Man Utd 2 Arsenal 0 – Review.

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Mar 132011
 

In my preview I wrote of what impact of a win would have on our confidence, the rest of our season, and the race to the Premiership title. I also wrote that a draw would also give us belief, and that we’d likely beat ManUre at the Grove to progress in the cup.

Well, we lost, going out of the third cup competition in the space of just two weeks. We didn’t collapse at Old Trafford; we didn’t play terribly badly. We had much more possession than United; we had several shots on target. We just didn’t have enough composure in front of goal, and United were able to catch us on the break.

The team looked jaded. In fact, they didn’t look much like a team at all. There didn’t seem to be a lot of mental strength, and the injury to Djourou robbed us of whatever resilience and fighting spirit we had at the start of the game.

Diappointed Wenger at Old Trafford

Not again!

The manager attributed our lack of oomph to the crushing defeat at the Nou Camp:

Subconsciously I feel the disappointment of Tuesday [against Barcelona] played a part in the game. You could see something has gone, not in our effort or attitude, but confidence-wise.
But I don’t feel like the season is slipping away. I believe we can do it. It is a good test for us now to show we can regroup and show the mental strength and togetherness quickly.
We will have to answer this kind of question in the next two or three weeks. We have to show we have an answer.

Whether or not we do find an answer, whether or not we fight for the title, and whether or not this season ends up like the previous five – trophyless and disappointing – depends very much on our back five.

According to the official site
, Djourou will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated shoulder against ManUre. He will be sorely missed. His performances this season have shown that he has come a long way, and has become the defender that we’d previously only seen in glimpses in seasons past. He’s been solid, and formed a great partnership with Koscielny at the back in Vermaelen’s absence.

Speaking of whom, where is he? I’d been given the impression here on the official site that he’d play for the reserves before the end of February. That hasn’t happened.

Even if Cesc and Robin stay fit, they still need support in the form of a good reliable keeper, a strong defence, and good defensive players in the middle of the park. Assuming Song returns, that’s the latter sorted. But if Vermaelen doesn’t return soon, we’ll be relying on the services of Ignasi Miquel. With the greatest respect to him, I don’t know that he’s up to the job at such a tender age, and with so little first team experience.

Although Almunia played well against Barcelona, he flapped when Rooney scored, and I don’t think he has the confidence and backing of either the team or the manager. Our goalkeeping Poles, both threatening to establish themselves with the No. 1 jersey when they got themselves injured, will be missed. Will James Shea stay on the bench till the end of the season? That doesn’t inspire me with confidence.

Wenger now has a chance to really earn his wages. He must motivate a deeply disappointed squad. He must find an emergency keeper. In short, he must inspire his team to fight for what remains of the season.

We were in a good position at the end of last season. We could have won the title, but defeats to Sp*rs and Wigan allowed Chelski to lift the title as we collapsed with a distinct lack of confidence. It may not feel like we’re doing well, but in terms of the most important competition, we certainly are. Wenger must make the players realise how much we can still achieve. Only 3 points separate us from the league leaders, and we have a game in hand.

We can still win something this season. The title, the most important prize of all.

Arsenally still believing,

Will

Arsenal 2 Wolves 0 Review – A Good Spanking

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Feb 132011
 

Beating Wolves was never going to be too tricky – they hadn’t won at our ground in 35 years or so – but the way we played was most encouraging. Sadly, the stream I was watching on was reduced to a trickle by a dodgy internet connection, so all I’ve seen is the highlights on MoTD.

That said, it seemed like a fine team performance. Wilshere particularly impressed me, was did v Persie’s right foot with which he scored the first goal after a great pass from the captain. It’s good to see him score with his weaker foot, or as he likes to call it, his chocolate leg.

Big Mick McCarthy was impressed:

They murdered us. From one to 11 they were better than us, stronger than us and quicker than us. I have to admire their class and the way they play. And for us to get better we have to admit we got turned over – we were completely spanked. We had a slapping.

They certainly did, and it would have be a mauling, a romp, an orgy of goals, a battering (no… can’t think of any more quasi-sexual, faux-violent descriptions) were it not for a fine performance by Hennessey in goal for Wolves. And excluding a bump to v Persie’s knee courtesy of Zubar, we came away unscathed! Nothing short of miraculous.

Sadly Citeh didn’t do us a favour and beat the current Premiership leaders. Rooney scored a fantastic overhead goal flukey goal to win ManUre the game 2-1. They face Chelski in Fulham and Liverpool away at the start of next month, here’s hoping they drop a few points then. Le Boss had this to say about the title race after the game:

The title race is very much on. We want to give it our best shot to win the league and we are in a good position. If we keep playing like that we have a very good chance.

