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.


It’s a long one today – (that’s what she said)

September 17, 2010

Yesterday saw the annual shareholders Q&A taking place with the manager. There wasn’t a huge amount of new information to come from it, but it is always nice for the shareholders, who are also fans, to ask questions to the manager and hear what he has to say. For more detailed comment on, and quotes from, the Q&A, check out The Goon Blog which has a three part post on the event: Part One; Part Two; Part Three. Arsenal Insider also has an in-depth post on the evening.

 

Wenger spoke about how Almunia and Fabianski were exposed to a lot of pressure in the summer, but neglected to mention the fact that all of that pressure was put on them by the manager himself by carrying out his open quest to sign Mark Schwarzer, always refusing to confirm who would be the club’s no1 for the current season.

 

There were some questions about signings and club ownership but the manager did a Matrix style dodge of the latter by just saying that he is a club employee and it is not his position to try and influence the ownership structure of the club. Regarding signings, he said that he is happy with the business that we did in the summer and that he always makes sure to meet a player before signing them. Unlike Ferguson, who signed Bebe without even having seen the player, neither in the flesh nor on DVD. I don’t understand why someone would sign a player without ever having seen him play or met him, especially when you consider that millions of pounds are at stake.

 

Anyway, on the financial side of things, the manager defended his spending policy by pointing out that in his time at the club we have built both a state of the art training ground and a new stadium which are the envy of most clubs across Europe. Whilst this is a very important point to remember, it also seems clear that there has been some money there to spend and the frustration that the fans feel, and vent, stems from the fact that we know there is money available and that over the past few seasons we have always been just one or two signings away from being a trophy winning team, but the necessary player investment has not happened, or at least the investment that the fans have perceived to be necessary anyway. Knowing the team is so close to being great, but for the required investment not to happen is hard for fans to take.

 

However, the manager should be applauded for keeping the club in the Champions League, and competitive, throughout the transition phase from the start of construction on the Emirates until now, despite such a restricted financial environment. To an extent, I can understand the slight reluctance to spend the available money as he knows that if the signing doesn’t work out, then he has chucked money away that he couldn’t afford to chuck away. Unlike someone like Redknapp, Wenger thinks long-term, but fans think short-term and get frustrated. He did reveal that the club is trying to get him to look at lucrative pre-season tours and it is something that he is open to as long as it isn’t in the same year as an international tournament and that it is for the right reasons.

 

There is an article in The Daily Mail where Keown talks sense and Townsend talks through his chocolate starfish about Wenger’s call for players to get more protection. The frustrating thing about this whole issue is that people are conveniently ignoring that Wenger isn’t calling for more protection for Arsenal players, he is calling for more protection for ALL players and an end to reckless tackling where players have no intention to play the ball. There is a difference between a hard and fair tackle where a player is honestly going for the ball, and a tackle where the player is more interested in stopping the other player than going for the ball. Anyway, it seems like the media and the English managers have once again begun circling the wagons and Wenger’s calls for change will get lost under the tag of ‘whinging.’ Warning, the above link has a horrible picture of the Eduardo injury towards the bottom of the article. Surprise, surprise, Graham Poll also misses the bigger point that Wenger is trying to make.

 

Following Wenger’s calls for a crackdown on bad/reckless challenges the media have, predictably, trotted out the xenophobic and moronic views of Allardyce and Coyle. The former being a long-time walrus lookalike and the latter probably being a bit bitter that he didn’t get Wilshere on loan again this season. I’m just waiting for them to complete the unholy trinity by cracking out the comments of Pulis over the coming weekend, whether or not the article with his comments will come with a picture of a naked head butt remains to be seen. Googplaya talks a lot of sense on the issue here.

 

Speaking of stupid tackles and recklessness, Aaron Ramsey has been talking about his comeback from injury. Fingers crossed that his recovery continues without any major setbacks, though I suppose some niggling muscular injuries are to be expected:

“No, I won’t have any second thoughts. I’ve seen the X-rays, I’ve seen the scans and the leg is strong so I won’t be thinking about the injury when I go in for a challenge. I have started running now and I have had good days and bad days but it is coming along and hopefully I can get back soon. There is no pain anymore.

The only good thing to come from this is that it has helped me realise how much my career means to me. Now I can’t wait to get back training and playing.”

