Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Arshavin in childhood pet trauma

Andrei Arshavin may be struggling for form on the pitch at the moment (though he has shown signs of getting back to his best recently) but his website is one of the funniest I've ever read. If you have not done so already, you should check it out.

Andrei regularly answers questions from fans on just about everything from how he takes his tea to human karma and transmigration of souls (and just about everything in between). His answers are often hilarious (and sometimes so are the questions).

In his latest QA session he was asked whether he had any pets. He said:
'At the present moment I don't have any. When I was a kid, we had two kittens. I cannot now remember their gender. And we also had a hamster. However, they all disappeared under unclear circumstances. When I was a teenager we had a Pekingese dog - Chuck. It still lives with my mother, rather old now. In family life, Julia and I still do without pets. Although Yana and Artem sometimes ask us to think about it. But my children do not strongly insist on it - bring it up once in a while and forget about it in a couple of minutes'.
One wonders what 'disappeared under unclear circumstances' means. It probably means that they died and his parents didn't want to tell him, but he is Russian so they could have been abducted by the KGB or defected to the West to appear in car insurance commercials.

(Picture courtesy Goodzilla87)

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

If we still had Cesc Fabregas we'd be top of the league

I felt sick after we lost to Liverpool yesterday. For seventy minutes it was a very even game, but then Frimpong got sent off and it all went the way of the Comice, Conference, Packham and Williams.

Strangely perhaps, up until that point I was feeling kinda positive. The defensive problems of the past now seem to be just that - the past. We were well on the way to keeping our third consecutive clean sheet (something that was unthinkable only a couple of weeks ago) and the performances of Vermaelen, Koscielny and Miquel (who was preferred to Squillaci) had me convinced that we no longer needed to buy a new centre back.

Meanwhile, Sagna was his usual excellent self and in the absence of Gibbs and Traore (who were both excellent in pre-season by the way) Jenkinson looked like another genius bargain buy by Arsene Wenger. It has been reported by several other sources that Steve Bould has been given more involvement with with first team training with the specific task of sorting out the defence. If that's true, whatever he's done seems to be working.

In front of the back four, Emmanual Frimpong looks like he's finally the answer to our problem of finding a back-up for Alex Song (or perhaps more likely Alex Song will eventually become Frimpong's back-up). The new Patrick Vieira is not a title which flatters him; he really looks that good. And behind them Wojciech Szczesny looks like a future world number one keeper in the making.

But, unusually, it's further forward where we seem to be having problems. In the three matches so far against Newcastle, Udinese and Liverpool we've lacked the creativity and incisive passing that Cesc used to provide and we need to find a replacement ASAP. For seventy minutes against Liverpool, up until the sending off of Emmanual Frimpong, we didn't look like conceding. If we had had a bit more creativity going forward we could have been two goals up by then and Frimpong might never have been put into the position where he had to make that tackle. In fact, if we still had Cesc, I suuggest that we might now be top of the league, with no goals conceded.

There are reports today that Samir Nasri may now stay at Arsenal, though I doubt it that this will be the happen. In any case, although he is a very good player, I don't think he provides the answer to the problem of the Cesc-shaped hole in our team - he just doesn't have the required vision. There were a couple of occasions yesterday going forward when he should have passed to a teammate but chose instead to go alone resulting in a missed opportunity.

We continue to be linked with a steady stream of  Fabregas replacements including Marseille's Ghanaian international Andre Ayew (who is reported to have an £11.5 million release clause in his contract), as well as a bizarre loan bid for Lucho Gonzalez and, incredibly, a move for Kaka (who has apparently been told by Real Madrid that he is surplus to requirements).

In the case of the latter, his reported £9 million a year wages would be a huge stumbling block but what a lift his signing would give the club when it's in such need of one - the money we would get from shirt sales would probably pay his wages!

But as Goonerholic puts it so well, at the moment if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all. Or as Jonathan Pearce put in on Match of the Day, it never rains but it pours.

After 70 minutes, Frimpong, who was perhaps slightly unlucky to be book early on for disputing a throw-in, went into a tackle with Lucas and, although he stayed on his feet, it was late and high and he had to go. Not long afterwards, with our defensive wall gone, the otherwise excellent Miquel with an offside Suarez in close attendance, made a hurried clearance which hit an unsuspecting Ramsey on the head and looped into the goal over the helpless Szczesny.

There were arguements from the pundits on Match of the Day that the second goal was also offside, but I disagree. Although he was offside in the first phase of play, he was onside when the ball was passed to him to score. How he can be considered to not be gaining an advantage by being in an offside position baffles me, but that's how the rule is currently interpeted, so there we are. Robin van Persie scored in similar circumstances last season, so we can't complaint.

In any event, I believe it's irrelevant. We were only in that position because we were down to ten men, 1-0 down and chasing the game (we only had three defenders back against Liverpool's five attackers), so if the first goal hadn't been allowed the second would never have happened.

Sometimes I wonder what curse has been placed on Arsenal that means they are continually on the receiving end of such continual bad luck. Lucky Arsenal? You're having a laugh!

The number of injuries we get is bad enough. For literally years we've been top or nearly top of the PhysioRom.com Premier League Injury Table) with Laurent Koscielny's injury yesterday adding to our woes.

And following on from the news last year that if all shots which hit the woodwork had gone in Arsenal would have won the league by an incredible 12 points, the Mail Online are today reporting that if all refereeing decisions last season had been correct, we would have finished second to Man Ure.

But instead of cursing their bad luck the players and manager should be thinking that we are about due a bit of luck and get on with it. We can't afford to mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to roll up our sleeves and put our elbows to the grindstone (or whatever). When the going gets tough, the tough get going, as the saying goes.

My worries now are how Arsene Wenger can raise the spirits of the players to get a result against Udinese following such a demoralising home defeat and how we can hope to beat Man Ure with both our defensive midielders missing through suspension.

If Arsene Wenger can solve those two problems I believe the future looks bright for the Gunners. If not... well, I don't even want to think about that!

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Friday, 19 August 2011

Exclusive: Dann desperate for Liverpool move


Birmingham City defender and Arsenal target Scott Dann would prefer a move to Liverpool according to a very reliable source close to the player.

Arsenal have been closely linked to Dann, with representatives from the club, including assistant manager Pat Rice, reportedly watching him in training recently. However, the player is holding out for a move to Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy.

Liverpool, who are reportedly on the lookout for a new centreback, have also been linked with a move for the Birmingham City player, along with other supposed Arsenal targets Gary Cahill and Per Mertsacker. Although Dann would prefer a move to Liverpool, he may settle for a move to Arsenal if the Reds sign Cahill instead. But would we still want him in such circumstances?

Like most Arsenal fans, I believe that we need to sign another quality centreback as we are very short of numbers in that area. Personally, I would prefer Gary Cahill, but Scott Dann would also be a great addition to our defence. Phil Jagielka is another possible target with Everton apparently in financial trouble and under pressure from their bank to sell players.

We will have a chance to assess the defensive of both Liverpool and Arsenal this weekend as they come head-to-head at Ashburton Grove.

Picture courtesy yingtak

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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Ideal Cesc Fabregas replacement? [video evidence]


Well it finally looks as if Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas are on their way out of the club we love. (For all you doom and gloomers that's Arsenal by the way.) Assuming that they do go, I think it will be for the best in the long run. If they had stayed, it would have destabilised the club, which would have been extremely detrimental to our chance of winning anything.

I don't think we will miss Nasri. He has been good in patches, but remains inconsistent. We already had Walcott and Arshaivin in the wide positions, and have now brought in Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as finally obtaining a work permit for Miyaichi. So I think that will leave us covered on the wings.

