Podolski Left In or Left Out?

March 23, 2013

When Poldi signed a pre-contract for Arsenal I was happy for two reasons 1) he had 80+ international caps  2) he is a deadly finisher… The media and many fans criticized Wenger for buying him because of the nightmare spell he had with Bayern. But you cannot judge Person by one spell and given the fact that people treat him like god in Bayern… Moreover he had something to prove to his critics (that he can play in a top team) so he looked to me as a good and smart move by Wenger.

PODOLSKI

His record speaks for itself, he has scored 13 goals and 11 assists that is very good statics in first season better than our Brave Sir Robin, Germans always take time to settle in EPL given the fact that Bundesliga is slower and less physical than the Premire League but Poldi has settled well in new wnvironment without any difficulty.

Now let’s come to the main topic,  many people on AA are debating the question of where Podolski should play. There are 3 positions where he can play those are Second Striker, Left Winger or Center Forward.

Let’s have a look at his history: Poldi started his career with Koln as a Center forward and scored 10 goals in 19 app in first season at age of 18 however Koln got relegated, but next season he scored 24 goals and Koln were promoted back to the top division and Podolski became a famous figure. After that, many clubs were afterhis signature, however Bayern succeeded and what happened after that everyone knows…

Now coming to my main point, he plays as Left winger for Arsenal currently and even for Germany he plays on the left, yet Arsene has admitted that he signed Podolski as striker. But I guess because of Gervinho’s poor form, he moved Poldi to left wing and OG took his position. He played in centre against Stoke in first match.

Arsenal’s wingers are striker come winger. If you take the example of Man Utd, their wingers always supply the crosses and passes to feed the strikers rather than going for goal, but Arsene loves wingers to score more goals and that is the main reason Podolski is playing in Left. Podolski is not a Winger, but he is a left sided striker who scores and provided assists others score.

If he plays as striker then we are left with Gerv and the Ox who can play on the left. Given Gerv’ record and the Ox’s inexperience, we cannot rely on them. Moreover Poldi is a good poacher, he is not great with his head like OG, however we can keep this as an option.

If he plays as SS he won’t be as successful. He has good shot but he cannot beat defender like Santi and Whilsere so we can discount this option.

Now let’s reconsider his current position – left wing. He doesn’t have pace like Theo but he is smarter than him and he has potent left foot, if he plays in wing he can score from long range and supply cross to strikers.

I believe the best position for Podolski in thecurrent team is playing on left as he has good eye for goal and his link up play with OG and Gibbs is terrific, Playing in the middle would be an option but not as good as playing on wing, if he plays in middle he may be a success but not as successful as on theleft. If he plays on left opposition will have two threats to deal with, one is from OG in middle and second is Poldi from Left.

The understanding between OG and Poldi is terrific Remember two volleys he scored from left,  OG supplied the chip and Poldi did the rest.

That is deadly for opposition. I am 100% sure if no one leave Arsenal in coming two years we will win a trophy for sure……

In current team I prefer Poldi in left and OG in middle..

Which position would you play him??

Written by Manthan


A New Kind of Stupid – Bradford 1 – Arsenal 1 (3-2 pens)

December 12, 2012

All the critics of Arsenal internal and external use our 7 years without a trophy as a thorny stick to hit us with over and over again. Last night on a trip to the frozen North of England Arsene Wenger surprised us fans and I’m sure most pundits by picking a pretty strong team to face Bradford from League Two.

Two of the starting eleven could be considered “squad” players (Ramsey and Coquelin). The rest of the names on the team sheet were either experienced internationals, or players with many games of competitive club football under their belts. And I am afraid it is those players that once again let us down.

Plenty of us pre match yesterday were saying how important it was that the team took control of the game and silenced the crowd, of course they were going to be fired up for the first ten minutes but swot it away and start passing it around and their fans would soon go quiet, then you could concentrate on playing the nice stuff, do the right thing first.

But no, the team decided to let them get on top quickly and early, all they had to do was put the ball high in the air and deep in Arsenal’s half and they looked like they could score, so yet again meaningless passing around the Bradford half resulted in an attack for them when those in Purple and Black eventually passed into their keeper’s hands.

To compound matters the team decided on 16 minutes to make it even harder for themselves, specifically the skipper Thomas Vermaelen, allowing a long punt up field to be controlled by a Bradford player over by the corner flag, then allowing that player to nutmeg you, and then fouling him. Vermaelen’s ill judged attempts to tackle were to be a feature of the night and a growing rage towards him from me.

From that corner the experienced players in the team decided that it would be a good idea to allow Gibbs and Coquelin to defend the near post area, and for Mertesacker to defend the middle, for Vermaelen to stand behind him and to be covered by Sagna. All three of our most experienced defenders got sucked towards the ball, which was flicked on at the near post taking all three out of the game and despatched into the back of our net through the despairing hands of Szczesny.

One nil Bradford and yet again we were in for a long night and hoping for some kind of miracle to try and get the game back. These miracles are really only possible if everyone is working hard. And for the rest of the half not enough players were close to the required levels.

Coquelin provided the best effort on goal so far when he jinked past a defender and hit a bobbler with his left foot that came back off the post. Gervinho missed a sitter from two yards when it was easier to score following good work from Jack, Santi and Gibbs. How he managed not to put enough on that ball is beyond me, he wasn’t desperately lunging, he wasn’t being mucsled by a defender he was there, he could have put any body part on it, even his todger and it would have gone in, but he somehow managed to open his foot up so far that he just flicked it wide.

Other than those two chances the team created very little in the remainder of the half.

In the second half the team came out with a bit more tempo, but still failure to do the the basics right meant that Bradford were given the opportunities to put pressure on the Arsenal area from free kicks and possession in the final third.

Chamakh came on for Coquelin who I felt was unlucky to be subsititued but clearly Wenger needed to give some kind of focus to the attack. Soon after Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on to replace Ramsey (seeing double after taking a boot in the face) and Podolski who will be seeing double if Bould kicks him into next week like he deserves, as he walked off I didn’t think i saw a bead of seat on his body, I know it was cold up there but the rest of the players were showing the effects of playing a game of football.

