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Arsenal 2 Southampton 2

Arsenal played terribly and yet could have come out undeserving winners in a late match at Southampton last night. The Premier League leaders dropped 2 points in the title race as they were held by Southampton in an enthralling contest at St Mary’s. On paper Arsenal should have won and bagged all 3 points but they came out onto the field looking a shadow of the team that has played so well all season and were dominated by their lesser opponents. The Saints controlled the 1st half and went ahead deservingly when Jose Fonte headed in Luke Shaw’s cross to give the Saints a deserved lead. Arsene Wenger must not have been a happy man at half time and he must have berated his squad.

Because the Gunners turned things round with two quick goals after half-time, from Olivier Giroud and a pretty to watch goal from Santi Cazorla. That should have released the air around the Saints but in just a few minutes, they equalized! Adam Lallana brought Southampton level when he turned in a Jay Rodriguez pass before Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini was sent off for a rash challenge. And yet 10 men Arsenal almost went ahead again as Ozil hit the bar for Arsenal following a surging run from inside his own half, before Nacho Monreal sliced wastefully wide. But truly the Saints should have won but Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny then pulled off a fine double save in the closing stages to keep out efforts from Shaw and Fonte and deny the home side all three points. Arsene Wenger’s men looked a pale imitation of their usual selves as they opened the door to title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea. Both could overtake Arsenal with victories on Wednesday, when City visit Tottenham and Chelsea host West Ham.

Arsenal were struggling in midfield in the absence of the injured Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, with Mikel Arteta and Flamini finding themselves overrun. With 10 minutes left Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when Flamini was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Schneiderlin. From then on, it was an onslaught from Southampton, with Szczesny having to be at his sharpest to ensure his team clung on to the draw. Arsenal have a 2 point lead at the top but this game is exactly the reason why I think we won’t win the league this season, why I’ve criticized Wenger for not bringing in more top quality talent and why I think he should leave or be replaced as manager. The transfer window is almost over and who has he brought in strengthen the squad? No one! We need one top class striker, an attacking midfield and a solid defenceman! Plus a goalie!

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Arsenal 4 Coventry 0

Arsenal eased into the FA Cup fifth round thanks to Lukas Podolski’s two goals against Coventry City. In a match where 5000 away fans from Coventry were displaying their displeasure at having to see their home games played 35 kms away from Coventry. The 32,609 capacity Ricoh Arena was opened in August 2005, but following a rent dispute with the ground’s owners the club opted to play their home games at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium starting in the 2013–14 season.

Mesut Ozil fed Podolski, who rounded keeper Joe Murphy to fire home, and the striker added a close-range header from Per Mertesacker’s flick-on. League One side Coventry rallied in the second half, with Leon Clarke hitting the post, but Olivier Giroud ended any doubt with a third from 12 yards out. Santi Cazorla got a late fourth from a similar range. Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005 but remain in the hunt in three tournaments this season – the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup. They lead the league table by one point from free-scoring Manchester City, and face holders Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League. Podolski, who wasted chances to score a hat-trick, made his second start since August following a hamstring injury, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was starting for the first time since the opening day.

For the first half of the game Coventry barely saw the ball as the Arsenal players setup camp in their opponents side of the field. Towards the end of the first half, some of the floodlights went out but both teams agreed to play on until half-time, when the problem was fixed. After the break, Coventry were much improved and 18-goal top scorer Leone Clarke wasted two golden chances. Wenger blooded for the future when 16-year-old Gedion Zelalem replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain for the final 19 minutes but it was another two substitutes who added gloss to the scoreline.

