Transfer gossip – Homegrown – We have a problem!! Put Your wish lists away…

January 11, 2012

After Vito Mannone moved to Hull on loan there was some suggestion that he had made available a space for non homegrown players to arrive.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case. For the 2011/12 season we named five homegrown players over the age of 21, and 17 (the maximum allowed) non homegrown players. Players like Szczesny, Ramsey and Wilshere do not need to be named as they are under 21. Mannone due to when he arrived, actually counts as homegrown.

With the late summer arrival of Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos, Gervinho, Benayoun and Park we added six players who clearly don’t count as homegrown. We lost Vela, Traore, Bendtner, Clichy, Denilson and Cesc who all did count and Nasri and Eboue who didn’t. We went from four available spots for non homegrown players in the Premier League Squad in 2010-11 to none in 2011-12.

Current homegrown players over 21 are Walcott, Djourou, Song and Gibbs (and Mannone now not in the squad).

That leaves us in a situation where we cannot name Henry in our premier league squad (post Transfer Window closure) as we will exceed our quota. The same goes for any other foreign player. That is unless we free up some room in the January transfer window or do not name some players in the PL squad after January.

The likely candidates to not be named or released are Almunia, Park and Squillaci, however all have been used whether on the bench or in cup games. And leaves us short of cover going into the fixture laden months of February and March.

There is a further problem, we only have three spots for over 21s left in the squad, they must be homegrown, Wilshere, Szczesny, Ramsey will fill those spots within a year or two so without some major squad overhaul we can expect very little in new arrivals until we have allowed some natural vacancies if we can’t move them on before contract expiry. The use of a squad berth for Henry seems to make no sense given the above. Especially as changes can only be made during the transfer window. If we drop a player from the squad rota at the end of the window to allow Henry to play in the League in February whoever we drop will not be able to return when he goes back to New York. Are we sure we want to risk that?

We may have kept some money back in August but we have a situation that needs addressing and a bit of long term planning is required. I did not question the summer arrivals as they were much needed as are some new additions in January. But now it is clear that without releasing some of the foreign talent we may as well stop hoping. Sorry put your scouting videos away unless they are unheard of English or Welsh talent playing in the lower leagues.

Written by Gooner In Exile


Arsenal 1 – 0 Leeds: Genius Never Gets Old

January 10, 2012

It’s not a trick of the eye, it’s not a fancy photoshop job. That is indeed Thierry Henry in an Arsenal shirt, an Arsenal shirt of 2012, wheeling away to celebrate a goal.

And not just any goal, but an Henry goal. Song played in a brilliant through ball that split the two covering defenders, Henry took one touch to control the ball, and himself, and then he curled right into the corner of the net away from the keeper’s despairing dive. This was a goal that was a blast from the past – the good old times when it would be Bergkamp or Bobby Pires or Freddie playing the ball into Henry. It brought a joy to the Emirates that we’ve not seen in some time.

More importantly, it also brought us into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup where we play Aston Villa.

Leeds came with one objective last night: shut up shop and try to get a return leg at Elland Road to bring in some much needed funds. In the first half we had 63% possession, but created little in the way of real chances. Arshavin, Ramsey and Arteta all had half-chances but none that really caused panic in their defence.

I must give a word to the three mentioned above. Despite his wayward shots and odd bad decision, Arshavin put in as much effort last night as he has done in a long time in an Arsenal shirt. He kept going until the last minute, and it was pathetic he got the yellow card (although deserved) when he was the one kicked and dragged all night. Ramsey and Arteta also put in a massive shift in midfield, both are neat players who aren’t afraid to get stuck in. Wenger’s choice of Captain was spot on – Arteta is a calming influence in there, and with Jack due back soon from injury we’ve a nice midfield forming.

As for our younger players, Chamberlain had a decent game. He is a willing lad, always game to run and try the odd trick to get around his man, he’s not afraid of a shot either. What I liked about him last night was how he would spot a man free on the other wing and switch play with a good pass. Ramsey did the same on occasion. It was a great shame Coquelin went off injured, he has played well of late and was proving he was deserving of his run in the first team, hopefully his injury isn’t serious. Yennaris had a decent game with he came on for Coquelin, didn’t do anything rash and wasn’t afraid to get on the ball.

