Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

October 11, 2013

Saturday:

The news broke that Jack Wilshere had been photographed with a cigarette in his mouth, naturally the anti Arsenal media jumped all over the story, they haven’t had much to moan about recently, Arsene Wenger “fumed” at the news, oh aren’t these journos funny, and claimed that the player was risking his health as well as his reputation, he went on to say that he would be “speaking” to the 21 year old about it.

Liverpool moved to the top of the table with a predictable win over Crystal Palace, Arsenal target Suarez scored after just 13 minutes. Man City came from behind to beat Everton as did Man U to beat rock bottom Sunderland. It took two goals from unknown teenager Adnan Januzaj to spare the blushes of Gollum and his two mis-firing strikers Rooney and the Dutch bloke, who missed an absolute sitter near the end of the game.

Sunday: On this day …

6th. October 1973 a seventeen year old mid-fielder made his debut for Arsenal, coming on as a substitute for Geof Blockley against Birmingham City, soon to become one of the best players to pull on a Gunner’s shirt, Liam Brady. Forty years ago and it seems like yesterday.. 😀

In the lunch time kick-off Chelsea secured a win with a late goal and a late, late goal against Norwich City to move into third place in the table.

Later in the day, with a somewhat stuttering performance, we got a point at West Brom which was enough to return us to the top of the table on goals scored. A good position going into the international break.

Spurs returned to their true form taking a three nothing hammering from the team from The Boleyn Ground. Despite wide spread chanting of the “Y” word by the home fans police made just one arrest, although they have announced that they will be looking at video evidence and could not rule out further arrests.

Monday:

Naturally Jack Wilshere grabbed the headlines, and the pun prize must go to Mr. Henry Winter of The Telegraph. “After all the controversy over pictures of him smoking, it had to be Jack Wilshere lighting up the afternoon here. It had to end here with the Arsenal mid-fielder enjoying a draw.”

The incident took place outside Dstrkt Club in Rupert Street, Soho on Thursday evening, the squad had been given two days off following the win over Napoli on Tuesday. Wilshere was on a “team night out”.

Jack Wilshere has admitted he made a mistake by smoking a cigarette but has insisted he will never be drawn in to it again in future. “Players make mistakes,” he said. “I am not a smoker. I spoke with the boss and he asked me what happened, I explained to him and we sorted it out”.

Editors note. It is believed that the owner of the club has an “issue” with spelling. 😀

Tuesday:

England called up Kieran Gibbs to the squad for the two internationals after Ashley Cole pulled out with a rib injury, Kieran gets recognition for his excellent early season form.

Aaron Ramsey received the Barclays Player of the Month award for September and Arsene Wenger picked up the Barclays Manager of the Month award. Ramsey scored five times in five appearances while Wenger oversaw a perfect month with six wins in six matches.

Wednesday:

In the wake of the FA’s attempt to poach a player born in Belgium of Albanian/Kosovan parents Jack Wilshere entered the argument over “foreign” players playing for England. “The only people who play for England Should be English people”. Wilshere was talking at St Georges prior the upcoming internationals. “If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. You shouldn’t play”.

I want to come back to Arsenal, says Bergkamp: Yes Dennis would like to return “at some stage”, “but maybe not for at least another three to five years”. “I don’t see myself as a manager. I see myself as part of the coaching staff. I really enjoy training with the strikers”. Yes please Dennis anytime you like. 😀

Nicklas Bendtner’s reputation for arrogance often precedes him but the Arsenal striker believes such preconceptions are inaccurate.

Star (in his own mind) striker Nicklas Bendtner says he is a changed man. The reason the Great (in his own mind) Dane gives for his resurrection is that he has had a baby. Now I’ve heard of virgin births, but this is virgin on the ridiculous. During his time at Juventus some accused him of being “too fat to play”, well now we know the truth, he was pregnant. Talking to Arsenal Player he said “First of all I had a baby, which changed me a lot, I think a lot of people say that you have babies and they change you and stuff but for me I could really feel a big difference to my life. Being abroad showed me a lot of different things and different aspects of how to live and how to cope with problems. That has given me a lot more as a man for now”.

Thursday:

Overnight news – Carl Jenkinson was called up by the England U21s, recognition for that will help his confidence and could be a good thing for Arsenal as well, some competitive game time for him ahead of a couple of games standing in for the injured Bacary Sagna.

The furore over Jack Wilshere’s comment “only English players should play for England” continued with an attack on him by a South African bloke named Kevin who plays cricket for England. Most of the critics seem to have missed the context of what young Jack was saying, Professional players brought into the country should not be able to play for England, thus preventing home grown youngsters having the chance.

Backing for Wilshere’s stance came from Harry Redknap on Radio 4s Today Programme.

Tony Adams celebrated his 47th birthday.

Later in the day Arsene Wenger revealed that he may remain in England for the rest of his life. As reported in the Evening Standard. “I can see the rest of my life in England, why not?” he said. “I feel comfortable in this country because we share a common passion for football and as well I am very thankful for this country for having accepted me and giving me a chance. “I am happy on the football pitch.”

