Was Na$ri Right?.

June 10, 2012

We will play in the Champions League 2012-3 Tournament, but wow, it was close.

We were limping down the final straight, and had it not been for a stunning turn of pace from Mr Gibbs, we would have probably ended up in the next race.

Sure we recovered from a dreadful start, and this was followed by a few truly memorable games against the likes of Chelsea, Spurs and City. However, all this good work was so nearly undone by apathetic displays against Wolves, Wigan and Swansea.

See a pattern? Yip, me too.

So, enter S. Nas$ri. I read a comment on here where he apparently stated something along the lines of not leaving us for the cash, after all he could have stayed at Arsenal picking up the weekly envelope without having to put in much sweat and toil. He then stated, most alarmingly, that he wouldn’t have been the only one!

I am not going to point a finger or two, but merely make a suggestion. When it comes to motivation you can look at The Manager, but I’m not sure this is completely fair. Did players like Keown or Adams need a little chat from their managers? Of course not.  Can you imagine any player in a team with one of those two not pulling their weight, as I don’t think it would have been The Manager putting the boot in at half time.

Arsènes’ greatest side was littered with Fighters and Leaders. Since the departure of Vieira, I am convinced it has been the lack of a true leader that has cost us unnecessary dropped points. Being “up” for the big games is easy, but I’m afraid there have been far too many Match Reports and Comments on here this season where the implication has been that it was our concentration and commitment over the full 90 minutes that has been questioned.

We all have differing views on where holes need to be plugged and the type of player to do the filling.

The one signing that for me would make the biggest difference is less about the footballing qualities and more about leadership qualities.

Written by MickyDidIt89

Can North London solidarity exist?

June 9, 2012

Neighbourly disputes must be the oldest cases heard in any court around the globe. We argue with our next door neighbours, countries go to war with neighbouring nations, football fans fight supporters from another neighbourhood.

Tottenham and Arsenal fans look the same, they live in the same area, many are related to each other. So why the hatred?

I am guilty of hating Spurs for many years simply because other Gunners did and until my gorgeous gardener and Tottenham supporter enlightened me. He told me about Henry Norris’ dealings and about the Portsmouth game. I must admit I was quite shocked. If that was true, then I could understand them hating us. I started the research and oh my God, he was right and there was more.

Tottenham Hotspurs has been founded since 1882, four years before Arsenal. They moved to White Hart Lane in 1899, fourteen years before we muscled in on their territory. Unsurprisingly the emergence of another club in North London, less than 5km away had not been well received by Spurs supporters. They and Clapton Orient protested, but permission was granted for us to move to the beloved Highbury. Little did they know then, that we are not only going to get even closer, but to completely overshadow them for decades.

Spurs hate Arsenal because we muscled in on their territory 99 years ago, but did they not pull just about every trick in the book to secure a move to the Olympic Stadium, which is bang in the middle of the West Ham territory?

The relationship between the two clubs worsened in 1919, when football resumed after the First WW. That year Tottenham were relegated to the lower league, because 4 years earlier they finished last, yes 20th. Two top teams from the lower league as well as Arsenal who finished 5th were promoted to the top league. Tottenham were furious and blamed Arsenal for taking their place in the top league.

Nobody, except perhaps for Henry Norris, knows the rationale behind those moves and we might never know, however the fact that Spurs were relegated had nothing to do with Arsenal; they went down because they finished at the very bottom of the table. Arsenal or not, they would have been relegated and therefore THFC’s main reason for hating us simply cannot not justified.

Another reason often brought to the table by Spurs’ fans is Arsenal’s home game against Portsmouth in 1928. It was the last game of the season and Tottenham needed a favour; unless Arsenal won, Spurs would be relegated. We lost to a very poor Pompey team and Spurs were relegated, again. Some wild allegations followed, suggesting that Henry Norris rewarded the Arsenal players with luxury gifts, ie fridges. Again, these are anecdotes rather than facts and therefore I do not deem that as a genuine reason for hatred.

