White Scarf Protest – Sign Up Now

April 30, 2011

It’s time for all true Arsenal supporters to stand up and be counted.

We need to take back our club and its traditions from the corrupt mind-control conspiracy that has taken it from us.

To that end we are inviting every Gooner to put on a white scarf and join us in a protest march before the home game against Aston Villa (route details below).

On arrival at The (Evil Corporate Brand Name) Stadium, we will nail our list of demands to the big black cannon by the front steps. Our demands are these:

  • A club of Arsenal’s stature should have a wider range of pizza flavours available on match days. Where is our Hawaiian? Our Napoletano? Our Sloppy Giuseppe? With a bit more ambition we could have some world class pizza toppings at the ground.
  • Our kit: much has been said and written about our shirt. But what about the shorts? Why oh why have we abandoned the classic, billowing, knee-length shorts once worn by legends like Cliff Bastin and Ted Drake? “Drake’s Drapes”, as they were known, offered protection all the way down to below the knee, reducing the risk of strains and muscle pulls. And their bagginess allowed players to keep cigarettes and matches (or an apple, depending on inclination) safely tucked away for use during quiet moments in the game. As part of the Arsenalisation of The *@:%!£*& Stadium – let’s bring back the big shorts.
  • The Board of Directors of Arsenal FC needs to be more in touch with us, the ordinary fans. We need a representative at Board meetings, someone who is close to us, who shares our animal passion for Arsenal and who has followed the club for a long, long time. We refer, of course, to Gunnersaurus. He’s been supporting Arsenal for 65 million years so there’s nothing you can tell him about tradition. And if that new American owner cuts up rough at the meetings Gunnersaurus can always fire a T-shirt-in-a-plastic-tube at him from point blank range.
  • Bring back the Highbury Atmosphere: it’s always difficult to recreate an atmosphere when moving to a new stadium, but we feel the club has been negligent in not helping to safeguard some of the treasured traditions of Highbury, not least the famous “Highbury Library Effect.” Although many like-minded supporters have done their best to maintain our strong tradition of strategic silences during games, it has come to our notice that some “Johnny-come-lately” fans have taken to singing and chanting during these precious moments. We would like to see more “Quiet Please” signs posted around the stadium, and for the stewards to use their powers to “shush” the noisemongers.
  • The Manager: while we appreciate the great service our manager has put into the club blah blah blah, it has come to our notice that he is very tall and it is well known that tall managers do not win things. It is time for him to step aside and make way for a short arse, like Mr Phillip Brown or Mr Anthony Pulis. Even better, Gordon Strachan.

So come on Brothers and Sisters in Arsenal. Join us on this march and, together, let’s help bring back the Arsenal we love.

Yours in Arsenalhood, from the secret group of campaigners who call ourselves:

WHLOAMIFDTBOTS

(We Have Lost Our Arsenal Maybe It Fell Down The Back Of The Sofa)

Demonstration Route (Starts 12.45pm)

Assemble at the Chinese chippy in Avenell Road.

Process to that barber’s in Blackstock Road with all the old Arsenal pictures on the wall.

Round the back of the Gunners for a quick pee.

On to Higbury Fields to look at Clive Anderson’s house.

Up Holloway Road to the second-hand sci-fi bookshop to beat up some beardy nerds.

Cheeseburger from the third stall in Benwell Road.

Vomit it back up under the railway bridge.

Into the Armoury to buy a pair of Arsenal furry dice for the motor.

Re-assemble outside the stadium at the big cannon for nailing of demands, free ginger beer and a rousing round of negro spirituals.


It’s time for a change…

April 29, 2011

Written  by Mr Arsenal

Arsenal’s fans have endured another disappointing conclusion to a long season- the defeat to Bolton firmly put to bed any dwindling hopes of silverware. The inevitability of the capitulation, however, has been the most painful part of the demise, prompting many fans to question Wenger and the direction in which the club is moving.

It’s difficult to overstate the enormous contribution Arsene Wenger has made to Arsenal. He’s revolutionised the club with his visionary managerial approach and is lauded by neutrals for his scintillating style of play.  But, another trophy-less campaign has led a great number of frustrated Arsenal fans to call this philosophy into question.  His emphasis on developing young talent is a big part of his managerial ideals but is also, to a certain extent, a consequence of the club’s financial constraints following the move to the Emirates in 2006.

Wenger has clearly built a technically gifted side that plays an attractive brand of football. But this approach can only take you so far and desperately needs some revision. It is time to spend some money on bringing more established players to the club rather than relying solely on the youth team in conjunction with cheap speculative signings. It’s a remarkable achievement that Arsenal has managed to qualify for the Champions League consistently since 2006, given the limited amount of money spent on player acquisitions compared to many of the club’s rivals. It’s even further testament to Wenger’s talents that he’s been able to compete for major honours in this period with the squad available.

