Saturday round-up and West Brom preview.

September 25, 2010

Today sees us take on West Brom at the Emirates. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT and coverage will begin on J-Sports Plus at 22:54 JST.

 

The manager revealed that both Diaby and Rosicky are doubts for the game and were set to undergo fitness tests yesterday. As of yet, I haven’t heard anything with regards to the results of said tests. Though I think that we can assume that Diaby won’t make the game as he has a history of taking time to recover from injury. Perhaps Rosicky will make the bench. Squillaci missed the Spuds game with a muscular problem and he may make the team today. Eboue is also struggling to be fit due to a knee problem. I would be fairly certain that Gibbs will not be involved in the match day squad as there is no point in taking any kind of risk with him. He will probably be back for the game against Chavski, even though the manager has said that he has a chance to be involved in the Champions League game in midweek.

 

That should see us line up with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Arshavin, Vela and Chamakh. That’s assuming a worse case scenario in that only Squillaci shakes off the ‘small’ injury he had. I think that if we didn’t have so many players carrying small injuries, that Wilshere would certainly have been rested for this game, but I don’t think that we can afford to rest him considering that Cesc is definitely out and there may be a small question mark over Rosicky and Nasri. Though Nasri said after the Spuds game that he should be okay. Who the third man in central midfield will be will depend a lot on the outcome of the fitness tests, otherwise it will go to Wilshere, or one of JET, Eastmond or Lansbury or Nasri.

 

The team needs to re-focus quickly for this game as it is a game in which we must get all three points. We are already playing catch-up on Chavski and cannot allow them to get any further ahead before our against them next Sunday.

 

Yesterday, following the announcement to the club’s finances, there was the inevitable outcry as to why we don’t spend money and that Arsenal has gone from a football club to a business. However, I think that much of the criticism has been grossly unfair on both the manager and the club. Given the number of rich benefactors that have entered the game, had Arsenal stayed at Highbury they would now be dead in the water as they just wouldn’t be able to, or have any future chance to, compete financially. Therefore, the move to the Emirates was vital in order to secure the long-term future of the club, without the need for rich investors. In order to make this move work, the club had to put itself into a scary amount of debt and for this to work we had to embark on a youth development oriented approach to the future. Financial prudence had to be exercised.

 

This approach was accepted in the beginning by most, if not all, fans as we all knew that it was what was needed. However, over time, some quarters became more and more angry and disillusioned with the club and its seeming reluctance to spend. What sometimes has gotten lost in the argument is that in the beginning the money just wasn’t there to invest and then in the more recent years, although the money has been available the manager has not wanted to buy a player that would block the progress of the young players that he had spent the last four, five or six years developing. The manager himself said as much himself in Matt Law’s article in the Daily Express:

“We make a profit because we don’t spend – simple as that. What is unbelievable is that people reproach me for making a profit, but nobody says a word about those who lose money.

I manage in a safe way, but it looks like we are in a business where the quality is to lose money. You know I have the wrong reputation. I’m not scared to spend money, but the job of a manager is not to spend as much money as possible.

To get Chamakh for free – instead of getting credit I get accused for getting him for free. ‘Why did you not spend £20m for him?’ If I bought him two years ago for £20m, then it’s OK. But when you get him for free it’s, ‘Oh, Wenger didn’t spend money again’.”

 

The manager really must feel like he just can’t win. If he spends money and buys players he will either get stick from the fans for bankrupting the club or from the media for fielding a team of foreigners. Likewise, when he is financially prudent and tries to bring through young talent, he gets killed for turning the club into a business and being reluctant to spend. It seems that no matter what he does he will get castigated by someone, so I prefer he continues with the policy he has now.

 

In the same article, the manager went on to defend his youth oriented policy:

“I am reproached for not buying players but, for example, if I buy players Jack Wilshere doesn’t come through, so you cannot have everything. I have a development policy to educate the players and the most difficult thing is to stand up for the policy and play them.

I’ll give you one day the list of those players at the top level who have made careers with me. You will be absolutely astonished – nobody else in the world has made so many careers.

How do I know? First, make a list of the players who started their top-level careers at Arsenal. People like Djourou, Senderos, Clichy, Gibbs, Fabregas, Song, Ashley Cole. If you go all the way back through the names it is unbelievable the number of players who started at this club.

But I speak about me. When I go back to Monaco, the number of players that started with me – Petit and Thuram. When I arrived in England nearly all the Manchester United team had started there, but not recently.”

