Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1

Ten Man Arsenal Defeat Sunderland

Arsenal travelled to the wild north east on Saturday to take on Sunderland at home.

Arsenal were without their captain and mainstay of their defence Thomas Vermaelen. Things got worse during the warm up when Laurent Koscielny pulled out, after previously having passed a fitness test. The defence was reshuffled, bringing in Carl Jenkinson and moving Bacary Sagna to central defence alongside Mertesacker and the new boy Nacho Monreal.

In the mid-field Ramsey was given the nod ahead of Diaby, alongside Arteta and WilshireCazorla, Walcott and Giroud completed the line up. On a cold afternoon, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski warmed the bench.

It’s always tough to play physical sides like Stoke and Sunderland, who seem to set themselves for a draw against sides like Arsenal and do whatever they can to stem their creativity. Saturday was no exception. Sunderland welcomed back captain Lee Cattermole from a knee injury for his first league start since November and the midfielder was cautioned inside two minutes for a late challenge on Aaron Ramsey. Other strong tackles steeled Arsenal for the fight and Carl Jenkinson was booked for a heavy challenge shortly after. Sunderland had some attacks, but eventually Arsenal took control of the midfield and bombarded the Sunderland goal. Only goalkeeper Simon Mignoletkept Arsenal out.

In the 35th minute some good work from Walcott provided Cazorla with the ball on the edge of the area. He fired through a sea of legs; the ball took a slight deflection and finally beat Mignolet

For the latter part of the first half Arsenal played like the Arsenal of old; dominating possession, making fast accurate passes and constantly threatening the Sunderland goal. Surely it was only a matter of time before the second goal would come.

Arsenal came out for the second half full of confidence, but that took a battering very quickly. After only 5 minutes Jack Wilshire got a kick in the thigh and could not carry on. Until then Wilshire, along with Santi Cazorla, had had been directing play. Had Wilshire stayed on it would have been a toss up between them for man of the match.

Wilshire was replaced by Vassiriki Diaby. But only a few minutes later Carl Jenkinson picked up a second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Sessegnon and was sent off. Both bookings were harsh. Sure they were fouls, but neither was vicious, cynical or dangerous. Ramsey slipped into the vacant right back position and no substitutions were made.

Sunderland had a period of dominance, but whenever they were on target Szczesny was there to deny them. He made a series of good saves. But it was not all one way and Arsenal continued to create chances too.

The ten men held out until the final whistle. Ramsey and Sagna both gave a good account of themselves while playing out of position. Cazorla had one of his best games and Szczesny was excellent when called upon, while there was plenty of talent on the bench that was not called upon. Bring on Blackburn as this could be a changing point for the season.

Meanwhile back at the Emirates Stadium Arsene Wenger is still making decisions that are baffling. Johan Djourou and Andre Santos have both been sent out on loan for the rest of the season. Nacho Monreal has been brought in at left back and so far has proved much more reliable than Santos. However there is still a shortage of cover at the back, especially considering how often Arsenal players seem to be injured. So why send these players away when Wenger refuses to buy in replacements when the opportunity arises?

The Magic of the FA Cup

The World’s Oldest Knockout Football Competition Produces Surprising Results.

The magic of the FA Cup was well in evidence in the fourth round played at the weekend.

The round started on Friday night with Championship side Millwall hosting Premier League strugglers Aston VillaMillwall made Villa’s plight even dimmer, handing them a 2-1 defeat to knock them out of their second cup competition in a week. Villa were knocked out of the Capital One Cup (League Cup) during the week by League Two side BradfordAston Villa took the lead through Darren Bent on 22 minutes, but Millwall evened the score only 5 minutes later with a Danny Shittuheader. John Marquis claimed the winning goal for the Lions in the final minute of regular time.

Fellow Premier League strugglers Queens Park Rangers fared even worse on Saturday, going down 4-2 to League One Milton Keynes DonsQPR conceded an own goal inside four minutes and things got worse from there. The Dons were 4-0 up within the hour and two late goals for QPR proved no consolation.

Luton Town became the first non-league team to knock a top-flight side out of the FA Cup since 1989. A late strike from Scott Rendell saw Premier League Norwich City make an early exit from the competition.

Arsenal struggled against Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion. Despite taking the lead twice, with excellent goals from Olivier GiroudBrighton were able to level the score after each of them. After Brighton equalised for the second time, Arsene Wenger sent on Jack Wilshire and Theo Walcott who had been rested on the bench. Keiran Gibbs was added 10 minutes later to aid the leaky defence. Those additions worked, with Walcott scoring in the 85th minute to see Arsenalthrough to the next round.

