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.

The sound of silence.

October 9, 2010

Sorry for no posts for the last few days, I was too annoyed after the Chelsea game to write any kind of balanced post so thought it better just to say nothing. There were some positives to take from the game; Fabianski played alright, we weren’t steamrollered out of the way like in previous encounters, we started well and created some good chances (which really ought to have been put away.)


The obvious downside being that for all of our possession, we generally failed to do anything with it and again our defence didn’t have the best of games. Squillaci looked a bit suspect again and Clichy left us a bit exposed at the back by getting caught forward meaning that Koscielny had to move wider to cover for him. Anyway, I don’t really want to go into the game too much now as it is in the past and we just have to forget about it. However, it does leave me a bit less optimistic about our defence for the remainder of the season. After showing signs of adapting quickly over the first few games, our new centre backs have been shown to be a bit wanting of late but I think that the return of Vermaelen, whenever that may be, should help us become a bit more solid in that area.


Alex Song is a player that has been a bit of a disappointment so far this season and just hasn’t matched the form that he carried through for the majority of last season. He seems to have lost his focus a bit and has forgotten that his main role is to be the defensive midfielder, not the guy that pops up from deep to score a goal. He has also given away a lot of totally needless fouls so he needs  to be a bit more intelligent and stop picking up silly bookings.


Thierry Henry has gotten himself quite the new pad in New York, and it only cost him a cool $14.85m. It’s well for some.


Robert Pires is back training with the club and has been talking about his arrival at the club and how he was wondering whether or not he had made the right decision as he sat on the bench away at Sunderland. He went on to say that he had his best years with us. A sentiment I wholly agree with and he is a player that we should never have let go, though his Champions League final substitution hammered the nails into his Arsenal career’s coffin.


Nicklas Bendtner has revealed that he hopes to be back in first team contention in the next two weeks. Whether or not he makes the bench for the Birmingham game remains to be seen. It will be good to have the big Dane back in the squad.


Jeremy Wilson spoke during the week about how the property side of business at Arsenal is set to provide Wenger with an extra 50m over the next three years or so. Though, some of that money will go towards new pitches and the Robin Van Persie medical & rehabilitation wing at Colney, the remainder should be available for Wenger to spend on players, should he choose to do so. Hopefully the bulk of that money will go towards strengthening the spine of our team, starting with a new goalkeeper. I’m not sure how based in fact and reality the above figure is, but you would hope that a conservative estimate would leave about 20m for investment in players. The big question being, will Wenger choose to spend the money that is clearly available to him? I feel that if this season doesn’t deliver a trophy, then we will see some clearing out of the dead wood in the summer as the boss has already said that we can no longer use the excuse of being a young team. He knows that it is time for the team to deliver and, if not, bite the bullet and make the necessary changes that could turn the corner for this team.


Speaking of which, Vito Mannone has been speaking about his frustration at not getting much playing time at the club. To be honest, you couldn’t blame him as it must be very hard to sit there and watch both the no1 and no2 goalkeepers making umpteen mistakes but yet he still doesn’t get the chance to prove himself. He has his eye on a move to Milan, but I’d be surprised if he got that without much playing experience under his belt.


Friday saw some unexpected back-up for Wenger’s views on tackling come in the form of comments from former Liverpool pikey, Danny Murphy, who basically echoed everything that Wenger said about tackling a few weeks ago. I bet there won’t be any castigation of Murphy in the papers like there was for Wenger. What is needed now are some more players to come out with similar statements. Though he did name Wolves, Blackburn and Stoke as the three main culprits, so it will be very interesting to see whether those three clubs and their despicable managers have anything to say on the matter. It’s no coincidence, in my opinion, that it finally took a tackle by a foreigner to make people start to realize that dangerous and reckless tackling needs to be dealt with. There certainly wasn’t the same level of castigation and outcry after the recent Henry and Wilkinson tackles. Funny that… Though you still get the unfathomably dimwitted views of monkeys like Shawcross that come out in defence of said tackling. I suppose it is because he knows that if he can’t make dangerous tackles, he becomes surplus to requirements in the world of football.