Written by Norfolk Gooner


January Transfer Targets Pt.1.

October 10, 2013

Transfer targets. This two part post is an attempt to inveigle some of you to give us your ideas of where the team needs strengthening and more importantly, why.

Goalkeeper: We have signed an experienced Italian GK whom no-one knows about nor has seen play as back-up to our two Poles. Can’t see the point in that at the moment. Fabianski is a very good deputy to Szczesny who has been on top form so far this season. Apart from a poor game at home to AV, TPIG has been very good – just what we want to see from such a young keeper developing his skills. His decision making in terms of coming for crosses is a bit conservative (IMO) but he has eradicated most of his “Hollywood” tendencies.

Szczesny’s failings remain distribution, though he is definitely improving. His kicking lacks accuracy and as such he is tending towards the safe option of throwing to the wings in order to create a counter-attack which is fine as we are not a route one team.

images

Viviano in training for the Bench

My guess is that Viviano was signed in the knowledge that Fabianski will move on sooner rather than later. Without having seen him play it is impossible to judge but International caps for a country renowned for good keepers is a decent testimonial.

Transfer Target?  No need, though I do accept some people are less than 100% secure about our No.1.

Full Backs: Starting on the left we have Gibbs and Monreal. I would suggest that after Ramsey, Gibbs is our most improved player and fully deserves his call up to the England squad. Monreal must wonder why he signed as he would surely have expected to be first choice given his high transfer fee. But that fee is further proof of Mr Wenger and the BoD’s commitment to creating a high quality squad. Having a player of Monreal’s ability both as left sided MF and LB cover is insurance in case Gibbs suffers yet another injury. Vermaelen has shown he is a capable understudy should both get crocked.

Unknown

The New Lee Dixon?

Right Back: Bacary and The Corporal.  Sagna is back to his best and Arsenal must make him sign a contract extension – whatever it costs, because he has AFC experience and is a senior pro, plus he can teach Jenkinson how to become a world class RB. As of today, The Corporal has much to learn; his crossing is poor, his defensive awareness average and his tactical nous lacking, yet, he has huge potential. The man has considerable energy, is a Gooner and clearly wants to learn BUT …… would you be happy to see Jenks start over a long period of time if Sagna gets injured (which as an older gent he is prone to be)? I wouldn’t.  And this is where the genius of Mr Wenger raises it’s shiny pate – we have The Flamster, who is worth every penny of his, no doubt, huge salary.

Transfer Target:  Once again, no need.

Centre Backs: Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen (& Sagna in emergencies). I love The BFG – he has brought a level of a calmness to the defence not seen since …. ermm ….. the last CB who was calm! But the other two? Koscielny is prone to a rush of blood and too often has given away silly fouls in potentially dangerous areas – just look at his push in the penalty area last Sunday. A red card and a penalty already this season is not what we want from what is an exceptional defender. He has pace, superb awareness, hence his high interception count, and is strong both in the air and in the tackle.  Vermaelen is too good a player to sit on the bench and yet his career has been in reverse for almost 2 seasons. I love his rampaging style and his clenched fist attitude but he is so focussed upon winning that he can neglect his defensive duties. Sagna? A decent option and hasn’t let us down but we need a specialist CB. The decision to let both JD and Miquel go out on loan is baffling in the extreme

Transfer Target;  I think we need to buy and buy someone in BFG’s class. If we really are going to challenge for the title we have stop conceding silly goals. One clean sheet in the PL and that against the Hapless Hotspurs is simply not good enough especially considering how well our GK and FB’s are playing. I realise Kozzer is a crowd pleaser and that he gives his best every time he plays but quite frankly, we need better. I would sell TV (even if he is Club Captain) and spend big in January, hoping for the new CB to bed in by March – ready for the CL Final in Lisbon.

Player Suggestion;   Williams at Swansea has been mentioned but I don’t think he is good enough. I want top quality not decent PL. My choice would be  Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund. Yes, he would cost a lot but he is only 24 and already played 36 times for Serbia. He lived in the USA (representing them at youth level) and as such is fluent in Americanish. Or better still, how about his more mobile partner – Mats Hummels, also just 24, he is  fantastic player and already an automatic starter for Germany. If he won’t come mid-season, please Mr Gazidis make him ours in summer.

images-2

You heard it here first.

One would have to ask why they would leave BD but, as we know, money talks and the opportunity to join the German Invasion at AFC must be appealing. Buy, Buy Buy.

My next post will concentrate on the other areas of the pitch and who knows, with this excruciatingly long Interlull (©Arseblog) there could be a “Should Paul Lambert be the Next AFC Manager?” post to follow!

written by Big Raddy


A bench made out of ‘deadwood’ or untapped talent?