The upsets continued into Sunday, with European Champions Chelsea and their multi-million dollar squad narrowly avoiding defeat at League One Brentford. An 83rd minute Fernando Torres goal earned Chelsea a replay.

Next up Tottenham, currently sitting fourth in the Premier League were knocked out by Championship side Leeds UnitedLuke Varney and Ross McCormack scored for Leeds and Tottenham were unable to add to a 58th minute goal from Clint Dempsey.

The final match of the round provided just as much drama, with Liverpool going down to League One OldhamMatt Smith scored after 3 minutes for Oldham, but Luis Suarez equalised 15 minutes later. Smith was on target again in the shadow of half time to give Oldham a 2-1 lead at the break. Reece Wabara scored a delightful back-post header 3 minutes into the second half to give Oldham a 2 goal cushion. Joe Allen‘s volley on 80 minutes ensured a tense finish, but Oldham were able to hold on to go through to the 5th Round.

The giant killers had mixed fortunes in the draw for the 5th round. Luton will host MillwallLeedsare drawn away to Manchester CityMilton Keynes Dons are at home to Barnsley and Oldhamwill host Everton. All of those matches will be played on Saturday 6th February, which should prove some interesting viewing.

Arsenal 2012 the Post Mortem

Is The Changing of the Guards Upon Us?

OK it may be a little early, Arsenal are not dead yet and 2012 is not quite over, but the fat lady must have been warming up at Bradford the other night.

Arsenal were knocked out of the League Cup by a side from the fourth division. They may try and kid us and call it League Two, but we all know it is the fourth division of English football and that can not be acceptable, in anyone’s book.

Arsene Wenger has gone to the press and said that he is not embarrassed by the defeat, well he certainly should be and the players even more so. The average Arsenal player is paid more than the entire Bradford team and if they can not manage to put a couple of goals past them, then they really need to take a long hard look at them selves.

Number one culprit has got to be Gervinho, who managed to miss an open goal from inside the 6 yard box with the goalkeeper already beaten. That, together with his other misses in recent weeks, means to me he no longer qualifies as a Premier League striker, let alone an Arsenal striker.

I have long defended Wenger because of all the good things he has done for Arsenal and the number of times he has turned things around. That, together with the financial restraints that have been imposed on the club in recent years, has convinced me that he is still the right man for the job. But he continues to make these weak excuses for the side and the directors whenever the team puts in a bad performance, or the club loses a quality player.

It’s been said many times elsewhere that you can not win trophies if you keep losing your best players and that trend does not seem to be ending anytime soon. Losing two of our best players at the end of the season has now become an Arsenal tradition with Fabregas and Nasri going in 2011 Van Persieand Song in 2012 and we now look almost certain to lose Walcott and Sagna at the end of the current season.

It really is time for a clear out of the dead wood and to bring in some real quality, to give Arsenal any chance of re-establishing itself as the club it once was. There is no one of the quality of Henry, Vieraand Bergkamp at the club now. The sort of players who can lead by example and inspire other players to their best.

As far as the dead wood is concerned, well we should start with Gervinho and Chamkh. Both of them started well at the club, but have not been able to establish them selves as quality Premier League players. Andrei Arshavin, who I have also defended for a long time, should also go for the same reason, although he was a quality player and did some good stuff for Arsenal for quite a while. I always hoped that his form would return, but I can not see that happening at this club.

At the back Squillaci should go, he has pretty much been a failure from day one and just takes up space on the player’s roster and valuable funds in the wage bill.

If those four were to go, Arsenal should then spend the money on a couple of real quality players, like the Arsenal old guard. It would be a great help if they were Premier League experienced, so that we do not have to waste time waiting for them to become acclimatised.

There is plenty of skill in the squad at the moment, but those that are there are not going to turn this situation around on their own. This season’s signings Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla all have the potential to be quality Premier League players, but I only see Cazorla as having that potential of the old guard that I spoke of. Unfortunately, like many of Arsenal’s overseas signings, his form has dropped off after good start at the club.

On the positive front Rosicky is fit again and should be starting more games and he can certainly fill Cazorla’s role, so that he can be rested when required, or dragged if not performing. Arsenal look more like Arsenal to me when Rosicky is on the field. Without him Arsenal’s passing game is too slow and you are not going to beat anyone passing the ball around the field in slow motion.

