Image: Wikimedia Commons / Chelsea Debs
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Chelsea Debs

Magnificent 9 Minutes End Painful 9 games for the Gunners

Aside from some rather fetching new kits, the 2019/20 season has brought a recognisable set of duds for the Gunners thus far.

However, Ljungberg’s slow start finally picked up some pace on Monday night where a quick-fire 3 goals inside 9 minutes restored smiles to the faces of the likes of DT, Claude and Troopz as Arsenal fought from behind to end their 9-game winless run; downing West Ham 3-1 at the London Stadium.

A performance seemingly fitting of vintage Arsenal in the modern sense: lacking in physicality or defensive organisation but saved by their undoubtedly brilliant attacking quality.

Just as both sides have undergone a nervy, faltering start to the campaign, the game began cautiously with neither side posing any real threat to their respective keepers. This led to mild boos from the travelling support accompanying an Arsenal performance seemingly bereft of any confidence, swagger or even shots on target! Eventually, (and finally) the game sparked into life with Angelo Ogbonna’s towering header deflecting agonisingly off Ainsley Maitland-Niles to wrong-foot a stricken Bernd Leno and give the Hammers a first-half advantage (38’). Notions of negativity from both players and fans seemed all too familiar for the neutral as it looked set to be another frustrating game for the Arsenal.

This sub-par Arsenal performance continued right up until the hour, with them failing to register a shot on target until 18-year-old prodigy Gabriel Martinelli coolly side-footed home from 12 yards (60’) on his first Premier League start to restore parity for the Gunners.

Arsenal fans’ frustration also reflects the fortunes of £72 million summer signing Nicolas Pepe. Until Monday night the only glimmers we’ve truly been offered of his talent came on a quiet Thursday night in late October as Pepe came off the bench to fire home two sublime free-kicks, gifting Arsenal a 3-2 victory and saving Emery’s blushes against a par at best Vitória SC. I can distinctly remember watching the game in Fusion with an Arsenal mad course-mate, sharing the whole bar with only each other and its employees. Fans would’ve been hoping Pepe could start firing on nights where Fusion is bustling, and they (quite unexpectedly) got their wish on this night in question…

Just six minutes after Martinelli’s equaliser, Pepe finally did just this, cutting ruthlessly inside from the right to curl a powerful effort into the top-left corner from just inside the box. This sent the away support into raptures (66’) with just their second registered shot on target.

As Arsenal now relaxed and grew in confidence, Pellegrini’s West Ham crumbled as their troubles ensued again. Just three minutes after Pepe’s stunner, he dinked an audacious cross, causing problems from the right again to find a cool-headed Aubameyang and you know the rest (69’).

A performance seemingly fitting of vintage Arsenal in the modern sense: lacking in physicality or defensive organisation but saved by their undoubtedly brilliant attacking quality. The only question that remains is whether this can be the start of a more positive run for Arsenal, a query their fans seem to ask multiple times after a strong win amidst a stormy patch. Telling us that both Ljungberg and whoever should take permanent charge has a lot to do both short, medium and perhaps long term to get Arsenal back to the free-flowing organised and explosive football of the early 2000s.

We won’t be remembering Monday’s game as a classic quick turnaround, but that night in London could just be the start of an Arsenal resurgence into the Europa League spots!


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