October 9, 2013

I would like to take a good look at our squad. We are on a great run of games and everything is looking rosy but we’ve all forgotten about our so called “deadwood”. These are the players who are old enough for the first team but aren’t playing as much as anybody would like:

1. Abou Diaby: Injuries have almost destroyed the poor guy’s career. With the signing of Flamini and Ozil, there is no space even on the bench for Abou, so when he eventually returns from injury (if he stays fit for longer than his unveiling as our “new signing”)he wont have much time to get back to his best and might have to be sold or loaned out or his career may end prematurely.

2. Emmanuel Frimpong: Our bench General has been on the bench for virtually all our matches this season and no appearance so far. You don’t need to be Einstein’s twin to tell that he doesn’t feature much in Arsene’s plans. He does what he does well i.e. warm the bench, and a player like him is invaluable during an injury crisis but he might have to move on to get some playing time.

3. Nicklas Bendtner: The big Dane is an average player at most and IMHO and the only reason I think we should play him at all is to up his transfer price. I think Poldi should be played more as CF and Bendtner should be given the boot at the first opportunity that presents itself.

4. Park Ju-Young: With an admirable 1 appearance under his belt, there is not much I can say about our Korean forward, and considering his 3 goals in 21 apps for Celta Vigo, he is far from world class so I would loan him out till his contract expires and then release him. Done and dusted.

5. Joel Campbell: When we signed him in 2011, I thought he would be the long-term successor to RVP. Now, I’m not too sure. A bunch of loan moves and 7 goals in over 60 club apps later, he is not looking too good. And with the signing of Sanogo, and the explosion of Akpom, he seems to have his work cut out for him.

6. Francis Coquelin: I personally think he’s our best future prospect at DM, and with one or two more loan spells, he would be ready to play for us on a weekly basis, but I’m not sure he is patient enough to wait that long, although I hope he waits long enough.

There are other players like Wellington Silva (remember him), Benik Afobe, Thomas Eisfeld and what happens to Gnabry when Theo and AOC return?

Last summer, we let a few players leave, but it seems we need to let go of a few more. What do you think? Which other players do you think deserve a chance to shine?

Written by Jamie


Is Wilshere The New Ramsey?

October 8, 2013

There was an interesting discussion in comments here on Arsenal Arsenal yesterday about the current form of Jack Wilshere.

And we are not the only ones talking about our Number 10.

With a couple of England international fixtures on the horizon his progress was always guaranteed to be a hot topic among the media.

And Jack added smoke to the fire after being caught out by The Sun newspaper while sucking on a fag*.

He subsequently apologised for polluting his body, but I suspect his actions endeared him even more to Arsenal fans of a smoking persuasion (GiE – please confirm).

But the cigarette business was really just a sideshow and the important stuff was what he did (or didn’t do) on the pitch.

Some seem to feel his performance against West Brom on Sunday was pants. Others feel he had a poor first half but a good second half. Others still that he was below par but generally OK.

My impression from watching the game live was that he was having a frustrating time. For one thing he was being played wide left, when clearly his preferred position is in the middle.

But it wasn’t just that. It seemed that he was dwelling on the ball too long at times; he was turning into trouble instead of skipping away from it; and he was too easily muscled off the ball.

He redeemed himself with two pieces of fine play in the second half: the shot which Lamparded its way into the Albion net and earned us a point; and one exquisite long pass to pick out Giroud in the box – the Frenchman only being denied by a good save from Myhill. (Jack should also have been awarded two absolute bang-on penalties, but that’s another story).

Overall the impression was of a player who is out of sorts. Not bad, but not as good as we have seen him in the past.

However, when Chas uploaded a video yesterday of all Wilshere’s moments in the game and I watched it through, my assessment of his performance went up. Yes, he lost the ball a few times, but in general he moved things along well. It was like he did the opposite of flattering to deceive, whatever that is.

It just shows what a conundrum the “Jack question” is.

But the thing that struck me most was how similar his play has been in recent outings to the form shown by Aaron Ramsey last season.

As he battled his way back from his maiming at the hands of the Shawcross orc he often seemed slow in possession and ponderous on the ball.  Some Arsenal supporters became frustrated with him; his mistakes were greeted with moans and groans; some dimwits demanded that he be dropped, sold, loaned out, beheaded… whatever.

But Arsene Wenger knew that only match time could rub the rough edges off Aaron’s game, so he stuck with him.

In the second half of the season the Welshman’s performances started to improve considerably and he was a vital component of our run to the Champions League positions and to eventually – hilariously – finishing above the Spuds yet again.

Fast forward to this season and Aaron has become as undroppable as Mesut Ozil.

Interestingly, I thought that his renaissance began when he stopped trying to be the best player on the pitch. He was so desperate to make up for lost time and to silence that awful moaning from the crowd that he kept trying to do amazing things: the Hollywood pass; the impossible dribble; the 35 yard screamer.

His confidence and form were low, so none of these over-ambitious attempts came off. At some point he was either told, or figured out for himself, that he should focus on the simple things: don’t try and win the game with every touch – just move the ball on quickly and simply.

Once he simplified his game, more things worked for him, the crowd got off his back and his confidence started to return. Finally things turned round completely and he was able to start pulling off the special stuff because he had the confidence and composure to do it.

