Tag Archives: Olivier Giroud

Premier League, Week 34 Game of the Week

20 Apr

Recap: Chelsea beat Manchester United by a dull score of 1-0, thanks to a goal in the 1st half by Eden Hazard. Chelsea “did what it had to do to win”, playing a very defensive 2nd half and limiting the Red Devils’ attack.

This Week:

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC

Sunday, April 26th, 10am CDT, Emirates Stadium

Why this Game is Intriguing: Because these two clubs are not only the best two clubs in London, but the best two clubs in English football. Chelsea has just about sealed their fate as the winners of the Premier League, as they currently lead the 2nd place Gunners by 10 points. Even with a Chelsea loss here, it’s hard to imagine the Blues dropping points against some of the remaining opponents on their schedule, including Leicester City, Crystal Palace, West Brom, and Sunderland. Coupled with the fact that Chelsea has been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup, these remaining matches after the Arsenal game will be taken incredibly seriously by Jose Mourinho and company. Chelsea has a way of creating a wall (or as many call it, a bus) in front of their own final third, and it will be incredibly difficult for Arsenal to have its chances.

Other Reasons to Watch: Arsenal is gunning for 2nd place. While the Gunners have all but secured another top 4 finish and Champions League bid, they remain just 1 point ahead of 3rd place Manchester United, and 2 points ahead of 4th place Manchester City. Arsenal have had a fantastic season despite major, long term injuries to key players including Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, the Ox, Jack Wilshire, and more. Arsenal would hate to finish 4th, because that would mean that they would have a play-in series, and thus 2 more key games to even qualify for the Champions League group stage. While it is impossible for the Gunners to overcome Chelsea in the standings, a victory over the Blues, and a victory for Arsene Wenger over arch nemesis Jose Mourinho, would do wonders for the pride in red based in North London.

Prediction: This one remains tight, and low scoring. I’ll go with 1-1 draw.

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English Premier League, Week 11 Game of the Week

17 Nov

Recap from 2 weeks ago: Although not the most dominating of efforts, Chelsea handled Liverpool at Anfield thanks to goal by Gary Cahill and Diego Costa. Chelsea remains in first place, 4 points clear of the surprising Southampton Saints.

This Week: 

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Arsenal FC vs Manchester United

Saturday, November 22nd, 11:30am (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Teams 6 (Arsenal) and 7 (Man United) in the Premier League face off in North London. Just a point apart, this is a crucial game as we head into the middle of November. The Gunners are coming off an ugly loss to Swansea City, a game which they controlled for about the first 60 or so minutes, before things got wildly out of hand. Man United won their last game at home against Crystal Palace thanks to a 67′ goal by Juan Mata. While not as significant of a rivalry as say the Manchester Derby, the North London Derby, or Liverpool vs Manchester United, this game, because of the history of the two clubs, has meaning beyond just two good teams playing.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: What does the future hold for both Arsenal and Manchester United, and where they end up finishing could all come back to this game. Both clubs are struggling mightily stringing together wins in a row, and both are dealing with bad injuries. The laundry list of injuries for Manchester United undoubtedly is hurting their chances: Falcao, van Persie, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera- each have missed or are slated to miss several games. For Arsenal: Olivier Giroud, Debuchy, Arteta, Ozil, Koscielny. Both of these clubs have Champions League aspirations, but have a ways to go. Even the Europa League, particularly for Manchester United, would be a positive step in the right direction for the club- however, as it stands and the way these clubs have looked, missing out on the top 6 entirely is a possibility that both would like to avoid.

Soccahaus Prediction: 1-1

English Premier League, Week 4 Game of the Week

8 Sep

Recap: Liverpool annihilated the Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane 3-0, a much needed result after their pummeling to Manchester 1-3 just a week prior. Raheem Sterling opened up the scoring in the 8′, followed by a pk by Steven Gerrard in the 49′, and capped off in the ’60 by newcomer defenseman Alberto Moreno.