 

The Daily Mail somehow manage to get a big article today out of the fact that Wenger doesn’t generally share a drink with the opposing manager after a game. Quite why this is an actual story is beyond me. Why would ANYONE want to share a drink with the likes of Pulis or Allardyce? Now, I could envisage him sharing a drink with Ancelotti as he seems like a genuinely nice bloke. But, why would he want to share a post-game drink with two managers that have had nothing but bad things to say about him? Speaking on the matter Wenger told the official site:

“I’ve got nothing against it. When you play away from home you are in a hurry to catch the plane and you are playing three days later. Once I do my press, and my press can last quite a while, I have no time. Most of the time my assistant will go and have a drink.

 
I recognise that [can make me seem aloof] but there’s no bad feeling in that, I just feel after the game you stay on your own and you don’t want to disturb people. I’ve always had that philosophy, even in France. When I arrived here I didn’t know anyone. The managers all knew each other and played alongside each other but when you arrive from a foreign country you don’t know anyone.

I’m not shy, I didn’t even know this tradition existed before I came here. And it’s not that we have nothing in common – we love football and we both love to win. I’m always happy to meet people at the Emirates but away from home we want to get away as quickly as possible. After the game my mind is on the next game but sometimes other managers go quickly as well. When we are at home we always invite them in.”

 

That’s about all I have for today. I’m glad it’s Saturday and that Arsenal are live on TV again. No need to go chasing the stream today.

 

Have a good weekend. I’m off to debate (with myself) whether or not I should go out drinking in Tokyo/Yokohama tonight, or just have a chilled evening at home with cans of Kirin and shouting expletives at the TV.

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Injury updates and a look towards the weekend.

September 23, 2010

As exclusively revealed here yesterday, the scan on Gibbs showed only bruising. We can consider ourselves very fortunate that he will only be out for a relatively short period of time as he is a player that is very important for us this season as we need him to keep up the pressure on Clichy to perform week-in-week-out. Although the injury was feared to be the second metatarsal, which is different to the one he broke before, another metatarsal break would have been a major blow for the player and his development. So, bullet dodged.

 

Hopefully another ten days of rest will sort Vermaelen out and he can make it back for the Chavski game.

 

Enough of the bad news and on to some better news on the injury front. I can reveal that Diaby, Walcott and Van Persie have all started running again and so they are slowly making their way back towards being available for selection. However, as of yet, no date has been set for the return of any of the three players. I suspect Diaby will be the first of those to return, though given his injury history that may be a wildly optimistic prediction. One way or another, the above three players and Fabregas should all be pretty fresh for our traditional hell month, November. I haven’t heard anything on the Bendtner injury front.

 

Looking ahead to the weekend and we will be taking on West Brom at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT, which means coverage will begin at the much more convenient time of  22:54 JST. I am really looking forward to being able to watch the game at a more sociable hour. The game will be shown live on J-Sports Plus, while at the same time J-Sports 2 will be showing Liverpool vs Sunderland. The early game between Man Shitty and Chavski will be shown live on J-Sports 2 from 20:39. Looks like it will be a decent evening of football for me.

 

The team selection for the weekend should see Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy play in defence. Midfield is likely to see Song, Denilson, Rosicky, Eboue, and Arshavin start with Chamakh again being the lone man up front. I think that Wilshere will be rested and Nasri may also be rested as there was a slight fitness worry over him at the end of the Spuds game.

 

The last thing we need is to take risks with the fitness of the players, so it would be prudent to exercise some caution with Nasri if there is any doubt at all over his fitness. Wilshere could also do with a little breather ahead of the Champions League and Chavski games next week. We should learn a little more about the possible weekend team selection over today and tomorrow as the manager’s weekly interview and press conference appear on ATVO.

 

Looking at the Carling Cup this could be our best chance for years to go on and win it. Liverpool, Chavski, Everton and Man Shitty are all out and it would be nice if we could get a favourable draw in the next round. We all know that for any of the big teams, the Carling Cup is the lowest priority, however, this team needs to win something in order to instill that belief and winning attitude. They need silverware, regardless of how low of a priority that competition may be. They need to experience winning a final. They need to know that they can do it. If that happens, it could be the catalyst to start an era of dominance for this team. I know that that last sentence is a bit Myles-esque in its hyperbole, but I really think that once the first trophy comes more will quickly follow. Much like going out drinking at the weekend and needing to use the bathroom, this team needs to break the seal. This is a sentiment echoed by Rosicky in the Daily Express.

