Overconfident Mancs? MU preview

August 28, 2011

“We won the League ….. In Manchester”

We won the League at Old Trafford etc……. “

Seems like a long time ago since Mr Wiltord ensured another title for the men in the white hats. It would be reasonable to say that whilst United have consolidated and strengthened, we have taken a step back. The reasons have been discussed ad nauseum across the AFC blogworld, we all have our theories and pre-match is not the time to further the discussion.

Rarely have I known Gooners go into a PL game with so little expectation, actually that’s not true – there is an expectation – we are goimg to get hammered. Why? …. oh, there are so many reasons for the lack of optimism:  Recent history at OT, injuries, suspensions, exhaustion,  inexperience, players out of their natural positions etc etc etc. BUT …..

It is still a game of 11 versus 11, and whilst we may not have our first choice team available we still have a very good side. MU may be Champions (and deservedly so) but they have their own difficulties: An very youthful and untested CB pairing, a lack of a creative midfielder, a dependence upon the talents of Rooney, a dodgy keeper. etc etc

Where MU undoubtedly have an advantage is with the officials. However MU fans may like to suggest otherwise the facts point to an undoubted bias towards MU at OT. Since the beginning of 2009 – over 2 seasons, only one penalty has been awarded to the opposition at OT, whereas 8 were awarded to MU ( Arsenal stats for Emirates AFC . For 9, against 8). This is before dodgy offsides, non-goals, cards given for an MU dive, 110 minute games etc. This bias is so prevalent that it has become accepted by everyone outside of OT. Harold Webbis today’s victim, let us hope he has a good game.

This is a huge game in our calendar, one of the highlights of the season and whomever AW decides to play, they will give their all. We have match winners despite our problems and despite the shuffles , the defence looks sound. Suggestions have been made that Djourou could play in midfield …. seems a reasonable shout, better than throwing Lansbury into a massive game.

Our record at Old Trafford has been poor in recent years, no win since 2006, Furthermore, United have not lost a home PL game for 17 months! The Manc blogs are united in their optimism – most predict a home win by a least 2-0 and a comfortable victory. It is true that MU have started the season very well, the seond half against a sub-standard Spurs was an exhibition of superb attacking football to which the cave dwellers had no answer (and still have no points).

But …… our win in Italy was founded upon a determination which has rarely been seen in the squad since Sol and PV left. We are expected to lose yet we have real firepower in our front line, hard workers in our midfield and a beginning of a solid defence based around a superb goalkeeper. Should we score first, I rate our chances highly.

My team:

Either JD or Kos could play as DM. They both have shown an eye for a pass and the ability to get forward. Just read there could be a problem with Sagna, in which case, Lansbury has to play MF and Koscielny can go left …. tough times!

There have been many inventors from Manchester, my favourite being Roy Chadwick who designed the Lancaster bomber as well as the Vulcan bomber upon which Concorde was based.  Chadwick died in 1947 testing one of his own designs.

A question was posed midweek …. which game would we rather win, Udinese or MU. Almost everyone said the CL match. I disagree, I want to win both.

COYRRG

Written by Big Raddy

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Europe – guess who is back?

August 25, 2011

14 years in the Champions League and counting!

 By TotalArsenal

 

 

— Udinese – Arsenal: 1-2 Match Report —

 Let’s open with a cliché: this was a game of two halves. The first half was ok, but possibly not good enough to qualify for this year’s CL. During the second half Arsenal found its identity again and deservedly beat a spirited, and at times attractively footballing, Udinese football team.

We started very well in the first half, which was incredibly important, given everything that happened to Arsenal over the last few months – on and off the pitch. It was a warm and humid night, and the pitch in the Stadio Friuli looked great (on TV). We started with Szczesny in goal, a back-four of Jenkinson- JD – TV – Sagna; Frimpong, Song and Ramsey in midfield; and Gervinho, Theo and RvP upfront. I had hoped we would play Frimpong and Song together in midfield, but had not expected Ramsey to be the advanced midfielder. I thought Arsene would put Rosicky there from the start, but he kept him on the bench instead – and what a clever move that turned out to be!

