No West Ham Bob post today, the chap has gone underground (or to the Caribbean!).
I have never been to the London Olympic stadium, I understand it is a soulless bowl unless inhabited by the Great Gooner, Mo Farah. Our record at the ground is good, with only one loss, a draw and a few wins. WHU have only won one out of the last 21 fixtures with AFC. This may explain why they keep buying our ex-players – Little Jack, $amir Nasri, Flapianski etc
Do you recall the days when if Wrighty didn’t score we were screwed? It is much the same at WHU. Take out that unpleasant devil, Arnautovic and they are toothless. That said, on the rare occasion Andy Carroll plays they can lump the ball into the Big Man and WHU have another attacking weapon.
I like the look of Anderson, who could do well at a better club, one which isn’t being ruined by rapacious owners. He is a more direct Iwobi.
The Hammers manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is doing a good job after the club was damaged by the tactics of Fat Sam and Moyes. He seems a likeable chap and at least is trying to get WH back to playing decent football.
Back to Arnautovic. I can never forgive the swine for his cowardly attack on Debuchy which effectively ended his Arsenal career (allowing Catwalk to take his place). West Ham understandably are refusing to sell him. The bloke is highly likely to score this afternoon against our porous defence.
Awful Music Alert. Turn off Sound
Of which … Could Hector start this afternoon? Please, pretty please.
And Mesut. No more of this knee knack, back pain, headache, flu, dog’s eaten my homework bolleaux. Let him play, and let him dazzle.
And Catwalk. Stop him looking like a bright red blimp up int the stands and get him up that wing in order to give the team some balance.
Getting the injured back into the team will make a huge difference.
I expect this afternoon to be frustrating, we are not playing particularly well, even when winning, and the Hammers are very inconsistent. And we know Fabianski will have one his best performances.
Having just woken up at 8am having arrived home at 1:30 am this is going to be a quickie. Getting the train home last night with intoxicated Norwich fans singing “we’re shit and we’re going down” certainly adds some perspective to a day out at Wembley where yes we didn’t play well but also resulted in a return trip and another day out for those lucky enough to be there.
I have seen some criticism of the fans “celebrating like we won the cup” it’s hard to be in Wembley and not feel like that, and with the allocation of tickets for the final likely to be a third of what we had yesterday it is unlikely those who were there yesterday will have a chance of being back for the final itself.
We filled the Green Man pub at 1pm and we filled the ground more than two thirds. Waning support? Not in evidence here. The atmosphere at kick off was full of passion and hope.
Unfortunately as we failed to make the most of early possession the songs turned to frustration and worse very quickly, I’d say the split was 50:50 in terms of those preferring to man than support.
At half time we went in 0-0 with little of note being created for either side.
The second half continued in a similar vein until Monreal got pushed off the ball, Vermaelen didn’t want to commit to a last gasp tackle and BFG stuck out a long leg to bring down the Wigan forward. This actually stirred the crowd into action and we sang in defiance up until the penalty went in and Gibbs replaced Monreal.
That was actually the turning point to our performance Gibbs was prepared to get past Podolski where Monreal hadn’t bothered either because he knew he didn’t have the legs to get back to recover ground that Podolski wouldn’t.
A while later after Rosler went to three centre backs Arsene changed it again, unleashing Giroud and removing the disappointing Podolski and switching to 4-4-2.
That was probably the decisive change we played the percentages more and after a few more close shaves we finally breached the Wigan defence, Oxhitting the ball into the ground and finding BFG at the far post who headed home. I was waiting for the flag to go up thankfully it didn’t.
We couldn’t breach it again in the remaining minutes or in extra time and we went to penalties.
Fabianski channelling the spirit of Arsenal keepers of the past stopped the first two Wigan penalties. Whilst Arteta and Kallstrom dispatched with ease. The next two Wigan penalties, were scored which meant after Giroud had scored with the nanananaaaaas ringing in his ears it was left to Santi to send Arsenal back to Wembley and the fans into ecstasy.
I would not have been alone in having at least one eyebrow out of line after seeing the Team Sheet.
Liverpool were always going to field a strong side as they have no mid week European Games, and we all knew Arsene would have to make one or two changes. Talk about “who would be a Manager?”. Without doubt the biggest shock was the inclusion of Yaya Sanogo. I had thought Ollie would be rested, and this would have led to the inclusion of Nic, or the slim possibility of Lucas through the middle. When the Team was announced, all I could say about Yaya’s inclusion was that the Manager sees the Lads in training.
