Arsenal’s next Captain

July 15, 2014

The other day LB wrote an interesting post entitled “Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed? This led me to think about the player as a captain and conversely the captain as a player.

Before looking at individuals in those roles I got to thinking just what should we look for in a Club Captain, note the capital letters, in my opinion the Club Captain is equally as important as The Manager, The Chief Executive or The Owner.

So the candidate should be of sufficient stature, not just in a physical sense, but in the status he holds in the game as a whole. To attain the necessary status he must have been around a while, he must be a good enough player to command a starting place in the club’s first team and preferably in his National side as well. He should also have earned the respect of not only his own team but also opposing players and particularly the on pitch officials. Needless to say he must also be media savvy, articulate and able to offer rational answers to irrational questions at times of both elation and disappointment in post match interviews for example.

tony adams

Looking back, I can recall Frank McLintock, sleeves rolled up barking out orders to players, organising his defence at corners and free kicks and generally running things on the pitch. Similarly with Tony Adams and of course Patrick Vieira. Arguably the best Captain I ever saw was the incomparable Bobby Moore, calm authoritative and respected throughout football.

Latterly the armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice, not only at Arsenal but also at international level with England. Fabregas and van Persie were appointed only to depart shortly after, Vermaelen suffered both a shocking loss of form and a series of injuries and could soon follow the other two out of the club and there are rumours that Arteta could also go if someone of the stature of Khedira or Bender are signed. In the England team the captaincy has, disgracefully, been swapped around more times than at a kid’s game of pass the parcel.

At the moment it appears to me that should Vermaelen leave, the only rational candidate would be Per Mertesacker, but for how much longer can he command that starting place in the team? Longer term we can all hope and expect the appointment of Jack Wilshire, but will it happen?

What are your views on both the Captain’s role as, should it be largely ceremonial, tossing the coin, handing over a little pennant and posing for a snap with the officials or, as the Manager’s voice on the pitch and the players representative off it. Surely there must come a time when a stop is put to the absurd situation of referees being mobbed by a group of angry players, then only the Captain should be allowed to approach the officials, and that will require a calm sensible approach, one more attribute needed for the job.

Who should our next Captain be?

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


What is Jack Wilshere’s best position?

June 26, 2014

Yeah, I know, Stevie G is a right old pain; excellent quarter-back when playing against us, has-been no-mark when playing for England. But fair play to him, in the aftermath of “Group D-Gate”, he made a really excellent observation in an interview with the Beeb. He said that the number of young players with the hunger and desire to play for England is diminishing because of the money in the game.  When asked if teenage footballers were becoming millionaires too quickly, he replied that “It has an impact on certain individuals. For those who want money, fame and everything that comes with football, of course it will have an effect.”

In a World Cup where the national teams of the three richest leagues in the world (England, Spain and Italy) have failed to get through the group stages, it is certainly worth asking ourselves what is wrong. There are of course plenty of reasons for the failure of our team, and in a sense none – there will always be random, unpredictable factors at play.  But to my mind, Gerrard has a very good point, there is a real problem of desire and hunger in our younger players, something that has been building all through the cash-rich Premier League era.

One player that seems to show precisely that desire, that hunger, is Jack Wilshere.  He takes a kicking every time he plays, his game of close control and dribbles opens up defences and draws plenty of fouls, some of which are even spotted by the referees.  And Jack doesn’t go around biting opponents, he just gets up and starts again.  When he gets injured (ie, very often), he does his rehab and comes back again.  And he talks a great game – he is clearly desperate to win, in both his Arsenal and his England shirts.  There is a very strong argument, that the future of the England team is Jack Wilshere.

But is Arsenal the right place for him to push on?  He loves the club, that’s clear.  He’s been with us since he was even smaller than he is now.  And he hails from the club’s home counties hinterland – he can probably see his parents’ house from London Colney.  I’d love Wilshere to succeed with us, if only so I don’t have to concede anything to LB.  But if I’m honest, I don’t see it happening, not so much on account of his talents, more because we aren’t going to offer him the right opportunity.  I’ve said before that I think he’s better suited to a four-man midfield, which I assume we’re not about to adopt.  In the current formation, his natural position (even without much by way of a shot) is in the middle of the attacking-midfield three.  And with Ozil, that means Wilshere is effectively an understudy.