The English contingent at Arsenal all have great potential. Walcott is having a good season, when he is not injured. Gibbs has improved out of sight, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s match winning starts seem to have curtailed. Maybe he needs someone to give him that inspiration to get back to his best. But that is the problem with young players, consistency comes with experience.

Many people see Jack Wilshire as the great white hope and he is very talented. Hopefully when he is fully fit he will be the type of world beater that Arsenal require, but he really needs to control that petulant streak, otherwise he is going to be unavailable for far too many games due to suspension. He could become an English Balotelli or Joey Barton, who must be counted as French now that he has developed that accent.

My hope for the New Year is that Wenger and the board at Arsenal see some sense and put some, if not all, of these ideas into action. But like many Arsenal fans I despair when I hear the manager say he is not embarrassed by the performance against Bradford and that he may not spend in January if all the squad are fit.

Premier League Round up Week 12

Upsets and Big Score lines at the Top of the Table

There were some major upsets in the 12th round of games in the Premier League at the weekend. Top sides Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton all lost, while Arsenal and Manchester Cityboth scored 5 goals in their wins.

Chelsea’s match away at West Bromwich Albion was always going to be a difficult one, with WBAsitting just behind them on the table and on very good form. But most punters would have still believed that Abramovich’s multi million dollar squad would have had the upper hand. West Bromtook the lead on 10 minutes through Shane LongEden Hazard pulled one back for Chelsea on 39 minutes, but Peter Odemwingie scored the deciding goal just after half time and West Brom held on for all three points.

An even bigger upset was table leaders Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat at Norwich, who were hovering near the bottom of the league before the game. Anthony Pilkingtonscored a brilliant headed goal on 30 mins for the home side, who then managed to hold on against a very flat United performance.

Manchester rivals City took the lead in the Premiership with a 5-0 win over Aston VillaCity’s goals included 2 penalties. Amazingly there were no goals until the 43rd minute of the match, when David Silva broke the deadlock. But the goals flowed in the second half with Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevezboth converting penalties as a result of handball decisions. Aguero was back on the scoreboard within minutes with a deflected shot and Tevez also scored a brace, tapping in a Samir Nasri cross. The first penalty was hotly disputed, replays showed Weimann made no contact with his hand and none of City‘s players appealed for a penalty.

Possibly the most exciting match of the round was the North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham HotspurSpurs made a frenzied start and dominated the first 15 minutes. Former Arsenal man William Gallas netted for Spurs only to be ruled offside. But moments later Mertesacker and Sagna failed to spring the offside trap and Jermain Defoe was through on goal, his low hard drive was saved by Wojciech Szczesny but he was unable to hold onto the ball and another ex Arsenal man, Adebayor, was on hand to tap in the rebound. Adebayor once again showed his lack of class by leaping the advertising hoardings to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans.

But Adebayor and Tottenham’s worlds came undone only 8 minutes after the goal. Arsenal had started to settle and retain some possession of the ball when Adebayor went in with both feet raised high on Santi Cazorla. He was shown a red card and instantly dismissed; forcing Spurs to play 72 minutes with only 10 men.

Australian TV commentator and former Premier League goalkeeper Mark Bosnichsaid in his half time comments that he thought Adebayor was unlucky to be sent off and he was not that type of player. I don’t know what match he was watching, or what has happened to his memory. Adebayor was late and high with both feet, he hit Cazorla in the ankle despite the fact he was jumping in the air. If Santi had remained on the ground he would have caught him in the throat, he is barely 5 foot 5 (1.65M). Bosnich had also conveniently forgotten that Adebayor was retrospectively sent off for stamping on Robin Van Persiewhen he played for Man City. He always seems to lose it when he plays against Arsenal.

The sending off proved to be the turning point of the game. Cazorla recovered to put in a man of the match performance. Spurs reshaped but Arsenal dominated possession with Podolski, Walcott and Sagna putting in an endless stream of crosses into the Tottenham 6 yard box. Mertesacker headed in the equaliser on 24 minutes from a Walcott corner, his first goal for ArsenalPodolski dribbled in from the left to put in a shot that deflected off of Gallas and trickled over the line and Olivier Giroudscored another as a result of some great set up work by Cazorla. It was 3-1 to the Arsenal at half time.

Spurs replaced both full-backs Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton with centre-back Michael Dawsonand forward Clint Dempsey at half time and the changes were effective. They started the second half much better than the siege they were under at the end of the first. But Arsenal used their numerical advantage to good effect and Walcott and Podolski set up Cazorla for a great finish on the hour.

