What Needs To Change at Arsenal Football Club

April 20, 2010

By  guest writer GhostFace

Let me begin by saying that we are a football club first and a business second.

When people mention the subject of debt, they forget that the board always had a plan to use the sales of the Highbury Square to service and fund the debt and those funds excluded the cash that we make from football related activities.  In other words, our spending hasn’t been annihilated or even substantially limited by debt. We’ve been paying off the dept on the housing front since Chairman Wood mentioned it 2 years ago over here (http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/chairman) and the stadium is doing what it was built for: that is to make us record profits.

Arsene Wenger deserves to succeed. I want him to succeed more than ever before this final year in his contract.

He has put a lot of  faith and  hard work into the club and so he deserves to be where he is today:  The most successful manager at AFC.

I haven’t even begun to mention the experts and the pundits.

I haven’t even given you the mental image of the paedo chants at Old Toilet and Sh*te Heart Lane.

I wouldn’t even begin to go into the kind of remarkable comments thrown at the man who runs things at the club we love so dearly by the “real” Arsenal fans.

Truth be told. Arsène Wenger is a great manager and he is the most successful manager of AFC.

However………… the converse is also true.

At the end of this 2009/2010 season, Wenger will also be the most unsuccessful manager at AFC, being the only manager to go a period of at least 5 years at without winning any honours.

I want to discuss and take into account the many problems that we will inevitably face in the future and the challenges that lie ahead to get to the mountain top. My heart tells me Wenger is the man for the job but my head tells me I think we need change.

What would take us to the promised land? New signings?  Better training? A more competent medical  staff? A better Scouting Network?

Change in one way or another is needed at THOF but in my very most humble of opinions it is unlikely that we will see this change with the current management. And this is why.

Arsène has a curious style of management in which he plays the same tactics regardless of the opposition. It appears that he doesn’t go to games that don’t involve Arsenal  (I am sure he watches other teams play football, like the time he predicted that Chelsea would drop points or the time that he insisted Aston Villa are all about the long ball which they are) and we now have the situation where teams have “figured” out how to win against Arsenal. Our football is immaculate at times. But there are many areas of possible improvements that go season after season, year after year, without being addressed and I feel will probably never change under Wenger.  Some of these are as follows :-

A)     Teams have figured out that if you crowd the midfield and counter-attack, their chances of success against Arsenal will sky rocket.

That is how Villa beat us 2-0 last season and Agbonlahor left Gallas for dead beating Almunia at his near post.

That is how ManU have beat Arsenal for 2-3 years.

That is how Chelsea beat Arsenal and of course, with a little help from the Drogged faced Serena Williams look alike muppet.

This is how we lost to Mancitty with the Robinho chip over Almunia and the Wright Phillips goal that despite the bad angle, still went in at the near post…..again.

There are so many other examples…Stoke City FA cup, Everton ,  Porto,  and last but surely not the least, the spanking by Barcelona.  Will Wenger change his style to give us the best chance of winning in a game? Not Really.

B)      Set Pieces and Defending: Does this really need explanation? The fact that we still suffer from Rory Delap throws after the management came together to brain storm a solution to the problem and after much deliberation decided that selling Kolo Toure was the solution. Isn’t it an indication that this is a managerial problem? Apparently it’s Pat Rice that handles the defensive duties? Doesn’t that speak volumes? Diaby inexplicably heading the ball into his own net at old Trafford after intending to hit it away might be a one-off but ‘Set pieces’ are a weakness and we know this.

Attacking wise we don’t score much from set pieces either. Since the sale of Ade…when have you expected that we could score from a Corner?  From 255 Corners in the league this season, we’ve only managed to hit the back of the net 5 times. Until a Denilson Wonder Strike. RVP hadn’t scored from a freekick for a full season and a half. Do we practice defending Set pieces? Possibly, but that’s anyone’s guess.

C)      Anti-ShootBall: Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, sh…pass…pass…corner kick…pass, pass…etc. Cross….Goal-kick.

One of the many things I love about Andre Arshavin apart from his big mouth is his selfishness. His decision making is usually spotless and yes he should’ve passed to a wide open Theo Walcott for a tap in…and yes some of those shots were aimed at something he saw in the constellations above but truth be told…we miss Arshavin’s directness and honesty in his selfishness, which is one of the reasons why it is so easy to mark Walcott. Teams always expect us to pass. This is why Nasri waltzed into the Birmingham and rocketed a beauty past Joe Hart because everyone expected him to pass. This is why Denilson sent that prayer and was inexplicably answered by Myhill at Hullshity to keep the hopes alive. Fortune favours the brave. We have to be brave. You can’t score if you don’t shoot on target. We play too much keep-ball which is why without Fabregas and Arshavin the team is mentally structured to play keep-ball and Fabregas and Arshavin are really the only outlet for ideas in the final third.

