Waiting to rebound.

May 11, 2009

So, yesterday’s defeat to Chelsea means that we have now lost against two of the top three teams four times in all competitions in the past month or so. That kind of a record just isn’t acceptable and it seems like this season seems destined to end like it started.

 

As much as the boss would have us believe that this team is capable of challenging the top three sides for honours, it is blatantly obvious that it isn’t. However, the boss has once again said that we need to add one or two quality players in the summer and that we are prepared to spend the necessary money to get them. On the evidence of the season so far, I would be hoping that he signs three top quality players

 

Our defending against Chelsea yesterday was not worthy of a side which hopes to become one of the major forces in European football. There is a lot of work to be done on the training ground and some quality personnel to be acquired in both central defence and central midfield before this team will be anywhere near being able to challenge for honours on a consistent basis. On top of that, getting a replacement for Adebayor should be a priority too.

 

Again, the manager has said that we should ‘take some distance’ before analysing the game, or our problems. But, I would suggest that no distance is needed. It is blindingly obvious what is needed for this team in order to reach the level that the boss thinks we are already at, never mind reaching a level whereby we can seriously take on the likes of ManUre or Chavski.

 

On our defending the boss had this to say:

“We conceded four at Liverpool, three against Manchester United and four to Chelsea. We have to improve the way we defend. However, you wouldn’t like to come out when you lose 4-1 and say ‘listen, we are going to buy four defenders. It is more a case of balancing the team defensively than the quality of our defenders.”

 

Well, to be honest, the quality of the defenders in a team does matter and the likes of Silvestre is not quality. That’s not just because he came from ManUre, he was shite there too.

 

We did miss plenty of decent chances in the game yesterday and we should have scored more than the one consolation goal that we got, courtesy of Bendtner. However, we cannot defend to save our lives and fixing that issue while also recruiting some top quality players must be the top priorities this summer if we are not to fall even further behind.

 

Arséne also said that the job of management is one ‘for strong people’ and part of being strong should be to admit that maybe the youth project hasn’t really turned out as planned just yet and that to stop us from slipping out of the Champions League places next season or, even worse, failing to make it out of the qualifying round for next season’s competition, something must be done to address things. Whether it will be or not, who knows.

 

The season is now over for us although, sadly, not officially so just yet. The final game of the season can’t come quick enough for this team, and the fans. The boss should use the remaining games to give some of our younger youngsters some valuable playing time ahead of next season.

 

Fabianski was again very suspect on two of Chelsea’s goals yesterday and the manager calling Drogba a diver is a bit of ‘pot calling the kettle black’ when you look at Adebayor’s attempts to con the referee. I really hope that we get rid of him at the end of the season, along with the lazy Diaby.

 

Thankfully there are only two more games left to this season. On the evidence of the past few weeks I see us coming away with a maximum of three points, at best, out of those two games, but more than likely we will get just a solitary point unless things improve dramatically and quickly.

 

Right, I’m off to eat dinner and to try and put our footballing woes out of my mind.


A chance to rebound.

May 10, 2009

Today sees us take on Chelsea at the Emirates in a game which gives us the perfect chance to rebound from the crushing disappointment of our exit from the Champions League. However, Chelsea will also be looking to do exactly the same and their exit from the competition must have been much more psychologically crushing than ours due to the manner of their exit.

 

The boss has said that he will stick with Gibbs for today’s game and i hope that he does because he is certainly a better prospect at left-back than Silvestre.

 

At the back we should therefore line up with Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou and Gibbs. In midfield, I expect Song, Cesc and Nasri to play in the middle, with Song taking up the more defensive role thus leaving Cesc and Nasri more freedom to get forward. Walcott and possibly Van Persie may operate on the flanks, with Bendtner up front. Well, I hope that he starts with Bendtner up front as the young Dane will have a bit of a point to prove to the fans after his mid-week escapades. Though, it is more likely that Adebayor will start up front.

 

I think that Vela and Ramsey will get some playing time today, too. At this stage, I think it is important to give players like Ramsey, Vela and possibly Wilshere some proper first-team playing time ahead of next season.