Jenkinson started ahead of Traore in our back-four and it is almost a football-fairytale story how the young ‘prince’ Jenkinson has made it to the first eleven of our team in such a short period; and what a prospect he is! Sagna was moved to the LB position, but it was there where we were at our weakest during the first half – and Udinese at their strongest.

Initially Udinese had no answer to our formation and we started to take some control over the game. It was great to see our attacking intentions from the start: Gervinho, Theo, Ramsey and RvP were all hungry and had shots on goal whenever possible. We were also happy to play the long ball on occasion, which gave us the necessary variety in our attacking strategy.

The beauty of winning 1-0 at home, is that an away goal counts double and that is such a psychological advantage during the second leg of a CL qualifier. It totally suited Arsenal who do not know anything else than go out there and attack. The pressure was with Udinese, who knew very well that scoring two goals could still not be enough, as Arsenal are always capable of scoring the all important away goal (or two!).

Gervinho was the most dangerous for us and what a gem Arsene has bought for us this summer. The Gerv just sticks to his role and does it diligently and oh-so effectively. It looks so simple what he does, but how good is it to have a player again who loves to attack space and take on defenders whenever possible for 90 minutes long. The partnership between him and RvP is already looking fantastic and they have only played together for two months.

Frimpong had a good first half, but Song did look a bit lost and rusty at times. Slowly but steadily, Udinese got more grip/dominance on the game during the last twenty minutes of the first half, and in Di Natale they have a player of great quality. He was a joy to watch throughout the game; such clever runs, such energy, such a good balance and body strength, and such lethality in front of goal.

Udinese started to put up two rows of four – very close together – in front of our attackers and we started to struggle a bit to get through. We were vulnerable for attacks from Udinese’s right wing, but luckily we escaped a couple of times. It was, however, during this period that Arsenal had their best chance to nick the all important away goal in the first half. Gervinho found his way into the box with a brilliant move and pulled the ball back perfectly for Theo. The latter hit the ball low and hard – and on target – but the impressive Udinese goalkeeper Handanovic made a great save. RvP received the rebound, but could also not find a hole in the Udinese defence, resulting in another good save by their goalie.

Finally, Udinese found the opening with a couple of quality moves:  Pinzi, with some quick thinking, found Di Natale with a good cross, who had positioned himself cleverly between Jenkinson and Djourou – who both should have been tighter on him. Di Natale – the ex-international – proved why he has been the Italian top scorer for the last two seasons, by scoring a classy header over our goalie, from only a half chance. Szczesny had no chance at all. All in all, Udinese deserved to be in front at the break.

In the second half, Rosicky came in for – the impressive  Frimpong. This was clearly no reflection on Frimpong’s performance but a tactical change. And what a difference it made. Arsenal started to look again like the Arsenal that we have come to know in recent seasons. Song, back in the DM position, became an absolute beast in the second period: what a transformation. Ramsey looked a lot more in his element, and chapeau to Rosicky who brought some well-needed freshness and directness to our attacking play again.

 

In the 55th minute, Gervinho’s efforts were rewarded. He made it relatively easy to the by-line and passed cleverly back to RvP: 1-1! With the all important away goal in the bag, it was important to stay calm, but we did the opposite by conceding a penalty, which seemed harsh to me at the time. Anyway, what came next is all that matters: a world-class save by Szczesny – one that we will remember for decades to come and provides us with the final proof that this man is ready for the big stage. Let’s hope that the strength Szczesny showed in his left arm is symbolic for the found again strength and belief within the entire team.

After that save, the Udinese players and their fans never believed in it again. And Arsenal dealt a final blow by a superb goal from the man who loves space as much as Na$ri likes oil-smeared cash. The always impressive Sagna combined cleverly with Theo and the latter finished coolly and professionally. Job done and we are once again, for the fourteenth time in a row, back in the Champions League!

Arsene Wenger has shown everyone again what really matters in football: a well-thought-through system and eleven talented players on the pitch, with hunger and desire to win, and who love to work for each other till the end. Forget about transfers today, just enjoy the moment.

Player ratings:

Szczesny: 8.5 – did not make a single mistake and made a world-class save tonight. Superb.