As for Ignasi Miquel – can someone make sure we wash all that Barcelona DNA bullshit out of him so when he becomes a top defender he’ll stay at the mighty Arsenal and not whinge to “go home. ” Here is your home Ignasi! He is only 19?! Is he?! Composure or what? (Although I know it is Leeds and they didn’t threaten much but this is based over his few games this season). (PPS He also has lovely hair).

At the back Kos and Squidgy did what was needed, which wasn’t much. Szczesny also did well to stay alert and make a good save right at the death – however, he needs to remember that sometimes it is okay for the keeper to just boot it into the stands. His fancy dan stuff out on the sideline that gave the ball to a Leeds player could be more costly against a better side.

Aside from that, Chamakh started well for ten minutes and then did little. I’m not sure if its him not trying or us not playing to his strong suit (whipping balls into the box for him to attack) but at the moment I’d rather see Park getting the spot on the bench and having a shot – with Chamakh off to Africa he should have his chance now, or will Henry take it?

And so we are back to where we began – with Henry. The headlines are all going to be about him tomorrow and why not? Look how much the goal meant to Henry, meant to Wenger, meant to everyone at the Emirates, to Arsenal fans worldwide, to non-Arsenal fans worldwide.

You see, genius doesn’t get old. No matter who a man plays for, you have to appreciate when they are good, when they are great. There was just this more than horrible belief that Henry’s career would be overshadowed by that handball against Ireland because that was the last “big thing” Henry did. Until last night. Last night’s goal was so simple to Henry, it brought back all those other 226 goals with waves of emotion.

THIS IS HENRY! This is the Henry that must be remembered. Twitter was absolutely mental last night with people proclaiming the “Return of the King” and it wasn’t just Arsenal fans. All the Arsenal players were buzzing, players from other clubs, commentators, celebs, nobodies, everybodies – think what you may of Henry’s return but isn’t the buzz that moment created reason enough to smile and be happy?

That handball against Ireland will be put into the annals of history and everyone will be talking of 9th Jan 2012 and where were you for the second coming of the king?

Me? I was at home in my room in Ireland going mental, thanking Henry for the one birthday present I wanted more than most (ask Peaches), and while you are reading this I will be at work, wearing an Arsenal shirt from the Unbeaten season with “Henry 14” on the back and telling any Irish person that wants to argue otherwise that 78 minutes into last night’s match is Thierry Henry, Son of Arsenal and one of the finest players the world has ever seen.

With 12 minutes remaining, Henry scores his 12th goal against Leeds in 12 appearances wearing number 12 on his Arsenal shirt in 2012

Tell me it wasn’t meant to be?!

Written by IrishGunner


Redemption Song; Match Preview

January 9, 2012

This will be a grown up post.

BR has had many years of intensive therapy following which has been able to overcome most of his childhood resentments. If he can come to terms with personal issues then surely it is possible to find it in his heart to cease a lifelong hatred of a Leeds team which went out of existence 40 years ago?

For year upon year Dirty Leeds were my most hated team – even more than the N17 Miscreants (who let us be honest deserve sympathy not disdain).  Today BR will make peace with the nemesis of his youth – – – –  Leeds, you are exculpated

The Leeds team who gave us such a scare last season at the Emirates were not even born when that little swine Johnny Giles was kicking lumps out of George Armstrong. They came to entertain and entertain they did, forcing a 1-1 draw and  it was only  a fine away performance that took us through (3-1) to the next round.  Let us not forget that the year earlier Leeds had won at OT. They can upset any of the big sides and an Arsenal team sans RvP will have to be on their mettle to win tonight.

Of course, the opposition is secondary tonight. The roar when the homecoming hero comes off the bench will be heard by our Canadian correspondents, our Californian friends and our Aussie mates. We all wish we could join in the fun. Can he perform? Of course he can.

A little older, a little facial hair but still alarmingly attractive

On Saturday we had a fine discussion about tonight’s game which encompassed much of what I would have written today. I would especially like to thank Deano for giving the Leeds perspective in a non-aggressive way. His insights (reproduced in the paragraph below) into the Leeds team are far more informed than mine could ever be.

Ross Mc Cormack on his day can be a real handfull and certainly knows where the net is. Luciano Bechio is a big strong lad more in the fashion of a typical English CF, not Argentinian type, but he has a good first touch and can hold the ball up well and bring players in, heads the ball well also but has been far from his best of late. Aidy white is a young FB with loads of pace and bags of potential and works the overlap well when not on the back foot. CB’s could be a problem as most are injured and we only have 2 fit. Tom Lees is a big lad who watches the ball well and has good potential but very inexperienced as yet. Darren O Dea is on loan from Celtic and is steady but not exceptional.

