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.


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.


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.


He is the Walrus, goo goo g’joob.

May 3, 2010

So today sees us take on that horrible walrus and his bunch of journeymen. I always hate games against his teams because they never have any interest in actually playing football against us, they just want to kick players. There’s also the fact that he deludes himself into thinking that he always outwits us tactically, which is a load of c*ck. Instructing your players to kick the other team off the field isn’t tactically outwitting anyone. Though, of course, it never gets labeled as that, instead it is called ‘committed’ or ‘getting in their faces’ which gives it the misleading notion of being a good trait for a team to possess. Let’s hope we blow them off the field today and stick it to their hateful manager.

 

I don’t expect the team to change much from the one that faced Wigan. The keeper and back four should be the same. In midfield, I think that we will line up with Diaby, Song and Nasri in the middle, as Denilson has been ruled out for the rest of the season. I would go with Walcott and Van Persie out wide and Bendtner up front in order to give us a bit more aerial presence.

 

Almunia is still ruled out with his phantom wrist injury and it’s quite possible that he has played his last game for the club. I like Almunia, he seems like a very nice guy but, to be honest, he isn’t the required standard to be the Arsenal no1.

 

I also expect Arshavin to be out for the remainder of the season, joining Vermaelen, Denilson and Gallas on the list of muscular injuries, which seem to be one of our fortes.

 

For the kicking journeymen, Emerton, Grella, Samba and Diouf may all return. So expect some spitting and kicking from the latter.

 

I heard a rumour that the pitch at Ewood Park hasn’t needed fertilizing since the walrus took over as manager as his players do enough sh*t-kicking on it for that not to be warranted.

 

I won’t comment on the Arshavin quotes until they have been verified one way or the other. Though I suspect it’s a bit of agitating by an agent looking for a payday rather than the player himself.

 

Right, that’s it for today. Come on you Reds!

 

(One final note, the ‘walrus’ moniker comes courtesy of Arseblog. If you haven’t already read that site, check it out. You should also check out Gunnerblog, Goonerholic and East Lower)


Better than Jesus. The second coming.

May 2, 2010

So, another season has almost drawn to a close and yet again we are without a trophy. It’s hard to stay balanced and fair in the light of another season passing by with nothing silver and shiny to show for it.

 

I’ve always been an ardent supporter of Wenger and despite yet another season without a trophy, I remain an ardent supporter of his. I know that the easy option for venting frustration in the light of a title challenge implosion is to direct it towards the boss and his lack of movement in the transfer market. But, the fact is, the team has improved this season and were it not for a slew of unfortunate long-term injuries we may just have some silverware to show for it. Finishing third, particularly in a World Cup year, is vital this year in order to avoid the preliminary CL qualifiers. It is also a step forward compared to seasons gone by.

 

However, just because I am an ardent Wenger supporter does not mean that I am blind to the fact that the defensive side of our team badly needs recruitment of quality seasoned pros. This is especially true of the goalkeeping department, where I believe that we need a quality keeper that can command and dominate his area and therefore instill confidence in his defense. Who that person may be, well your guess is as good as mine. But, I’d be fairly confident that it won’t be Frey, as he has been linked with us pretty much every summer since Wenger took charge. So, let’s just put that one down to lazy journalism.

 

Living in Japan, I haven’t really had much chance to see Adler playing, so I can’t make any comment on him one way or the other. The only thing I do know is that German keepers are generally pretty decent. Let’s face it, he couldn’t be any worse than Fabianski. If a new keeper were to be bought in the summer, would Almunia be shipped out or would he revert back to being a no2? Can’t see him settling for a backwards progression, but who knows. I’d prefer to take whatever cash we can get for him and Fabianski and use it to strengthen the team.

 

Listening to the boss talking, it seems like our signings in the summer will be more in the defensive department, which is no bad thing. A solid centre-half to play alongside Vermaelen would do nicely, along with a hardworking, tough-tackling central midfielder. The midfield need to offer the defense more protection next season.