Chamakh has been talking about how Cesc was a factor in his deciding to sign for us and who could blame him for that? If you had to choose between playing in a team with Cesc, or playing in a team with Cattermole (Sunderland) or Rodriguez (Liverpool), it’s a bit of a no-brainer. The papers have also been leading with his describing Wilshere as ‘adorable’ off the field, but he was just trying to say that Wilshere is a top bloke, a really nice guy. However, it makes for better reading (and more website hits, which generates more advertising revenue) if it is translated literally rather than analyzing what he said for context and meaning.


The Goon Blog has been talking about the imminent arrival of Wellington Silva in January and also arse2mouse’s post about Danny Murphy’s comments regarding the dangerous tackling in the Premier League and how the managers of teams like Wolves, Stoke and Blackburn should shoulder a lot of the blame for said tackling. Both posts are a good read, check them out.


Barney Ronay has a good article about Wilshere in The Guardian in which he discusses the English desire to overwork their latest and greatest footballing prospect. IT’s just ridiculous that the player should have to play for both the U21s and senior squad in the space of four or five days. He should only be in one squad, not both and he should be treated with care and respect, not exploited until he breaks down with injury, like what happened with Walcott.


Apologies if some of the news in this post is a bit dated, I wrote bits and pieces day by day during the week, without feeling that there was enough to publish.


This international week has already gone on long enough and it is still a whole week until the return to Arsenal. Not sure how I am going to fill my time between now and then.


Right, that’ll have to do for today, hopefully some news will crop up over the coming days that will warrant a post, but what with it being international week, that’s unlikely to happen until Wednesday or Thursday when the players return to the club and we get some team news ahead of the visit of Birmingham.


Take it easy.

A brief Chavski preview.

October 2, 2010

Yesterday saw the manager’s press conference take place and he revealed that both Fabregas and Gibbs are definitely out of Sunday’s game against Chavski. Gibbs will be out for two or three weeks with a calf problem, an injury the club specialises in. The manager also revealed that Walcott is still two or three weeks away from a return and that Vermaelen’s achilles is healing at glacial pace.


I think that the emergence of Wilshere makes it easier for the manager to protect Fabregas. He knows that with Wilshere and Nasri in the team, there is still some creativity there, thereby making the absence of Cesc less severe. Hopefully this enforced break from football will mean that Fabregas has the chance to fully recover from both his injury and his exertions at the World Cup and that he will be 100% fit and raring to go from the Birmingham game onwards.


Although Diaby will be included in the squad, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be fit enough to start. If he does play, I hope we see the Diaby that is prepared to roll his sleeves up and work, rather than the one that just ambles around making no kind of telling contribution at all.


The starting line-up for tomorrow will probably be; Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin, Chamakh. After his performance last week, we can’t afford to have Eboue start if he plays as poorly as he did against West Brom. Likewise, we need Song (or Denilson should he start instead) to sit in midfield and be a shield to take some pressure off the defence. Forget about marauding forward in search of a goal. Just sit deep and protect the defence. The team needs to be solid tomorrow.


The manager might even decide to go with a more defensive starting line-up of: Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Wilshere, Nasri, Arshavin, Chamakh. This would let Song and Denilson offer solid protection to the defence, while letting Wilshere play a bit further forward with Arshavin and Nasri out wider. It would also allow for good positional interchange between Arshavin, Wilshere and Nasri.


I think the presence of Chamakh will make a big difference as he works for the team and will help us to be more solid and also more of a threat at the same time.


We will also need a fully concentrated Clichy, as we can’t afford any silly mistakes from him. The same goes for Fabianski, he will have to withstand plenty of pressure from the Chavski players at set pieces and he will have to make sure that he has the concentration and confidence in his own ability to stand up to that pressure. The whole defence will have to be much more solid than they were last weekend. Furthermore, we will have to work as a team, defend as a team. We must try to protect our keeper tomorrow.


It will be interesting to see how Squillaci and Koscielny deal with the strength and power of Drogba. Hopefully they will deal with him better than Senderos used to. Malouda is another player that we will need to keep an eye on as he has been in good form this season.