This Week: 

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Saturday, Sept 13th, 6:45am (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Both of these clubs desperately need a positive result coming off the international break. Manchester City suffered a humiliating defeat to Stoke City at home, while the Gunners drew with newly promoted side Leicester City. The Gunners have just 1 win in 3 games thus far, and a win against the defending champions at home early in the season would go a long way towards building confidence for a club seeking 3 points. Manchester City has a tough 2-game stretch here, playing Arsenal on the road, and then next week hosting Chelsea at the Etihad- a game which will speak volumes as the season continues to move on. On the face of it, it appears that Chelsea is the frontrunner to win the league- unless a club like Manchester City, or even Arsenal, can manage to make this a competitive race.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Quality of talent. Manchester City’s Kun Aguero already has 2 goals in 3 games, and he has yet to even play a full 90 minutes. Aguero is one of the elite players in the Premier League, as are his teammates Yaya Toure, David Silva, Joe Hart, Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho, Eden Dzeko, and others. Arsenal, despite drawing their last 2 matches, seems to look more comfortable with Alexis Sanchez leading the attack after Olivier Giroud went down with injury. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better player in greater form right now than Aaron Ramsey, who continues to get better with each season.The last time these 2 clubs played, Arsenal demolished Manchester City at Wembley winning FA Community Shield by a score of 3-0.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester City 2, Arsenal 1

 

 

 

English Premier League, Week 22 Game of the Week

25 Jan

Recap of Last Week: What a game! In what was surely one of the most remarkable games of the season thus far, the real Clint Dempsey stood out with his game tying goal in extra time at the White Hart Lane against league leader Manchester United. The 1-1 draw was a fantastic result for the Spurs, as they inch closer and look forward to securing a Champions League bid.

This Week:

Arsenal FC vs Liverpool FC

Arsenal FC vs Liverpool FC

Wednesday, January 30th 1:45pm (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Liverpool is on the rise, and they have looked like a different club since acquiring Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea a couple of weeks ago. Currently in 7th place and playing some great football, the Reds have won 3 of their last 4 matches by a combined score of 12-2, their one loss coming to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Liverpool is surging after starting the year off slowly, and the Champions League is definitely within reach at this point. Liverpool’s next two Premier League matches, at Arsenal and at Manchester City will be major tests to see just how far Liverpool has come in the past couple of months. Manchester City, as defending champs, leads the league with 2 losses, so walking away from the Etihad in a couple of weeks with a draw would be an incredibly positive result for Brendan Rodgers’ club.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Arsenal comes fresh off their best match of the season thus far. After losing 1-2 at Stamford Bridge to rivals Chelsea, Arsenal played a masterful midweek game against fellow london club West Ham United. After West Ham scored the first goal, Arsenal tied it up to go into halftime 1-1. Arsenal went on to score 4 goals in 10 minutes in what was the most electrifying, clinical performance Arsenal fans have seen in quite some time. At the beginning of the game, the Fox Sports Soccer commentators were noting how empty the Emirates stadium was, how quiet and uneasy the fans seemed to be about their slumping club. Between the 47′ and 57′, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Giroud again scored one goal after another, prompting the commentator to blurt out “THIS IS THE REAL ARSENAL!!!”, which accurately summed up the dumbfoundedness Arsenal fans found themselves in at the peak of this game. Heading into this game, Arsenal leads Liverpool by just 3 points. While Liverpool has been surging, and despite Arsenal’s most recent performance, many still question whether Arsenal is good enough to hang onto a Champions League birth.

Soccahaus Prediction: Arsenal 3, Liverpool 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: QPR vs Manchester City, Sunderland vs Swansea, Norwich vs Tottenham, Everton vs West Brom, Manchester United vs Southampton

English Premier League, Week 20 Game of the Week

8 Jan

Recap: Apologies to all for skipping the last couple weeks of English Premier League play, but we are back just after this most recent round of FA Cup matches. The last game I previewed was the December 23rd match between Manchester United and Swansea City- a game that ended in a 1-1 tie with goals by Patrice Evra and Michu, the Spanish sensation who is currently tied with Demba Ba for 3rd most goals in the league. Manchester United sits in 1st place with a comfortable 7 point gap ahead of 2nd place Manchester City. Keep an eye on the January transfer window, as several English teams are making bold moves as they enter the 2nd half of the season.