Johny Howson our Captain and CM star is a very good box to box player but is out injured which is a loss. Adam Clayton on his day is a very good young midfielder from Man City who can strike from distance and has a good touch, again a little out of sorts of late. Ramon Nunez is a very skillfull Honduran international who got player of the tournament at the Copa America. Still getting used to English game but with the ball at his feet is a good lad. Andros Townsend on loan from Spurs at the mo seems a good young winger with pace and I am sure He will be up for it if picked. Somma, Snoddgrass, Kisnorbo, and some others are all injured so maybe Mikael Forssell could get a game and you know all about him I am sure.

In short, Deano said that Leeds were capable of beating anyone but were suffering from injuries to important players (sound familiar!). Managed by Simon Grayson, they suffer from the Bates effect  i.e a megalomaniac who has unrealistic expectations and is interested purely in profit thereby selling all the best players and signing ex-“names.” (Gradel sold to St Etienne/ Forsell signed). He almost bankrupted Chelsea who unfortunately were saved by the Russian.

As our team, I expect AW to put out as strong a side as possible. We have only 4 games in January so burn-out is not an issue .

My Team:

Not sure whether Chamakh will be with Morocco , if he is the Park would play centrally. Park, Ryo and The Ox all played 90 mins for the reserves on Weds loss to Sunderland which may be an indicator they will start tonight. Your guess is as good as mine!

It is fitting to find a fan who was around during those Dirty Leeds days, a man who despite being a true Rock God maintained his Goonerdom whilst touring the world, who when I saw him play a gig at The Lyceum came on stage wearing a red and white scarf. The man in question is Robert Nesta Marley. A man who knew all about forgiveness and redemption. Mr Marley lived in Islington for some time and being a football nut often went to Highbury; unusually his timing was off as he started going in 1972 – the season after the Double

Bob. St. Thomas’s Rd. 1973

My name is Big Raddy and I am an Arsenalholic..


Hooray for Henry?

January 8, 2012

Written by Double98

Is everyone delighted with the return of the King?…

I am not so sure. Maybe it is the Gooner DNA in me that requires that I suffer even in triumph, I must temper joy with regret but I just can’t forget how we parted…

Do you remember?

I was sitting in a pub having drinks when at about 8 in the evening, Sky Sports News started breaking the news despite the loud music and merriment all around me, I had to read the yellow marquee banner announcement – He had joined Barcelona for £16.8 Million.

Boom.

The last to know and of course I had to find out from somebody else.

Except, that’s not quite right, I mean it’s not like it wasn’t obvious. It’s not like every football journalist, commentator and blogger hadn’t announced it as a done deal. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming either, in all the little ways, I mean he ponced around for his last 6 months and wouldn’t perform for me because of some vague, possibly feigned injuries, he pouted and gesticulated at every pass that made him run. He looked at the grass instead of in my eye. He specifically wouldn’t come out and say directly that he was staying.

I found text messages on his phone.

Or maybe it was in the national press.

They were from Xavi and Iniesta. They were pornographic and talked about how they’d make him come. To Barca.

Barca people were flying in every day to try and get Arsène to open his door. Arsène was inside, hiding behind the couch. His fingers plugged his ears and his Arsenal Centurions dvd was playing on full volume.

But then he saw it was actually his protégé that stood outside. The “quite-decent” winger he had plucked from an old Italian lady who didn’t know what to do with him. He had taken him from a bit part role with Juventus and had groomed and crafted him into the most audacious and brilliant goal scoring machine that had ever cast a shadow over English football. That’s who was now knocking on his door.

His message was brutal, the delivery was kind.

“I am bigger than Arsenal” he said, “I need a club that matches my ambition.”

He had manufactured a move to Barseholeona. It was bargain basement. The money he left us with would have barely bought a Darren Bent and a new set of footballs.

When I read that scrolling banner on sky sports news, I felt like Coleen Rooney at an old folk’s home, cast aside and unable to compete for man I love.

Oh sure, he said all the right things, the things you want to believe but never want to hear. He said how he was an Arsenal Fan, A Gooner, and he always would be. There was always a place for us in his heart. One day he would come back and we would be together forever.

It wasn’t me it was him.

