Leaving it late.

October 31, 2010

Last night’s game left me running the gamut of emotion that I have come accustomed to while watching Arsenal over the last three or four years. It was a bit more Jan Hammer than MC Hammer. There were over eighty minutes of frustration, followed by a euphoric final five minutes. It had looked like another one of those games where the players had taken the opposition too lightly and had come out onto the field not taking the game as seriously as they should have, Robert Green was having a good game and there was a dollop of bad luck thrown in to boot. However, they pulled a result out of the bag and, at the end of the day, that is the most important thing.


The starting line-up was as predicted on yesterday’s blog: Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Fabregas, Song, Denilson, Nasri, Arshavin and Chamakh. The substitutes were Szczesny, Rosicky, Vela, Walcott, Djourou, Eboue and Bendtner.


The first half was one to forget. Arsenal never really got going and that let West Ham grow in confidence as the half went on. Green made a good save first from Fabregas and later from Song and Squillaci but, apart from those chances, nothing else of note really happened in the first half. It was a very poor display by us and it left me in great fear that I was about to witness a repeat of the West Brom game. Cesc had a poor half, as did Arshavin. Song picked up his obligatory, needless, yellow card. It later transpired that Cesc’s poor first half performance was largely down to a potential recurrence of his hamstring injury and I just hope that is not the case. Either way, I am pretty sure that he won’t be travelling to Donetsk in midweek. If there is any kind of question mark at all over his fitness, leave him at home to recover.


The second half started off with Parker lucky to escape a yellow card after a tackle in which he clearly caught Denilson after first winning the ball. It was a tackle worthy of a caution as it doesn’t matter if you win the ball if you then go on to catch the player. Sadly, that type of challenged is generally judged as okay in the Premier League. Referees really ought to brush up on their understanding of the laws of the game. Nasri then hit the bar with a cracking effort from a free-kick in the 53rd minute. It was an effort worthy of a goal.


Walcott came on for Denilson in the 67th minute and up until that point the game had been pretty underwhelming. There was no real cutting edge or urgency from either team. I could understand that from West Ham as they had just player 120 minutes in midweek, but many of our players were just returning from being rested. They really should have been more up for it and energetic. It was a very lethargic and unfocused first 70min for Arsenal.


Then in the 71st minute Walcott was put through by Fabregas only for Theo’s shot to come back off the post and into the arms of Green. A big stroke of luck for West Ham. Unlucky Theo. After seeing that you just got the feeling that it wasn’t going to be our day. Green was having a good day in goal, as he tends to do against us at the Emirates.


Bendtner came on for Arshavin in the 80th minute. The little Russian had a fairly poor game, it must be said and, despite his stats so far this season, his lack of overall effort does grate.


Then late in the game, Clichy played a nice little ball into the six-yard box with his right foot which was finished by Song. The goal was made even sweeter by the fact that I had, literally, just put €5 on Arsenal to win at 12/5 and also had €1 on Song for first goal at 22/1. Not a big windfall, but it paid for my weekend’s food and beer. Needless to say, I went mental when the ball went in. Jackpot. The goal was particularly important considering that Chavski beat Blackburn 2-1 and ManUre beat Spuds in the days late kick-off. Eboue came on for Chamakh almost immediately after we’d scored and we saw the game out for an important 1-0 win.


It’s great that we managed to win the game but the team’s performances will have to seriously improve if we are to mount a lasting title challenge this season. Nevertheless, we did manage to get the 3pts against one of our home bogey teams, so that’s a plus. The way the game went, it was one of those that we would have drawn or lost a year or two ago. So, there is some comfort in that. Perhaps it is a sign of our growing maturity and experience that the team remained relatively calm and kept going about their business and plugging away looking for an opening. It’s great to get the win when you play badly. As the old cliché goes, that’s the sign of a title winning team.


Perhaps I have been a little bit too harsh with my thoughts on the performance, but that is how I felt at the time and I wrote much of the post whilst watching the game and drinking beer.


That’s three clean sheets in a week. Unexpected, but very welcome. Long may it continue. Hopefully we won’t get bad news on Cesc’s fitness.


In other news, yesterday saw the draw for the Quarter Finals of the Carling Cup take place and I think that we can’t really have too many complaints with it. Home to Wigan is a great chance for the team to progress to the semi-final. Is a final against ManUre on the cards? It will be a great opportunity for some of the younger players to get some more experience playing in front of a sold out crowd at the Emirates. The full draw is as follows:

Arsenal v Wigan

Birmingham v Aston Villa

West Ham v ManUre

Ipswich v West Brom

There are some tasty fixtures there and I am glad that we avoided the likes of ManUre. We all know that there is no such thing as an easy game, but if we are to have any kind of serious notion of winning the competition, then Wigan are a team that we really ought to be beating along the way. I’m very happy with that draw. Hopefully all of the home teams will progress to the next round, but methinks that hoping for that outcome might be more than a touch fanciful. I am sure that Gazidis and the board will be delighted with a home draw, too.


In non-Arsenal news, take a moment to have a wry smile at the sight of Adebayor arguing with a team mate on the pitch yesterday. Familiar sight, eh? Also, have a good old belly laugh at the goal Nani scored against Spuds last night. Shambolic, but hilarious because it happened to them. Hairy Rednob probably almost twitched his head off after witnessing that goal.