D)      Substitutions or Lack there-off: I believe Wenger can win the title without spending. I believe this team is capable of winning the Title on their own. However, injuries aside, substitutions or the lack of have been an inexplicable feature for a couple of seasons. The more famous ones being the Arshavin on the bench at the FA cup final and the RVP not starting at Wigan and Spurs but there are other subtle one’s like bringing on Alex Song (who was shyte at the time) in the 4-4 with spuds, essentially taking off an attacking player that can give us an outlet to counter-attack for a defensive player that automatically puts us under pressure for a nails/ball biting ending. When we won 1-0 at Liverpool. We won…but Wenger took of Bendtner for Sagna. Which automatically put us on the back foot and it’s something he does quite often. There are times he gets it right obviously but some of these decisions are weird as well.

E)      Team Selection: Why bench an in form Eboue? Why bench an in form Carlos Vela? Why bench a very capable Eastmond when Denilson adds little to nothing? Why not play the kids that are craving to prove their worth and show their talent instead of persisting with players that are either tired or cant be bothered? Why not take a gamble on Vito Mannone who has out-performed Fabianski in just about every game he’s played aside from West Ham? Wenger has a knack for benching in form players for players who are unfit or off-form. A prime example was Eastmond played magnificently against the Bolton thugs home and away and was benched immediately at the return of Denilson.

I would cite the lack of transfers as a factor, but that goes without saying. Wenger has a policy and a belief in sustaining a title challenge without spending. That is his choice and that is his way. It has had little or nothing to do with the debt. Our stadium has made us an annual profit and the housing sales have been paying for the development debt on its own for years. It has had little to do with project youth  as he doesn’t trust the youth players even if the squad is down to bare bones. No matter how bad Clichy plays if he is fit he will play. A 30% off form Denilson will start ahead of Eastmond every time and a -40% Fabianski will start ahead of Mannone every time.

In conclusion, The Experiment has been disappointing. Not a total failure but it didn’t quite live up to the Trophies that Wenger promised. There are many ways forward in what I have just outlined. I would like to see progress with our set pieces, progress with our defending, progress with ideas in the final 3rd, progress with youth talent, and most importantly progress up the table – to do that the experiment has to stop, but will it?

“I do not want to be here because I have done well before and do not do well anymore. I want to see whether I can make my policy successful on the longer term. Then you decide ‘do I stay or not?” … Arsène Wenger 18.04.2010

Five years is a long term. A longer term is how long? I’d like to know.


Arsenal Apocalypse: Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3 … edited version

April 19, 2010


When Peaches suggested I write today’s blog my first reaction was: “Thanks: that’s like asking someone to DJ at a funeral, or sell futures at the OAPs’ home.” But here we are. Given how furious I was after yesterday’s game I was going to have a rant but, let’s be honest, you can find rants all over NewsNow today.
Instead I took inspiration from the title of a song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, called Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3. If you’re too young to remember Ian Dury, then shame on you: you should have been born earlier. But don’t despair – go and see Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, a fantastic biopic of the Dury story, with Andy Serkis (he was Gollum in Lord of the Rings) playing the great man. This is not the place for a beginners’ guide to Ian Dury, but suffice to say he was disabled most of his life from polio contracted at the age of seven and died of cancer in his fifties. In between he produced an amazing, eclectic catalogue of songs full of wit, humour, irreverence, obscenity and an unquenchable lust for life.
One of them was called Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 and was a list of things that made him happy. The ‘Part 3’ bit felt particularly apt as this is my third post on Arsenal Arsenal and the first two were relentlessly optimistic. So here goes, reasons for all we Arsenal fans to be cheerful:

  • Arsene may not see much, but he isn’t blind.
  • The recent defeats remove any illusions Arsene had about his squad.
  • If Fabianski had played brilliantly ‘til the end of the season AW would not sign a new GK.
  • Robin VP is back.
  • Cesc will be back.
  • Ramsey will be back.
  • Chamakh is coming and looks shit hot.
  • We have a +11 goal difference over Sp*rs.
  • Blackburn have nothing to play for.
  • Fulham have nothing to play for.
  • Adebarndoor’s coming to town.
  • The club finances are better than they have been for years.
  • PHW says we have money to spend.
  • PHW is a comical old duffer.
  • Arsene says we have money to spend.
  • Arsene is comical when he flaps his arms.
  • We don’t have to play Barcelona again this season.
  • Sol. Nuff said.
  • No takeover of the club while the volcano is keeping Silent Stan in the USA.
  • Spain might win the World Cup playing BarcaBall (it’s like Wengerball, but with shiny silver things at the end).
  • Cesc and Ramsey are a shoo-in for the Three-Legged Race in the Colney end of season sports day.
  • Arsene doesn’t twitch.
  • We would never celebrate one derby league victory in 11 years as if it were the Double, Treble, Champions League and World Cup all rolled into one.
  • No matter what happens to Arsenal, even if we get relegated to the Arkwright’s Pistons League South and the Emirates stadium is turned into a cycling velodrome, we’ll still always have more class than those spiteful, embittered, inferiority-complexed, chip-on-shoulder, thumb-sucking gibbons from N17.
    We won the league on Merseyside.