 

It seems that Chamakh is a done deal, let’s hope he is good. Though signing him on a free transfer will limit a lot of the risk that we’re taking on him. It also seems like the curtain is closing on the Arsenal career of Eduardo which is a shame as I think we all had high hopes for him and to see his Arsenal career ruined by Taylor is a tragedy both for him and the club.

 

For a change, we are being linked with some English players, though to be honest I don’t think we need to sign someone like Joe Cole. That said, Wenger likes to sign players that we don’t think we need…so expect Cole to sign. Hehe. Seriously though, as good as Cole may be, the 80,000-100,000 per week that he would demand in wages would be better spent elsewhere on our squad. So, I’ll be crossing my fingers that his signing remains pure tabloid speculation.

 

Anyway, there is plenty of time to talk about transfers and speculation over the coming weeks before the World Cup starts and after it finishes.

 

There have been some shining lights in the team this season, most notably Song and Vermaelen, and the performances of Cesc and Van Persie. Bendtner has also taken a step forward this season. You can’t help but wonder what we could have achieved had we not had so many injuries, particularly the ones caused by tackles that you just can’t legislate for. The number of muscular injuries are a cause for concern and we can only hope that the medical and coaching staff can find the cause of and solution to this issue. With the squad being limited to 25 players next season, we can’t afford to have the same number of injuries again. Maybe we need to invest in bionic calves for our players over the summer. We can use the money that we would otherwise have pissed away on Silvestre’s salary on those.

 

Blackburn tomorrow. Hope we stuff them and sicken their walrus-faced manager. More on that tomorrow.

 

Right, that’s about that for today. Apologies for the amount of rambling, I have yet to get my blogging sharpness back.


A decent result, shame we didn’t spoil the party.

May 17, 2009

So, yesterday saw us draw 0-0 with ManUre at Old Trafford. We dominated the game without ever really creating much in the way of clear0cut chances. Song played very well at centre-half and he is certainly more useful there than Silvestre.

 

Diaby was very disappointing yet again. He is a frustrating player as he seems to just lope around the pitch and make lazy passes. He has the physical stature to be able to really impose his authority on a game and boss the midfield but he seems to choose not to use it. Very disappointing, but what can you do.

 

Adebayor gave an interview to Football Focus yesterday wherein he basically criticised the Arsenal fans for giving him such a hard time. Well, I’m sorry, but if you spend a season wandering aimlessly around the pitch without any effort to challenge for a ball and then at every given opportunity talk about how other clubs want you then you can’t expect the fans to do anything else than give you a hard time. If you disrespect the club by whoring yourself to AC Milan, then don’t expect the fans to sing your name with the same gusto as before.

 

Even at ManUre the fans haven’t completely forgiven Ronaldo for his whoring himself to Real Madrid but the big difference is that Ronaldo is still producing the goods on the football field so things are relatively rosy for him. Adebayor has done fuck all on the pitch all season. I know that you can point to the number of little injuries he has picked up, but the fact is that in the majority of games he has participated in he has not put in the required work-rate. It would appear that he and Diaby have struck some kind of bet to see who can out-lazy the other, much like Flamini, Hleb and Fabregas struck a bet to see who could get the most goals in a season. Except the latter bet was of benefit to the team, the apparent Adebayor and Diaby bet is of benefit to fuck all. If we can flog both and get in the region of £23m for the pair, then that would be great and would allow the manager to get in some players that would actually contribute to the cause.

 

It’s a shame really that things have gone so sour with Adebayor because he was a massive player for us last season. If only he had kept the same attitude and work ethic this season he would still be a firm fan favourite, despite his flirtations with admiring clubs the fans would forgive him for that if he was producing the goods. I think that is the point that the player himself seems to be missing, if his interview yesterday is anything to go by.