Finally, take six minutes to watch this touching tribute to Rocky.


That’s all for today folks. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Stop! Hammer time.

October 30, 2010

Beer? Check. Food? Check. Arsenal live on TV? Check. Typhoon? Bring. It. On.


Good morning to you all (though it’s afternoon here.) Hopefully the weather is a bit better wherever you happen to be reading this. The first of the typhoon rain has arrived and it is set to hit its peak around 18:00. Nice. So, I’d best get into this as the weather is going to dictate how much time I have for writing this if I am to make it home relatively dry. Well, relative to someone that has just jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed that is.


Today see us take on West Ham at the Emirates. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT, which means a much more sociable 23:00 JST here for me. Makes a nice change from stupid midweek games that kick-off at 03:45. Those midweek games are not fun when you have to go to work around 06:30 in the morning. Anyway, the game will be shown live on J-Sports Plus and coverage should begin at 22:54. Roll on daylight savings time which will mean midweek games kickoff at 04:45, much more doable when working the next day.


The manager’s usual weekly interview and pre-game press conference took place over the last two days and the injury news is that both Diaby and Gibbs are out, the latter with a medial knee ligament injury. It really is very disappointing that Gibbs has picked up yet another injury. Part of me is worried that he has contracted the highly potent and highly contagious RvP Syndrome. However, the optimist within realises that, like Walcott, some of his injuries have just come from tackles and a bit of bad luck. Players pick up injuries, that’s just how it goes sometimes, though the consistency with which he is getting injured is a cause for concern as it is hampering his development. Perhaps if he hadn’t been injured so much he would be closer to really challenging Clichy for a starting place. The estimate is that he will be out for between two and four weeks, so I will assume it to be four weeks from today and that way if he comes back early it will feel like a bonus. There are no players returning from injury ahead of today’s game. Vermaelen remains out with one of the most severe and mysterious cases of RvP Syndrome since Tomas Rosicky.


In other news, both Ramsey and RvP are set to return to full training next week ahead of their eventual reintegration into the first team. RvP will return to the fray before Ramsey and I suspect that Ramsey will be very gently eased back into action as the last thing that the player, or the club, needs or wants is for him to suffer a setback a la Rosicky and Eduardo.


I think that it speaks volumes about how well Chamakh has settled into the side that fans aren’t exactly rejoicing at the return of RvP. Yes, we are delighted that he is almost back but, to be honest, he isn’t a player that the team can rely on, or be built around, as we simply don’t know if he will still be fit in five or ten games time. The Goon Blog said as much yesterday, too. There is no denying his world class skill and talent but, it’s a bit like having a DeLorean – it looks great but is extremely unreliable.  If only RvP could stay fit. However, his return (however long it lasts for) will undoubtedly strengthen the match day squad and will provide extra competition for places, which should in turn help to keeps the players on their toes.


Back to today’s match and there will undoubtedly be some changes from the team that started in the midweek game against Newcastle. I expect Fabianski, Sagna and Clichy to return in defence. Nasri, Fabregas, Song, Arshavin and Chamakh should also return.


So, I see us lining up today with Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, Arshavin and Chamakh.


The only real question mark that I have over the above starting eleven is that of the starting Koscielny. As he is just returning from injury, the manager may well decide to rest him today and instead go with Djourou. I also think that Walcott will be on the bench as the manager might want to take a slightly more cautious approach with him given his injury record and he would make a great impact substitute in the second half with his pace and the fact that West Ham played for 120min on Wednesday evening. You can also check out The Guardian’s squad sheets here for their take on today’s respective line-ups.


Today also marks the final game of Wilshere’s suspension, so if we get through this game unscathed we will be in a very good position with regard to the strength of our squad and the options available to the manager.


Szczesny did very well on Wednesday night but, like I said in my last post, I don’t think that we should play him again until he has actually signed his new deal. He is a very good keeper with massive potential bit if he has not committed to a future with us, then he shouldn’t play. On that note, I should point out that talks are apparently underway about extending his deal. Hopefully he will sign it sooner rather than later. I had a good laugh at the managers comments on the situation yesterday wherein he said:

“He wants to stay and I want him to stay. So, basically, plus plus plus should be plus.”

That’s a classic quote that only Wenger could come out with. The manager was in fine form during his Friday press conference.


Today’s Guardian is reporting that Arsenal are set to tie up Wilshere on a new and improved five year deal after his fantastic start to the season. The deal should see him earn a significant pay rise. There is also a nice piece on Fabianski in the same paper. It is great to see how the player just kept his head down through all of the adversity, kept plugging away and is now reaping the reward for his hard work and graft. Well done, Lukasz. There is nothing the fans like more than someone that keeps fighting and doesn’t give up. Of course, he still has a long way to go but at least he has started his journey on the road to redemption.


Today’s game will not be as easy as we might imagine it to be, given the respective positions of the teams in the league. The team would do well to remember that West Ham were the last team to win at Highbury and the first to win at the Emirates, so they are a team that must be taken seriously as they seem to up their game when playing against us. Fingers crossed that the lessons of the West Brom game have been learned and that we can come out of the game today with three more points on the board and, hopefully, close the gap on Chavski. Speaking on the West Brom game, the manager had the following to say:

“I think we got the lesson. In fairness to my team, that is the only game since the start of the season where we did not perform well, but as well it shows that just once you are not completely there and you are caught.”