So, the relevance to Jack Wilshere is this: is Jack trying too hard to get his form back rather than just letting it come  naturally? If he stops trying to do too much every time he gets the ball, will he – like Aaron Ramsey – slowly but surely return to his best?

It’s probably not in his nature to do that. And, given the hype surrounding him from the national side, it’s hard to imagine him deciding to play conservatively – but it may just be what he needs for a few weeks.

Anyone who remembers him looking like the best midfielder on the park in a game against Barcelona that also featured Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas knows that Jack has what it takes to be world class.

Although he did not have as traumatic an injury as Ramsey’s he nevertheless missed the best part of two seasons with his own injuries and if our Number 16’s rehabilitation has shown anything it’s that these things take time. Quite a lot of time.

But Ramsey’s resurgence also shows that it will be worth it in the end.

So the moral of this tale is this: Arsene should keep playing Jack in the first team; and perhaps Jack should opt to play a more “percentages” type of game for a while until things really start to gel.

There is much discussion about who gets a starting berth on our midfield when everyone is fit. The usual “nice problem to have” clichés get bandied about. I could see Jack potentially slipping down the pecking order, but not for long.

By the end of this season he will be a first team regular and will have re-established himself as one of the best talents in the country.

Right LB… over to you.

  • Note to American readers: it’s not what you think.

RockyLives


Boing-ed off.

October 7, 2013

The good guys returned to the top of the table on goals scored after the medias latest bête-noir Jack Wilshere equalised early in the second half after the home side took the lead shortly before half time.

A hard working and confident West Brom kept the Arsenal at arm’s length for most of the first half and stopped Arsenals superior creative resources from effectively taking a hold of the game.

West Broms form players Berahino and Amalfitino had early chances and Chesney in goal managed to keep Arsenal in the game. Arsenal’s form player, Rambo, also had a good chance to break the deadlock but sadly the chance was well saved and then West Broms early pressure brought about the goal. There was a sense of inevitability about the cross being floated into our area and an unmarked header from West Brom nestling in Chesney’s net.

Conceding just before the break was, to quote the football commentators cliché it was “Psychologically, a bad time to concede a goal”,

This would be a test of the Arsenal’s resolve as the midfield battle had led to the now customary rotational kicking/fouling of Wilshere that seems to be condoned by referees. As expected the first infringement by Jack was duly punished by a yellow card just before the players trudged off for half time.

Jack was also unlucky not be given a penalty for Malumbu’s lunge from behind as he surged to the West Brom goal.

Second half and the was a renewed sense of urgency as the Arsenal created more chances and let their superior talent shine through although ex gunner Anelka blew chances to extend the home sides lead.

The introduction of Rosicky, with his tendency to drive forward, helped the push for the equaliser and it was his lay off that teed up Jack to blow away the smoke of unwanted attention by equalising from outside the box with a thudding howitzer of a strike.

Later on Jack’s clever through ball put Giroud clear but Myhill, in the Baggie’s goal, did well to keep out the Frenchman’s subsequent shot. At this point the final result looked like two points dropped, but on hearing the hilarious news of our swamp dwelling Middlesex friend’s home spanking perhaps it was not so bad.

Still top of the table going into the break with some great players to come back after means we retain pole position and are still well set for a title challenge.
UTA!

By ChärybdÏß1966


Reasons to be Cheerful

October 6, 2013

If we win today it will be our 9th away PL victory in a row – an Arsenal record. Given WBA’s last victory this is no given, they are clearly a decent side.

There is a cautious optimism around the club (= euphoria) the like of which we have not seen since the Highbury days. Could 7 PL and 4 CL games really have engendered this remarkable turn around? Well, if you choose to believe the red-top’s narrative. In fact we have been on a roll for most of the year; since the beginning of February our PL record is P22  W18 D2  L2. Read that again!!  56 points out of a possible 66 – we lost to THFC & AV, drew with Everton and MU.

56 out of 66! Astonishing, and almost certainly the reason why Big Raddy has been in such a good mood this year.

Can we keep it up today?

WBA have some decent players – none that would get in the AFC first 11, but in Sessegnon and Amlfitano they have players in form. However, WBA , like us, have serious injury problems in attack with Long, Anichebe, Sinclair and Anelka out (could change pre-game).

The CC game is no indicator to today’s match though some of the personnel will remain. Nor is Albion’s home form of two losses and just the one win. What is relevant is their win at Old Trafford last weekend – it shows this is a decent side who will cause us problems. They have scored just 6 goals so far which may be due to the injury problems.

Positives: There are many.  We have not lost in 6 visits to The Hawthorns. We are the only team to have scored in all our PL games. We have won our last 8 away games etc etc etc

and We are walking in an Ozil Wonderland

We seem to be pressing higher up the pitch aided by the tireless Giroud who is adding much more than a goal-scoring threat. It is helped by the arrival of the energetic rampaging style of The Flamster, we looked very solid when he teamed up with Arteta. This could be the answer in away fixtures where we will play more on the break. However, This means that Wilshere is once again on the bench – a luxury but surely one which needs to be sorted, he is too good to ride the pine. And what happens when Santi and Theo come back?