I moved on, after a while and in a fashion. First there was the Spanish boy. He talked about love and loyalty. He whispered ambition in my ear and for a short period everything clicked. He showed me moves that would make a matador blush. He even had his own television special, you know. But he was too young and didn’t know the power of the words he used. Then his phone would get the occasional text message that he wouldn’t comment on and before you knew it Xavi and Iniesta where taking dirty things in his ear.

So he left, but he was no king.

Suddenly I found myself drawn to a sickly limping chap that had been sent to us from Holland for long term rehabilitation. To be blunt, he looked great but kept having breakdowns. He spent a lot of time convalescing and getting better from his glass shins and chocolate leg syndrome.

I nursed him back to health. Tweet by tweet, song by song, prayer by prayer and he repaid me with solidity and consistency.

And goals.

He hasn’t heard from Xavi or Iniesta yet. His DNA is pure chocolate so maybe we are safe.

And now. . . . . . . . . . . . .

And now he’s back from outer space, he just walked right in with that strange beard upon his face.

Talking some New York Bull.

I don’t know what he expects; I mean I should ignore him. After all I am happy with Robin, he treats me well and I am not sure how it will be to have them both under the same roof for 2 months.

Maybe I should be strong and let him know in no uncertain terms that he can’t just walk in the door as if nothing happened.

But then again the heart does sing a little at the prospect.

Thierry Henry. Home.


A view of the Emirates from a non-gooner

January 8, 2012

Today’s post is written by Neil, a QPR supporter who we met up with before the game last Saturday. These are his thoughts on the game and the Emirates experience.

I got the chance to visit the Emirates stadium as I have always wanted to, as iI had heard a lot about it and it always looks great on TV.

I wasn’t worried what game I got to see, but Sat 31st December 2011 I received a belated christmas present from TotalArsenal. A ticket for the match v my beloved QPR.

I was a bit nervous on going as I knew I will be sitting somewhere away from the QPR fans and wouldn’t be able to cheer my team on, and then I thought hang on we are playing Arsenal away, we will probably loose 3- 0 so there wont be much to cheer anyway.

Travelling down from Norwich with TotalArsenal he told me that we would be meeting some other Arsenal fans and AA-bloggers in a pub near the ground. He said they were really nice people and in fact one of them was actually born in Shepherds Bush!!

He wasn’t wrong: the bloggers were very warming and welcoming and I sort of felt as if I supported Arsenal for a second or two. We shared conversations on our teams while watching ManU get beaten before heading off to the game, still thinking we would get beat 3-0.

On walking across the bridge to the stadium I looked up and saw all the banners with previous players, being the later side of 21 I remembered most of them. My Uncle in fact supported Arsenal: I used to go with him to the old Highbury where he used to sit me on one of the barriers to watch the game as I was only 8. Sorry, but once I found my legs and could get to football on my own it was QPR I chose, being from West London. Who are ya “VCC” the man that was born in Shepherds bush?!

Anyway “WOW” what a sight as I walked around from letter “D” to letter “P” passing the QPR fans in letter “L” to get in.

It was a really good feeling being there, but I still thought nothing less than 3-0 to the home side was the likely outcome. Anyway, once inside we walked up what seemed like 20 flights of stairs and found our seats, and the view was immense, fantastic to say the least, plus I could hear the QPR fans to my right, way below me.

The teams came out as I sat down, I then had to refocus to try to capture who was who on the pitch.

The game kicked off and to my surprise, the sound of silence came upon me except for “We are QPR” from the away fans in the distance, and many other general conversations around me. It didn’t feel like I was at a football match, let alone the mighty Arsenal. It was very strange to say the least. I thought QPR acquitted themselves well and although I was waiting for Arsenal to score, I got more and more encouraged and thought: already a couple of dodgy results recently, there may be one here, and my mind started to change to 3-1 instead of a 3-0 thrashing.

Going in at half time 0-0 sent shivers up my spine, we were doing well, and yes Arsenal were doing bad but that’s football sometimes.

QPR started to get on top after Arsenal missed what can only classed as sitters (notably by Walcott). Not being an Arsenal fan, I am one of those not convinced by his commitment, confidence and dare I say technical ability: yes I can, as I would have at least hit the target in his position, to every game.

No sooner than I thought we’re getting on top and started to dream of a 0-0 scoreline, up popped RvP latching onto a pass from Arshavin (I think he was still on the pitch at the time) via a misplaced pass from QPR’s own 3 letter person SWP.