If you happen to be a Twitter user, you can follow me at @colm_smyth. I haven’t bothered setting up a North Bank specific Twitter account just yet, but may do so in the near future. I also recommend following @TheBig_Sam for some really funny Walrus Face-esque tweets. For other ideas of people to follow, just check out who I follow on Twitter and then decide for yourself. You may hate the idea and concept of Twitter, but it is a really great resource for football news and offers a good chance for interaction with the greater footballing community. There are some great people on there and, of course, some nutballs, too.


Just a reminder for those in the Kanto (Greater Tokyo and Yokohama) area of Japan, like myself, that are bracing themselves for the full force of today’s typhoon. J-Sports 2 will be showing the Blackburn vs. Chavski game at the same time as the Arsenal game, so you can easily flick over to check the score. Also, the ManUre vs. Tottenham game will be on live on J-Sports Plus. Coverage for that will start at 01:24. A night of football, beer and rain lies ahead.


That’s all for today. I’m off outside to brave the elements and make my way home.

Fo(ur)g on the Tyne.

October 28, 2010

4-0 to The Arsenal. Say it quietly, but that’s another clean sheet for the team. A great result and a great confidence boosting away win for the team. That’s four wins on the spin and sets us up nicely for the visit of West Ham this Saturday. The Hammers will be hoping they can recover in time for that game as they were taken to extra time last night, so that can only be a good thing for us.


There must have been a big of Fog on the Tyne last night as Newcastle were unable to find their way to our goal in any kind of meaningful way. There was the first half chance for Ranger when a ball was played over the top, Szczesny came charging out, missed the ball and it took some good defending from Koscielny to block the eventual shot from Ranger, who seems to be a bit more Power Ranger than Lone Ranger. They had a few sporadic chances, but were never really at the races once the first goal went in.


The starting eleven for us was Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Squillaci, Gibbs, Eastmond, Denilson, Rosicky, Walcott, Vela and Bendtner. Quite a strong line-up. The subs were Fabianski, Sagna, Fabregas, Arshavin, JET, Lansbury and Nordveit.


Vela missed a great chance early on after being played in by Rosicky after some good pressing. It was good to see that pressing and it is something that I hope we do a lot more of over the course of the season. If our Champions League games against Barcelona taught us anything, it’s that pressing is extremely effective.


Our opener came in comical fashion that wouldn’t have been out of place in Auf Wiedersen Pet. The ball was cleared by the Newcastle defence, but was sent back in again by Rosicky, Bendtner got the first header which directed the ball toward goal, Koscielny and Eastmond went for it, perhaps Eastmond got the slightest of touches (and if not did enough to put Krul off), Krul flapped at it, Taylor cleared off the line only for his clearance to hit Krul, who was sitting on his arse on the ground, on the back of the head and go in. Keystone Cops stuff, but it put us 1-0 up going into the break. As Bryan Robson once said, that’s just what we needed.


For the second goal, Newcastle were caught cold by a run of the mill header forward from Djourou that somehow caught the defence off guard and allowed Walcott, who had timed his run perfectly, to get through on goal and finish well past Krul. Of course the goal was pretty controversial in that Bendtner was coming back from an offside position at the time and in doing so he collided with the recovering Williamson. Newcastle may deservedly feel hard done by as clearly Bendtner must have interfered with play, but it is doubtful whether the defender would have covered the ground in time in order to make a last ditch challenge on Walcott. Anyway, the ref gave it and it was 2-0.


The third goal came from more Newcastle ineptitude when a throw-in caught Guthrie sleeping, allowing Fabregas to steal the ball off him and play in Bendtner down the left who finished with a cracking right footed strike past Krul into the top corner. 3-0. The big Dane has made an impressive return from injury.


Of course the night wouldn’t have been complete without the obligatory pointless kicking and fouling by Dolly Barton. He really is a pikey.


The fourth goal came when a ball meant for JET found its way to Walcott whose speed took him through and he slid the ball calmly past Krul. 4-0. Nice.


Szczesny looked fairly solid in goal, first half-half rush of blood to the head aside. It is good that he should get another chance to show what he can do in the quarter finals. I’d be against putting him in goal in the league at the minute as he has yet to prove he can play consistently well at the highest level and also because talks on a new deal for him are not progressing. If he doesn’t sign, he shouldn’t play. I know you might say that he won’t sign if he doesn’t get games, but you could also argue that we shouldn’t increase his reputation only for him to walk away for free next summer.


A very good all-round performance and certainly made going to work feel a lot better today, despite the atrocious weather. Speaking of work, I’d best get back to doing some. Unfortunately, time is at a premium today.


Take it easy.

Up for the cup – howay with the lads?

October 27, 2010

Tonight sees us take on Newcastle at St. James Park and it looks like being a strong squad, much like the manager used in the previous round. It is clear that the manager has finally realised that this team needs to win a trophy, any trophy, in order to instill a winning mentality in the squad.


It is highly likely that Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin and Chamakh will be rested for the game, but it seems likely that all other fit players will be in contention to play some part in the squad, with Lansbury, Eastmond, Szczesny and JET joining them.