We certainly are in the hunt, especially when you consider how long is left of the season. And we host the scum from Manchester ourselves at the end of April. Ancelotti’s concession that Chelsea are out of the race is misinformation. There’s still a long way to go.

Nasri will have a fitness test on Tuesday to decide if he can play against Barça. I’d hesitate to throw a player just recovered from injury straight back onto the pitch, but if he can play on Wednesday at anything like level of form we saw before his injury, then I for one would like to see him against the Catalunians.

Another first-teamer returning is Vermaelen. According to AW on the official site, he’ll run out for the reserves in a couple of weeks:

When he [Vermaelen] is fit certainly we’ll play him in the Reserve team. But not before two or three weeks. You never know until he is completely fit to play again but we are hopeful [he is progressing well]. He feels he is over the problem but he played his last game in September and we are in February so it will take some time to come back to match fitness.

Good news indeed. Fingers crossed on that front. Full Barça preview soon.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

No Transfers but some Toffees – Arsenal vs Everton Preview and Odds

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Jan 312011
 

It’s been a particularly crazy day as £30 million is spent on a coke-snorting, tart-sh*gging long haired idiot with only 10 Premier League goals to his name. Sorry, what’s that, there’s a lawyer on the phone. I do apologise Mr Carroll, that’s 11 Premier League goals. Still, we have been afforded some hilarity when news broke of Sp*rs’ interest in Phil Neville. Oh, that made me giggle.

But the serious point for gooners everywhere is that – AS OF 2230 – we haven’t signed anyone, AW instead preferring to consider bringing players back from loan spells. And not just that, he’s sent Kyle Bartley off to Rangers, and Gilles Sunu off to Lorient. I hope they both fare well, and return better, hungrier players ready to be involved with the first team. You couldn’t ask for a better place for a young defender to get toughened up than Glasgow. Good things are expected of young Mr Bartley in the future. I’ll let you know how he gets on from time to time.

I’m all for inspiring confidence in the squad that we have, maturing young players, etc etc, but the sad fact is that we really do lack a decent centre half. I’m not just talking about the next 2 games when Squillaci’s injured, but for the forseeable future. We simply don’t know if Vermaelen’s injury woes are over.

Yes, we should be positive, but it may well turn into an Owen Hargreaves or worse, a Ledley King type of situation. And if that happens we need more on the bench than Ignasi Miquel, a player who has never played for the first team. Let’s face it, Djourou is playing very well, but he’s hardly been Mr Reliable Muscles-Tendons in previous seasons.

So I’m disappointed, but not overly surprised. There is some time left, and we all know that the club keeps transfers very close to their chest. I shall update as and when anything happens.

Anyway, lock up your valuables tomorrow evening as we face Everton in a late kick-off. If I had to speculate, I’d say that the no.1 shirt, as it were, will return to the young Pole after Almunia featured in the shop window clash with Huddersfield. Djourscielny will return, as will our regular full backs Clichgna [stop it, Ed]. I also expect returns for Fabregas, Song, Wilshere and v Persie. I’d like the question of who replaces Nasri to be answered in the person of ‘the Bovingdon Bullet’, as we Hemelites like to call Walcott. He lives up the road from here, you know. Arshavin or Bendtner or Chamakh? Pick two of them, I’d say the Russian and the Moroccan.

As for the odds, I have to consider how wrong I’ve been recently, and how Everton haven’t set the league on fire this year. I’m going for 3-0 at 9s with William Hill (and others). It seems to be our favourite scoreline at the moment, the Terriers aside. I like the look of Wilshere as first goalscorer at 16-1 with Coral. The Arsenally finances are a bit stretched – you would have thought my agent would be earning money today of all days but she’s been strangely quiet – so that’s it for me. The more adventurous, and optimistic of you might fancy my long shot – Theo to get a hat-trick at 66/1 with BlueSquare. Oh go on then, a few pennies.

I’ll levae you with the wise words of the ‘holic:

Name me the players who moved, that we would have wanted to buy, at a price that we would have wanted to pay, and who would have wanted to come to us? You can’t, can you?

Quite. The Verminator will be back, won’t he?

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Have just realised that my team prediction includes 12 players. Walcott – v Persie – Chamakh is what I’d like to see. Sorry, it’s late, and I’ve just been screamed at by some psychopathic nutjob who I’m unhappy to report is my new housemate. I shall return with a review tomorrow night, assuming I’m still alive.