 

Of yesterday’s game, Arséne had this to say:

“United are worthy champions. They did well in every single competition and that is very difficult. It was a very interesting championship. I think United won it because they got more points at home than any of the other teams in the top four. Our ambition was to win the game. United were very cautious, and we did not find an opening. We lacked sharpness and quality in the final third but overall we dominated the game. United’s strength is to defend well and that is what they did today.”

 

As much as it pains me to say it, ManUre are worthy champions this season. They have been the most consistent team and deserve the title. We are clearly some way from achieving a similar level of consistency over a season. But, there is hope for us should we sign two or three players with the required quality and work ethic.

 

According to the Daily Mail the boss’s transfer budget has been cut to £13m for the summer, but that is a figure that they have more than likely pulled right out of their ass. The papers are full of speculation about how much the boss has to spend, but the club are never going to tell anyone exactly how much they have to spend as that would affect the prices they are quoted for players, so we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of wheeling and dealing that Arséne does when the window opens.

 

Okay, that’s all for today. Enjoy your Sunday.


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.


The wonder of you(th)?

May 6, 2009

Maybe. I’m not really sure what direction today’s post will take because in circumstances like these it would be very easy to over-react in one direction or the other. It’s gutting to go out of the competition, no doubt about it. However, I think that in times like these we need to focus on the positives.

 

The team have achieved much more this season than we ever thought they would. We all know that we should have signed defensive players in the summer, but we didn’t. So, having set out our stall for the season with a very young squad, it was always going to be a long, hard season. The team did get off to a shaky start, but from November they have been on a good run, Chelsea and ManUre games aside

 

We all know that our squad lacks experience and that had Arshavin been available we may have done better in the semi-final. But UEFA’s rules are a load of cock and the experience issue is something for the boss to analyse and address. One ray of hope is that this squad now has another season of football under its collectively young belt and therefore should be more able to handle the challenge of competing on all fronts next season. Whether or not this squad is capable of that is another thing, but you would have to look at a twenty-one game unbeaten run in the league as a sign that this team might, just might, be capable of something special given one or two top class new additions to the squad, along with perhaps selling and replacing one or two as well. Adebayor springs to mind on that one, but with Ancelotti probably leaving for Chelsea in the summer that move may not come to fruition. We can but hope.

 

I don’t think that you can blame youth for last night’s defeat. I believe that we were very unlucky for the first goal as it was a slip from Gibbs which allowed Park to get his shot off. I felt desperately sorry for the lad and he never fully recovered after it and was substituted at half-time.

 

The second goal came soon afterwards when the referee gave a soft free-kick against Van Persie for an alleged foul on Ronaldo. However, it was no foul and even the NY Times said that Ronaldo won the free-kick ‘artfully’. In other words, he is a despicable, cheating cunt. The resulting free-kick, from a good thirty-five or forty yards out really should have been dealt with and saved by Almunia. But, it wasn’t and we were two goals down within eleven minutes.

 

That left us with the most gargantuan of tasks and I defy any team to come back and score four goals against the calibre of a team like ManUre in the semi-final of the Champions League. It was never going to happen and the two early goals killed our young team off. Though we didn’t concede the two goals because of youth. It was a combination of misfortune, bad refereeing and some poor goalkeeping. I don’t think that any team would have come back after such a bright start only to be hit by two sucker punches in such quick succession. We should remember that we did start brightly and it was looking like we would really make a good fight of getting back into the tie. That’s what makes it all the more disappointing.

 

So, I don’t want to be overly-negative today because there is plenty of time for finger pointing and arguing later. Today we should stand behind our team, give them the backing and support that they need. In the summer, we can discuss what needs to be done to make the squad more capable of making a sustained and consistent challenge for silverware.

 

Despite ending yet another year without a trophy, I believe that we are not far away from becoming a force to be reckoned with yet again.

 

I hope that the slip by Gibbs won’t have too big of a psychological impact on him and that he can bounce back quickly from it. It wasn’t the lads fault and he has the potential to be a better player for us than Clichy.

