A Couple of Stars on the Horizon

July 18, 2010

I’d  put the squad names on yesterdays post but by the time the players were on the pitch doing their warm-up both Almunia and Eduardo had mysteriously morphed into Mannone and Szczesney. This felt to me the right thing to do as I couldn’t see what Almunia would have to offer in this kind of game and was looking forward to watching both of our other keepers being tested. So, flu or no flu, good decision Arsene.

Traditionally in this game Arsene sends a pretty much 1st team out 1st half and then the reserves for the 2nd half but this year it was more of a balanced mix. Rosicky captained the first half with a team set out as a 4-3-3 with Arshavin, Jay Simpson and JET up frontish. The mid three were Wilshire on the left Frimpong in the middle and Rosicky on the right. The back four Traore – Vermaelen – Koscienly – Havard Nordveit. Arshavin put us ahead inside 2 minutes and we all relaxed.

If you’ve never seen him play, Frimpong looks like Eboue. He was playing the holding mid-fielders role and his energy in driving play forward and in the tackle was a pleasure to behold. I hope he turns out to be good enough for Arsenal because I saw him playing just over a year ago in the Youth FA cup team and was impressed with him there. He runs at players, has good ball skills and he made some fine tackles. Had a couple of shots too. I think we’ll see more of him.

Even though Jay Simpson showed his appetite for goals and his finishing skills, the star of the first half and indeed the match for me had to be Havard Nordveit. He usually plays as a centre-back  but he was imperious here as the right-back.  Don’t we have any right-backs coming through? He got to more headers than Koscienly and his crossing was pretty good too, anyone know if he’s right or left footed because we noticed that his crosses came off his left-foot.

The second half was a bit of a slumber party. Some good linkup play between Theo and Chamakh, nice neat passing that could have produced a couple of goals. They seemed to be alternating playing in the middle. Chamakh was happy to track back and showed a couple of tricks. If our wing-backs could learn how to cross he will get us goals, he got into a great position for a corner late in the half but the delivery was poor.

Here are chary’s thoughts of the game:

A much more competitively contested game than in 2009, as evidenced by the late sliding tackle on the revelation of the first half, Havard Nordtveidt, who seemed to ooze class and composure giving the Barnet left winger no joy at all.

Arshavin and Nasri looked as though they had come back from fat camp and showed touches of class, although more came from our Russian maestro.

Both Rosicky and Barazite seemed to have gotten a job lot discount on haircuts.

Jet looked like an amalgam of Kevin Campbell and Heskey to me, but the Emile comparison is not meant to be derogatory, he’s still young enough to round off the rough edges to his game as he certainly has the power and pace.

Kozzer needs to get some high protein shakes into his diet and bulk up on his upper body but he seems the determined type of player who will bust a gut to improve.

Chamakh settled into an Alan Smith type of role – holding up the ball to allow others to come into play and I’m salivating at the prospect of us actually posing some threat at set pieces now. His close control seemed pretty impressive too.

It’s a pity Barnet couldn’t throw/kick in some crosses to test Chesney’s catching and decision making as he barely had anything to do

Finally,the first Peronis of the season were downed by yours truly and jolly good they were too!

Barnet v Arsenal – more mouthwatering than the World Cup final

July 17, 2010

How many weeks have we waited? – its been far too long; like being separated from a lover, knowing that the date and time is set for a reunion, counting down the hours and minutes until we are re-united.

I’ve really missed Arsenal. I’ve watched a lot of football  in the last few weeks and although it was nice to have Cesc and van Persie in the World Cup final, to see a whole team in the glorious Red and White, heralding the beginning of our preparation for the new season …. what can compare to that?

This afternoon I’ll be at Barnet FC to welcome Arsene Wenger, Pat Rice and our players, new and old – a mix of gifted reserves spiced with a smattering of first team stars who were spared the exertions of playing in the World Cup. I would imagine some managers (Domenech and Capello) may now be regretting the ommission of Arsenal players who would undoubtedly have performed better than the forlorn figures who returned early in failure.

Friendlies at Barnet can be anything from a thrilling 11 goal celebration of beautiful football to a tepid nil nil.

Having watched the way Spain laboured to win the World Cup 1-0, I’d love to see us bang a few in for fun. Here are the results of the games so far this century:

The Barnet fans always make me laugh. They used to sing about ‘the Highbury Library’ and ‘shall we sing a song for you’ etc etc, but like most Arsenal fans, although I’m really excited about the game it would be a bit pathetic to go overboard as we are playing a team from the 2nd division  (apologies to the Barnet faithful). Having said that, I much prefer Barnet to the other team starting with ‘BAR’ who publicly embarrassed our captain in that ‘shirt incident’.

The look on Cesc’s face said it all. Take my word, he will be an Arsenal player next season and he will play with all the passion and conviction that makes him such a great footballer.

This is the 22 man squad as announced on Arsenal.com

Manuel Almunia (GK)
Andrey Arshavin
Nacer Barazite
Marouane Chamakh
Johan Djourou
Craig Eastmond
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Emmanuel Frimpong
Kieran Gibbs
Conor Henderson
Laurent Koscielny
Henri Lansbury
Ignasi Miquel
Samir Nasri
Havard Nordtveit
Tomas Rosicky
Armand Traore
Thomas Vermaelen
Theo Walcott
Jack Wilshere

Looking at that list, I would love to to see the new boys, Chamakh and Koscielny get some time on the pitch. It will be fascinating to see which centreback pairing takes to the field against pool for the first game of the season. Today we may get an insight into how Vermaelen/Djourou and Vermaelen/Koscielny combos would work.

It will also be interesting to see Havard Nordtveit. The Norwegian is now 20. He’s grown to 6ft 1 1/2 in. (tall for an Arsenal CB!) and has spent the last couple of seasons playing first for Lillestrøm in Norway and last year FC Nuremburg in the Bundesliga where he was deployed as a defensive midfielder, not a centreback?

Slightly more depressing is the choice of Goalkeepers – Almunia and Fabianski. Although I think the latter can become a good keeper, Almunia surely cannot be trusted to perform under pressure in the ‘big games’. Why on earth won’t we get a chance to see Szczęsny? They’ve been raving about him at Brentford all last season. He’s been playing in the league above Barnet, so surely he could have been given a chance. We know what the other two keepers are like to our cost!

The Bees (Barnet) always put in a spirited performance characterised by pace and endeavour – but let us all pray they don’t forget the ‘friendly’ nature of the occassion and injure any of our boys before the season starts.

A group of ‘Arsenal Arsenal’ bloggers will be at the game and I am hoping that each will write a short paragraph on their impression of the game for a ‘composite’ match report tomorrow.

Come on you reds………..

Written by peachesgooner