Wilshere is reaching a critical stage in his career.  He needs to be somewhere where the team is built around him, where he’s the metronome, measuring and setting the rhythm of the team.  He’d probably be suited to being at one of the big Dutch clubs, or teams like Valencia, Real Sociedad, Marseille, Southampton or Everton.  He’d never do it of course, but Spurs would actually suit him pretty well.

I hope I’m wrong, but I’d say Jack’s time with us is going to end sooner rather than later.  And that would be good for him and good for English football.

Written by 26may89

 


Arsenal to appoint a new captain

June 18, 2014

Arsène Wenger is reported to be ready to appoint a new club captain. With the departure of the present incumbent, Thomas Vermaelen, looking ever more certain the position needs to be filled. Thomas has apparently agreed terms with Man U, although so far no negotiations over a fee have taken place.

What should we be looking for in a captain? Well first off he must be an established and regular starter. He needs to command the respect of the players as well as the fans and he must have sufficient standing within the game to be able to communicate calmly with the on-pitch officials.

The two most influential captains that Arsenal have had in their long history have been Tony Adams and Patrick Vierra and so in my personal opinion any candidate would ideally be a centre-back or defensive mid-fielder and thus be in a position to see the whole game.

Our current vice captain, Mikel Arteta is an obvious candidate but as the appointment must be a long term one he perhaps is ruled out.

So I guess what I am saying is that it comes down to just two possibilities, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Koscielny is a fine player and would make an equally fine captain but overall I’d go for Mertesacker for his general calmness and the stability that he has brought to the team.

I know that a good number of people will be calling for Jack Wilshire to be given the job but as yet he can’t command a regular starting position, although in time I expect him to become our captain and to hold the post for many seasons to come.

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


Ramsey’s 15th and Jenkinson’s 1st – match review

May 12, 2014

Many called this game a dead rubber but most were thinking first and foremost who would start and more importantly how to avoid injuries while keeping up the momentum of four successive wins in preparation for the Cup Final.

We weren’t disappointed. We started the first half in quite a cautious fashion and Ruddy made a couple of excellent saves, although I thought Giroud should have scored around the 32nd minute. Having said that, I thought he had a very solid game. Giroud has been improving as the season drew to it’s conclusion and the deadlock was broken when he lofted a beautiful ball for Ramsey to volley home.

What a player we have in Aaron Ramsey and one wonders how much nearer we would have been  to the title if he had remained fit all season.

Jenkinson settled the match with his first goal for the club and his facial expression on scoring will live long in the memory.

All in all the whole team did just enough that was required though I thought Ozil had a very quiet game. Maybe he is saving himself for next week.

With Fabianski starting one could presume that he was given his last game today and our Number 1 will be in goal at Wembley.

One can never second guess Wenger even after nearly two decades and when he said afterwards

if you look at our overall season I think we need to focus first of all in keeping everyone together” and when asked about possible transfers in the Summer he said “World Cup transfer markets start after the World Cup, usually.”

We will see if those words run true.

Those who read my comments know I am a great Sagna fan and yet again he didn’t let us down playing with Koscielny in central defence, regardless that it was against Norwich, so keeping everyone together by the boss was an interesting comment.

To see Diaby back after a full fourteen months was greeted with loud applause from our fantastic away fans and he even applauded them as he came on.

Jack had a cameo and it was hard to tell if he is absolutely fit, though not spectecular,  it was good to see him come on and by all accounts we will have The Ox back midweek, so it will be really interesting as to who lines up for The FACup Final.

Finally Wenger said he would still be here next season. I just wish  he looked a little happier.His post match interview was very low key or even sombre and subdued, which frankly, surprised me.

kelsey

 

 

 

 


In praise of Arsène Wenger but give him the funds to challenge

May 3, 2014

Morning Gooner’s

While reading Arnie’s post the other day, about other clubs Managers, I left a comment Praising Arsene Wenger. Now although I don’t go back on what I said, I believe I should clarify a few things. When I wrote why I like Wenger and why I feel he should stay, it may have given the impression that I am a happy Gooner. Now I am content with him, but that does not mean that I don’t expect expect him to try and do better in the future.

Arsenal supporters expect the team to be up there with the best in the league, and granted Wenger has managed to do that. But all supporters want to see us go that step further, and by that I don’t mean third. This season we headed the league to Christmas, yes the lead went from one to another, but that was because of television fixtures, but realistically we were the leading team.