During the WW2 the unbelievable happened – Tottenham shared their stadium with the enemy, The Arsenal. While Highbury had been requisitioned for the war effort, League football was suspended and Highbury became a cornerstone of London`s defence plans. While the training pitch was used for storing materials and weapons, the main pitch was used as a training ground for the Islington Air Raid Precaution team. The brand new West Stand became an air raid shelter for residents and the lush East Stand a first aid centre. For the next 5 years we had no stadium. The Germans did what nobody else managed – they brought the two clubs together, united against the Nazis.

Sadly, almost as soon as the war ended, the hostility resumed on both sides.

Most recent reasons for Spurs fans to justify their hatred of everything that’s Arsenal are: Gunners smell – a sewer run through the pitch in Woolwich and the new stadium is built on the rubbish dump site; Arsenal are arrogant cheats and the most boring team in EPL; and last, but not least – Wenger poisoned the whole Tottenham team in 2006 to rob them of 4th spot in the table.

Tottenham are an old and proud club, with many trophies and a solid fanbase. They play some exciting football, have a good team and without a sugar Daddy figure, they like us are competing at the top level. You might not feel sorry for them for losing their spot in the CL qualifiers, you might even laugh at them because of it, but with your hand on your heart you must admit that they deserve the Champions League place more, much more, than Chelsea do.

To summarise, there is plenty of history of mutual dislike, but very little to convince me that it can be justified by either of the Clubs.

Is it possible that we could heal the wounds and unite against the South West Londoners? Could we let THFC play on our pitch when they are building their new stadium? Ok, sit down, gosh some people are jumpy! It ain’t going to happen!

I am going to try to be kinder or rather less abusive towards the Tottenham fans; I will not wish them ill or laugh at their misfortunes. And I sincerely hope they do well in the coming season, as long as they don’t do as well as Arsenal, of course.

Written by evonne

Do we Really need another Defensive Midfield player?

June 8, 2012

Almost all Arsenal fans are desperate for a DM. Why?

Well, because there is a collective belief that our defensive vulnerability stems from the lack of a strong, disciplined DM. One can point to a number of goals conceded which have come as a result of MF’s being too far upfield, or too central, or too slow in back-tracking. Is it the players or the system?

Let us assume it is the personnel and start with Alexander Song Billong. Is Song too attack minded to be our holding midfielder? Can he tackle? Does he have enough tactical awareness and if not, can he be taught? In my opinion, he is an excellent player but one who is inconsistent; he can be brilliant in one half and totally incompetent the next. His ability to find RvP with the dinked ball over the defence has given him a number of assists, but has it also reduced his effectiveness as a DM?

The assist for RvP’s goal at home to Dortmund was one of the highlights of the season and would indicate Song can play well higher up the pitch, but is he really good enough to be our creative MF? Not in my opinion.

Frimpong and Coquelin are certainly more focussed defensively, yet both are too young and inexperienced to take such a responsibility. Coquelin looks to have all the skills necessary to be a first team regular and yet there are doubts that he can step up and take Song’s place. Would a midfield of JW, Arteta and Coquelin be creative enough or defensively solid?

Frimpong has many positives but two severe injuries at such a young age and in a player whose main attribute is as a hard man must raise questions.

Ramsey and Diaby are both too offensive to be considered for the role. If I were Mr Wenger I would be looking to sell Diaby (not that anyone will buy him), and send Ramsey on loan. Ramsey will become a fine player but needs to get physically stronger and more confident in order to influence a game.

Or is the problem the system? Early Wenger teams had the luxury of excellent DM’s in PV4 and Gilberto Silva. I guess AW hoped Flamini or Denilson could have carried on the tradition but it wasn’t to be. Those early teams had very consistent defenders who rarely left their  own half. Apart from one or two exceptions and set plays, can you remember TA, Bould, Sol, Kolo, Gallas, Keown etc going over the halfway line? However, times have changed and so has our playing style, other than Mertesacker all our defenders have attacking ability and are prone to venture forward, it is the DM’s role to cover such eventualities – but what if the defenders stayed  in position?