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Arsenal 2 Fulham 0

Despite a great start Arsenal were not able to convert their early dominance into goals.Santi Cazorla scored twice as Arsenal beat Fulham to secure a fifth successive top-flight win to remain top of the Premier League. Fulham had frustrated the Gunners and went close when a Steve Sidwell half-volley was smartly saved. But Cazorla slotted in after an intricate one-touch passing move to break the visiting side’s resistance. The Spaniard latched on to a clearance and drove in a low 20-yard strike to seal the victory. The Gunners had initially been frustrated by Fulham but were rewarded for their patience and persistence as they continued their impressive home form. Arsenal have dropped just four points and conceded only three goals in 10 home league games since an opening-day 3-1 defeat by Aston Villa.

The Cottagers are a point off the relegation zone and, after a 4-1 home loss against Sunderland last week, can take some encouragement from a performance which contained a greater degree of defensive resilience. Fulham heading into the match against the league leaders had the fewest clean sheets and had conceded the most goals in the top flight. And it seemed the visitors might be in for a long afternoon when Mesut Ozil ran onto a Jack Wilshere pass early on and saw a shot beat keeper Maarten Stekelenburg before it was cleared by Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland. However, the visitors quickly tightened up and the discipline with which they defended in numbers frustrated Arsenal. At the other end, Arsenal were limited to a Bacary Sagna shot being saved by Stekelenburg, who also impressively kept out the follow-up from the offside Olivier Giroud, before the break.

The pressure was building on the Fulham goal and the visitors eventually buckled when Cazorla instigated a slick move, which also involved Giroud and Wilshere, before side-footing in a pass from the latter after 57 minutes. Five minutes later, a Nacho Monreal cross was only cleared to Cazorla and he drove in a low shot from 20 yards to give Arsenal the breathing space of a second goal and control of the game. The home side were denied a third when substitute Lukas Podolski had a thunderous shot touched on to the post by Stekelenburg, before the home side nearly conceded late on, but Darren Bent fired wide.

So 22 games played and 51 points.

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Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 1

Playing late on Monday, Arsenal were under pressure to win and regain their top spot in the premier league standings. A win was needed as the Gunners visited Aston Villa. Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal a two-goal lead at half-time but they had to dig in after Christian Benteke pulled a goal back for Villa. Villa were booed off at half-time after a limp display, and Arsenal looked certain to take all three points up until the final 25 minutes. Villa had spent much of the game chasing shadows and being outclassed but finally then rallied after the introduction of forward Andreas Weimann and managed to give the visitors some anxious moments when Christian Benteke scored his first goal since 14 September with a diving header 14 minutes from time.

The Gunners held on for what was a vital, and deserved, win as they extended an unbeaten record at Villa Park to 15 matches stretching back to December 1998. Wenger added that he believes Wilshere is now getting back to his best after playing a key role in the win. The England midfielder has seen his career interrupted by injuries, but he scored Arsenal’s opener then set up Giroud in the space of a minute in the first half as Arsenal secured the win that puts them back on top. If Wenger had any complaints on a night when the Gunners went a point clear at the top of the table, it will be that they did not turn their dominance into more goals and somehow allowed Villa the chance of an unlikely point in an uncomfortable spell near the end.

There was mixed injury news for Wenger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned as a late substitute for the first time since the opening day defeat by Villa. He replaced Tomas Rosicky, who sustained a nose injury in an aerial challenge with Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Arsenal will also check defender Nacho Monreal on Tuesday to see if he has a broken metatarsal. Arsenal now have 48 points after 21 games played with Manchester City just a point behind and Chelsea sitting at #3 with 46 points.

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RIP Eusébio Da Silva Ferreira

The footballing world lost one of it’s legends today when Portugese great Eusébio da Silva Ferreira commonly called just Eusebio died at the age of 71.  The Mozambican-born Portuguese football forward is considered one of the greatest footballers of all-time. During his professional career, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches. Crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1965, Eusebio was Golden Boot winner at the World Cup 12 months later, scoring nine times in just six games, including four in an incredible quarter-final win over North Korea at Goodison Park, when Portugal came back from three goals down, an individual haul exceeded only once in the competition’s entire history.

