FM17 – Arsenal (Late December)

Everton at the Emirates next. We go with the strongest possible line-up, Giroud preferred to Belotti and Kessie in for the still suspended Coquelin.

I blow on my freshly brewed coffee and settle in for a nice relaxing first highlight. Bellerin gets tackled on the edge of their box, Ross Barkley lumps an ugly, aimless ball forward and Mustafi’s under it no problem. Except that he decides to head it back to Cech from just inside our half. Needless to say, it doesn’t get there. Romelu Lukaku runs onto the gift and dispatches it past Cech, who’d barely left his line. Balls.

But fear not! For the rest of the game, we’re bloody brilliant!

Arsenal 4-1 Everton

18 mins: Giroud heads in a Bellerin cross.

35 mins: Ozil heads in a Gibbs cross.

38 mins: Ramsey volleys home a Sanchez corner.

We’re even better in the second half, but Giroud, Sanchez and Ozil all hit the woodwork. Eventually Walcott completes a convincing result, slotting home a lovely Ozil pass.

Ozil watch: 8.7, goal, assist, great.

The games are coming thick and fast over the festive period, and Stoke at home is our 6th game in 18 days. So we’ve got to rest some players. Still, Coquelin’s fresh.

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke

A tiresome game. For all our possession and for all our chances, it takes two penalties to win it. Giroud after 8 minutes, and Lucas after 58. Both are given as a result of grappling as set pieces are crossed in. They win the foul count 24-2.

Ozil watch: 6.8, meh.

As the Christmas pudding sits unhappily in our swollen bellies, and we wonder if a last After Eight is a good idea, we’re forced to turn our thoughts to a Boxing Day match at Old Trafford. Alex Iwobi’s delivery of his Christmas cracker joke was the best, so he gets a shot on the right. Otherwise it’s the usual suspects.

I cannot understand United’s midfield. It contains no defensive players.

After 8 minutes, Ibrahimovic fires a warning shot. 4 minutes later, Martial robs Bellerin, and delivers a perfect cross for Ibra to slam home at the near post. De Gea saves well from Giroud but then on 16 minutes, Ramsey nods home a Sanchez free kick. De Gea should save it. The first half peters out into minor chances and minor yellow card incidents.

The players get some stick at half time, but it does little to rouse them. The introductions of Elneny, Walcott and Belotti also does little. The second half is very scrappy, with very little created, and 6 more bookings.

Man United 1-1 Arsenal

Ozil watch: 6.6, bored now.

Who better to face to round off the year, than the team we started against. It’s everyone’s favourite manager to invite to a new year’s party – Tony Pulis! Belotti starts up top, The Ox gets a run on the right and we slightly tweak the tactics to “Get stuck in”, because West Brom.

Belotti bags a poacher’s effort on 30 minutes. We have 25 shots, but only 4 on target. Only 8 are long shots, but we create only one decent chance, and that’s the goal.

Arsenal 1-0 West Brom

Ozil watch cancelled.

I don’t know how it’s possible to leave a month unbeaten, with seven wins out of eight, a little disappointed, but I am. We’re not playing as well as we were, and I blame Ozil. Trying to focus on him hasn’t worked and worse, Alexis has been hampered by it. So I’ll be changing back for the New Year. Call it a resolution if you really must.

Still, finish on a high. We’re top of the league (forgot the screenshot) and apparently style doesn’t matter when it comes to awards.

We only conceded three goals in the month, so the defence is working wonders, we just need to go back to what we know: relying entirely on Alexis Sanchez, rather than Ozil.

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