Arsenal 1 Villa 2 Review

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May 162011
 

I’ve just watched the Villa highlights again, and it’s hard to know exactly where to start. Vermaelen’s studs. That’s a place to start. Our players and staff are paid a fortune to be the best, and when you’re a player coming back from a long term injury, you shouldn’t be slipping and sliding around, risking another year out with a nasty injury. Unbelievable. Apart from that, it was fantastic to see him back after such a long time, and it was interesting to see that he set his partner in defence in deep contrast.

Speaking of which. Squillaci. I’ve rarely seen a worse performance. He looked like a fish out of water on a bicycle. For the Sun, that bastion of reliable comment, to give him 0/10 really is quite an indictment on what was a very poor performance. I expect to put in a much better shift¬† next time around, should he feature against Fulham.

Actually, I have seen a worse performance than Squillaci vs Villa. Firstly the entire Arsenal team (except v Persie) against Stoke. And secondly, Mike Oliver, the FA’s new ref, who managed to miss Ramsey’s blatant, obvious penalty from about one-and-a-half yards away, and contrived to give penalise Chamakh for scoring a goal. Unbelievable. If that’s the FA showing us a young ref with a promising future, gawd help us all.

It’s all quite preposterous and one thing is clear to me. Major surgery is needed on the rotten, gangrenous, pustule-filled wound that is the current Arsenal squad. There will be no Fabregas next year. We must replace him with a proper centre half, and a decent striker.

It’s far, far too early to be talking names, but watching the ‘Ammers go down, one can’t help but think that we could do with a certain Matthew Upson, once the promised Tony Adams reborn of Arsenal of yore. I wouldn’t mind Scott Parker either. Demba Ba would be better than Bendtmakh, or whatever useless combination of frontmen those two have transformed into.

As you can tell, dear readers, I’ve had a weeny little bit too much to drink, and proper comment should not be made at such emotional moments. Suffice it to say that I will always love the Arsenal, even if we finish fourth. Against Fulham it’s time for those who wish to have an Arsenal future show that they can play not just for medals, not just for fame, not just for money, but for pride and love of club as well.

Yours emotionarsenally,
Will

Some Interesting Stats about Koscielny

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Apr 282011
 

Some stats, based on all games this season:

Arsenal have won every single game in which Koscielny has not played. When he has played, we’ve won only 41% of games. Compare this to Fabregas – when he’s played we’ve won 61% of games.

When Fabianski has played, we’ve lost 28% of our games. when Szczesny has played, we’ve lost just 18%. The only player with a worse percentage of games lost when played is Diaby, at 19%.

The player with the highest percentage of games won when they’ve played is… Eboue (!?!) with a massive 75%. We’ve won only 45% of our games this season when Sagna has started.¬† Furthermore, we’ve won 80% of the games in which Sagna didn’t feature [but I don’t think he would have given THAT penalty away… ]

Our average points per game is 1.82 this season. With Djourou playing, we’ve got an average of 2.31 points per game; Squillaci playing – 1.79 points per game; Koscielny playing – just 1.59 points per game.

With Djourou NOT playing, we’ve come away with 1.59 points on average; with Squillaci out, 2.00 average points per game; and Koscielny out, 3.00 average points per game.

Looking at the average number of goals per game for and against does not make for better reading for Koscielny – quite the opposite, it’s even worse. Taking the team as a whole, we’ve scored on average 1.82 goals and conceded 1.04 in each game this season. With the Frolish centre-half, we’ve scored marginally fewer at an average of 1.81, but conceded more with an average of 1.22. That might not sound like a lot, but we’re conceding 18% more goals with him on the pitch. It’s without him that the real difference is shown: we’ve scored a whopping 2.57 and conceded just 0.43. That’s a massive difference. It’s almost like the stats breathe a sigh of relief when he’s off the pitch.

That’s what you might call damning.

Arsenal 0 Blackburn 0 Review

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Apr 072011
 

Hi folks, I’m back after a bit of a bloliday. The agent and the Arsenally little one needed a bit of attention, and work had been piling up around me.

Another reason I haven’t posted recently was that I was scared I’d produce something so vitriolic, so bilious that servers would crash and burn through the fury of it all.

It’s been a bit of a frustrating time, hasn’t it? Out of all competitions, some might say. Until Blackburn, we had control over our own destiny in that successive victories would have seen us win the title. Now, it’s out of our hands.

What gets me the most is the apathy of our non-performance against Blackburn. AW gave a very honest summary of the game:

We had a bad performance today. You don’t get away with that kind of performance against a Blackburn side who defended well. We had no change of pace, no penetration, our rhythm of passing was too slow – exactly how we don’t want to play. It’s disappointing, and I’m really concerned about the level of our performance today. Players have come back from international duty and they’re not sharp – half of the team has not recovered.

I wouldn’t argue with a word of that, but I will add two points which frustrated me more than any lack of pace or penetration.

Firstly, almost all of the Premier League teams had players playing in internationals in midweek. What kind of excuse is that? Everyone else had the same problem, but didn’t let it affect them. For AW to use that as an excuse struck me as desperation.

Secondly, where was the enthusiasm, drive to win, burning desire to win? It wasn’t there. And that has two causes. Teams need to be inspired by the manager, and it worries me that that didn’t seem to happen.

And, was there a vocal presence on the pitch? Was one player chivvying the others along, encouraging them, motivating them? No. We desperately need a player, or players who make their voices heard. Who inspire the others when the pace drops. Who finds motivation in the result that all the players heard that weekend – West Ham 2 ManUre 4.

Yes, it would have been dispiriting to have thought that United would lose, only for them to come back from 2-0 down and win against the Hammers with four unanswered goals.

But seriously, could no-one lift the players? Could no-one point out that a ManUre victory meant that winning was the only option for us? I don’t see any other teams who seem to suffer so disproportionately when things don’t go well for them.

Another thing that seemed to knock us off our stride was the injury to Samir Nasri. It looked nasty, and knocked the wind out of our sails after a good start. Kudos to Nasri for coming back on, but I did get the feeling that he wasn’t functioning at 100%.

With Wilshere also the target of some hefty Blackburn tackling, we needed someone to step up and urge the players on. We just didn’t have that.

And that wasn’t simply because Cesc Fabregas started from the bench. even with him playing we lack a vocal presence on the pitch. I think Cesc does inspire others to play well, but when we’ve been battered around and lost our flow, he’s just not the type of person to be vocal.

Fingers crossed, and we will have some more leadership when Vermaelen returns next season. I hope that we’ll sign someone who can inspire others and lift the team’s spirits in situations like Blackburn’s visit to the Grove.

In the meantime all we can do is play to the best of our ability, starting against Blackpool on Sunday. Can a team that hasn’t won since the end of February still go on to lift the title? It’s possinle, so I’ll keep on dreaming.

Arsenally despondent,

Will