English audiences were captivated by him. In addition to landing the BBC’s Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award in 1966, he also had a waxwork created by Madame Tussauds in London. So popular had Eusebio become that Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar passed a decree that prevented the player leaving the country to take up a lucrative offer from Inter Milan. He played for Benfica for 15 years out of his 22 as a footballer, thus being mainly associated with the Portuguese club, and is the team’s all-time top scorer with 638 goals scored in 614 official games. There, he won eleven Primeira Liga titles, five Taça de Portugal titles, a European Cup (1961–62) and helped them reach three additional European Cup finals. He was the European Cup top scorer in 1965, 1966 and 1968. He also won the Bola de Prata (Primeira Liga top scorer award) a record seven times. He was the first ever player to win the European Golden Boot, in 1968, a feat he replicated in 1973.

Nicknamed the Black Panther, the Black Pearl,[4] or O Rei (The King) he was known for his speed, technique, athleticism and his ferocious, accurate right-footed shot, making him an outstanding prolific goalscorer and one of the greatest free-kick takers in history. He is considered Benfica’s and Portugal’s most renowned player and one of the first world-class African strikers. Although born inMozambique and having an Angolan father, Eusébio, like Matateu and Mário Coluna, among others before him, could only play for the Portuguese team, since both of the African countries were overseas territories and their inhabitants were considered Portuguese. From his retirement to his death, Eusébio had been an ambassador of football and was one of the most recognizable faces of the sport. The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known, and his body will be brought to Benfica’s club stadium Estádio da Luz for fans to pay their final respects.He is survived by his wife, Flora, two daughters and several grandchildren.

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Arsenal 2 Tottenham Hotspurs 0

Arsenal fans always love it when they beat their bitter & most hated rivals and fellow North London club Tottenham Hotspurs. Last night the Gunners Arsenal emphasised their current superiority over Tottenham with a comfortable 2-0 FA Cup third round victory at Emirates Stadium. They dominated for the most part and should have scored more goals to show for it. Santi Cazorla’s powerful finish put the hosts ahead in the first half and Danny Rose’s dreadful error allowed Tomas Rosicky to race half the length of the field to score just after the hour. The only downside for Arsenal was the sight of Theo Walcott being carried off on a stretcher in the closing minutes after appearing to catch his studs in the turf as he raced back to make a defensive tackle.

New Spurs boss Tim Sherwood was left disappointed as his players never reached the heights that saw them record an outstanding win at Manchester United on New Year’s Day – and faced the taunts of Arsenal fans only too keen to remind him about his reported allegiance to the Gunners as a supporter, with a huge poster unfurled at the Emirates. Arsenal played with only Walcott upfront and their superior midfield proved too much for Spurs who used two out-and-out strikers in Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado. Former Arsenal man Adebayor was booed almost everytime he touched the ball. Youngster Serge Gnabry was also impressive and after firing narrowly over the top he was instrumental as the Gunners took a deserved lead after 31 minutes, laying a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Cazorla, who did not break stride before firing a first-time finish high past Lloris.

Arsenal made a change at half-time, with Per Mertesacker replacing Thomas Vermaelen – but Sherwood was happy to persist with his original line-up. The second goal arrived just after the hour – and it came courtesy of a calamitous mistake from Spurs defender Rose, who hesitated in possession on the halfway line, allowing Rosicky to nick the ball off him before running on to lift a finish over Lloris with Kyle Walker in pursuit but unable to make up the ground. Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when Walcott was carried off with them having made all three substitutions – but Tottenham were in no shape to take advantage and this was an emphatic win for Wenger’s side.

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Arsenal 2 Cardiff City 0

The New Year started sluggish for the Gunners who seemed to miss their attacking trio of Mezut Ozil, Olivier Giroud & Aaron Ramsey pretty badly. The trio who are all out injured have contributed to most of the attacking force this season and their absence was felt both on & off the pitch. Cardiff were playing their last match with interim / caretaker manager David Kerslake as the expectation is that former Manchester United striker & Norwegian international Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to take over as manager. The 40 year old, sitting alongside Bluebirds’ owner Vincent Tan in the Emirates Stadium directors’ box after holding talks to take over as manager, would be pleased with the consistency, organization and solid performance by the Cardiff players as they thwarted all of Arsenal’s efforts for 88 minutes of the match.