I would suggest that a change of philosophy is required if Arsenal is to end its barren run without a trophy. Wenger needs to sacrifice his emphasis on technical quality for a greater degree of power, pace and experience. A look back to his early days at Arsenal should provide him with the perfect template for success. The double winning side of the ‘98 season boasted a great balance of strength/physicality (Viera, Petit, Keown), craft (Bergkamp), pace (Overmars, Anelka) and leadership (Adams, Wright).

Unfortunately, Arsenal has been overpowered in recent seasons and although Wenger has attempted to address this problem by bringing in players like Song, I think, we need 2 or 3 more physically imposing players to meet the demands of the more combative teams in the league. A centre-back, a full back and a central midfield player of stature would really benefit the squad in this respect. Gary Cahill is a popular name amongst many Arsenal supporters but I’m a big fan of Chris Samba at Blackburn and Cheik Tiote at Newcastle.

The other major problem is the lack of leadership at the club. Fabregas, in my view, is not a natural leader and seems to undermine the great faith Wenger has shown in him by criticising the manager publicly and evading questions about his future. Arsenal fans want their captain to be someone who appreciates the huge honour of leading out the side- and not someone who has one eye on a move to Barcelona in the summer. Jack Wilshere, a player whose great talent is matched by his dogged fight and desire to win, has my vote for a future Arsenal captain.

Even more noticeable has been Cesc’s poor form this season- it’s a common occurrence to see him give the ball away in key areas of the pitch and his lack of pace or strength means that he struggles to win it back again for the team. There’s no doubt he is an extremely gifted player with a classy eye for a pass but I think he’s been found missing in key games this season. If he wants to leave the club, then I would happily take 30-40m for the player and move on.

A greater threat upfront is also required for Arsenal to be a winning force once again. Arsene needs to learn from the successful strikers he has brought to the club in the past, namely Anelka and Henry. The team needs a front man with pace and an appetite to score goals. Someone who revels playing on the last man and can profit from the creative vision of Nasri and Van Persie. Arsenal’s lack of a cutting edge has been evident throughout the season, despite some promising form earlier on in the campaign from Chamakh, and Wenger really needs to address this issue in the summer.

There’s no doubt that Wenger has had his fair share of bad luck this season. The ongoing injury to Vermaelen, who looked to be the antidote to Arsenal’s defensive troubles and key moments in crucial matches (the Carling Cup final mix-up between Koscielny and Szczesny as well as Van Persie’s sending off against Barca) have clearly not gone our way. But these difficult moments cannot mask the much deeper problem at the club-the inability to win ‘ugly’, to be ruthless both in front of goal and at the back, to beat teams with both flair and gritty resistance. Wenger needs a greater degree of pragmatism- more physicality and experience in the squad would help engender a winning mentality – something clearly missing from this current Arsenal side. Many would say that it’s not in Wenger’s make-up to adopt this approach – but why not? He’s done it before, why can’t he do it again?


The Debacle in Madrid

April 28, 2011

Written by dandan

Half time in Madrid, players pushing and shoving, all the backroom boys getting involved, is this what we want in our league? Mourinho is in the thick of it having started it off at his press conference, Barcelona’s reserve goalkeeper gets involved in the melee in and around the tunnel and is sent off from the bench.

Many bloggers think we should court this man, are you sure? Do we really want to even consider Mourinho to take Arsène’s place? Rumour says Jose covets Fergie’s job, would Man Utd’s directors want their name sullied by such a man? Is this the price one has to pay for trophies?

What does Cesc think when he watches his would be team mates diving and play acting? every decision questioned, the referee constantly harangued and mobbed. Imaginary cards waived in his face by players every time a team mate throws himself to the ground, anything to pressure the referee to gain an advantage and get a fellow professional booked or sent off, Is this really where he wants to go and exercise his skills? More fool him if he does, he’s welcome to it. This is supposedly the best team in the world we are watching.

The more I watch it, the more I recognise the basically inherent honesty of our league, sure we have a few dodgy divers, Fergie plays his mind games and the occasional crunch tackle goes in. But compared to this whinging, cheating, orchestrated pantomime of a game, even old Trafford is a Temple of fairness.

Sportsmanship or gamesmanship – what do we pay to watch? How would we Gooners react to such conduct in our stadium every time one of our main rivals plays there?

If this is Champions League football they can shove it.

Come on Arsene: buy the couple of players you need for next season and let’s show these prima donnas we are the best team in the best league in the world.

What the final outcome will be tonight I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t care. Pepe and Mourinho have mercifully just been sent off and I am going to bed.