  • We won the league in Manchester.
  • We won the league at White Hart Lane.
  • We are the Arsenal so f**k off the rest.

· Footnote. When I was in rant mode, I was planning to run through the merits (or lack of them) of the players responsible for that sickbag of a performance at Wigan yesterday. I was going to use a line from another Ian Dury song (Plaistow Patricia) as my inspiration: it’s the opening line and goes like this: “Arseholes, Bastards, F***ing C**ts and P**cks.”
Keep the faith folks.
RockyLives


Arsenal Apocalypse: Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3

April 19, 2010


When Peaches suggested I write today’s blog my first reaction was: “Thanks: that’s like asking someone to DJ at a funeral, or sell futures at the OAPs’ home.” But here we are. Given how furious I was after yesterday’s game I was going to have a rant but, let’s be honest, you can find rants all over NewsNow today.


Instead I took inspiration from the title of a song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, called Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3. If you’re too young to remember Ian Dury, then shame on you: you should have been born earlier. But don’t despair – go and see Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, a fantastic biopic of the Dury story, with Andy Serkis (he was Gollum in Lord of the Rings) playing the great man. This is not the place for a beginners’ guide to Ian Dury, but suffice to say he was disabled most of his life from polio contracted at the age of seven and died of cancer in his fifties. In between he produced an amazing, eclectic catalogue of songs full of wit, humour, irreverence, obscenity and an unquenchable lust for life.


One of them was called Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 and was a list of things that made him happy. The ‘Part 3’ bit felt particularly apt as this is my third post on Arsenal Arsenal and the first two were relentlessly optimistic. So here goes, reasons for all we Arsenal fans to be cheerful:

  • Arsene may not see much, but he isn’t blind.
  • The recent defeats remove any illusions Arsene had about his squad.
  • If Fabianski had played brilliantly ‘til the end of the season AW would not sign a new GK.
  • Robin VP is back.
  • Cesc will be back.
  • Ramsey will be back.
  • Chamakh is coming and looks shit hot.
  • We have a +11 goal difference over Sp*rs.
  • Blackburn have nothing to play for.
  • Fulham have nothing to play for.
  • Adebarndoor’s coming to town.
  • The club finances are better than they have been for years.
  • PHW says we have money to spend.
  • PHW is a comical old duffer.
  • Arsene says we have money to spend.
  • Arsene is comical when he flaps his arms.
  • We don’t have to play Barcelona again this season.
  • Sol. Nuff said.
  • No takeover of the club while the volcano is keeping Silent Stan in the USA.
  • Spain might win the World Cup playing BarcaBall (it’s like Wengerball, but with shiny silver things at the end).
  • Cesc and Ramsey are a shoo-in for the Three-Legged Race in the Colney end of season sports day.
  • Arsene doesn’t twitch.
  • We would never celebrate one derby league victory in 11 years as if it were the Double, Treble, Champions League and World Cup all rolled into one.
  • No matter what happens to Arsenal, even if we get relegated to the Arkwright’s Pistons League South and the Emirates stadium is turned into a cycling velodrome, we’ll still always have more class than those spiteful, embittered, inferiority-complexed, chip-on-shoulder, thumb-sucking gibbons from N17.
    We won the league on Merseyside.

  • We won the league in Manchester.
  • We won the league at White Hart Lane.
  • We are the Arsenal so fuck off the rest.

· Footnote. When I was in rant mode, I was planning to run through the merits (or lack of them) of the players responsible for that sickbag of a performance at Wigan yesterday. I was going to use a line from another Ian Dury song (Plaistow Patricia) as my inspiration: it’s the opening line and goes like this: “Arseholes, Bastards, Fucking Cunts and Pricks.”
Keep the faith folks.


RockyLives


Wigan Preview

April 18, 2010

Can we come back from an awful defeat midweek? Can we continue to win with such a depleted team? Can we play Wenger-ball without our star players?  All will be revealed in today’s away tie at Wigan.

If we have to go away in these dire circumstances, Wigan would be one of the teams best suited to us, in our last 9 meetings Arsenal have won 8 and drawn one!

Who will play for us today? The team almost picks itself thanks to the length of our injury list. We persist with the same GK, hopefully playing one his last games for Arsenal prior to the purchase of a reliable and confident new GK (please!). With the loss of both our frontline CB pairing, we are reduced to two geriatrics in the middle. Sol has been immense but the efforts of his heroic performance at the Lane will surely have an effect upon him, and Silvestre (not my favourite) will have to be alert to the pace of Wigan’s forwards. Positioning will be paramount for our CB’s. A possibility would be to move Sagna inside and play Eboue on the right, Sagna has shown his aerial ability and appears to have the football intelligence to move to the centre.  Clichy has rediscovered his form of late and is showing why he is considered on of the best LB’s in World football.