Fabregas will be more difficult to replace. With his potential natural successor, Nasri, gone, that leaves a huge hole in the middle of the park. Ramsey does not yet look ready to take over the mantle of chief playmaker, Rosicky still does not appear to have rediscovered the form he was in prior to his long injury lay off, and judging from what we have seen in pre-season, Arsene Wenger has no intention of moving Arshavin to that position.

One possible option I would personally like Wenger to consider is dropping van Persie back to Fabregas' position and buying a quality striker, such as Falcao.

However, if you watch the video above, I think you will agree that I have found the ideal Cesc replacement. He's just the kind of player that Arsene would go for. He would inevitably need a few years to reach his full potential, but he's young and skillful, and would fit into the Arsenal style of play beautifully.

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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Official: Arsenal must sell before they can buy

There has been much concern and consternation among Gooners because Arsene Wenger has said that he wants to bring only 'one or two' players in.

But the truth is that Arsenal are forced to sell players before they can buy due to the Premier League squad rules. The rules state that teams may have only 25 players over the age of 21 on 1 January 1990.

The list below shows the Arsenal players who fall into this category. Note that players marked with * in the list are considered 'home grown'.We need to have at least eight of these in the squad according to the rules, I believe.
  • Goalkeepers: Fabianski, Almunia*,Mannone*
  • Defenders: Vermaelen, Djourou*, Koscielny, Squillaci, Gibbs*, Traore*, Botelho, Sagna, Eboue
  • Midfielders: Song*, Denilson*, Diaby, Fabregas*, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Vela, Walcott*, Bendtner*
  • Forwards: Van Persie, Chamakh
Arsenal's other first-team squad members, Szczesny, Frimpong, Eastmond, Lansbury and Emmanuel-Thomas are all considered under-21 players under the rules and are therefore exempt. As are Jenkinson, Bartley, Miquel, Coquelin, Wellington and Miyaichi, who will also be hoping for a place in the first-team squad this season.

That means Arsenal currently have 24 of their 25 permitted players for their squad, nine of which are considered home grown. When you add Gervinho, who is expected to sign very shortly, that means we have no places left in the squad for a new signings. None!

There have been a lot of rumours about Nasri and Cesc leaving. Of course I think we all hope that both will stay, but for the purposes of this exercise we will assume that they either stay or are replaced. Note however that if Cesc were to leave, it would reduce the number of home grown players by one.

Players who we hope might be leaving include Almunia, Squillaci, Denilson, Vela and Bendtner, but so far no-one has made any suitable offers for any of these. I think we can rule out the sale of Eboue (the official Arsenal website shows Jenkinson as a reserve team player), and Rosicky and Arshavin (who have both said that Arsene Wenger has told them he has no intention of selling them).

Additional places may be freed up if Mannone, Traore, Botelho or someone else goes out on loan, but so far this hasn't happened. Considering Kieran Gibbs injury record over his career so far, Wenger might consider it prudent to hold on to both Traore and Botelho (assuming that he can get a work permit for him) and we may need to retain Mannone if Almunia is sold, so there is little scope for maneuvre here. Note again also that Mannone and Traore are considered home grown, which is an additional consideration.

We could of course take a risk and sign a player without getting rid of any first, but then buying clubs would be aware that we need to shift players and this could bring down the price of those that we are trying to sell.

So, in conclusion, although we hope that Arsene Wenger will be making a few signings, realistically we need to get rid of a few before we can sign anyone.

Picture courtesy Matt and Kim Rudge.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

BBC - Fabregas is going nowhere!

Cesc Fabregas (picture courtesy Ronnie Macdonald)
There is a lot of fuss at the moment in the Blogosphere and Journoland because the BBC published a story quoting an unnamed 'senior Arsenal official' (their words) saying that if Arsenal received a suitable offer for Cesc Fabregas then they would have to sell.

Setting aside for a moment whether the license fee funded BBC should be getting involved in speculation like this that is unarguably designed to unsettle Fabregas and destabilise Arsenal, I have one thing to say to the BBC:

Tell us something we don't know. Every player has his price and Fabregas is no different, the problem is that Barcelona are not willing to meet the asking price for Fab4 and that therefore he is going nowhere!

There, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Now onto the other issue that the article raises. Namely, should the BBC get involved in stories design to unsettle players or destabilise clubs?

Personally, I have to say that I'm not too happy about it, either in this case or generally whatever the club involved. (Well, okay then, maybe if it's Spurs!) On the other hand, fans of ManUre, Chelski, Man Citeh and Spuds probably think it is worth paying the license fee in this case just for that purpose.

If anyone is in any doubt about the purpose of this article then the following quote from it should persuade you:
"Did you know...? Cesc Fabregas is a life-long Barca fan who watched his first game as a nine-month old baby."
Which of course means that Arsenal should sell him back to them for nothing, right? Uuurrrgghhh!

Calm, calm, calm. I must stay calm. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Video: Arsenal Awards - Johan Djourou presents his awards of the season



Johan Djourou presents his awards for the Funniest Moment of the Season, Worst Celebration, Player of the Year, Most Annoying Teammate, Moment of the Season, Worst Hair Cut and Worst Dancer.

Very funny video!

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Saturday, 11 June 2011

Video: David Dein revelations about Premier League inception

Revelations about finances, putting names on shirts, more than one substitute per game and more - David Dein talking about some of the old-fashion and narrow-minded business thinking he faced before the inception of the Premier League.

Whatever you think of Dein, you I think will find his comments fascinating.

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Brazil nut - Denilson in denial

Picture courtesy Ronnie Macdonald
I almost literally laughed my ass off this morning when I read that Denilson had said he wants to leave Arsenal because he hadn't won any trophies in five years.

Speaking to The Sun, the perennial underachiever, who now cannot even make the bench for most matches and has been a key reason for many recent Arsenal defeats, said:
"This has been the worst season of my life and I am so upset, so frustrated. I am a winner and I came here to win trophies but I've been here for five years and won nothing. A footballer's career is over very quickly so it is time for me to move on."
A winner? Give me strength! As if that wasn't funny enough, he went on to say:
"I can't see myself returning in a Chelsea shirt, or Liverpool or Manchester City - and definitely not Tottenham. I think my future will be Italy or Spain."
Nor can I. As if any of those clubs would want him.

Speaking about Arsene Wenger, he said:
"I went to see him and told him of my decision and he understood. He says he will not stand in my way and if the club receive a good offer for me I can go."
I would be surprised if Arsene Wenger managed to keep a straight face. Not stand in his way? If I were Wenger I'd hold the door open for him as he left. Hell, I'd even drive him to the airport myself if it would get him out of the door more quickly.

Finally, in a moment of lucidity, the Brazilian said:
"I know some people will think I am crazy. They are right."
Yep, no arguments from me there.

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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Arsenal v Aston Villa - belated match review

I felt Arsenal were unlucky not to score more than the one goal yesterday. Villa were poor. If not for the post (again!), a few bizarre refereeing decisions (again!) and a bit of bad luck with the run of the ball, we could have got six or seven.

One goal would have been enough but for some appalling defending by Squillaci  in the first twenty minutes, twice allowing Bent to go through unchallenged with only the keeper to beat. He hasn't featured in the first eleven much recently and must have realised that this was his chance to impress, so the fact that he completely failed to turn up is all the more difficult to understand.