Jenkinson: 7 – confident, energetic, good awareness and calm under pressure: what a buy – he could well be the transfer of the season!

TV: 7 – solid, but gave a penalty away at a crucial time, which could have cost us dearly.

Djourou: 7 – also solid, but should have been putting pressure on Di Natale before he was able to score. Still a fine performance though.

Sagna: 7 – struggled in the first half quite a bit, but played out of position, and is of course not left footed. Combined very well Theo for 2nd goal.

Song: 8 – struggled quite a bit in first half, but what a second half! Once Song gets going, there is no stopping him.

Frimpong: 7.5 – fine first half –worked hard and broke up a lot of attacks. What a prospect!

Theo: 7.5 – good, solid performance. Aggressive from the start and scored a very important, and well taken, second goal.

Ramsey: 7 – still finding his way without either Cesc or Wilshere on the pitch, but improved considerably in the second half. Decent performance overall.

RvP: 7.5 – worked hard and scored the all important first goal.

Gervinho: 8.5Man of the Match for me. Song was my MotM in the 2nd half, but overall, Gervinho deserves it in my opinion. He is focussed, works hard for the team, unselfishly looks for the best attacking opportunity, and just added that bit of extra class which made the difference tonight.

Rosicky: 7 – helped Arsenal to find its identity/shape again and worked hard.

Traore & Arshavin – not enough playing time to make a judgement.


What was Djourou doing?

June 5, 2011

How funny was that, watching England scrape a 2-2 draw against the Swiss yesterday? Dreadful defending by England to give away two free kicks (Scott Parker and Frank Lampard obliged) that were neatly converted when the England centre-backs failed to do their jobs and allowed Switzerland two goals inside 35 minutes. Joe Hart gets a special mention for showing his ‘flappy’ skills.

One of my favourite centrebacks, Johan Djourou, then brings down Jack Wilshere – surely the future of Arsenal and England in the penalty area, and Lampard converts the penalty to make the score 1-2 at half time.

Soon after the re-start Ashley Young brought the scores back level to 2-2.

Our Big Johan wasn’t finished yet though, he earned a yellow card for bringing down Theo Walcott and some say it should have been his 2nd after felling Jack for the penalty. So this guy does know how to be ruthless, he knows that Jack and Theo are real threats and he was willing to snuff them out and take one for the team. He knows they are threats because he sees them in training all week. Or did he take the safe option?

What would we have said if Jack had put Johan’s knee out or Johan had put Theo’s ankle out? It’s a very real risk this International football.

But still, it was very nice to see that Jack really is the future of football in this country, I hope Capello can use him to influence Englands progression to the European Championships. I wouldn’t want him to be part of  two failing teams – now that really wouldn’t be good for the soul.

Written by peachesgooner


How many Spurs players would get in Arsenal’s First X1?

April 21, 2011
Sorry all, Rasp and I are really busy today, we haven’t been offered a match report but BigRaddy wrote this before he went away so it would be churlish not to use it for discussion today following last night’s thrilling 3-3 at the lane.

We had some fun recently with a post discussing how many Man Utd players would fit into our team playing in the same formation as Mr Wenger employs.

Today I will do the same with Tottenham Hotspur :-

Szczesny v Gomez.

We missed our young Pole during his injury, his influence over the defence in such a short time is profound. He bosses the area in a way we have missed since Mad Jens and Seamo. Gomez is flaky, there is no other word for him. He can be excellent – a fine shot stopper and dominates at set pieces but he is prone to regular lapses of judgement. Given that our lad has so far only made one glaring error (and I blame Koscielny for that), it’s the Pole in Goal.

Sagna v Corluka.

Sagna has returned to the reliability he showed a couple of seasons ago and IMO is the best RB in the country. Corluka is a fine player, has good ball skills, a decent engine and can cover at CB, but he is not as good as Sagna.

Clichy v Assou Ekotto

Gael has his critics but remains an excellent full back. Ekotto has a loyal fanbase amongst Spurs fans and has been very good whenever I have seen him. Clichy is the better attacking player and apart from his weekly lapses in concentration is the better tackler.