The crowd went wild and started cheering RvP’s name. It was strange that the crowd found their voices only when he got the ball and of course scoring meant they could cheer for a little longer. I did stand up when the goal went in, only to sarcastically clap SWP’s pass.

So time ticked on, a couple of chances at both ends admittedly easier ones in the QPR box, but no more goals and no more cheering.

1-0 not a bad result, but being biased maybe we could have nicked a draw, but hey, I visited the Emirates and thought it was a fantastic stadium and a great day. I thought Arsenal could and should have played better, and QPR played better that they had done recently. I now look forward to the return match in March, where hopefully Arsenal will be preoccupied with CL football and we have added players to our squad.

However, you do need to find some voices from somewhere it might be the layout of the stadium, as some have mentioned, but I have never sat in a football stadium and heard other peoples conversations during a match. I believe if the voices were found and then heard, trophies won’t be far away. Good luck and many thanks for the day.

A Non-Gooner, Neil.


Kal-ou do you want us to sign?

January 7, 2012

Written by FatGingerGooner

Much has been written recently in both the tabloids and on blog sites about Arsenal’s need for a striking partner/understudy for RvP, so with the transfer window well and truly upon us, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to look at the possible candidates for the position.

Lukasz Podolski
Age 26
FC Cologne
Games 27(3)
Goals (assists) 15(5)
Value £15m-£20m

Germany’s very own Polish Van Persie (are you still following me!?) . Podolski has been in excellent form this season for his club and looks to be finally fulfilling his early promise. He’s strong and quick with a rocket of a left foot, a perfect cover for RvP. His contract is up at the end of next season and his club have already said they would sell in the summer, so could be available at a knock down price. Wenger has already said he’s not interested, but we have all heard that before!

Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Age 22
Sporting Lisbon
Games 14(3)
Goals 10(0)
Value £10-£15m

Wenger is due another Dutch master after DB10 and RvP (oh, and don’t forget van Bronckhorst!) and this kid could be the real deal. He has started this season in top form and at only 22 has bags of potential. Has the abitu to play as a lone striker or just in behind, he made his full International debut last season in a very talented Dutch team and has everything going for him. Only recently moved to Sporting so may be difficult acquire, but if a top team comes knocking he may be persuaded to pack his bags for top level European football.

Moussa Sow
Age 25
Lille
Games 21(3)
Goals 9(3)
Value £10m-£20m

Senegalese striker Sow was top scorer in the French league last season thanks, in part, to our very own Gervinho. With only Hazard left to supply the chances, the strikers goal tally this season is not quite up to the level he would want, but a ratio of nearly 1 in 2 is not to be sniffed at. At 25 he could be looking to take his career to the next level and Wenger has a decent relationship with the French club which could be used to his advantage. Could be the target man we are looking for.

Gabby Agbonlahor
Age 25
Aston Villa
Games 20(0)
Goals 5(5)
Value £10m-£15m

Gabby has been proving himself in the Premier League for a number of years now, but with a number of niggling injuries and managers playing him out of position, he has never quite fulfilled the early promise.  This season Gabby has been mostly used as a wide player, but with blistering pace and tricky feet, the lad could be a great understudy to RvP and would give us a slightly different option at the top of the attack. With Villa seemingly happy with mid-table mediocrity, Gabby may see the recent sales of Young and Downing as his cue to leave. He must have International ambitions and a move to Arsenal could see those dreams come true.

Thinking outside the box!

Salomon Kalou
Age 26
Chelsea
Games 5(5)
Goals 3(0)
Value £5m

Still only 26, Kalou has bags of European and Premier League experience. With the arrival of Torres and the emergence of Sturridge, Kalou’s chances at Chelsea have become limited, and with his contract expiring in the summer, he would be available at a knock down price. Not everyone’s cup of tea, he looks lazy at times and is by no means prolific, but his record at Feyenoord and his early seasons at Chelsea show he has the ability to score and set up goals. He is still relatively young and a fresh start could be just what he needs. He wouldn’t have to move home and Wenger has already been sniffing in previous windows. Would be a good option in January as can play anywhere across the front 3 and at a small price Arsene would still have money to buy a proper striker come the summer.