Team news is that Walcott, Szczesny and Koscielny will start. Therefore, I expect the starting line-up to be something along the lines of Szczesny, Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs, Lansbury, Eastmond, Denilson, Walcott, Vela and Bendtner. That would leave us with a reasonably strong bench including the likes of Rosicky, Diaby, JET and Fabianski. I haven’t seen the squad list for tonight yet, but am assuming that Eastmond will be included.


I’m glad Ben Arfa is unavailable for Newcastle tonight. It’ll be interesting to see if Big Sol plays and, if so, whether the movement of our players will cause him problems.


The strength of the squad for tonight’s game is evidence of the new seriousness with which the club is treating even the lowliest of the cup competitions this year. I think that it is no coincidence that the year we start taking the cups seriously coincides with the clearing of all of the property debt on Highbury Square and the rosy financial future that lies ahead on the back of a soundly run club and a stadium loan that is long-term, at a fixed rate, and easily manageable.


This sound financial position means that there is no longer the absolute necessity for the manager to blood youngsters in the cup in order to fast track them into the first team. There is money available, should it need to be spent. Furthermore, the players that have been playing in the cup for the past few seasons are now developed enough to make telling contributions when they play. Add all that to the fact that the team is at the point when it needs to feel the sensation of winning something and you get to where we are this season, playing fairly strong teams in the Carling Cup.


One thing that the club and the fans should be applauded for over the last few years is that, despite everyone knowing that we would field a young team in the Carling Cup, the games were always sold out at the Emirates. The club played their part in this by offering the tickets at a reduced price. Not many clubs sell out their league games, let alone their Carling Cup games. So, a big well done to all concerned and especially to those fans that have been able to go to those games. The last game I was able to go to was the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Wigan at Highbury. We went out on the night after conceding a very late goal, but it was good in that it was the only Carling Cup game that Henry played in while with us. I miss the buzz of attending games. I miss Highbury.


Anyway, it is clear that the manager has high hopes for JET and Lansbury. It would be great if both of those can make it at Arsenal and would be a sickener for the pundits and managers that say that Arsenal are just a team of foreigners. There is the very real possibility that over the next few season we could possibly have a team comprising the likes of Walcott, Gibbs, Wilshere and one or two of Lansbury, JET, Afobe, Watt and Eastmond. Either way, I think it is fair to say that the days of Arsenal fielding a team, or naming a squad, that contains no English players is gone.


It’s hard to not get carried away when watching these players and talking about them. However, I think that we need to exercise a bit of caution with the young players as they haven’t yet proved that they are the finished article and haven’t achieved anything yet. I think that part of the over-enthusiasm for these players, and the expectations we have for them, stems in part from having seen them being in or around the Carling Cup team for the last few seasons and we are waiting for them to make the final step. But, as of right now, they are just potentially great players. Only time will tell if they make it to the top level with Arsenal but I have to say that I just love watching them develop and play.


Right, that’s about all I have time for today. Have to get my arse out of this Starbucks and go do some work.


Here’s to a win tonight. Take it easy.


October 25, 2010

Yesterday saw us achieve what could turn out to be a decisive victory in relation to our fortunes this season. I know that we won’t win the league based on that result alone but, I feel that it could be used as the springboard to greater things. The team now knows that it can travel away to one of the big teams and get a result. The confidence that yesterday’s result will instill should stand us in good stead going forward.


There will be some that say that we played against ten men, after Dedryck Boyata had been sent off within five minutes of kick-off, and so shouldn’t read too much into the result. However, I don’t think that playing against fewer men was the reason for our victory. I think that this team is on the way up again after suffering some disappointing results. That now makes it three victories in a week and it was great for both the team and Fabianski that we managed to keep a clean sheet last night. I’m sure that City being down to ten men did them no favours, but it is often the case that playing against ten men is harder than playing against eleven. It took some great saves by Fabianski from Silva to ensure that we didn’t give the home side a sniff of a result.


At times our defence looked a little suspect and there is clearly some work to be done, but overall I think that the Djourou and Squillaci partnership is slowly improving. This improvement is no doubt aided by the fact that they now have a bit more confidence in the man in goal behind them.


For more in-depth reports on the game, check out Arseblog, Gunnerblog, Le Grove and Goodplaya.


Nasri has been winning a lot of plaudits of late and rightly so. His all-round game seems to have gone up a level this year and he now looks like delivering on the potential that Wenger saw in him when he was first signed. He played a nice little one-two with Arshavin for the first goal and finished well past Hart, yet another assist for the little Russian. As Arsene would say, he has good numbers.


Song’s well taken goal came after Cesc played a ball towards Chamakh in the box which Bridge made an absolute mess of intercepting, the ball fell perfectly for Song and he applied a finish that the keeper had no chance with. 2-0. I’m not complaining about Song getting a goal, but I do with that he would concentrate more on being the defensive midfielder and just sitting deep. Leave the heroics to Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin and Chamakh.


The third goal was scored by Bendtner and it will do him the world or good to get a goal so soon after returning from a long injury lay-off. The ball looked to be going out of play, but Nasri didn’t give it up, just managed to keep it in play and played a nice ball between the two defenders for Bendtner to latch on to and finish nicely past Hart. 3-0, game over.