 

I have a feeling that Wenger’s team selection against Spuds revealed that he may be coming around to the same way of thinking. Outside factors such as the easing of the club’s debt may also mean that there doesn’t need to be such an emphasis on blooding youngsters in this competition as we are not as reliant on that for continued success as has previously been the case. Or, it could just be that we have seen many of these players playing in the Carling Cup for a number of years now and it doesn’t feel like we are playing a weakened team in that competition anymore. These players are, for the most part, ready for inclusion in the first team squad and so the fruits of previous Carling Cup campaigns are paying off. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. All that I know is that I would love to see this club win a trophy this season and if that trophy is the Carling Cup, so be it. We have to start somewhere.

 

Speaking to the official site following the Tottenham game, Rosicky revealed his admiration for Jack Wilshere and he basically echoes the thoughts and sentiments that all fans have for our emerging star:

“He is great talent. For his age he has a great brain and he has a great future. When he has got the ball he is very calm, that’s something that sometimes younger guys don’t have – they panic a little bit or something.

With him you don’t see that though – he is very comfortable with the ball. That’s the first quality you are looking for and he has got that. Obviously we want Cesc in our line-up but all players who started showed that they are ready.”

 

Even though I am Irish, the fact that Wilshere is an emerging English talent does make him a bit more special. I suppose it also helps that the emergence of the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, JET and Eastmond gives the media one less thing to denigrate Arsenal for. All of these players have big futures in the game, hopefully that future is at Arsenal. The days of the media harping on about Arsenal not fielding any English players, not that that should make a difference anyway as it is about quality not nationality, should be at an end.

imageThe future?

 

That’s a longer post than I had expected to write, so I’d best just stop here. But before I go, check out John Cross’s article on tackling. It’s a good read.

 

Take it easy.


We’ve got Six Fabregas.

September 16, 2010

Good morning. I think that we can all be happy with the result of last night’s game and especially with our performance. The team played really well and it is a great sign that even with so many players absent due to injury the team can still put in top quality performances.

 

Granted, Braga may not be the greatest team in the world and they made the team’s job a lot easier by allowing our players space and time on the ball. But, we shouldn’t forget that they dispatched Celtic and Sevilla in order to get to the group stage and they finished ahead of Porto in the league last season. So, they are by no means pushovers.

 

As expected, the team, lined up in defense with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy. Though, in midfield, we started with Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas and Arshavin with Chamakh playing up front. I had thought that Wilshere may have been rested for the game as he has played quite a lot so far this season but he had a good game and his cheeky little back-heel for Chamakh’s goal was the icing on a good all-round performance by him. Let’s hope that he can keep his feet on the ground, because if he can do that he will develop into a world class player.

 

The goals came from Fabregas (penalty and header), Chamakh, Arshavin and two for Vela. Fabregas was great again and I think he is now back to his normal level, which is great. I also think that the arrival of Chamakh has made a difference too as his link play, holding up the ball and work rate is something that we were missing up front and it is nice to have a striker that is not afraid to get hurt in order to get on the end of a cross.

 

The most exciting thing about this season is that the team seems to have grown, learned and improved when compared with the last two seasons. That is great to see and it is also good to hear the manager say that we can no longer use being young as an excuse for not winning. The manager, players and fans all know that it is time for this team to deliver, no excuses. I, for one, really have a feeling that this could be a big year for us.

 

I’m not just getting carried away on the basis of last night’s result, but if you look at our games this season we have certainly grown as a team and the only blemish on our record is the 1-1 draw at Anfield, which is never a bad result, especially when you are a goal down with one minute left on the clock. Compare that with ManUre, whereas we are gaining a point late on, they have twice lost points late on.

 

The team has character and is showing signs of a greater resilience. Let’s hope that they can continue this vein of form as we can all remember them starting well before only to let their work-rate drop and as a result the performances and results  reflected that. Hopefully this year they will put right that issue.

 

After the game the manager spoke about the quality of our performance:

“We won the game but I believe as well we played the game we wanted to play, at a high pace, with top technical quality and with a lot of creative attitude and a good concentration and collective spirit. Our game is based on that. It’s our philosophy and, for long patches of the game, we managed to express that. I believe we had many good performances on the pitch. Everybody played quite well, we were sound at the back, Wilshere had a very good game as well. Everybody played well.”

 

I suppose the only real downside of the performance was the poor accuracy of Arshavin’s passing and that is an area that he needs to work on. At one stage his passing accuracy was around 56%, which just isn’t good enough at that level. Defensively we could be a bit more solid, but hopefully that will come as Koscielny and Squillaci get used to the league and each other. Clichy is also a bit of a worry and it can only be a good thing that he now has Gibbs breathing down his neck.