Its morning now, Barca have won, Messi has worked his magic and by his genius, partially it seems watered down the reaction in the press, to what had gone on before. Mouriniho true to form however takes no prisoners at his press conference and launches a tirade against CL refs with all kinds of innuendo, that Barca have help in that direction, no matter who they play.

Its all smoke and mirrors, what really matters is the atmosphere in which the match was played, something has to be done, this is not football, the most important match this year ruined by patent self interest, disregard for the rules and a breathtaking expediency that sees the means justify the end. neither side is blameless. No doubt the authorities will throw the book at Jose, but in my book an enquiry into the conduct of the whole match should be instigated and the video evidence used to punish all the guilty parties who sullied our beautiful game last night.


A View from the Away End

April 27, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Easter weekend brought Gooners to Lancashire in their droves. We took the whole end of the ground, upper and lower, the normal allocation is 3,000 but that is, I believe, half lower tier and all the upper. I would estimate the travelling ranks were closer to 5,000 on Sunday.

For a change I waited around the players entrance for the team bus to arrive to give the team the support I think they need. The entrance was lined with Arsenal fans young and old, not one player stopped to sign an autograph for the youngsters eagerly awaiting their heroes, a few, Song, Theo, RvP and Jens, acknowledged the fans with a small hand gesture. The rest were listening to their music of choice in their own little worlds. You could argue this was the look of focussed players, but to me it came across as a tense team, one under the cosh and you would have thought for all the world they don’t like each other, and would have preferred to be anywhere else than playing football.

It also struck me just how young this group of players look as they walked along, carrying the hopes of so many fans on their shoulders is a big burden for these lads.

And so into the ground we went curious as to whether there had been a bust up pre match or whether the players were just in their pre game routine and therefore not in the business of being friendly until the job had been done.

The Easter Bank Holiday brought a fair few more families than you would normally see at away games, despite being dispersed across the whole end the fans managed to make a good deal of noise pre match, and as the PA died down you would have thought Bolton had 3,000 fans in as the Arsenal end was full of noise, belief and arrogance that we would sweep aside all before us. This has to be the default mindset at away games as the fans cheer and sing despite the scoreline.

The game started well with us having a good deal of possession and a few chances, Theo’s penalty appeal was met with groans from the away end, being too far away to judge it, it just appeared that he had been dispossessed with too much ease. Groans from the away end, I am afraid that the negativity had come to the North West with the extra travelling numbers.

I was unfortunate enough to be stood next to two particularly negative fans. One stood right behind me complained that Szczesny should have been wearing a cap as he “fumbled” two crosses, which for me was garbage as I turned to him to point out that the sun was coming from the other side of the ground and that both balls had come along the ground and therefore had nothing to do with the sun.

To my right another fan was having all manner of hissy fit which was amusing a few more seasoned regulars around them, now I know it is often said that some fans don’t know what they have got or how lucky they have been to witness the achievements of this team in recent years, the two lads were probably no more than 22-25. I caught the eye of one guy who was probably in his early 40’s and there with his two lads he just rolled his eyes and smiled at the guy in front who was literally acting like a spoilt brat in front of him.

In terms of the game we failed to capitalise on early pressure and Boltons confidence grew as they realised they weren’t as bad as last weeks Semi Final suggested and they started to play with more conviction, it is true that Owen Coyle has attempted to create a more attractive side but on Sunday they reverted to type of long ball to Davies and win the knock ons. Sturridge gave the centre backs a hard time whilst Davies was running and attacking many aerial balls with great success.

This culminated in the goal at the end of the first half which led to a bit more discontent within the massed ranks.

After the break Djourou was penalised for the tackle on Sturridge and this brought more ranting from behind me, I turned and looked the guy in the eye and in no uncertain terms told him to stop shouting so much rubbish and to perhaps support the team a little bit more. To be fair he looked at me a bit incredulously and then shut up which was a relief. Szczesny saved the weak penalty and almost immediately the side was lifted.

Soon after Van Persie was breaking the Bolton resilience with a great bit of interplay with Cesc which led to a low drive into the bottom corner.

Despite so much pressure in the second half we the fans could not will the ball into the net, and the players could not however much they tried break through for a second time. Bolton conserved energy without possession sitting deep and blocking any shots and runs, whilst Arsenal players wore themselves out by overworking the ball when shooting was the plea of the crowd. However in the players defence when you look at the goal we scored and the amount of bodies in and around the eighteen yard box it is no surprise they don’t shoot, in most instances it would be a total waste. But there were times when you felt the trigger could be pulled, Jack for example ran into the box and if he had the confidence to use his right foot should have shot, another couple of occasions came and went, it seemed like the goal would not come but on the other hand I did not feel like we were going to lose either. Silly me.