There are some signs that we are no longer a team that can be easily pushed or bullied off the ball. The team is stronger and more experienced and is a bit better prepared for the challenges that face them on a week by week basis. The biggest problem for this team will be complacency and lethargy, as was witnessed in the game against West Brom at the Emirates. If we can totally cut out that bad attitude and make sure that we are fully focused and up for every game, then there is a great chance for us to win some silverware this season.


It was good to see that the team didn’t drop their heads after Fabregas missed the penalty towards the end of the first half. Perhaps this is a sign of their growing maturity.


I thought Denilson played well yesterday and he is a player that often gets overlooked as not being good enough as a lot of the things he does are very simple and he therefore flies under the radar a little. But, his passing accuracy yesterday was very impressive with just a few wayward passes in each half. I heard that Diaby didn’t play due to his ankle giving him a bit of trouble, but haven’t heard anything more on that since, but I think that the enforced start of Denilson alongside Song worked in our favour. Speaking of Song, he still needs to get back to playing the holding midfielder role instead of trying to get forward as it is something that we could be punished for when playing against teams with a greater emphasis on attack.


Next up is Newcastle on Wednesday evening in the Carling Cup and I have a feeling that Gibbs, Koscielny, Bendtner, Walcott and Denilson will all feature in order to get some much needed playing time under their belts. I wonder will the boss stick with Fabianski or will Szczesny get the nod? It could be another good chance for the likes of Lansbury and Eastmond to get some playing time, too. Kick-off is at 19:45.


This Saturday will be West Ham at the Emirates. Fingers crossed we can make it five wins in two weeks.


Anyway, that’ll have to do for today. It’s always a good Monday when your team are sitting second in the league, just five points behind the leaders. Between now and the


Take it easy.

Brief Man City vs. Arsenal team news.

October 23, 2010

First of all, apologies for no post yesterday. Although I finished work at 1pm, I had to go from Tokyo to Yokohama and then be back in Tokyo again by 6pm for a night of beer, so there just wasn’t any time to fit in the writing of a post. I have a feeling that the after effects of last night will have an impact on the length of today’s post…


As expected, the AGM revealed next to nothing in terms of surprises and things we didn’t already know. That’s what happens when the questions are pre-screened. It’s a pity that we still haven’t heard Kroenke Tonk Stan speaking yet, but I guess he can’t make any public statement of his intentions as it would go against the market rules.


Team news ahead of the ManShitty game is that only Sagna will return to the squad from the squad that was available against Shakthar. Van Persie, Koscielny and Vermaelen remain unavailable. Wilshere’s three game suspension starts this weekend and let’s hope that he takes this chance to rest and come back fresh. I am looking forward to seeing how his partnership with Cesc will develop over the season. Against Shakthar, 19 of the 70 passes that he completed were to Fabregas and it is a sign that they could forge quite a formidable partnership in the centre of midfield. If they can click and stay fit, then I think that we will have a good season. Of course, a season doesn’t depend on just two players, but they could make us a really formidable attacking force through their creativity and goals from midfield.


I imagine the team will line up with Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Fabregas, Song, Diaby, Walcott, Arshavin and Chamakh. Though I think the biggest question marks are over that line-up is the starting of Diaby and Walcott. It may be that we see Nasri start instead of either of them.


The biggest revelation during the week was that the only reason that we didn’t sign Yaya Toure all those years ago was because he hadn’t regularly represented his country and so it was a passport/visa problem. But for that, he would have been an Arsenal player. I remember seeing him playing for Barcelona against Yokohama F. Marinos a few summers ago and he was really impressive. Even from far away in the stand, he looked massive. He would have been a good signing for us but, anyway, let’s hope that we can beat his current team this coming Sunday.


Finally, a belated happy birthday to Arsene Wenger who turned 61 during the week.


I’m off to take the edge of this hangover. While having said cure, I will have a good laugh at how Rooney swindled ManUre into paying him £200k+ per week. The aging hookers aren’t the only ones being taken for a ride in Manchester.


Take it easy.

A touch of class & the Henry/Rooney parallel.

October 21, 2010

Right, straight off the bat I would like to point out that I am not comparing the character of Henry and Rooney. I am just talking about what I perceive to be the parallels  of the situations that both have found themselves in. Whether you agree or disagree is okay, it’s just something that I was thinking about as I sat eating lunch today. You may be thinking that I should have better things to be thinking about but there you go.


Of course the difference between the two players is night and day. Henry treats his body well and Rooney goes out drinking, pissing in streets and smoking. But, there are some parallels with the situations that surround their desires to move to pastures new.


Henry was caught cheating on his missus and Rooney has been caught cheating on his missus. Yes, Rooney’s infidelity was with a hooker but infidelity is infidelity in the eyes of their wives. Henry’s led to divorce. It remains to be seen how Rooney’s infidelity will play out. I can imagine his wife hanging on until he signs his monster deal with his new club before filing for divorce, thus allowing for a greater divorce pay-off and higher alimony.