 

The manager also revealed that Diaby has some bruising and ligament damage. We can only hope that they crack out some Oleg Luzhny placenta to help his recovery along and that he is back in training sooner rather than later.

 

Next on the agenda is a trip to the Stadium of Light at the weekend and it is a game where the team will need to stay fully focused in order to keep our current good run going and to keep pressure on Chelsea and ManUre. The game is a 17:30 GMT kick-off, which means that it’ll be a delightfully convenient 01:30 JST kick-off here… I hate when we have a late kick-off, though at least Sunday is a day off.

 

That’s about all for today. Check out Arseblog and Gunnerblog who will probably have a more in-depth report on last night’s game. Though, I suppose that’s what newspaper websites like The Guardian are for.

 

The shareholders’ Q&A session should be taking place this evening from 6pm-7pm, so hopefully there will be some interesting things to come out of it.

 

Right, that’ll do for today. Take it easy and enjoy the feeling of a 6-0 victory in the Champions League.


Fulham preview and news round-up.

May 8, 2010

The final game preview of the season is here and a little more news has begun to trickle through regarding tomorrow’s game, though it has come more from the Fulham side in that both Duff and Zamora are confirmed as missing out. Both are welcome absentees from an Arsenal perspective as it was Zamora that tortured Sol a few years back in what turned out to be his final game for the club in his first stint here. So, I’m sure Sol will be happy to not have to face him again, as am I, because he has been in good form this season.

 

The manager said that there is a chance that Clichy will play, but to be honest I would rather see him take a chance on Gibbs as it is the final game of the season and even if Gibbs were to have a setback, there is still plenty of time for him to recover before the new season gets underway. Not that I want him to have a setback, but you know what I mean. I think that Gibbs will be the future of the club at left back, so it would be nice to see him get a bit more playing time under his belt before the end of the season.

 

Both Van Persie and Arshavin should start the game, probably Walcott, too, with no other players to return since the Blackburn game. That leaves the manager with one huge decision to make, that being who to play in goal tomorrow? If indeed Almunia DOES have an injury, then it is a choice between Lukarse and Mannone. Neither of those choices fills me with great confidence but, I would pick Mannone ahead of Lukarse as we know that Lukarse has a definite mistake in him in every single game he plays, guaranteed. Mannone may be younger and less experienced, but I would have more confidence in him to do a job for us tomorrow, especially as he had such a good game against Fulham before. It’s crazy that Arsenal are in the situation where we’re hoping our third choice keeper plays instead of our 2nd choice, but that’s where we find ourselves so we just have to get on with it. Pray to whatever god or higher power you believe in that Wenger goes out and buys a quality keeper in the summer.

 

So, our probable line-up tomorrow will be: Mannone (hopefully), Sagna, Campbell, Silvestre (God help us), Clichy, Walcott, Eboue, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin and Van Persie.

 

I think Eboue will keep his place after looking bright and making some good runs against Blackburn last week. Though we may see Eduardo start in place of Walcott. If that happens, we could see Arshavin and Van Persie starting in the wider positions with Eduardo up front. Van Persie plays out wide for the national team, so he could be a good support for Eduardo, who is likely to play his last game for the club tomorrow.

 

Elsewhere, the boss says that Tottenham deserve their place in the Champions League and as much as it pains me to say it, you can’t really disagree with that. After 38 games, the league table doesn’t lie. But, we’d better not let those bunch of c*nts pip us to third. I was at the Villa game a good few years back on the final day of the season when ManUre clinched the title on the final day by beating Spuds and a bunch of Spuds c*nts came down to Islington to gloat/goad the Arsenal fans. So, we can’t give them the chance to do something similar again.

 

The boss also came as close as he ever has to confirming a transfer without actually confirming it when saying this about Chamakh:

“It is not officially done, but we are confident on the boy. When all is clear we will come out and announce it.”

 

So, we are a step closer to having our first signing officially announced. Now, Arsene, get the finger out and sort out our goalkeeping and central defensive issues, please.

 

Of our current league predicament, the manager had this to say:

“I am surprised because I thought we would make the points before now. I know this match comes after a few disappointing results and of course since we have gone out of the Champions League there was a little downer in our heads. But I think we have enough pride and quality to finish the season well and to secure third place.”

 

It’s the job of the manager and his staff to make sure that the players retain their focus, fight  and desire, despite the disappointment of going out of the Champions League. You get the feeling that there was an air of complacency floating around the club in that they thought that a 3rd place finish was a given. This year should be another lesson to the team that nothing can be taken for granted in the league. But, how many times do they have to be taught this lesson? I wonder can Demento lend his hairdryer to us this weekend, because some of the players need a good kick up the arse.