In Big Raddy’s opinion, the problem lies at the feet of Song. He is a wonderful player but not disciplined enough to play in an Arsenal team which is set up in this fashion. It is no coincidence that we struggled without the discipline of Arteta. If we buy another DM and include Song, it leads to Arsenal playing with two DM’s which doesn’t fit our attacking style. So, we would buy this player because Song isn’t a good enough DM. And yet Song IS a fine player and adds much to our team, the problem is how and where to play him.

Do we need a defensive midfielder? Absolutely, but how Mr. Wenger develops a midfield choosing from: A new DM, Song, Arteta,Diaby, Ramsey, Rosicky, Lansbury, Denilson, Frimpong, Coquelin, Wilshire and Oxlade-Chamerlain, I have no idea.

Written by BigRaddy

Andrei Arshavin – One Last Hurrah

June 7, 2012

Transfers are very much on my mind, but it’s tough as I have no idea what my budget is. I am going to hazard a guess that I have £10m before I have to launch into the “sell to buy” category. We already have Podolski to ease the pressure on Robin, so where is strengthening needed. I say a more creative advanced midfielder, and a defence stiffener.

In line with my well voiced policy that we should only bring in better than what we have, then it’s tough, no impossible, on my budget. Or is it?

I think our CB’s will be fine, so I’m going to lash out all the dough on an experienced DM. A De Jong type.  

As for my AM, I say think about this:

Friday June 1: Russia 3 Italy O.

Russian League Champions: Zenit St. Petersburg.

Captain of Russia: Andrei Arshavin.

The match report for the Zenit game against Dynamo Moscow in Sovetsky Sport noted that Arshavin was “the hardest-working and most dangerous player on the field”. Hardest working!! Let’s face it, Dick Advocaat would not select AA as Captain if he had commitment and attitude problems.

With Arshavin back as AM there would be no hindering the opportunities for understudies as AA is 31, and this would allow plenty of games for whoever Arsène sees long term for that role. Andrei  has always wanted to play in the middle just behind the striker and that’s where we should start him. I was staggered by how trim and fit he looked in this picture playing on Friday.

I’d get him back, play him where he wants and tell him (as Ferguson did to Cantona) not to bother tackling and tracking back. With a tough defensive midfield behind him, we may actually see the real Arshavin in Arsenal colours.

It may only be for one season, but perhaps that’s exactly what we need. Our Russian could just flourish in One Last Hurrah.

Written by MickyDidIt89

Arsenal win the Premier League for the 7th time in 10 years

June 6, 2012

OK, technically we’ve won the PL once in the last 10 years if you want to be pedantic – but my cunning handicapping system based on money spent in the transfer market has revealed that we’ve actually won 7 times and come second on the other 3 occasions.

Don’t worry, this came as quite a revelation to me as well – after all, some would say that we have under achieved recently under Arsène Wenger.

So how do I arrive at this astonishing conclusion? It’s quite simple; I am factoring our ability to compete financially with the teams that have finished above us into the equation. By now you may be sensing that my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek – and it is. But there is a serious point, in fact there are several serious points….. read on……

Here is my Financial Fair Play Premier League table for the last 10 years.

The ‘Position’ column on the right is where Arsenal should have finished if FFP (or actually my conveniently manipulated version of it) were in place. I have taken points away from every club that has spent millions more than Arsenal in that period = financial handicapping. We should, by right, be battling against relegation if our performance reflected our net spending in the transfer market.

So what do I base this ludicrous assertion on? Well have a look at the comparative spending of the big 5 clubs over the last 10 years.

There is a mere half a billion difference between Manchester City and Chelsea and the Arsenal … and guess what, one won the CL and the other the EPL this season so I think we can accept that sooner or later big spending pays off if you judge success in terms of trophies.

The table below shows the net spend of last season’s 20 Premier League clubs over the last decade. Arsenal is in nineteenth place with a balance of minus £4.5m.  Only Blackburn are below us. The real under achievers are Totnum who are third with a net spend of £232m and Liverpool in fourth with a net spend of £207m – and not a Premier League title between them to show for it. So maybe 200m is not enough, but 500m gets the job done. Or maybe those two clubs are just poorly run?