I’m sure many of you will have your own ideas as to who Arsene should purchase, but the more I look at the option of Kalou, the more it makes sense. Cheap, experienced and with knowledge of the PL, he would be perfect to take us through to the summer when Arsene can take his time to purchase one of the others as a longer term replacement for the misfiring Chamakh. His record isn’t great this season, but if you look back at his history you may be surprised:

10/11
Games 29(21)
Goals 15(6)

09/10
Games 30(16)
Goals 12(3)

08/09
Games 37(14)
Goals 14(10)

07/08
Games 32(14)
Goals 9(10)

06/07
Games 25(33)
Goals 9(10)

05/06
Games 36(2)
Goals 15(0)

04/05
Games 32(6)
Goals 24(0)

As you can see he often chips in with 10 or more goals and a good amount of assists, not bad for a player who is often second or third choice at his club.

He’s by no means our next star striker, but as a second choice, for the money, I don’t think we could do much better.

FatGingerGooner


Don’t FAC(it)up

January 6, 2012

We are still a few days away from the Leeds game and I don’t want to step on what will surely be another (auto paste here) splendid pre match from the master himself. But without wishing to step on toes I want to get some thoughts off my chest.

Having spent most of Christmas and New Year struggling to find the back of net I have started to change my mind about the importance of this game and who should be playing. Up until Monday I had reasonably assumed (and accepted the fact) that we would probably be giving opportunities to youngsters and squad players to get some game time.

But after 5 games in which we have only mustered 5 goals, the drought is concerning and could cause the green shoots of recovery seen since 1 September to wilt away again. Actually goals have dried up before this recent spell, since Wigan away we have only scored two goals on one occasion.

After Leeds we face a trip to Swansea who have the joint best home defence of all Premier League teams. Not the place to visit when we are misfiring.

Because of the above I am starting to think that maybe Monday is not the best time to play the youngsters and the squad, perhaps its time to send out the first team and tell them to fill their boots against what should be a very beatable opposition. If they can’t or don’t then it adds further weight to any arguments Wenger may or may not be having with the board about the need for some new signings.

I know there will be some who say we are approaching red zone and that the players cannot play every game and maybe that is true, but when a team is winning and playing well fitness becomes far less concerning. In January we have only 4 games including the FA Cup game, is it really a step too far to imagine that a player cannot play 4 games in 22 days. (Admittedly if we beat Leeds there will be another game to squeeze in).

So lets put the first eleven out especially Theo and AA or the Ox  (Gervinho is unavailable due to the ACN)  and tell them to run riot and grab as many goals as they can. Treat it like the first team game it should be. I know we have a lot of games this season, but their is something about the FA Cup that I don’t think we should dismiss too lightly, who knows maybe its this cup this year that helps us kick on, and at least with the final at the arse end of the season it means we can’t suffer a slump like we did last season from 1 March onwards if anything untoward happens in the final.

Written by Gooner in Exile


Twelve wishes for the ‘New Arsenal’ in 2012

January 5, 2012

If it had not been for such a difficult start to the season, Arsenal would now be fighting for the title.

And, that includes the loss of points against Wolves at home (unfortunate) and Fulham away (well deserved). The last few games have been disappointing, but Arsenal have gathered 29 points in their last 13 games and during the process it was able to pre-qualify for the CL against a very good Udinese, and win their CL-group against strong opposition with style and dominance.

Yet, it appears to be hard for so many fans to see the bigger picture, to let the past go and lower expectations a bit, to see the progress made, to accept that this is a forced-upon transitional year for us, and to be a bit more philosophical and grateful for what has been achieved since the start of October. Now there is a bit of time for the team to take stock and to re-focus again on the rest of the season. Soon, Arsenal will get back to winning ways, because all the ingredients are there, and Wenger is building another team that can go all the way.

So, how can Arsenal make the next step up in the New Year?

Twelve wishes for 2012 (in no particular order):

Full return to fitness of Wilshere: I love our midfield of Arteta, Ramsey and Song (ARS), but Wilshere offers additional skills that we are missing at times.

He is a born leader and fighter and, most importantly, he can pick a pass anytime, anywhere. The others are not bad at this either, in fact they are pretty good, but Jack is the young master. After Fabregas’ and Nasri’s departures, it was very cruel to lose him as well to a long-term injury. His imminent return will add a much needed other dimension to our football.

The return to fitness of our first choice FB’s: These are sorely missed at the moment, and it is just such bad luck that all four of our FB’s obtained long lasting injuries at the same time. As soon as Sagna and Santos are back in our team, Arsenal will become significantly stronger. Arsenal really struggle without proper FB’s and it is one of the main reasons we got so few points out of the festive season games.