Only one man was looking dangerous for SpursGareth Bale, who surely cannot have much time left at White Hart Lane, exploited some lax Arsenal defending and put the ball in the bottom corner of the goal 4-2. Bale narrowly missed moments later and then put in a corner that Defoe should have scored from, had he connected with the ball.

But as Spurs tired and as if to rub salt in Wenger introduced the pace of Alex Oxlade Chamberlainand he set up Theo Walcott for a deserved goal in the dying minutes. Final score, 5-2 to the Arsenal.

This same fixture finished with the same result last season and it was the match that turned Arsenal’s form around. If they can maintain this form it could do the same again. Cazorla was easily the man of the match with his touch, vision and creativity. But Walcott and Willshire were not far behind and Podolski, Giroud and Arteta were pretty awesome too. Roll on Wednesday, when Arsenal face Montpellier at home in the European Champions League.

In other results Liverpool beat Wigan 3-0. Newcastle lost 1-2 at home to SwanseaFulham lost 1-3 against Sunderland and QPR went down by the same score line against SouthamptonWest Hamface Stoke at home on Monday night and could rise above Arsenal to 6th with a win, but I think a draw is more likely.

Goal Fest in League Cup Fixture

Reading and Arsenal Amass 12 Goals in Cup Match

Reading and Arsenal played the most amazing match in the history of the League Cup on Tuesday Night. After taking an astounding four goal lead over the club that Reading has never beaten, they were pulled back to a draw in the final minute of injury time, only to be beaten in extra time, after four more goals were scored.

Arsenal went into the game as favourites, despite changing all 11 starting players from the weekend win over QPRArsenal manager Arsene Wenger has always used this competition to blood new talent, but Tuesday’s line up was slightly different, in that it was mostly an experienced side, despite still being youthful in the main. Players like Jenkinson, Djouruo, Koscielny, Coquelin, Arshavin, Frimpong and Chamakh have plenty of Premier League and even Champions League experience.

Despite all of that experience Reading started the match brightly and created the early chances. Arsenal gradually came into the game after about 10 minutes then Reading scored against that run of play. For the remainder of the first half Reading scored at will, with 4 goals in 35 minutes, aided by an own goal by Koscielny, a mistake by rookie goalkeeper Martinez and some sloppy defending all around.

On the brink of half time Andriy Arshavin put a through ball down the middle of the field that split the Reading defence and Theo Walcott collected it with only the goalkeeper to beat, which he did assuredly. Arsenal went in at half time 4-1 down and many Arsenal fair weather fans had already left for London at 4-0. But the faithful stayed and sung “We want our Arsenal back”.

Immediately after half time Reading started off on top again and looked like they could pick up a fifth goal any time. Arsenal gradually improved but continued to let themselves down in the last third of the pitch, at both ends.

On 62 minutes Wenger made a double substitution bringing on Giroud for Frimpong and 19 year old German, Thomas Eisfeld for his 17 year old compatriot Serge Gnabry. Now Wenger often seems to me to make substitutions based on factors other than tactics for the game. Frimpongcertainly needed to go off, he had had an awful game, but Gnabry had created chances and was one of the players on the field more determined to attack. Whereas Chamakh had been the worst forward in my opinion and I certainly would have replaced him. But the substitutions proved fruitful and those fans that say ‘In Arsene we trust’ were proven right again. All though at times at does seem to require blind faith.

Arsenal moved to a very aggressive 4-2-4 formation and Giroud got on the end of a Walcott corner, only 2 mins after coming onto the field and headed past Readingkeeper Federici, who up until now had made some good saves to keep Reading well ahead. But the score remained at 4-2 in the 89th minute, when Koscielny repeated the feat, heading in another Walcott corner to compensate for the goal he had scored for Reading, but not all of his poor defending at the other end.

Four extra minutes of injury time were to be added, but it was in the 96th minute that Walcott scored another goal of his own. Nicky Shorey kicked the ball out of the goal from behind the line and neither the referee nor the linesman seemed to have seen that it had gone over. Fortunately Jenkinsonwas on hand to collect the rebound and fire it into the back of the net, to leave no doubt.

There was much complaining from Reading players and staff about the additional playing time, but they tended to ignore the fact that the referee had spent a long period giving a talking to two Readingplayers in the scheduled 4 minutes about their heavy challenges and that they escaped with only two yellow cards to Arsenal’s six, despite a deliberate handball and repeated industrial strength tackling.

A comical moment arose at the end of regular time. With Arsenal leveling the score at 4 – 4 Frenchmen Giroud and Coquelin believed it was all over, took off their shirts and threw them into the crowd. When they realised that they had to play extra time, they had to go to the Arsenal fans and ask for them back.

