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Posts by Will
What a return to form! Three away goals; a team performance; a clean sheet good individual performances – you couldn’t ask for much more. Well, five would have been nice, and made me substantially richer, but you can’t win everything. But all my unremitting joy was, err, remitted with the new that the best defender we had last season, in his first year at Arsenal, Thomas Vermaelen heads off for surgery. I wich him well.
We dominated West Ham and created a decent amount of chances. The midfield and front 3 all put in a good shift, with some excellent attacking play.
Here’s some individual ratings.
Szczesny 8 Solid. If he keeps putting in performances like this he’ll put pressure on Fabianski. Vocal – I like that.
Eboué 6, Needs to concentrate on defending if he’s playing RB and not R midfield
Koscienly 6 Still needs some time in the gym. in the air?
Djourou 7 Another solid display.
Clichy 7 No glaring mistakes a welcome positive on his return
Song 7 Solid, good passing. Played his part in the goals. Still makes me nervous when he gets forward
Fabregas 8 Ran the show. Great to have the captain on top form
Wilshere 8 Great triangles with Song and Fabregas. Lovely ball to Nasri for first goal.
Walcott 8 (Gibbs 88 6) Tore Wayne Bridge a new one
Van Persie 8 Scored with his right foot! Emphatic penalty; denied hat-trick by the post. Set up Theo’s goal.
Nasri 7 (Arshavin 88 6) Not quite top form, still awesome at times.
Bridge 9 Brilliant. Star Man. Had a part to play in all goals. Without him, would Arsenal have won?
It was a comfortable win, made a whole heap easier by the non-performance of West Ham’s new £90k-a-week star Wayne Bridge. Not to jump on an anti-Bridge bandwagon, but the guy’s always struck me as a bit over-rated. He had a good season – but a good few years ago. He’s now just seems a classic case of an once young and over-hyped English player.
I’ll grant that he’s a hard worker, and reasonably good technically, but he switches off defensively, having caught Clichy’s Syndrome and developed extensive symptoms of being complete unaware of his surroundings and being pants. Everyone sides with him over the lumpen thug Terry, and says Bridge is a nice guy. But Chris, one of my Hammer mates – you’ve got to worry about your latest signing gifting the opposition not just a goal, but the whole game. They
West Ham are paying £90k a week for Bridge. If we want to sign a top CB, which we will definitely need to do, we’ll have to fork out a similar amount in wages in the current climate, and that’s just a loanee. With the market bent out of shape by the oil slick in Manchester, we’ll be lucky to sign a decent centre half for a reasonable fee. No, strike that, it’ll be a miracle. It will be interesting to see if we actually pay over the odds for someone when we really need them. We can’t have another Chamakh situation. We need someone now.
Various names like Mertesacker, Samba, and Gary Cahill have been bandied about. Of those, I think I like the sound of Mertesacker the best. If only because his name sounds like the name of a commanding, hard and rugged defender. He’s also an experience international, and some German efficiency would be welcome at the back. However, he lacks experience of the English game, which would come as a shock to anyone.
Chris Samba would be a safe bet. He’s got plenty of experience in the league, and is built like a brick sh*tter. My only reservation would be that he’s not the quickest.
All this is mere speculation, as usual the club won’t make any official statements, but anyone else got any ideas, or genuine gossip?
I’ve been doing a bit of research into Vermaelen’s likely achilles tendinopathy treatment, so that will follow soon, with a preview of the Leeds tie. I’m nervous we’ll rotate the squad. Please let’s stay in a trophy…
After our FA Cup 3rd round tie against Leeds at the Grove, AW was quick to note the only positive he could find after our poor performance last Saturday:
I think the Leeds game will help us focus well at Ipswich. We will certainly be on our toes going to Ipswich. That game [against Leeds] has shown that against a Championship team we must be completely up for it and focused from the first minute if we don’t want to be surprised. We have been warned.
As we all know those words turned out to be some of the most apt words ever spoken by a human being, ever. But not in a good way, as we didn’t heed the warning. We weren’t on our toes, we were crawling like strange fishy/lizard thingies emerging from the primordial ooze of complacency.
So what have we learned from the Ipswich game that will help us take the maximum three points away from Upton Park? [ and their owners, both pornographers, one of whom was an alleged fraudster. ] They lie at the bottom of the league. In one sense this is a positive for us as it shows quite how badly they’ve been playing this season, but it gives them extra motivation to try and get something from the game to rise out of the drop-zone. Whether or not the Hammers changing room is behind their beleaguered boss is another consideration.