The assimilation of the ‘mini-teams’: I have written before about the ‘New Arsenal’ consisting of three mini-teams at the moment: GK + defence, Midfield (ARS) and Attack: The Gerv, RvP and Theo. All three teams have stuck to their tasks well, but it is now time for some fluidity between the lines. I like the midfield to get more involved in supporting the attack by claiming ‘the hole’ area back and scoring more goals in the process. The return of our first choice FB’s will also help us to get more fluidity and diversity in our attacking play, which can only lead to more assists and goals.

More goals per game: our overreliance on RvP scoring the majority of our goals has to be reviewed and mitigated. We have been here before with Thierry Henry during his last few seasons. Arsenal has been a tad unlucky with strikers since the departure of Henry. Eduardo looked so promising for us, but THAT injury meant we never saw the best of him. Adebayor got carried away at a young age and it appeared he did not fit into our team as he clashed with too many fellow players. We got good money for him, and I believe he had to go, but we lost a very decent number two to RvP in the process. Bendtner got almost everybody fooled with his promise that at 24-25 years of age he will be the best in the world, and Chamakh, after such a promising start in 2010, has totally lost his confidence, and it seems almost impossible for him to find a way back now. A real shame.

But goals do not just come from strikers, they need to come for our wingers and midfielders, and defenders, as well. One of my biggest wishes is to see the whole team make a step-up this year, by taking more of the chances that we create. Theo, The Gerv, Ramsey, Arteta, Song, Wilshire, The Ox, and many others as well, all have the potential to become more lethal in front of goal. The Ox has only just joined us, but I hope all the others will improve significantly this year.

Buy a very decent no.2 striker, ideally in January: Campbell and Park are future prospects, but are not available or ready to be the first replacement for RvP in case of injury, suspension or fatigue. Chamakh does not seem to be able to claim this role anymore. TH2012 is a very good short-term option, but it would be great if Arsène can find us another gem of a nr.2 striker as soon as possible.

Keep our phenomenal spine together: our spine of Szczesny – Koz/TV/BFG – Song/Arteta – Wilshere/Ramsey – RvP can compete with any team in the PL and Europe. It is really important that Arsenal get all of these players on long-term contracts. As far as I know, the contracts of Szczesny, Song and RvP need to be renegotiated as soon as possible, so we can have some stability in our team for years to come.

THOF to become a fortress: I still can get so disappointed when I think that the Mancs won the PL last season whilst only winning four games away all season. Our away record was fantastic but our home record was not. It takes a long time for a new stadium to become a proper home, to become a fortress where visiting teams fear to play and three points are almost a given. The club needs to develop a strategy to increase the noise levels: it’s not easy but very necessary.

Finish in the top-four in 2012 and go all the way in the 2012-2013 season: I have every confidence that Arsene will guide this new team into a top-four spot again by the end of the season. We had a bad start, but since then Arsenal has done very well and we are now only one point away from the top-four. With Arsène’s experience and a lot of players returning from injury, and all the big teams having to come to us, I am confident we can do it again. And it would be quite an achievement after our horrible start. I expect us to start the 2012-2013 PL campaign as title contenders from the start.

A good cup run, and maybe win something this season: as we are going through a transitional year, I am not too confident we can win the FA-Cup or the CL-Cup. But, on the day, when most of our key players are fit, we can beat any team, and with a bit of luck we could get far this season.

More youngsters to make the grade now (words copied from GiE’s post on 3 Jan): We have a great Youth-Academy and it’s bearing fruit now with the likes of Wilshere, Frimpong, Bartley, Lansbury, Miquel, Coquelin. I don’t really think we should be investing too much in squad players from now on (these roles can be filled by youngsters) and instead focus on players to improve the first team.

Arsène to sign a new long-term contract: I would like Wenger to be given another three years to develop this new team into something special. Wenger has his mistakes, but he is the best match for the role of manager at Arsenal and we are so luck to have him. My biggest worry is that Real Madrid won’t win anything important again this year under Mourinho and they will try to lure Wenger away from Arsenal.

The return of Dennis Bergkamp, as an Assistant Manager: all is not well at Ajax, and Dennis is witnessing ugly political infighting between many of the greats of this fantastic club. There is quite a chance that the Iceman will end up on the losing side, or will simply decide to quit his role altogether at Ajax. If this were to be the case, Arsene should act and get the now fully qualified Bergkamp back to where he really belongs: the mighty Arse!