Even relegated Wolves have a net spend of £50m more than Arsenal over the same period and that with only a brief flirtation in the EPL.

Chelsea top the list. As everyone knows, they entered a new era when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, but they are run a very close second by Manchester City who were bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group 5 years later in 2008 and will undoubtedly outspend Abramovich over the next few years.

The statos amongst you will no doubt correct me on some of my figures but what I think everyone can agree on is that Arsenal cannot compete with City or Chelsea in the transfer market. Usamov is currently not in a position to inject his millions into Arsenal and I for one hope he never is, but that is another debate.

Personally I am very sceptical about the effect of the real FFP as I cannot see UEFA penalising the biggest clubs in the world in a way that would encourage the formation of breakaway leagues. However, I believe that Manchester United, Liverpool and Totnum will be reigning in their spending in the future and the two Spanish giants are almost certain to be affected by the impending crisis in the Spanish banking system.

Like all arguments based on statistics, there is always another way of looking at things. In this case, the problem is that if I was to recalculate my version of the FFP table and to base it upon expenditure on wages instead of net transfer spending, then Arsenal would not rate as highly. In fact, if you based expected league position on wages alone, Arsenal are about where you’d expect.

The basic maths shows that we pay disproportionately high wages in relation to the amount we spend in the transfer market when compared to pretty much every other PL club (I haven’t checked the all). This policy was no doubt borne of necessity due to the costs associated with building the Emirates – but do we have to persist with it in 2012?

My hope is that we are rethinking our wage structure and some of those players who have been rewarded handsomely but failed to achieve the potential we saw in them, will be moved on this summer. If Mr Gazidis and his team (who quite frankly haven’t impressed me so far) can renegotiate some more lucrative sponsorship deals and increase revenue worldwide, then we should have the financial clout to fend off all but City and Chelsea in the domestic transfer market. We should also be able to reward our top players at the ‘market rate’.

The other teams with aspirations of being able to compete at the top (tots and pool) know that they have to build a 60,000 seat stadium to generate the income required – and as every Arsenal supporter knows, the true cost of that is 5 or 6 years of difficult transition and financial prudence.

Our footballing style and club ethos may be enough to make up the rest of the disparity between us and the super rich teams but it won’t be easy. The football hierarchy for the EPL has been set for the foreseeable future and Arsenal are in a great position to be the ‘best of the rest’.

It’s going to be an interesting few years ahead. The landscape of the Premier League has changed forever. The early portents for our future development will be revealed by this summer’s transfer activity. I believe we will inevitably continue to be a feeder club to the super rich teams but we should be the front runners in signing any player we target when we are not in competiton with the big spenders.

The big question is: will we continue with our current policy, or will we increase the amount we are prepared to pay for top players as our revenue increases?

Written by Rasp

Disclaimer: I gathered the stats reproduced in this article from what appeared to be reputable sources. The odd figure may be a point or 2 out but the overall picture is correct I believe.

Gunners – Reasons to be cheerful are 3

June 5, 2012

The summer of unrest has descended upon us, bringing in the usual speculations subdued by delays in transfer activities, caused by the Euros and worsened by terribly bad weather. There are not many things worse than getting up on a Saturday morning and realizing that there is no footy and it is raining outside. I check the list of football fixtures regularly, in case I slept for 3 months and missed the beginning of the season. Sadly, I am just deluding myself.

But I’d be damned if I am going to be miserable all day as I remind myself that it was the biggest achievement of the 20th century to discover that we can change the way we feel. I therefore will highlight a few reasons to be cheerful and one to be miserable, the choice is yours.

Reasons to be cheerful are three –

1. We have the best stadium and best training facilities in the country.

Emirates Stadium is the most technologically advanced football stadium in Europe, incorporating state-of-the-art facilities with stunning features from Arsenal’s Highbury past. Since its opening it has won several prestigous awards and it is widely acclaimed the most modern stadium in Europe.