This Week:

Arsenal vs Manchester City

Arsenal vs Manchester City

Sunday, January 13th, 10am (CST) Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: This is the second time I am previewing a match between these two clubs, and this time around there is even more at stake, particularly for Arsenal. Arsenal’s season has been marred by inconsistency, though they are still in prime position to finish in the top 4 of the league. The Gunners’ previous two matches could be considered microcosms of the season as a whole thus far. On 12/29, Arsenal demolished reeling Newcastle United by a score of 7-3 at home- Theo Walcott had a hattrick, Olivier Giroud added two more, and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski also got involved in the scoring with a goal a piece. Then, just a few days later on New Years Day, Arsenal ties Southampton, a team in relegation zone by a score of 1-1, and Arsenal’s only goal was an own goal by Southampton. Arsenal has got to prove that they can win any game, home or away, regardless of the competition. Chelsea (4th), Everton (5th), Arsenal (6th), and West Brom (7th) are all separated by no more than 3 points in the standings, so stringing together a few wins in a row will go a long way towards securing a Champions League birth.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Man City sits comfortably in 2nd place in the EPL table, a full 7 points behind 1st place Manchester United, and 6 points ahead of 3rd place Tottenham Hotspur. January is a critical month for City, as they will be losing Yaya Toure (and to a less significant extent, Kolou Toure as well) to the African Cup of Nations, for what could be a full 6 weeks depending on how Cote de Voire does in the tournament. Manchester City’s scoring depth this season has been nothing short of remarkable- even with Italian star (and headcase) Mario Balotelli in and out of the lineup, City continues to score at a consistent, team-first pace. Eden Dzeko (9 goals), Sergio Aguero (8), and Carlos Tevez (7) have shared the ball and scoring opportunities as well as any team in the league thus far. While City is known to be less affective on the road, it is important that at least one of those 3 players gets going early in this game.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester City 3, Arsenal 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: QPR vs Tottenham, Stoke City vs Chelsea, Everton vs Swansea, Manchester United vs Liverpool

English Premier League, Week 12 Game of the Week

13 Nov

Recap of Last Week: I predicted a 2-2 tie between the defending EPL champs Man City at home against the surging Tottenham Hotspur. I was definitely correct in predicting the Spurs would hang tough at the Etihad Stadium, but City once again won the game off a last ditch effort by none other than Edin Dzeko. His goal in the 88′ secured Manchester City’s current 2nd place spot in the overall EPL standings behind arch rivals Manchester United.

This Week: 

Arsenal FC vs Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday, November 17th, 6:45 AM (CST), Emirates Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: Because this is the North London Derby, one of the best rivalries in all of England. Less than 5 miles separate the Emirates and White Hart Lane. Arsenal leads the all-time series with 72 wins, 47 draws, and 53 losses to the Spurs. Both of these clubs are microcosms of North London as whole; diverse, multi-ethnic fan-bases that span a multitude of ages,  socioeconomic class structures, and religions. As is to be expected with this matchup, players who were once regular starters for one side have jumped to the other team. This fixture includes two such players in Spurs’ French defender William Gallas and Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Gallas played 4 seasons for the Gunners from 2006-2010, and now is playing his 3rd for the Spurs where he has been named captain by manager Andre Villas-Boas. Adebayor also played 4 seasons for Arsenal from 2005-2009. After two seasons at Manchester City followed by a brief loan spell at La Liga champs Real Madrid, Adebayor is back in London for his second complete season with Tottenham.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Both clubs need a win to remain contentious for a Champions League bid. Currently Tottenham is in 7th place with a record of 5-2-4, while Arsenal is just behind them at 8th place with a record of 4-4-3. Both of these clubs have yet to win a game in November, and both clubs each have a horrendous loss on their schedule. Tottenham lost at home to Wigan Athletic 0-1, and Arsenal lost at Norwich 0-1. Arsenal and Tottenham have the talent to make a serious run at a top 4 finish, but bad losses such as those cannot happen if such dreams were to become realities. Spurs striker Jermain Defoe has been lights out so far this season, leading his club with 5 goals and tied with several others for 2 assists. Arsenal’s attack is more balanced- Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Gervinho all have a team leading 3 goals a piece. As far as overall talent, while it is clear both of these clubs have some gaping holes and could definitely use another standout player or two to vault themselves to the top of the league standings, at this point in time Arsenal and Tottenham are very even in what should make for an entertaining game.

