FM17 – Arsenal (September ’16)

Well, we were crap.

Man City 1-0 Arsenal

But although the match stats don’t look great, City only really had a couple of half chances. Most of their shots were from long range, and comfortably dealt with. But we were bad. Only Bellerin emerged with much credit for us at all. An incredibly dull match with very little to note. Aguero scored, we created nowt. Oh, and Kieran Gibbs is injured. Move on.

Just three days later comes our first Champions League group match. We’ve been drawn against PSV, Viktoria Plzen and our next opponents; Juventus.

Juve are a fine side, and perhaps one which I should adopt a defensive posture against, but I’m at home and the last game was a crap sandwich slight disappointment. So I’ll be reverting to the 4231 and hoping we can make hay against their wing backs.

Arsenal 2-0 Juventus

Well that was good. We controlled the game pretty comfortably, had more possession and more chances. Alexis scored a belter after 20 minutes, Walcott nodded one in from 12 yards with 4 minutes left in the first half and other than Petr Cech saving a terrible Paulo Dybala penalty on 67 minutes, we strolled through the second half with a confidence that belied the insecurities of the manager.

Next up, Watford, and more wing backs. Koscielny returns and will play for an hour or so, and Giroud comes back in for Belotti, who didn’t do much against Juve.

Easy peasy. Mustafi nods in an Alexis free-kick with the assistance of some terrible goalkeeping on 13 minutes. The rest of the first half is okay, although Walcott goes off with a knock after 28. And then his replacement Lucas goes off ten minutes later.

In the second half we kick on, Giroud punishes some dodgy defending with a good finish from outside the box, before Alexis Sanchez volleys home a Monreal cross with some style. Watford create nothing and we dominate possession. Very nice. It’s so comfortable that with 22 minutes to go, Marc Bola comes on at centre back for Koscielny to make his Arsenal debut.

I couldn’t care less about the next match. The board don’t care about the League Cup, and neither do I. Especially when I get United away in the third round. I usually enjoy a couple of matches watching the kids and back-ups play but this won’t be fun.

Man Utd 3-0 Arsenal

The positives: Koscielny and Gibbs gain a bit of match fitness. All else is pants. No-one gets a 7, Ospina hurts his wrist and Pogba, Mata and Rooney put us to the sword. In hindsight, the defensive formation would’ve been an idea, but hey, it’s only the league cup.

Two more matches in this fairly busy month, so there’ll be a bit more squad rotation. The first team face our next opponents in the league; Southampton at home.

Arsenal 4-0 Southampton

A very satisfying performance all round. Coquelin finishes off a nice team move, and then Giroud tucks home a good pass from Ozil in the first half. No complacency in the second half, with Sanchez providing a great assist for Giroud and then scoring a beauty himself just after the hour.

Everyone plays well and Southampton barely get a sniff of goal. Thoroughly good job all round.

Only Cech and The Ox keep their places for our next game, away at Viktoria Plzen. Xhaka gets a start in attacking midfield (where I’m re-training him) as I don’t trust his defensive abilities at all.

Viktoria Plzen 0-2 Arsenal

A good performance. The first half is very good. Rob Holding nods home, and Belotti adds a deflected second 3 minutes later, both from Cazorla free kicks. The second half is a closer affair, with Cech saving us from two pretty good Viktoria chances, but it’s 6 points from 6 to start our European campaign, and we’re in a good position to top the group.

The City defeat leaves us 3rd in the league, but still within a win of leaders Liverpool at the end of September. Surprisingly, Kieran Gibbs leads the league in average rating.

Five games to come in October, starting with West Ham away. Onwards!

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