Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Best goal celebration ever

There's no need for me to add anything else - just watch it!

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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Six of the best Arsenal news stories from the past few days

 Manuel Almunia (courtesy timsnells)

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Barnet v Arsenal - match review

(picture courtesy jonnyr1)

Transfer talk

As you are by now probably aware, the surprise team news from Saturday's match against Barnet was that neither Eduardo nor Manuel Almunia turned up at the ground despite being named in the 22-man squad 24 hours previously, leading many to speculate that they were in negotiations with other clubs regarding possible moves. The official club line is that Eduardo had picked up a knock and Almunia was ill. Yeah right, with 'pretendhedidntdropuitus' perhaps.

Since then, Eduardo has been linked pretty strongly with a possible move to Shaktar Donetsk for a fee believed to be in the region of £6 million, with some sources reporting that a move has already been agreed. This seems to be backed up by the fact that Eduardo has not been named in the 27-man squad to travel to Austria. If this is true, it will be sad to see him go but he hasn't really recovered from his leg break either physically or mentally and £6 million seems like a good price. Well done Martin Taylor - you ruined Dudu's career. I hope you're sufficiently proud of yourself.

There is no news yet concerning Almunia. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he's on his way out and another keeper is coming in. Unlike Eduardo however, Almunia has been named in the squad which travels to Austria.

The first half

This really was a game of two halves with Arsene Wenger choosing a different eleven players for each half. With a lot of players being rested after the World Cup, Arsene Wenger chose a mixture of youth an experience each side of half-time but the line-ups were surprisingly strong proving that the Arse have a stronger squad this season than most people suppose.

There was much speculation before the match that, having signed Maroune Chamakh, Arsene Wenger would revert back to to the old 4-4-2 formation, but in the event the team lined up 4-3-3 as they did for the whole of last season:

Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski

Defence: Havard Nordtveit - Laurent Koscielny - Thomas Vermaelen - Armand Traore 

Midfield: Tomas Rosicky - Emmanuel Frimpong - Jack Wilshere 

Forwards: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas - Jay Simpson - Andrey Arshavin

Arsenal looked good in the first half. Most fans were looking forward to seeing how new signing Laurent Koscielny would do but in all honesty Barnet were never really a threat to Arsenal and it was difficult to judge how he would do against better opposition. I think all that we really learnt was that he can pass the ball quite well.

The undoubted star of the first half was Emmanuel Frimpong who controlled the midfield, and I'm excited to see how he does in Austria. He could be exactly the type of combative player we need as back-up to Alex Song. A new star could be born.

Jack Wilshere was also as impressive as ever, setting up two goals and generally looking like an Enlgand star in the making and it was interesting to see that he seems to have become stronger and more competitive following his loan spell at Bolton in the second half of last season. Bolton will no doubt be keen to take him on loan again this year, but it may be that Arsene Wenger thinks he will benefit more competing for a place in the Arsenal team with the likes of Diaby, Denilson, Nasri and Rosicky. We shall see.

Speaking of Rosicky, both he and Arshavin looked very sharp and ready for the new season having not played in the World Cup due to both Russia and the Czech Republic unfortunately being knocked out in the qualifying stages.

And speaking of players looking stronger, most of the young players (but in particular Emmanuel Frimpong, Armand Traore, Havard Nordtveit and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas) looked much stronger and bulkier than last season, and when Nordtveit was interviewed after the match he admitted that he had been doing a lot of work in the gym. All of these players did well but Nordtveit and JET were especially impressive, though I would have liked to see both of them in more central positions where I think they will both eventually end up playing in the future.

In goal, Lukasz Fabianski was untested but seems to have regained his confidence after a couple of dodgy performances in the first team last season.

Up front, Jay Simpson scored two goals but I'm still not convined by him and think he might struggle against better opposition.

Andre Arshavin scored the other first-half goal.

Thomas Vermaelen was Thomas Vermaelen as ever (that's a good thing, in case you hadn't guessed).