In the first period of extra time Arsenal took the lead through Marouane Chamakh who fired through the legs of Reading defender Kaspars Gorkss and beat the un-sighted goalkeeper. Good thing he wasn’t substituted!

But Reading‘s fight was not over, despite some of their fans leaving now. On 116 minutes of play Paval Pogrebnyak headed past the Arsenal keeper to level the scores again at 5 – 5. The game looked to be heading for a penalty shoot-out. But no, in this most remarkable of matches Theo Walcott scored another goal to complete his hat trick.

Reading threw everything into attack to try to level again, but Arsenal cleared, Arshavinput another long ball into space for Chamakhto pick up and lob over the keeper for his second goal of the match. The final score Reading 5 Arsenal 7

What a match, what a comeback, what a result!

It could be just what Arsenal needed after being so lost since the International break a few weeks ago. Since then losing to cellar dwellers Norwich, Schalke 04 in the European Championship and an unconvincing 1 – 0 home win over QPR who are sitting firmly bottom of the Premier League.

Undoubtedly wholesale changes will be made for the side that faces Manchester United on Saturday. But this result can bring nothing but confidence to players like Walcott, Giroud, Chamakh and Arshavin, whether they start, or come on as substitutes in the next few fixtures.

Of course Saturday’s match will be the first time that Arsenal face their former captain Robin van Persie at his new club. No doubt Arsenal fans will give him the warm welcome that he deserves. But I hope that it does not persist throughout the game and those real traveling fans get behind their side like they did at Reading.

Champions League Match Day One Round Up

The European Champions League Returns

The European Champions League proper returned on Tuesday evening. Arsenal faced stiff opposition in their first match, away at Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal’s off season trading has been well documented, but Dortmund have been busy too. They lost prolific striker Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich, but have picked up Ciro Immobile from Torino, who gave Arsenal problems all night on Tuesday. Shinji Kagawa has returned to the club after a fruitless two years at Manchester United and scored in his first domestic fixture, but was not fit enough to face Arsenal.

Arsenal brought in 19-year-old Hector Bellerin at right back and were very short on defensive cover, with Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy injured and Calum Chambers sick with tonsillitis, although Chambers did warm the bench in case of an emergency.

Dortmund started the game at a frantic pace, creating numerous chances, only to be foiled by Wojciech Szczęsny. While Arsenal continuously misplaced passes and gave the ball away.

Despite being under siege, it looked like Arsenal would finish the half on an even par. But in the final minute, Arsenal conceded possession on the edge of the Dortmund area. A long clearance found the former Torino forward, Immobile. He found the net with a low angled finish after gliding past Koscielny. Several Arsenal defenders and Szczęsny were at fault.

If anything Arsenal were worse in the second half, not to take anything away from the Dortmundperformance. Not one of the gunners could be considered on form. Dortmund scored again, just three minutes into the second stanza. Aubameyang skipped round Szczesny and bundled the ball over the line after the keeper and Per Mertesacker got in each other’s way.

Dortmund created several more chances and Arsenal were lucky to come away with only a 2-0 score line. A few chances fell to Danny Welbeck but he was unable to convert.

Arsenal will need to take a long hard look at themselves before facing Aston Villa on Saturday.

The other game in Group D between Galatasaray and Anderlecht finished 1-1 which could be a bonus for Arsenal in the long run, if they can improve their own performance in their remaining fixtures.

Liverpool hosted Bulgarian pub side Ludogorets Razgrad. The football club was only founded in 2001, choosing their name by selecting random letters from a bag of Scrabble tiles.

 

The game was a low key affair with no goals until the 82nd minute, when Mario Balotelli held off two defenders and poked home his first goal for Liverpool.

Winger and part time sheep worrier, Dani Abalo came on as a substitute and seemed to have clinched a point for the visitors in the final minute, when he rounded Simon Mignolet and scored. But in the second minute of injury time Ludogorets’ goalkeeper, Milan Borjan, fouled Javier Manquillo and Steven Gerrard scored from the resulting penalty.

It could be a tough outing when Liverpool face Ludogorets in the reverse fixture, on their pitch fashioned from a reclaimed turnip farm (some of the ‘facts’ in this match report may need further investigation).

Elsewhere on Tuesday evening Juventus, Olympiakos, Zenit St Petersburg and Monaco all had wins, while Real Madrid destroyed FC Basel 5-1 with goals from Gareth Bale, Ronaldo, Rodríguez and Benzema, plus an own goal to kick off the scoring.