Midfield is a conundrum. One would have thought that Diaby, Nasri and Rosicky would be a creative dream team (in the absence of Fab4), but they have flattered to deceive, in particular Diaby and Nasri. Samir, apart from an evening of brilliance at home to Porto, has been anonymous, which must be of great concern to Wenger. The “new Zidane” is the same age as Fabregas and really should be taking games by the scruff of the neck. The same could be said of Diaby. We know Diaby has the talent to be a super player, he as it all, power, outrageous dribbling skills, goal scoring, accurate shooting, and a perfect physique for an attacking MF, but he has been disappointingly inconsistent. We need more from the Big Man. Rosicky puts in a decent shift but struggles by being moved all over the midfield. For a player with so much “in the locker”, I expect more. Denilson will most probably continue as Song’s replacement, he may not have the natural shimmering Brazilian skills but statistically he is very good! However, there are concerns over Denilson’s fitness and Eastmond may get a start, if so Eastmond has shown he has huge potential and I look forward to seeing his progress.

Up front there are options. The return of Van Persie is a huge boost. His cameo at WHL was superb and I expect a big game from him. Will Bendtner continue in the centre or will he be on the bench allowing RVP to retake his new central role? 9 goals in 11 games should ensure Nik starts. Wenger usually chooses to play an extra MF away from home, so Eboue could get a call, in which case either Eduardo or Vela will start on the left. If not, Walcott must start on the right.

The teamsheet will be interesting today.

Wigan have a fine player in Rodallega who has impressed so much that Wenger has had to refute  rumours of his imminent arrival at THOF!  Wigan are a decent team but as previously stated they are one of the teams I would have chosen to play after the Spuds. They are captained by the ex-Chelsea player Lord Mario Melchiot – one of my favourite players, a player who has graced the PL for many years, and a real gentleman (albeit with a dodgy haircut)

Given the results from yesterday nothing is beyond imagination in the run-in. Despite their defeat at WHL, the Chavs are clear favourites but if we had beaten the Spuds ……  I hate “what if’s”

By BigRaddy


ARSÈNE WHO?

April 17, 2010

Written by dandan

I remember Arsene Who’s? arrival at Arsenal, an urbane educated man, with a working knowledge of 7 languages including Japanese learnt in the 18-month period prior to him joining the club. Whilst coaching Grampus eight, he managed to get the club from the bottom to runners up in the Japanese J league and collected the Presidents cup on the way.

He arrived with the club in turmoil after a year of Bruce Rioch and Stewart Houston following the sudden departure of George Graham for playing with brown paper bags.

Wenger’s pre-joining gift to our club was a gawky leggy young midfielder with the temerity to kick back with alacrity the resident hard men of the premier league, earning the respect of players and the everlasting love of Gooners, along with a collection of red cards from referees blind to the constant intimidation he was subjected to.

Wenger’s marriage of the young Vieira to the resident maestro Dennis Bergkamp and the existing Arsenal back four, was to take us to third in the league and with addition of more foreign players, to the league and cup double in the following year.

I give this history lesson for all those Gooners who currently call for his head, this is the man they say doesn’t value older players, wont buy and is only interested in young players.

His record speaks differently. What he actually does is buy quality and sells at the top of the market. That much we know.

What we don’t know is how much money he has had available to continue this philosophy. We have moved to a new ground and somehow managed to do it on a manageable debt. How much was spare for players no one knows.

Even so, AA, TV, Rosicky and Nasri have been added to the squad and a number of dissatisfied, disaffected and troublesome players have been sold for large profits or left at contract end. Whilst the never-ending stream of talent scouted by Arsene’s unrivalled worldwide network, has flowed on bringing the cream of young players from all over to our club.

Through all this change we have continued an uninterrupted run in the champions league reaching semis and finals along the way, to do this we have had to finish 4th or above every year in the most competitive league in the world. This is in my mind a miracle given the circumstances and strictures with which Wenger has dealt.

But it’s not enough for so many Gooners. These guys, mainly Johnny come lately fans, unaware of just how astonishing Wenger’s achievements have been, can only say we have won nothing for 5 years. Many of these fans are products of the now generation, the instant society in which, we sadly now live. Play station football managers whose own reality is the digital world that surrounds them;

No one minds honest reasoned criticism providing the facts have been carefully weighed, but this mindless spend at all cost philosophy is way beyond the realms of reasonableness and a recipe for disaster.

So we finish third this year, we qualify for the Champion’s League again, but unless we buy half the stars of the upcoming world cup then Arsene and the board have failed. Unbelievable, thank Christ the board have more sense and value the talents of Mr Wenger more than the collective wisdom of these deluded shop-aholics.

.