Many Arsenal fans enjoyed the feeling of that position, and many myself included, also felt we had a chance, sadly that came undone by injuries, but it also brought home to me, the deficiencies our squad had.

Theo Walcott’s injury, left us with absolutely no pace up front. That was a major blow. Aaron Ramsey one player who broke through defences also went out, which left us toothless. Oliver Giroud did his best, but he had to hold the ball up, and had to wait for reinforcements, although Oliver is a tough nut to crack, he certainly lacks the Theo pace.

Jack Wilshere compounded our misery even more, and Koscielny’s short injury added to a depleted team. Our chance went right there, why? Because we didn’t have the same talent as back up. Our record signing also joined the walking wounded, so what were we left with? Our penetrating midfield out, our best through ball passer out, our fastest winger forward out, and our best central defender out.

Holes every where, and the talent on the bench was not up to the replacement standard. Oxlade Chamberlain, Serge Gnabry and Ya Ya Sanogo are players for the future, they just weren’t ready for a season of first team football. Had everybody stayed fit, we could have used all of these players sparingly, but we had to push them forward because we had too.

Wenger in all fairness has had to work on what seems a shoestring budget, he couldn’t have foreseen so many main players going out injured, so had to rely on these youngsters. Inexperienced, they had to take on some of the best teams in the league, if not the world, and all picked up injuries for their thanks.

Not many teams could have handled the amount of injuries that we had, and still have, with some players missing the end of the season. We took a few bad hidings that supporters are not used to seeing. Bad feeling crept in, accusations that the manager had not spent in the winter window, and how if he had brought five or six players in both windows, would have won us the league.

Unhappy supporters who’s pride had been hurt, can be very hurtful, when their Spud and Manc mates take the pee. But when they see the season out, and see what we have achieved, even with all the problems we have had, must see that this season is slightly better than last.

I have a lot of time for Wenger, but I would urge him to go to the board and say to them, I am only human you know, I need help and I need funds, we cannot keep buying kids, we have to have more Ozil’s, and we need them now, before the talent we have at the moment get itchy feet.

Wenger knows as we do, that sponsorship money has come in, yes we still have big debts, but we also have fans by the thousands, that deserve top players. They have had the big defeats, and now they want us to inflict them. Its time for our board to find the funds, as Wenger is needing that help now. We may not win the league next season but at least give us the chance.

Wenger if he signs, has 2 years left, give him the dammed money.

Written by Steve Palmer


The end is nigh. Nine Premier League games remaining. What are we after?

March 19, 2014

I cast my mind back to the final stretch last season, and we were in a battle for Top Four. For the sake of this discussion, I’d like to put aside the hunt for Trophies, and delve deeper into what there is to look forward to.

Following the loss to Spurs a year ago, momentous events followed. Principally, was the cementing of the partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny. This was in tandem with a new found restraint from our Full Backs who proceeded to show more discipline.

What was laid in those final nine games, were the foundations of a new defensive stability that continued to serve us so well into this seasons’ campaign.

Apart from the sunny Spring time fixtures, the meeting up with chums and the inevitable excitement that any game of football brings, I wonder what little gems lie in wait.

Injuries present opportunities, and the largest recipient this season has been The Ox. He has benefited from injuries to both Aaron as well as Theo. Might the remaining fixtures see him finding a definitive starting position for next season? Talking of definitive positions, we have the Jack issue.

Looking across the midfield, I still wonder who is the No 10 of choice. I understand there is a fluidity in this area, but with all the injuries to key players, I certainly don’t know how my First XI would line up. I have a feeling we will begin to see the real Mesut emerge as the midfield pivot around which all that is good orbits.

I can also see Gnabry getting more playing time, and have a gut feeling he is one of those players that will rise to the top very quickly. Remember the Aaron of last season, and we see how certain players can suddenly blossom.

Like the pairing of Kos and Mert, it can be an unforeseen partnership that emerges, and this can happen in small couplings anywhere on the pitch, which is why I see a possibility of this between Mesut and Serge.

Now, how about some dark horses. Kellstrom and Diaby, who peaches informs us is at altitude not skiing. With Aaron returning, how will the midfield set up?

With some mouthwatering encounters around the corner, there remains much fun to be had. Who knows where we end up, but I reckon, as with last season, there are surprises in store outside of the results themselves.