Centre Backs

It is hard to establish just who are Spurs first choice CB’s. Woodgate and King are fine defenders, in fact The Master (TH14) has said that King is the best defender he played against. But they are permanently injured. This leaves Gallas, Dawson and Kaboul and for the sake of discussion I will drop Kaboul.

Is Gallas as good as Djourou? In his prime certainly, but one must ask why Mr Wenger chose to sell him to our local rivals; obviously because he believes he has better replacements, and a fit JD is a wonderful CB.

Dawson v Koscielny is not so clearly defined. IMO Dawson is the best English CB, I would have liked to see him in an Arsenal shirt, but Kos has the makings of a great player and an Arsenal legend. In his first season he has made silly mistakes but which player hasn’t? Koscielny gets the shirt because he is  better at passing and driving forward the team.

Midfield.

Again it is difficult to decide upon Spurs first choice midfield. Like us they have a glut of quality players but unlike us they have no set go to 4  players. I will choose Modric, Huddlestone, Van de Vaart and Bale. Probably more attacking than Harry would choose as he often plays 2 DM’s (he has Palacios, Huddlestone, Krancjar, Jenas, Pienaar and Sandro to choose from!)

Song v Huddlestone

Easy choice really. Song is amongst the finest young DM’s in world football. He has improved so rapidly over the past 2 years that we noticeably miss him when he is injured. He has a fantastic first touch, good engine, is a decent tackler and is good aerially. Song’s main fault is that he can get too adventurous and in trying to get back to defend makes rash tackles – he has picked up numerous yellow cards this season without making one really dirty tackle. Huddlestone, according to my Spurs mad nephew, is an integral part of both Spurs and England’s future. He too has made huge strides in his career; capable of playing an accurate and intuitive long pass and assisting defensively, he is one to watch – but he is just not as good as Song, and nor are any of Spurs other DM’s

Fabregas v Modric.

We all know the answer to this! Cesc is a genius; the best creative MF in the PL and a World Cup winner. Modric has had a fantastic season and it would be no exaggeration to say that I am sure Mr Wenger would have liked to sign him; phenomenal energy, a perceptive passer, excellent ball control and a player who knows no fear. But sadly not in Fab’s league.

Wilshere v Van der Vaart.

When playing this parlour game there are inevitably clashes that don’t really gel, and this is one of them. VdV doesn’t play the same game as JW. However, if one had to choose a player for our team I would certainly take the reliability of Wilshere. He turns up every game and gives his all whereas VdV goes missing which I guess is why Real sold him so cheaply.

Nasri v Bale.

Both fine players. Both at the start of their careers. Both up for Player of the Year. They have different skill sets which work very well for their teams. Bale could add what we lack on the left of our attack – pace, but Nasri is a better ball player and can beat a player by looking at him. Nasri scores more goals. Bale is the better defender.  I was going to give the shirt to the least ugly player but they are equal in this area as well. I will take a rain-check ….

Walcott v Lennon

Lennon – ugly, no final ball, phenomenal pace. Theo . good looking, developing tactical awareness, even faster. Capello prefers Theo, so do I.

RvP v Defoe/Crouch/Pav.

Robin is better than all of them. True, Crouch is better in the air. Other than that the Dutchman has it all and would prove it if he could stay fit for a season.

Manager:

Wenger v Redknapp.

Credit where credit is due. Harry has done a wonderful job at Spurs. Taking a team that was threatened with relegation to the Champions League in such a short space of time is a great achievement. Had it not been for economic reasons Redknapp would be England Manager and I am sure that if wants it  he will be after the Euro’s. But check out the Trophy Cabinet. Harry –  1 x FA Cup. Mr Wenger  – 4 x FAC. 3 xPL . French League and Cup, Japanese League and Cup.   Mr Wenger OBE voted World Manager of the Decade.  Mr. Redknapp  – Zip.

So the team looks like this:

Szczesny

Sagna   Djourou  Koscielny  Clichy

Song   Fabregas  Wilshere   Nasri

Walcott  Van Persie

Managed by Mr Arsene Wenger OBE

Why no Bale? Because he is so prone to injury, and he is a throwback.

