t sign them anyway due to the window being shut. But it is now open, so the only possible response to these people is to laugh at their optimism/naivety/complete ignoring of any precedent. Which, thinking about it, is actually a whole lot more fun.

Anyway, believe it or not, there is a reason to this post. So I should probably get to it. Here’s my preview of the January transfer window, which is always that bit more irritating than the summer one (think signing some ageing centre midfielder with a broken back on loan from Moscow ). However, that does make it much more entertaining. Once you’ve stopped crying/shouting/calling for Wenger’s head.

What we need

As always, a defensive midfielder is required, as they have been for years on end. Every transfer window we say the same, we assume that this must be the one where Wenger finally recognises that need, finally brings in someone to perform that role. Every transfer window, we have been wrong. You know it’s bad when Arsenal fans begin to just sit back and accept it.

Along with that, we also need a centre back – and not just a back up. Per Mertesacker has been poor all season, obviously struggling (as has the rest of the team) with the absence of Laurent Koscielny, but even with Koscielny around the BFG has looked flimsy. It’s hugely disappointing after his successes of last season, but it looks like it’s time for Mertesacker to be replaced. Failing that, a centre back still needs to be brought in who can act as back up so that we never again have to see Monreal in the middle.

Who we could go for

In terms of a defensive midfielder, Wenger’s admiration for Newcastle’s Sissoko is well known. Khedira’s situation at Real Madrid still feels insecure, although it would appear that if he does leave, he’s likely to join ex-manager Mourinho at Chelsea. Looking towards the Bundesliga, the Bender brothers (who allow me to make such a wide number of jokes it’s not even worth it) are possibilities, and it’s known that Lars in particular has been followed by the club before. Atletico’s Mario Suarez has also been linked with a loan move, although I’m told by an Atletico fan that he is an “awful footballer”.

When it comes to centre backs, Mats Hummels seems to be in a constant state of having one foot out of the door at Borussia Dortmund, and he would most certainly be a replacement for Mertesacker rather than a back up. Closer to home, West Ham’s Reid has been linked with a move to Arsenal’s bench, possibly as part of a swap deal for Carl Jenkinson, currently on loan at the Hammers. Another option, linked in the summer, is another Dortmund centre back, human tongue-twister Papastathopoulos (referred to by his first name, Sokratis, for obvious reasons). With the sense of rats abandoning a sinking ship, there could be a few departures from Dortmund this transfer window, so the combined signings of Sven Bender and one of Hummels or Sokratis are not out of the question.

Who’s likely to leave

Podolski has been constantly linked with a move away for quite some time now, and over the last couple of weeks it’s been Inter Milan who have become the latest club in a long line rumoured to be interested in him. Wenger did however just a couple of days ago dismiss their loan bid as a “joke”, so it’s unclear whether this deal will actually happen or not – although Wenger has confirmed that Inter have returned with an improved offer. Either way, of all the players in the squad, Podolski would seem to be the one most likely to depart.

Joel Campbell must also be casting glances at the exit door, given he’s had barely any opportunities so far this season and it would appear that even Chuba Akpom is now ahead of him. If he is allowed to leave, there will be no shortage of clubs interested – but despite his limited use, it would appear that Wenger does still want to keep him in the squad.

Sanogo on the other hand will be allowed to leave on loan, and talks have already been held with some other clubs, including Aston Villa. Bordeaux are also rumoured to be interested, but Wenger would prefer Sanogo remains in England to gain Premier League experience, rather than moving back to France.

Szczesny Shines as Arsenal Defeat Dominant West Ham

The Gooner Zone

West Ham 1-2 Arsenal

As the old saying goes, it’s not the performance that matters, it’s the result – and this is one of those situations. West Ham were entirely dominant for the vast majority of the first half, creating chance after chance and never really giving our attackers a sniff. With Alexis starting through the middle and Welbeck out wide, even when Arsenal did get an opportunity to break, it wasn’t taken as the attack failed to click. Song’s disallowed goal early on had seemed to simply be a signpost of the events to come, as West Ham came closer and closer to opening the scoring.

After about 25 minutes, Alexis and Welbeck swapped positions, the Chilean going out onto the left and the Englishman moving into his preferred central spot. This is how Arsenal should have started. Alexis Sanchez is far better on the left wing, cutting inside and exploiting the spaces created by the central striker drawing away defenders, and we were quickly given a glimpse of this after the change – Arsenal’s first subsequent attack resulted in exactly this, Sanchez’s shot unfortunately deflected out for a corner. We also saw the difference in Welbeck on the wing compared to through the middle – out wide he failed to get into the game, once in the centre he was quickly creating and managed to get on the end of Chamberlain’s low cross to double Arsenal’s lead, after Cazorla had converted a penalty minutes earlier. The 2-0 half time score had been unthinkable even after 35 minutes, at which point West Ham were still in control, but they did what Arsenal do all too often: dominate, fail to take the chances, and get punished for it. The penalty was given around a minute after James Tomkins skied it after getting on the end of a long ball over the top, in metres of space with Szczesny wrong-footed. To say Arsenal were lucky is an understatement, although we did see glimpses of what they can do in the last few minutes of the first half.