For a long time it looked as though Arsene Wenger’s men, who started the day top before briefly being displaced when Manchester City won the early kick-off game, would be left frustrated as they enjoyed plenty of the ball without being able to break Cardiff down. The hosts were restricted to half chances for the majority of the first half, with Theo Walcott side-footing the best chance over the bar. Arsenal have not been prolific at home so far this season, going into the match with only 16 league goals from nine matches. And the Gunners’ lack of striking options will inevitably lead to more questions being directed at Wenger about potential targets this transfer window, with the first half display doing little to convince they have a suitable replacement for Giroud, out with an ankle injury.

Per Mertesacker then headed wide twice when unmarked before the deadlock was broken as Nicklas Bendtner was quickest to react when David Marshall saved Bacary Sagna’s header, the Dane firing home with just two minutes remaining before immediately going off injured. The victory was sealed as Walcott calmly chipped over Marshall after latching on to Wilshere’s flicked through ball. Arsenal went back on top of the league with 45 points from 20 games. It remains to be seen if Wenger will make a move for a top class striker, which we need, during the transfer window this month.

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Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0

The match just got over 15 minutes back and I’m still peeved at goalkeeper Wojciech Szcz?sny. Somebody (Wenger are you listening?) out to kick his ass a few times. This moron is making quite a few goofs in recent match and not forced goofs caused by the way the ball spins or lands awkwardly on the pitch – no it’s stupid goofs because he is arrogant and careless. We are extremely lucky to have won this game with that flimsy margin of a single goal. Newcastle will curse their luck for not scoring atleast twice, one with that idiotic clearance by Szcz?sny which hit a Toon Army player and nearly went into our goal!

The Gunners created several chances early on but Newcastle almost went ahead in first-half stoppage time when Moussa Sissoko’s shot was saved and Mathieu Debuchy headed against the bar. The lone goal was scored by Olivier Giroud via a header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner, assisted by Theo Walcott following a set piece situation. Walcott had a lob cleared off the line before Arsenal withstood late pressure, as the Gunners looked tired and lacking any bite while scrappy Newcastle dug deep to try and find an equalizer.

The hosts sent goalkeeper Tim Krul forward in search of a late equaliser, with Hatem Ben Arfa firing wide from a great position, but the Gunners will now be top of the league on New Year’s Day for the first time since the 2007-08 season with a point advantage over Manchester City. Arsenal have 42 points from 19 games played (right at the half way mark), just one point ahead of Manchester City.

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Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1

Arsenal came back from a shaky looking 60 minutes where they were lucky to not let in more than one goal and unlucky to not score atleast 2 goals, to win at West Ham United 3-1. Theo Walcott struck twice and Lukas Podolski netted a third as Arsenal came from behind to return top of the Premier League. Arsenal dominated the first half but their defense looked fragile and they fell behind as Carlton Cole tapped home after Wojciech Szczesny spilled a shot. The Hammers wasted chances to double the lead and Walcott equalised with an effort that Adrian should have saved. Podolski, who came on as a substitute for an injured Aaron Ramsey, crossed for Walcott to nod Arsenal ahead before lashing in to drop West Ham into the relegation zone. Results elsewhere saw them slip from 17th and a point outside the bottom three to 19th and two points inside it.