I feel for Avram Grant. He has been at the club for what, 6 months, and he is already being given targets he must reach in order to keep his job. But then I wouldn’t expect anything less from that pair of smut sellers. Quite how any manager is supposed to build a team, and achieve long term success with 6 months and the squad Grant inherited is frankly beyond me. Their dealings with Birmingham City were always motivated by personal financial reasons. They had no love of Birmingham City – David Gold ended up being banned from the stadium. Despite their East End origins, I doubt they have any love for West Ham eitiher.
All that is by the by. What we can expect – for the third time in a row – is a team significantly worse than us technically but playing with a great deal of desire and commitment. And they have more decent players than Leeds and Ipswich combined. I just hope we truly have learned the lessons of Leeds and Ipswich, and that we play with passion and determination as well as skill and ability.
None of which we showed at the Ipswich game, but our captain has instead made a bit of an idiot out of himself in the Sun:
I don’t know if it was a long ball or a rugby kick that beat us but a lot of teams in England play like that to create their chances. Arsenal played football but the other team refused to play.
Cesc, they may have used the long ball, but they out-fought and out-thought us on the night, and that’s all that matters. It wasn’t a lucky goal, we were caught too far up the pitch, and Priskin took his chance with aplomb. If we’d played with an ounce of the passion and drive that they had, we’d have destroyed them. As it was most of the players looked llike they couldn’t give a sh*t and most of them also made errors. That includes our club captain. I was very disappointed to read that. He needed to say something about drive, determination, passion, will, strength, and instead it sounded like sour grapes.
Back to West Ham, who may be bottom but have only lost once in seven games, and when they came to the Grove at the end of October, we needed an 88th minute strike from Song to win it. We can’t forget that they’ve beaten ManUre and Sp*rs already this season.
To quote a Hammers’ blog, “if we [Hammers] can dig deep and organise and fight, we can give them a game.” That approach is absolutely what is great about English football. As long as the rules of the game aren’t broken it’s exactly what we should expect from every team. And, incidentally, that approach, combined with our skill and ability, has seen us win at the Bernabeu, the San Siro, and could see us win at the Nou Camp in March. So Upton Park shouldn’t be beyond us.
In terms of West Ham’s team, I expect:
Green; Bridge – Upson – Tomkins – Faubert; Stanislas – Parker – Spector – Noble; Cole – Piquoinne
I reckon we’ll have:
Szczesny; Eboue – Koscileny – Djourou – Clichy; Song – Fabregas – Wilkshere; Nasri – v Persie – Walcott.
It’s possible that Gibbs will keep his place instead of Clichy coming back in. Likewise Theo may keep Arshavin out. On current, form, I’d be happy if both those youngsters kept their places, despite the last two games, where to summarise, they were better than most. But that’s really not saying much, is it?
Fabianksi, formerly known as FlappyHandski has been confirmed as Arsenal’s number one keeper. Quite what this means for Almunia I do not know, but surely he’ll be leaving before the end of January. We’ll see. My money’s on Dubai / Abu Dhabi.
A little stat that will put the fear of God (or rather Upson / Piquionne) into you, courtesy of @Orbinho, 32% of the goals Arsenal have conceded have been headed goals, the highest proportion in the top flight. Injuries to Squillaelen have left Djorscielny to cope on their own. Djourou has had a fantastic season so far, his best yet by a country mile. I hope they’ve rested well over the last few days, and are wise to the aerial threat we face against the Irons.
Speaking of our centre halves – Thomas Vermaelen has had a “setback”, and Squillaci did his hamstring and will be out for “2/3 weeks”. It’s been erroneoously reported in the blogosphere that the Verminator would be heading for the surgeon’s knife, but this article on the official site says that he probably won’t need it. But we don’t know when he’ll be back. I’d rather he had the operation, and had a scheduled and controlled rehabilitation, rather than being out for ages only to suffer these ‘set-backs’. But I’m not a doctor, mind you, neither is the @ArsenalMedTeam, who tweeted:
Thom Vermaelen died back in September but we’re covering it up with injuries.
Well it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Whether he’s alive or dead, the Verminator is of no use to us at present, prompting feverish speculation in the media about another CB, and this from AW:
On a short-term basis you would say yes [to signing a new defender], more as an insurance policy than a need.
Chris Samba is insurance? Could be worse…
In terms of odds for the game, I’ve got my eye (and a few Arsenally quids) on 2-1, at eights with Ladbrokes. I know I’ve been a 9 goals off over the last two games, but I’ve got a sneaky quid (or two) on 5-1 at 80/1 with BlueSquare. I can see the game going two ways – either we destroy the team at the bottom of the league, and get Avram Grant sacked, or we squeeze past in a tightly-contested London derby. I can’t see us losing. Please no, that was our rough patch, and it’s over now, beginning with a 5-0 mauling of the Hammers. If Nasri scores first, I’ll be celebrating a win at 6-1 with Bet365.