 

Jack Wilshere has been talking about his breakthrough into the first team and how much he enjoys playing alongside and learning from Cesc. Let’s hope that he will have more than just this season to learn from our Catalan captain:

“It is perfect playing with Cesc and Alex in midfield. Playing with people like Cesc Fabregas makes it easy for you. He will talk to you and talk you through games. You saw what Cesc could do against Braga – it is perfect for me to learn from him.

It is good to get games and hopefully I can push on from here. I am just trying to break into the Arsenal first team. Last year, I had to go out on loan to get some games because there were some world-class players at Arsenal, but I have come back with more experience and the boss thinks I am ready to challenge for a place. All I can do is challenge and show them what I can do.”

 

On the injury front, there must have been some flying pigs over north London on Wednesday evening as the team came through a full game without picking up any new injuries. The news got slightly better when it was revealed that both Vermaelen and Diaby have been penciled in to be back for the West Brom game. Though it is disappointing that Vermaelen won’t be available for the trip to Sunderland tomorrow and his recovery has been a bit slower than expected. The squad for tomorrow’s should be the same as for the Braga game but there should be some rotation of the starting eleven.

 

Cesc and Clichy have been talking about how they feel that we can win the something this season and the fact that the Champions League final is going to be taking place at Wembley just serves as extra incentive to do well.

 

Right, I think that I have written enough for today, hopefully you have managed to stick with it until the end.

 

Have a good Friday. I have a busy weekend of high school festivals during the day and evening drinking sessions ahead. I will TRY to make a post tomorrow with a match preview, but may not have the time.


Hoping for a Braga-n 3 points.

September 15, 2010

Tonight sees us take on Braga at the Emirates and it is a game that we really need to win in order to get our Champions League campaign off to a good start. We need to hit the ground running. The team needs to be careful though, because it won’t be any easy game and Braga have already dispatched of some decent sides (Celtic and Sevilla) to get to this stage, so I imagine that the pre-game team talk will involve a warning to not mess around and to take the game seriously.

 

On the injury front, we will be without Diaby whole is currently out for an undetermined period of time. At the moment, only the next two games have been confirmed. Though, when it comes to our players, and Diaby in particular, I think that we can  expect it to be a minimum three or four week layoff. We don’t do short term injuries. That’s not how we roll. I guess we should just consider ourselves lucky that his leg didn’t end up destroyed like Eduardo’s or Ramsey’s. The art of tackling is certainly a dying one, if not already dead. The player himself was certainly a lot more laid back about the tackle than I would be if I were on the receiving end of that it:

“I will miss our first game in the Champions League but to be honest I am lucky to only miss two or three games, I really thought I would be out for a long time. Bolton is a very physical team and to be honest the tackle was a strong one, but it is Premier League football, people are committed, so it is fine for me.

I hope the team start the Champions League with a victory, the first game in any competition is always very important.”

The terms ‘physical team’ or ‘committed team’ is British newspaper speak for ‘dirty.’ At least that statement won’t allow the likes of Pulis to come out with his ‘moaning like a drain’ rubbish.

 

The manager has again called for more protection for players, but you get the feeling that the empty-headed English managers and media will get all xenophobic and say that there is no need for something to be done and that Wenger and Arsenal are a team of softies. That kind of attitude drives me nuts and I really don’t think that anything will be done until one or more of the current England squad are put out of the game for an extended period of time.

“The tackle was very bad. I cannot protect the players; only the FA can do that. I love the English game but people are more interested in controversy than protecting the players. Why should I create another story? You asked me how the tackle was and it was bad. But I don’t know if my views are taken seriously. Diaby has been injured from an unfair tackle. I’ve watched it 10 times and it is an unfair tackle. But people just think I’m protecting my players by saying that and that I have a [vested] interest.

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes my players commit bad fouls. Yet the beauty of the game is down to the fact that you play with commitment, with passion but also with the right intention. If you have a good sliding tackle where the player takes the ball, it’s as good to see as a player scoring a goal. But when a guy closes his eyes and jumps with anger it’s not right.

I’m not enough, alone, to change things. Managers, referees, people who watch games, even journalists have to take responsibility. It’s a matter of respecting the rules. The problem is that, when I say it, it is only considered ‘controversial’ and it is just ‘Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger’.”