Arselona is Closer Than We Think

April 16, 2010

Wednesday night has left all right-thinking Gooners rightly depressed. Another season with no silverware, lots of debate about whether we’re moving forwards or backwards, whether Arsene has taken us as far as he can.

The following thoughts were penned after the second Barcelona game but before we played the Spuds. They are shamelessly optimistic but, even after this week’s despair, I still stand by them:

What was your reaction to our mauling at the hands of Barcelona? Most of the Gooners I know fell into two camps. The majority – philosophical sorts that they are – took it on the chin. They felt we couldn’t have been expected to do much more against the best team in the world, particularly with so many key players injured. They shrugged their shoulders, smiled ruefully and put it down as one of those things, before turning their focus back on our battle for the Premiership Title.

The other camp – the minority – saw, in the huge gulf between Barcelona’s performance and our own, a damning indictment of the Wenger ‘experiment’. “The Invincibles wouldn’t have rolled over like that,” they howled. “It just goes to show that Wenger has spent five years building a house on foundations of sand.” (I’m not a builder, but apparently building houses on sand is not a good thing. Not sure how they manage in Dubai, but that’s another issue altogether).  On the face of it these were two very different views: one fatalistic, one pessimistic, and the sparring between both groups spilled across the blogosphere for days.

But were they really such different viewpoints? In fact, on closer analysis both the shruggers and the shriekers were agreed on one thing: the current Arsenal team and style of play is a million miles behind Barcelona’s: at our best, we may be the sexy pretty things of the EPL, but when we share the catwalk with the supermodels of the Nou Camp, we’re revealed for the Essex slappers with ladders in their tights that we really are.

And this is where I would like to offer a different angle, a Third Way, as Tony Blair might put it.  After much thinking, pondering and scratching of the head after the two Barça games, I find myself reaching a tantalizingly optimistic conclusion, and it is this:

We are nearly there. We are not far from being Barcelona.

I reached this conclusion by thinking about what was really different between the two sides. The trite answer is that Barça have more money, better players and their players work harder.

But let’s examine those points: More money? Yes, they have been spending more than us (almost £100m in the last year, let’s not forget), but thanks to judicious management Arsenal are about to enter a period where we will have solid cash to spend on players and a sound financial footing for the club.

Better players? Messi is a marvel, Iniesta is incredible, Xavi is something very good that begins with X… all their players are comfortable on the ball. But think of it this way: If Tomas Rosicky was dropped into that side at the expense of, say, Pedro, would Barcelona become shit or would TR slot right into their pass-and-move footballing ballet? Cesc in for Iniesta – disaster for Barca, or business as usual? Nasri in for Keita? Clichy in for Maxwell?  Would the player weaken the team or would that amazing team accommodate the player?

With an Arsenal shirt on, Rosicky had a stinker in the second leg, but he is a player of real class, great technique and a footballing brain as we have seen on many occasions. So, too, are Nasri, Cesc, Song, Vermaelen and others. If Arshavin was playing for Barcelona we would be drooling over his performances. True, we don’t have a Messi and, on balance, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and co are a little ahead of our players – but not by much.

Arsène has assembled a group of players who, with one or two exceptions, have the ability to play in the style of Barcelona. So why aren’t they? Why are they less than the sum of their parts?

One answer is that, good though our players are, we’re really missing maybe two truly world class players – a striker and a midfielder – players at the top of their game and at the right age – 25 or 26. Well, with the improving financial situation at Arsenal I fully expect Wenger to sign them this summer (and I mean two world class players in addition to a keeper and a central defender). I believe AW has hinted in his post Barca comments that he’s ready to do just this.

The third point is that Barça’s players work harder, and that one’s difficult to dispute. But in the early part of the season we, too, harried and pressed our opponents whenever they had the ball – it led to us outplaying ManUre at Old Toilet, even if the points went astray. After seeing Barça’s style up close, I believe Wenger will place greater emphasis on this part of our game in the future. He will add work rate to technique.

But there’s one big, big difference between Barcelona and Arsenal that I have not yet mentioned, and it is the most important one of all: Barcelona have won things, this Arsenal team have not. Barça’s team swept all before them last season and this year it has allowed them to play with even more confidence, even more freedom, even more swagger. It explains why they work so hard and it partly explains why they’re so good when they have the ball.

If Arsenal had that collective self-confidence, Rosicky-Cesc-Nasri-Arshavin-Song would be running up possession stats to equal the Barça boys.

The current Arsenal crop is very, very close to breaking its duck. Even though, following that oh-so-painful defeat at Sh*te Hart Lane, we’re not going to do it this year, it’s really important not to despair or turn on Wenger and the squad, because next year will be even better.

Wenger will bring in new, mature players this summer who have the required technical ability but who also have the engine for a high tempo pressing game. No other team in the Premier League could remotely hope to get close to Barcelona’s level of playing simply by the addition of two new players, but we can. We are streets ahead of other English teams in the style we play, and with a few modest adjustments we’ll no longer be bullied out of games by the Chavs and Mancs.