The hosts came closest in the early stages through a Mark Noble free-kick, but Arsenal soon began to build momentum. Perhaps the one player who most needed a goal was striker Olivier Giroud who came close so many times and had a couple of chances which on another day he would have put in easily, but today it just wasn’t going in for him. He however did set up the goal for Podolski. The Hammers have won only one of their last 11 league games and will be desperate to respond at home to West Brom on Saturday. Arsenal, by contrast, ended a run of four games in all competitions without victory and lead second-placed Manchester City by two points. City beat Liverpool, who were top of the table at the start of the day and would have leapfrogged Arsenal had they won the late kick-off. Instead Liverpool dropped to fourth in the standings.

Arsenal now have 39 points after 18 games played just one point above a strong looking Manchester City side. Chelsea are 3rd with 37 points and Liverpool have 36. It’s going to a very tight race.

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Arsenal 3 Manchester City 6

It was painful to watch. Manchester City has been on a scoring romp lately, beating top sides by large margins of goals. Manuel Pellegrini’s side closed the gap on the Gunners to three points with another in a growing list of devastating attacking displays at home this season. And they have piled on the agony for North London’s two contenders as Arsenal suffered following City’s recent 6-0 demolition of Tottenham. All was not gloom for Arsenal as they may point to some questionable offside calls and a rejected penalty claim but Man City was a force that could not be stopped as they have now scored 35 league goals at home this season.

Sergio Aguero’s early goal was cancelled out by Theo Walcott but Alvaro Negredo put City back in front before half-time. City’s potency was not reduced by a calf injury to Aguero, with Fernandinho extending their lead before Walcott’s second restored some optimism for Arsene Wenger’s side. But the hosts were coming at Arsenal from all angles, with David Silva and Fernandinho again finding the target before Per Mertesacker’s header made it 5-3 in stoppage time. That was indeed how it should have stayed but City got the final word as Yaya Toure’s penalty gave them another six goals in what is become a catalogue of virtuoso performances at home. Arsenal will have to go back to the video of this game to showcase some poor defending and certainly goalkeeper Szczesny, who despite some clean sheets is a big suspect, has to be blamed for atleast 2 of the goals.

Oliver Giroud should have scored atleast twice while Jack Wilshire was denied by a brilliant stop from City’s goalie Costel Pantilimon. This game & performance just reiterates what I have been ranting about for the past couple of years and this year even with Arsenal being on top of the league for most of the season – it showcased our huge weaknesses and the fact that this squad has been over-performing. Wenger has to change or be replaced if Arsenal have any hope of winning any more titles.

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Arsenal 2 Hull City 0

On a mid-week late night start Arsenal provided just enough attack & finishing to give themselves 3 points as they beat Hull City 2-0. Nicklas Bendtner’s first Arsenal goal since March 2011 helped the Gunners beat Hull to keep their four-point lead at the Premier League summit. The Danish striker headed in Carl Jenkinson’s cross after two minutes to set up a dominant display with Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor kept busy. Arsenal couldn’t maintain the relentless attack for long and things calmed down enough for Hull to start mounting their own attack. But Arsenal were unlucky to not go 2-0 heading into the break. Infact they should have rightly scored a couple of more goals with all the close chances they came up with.

The second half started much in the same was as the first as Arsenal came out all guns ablaze and attacked the Hull goal without intent. Mesut Ozil stroked in from Aaron Ramsey’s deft pass to make it 2-0 after 47 minutes. Jake Livermore had a rare Hull shot but fired straight at Wojciech Szczesny. Hull boss Steve Bruce said just before kick-off that “it might have been foolish” to play with two strikers in attempt to earn a result, having secured a surprise win against Liverpool on Sunday. But his side could probably have played with 12 players and still struggled to contain Arsenal’s precision passing and clever movement as Ozil, Ramsey and Santi Cazorla weaved all sorts of patterns in midfield to secure a sixth victory in seven Premier League games. Arsenal remain at the top of the league with a four point gap over Chelsea.

Importantly for Arsenal this is the 4th clean sheet in a row. Arsenal now face games against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea before Christmas where their title credentials will be rigorously tested.