Soccahaus Prediction: Arsenal 2, Tottenham 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Manchester City vs Aston Villa, Reading vs Everton, Liverpool vs Wigan, West Brom vs Chelsea, Newcastle vs Swansea, Norwich vs Manchester United

Summer of 2011 I visited and toured the Emirates Stadium (I am on the far left):

My friends and I at the Emirates Stadium, Summer of 2011

English Premier League, Week 6 Game of the Week

25 Sep

Recap of Last Week: I incorrectly predicted a Manchester City 3-1 win, as the eventual score was a 1-1 tie. Arsenal’s center back Laurent Koscielny tied the game off a loose ball that appeared just in front of him after an Arsenal corner kick in the ’82. The powerful strike culminated a resounding Arsenal attack that seemed to overwhelm City for much of the last 20 minutes of the game or so.

This Week:

Arsenal FC vs Chelsea FC

Saturday September 29th, 6:45 AM (CST), Emirates Stadium (ESPN2)

Why This Game is Intriguing: Who doesn’t enjoy a London derby featuring two of the top teams in England? Both of these teams boast incredibly talented squads, and each is seeking to do some damage in the Champions League this year as well. Chelsea currently sits in 1st place atop the English Premier League standings, and remain undefeated through its first 5 games- its lone draw was to QPR. Arsenal on the other hand has struggled at times to score this season, but ever since the Liverpool match a few weeks ago, they have played remarkably well- including a tough Champions League group play win over French champions Montpellier. Chelsea and Arsenal are two of the most popular English teams in the world, and both have rabid fan bases that stretch well beyond the boundaries of London.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Oliver Giroud. Both clubs look drastically different than they did the last time they played each other, primarily because of some roster overhauls that occurred during this past transfer window. Chelsea said goodbye to living legend Didier Drogba, and welcomed in players such as Belgium star Eden Hazard and Brazilian attacking midfielder Oscar. Arsenal lost Robin van Persie, and replaced him with striker Olivier Giroud, winger Lukas Podolski, and attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla. Eden Hazard has made a rather seamless transition from Ligue 1 where he played for Lille into the English Premier League. In just 4 regular season games, Hazard has 1 goal and 6 assists. At only 21 years of age, Hazard is emerging as one of the top players in England- his skill set is off the charts and he will only improve with more experience playing at this level. Arsenal so far has struggled to fill the void left by league leading goal scorer last year Robin van Persie. Santi Cazorla has looked impressive and his creativity on the ball has wowed his opponents as much as Arsenal fans, but the problem lies with Olivier Giroud. The French striker, who tallied 21 goals and 9 assists for Montpellier last season in 36 regular season games, has failed to do anything for Arsenal thus far. He has no goals, no assists, and really hasn’t shown any resemblance to the player he was at Montpellier. The pressure is on Giroud, as Arsenal, even with the 1-1 tie against Manchester City last week, has struggled to put the ball in the net.

Soccahaus Prediction: Chelsea 3, Arsenal 2

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Fulham vs Manchester City, Norwich vs Liverpool, Reading vs Newcastle, Manchester United vs Tottenham, Aston Villa vs West Brom