On Wednesday evening Manchester City were almost as ‘under the cosh’ at Bayern Munich as Arsenal were the previous night in the same country.

 

Joe Hart had managed to keep a clean sheet right up until the final minute, with a string of saves from Thomas Muller, Gotze and Boateng. But just when it appeared City would come away with a point, Jerome Boateng scored via a slight deflection off Mario Gotze as his shot flew across Joe Hart, after City had failed to clear a corner.

Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw at home despite Cesc Fabregas opening the scoring for them in the 11th minute. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar equalised for Schalke in the second half and they managed to hold on for the draw, although Chelsea pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages.

Draws were the norm in the Wednesday evening games, but Barcelona managed a narrow victory over Cyprus’ Apoel Nicosia. While Porta and Roma both had convincing wins, Roma beating CSKA Moscow 5-1 and Porta winning 6-0 against BATE Borisov of Belarus.

Premier League Round 4 Round Up

The Premier League is Back After the International Break

The Premier League returned after the international break and the first game featured two of the favourites for title contention, Arsenal and Manchester City.

Arsenal gave a start to new signing Danny Welbeck, fresh from his brace for England earlier in the week.

Welbeck should have opened his Arsenal account early on, when he was clean through with only the goal keeper to beat, admittedly from a difficult angle. But he could only manage to hit the inside of the far post. City opened the scoring through Sergio Aguero in the 28th minute. But Arsenal enjoyed long periods of domination and scored two superb goals.

Jack Wilshere, who had one of his best games in recent memory, cut through the city defence with a series of one twos and chipped over Joe Hart to even the score.

Alexis Sanchez, who would closely rival Wilshere for the man of the match title, scored in the 74th minute, demonstrating perfect technique to sidefoot a volley high past Hart from a header, from non-other than Jack Wilshere.

But City aren’t two time champions for nothing and they came back with seven minutes remaining, Demichelis heading in from a corner, when no one in Arsenal‘s defence picked him up, to make it 2-2. City had further chances before the final whistle, even hitting the woodwork.

Arsenal lost right back Mathieu Debuchy with an ankle injury and the fan’s fears of lack of cover in defence have been realised early in the season. Wenger‘s inability to pick up a central defender and defensive midfielder in the transfer window could well be their undoing. Add to that his insistence on playing Mezut Ozil on the flanks, rather than in his favoured central role and many Arsenal fans are already frustrated, despite the team being unbeaten so far.

Manchester United hosted Queens Park Rangers and had all of their big summer signings on show. But like Arsenal they have not strengthened where they really needed to, in defence. But QPR never really did enough to test the frailties of the United defenders.

Former United defender Rio Ferdinandreceived an award from Sir Bobby Charltonbefore the kick off, for his services to Manchester United, then proceeded to play as if his loyalties still lie there.

Meanwhile Angel Di Maria really announced his arrival at Old Trafford, with an early goal and good contributions all through the game. Herrera, Rooney and Mata all chimed in with goals to give United a 4-0 victory.

It’s hard to tell if United are back based on this, as QPR were so poor, but the United faithful sure seemed to think so.

The two sides that started the day with 100% records met at Stamford Bridge. Swanseastarted really well and forced John Terry into conceding an own goal in the 11th minute. But Diego Costa equalised for Chelsea on the stroke of half time.

Costa added two more goals in the second half before being substituted for Loic Remy, who scored Chelsea‘s fourth. Jonjo Shelveypicked up a consolation for Swansea in the 86th minute.

Chelsea are many people’s favourite for the title this season and on this form no one could deny that. Cesc Fabregas is making valuable contributions and together with Diego Costa, they look like the best buys of the summer.

Southampton have a had a remarkable start to the season, despite being decimated in the transfer window, where they lost their manager and many of their star players. They had only lost one of their first three games, going down to Liverpool where they gave a very good account of themselves.

Their run of form continued with a convincing 4-0 win over Newcastle, whose awful defence was only matched by their poor form in front of goal at the other end. Alan Pardew is favourite to be the first manager to be sacked this season and there were protests calling for his head, by both Newcastleand Southampton fans, at St Mary’s.

Everton and Leicester picked up their first wins of the season, Everton beating West Brom 2-0 at the Hawthorns while Leicester won 1-0 at Stoke.

Sunderland and Tottenham fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw and Spurs looked much better than they did in their home loss to Liverpool before the break.