That momentum was lost at half time, and although the second half was more balanced, West Ham dominated again. Arsenal had Szczesny to thank on several occasions for deciding to come out and deal with the numerous high balls into the box himself, and luck to thank for West Ham again failing to put away one of the huge number of chances they created. Arsenal’s persistence and pressure while defending must be credited however – especially since it is something that has been lacking of late. Francis Coquelin, who most were worried to see on the teamsheet, had a fantastic game in the defensive midfield role, and looks a far more reliable option than the more established Mathieu Flamini.

West Ham did get their breakthrough in the end, Kouyaté getting on the end of a cross into the box – it was inevitable that their goal would come that way – and for the remaining half an hour or so the game was brilliantly frantic, end-t0-end stuff, with both sides looking like they could get another. Welbeck, Alexis and Cazorla all had good chances in the last 15 or 20 minutes, as West Ham’s goal seemed to actually give Arsenal some momentum after the initial recovery – although the Hammers also had their fair share of opportunities, Mertesacker forced to head over the bar and Szczesny having to come for a large number of crosses once again. The introduction of Gibbs and Chambers for Welbeck and Chamberlain in the last 10 minutes of normal time invited pressure, and with Adrian, West Ham’s keeper, coming up for their flurry of late free kicks it was safe to say they were throwing everything at getting an equaliser. By the time Andy Carroll somehow managed to beat Alexis Sanchez in race to the ball after an Arsenal clearance left Adrian upfield and the goal open, the game was all but over.

Arsenal hadn’t lost in eight years away to West Ham, this result means that record is intact, and Arsenal go into the new year fifth on goal difference. Not what we hoped for at the start of the season, but a whole lot better than it had looked like it would be for quite some time.

Arsenal lucky to be able to throw away a lead

Mark Chadwick

Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Well, once again, Arsenal disappoint on the road. From the start, Liverpool dominated in possession with their seven midfielders compared to Arsenal’s three. Sterling started centrally in somewhat of a false nine. They finished with a total of 27 shots with 10 on target, compared to Arsenal’s 10 shots with 2 on target. Despite these stats, it’s extremely disappointing that Arsenal couldn’t come away with three points.

The game was dominated by Liverpool; Arsenal hardly deserved a point from it. But what makes it so gut-wrenching is the 97th minute equalizer from Martin Skrtel. Coutinho opened up the scoring in the 44th minute on a nice shot that hit the post and went in. Coutinho looks dangerous all day. Arsenal scored just a minute later, after Liverpool failed to clear the ball twice on a set piece. Debuchy headed it perfectly from close range past Jones, and made it 1-1.

In the second half, it wasn’t much different. Liverpool continued to dominate in possession and it looked like Arsenal were going for a conservative approach and playing not to win and not to lose. But, Arsenal took the lead through a nice worked goal assisted by Cazorla, finished by Giroud. Cazorla got past the Liverpool defense and slid the ball over to Giroud, who looked marked, but backed up and got the ball and nutmegged Brad Jones to finish it beautifully. In no way did Arsenal deserve to lead, which made it that much more awesome.

Liverpool’s pressure greatly increased around the 75th minute. They brought on Fabio Borini who delivered a masterclass performance of quickly accumulating two ridiculously stupid yellow cards. The first was from throwing the ball in anger of a referee’s decision, and the second was from a boot to Cazorla’s chest, that ripped his shirt revealing a nipple and some nice red marks thanks to Borini’s boot. Szczesny had some action late in the game and made a collection of nice saves to keep the game at 1-2.

When nine minutes for extra time was announced, pretty much all Arsenal fans knew they’d blow it. The huge amount of injury time was due to Martin Skrtel’s gash on his head that took six minutes to patch up. Liverpool finally got their equalizer in the 97th minute, off a corner that we didn’t defend. Skrtel lined up nearly the back of the box, unmarked, and ran in to easily head home the corner. Chambers looked to be the man supposed to be marking him, but he came way too late.

The 2-2 result is probably still a little generous for Arsenal, but it’s a game Arsenal should’ve won if it weren’t for yet another defensive collapse on a corner.