‘The magnificent Emirates Stadium has become a landmark piece of modern architecture dominating the north London skyline. One of the most technologically advanced arenas in world football, Emirates Stadium provides a stage befitting for Arsenal’s ambition to remain one of the world’s greatest clubs.’

I can hear voices complaining that the building of the new stadium ruined our chances of trophies and will cripple us forever. That is not the case. Highbury could not be extended further due to environmental factors (including residents protests), the fact that parts of Highbury were Grade II listed objects and because of the safety directives at footballing grounds resulting from the investigations of the Hillsborough disaster.

To compete at the highest level, the Club had to build a new stadium. Did you know that monies received from premium seating and corporate boxes is nearly as high as the revenue from the entire stadium at Highbury?

Ashburton Grove is ours and that my fellow Gunners nobody can take away from us.

2.  We have the best manager in EPL.

Arsène Wenger epitomises everything that is The Arsenal – class, culture, discipline and hard work. I have no doubt that many will laugh at me for saying that, simply because the team has not won in anything for 7 years. Does ‘not winning’ make him a bad manager? I think not. There are factors out of his control, including luck, poor referring, oil freely flowing from the soil in wrong countries and the unwanted transfer requests of players who want more money.

Wenger has never embarrassed the Club. There were some unfounded rumours about his personal life and a few refusals to shake hands with some dubious characters, but other than that he has been a gentleman through and through. I cannot even begin to imagine Fergie being in charge of the beloved Club. The arrogant, bullish, unpleasant little Scott throwing boots at players, with the hairdryer treatments, and embarrassing his employer by the horse racing dubious dealings. His notorious mind-games and manipulations are unpalatable.

Some of you could comfortably cope with SAF’s shortcomings in return for a few more trophies. Not me.

And who is to say that any other manager would win trophies within Arsenal’s financial constraints? Will any other manager stay and try to do his very best to achieve The Clubs ambitions?

We are often reminded that he failed to sign Ronaldo, Torrez, Mata and many others. No manager can sign all of the players, there are limits. Nasri and Hazard snuffed ManU for City and Chelsea respectively, it happens to other clubs too. Those that Wenger has signed over the years have not been bad, have they? Every manager makes poor signings, look at SAF’s Bebe, Veron and Anderson.

3.  We play the most tantalizing football in EPL.

Again, I have to refer to sir Alex Ferguson and for that I apologise to GM and Chary. However, he is held by many as the best manager in EPL, to which theory I do not subscribe. He has recently issued a message to the season ticket holders (are the numbers falling down already?) stating that ‘There is no club in the world who can create the drama that we created last year’. On your bike Fergie, if you want drama, you come to the Emirates.

I attended a horse racing meeting a few years ago. Bob Wilson was there as a guest of honour; he delivered a short speech promoting his charity Willow. When he was asked about Arsenal’s chances of winning CL that season, he replied ‘We never do things the easy way’. Tell me Mr Wilson!

Nobody would disagree that we play exciting and interesting football. The technical abilities of players are superior to most competitors. And although concentration and motivation can be an issue at times, there is no other team as watchable as Arsenal.

Take away half a billion of pounds from City and 11 penalties from United, and then let’s compare who’s more successful.

4  Ok, I was to write only 3 reasons to be cheerful, but there are so many more!

The new season with all its excitement, joy and pain is about 9 weeks away. New fixtures, the prospect of watching Podolski, Jack will be back, we might even have a new captain! Only joking, Robin is going to stay put.

We, the fans have a role to play as our belief is passed on to the team, so let’s give our best. The trophies will come, they will be ours, do not worry about that. But for crying out loud, do not spoil the fun of being the part of the greatest Club in the world and when the first whistle goes in August and the aura lifts, embrace the feeling that something special may happen. Oh boy, bring it on!!

Written by evonne

Arsenal’s Best Ever Transfer Manager

June 4, 2012

We judge managers on many criteria, the most obvious of which is winning trophies.