Excuse me while I send a personal rant to Mr Podolski:

The song we sing is “He Scores When He Wants”, not plays where he wants not tries when he wants, it’s scores when he wants. You have not earned the right to criticise other players around you yet, you have not earned the right to tell the manager where you want to play, we already have Theo trying that one, and you apparently want it too. Right now I’d rather we cancelled your contract and sent you back to Koln on a free, because you are not worth the wages the club are paying you.

At one point yesterday you enetered the box and waited for a cross from Gervinho, you stood with your arm in the air, ok the first cross didn’t come, but the ball was still live we still had it, still you didn’t move, you just stood on your heels in the same place with the same stupid arm up in the air, when the ball finally did come across the goal from Gervinho you were still standing there and watching it roll harmlessly wide at which point you complained because it would have meant you doing what a centre forward does….MOVE IN THE BLOODY BOX!

Now I’m not an international Centre Forward who has scored countless goals, but I have watched football a long time, and never have I seen a supposed centre forward move so little in the 18 yard box waiting for a cross, the likes of Lineker, Shearer, even bloody Stephen Fletcher would have moved four or five times in the time you stood on that one spot.

I can accept a player being shit but working hard, I used to think Perry Groves was a legend for example, but accepting a talent who fails to work hard I will not and will never accept.

Rant at Mr Podolski over.

Rosicky injected some much needed pace to our play, between him and Jack who seemed to cover every blade of grass from defence to attack in the second half the team finally started to dominate possession, and actually began to look threatening in and around the Bradford area.

The shot count was rising but so was the off target count, and when it was on target Matt Duke in the Bradford goal was using his large frame to good effect.

With time running out Santi Cazorla produced a lovely cross to the far post, luckily it was just after a corner and we had some good headers of the ball in and around the box, Thomas Vermaelen rose at the back post to provide probably his only positive contribution on a dismal night for him personally.

The team pushed for the winner in normal time, but could not find it.

Extra time came and went with little action until the dying minutes when Duke was again called upon to make good saves from Santi and Jack.

So onto penalties, I was already worried as Duke posed an impressive physical presence inside the Bradford goal, he is actually the same height as Szczesny but a few more years of living he is stronger muscularly, it also helps that he doesn’t have to wear a pink goalkeepers top.

I was further worried when considering the psychological pressure on each group of players, Bradford – be a hero, Arsenal – be a villain. It was that simple, a Bradford player misses and they get a pat on the back and a commiseration, the Arsenal player that misses is vilified for the rest of the week/season/life (depending on how long you like to hold a grudge).

Bradford went first and it was calmly dispatched. Santi stepped up and hit a weak penalty into the hands of Duke who guessed correctly. Bradford made it 2-0, Chamakh steps up and cooly places the ball onto the post. Chips are down, I’m ready to hit the off switch. Szczesny guessed right for the third time in a row and saved to keep Arsenal alive, up stepped Jack who had simply no trouble putting the ball home. Bradford made it 3-1, up stepped Ox who made it look just as easy as Jack and rifled home to make it 3-2. Szczesny then guessed right for the 5th penalty in a row and saved a very tame effort by Bradford.

Up steps the Arsenal captain to take it to sudden death, he followed Chamakh’s lead and rolled it against the other post, cue pandemonium at Valley Parade as Bradford claim a famous victory.

No Professional team should see the opposition miss two penalties and not even take it to sudden death……abysmal.

A miserable night was complete, miserable for the fans, miserable for the manager, miserable for the club…..miserable for the players? I’m not so sure, they just go home to their mansion, loose women and fast cars. Why would they be miserable?

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, I can support young players who work hard and put it all on the pitch, I can’t support players who do not play for the team for each other, or the fans.

I want players to show they know what it means to us fans and in my opinion too many on the pitch for Arsenal at the moment look like their doing a job, and it doesn’t even look like its a job they love.

Ratings:

Szczesny 8 Two penalty saves, could do nothing about the goal, swept well all night trying to urge the team forward and get ball back up field quickly.

Sagna 5 Poor performance from “Mr Consistent”, I am not sure I care whether he signs a new deal, as i am not sure what he is Mr Consistent at.

BFG 5 Outjumped by an industrial centre forward for the entire game, normal assured self when on the ball.

Vermaelen 0 Sorry you are not worthy of that armband right now, silly free kicks all night, and a failure to take care of your own job first.

Gibbs  7 Our best defender on the evening, and probably of the season so far, quiet going forward first half but always offering himself.

Ramsey  5 Nothing went his way tonight, needs a rest needs to work out the issues and decision making. Worked as hard as ever though.

Coquelin  6 Did his best in a misfiring midfield first half, still a lot to learn in the first team.

Wilshere  8 (MotM) Tried everything he could to push the team forward ran for 120 minutes, tackling, shooting, the boy has got it all, we need to get players with his attitude and desire around him soon.

Cazorla  6 Very quiet first half, much better second especially when Rosicky came on.

Podolski  -5 Didn’t bother turning up

Gervinho  4 he tries hard bless him, and doesn’t stop running, end product absent all night.

Subs:

Rosicky  7.5 quick passing, forward runs, forward passes, what we have been missing of late

Oxlade-Chamberlain  6.5 A display that showed he is returning to form, used his pace and strength well, committed defenders. Horrible team to come on and play for right now.

Chamakh  4 I miss Giroud already

Written by a very pissed off

Gooner in Exile

Someone will probably quote these stats in defence of the team:

37% Possession 63%
(so f’ing what)
5 Shots 28
(and?)
3 On Target 12
(less than half?)
3 Corners 12
(remember when this used to mean we would score?)


The Arsenal Laundry Service Cancelled.

September 5, 2012

That win was too good to just let go after a couple of days; we have been waiting all summer long for that feeling so this post is unashamedly designed to prolong the crowing.

Yes indeed and why you may ask has the Arsenal laundry service has been cancelled? Because of all the clean sheets, of course.

Before we went into that game against pool it was talked about as a real test for Arsenal as Liverpool had shown their fighting form the previous week only failing to beat the mighty man city because of a silly back pass.

One week later and we completely humiliate them — are we credited with realistic statements like this new Arsenal look like they can seriously challenge for the title? No, we get wishy, washy nonsense about how poor Liverpool are and how Brendon Rogers hasn’t had anywhere near the amount of time that Wenger has to put his team together.

