The end is nigh. Nine Premier League games remaining. What are we after?

March 19, 2014

I cast my mind back to the final stretch last season, and we were in a battle for Top Four. For the sake of this discussion, I’d like to put aside the hunt for Trophies, and delve deeper into what there is to look forward to.

Following the loss to Spurs a year ago, momentous events followed. Principally, was the cementing of the partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny. This was in tandem with a new found restraint from our Full Backs who proceeded to show more discipline.

What was laid in those final nine games, were the foundations of a new defensive stability that continued to serve us so well into this seasons’ campaign.

Apart from the sunny Spring time fixtures, the meeting up with chums and the inevitable excitement that any game of football brings, I wonder what little gems lie in wait.

Injuries present opportunities, and the largest recipient this season has been The Ox. He has benefited from injuries to both Aaron as well as Theo. Might the remaining fixtures see him finding a definitive starting position for next season? Talking of definitive positions, we have the Jack issue.

Looking across the midfield, I still wonder who is the No 10 of choice. I understand there is a fluidity in this area, but with all the injuries to key players, I certainly don’t know how my First XI would line up. I have a feeling we will begin to see the real Mesut emerge as the midfield pivot around which all that is good orbits.

I can also see Gnabry getting more playing time, and have a gut feeling he is one of those players that will rise to the top very quickly. Remember the Aaron of last season, and we see how certain players can suddenly blossom.

Like the pairing of Kos and Mert, it can be an unforeseen partnership that emerges, and this can happen in small couplings anywhere on the pitch, which is why I see a possibility of this between Mesut and Serge.

Now, how about some dark horses. Kellstrom and Diaby, who peaches informs us is at altitude not skiing. With Aaron returning, how will the midfield set up?

With some mouthwatering encounters around the corner, there remains much fun to be had. Who knows where we end up, but I reckon, as with last season, there are surprises in store outside of the results themselves.

Prior to the Spurs game and the wonderful blast of a goal from Mr T. Rosicky, I would have liked to see a couple of long rangers, but another one or two wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and is there any chance a genuinely quality free kick specialist might emerge in the mould of Noddy Talbot? That would be long overdue and a real bonus.

The one thing I’d like to see more than anything over the remaining fixtures would be a new found venom from the true fans towards the early leavers. A mass mocking, naming and shaming, a Faceoff Campaign, anything. Some suggestions on how to deal with this, my biggest beef, and a real solution would leave my season ending on an even higher note.

Written by MickyDidIt


Arsenal’s confidence restored as the Black Cats get blown away.

February 23, 2014

Playing less than seventy hours after the extraordinary game against Bayern there were many questions to be answered.

Would Ozil be rested, could Giroud regain his place, would Podolski get a rare start and what physical and mental effect would it have had on those playing two games in such a short space of time?

Would Sunderland have one eye on The Capital Cup Final next week?

As a bonus we had the unveiling of the statue of the iceman, who was greeted with a standing ovation at half time.

Six of the team that started on Wednesday played, Giroud and Podolski were reinstated and we eagerly waited to see how the combination of Rosicky,Wilshere and Cazorla in midfield would perform.

Well, we didn’t have long to wait as the fluidity and pace had returned and it was nice to see Giroud being so clinical with both the opening goals. The pass and move that led to Rosicky’s delightful chip finish was much appreciated. The game was virtually over by half time yet Sunderland gifted us a forth,courtesy of Koscielny and the job was done despite a fine late goal by Giaccherini.

There were many positives but for me Sagna was the man of the match with his tireless running and interventions and having to play in three different positions during the match. If he leaves it would be a great loss.

Rosicky is like a man reborn and his energy levels are amazing and it was nice to see him rewarded with his first league goal of the season.Great goal but would a better team have let us walk the ball through their defence.

Wilshere was back to his best and to an extent took the baton from Ozil who had been rested.

Overall just the result we needed and though as with most matches we picked up a few niggles,hopefully all will be fit as we enter what will most probably be the toughest test of the season.

Ratings :

  • Szczesny 7.5
  • Sagna 8.5
  • Monreal 6.5 (Jenkinson – 45′ )6
  • Wilshere 8
  • Mertesacker8
  • Koscielny  8 (Flamini – 67′ )8
  • Cazorla7.5
  • Arteta7.5
  • Giroud 8
  • Rosicky 8 (Gnabry – 73′ ) 7
  • Podolski 7

Written by kelsey


Surgery, Victory, Injury, Jittery

January 17, 2014
 

 Last Friday:

  Walcott turns down a quick fix

The news came that Theo had opted for the most risk free treatment for his ACL injury. It is also the treatment that will keep him on the sidelines for the longest time.

Theo will undergo a patella tendon graft which is thought to offer the best long-term guarantees after a gruelling period of rehabilitation. Using a synthetic tendon could have got him back in time for the World Cup but there is a risk of the body rejecting it. Likewise with using a tendon from a dead body. He could have chosen to use a sliver of his own hamstring but as his game is based on speed his hamstrings are vital.

Arsene Wenger said;

“Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, he’s very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective. We know that he will have the dedication and serious attitude to come back as strong as ever”.

Diaby suffers new set-back

Arsene Wenger says he is unsure if Abou Diaby will play for Arsenal this season after he suffered a new setback in his rehabilitation.