But not far behind the acquiring of silverware comes the ability to find great players and bring them to The Arsenal.

In those stakes there are some interesting contenders for the crown of our club’s best ever “picker”.

Read on… then vote for the one you think has been the best in this regard.

Bertie Mee

Bertie’s appointment from physio to manager in 1966 was a big shock to most people (him included – he insisted on a clause in his contract that he could return to physiotherapy after 12 months if the management thingy didn’t work out). Bertie had a strong core of players to build on, but he brought in (or promoted from the youth team): George Graham (Chelsea), Bob McNab (Huddersfield), Pat Rice (youth), Charlie George (youth), Eddie Kelly (youth), Ray Kennedy (Port Vale), Sammy Nelson (youth), Liam Brady (youth), Frank Stapleton (youth) and David O’Leary (youth). Pick the legends out of that lot! However he also recruited Peter Marinello, Alan Ball and Bobby Gould, none of whom were great successes at Arsenal.

Arsène Wenger

Like Bertie Mee, Arsène was able to build on some great foundations when he got the best job in football in 1996. The George Graham back four was still in place and the club had also acquired a certain talismanic Dutchman. But our new French coach made signings that would really bring back the glory days: Vieira from Milan; Petit from Monaco; Anelka from PSG; Overmars from Ajax; Henry from Juventus; Ljungberg from Halmstad; Campbell from Hell; Toure from ASEC Mimosas and more. In 1998, 2002 and 2004 those players brought us huge success and some stunning football.  Since then we have seen many other fine players arrive under Arsene’s stewardship (Van Persie, Fabregas, Vermaelen, Sagna, Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain), but seven potless years have also led to questioning as to whether his “picking powers” are on the wane.

Terry Neill

Terry was at the helm from 1976 to 1983. During that time he took us to three FA Cup Finals (sadly we won only one of them), plus a Cup Winners Cup Final (lost) and a third place finish in the league in 1980-81.  His key signings were Malcolm MacDonald (from Newcastle), Alan Sunderland (Wolves) and Pat Jennings (the Swamp). Graham Rix was his most notable promotion from the youth team. Supermac, in particular, was a great signing who really lifted the club. He scored 42 goals in 84 appearances for us before injury brought an untimely end to his career.

Herbert Chapman

Chapman spent several years failing to achieve much success after joining Arsenal from Huddersfield Town in 1925, but after winning the FA Cup in 1930 he oversaw one of the most successful periods ever in our club’s history – an era of dominance that ended prematurely with Herbert’s sudden death from pneumonia. His most significant signings included such legendary Arsenal figures as Alex James (Preston NE), Cliff Bastin (Exeter), David Jack (Bolton), Eddie Hapgood (Kettering) and Herbie Roberts (Oswestry).

Billy Wright

Billy managed Arsenal from 1962 to 1966 and his reign brought no major trophies. However, he helped lay the foundations of the success that would follow a few years later. Billy’s transfers included Bob Wilson who arrived from Wolves and Frank McLintock, from Leicester. Both would go on to be vital members of the 1971 Double side, Frank as the captain. Billy also promoted several promising youngsters into the first team, including Peter Simpson, John Radford, Peter Storey and George Armstrong, so he could certainly spot a player.

George Graham

The “famous back four” will always constitute Gorgeous George’s most lasting legacy to Arsenal. When he took over as manager in 1986 he found Tony Adams, Paul Merson, Micky Thomas, Paul Davis and David Rocastle all waiting for him. Graham was quick to make Adams his captain and to put his faith in this outstanding crop of young players. But he had to transfer in the other components of the legendary defensive unit: Winterburn from Wimbledon; Dixon and Bould from Stoke and Keown from Everton.  When you consider that George also brought us the joy of watching the likes of Ian Wright, Alan Smith, Anders Limpar and David Seaman, you can see how effective his transfer instincts were. However, in his later years the signings (or promoting) of players like Kiwomya, Carter, Morrow, Hillier, Helder, Jensen and Selley provided a bit of a knock to his reputation.

So, who do you think has been our best picker of players ever?