I said this in my match report after the Cologne game and I am going to stick with it: the EPL will be between Arsenal and City this season and yes that does mean finishing ahead of manu and Chelsea.

Arsenal didn’t just beat Liverpool in third gear they beat them in second, there is just so much more to come from this team it is frightening.

And talking of frightening, have you ever seen a player quite so two footed as Cazorla? I don’t think I have, his ability is quite amazing and what’s also important is that he looks really happy to be at THOF.

By contrast, have you noticed that we finally have closure on Cesc? He is no longer talked about, he is hardly mentioned now, the reason I would suggest is simple; he has finally been replaced.

The same will happen with BSR, we will continue talking about him until Giroud takes over, this will become apparent in two ways: The Frenchmen will start scoring goals and the away fans will start bellowing out the song “Who needs Van Persie when we had Giroud.” It’s going to happen; it’s just a question of time.

I watched Barcelona-Valencia on Sunday to see how Alex was getting on. I was fascinated to see if he made the same kind of school boy errors for them as he did for us. The answer was no; they had obviously told him to keep his passing simple and always find your man, pretty basic really but effective nevertheless. I thought this transfer really showed Wenger’s tough side, no room for sentiment there: we have had an offer from Barcelona to buy you, collect yours stuff.

Why didn’t Theo also leave this window? Because no offers for him came in would be my guess. Something is not right there, Arsenal have never let a player run down his contact, apart from Flamini but who predicted he would have the last season he did, anyway Walcott is different his value is obvious so I still see him going in the January window to avoid the complete loss in sale value.

Did I mention that we beat Liverpool two nil at Anfield before? Well we did and it was a great feeling then and it is a great feeling now.

Onwards and upwards my fellow Arsenal loving friends.

Written by LB


Nil – Nil to the Arsenal, Nil – Nil to the Arsenal…. Match Report.

August 27, 2012

Having just returned from a holiday in the South of France; a country with a wonderful climate and a farming industry that provides its people with more or less everything that one could wish for – French supermarkets are the closest earthlings can get to heaven, if you are, like me, one of those who lives to eat rather than eats to live – I cannot help but wonder what the likes of Giroud (French, born in Chambery, situated in the wonderful French Alps), and Cazorla (Spanish, born in Llanera, North-West Spain) made of their trip to the Country of Wrath – The Land of the Orcs.

Just imagine our new signings pronouncing the word(s): ‘Stoke (on Trent)’: I reckon it would sound like somebody choking on a lump of baguette. Compare that to the poetic sounds of ‘Chambery’ and ‘Montpellier’, or ‘Llanera’ and ‘Malaga’, and I think you know where I am coming from.

Going to the North-West/East has seldom or never been easy for Arsenal, and Sunday’s trip to Stoke was the first big physical and mental test for both Arsenal as a ‘new’ team and for our new arrivals in particular.

Luckily, in quick succession, the Northern ‘B-teams’ – Blackburn, Bolton, Blackpool, Burnley – have dropped out of the Premier League in the last few years, resulting in fewer visits to that doomed corner of the country this season. And long may it continue.

Whatever Santi and Oliver made of the place, and its physically/intellectually/emotionally challenged people (booing Aaron Ramsey sums it all up), they showed no signs of weakness or need to adjust to their new surroundings.

That, combined with another fine performance by our defence, are the main positives we can take away from Sunday’s game.

First Half

From the start, it became clear Stoke expected us to dominate play and a row of 4 defenders and five midfielders were positioned in front of their goalie, in order to make life difficult for us. Arsenal combined well and was able to pin Stoke back from the first minute. The ball was being passed round the way we have become so used to over the last few years, and we were able to breach their bus-shaped defensive walls on a number of occasions. If, now and again, we lost the ball in Stoke’s half – especially Diaby and Gervinho had a few moments of weakness at the start of the game – our defenders pressed the opposition quickly and forcefully, resulting in us regaining possession almost instantly. On Sunday, we owned the area between their box and the mid-circle once again, and long may it continue.

We were bullying the Orcs and it felt fecking brilliant!

There were a number of opportunities in the first half. As early as the eight’s minute, Giroud combined with Podolksi in the box and the latter had a decent opportunity to score. The Stoke defender Wilkinson lost his balance as a result of Giroud’s and the Pod’s quick movement, and whilst falling over, the former, serendipitously, ended up in the path of Pod’s attempt on goal. He handled the ball but I don’t think it was a penalty, and we are not Chelsea of course; so nothing given.

The excellent Prince Poldi, who often could be found away from his left wing position, made a mazy run through the middle and was cynically fouled by Huth. The subsequent free-kick, from a promising position, just outside the box, was wasted by Cazorla. Unfortunately, it would not be the last free-kick to be wasted by Arsenal during the game.

Another good move led to a cross from the left which Giroud just could not reach with his head. On top of that, Cazorla had a number of shots at goal from distance, and all in all we deserved a goal from our efforts.

However, it is fair to say, that although we created a number of chances in the first half, we still looked quite rusty in our attacking efforts.

This should not come as a big surprise to us, as except for Gervinho, all our attack-minded players are new. On top of that, Diaby has not played regular football for a long, long time and Arteta has only just returned from a long-term injury as well. They will need time to gel so they can become more instinctive and effective, and the only way to do this is by training hard, and especially by playing more and more competitive games together.

Stoke were only able to get a few set-pieces against us and our defence, including our stand-in goalie Mannone, remained calm and organised – never allowing the crowd any satisfaction. Once again, we were the ones who controlled the game.

Second Half

I can be short about the second half. It was disappointing to see we could not move a gear up with regards to our attacking efforts after the break. I have seldom seen Arsenal so risk averse. The FB’s did not offer as much support to our wingers as we’ve got used to over the years, and the CB’s stayed continuously behind. I felt Cazorla got more and more isolated and tired as both Diaby and, the once again excellent, Arteta sat back more and more. Diaby and Arteta helped out our defence when it really mattered though in the second half, which was great to see, as well as crucial.

The substitutions of our ‘wingers’ Gervinho and Podolski, by Theo and The Ox, made sense, but they also could not make a significant difference. There were still a few half-chances for Giroud, but a combination of tiredness and over-eagerness, meant he was not able to turn them into goals – although he almost clinched the three points for us with a beautifully imagined, and subsequently executed diagonal lob over the goalie from 25 yards or so. But, it was not to be.