Fortunately, Arsene Wenger must have agreed with me because he substituted the French centreback at half-time, bringing on Chamakh, changing to 4-4-2 and dropping Song back into the defence. Although it is not his regular position, Song was great in the second-half and we looked much more balanced as a team.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and we were not able to claw back three (or even two) goals. As I said, I thought we were unlucky not to score more. Were were knocking on the door all afternoon. Van Persie added to his goalpost hitting tally (does he aim for the post?), the foul on Ramsey in the box was as clear a penalty as you will see (great pass from Wilshere BTW!), the Chamakh disallowed goal was harsh in the extreme, and the foul given against van Persie when he cleverly turned Dunn on the edge of the box had be scratching my head (strangely, MoTD didn't even show that one).

And Villa were lucky on several occasions not to have a man sent off. What do opposition players have to do to warrant a red card at Ashburton Grove? You can bet that if some of those tackles had happened at Old Trafford they would have resulted in cards (unless they were by ManUre players, of course!)

Hopefully, AW will now have realised that Squillaci is simply not up to the job (am I being too optimistic?) and it is the last we will see of him in an Arsenal shirt. I really think that we need to bring in another centreback in the closed season. Koscielny and Djourou are decent players but we need two solid experienced professionals in this position (a la Ferdinand and Vidic) and these two just don't fit the bill. Song's performance at centreback yesterday compared to those of LK and JD last week against Stoke Rugby Club only served to highlight how true this is, though they will be okay as backups in my opinion.

We have been strongly linked with Gary Cahill today and from what I've seen, he could be just what we need, though I must emphasise that I don't agree with this 'we must buy English' nonsense.

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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Arsenal have had a good season, honest!

I believe Arsenal's problems this season can be summed up very easily as follows:
  • Until this group of players win something they won't have the confidence required to win things and will continue to throw away crucial points (catch 22)
  • Since David Moyes alleged that Cesc Fabregas called the officials cheats we have had incredible bad 'luck' with decisions from referees and linesmen
  • We have had terrible luck with injuries again this season at crucial times
  • At home, the fans don't really get behind the team as they should
  • We've been a bit unlucky with the run of the ball at times
I saw an incredible OPTA statistic this week which other blogs don't seem to have picked up on: If all the shots in the Premier League this season which had hit the post had counted as goals, Arsenal would be 12 points clear at the top of the league. I can't really get my head round this one. Are Arsene Wenger and his team coaching the players to hit the post or what?

Anyway, despite what a lot of Arsenal fans seem to think, we have had a good season. Disappointing, but better than most pundits expected before the season started. With three matches left we are six points off the top of the table and still in with a chance (however small) of winning the league. If Chelsea beat Manure today we will be three points off the top with two matches to play.

If you had said to most Arsenal fans before the season kicked off that we would lose Thomas Vermaelen for almost the entire season and still be in that position, I think most would have been happy with that. It is only the way that things have panned out, with Arsenal throwing away crucial points, that has made it seem so disappointing.

If we had had the Verminator available in these crucial matches, would we still have thrown away all those points? Would we have conceeded four second half goals against Newcastle after being 4-0 up at half time and going down to ten men? Would we have conceeded a late goal against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final and gone on to lose the match (with its consequent effect on confidence with crucial matches against Manue and the Catalonian National Diving Team
coming up shortly afterwards)? Or thrown away points at West Brom, Sunderland and a few others?

We will never know for certain but I would suggest that we would have won at least a couple more matches where we have dropped points and that could have made all the difference.

I've already said enough about referees and our home support in previous posts, so I won't go on about them again, otherwise I will seem to paranoid and grumpy. The lack of confidence and belief will take care of itself as soon as we get lucky and win something.

With regard to injuries, until the new year we seemed to have turned the corner (TV apart), but then we asked the players to play too many tough matches in a short period and the inevitable happened. This is something that Wenger needs to address. And if he doesn't have the confidence to play his backup players more often then he needs to get rid of a few of them and bring in some in whom he can have the confidence.

For me, it has been obvious for some time that Almunia, Denilson, Rosicky and Vela are not good enough. I should clarify this a bity: I used to rate Tomas Rosicky as a players but he has not been the same since his long injury. However, I think we have a ready-made replacement in the form of Aaron Ramsey. Provided, of course, that we can hang on to Cesc Fabregas. Similarly with Almunia - Szczesny, for me, is a perfect replacement and Fabianski will make a good backup now that he seems to have gained a bit of confidence. Vela has always looked promising but he hasn't developed and his loan spell at WBA has convinced me that he doesn't have what it takes. Denilson - well, he's Denilson, enough said, but, again, I think in Frimpong we have a ready-made replacement.

There are a few others on whom I think the jury is still out. Diaby still looks to me like he will eventually turn into a good player, as backup only, if he can stay fit. I did say 'if'. However, I don't think this can be relied upon and with Scott Parker likely to leave West Ham at the end of the season, I think he could be worth a punt - provided that West Ham don't want any more than about 8 or 9 million for him tops.

Squillaci has unarguable had a poor first season, though I have seen enough from him in recent matches to believe that he could come good eventually. But can we take that risk if it potentially means the difference between winning the league next season and not? I don't believe we can.

The solution put forward by most fans and pundits has been to buy a big strong bloke at the back but I would like to see Miquel and Bartley being given more chances next season. I know what people will think of this: yet more youngsters, what we need is a good experienced player. But I really believe that these two could be the real deal and they will only be fourth and fifth choices in what otherwise (with Vermaelen back) looks like a good collection of centrebacks.

Johan Djourou has looked good this season and could be even better next. Should we, despite this, confine him to the bench? If not, how good a player are we going to be able to bring in who is prepared to pick the splinters out of his arse for most of the time? That said, if we can pick up a top quality centreback at a not too astronomical price, it might be worth considering.

Chamakh and Bendtner I'm really not sure about. Bendtner has shown glimpses of what he can do, but he's inconsistent. I certainly don't think we should be using him any more as a winger and that means we also need to sign a new wide man. Eden Hazard would be a dream, but if we can't get him Taarabt might be a good option. We still have Ryo Myaichi nad my name sake Wellington to come, but by the time they are ready Arshavin will be ready to be put out to stud back in his native Russia. Chamakh, like Squillaci, has had a tough first season but has shown promise at times. Personally, as long as we sign a winger, I would like to see both players kept to compete as backup for RVP, but if either of them isn't happy then let them go.

So, that's all sorted then. If we bribe a few referees and get rid of that idiot Wenger (who is only our most successful manager ever) and give me the job, we will be sorted!

Enjoy today's matches and keep your fingers crossed for Arsenal and Chelsea wins. And please leave me some comments - I get lots of people reading my blog but nobody ever seems to leave any comments. It only takes one or two to start it off and others will follow. Goodness knows, I've surely given you plenty to talk about today.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Arsenal's biggest problem is their own fans

Alex Ferguson - Crap manager (picture courtesy checkmihlyrics)

Try to imagine how Man Utd fans must be feeling right now?

Having been handed a chance to pull away from Arsenal after their home draw against Liverpool, they threw it away. It's not the first time that it's happened this season either. Despite being given chance after chance by Arsenal to wrap up the league, they've blown it time and time again.

We've seen it against Fulham, Everton, Bolton, Sunderland, Citeh, Villa, Birmingham, Tottenham, Wolves, Liverpool and now (most recently) Newcastle.

The manager is crap and a lot of the players don't deserve to wear the United shirt. Sir Alex Ferguson should be sacked immediately and they should have a good clear out. What has 'Sir' Alex ever done for the club anyway? The man is a clown.

I mean, Spurs for f*** sake, they aren't even a proper team. Not like ManUSA and Liverpool who get all the referees' decisions given in their favour. If you don't even have that, how can you expect to win the league?

They will probably loose to Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal now and be lucky to qualify for the Champions League next season at this rate.

