Bolton 2 Arsenal 1 Review and some soul-searching

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Apr 252011
 

It’s hard to know exactly where to begin; how to summarise a game that cruelly ended our title hopes. From 4 possible trophies a month or so ago to zero is a massive disappointment.

And it’s not the first time. For the third season in a row we have been fighting on all possible fronts, in with a shout of all possible trophies, only to slip away at the end of the season. AW mentions mental strength and mental fragility more than any other manager I know of; why is it then that we seem to lack the fight, the resilience, the edge – the mental strength, if you will, Arsene – to see the season through to the end?

I can’t be bothered, frankly, to go through all the games we’ve come close to winning but failed. Some just stick in the memory. That ridiculous game at St James’s Park, the recent game against Spurs. We just cannot seem to get through the last few minutes of a game without conceding a goal. And just taking the Bolton game as an example, can a side that concedes two goals from two corners compete for the title?

I’m a big AW fan (as you may be aware!) but reading this on the official site really p*ssed me off:

The facts are the facts. I feel the players [have] had an outstanding attitude [during] the whole season and they are not to blame. If there is someone to blame, it is me. I pick the team and I choose the players. For me, the players [have] had an outstanding attitude all season.
Yes, it is very unsatisfactory because that is one of the easiest run-ins we have had for a long time. We didn’t take our chances many times during the season and that is frustrating because you feel that the potential is there. But we live in a job where you have to take your chances and be realistic. We still lack something that is called maturity, experience or calmness in important situations.

Firstly, I’m not so sure that the attitude has been right. Attitude and the inability to keep a clean sheet for the last ten minutes are closely linked. The right attitude should mean that we do not, ever, concede such goals. And all too often some players – Arshavin, Bendtner, Clichy, I’m looking at you – have been respectively completely anonymous, unbelievably useless, and on a different planet.

Secondly, in terms of “something that is called maturity, experience or calmness in important situations”, that just can’t be used as an excuse any more. Let’s not forget it was Eboue who gave away the penalty to Sp*rs. An experienced international, not someone who can be marked down as young and inexperienced. The rest of the Arsenal ‘youngsters’ – Jack Wilshere excluded – all have years of Premiership experience and international tournaments behind them. It’s about time that youth stopped being an excuse. It never was a good excuse anyway, and for one thing, they’re just not that young any more.

So what is the future for this Arsenal team. I’m not going to join the ranks of those who campaign for an end to AW’s tenure, but I am going to suggest that this team requires some major surgery to turn it from a group of promising also-rans to a team of winners.

The problem is, will AW and our new owner countenance such changes? Do we need to change the philosophy of the club and buy experienced players? Do we need to change the way we play? These are difficult questions, and the answers requires more thought than a simple knee-jerk reaction to an awful performance, even it is a performance that relegates us to third, and puts an end to any hopes of silverware this season.

In my opinion, it’s certainly a good thing to be able to laugh at oneself, and a necessary ability in any gooner. Have a look at this from the Daily Mash.

Arsenally and unhappily yours,

Will

Spurs v Arsenal Preview and Odds

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Apr 192011
 

A bit of a review of the Liverpool game first, as I was out of blog-ception and unable to post. Which is a good thing too. It would have been messy. A massive rant would have ensued.

I have to confess to some double standards. With work colleagues I put a brave face on, saying we were denied by a crazy bit of refereeing, where did he think we were? Old Trafford? You know the things you say when confronted with room-fulls of ManUre, Chelski and Sp*rs fans. What’s a gooner to do?

But deep inside, I knew that we threw it away. Or rather Eboue threw it away. Was it over-excitement that led to him giving away the penalty? Well if it was, then shame on the Ivorian. He’s meant to be one of the most experienced players out there. All we needed to do was play out a couple of minutes of extra time. All he needed to do was usher Lucas out towards the corner flag. I could have done that. My granny could have done that, and she’s had a heart attack and two hip replacements. Really poor, Manu.

And it could well have put to bed any chance we still had of winning the title. Yes, in theory, if we win all our games, it is just poosible if Chelsea also do us a favour, but can we do that? Can we go to Sh*te Hart Lane and get a result?

The heart says yes, but the head says, well, let’s bl**dy hope so. The consequences of another poor end to the season could be felt for quite some time.

All the players have got to step up to the plate, and that includes Fabregas and Nasri, who have been conspicuous by their comparative lack of form recently. Szczesny seems to have realised the importance of the ficture tomorrow night:

It is a very good game for us to come back from a big disappointment. We owe it to the fans as well because they are obviously very disappointed about what happened. We owe the fans a result at White Hart Lane.

Let’s hope the rest of the new lads, as well as more experienced players, can produce on Wednesday, and bring us back into contention not just in the league, but as a team itself. Lose, and it’s a serious indictment of the current crop of players, and by extension, of Wenger and his philosophy.

Odds to follow.

Bring on the rabble from up the road.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

 Posted by at 9:42 pm

RIP Danny Fiszman, Arsenal v Liverpool Preview & Odds

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Apr 172011
 

The timing of Stan Kroenke’s takeover of Arsenal was explained by the sad news of Danny Fiszman’s death on Wednesday.