Prior to the Spurs game and the wonderful blast of a goal from Mr T. Rosicky, I would have liked to see a couple of long rangers, but another one or two wouldn’t hurt. Oh, and is there any chance a genuinely quality free kick specialist might emerge in the mould of Noddy Talbot? That would be long overdue and a real bonus.

The one thing I’d like to see more than anything over the remaining fixtures would be a new found venom from the true fans towards the early leavers. A mass mocking, naming and shaming, a Faceoff Campaign, anything. Some suggestions on how to deal with this, my biggest beef, and a real solution would leave my season ending on an even higher note.

Written by MickyDidIt


Arsenal’s confidence restored as the Black Cats get blown away.

February 23, 2014

Playing less than seventy hours after the extraordinary game against Bayern there were many questions to be answered.

Would Ozil be rested, could Giroud regain his place, would Podolski get a rare start and what physical and mental effect would it have had on those playing two games in such a short space of time?

Would Sunderland have one eye on The Capital Cup Final next week?

As a bonus we had the unveiling of the statue of the iceman, who was greeted with a standing ovation at half time.

Six of the team that started on Wednesday played, Giroud and Podolski were reinstated and we eagerly waited to see how the combination of Rosicky,Wilshere and Cazorla in midfield would perform.

Well, we didn’t have long to wait as the fluidity and pace had returned and it was nice to see Giroud being so clinical with both the opening goals. The pass and move that led to Rosicky’s delightful chip finish was much appreciated. The game was virtually over by half time yet Sunderland gifted us a forth,courtesy of Koscielny and the job was done despite a fine late goal by Giaccherini.

There were many positives but for me Sagna was the man of the match with his tireless running and interventions and having to play in three different positions during the match. If he leaves it would be a great loss.

Rosicky is like a man reborn and his energy levels are amazing and it was nice to see him rewarded with his first league goal of the season.Great goal but would a better team have let us walk the ball through their defence.

Wilshere was back to his best and to an extent took the baton from Ozil who had been rested.

Overall just the result we needed and though as with most matches we picked up a few niggles,hopefully all will be fit as we enter what will most probably be the toughest test of the season.

Ratings :

  • Szczesny 7.5
  • Sagna 8.5
  • Monreal 6.5 (Jenkinson – 45′ )6
  • Wilshere 8
  • Mertesacker8
  • Koscielny  8 (Flamini – 67′ )8
  • Cazorla7.5
  • Arteta7.5
  • Giroud 8
  • Rosicky 8 (Gnabry – 73′ ) 7
  • Podolski 7

Written by kelsey


Surgery, Victory, Injury, Jittery

January 17, 2014
 

 Last Friday:

  Walcott turns down a quick fix

The news came that Theo had opted for the most risk free treatment for his ACL injury. It is also the treatment that will keep him on the sidelines for the longest time.

Theo will undergo a patella tendon graft which is thought to offer the best long-term guarantees after a gruelling period of rehabilitation. Using a synthetic tendon could have got him back in time for the World Cup but there is a risk of the body rejecting it. Likewise with using a tendon from a dead body. He could have chosen to use a sliver of his own hamstring but as his game is based on speed his hamstrings are vital.

Arsene Wenger said;

“Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, he’s very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective. We know that he will have the dedication and serious attitude to come back as strong as ever”.

Diaby suffers new set-back

Arsene Wenger says he is unsure if Abou Diaby will play for Arsenal this season after he suffered a new setback in his rehabilitation.

Diaby, who has been dogged by injury trouble during his time in north London, has not played for the club since last March after damaging his cruciate knee ligaments.

The Frenchman was expected to return in the next few weeks, after having extensive rehab in Dubai, but Wenger says he is nowhere near ready to come back; ‘His recovery is going very slowly,’ said Wenger.

‘Will he play again this season? I don’t know. He is still on a long-term recovery programme.’

Diaby has told supporters at a recent charity event that he hopes to be back on the pitch shortly, but Arsenal are no longer giving a predicted return date for the midfielder.

 

 

Saturday:

A predictable win for the Chavs over Hull City saw us toppled from the top, temporarily we hope as a win against Villa on Monday would see us bounce back regardless of City’s result against the Magpies on Sunday.

More Morata speculation, the loan deal could be on again as Real Madrid, after initially ruling out any departures during January, may be willing to let him go “later in the month”.