 

Let’s hope that Arshavin can overcome his illness to play some part in today’s game.

 

In the Guardian today, Amy Lawrence talks about how Drogba is just the kind of player that Arsenal need. While he is a loathsome, diving cunt that I would hate to ever see wearing an Arsenal shirt, a player of similar stature and ability would be great for us. We need strikers that are willing to put themselves about and work hard for the team.

 

Despite Arséne’s comments on Friday that the players don’t know what is best for the team, Almunia has again come out and voiced his dissatisfaction with how we have done this year and that things need to change.

 

The young players are internationals and have been playing for Arsenal for a long time. They have played many games. They should have the experience now.

“Everybody is concerned by what happened against United. We need to be criticised. We need to do some self-analysis because Arsenal is a big club and we are not here to lose. Four years without a trophy is a long time. It’s too much for the fans – they deserve something more from us. Every time a team is in a bad situation you need someone to find a big solution.”

 

He went on to say:

“We played crazy from the start. We played more with the heart than the head. United didn’t do that. Can we compete with them next season? I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens in the summer.”

 

He is right to say that this team need to be criticised, because they have been molly-coddled  a bit too much by the manager and they need to know that they have to start performing and delivering. They excuse of youth can not, and should not, be tolerated next season. This squad have been together for a few years now and the honeymoon period is now most certainly over. Time to deliver. It is a very big summer for the club in terms of transfer activity and maybe a look should also be taken at our coaching positions and maybe the assistant’s position, too. When I see Pat Rice sitting next to Arséne i just get images of Phil Neal sitting next to Graham Taylor in the infamous “Do I not like that!” documentary. He comes across very much as a ‘yes man’.

 

Reports in the Daily Star link us, yet again, with Fulham’s Brede Hangeland who I think would be a decent signing for us and could definitely strengthen our defence, given his performances for Fulham this season.

 

It appears that some tosser Portsmouth fan spat into Theo’s water bottle during the game at Fratton Park. Filthy bastard. That’s just not on, by all means shout abuse at someone, but spitting INTO a drink is out of order. I’m sure that the media won’t say much about it but, if they do, I am sure that Mark Bright will say that he’d rather get an elbow in the face, a broken arm, rib and leg and dislocated shoulder rather than have someone spit in his drink. We can but hope…

 

Even Alisher Usmanov is sticking his big fat oar in by saying that we need to invest heavily in the squad to catch up with ManUre. While despising the big fat Uzbek, I do agree that we must invest in this squad, but it need not necessarily be heavy investment as long as we get the right quality.

 

Reports in papers suggest that Wenger has between twenty and forty million to spend this season, but I imagine that this figure has been plucked right out of each journalist’s over-imaginative ass.

 

Lee Dixon has a good article in today’s Times and he is spot on with everything that he says. I must admit I like Yaya Toure and was impressed with him when he played for Barcelona against Yokohama Marinos (not the best of teams, I must admit) in a friendly a year or two ago.

 

Non-Arsenal related news, it was great to see Stoke beat Hull yesterday and with West Brom winning it sets up the possibility of Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Hull being the teams to be relegated. How great would that be?! Fingers crossed it’ll be ‘howay (with) the lads’ to the Championship next season.

 

If you don’t already, check out these other Arsenal blogs, they’re very good and offer well-balanced opinions. Arseblog; Gunnerblog; Goonerholic; East Lower.

 

** UPDATE: hahahahaha. Thankfully our players just have belt and gravity issues.

 

** UPDATE 2: The domain name for the site has now changed to http://thenorthbankblog.com

 

That’s all for today. Take it easy.


They all have trousers.

May 9, 2009

Good morning to you from a hot and sunny Yokohama. It’s a nice 25C today, and all is well. As we know, Theo Walcott signed his new contract yesterday and it’s great news for the club, no doubt. Let’s hope it is a sign of things to come from our new CEO Ivan Gazidis. I wonder how long he has to be at the club before we stop referring to him as our ‘new CEO’. Next on his agenda should be the contract of Robin Van Persie. Theo, of course, is delighted with having finally put pen to paper on his new deal and is looking forward to a more stable future with the club. Let’s hope he is an integral part of our starting eleven for years to come.