Unfortunately my fears have been confirmed, maybe it was the number of fans at the  Reebok  or worse the away support has also begun to lose faith.  On the goal Arsenal fans poured out the exits, some stayed, not many waited to applaud the players off the pitch, but then few players came to the fans at the end, Sagna, Jack, Szczesny, Theo and Eboue were the few that came over to applaud the travelling horde.

I awoke Monday morning to a quote from Arsene Wenger accepting that he is to blame, will this man defend the players to the end, and will it be that loyalty that costs him his jobs, yes he picks the team, but his players in who he places so much trust have failed to do simple things well, and to score goals when so many chances have been created. When the players play we can score for fun, at the moment too many are suffering a mental block in front of goal.

My criticism of Wenger is that he is relying too heavily on a core of 11-13 players, those players are stagnating and tiring together, however it is hard for him to use the squad players as they have rarely done enough to convince him or the support that they can do the job required. Our squad rotation is limited, he needs to understand that occasionally for the benefit of the team an ordinary player must start in order to give the better player a rest or to freshen things up. We started the season with options in every position, we have ended it with an tired first eleven, and a group of squad players bereft of confidence.

Its time for this group of players to start enjoying football again, but its also time for them to start repaying the enormous faith that Wenger has put in them.


Wenger Should Go – And Here’s Where To…

April 26, 2011

Yes, that’s right: a quiet beach a million miles away from the hurly burly of Premiership football and the unforgiving scrutiny of the media.

A blue sky, a blazing sun and a long, golden beach as empty as Abou Diaby’s head.

Obviously Arsene shouldn’t go there right now – that would be rude. He should at least wait until we’ve played our remaining games.

But when his team has kicked the final ball in yet another season of flattering to deceive, he should give the players, the board and the media a cheery wave and head off with a small suitcase containing only his Speedos and that bottle of sun cream that Phil Brown left behind in the away dressing room at The Grove last year.

And while I know his many critics will hope he never comes back, I beg to differ.

What our manager needs is some time to get his head straight and take stock. I mean REALLY take stock.

And to do that he needs to detach himself from the day-to-day craziness of his job. There are so many immediate demands on him that there is no possibility of him ever getting perspective on the big picture.

He is known to make decisions over every aspect of how Arsenal is run, from the colour of the loo roll in the London Colney toilets (white, with a cock-and-ball logo in blue as it happens) to the aroma of the massage cream in the club morgue treatment room.

Plus, we’re always reading how even on his ‘days off’ Arsene is to be found glued to a TV, watching some game in the Azerbaijani Third Division. Well that’s got to stop too.

He needs to go to his deserted beach for three whole weeks – with no Blackberry or mobile phone, without a lap top and with no access to television.

There have to be no calls from agents; none from journalists; no texts from Emmanuel Eboue with links to funny videos involving chickens. It needs to be total media silence.

Yes, he might miss out on a transfer opportunity or two while he’s incommunicado. So what? There is no point doing transfer business until he has fundamentally decided what he needs to do to turn Arsenal into a trophy-winning club again.

He also needs a complete break for his health and sanity. Personally I think the media have been over-egging the ‘man on the edge’ stuff lately because it fits the narrative they’ve chosen for Arsene (when Ferguson rants on the touchline it’s passion; when Wenger does it it’s a mental breakdown). But even so, the pressure and scrutiny must take its toll and he has looked frustrated at times.

I’m not going to speculate on what conclusions he might reach while his hammock sways from side to side with the calming monotony of Denilson’s passing range.

Oh alright, I’ll speculate a little: maybe it will involve re-thinking the youth policy; maybe he’ll decide he needs a proper defence coach; perhaps he’ll conclude that certain players need weeding out (and I mean weeding – not the full-on napalm attack that some of the more excitable web sites are demanding).

Other areas he might ponder are whether 4-3-3 is worth persevering with; whether to go all out for the domestic cups again or revert to using them as a training slope for the up-and-comers; and, perhaps most difficult of all, whether he has the heart to carry on.

I hope he does all this, because I firmly believe that he can make us great again. And when he does, I want to be there to watch the media lickspittles shovel humble pie down their gullets until they burst.

RockyLives


Mr Wenger, Please do me a Favour……?

April 25, 2011

Written by Harry

All I ask of you in my hour of need, after the unexpected defeat at the hands of Bolton, as I sit here distraught and frustrated, even angry at the events of this season, I ask that you address the faithful the hordes of fans that support and follow this club of ours as soon as is practical…….

What do I want to hear?