The next parallel is a bit more speculative and up for debate. Henry was just passing the peak of his powers and was not the player that he used to be. He was still a great player, but just not quite at the same level that he had been over the previous seasons. His powers were waning and he was on the gentle slope down towards the end of his career. Rooney on the other hand, is still in his mid-20s but you could argue that his career will not be as long as Henry’s because of the way that he lives his life and treats his body. He drinks, to excess, and he smokes. Drinking and smoking is something that will catch up with a player sooner rather than later given the pace of the game these days. You could also factor in that Rooney has been playing regularly in the Premier League since he was 16 or 17, so his career will probably not last as long as the likes of either Henry or Beckham. I know that Henry also started young, but he player for several years in France and Italy before joining us, both leagues are played at a much slower pace than the Premier League. Rooney’s form has also been abysmal for the last six months. It may be wildly speculative, but there is the chance that Rooney could be a spent force by the time he hits 31 or 32, unlike Beckham, Henry and Pires who are all still going because of the way they have lived their lives and the leagues they have played in.


So, following this line of thinking regarding the age and career length of each player, coupled with the fact that Henry was at the club when we were in a financial position which meant that there was no money for any kind of substantial investment in the squad and the manager was put in a position where he had to embark on a youth oriented policy which would take a few years to reach fruition, if at all. Rooney now finds himself in the same situation at ManUre. They are up to the hilt in debt and clearly don’t have the resources to invest in the squad to any great extent. Their manager has said that they are embarking on a youth oriented policy that will take a few years to reach its potential. Sound familiar?


Henry left due to a combination of problems in his private life and the knowledge that he didn’t have the luxury of time to wait for our young squad to reach maturity. Rooney has well documented problems in his private life and he has now come out and said that his club don’t show enough ambition as they don’t have the resources to invest in the team. Rooney doesn’t want to hang around to wait for these young players to develop. I find that to be two very strong parallels between the respective situations of each player.


I’m not comparing the character of the two players at all, I just wanted to say what I saw as the similarity in the situations within each player found (have found) themselves.


Whether or not Rooney is telling the truth over his reason for wanting to leave is another thing but, taken at face value, I don’t think that this hypothesis is an unreasonable one to make.


I loved Henry when he played for us and I still do love him. He is up there with Pires and Bergkamp in terms of sentimentality. But, at the same time, you couldn’t argue with his reason for wanting to leave. He gave us great service and since leaving has continued to show the club enormous respect. Likewise, I don’t really blame Rooney for wanting out of ManUre, if he feels that they have no money to invest and the current squad will take a few years to mature, combined with the fact that Giggs, Scholes and Van Der Sar will all soon retire.


Anyway, enough about the parallel of the Henry and Rooney situation.


It’s too late now to talk about the Champions League game, but I would just like to state my great pride at seeing the reception that Eduardo was given at the Emirates on Tuesday night. He is an example of a true professional that left the club in the right way, with total dignity and fans don’t ever forget that. Therefore, he was duly rewarded for that honour and integrity. There was also the added element of sentiment from that fans for a player whose Arsenal career was cruelly cut short and prevented from ever reaching anything near his true potential with us. We will always be left wondering what might have been. Tuesday was a night when the fans showed their class. A good night to be a Gooner. It was also a historic night for Eduardo, too.


I really hope that Adebayor and Cole were watching the game so that they could see how much of a cuntbucket they were in the manner that they forced their exits from the club. Utter ballbags.


The AGM takes  place today but given that the questions have already been pre-submitted and screened for approval, I am not expecting anything earth-shattering to come out of it. It will be interesting to see whether or not Kroenke Tonk Stan decides to speak.


Anyway, that’s about that for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a look toward the ManShitty game this weekend.


Take it easy.

Anticipating the challenge & Pulis moaning like a drain.

October 17, 2010

Yesterday saw the the team run out 2-1 winners over Birmingham, having gone a goal down. The scorers were Zigic, Nasri and Chamakh. We started really well and both Wilshere and Diaby hit the ground running, the former linking up well with Chamakh with a couple of one-twos early on only for Carr to make a good sliding block of Chamakh’s shot. Though, I feel that if Chamakh hadn’t have tried to shoot across the keeper, it would have been a goal.


We then had a Squillaci header disallowed for offside. There wasn’t much in it, but offside is offside. Following the disallowed goal, Clichy missed a great opportunity following a cross by Nasri that was only half cleared by Dann, the ball fell to Larsson who then tried to lay it off for Carr to clear, but Clichy stole in and he really should have at least hit the target with his shot. However, it wasn’t to be.


We dominated the game in terms of possession, but our suspect defending reared it’s ugly head again for the opener. Fahey was allowed too much space and time to get his cross in, which was compounded by Djourou not getting tight enough on Zigic who scored with a very well placed header that didn’t really give Fabianski any chance of saving it. Can’t apportion any blame for the goal on the keeper. I did initially think that he was a bit slow to react, but having watched it again a few times, I think that the header was just so well placed that he couldn’t have gotten to it. Given the very makeshift nature of our defence, it was unsurprising to see them being a bit dodgy.


Our first goal came in somewhat controversial circumstances when Chamakh, who was already on his way down, way clipped on the foot by Dann. Now, people can say what they like about diving etc., but time and time again we hear the pundits talking about players ‘anticipating the challenge’ and ‘being clever’ which is exactly what Chamakh did in this instance. He got to the ball first, got the touch and there was no need for Dann to make the second swing at it once Chamakh had got the touch as the ball was gone before Dann made contact with Chamakh’s foot.