 

Arsen-wenger_1399635c 

Thankfully the boss yesterday said the words that we have all been longing to hear regarding his transfer policy over the coming months:

 

“If we buy players it certainly won’t be players who lack experience. We have enough of those. We spend the right money for the right players.”

 

I for one am delighted to hear him say that, though I would have preferred if he had left the ‘if’ out of it. It should be ‘when we do sign players’ rather than if. But, it’s a refreshing thing to hear him say it nonetheless.

 

He went on to say:

“We can go further because we have a young team. It’s not a team that is over the hill. It is a team that is at the start of the hill. You have to accept as well what we have done. We are in the last four in Europe and we have not lost a [Premier League] game since November. We have lost in the Champions League semi-final to a team that is better than us, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. United are the world and European champions.”

 

I wonder how long this team can remain at the start of the hill and will it manage to progress up the hill. the longer it remains at the start of a hill the less likely it is to progress and we have been at the start of this hill since the end of the Invincibles season. So, either we are not progressing or the hill is getting steeper. No doubt losing Flamini set us a little further down the hill going into this season.

 

Elsewhere the line-up for the Emirates Cup was announced and I have to say that it isn’t a particularly mouth-watering prospect as the participating teams are Rangers, Atletico Madrid and Paris St Germain. Not exactly top quality sides, but it will be nice to watch the competition via a stream all the same.

 

In his press conference the boss said that our attitude in training was spot on, if only they carried that attitude into our recent games against ManUre and Chelsea.

 

He also said that basically the players opinions over signings the club should make don’t really matter, which you can understand, though you would hope that he would also take on board that they are making these comments because they feel that the squad needs improving.

 

“It’s human – every player wants to play with big names because it is reassuring. You ask them if they feel they need to sign players, you will get everywhere a positive response. If you ask the players in what position, you will never get their position. Everyone can have opinions but the people who make decisions have responsibilities for the longer-term of the club.”

 

The boss also stated his disappointment over the Bendtner photos and said that the player has been fined by the club, even though he was set-up in order to get a photo. Apparently someone pulled his pants down from behind as he was exiting the club and apparently he wasn’t drunk.

 

“I was angry but he has been set up. He was not drunk. He did not put his trousers down, somebody did it for him and somebody was posted with a camera. It was somebody he doesn’t know, from behind. That’s what he told me. I fined him not for that, I fined him because he should not have gone out.”

 

If that is what the player has said, we will just have to take his word for it and consider it case closed.

 

More good news is that the manager has said that, as it is now basically the end of the season, we will be trying to extend the contracts of a number of players. Great news, I think we can all agree. He had this to say about the Van Persie situation:

 

“I am hoping he will sign a new deal and I am trying very hard to get him to sign. I want Robin on board. He is a very important player in the squad and on the pitch he is a very efficient player. We want him to stay because we gave him a chance when he was in a very bad position at Feyenoord. I think he developed well here and I don’t see a reason for him to go and he loves the club.”

 

It’s good to see the boss giving him a little reminder of what the club has done for him and that he owes us some loyalty.

 

Team news for tomorrow sees us with the same squad as Tuesday as there is a huge doubt over the fitness of Arshavin as he is still suffering from flu. So, I think that we can expect the same starting eleven against Chelsea as we did against ManUre. I hope that it is the same side as that will give them a chance to bounce straight back, to prove something to themselves as well as the fans. The manager also assured the media that all of the players will have trousers. Hehe.

 

A quick congratulations to Andrey Arshavin on picking up this month’s ‘Player of the Month’ award. He has been in great form for us since his arrival and there is a lot more to come from him over the next few seasons. Well done, comrade.

 

Right, that’s about all for today. Have a good one.


Time to start moving on…well, at least try to.

May 8, 2009

It’s nice to finally get to Friday, not just because that means the end of the working week, but also because it means that we can start to lay this week to rest and put it behind us. It has been a pretty tough few weeks for us Arsenal fans, what with going out of the FA Cup to Chelsea and then the Champions League to ManUre. But, we have to put all of that behind us now as there is nothing that can be done about it until the summer.