Danny Fiszman

Danny Fiszman RIP

By all accounts, he was largely responsible for pushing throught the move to the Grove. He was certainly held in high estimation by AW:

I will remember Danny as a forward-thinker, a man who was very brave and who did fight until the last minute and was always a very influential person at every board meeting. He was one of the very intelligent men behind this Club and the development of this Club. He was very instrumental in all of [the stadium move] and in all the practical work, all the negotiation work, the relocation of all the businesses, the planning permission. There was a team, Ken Friar and Danny Fiszman, who did all of that. It is very fair to say the Club wouldn’t be where it is today without Danny Fiszman.

What AW couldn’t say was that Fiszman’s last act as an Arsenal director and fan was to sell his shares to Kroenke. He clearly felt that he had to ensure his share of the club went to a good home. I was glad to hear that two of the bridges outside the Grove have been named in honour of Fiszman and Friar, Arsenal fans first and board members second. Lock up your valuables, the Scousers are coming to town It’s truly a rare thing for a gooner to say, and so I take great pleasure in reporting that there is good news coming from the physio’s room at the Grove. Not only are Song, Szczesny, and Djourou likely to return tomorrow, but according to the BBC Sports website, Vermaelen is to play a friendly behind closed doors. If Szczesny, Djourou, and Song return then some steel will be added to the side. Szczesny has shown himself to be a more than capable keeper, and almost more important than his shot-stopping has been the confidence which he exudes. to those in front of him. The defence look, well, like a defence when he plays. If he does start, it will be interesting to see which of Lehman and Almunia warms the bench. I’d prefer the German, if only for his positive presence in the dressing room. And also for the sheer insanity that he brings to the club. Do read this hilarious piece on the bonkers 41-year-old. Djourou has fulfilled the promise he has shown as a youngster deputising for Touré, Campbell, Gallas in previous seasons. His play seemed to follow a pattern of being thrown into the first team thanks to injury or suspension, playing well, and succumbing to a crippling injury. This season, in Vermaelen’s absence he has shown not only that his knees are made of normal-knee-stuff and not Angel Delight, but that he can defend, and defend well. It will be interesting to see what the result will be of the selection dilemma that AW will have when Vermaelen returns – who will partner the Belgian – Koscielny or Djourou? Song’s improvement over the last couple of seasons has been dramatic and most welcome. He allows the rest of the midfield to be creative, and provides solid cover in front of the back four. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Wilshere and Fabregas will combine with him to back them up. The news about Vermaelen is encouraging, but I have had my spirits lifted too many times by too many come-backs that have never materialised to allow myself to be over-excited by this one. Oh, bugger it, I am excited. Even though AW has proclaimed that his season is over, a fit and ready Vermaelen would give us a real boost at the back, and I can’t believe that if he is able to play, AW will leave him out. In Liverpool we face a very different animal to the team that we played in the season opener. Kenny Dalglish has brought them from the foot of the table to the possibility of European football. Suarez and their new boy Carroll will be hard to contain, and that will be the key task tomorrow. I still see his winner for Newcastle in my all-too-frequent nightmares about Arsenal’s defensive failings. The line-up is hard to predict, as whether Djourou, Song, and Szczesny will all start is a question that no-one but AW has an answer for, and even le Boss will only know for sure tomorrow morning. Also potentially returning from injury is Bacary Sagna. That said, here’s what I expect, with alternatives: Szczesny (Lehman); Eboue (Sagna) – Koscielny – Djourou (Squillaci) – Clichy; Song (Diaby) – Wilshere – Fabregas; Arshavin – v Persie – Nasri Stats & Odds Here’s some good stats for you: • Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 Premier League games against Arsenal and none of the past seven, though five of those have ended in draws • Robin van Persie has scored 20 goals in his past 21 Premier League starts • Liverpool have lost five of their last six league fixtures in London • There have been more hat-tricks in this fixture than any other in Premier League history One stat that is worrying is that we have taken just eight points from games against the current top six. In seasons past it’s been the case that we’ve done well against the big teams, but shot ourselves in the foot against poorer opposition. We have to reverse that trend tomorrow. Nothing less than a win will do. Nothing less than a win will do. Nothing… sorry, the record got stuck. I’ve got a few Arsenally pennies on a final score of 4-3, at 150/1 with Victor Chandler, but my more sensible prediction is a repeat of my winning bet of last week – 3-1 – this time at 14/1 with William Hill. I also quite liked the look of the Half-Time/.Full-Time result being Liverpool/Arsenal at 25/1 with BlueSq. As for goalscorers, I’ve plumped for v Persie to hit the net first at 19/4 with Victor Chandler. Koscielny is good in the air and regularly gets on the end of corners, so I thought there was some value in his scoring first at 33/1 with Coral. Only 3 points will keep us in touch with ManUre. We have to take them from a resurgent Liverpool, who beat City 3-0. with Carroll getting a brace. Containing him is key tomorrow. COME ON YOU GOONERS! Arsenally Yours, Will