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Arsenal 3 Cardiff City 0

Playing at the Cardiff City stadium, Arsenal started off well when they almost scored a goal in the first minute. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey. However things settled and Cardiff were taking the game to the league leaders. Unfortunately for the London side as Per Mertesacker had to be taken off the field after 7 minutes because of an injury due to a clash of heads in the air with his teammate Sagna. It would take 29 minutes for Arsenal who didn’t seem to be in top gear throughout the match to get a goal. Aaron Ramsey scored via a header from the centre of the box to the top right corner of a cross by Mesut Özil. 1-0!

In the second half, bang, once again we started off well and nearly scored as Olivier Giroud right footed a pass from Ramseyfrom the centre of the box but is blocked by the Cardiff goalie. And then things began to look more lively for Cardiff as they piled on the pressure, took control of the ball and bombarded the Arsenal penalty box. Dominating the game it looked likely that the Welsh side would not only score a goal but could probably win against the London side. Whats more, frustrated Arsenal players began to foul a bit more and accumulate yellow cards. Arteta, Sagna, Gibbs & Ramsey would all find their way to the refree’s book. Nacho Monreal would come on for Jack Wilshire in the 81st minute and things began to look up for the Gunners. Mathieu Flamini, a rare scorer, right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner off a brilliant pass by Mesut Özil. Beautifully played an 2-0 up the game was theirs.

But there was one more goal in the mix. Cardiff product Ramsey right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Theo Walcott following a fast break Ramsey (who is many people’s player of the year in England so far) could not miss. 3-0 Arsenal and we now have 31 points after 13 games played.

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Arsenal 2 Marseille 0

Jack Wilshere scored inside 30 seconds and again after the break to pull off a victory against French side Marseille keep the Gunners three points clear at the top of their group in the Champions League. Wilshere was the star of the show in a game the hosts controlled throughout, even affording the luxury of Mesut Ozil’s first-half penalty miss as they continued their impressive Champions League form this season. Now Arsenal only need to avoid a three-goal defeat in their final Champions League group game away to Napoli in Italy to reach the knockout phase after a comfortable win against Marseille at Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s side would already be in the last 16 had Rafael Benitez’s team got a point against Borussia Dortmund as Arsenal completed the formalities against a poor Marseille.

Wilshere was given too much time and space in the area but still showed superb vision and technique to curl a left-foot finish high past keeper Steve Mandanda. Ozil was unusually off-key in the first half, his control letting him down when he was released by a touch of imagination and a lofted flick from Ramsey. And the German was the culprit as he wasted the opportunity to double Arsenal’s lead from the penalty spot as half-time approached when Ramsey was fouled by Nicolas N’Koulou. Ozil almost made amends after 55 minutes when he ran on to Wilshere’s pass but Mandanda was down quickly to save the £42.4m signing’s poked finish. He showed his quality as the Gunners finally established the advantage their superiority deserved after 65 minutes. Ramsey was the initial creator but Ozil’s neat pass left Wilshere with the simple task of sweeping a finish past Mandanda.

Dortmund’s win against Napoli in Germany means the testing Group F will go to the final round of games.

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Arsenal 2 Southampton 0

Delayed by about 15 minutes due to players having trouble reaching the stadium on time, the match kicked off at 8:45 pm IST. The match was almost a letdown after a really exciting Merseyside derby, filled with exciting attacking football, but still what Arsenal wanted was a quiter, no fuss game with a full 3 points against a visiting Southampton side. Arsenal welcomed Theo Walcott back from injury, but Mathieu Flamini is banned after amassing five yellow cards. Per Mertesacker returns after missing the defeat at Manchester United because of a virus. With 60,007 in attendance the match started with Arsenal dominating possession but lacking real grit and bite in their attack. Southampton also seemed more intent on sitting back and let Arsenal attack while they crowd the defense of their goal. And typically in such situations it was a huge mistake that led to the opening goal. Goalie Boruc made a huge gaff, trying to play a back pass too much and trying to dribble the ball away from Oliver Giroud. The French striker punished him by tackling the ball away from the goalie and putting the ball in the net. 1-0 Arsenal!