Joey Barton media darling?

June 3, 2012

Friday night on five live was the last appearance this season of Pat Nevin, Colin Murray and Perry Groves on the Friday night football show. This trio have tried, not always successfully to put together 2/3 hrs. of light hearted football talk.   Gossip, humour, opinions, experience and an assortment of guests are used to kick off the weekend’s football coverage.

Much of it is contrived, but there is no doubt that the two ex-pros bring a wealth of knowledge to the microphone as well as a determination not to take themselves or each other too seriously. Which is a welcome change given the gravitas, certainty and self-belief of the hanging jury that is MOTD.  Supposedly the BBC’s flag ship contribution to our weekend’s football education.

Friday night instalment was interesting if only for the fact that Nevin, who was leaving early having agreed to speak at a Dennis Law dinner left a very serious question in the air.

The last subject of debate had been something like,” who or what had provided the most odious memory of last season?”   To which the unanimous answer had been “Joey Barton”, not many I feel would argue with that. Nevins question however went further, by offering to bet, that irrespective of whether Barton stayed at QPR  was sacked or unloaded and offered a contract by any other club, he would achieve his objective. Namely a career in the media was what he was after and it was now a nailed on certainty and all the protestations of Murray, Groves and their ilk would be just that, protestations and nothing more.

So AA’ers which of these football good guys is right: our own flying winger, Perry Groves or the calm skilful midfielder that is Pat Nevin. Will you be amused, entertained or indeed interested in anything, said, written or broadcast, that has the potential to make Mr Joey Barton a buck? Will all the righteous indignation that has led to a 12 game ban, be conveniently forgotten once it is served and will you welcome Mr Barton back into the football family and interact with him, on whichever vehicle he chooses for his coronation as a media celebrity/pundit?

I await your replies with interest.

Writen by dandan

Arsenal Guessing Game

June 2, 2012

Today we throw down a challenge to test your Arsenal knowledge. This was our match report from a game in the 2010/11 season – with the names hidden by code numbers. Your task should you choose to accept it, is to identify the game, the opposition and if you’re not already bored, the names that correspond to the numbers in red …. all will be revealed later in the day, have fun 😛

Yesterday (18) asked if Arsène should risk (1) for the visit to the (2) and after 30 minutes it was clear that it was actually Mr. (3) himself that shouldn’t have been risked as (4) was subbed after twisting an ankle. Although (1) wasn’t himself, with passes going stray, he hasn’t had a pre-season and he is obviously going to need a few more games.

This was a big test. (5) launched ball after ball into our box from either (6) goal kicks or the ever boring towel wrapped long throw from (7). This was all hands to the deck and with (8) in goal we had to hope that he would be strong and confident in what will probably have been his last game as the no 1. I have to say that I don’t think he let us down at all, even smashing his head on the upright in the call of duty and having a spat with (9a).

There was an early chance for us to take the lead when a short corner surprised the (5) defence and (10) unleashed a shot that struck a defender and then (6)leg but refused to go into the goal. We didn’t have to wait too long though as (4) slipped a great ball to (11) on 20 minutes and without even breaking his stride, he broke the net with his shot low into the far corner.

Typically, (5) equalised within minutes, as (12) was outrun and outmuscled by one (9a) who then slid the ball to another (9b) who had acres of space to slot it home. Dreadful defending, everyone was asleep.

(10) was having a great game, making intelligent passes and not getting caught on the ball. To have him marking the massive (13) was reassuring. In this form you never know what (10) is going to do next and the upcoming 2 week international break could undo all that was good yesterday, we’ll have to hope not.

Arsenal hadn’t dominated the first half and after the game Arsène felt the team were nervous, so to score early in the 2nd half was definitely the tonic we needed. (14) went on a great run chasing a ball that looked like it was going out of play and sped towards the (5)  goal, he found (1)  in the middle whose shot hit (11) and rebounded into the path of the ‘onrushing’ (15) who neatly slotted it home.  2-1 up and just over half an hour to play.