Liverpool had a shock home defeat to Aston VillaGabriel Agbonlahor scored the only goal in the 9th minute of the match,

Crystal Palace and Burnley fought out a scoreless draw in South London.

Monday night’s game was another entertaining 2-2 draw between Hull and West Ham. Both sides picked up some significant summer signings and West Ham looked much more like their old selves and there was much less of Sam Allardyce’s long ball game.

European football begins on Tuesday night with Liverpool hosting Ludogorets Razgrad and Arsenal away to Borussia Dortmand.

By Max Power

Arsenal Beat Premier League Champions

Arsenal Beat Chelsea to Win the Charity Shield.

Arsenal rounded off a perfect pre-season by beating the Premier League Champions, Chelsea, in the traditional new season appetizer, the Football Association Community Shield, still known by most of us as the Charity Shield.

Prior to Sunday’s game, Arsenal had played four pre-season warm ups and won all of them, picking up two trophies along the way.

In Singapore, Arsenal beat a Singapore select 11 and Everton, to win the Barclays Asia Trophy.

At their own ground, Arsenal beat VfL Wolfsburg and Lyon to re-claim the Emirates Cup, scoring 14 goals in those four games and conceding only one.

Before the Charity Shield game, Mourinho was up to his old tricks of making ridiculous statements about his opponents. The loss never stopped him. Post match he said the best team lost and the most defensive team won, ignoring his own tactics for the last few seasons.

Mourinho never allows the facts to get in the way of an outrageous proclamation. The match stats were pretty even, except the shots on target. In that area Arsenal more than doubled Chelsea’s attempts and of course the crucial one, from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, went in.

The win breaks a long running sequence of losses by teams managed by Arsene Wenger against Jose Mourinho. As the Arsenal boss says, this will come as a huge psychological bonus going into the new season.

This is how the BBC described Sunday’s action.

FA Cup holders Arsenal won the Community Shield for a second season in a row as they beat Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the winner with a powerful drive into the top corner with his weaker left foot.
Ramires headed wide unmarked from Loic Remy’s cross as Chelsea failed to hit the target before the break.

Eden Hazard skied a chance over the bar before Oscar’s free-kick was parried wide by Arsenal debutant Petr Cech.
It was the first time the former Chelsea goalkeeper had been called into action – after 68 minutes of play – and soon after he comfortably held on to Kurt Zouma’s header.

Arsenal went close late on through Santi Cazorla and Kieran Gibbs

Wenger finally beats the ‘Special One’

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger finally had reason to celebrate against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea having failed to win in any of his previous 13 attempts.

In February 2014 the Chelsea boss called his opposite number a “specialist in failure”, and then in October the Gunners boss shoved his rival during a heated touchline quarrel.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stunning strike was Arsenal’s first goal against Chelsea for 506 minutes, as the Gunners ended the Blues’ eight-match unbeaten run against them.

Chelsea though can argue they are a week behind Arsenal in terms of preparation, with Italian side Fiorentina visiting Stamford Bridge in their final pre-season match in midweek.

Who is ready for the Premier League?

Arsenal ended last season with 20 wins from 27 matches in all competitions, a win ratio of 74% compared to Chelsea’s 58%, and continued where they left off on Sunday.

The Gunners, who have already won two pre-season tournaments, have only added goalkeeper Petr Cech to their ranks this summer but his calm defensive presence will boost hopes of ending their 11-year wait for the title.

Both sides struggled to create a lot going forward at Wembley, although Olivier Giroud’s introduction for Theo Walcott in attack after the break saw Arsenal look more of a threat offensively.

Chelsea, without last season’s top scorer Diego Costa due to injury, were also toothless before the break with Loic Remy not threatening as the lone striker.

Last season’s Premier League champions have not won a match in pre-season but will believe second-half substitute Radamel Falcao, making his debut, and Costa will improve their attacking threat.

Post-match reaction

Gunners midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on BBC Radio 5 live: “It’s really nice to come to Wembley and win. We wanted to keep our good streak here going. We are delighted to win another trophy and for me personally, I’m happy I got the winner.

“I don’t actually think I’ve lost at Wembley. Long may it continue. Today was a big game for us and we wanted to lay down a marker for our manager and our fans. I want to contribute more goals this season, it’s a target I’ve set for myself, and of course I’m happy to have got the goal today.”

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on BT Sport: “We were the best team. We had more initiative, we controlled the game by having ball possession. Arsenal defended with 10 players, they put everybody in front of their own line and they had good organisation, congratulations to them.