Here’s a stat to cheer you up – Arsenal have avoided defeat in all but three of their last 31 meetings with West Ham in all competitions. And a nice picture of WIlshere, Gibbs, and Walcott.
I was going to post last night, but I was too full of disappointment and frustration to write anything comprehensible. Now I’ve had a chance to calm down, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not the end of the world. We certainly shouldn’t panic. It’s not as if we’re all doomed.
Yes, it was the worst performance of the season, even with Cesc, Wilshere, Walcott, and Arshavin all starting. Yes, there was a lack of desire and commitment. Yes, we couldn’t pass the ball. Yes, we created hardly any chances after the 2nd minute. Yes, we were beaten by a side that’s 19th in the Championship.
If you’re feeling masochistic you can see the highlights, sorry, lowlights of the game here, thanks to Aunty.
But, dear gooners, every team has a slump in form, and what’s more, we can rescue the situation – for both the FA cup against Leeds and the Carling Cup against Ipswich. In both cases it’s only half-time.
Of course, it’s not ideal, and for both cup competitions we should have already won the ties. In the case of Ipswich, we’d still have the second leg even if we had won 4-1 at Portman Road and the Arsenally bookie coughed up. But if we’d won by that kind of margin, which we certainly could have, the tie would effectively be over. Instead, it’s now an uphill battle.
Some bloggers have concentrated on the poor individual performances, and there were plenty of those, I don’t disagree with that. But I think that we have to look at the games against Leeds and Ipswich as aberrations, mistakes and yes, disappointments, but in the context of our fine form so far this season, it’s a bad patch, nothing more.
Granted, Denilson and Arshavin had shockers – again. For the former, it’s a shame because we need him to push the more regular starters into better form with some competition for places. He failed to do that, and didn’t give the boss any reason to pick him again. He did pass the bal well in patches against Ipswich, but generally speaking he was very disappointing in both games.
As for Arshavin, his form has been poor for a while now. The reation of the fans was predictable, but to my mind self-defeating. It’s unlikely to inspire him to pull his socks up, pull his finger out and generally get his Arsh in gear. I don’t understand supporters paying to watch a game only to boo their own team’s players. But that said, his perceived attitude has shifted from casual with flashes of brilliance, to lazy, and only occasionally bothering to play well.
There is a tendency in all of us to see character faults instead of looking at situational reasons for certain behaviours. In other words, Arsh trotting over to the touchline twice when he sees a substitution being made might not be laziness, but instead caused by the fact that he’s our most substituted player. Which he is. I hope he finds some form, and soon.
Others in the media and blogosphere have concentrated on how AW’s comments after the game, that ‘we lacked a little bit the sharpness’ and that some players are “fatigued” are simply poor excuses, when we could all see that what was missing was desire and commitment, and in place of confidence the team was arrogantly complacent.
I wholeheartedly agree with that. But the point we’ve always got to bear in mind with Le Boss’s press and media appearances, is that he’s not one of those managers who just says what’s in his mind and b*gger the consequences. He’s very careful not to make any comments about players unless they’re positive. That’s why he’s often derided for not seeing bad tackles on opponents. Of course he sees them, he just won’t air our dirty laundry in public. He’s certainly not going to say that we lacked desire or commitment to the press, but you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll say it to the players. Every time he says anything to the press he ensures that he keeps his thoughts on his players private, and doesn’t undermine his relationship with them. And quite right too.
I haven’t been on the happy pills. I was as disappointed as any gooner about Wednesday night, but I’d rather we had a patch of poor form in domestic cup competitions than in the Premier or Champions League. We still have the chance to put it right. Let’s hope the players really do learn the lessons of these domestic cup games, beat Leeds and Ipswich, and start to gain ground on ManUre in the league.
Hi folks. It’s a busy night for Arsenally Yours so it’ll be a brief preview for tomorrow night’s must-win game.
And must-win it is. The tie is held over two legs, and this first one is away at Portman Road, but we can’t leave ourselves in the same position we are with Leeds, i.e. another difficult game to add to the schedule. A win, and a good win will put us in a strong position when they come here in a fortnight. We’ll want to be able to field a weaker team then. It’s much better to win the semi-final in one game than over two.
I frankly don’t know what Ipswich Town’s team will be and I won’t speculate. As for us, I expect the Djourscielny partnership to continue in defence, with Eboue and Gibbs as before. In midfield, I’d like to see Song, Cesc, and Wilshere, but I imagine we’ll see Rosicky and Denilson in the side. Let’s hope we getter a better performance from those two.