(5) worked hard to find an equaliser but Arsenal for the most part were strong in defense. It was still nervy and each time the ball went out for a (5) corner, I covered my eyes but we passed the test. This was full on defending in our area, not having to defend as a team higher up the pitch, but those challenges will still come with other teams that want to pass the ball.

(16) came on for (1) after 70 minutes and immediately added a new spark. (11) didn’t have as much of the ball as last week but was still alert late on in the game where last season he may have given up, he seems to be developing a good engine. I may get to like Alan Shearer after his comments on MOTD aimed at Hansen’s rubbishing of (11)’s performance and hat-trick last week. Hansen is obviously going to stick to his guns about (11), but both Shearer and Lineker clearly disagree. Arsène said at the start of last season that it was (11)’s time to emerge as a great player – his prediction was accurate, but just 12 months early!

(17) came on with less than 10 minutes to go and was unlucky not to score after being presented with a great chance – similar to last week’s, maybe he has a chocolate leg too?

To come away from (5) with three points was a very good day’s work. Unfortunately it looks like we may have lost (4) for a couple of weeks but with Internationals looming that’s not a crisis. Our passing game is awesome and our resilience in defense will make other teams worried oh and that little no 11, he’s pretty good too.

For those of you who enjoy cryptic crosswords, the name of the team we were playing is hidden in this clue:

North Sea pirate next door to street’s local

The Curious Case of Yann M’Vila

June 1, 2012

Recently we have been strongly linked with Rennes defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila, with reports suggesting he is on the cusp of signing for our great club. A mainstay in the French team, M’Vila has been described as “reading the game like Makelele, the presence of Partick Viera, and can pass a ball like Yaya Toure”. He has received such acclaim mainly due to his robust playing style, high work-rate, great tackling and ability to build attacks. His passing ability is a very underrated part of his game, in fact during the 2010/2011 season M’Vila lead the French League in completed passes finishing the season with a passing percentage of 84%.

So why do we need him at Arsenal?

Simply because he is the missing link in our line-up. Song is a great player but he lacks the discipline needed to protect the back four, plus he takes a while to get into games. The last couple of seasons we have seen a different Song, why? I’m not sure! Has he been given a licence to create? Or is he not disciplined enough to keep his position? Whatever it is no-one could argue that when on-Song he is almost unstoppable. He is strong on the ball, has an eye for a pass (some beauties this season), and great at breaking up play.

However, for the attacking style of play we adopt a wall is needed in front of the back four, otherwise we leak cheap goals. The back four needs protection! Arteta has helped massively in this department as he has often in games been the deepest lying midfielder allowing Song to wander forward. Without Arteta we have struggled greatly (compounded by the injuries to Wilshere and Diaby), so a midfield enforcer is needed to add some discipline to our line-up.

What does that mean for Coquelin and Frimpong? Frimpong has struggled with injuries (two knee injuries in consecutive seasons) and lacks the experience needed to be the midfield enforcer at Arsenal. It is a shame because Frimpong is Arsenal through and through and a big fan favourite, his time will come though (perhaps after a full loan spell). Coquelin is a tough one, he deserves his chance. Unfortunately injuries to both he and other players has meant Coquelin hasn’t been able to play in his favoured defensive midfield postion, and show Arsene and the fans what he’s all about. I love how he goes about it, he’s tough, great on the ball, composed and a fighter! If M’Vila joins the fold it will be interesting to see what happens with Coquelin, because he is too good to be the third choice defensive midfielder at any club.

Another big question mark is if he joins how will we line-up as a team? Will He slot into a two man wall in front of the back four like Manchester City do? Or does he take the reigns as the main defensive midfielder? Is M’Vila coming in because Song is going to leave the club? Personally i would like us to adopt a 4-2-1-3 because our attacking style leaves us exposed far too often, especially with Sagna and Gibbs/Santos joining in attacks whenever they can. He would be a welcome addition to our team, he is highly rated, and if Arsene is willing to spend a large amount of money on him then we can be confident that he will be a midfield War Machine for the mighty Arsenal.

Written by oz gunner