Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Henri Lansbury - Arsenal's goalkeeping problems solved?

Henri Lansbury could be the solution to Arsenal's so-called goalkeeping problems after looking impressive for England u21's last night.

Lansbury was called upon as a makeshift keeper after Jason Steele, who came on a as second-half substitute, was sent off for a professional foul on Boris Vukcevic. Unfortunately, his first task was to concede the resultant penalty, but didn't let in any more after that during a solid 30 minute performance and made several good saves.

Manager Stuart Pearce was suitably impressed:
"Henri put himself forward and I thought he was outstanding. Everything that went to him he handled very well. We might have found another goalkeeper tonight."
 Unfortunately, despite Lansbury's best efforts, England lost 2-0 to Germany.

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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Match of the Day - complain about bias

I have made a complaint to the BBC about the bias shown on Match of the Day against Arsenal in the match against Wolves. Here is the content of my message:
'I would like to complain about the bias shown on Match of the Day by extensively reporting on the foul by Cesc Fabregas in the match between Wolves and Arsenal, but the failing to mention or include in the highlights an equally bad tackle by Karl Henry on Andre Arshavin in the same match (

I would like the BBC to address this issue with an apology on Match of the Day, which should include showing the clip in question.

Many thanks for your consideration
Mark Wellington'
 If you also wish to make a complaint, you can do so here on the BBC website.

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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Arsenal v West Ham - it's all about the formation and the fight

Picture courtesy Arsenal Arsenal
Alex Song came up with the goods on Saturday with a late goal to seal a hard-fought 1-0 win. This is something that we didn't see happening last season and is, I believe, the result of a slight tactical change that Arsene Wenger has made this season.

Last season (especially at the start) we played mostly 4-1-2-3 with Alex Song acting as an anchorman behind two more attacking central midfielders. This season it has been 4-2-3-1, with two defensive midfielders who are given a little bit more freedom to go forward behind a single attacking central midfielders in the form of Fabregas. The new tactics are not too dissimilar to the 4-4-2 formation that Arsene Wenger has employed in the past (think Petit, Vieira and Bergkamp instead of Wilshere, Song and Fabregas).

One of the consequences of this is that Alex Song more often finds himself in attacking positions and this is something that he has had trouble adapting to, putting in several below-par performances so far this season as he has had trouble knowing what positions to take up and difficulty getting back into defensive positions in time when we lose the ball.

To some extent, I think this is still true in that Song has not yet reached the level of performances for us this season that he did last. However, he is a very intelligent player and I can see signs that he is starting to get to grips with his new role a little better. And what better evidence of this than his goal against West Ham, which was in fact the third consecutive match in which he has scored.

Many Arsenal fans have criticised Saturday's performance against West Ham saying that we underestimate the so called smaller teams and looked under-par; others meanwhile, say that it was just the kind of good, solid, gritty performance, against a team that came to park the bus, of which champions are made.

I'm more of a glass-half-full type, so I tend to lean more towards the latter. We can't expect all of the players to perform at the top of their game all the time, and by the law of averages there are going to be some matches when several players don't perform at their best for whatever reason. What is important is that we still win these matches, which in this case we did.

On Saturday, Fabregas, Chamakh Arshavin and Denilson were all a bit off the pace but the team fought hard to make sure we got the result.

We all know how key Fabregas is to the team's style of play. Unfortunately, picked up a knock quite early on and wasn't playing as freely as he normally does. In any case, he has only just come back from an injury and isn't properly back into the swing of things yet. I very much hope (to say the least) that Fabregas isn't going to be another van Persie who is injured more than he plays. Arsene Wenger will probably rest him for the Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Chamakh looked a bit tired to me. He has started all but one league match and all but two matches in all competitions so far and came on as sub in the two matches he didn't start. In addition, matches against teams who park the bus are always going to be more suitable for scoring goals and creating chances from midfield or the back four because the striker doesn't have much space. The striker's main role in matches such as this is to tie up the several players who are marking him to create space for others, which he did well.

Arshavin has admitted that he is off-form and so we need say no more. Some people have argued that Tomas Rosicky should come in to replace him. Arsene Wenger has quite rightly pointed out that although Arshavin isn't playing well, he is still producing the goods in terms of goals an assists. Rosicky, for me, is a little bit the opposite at the moment - he is playing some pretty football, but there is no end result in terms of goals or assists. I know it has been a long while since he was injured but I think he still needs more playing time to get back to his best. We have only seen a few flashes of the old Tomas though already this season, but I believe there is more to come. I think anyway that Arshavin needs to play his way back to form and whilst the team is still winning we can afford to let him do that to some extent.

Denilson, though he has improved this season, is still for me a young player who is inconsistent and is prone to the odd poor performance. But will he now get enough chances to improve with Song, Diaby, Ramsey and Wilshere for competition?

Player ratings v West Ham

Fabianski (7) - Another solid performance.
Sagna (7) - His usual solid but unspectacular self.
Squillaci (7) - Starting to look like an Arsenal player.
Koscielny (8) - Justified his inclusion ahead of Djourou.
Clichy (7) - Occasionally out of position but did superbly set up the crucial winning goal.
Song (8) - Starting to settle in his new role and scored the winner.
Denilson (6) - Had one of his occasional off days.
Nasri (8) - Looked our most potent attacking threat for much of the match. Unlucky with a great freekick from about 80 yards that hit the bar.
Fabregas (7) - Playing with an injury and couldn't be at his best but got better as the match went on.
Arshavin (6) - Started brightly but soon faded. Will get back to form soon.
Chamakh (5) - Was always surrounded by three or four West Ham players and couldn't really get into the game

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