I actually think that we have a good chance to get something out of this game. Chavski have had some poor results recently and their good start to the season has been somewhat deceiving as the teams that they have played have been from the lower reaches of the league. The first real challenge that they had was against Man Shitty, which they lost. They’ve also been dumped out of the Carling Cup by Newcastle. So, they have been knocked off their perch a little bit and, with Lampard unavailable, I think that if our team turns up with the right attitude and work ethic we have a good chance to get a result.


There will be the inevitable cries of outrage should we lose the game and it would be far from ideal to lose and fall seven points behind so early in the season. However, we managed to bridge a similar gap on two occasions last season and with thirty-one games remaining after the game against Chavski, it is a gap that could be clawed back should we lose. However, the minimum result the team should be looking for is a draw and they should definitely approach the game in a positive manner and go for the win.


That’s it for today. Not sure if I will have time to make a post tomorrow. Here’s to a good performance tomorrow and a good result.


Have a good weekend.

Time to make Cashley swerve off the road.

October 1, 2010

This Sunday sees us take on Chavski, at Stamford Bridge, in what is already looking like it will be a big game in terms of our title ambitions. If we win, then we pull back to within a point of the leaders. Lose and we fall seven points behind them. While seven points is by no means an insurmountable gap to close over the course of the subsequent thirty-one games, but it would not a good position to be in after only seven games. Therefore to get a least a draw is very important.


The team is  going to have to put in a true team performance. We need all of our players to work together and each player will have to make sure that they do the jobs that they are picked to do. Alex Song is going to have to make sure that he is disciplined and just sits in midfield in his defensive midfielder role. He needs to forget about rushing forward to try and get a goal, we have attacking midfielders that do that job well. Song needs to be disciplined and to make sure that he acts as a shield for our defence.


Regardless of whether it is Fabianski or Almunia in goal, we need our defence and midfield to offer adequate protection to our goalkeeper. If the keeper gets no protection, then that will greatly increase the chance of a calamitous error happening.


There are big question marks over the fitness of Fabregas, who will undergo a test tomorrow in order to leave the decision on whether or not he can play as late as possible. It’s looking like the boss is going to have to decide if he is willing to take a gamble on what is clearly not a 100% fit Fabregas. Perhaps with an international break coming up, it may make such a gamble a bit more attractive as we won’t play again until the game at home to Birmingham on Saturday, 16th.


Vermaelen is set to miss out again, but should return for the visit of Birmingham. Bendtner is set to be available for selection after the international break, while Aaron Ramey’s recovery is progressing very well. That’s great news and hopefully he can get some playing time under his belt before Christmas. Diaby is touch and go to be fully fit for Sunday, but he will be involved in the match day squad.


England continue to dick around our young players with the news that Wilshere is tipped to play for both the u21s and senior squad during this international break. Now, I have no problems with him playing for the u21s, if he isn’t a member of the senior squad. However, having called him up for the seniors, that is where he should stay. They did a similar thing to Walcott and sent him back to us injured. Fingers crossed that they don’t break Wilshere, too. Funny how they moan that Arsenal don’t produce enough English players, yet do their best to wear out any young English players that we have, or dick them around by yo-yoing them between the two squads.


Our record against the big teams last season was really poor and that it something that we must look to rectify this year if we are to have serious ambitions of winning the title, starting on Sunday.


The Goon Blog wrote a good piece on the future of commercial revenue at the club and is well worth checking out if you haven’t already. Likewise, The Swiss Ramble also wrote a very good article discussing Arsenal’s finances. Read it. Before reading the latter, bear in mind that Man Shitty have just announced lossed of £121m and that their wages now exceed their turnover. Their wages exceed their turnover! That’s the clearest example that you will find of financial doping. Scandalous. Man Shitty’s income was £125m and their wage bill was £133m. That’s just mental.


That’s about all that I have. Oh, don’t forget to have a bit of a chuckle at the Spuds trying to up sticks and move to the Olympic stadium over in east London. At least if they move there they will have a small chance of becoming the biggest club in their area, maybe.


That’s all for today. Take it easy.