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

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

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