Conclusions

I watched the game in a busy and loud pub, which made it difficult to analyse the game with a bit more depth. I would love to watch the game again with just one objective: to check out how much support both Arteta and Diaby gave to our attackers.

Having watched a couple of Chelsea games and also the game between Dortmund and Bremen in the last few days, I came to realise once again how important it is for one of the two deeper laying midfielders to support the attacking midfielder as much as possible, in order to dominate the opposition in front of their box and add creative thrust (without losing positional discipline of course). Chelsea’s Mereiles really impressed me on Saturday against NU. Every time he came forward to support the attacking players, the Barcodes were put under severe pressure.

In our game, I felt that Diaby and Arteta were not always effective enough in their support of our attackers/AM, but I would need to see the game again to see whether this was indeed so. Dare I say it; I thought we missed Song yesterday, although I also believe that both Arteta and Diaby will get better at supporting the sole AM as the season develops: they are both well-rounded, quality midfielders.

However, I thought both Arteta and Diaby supported our defence really well when it mattered, and I was pleasantly surprised by Diaby’s physical/aerial presence; especially in the second half.

I thought our defence played with discipline and focus and, on the few occasions they were called into action: they were a joy to watch.

Unfortunately, the departures of brave sir robin and Song means we will have to go through another year of transition. But I have no doubt that Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski are quality additions to our team, and whilst they are gelling together with our other players, they will get better and better.

The most important thing, though, is the back-to-basics approach with regards to our defence. We will not win anything anymore until we have a mean, lean, defensive machine again, and the first two games have been very encouraging with regards to establishing just that.

With Liverpool away, Southampton at home, City away and Chelsea at home, between now and 29 September, our defensive will face tougher tests ahead, but like many others, I am getting more and more confident that Steve Bould has been making real progress in making us defensively sound, this summer.

Add to that, that Giroud and Cazorla have come through the ‘Northern Test’ very successfully (and I expected nothing else from the Pod – the man is simply indestructible), and that Wenger keeps hinting there will be one or two more signings in the coming week, and there are plenty of reasons for us to be positive, despite the somewhat dull second half today.

After all, only the Southern Oilers have been able to win all their games and, as unlikely as it may sound after two draws, we are above the Spuds and Pool, just two points behind the Northern Oilers, and only one point behind the Mancs and the Barcodes. It looks like Lady Luck is helping us to settle this new team in this time!

Player ratings

Mannone and defence: 7.5 – all solid, disciplined and focussed – a real unit: 7.5.

Arteta: 7.5 – quickly getting back to his very best.

Diaby: 7 – better second half, despite tiring at the end. If he can stay fit for a while, he will become better and better. Fingers and all other body-parts crossed!

Cazorla: 8 – real quality: our new dynamo and a natural strings-puller. MOTM.

Gervinho: 5 – worked very hard, but this was not his best day.

Podolski: 7.5 – loved his energy, physicality and thrust. Really happy to see he can play effectively for us on the left wing. Goals and assists are just a matter of time.

Giroud: 7.5 – loved his energy, physicality, thrust and link-up play. Obviously, he is very eager to score goals and they will come. He just needs to settle in a bit.

Total Arsenal.


Slotting in our new players

August 20, 2012

Three signings have already been confirmed in Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla, and a forth is possibly going to happen in Şahin from Madrid. But it is like when it is like the weather in England, we moan when it is too cold and then moan when it is too cold, we moan when we don’t sign anyone and now some fans are moaning that we have no where to play them! Some people are never happy!

Well, firstly let’s start with Podolski. If you were alive recently in June and the start of July, then you would have seen the Euro’s. You may have also seen the most entertaining team in it, Germany, where Podolski was a regular starter. If you did watch our first signing of the summer transfer window, then you would have noticed that he play played on the left wing. This is not actually Podolski’s natural position, even though he is left footed. He is more of a centre forward, a player that sits behind the striker, but he does naturally drag the ball towards the left so he can have a shot on his stronger foot. He can also do this upfront.

So that centre forward position, do we already have players that play there? Well I personally believe that we don’t have a player that is actually meant to play in that position, although we do have some players that can. We have players like Walcott, Gervinho and the Ox who can play behind whatever striker starts upfront next season, Giroud or even maybe a new striker we sign, although that would obviously mean they were replacing Van Persie. Arteta could probably even play behind the strikers if he was asked too.

But it all depends on the formation that Wenger plays the team in this season, Podolski may play on the winger or behind the strikers. In past seasons he has opted to have ‘copied’ Barcelona with the 4-3-3 formation with two defensive or holding midfields and one in front of them, and one central striker.

I think that the formation will be changed next season, we will have Giroud, so he may play a 4-2-2-2, although Podolski would have to play on the wing in that formation, and we would only have two midfielders in the centre, which we put us at an disadvantage against a team which plays a lot of midfielders, for example in a 4-5-1 formation, even a 4-4-2.

I think that to accommodate all of the fresh talent brought in to the club, we would have to play a 4-2-1-1-2 formation, with Arteta and ?Diaby at defensive midfield, Cazorla in the centre attacking position, and Podolski sitting behind Giroud. This would mean Cazorla and Podolski are free to drift over to the wings.

Our second signing of the transfer window is French international striker Olivier Giroud, who is twenty five years old, he has been a professional football player for only three years, so his football mental age is younger than twenty five. He is tall, although he isn’t actually just a central striker. He is deployed upfront, although he does run onto the wing and crosses to the other striker. He finished the 2011 / 2012 season off with twenty five goals and eleven assists in the league , one more assist in other competitions. This proves he can create goals as well as score them, something Van Persie did do as well, almost the same stats between the two. A big difference between those two is that Giroud isn’t injury prone.

Our third signing is Cazorla, his signing was almost as painstakingly long as Podolski’s was this year. We knew we had signed him, so did all the players, he had flown to Germany with the squad, all before the announcement of his arrival, Malaga’s financial problems preventing us from revealing his arrival. He is a player that operates on the wing, although can also play in the centre of the park. He can’t be deployed at high up the pitch as Podolski can, but he is a player that can attack on the wing, or help control the game with Song and Arteta in the centre of the pitch. He can score, nine goals in La Liga last season, and he provided vital assists.