Tomasz Kuszczak and Wes Brown are shite. Obertan and Bebe? A f***ing disgrace. Totally sh**. And what about Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen - what have they he done recently. They are just a burden on the wage budget. And Darren Gibson is just not good enough for this club in my opinion. They have a decent first-eleven, but just don't have the strength in depth. Don't even get me started on Johnny Evans.

United need to invest heavily in new players in the summer or they'll probably be relegated next season. The squad just isn't strong enough. But the owners are only interested in putting us into huge debt and making a quick buck.

Does any of this sound familiar? It's what I expect a large Arsenal fans would be saying right now if they were ManUre fans. But ManUre fans aren't saying that, of course.

I don't think it is any coincidence that Arsenal have the best away record in the Premier League but such a poor home record. Our home support is shite.

If Liverpool had been away to ManUre last Sunday instead of Arsenal, their fans would have been right behind their team, urging them on and howling at every refereeing decision to put pressure on him. All I could hear at the Emirates were moans and groans. It sounded as if they didn't want their team to win, and they certainly didn't deserve for their team to win. All that nervousness in the crowd passes itself on to the players on the pitch.

As fans, we don't realise how lucky we are. I would love to be able to go to Ashburton Grove every home match and cheer on my team but I can't. Those who can should be more grateful and really get behind their team.

So come on Gooners, give the team your backing and we can win this league!

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Thursday, 17 March 2011

St Partick's Day special - Magic Moments with David O'Leary


As it's St Patrick's Day, I thought I would share this Magic Moments video of David O'Leary, who holds the record for the greatest number of appearances for Arsenal.

Not many people know that David was actually born in Stoke Newington. However, he moved to Ireland at the age of three to escape the jellied eel famine of the early sixties and is considered by most people to be as Irish as a leprechaun drinking a pint of Guinness whilst simultaneously eating a potato and playing the fiddle.

As I grew up in the seventies and eighties when David was in his prime, he was one of my early heroes. He was a calm and collected centre-half, known for his elegant style of play and great positional sense, but he was also a big strong lad who wasn't scared to mix it up a bit.

As mentioned, David holds Arsenal's all-time record for appearances, with 722 first-team games, and over 1000 games at all levels, in a twenty-year long association with the club.  He made his Arsenal debut against Burnley on 16 August 1975, aged just 17, and went on to make 30 appearances that season. For the next ten years he was ever-present.

Despite playing for such a long time, he won relatively few trophies because he played at a time when Arsenal were going through a bit of a barren patch. He won his first major trophy when he played in the 3–2 win over Manchester United in the 1979 FA Cup Final. He also played in the 1978 and 1980 Cup finals, and the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup final, all of which Arsenal lost. He won another League title in 1991 and an FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993.

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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Reports of the death of Arsenal's season are greatly exaggerated

Picture courtesy Rob(TM)

The apparent news that Johan Djourou could be back in a couple of weeks could save Arsenal's season, if it proves to be true.

Arsenal have very quickly cleared their fixture list for the rest of the season in the worst possible way. The players' confidence will undoubtedly have been knocked by the unfortunate events of the last couple of weeks, but if they can recover they can go on to win the league.

First we lost the Carling Cup final in disappointing circumstances after a calamitous mix-up between Djourou and Szczesny in the last minute gifted Birmingham a lead with not enough time for Arsenal to come back.

Then we lost to Barca in the Champions League. A lot of opinions have been expressed about this, to put it mildly. What is not in doubt is that van Persie's sending off was at the very least extremely harsh. Everyone and his Labrador seem to have expressed an opinion on this, but the truth is that no-one (including the referee) could have known for certain whether RvP heard the whistle and he therefore deserved the benefit of the doubt.

I wonder whether we are still feeling the backlash from the referees' old boys club network since Fabregas allegedly called the referee a cheat in the match against Everton back in November. Certainly we have not had very much luck with officials' decisions since. Apart from the Barca match, the matches against Newcastle and Sunderland also saw some incredibly bad decision-making which went against us.

Whether we would have beaten Barca had van Persie not been sent off is something we'll never no, but we were in the lead at that point and Barca needed to score two goals to go through, so I would have fancied our chances. But it was not to be.

Then there was the FA Cup match against ManUre last week. I really can't work out how we lost that match. We don't ever seem to get the run of the ball against them. We always seem to outplay them and end up loosing. On the surface it just seems to be bad luck, but it's happened so many times that you wonder if there might be some fundamental reason such as tactics or some kind of mental block on the players' part. If there is a reason though I'll be blowed if I can work it out. The fact that Van Der Sar was man of the match probably says something. (I'm just not quite sure what.)

However, if we can get enough of the walking wounded into action we are still in with a chance of the title. Alex Song should hopefully be fit for the next match against West Brom, which would be a massive boost.

Unfortunately I don't think anyone would be surprised if Vermaelen is out for the rest of the season, which is why Djourou is so crucial. Squillaci is not as bad as some people seem to think. A lot of players struggle in their first season in the Premier League and I have seen enough from him to make me think that he could yet be a good squad player in the longer term. He should be good enough to get us through the match against the Baggies, but I would be much more confident if we had JD back to play against Liverpool (17 April), Spuds (20 April) and ManUre (1 May).

Fabianski and Frimpong we know are out for the rest of the season, so we can forget about them. We have been given emergency dispensation to sign another keeper till the end of the season (possibly Jens Lehmann), so that's the back-up keeper sorted.

However long Szczesny is out for, we will miss him, but Almunia has done well since coming in and we can only keep our fingers crossed that he continues to do so, and that Chesney is back before the end of the season.

For Emmanual Frimpong we'll just have to make do with Denilson and a half-fit Aaron Ramsey, but we've missed him for the whole season anyway, so it's not like it will make any difference.

That leaves Fabregas and Walcott that we don't know about, and these two are likely to be key. Fabregas looks as if he will be out for a few weeks and Arsene Wenger has been very quiet about Theo for some reason. Doubtless he has been concentrating on the players that are fit to play, which is fair enough.

We look to have so many more options when they are playing, with Theo's pace and finishing and Fab's movement and passing ability. If those two can get back playing soon, our season will not be over.

Bring it on!

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Monday, 14 March 2011

Man Utd v Arsenal - match highlights video


Click on the link above to watch the hightlights.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Barcelona v Arsenal - video highlights and some thoughts


I'm still gutted about last night's match. If you have the stomach for it, you can view the highlights above.

Technically, the referee was probably right to send off van Persie, but really he needs to show some common sense. The fact that two different Barca players grabbed two different Arsenal players around the throat prior to this with no action being taken against them (van Persie being one of the Arsenal players involved) puts things into perspective.

Now, to add insult to injury, Arsene Wenger and Samir Nasri have been charged with improper conduct after making remarks to the referee. Although this comes as no surprise, it does seem that it's okay for referees to be incompetent but not okay for players or managers to voice their opinions on this. Frankly, I'm surprised that van Persie didn't get charged as well after calling the referee a joke on live TV. Perhaps UEFA just haven't got around to it yet?

I have heard plenty of people (including the pundits on Sky) saying that Barca were the better team and therefore deserved to win, but the truth is that they barely had a shot at goal before van Persie got sent off.

How many times have Arsenal been the better team but failed to win due to a combination of bad luck, bad refereeing decisions, good defending and good keeping? What have the pundits' reactions been to this? They've said that Arsenal play pretty football but lack backbone. Total hypocrisy!

Anyway, we have to make sure we regroup now and try to get something out of the FA Cup match against ManUre and then go on and win the league. It won't be easy though, especially if Szczesny is injured long term.