  1. Admit you have made mistakes.
  2. Admit that you have been restricted in the transfer window since our move to the Emirates, but now you have the funds available to make the moves you truly want and if needed you will pay what it takes.
  3. Admit that some players that you have supported vehemently have let you down.
  4. Admit that we do have specific areas of concern that need fresh players in to improve us and take us up a level.
  5. State categorically that you will address all of the above points, that we will keep all of our star players and have a real and proper title tilt next season………

Hands Up, My mistake……

In the aftermath of the defeat today which ends any lingering hopes that we had in winning the title this season, it is so hard to put into words the events of the match, and how I am feeling……..

The Blogosphere is awash with AMG’s, Fire Him, Sack Him, Walk now, Do the right thing, I understand the frustration and indeed I have anger inside, but I believe we are so close, to being what we all want that we must manage our expectations and get behind the boss and the team that he has built, as I stated above he has made some errors and needs to address certain areas……….

So today started with a real belief that we had an outside chance of still winning the title, some doom merchants will crawl out saying we never had a chance and it was all over before today, well mathematically there is still a 150/1 chance even now, but even the most optimistic fan knows, that the silver polish will not be needed this season……

The match started bright and the team seemed to start with the same vigour that they tackled the Spuds with, Walcott seemed pivotal to our day, but after the first few attacks, Bolton’s resolve not to lose seemed to take hold and they harried and fought, giving little space for our players to exploit…….

I don’t want to dwell on the match too much but will just give detail on the key moments@

On 38 Mins:  Bolton took the lead when Cahill lost his marker Alex Song as a corner come over, his header was cleared from the goal by Nasri, but straight to Sturridge who just nodded in from point blank…….1-0……..

On 45 Mins: Fabregas flashed a 30yard low drive against the left hand upright to see it deflect back away from danger……..

We had other moments in the first half, but failed to counter Bolton’s aggressive pressing game……Sturridge and Davies were proving to be a handful…..

On 46Mins: No sooner had we all sat down ready for the 2nd half, Sturridge turned Djourou and pushed into the box from the left, Djourou was unlucky to see the Ref point to the spot as Sturridge fell over with no contact made…….

Kevin Davies stepped up and hit a poor penalty just to the right of centre, Szczesny held strong and saved well with his legs, the ball for once went to safety……..Game on? Well the players did seem to up their game……

On 48mins: Van Persie comes in from the left and touches the ball into Fabregas, who feeds back, Van Persie, curls a sweet shot into the bottom left  hand corner of the goal……1:1, game truly on?

Arsenal now really stepped up and created numerous chances that should have been converted, Nasri and Chamakh missing gilt edged chances……..

On 89 Mins: Another set piece sees Tamir Cohen nod in a glancing header at the near post……….2:1….Season over, 5 minutes of injury time, just prolongs the agony……

Ratings:

Szczesny: 7.5 …Saved a penalty and two other saves of real note, so did well but fumbled a few……..No chance for either goal….

Sagna: 7…I thought he did well defensively, but could do more in advanced positions……

Djourou: 5… Truly shocking, he is a liability at the moment, I have stuck up for JD many times and still have high hopes for him, but he is struggling at the moment……numerous mistakes, weak and poor positioning…….

Koscienly: 6…Steady but still learning to deal with the premiership, will develop, needs a bit more aggression for me…..

Clichy: 4…The root cause of our defensive fragility, harsh to blame one in all entirety, but I wanted him dropped weeks ago, he has no positional sense, slow in thought, restricts our play constantly and cannot cope with any pressure……..

Wilshere: 7…Jack tried and had some good moments, needs to be more selfish in front of goal, he has a great shot with minimal backlift needed, but never uses it…..Subbed first…

Fabregas: 7…Had a good game, but just not quite influential enough to get us a result, but at least he was having some shots, key role in the Van Persie goal……..

Song: 5…Has regressed alarmingly since about Christmas, but he has struggled with injuries, perhaps it has restricted hum?

Walcott: 7…Tried and looked good early doors, when the team was playing to his strengths, but as Bolton pressed, the team stopped trying to put Theo through…..

Van Persie: 8…A new record of 7 away games in a row with a goal, so well done to Robin, did well and dropped deeper when Chamakh came on and set up some good chances…..Didnt deserve to lose…..

Nasri: 7…Played well until when near the goal where his goal-den touch seems to have deserted him…

Subs:

Chamakh: 4….Poor, Poor. Looks lost of any belief…….

Arshavin: 6…Better, but still he is a wasted talent…….

Ramsey: Not enough time

Manager:

Wenger: 6: I thought he selected his best team (aside I would have dropped Clichy) for the start. But again his use and awareness of substitutions was lacking. I would agree some players have let him down today and through the season, but rightly so, arsene retains a responsibility to sort this out…..