Diaby, who has been dogged by injury trouble during his time in north London, has not played for the club since last March after damaging his cruciate knee ligaments.

The Frenchman was expected to return in the next few weeks, after having extensive rehab in Dubai, but Wenger says he is nowhere near ready to come back; ‘His recovery is going very slowly,’ said Wenger.

‘Will he play again this season? I don’t know. He is still on a long-term recovery programme.’

Diaby has told supporters at a recent charity event that he hopes to be back on the pitch shortly, but Arsenal are no longer giving a predicted return date for the midfielder.

 

 

Saturday:

A predictable win for the Chavs over Hull City saw us toppled from the top, temporarily we hope as a win against Villa on Monday would see us bounce back regardless of City’s result against the Magpies on Sunday.

More Morata speculation, the loan deal could be on again as Real Madrid, after initially ruling out any departures during January, may be willing to let him go “later in the month”.

A bit of late news, and by late I mean two days late, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain played the first half of an U21 match against Fulham on Thursday evening, he came off at half-time in a pre-planned substitution, it was the lad’s first action since getting injured on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa. Now it seems that he could be on the bench against the same opposition on Monday.

Oh! And I forgot to mention, Eisfeld scored the only goal in the win over Fulham.

Sunday:

Arsene Wenger compared Oxlade Chamberlain to Steven Gerard, speaking on www.arsenal.com le professeur said

“At the moment he is still in formation. It is good for his education as he plays left, right and centrally when needed. After [the age of] 23 or 24 you settle in a definite position”.

“He will be deeper as he has a good long ball, penetration from deep and a good quality to distribute and penetrate individually. Certainly he has the same qualities to Steven Gerrard.

Now I may not have Wenger’s insight but to compare the gracefull, pacy, youngster to that lumbering carthorse “Stevie G” is just a bit unkind.

Monday:

All the results are in, the calculations have been done and the outcome has been tabulated, Arsenal drop to third in the table but with the chance to bounce back by beating Villa later in the day.

Kieran Gibbs announced on his instagram page, whatever that is, that Theo had a “successful” operation on his knee and is recovering in hospital.

Team news, Monreal came in for Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil and Gnabry mixed it up in mid-field while Giroud mixed it with the Villa centre-backs.

Tuesday:

Wilshere drives Arsenal back to the summit

A goal by Wilshere followed by one for Giroud, from a Wilshere pass, just seventeen seconds after the restart, was enough to take us back to the top of the table despite a second half goal for Villa.

Injuries to Nacho Monreal, possibly a fractured metatarsal, and Tomas Rosicky, a broken nose, were not good news and both players could be out for a while.

Bacary Sagna, whose contract expires in the summer, is set to renew talks over an extension. Sagna’s preference is to stay at Arsenal and finish his career at the club but the best offer so far is two more years at about the same wage £70,000 per week. Sagna has never agitated for more money or for a move away but feels his loyalty and experience deserves some recognition. Come on Arsenal, give him three years and a raise, you know it makes sense!!

Two more players in negotiations are Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker, can we afford to pay them more or can we afford to lose them?

From The Evening Standard:- Mertesacker made his 100th appearance for the club against Villa and has come to epitomise this galvanised Arsenal. He is the organiser-in-chief, the debt collector and, last night at least, every inch the captain of this team.

The Germany international provided composure amid the chaos. He knows the importance of maintaining Arsenal’s advantage at the top of the table and developing that ruthless efficiency required to win major honours.

Contract negotiations? Just get on with it Mr. Laws!!

Wednesday:

More recognition of the vital part Per Mertesacker is playing in Arsenal’s so far successful season came in an article in The Telegraph. Together with Laurent Koscielny the pair have brought a “perfect blend for solidity” Arsene Wenger has often in the past described Arsenal’s defending as naïve, yet no team have conceded fewer goals (19) or registered more clean sheets (nine) than Arsenal this season. The statistics behind the centre-back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are even more compelling. Monday’s 2-1 win against

Aston Villa was their 28th completed game together and, in those, the club have registered 20 wins, eight draws and 16 clean sheets. Also very much to the point is the fact that we are unbeaten in those 28 games.

Mertesacker and Koscielny have formed a natural partnership. Koscielny’s speed and athleticism have often covered for Mertesacker’s lack of pace, although the German’s organisational skills have been perhaps the biggest single factor.

While they both remain fit and available our title challenge should stay very much on track.

Any chance of signing Schalke’s Julian Draxler were scuppered when it emerged that the 20 year old has damaged his ankle ligaments and will be out of action for up to three months.

Thursday:

Le Professeur revealed the latest fitness situation ahead of Saturday’s three o’clock kick-off against Fulham.

On Theo Walcott’s surgery…
It went very well. The damage was real in the knee so he will have to take the needed time, so let’s not be hopeful that he will go to the World Cup – that is not possible. But overall his long-term future is very positive. It’s about being fit for next season now.

on Monreal and Rosicky…
Monreal looks a doubt for Saturday, a big doubt, because he twisted his foot on the kick. It is not the bruise, he turned and twisted the ligament. Rosicky had surgery with a general anaesthetic for a broken nose in two places. With a mask he may be available, but we have to monitor it closely.

on Arteta (calf), Vermaelen (knee) and Ramsey (thigh)…
Ramsey and Arteta are both out for this game. Vermaelen too. I personally believe the three will miss the Coventry game as well and will be available after that.

on Bendtner (ankle)…

He has a little chance to make Coventry. But in all probability it will be after that.