 

Talking about possible transfers and team progression the boss had this to say:

 

“If we bring some players in then they have to be experienced. I think we have been in the race this year with the team we had. We will be stronger next year just with the internal improvement and with the experience these players will have. The additions will be minimal but if there are some they have to be really top class.”

 

In a strange way it is the final line of that quote that scares me the most, because we have heard the manager say this before and he has then gone out and signed Silvestre. Fingers crossed he means actual quality players this time. They don’t have to be expensive, as long as they are good. Also, I hope that our players actually do learn from the experiences of this season.

 

Anyway, this is the final game of the season, it’s at home, so I hope that our fans will give their all to drag the team across the finish line. The team needs our total support tomorrow. One game, three points. Let’s get the job done.

 

One final note, I’d like to wish Robert Pires (one of my all-time favourite Arsenal players) all the best in finding a new club after Villarreal told him that they won’t be renewing his contract. I still wish that we had never let him go.

 

Take it easy. I’ll be back on Monday.


The final Friday.

May 7, 2010

This is the final Friday of the season for The Arsenal and as of yet things have been a bit slow news-wise today. Things have also been a bit quiet on the official word front, in terms of a confirmation/denial of the Chamakh(alaka) Boom deal. But, I suppose no news is good news.

 

Since my last post, Spuds beat Man Shitty 1-0 thus securing a crack at the Champions League for them and putting a bit of pressure on us to get a result against Fulham this coming Sunday. Not that we didn’t want our team to go out and get a result against Fulham, regardless of the Spuds game, but to be in the situation where we need to get a result in order to absolutely guarantee automatic qualification for the Champions League just shows how poor we have been over the final month of the season.

 

It amazing how a few inept and lazy performances have done so much damage to our overall assessment of the team’s performances and progress over the season. There are still a lot of issues with this squad, the greatest of which being in defense, but the team is on the cusp of improving it’s league position this year and that isn’t something which should be overlooked. That said, I think the performances of the other teams around us have made us look a bit better than we actually were. Yes, we may finish third which would be an improvement, but in terms of overall quality I am not sure we have actually improved a great deal. Certainly with regard to injuries picked up, we have taken a step backwards this season, though not all of those could be legislated for.

 

This season has shown that players like Vela, Diaby, Silvestre and Eduardo are not up to the task of representing Arsenal. The jury is still out on Rosicky and I would like to see him get another season to see if he can regain some form when playing regularly with Cesc, Van Persie and Arshavin next season. I mean, who wouldn’t struggle for form when playing alongside mediocre players such as Denilson and Diaby, who can’t really be arsed giving their all.

 

Of the four others mentioned above, I would expect Silvestre and Eduardo to depart in the summer but I don’t see Wenger letting Denilson or Diaby go. I quite like Diaby, he is capable of putting in great performances. The only problem is that he is even more capable of being a lazy sod that puts in some woeful performances.

 

Team news ahead of the Fulham game is a bit thin on the ground at the minute as ATVO still hasn’t put up the manager’s weekly interview in full yet, though today’s press conference should shed some more light on that matter a bit later. However, it would appear that Clichy is the only one of the players absent from the Blackburn debacle that has a chance of returning. It’s frustrating to not have Song for such an important game and it’s also disappointing for the player himself to not get the chance to play in the final home game of the season after having his best season for us. It seems likely that Arshavin and Van Persie will start. Let’s hope that Arshavin puts in a decent performance, he’ll need to be phenomenal if he wants to trick Barca into buying him in the summer…

 

I share Arseblogger’s incredulity at those that would like to see Spuds finish ahead of us in the league. How f*cking stupid is that? How in the name of f*ck would that help our cause in any way? If we finish fourth and then go out in the qualifiers, then you could forget any chance of splashing the cash next year. So those people need to get real and get behind OUR team, not those crowd of tossers down the road. We need automatic qualification for the Champions League, end of story.

 

My brother is heading to the game this weekend, so I’ll be crossing my fingers that he doesn’t jinx us and that we can take advantage of what will almost certainly be a weakened Fulham team. They will rest some players and those that will play will not want to pick up an injury, though there will also be some that try and play their way into their manager’s plans ahead of the Europa League final next Wednesday.

 

Anyway, that’s about that for today. A whole lot of nothing really. I’ll have more news, views and hopefully some concrete team news tomorrow. Time for a bit of Arsecast action (on the iPhone, nothing sleazy), check it out if you don’t already. Also, check out the ‘It’s Up For Grabs’ podcast with Alan Davies, too. Both are quality.


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!!!