 

The most disappointing part of the evening was the fact that Almunia let Ronaldo’s free-kick in. I mean, it was hit from miles out and it didn’t move all that much as it travelled through the air. He really should have gotten his hands on it and kept it out. Yes, Ronaldo struck it well but it came from almost forty yards out! After that went in, we had no chance.

 

The referee certainly did us no favours either. Though, that said, he was more of a cunt to Darren Fletcher when he sent him off for something which wasn’t anywhere near to being a red card offence. You have to feel sorry for him that there is no appeal process for a red card. Just awarding the penalty would have been sufficient. If it was someone as cuntish as Ronaldo, I would be delighted with the red card. But, for me, he is one of their less hateful and cuntish players. Anyway, that’s for ManUre to worry about.

 

The penalty that Van Persie took was fantastic and no keeper would ever have saved it. He rifled it into the top corner, to the keepers left. A great finish, but it was too little too late.

 

As it now stands, that is our two biggest games of the seasons, two semi-finals, where we have failed to really make a good fist of it. Is that down purely to a lack of experience or a lack of intelligence, graft and overall quality. You would have to think that it’s a combination of all of those factors. Experience can easily be bought, likewise quality. However, the players need to learn that they have to work their arses off every time they step onto the field wearing the Arsenal jersey. It’s not enough to simply turn up. They must work. This season we have had a few too many players that have not pulled their weight, most notably Diaby and Adebayor.

 

Adebayor hasn’t been at the races since getting his new contract. We’ve been over him before and I have stated many times that I hope he is sold in the summer and a suitable replacement brought in. A swap for David Villa would be nice.

 

The Diaby situation is more frustrating. He clearly has heaps of talent. He is also a big guy, so he should be able to use his strength and size to impose himself on the game. However, his work ethic is virtually non-existent and he strolls around the field like he is in a five-a-side in PE class. He clearly doesn’t have the aptitude for defending, which is a disgrace for someone of his strength and size. He can’t play out on the wing. So, that just leaves the advanced role that Cesc now operates in. This may be the only role for him in this team as he can’t do anything else. Well, whether or not it is he can’t or he won’t is the key question here. Right now, it seems to be more of a ‘he won’t’ problem, because I feel that he could do it if he adopted a different work ethic. So, maybe it all just comes down to laziness. If that’s the case, then he should go too. also, we have never gotten a fully fit season out of him so it may be time to cut our losses and sell a player that spends most of his time in the treatment room, we have enough of those already.

 

Yesterday’s result now leaves us with just three games to play this season, the first being at home to Chelsea this coming Sunday, away to ManUre Saturday 16th (a chance to extract revenge there) and finally home to Stoke on Sunday 24th.

 

Gunnerblog has a good summation of the situation here.

 

So, barring a Chelsea collapse, or season is done and maybe it’s time to give some more playing time to the likes of Ramsey and Vela. Perhaps Wilshere might get a look-in as a substitute, though more than likely he won’t feature again until pre-season.

 

Right, that’s it for today. Time for dinner.

 

Take it easy and keep the faith.


The biggest of challenges for the biggest of occasions.

May 5, 2009

Today is the day that we play what is undoubtedly or biggest games since the Champions League final in 2006. There is no real need to say what this means to the fans, the players and the staff. We all know how big this game is. This is the first truly huge night of football to be played at the Emirates.

 

It’s going to be an early start in order to watch this one live, another 03:45 kick-off, but luckily tomorrow is a national holiday, so all is good.

 

Early team news indicates that both Silvestre and Van Persie will be fit, so I expect us to start in a 4-4-2 formation with Van Persie playing in attack alongside Adebayor. Let’s hope that having Van Persie alongside him again will inspire the Togolese to get his finger out and actually try working for the team for a change.

