Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reading 5-7 Arsenal - Video and some brief thoughts on a crazy night

I'm still feeling a bit traumatised after last night's match against Reading. It was just a crazy night. Reality was definitely on the blink there for a while.

After 20 minutes, when we went 3-0 down, I said On Twitter:
"Reading won't have expected to be 3-0 up after 20 minutes. Their game plan will have gone to pot. Wenger's secret ploy:-) #AFC"
Then, after 37 minutes, we were 4-0 down. The pre-Halloween horror show was complete (as it turned out).

Normally I would be distraught if we were 4-0 down in a game but for some reason that I can't put my finger on, I still felt that we could get back into it. Insane thought though that was.

I did think briefly about turning off the TV, but then I kept thinking: "If they do come back and I turn off, I will have missed the greatest comeback of all time."

So I stuck with it even though it was like torture.* In fact, I thought about having a bet on it. I didn't only because I haven't got a betting app on my phone and the computer was in the other room and I'm lazy. Besides, I was just being crazy, wasn't I? It wasn't really going to happen.

As it turned out, it was probably a very expensive mistake. The odds must have been phenomenal. Probably 500-1 or something, I expect. I should have trusted my instincts more.

But then, equally, I could easily have been sitting here now typing away after Arsenal failed to make a comeback and I had just wasted ten quid on a hunch.

Now, after reliving my trauma, I'm off for a quick lie down. And possibly a large vodka.


* In the unlikely event that anyone reading this has actually been tortured or knows someone who has, I apologies. I realise it is only football – I don't wish to make light of your plight!

Share via Social Network


Friday, 26 October 2012

Poor preseason or Steve Bould to blame for Arsenal's slump?

On the face of it things couldn't really get much worse for Arsenal at the moment. Everyone seems to be having a go at us. The latest piece of bad news comes from TalkSport who report that former player Stewart Robson says he has heard there is a 'rift' between Arsene Wenger and his new assistant Steve Bould. If that is true, it's very worrying to say the least.
'I hoped that [when Steve Bould was appointed] he would do more with the defence but I’m not sure whether he’s being allowed to do that by Arsene Wenger.
'I think there might be a rift in the camp between those two from what I’ve heard.'
I'm not sure if rift is too strong a word a word, but there may be a clash of footballing ideologies. Events on the pitch would seem to bear this out. Earlier in the season Bould was rightly being praised for the work he had done with the defence as we looked more solid at the back, but has his influence on the side become too great? When Wenger has been in the stands this season for Champions League matches, we have lacked a bit of creativity going forward. Against Norwich this seemed to have crept into our Premier League play. Is this because Bouldy places too much emphasis on defence and that as players are working harder and getting into positions defensively they taking away too much from their attacking play? Possibly.

At the end of the day, it will take time for the new partnership to flourish. It is too early yet to say 'Come back Pat Rice, we still need you'.

I disagree with the majority view that if you keep Cazorla quiet you stop Arsenal from scoring. That is not the problem in my opinion. The problem as I see it is that no one is making the runs for Cazorla to pass to them in dangerous positions.

We seem to lack sharpness and confidence at the moment and already look tired at a very early stage of the season, which is worrying. I personally put that down to our poorly planned preseason. We went on a tour of the Far East and seemed to spend more time doing publicity than getting practice matches in. By the start of the season I think Podolski, for example, had only played one half of one match. That simply isn't enough. It isn't good for player fitness and it isn't good for team cohesion. It showed at the start of the season against Sunderland and Stoke when we struggled to score and it's showing again now, big time.

And then there was the AGM yesterday at which many fans voiced there concerns and frustrations to the extent that, by all reports, it almost turned into a free-for-all. Arsene Wenger came under fire for repeating the mantra that qualification for the Champions League is like winning a trophy. To some extent it is possible to see where he's coming from - qualifying for the Champions League can be looked at as being like a promotion that you have to achieve every year. If a Championship club could sacrifice their chances of promotion to the Premier League to win the FA Cup, would they? I don't know. Fans want trophies. No one ever says 'do you remember where you were when we qualified for the Champions League in 2011'?

One blog that I read was titled 'Are Arsenal biding their time or wasting their time'. I think this sums things up pretty well. We are on a solid financial footing and things look good for the long-term future, but will the club ever fulfil it's potential or will we continue to loose our best players every season and have to start all over again? Only time will tell.