It was a bit of a soft penalty and some will say that he dived. But, I think that there is a difference between a dive where there has been absolutely no contact, and going down when you know that there is contact coming. Wayne Rooney did it against us last year, he go to the ball but it was going out of play, he saw Almunia coming and was already on his way down before contact had been made. Everyone said that he was clever and showed his experience and intelligence. It’s also a bit like when you have centre forwards, like Shearer, who continually back into the defender because they know that they will get a free-kick. They are anticipating the contact.


Yes, I think that Chamakh went down a bit easily and could have tried harder to stay on his feet but, I honestly don’t think you can call what he did a dive. I didn’t hear much of an outcry last year when Scott Parker dived in the box against us.


Also, whilst McLeish is happy to talk about it being no penalty, he conveniently forgets about the one that they got against us in the game where Eduardo’s Arsenal career, and our title challenge that season, was ended. Clichy won the ball in that incident, but the referee gave the penalty. Yesterday, Chamakh got the ball and Dann made contact, albeit slight, with Chamakh’s right foot after the ball had gone. Penalty. A soft penalty, but a penalty nonetheless. The penalty was then taken well by Nasri, who sent the keeper the wrong way. 1-1 at half-time.


The second half got off to a great start when Wilshere played a lovely little dink into Chamakh who did a nice little pirouette whilst Carr looked on and Chamakh finished nicely despite the despairing dive of Ben Foster. 2-1 and it was a really nicely worked, and finished, goal.


We then set about being totally frustrating going forward, contriving to undermine ourselves. Not getting the third goal always meant that we couldn’t relax and there were some poor tackles, one by Eboue and another by Wilshere. The latter getting a straight red. We can have no complaints about the sending off as we all know that it doesn’t matter whether or not he meant to make that kind of tackle or hurt the player. The fact is it was a mistimed tackle and was studs up, so he had to go. It’s something that he will learn from and he came out after the game and admitted that it was a poor challenge and that he deserved to be sent off. It was a really unfortunate end to his afternoon as he had had a really outstanding game, yet again.


With Fabregas nearing a return to first team action, maybe the suspension will give Wilshere the break that he probably needs in order to recharge his batteries a little and come back even more energised following his automatic three game suspension.


The most important thing yesterday was getting the three points, we can worry about our defensive issues and attacking profligacy later, though hopefully not too much later. It was good to see  Bendtner get some playing time and let’s hope that he doesn’t suffer any kind of set-back.


Our win yesterday was made all the more important when Aston Villa and Chelsea drew 0-0 later in the evening. So, we are now in second place, level on fourteen points with ManUre but ahead of them on goal difference. The gap to Chelsea has been reduced from seven to five points.


I thought that Arshavin had a poor game for us yesterday and he is a player that really needs to up his game. I saw a quote from him recently wherein he said that he is a bit overweight, so it’s time for him to roll up his sleeves and put in some hard work in order to lose that weight and regain some form.


Former player (and eternal legend and bringer of joy) Robert Pires has been talking to L’Equipe about his current situation and thoughts on his future. I must admit that I would much prefer to see him stay with us in some form of mentor role for our younger players. To have someone like him around would be of invaluable benefit to the development of our younger players. Also, I would just hate it if he ended up signing for a cuntbucket like Pulis.

“ I spent six beautiful years at Arsenal. London became my home and I knew I would come back. On a professional level, I can imagine continuing my career here. Arsenal have offered me the opportunity to train and I can’t thank Arsene Wenger enough.

I am working with the reserves and sometimes with the professional group, which is perfect. England is probably the place where I have more chances to find a club. In England, people don’t look at your age. In Spain it was not the case, which is why I had to say goodbye.

Even for a club like Birmingham or Stoke City? Of course, if I have an opportunity from Aston Villa, I will rush. But I will analyse any proposition. I don’t want to go anywhere and fight every weekend for salvation. QPR? I would be attracted.

I am not necessarily looking for a six-month contract. I could imagine myself playing much longer. I will give myself until January 31st. If at the end of the winter transfer market I have not found a club, I will hang up my boots.”


Not a whole lot else going on, apart from the fact that that utter ballbag Pulis is STILL going on about Wenger, though this time he has finally admitted that he doesn’t like him. Never would have guessed that. Maybe it is because he is annoyed that he was publicly humiliated following his outing as a moronic naked head-butter (at the Emirates last season.) Message to The Naked Head-butter (TNH): suck my balls.


Right, that’s your lot for today. It’s still warm enough here in Yokohama to not need a jacket, so I am off out to enjoy what’s left of the afternoon.


Take it easy.

Arsenal vs. Birmingham preview.

October 16, 2010

Yesterday saw the manager’s weekly press conference take place and not a whole lot of new team news emerged. As stated on Thursday, Walcott, Gibbs and Bendtner are all back in contention for a place in the squad. I would imagine that all three will be on the bench today and Walcott and Bendtner will probably come on somewhere around the 67th minute, depending on how the game is going.


The team to start today is likely to be: Fabianski, Eboue, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Nasri, Diaby, Rosicky, Arshavin and Chamakh.


Options in defence are extremely limited as Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny and Vermaelen are all absent through injury. Fingers crossed that we can get all back as soon as possible as another injury in that department today would leave us stretched to the limit.