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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Barcelona v Arsenal - match preview and line-up

Arsenal line-up:



Subs: Almunia, Squillaci, Eboue, Denilson, Arshavin, Bendtner, Chamakh

After a disappointing result on Saturday (albeit with the aid of some pretty crappy officiating by the referee and linesmen) it is important that Arsenal come back with a good performance against Barca tonight.

It wasn't so much the incorrect offside decision and the not-given penalty against Sunderland that annoyed me as they were both difficult decisions. It was all the other poor decisions that annoyed me most, like the one where Nasri was fouled and referee gave a free-kick to Sunderland and booked Samir, or the so-called 'foul throw'. The ref seemed to have a knack of giving poor decisions in Sunderland's favour at just the right time to break up our momentum. How much longer do we have to keep getting punished by referees for Fabregas allegedly calling one of them a chat? Anyway, I'm over it now, so let's move on. [Deep breath]

The big surprise is that Rosicky starts tonight instead of Arshavin. I guess a tough match (in more ways than one) against Sunderland.

It's great that Fabregas is back - it could be the difference between victory and defeat. It's a shame about Song though. However, I would take Diaby over Denilson as his replacement every time. I'm not one of these people who boos or slags off our own players and Denilson is a decent squad player but Diaby is just so much better than him in my opinion, if he's fully match sharp (which, unfortunately, he rarely seems to be). I'll be a lot more confident if I see his rather than Denilson's name announced on the team sheet. And for those who don't rate Diaby, remember how you used to criticise Song so vociferously? How about now?

The other big question mark over tonight's team was who would play up front, and it's brilliant news that van Persie will start. It will give everyone a big boost and, although both Chamakh and Bendtner are decent players, having RvP up front could make all the difference in a tough match like this.

I think that Arsene Wenger was right in saying that unless van Persie is at least 99.5% fit, he should not be risked. Even if we loose to Barcelona tonight we are still in the hunt for the Premier League and the FA Cup, so it's important that van Persie is able to take part in as many of those as possible. And even if we beat Barca we still have a few tough matches to win before we lift the Champions League trophy, so we shouldn't put all our eggs in one metaphorical trophy basket.

This is one of those big matches that can go either way and it's a fool who tries to predict the outcome, but we are in with a chance after winning the first leg at Ashburton Grove. What's important though is that we put in a good performance even if we are defeated, for the benefit of team morale and confidence. I'm concerned that if we loose this match heavily it might affect our whole season, though I'm not expecting that to happen.

On a final note, I would like to send this message to Barcelona: Barca DNA stands for Barcelona-Do-Not-Approach. So stop tapping up our captain. W***ers!

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Saturday, 5 March 2011

Arsenal v Sunderland - probable line-up and match preview


Fixtures are coming thick and fast at the moment. I worked out that if we play all the possible fixtures we could possibly playbetween now and the end of the season (including a replay against ManUre in the FA Cup and getting to the FA Cup and Champions League finals) we would be playing twice a week every week for the whole of the rest of the season without break.

Despite the upcoming match against Barcelona on Tuesday however, I expect Arsene Wenger to name a strong team against Sunderland. Song, Fabregas, Walcott and van Persie are all out as well as long-term absentees Fabianski and Vermaelen. I'm a lot less worried about Song being out if Diaby is playing in his place than if Denilson is in the team, so hopefully that will be the case today.

Arsene Wenger's most difficult selection decision will be whether to play Nasri on the right and Rosicky in the Fabregas role or play Rosicky in the Fab role and Nasri on the right. I think he will go with the former, but it's a close call. I changed ny mind several times while writing this article. Anyway, we shall see. The good news though is that (like Arshavin) Rosicky, Bendtner and Chamakh seem to be coming back to form as the season reaches the critical squeeky-bum time. Hell, even the Spanish waiter had a good game on Wednesday.

The other good news is that Aaron Ramsey is in the Arsenal squad for the first time since he had his leg broken by Shawcross over a year ago. He is sure to get a great reception if he comes on.

I'm quietly confident ahead of the match. I don't think it will be easy, but if we can't beat Sunderland on our own ground then we don't deserve to win the league. Then again, the same could be said of West Brom.

You're probably sick of hearing it by now, but if we win we will go within a point of ManUre after their defeat at Chelsea (ha, ha). Come on Arsenal!

Incidentally, the tactics board above is a photo of Arsene Wenger's actual tactics board in the home dressing room from when I went on the stadium tour a couple of years ago. I can thoroughly recommend it if you haven't been on it yet.

Probable Arsenal line-up:


                  Szczesny

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy

              Diaby Wilshere

     Bendtner Nasri Arshavin

                 Chamakh

Subs: Almunia, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Ramsey, Rosicky

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Arsenal v Stoke preview and a monumental c***-up

Picture courtesy Ronnie MacDonald

It goes without saying that tonight's match against Stoke is crucial. Pretty much all our matches are crucial at the moment but ManUre have some very difficult fixtures coming up (including away matches at Chelsea and Liverpool) and we have a very good chance of at least closing the gap on them. The result should be a foregone conclusion but we all know how Arsenal have a knack of making it hard for themselves.

With that in mind, I expect Arsene Wenger to pick a pretty strong line-up despite the upcoming Carling Cup final at the weekend. Unfortunately Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny have picked up slight knocks but apart from that (and long-term absentee Vermaelen) I expect Arsene Wenger to pick his strongest team. However, it is also possible that he might rest one or two with Arshavin, Denilson, Gibbs and Eboue being strong contenders to start.

The much maligned Sebastien Squillaci will come in at the back and Chamakh will probably get the nod over Bendtner in place of RvP.

Tonight will be a good test for Chesney as we know that Stoke like to hoof high balls into the box.

Arsenal probable starting line-up


                  Szczesny

Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy

              Song, Wilshire

      Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri

                  Chamakh

Subs: Almunia, Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner

Fixtures correction

It seems that I may have made a bit of a cock up. It was bound to happen. In my last post a couple of days ago, I suggested (in a desperate attempt to find a silver lining in the fixtures cloud) that a draw against Leyton Orient was a good result because it would mean we would now have to replay Orient on Sat 12 March (the weekend after the second leg of the Barca match) instead of ManUre and we could therefore play our 'B' team instead of the first team.

However, I was making quite a big (and incorrect) assumption and the match with Orient has been scheduled for Wednesday 2 March, meaning that we will still play ManUre on Sat 12 March. D'oh!

To be fair to the FA and Premier League they are now running out of free dates to schedule our fixtures - it seems they had not envisaged that any team could still be in all four competitions at this stage (which I'm taking as a compliment).

This all means that our next few fixtures are as follows:

Wed 23 February: Stoke City (H) [Barclays Premier League]
Sun 27 February: Birmingham City (N) [Carling Cup]
Wed 2 March: Leyton Orient (H) [FA Cup]
Sat 5 March: Sunderland (A) [Barclays Premier League]
Tue 8 March: Barcelona (A) [UEFA Champions League]
Sat 12 March: Man Utd (A) [FA Cup]

However, In a final desperate attempt to find a silver lining in the fixtures, I should point out that ManUre play Chelsea and Liverpool (both away) in the week leading up to the match against us and a potentially difficult Champions League match against Marseilles immediately after playing us. So it's not all bad.

Fingers crossed for tonight!

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Monday, 21 February 2011

Orient v Arsenal - a draw was the ideal result for Arsenal (plus highlights video)



Update - it turns out I was wrong about this :-(

A draw against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup yesterday was the best possible result for Arsenal as it turned out.

It will now mean we will replay Orient on Wednesday 2 March (four days after the second leg of the Champions League match against Barca) rather than face ManUre in the sixth round, which in turn means that we will be able to play our reserves instead of our first team.