Thanks to

www.arsenal.com for permission to reproduce the above.

Jack Wilshire is to appear alongside Lionel Messi in the 2014 advertising campaign for Pepsi.

Arsenal will red and white shirts with white shorts and socks, the ‘keeper will be in all green for Saturday’s match. The referee will be Lee Probert who drew this comment from Wenger after officiating in the same fixture in January 2012 when Johanne Djourou was sent of and Arsenal lost 2 – 1. “The referee influenced the game completely the wrong way in my opinion,”

That’s it for another week.

Norfolk Gooner.


Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2 : And everybody breathe

January 14, 2014

I was a bit of a silly boy, on Saturday morning I decided to tell everyone that I predicted much laughter as the weekend results were sure to throw up a few results in our favour and at the expense of our rivals.

Well as we all know I got those well and truly wrong with everyone in the top 7 before the weekend winning their matches. So Monday night and a trip to Villa Park for us was starting to worry me, despite our stats at Villa Park it feels to me that they have had an indian sign over us at the Emirates, and maybe they could transfer that to Villa Park for just one night.

Arsène surprised a few of us by including Gnabry in the starting line up, the only other significant surprise was Monreal in place of Gibbs. Although in that left back slot Arsene has somewhat of a luxury as proven tonight, Monreal is a fine player and when Gibbs came on to replace him there was no change in balance or ability.

Villa were not in the game from the kick off, we dominated possession but were struggling to find a way through the parked bus, Lambert adopting the counter attacking game that works so well away from home in the Premier League, from what I have heard and read this seems to be Lambert’s default tactic not necessarily reserved for visits of the big boys, it probably explains Villa’s low points haul at home as visiting Premier League teams will be happy to take a point, only a few will push all out for a win. Anyway this is an Arsenal blog not a Villa one so on with the match report.

Young Serge Gnabry took it upon himself to start vandalising the bus, a left foot drive hit Villa’s centre back Baker on the temple and he was unfortunately stretchered off concussed having been knocked out for a minute or two. It is never nice to see a player stretchered off, but it meant that Lambert had to shuffle his pack from the three centre backs formation he decided to go into the game with, which would open up some space for us eventually.

After the restart we took some time to reestablish our superiority and Villa had a couple of nearly moments. We were controlling possession but not really finding a way through the defensive lines, that was until Özil did what he is brilliant at, dropping out of midfield to receive the ball from our defence he had the ball in space and time, his movement had also created a vacuum in the middle of Villa’s lines, Monreal made a great run into space and Özil did the other thing he is brilliant at put the ball on his toe, looking up Monreal found Wilshere who within two touches had put the ball in the corner of the net.

jw1

Less than 15 seconds from the restart Jack won back possession in Villa’s half, Giroud made a fine run and Jack flighted a gorgeous ball on to his left foot, Giroud took a couple of touches (one may have been a bit fortuitous but what is it they say about making your won luck?) and with his third drove the ball convincingly into the bottom corner. 2-0 time to relax, what was I worried about?

og 1

Both goals showed that technique that Arsène craves in his players, sorting their feet out while moving at pace and under pressure.

We played the first half out at a canter and it is easy to criticise the players for not going for the kill, we still had plenty of possession and plenty of it around the oppositions box, but there was an element of cockiness and there were one too many flicks rather than proper passing and moving.

Unfortunately someone applied the handbrake at half time and no one seemed to be able to find the damned thing in the second half.

Villa grew in confidence and played a bit better than they had in the first half, we continued to be frivolous in possession and made it hard for ourselves to control the game.

With 20 minutes or so to go, Santi gifted possession to Villa deep in our third, and the ball was swiftly delivered into our penalty area where Benteke could not refuse the invitation for a diving header.

We had been relaxing too long and found it difficult to re-establish the upper hand in possession and ended the game conceding a lot of ground and a few too many aerial balls into the box. Thankfully there was no real drama in the remaining minutes of the game and the defence held firm to see out the match and put another 3 valuable points in the bank.

The sad news of the night is that Monreal may be out for a while if as feared he has done a metatarsal, and Rosicky will probably miss a couple of games whilst his nose is realigned. Better news was the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain, and also the return of that change of pace from Jack, it’s still not there every time but he is getting stronger every game, and if he can continue to find those runs and space in the box he should be able to add a few more goals to his tally before the season is out.

Ratings

Szczesny – 7 didn’t really have a lot to do

Monreal – 8 I really like the way he plays, unlucky to get injured when trying to score a third for Arsenal, good assist for the goal.

Koscielny – 7 did very well to keep Benteke and Abonglahor quiet most of the night

Mertesacker – 8 leader

Sagna – 7.5 Some good crossing tonight strong defensively, can’t really fault his performance.