My Team:

hpm1

Of course we could play Jack in place of Tomas but AW (and I) love what Rosicky brings to the team – energy, pace of thought and action and huge determination. Expect to see Wilshere on the 70 minute mark. We have little attacking threat on the bench should Arsenal fall behind, the sooner Podolski and Walcott return the better.

The results were predictable yesterday – let it be so today (apart from a humiliating defeat for the Lillywhites) because, let’s be honest, given the spirit at Arsenal it would be surprising if we lost.

Come on Arsenal, make Big Raddy a happy man (and in turn he will make Mrs. Raddy equally joyful)

Written by Big Raddy


Dear Arsène ……………..

October 5, 2013

Dear Arsène

DidIt here again.

Couple of quick things today, Arsène. A Striker and a Manager.

First up, the striker. Giroud.

Remember Arsène, ‘twas I what put you on to Ollie in the first place. You agreed, and signed the cheque. Then, in his first season, I helped you out, Arsène. Kept telling the unbelievers who were calling for a crosser to supply Big ‘Ol, that along the ground was better. Hey presto, look where his best goals and passes come from? Yip, feet.

Anyway, how do you repay this, Arsène? You spend part of the summer trying to sign that Higwayne bloke. What was all that about then? Not cool, Arsène.

As they say: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, or as I like to say, Arsène: We’ll only see who’s not wearing a bathing suit when the tide goes out.

Talking of strikers, you’re going to love my little conspiracy theory, and it ties in nicely with our next topic: Managers.

Down the boozer post Naples game, I was informed that Maureen actually blubbed like a baby at the news of Moyes’ appointment, and then immediately disappeared in a strop for four days. Actually, Arsène, when we cast our minds back to last season, it was kind of sickening how much Maureen was sucking up to all and sundry at Old Toilet. “Let’s bury the hatchet Fergie, we’re all Mates now. Utd are a great club”. Dribble, dribble.  Yeah right, Maureen, you slippery reptile.

Anyway, on to said theory. First thing our little Iberian Serpent does when arriving at his second choice club, is set about unsettling Utd and Moyes. In goes the very public bid for Rooney to begin his pathetic, jealousy ridden assault on Utd. Then to my mind, Arsène, the best bit. What better way to undermine Moyes, than to prove Everton are better off without him, so he posts Lukaku up to The Scousers. Has to be the strangest transfer of the summer, surely.

So, Arsène, if you can think of a better reason as to why Chelski so inexplicably got rid of him, let alone to Everton, then I’d love to hear it. You have my mobile number, Arsène.

Sorry it’s all a bit rushed today, as there was something else slightly nagging me. City and Hair.

Just get the feeling there’s an issue up there. Only learnt yesterday about Hart and his shampoo ad. Mancini was more than a bit girly up top, and now this Pellegrini fellow. Can’t help noticing there’s a sniff of a 70’s centre parting deal going on. Makes me wonder whether those lads in Powder Blue really have their minds on the job. I sense an opportunity to leapfrog that lot this term while they’re in front of the mirror. Something to ponder, Arsène. Dull day ahead and whatnot.

Okedoke, Arsène, I said it would be a quick letter, so there we have it. A great week for all. Thanks Boss.

I remain Sir, your obedient servant.

Didit.


Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

October 4, 2013

What an amazing week Gooners, a win on Saturday saw us remain at the top of the premiership and going two points clear after the totts and chavs managed to draw with each other. Ozil’s first goal for the Gunners in our Champions League tie with Napoli saw the Emirates stadium rocking and rolling to the old songs. Read on for more of this week’s news stories …………

Saturday:

Despite Swansea’s late consolation goal a debut goal from Serge Gnabry followed by Aaron Ramsey’s eighth in nine matches saw the three points safely in the bag and Arsenal sitting proudly two points clear at the top of the table. A draw between the Chavs and the Spuds coupled with defeats for both Manchester outfits helped to make it a very satisfactory weekend which was marred, only in part, by the Bin-Dippers gaining a regulation win over bottom club Sunderland.

Sunday:

No news was the good news, no new injury worries as a result of the confidence boosting victory at Swansea.

Monday:

One of Rocky’s best ever posts, on Per Mertesacker, brought memorable one-liners such as :- “like a slum-dweller from N17 on a looting trip at the Pound Store during the annual riot season” and “From the bargain shelf there was the mystifying inclusion of a job lot of Pot Noodles”.

Gunner’s legend Bobby Pires who was named as an ambassador for The Arsenal Foundation last season has been training at London Colney in recent weeks. Arsene Wenger said “It’s a great opportunity [for the young players]. He practices with the young players with the under-21 team, and I feel always there is no better education than playing players at that age with top-level players.”

Asked if there was any likelihood of him rejoining the club

“No Robert Pires will not join us, he was born in 1973. He is still very fit and a great player and we are always happy to have him in training but he just occasionally comes in to practice,” said Wenger.