I reckon AW will keep faith with Bendtner, Chamakh and Arshavin. I’d like Theo to start. He hardly starts these days and Ipswich would be a great place for him to have a full run-out.
As for the odds, it’s hardly worth putting money on an Arsenal win. With the best price at 2/5 with Ladbrokes, it’s a bit of a disappointment to be honest, especially after our no-show with Leeds. I’m in for 4-1 with Sky Bet at 20/1. As for goalscorer, I’ve plumped for young Jack to hit the net any time at 9/2 with the same firm.
Shame upon shame upon shame. As if Leeds wasn’t bad enough, our reserves really showed the first team how it’s done by losing 10-1 to Aston Villa. Yes, ten one. Unbelievable. Reserve Coach Neil Banfield has said it’s a disgrace. It’s worse than a disgrace. I’ve lost some matches by some quite heavy margins, but 10-1? Honestly.
Let’s get some more bad news out of the way. Here’s Arsene with injury news on our crocked centre back partnership, Squillaelen.
So Squillaci out for 2/3 weeks, and another set-back for Thomas Vermaelen. Call me pessimistic but I’m not hopeful that we’ll get good news on Wednesday re Thomas. Fingers crossed though.
In some more cheerful news, Thierry Henry is back at the club – although only in a training capacity. I wonder whether there’s more to this; I hope after he’s finished his spell across the pond he’ll come back to us in a coaching role. One can only dream.
There’ve been some rumours that we might sign Sol for defensive cover. That gets a 9 on my bullsh*tometer, frankly, and that’s classified as 95% purest Pamplonian Bull Dung. I really can’t see us using a player that Newcastle released. That said, he’s got experience. But no, I don’t think that will happen.
In the video above, we heard AW says he’s looking around. We’ve got to sign someone, let’s sign another Vermaelen. Just not a crocked one.
My betting tips for this game were perhaps a little over-ambitious, but I genuinely thought they were possible. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, 5-1 seems absurd.
Leeds played well, but not so well that if we had been playing well, we couldn’t have won. They harried, defended, closed down as well as any other team we’ve played this season. With more technical players we would have been a couple of goals down by half time thanks to their superior energy and desire.
Arshavin was frankly Arse. He had some good touches, but more dreadful ones. He went one-on-one with Schmeichel Jnr, but made it comfortable for the impressive Dane. When Walcott was about to come on, the little Russian started trotting over to the dug-out, despite the fact it was Chamakh’s number that was held up. That tells me he wasn’t in the mood.
But I have to say I don’t agree with fans getting on his back. That’s just not going to help. What he needs is a few stern words from the manager and captain. The question is – and it’s not one the average fan can answer – does that happen? Will he get a b*llocking? I hope so.
Schmeichel made a series of fine saves, especially towards the end of the game. There was one from Denilson that would have made his loud-mouthed daddy proud.
Song didn’t play terribly, and I’m glad he did start because without his physicality we’d have been overwhelmed in midfield.
And that’s mainly because Denilson was anonymous. In his role of defensive midfielder, and given his (lack of) build, he needs energy, commitment, drive, and the ability to pass well. He lacked all those today. The penalty he gave away was about as stone-wall and blatant as you get.
Rosicky was a bit better, but not much. Leeds did make it difficult for us to “pass through their lines”, as AW said, but all too often the two of them gave possession back to the visitors.
Bendtner was shocking. His first touch was poor, his second touch – if he got one – was worse. As for his finishing, the less said the better.
Out of those that started, the only players who shouldn’t be self-flagellating tonight are Djourou, Gibbs, Song and Szczesny. The Pole pulled off a top save to deny Becchio shortly after Leeds had gone one up. Djourou put in a good shift, and rate him as our best centre back this season.
What changed the game was first the introduction of Fabregas, and then Walcott. The captain’s passing and vision sped the game up, and Theo’s pass troubled Leeds’ tiring legs. All of a sudden passes weren’t going astray, and we had an incisive edge in the final third.
I thought we should have had 3 penalties until I saw this on the official site from Walcott:
I want to apologise to the managers because I actually dived. I was trying to win the penalty… I am not the sort of player to do it but I own up to it and apologise. It is something I don’t want to see in my game… I don’t have to own up to it and I can’t speak for other players but I have just expressed how I feel. I hope people respect that.”
I admire his honesty, but I fear it may come back to bite him in the arse. Now he’s admitted to a dive, maybe referees will be more likely to deny him geuine penalties. I honestly can’t remember a single occasion a player has actually admitted to and apologised for diving. You often hear players say, “I felt a touch” with an ironic smirk on their faces, but to come out with an official apology is a bit odd. Nice, but odd.