Flamini – 7.5 excellent cover in the latter stages

Wilshere – 8 one goal one assist, returning to form

Özil – 7 bit too quiet for my liking needs to get involved more

Santi – 6 very erratic with his passing

Gnabry – 7.5 thought he was roaming into the hole a bit too often first half which unbalanced the side, clearly has bags of potential

Giroud – 7.5 nicely taken goal, should have done better with an early header, and hold up play lacking

Subs:

Gibbs – 7
Rosicky – broken nose no time to rate
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7 just for being back, actually made some nice runs and found himself in threatening positions, I’ve missed the lad

Gooner in Exile


An epic climax ……Match thoughts

January 2, 2014

I enjoyed that game more than any other this season, and I was at The Emirates to witness the stunning beauty of those twenty minutes against Napoli.

First up though, I’d like to begin by talking about Sex, Baby. So, if you’re very old, then cast your minds back, and if you’re very young, then tune in, listen and learn.

Two versions to consider here. Both equally valid. One, the tantric style Sting and Trudie slow build up version with an epic climax, and second, what I’ll call The Pamela Anderson, out back for a relieving fast and furious quickie.

Alright, I think you can guess where I’m going with this. There are different types of match day experience. Some all thinky tactical beardy stuff, and some just raw passion. For all of the musicians on here, think of the kind of stripped bare, acoustic, no frills, distortion pedalless, nothing synthesized, pure stuff.

This game was always going to be about getting stripped down, no frills, no toys, just pure muscle flexing, sweating, teeth gritting love, drive, passion and above all patience.

Ok, the first half was pretty dull, the weather dreadful, and I felt for the poor sodden fans. Things is, there’s no such thing as a Free Lunch, as the expression goes. What they were treated to was one of those nailbiting, exhilhirating, edge-of-seat, tension filled, ballbreaking finales. Fantastic, my favourite.

Ok, so some days the sun shines, the football is elegant, and we dominate. Two up in twenty minutes, and cruising all the way to the line. Like some of that too, but, there’s no tension.

In terrible stormy conditions, Cardiff sailed up the M4, and floated their defensive flotilla in front of their goal. Fair enough, I thought. Good plan. Right then, what could we do about it.

We started with a front four of Podolski, Theo, Jack and Santi, and I wouldn’t have been alone in thinking that this could well turn out to be quite exciting. It didn’t. The first half was pretty dire. However, for me, this meant the second half had to be dramatic, as however it panned out, things were going to get edgy if we didn’t score early. We didn’t. Per came damn close with a couple of headers which surely would have found the net on any other day. Oh well, shit happens.

Boy, did the Lads do us proud though. 100% efforting going on all over the place. My MOTM Jack Wilshere was energy, thrust and die-for-the-cause energetic. Santi too, although far from the incredible form of last season, probed and kept trying to find the eye of the needle threaded ball needed to open up a packed defence. Into the last 10 at 0-0, and things were getting a little tense.

Crikey, now only two minutes of the ninety left.

Yessssssss, Nic Bendtner smashes home into the roof of the net. Brilliant, bloody brilliant. Can we hold on? Verm on for the injured Nic. Cripes, we’re going defensive. Brace yourselves peeps, things could get messy. Bugger, five minutes of Fergie time. Yessssssssss, Theooooooo. What a class finish with a delicate dink over the keeper in the 92nd. Three whole minutes for the fans to finally relax, sing and dance. What a finale, what a climax.

The team and the fans earned that, although our very own Chas, who was at the game, has just mentioned that “the moaning was reaching a crescendo” just prior to the Nic goal. Let’s not forget that breaking down a massed defence is not easy, whoever you are. Winning like that happens to be what Champions do.

Very much an afternoon for Sting Fans.

What a start to 2014. Top of The League, and now you’d better believe it.

Written by MickyDidIt


Old wine, or new bottle, or old wine in new bottle?

December 31, 2013

End of the year, and part of the ritual is to take stock, and look forward towards the future with glorious plans and renewed expectations. And what a fantastic year this has been for Arsenal fans! At the midway stage in the Premier League last year, Arsenal was lying 7th, well off the pace for Champions League qualification, and even off Spursday football places. Qualifying second in their group, Arsenal faced a tough round of 16 encounter against Bayern Munich, one of the best teams in Europe at that stage. With significant changes to the Board, a new owner in tow, there were uncertain times for the club management. The fans were up in arms, with substantial ammunition provided by a negative press, dubious pundits and even the Arsenal Supporters Trust. Difficult times indeed!

But Arsenal managed to make a fantastic turnaround. Attaining qualification for CL was nothing short of a miracle! Yes, Arsenal lost out in a two leg epic battle against eventual winners Bayern, but before that showed their mettle in an amazing 2-0 away victory. Despite all the negativity, good progress was made in the summer transfer window. The progress continued in the current season, and Arsenal is sitting at the Top of the Premier League at the halfway stage. Qualification to the Champions League was gained from the aptly termed “Group of Death”. Grudging acknowledgement of Arsenal’s strength and mettle is gently arising from beneath the rubble of disdain and the green fumes of envy. Indeed, if the league was played over the calendar year, Arsenal would have been Champions of 2013. Oh, what a year this has been!!!