Why no Spurs players?  Check out the table since 94/5

And this site is called Arsenal Arsenal not Dear Mr. Levy ……


Up for the Cup??

March 12, 2011

Lucky Arsenal? This season we have drawn Newcastle and Spurs away in the Carling Cup, Barcelona in the CL, and now Man Utd away in the FA Cup.  I can only imagine Mr Wenger has spent the season walking under ladders and crossing the path of black cats. No-one wanted this fixture, neither Arsenal who are coming off the back of an emotional defeat at Camp Nou nor Man Utd, who are facing Marseilles in an important contest on Weds.

And yet neither manager will give up on this game. In my opinion both will put out as strong a team as injury permits, pride will dictate their actions. However, we are without (I hate writing this …) Vermaelen, Walcott, Fabregas , Song, Fabianski and Szczesny, and United are without Nani, Ferdinand and Park.

The loss of Szczesny has brought about the situation that (almost) all Gooners feared – a run of games for Almunia. Many point out that Manuel had a fine game in Spain and it would be churlish to argue. However, there is a reason why two Poles under the age of 23 are ahead of him in the AFC rankings and that is because Almunia is notoriously inconsistent. It was said at the start of the season by most pundits that Arsenal cannot win the league with Almunia, unfortunately we are about to find out. That said, I am sure he will give his all for the cause (and promote his flagging career). He must be given 100% support.

Having a more reliable defence will give Manuel confidence. We have tightened  to the point where there appears to be some understanding at the back; something missing since Sol left. Who would have thought that Djourou would be the man to come to the fore (apart from GG, and yours truly)?

We still have the midfield creativity problem in Cesc’s absence. Many have called for Nasri to take Cesc’s role, which make much sense. He has the vision and pace to push the team forward and has been given the Captain’s armband (though Almunia will take it tomorrow) which indicates he has the character to lead the team, and character he will need because at OT Fletcher has the licence to kick anyone off the park. Song is a big loss – Diaby plays better when he has the security of a strong defensive midfielder. Will Mr Wenger dare to start Ramsey rather than Denilson? I would take the risk but this is more a reflection of my opinion of Denilson. The Brazilian has much to recommend him, but not at a team at the level of Arsenal. I am sure he will be a huge success in Malaga, Mallorca or Juventus but not at the Grove – sorry.

Up front Van Persie will be chafing at the bit after his infuriating red card, he is playing as well as any time during his Arsenal career.  Bendtner will be desperate to show that with more than 10 minutes on the pitch he can score, but if Nasri and Arshavin are to start I see no place for him. I expect Nik to leave in summer (and I will be sad to see him go), if I was him I would be fuming that having played in most rounds of the Carling Cup and being one of the main reasons we got to the Final, he was dropped for RvP.  Vidic is back for MU which is a huge fillip for them, and a negative for us. Time for Arshavin to rediscover his shooting boots.

Man Utd have been an anomaly; at no time have they looked a title winning team and yet they have led the Premiership for most of the season. With a dull but effective midfield they rely on power rather than guile. What would they give for a young Bobby Charlton? In losing their last two big games they have seen that Giggs and Scholes fading powers are useful but not dependable. Expect a buying spree from SAF this summer –  a GK, a left back (who wants the lamentable Evra?), 2 creative MF’s, and a CB –  Modric, Rodwell, Bale, Cahill, Neuer have all been mentioned. Valencia has suffered from injury and can perhaps become the Giggs replacement, but MU have yet to replace the brilliance of Ronaldo. What they have replaced is Ronaldo’s penchant for acting with an even worse cheat in Nani. – fine player, shame about the histrionics. Rooney has flickered all season, capable of the brilliant but then petulant and obnoxious – once again his career has been boosted by SAF’s influence at the FA. . Berbatov is the PL’s top scorer and yet remains as unreliable as ever – another capable of brilliance or anonymity. His place is under threat from Hernandez who looks a fine signing –  that valuable fox in the box.

Mr Wenger has continually stated Arsenal will fight on all fronts this season, and I expect him to put out his strongest available 11.

