FM17 – Arsenal (October ’16)

With an international break coming up, we go with our first choice eleven for this one:

West Ham v Arsenal_ Preview Line Ups

West Ham 0-3 Arsenal

It doesn’t take long to get a goal, with Coquelin scoring a decent effort from outside the box on 8 minutes. Francis Coquelin, who prior to me taking over had never scored for Arsenal and apparently had just one goal in his entire career, bags his 3rd of the season, and it’s only October the 2nd. And I’ve got him on instructions not to shoot.

West Ham have a couple of chances, we have a couple, and then Giroud poaches us a second goal. Then the fouls come. West Ham seem to be trying to kick us out of the game. By the end they’ve out-fouled us 23 to 6, but only pick up 2 bookings.

If anything, we’re more dominant in the second half, creating better chances, though fewer of them, and restricting West Ham to very little. Alexis pulls the ball back nicely for Giroud’s second goal and we earn a deserved 3-0 win. Angelo Ogbonna manages a 4.6 rating for the Hammers, a rating I don’t believe I’ve ever seen lower than.

West Ham v Arsenal_ Overview Overview

The international break gives us a couple of fresh, though short term injuries, with Giroud and Cazorla both out for at least two games. Ozil and Mustafi are too short of condition to make the starting line up for our next match, away to the champions, Leicester City. So Lucas gets a shot up front, with Xhaka and Keane completing the line-up.

Leicester v Arsenal_ Preview Line Ups

Leicester 3-3 Arsenal

The first half is pants. I usually watch everything for the first 10-15 minutes to see if a tactical switch is required and then change to extended highlights. There are very few highlights in the first half. A couple of long shots and then Sanchez slots one home after a counter attack.

The second half is carnage. Sanchez adds a second, tapping in the rebound from a Lucas missed penalty. 8 minutes later, Michael Keane deflects a Leicester free kick in for an own goal. We trade chances for the next 20 minutes with Kasper Schmeichel keeping us out and Cech keeping them out, until he let’s an Ahmed Musa shot through at the near post. 2-2.

We immediately go up the other end, and Walcott, who was up until this point completely anonymous, provides a perfect centre for Belotti to grab back the lead. But we can’t hold on, and frankly Leicester deserve a point, although their equalizer is a carbon copy of their second – Petr Cech should do better.

Leicester v Arsenal_ Analysis Post-Match

Back to the Champion’s League next, home to PSV. Giroud and Cazorla are still out, but Ozil and Mustafi return.

This match is a prime example of the type of match that leads to me giving up Arsenal saves. We dominate possession, but don’t take our chances. I ramp up the mentality, but it makes sod all difference. Midfield doesn’t do enough, Belotti is garbage, missing the best of the chances. Still, we didn’t succumb to a classic long ball concession in the last five minutes.

Arsenal 0-0 PSV

Still, there’s not a better fixture to bounce back with than Middlesborough at home. The definition of a banker. We give Coquelin a rest, as well as three of the back four. I really should rest Sanchez too – but he’s so good!

The first half is total domination. And finishes 0-0. They have Damian Masto sent off after 39 minutes, for a dreadful challenge on Belotti. I call the lads crap at half time and go to attacking mentality.

Arsenal 4-0 Middlesborough

The stats for the second half are the same as the first, but instead of failing to score, we bang in four. Belotti nods home a header from a Debuchy cross, and then guides one in from the edge of the box. Ozil finally scores with a thunderbolt from outside the box and then Debuchy scores a highly unlikely half volley from twenty yards out, capping a man of the match performance.

The last game of the month is a little one. Tottenham at home. Obviously we’re going with the first team, although right wing is still a question mark. No-one’s performed paticularly well there, so we roll with The Ox.

The first half is a glorious contest. Both teams attacking, during a very closely fought half. Harry Kane opens the scoring, beating Cech at his bloody near post after 18 minutes. We hit back 6 minutes later, with a Koscielny header squeezing past Lloris, and then 3 minutes after that, Alexis slams home after cutting inside from the wing. Alas, we can’t get to half time ahead, as Kane scores again, following a wonderful Dele Alli through ball.

The second half is a different story.

Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham

We were much the better side after half time. Not that we played much better, but Tottenham showed no ambition to attack at all. Cazorla, then Walcott and Belotti are thrown on to try and break the deadlock, but to no avail.

It could have been better, but could have been worse. Three draws in the month isn’t great, we need to be more decisive in front of goal, so perhaps some tactical tweaks are in order.

We remain in 3rd and it’s tight at the top. I’m thrilled to report that Chelsea are 19th.

Alexis Sanchez earns the Player of the Month award. For he is great.

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