Arselona, here we come.

RockyLives


No Case For The Defence

April 15, 2010

It’s never easy when you lose to your local rivals and I guess we’ve had our 10 years and it had to end soon, but how many of you knew the game was over once Thomas Vermaelen went off. I thought it was that’s for sure, especially with Fish Head coming on in his place. This may be a little harsh on Silvestre but he does nothing for my confidence at all.

Anyhow, onto the game and Arsenal started brightly without causing any problems to Gomes. A harmless corner from Spurs and a half decent punch out by Almunia and wallop Rose with his only touch in the first half scores a worldy (is it just me or was Almunia a little lapse in getting up quick enough). Onto the game and Arsenal had what seemed like 70% possesion of the ball, all pretty passing ……….until the final 3rd.

Bendtner had a great chance but the ball got stuck under his feet, I’m sure I’ve seen that before somewhere. Again more and more Arsenal pressure, Eboue passing to a spud defender when it was easier to shoot and test Gomes. Rosicky goes through on goal after a smart touch round the defender and Kaboul blatently brings him down…only a yellow.

So, onto the second half and game over as Sagna fails to do the basics and keep his defensive line and Bale is through and passes home easily. More and more pressure by Arsenal and Theo puts Nik through only to pass wide again. Enter Van Persie and oh my god how we’ve missed him. He was the best player on the pitch by some distance when he arrived, a free kick from Robin and Gomes pulls off a great save to keep it out and another keeping out Sol via a deflection. The goal just wasn’t coming despite the huff and puff. Then Robin puts Theo through on the line and squares to Nik to pull one back, game on but too little too late. Spurs celebrate their cup final with a first league win this Millenium.

Analysing a game after a defeat it’s easy to get on the bandwagon and question basically everything. The only thing I’d question and now it’s clear, is Almunia, as good as he is, is he a great keeper? The same and controversially I would say about Sagna. How many times when we attack are you worried we’ll be left short at the back despite having 4 back ? I am a lot and against a better side we may have been punished more. We gift sides goals like the second and too many to mention over the course of the season. We didn’t miss Song too much but Denilson passes to opponents whilst trying osmosis far too often.

I’m saying nothing new about the defence but with Silvestre and Sagna in there I’m never confident.  Special word for Sol as I think he was awesome as was Clichy but with no TV we seem to have no defence. It’s time for a right footed TV to come and give Sol a one year extension, he deserves it.

This season we’ve been clinging on and clinging on and finally now it’s over. We can be proud of what we have achieved over the season considering the injuries to key players and especially RVP. The problem is the replacements especially in the defence.

Player Ratings

Almunia – 6  Punched the ball out well for their first goal but was slow to get up in my opinion.

Sagna – 5  Steady in the first half and bombed forward a lot. Gifted the Spuds the second goal and that was schoolboy stuff, where was he looking at along the defensive line ?

Campbell – 8  No fault of his for both goals and looked a threat in an attacking sense, was pumped up and it showed. Didn’t deserve to be on the losing side

Clichy – 7  The man had so much puff and sometimes was not giving the support when in an attacking position

Denilson – 5  Seemed to try and pass the ball through players all game. Started off neat and tidy and faded

Diaby – 5-5  Started slow and looked lazy on the ball, grew into a bit but faded and final ball not up to it

Nasri – 5.5  Tried to instigate moves in the first half looked deflated after the 2nd Spuds goal

Rosicky – 6.5  At the heart of everything first half but didn’t have the players on his level most of the game

Eboue – 6  Energetic but no real threat in attack, maybe better as full back instead of Sagna

Bendtner – 6.5  Hard to criticse too much as he does score time and time again and lacked any real support until the subs came on

Subs

Theo 6 – looked a threat on occasion but thsoe were too and far between
RvP8 – Best player on the pitch when he came on and wished he’d started until he was puffed rather than coming on too late
Silvestre– 6 Could have been in a better position for the second goal. His time is up for me

Time for the old 4-4-2 to come back if you ask me….

By our guest writer Livers


Unbeaten This Century

April 14, 2010

When do you think was the last time Spurs beat us in the league? Here’s a clue – they haven’t beaten us this century. When was the last time they beat us at White Hart Lane? Again, not this century. The Spuds have beaten us twice in 15 years! Should we win or draw tonight, we will record a record breaking 21 games without defeat against another team. Does this entitle them to be considered rivals or laughing stocks.

The Spuds sit in 5th place, 4 points behind Man City with a game in hand – this is a vital game for them in their (hopeless) quest for a CL spot. Harry is already “bigging up” his team, talking his usual nonsense about how our North London neighbours ( I hesitate to use the word rivals) are on a par with the Arsenal, and how they have closed the gap on us (13 points and counting). What is in Spurs favour is their home record, they have been very strong at the Lane, unbeaten in 8, and conceding only 10 goals all season – the best in the PL. Add to this our lack of punch upfront, the absence of our top scorer, and a low scoring game is predicted – what price a last minute Bendtner header?