There are a few things that offer some crumbs of comfort. Wilshere and Sagna are in contention to be in the squad this weekend, though we still have quite a long injury list (don't we always?) including The Ox, Szczesny, Fabianski, Walcott, Gibbs, and the apparently perennially injured Diaby and Rosicky.

After Santos' dire performance against Shalke 04, I wonder if it might be prudent to bring Sagna in at left back. He certainly couldn't do any worse than the Brazilian who had probably the worst performance I have ever seen from an Arsenal player in over thirty years as a fan. Even worse than Brian Sparrow's performances in 83/84. He was more use for the opposition than he was for Arsenal!

Arsene Wenger says that Jack Wilshere will return a better player after his injury. We could certainly do with a fit and fully functioning Wilshere at the minute. We could also do with having Chesney back. Mannone has done okay, but he is prone to the occasional error and doesn't inspire confidence in the defence as Szczesny does.

The emergence of Serge Gnabry has also been a bright spot. He only had a few minutes to impress in each of the matches against Norwich and Shalke, but he looked sharp and I think he will be 'the biz' in the years to come. But the fact that we have had to call upon an inexperienced 17-year-old says a lot.

And we are also on the brink of signing a new shirt sponsorship deal with Adidas, which would be worth £25 million pounds per season, as opposed to the £13 million we currently get from Nike, which should boost the transfer coffers still further.

Arsene Wenger has said: "what is important for us now is to bounce back and have a good result in the Premier League". I seem to remember him saying something similar about bouncing back after our result against Norwich. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Some Arsenal blogs such as Arsenal Arsenal are questioning whether fourth place is achievable. I think, however, that that is excessively pessimistic.

It is always worth remembering one thing: When things are looking their best, they probably aren't as good as you think they are and when things are looking their worst, everything probably isn't as bad as it seems.

Mark Hughes will no doubt instruct his players to 'get amongst them' (i.e. kick them off the park) on Saturday, but I still expect us to beat QPR and I still expect us to qualify for the Champion's League. Eternally optimistic? Maybe.

As they say, however, things can only get better.

Share via Social Network


Monday, 8 October 2012

Riccardo Vaz Te - instant karma

I don't normally enjoy seeing people get hurt, even my worst enemies, but did anyone else feel a bit smug and satisfied when Riccardo Vaz Te dislocated his shoulder against Arsenal on Saturday?

I quite like Vaz Te as a player, but like all West Ham players he is clearly under instructions from his manager to put the boot in and give the opposition players a good kicking whenever he thinks he can get away with it.

And so it came to pass that RVT gave Vito Mannone a nice little 'reminder that he was there' by kicking him in the head after he had come out to collect the ball. Then, to make sure that he didn't get booked, he threw himself to the floor to feign injury, just like Big Spam had told him to. Good boy!

Unfortunately for Vaz Te, he miscalculated and landed badly, dislocating his shoulder in the process, and had to be substituted. Poor bloke, my heart bleeds for him. (Did you catch the lack of sincerity there or was it too subtle?)

The FA may be too weak to take action against thugs such as Vaz Te (it's all part of the English game) but, as he is finding out, karma can be a real b**** sometimes.

Update: Riccardo Vaz Te will be out for three months.

Share via Social Network


Friday, 5 October 2012

Oh, I do love a nice big Per

Last season Per Mertesacker was widely criticised due to his lack of pace and his perceived inability to adapt to the Premier League.

I always thought the BFG was underrated. After one particular slating on Match of the Day, I remember saying to a colleague at work at the time, 'it's hard to see what he does for the team but look at the amount of goals Arsenal concede when he's playing and then at how many they concede when he isn't.'

A lot of the comments seemed to me to stem from xenophobia in the British press and on TV, where his every mistake was highlighted and criticised in detail. without taking account of the fact that he had not played many matches and needed to adapt. Meanwhile all the good stuff that he did (such as those great interceptions he does so often or the way he seems to organise and bring a calmness to the defence) were overlooked or denigrated.

This negativity was passed on to the fans, many of whom for some reason seem to believe the twaddle that the so called expert analysts spout on the BBC, Sky and in the press.

This season everything has changed. He has missed two matches and the defence has looked decidedly less confident in his absence. Many fans are beginning to see what he brings to the team and most will be disappointed if he is not restored to the team this week at West Ham after being left out if favour of previous fans favourite Koscielny at Chelsea.

So here's to a great big Per.

Picture courtesy Ronnie Macdonald.

Share via Social Network