Fixture Congestion, Ryo Miyaichi, youth news, and mental fragility.

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Dec 202010

Hi folks, have we been saved by the snow? I’m glad the players now have a chance to prepare properly for the visit of Chelski next Monday. But the fact that we’ll have to play an extra match, and one against Stoke, is hardly good news as we approach the season of good cheer. Knowing the way our fixtures always fall at the worst possible time, we’ll probably have to face them two days before we play Barça in February. At which point Shawcross will break Fabregas and v Persie’s legs in an ‘accidentally late’ challenge before doing Nasri’s cruciate as he walks off for an early bath.

We’ve signed an 18-year-old Japanese striking wunderkind, Ryo Miyaichi, who’ll join us in January. Accoding to his wikipedia page, he’s still at High School! I hope he accustoms himself pretty quickly to daily training and life in England, and doesn’t miss his books too much.

You can see some clips of him here, but I have to say they’re meaningless – until we see him against proper opposition, we can’t really say a lot with any certainty about his prospects. He does show some good touches and a bit of pace, it has to be said, and what’s more he did – apparently – get some interest from other big European clubs.

But the cynic in me did raise his ugly head when I saw this in the Guardian:

Wenger, who coached the Japanese side Grampus Eight before joining Arsenal in 1996, also said that “it’s very important that Asia is represented at our club”.

Now I’m all for expanding our global appeal, and I’m very aware of how we lag behind other leading English clubs in terms of our commercial success, but should we really sign a player, if putting him on the pitch is a financial and not a football decision? If he plays a few Carling Cup games, then that doesn’t disrupt our Premier and Champions League standing, but what about the English strikers who are excelling in our academy? Do we need him at the expense of one of the youth players we already have?

On which note, Steve Bould’s youth team destroyed Darlington to move into the fourth round of the FA youth cup a few days ago. Chucks Aneke got a hat-trick, and Benik Afobe grabbed a couple while for me, Özyakup showed some great touches in midfield. Like Miyaichi, the test for our youngsters will come against better opposition. Here’s the highlights:

Cesc has something to say here in the Guardian about our mental fragility against the big teams, and most recently ManUre.

Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games – we don’t really go for it and we’re tempted to drop back and see what the opposition do.

A worrying thing for our captain to say, but at least he recognises the problem. He should, as club captain, do his best to put a stop to this and try to ensure the lads are confident, and that we play our game, rather than responding to the oppostion’s.

I think a large part of this mental fragility could be down to the Home/Away, divide. Away there’s less expectation on us to play our own game and not respond to the opposition, whereas at home, we’re expected to play our own brand of attacking football. Perhaps this provides some explanation for our contrasting home and away form. We need to be more confident wherever we play, and make others dance to our tune. Easier said than done though.

To get you in the Christmas spirit, here’s a pic of Gibbs and Wilshere looking festive. And this from a gooner on Facebook:

I met a fairy today who granted me only one wish. I said, “I want to live forever.”

“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that.”

“Fine,” I said, “I want to die when Sp*rs win the league.”

“You crafty bastard” said the fairy.

Back with more on Chelsea tomorrow.

Arsenally Yours,


Stoke – the physical side, Szczesny and Kroenke’s training centre

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Dec 162010

Well it’s begun to sink in. Our top two opponents, 7 years, 11 played, 1 draw. That record has to change and that can start just after Christmas when we face Chelski.

In the meantime there’s the visit of Stoke. It’s ridiculous that the buildup to this match will inevitably be focussed on how Stoke play. That surely only exacerbates how the Stoke players will approach the game. Tony Pulis, that dickhead in a cap, will use any negative press or media statements about how they play to emphasise how “Arsenal don’t like it up them” and that they should ignore what’s been said and just focus on breaking a few players legs.

Shawcross is just a thug. I like the physical side of the game, and in my long-gone very much amateur playing days I remember leaving the boot in just to make a point. But I wasn’t playing at anything remotely resembling the top level. Violence on the professional pitch is better left in the past.

The modern game is faster, more skilful and more exciting; much the better for the greater discipline demanded of the players.

That said, a hard legal tackle has its place. But that’s very different from the kind of lunges we’re used to seeing from the likes of Stoke. If we’re on the receiving end of that kind of physical abuse, then we have to give as good as we get, but only so far as is legal. A game that ends up being little more than a violent brawl is a long, long way from the style of play that we’ve succeeded with and that AW has spent the last fourteen years instilling into our club.

So, bring on the Pottters, but let’s not the game devolve into some press-induced riot. We need to concentrate on our own game, and not concentrate on bringing our game down to the level of the likes of Stoke.

Szczesny might well have forced a dilemma into the boss’ mind, but only by coming out with some comments in the Guardian. I’m not a fan of players mouthing off every time they play well, and I don’t think it will impress the boss. He’d be better just getting his head down, but that said, he did play well, and it’s good that Lukasz has someone him pushing for his spot.

In the Express we’re going to build a new training centre in America thanks to Stan Kroenke. A good thing, no? I’d rather we built a new training centre in North London. There are a number of good reasons to build another youth centre in or near London, and not in the states.

There’s all the talent that goes to clubs from QPR to Orient and into West Ham’s youth set-up for example; there’s doing something for the game in the club’s heartland; and there’s even Stan Kroenke not doing something that is in national terms self-centred if not self-serving as well.

We could simply try more training programmes with all the grass and artificial pitch centres across the greater capital area.

I know we have a world class training centre of our own for established, reserve, youth and academy players, and ‘the States is a growth market’. But British and especially London kids need to be the priority even for a club as big as the one we love.