In midfield, Cesc is still not ready for a return. That leaves Song as the holding player with Diaby and Nasri as the two players in the middle that will have a bit more freedom to get forward. With Walcott just returning to fitness and Eboue playing at right back (his best position), that means that we are pretty much limited to playing Arshavin and Rosicky in the wider positions.


I think that Wilshere will be on the bench as after already playing more games than expected this season, he may need a bit of a breather. He could come on , if needed, but I think that we should protect him a little bit as we don’t want to burn him out. Of course, that could be a bit of a risky move with Cesc still absent, but if we can’t beat Birmingham at home without Wilshere, then we have no chance of winning anything this season.


If Wilshere is rested, then Diaby and Nasri will have to step up to the plate and deliver two top class performances, especially Diaby who really does have a point to prove to the Arsenal faithful.


If the game against West Brom at the Emirates taught us anything, it is that if the team isn’t up for the game the result is far from guaranteed. Hopefully the team have learned this lesson and will treat this game with the seriousness and application that it deserves. However, how many more times must the team be required to learn the same lesson? We have found ourselves in the same position for the past few seasons and it is time that the team actually learns this lesson instead of just saying after the fact that they must learn it.


If Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin and Diaby play well today, we should be more than a match for Birmingham.


It was good to see the manager deftly sidestep the whole tackling issue again as it would have inevitably just have given that buffoon Allardyce and his whorish sidekick Pulis something to whinge about in the Sunday papers.


Today will be the manager’s 800th game in charge and I hope that the team will go out and do him, and the fans, proud. I wonder who the player(s?) is that the manager has admitted lying for to protect? It’s all a bit pointless to speculate, I suppose, and doesn’t really make a big difference in the  grand scheme of things as we all know that Wenger always defends his players and keeps everything in-house. It could be Almunia. It could be Fabregas. It could be Bendtner. Who knows?


Here’s to a good performance and three points today.


Take it easy.

Time for Arsenal to get their groove back.

October 15, 2010

It’s great to have proper football back after the mind-numbing international break. It’s time for Arsenal to get themselves back into the title race. Okay, I know that we aren’t exactly out of the title race as there are still so many games left, but the fact is that given our start to the season, we need to start hitting our stride and putting a good run of wins together in order to keep as much pressure as possible on those both in front of, and around, us.


I think that the international break would have felt an awful lot longer were it not for the goings on at Liverpool. I’ve had many a hearty laugh at their plight this week. It’s even funnier that the fans have been displaying signs saying `Yanks out` and now they’re dying to jump right back into bed with another group of Americans. What could possibly go wrong? Though, honestly, I am hoping that the hedge fund, Mill Financial, gets control and leaves the club in limbo for the foreseeable future.


Anyway, back to Arsenal and Aaron Ramsey has been talking to ATVO about his nearing a comeback and it is great to know that he is back in training and within touching distance of a return to the squad.


In his interview yesterday, the manager revealed that Vermaelen and Sagna are both ten days away from fitness. Fabregas is described as being ‘very, very short’  but may have a chance for the mid-week game. However, Wenger may just have been describing Fabregas as he stood next to Kobe Bryant when they met recently. Almunia is still a few days away from being available and RvP was just just described as being ‘a bit longer’, which should give him good bragging rights in the dressing room, I’m sure.


I must admit that I think the Fabregas injury is very strange, and surprising, news as the player declared himself fit and ready just two days after the Chelsea game. That was ten days ago. Maybe he aggravated it during his recent trip to Capri? Who knows. But, it is a blow for the team that he isn’t yet 100% fit. When will we ever have a fully fit squad? To be honest, I can’t remember the last time that we were able to field our strongest team. At least the international break was kinder to us than usual. It’s been a while since that has happened.


Two players that are available again are Bendtner and Gibbs. It is great to get both of those players back. The return of Bendtner means that we have a bit more choice up front. It also means that, should we get the inevitable injury in that department, we will at least have cover. Walcott is also back in contention again and he should offer us a good attacking threat down the wing with his pace. If he is involved tomorrow, it will probably be from the bench. Fingers crossed he can improve his delivery of the final ball.


The return of Gibbs will help to keep Clichy on his toes. I think it was in France’s first game of the international break where Clichy failed to find a single French player with his balls into the box. I suppose there is some comfort in knowing that his final ball isn’t just rubbish for us. Some comfort, eh? I really think that we should use this season to give Gibbs some good experience in order to move Clichy on in the summer and make Gibbs our first choice left back from next season onwards. Clichy simply makes too many mistakes defensively and going forward he doesn’t make any kind of telling contribution either.


I hope that some payers used the international break for a bit of good ol’ self reflection on their form to date this season. It is clear that Song needs to concentrate on doing his job as the defensive midfielder. Protect the defence. Don’t pick up yellow cards for pointless fouls.


Diaby is a player that could be great, but just doesn’t seem all that bothered about becoming great. He speaks about wanting to win the Ballon D’Or, but someone should tell him that you actually have to work hard and play consistently well over a whole year to achieve that. So, Abou, time to get the finger out if you are to achieve that ambition. Recently, I am not sure which made me laugh more, that Diaby comment or the plight of Liverpool. Probably the latter, but only just.


Anyway, time is short so that’ll have to do for today. More tomorrow.


Take it easy.