 

That should leave us starting with Walcott and Nasri out wide and Song partnering Cesc in the middle. At the back, I expect that the boss will play Sagna, Toure, Silvestre and Gibbs, though I really hope that Djourou starts in place of Silvestre. Obviously, Almunia will be in goal.

 

It’s important that we start this game with a positive formation as we need to go at them, without taking undue risk, because we don’t have a defence good enough to absorb any kind of real sustained pressure without conceding. I think we all know that it will be ‘game over ball burst’ if ManUre get an all-important away goal tonight. With that in mind, the players will need to use their heads and not take any big risks.

 

The boss can use the memory of Anfield 1989 to give the players the belief that they can achieve a two goal win over ManUre. Though if the game finishes 1-0 to us and then goes to penalties I would fancy us to go through after our shoot-out exploits against Roma earlier in the competition.

 

I an excited, nervous and terrified all at the same time and i must admit it’s a great feeling. These are the games that we wait/hope to see our team involved in each year and they don’t come much bigger than a Champions League semi-final against the holders at your home ground.

 

Alex Fergusmoan himself admits that this game is the biggest one between our two teams:

“There’s no question this is the biggest game. The challenges and the clashes we’ve had with Arsenal in the past do not reach the proportion of Tuesday night.”

 

Cesc has, yet again, pledged his future to the club and it’s great to hear. However, I think that we all know that, in this day and age, players can quickly change their minds, but until that happens it is great to hear. We all know he will return back to Barcelona someday, but let’s hope that it won’t be for a good many years yet.

 

“How many times have I said this. My future belongs to Arsenal and I want to be at Arsenal. I see my future here. I do not have to tell anyone to be relaxed or more confident that I am staying. My name has been linked with other clubs for four years and I am still here. That should tell you something. If I had not come to Arsenal when I was 16, I would probably not be playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League or have had the opportunity to play in a Champions League final [against Barcelona in 2006. I am really grateful to what Arsenal have done for me. Now, it is up to me and all the Arsenal players who were brought here when they were young to achieve things for the club that believed in us and the fans who supported us. It is up to us to pay them back. For most of the players it could be the most important games of their career. We want to make history and we want to go through.”

 

He’s the club captain and I hope that he will lift many trophies for us before his time in England is done. It’s good to hear him talk about the players owing the club a lot for making them the players that they are.

 

The boss is bullish about our chances tonight and I truly hope he is right. It would be amazing if this team were to reach the final our Europe’s premier competition.

 

“I’m very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance. We play at home, where we have a strong record in the Champions League. For many people we are super-outsiders but I personally believe we will do it. If I had said in November that we will be in the semi-finals of the Champions League and FA Cup and go 21 games unbeaten — as we have in the Premier League — you’d have called an ambulance! I feel very proud of this team because they have been through difficult periods and shown great mental strength. And they have faced much more adversity than all the other teams I have had here. The progress this team has made since the start of the season has been remarkable.”

 

I wouldn’t only disagree with one part of his statement and that is that it hasn’t so much been a progression since the start of the season as one since November 22nd after we suffered that humiliating defeat by Man City. No Arsenal fan, not even the most ardent would ever have predicted that we would secure fourth spot in the league with three games remaining but also reach the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League as well as having a decent Carling Cup run. So kudos must be given to all involved in the club for keeping their heads and turning things around.

 

To think that we have achieved this despite multiple long-term injuries and a shortage of quality players in defensive areas makes it all the more remarkable. Of course, we still need to improve and tweak the squad in the summer, but we should all be happy that this team has salvaged some pride and respect from a season that looked doomed to abject failure just six months ago.

 

The boss also tries admirably to defend Adebayor but to be honest it doesn’t really wash with me and it is clear to all that he needs to return to the kind of form that he showed for us last season.

 

“I can understand the criticism Adebayor got at United. But I watched carefully that game again and he put a lot more effort in, more than people think — and he was really isolated. We didn’t give him enough support on the night. He works hard in training, he’s focused and he wants to do well.”