Tuesday:

Arsene Wenger celebrates seventeen years as Arsenal manager. Yes it was on 1st. October 1996 that Arsene joined The Glorious Gunners and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just in case anyone is in doubt here are few statistics.

Games played (under Wenger) 965, 559 of which were wins, scoring 1788 goals in those games Le Professeur has used 187 players from 46 different countries, he has promoted 62 Academy graduates into the first team.

The morning news that Thomas Rosicky was available after injury was welcome indeed ahead of the home Champions League tie with Napoli.

Wednesday:

The front page of The Telegraph Sport section says it all

Masterclass Brilliant Ozil puts Napoli to the Sword

Will anyone who saw that first twenty minutes ever forget it? I won’t.

Thursday:

Jack Jebb could be fighting for his Gunners career before it has properly begun after racially abusing a young Norwich City player.

The 18-year-old creative midfielder — who left school one year early to join the club’s Academy — was charged after an incident that took place in March during an Under 18 clash against Norwich.

It is believed it was not a Norwich player or member of the management team that reported the abuse, but that the charge was brought forward by the match officials.

In July the FA charged him on breach of rule E3 — ‘using abusive and/or insulting words — but the allegation also ‘included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.’

He has now been banned for four games and fined £1,800 by the FA.

Jebb does not face the FA’s new minimum five-match ban for discriminatory abuse because the incident took place last season.

Definitely not the sort of thing that will advance the young lads career, let’s hope that somebody at the club can have a word in his shell-like.

Friday

Arsenal Ladies head into tonight’s Continental Cup final against Lincoln aiming to make amends for being beaten to the Women’s Super League title.

The Gunners lost the top-flight crown they had held for nine years, and also missed out on the top-two place needed for Champions League qualification.

“We’re the Continental Cup holders and we want to win it again to go with the FA Cup,” said manager Shelley Kerr.

For anyone thinking of attending the match kicks off at 19.30 and is at The Hive in Barnet.

No real Arsenal related news so far this morning, other than a couple of “Arsenal in race to sign” type items. Arsene’s news conference later this morning may produce some interest and team news for Sunday’s West Brom game.

Written by Norfolk Gooner


We are Top of the League, and our real competitor is …

October 3, 2013

… Bayern Munich, the champions of Europe, the inheritors of the Barca legacy, the architects of a beautiful game, the Bavarian Brigade, now managed by one Pep Guardiola, who we all remember only too painfully well. And the competition is … the Champions League, of course.

Yes, Bayern Munich is our true competitor, and not any of the minnows that populate the English Premier League, basking in the vain glory of wasting a lot of money on ordinary players, and without any serious intent or ambition of building a team that plays a beautiful game. Some of them we saw in action yesterday, and what a poor show it was as well. Well, Chelsea did well this week, it has to be said. But never mind, we can deal with them. One other numpty, coming from somewhere down there in N17, will be seen in action tomorrow. Probably will be an equally poor show as well.

Compare their games to the fantastic football on show from Arsenal on Wednesday, and marvel at the huge difference in quality. Yes, quality, style and beauty of the beautiful game that Arsenal produced. Well, the show this time was only against Napoli, who had hardly anything to show at all. And before that, there were the men from across the Channel in Marseille, and they were ordinary as well. So, let us not bask in the glory of victories against weak teams. Let us look to the future.

And yes, our true competitor is the Bavarian Brigade – Bayern Munich. What a fantastic game they produced as well. Drove Man City out of the ground from the first minute, a total domination if there was ever one, almost as good as Arsenal’s domination over Napoli. Except that, Bayern’s frailties were exposed by the end, as soon as changes from the benches came in to replace the leaders on the pitch – IRN Robben, Franck(enstein) Ribery, and Schweinsteiger (the strange hybrid between, well, just forget about it!). Much as the first team played a fantastic brand of football, the weaknesses of the replacements were plain and clear. I am sure Arsene saw, noted and approved!

So, friends, We Are Top of the League, but it is not only the Premier League I am talking about, it is Champions League as well. Yes, we can win the Premier League, and even if we do not win it this year, we will certainly be in the mix. But, even if the Premier League matters, and matters not quite a flying fig, it does not quite matter as much as the Champions League. We have won the Premiership in the past, and know what it means to win the League. But if there is one trophy we want to lay our hands on, and now is the time like no other, it is the Champions League. And, yes, now is our time.

The Champions League is really our stage. There is a method to the madness that, despite all limitations that the doomsday brigade would point towards, we have qualified for the CL continuously over a decade and a half, progressed to the knockout stages umpteen times, and have more than a fair share of QFs/SFs and a Final. But, despite our consistent performance in the Champions League, despite our top seeding (for whatever it is worth), we have never laid our hands on the trophy. And it hurts. And we deserve it more than anyone else. And we deserve it now, more than any time in the recent past.