Southampton picked up their game and started taking more possession of the ball and pushed for an equalizer and at times it looked like they would get the deserved goal. Theo Walcott made his appearance as he replaced Santiago Cazorla in the 70th minute, while Tomas Rosicky, who had the flu but did recover in time, replaced an injured Mikel Arteta in the 74th minute. Arsenal would get their deserved second goal sealing the victory when a penalty was conceded by Jose Fonte after a foul in the penalty area on Metezacker. Giroud stepped up and converted the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.

Earlier in the evening I sat back with some coffee to watch the Merseyside derby and what a match it was. The first 9 minutes were filled with explosive attacking football and two goals were scored as Liverpool, who were the visitors, and Everton found themselves at 1-1. Liverpool would go into the halftime up 2 goals to 1 after a superb Suarez freekick goal but Everton took the lead with two goals by Lukaku. However 8 minutes before the end of the 90, Liverpool scored an equalizer and that’s how the game ended – 3-3 and a delight to watch!

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Arsenal 0 Manchester United 1

Arsenal seemed too nervous and lacked the killer instinct in their biggest match of the season so far as they lost 0-1 at Manchester United. At stake for the game was a a chance to maintain a 5 point gap at the top of the table, bragging rights and a psychological advantage and to cement their chances of being credited as solid front runners for the league title. They faltered at the stage and despite improving their game in the second half and going close a few times they were defeated. What was worse is that former Arsenal top scorer Robin Van Persie was the one who scored the goal for United and then celebrated in exuberant style.

All is not lost and the engaging game, narrow margin or a solitary goal shows signs that Arsenal can reverse the scoreline and more when their hated rivals visit the Emirates stadium later in the season. But they did have a chance to shut out any naysayers who felt that the Gunners were not yet title contenders. On the other side United boss David Moyes knew defeat would have left them 11 points adrift in the title race, a gap which might have proved beyond even the reigning champions. Wenger revealed sickness in his camp had deprived him of defender Per Mertesacker and midfielder Tomas Rosicky, while Mikel Arteta was fit to start despite also feeling unwell. This may have contributed towards a decidedly flat first 45 minutes. And despite a much-improved second half, which included two perfect crosses from full-back Bacary Sagna that somehow went untouched, it was United’s fans who were celebrating a win of great significance at the final whistle.

It was a disappointing end to a week in which Arsenal made major statements of intent against Liverpool in the Premier League and away to Dortmund in the Champions League. Now we go into the international break with a 2 point lead over Liverpool at the top of the table and United climb upto 5th place 5 points away.

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Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0

It was the first meeting this season from old foes and current first & second spot holders in the league. Liverpool FC came visiting to the Emirates stadium last night and Arsenal had a point to prove to their doubters after two back to back defeats at home – to Dortmund in the Champions League and to Chelsea in midweek in the League Cup. Arsenal showed resilience and quality to maintain their fine start to the season and stretch their advantage after Chelsea’s surprise loss at Newcastle United. But it was Liverpool who started things of brighter and took the game to the Gunners in the opening few minutes. Arsenal stemmed the flow and started attacking themselves.

Santi Cazorla gave Arsenal the lead with a fine first-half strike after his header struck the post and Aaron Ramsey scored his 10th goal of this campaign with a spectacular long-range effort on the hour. Captain Mikel Arteta gave a midfield masterclass in which he overshadowed his Liverpool counterparts to set the platform for a vital win that gave the club 3 points and a healthy 5 point lead over Liverpool at the top of the league standings. Arsenal were without the injured Jack Wilshere but there was still more than enough ability on display in both sides to make the first 45 minutes a thrilling spectacle. Arsenal, who were just finding their feet, took the lead after 19 minutes with a goal that was a tribute to Cazorla’s balance and technique. He recovered his position brilliantly to volley past Mignolet after hitting the woodwork with a header.