Spurs real hope in this game lies in our desperate injury list. With Fabregas, Gallas, and Arshavin out, we have lost our 3 world class players. There remains the possibility that Song will not be fit which will be another major blow to us. Can we win with half a team? Will the sight of RvP on the bench (I cannot believe he will start) spark us to victory? Can Sol overcome what will undoubtedly be a torrid reception to deny Crouch and Pavlyuchenko? Absolutely – we are the better team, end of!

I expect Spurs to start with Defoe and Crouch and bring on Pav in the second half. They are missing Palacios which is a big plus for us. Also missing will be Krankjar and Lennon. Back for the NLD is our old friend David Bentley, who is sure to be desperate for a big game. I am still smarting from his fluke last season at the Emirates and his celebration which relegated (or elevated) him high into the Gooners hate list. I wish him a frustrating night, and a long dejected walk back down the tunnel when he is subbed after an hour.

This game is a season breaker for Spurs. The loss to a dire Portsmouth will have sapped not only their enthusiasm but also their physical strength – 120 minutes on the dire Wembley pitch will exhaust any team, and they will wilt in the last 20 minutes, which is when we are at our most dangerous. I expect us to line up as follows, though I am rarely correct…..

GK

Sagna  Sol  TV   Clichy

Song/Eboue  Denilson  Diaby  Rosicky

Theo  NB

Eboue could well start ahead of Theo, it depends upon how brave AW is feeling and if Song is fit.

I have many WHL memories dating back to Black and White days, most involve escaping their neanderthal fans, but despite the annual avoidance of flying bottles and coins in Paxton Road, it is a ground with positive memories. One of my faves was a 0-0 draw (1997) when Spurs absolutely battered us and Seaman showed why for a few years he was the World’s best GK (if only we could find another like him). And who can forget the Liam Brady left footer in a 5-0 in ’78?

Those were the days when Spurs were proper rivals. At Highbury when the chant “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” started, virtually the whole ground rose as one, now it is just the hardy few. Is this due to song-fatigue, or because Gooners no longer harbour an intense dislike of our neighbours? I applaud Harry’s attempts to bring Spurs to the top table. I want them to challenge us, it is good for North London, good for both clubs and good for the fans. It seems wrong that we “hate” MU and the Chavs, they are not the traditional enemy – it is the blue bellies from the Lane. Think of the songs …… The W***y Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope”, “My Old man said be a Tottenham fan, I said FO etc” “We hate Totteham”, “You won the League, In Black and White”. These are proper Arsenal songs, fashioned in the heat of the ’70’s and earlier. We don’t have songs for Chelsea, and those we have for MU are borrowed from other grounds. Football needs the comedy villain and Spurs over the past decade have just been the comedy  –  who can forget the commemorative mugs when they beat our youth team at WHL in the Carling!!

I fear that when we beat  Spurs tonight they will roll over in their games at MU and home to the Chavs. It is important to us that they do well in both but which would the Spurs fans prefer – Chelsea or Arsenal to win the title? No brainer is it!

The North London Derby is always a feisty affair and a draw in this game effectively ends the prospects of both teams (can anyone really expect the Chavs to drop 6 points?). We need the victory and that is what I expect.


Little Mozart vs New Zidane

April 13, 2010

Today’s post is by our newest guest writer samflu.

Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri – two extremely talented players capable of filling the rather large hole left in Arsenal’s midfield three following Cesc’s injury. Elegant, graceful, and creative, these two players are not only a joy to watch, but they also posses the quality required to get the Gunners’ creative juices flowing.

It is rather strange to think that both have almost the same number of appearances seeing that Rosicky joined Arsenal Football Club two years before Nasri. In 90 appearances since 2006 for The Arsenal, Tomas has scored 16 goals and made 10 assists. Nasri, only joining the club in 2008, has scored 12 goals and made 8 assists in 73 games. This season, both have played 29 games in all competitions, and both have played a part in 8 goals. Rosicky has scored 3 and created 5 while Nasri has scored 5 and created 3.

Not only are these players similar in stats, but also in style of play, height, and weight. Both are blessed with exquisite touch, terrific vision, and wonderful dribbling skills.

With players so similar how could you possible choose one over the other? Or are these similarities merely hiding the defining differences?

Wenger has already stated that he is ready to put his trust in young Samir to fill in for Cesc, but is this the right choice?

We saw how devastatingly good Nasri can be when played centrally against Porto. He put in a top performance which was rounded off by one of the best goals scored in the Champions League this season. He linked up well with the other midfielders and strikers, and he was a constant threat going forward.