The only possible fly in the proverbial ointment is that we don't know yet when the sixth round match against ManUre and the league match against Totteringham Hot Spuds. The Premier League and the FA will no doubt conspire to schedule these when they are least convenient for Arsenal, probably within 48 hours of each other.

The other good thing to come out of the this match was the performance of Ignasi Miquel, who was one of the best players on the pitch. It is not hard to see why Arsene Wenger was reluctant to buy another centre-back with players like him and Kyle Bartley around.

The other thing that I took out of yesterday's game is that Nicklas Bendtner will never be good enough as a wide player and we need to bring in another winger and let Bendy and Chamakh fight it out for the back-up centre-forward position. If Carlos Vela is not able to make the required improvement and we aren't able to get a work permit for Ryo Miyaichi then we need to think about signing someone else in my opinion.

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Leyton Orient v Arsenal - confirmed starting line-ups

After the highs of a midweek win against the mighty Barcelona I feel I'm less motivated today to blog about the more ordinary match against Orient.

Let's hope the players aren't less motivated for today's match otherwise we could get embarrassed. Wednesday's result against Barca needs to be the springboard which gives us momentum for the rest of the season, otherwise it was for nothing.

We have a lot of important matches coming up over the next couple of weeks and the way that Arsene Wenger rotates the squad will be crucial to our success. With that in mind, only Alex Song keeps his place from the Barca match.

The main surprise inclusion is Ignasi Miquel, who looked very good in pre-season matches. I'm excited to see how he gets on today. With him and Kyle Bartley (currently on loan at Rangers) both looking very promising it is easy to see why Arsene decided we didn't need to sign a centre-back in the transfer window.

I can't pretend to know anything about Orient, although Arsene Wenger said they've got a good left-back and a good striker. If Wenger says that, I'm inclined to believe him. Althoug when he says 'good' of course he means good for their division not Barca good. Other than that, they also have two ex-Arsenal players in Ben Chorley and Jason Crowe, so they are obviously of quite a high standard.

Arsenal


                 Almunia

Sagna, Squillaci, Miquel, Gibbs

            Song, Denilson

  Bendtner, Rosicky, Arshavin

                Chamakh

 Subs: Fabregas, Koscielny, Nasri, Wilshere, Clichy, Eboue, Szczesny

Orient


Jones, Whing, Chorley, Forbes, Crowe, Cox, Dawson, Daniels, Smith, McGleish, Revell

Subs: Butcher, Omozusi, Mike, Carroll, M'Poku, Tehoue, Kane

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Arsenal v Barcelona - Beating Barca at their own game

(Picture courtesy Ronnie)

It's a good day to be an Arsenal blogger today. It's a good day to be an Arsenal fan today.

Apparently there was some kind of football match or something yesterday evening. I think I must have fallen asleep at half-time when we were 1-0 down. I had this weird dream that we came back to win 2-1, beating Barca at their own game.

I said yesterday that we needed a win at home because it would be difficult to get one in the away leg and that's exactly what we got. Most of the match reports I've read say that Barcelona mullered us in the first half (even Arsenal.com's match report is fairly negative), but I thought that up until Barca scored it was a fairly even match. After that of course Barca took over, but through a combination of good luck, good defending and poor finishing by the self-styled 'best team in the world', it remained 1-0 at the interval.

In the second half Arsenal were much better and you could see as the match went on that Barca were getting tired, both physically and mentally. Arsene Wenger took a risk by bringing on the attack-minded Arshavin in place of Song, but with Wilshere, Fabregas, Nasri, Arshavin, Bendtner and van Persie all running at them Barcelona's tired legs couldn't cope, and it was substitute Arshavin who scored the winner.

Now we can go to the Nou Camp only needing a draw. If we go there playing for a draw, we'll get beaten, but I can't really see that happening.

Before we play Barca again on Tuesday 8 March it's Leyton Orient away in the FA Cup on Sunday, followed by Stoke at home in the league on Wednesday 23 February, the League Cup final against Birmingham on Sunday 27 February and Sunderland at home in the league on Sat 5 March.

I wonder if Orient's scouts learnt anything from watching last night's match?

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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Arsenal v Barcelona - No Micky (Mouse) Silvestre to mess it up this time

Cesc Fabregas (Courtesy RobTM)

So today's the big day - according to the media anyway. It is certainly a pivotal moment in Arsenal's season.

A lot has been made of the fact that Arsenal gave themselves a difficult tie in this round by finishing second in the group stage. But the way I see it drawing Barcelona at this relatively early stage in the Champions League is the best news we could have hoped for. If we beat Barca, we will have got the most difficult match out of the way and it should give us a huge, much needed confidence boost. On the other hand, if we get knocked out, we will have less matches to play in the run-in and thus better chances of winning the remaining competitions: the League, FA Cup and the League Cup.

If we wish to progress, it is important that we win tonight, preferably without conceding. Not only are Barca the best team in the world right now (Arsene Wenger has admitted as much), but they will inevitably fall over at the slightest invitation and roll around like they've been hit by a sniper (and the ref will fall for it), just like they did last year (not that I'm bitter).

Arsenal will be much stronger than when we played Barcelona last year. What most of the media seem to have forgotten (or chosen to forget) is that, despite get hammered for the first 30 minutes at Ashburton Grove, we went to the Nou Camp 2-2 and put up a good fight in the first half despite having what were arguably our five best players at the time (Cesc, Gallas, RvP, Arshavin and Song) all missing and playing Micky (Mouse) Silvestre at centre back.

If you took Barca's five best players out, how would they fair? This time, we only have Vermaelen and Sagna missing for the first leg and Barca are missing Puyol, so we should see a much closer match this time. However, anything can happen in a cup competition, so we'll see.

Dirty Barcelona have repeated the same pre-match tactic that they used last year in trying to unsettle Fabregas, saying it would be 'justice' if he returned to Arsenal after we stole him from them. However, Arsene Wenger has hit back, saying:
"It's part of the game. Where do they get their players? Where does Messi come from? Barcelona? At what age did they take him? Twelve years old. There's no reason for any bitterness because we did nothing illegal."

"We did not force a gun somewhere", he added, "We respected the rules. They could come and take our players, we accept that. They take their players from all over the world. Don't expect them only to get players from Catalonia."
So overall, what are our chances? Personally, I would probably make Barca favourites with 60% chance of winning over the two legs. If we were playing the away leg first, I would rate our chances much better.

Predicted line-ups

Arsenal
                  Szczesny
Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy
              Song, Wilshere
      Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri
                 Van Persie

Barcelona
                Valdes
Alves, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell
          Busquets, Xavi
       Messi, Iniesta, Pedro
                   Villa

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Videos: Incredible two-man bicycle kick and great overhead kick by Trevor Sinclair for QPR

Wayne Rooney's goal against Man Citeh at the weekend was a great goal but the hype surrounding it has been stupid. Best goal ever? Seriously?

Anyhoo, here are a couple clips of other goals scored from bicycle kicks that were better than Rooney's.

Scott Sinclair for QPR 1997
The first is by Trevor Sinclair (remember him?) for QPR way back in 1997 and pooh-poohs all over Wayne Rooney's from a great height.



Incredible tandem kick
The second clip is of a tendem kick - two players on the same team simultaneously overhead-kicking the ball into the net (yes, you read that correctly!) in a match between Gimnasia La Plata and Boca Juniors. This must have been a tricky one for the Argentinian version of the dubious goals panel to sort out.



I looked for a clip of an Arsenal player scoring from an overhead kick but sadly couldn't find one. Anyone remember an Arsenal player ever scoring one?