Overall:

I do understand people’s thoughts on why they feel time has come for a change and not for one second do I see mediocrity as acceptable, I don’t think 3rd or 2nd can be truly seen as a successful achievement, So do I feel we have improved this season…?

Maybe, a little, but maybe we have a regressed in some areas..? But do I feel, Wenger for now is the one who I think should be allowed to continue to lead this team…..?

As long as  he heeds the advice at the beginning, by making the necessary changes, then yes, as disappointed as I am, he should continue with our full support………

.


Always Outnumbered, Never Outsung

April 24, 2011

A trip up to the north west beckons our weary team and our magnificent travelling support.

Some would say we’re a team traumatised by recent setbacks in the league: the loss of a two goal lead last time out, the late, late penalty equaliser against the ‘dippers last weekend and the pair of home nil-nils against Blackburn and Sunderland.

Suffice to say on paper the results don’t suggest a team brimming with confidence. Having said that it can be argued that save for the last thirty minutes of the NLD our attacking and midfield play showed genuine endeavour and self-assurance, even if the defensive frailties continued to persist.

It is fortunate that a feature of previous league campaigns is that most trips to the north west would be in the bleakest portion of the season where a trip to Lancashire would be about as welcome as a cold shower to start the day, however travelling to Bolton will, for the outstanding travelling Gooners, not be an arctic affair on this occasion.

Traditionally most Bolton games have been bruising encounters, who can forget the game where we had player after player stretchered off after the good old British values of “getting stuck in” got their due reward?

Of course this was in the halcyon days of Big Fat Walrus-face Sam, Jose Mourinho’s successor in waiting. It has been said that Owen Coyle has been attempting to get his team to use the grass on the pitch a bit more, rather than the air above it exclusively and in one way Bolton’s last game against a team with a manager that makes Allardyce look like Pep Guardiola, Stoke, showed they couldn’t compete with a “robust” approach as they crashed out of the FA Cup 5-0 to Pullis’ pugilists.

Form wise prior to the FA Cup semi Bolton beat West Ham convincingly at home (3-0) but lost away to Birmingham city (2-1) and before that a narrow loss at Old Toilet to ManUre 1-0.

The Bolton striker to look out for is Chav loan player Daniel Sturridge, who has scored six goals in eight appearances, and the reasoning for the loan is obvious when you look at the performance of Bolton’s other striking options: Elmander (one goal in thirteen) and Kevin “Elbows” Davies (one goal in eighteen).

Just to show that Davies has not changed his ways there is only one player in the Bolton squad with more than his seven yellow cards for the season, namely Paul Robinson, with nine yellows. This constant feature of Bolton’s play at least reassures us that even in a rapidly changing world some things just don’t change, and for that we must be thankful.

League wise, while Bolton sit in eighth place and we are third, they have scored twenty goals less than our sixty six yet have let in nine more than our thirty four so in theory an away win is a formality, right?

Turning to our beleaguered boys in red and white we have, barring the Verminator, pretty much our full complement of first choice players available, so in my opinion the match will hinge on whether the desire of the Trotters to bounce back after their drubbing at Wembley last weekend is greater than our wish to avenge the surrendering of two points to Stratford Spurs.

Not only must we enter the last quintet of fixtures fighting for a win to avoid our season fizzling out but it may well be vital we finish second to avoid the potential need to play a pre qualifier to the Champions League group stages should we stay third, as there are mutterings that that only the winners and runners up of the premier League will automatically go to the group stages.

Selection wise I have a dilemma for midfield as a few weeks ago Jack would have been an automatic pick; however Diaby’s last two performances have made Jack a less obvious pick. Having said that, Cesc must have Song with him if Diaby, less defensive in nature than Jack, is to play.

Up top is the question of whether Nasri should play left wing or Arshavin, with neither player being especially consistent recently. Right wing should be Theo’s place but hopefully with licence to play through the centre to give the Trotters something to think about.

In my opinion a free flowing, flexible formation playing at a high tempo is the best way to approach this Bolton team so for that reason, and reasons of sentiment, my team would be:

On a tenuously related matter, if any Gooners are looking for an IPL (Twenty20 cricket) team to follow can I suggest Kings XI Punjab as their owner is a passionate Gooner and he specifically ensured their jerseys were as close to Arsenal’s home strip as possible, they are even both sponsored by Em****es Airlines.

They also have another owner who is worth attention, Preity Zinta, but that’s just me doing my Cosmo Smallpiece impression.

A final point, listen out for the magnificent away support, they consistently do us proud time after time; always outnumbered, never outsung.

COYRRG !