But we have also seen how little he can contribute when played centrally. The games away at Hull and Barcelona come to mind. Of course, these were no easy games, but Nasri was almost nonexistent in both. The Hull game presented the French midfielder with an extremely physical game while the Barcelona one presented him with an extremely technical game. Against Hull, Nasri could do very little as he was often out muscled by the Tiger’s more physical players. Arsenal won it thanks to some Russian magic and Danish opportunism, not Nasri’s contribution from midfield. Against Barca, Nasri faced the most technically gifted midfield in the world. Not only was it almost impossible for him to snatch the ball from them, but once he did receive the ball, he had around 0.31 seconds to think about what to do with it before being pressured by two or three Barca players.

Of course, there are many different ways to look at Nasri’s performances, but I don’t believe that the Frenchman is the one who should step in for Cesc.

After the Barca game last week, Rosicky was getting a lot of negative reviews. Yes, he had a bad game, but come on… People were and still are screaming for Arsene to sell him, but that’s just ridiculous. Rosicky is a fantastic player; I’d even say he’s the most technical and creative along with Cesc. Some of his passes are out of this world. In the Czech national team, Rosicky plays centrally, and just as we have seen a couple of times at Arsenal, he plays amazing there. Just ask any American after the 2006 World Cup. He absolutely destroyed them. At Camp Nou, Wenger should have left Nasri on the left and played Rosicky centrally. Nasri played excellent against Barca on the left at the Emirates, and he should have stayed there. As mentioned before, Nasri was often crowded out in the middle and he doesn’t have enough bite in him to fight for the ball unlike his team mate with the number 7. Rosicky could have made a huge difference for us if he would have played centrally. He’s got a crazy edge about him. I could see him in elementary school yelling back at the 2 metre tall bully without an ounce of fear in him. He would have run the midfield like a bulldog, always snatching at Busquets, Xavi, and Keita’s feet. And going forward, he could have worked magic with Diaby. But the past is the past, and now Wenger must look ahead.

Does he stick with his decision to play Nasri centrally rather than on the wings, or does he let Rosicky play the Cesc role?

I would choose Rosicky, no questions asked, especially at this stage of the season considering all the pressure the Arsenal players are facing in these last five games.

Rosicky has immense mental strength. Anyone that comes back from a 20 month layoff to play at the top level again has a purely winning mentality in my book. But this is not all. Rosicky is also a natural leader, not afraid to let his voice be heard. We have seen him get in other players’ faces time and time again, and his leadership status was reaffirmed when he was appointed captain of the Czech national team. Rosicky also brings experience. Turning 30 this year, Rosicky is one of the few experienced players at Arsenal FC, and his experience will be vital in the upcoming weeks.

Mental strength, leadership, and experience. That’s where Rosicky wins, in my opinion. And that is why Wenger should let him play in the midfield three. Let Nasri torment the wings. If you think about it, his superb goal against Porto did not start from a central position, but from the right wing.

If we play like this, I believe the trip to White Hart Lane will be no problem. Of course, the Spuds haven’t really posed any real threat to us in the League since ’99, but this way we could beat them by an even larger margin.

Agree? Disagree? Who do you think should fill in for Cesc?

Stay classy, fellow Gooners.


Who is the next Media Darling if Man Utd don’t spend?

April 12, 2010

It is a sobering thought that Manchester United for so long the darlings of the media, are falling off the pace and may not have the money they need to strengthen the squad. If this is so, what price SAF having to ban all media from press conferences as the vindictive scribes get there own back? A classic case of careful who you abuse on the way up, less they kick seven bells out of you on the way down.

Consider then the state of today’s premier league, Chelsea have an ageing squad and an owner who supposedly insists they become self-financing. Man Utd are also struggling due to crippling interest payments and owner fees. While Liverpool wait for a new owner to bail them out.

In addition according to the press the signs are that the American owner of Villa is less than happy with the return he is getting from his investment in the club. Martin O. despite some big spending looks like missing champions league again this year. Rumours continue despite denials to circulate that he will leave if he doesn’t get more money to spend, as they also do with Rafa at the Pool.

The trials of Newcastle are there for all to see, on their way back to the premier but with a once bitten owner, reluctant to spend more and demanding they also become self sufficient

The common denominator here of course is owners, who come in for the ride and the reflected glory of the publicity that success brings. Which of course begs the question are owners good for a club in the long term? Given the fact that success is cyclical and can never be guaranteed even with huge expenditure.

In our own case many questions now arise? Will these latest developments persuade our American major shareholder to become an owner? And should he so do, what does that mean for us? Will the money Arsene supposedly has to strengthen the squad, still be there if we are sold?

Or will Pots of money City, the one club capable of sustained spending, buy the world and win the lot? Leaving their owner to bask in the glow of unlimited media coverage and creating an instant nightmare at the so-called theatre of dreams just down the road.

Just imagine the reaction of old red nose, caught in the media glare, if that should happen, the very thought is enough to drive the poor man to drink.

By dandan