The problem is a mixture of racism and stupidity, the former by the media and the latter by stupid pundits like Mark Bright that come out with statements along the lines of ‘I’d rather be elbowed in the face than spat upon.’ That’s the kind of idiocy that you are up against and it’s the type of stupidity that gets broadcast on TV and radio and then absorbed by the average fan. There is nothing wrong with a physical game, that’s what we love to see but it has to be played with the right attitude and desire. Players need to try to win the ball rather than rough up their opponent. I truly believe that if the likes of Kevin Davies were not English he would have umpteen red cards to his name but, as he is English, he just isn’t that kind of player. (I should point out that I am not anti-English, I’m against xenophobia, especially when it gets in the way of improving the game.)

 

Anyway, rant done. Tonight should see the recall of Sagna and Clichy to the defense and that would see us line up with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy at the back. In midfield, I expect us to line up with Song, Fabgreas, Nasri, Eboue and Arshavin with Chamakh again plowing the lone furrow up front. Well, that’s the team that I would go with, but the manager may well decide to go with Denilson instead of Nasri to offer a bit more defensive stability. Though I am sure that Rosicky will also be hoping to get a start. Vermaelen is still unavailable with his achilles injury.

 

There is an interview with Chamakh on the FIFA website where he talks about life so far at the club.

 

Here’s hoping that we take all three points tonight and that my waking up at 03:45 to watch the game will be worthwhile.

 

Take it easy.


Weekend round-up.

August 29, 2010

Apologies for no post yesterday. This wasn’t due to illness, nor was it hangover related. It was simply because I went to the beach to drink beer and eye up the local Japanese girls in their bikinis. A noble excuse, I am sure you will agree. Today’s blog may suffer in quality due to my being out in Tokyo until just after 10am this morning, so bear with me.

 

Anyway, yesterday’s game saw us get a nice little bit of revenge over that cunt-monger, Allardyce, and showed that despite letting Blackburn come back to 1-1, we were able to get the second goal and it is nice to be able to win by a one goal margin. However, it is now two goals conceded in our opening three games, so I think there is still some work to be done on the defensive side of things.

 

Victory came courtesy of goals from Walcott and Arshavin, the former actually breaking the net with his shot. Blackburn’s goal came from M. Diouf, the slightly less cuntish one. Theo made some good runs and he played very well overall. Take that Hansen, you fool. On Walcott’s performance, Wenger had this to say:

 

“Theo saw more of the ball last week but today he was still dangerous and sharp. It looks like he’s more confident and his experience is beginning to count.”

 

Robin Van Persie went off yesterday with a twisted ankle and we can only hope that it is a small injury, but not the type of ‘small, small’ injury which results in our players missing a-month-to-six-weeks of the season. Though his missing of the international games is no bad thing at all.

 

After the game, the manager said:

 

“We had a good start but in my opinion we were too nervous dealing with the game of Blackburn. Who would not be unsettled by the kind of game Blackburn gave us today?

Last year we had bad memories here and because we knew they would play the kind of game we don’t like we had not enough confidence to deal with that. In the second half I felt we were calmer. We put the ball well on the ground and controlled it better and it was just a question of time. We had the right resilience and commitment.

If you have ambition in this league you have got to win at Blackburn. If you fail to win at Blackburn – if you go to clubs like that and you don’t win – your ambition will not be respected by the other teams so it was an important test for us. The players are committed and we had that little bit more experience today, even if on just one or two occasions we were a bit lucky.”

 

The importance of yesterday’s result shouldn’t be underestimated. Had we lost yesterday, or had we been held to a draw after being twice ahead, it would have affected the confidence of the team and would have given the media, and fools like Allardyce and Pulis ammo to say rubbish like ‘Arsenal don’t like it up them’ and all of the other rubbish that we have to read every year from that type of idiot manager, which in turn gets endlessly repeated in the tabloids and Sky Sports News, which in turn is believed by the masses. No team ‘likes it up them,’ unless it is some kind of shirt-lifter team. Every team hates it, it’s just that some are better at dealing with it than others.

 

For a more comprehensive report on the game, check out Arseblog, Gunnerblog or Goonerholic, whose links can be found in the top right corner of this page.

 

Speaking about the transfer market, the manager said:

 

“[It has been incredibly difficult, I must say. It’s the first year I’ve felt like this. The clubs who had players didn’t want to sell and therefore there was no movement. I don’t know if it’s the 25-player squad rule, is it the money situations? But there is just no movement. It’s dead.”