We do actually have players that can play in his position, Arteta can if asked, the Ox is now being played in a central role, and possibly Diaby can, but once again, we don’t actually have a nippy little player who can attack quickly and can help in defence will waiting to begin a break. Cazorla is the type of player that top teams have, for example Man City with Nasri, Man United with possibly Carrick and Chelsea have Hazard who can play there. He may single handedly, along with the form we had towards the end of the season, make us a title contending team finally. He may be our new Ljungberg or Pires.

Fans are worried that we are going to have too many players, especially if we finally confirm the signing of Madrid’s Şahin, a central player, and some fans will want to see certain players and they aren’t played. I personally believe that we will have some nice competition between the players to get into that starting line up, especially for the Champions League, which Man City especially have, and it hardly did them any damage.

Wenger also stated while in Asia, before the news of Cazorla’s transfer was taken seriously, that any more players arriving depended on how many players left. Well not one left before Cazorla arrived, except six youth players not signing senior contracts and Almunia. Now Vela has left, and Bendtner may also be following him out, as well as Squillaci, who has been rumoured to have been bid for. Chamakh played in the Asian tour, so he may still have one last chance. Qpr are also contemplating whether or not to bid for Arshavin, a player who arrived all guns blazing, but just lost it after that. This all may suggest more signings, which every Arsenal fan wouldn’t mind, we have been deprived of signings in recent years, but now things may have changed, finally Wenger have dipped into that pocket of his, rumoured to have around forty million in. Has he learnt his lesson, youth may not always be the answer, Arteta, an experienced player, defiantly proved that.

I have said this before and I am sticking to it, the summer transfers are a long way from over, lets see what the next few days brings.

Written by Miles

 


Failure to Beat Sunderland: We’re All Doomed (and Player Ratings)

August 19, 2012

Well, all those hoping for quick and easy answers to what our season holds will be disappointed.

There were not enough positives in our 0-0 with Sunderland to have the optimists planning their outfits for the Champions Parade, nor enough negatives for the pessimists to start slashing their wrists.

The performance can probably best be summed up as “OK, in the circumstances.”

Not that that has stopped the media from going overboard with stories about how we’re doomed never to score again without the magic left boot of Brave Sir Robin and how Giroud is our latest French flop.

My favourite headline was from a website called Emirates 24/7 (not an Arsenal site – it’s based in the United Arab Emirates, I think). It said: “Van Persie Haunts Arsenal As Giroud Crumbles.” To whoever wrote it, take a bow son for the best load of hyperbollix on the net yesterday.

And so to the game.

Arsene Wenger gave starts to two of the new boys – Santi Cazorla in the attacking midfield role (despite him having travelled across the Atlantic and back with Spain midweek) and Lukas Podolski in the central striker role.

Well done Big Raddy for getting 10 out of 11 starters right in yesterday’s pre-match (Gervinho instead of Giroud was his only miss).

The home team took the field with a spring in their step and to a noisily positive reception from the crowd. The away team’s clapped-out old Greyhound bus sputtered onto the pitch and parked itself in front of their goal.

From the off it was clear that Sunderland were playing for a 0-0, but there were plenty of positive signs for Arsenal in the early stages.

Cazorla oozed class, controlling the ball instantly, turning on a peseta and always looking for the killer thrust. He’s a real midfield matador and could become our most important player this season, even if he could apply the “coup de gras” to Sunderland’s bull.

Gervinho was offering plenty of threat down the left, beating the Sunderland defenders and getting to the byline on several occasions, one of which gave Cazorla a good shot on goal, although it went narrowly wide.

Walcott, who struggled to create anything, scuffed a decent half chance after a Mertesacker knock-down and Diaby forced a good low save from Filet Mignon in the Sunderland goal.

At one point Walcott got to the touchline and pulled the ball back for the onrushing Podolski in the six yard box, but our new signing was crowded out by a posse of blue shirted defenders.

This was all still in the first half and it was becoming clear that something special would be needed to break down Sunderland’s resistance.

To be fair, the Black Cats did not need nine lives to survive, but their defending was full of commitment and effort. However, along with their time wasting almost from the first whistle, it made zero contribution to the spectacle. We know that many teams will come to the Emirates and will try to frustrate us like Sunderland. If we don’t score early on it gets harder and harder, so we really need the famous Plan B (of which there was no real sign yesterday).

Sunderland had a couple of breakaway chances in the first half – and, given our tendency to concede to the opposition’s first attack last year, I had my heart in my mouth – but a combination of well organised defending and good alertness from the Pole in Goal averted any catastrophes.

The second half was more of the same. Walcott tried an ambitious volley from a tight angle with an unmarked Podolski screaming for the ball in the six yard box; we had a few long range shots (including from free kicks), all of which went high; we tried to pass our way through the packed ranks of the bus boys… but as time wore on a goal seemed ever less likely.

Arsene switched out Podolski for Giroud and Diaby for Ramsey. We continued to press without much end product until Cazorla set up Giroud with a beautiful reverse pass into the box. Our striking (in more ways than one) Frenchman hit it first time and put it wide. It wasn’t a shocking “missed a sitter” moment of the kind trademarked by Fernando Torres last season, but it was a good chance and his shot should have been on target.

That said, it was one attempt and all strikers miss these sorts of chances. In fact they miss them more than they score them – even Brave Sir Robin. I have seen some people already describing Giroud as a flop on the basis of that one miss, which seems (to me at least) a spectacularly inane attitude. He may or may not turn out to be a good striker for us, but screwing one shot wide tells us very little either way.

With the clock running down and the Sunderland bus dented but still standing, we got the one big surprise of the day – a cameo from Andrey Arshavin. The Russian – looking slimmer than last year (which may tell you more about the quality of food back in Russia than about his fitness regime) – looked busy around the Sunderland penalty area, but also, frustratingly, gave away possession in the midfield several times just when we were trying to build momentum.

The final whistle led to Sunderland celebrations – they had got exactly what they came for – and a mixed reaction from the Arsenal faithful. The already-disillusioned felt it was déjà vu, and that we would lack firepower all season (as if we didn’t have any nil-nils when van Persie was playing). The more optimistic felt they had seen promising signs and were prepared to give it time.