A bit of late news, and by late I mean two days late, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain played the first half of an U21 match against Fulham on Thursday evening, he came off at half-time in a pre-planned substitution, it was the lad’s first action since getting injured on the opening day of the season against Aston Villa. Now it seems that he could be on the bench against the same opposition on Monday.

Oh! And I forgot to mention, Eisfeld scored the only goal in the win over Fulham.

Sunday:

Arsene Wenger compared Oxlade Chamberlain to Steven Gerard, speaking on www.arsenal.com le professeur said

“At the moment he is still in formation. It is good for his education as he plays left, right and centrally when needed. After [the age of] 23 or 24 you settle in a definite position”.

“He will be deeper as he has a good long ball, penetration from deep and a good quality to distribute and penetrate individually. Certainly he has the same qualities to Steven Gerrard.

Now I may not have Wenger’s insight but to compare the gracefull, pacy, youngster to that lumbering carthorse “Stevie G” is just a bit unkind.

Monday:

All the results are in, the calculations have been done and the outcome has been tabulated, Arsenal drop to third in the table but with the chance to bounce back by beating Villa later in the day.

Kieran Gibbs announced on his instagram page, whatever that is, that Theo had a “successful” operation on his knee and is recovering in hospital.

Team news, Monreal came in for Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil and Gnabry mixed it up in mid-field while Giroud mixed it with the Villa centre-backs.

Tuesday:

Wilshere drives Arsenal back to the summit

A goal by Wilshere followed by one for Giroud, from a Wilshere pass, just seventeen seconds after the restart, was enough to take us back to the top of the table despite a second half goal for Villa.

Injuries to Nacho Monreal, possibly a fractured metatarsal, and Tomas Rosicky, a broken nose, were not good news and both players could be out for a while.

Bacary Sagna, whose contract expires in the summer, is set to renew talks over an extension. Sagna’s preference is to stay at Arsenal and finish his career at the club but the best offer so far is two more years at about the same wage £70,000 per week. Sagna has never agitated for more money or for a move away but feels his loyalty and experience deserves some recognition. Come on Arsenal, give him three years and a raise, you know it makes sense!!

Two more players in negotiations are Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker, can we afford to pay them more or can we afford to lose them?

From The Evening Standard:- Mertesacker made his 100th appearance for the club against Villa and has come to epitomise this galvanised Arsenal. He is the organiser-in-chief, the debt collector and, last night at least, every inch the captain of this team.

The Germany international provided composure amid the chaos. He knows the importance of maintaining Arsenal’s advantage at the top of the table and developing that ruthless efficiency required to win major honours.

Contract negotiations? Just get on with it Mr. Laws!!

Wednesday:

More recognition of the vital part Per Mertesacker is playing in Arsenal’s so far successful season came in an article in The Telegraph. Together with Laurent Koscielny the pair have brought a “perfect blend for solidity” Arsene Wenger has often in the past described Arsenal’s defending as naïve, yet no team have conceded fewer goals (19) or registered more clean sheets (nine) than Arsenal this season. The statistics behind the centre-back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are even more compelling. Monday’s 2-1 win against

Aston Villa was their 28th completed game together and, in those, the club have registered 20 wins, eight draws and 16 clean sheets. Also very much to the point is the fact that we are unbeaten in those 28 games.

Mertesacker and Koscielny have formed a natural partnership. Koscielny’s speed and athleticism have often covered for Mertesacker’s lack of pace, although the German’s organisational skills have been perhaps the biggest single factor.

While they both remain fit and available our title challenge should stay very much on track.

Any chance of signing Schalke’s Julian Draxler were scuppered when it emerged that the 20 year old has damaged his ankle ligaments and will be out of action for up to three months.

Thursday:

Le Professeur revealed the latest fitness situation ahead of Saturday’s three o’clock kick-off against Fulham.

On Theo Walcott’s surgery…
It went very well. The damage was real in the knee so he will have to take the needed time, so let’s not be hopeful that he will go to the World Cup – that is not possible. But overall his long-term future is very positive. It’s about being fit for next season now.

on Monreal and Rosicky…
Monreal looks a doubt for Saturday, a big doubt, because he twisted his foot on the kick. It is not the bruise, he turned and twisted the ligament. Rosicky had surgery with a general anaesthetic for a broken nose in two places. With a mask he may be available, but we have to monitor it closely.

on Arteta (calf), Vermaelen (knee) and Ramsey (thigh)…
Ramsey and Arteta are both out for this game. Vermaelen too. I personally believe the three will miss the Coventry game as well and will be available after that.

on Bendtner (ankle)…

He has a little chance to make Coventry. But in all probability it will be after that.