More at Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea

Mourinho can say what he likes to the press, but privately he knows that Arsenal are a major threat this season. Their form at the end of last season has continued throughout the summer and Wenger will do everything he can to ensure that it persists throughout the coming campaign.

Grab your Arsenal or Chelsea (if you’re that way inclined) memorabilia from the links below.

Mourinho and Wenger Show their True Colours Ahead of Community Shield Clash

Wenger Will Not Listen to Mourinho

Jose Mourinho has been in the headlines again, baiting Arsenal ahead of the Community Shield clash between his Premier League Champions, Chelsea and Arsene Wenger’s FA Cup holders, Arsenal.

His latest gem is that Arsenal have spent more on players than Chelsea over the last few seasons. Wenger’s response is that ‘We do not listen to what people think or say.�?

Apart from Mourinho’s statement being untrue, it once again highlights the difference between the men and the football clubs concerned.

Mourinho is all about the sound bite and the instant reaction, whereas Wenger is more about integrity and developing something worthwhile.

We have spoken before on this site about the differences between Arsenal and the johnny-come-lately sides, specifically Chelsea and Manchester City. Many current Arsenal fans jumped on board during the glory days of the Invincibles and multiple trophy winning eras of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Most have since spent their time bemoaning the boss and screaming out for money to be spent, in order to buy back the trophies. Some even fail to see the progress made in the last two seasons and will not be content unless they are winning the Premier League and Champions League every season.

Meanwhile Wenger was paying off one of the very best stadiums in the country and quietly assembling and developing a squad of youngsters. This is the Arsenal way and always has been.

Can any true Arsenal fan say that they are not proud of Ramsey, Wilshire, Coquelin, Bellerin, WalcottGibbs, and Oxlade-Chamberlain? Yes, some of them were bought in from other clubs, but they were polished to shine like they do at Arsenal. I defy anyone to name a home grown player from Chelsea, that anyone outside of the Shed would admire.

The BBC put together this table which shows that Arsenal have not spent more than Chelsea in recent years, although they have made a larger net outlay.

In financial terms, that is the difference between an investor and a day trader. They are both ways to make money, but the distinction is, an investor builds something, that often enhances lives along the way. As does Mr Wenger, for the players in his care and a club that will be around and successful long after the Russian oligarchs and City oil Sheikhs have gone.

So if you are an Arsenal fan, who calls for the bosses head and spending like a drunken sailor, every time there is a slight set back, please bare these facts in mind, before you scream out again.

Meanwhile you can support the club by clicking on the links below and grabbing some Arsenalmemorabilia.

Lukas Podolski Leaves Arsenal

Should Arsenal Have Let Lukas Podolski Go?

Arsenal said goodbye yesterday to one of the great characters of the squad.

Poldi, as Lukas Podolski is affectionately known, is one of the great celebrators. As was demonstrated in last years FA Cup final win and Germany’s World Cup victory, despite the fact he had little contribution to either result.

Personally, I think Galatasaray are getting an incredible bargain, when you look at the price that strikers go for these days, picking him up for only £1.8m. (Au$3.7m US$2.79m, Eur2.5m)

Podolski’s move made headlines across the Web.

Lukas Podolski: Arsenal striker signs for Galatasaray

Striker Lukas Podolski has joined Galatasaray from Arsenal on a three-year deal for an initial £1.8m.
The Turkish champions will pay future instalments based on their qualification for the Champions League.

Lukas Podolski to Galatasaray: Latest Transfer Details, Comments and Reaction

Lukas Podolski’s time with Arsenal is over, with the forward heading to Turkey to play for Galatasaray.
The Turkish club announced his signing on Saturday.
More at Lukas Podolski to Galatasaray: Latest Transfer Details, Comments and Reaction

Turkish side Galatasaray unveils Germany striker Lukas Podolski

The former Arsenal striker was unveiled in front of the press late Saturday afternoon, hours after arriving in Istanbul and undergoing a medical checkup.

Podolski was signed on a three year deal plus an option to extend one more season. Galatasaray is expected to pay Arsenal EUR 2.5 million for the 30-year-old striker. The Germany international will earn EUR 3 million a year.

Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger confirms Lukas Podolski will leave Gunners

Lukas Podolski looks set to leave Arsenal this summer after his agent claimed the Germany international has been given permission to find a new club.

Galatasaray signs with former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski

German forward Lukas Podolski joined the ranks of Turkish champion Galatasaray through a signing ceremony on Saturday.

Podolski will receive four million euros from Galatasaray for a period of three years.

Best of luck for the future Lukas, we will miss you at Arsenal.