You won’t be surprised to know that I’m in the latter camp. We lacked fluidity overall and there was little mutual understanding in and around the Sunderland box, but we created enough chances to have won, we were solid at the back on the very few times Sunderland threatened and there were some very encouraging individual performances.

When Cazorla gets used to the playing style of his new team mates I really expect big things to follow.

Arsene said we lacked sharpness and fluency and our passing wasn’t fast enough. All of which will improve.

Next week we’re away at the Orcs, which will give us a good indication of where we stand. I read somewhere that the FA have decreed that all pitches have to be the same size this year, so the Orcs will not be able to use their habitual tiny pitch trick, designed to assist Rory Delap’s basketball efforts. The little bit of extra room might be just what we need to give them what they deserve.

Player Ratings

Szczesny: Sunderland’s timidity meant he had little to do, but on the couple of occasions when he was called on, he did just fine. 7

Jenkinson: I noticed a mixed reaction to Jenks in the comments after the game. For me he didn’t do a lot wrong and put in a steady shift. He’s still learning but does not seem out of his depth. 6

Mertesacker: Typical performance by big Per: confident on the ball and good at anticipating the Sunderland threat. He wasn’t stretched but did what he had to do perfectly well. 7

Vermaelen: His first game as club captain. He was solid at the back and tried to drive us on for a winner. 7

Gibbs: He looked very comfortable defensively. I would have liked to see him him give more support to Gervinho at times, because on several occasions the Ivorian got to the byline with two or three defenders in front of him but did not seem to have the cut-back option on. 7

Arteta: Not his most showy display, but he was typically tidy and disciplined. 7

Diaby: First of all it was great to see him complete 70 or so minutes and look fit. He showed good attacking intent and did a solid job in the midfield. There’ll be better to come, hopefully. 7

Cazorla: Tired a bit in the second half, when the transatlantic jet lag must have kicked in, but he looked a class player throughout. A couple of clever reverse passes into attackers in the box were pure Cesc. MoTM 8

Walcott: Seemed uninvolved for long periods and unable to make much happen. Playing against the parked bus is not his forte and yesterday it showed. There are rumours that he, too, is about to leave. Maybe that played a part too. 5

Gervinho: A strange performance. He saw lots of the ball and was our most consistent attacking threat, mostly down the left. He made a couple of good openings for others, but most of the time his end product went awry. I can’t quite figure him out, but, based on last season and yesterday’s game, I find I’m getting less excited when he takes on defenders because I don’t expect much to come of it any more. On the other hand he is lightning fast and can skin fullbacks for fun and kept trying all game. For me though, the jury’s out. 7

 

Podolski: Plenty of effort but it didn’t really click for the German/Pole on his debut. It’s clear these players need to get used to each other and maybe Pod will feel more comfortable coming in off the left wing. 6

Subs

Giroud: Made good runs and had a great chance to be the hero of the day. Looks promising but time will tell.

Ramsey: Busy as ever. Won’t have changed anyone’s mind about him.

Arshavin: We know he’s gifted and carries a threat. His casual passing in midfield was frustrating.

RockyLives


Man in Cologne – Match Report

August 15, 2012

As most of you will have watched highlights or even the full Köln-Arsenal match, I won’t bore you with match details, and will stick to my personal view of the game, and a few bits of information picked up along the way!

Well it was certainly a gloriously day for a game – the sun shining and the wind, which had been gale force earlier in the day, dropped to a gentle breeze.

Köln is a very civilised place to watch a match! You can grab a beer and chillax on the grassed park outside the stadium – no police enforced drinking exclusion-zones here!

Chillaxing pre-match with a civilised beer

The local fans seemed to be in carnival spirit – I guess they were all here to see off Podolski. Interestingly, many of the new 2011-12 shirts worn by the fans have Podolski’s name on the back, even though he’s left. Put simply, he is their Thierry Henry!

The Arsenal fans in attendance were a strangely mixed crew. About half, I would guess, were your die-hard North London bunch. The rest were a mix of noisy Poles, smiley Swedes and a fair number of ex-Pats gooners from the local area happy get to see Arsenal in their adopted city for the second year running.

I normally wait to the last minute to go into the Emirates (one of the many drawbacks of being a smoker), but decided for once to have a look at which players would warm-up for the match. I certainly didn’t expect to be able to drink and smoke in my seat, which was a pleasant surprise!

And so to the action….

Before kick-off, Stevie Bould did ten or so laps of the pitch with Miquel Arteta, so he’s obviously not too far off from match fitness.

All the players looked fit and relaxed in warm-up, with Van Persie taking the central place in an extended one-touch keepy-up exercise.

At kick-off, we had ourselves a triple debut. Carzorla, Giroud and, of course, Podolski. Must be the first on this scale since Overmars, Petit and Grimandi back in 1997.

Podolski looked very sharp and I expect we will see him very early in the season (perhaps even straight away). He gets a massive reception from the Köln fans.

Giroud makes a lot of space – he’s tall and agile and looks like a very intelligent player. Strikes me as a straight-forward Chamakh upgrade.

But it’s Carzorla that really catches the eye. There’s a puzzle in the Radio Times every week with a wheel of letters and one letter in the centre, and you have to make as many words as possible, but always use that centre letter. That centre letter is the closest I can come to describing the role that Carzorla has in the first half. And even when he doesn’t touch the ball, his positioning and his runs make space for the move to progress. His two-footedness is quite a revelation, as is his balance, which seems impossible to read. Expect him to win a lot of free kicks this season from less intelligent centre-backs.

Cazorla’s link-up play with Oxlade-Chamberlain is pure poetry to watch. Fast, penetrating passes which leave the Köln midfielders dizzy.

The Arsenal defence doesn’t have much to deal with, but looks surer of itself that last season. I also believe that we can expect to see Arsenal holding possession much longer this season, and that, based on more passing options being available now, loss of possession will tend to occur lost further up the field. Both of which should help with the goals-against column.

So, three-nil at half-time:

Bouldy-style flick-on by Mertersacker converted by a Vermaelen bullet-header;

Ox wins a penalty which Podolski converts;

Podolski gets his second – a clinical finish from a low Gibbs cross.