My team:

Personally, I expect us to lose; we are not playing with fluency nor with confidence; we usually go down at Old Trafford and we will be forced to play against 14 men (11 players and the officials). Arsenal have yet to score more than one goal in a game at Old Trafford in the PL, so we are unlikely to see a goal-fest. To win we need to score first and force Man Utd to come onto us, thereby allowing Arsenal to play on the counter-attack. And above all, we need a good and fair performance from the referee, Chris Foy.

It is the final game of the season against Man Utd on Mayday which is more important to me and I imagine to both managers –  this is just the Hors d’oeuvre. I would give the Claret- nosed Caledonian (Thank you RL) the win today in exchange for the 3 points at the Grove.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners

February 27, 2011

My first post for Arsenal Arsenal was just over a year ago and I sit today writing a Cup Final pre-match. What drought?

And what of this team that today can earn some silverware and stop the ludicrous carping from the media and a few of the fans? Why are we favourites to win a Cup for the first time in 6 years?

Cometh the time, Cometh the Man. And in this case it is Cometh the Men. Arsenal have moved forward as a club in a very short time and the sudden impact of 4 players has given the team a solidity not seen for many a year. Step forward Messrs Wilshere, Koscielny, Djourou and Szczesny. Suddenly we look solid at the back, and have a new and very young spine, one that can take us to glory.

In just a few games our problemic goalkeeping position has found a pillar of strength, our young Pole has shown against the differing attacks of Barca and Stoke that he is the real deal, and likely to be the Arsenal number One for at least a decade.

Djourou was written off by many, nicknamed Bambi for his ungainly style he has had a checkered injury filled career at Arsenal, but now, fully fit. he is established as the first name of the defensive teamsheet. His absence from the pitch at Newcastle led to 4 goals in 20 minutes – can anyone doubt that we would have won the game had he remained on the field? When Koscielny took the field in an Arsenal shirt I was one of many who questioned Mr Wenger’s signing. He looked lost, lacking in height and pace; yet here we are a mere 4 months later and he looks the real deal. I would even go so far as to say that Vermaelen will struggle to regain his place in the team. JD and Kos have an awesome record playing together, they have a fine understanding and both are just 23!! Probably the youngest CB pairing in the League.

And then there is Jack. What can be said that hasn’t been written? In half a season he has become an integral part of the team and forced two regular Internationals to become B teamers. He is always available for the ball when the defenders are under pressure, and with the ball at his feet is comfortable in the tightest situations. The man has genius.

And what of our other players who have improved beyond recognition? Samir Nasri has become a World Class player, a possible Player of the Year and a man who can mesmerise a defender, He can tackle, he can beat a player with pace, he can cross, shoot, pass with precision – he is a pleasure to watch. And he maintains the ability to give a sly dig which is essential in the hurly burly of the Premiership.

Van Persie is playing the best football of his career, Walcott has come of age, The full backs are back to the form they showed 2 seasons ago – Clichy was brilliant against Barca and Sagna has been strong all season.

Cesc is a big loss today, not because we cannot win without him but because if the game gets hairy, he is “the man”. Cesc has developed into the real leader of the team and I am very sad he will not have the opportunity to lead the side up the Wembley Steps. His injury leaves a midfield berth which I would give to Diaby, who is a more creative player than Denilson. He also has the height to cope with the inevitable Birmingham aerial bombardment.

Walcott’s absence opens a space for Bendtner. I like Nik, he always gives his all and despite not being the most elegant of players can be very effective, he is important when defending corners and set plays. Nik’s goal in the semi-final was as good as any seen at the Grove, and in his two appearances since he has had two assists. A goal and an assist would cement his place in the Arsenal fermament. However, Arshavin has been looking dangerous of late and we could play Nasri on the right with Arshavin on the left which allows us more movement than with the slightly ponderous Bendtner.

My team:

With Arshavin and Denilson coming on after 60 minutes

Birmingham are not a team studded with star players, they have lost the creativity of Hleb through injury and will look to play as a tight unit. They are clear underdogs. A midfield of Ferguson and Bowyer are sure to be combative. Should Birmingham win today it will be as a result of a huge team effort whereas we have the individual brilliance all over the pitch to win the game by having one player on fire.