 

per and kosser

All in all, a good year in prospect. There are plenty of challenges yet to be met. Plenty of time still before we even begin to celebrate the achievements of this team. But, also plenty of positive vibes and expectation in tow. So AA ers, looking towards the future, what did we learn new about Arsenal this year, and what were we reminded of afresh, that we did not know with so much certainty one year back? Let us discuss. Here are a few of my tentative suggestions. It was not all rosy, though. Injuries continued through the year. The squad seems a bit thin. Progression to the round of 16 in the Champions League was gained, but only in second place. Like last year, we have drawn Bayern Munich. Lovely games in prospect, but significant challenges as well. And if the vitriol from the fans is a bit subdued due to the sustained run of fine results and resilience in the field of play, the negativity from the press and pundits continues unabated. Perhaps most importantly, whether by luck or design, Arsenal continues to be at the receiving end of poor refereeing decisions. Alas, some things never seem to change!

First, same time last year we did not know what a fantastic central defensive partnership, together with a very competent goalkeeper, we were developing. Indeed a large part of our success this year owes itself to the fantastic defensive pairing of Per and Kos. What a duo!!! And what a great leader in our beloved BFG! When Verms got injured, who would have thought we would have such a strong defence where even a fit squad captain cannot find a place?

Per and kossser 2

Second, one of the best revelations of the year was the discovery that Ramsey had developed into such a fantastic player. He was the subject of much of the blame and vitriol during our indifferent showing in 2012. Perhaps somewhat undeservedly. But our beloved Rambo rubbed all these adversities off his shirt, returned in style from his long standing injury, and has grown to the stature of one of the best midfielders in the League, perhaps in Europe as well.

Ramsey

He has shown a very mature head as well, leading for his country at a very young age. In tow, Jack Wilshere is developing into a fine player, if somewhat idiosyncratic on occasions. Together with Theo, the Ox, Gibbs and Jenks, they also form a British core to the team which had been somewhat deficient for a while. Who would have thought a year back that Rambo would develop into such a fantastic and dependable player, and Jack’s game will be coming along so nicely as well?

The English players

Third, one of the most encouraging developments of the year, at least for me, was the maturity with which the owner Kroenke, Gazidis and the Board conducted themselves. Perhaps the best development was that the Board did not interfere in footballing matters, leaving team and signing decisions to the people who know best, led by one Arsene Wenger. If you think that this is not a surprise, look around at other clubs. Several clubs have met with significant disasters as a result of owner power, such as the Spuds, Cardiff and even the Chavs, and in some others the environment is not very nice even if the performance has not been equally devastating.

The principles of the club, that a fantastic team can be developed without wasting money on the wasteful purchase of overpriced bench idols, was not compromised by a new owner and a new look Board. Surely, this was not a given at the start of the year, after the club had gone through a rather aggressive ownership contest and change of hands.

Fourth, amid the mantra of financial fairplay and traditional hesitancy to spend big money, and the recovery from an expensive move to the Emirates, who would have thought that Arsenal would spend their money where it mattered most?

Ozil

In the procurement of one Mesut Ozil, who despite his tentative adjustment to English football and the Arsenal way of playing the game, has given the team something really special, Arsenal showed purpose and ambition, and real ability to deliver trophies. This came together with the free transfer of one Mathieu Flamini – ah, what a fantastic transfer move!

flamini

Fifth, against the backdrop of significant unrest and disquiet among good-weather fans, ably supported by the press and pundits, who would have thought that the positive outlook of a sane fan-base would shine through? The struggle against the doubters and doomday-usherers still continues in earnest, in ArsenalArsenal and elsewhere, but The Home of Football still reverberates with the positive chants and outlook towards the new dawn awaiting in the New Year!!!!

AA ers, what do you think? My final thoughts are:

COYG! Onwards and Upwards!! A fantastic year 2014 awaits!!!!

Written by arnie

Arsenal Record 2013 Calendar Year

P W D L F A GD Pts
38 25 7 6 70 34 36 82

Where would 82 points put us in seasons past?

SEASON Winners P W D L F A GD Pts AFC on 82 points
2008-09 Utd 38 28 6 4 68 24 44 90 4th
2009-10 Chavs 38 27 5 6 103 32 71 86 3rd
2010-11 Utd 38 23 11 4 78 37 41 80 1st
2011-12 Oilers 38 28 5 5 94 29 65 89 3rd
2012-13 Utd 38 28 5 5 86 43 43 89 2nd

Chart by MickyDidIt

2013 Calendar Year League Table

P W D L F A GD Points vs Top 7 Total Home Total Away
Arsenal 38 25 7 6 70 33 37 82 10 19 19
Shitty 38 25 5 8 86 39 47 80 10 19 19
Chavs 38 23 8 7 71 40 31 77 10 20 18
ManUre 38 23 8 7 70 37 33 77 11 19 19
Spuds 38 21 10 7 55 46 9 73 10 19 19
Dippers 38 21 9 8 87 39 48 72 9 18 20
Everton 38 18 13 7 54 35 19 67 11 20 18
Toon 38 16 6 16 51 62 -11 54 13 19 19
Southampton 38 12 15 11 49 43 6 51 13 19 19
Villa 38 11 10 17 50 58 -8 43 11 20 18
Swansea 38 10 12 16 44 54 -10 42 12 18 20
Norwich 38 9 11 18 37 62 -25 38 12 20 18
Fulham 38 11 5 22 39 67 -28 38 12 19 19
West Ham 38 9 11 18 41 57 -16 38 12 19 19
Stokies 38 8 11 19 34 60 -26 35 11 19 19
WBA 38 7 13 18 45 61 -16 34 12 18 20
Sunderland 38 7 10 21 36 62 -26 31 12 19 19

Stat Overkill by GiE


Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

December 20, 2013

Last Friday:

Stan Kroenke has increased his Arsenal holding to 66.85% by buying another thirteen shares.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, Arsene put the ball firmly in City’s net: “Of course [a win] strengthens your beliefs but I am convinced we believe in ourselves anyway, no matter what happens,” he said.