The Köln fans sing Podolski’s name for both goals as if he had scored for them!

Half-time brings cool Kölsch beer delivered to your seat!

 A beer? In view of the pitch? It’s unthinkable!

And the second half kicks of with eight or nine changes, I believe (the accumulative effect of the local ale is gradually take its toll!)

Gervinho looks more settled than last season and scores a lovely goal to make it 4-0.

From this point on the game goes into kick-about mode. It’s almost as if Peter Hill-Wood had wandered into the dressing room at half-time and said: “OK chaps, one more goal and then clam it down. Don’t forget we are guests here!”

When RVP comes on at about the hour mark, the booing commences. By two big fellas who hadn’t made a single noise up to this point. A few of the Poles join in – they are by now quite drink! Most of the Arsenal fans tell them to shut up, which they gradually do. The two fat chaps carry on booing, and seem pleased with themselves.

Booooo! Booooo!

So it all gradually grinds to the halt of the final whistle. Vier-null to the Arsenal. Podolski is the very last to leave the pitch and spends a good ten minutes with the Köln fans saying his goodbyes. I expect he will be back here once his Arsenal days are over.

As I walk back from the ground I am accosted by a middle-age couple who wish to show me photographs on their iPhone. I am naturally quite anxious about this. However, it turns out that they had entered a half-time competition for the Köln fans, and had won the opportunity to talk and have photos with an Arsenal player straight after the final whistle. They just didn’t know who he was. The pictures shows a very happy, smiling Robin Van Persie, who the couple said was really funny and joking and talked to them for 20 minutes or so.

Is this the same RVP who was supposed to be sulking in a dark corner of the away dressing room, desperately trying to reach his agent for an immediate move to Old Trafford because he couldn’t stand the boo-boys (or at least that what The Sun would have us believe).

In any case, did we see the birth of Wenger’s Arsenal version 4.0 today? Quite possibly. We will see tougher opposition, and blind refs, and northern swamps, all of which will test this new experiment.

But it’s looking promising. Very promising. Can’t wait until Saturday!

Written through a beery haze by mjc


Five Arsenal predictions for the start of the new season

August 7, 2012

In ten days time, we will be licking our lips at the imminent prospect of live premier league football.

I have really enjoyed watching Arsenal in the friendly games: not the results, which are meaningless anyway, but the individual performances of our players.

It was great to see Diaby and Arteta again. The former is looking sharp and fit and the latter is still working on regaining full match fitness.

It was also good to see Gibbs and Gervinho looking really sharp and full of desire. Eis-Eis-Baby had two great cameos late on in the game, and it was no coincidence that he scored on both occasions from inside the box, by simply being at the right place at the right time, whilst remaining very cool when it mattered most. The Ox also showed he is getting close to regular first-team footie. There were plenty of other positives too. Arsene has tried a lot of our youngsters and some seem to have made very good progress over the summer.

As I am writing this, rumours are getting stronger and stronger that Santi Cazorla is joining us, and if this is true, Arsenal will have strengthened themselves with a Spanish, a German, and a French international, which will add a lot of experience, quality and attacking thrust to our team.

I also liked what I saw from Ramsey during the last two Olympic games for Team GB, as it looks like he has rediscovered some of the form he showed at the start of last season.

So, how is next season going to pan out? This is always notoriously difficult to predict and I would like to invite you to make your own predictions today, in the comment section below.

Prediction one: We’ll make a strong start.

The first five games are against Sunderland (h), Stoke (a), Liverpool (a), Southampton (h) and City (a). I like it that all the away games are not easy: it means we will be fully focussed from the start. From our last home games against Norwich and Wigan during last season we have, hopefully, also learned there are no easy teams anymore. The best thing is that Arsene has a strong squad to choose from and he is not hindered by having to qualify for the CL this time.

Prediction two: Koz will replace Sagna at the start of the season, at least in the tougher away-games.

TV is like to be named our new captain, which means he’ll automatically play if he is fit. If both Mertesacker and Koscielny are also fit, I reckon Arsene will play all three of them. They are too good to leave on the bench and by putting Koz in the RB position he makes our defence more solid (and less adventurous) and does not have to leave either Koz or the BFG on the bench. As soon as Sagna is back and all three CB’s are fit, Wenger will be left with a bit of a selection problem.

Prediction three: we will play with one striker and five midfielders, and score more goals than last season.

I predict we will play very differently compared to last season. Brave Sir Robin (great name Chas!) imminent departure means we will go back to strong domination of the midfield, with most of our goals coming from our midfielders rather than our lone striker. The lone-striker will be more of a holding striker, who often plays with his back towards the opponent’s goal. The aim for him is to hold on to the ball or bounce the ball back towards the midfield in such a way that the midfielders can move forward and create all sorts of concerns for the opponent.

This will make us less predictable and less one-dimensional and, just as we did in the first half of the 2010-2011 season, we’ll score more goals again. It also means we’ll have a lot of possession again and pass the ball round a lot, but I reckon we will be a lot more direct this season, including players being allowed to shoot more from distance (as we have witnessed during the friendly games already this summer). The midfield fire-power will include the likes of Podolski, Theo, Cazorla, the Ox, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Santos and Diaby.

From the little footage I have seen of him, Giroud looks like a very capable holding striker and Podolski would be very capable in that position too. I reckon Giroud is first choice and the Pod will start a lot in midfield this season. Chamakh will be our back-up holding striker and I would not at all be surprised if we start with the Moroccan in the first few games, as per rumours that both Giroud and Podolski will be eased into the PL.

Prediction four: We’ll leak significantly less goals compared to the start of last season.

Admittedly, it won’t be very hard to improve on last season’s goals conceded during the start of the season. But I reckon Wenger and Bould will have drilled the team on how to defend as a team, and having our key players of Koz, TV, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Song, Arteta and Szczesny all fit and raring to go is also really good for us. We need to hit the ground running as I expect the Chavs and the Northern Oilers to set the defensive tone from the start with lots of clean sheets.

Prediction five: Podolski will settle in quickest of the new signings and will be our top scorer after the first ten games.

Podolski is a great striker with a very good shots-per-goal ratio. Arsenal play the sort of football were he will be given plenty of opportunities and this combined with his hunger, professionalism and experience means he is likely to hit the ground running. It will be very quickly: Sir Brave Robin van Who?