[edits blog] It appears the press are catching on to this – see the Sun here. Really don’t understand why it appeared on the official site. Was that with Wenger’s blessing? Of course the Sun’s screaming headline doesn’t mention the fact that he wasn’t successful in trying to con the ref.
That incident apart, Theo can be proud of his performance today. We were absolutely awful until he and Cesc came on. Beforehand we didn’t seem to have anyone on the pitch wide right. Eboue didn’t get forward much (credit to Leeds) and Bendtner drifted inside all the time. Song popped up on the right from time to time. Usually we have Nasri and Walcott, but without them we had no penetration on that flank whatsoever.
Only when those two came on did the pace of the game speed up, which is obviously to our advantage with our technical ability. All of a sudden we created chances, and the last ten minutes were nervy for the visitors. Theo, ahem, went down once, then got pulled back in the area to win the penalty which the captain converted. Our FA cup run saved.
And so we have another fixture to add to our already congested schedule. AW said:
It was not exactly the wish I had before the game but it was the second worst wish. The worst would have been to go out. We go to Ipswich on Wednesday, we play West Ham on Saturday and then the replay of the FA Cup is after that.
We’ll surely rest some of the ‘first team’ for Ipswich on Wednesday, but after that perfomance, can we afford to?
The FA cup has turned from one of my favourite competitions to one of my least favourite. This is mainly due to two press-induced factors.
Firstly, I can’t stand the clichés that get aired every time FA cup ties come around. “The romance of the cup”, “giant-killing” are just a couple of the turgid excuses for commentary that we will hear. Expect the likes of Andy Gray to trot out as many as he can in his allotted 90 minutes. You half expect a white horse to prance onto the pitch at any moment.
The second thing I hate about the FA cup, no actually, I detest, is the constant, unrelenting, recurrent, incessant, and persistent replaying of THAT goal. You know the one I mean.
Anyway, Leeds. A word of caution. In the third round last season, they beat ManUre. They will be up for this game, their support is excellent, and they have a good young English manager in Simon Grayson. The latter clearly believes the travelling support will play an important part:
It’s a great draw for the fans as well. They will travel in their 1000s and I hope they have a good day out. Last season was different for them as well because of the rivalry and I think that win will have meant more than anything we could achieve on Saturday. We know we’ll have a fantastic support, we always do, and it’s a support that is the envy of every other club in the country. They’ll certainly ensure there is a great atmosphere on Saturday and they are incentive enough to make sure we do our best.
Any assumptions in the Arsenal dressing room that this will be easy must be dismissed, and a serious approach to the game is essential if we want to progress to the next round without any drama. A draw and not only will we have to add another game to our already congested fixture list, but it would be at Elland Road.
In their last game against Cardiff (which they lost), Leeds fielded this side:
Schmeichel; Connolly – Collins – O’Brien – Parker; Gradel – Howson – Johnson; Snodgrass – Paynter – McCormack.
Our own Sanchez Watt (or Herschel Oulio Sanchez Watt, what a name!) has been generously released to play against us and may start if he recovers from a head injury, The team that played against Cardiff looks like a 4-3-3 so we can expect that to become 4-5-1, or we may see at least one fewer forward and at least one more midfielder.
As for our line-up, AW said on the official site:
We will rotate. There are going to be changes, many changes. It will be good to have Kieran back and Eboue will play as Sagna is suspended. I cannot give you the team yet. I have somewhere in my mind that I will make changes but I don’t know who will play. From last night, we have no serious injuries. I believe that Nasri and Van Persie could be short for Saturday.
According to the Guardian, Aaron Ramsey may be back in contention. I think we may well see him on the bench. It’d be great to see him take the field in an Arsenal shirt again. I imagine the captain and Song will get a break (but hopefully warm the bench just in case); I think we’ll see Wilshere and Denilson with Rosicky in the centre of the park. If we do see those three in midfield, they must ensure they’re not bullied or crowded out. I’d be happier with the more physical Song instead of Denilson.
At the back, I expect Szczesny between the sticks, and Squillaci to start alongside Koscielny. I have to say I’d prefer to see Djourou and Koscielny together again. Defensive partnerships need time to gel, and I think of all the Squillaci – Djourou – Koscielny combinations, the Swiss and Frolish together has worked the best. Gibbs is back, and Eboue will be in to replace the suspended Sagna.
We may well see the Great Dane and Theo up front with Chamakh, while (the first choice front three?) Nasri, v Persie, and Arshavin have a breather. Despite what AW has said, I hope to see at least two of those three on the bench, to be used if the plucky northerners are tough to break down.
So for us I expect something like:
Szczesny; Eboue – Koscielny – Squillaci – Gibbs; Denilson – Rosicky – Wilshere; Walcott – Chamakh – Bendtner.