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Monday, 14 February 2011

Arsenal v Wolves - match highlights video


After the stresses of last weekend's match against Newcastle this was a straightforward 2-0 romp against a Wolves team who beat ManUre on the same day that we struggled to beat the Georgies.

Van Persie bagged a couple, the second of which (3 mins. 40 into the video) was a beautiful passing move like something off FIFA 11. Ping, ping ping - ping, ping, ping - ping, ping - goal. Amazing!

Enjoy!

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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers - expected lineups

Picture courtesy Tambako the Jaguar

I'm hoping that things might get back to normal this weekend with a comfortable win at home to Wolves on Saturday.

After last weeks incredible match against Newcastle we had a brief diversion provided by the interlull where both Wilshere and Walcott performed well and incredibly it seems that all our players came back in one piece, bar Rosicky who picked up a knock.

Other than long-term absentees such as Nasri and Vermaelen, the only other slight concerns we have are van Persie, Djourou and Song. Van Persie should be back after missing international duty due to illness. Both Djourou and Song face fitness tests but Arsene Wenger is hopeful they will be available. Denilson is also back after missing the match against Newcastle, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief there.

The big unknown is whether Arsene intends to rest any players ahead of the match against Barcelona, but he has emphasised in the importance of this game in his press conference, so we can expect a strong line up, but one or two may be rested.

Wolves are expected to be unchanged from the team that beat ManUre (ha, ha!) last week at Molyneaux but Stephen Hunt may return to the squad on the bench. (as an aside, I couldn't remember Hunt's first name so I just Google 'wolves hunt' - needless to say, I didn't get what I was expecting!)

This is a must win match. The Wolves are at the door.

Predicted team lineups

Arsenal

                Szczesny

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy

             Song  Wilshere

Walcott    Fabregas    Arshavin

                van Persie

Subs: Almunia, Eboue, Gibbs, Squillaci, Denilson, Bendtner, Chamakh

Wolves


Hennessey, Stearman, Zubar, Elokobi, Berra, Henry, Jarvis, O'Hara, Milijas, Hammill, Doyle

Subs: Ward, Hahnemann, Ebanks-Blake, Craddock, Edwards, Foley, Fletcher

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Denmark v England - Jack Wilshere is the new Messiah

Picture courtesy Ronnie Macdonald
Jack Wilshere has not yet made his England debut and people are already talking about building the team around him as if he is the new Messiah. So, no pressure then.

Nicklas Bendter, never one to lack self-confidence himself, is concerned that England might mess Jack around like he did with Theo Walcott, building him up too quickly then forgetting that he is still a youngster and knocking him down when he doesn't immediately perform in every match:
"Jack is definitely capable of playing for his country now. But young players are always put under a lot of pressure very early in England. You always throw players around really quickly. I have my own theories on how Theo Walcott was treated by England but I don’t want to get too much into that because it will probably just get me in trouble. But Theo can be a lesson for the way you treat Jack."
England coach Fabio Capello is of course trying to ease the pressure on Wilshere by not hyping him up too... oh no... wait... er, what he actually said was:
"I remember the best players that I managed – Baresi, Maldini, Raúl – and they started really young. It’s their talent. You have to wait now and let him improve more. Jack plays with confidence, never with fear. That’s incredible for someone so young."
Former England manager Graham 'do I not like that' Taylor has also expressed caution, saying:
"The big surprise to me is how much Wilshere has been praised by Fabio Capello, how flowing in praise he's been of one player before he's actually played one full game. I just hope Wilshere does have a good game tonight.

"He's a good player, there's no doubt about that, from all accounts he handles all situations very well. But at international level, we have a record of players who don't produce it at international level, that's been one of our problems.

"Let's give him a few games and then lets get talking about him instead of building him up into such a player before he's completed one international game."
For what it's worth, I think Jack will handle the pressure well. My only concern is whether people will appreciate him if he forms England's 'invisible wall' in front of the back four.

And my prediction for tonight's match? Denmark 2-2 England, with Walcott and Bendtner both to score.

Fingers crossed for no Arsenal injuries!

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Good news on Djourou - Full English translation of story on Swiss national team website

Picture courtesy Rob(TM)
Translated from Swiss national team website:

According to the player himself, Johan Djourou of Arsenal (24) is less severely injured than was feared.

Cuno Wetzel, the Swiss national team doctor, received "good news" from England early Tuesday afternoon: Johan Djourou's knee injury is apparently much less severe than had been feared. The Arsenal and Switzerland central defender had to be replaced three days ago in the 48th minute of the league match against Newcastle.

Painful bruise

Initial medical reports suggested that Djourou was injured either on the kneecap or had suffered cartilage damage. "The player suffered a very painful knee injury. The swelling and bruising delayed the diagnosis," said Wetzel, visibly relieved, "If the healing process is normal, Djourou will probably start training again in less than a week."

Swiss national coach pleased

Swiss national coach Ottmar Hitzfeld was very pleased with the news: "I am happy for Johan, but also for the national team. Djourou is a very important player in my thoughts. As we saw in his comeback in November 2010 in Geneva against the Ukraine, he is very important to the team. He came back very well, played to a high standard and he is very good in the opponents penalty area on set-pieces. Beceause he is 1.90m tall opposing defenders must pay him particular attention, and this may bring space and benefits for other players in our team."

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Monday, 7 February 2011

Newcastle United v Arsenal - match highlights video


In case you haven't already seen it, I recommend making sure that you're in a calm place and relaxed when you watch this.

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Sunday, 6 February 2011

Newcastle v Arsenal - crazy, crazy match!

Can you get post-traumaitc stress after watching a football match?

With Arsenal 4-0 up at half-time, Newcastle's 12 v 10 were awesome in the second half and pulled it back to 4-4 at full-time. Luckily, top of the table ManUre's 2-1 defeat to bottom of the table Wolves put things into perspective and we've now closed the gap on them to four points. And I have to add that I'm relieved that ManIOU have blown the chance to equal the invincible season. And in style! I think it just goes to proves what an incredible achievement that was.

I think it's fair to say that Cesc Fabregas has upset the referee's union. The first penalty was at best soft, the second was a joke, and the 'foul' by Rosicky that lead to the freekick that in turn lead to the equaliser, equally inept. And Kevin Nolan should have been sent off for grabbing Szczesny round the neck, which was every bit as bad as what Diaby did.

Whether Joey Barton's tackle on Diaby was a foul and worthy of a red card is a matter of interpretation - Was it recklessly and dangerously agressive? Only the referee can make that call. But Diaby definitely shouldn't have reacted the way he did. It was interesting to note that on Match of the Day Arsene Wenger had returned to his 'I didn't see the incident' response of previous seasons.

Personally, I'm not too worried about this result. It was just one of those crazy matches that happen from time to time and Merchandise United lost so we gained a point on them. But with Diaby suspended for three matches, Denilson injured, Vermaelen still not back and Squillaci and Koscielny unable to combine as a pair, I'm worried about the fitness of Djourou and Song. We have a big squad but we are rapidly running out of players.

After yesterday, I'm reluctant to make any predictions about who will win the league. Who would bet on the result of a Premier League football match at the moment?

Everyone has been concerned about whether we can catch ManUre but they have some very difficult matches to play, three of which are against Man Citeh and Chelski, and could easily drop plenty of points before the season is up. And we don't know how they will react to the defeat against Wolves. However, ManUre's loss could be Man City and Chelsea's gain if they take three and six points off them respectively, and could put them in good positions to challenge for the league title.

Oh yeah, one final thing, who's Andy Carroll?

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Newcastle United v Arsenal - confirmed team lineup

With five whole days to rest since the match against Everton, its a pretty strong lineup today against Newcastle.