Charybdis1966


Finishing the season strong

April 23, 2011

This was going to be a very involved, well researched post about how many times we’ve clawed victory from the mouth of defeat this season or what happened to one nil to the Arsenal? But the sun is shining and although it was a lucid articulate article at 3am it still needs to much work and time is running out.

We used to be the team that clawed victory or a draw from the mouth of defeat but now we’ve become the team most likely to lose or draw in the final minutes of a tense game.  I used to be certain that we could hold onto a 1 goal advantage gained in the 80 something minute but these days it seems that the only certainty is that other teams know we might crumble if they apply the pressure.

Many have cried out for the ‘smash and grab’ that we used to see regularly, three goals up at half-time and then exhibition stuff for the second half. I actually like the roller coaster ride and coming back from being 1 or 2 goals down always feels very satisfying if a little scary. I always knew we would score ……….. not now though :(

Although the season isn’t over, to see out the remaining games as if it is would be a waste of a season that has promised so much. There are five games to show that we have the fighting spirit, the mental strength and the players to snatch a few points from the remaining games.

As Arsène is fond of reminding us, we were written off at the start of the season and have spent the most part of it in second place!!!! Yes, we have underachieved, as the Carling Cup should definitely be shining bright in our trophy cabinet but maybe the disappointment of losing that final was just too much for this group of players.

Five games, fifteen points from these will let us finish four points ahead of last season and we can still mathematically win the league. The season isn’t over yet, I hope our boys aren’t already on the beach.

Have a nice day in the sun all.

Written by peachesgooner


Another ‘Keeper Headache For Arsenal?

April 22, 2011

After all the pain we have experienced with our goalkeeping options in the last few years, hands up if you thought we had finally solved them with the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny?

Our 21-year-old stopper certainly has many of the attributes essential for a top class ‘keeper.

His stature, attitude and authority in the box all augur well for the future. But that’s the point – ‘for the future’.

Right now – in the present – he is far from the finished article.

In the North London Derby on Wednesday night he had a real curate’s egg of a performance. Some of his saves were truly outstanding. But he can arguably be blamed for two of the Spuds’ three goals. And the persistent problem with his kicking was again in evidence.

Suffice to say that if Almunia had had that exact same performance, many people would be glossing over the saves and pillorying him for being beaten at his near post and for giving away a penalty when the attacking player was running the ball out of play.

Instead I have seen barely a mention of Wojciech’s performance.

For now, it seems, our young Pole is benefitting from the halo effect of not being Manuel. Most fans are prepared to overlook his mistakes and over-appreciate his saves.

But let’s not forget that Wojciech was at least fifty per cent responsible for giving away the goal that cost us our best chance of silverware this year. And he has made other mistakes since (like handling the ball outside the area) most of which can be put down to inexperience.

So what conclusions should we draw?

For me, it’s that we should feel lucky to have a young prospect who could well turn out to be an Arsenal goalkeeping legend.

But perhaps, for next season, we should not automatically consider him to be our number one Number One. Indeed I would be surprised if Arsene Wenger does not restore Fabianski to the first team role next year, with Szczesny as number two.

I wrote a post about Szczesny way back in January, before the many disappointments that have been visited upon us in the last couple of months. I warned that we were expecting too much of the young man and that he was bound to make errors. I take no pleasure in having been proved right.

It worried me that, when he did inevitably make mistakes, the fans would start to turn on him too, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

To conclude – this is NOT an anti-Szczesny piece. I am very hopeful that he will become our true number one in the next 18 months to two years.

But for next season? In all honesty I would like to see us bring in an older, very experienced ‘keeper to do the job until Wojciech is fully ready.

I know I’m a bit of a lone voice on this one and that most Gooners are only too happy to acclaim the lad as the chosen one, but I do feel he will continue to cost us points for a while as he matures into the role.

RockyLives


How many Spurs players would get in Arsenal’s First X1?

April 21, 2011
Sorry all, Rasp and I are really busy today, we haven’t been offered a match report but BigRaddy wrote this before he went away so it would be churlish not to use it for discussion today following last night’s thrilling 3-3 at the lane.

We had some fun recently with a post discussing how many Man Utd players would fit into our team playing in the same formation as Mr Wenger employs.

Today I will do the same with Tottenham Hotspur :-

Szczesny v Gomez.

We missed our young Pole during his injury, his influence over the defence in such a short time is profound. He bosses the area in a way we have missed since Mad Jens and Seamo. Gomez is flaky, there is no other word for him. He can be excellent – a fine shot stopper and dominates at set pieces but he is prone to regular lapses of judgement. Given that our lad has so far only made one glaring error (and I blame Koscielny for that), it’s the Pole in Goal.

Sagna v Corluka.