 

For those interested you can check out pictures of Bendtner making a tool of himself here.

 

Looking ahead to the game on Sunday, it seems like we don’t have any fresh injuries and the team will probably be the same as started against ManUre, though I would expect Arshavin to come back into the side in place of Van Persie whose chocolate groin may melt in the mid-May afternoon sun. There is a slight doubt over Arshavin as he has apparently been suffering a bit from flu, let’s hope he didn’t catch it from Carlos Vela and his visiting mates.

 

Clichy has been ruled out for the rest of the season as the boss isn’t prepared to take a gamble with his injury now that we have nothing left to play for but pride.

 

There is still a chance that we can get third place from Chelsea. The odds are against us, that’s for sure, but it can be done. If we beat them on Sunday, that would put us within three points of them with two games to go and given that Chelsea have an FA Cup final on the horizon there is the chance that they may rest some players in their three remaining league games. Let’s hope that they start by resting a few against us this Sunday, especially Didier Drogba as he always rips us a new ass when he comes up against us.

 

As today is Friday, that means there is a new podcast from Arseblogger. So, head on over there and check it out. It always a good listen, especially if you live abroad like me.

 

I don’t really want to mention any more about the squad and how it can be improved today as it is something which will rumble on and on until the obligatory deadline day when we will be yet to sign anyone and hoping Arsene pulls a on-the-stroke-of-midnight signing. Hopefully any such signing will come with an ‘s’ at the end because we certainly need more than one.

 

The club have just announced that Theo Walcott has just signed a new long-term deal which is great news for the club and is something which can help to raise the spirits of both the players and the fans.

 

As I sit here trying to remain positive and keep the faith in Arsene, the reality that we are just not up to scratch raises its ugly head to dampen my futile attempts at optimism. But, in times like these I remind myself of the times when us Arsenal fans used to have ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ sung at us and it was actually true. Granted it brought us some success along the way, but it wasn’t exactly pretty to watch. Now we are in a situation where we play nice football (and at times mesmerising football) but it is failing to deliver in what really matters, silverware. It’s not the style of our play that is to blame, it’s just the depth, quality and age/experience of our squad. Alan Hansen said in the 90’s that you ‘don’t win anything with kids’ and people have thrown that back in his face time and time again, but it totally applies to this Arsenal squad. When he said that, he was referring to a ManUre squad that had a handful of young players coming through whereas we have almost an entire squad of young players.

 

The hardest thing to swallow is that Arsene trots out the same excuses when we lose; we lacked experience; we were naive etc. But, you have to lay all of the blame for that firmly at the door of the manager who is ultimately responsible for the make-up of that squad. He fought for the new stadium, he decided to go with the youth policy as that was the cost of moving to the new stadium, he insisted on having total control over everything that goes on at the club. It is now his job to figure out how to get us out of this mess.

 

There is always a high probability that us bloggers and fans overreact when writing and talking about the club and its direction so soon after such a crushing defeat, but I think we all agree on the fundamental issues affecting the team and there is nothing wrong with talking about those as long as we don’t get involved in Patsy Palmer style hyperbole.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I think Wenger is a great manager and has totally transformed the club but he has a lot of work to do before we are ready to seriously challenge on a consistent basis again. One can only hope that the strengthening of his position by Kroenke Tonk Stan and the appointment of Ivan Gazidis will see us have a more pro-active transfer policy and really start to move the club forward again as we have been in a steady decline ever since the season of the Invincibles.

 

One more thing I’d like to touch on, which came us in yesterday’s comments, is the fact that so many ‘fans’ left the stadium early. I honestly don’t see the point in leaving a game early, regardless of the way the game is going. What kind of a signal does that send to the team? Why are the players meant to give a monkeys about the club if the fans themselves fuck off home, or to the pub, long before the game ends. For me, that’s not being a real fan. A real fan stays there to support the team, they don’t turn their back on them. It’s akin to the booing of Eboue that went on earlier in the season. It just goes to show how fickle fans can be, if your team is doing well its easy to stay until the end but if things go a bit Pete Tong the toys get thrown out of the pram and some people bugger off. That’s not what being a football fan is all about, in my opinion. I imagine that opinion among fans will be divided on this issue and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but that’s just how I feel about the situation.