“Let’s not forget as well that if you are in City’s position and they lose, they are nine points behind, so they have more negative pressure than we do.

“We have a positive pressure that we can make a big difference with them, so let’s look at it like that. It is a positive pressure. It is always a pressure as you want to do well and be the best but it is positive. We have a cushion, we are not under massive pressure. We have an opportunity to show our strength and that is what we want to take.

So, no pressure then. :D

When asked about tiredness:

“There is no fatigue, not on the medical analysis we have. It is quite sophisticated now and we don’t see any signs. The signs we see on the players, I can rest them”.

“We do mostly recovery because when you play Wednesday night and Saturday morning, on the physical front and tactical front you cannot do a lot. The base is that it is all targeted on recovery.”

Sagna will have a late fitness test, Podolski could be on the bench.

Betting odds: Home win 5/4 on, Draw 13/5 against, Away win 10/3 against.

Saturday:

No prizes for guessing the gist of most football topics today! The Big Game, Top versus Fourth, the bookie’s title favourites versus the team written off after defeat in the first match of the season. Endless speculation about starting elevens, will Joe Hart be in goal or on the bench? Do some players need a rest after mid-week Champions League games? Should a player want a rest or to play in arguably the biggest game of the season so far? I know what I’d choose, if only I had the choice. :D

Speaking to Jeremy Wilson in The Telegraph, Ivan Gazidis revealed that his father, Costas, was an anti-apartheid campaigner and was in gaol at the time Ivan was born. Read the full interview here:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal

Black Sunday:

Well black Saturday lunchtime really I suppose. My prediction of a 1 – 2 away win got multiplied by three and turned one hundred and eighty degrees into our worst result for some little time.

The officials had a poor game, but so did we, we gifted goals to City with poor passing and poorer defending. Arsene Wenger said before the game that he would not look for excuses of tiredness, but there’s no doubt that fatigue played it’s part.

Of greater concern is the apparent falling out between the BFG and the Wizard of Ozil, Merts wasn’t too pleased about the “assist” by Mesut for one of City’s goals and also gave him an earful for not acknowledging the travelling Arsenal fans at the end of the game. Ozil did tweet an apology later and put his lapse down to disappointment at the result.

Wilshere could be in trouble for allegedly making an obscene gesture towards the City faithful, a petulant act that could see him fined or even suspended.

Laurent Koscielny was having a bad afternoon which got worse when it was cut short by a cut knee while failing to prevent yet another City goal. Luckily Thomas Vermaelen looks to be in reasonable form and fitness so should be able to adequately fill the gap alongside Merts.

The milk has been spilt so no point in crying about it and we are still top of the league.

Monday:

A quote or two to bring down the curtain on that result.

“I’m very disappointed because we didn’t do our defensive job as we are used to,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“We didn’t defend well from up front and did not show enough solidarity defensively. That’s too easy going.”

“We had the best defence until now in the league and to give six goals like we did today is just difficult to accept because we lost our discipline and in the big games and you pay for that.”

From Jack Wilshere;

“The away fans are brilliant. We have to apologise to them, they spent their money to come up [to Manchester] and we didn’t perform to the level they expect.

“We’ll go again and we’ll see them on Monday.”

Well young Jack you may just be suspended for the next game if the FA take action over your gesture to the City fans.

The news we were all waiting for came through, no not the sacking of the hapless AVB, but the name of our opponents in the next round of the Champions League, Bayern Munich, after “The group of Death” comes the sequel “Showdown at the O.K. Corral” Sorry, Allianz Arena. Beat them at home and then a repeat of last season’s result will see us through. Simples.

Tuesday:

No relevant Arsenal news today, other than Wilshere being charged by the FA . So here’s a little tester for you. Starting eleven for Arsenal versus Wolves 8th April ????

—————-Wilson————-

Rice—McLintock—Simpson—Nelson

————-Storey———–Ball———

Armstrong–George–Graham–Marinello

The result was 2 – 1 to the good guys, but what was the year?

Wednesday:

Once again there was no relevant Arsenal news, other than tabloid speculation on who we are going to sign in January. So I’ll ignore that.

It’s always good to read the thoughts of such football luminaries, when they are pontificating about Arsenal, as Michael (I was almost a World class player) Owen, so I’ve included his thoughts on Mersut Ozil.

Mesut Ozil has been an inconsistent and disappointing signing for Arsenal who are not yet title contenders, according to former England star Michael Owen.

The 34-year-old ex-Manchester United and Liverpool forward believes the Gunners’ £42.4m record signing has struggled to perform in consecutive matches this season.

“[Arsenal] don’t have the class of player to go toe to toe with the main title contenders,”

Owen wrote on his blog for Sportlobster.

“Despite people constantly telling me Mesut Ozil is world class, his inconsistency means that we only see occasional glimpses of real quality. His odd good performance is usually followed by half a dozen poor ones.”