These are my predictions for the start of the new season. But what are your predictions? Are they in line with mine or totally different? You can let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.

Cheers,

Written by TotAl


Will Arsenal Prove van Persie Wrong?

July 28, 2012

At the time you read this, some events may have overtaken it, and I truly hope that is the case. Names in, or names out, either would make me feel good. Like most of you, one of the first things I do each day is check the news about Arsenal. Again, like last summer, this is not a normal transfer season. For me, it’s filled with anxiety, partly because of the betrayal of Van Persie.

But I have to be honest, we can’t blame it all on the RvP situation. To me, we as a club have something to prove, and I don’t mean on the pitch.

When I say we have something to prove, it is to people like van Persie and Na$ri, but also our competitors, media, and football watchers everywhere. You’ve heard the phrases, “big club”, “small club”, etc. Trust me, I am not just talking about spending, I don’t expect us to splash 30 mil on a Hazard or Benzema. It’s about how the club does business in general.

At the close of last season, we were all hopeful of keeping RvP, and watching him end up as an Arsenal great. And I personally was hoping to see a couple moves by the club to strengthen.

I like the early Podolski move. I think he was meant as a more aggressive scoring winger, and RvP back up. After that, I didn’t want to fixate on any specific players, because I see that Arsene is less likely to go for the names thrown around in rumours and the press.

My biggest fear is that RvP was right, and that the team is unwilling, or unable to add some quality to put us over the top. Would we have paid for Giroud if RvP extended with us? I doubt it. But, you see, that’s the point. Giroud is exactly the kind of player a club with ambition would want as another option to mix in or use creatively with RvP. Not inexpensive, but if you are an attacking team, serious about challenging for titles, with an injury prone striker- you should expect an addition like this.

We all envisioned ways of using van Persie with Giroud and Podolski. Let’s face it, it’s less exciting without RvP. On top of that, we don’t know if the club was ever considering us having both.. We will get the answer to this– it WILL BE in the price and destination of RvP, or if he were to stay. I am on record here that keeping him rather than taking a low offer shows everyone that we are not sellers desperate for money, and that the club and Arsene make decisions, not disloyal players.

I worry that we are not closing deals coming in because we are on hold because of RvP’s status. Either we don’t intend to strengthen, or we can’t afford it. That would be bad news for a club of our size. If there is a quality player available, that would improve our line up, or strengthen our depth over the long season, we should be able to do it without selling our biggest players. It appeared we needed to sell Cesc last season before adding Mertesacker, Arteta, and Santos. I considered Gervinho as Nasri’s replacement and profit, so i was satisfied with that.

Just look at our starters at Old Trafford last season. There will always be injuries, of course, but also bans, the annoying African cup of nations, and who knows what else. We already know that we have very important players who will not be ready at the start of this season, like Jack, Sagna, and Rosicky, and he is dealing with an Achilles ! They will all have to be worked in slowly and carefully, for their future health, and the good of the team. I won’t even mention the perennially injured players by name, because I am wishing good luck for them.

For example,Coquelin will be needed at RB at times, so we are not that deep in DM. If we brought in a quality DM, it would free up Arteta to help out in more advanced areas, and get him the rest he needs also. Song would be free to sit out the occasional suspension, ACON, -and again, — I dont want to worry about him refusing to sign an extension this season, he already said no last season, so it would be nice to have someone in place rather than scrambling at the last moment.

Up front, there’s too much to discuss, with Theo, RvP unresolved, and all the rumours going around. Again, let’s keep some pressure off Wilshere and Ramsey. Wilshere- physical pressure, Ramsey- psychological. I’d also like to work the Ox in more than last season, but not depend on him yet.

I know that most clubs have unresolved issues, but I am only concerned about ours. And, our first few fixtures this season are very difficult.

For me, one more good addition would make me very happy, two, and I would be thrilled. I don’t want to speculate, but the names linked to us lately, at AM, and DM, if brought in, would give us incredible depth. They would, in my mind- put us ahead of United and Chelsea.. leaving us fighting for a title with city. As we say, in my humble opinion.

So, the clock is ticking. Will we let our lack of depth, and RvP holding us hostage ruin the beginning of another season, which, in turn leaves us only fighting for fourth again? Or will we show everyone that we as a club, mean business.

Written by jnyc


Something Has Got To Give.

June 19, 2012

Am I the only one who chuckled when we signed Podolski? I mean the signing at that time and of that grade of player didn’t just pull the carpet from those who love to criticise Arsenal’s transfer policy, it yanked it so hard that they were thrown in the air and silenced upon landing.

Wenger only signs kids………

…..can’t accuse him of that this summer.

Wenger hates spending money……

..…Looks a bit silly as Podolski was no bargain basement signing.

Wenger in last minute supermarket transfer dash

……Not this time, Podolski: signed before the season ended.

Wenger never signs proven internationals…………lol.

I am sure you can think of quite a few more, but you can see the point I am making; this signing has crushed so many anti-Wengerites it still makes me chuckle.

But the signing of Podolski does bulge the lateral options available to Wenger to breaking point and in my opinion something or someone is going to have to give.

Podolski has not been signed to sit on the bench; he is going to have to play and by that I mean start.

Furthermore, Wenger can no longer expect Oxlade-Chamberlin to sit on the bench; he also has to start.

So that is two of the three offensive positions taken up, the other obviously being taken by van Persie and even if he leaves it does not change the fact that those two players above are going to expect to play.

That leaves Gervinho, Arshavin, Vela, and of course a certain Theo Walcott. Now, most of us expect that Arshavin and Vela will go but that still leaves Gervinho and Walcott, maybe Gervinho might accept some bench time but Theo?

Don’t think that the Ox will wait on the bench for his turn if and when Theo is not available as that could be the whole of the season, unlikely I know but it could be and if I was 18 and my name was Oxlade-Chamberlain I would be worried that the latter possibility might happen.

And besides the history tells us that Wenger will not leave out a young player who is ready for the first team: A Cole, Fàbregas, Walcott, Wilshere, Szczesny, you can probably think of others but the pattern is clear and the Ox will be playing.

So what are we going to do with Theo coming to the last year of his contract and looking as good as his is in these Euros?

Written by LB


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