Sagna has returned to the reliability he showed a couple of seasons ago and IMO is the best RB in the country. Corluka is a fine player, has good ball skills, a decent engine and can cover at CB, but he is not as good as Sagna.

Clichy v Assou Ekotto

Gael has his critics but remains an excellent full back. Ekotto has a loyal fanbase amongst Spurs fans and has been very good whenever I have seen him. Clichy is the better attacking player and apart from his weekly lapses in concentration is the better tackler.

Centre Backs

It is hard to establish just who are Spurs first choice CB’s. Woodgate and King are fine defenders, in fact The Master (TH14) has said that King is the best defender he played against. But they are permanently injured. This leaves Gallas, Dawson and Kaboul and for the sake of discussion I will drop Kaboul.

Is Gallas as good as Djourou? In his prime certainly, but one must ask why Mr Wenger chose to sell him to our local rivals; obviously because he believes he has better replacements, and a fit JD is a wonderful CB.

Dawson v Koscielny is not so clearly defined. IMO Dawson is the best English CB, I would have liked to see him in an Arsenal shirt, but Kos has the makings of a great player and an Arsenal legend. In his first season he has made silly mistakes but which player hasn’t? Koscielny gets the shirt because he is  better at passing and driving forward the team.

Midfield.

Again it is difficult to decide upon Spurs first choice midfield. Like us they have a glut of quality players but unlike us they have no set go to 4  players. I will choose Modric, Huddlestone, Van de Vaart and Bale. Probably more attacking than Harry would choose as he often plays 2 DM’s (he has Palacios, Huddlestone, Krancjar, Jenas, Pienaar and Sandro to choose from!)

Song v Huddlestone

Easy choice really. Song is amongst the finest young DM’s in world football. He has improved so rapidly over the past 2 years that we noticeably miss him when he is injured. He has a fantastic first touch, good engine, is a decent tackler and is good aerially. Song’s main fault is that he can get too adventurous and in trying to get back to defend makes rash tackles – he has picked up numerous yellow cards this season without making one really dirty tackle. Huddlestone, according to my Spurs mad nephew, is an integral part of both Spurs and England’s future. He too has made huge strides in his career; capable of playing an accurate and intuitive long pass and assisting defensively, he is one to watch – but he is just not as good as Song, and nor are any of Spurs other DM’s

Fabregas v Modric.

We all know the answer to this! Cesc is a genius; the best creative MF in the PL and a World Cup winner. Modric has had a fantastic season and it would be no exaggeration to say that I am sure Mr Wenger would have liked to sign him; phenomenal energy, a perceptive passer, excellent ball control and a player who knows no fear. But sadly not in Fab’s league.

Wilshere v Van der Vaart.

When playing this parlour game there are inevitably clashes that don’t really gel, and this is one of them. VdV doesn’t play the same game as JW. However, if one had to choose a player for our team I would certainly take the reliability of Wilshere. He turns up every game and gives his all whereas VdV goes missing which I guess is why Real sold him so cheaply.

Nasri v Bale.

Both fine players. Both at the start of their careers. Both up for Player of the Year. They have different skill sets which work very well for their teams. Bale could add what we lack on the left of our attack – pace, but Nasri is a better ball player and can beat a player by looking at him. Nasri scores more goals. Bale is the better defender.  I was going to give the shirt to the least ugly player but they are equal in this area as well. I will take a rain-check ….

Walcott v Lennon

Lennon – ugly, no final ball, phenomenal pace. Theo . good looking, developing tactical awareness, even faster. Capello prefers Theo, so do I.

RvP v Defoe/Crouch/Pav.

Robin is better than all of them. True, Crouch is better in the air. Other than that the Dutchman has it all and would prove it if he could stay fit for a season.

Manager:

Wenger v Redknapp.

Credit where credit is due. Harry has done a wonderful job at Spurs. Taking a team that was threatened with relegation to the Champions League in such a short space of time is a great achievement. Had it not been for economic reasons Redknapp would be England Manager and I am sure that if wants it  he will be after the Euro’s. But check out the Trophy Cabinet. Harry –  1 x FA Cup. Mr Wenger  - 4 x FAC. 3 xPL . French League and Cup, Japanese League and Cup.   Mr Wenger OBE voted World Manager of the Decade.  Mr. Redknapp  - Zip.

So the team looks like this:

Szczesny

Sagna   Djourou  Koscielny  Clichy

Song   Fabregas  Wilshere   Nasri

Walcott  Van Persie

Managed by Mr Arsene Wenger OBE

Why no Bale? Because he is so prone to injury, and he is a throwback.

Why no Spurs players?  Check out the table since 94/5

And this site is called Arsenal Arsenal not Dear Mr. Levy ……


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