As for the odds, I like the look of 5-1 at 33/1 with William Hill. You can get 66/1 with the same firm for us to score 6 of the best without reply. Very tempting, and I think that will be my long shot. If we play as fluently as we can, we could score that many. I like Theo for first goalscorer, at 17/2 with Victor Chandler. A red card for either side is at fives with Paddy Power.
As much as the FA cup winds me up a bit, I do love the mis-matches, the excitement of the lower league teams when they draw a top side, the fact that it’s on proper TV, the times less good teams get an away draw and and celebrate the home replay, jumpers for goalposts… oh bugger it, I love it really.
Arsenally Yours had a difficult Wednesday at work, the Arsenally little one was being a cheeky monkey, and I struggled to get a decent stream. So, I’m afraid, I can’t give you the review I’d like because I hardly saw the game. And I’d like to apologise for saying that Jack Wilshere was suspended when, err, he wasn’t.
The Arsenally quids didn’t do well either. As it ended nil-nil, obviously my bets on first goalscorer came to nothing, and it was hardly the 2-0 victory I’d predicted either. There was some hope for the bet I placed on first yellow card, but Gareth Barry contrived to get himself booked before de Jong, so I’m Arsenally down for the season for the first time after my success against Chelski.
City’s performance highlighted the Italian-ness of their manager. They didn’t play to win, they just played to contain us and only attacked on the break. Which is to be expected, and not just when the opposing manager has a name ending in “-ini”. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the goal the game badly needed to bring it to life.
We were unlucky though. Van Persie went close on a couple of occasions, as did Nasri and Fabregas. But we didn’t get a last-gasp winner, and essentially dropped two points rather than saving one.
These are the kind of games that ManUre are winning. Not that we played badly as they have recently, but the football gods were against us, and despite our domination, we came away with the same points as City, who hardly had a sniff.
There are positives though – especially that last point – that City didn’t create many chances. Granted, they were happy to sit back, and despite Tevez’s boundless energy, he didn’t create any chances for himself or his team mates either. So, we dominated, but came up short in the finishing department. However, it’s good that v Persie had another game without suffering a quadruple leg fracture; Nasri continued his good form, and Theo had a successful run-out.
Yes, I’d be happier if we’d won, but the fact that we were hardly threatened by the Premiership’s new ‘top four’ team is cause for at least some celebration.
I’m not happy about Sagna though, and I’m even less happy about Clatten-pillock. Sagna’s ‘coming-together’ with Zabaleta was pure handbags, nothing more. Why Clattenburg chose to send them both off remains a mystery to me. Two yellows would have sufficed.
We’ll miss Sagna during his suspension. He’s been one of Arsenal’s better players so far this season. He’s the kind of player, and possibly the kind of man that doesn’t draw much comment or attention. I can’t remember a single interview with the man, and he’s been with the Arsenal for a few seasons now. He falls easily into the clichéd category of ‘unsung hero’. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration, he’s been excellent both defensively and offensively, and just like that girlfriend you still dream about, we’ll only miss him now he’s gone for a few games.
Next we face Leeds in the FA cup. We’re still competing in all 4 competitions; and the FA cup is one that is certainly within our capabilities. The game against Leeds is ripe for all sorts of terrible punditry about ‘giant killings’; it’s imperative we approach this game as we would any other, and forget the fact that they play in the Championship.
According to the official site, v Persie and Nasri may well be rested on Saturday. Chamakh has now had a decent break, and Theo looks like he needs a whole game to show us what he can do. Let’s hope those two give AW and the fans reasons to want them on the pitch every week.
Also on the official site is the disappointing news that Havard Nordtveit has been sold to Borussia Mönchenladbach. It’s a shame that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. He’d played in midfield as well as at the back, and that made me think he’d turn into a top ball-playing centre half. Now that won’t happen at the Arsenal. Good luck Havard.
Leeds preview tomorrow.
I’m Arsenally fired up for this one. A win would put us right behind ManUre. We must keep the pressure on them by beating their rivals. Citeh may have the riches, and an enviable list of players – excepting one c*nt, I mean you Adebayor – but we’re at home, we’re playing well, and dammit, I want to kick their arses.
The key to a victory, I reckon, is putting a close leash on Tevez, the ugly munt. He’s been involved in 9 of City’s 12 goals this season, and scored 28 times in 31 league outings. And on the negative side of things, the ref is going to be Clatten-pillock. We’ve lost 5 of the last 7 games we’ve played with him in charge. I hope that’s a freak of statistics.
Kolo’s injured, but his brother Yaya is increasingly running the Man City show. Song, Fabregas, and Denilson must get a handle on his powerful runs forward. While I rate Kompany, I’d like our strikers to exploit the general over-ratedness of Lescott.