There are several things that work to our advantage in Europe this time round. First, we have a fantastic team now, despite the injuries, the thin squad and the kids! The mixture of youth and experience was always there. But the two were always embodied in different players. Some players were young, and others were experienced. Now we have a unique combination of youth and experience combined in the same players: Özil, Rambo, Giroud, Wilshere, Theo, Szcz, the list goes on. Plus, we have experience in good measure (BFG, Arteta, Flamster, Rosicky, and so on) and we have some fantastic and exciting kids coming up (The Ox, Gnabry, Jenks, Monreal, et al.). Most importantly, we have one Mesut Özil, who is just tailor-made for the European stage. And for the doubters, just watch the replay of the game on Wednesday! He knows what it takes to perform at the top level in Europe, and has both the experience and the ability to do so! In plenty, as well. And he is settling in really nicely with the fantastic talent in Arsenal. What a fantastic sight so far! And, what a fantastic prospect for much greater things for the future!

Second, we have the fans and the management of the club fully behind the players. For the first time in many years, there is a buzz around the club. Remember the happy evening of European football on Wednesday? The chants, the songs, the cheers! Ah, what an experience! Forgotten is the anger and vitriol spewed all around in the summer. The faithless have scurried into their holes. The fans are great every match, home and away. Even the journos have started putting in a good word or two for the good guys. Surprise, surprise!

Third, the playing environment in the European stage is fantastic. The grounds in Europe are good, and promote our brand of the beautiful passing and dribbling game. Our kids enjoy better protection from the refs, unlike in England, and there is good enough opposition so that the boys don’t fall asleep midway through the game.

Fourth, much as we are having a good time in Arsenal, and reaping the benefits of good financial and player management over a very long period of time, our major opposition in Europe are looking shaky. In England, the plight of ManUre, Chelski and Shitty are plain for all to see. Indeed, we are better than all of them, We Are Top of the League! In Spain, Barca are not quite the same team they were a few years back, and Real Madrid are struggling with a new management and a new look team. In Germany, Dortmund is doing well. But they lost to Napoli, remember, and wait till they meet Arsenal! Bayern are looking good, and they are our true competitors. All in all, the time is perfect for us. Arsenal is capable of beating any team in Europe on the day!! So, this is our stage, and this is our time!

We have started well, winning our first two games. But these were only two games, and against pitiful opposition as well. The men from the marshes down in Marseille, and the knobbly knees from Naples. Next comes the double-header against dodgy Dortmund. They have done reasonably well so far, but managed to engineer a loss against Napoli. Yes, the same Napoli whom Arsenal played out of the park at the Emirates the other day.

Its game on, friends. On with the show! There’s silverware looming in the horizon, and it is the right shape and texture! It is the Champions League!

Written by Arnie


“We blew Napoli away” …….

October 2, 2013

I have to apologise. In the build-up to our second Champions’ League group game, I said Napoli would “be our toughest opponent in the season so far”. I had expected a real challenge would be presented by a team that has dropped just two points in six Serie A games to date, plus had impressively beaten Borussia Dortmund in their first CL game. They were a settled team that had been thriving under a new and familiar manager, and with a high quality replacement for the striker they had lost to PSG. This would be a true test of our resurgent team. Wouldn’t it?

No, it wouldn’t. Napoli didn’t turn up. They were utterly woeful in defence, naïve and disorganised beyond belief. And in midfield they completely failed to impose themselves. I can’t really comment on how they did up front, so little did we see of Pandev. Napolistas might point to the absence of their Argentine new boy, Gonzalo Higuain, as justification for their lame performance, but important as Higuain must be to his new side, that doesn’t explain or excuse the frankly pathetic, gutless and brainless performance from the Italians. They have other players of quality, like Inler and Hamsik, but the only players in camouflage kit (yuck) who came close to earning their corn were Insigne and Reina. You might think I’m going over the top, but I honestly cannot recall any visiting opponent underperforming in a CL game against us, and we’ve played some decidedly ordinary teams down the years.

Ok, enough of slating our oppo.

Arsenal were excellent on the night, though the limitations of what faced them makes it harder to determine just how good we really were last night. However, as the cliché has it, you can only beat the team that is in front of you.

In truth, we blew Napoli away in the first half hour of the match, arguably in the first 15 minutes. We played with speed of passing and thought, fantastic movement, cohesion, calmness and confidence. Wenger brought the recovered Rosicky back in, playing in attacking midfield alongside Ramsey and Özil, in front of a solid pairing of Arteta and Flamini. Wilshere and Gnabry were left on the bench.

If that selection looked conservative and cautious, the truth quickly showed that the opposite was true. From the off, we saw the ball being pinged around with consummate ease. The intelligence and understanding between the players was a pleasure to take in.

And then in the seventh minute, the breakthrough. And not just any old breakthrough; this was the moment, after some majestic interplay on the right flank between Giroud and Ramsey, Özil received a perfect cut-back cross from Ramsey on the edge of the penalty area. Özil opened out his body and placed the ball with precision into the corner of the net, with Reina flailing to get to the ball. This was it, the moment our new diamond went one better than provide an assist, this was the talented German’s first goal in the red and white.