One may wonder why I have used so few words on this Birmingham team. Truth is, I am bored by them – they are a reflection of their manager. Nothing more needs to be said.

The man who really deserves to win a trophy this season is our esteemed manager. Year after year he has had to listen to the same inane question about our lack silverware whilst delivering the best football seen in the Premiership week after week. Like Birmingham our team is a direct reflection of our manager, and I am very proud that our manager is Mr Arsene Wenger.

Birmingham is the birthplace of some of heavy metal’s stellar bands. The wondrous Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and the very Kings of Rock, Led Zeppelin all hail from Birmingham.

We are better than Birmingham in every department – it is a game for us to lose.

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy


Hair-Raising Issues.

February 11, 2011

Written by MickyDidIt

Unbelievably, I think I have unearthed a quite brilliant observation. Now bear with me, and if someone is reading this to you, I don’t mean “let’s get naked”.

Anyone else noticed improvements in the performances of JD and Alex Song this season. Well, I have, and do you know what, there is a common denominator. Yip, you’ve guessed it.  Dramatic change up top in the head fur department. Let’s look at the evidence. Is JD a better player with some colour up top? Yes he is. Has Song’s game improved since he yellowed up? Yes it has. You may think I am being silly, however I have tested this theory out on a person and it is bulletproof. Let’s continue. Freddie Lljungberg: did his development step up a notch with the addition of the red Mohawk. I believe the answer is: yes, it did. Stevie Bould and hair loss. Would we have celebrated his recession with “Stevie, Stevie Bould, Got no hair, We don’t care” with such relish had the lowering of the hair line not been matched by heightened performances on the green stuff.  I think not. Seaman:  poneytail and tash?  Worked for him.  Marouane arrived with a German styley short top, long back, and bingo in they flew. He has since “normalized” his hair by doing away with the back bit, and guess what? The goals dry up. Cesc: George Michaeling his trimmed beardy look, world beater. Bacary Sagna: arrived at The Arsenal with something on his head. It has remained, and he continues to be the league’s best right back. Change should not be considered.

All of this brings me to the serious point about this post and an area of deep concern that it highlights (highlights! Oh, that is so good). Jack Wilshere, without doubt the most talented Arsenal and Englishman of his era,  is but one small tub of gel away from disaster. There are very many performance enhancing hair creations, however I simply cannot stress the dangers that lie ahead of the gelster. I am not referring to the spikey-up version. There is something way more sinister and I am alluding to the wet look comb forward. This is known as the Cretin Cut. It is the chosen look of the wayward lad. There are great dangers that lurk beneath the mop that dons the gel, and it is evident that the Wilshere hair is, how can I say this, forward looking.

At this point, I want to send out a clear message to Rosicky, Denilson, Eboue and the rest of the untreated, and it is simple: get busy upstairs. I am no stats man but the evidence is overwhelming. “Normalizing the thatch” is a means of compromise, moving into the safe middle ground. Extinguishing the flames and blunting the edge. It is not clever and it is not mature.  We need the extremes for our boys. That’s the extra 5%, or the bit that separates the winners from also-rans.  I appreciate there are many football experts with a far superior knowledge of the technicalities than I, but we all make mistakes, and it is easy with all the tactics nonsense in the modern game to overlook the bleeding obvious.

This post could easily bring in the smallest ever number of comments, and I am happy to take the flak, but do you know what, I am above that kind of thing. Ego must not stand in the way of things that need to be said.  I know this post will give us nothing whatsoever to discuss today, but frankly, I think just for once, some of you should get on with some bloody work!

I hate International week.

One of our young gooners has signed up to do the Fun Run for Arsenal’s chosen charity Centrepoint and it would be fantastic if any of you felt you wanted to support her and the charity by donating on her giving page.

The Fun Run will take place at the Emirates stadium on the 19th March 2011. Centrepoint do such good work for homeless young people in London and Arsenal are hoping to raise £500,000 this season to help fund the refurbishment of a facility in Soho.