 

There is no doubting the fact that the transfer market has been very quiet and perhaps a way of making it a bit livelier would be to limit the transfer window to be open only for the month of July. This would also have the added benefit of all teams being finalised before the start of the Premier League season. In a World Cup or European Championships season, the window could be open from mid-July until mid-August. I’ve never been a big fan of the transfer window remaining open after the league season has commenced.

 

Elsewhere, Tony Pulis is annoyed over recent comments Wenger made about Stoke and, in particular, their missing link between man and ape, Ryan Shawcross. One can only assume that Pulis is going to rock up to the Emirates naked to deliver his letter and will try to fire a head-butt in the process. Sod off, you fool. The real question should be, what the hell were you doing naked in our away dressing room and trying to head-butt one of your own players, whilst naked? Answer that before you start talking about esteem, respect etc.

 

Finally, yesterday’s Carling Cup draw gave us a tasty away trip to Sh*te Hart Lane. It’s a big game and will be a chance for some of our younger players to get experience playing in a hostile environment.

 

That’s about that for today. I’m off to eat some food and to lie on my sofa for a while. Take it easy.


Super Sunday? I hope so.

May 9, 2010

So, here we are, the final day of the season and, despite our supposedly easy run-in, we find ourselves needing a result against Fulham today in order to secure third place. Frustrating, yes. Unbelievable, yes. Infuriating, yes. Depressing, most certainly yes. But, that’s where we find ourselves and the players now have to roll their sleeves up, put in a shift and secure the points needed to prevent ourselves being pipped to third by Spuds.

 

I know I said yesterday that I wouldn’t be doing a post today, so think of this as an end of season bonus post to make up for the lack of posting throughout the season. It’s going to be a short one, I think.

 

Being in Japan, I don’t see all of the newspaper articles that you may see back in Ireland and the U.K., but the rumour is that Gallas could be on his way to Roma with Big Sol, as expected, being offered another year at the club. I have to say that another year for Sol is totally deserved given his form since re-signing in January. It’d be good to have him around the team for another season and hopefully he can give some good advice to the other defenders in training. Who knows, he could end up being our defensive coach once his playing days are done. Though, given Wenger’s phobia of all things defensive, that may not happen. We can but hope.

 

Does anyone else find the music played for the ‘Weird and Wonderful’ item on ATVO extremely childish and very shit?

 

In an ATVO interview Walcott hit the nail on the head when saying that the big teams have brushed us aside when playing us this season and we really do need to inject some steel and also a killer instinct into the team, going into next season. We have to learn to kill teams off when we have the chance. Remember the days when The Invincibles used to be three or four goals up before half time, sometimes even before 30min? We need that kind of killer instinct again. We need teams to fear us again. Teams facing us now know they don’t need to fear us because we have a lot of obvious weaknesses which they can exploit. Overall, the team is shorter than it used to be, so it is easier for teams to out-muscle us. We need a big more fight. We need to stand up for ourselves when teams try to bully or out-muscle us.

 

I have found myself using a line made famous by Droopy on countless occasions this season when watching Arsenal, that is: ‘You know what? That makes me mad.’ This has generally happened when watching Lukarse in goal. Of course, that is a watered down version of what I’m thinking at the time but, after the fact, that is what it translates to. We need to get some of the old Arsenal back.

 

I don’t want to sound too negative as there are also a lot of positives to take from the season. We can look at the huge improvement of Song, the immediate impact of Vermaelen, the fantastic performances of Van Persie and Cesc and even, dare I say it, the Eboue Redemption. Nasri has shown signs of improvement, though he is still not consistent enough just yet. Of course, I shouldn’t leave out Big Sol in terms of success stories this season as he has been outstanding for us since January. There was also the emergence of Ramsey to challenge for a first team spot until Chewbacca almost tore his leg off. So, we can take a lot of heart from these things going forward into next season. Let’s hope that Theo can make the same magnitude of improvement next season as Song did this year.

 

If we do secure third place this season, then you would have to view it as being an improvement. Yes, there are still many areas of the team that needs strengthening, but it would be an improvement nonetheless.

 

Three points today, that’s what we want. Come on Arsenal, finish the season on a positive note.

 

Right, that’s enough for today as it has already been a much longer post than I had planned. Take it easy.


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.