Ozil scores v napoli

After the goal, Arsenal continued to dominate Napoli, who just couldn’t get the ball. The Arsenal midfield ran rings around them.

Seven minutes after scoring this goal, Napoli’s left-back had a throw-in near his corner flag but stupidly didn’t launch the ball up the line, and instead threw it infield to his centre-back, despite the presence of several Arsenal markers. Flamini got in front of the man he was marking and nipped the ball away from him, nudging it to Giroud, who immediately laid it off to Özil, who quickly got to the byline and put in a short, low cross to Giroud, who typically had run towards the front post. The players tracking back were too slow to do anything about it, and big Olly did the easy bit and put the ball in the net. From the moment Napoli took that throw-in to the moment the ball hit the net was eight seconds. And to think, we used to be accused on lacking a cutting edge.

team v napoli

We could have scored more goals, but quite rightly, Arsenal played within themselves for the remainder of the game. Having scored two goals, the onus was on Napoli to force the pace, and show Arsenal that further effort was required. The Italians didn’t, and almost all their efforts on goal were high and/or wide shots from distance. Szczesny must have been disappointed not to be tested but outfield, Arsenal contented themselves with probing for further openings without busting a gut and without giving up their shape.

It was impressive to watch Arsenal play with discipline for the remainder of the game, denying Napoli any chance of reducing the deficit. Özil, Ramsey, Giroud and Rosicky continued to dominate the top third, with quick movements and passes, and further chances were created. Arteta and Flamini similarly dominated the middle third. Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna and Gibbs held their positions very well and afforded their opponents no gaps to exploit. Szczesny was denied the chance to play, so dominant was the Arsenal performance in front of him. When Napoli tried to press the ball when Arsenal defenders were in possession, a few passes sliced through their ranks and we emerged on the attack again.

Arsenal may not have scored any further goals, but they remained in control for the remainder of the game. Reina made a very good close save from Koscielny in the second half, but that was a detail. With Benitez failing to stir his players into life for the second half, the outcome of the match was clear from very early on.

Some might say Arsenal were so dominant that they should have scored more than two goals. There might be something in that, but it also feels a little churlish to criticise. With an epic first half performance, Arsenal took control of the match and challenged Napoli to show them why more effort was required. Napoli couldn’t rise to that challenge, and couldn’t undermine the shape and confidence of their opponents, so there was little need of urgency in the remainder of the game.

And, it was great to hear the positivity, the unity of the crowd was a pleasure to behold, as if the months of fractious division had never happened. And it was great to hear chants of “We’re the North Bank/Clock End/East Stand” – we are truly beginning to grow into this stadium.

So, six points in the bag already, we couldn’t have wanted it to go any better than this. One more win in the remaining four games and we will likely get through. It would be nice to get our business in the Group of Death done early though.

Were you watching Suàrez, Rooney, Higuain and van Persie?

Ratings:

Szczesny: 8. The Pole in goal did everything asked of him well, especially in dealing with high balls put into the box. The fact that he wasn’t asked to do much wasn’t his fault.

Sagna: 8. His link-up play was excellent, and much of our attacking play came on the right flank.

Mertesacker: 8. Not tested fully but his performance was nonetheless exemplary.

Koscielny: 8. It is great to see Kos rediscover his mojo – the panicky efforts of a few weeks ago have gone, to be replaced by unpretentious calm.

Gibbs: 7. Didn’t do much wrong, perhaps there were one or two misplaced passes, but Kieran had a good night.

Flamini: 7. Probably the only Arsenal player whose technical limitations were apparent, but his energy was valuable. And without his interception, Özil would not have had the ball to set up Giroud.

Arteta: 8. Marshalled the centre of the pitch well, and with the Flamster, completely dominated Napoli’s midfield trio.

Ramsey: 10 (but not MOTM). Simply magnificent. The energy and intelligence of an in-form Rambo is a beautiful thing to see. On another night, he’d have walked away with a hat-trick.

Özil: 10. Oh…. My….. God….. Just how good is this guy? Answer: really very good. Thank you, Florentino Perez, you are a gent and a scholar. And a fool. Silky skills, incision, vision, awareness, Özil has the lot. I particularly liked watching how he can sense a defender closing in behind him, and then shift the balance of his body so as to move effortlessly into the space the over-eager defender has just vacated. Nice. (And yes, that should be read in the voice of the jazz guy in The Fast Show.) Perhaps it’s no accident that Özil was able to impose himself most effectively in a game against an Italian side. I feel sure he will reach these standards in domestic games too, once he has the measure of our game.

Rosicky: 7.5. Tom misplaced a few passes but still slotted into the passing game brilliantly. Perhaps should have done better with a chance he had early in the second half.

Giroud: 8. Copy and paste from previous reports: great link-up play, great lay-offs, great movement to score his goal and great effort.

And the subs:

Wilshere: 7. Once again, Jack was played out of position, on the left, where he was efficient without being incisive.

Monreal: Had too little time to make a mark.

Written by 26may89