 

You are at the game, you have a seat that those of us that happen to work thousands of miles away from the stadium would give our right nut for and yet you walk out of the stadium early. That does my head in. I know it’s your money, your seat and you can do whatever you want to do with that. I just think it’s wrong and projects the wrong image of Arsenal fans. We should strove to be better than other teams, that means both fans and players alike. Someone who walks out of a game before the end has absolutely no right whatsoever to question the commitment of someone like Adebayor or Diaby as they themselves are not giving their all. That’s just my opinion.

 

Speaking of Adebayor there is a good article in The Mirror that sums him up nicely.

 

I wish that we were playing Chelsea tomorrow as we need to get a game under our belts as soon as possible to try and get our minds off the extreme disappointment and hurt that we are all feeling. The last few days have been long and hard. Everything has felt like a chore to do because there is a deep sense of what might have been combined with a realisation that we are not at the level that we think we should be.

 

Okay, I’m going to finish here because this is getting a bit too long.

 

Keep the faith. We are The Arsenal and we will rise again.


Welcome to The North Bank! It’s a big weekend for The Arse…

March 21, 2009

Being a Gooner in Japan isn’t easy. Kick-off times generally clash with the last train home, thus making watching The Arse in the pub a bit difficult. Though we tend to get almost every Arsenal game shown live on cable/satellite, so I can’t really complain too much because the option is there to watch the game in the confines of my own apartment.

Anyway, looking forward to today’s game, it really is a game where we need to take all three points and make the most of Villa’s loss of form and our continued unbeaten run. It really is due to Villa’s recent collapse that we have regained fourth spot and not our own unbeaten run as, while we remain unbeaten, our form hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire.

Team news indicates a probable return in goal for Almunia and Eduardo will also be involved in the squad, although he probably won’t start. So, I expect us to start with Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas and Clichy at the back. The midfield line-up will depend on whether Wenger goes with a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1. Should he go with 4-4-2, I’d expect to see Arshavin, Denilson, Song and Nasri start with Van Persie and Bendtner up front. Though Diaby may start in place of Song, but if you consider that Song seems to be The Golden Child, I think it is fairly certain that he’ll get the nod.

A 4-5-1, would probably see us line up with Arshavin wide right, Van Persie wide left, Denilson, Song and Nasri in the middle with Bendtner up front by himself.

Expect to see Eboue to make his obligatory appearance at some stage too. Though, to be fair, he has been doing better in the last few games he has appeared in.

The loss of Walcott to injury, again, is a massive blow for the team as he really does offer us something that no other player in our squad can. However, at this stage we can just cross all appendages that his injury isn’t as serious as we all fear it may be. If he is out for the five weeks, as hypothesised by Wenger at yesterday’s press conference, then it really is a big blow for our aspirations. However, with the return of Fabregas, Adebayor and, potentially, Rosicky these players may help to offset the loss of Theo.

Early Newcastle team news seems to suggest that Owen will be dropped in order for them to play a defensive 4-5-1 with Martins leading the line. This is a shame as they would have been less of a threat with Owen in the starting line-up. Hehehe.

Elsewhere, we’ll be hoping for Spuds to do us a favour by getting an unlikely result against a resurgent Chelsea. I suppose a draw in the Liverpool v Villa game would be the best result for us, assuming we win today, in order to put light between ourselves and Villa and while also gaining ground on third place. A result for Portsmouth against Everton would also be welcome as it would, if nothing else, sicken Moyes.

Oh, given that week that’s in it, it would be a gross dereliction of duty if I weren’t to say that I hope Wigan stuff Hull in tomorrow’s early kick-off. Phil Brown really is a despicable, lying piece of sh*t.

Anyway, there are still a few hours until kick-off which gives me plenty of time to go out and get some cans of beer in for the game.

Right then, that’s your lot for today. Come on you Reds!!!