We’ll miss Jack the lad’s creativity in midfield (he’s suspended) so it’s imperative that Denilson has a good all-round game. We’ve got to make sure that Barry, de Jong, and Yaya don’t out-muscle us, and that we keep playing the kind of attacking football that saw us defeat Chelski.
Speaking of attacking football, I’d love to see a front three of Arshavin, Chamakh and v Persie, but I fear that we’ll only see one of RvP / Chamakh. I think Chamakh will start as he’s been rested recently, and is hopefully ready to return all guns blazing.
Given their physical strength in midfield, I imagine we’ll see Nasri play further forward with Chamakh and Arshavin, and Denilson added to Song and the captain in midfield. Theo’s a possibility, especially as their defenders are hardly known for their pace. But I reckon AW will be cautious and leave him on the bench.
It’s pretty much anyone’s guess as to the combination at the back, but I think the manager will start with Koscielny and Djorou, with a nod to the form of the Swiss, and the speed of the Frolish.
So I expect:
Fabianksi – Sagna – Koscielny – Djourou – Clichy; Fabregas – Song – Denilson; Arshavin – Chamakh – Nasri
and from Citeh:
Hart – Boateng – Lescott – Kompany – Bridge; de Jong – Barry – Yaya Touré; Tevez – Adebayor – Silva
Having to type that Togolese tw*t’s name is sending me into paroxysms of rage. I hope he gets crushed by his team bus as it arrives at the Grove, and gooners can laugh while they witness the end of his worthless career. A bit harsh? I think not.
As for the odds, as I said, I’m feeling bold and I’m going for 2-0. I was tempted by 3-2 at 28/1 with BlueSquare but I’m plumping for 2-0, 9/1 with Sky Bet. For my long shot 4-0 is available at 40/1 with William Hill. As for goalscorers, Song to score first at 25/1 with Coral has to be worth a couple of quid, while for the less adventurous, the captain to score first is 8/1 with Stan James. An additional bet I may well place is the thug de Jong to get booked first at 8/1 with Sky Bet.
Some friction within the Citeh camp – between Kolo Touré and The C*nt (who else?) – gives me hope that we can defeat them by class alone, but sadly, the contest isn’t held in terms of who has the best club. We have to beat them on the pitch – win the midfield battle, muzzle Tevez, and please back 5, no mistakes.
COME ON THE ARSENAL!
Arsenally well up for it,
At the latest press conference, we had some welcome news about the Verminator. We’re playing so well up front at the moment, it’d be such a boost to have him return and add some stability to the back five. What could we achieve with our current front 6 and a stronger back 5? I’m creaming myself to think of it. AW said:
Should Thomas Vermaelen not come back quickly, that’s an area we would be short because we have only three centre backs available at the moment. But I’m confident he will come back. There’s a big test for him this week, he starts to run again so the first signs of how he feels will be very important.
The implication that some have drawn is that we might have to buy another centre half if TV doesn’t get back to full match fitness soon. I don’t think it would be a bad thing if we strengthened our defence regardless of the Verminator’s fitness.
According to the Metro, Liverpool are trying to hijack “our £8.5 bid” for Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker. Quoting figures when discussing Arsenal transfers is laughable as these issues are always kept as secret as possible, but nonetheless this is at least feasible so it gets a 4 on the transfer bullsh*tometer – 1 being pure sh*te and 10 being quite likely. It’s poo-shaped, with a guilty looking cow next to it, but it is at least possible, and desirable too. I think he’d make a great signing, though I have to say I’m unsure he’s got enough pace for the English game.
Here’s an interview with Alan Davies from the online version of Football Focus. He’s a funny guy and I couldn’t agree more with his statement that we could do with a 21-year-old Martin Keown in our current squad.
So on to some transfer news/speculation. According to the Mirror, Carlos Vela could find himself on his way to a loan spell at Bolton. I think it would be a good move, a chance for him to show AW that he’s worth keeping.
As it is he’s never reached the heights I’d hoped for. He’s a natural finisher, but needs to toughen up and to learn how to hold the ball up and track back better. Bolton would be a good place to add those qualities; he could do worse than learn a thing or two from Kevin Davies.
Given that Jack the lad’ had a successful loan spell under Owen Coyle, this gets a 6 on my bullsh*tometer. So this is possible with a mild whiff of cow poo.
On the subject of loans, according to Billy Davies, Aaron Ramsey has been a credit to himself, Arsenal, Forest, and everything he touched turned to gold. Shame he didn’t play more and I respect Davies immensely for holding him back. I hope he returns to us fired up and ready to face tougher foes than the likes of Scunthorpe and Doncaster.