Song and Denilson are both injured so Diaby comes into the midfield. Walcott has recovered from a knock in midweek and will play but Nasri is still out so Arshavin, who seems to be coming back to form, will play on the left.

Lucasz Fabianski is due to have an operation so Szczesny will continue in goal. Chesney looks like he's first choice now in any case. Almunia is fit again and will be on the bench.

Vermaelen is still two to three weeks from being ready and will probably need easing in when he gets back, so the excellent Djourou and Koscielny continue at the back.

The rest of the team is as you would expect:

                   Szczesny

Sagna  Djourou  Koscielny  Clichy

            Diaby    Wilshere

  Walcott     Fabregas     Arshavin

                van Persie

Subs: Almunia, Squillaci, Eboue, Gibbs, Rosicky, Chamakh, Bendtner

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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Golden Goal (video) - Anders Limpar v Liverpool from the halfway line

Picture courtesy Håkan Dahlström
USA.Arsenal.com are currently showing some of the best goals in Arsenal's history for free.

No. 27 is an absolute corker from the halfway line by Anders Limpar in 1992.

Limpar signed for Arsenal from Cremonese in 1990 and won the league in 1990-91, and both the FA Cup and League Cup in the same season in 1992-93. He played 96 games for the club and scored 17 goals.

I wonder why this great goal didn't get as much coverage as David Beckham's famous goal from a similar position?

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Arsenal v Everton - match highlights video


Despite one of the worst decision of the season (or possibly any season) by the referee's assistant last night, Arsenal battled back for an important win. These male linesmen clearly don't know the rules.

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Monday, 31 January 2011

Arsenal v Huddersfield Town - video highlights

 

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Saturday, 29 January 2011

1930 FA Cup Final video - Arsenal v Huddersfield Town



Arsenal have got a lot to be grateful to Huddersfield for. I found this great footage of the 1930 FA Cup semi-finals and final on YouTube. Arsenal won their first ever trophy after beating tomorrow's opponents Huddersfield 1-0 the final with a rare goal by the classy Alex James, the Dennis Bergkamp of the 1930s.

Arsenal's manager on the day was Herbert Chapman. Chapman won the title twice with Huddersfield in successive seasons (1923-24 and 1924-25) and the FA Cup in 1923 before moving on to Arsenal at the end of the 1924-25 season and repeating those feats (winning the FA Cup with Arsenal in 1930 and the League Championship in 1930-31 and 1931-32).

Chapman was acknowledged as one of the grandfathers of modern football, introducing many of the features of the game that we are so familar with today such as white footballs, numbered shirts, floodlights and modern training regimes including the use of physiothrapists and masseurs. He also insisted on picking the team himself without interference from the board (a pracitce almost unheard of at the time) and encouraged the players to discuss tactics at weekly team meetings, another new innovation.

Chapman's Arsenal legacy was equally impressive. As well as introducing the famous white sleeves before the match against Liverpool on 4 March 1933, he was also instrumental in the development of Highbury into a modern football stadium (complete with the new 'Clock End') and in changing the name of Gillespie Road tube station to Arsenal. He was also a big fan of the continental game and was an early pioneer for bringing foreign players to the English game. Beginning to sound like someone we know?

Chapman would undoubtedly have won more honours if it had not been for his untimely death from pneumonia on 6 January 1934. Arsene Wenger said this week that:
"We can call him a ‘super pioneer’ because he really turned this Club into one that was ready for the modern era. He was ahead of his time and he was certainly the most influential manager."
So let's hear it for Huddersfield. And I hope we give them a good tanking tomorrow!

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Friday, 28 January 2011

Capello admits Walcott World Cup selection error

According to the Daily Telegraph, Fabio Capello has admitted he made a mistake in leaving Theo Walcott out of his squad for the 2010 World Cup. He is quoted in the paper as saying:
"He is one of the players after the World Cup I thought about a lot. He can play 25 minutes and be dangerous. I made a mistake not selecting him. He's one of the players who can make the difference. I should have taken him. This is one change I would have made for this World Cup. He's one of the players who is so fast he can make the difference in every moment."
He went on to say that the decision to leave Theo out had been a difficult one:
"It was a really difficult choice. Aaron Lennon was playing very well. He was at the top at that moment. I chose Lennon and not Theo for this reason. Lennon was perfect. I decided after Austria training and the Japan game. But then Lennon was injured after two games."
Capello was also full of praise for Jack Wilshere and revealed that he sees a role for him with England as a deep-lying midfielder.
"Wilshere is the best young player. He now plays all the time with Arsenal. If you play with Arsenal, you are a really good player because Arsène Wenger likes good players.

"I want to put him in this position in front of the back four. I have to decide because he's so young, he would stay alone in midfield and that can be dangerous.

"I think he's mature enough to play this role. He's a really interesting player. When he started, in some moments he played without big confidence. He was timid, shy. Now every game he improves a lot, he plays with confidence, without fear and he tackles to win." 
In the long run, I think that Arsene Wenger sees Wilshere as being a more attacking player in the mould of Fabregas. Cesc started his Arsenal career in the deeper-lying role that Wilshere is currently playing before moving further forward, and I believe that he has the same plans for Wilshere. He has done great in his current position but all of us who have seen him in reserve and friendly matches know that he is capable of so much more attacking wise.

It's good to see Capello being so positive about Arsenal players though. The Sun, the Daily Mail and Sky should take note. They have been constant in their criticism of Arsenal for not having any English players, despite doing more to develop young English talent than possibly any other club, while other teams have escaped criticism despite the fact that they have bought most of their English players and have done little to develop English football.

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Arsenal v Ipswich - video highlights and some unashamed gushing


It was a comfortable victory last night. Arsenal are now looking like they are near to firing on all cylinders both offensively and defensively, which they haven't been for most of the season. All we need now is for Vermaelen to come back and for some of the players who aren't currently first choice such as Arshavin, Rosicky and Chamakh to start picking up a bit of form. Bendtner began to show a bit of form in the second half last night and his goal was a cracker.

The only downside was that Sagna went off in the first half with concussion, but he should be out for no more than two weeks at most. Eboue should fill in no problem in the meantime - that's the advantage of having a good squad.

In previous seasons I haven't been too bothered about the League Cup, but now I think that it could be a stepping stone to better things. Arsenal, ManUre and Chelsea have all won the League Cup in the past before going on to win more prestigious trophies and I don't think that's a coincidence.

It's a good time to be an Arsenal fan at the moment and I'm really looking forward to each successive match as it comes along. It's a pity Blackpool couldn't at least hold on to get a draw against Blackpool, but you can't have everything. Luckily, ManUre still have some hard matches, including playing Chelsea twice, so they have plenty of opportunities to drop points. Arsenal just have to do their bit.

Next up are Huddersfield in the FA Cup and I'm expecting nothing less than an impressive victory.

Oh yeah, one final thing - we're going to Wem-ber-ley!

Come on Arsenal!

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Monday, 24 January 2011

Chamberlain - dotting the i's and crossing the t's


I think I might try to get a job dotting the i's and and crossing the t's on professional footballer contracts because there is clearly a need for it. Why do they always leave it to the last minute? Why not do all the dots and crosses at the start of the process or as they are going along? Surely it would save a lot of time in the long run?

Anyway, Arsenal are apparently at this stage of contract negotiations with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who according to Matt Law of the Express on Twitter is due to sign for £5m plus £5m add-ons and will be loaned back to Southampton until the end of the season.

Having watched some clips of him on YouTube, I'm quite excited about this, though it will in all likelihood be two or three years at least until we see him getting into the first team. I know that any player can be made to look good in a few clips on YouTube, but he really does look the real deal.

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