It sounds to me like the loveable little Scouser has been spending too much time with Alan Hansen, they make an interesting pair peering myopically at the world through their Liverpool tinted spectacles.

Thursday:

Once again I’m struggling to find any Arsenal news, but one nugget turned up: Bacary Sagna spoke about his situation. “I’ve still got six months on my contract with Arsenal. We are in negotiations.”

“It’s an option to go somewhere in January but I always had a good relationship with Arsenal.” “I’ve been playing there for seven years and I hope we will end up on something good. First of all I want to finish as champion because we have got a good opportunity to do it this year, and after we will see.”

I’m not quite sure what our French right back is actually saying, he could leave in January? He could stay until the end of the season? If we win the League he will sign a new contract? With both Manchester clubs in the market for a right back could Sagna follow a string of players up the M6 to the money pit?

It seems as though we may be looking for a quality right back as well as a striker when the transfer window opens.

Friday: added by peaches

News came through last night that Jack had lost his appeal against a two match ban for showing a gesture to supporters during the Man City game last weekend. He will miss the games against Chelsea and West Ham. Hopefully he can return to the squad fully fit and bursting with confidence.

Maybe the FA should be thinking about how it uses it’s disciplinary measures -one for the future.

That’s all folks, All quiet on the Arsenal front, as Erich might have said.

Have a good weekend

Norfolk Gooner


Jack Wilshere: “Denilson on Valium”?

December 18, 2013

Let me start by making something clear:  I support Arsenal football club above all and not Jack Wilshere. This probably gives you a clue as to where I stand on Stevenage’s finest.

 The problem I find when trying to initiate this kind of debate is that people always confuse the following two issues.

 A  The player that Jack Wilshere is right now and..

 B The player that Jack Wilshere is expected to be in the future.

So if someone expresses a concern about a particular player’s performance last weekend it is often met with an: oh, he will come good in the future, that may be so but it is the blog equivalent of burying your head in the sand or should that be burying your head in cyber space. Either way it blatantly avoids the reality and the problems of the present day and for those who remain blind to the accusations, they are as follows: “sloppy passing, bad positional play, tracking back like Denilson on Valium and appalling body language.”

Personally I think he has a great future; the problem is that it is this expectation that continues to force Wenger to make room for him and it is his continued selection that is costing us points and I fear will cost us the title.

Could you really imagine, Wilshere in that City team on Saturday? It would never have happened. He would have been sitting on the bench next to the giggling Lescott and Hart.

I am loath to say this but there really is a completely different mind set to managers who prioritise winning the league and managers who prioritise bringing through home grown talent. Wenger probably doesn’t even realise that he is doing this — but he is.

There are many who seem to want to cling to the idea that because Ramsey came good, so should Wilshere, this is no more than wishful thinking, the evidence is not there and hiding behind the excuse that he is not yet fit is wearing very thin.

Don’t try trotting out the old chestnut: mark my words, Jack will come good.

3-8-12-30-32………these are my lottery numbers for Friday, mark my words, they will come good.

I want Arsenal to win the league and if Jack improves in the same way as Ramsey has then great but there are no signs of it right now and in the mean time he is costing us valuable points. ……”Denilson on valium” meeeeeow lol.

Written by LB


I Really Didn’t Want To Write About Jack Wilshere

December 16, 2013

It’s true.

During the game on Saturday morning I found myself getting more and more frustrated with our little English dynamo.

And it crossed my mind to write today’s Post about Jack Wilshere and some of the things about him that annoy me.

Among others – based on the performance against Manchester City – they included sloppy passing, bad positional play, tracking back like Denilson on Valium and appalling body language.

The last was the most annoying.

When will Jack learn that the correct response to being tripped, or to losing possession of the ball in a tackle and ending up on your arse is NOT to lie on your back emanating frustration, disenchantment and victimhood? The correct response is to bounce straight back up and get back in the game, thereby minimising the disadvantage you have caused to your team.

Jack Wilshere v Manchester City

It’s true that Jack is fouled disproportionately often (although that may have something to do with the style of his play); and it’s true that – at times – it may be necessary to try and make sure the referee knows you have been fouled; but the default position should be to spend as little time out of the game as possible.

Lying on the ground sulking means you are not in the game. And not being in the game can have bad consequences.

I won’t criticise a player just for having a bad game – they all do at times. But emanating more negative vibes than Leonard Cohen performing a Smiths tribute is just not acceptable.

Jack had a bad game on Saturday and compounded the problem by behaving immaturely: flipping off the home fans was simply the icing on a cake made of petulance and poo.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I decided not to write a Post about why Jack has been getting on my nerves lately.

And I’m not going to.

Apart from anything else, I believe in supporting our players and not scapegoating them and I know many regular readers and contributors to Arsenal Arsenal feel the same.

In fact, on sober reflection (and some not so sober reflection later in the evening), I realised that where we are now with Jack Wilshere is more or less exactly where we were with Aaron Ramsey this time last year.

The frustration with Ramsey last Autumn began as murmurs of discontent, then grew into howls of outrage and disappointment every time he misplaced a ball before mutating like a cancerous cell into vile abuse and hatred towards the young Welshman on Twitter and the internet.