Thanks to

www.arsenal.com for permission to reproduce the above.

Jack Wilshire is to appear alongside Lionel Messi in the 2014 advertising campaign for Pepsi.

Arsenal will red and white shirts with white shorts and socks, the ‘keeper will be in all green for Saturday’s match. The referee will be Lee Probert who drew this comment from Wenger after officiating in the same fixture in January 2012 when Johanne Djourou was sent of and Arsenal lost 2 – 1. “The referee influenced the game completely the wrong way in my opinion,”

That’s it for another week.

Norfolk Gooner.


Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2 : And everybody breathe

January 14, 2014

I was a bit of a silly boy, on Saturday morning I decided to tell everyone that I predicted much laughter as the weekend results were sure to throw up a few results in our favour and at the expense of our rivals.

Well as we all know I got those well and truly wrong with everyone in the top 7 before the weekend winning their matches. So Monday night and a trip to Villa Park for us was starting to worry me, despite our stats at Villa Park it feels to me that they have had an indian sign over us at the Emirates, and maybe they could transfer that to Villa Park for just one night.

Arsène surprised a few of us by including Gnabry in the starting line up, the only other significant surprise was Monreal in place of Gibbs. Although in that left back slot Arsene has somewhat of a luxury as proven tonight, Monreal is a fine player and when Gibbs came on to replace him there was no change in balance or ability.

Villa were not in the game from the kick off, we dominated possession but were struggling to find a way through the parked bus, Lambert adopting the counter attacking game that works so well away from home in the Premier League, from what I have heard and read this seems to be Lambert’s default tactic not necessarily reserved for visits of the big boys, it probably explains Villa’s low points haul at home as visiting Premier League teams will be happy to take a point, only a few will push all out for a win. Anyway this is an Arsenal blog not a Villa one so on with the match report.

Young Serge Gnabry took it upon himself to start vandalising the bus, a left foot drive hit Villa’s centre back Baker on the temple and he was unfortunately stretchered off concussed having been knocked out for a minute or two. It is never nice to see a player stretchered off, but it meant that Lambert had to shuffle his pack from the three centre backs formation he decided to go into the game with, which would open up some space for us eventually.

After the restart we took some time to reestablish our superiority and Villa had a couple of nearly moments. We were controlling possession but not really finding a way through the defensive lines, that was until Özil did what he is brilliant at, dropping out of midfield to receive the ball from our defence he had the ball in space and time, his movement had also created a vacuum in the middle of Villa’s lines, Monreal made a great run into space and Özil did the other thing he is brilliant at put the ball on his toe, looking up Monreal found Wilshere who within two touches had put the ball in the corner of the net.

jw1

Less than 15 seconds from the restart Jack won back possession in Villa’s half, Giroud made a fine run and Jack flighted a gorgeous ball on to his left foot, Giroud took a couple of touches (one may have been a bit fortuitous but what is it they say about making your won luck?) and with his third drove the ball convincingly into the bottom corner. 2-0 time to relax, what was I worried about?

og 1

Both goals showed that technique that Arsène craves in his players, sorting their feet out while moving at pace and under pressure.

We played the first half out at a canter and it is easy to criticise the players for not going for the kill, we still had plenty of possession and plenty of it around the oppositions box, but there was an element of cockiness and there were one too many flicks rather than proper passing and moving.

Unfortunately someone applied the handbrake at half time and no one seemed to be able to find the damned thing in the second half.

Villa grew in confidence and played a bit better than they had in the first half, we continued to be frivolous in possession and made it hard for ourselves to control the game.

With 20 minutes or so to go, Santi gifted possession to Villa deep in our third, and the ball was swiftly delivered into our penalty area where Benteke could not refuse the invitation for a diving header.

We had been relaxing too long and found it difficult to re-establish the upper hand in possession and ended the game conceding a lot of ground and a few too many aerial balls into the box. Thankfully there was no real drama in the remaining minutes of the game and the defence held firm to see out the match and put another 3 valuable points in the bank.

The sad news of the night is that Monreal may be out for a while if as feared he has done a metatarsal, and Rosicky will probably miss a couple of games whilst his nose is realigned. Better news was the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain, and also the return of that change of pace from Jack, it’s still not there every time but he is getting stronger every game, and if he can continue to find those runs and space in the box he should be able to add a few more goals to his tally before the season is out.