Second half

The second half was very different. As already mentioned, Arsene Wenger made eleven changes at half-time. The team for the second half was:

Goalkeeper: Vito Mannone

Defenders: Craig Eastmond - Johan Djourou - Ignasi Miquel - Kieran Gibbs

Midfielders: Samir Nasri - Henri Lansbury - Conor Henderson

Forwards: Theo Walcott - Marouane Chamakh - Nacer Barazite

(Wojciech Szczesny replaced Vito Mannone after 68 minutes in a pre-planned switch)

Without Emmanuel Frimpong to run the midfield, Barnet enjoyed more possession in the second half and Arsenal didn't put too many moves together. Henri Lansbury is showing a lot of potential but, like Denilson, he is no defensive midfielder and I wonder whether AW might have have been better playing him at right back with Eastmond filling the defensive midfield position in which he looked very promising for the first team in several matches at the tail end of last season when Song and Denilson were both injured. He wasn't helped by Samir Nasri and Conor Henderson also failing to impose themselves, though I expect good things from both players in future. Nasri did at least pop up with the only goal of the second half after an error by a Barnet defender.

At the back for Arsenal, I was quite impressed by Ignasi Miquel, who I have never seen before. He looked skilled and combative. After a slightly shaking start where he alsmost gave the ball away in a dangerous position, he looked pretty confident. It was also good to see Johan Djourou and Kiernan Gibbs having recovered from serious injuries last season.

Elsewhere, Theo Walcott, like Arshavin and Rosicky in the first half, looked sharp have not gone to the World Cup and Nacer Barazite looked confident and showed some good passing and movement. Of course all eyes were on Marouane Chamakh who looked quite impressive without really posing too much of a threat on Barnet's goal. Again, better things are to come from him I'm sure.

Other than that, the second half was pretty much a non-event, but overall it was a good workout for the team and a few of the younger players did themselves no harm at all.

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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Six of the best Arsenal news stories from the past few days

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              Thursday, 8 July 2010

              Koscielny signs from Leyton Orient and new keeper announcement

              Laurent Koscielny finally signs

              In a surprise move, Arsenal have announced the signing of centre-back Laurent Koscielny from League One team Leyton Orient (or possible French Ligue 1 team Lorient, I'm not sure which).

              Koscielny is so far uncapped at international level but that is now likely to change as he is qualified to play for either France or Poland and they are likely to be fighting over him once he is thrust into the limelight at Arsenal.

              A lot of so-called Arsenal 'fans' have already voiced their disappointment at the signing without having seen him play, but Arsene Wenger is confident that Koscielny is the real deal. He said:

              "Koscielny is a central defender with great ability who performed extremely well last season for Lorient. We identified him as a very strong centre half who has made big progress very quickly. He has shown he is mentally strong, he's a fighter and a very strong competitor. Koscielny is a great addition to our squad."

              Koscielny meanwhile is also understandably excited to be joining Arsenal, saying:

              "I'm very excited to be joining Arsenal. They are one of the biggest teams in Europe with many great players. I'm really looking forward to playing in the English Premier League and the Champions League with my new club. Also, in Arsène Wenger, Arsenal has one of the best managers in the world and I can't wait to work with him and do my best for the Arsenal supporters."

              He is confident that he can settle into the side quickly and help bring the Premier League title back to Arsenal:

              "I am very confident," he said. "It takes a lot of work especially in the defence. You need to know your colleagues very well and you need to work hard every day. It is important to have those relationships quickly. I hope we will have a fantastic season this year and get that Premier League title. I came here to improve myself and win titles."

              Pictures of Koscielny seem hard to come by (though I am assured that the player does actually exist). You can view exclusive pictures of our new signing on the Official Arsenal Website.

              New keeper announcement soon

              In other exciting news, according to ArsenalInsider, Arsene Wenger has said that there will be an announcement about our keeper situation after the World Cup:

              "Manuel Almunia Rivero is a talented goalkeeper. In training, he is superb, the only problem is that he gets nervous on big matches, thereby making silly mistakes. After the World Cup, we will be making an announcement on goalkeeping."

              What this means I'm not sure, but it could be that a new keeper (possibly Eduardo or more likely Mark Schwarzer) will be announced with Manuel Almunia possibly leaving. Time will tell, but I'm excited.

              If it is Schwarzer, I will be reasonably happy. I'd rather have Joe Hart or Eduardo (the other one, who plays in goal for Portugal), but perhaps they aren't realistic targets.

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              Friday, 2 July 2010

              Is it time to Lego? Highlights of England v Germany in plastic bricks

              Watch highlights of England v Germany in Lego bricks!

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