Don Vito Mannone of the enormous hooter returns from his load at Hull, where he was injured in their draw with Reading. Apparently Hull are after another keeper, so there’s little chance he’ll return for the rest of the season.
According to the excellent Young Guns Blog, Ryo Miyaichi has serious pace – 10.84s in the 100m – which suggests that there’s more to him than just an opening into the Asian market. Technical, two footed and speedy – qualities we know AW looks for. Maybe I was a bit hasty in writing him off as an economic purchase rather than a footballing one.
City preview and odds to follow really shortly.
<a title=”BBC – Alan Davies” href=”http://http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/football_focus/9336852.stm” target=”_blank”>Here’s an interview with Alan Davies</a> from the online version of Football Focus. He’s a funny guy and I couldn’t agree more with his statement that we could do with a 21-year-old Martin Keown in our current squad.
So on to some <strong>transfer news</strong>/speculation. <a title=”Mirror – Vela loan at Bolton?” href=”http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Transfer-news-Bolton-waiting-for-Arsenal-to-green-light-Carlos-Vela-loan-switch-article663075.html” target=”_blank”>According to the Mirror</a>, Carlos Vela could find himself on his way to a loan spell at Bolton. I think it would be a good move, a chance for him to show AW that he’s worth keeping. As it is he’s never reached the heights I’d hoped for. He’s a natural finisher, but needs to toughen up and to learn how to hold the ball up and track back better. Bolton would be a good place to add those qualities; he could do worse than learn a thing or two from Kevin Davies. Given Jack the lad’ had a successful loan spell under Owen Coyle, this gets a 6 on my bullsh*tometer – 1 being pure sh*te and 10 being quite likely. So this is possible with a mild whiff of cow poo.
On the subject of loans, <a title=”Official Site – Ramsey” href=”http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/davies-ramsey-is-a-credit-to-arsenal-” target=”_blank”>according to Billy Davies</a>, Aaron Ramsey has been a credit to himself, Arsenal, Forest, and everything he touched turned to gold. Shame he didn’t play more and I respect Davies immensely for holding him back. I hope he returns to us fired up and ready to face tougher foes than the likes of Scunthorpe and Doncaster.
Don Vito Mannone of the enormous hooter returns from his load at Hull, where he was injured in their draw with Reading. <a title=”YoungGunsBlog – Don Vito” href=”http://younggunsblog.co.uk/2011/01/ramsey-signs-off-randall-scores-plus-plus-miyaichi/” target=”_blank”>Apparently</a> Hull are after another keeper, so there’s little chance he’ll return for the rest of the season.
According to <a title=”YoungGunsBlog – Miyaichi wun fast” href=”http://younggunsblog.co.uk/2010/12/miyaichi-rivals-walcotts-100-metre-time/” target=”_blank”>the excellent Young Guns Blog</a>, Ryo Miyaichi has serious pace – 10.84s in the 100m – which suggests that there’s more to him than just an opening into the Asian market. Technical, two footed and speedy – qualities we know AW looks for. Maybe <a title=”Arsenally – Ryo Miyaichi” href=”http://arsenally.com/2010/12/20/fixture-congestion-ryo-miyaichi-youth-news-and-mental-fragility/” target=”_blank”>I was a bit hasty</a> in writing him off as an economic purchase rather than a footballing one.
Despite my bold 3-1 betting prediction, I was more than a little concerned about the Birmingham game. My work colleagues, one a Chelski fan and one a ManUre fan (honestly – I’ve been tempted to hand in my notice at times) both told me how we didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of a win, and that a draw was the best I could hope for.
Well, they couldn’t have been more wrong. We won with style, and we won with grit and determination in the face of severe provocation from a Birmingham team that seems to regard breaking our legs as just part of the game. There were three really bad challenges, and that’s leaving aside the stamp on Sagna from Bowyer. I hope other teams will learn from this that physical violence only makes us play better football, and we won’t be cowed into submission by their hooliganism.
To be fair, though, v Persie was lucky, to say the least, to win the free kick that led to his goal. However, we outplayed them, outclassed them, and outfought them. AW was delighted.
Here’s the post-match BBC interview with RvP and Nasri:
ManUre could have lost to West Brom if only Chris Foy hadn’t been playing in red, and Chelski suffered a last minute sucker-punch to draw at home to Villa. So the stage is set for a battle at the Grove on Wednesday when we entertain football’s nouveau riche, Citeh.
For some comedy, please visit here to see the utter b*llocks that some ‘journalists’ come up with. Sp*rs to win the title. Please.
And to cheer you up some more, here’s Cesc on a good result and his New Year’s Resolutions.
Happy New Year, isn’t it!
Arsenally Yours for 2011,