Most of the above wishes are realistic and achievable, and I am sure you’ll allow me the indulgent dream of DB’s return to our club!

Keep believing fellow Gooners and a very happy New Year to you all!

Total Arsenal


“Lies, damned lies, and statistics”

January 4, 2012

This is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.

It is also sometimes colloquially used to cast doubt upon statistics used to prove an opponent’s point.

The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881):

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli’s works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death.

Mark Twain popularized the saying in “Chapters from My Autobiography”, published in the North American Review in 1906. “Figures often beguile me,” he wrote, “particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’

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I’m a person who enjoys using statistical data, especially factual/actual data. In football I use it to gain a better understanding of  “what, if” scenarios.

The chart below shows our actual statistics through the first twenty games of each of our Premier League seasons.

To avoid any controversy I will not  reach any personal conclusions in this post  – but I’ll be only to happy to dialogue, later in the day.

Here are some actual facts from the data

1. The most goals scored was 53 in 2009/10 and we finished 3rd.

2. The least goals against was 11 in 1993/4 and we finished 4th and then again in 1998/9 when we finished 2nd.

3. The greatest goal difference was 30 in 2009/10 and we finished 3rd.

4. The most points won was 47 in 2007/8 when we finished 3rd.

(It’s interesting to note that we did not win the league in any of these instances).

5. With the same or less points we’ve finished 1st once, 2nd once, 4th four times, 5th once, 10th once and 12th once.

6. With the same or less goals for we’ve finished 1st once, 2nd four times, 4th three times, 10th once and 12th once.

It should also be noted that our current goals against of 28 is the worst in our PL history.

The years 1992/3, 1993/4 and 1994/5 were all 42 game seasons.

Written by GunnerN5



New Year Resolution?

January 3, 2012

I’m not feeling at all witty this morning and the things I have to say are mostly obvious and not earth shatteringly different. What I want to know most of all is what on earth happened in our dressing room at half-time yesterday? We had played a very acceptable game up until then, we were good for our lead and yet we didn’t come onto the pitch with any belief that we were going to win the game.

It’s glaringly obvious that goals win games and until we start converting our early chances the burden of being only 1 up is going to weigh heavily on the team and the manager, but what on earth was Arsène doing getting out of his seat to glare at Theo for taking a shot???? Other managers applaud their players for a shot that doesn’t get converted.

The bad luck that we’ve had this season with injuries to our full-backs has affected our game more than we could have imagined. We rely on attacking using our wide players and those who worried early in the season that Santos wasn’t up to defending should eat their words now. We’ve tried to struggle on using our spare centre-backs (not like us to usually have spare centre-backs) but we’re not ticking as a team and now we’re down to the bare bones. Thank goodness there is a week until the next game.

Many players let themselves down in the 2nd half yesterday but some of the manager’s decision making was also strange. He claimed after the game that Djourou was being targetted by Fulham players after his yellow card. Surely it would have been sensible to take him off before he got the 2nd yellow, we were well prepared with both Miquel and Squillacci on the bench.

However, weren’t the team falling apart before the sending off? Where was our mid-field? Our reliable ARS had gone missing. Arteta must be exhausted, Song’s ability to shield the ball and come away with it after a tackle has disappeared completely, although I did think that Ramsey was having his best game for a while.

Too many games in such a small space of time are bound to take their toll on such a small squad already ravaged by injuries and we now have Djourou banned from the next game.

Szczesny told the world on twitter that he was at fault for the first goal and hadn’t had a good game. It was unusual to see him flapping and it goes to show how important an unflappable goalie is.

Would we have been stronger with Vermaelen on the pitch? His leadership qualities were what we missed, I hope his ‘three weeks’ doesn’t turn into more than that.

This Arsenal team has done very well at protecting a 1 goal lead but you have to ask why were they sitting so deep for more than 25 minutes. Where is the get up and go? Was it just that they were too tired to do anything else?

Many of us have wondered why Arsène doesn’t learn from previous mistakes. It’s not his fault that we have so many injuries but it is his fault that we have signed players to score goals that just don’t seem to be able to.

The blur of these last four games should disappear quickly if we return to form after a much needed rest but a repeat of last night’s second half is never far away.

Arsène, if you want this Arsenal team to be successful, let them shoot. We have a great defence now, solid centre-backs but they can’t win games by themselves. We need to score goals, if you’re not going to buy someone then at least release the players we have from their straight jackets and find their shooting boots.

peachesgooner