Ratings

Szczesny – 7 didn’t really have a lot to do

Monreal – 8 I really like the way he plays, unlucky to get injured when trying to score a third for Arsenal, good assist for the goal.

Koscielny – 7 did very well to keep Benteke and Abonglahor quiet most of the night

Mertesacker – 8 leader

Sagna – 7.5 Some good crossing tonight strong defensively, can’t really fault his performance.

Flamini – 7.5 excellent cover in the latter stages

Wilshere – 8 one goal one assist, returning to form

Özil – 7 bit too quiet for my liking needs to get involved more

Santi – 6 very erratic with his passing

Gnabry – 7.5 thought he was roaming into the hole a bit too often first half which unbalanced the side, clearly has bags of potential

Giroud – 7.5 nicely taken goal, should have done better with an early header, and hold up play lacking

Subs:

Gibbs – 7
Rosicky – broken nose no time to rate
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7 just for being back, actually made some nice runs and found himself in threatening positions, I’ve missed the lad

Gooner in Exile


An epic climax ……Match thoughts

January 2, 2014

I enjoyed that game more than any other this season, and I was at The Emirates to witness the stunning beauty of those twenty minutes against Napoli.

First up though, I’d like to begin by talking about Sex, Baby. So, if you’re very old, then cast your minds back, and if you’re very young, then tune in, listen and learn.

Two versions to consider here. Both equally valid. One, the tantric style Sting and Trudie slow build up version with an epic climax, and second, what I’ll call The Pamela Anderson, out back for a relieving fast and furious quickie.

Alright, I think you can guess where I’m going with this. There are different types of match day experience. Some all thinky tactical beardy stuff, and some just raw passion. For all of the musicians on here, think of the kind of stripped bare, acoustic, no frills, distortion pedalless, nothing synthesized, pure stuff.

This game was always going to be about getting stripped down, no frills, no toys, just pure muscle flexing, sweating, teeth gritting love, drive, passion and above all patience.

Ok, the first half was pretty dull, the weather dreadful, and I felt for the poor sodden fans. Things is, there’s no such thing as a Free Lunch, as the expression goes. What they were treated to was one of those nailbiting, exhilhirating, edge-of-seat, tension filled, ballbreaking finales. Fantastic, my favourite.

Ok, so some days the sun shines, the football is elegant, and we dominate. Two up in twenty minutes, and cruising all the way to the line. Like some of that too, but, there’s no tension.

In terrible stormy conditions, Cardiff sailed up the M4, and floated their defensive flotilla in front of their goal. Fair enough, I thought. Good plan. Right then, what could we do about it.

We started with a front four of Podolski, Theo, Jack and Santi, and I wouldn’t have been alone in thinking that this could well turn out to be quite exciting. It didn’t. The first half was pretty dire. However, for me, this meant the second half had to be dramatic, as however it panned out, things were going to get edgy if we didn’t score early. We didn’t. Per came damn close with a couple of headers which surely would have found the net on any other day. Oh well, shit happens.

Boy, did the Lads do us proud though. 100% efforting going on all over the place. My MOTM Jack Wilshere was energy, thrust and die-for-the-cause energetic. Santi too, although far from the incredible form of last season, probed and kept trying to find the eye of the needle threaded ball needed to open up a packed defence. Into the last 10 at 0-0, and things were getting a little tense.

Crikey, now only two minutes of the ninety left.

Yessssssss, Nic Bendtner smashes home into the roof of the net. Brilliant, bloody brilliant. Can we hold on? Verm on for the injured Nic. Cripes, we’re going defensive. Brace yourselves peeps, things could get messy. Bugger, five minutes of Fergie time. Yessssssssss, Theooooooo. What a class finish with a delicate dink over the keeper in the 92nd. Three whole minutes for the fans to finally relax, sing and dance. What a finale, what a climax.

The team and the fans earned that, although our very own Chas, who was at the game, has just mentioned that “the moaning was reaching a crescendo” just prior to the Nic goal. Let’s not forget that breaking down a massed defence is not easy, whoever you are. Winning like that happens to be what Champions do.

Very much an afternoon for Sting Fans.

What a start to 2014. Top of The League, and now you’d better believe it.

Written by MickyDidIt


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