Thank Dennis that Aaron was strong enough as a person to weather that storm. I am convinced it was only a minority who got on his back, even at the ground (and only an infinitesimal and infantile minority who sent the abuse) but I hope all who doubted him are enjoying their humble pie now.

Jack’s case is similar. He has clearly not got back to his best form since returning from his long injury absences. Like Aaron last year he has been played in different positions and, similarly, has been struggling at times

In Ramsey’s case his true supporters kept trying to remind the doubters of the remarkable promise he had shown before being utterly Shawcrossed.

And now I’m here to do the same for Jack.

If you ever doubt for a second that Wilshere will not turn out to be an Arsenal great, have a look at this YouTube clip  “Jack Wilshere v Barcelona.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP_pCG9Cmio  It contains all his moments from the game in February 2011 when we played Barca at the Emirates and beat them 2-1.

Jack was just 19 and this was a time when Barcelona were not just the best team in Europe but – according to many commentators – the best football team of all time.

At the heart of their midfield were the peerless Xavi and Iniesta and in that game Jack rose to the level of his esteemed opponents and even outdid them. All of us who watched that game knew we had an exceptional young player on our hands.

We still do. He’s going through a difficult time and is yet to find his true place in this new look, top-of-the-table Arsenal team. But, like Aaron Ramsey, he will come through it. He has shown enough good moments even in this disjointed season to remind us all of the quality that we still have to look forward to.

Arsene Wenger got Aaron Ramsey to achieve his best by sticking with him, playing him through the tough times and (at first) urging him to simplify his game.

Whether or not that approach will work for Jack I don’t know – Arsene gets paid a small fortune to figure that one out himself, and I’m sure he will.

I’m also sure that part of the process of putting Wilshere back at the heart of what’s good about Arsenal will involve a few well-chosen words in his ear about his behavior on the pitch  – including his body language.

I would be happy to bet that by May we will be talking about Jack Wilshere as a £50 million player.

RockyLives


An Arsenal Performance Worthy of Winning the League

December 1, 2013

How good was that? It is getting more and more difficult to find sufficient superlatives to describe the Arsenal performances these days. As the first half rolled on and the Good Guys were spraying the ball around with consummate ease the term “thoroughly professional performance” came to mind. But we have used this a few times recently and somehow it didn’t seem enough to describe what I was watching, intensifying the search was the first goal and the brilliance in its simplicity: a tidy pass to Özil who sent over an inch perfect cross for Ramsey to head home and put us in the lead. As he walked away avoiding celebration out of respect for his fellow country men I thought to myself I am going to need something far more complimentary to describe this.

Racking my brains, playing cards came to mind and the hierarchy that exists: a pair is beaten by three of a kind which is beaten by a straight, which I believe is beaten by flush and then it came to me: the next up from a “thoroughly professional performance” has got to be “A performance worthy of winning the league” and that is what is was, a full house of a performance, not to be confused with a “Winning the league at White Heart Lane performance” that is obviously a royal flush and although rare it does seem to happen with more regularity than many might imagine.

Wenger foxed us all again with his team selection, it made sense to all who considered it to play Flamini alongside Arteta but no, Le Boss had plans for the Frenchman and opted to start with Wilshere and within one and a half minutes we all understood why: an arrow of a shot released from the edge of the box had all the makings of goal number five for our non attacking midfielder lol but alas at the last moment it swerved away and hit the bar.

As it turned out, as far as Arsenal taking the game to Cardiff was concerned, this was only the start, the Good Guys were brimming with confidence, chances weren’t coming as often as London buses do when you don’t need them but they were coming; the next fell to Giroud who, clean through one on one with the goal keeper, decided to “walk” before the umpire had given him out, it might be the honourable thing to do as Özil clearly touched the ball but in this day and age — really?

We had to suffer five uncomfortable minutes when Mertasacker hit the deck with the force of a felled giant redwood having clashed heads with Sagna; I defy anyone who didn’t worry about the possible down side of this potential calamity but all was well with our Big Friendly Giant.

Still goalless, but in today’s script only one person was going to be first on the score sheet and our humble Welshman rose to the occasion and headed us into the lead that took us into the break.

Ramsey v cardiff

Cardiff started the second half well and created a couple of chances that were a bit closer than I for one would have liked, notably a header from Campbell that brought a brilliant save from Szczesny. TPIG was looking as commanding as ever, we could have and should have made more of the breaks that were frequently arising but our interplay was not quite as good as it should have been, it seemed like Theo time but Jack was tiring and they were coming onto us with a tad more purpose than was good for the blood pressure so Wenger opted to shore things up and bring on Monreal and then Flamini.

As the Frenchman took off his track suit all eyes were on the sleeves – tradition won out and rightly so; someone had clearly whispered into his ear that he had, perhaps without realising, upset a few fundamentalists and today was not the right time to go desecrating sacred objects – best solution: roll your sleeves up and go and score a thumping second goal — and that is exactly what he did, yet another sublime assist from Özil who rolled the ball into the Frenchman’s path to powerfully hit home and put us all at ease.

Flamini scores v cardiff

Was this going to be Flamini’s day, no it wasn’t, this was Aaron Ramsey’s day; a second goal for him and with it he rightly picks up pretty much everyone’s Man of the Match award.

Ramsey applauds

Somebody remind me, where are we in the League?

Enjoy your Sunday.

Written by LB


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