 

Congratulations must go to the Arsenal ladies who defeated Sunderland ladies 2-1 to bring home yet another FA Cup for Vic Akers and the ladies. That’s thirty one trophies in twenty two years for Akers and the ladies. What a record!

 

In other news, Marc Overmars broke his leg in the last minute of a game at the weekend. Let’s hope that he makes a speedy and full recovery.

 

So, that’s about that. There are now twelve hours until kick-off and I will be looking into adjusting the angle of my TV so that I can watch the game from the comfort of the throne should things be going down to the wire. I have my lucky Cesc jersey sitting waiting to be worn. I would have it on right now, but i don’t want any of it’s lucky charms to wear off before kick-off.

 

One thing we must all remember is that if we progress tonight, we still have a lot of work to do before winning anything. Likewise, should we lose, we must strive to keep our heads and not lose the plot calling for the manager’s head. To achieve what we have this season and to have progressed so much since the end of November should constitute quite a successful season, all things considered. Twenty one games unbeaten in the league is quite an achievement and has been done largely unnoticed by the mass media, just the way I like it.

 

The performances of Cesc, Nasri, Walcott, Van Persie and Adebayor will be absolutely vital for our chances tonight. Let’s hope we get big performances from all.

 

Okay, time to go and stock up on toilet paper, snacks and ginger ale. No beer for me tonight. I want to remain focussed and able to aim my rage and hatred in a more controlled way at Ronaldo and co.

 

‘til tomorrow. Let’s hope we get the performance that we all crave tonight. I would love a 3-1 to the Arsenal with our third goal coming in the 5th minute of injury time due to a deflection off Ronaldo. That would be sweet. But, any victory that would put us through will do.

 

Come on you REEEEEEEEEEEDS!!!!!!!!!


We were very lucky.

April 30, 2009

This is going to be an uber-short post as I have just returned home after working for fourteen hours and am knackered.

 

One thing I have to say is, 03:45 is no time to be getting up to watch a football game on a work-night. Second, it’s infuriating when you roll out of bed at said hour to watch that fucking performance that we put on last night. I won’t go into it in any detail as it will just make me angry all over again, but Arseblogger has done a good job of summing it up, so please check his post out.

 

There were one or two good performances last night, notably from Almunia who singlehandedly kept us in the tie. Gibbs did well considering that that big lazy cunt Diaby gave him no help at all. What Arsene sees in him is beyond me. Yes, he has a lot of skill but if he isn’t prepared to work his arse off and get stuck in, then he is absolutely no addition to this squad, let alone the starting eleven. It may as well have been me out there last night for all the use Diaby was. To describe his performance as useless, lazy and abject is being kind. The same goes for Adebayor and I hope that Diaby doesn’t start the second leg, because if he does and he plays like that again it is bye bye to any chance of silverware this year.

 

I’ve voiced my disgust for Adebayor’s laziness on previous posts and so I won’t go into it again. Suffice to say, I really hope Milan come in for him in the summer. For every decent game he has had this season, he has had fifteen woeful ones. That’s Michael Owen kind of statistics, enough said.

 

Somehow we came off the field at only 1-0, so on the face of things it was a great result, considering the ‘performance’.

 

The thing that worries me is that the players not only believe Wenger’s words about them deserving to win something, but that the feel they have a divine right to silverware without the need to work for it. Well, last night should have showed them that that isn’t the case…..if the games against hull, Stoke and man City haven’t already gotten that message across.

 

Bottom line, we were woeful and that kind of performance isn’t acceptable. The whole fucking team should be dropped, if possible, for the weekend league game so that they have no fucking excuses at all for not putting a great performance in at the Emirates next Tuesday.

 

Right, that’s it. Am knackered and there’s no point in talking much more about what we are all already thinking and feeling about last night.

 

Luckily, it’s all to play for next week. Thankfully. Have a good one, we can take solace in just being one goal down.