Liverpool might feel that they were denied an equalizer when referee pulled them back after a very quickly taken freekick after Bacary Sagna had fouled Luiz Suarez. Arsenal created more moments of danger as Olivier Giroud failed to profit from ex-Gunners defender Kolo Toure’s misplaced pass, then poked a shot straight at the keeper. After 59 minutes Ramsey made Liverpool pay for offering up time and space 25 yards out by finishing spectacularly high past Mignolet with the outside of his right foot. Mesut Ozil almost added a third as Arsenal ended in comfort. And this was a performance that will have increased Wenger and Arsenal’s confidence that they can maintain a serious challenge this season.

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Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Well that was a pretty hard fought & exciting match that Arsenal just won away at Crystal Palace. Hosts Palace, who are without a manager, didn’t exactly lie down and play dead and it was a tough win to pull off. This is the kind of game that Arsenal would have lost in the last 5 years in the league but the Gunners seem to be playing with a lot more confidence now. And they achieved it with playing 25 minutes plus stoppage time of 4 minutes with a man down!Arsenal also lost Matheiu Flamini to what looked like a groin injury in the 6th minute and he was replace by promising youngster Serge Gnabry.

Arsenal’s other holding midfielder Mikel Arteta scored a penalty after Adlene Guedioura’s foul on Serge Gnabry before being dismissed on 65 minutes for a professional foul on Marouane Chamakh. It was a silly sending off as former Arsenal striker Chamakh was no where near the Arsenal goal and still had lots of running to do. Arteta should have just stayed with him and hindered his goal scoring chances. Instead he impeded the Moroccan’s run and down the player came tumbling and out came the red card from the referee’s pocket. Straight red and Arteta should have his head examined. What can you hope to accomplish by getting sent off and getting your side reduced to 10 men?

Palace who were already attacking and attempting shots on goal looked even more likely to score the equilizer and I stated on both Facebook and Twitter that “I’ll be glad if Arsenal are able to get away with a draw in this game.” A goal just seemed likely and it took too superb saves from our goalie Szczesny. And yes the goal did come – but it was for the Gunners! Olivier Giroud secured Arsenal’s win when he headed in late in the game on an assist by Aaron Ramsey and that was a hard fought and well deserved win for the league leaders who now sit on 22 points at the top of the league and 5 ahead of 2nd place Liverpool and 6 ahead of Chelsea FC.

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Arsenal 4 Norwich City 1

A very good showing for Arsenal with 4 goals just concluded at the Emirates stadium with a hard earned win against Norwich City. Yes, hard earned as despite the 3 goal gap, Norwich was not an easy team to defeat. The Gunners looked lethargic after the international break but Jack Wilshere volleyed in a superb opener in the 18th minute that will surely challenge for goal of the season so far. Norwich tested the Gunners attempting to take advantage of what seemed liked tired players and they went into the half time break at 1-0. The second half saw the visitors taking the game to Arsenal with a spell of some attacking football before Ozil’s header in the 58th minute appeared to settle it. 2-0.

However a spirited Norwich side languishing at the relegation zone came back soundly as Jonny Howson found the bottom corner with 20 minutes left to fray nerves. At 2-1 things did not look settled for Arsenal and they players needed a break. But Aaron Ramsey scored a lovely ninth goal of the season, waltzing through the defense and faking two shots before scoring  to make it 3-1 and Ozil grabbed an easy second. Although Norwich threatened on several occasions, the visitors were caught out by three moments of class as Arsenal warned up for their Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday with a clinical win. Defeat meant Chris Hughton’s Norwich side have lost four of their last five league games and remain in the bottom three.

Arsenal with 8 games  played have 19 goals at sit at the top of the league with Chelsea & Liverpool just 2 points behind. Manchester United drew again and are 8 points behind at the 8th spot.

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