This was a very big match indeed. We had to restore some belief and confidence, try and progress in this Tournament as well as leaving eleven men standing, fit and ready to meet the challenge coming from Bavaria in a few short days’ time.
I won’t dwell on the details of the game as you all saw it for yourselves. Certainly though, the returning Flamini helped to stabilize the defensive side of our midfield. The defence itself had a superb day with Fabianski producing a MOTM performance. The other two stand-in’s at the back, Jenks and Monreal, showed discipline and spirit.
Further up the field, Mesut was back to his best and orchestrated events in a way only he can with sublime timing and awareness.
For me, like many I suspect, Podolski is a total enigma. However, he is a goalscorer, and since the tragic loss of Theo and Aaron, these qualities are in short supply. He delivered.
Sanogo. Ok, I missed twenty minutes of the first half, and about ten of the second, but I really liked what I saw. Very impressive indeed, His performance highlighted the interchangeability of our squad, and this reflects on what is done on the training ground. It was very hard to believe that he had not played alongside Pod, Mesut and Ox on a regular basis.
Finally, The Ox. Always said he would be an Arsenal Great, and he will. Love everything about him, and his post match interview revealed his modest, mature and intelligent nature. A true professional with all the talent required to make it to the very top.
A few short words on Liverpool. I really like the way they play the game. It was an enthralling and highly entertaining game, and it requires two teams to achieve this. Their “Three S’s Attack” is superbly mobile and fluid, and a joy to watch. I realize Suarez divides opinion, but as a footballer, he is terrific. I think we all know the Ox challenge was a clear penalty, but I think we also understand that had the victim been any other player, it would have been given. Never a clearer case of “What goes around”.
Overall, a memorable Cup game, a vital win for The Gunners, and we come away in great shape for Bayern. Back on track.
My MOTM: By a country mile, Arsene. That was some selection and tactical performance. Well played Sir.
It’s widely expected that Arsenal will sign a new goalkeeper during the summer transfer window. There is little doubt that we need a reliable, experienced and talented ‘keeper, something that has been sadly lacking since the departure of David Seaman in 2003. I mean no disrespect to Jens Lehman but his erratic behaviour and volatile temperament, which led to him being nicknamed Mad Jens, indicates to me his unreliability.
Of our present crop Szczesny is probably the best but Arsene Wenger seems to have spotted a flaw in his temperament hence his recent relegation to the bench. Fabianski is a reasonable ‘keeper but is not up to the standard required by a club playing near the top of the Premiership and in, hopefully again next season, the Champions League. Neither is Mannone.
We have been “linked” with several ‘keepers over the recent past, although it has to be said that the “linkage” has been mostly speculation on the part of tabloid sports writers desperate for some copy.
Two names have, however, appeared with some regularity, Stokes City’s Bosnian international Asmir Begovic and, rather surprisingly, Barcelona’s Spanish international Victor Valdes. One other high profile ‘keeper recently added to the list is Real Madrid’s Iker Cassillas.
Should any of the three be signed then I would expect at least one of our present ‘keepers to depart.
Without knowing how Wenger really sees his ‘keepers it is difficult to know just what he is looking for in terms of a replacement, if he feels that one of them will “make it” in the near future then a short term option may be considered. If, however, that is not the case then a younger player will be the requirement.
It would seem from newspaper gossip that Begovic is the favourite at the moment, at 25 years old he should be approaching his peak, at Stoke City since 2010, he has played 87 times, so has plenty of Premiership as well as international experience having played 20 times for Bosnia Herzegovina.
In the been there, done that, got the T-shirt category both Cassillas and Valdes would be terrific signings but as both are 31 years old they do not represent long term solutions and Wenger’s well known reluctance to give contracts of more than one year to players in that age group means that either could only be seen as stop gaps.
My personal preference would be for Wenger to take the long term view and sign Begovic, but either of the other two would more than adequately fill the gap up to the end of our manager’s present contract.
I heard on a reputable podcast that Arsenal have made a bid for Asmir Begovic, Stoke’s much-in-demand goalkeeper. The claim was made by a well-informed journalist who went on to say that Chelsea have already made two bids and that Begovic will move there in summer, if true, this raises a few talking points:
Why are Arsenal looking at a new GK?
Why are AFC playing Fabianksi when his contract is running down and there is no talk of a renewal?
Given that Begovic is just 25, it would indicate that AW has little confidence in Szczesny and sees him as a No.2. Why?
And lastly, if true, why do the Chavs always steal our transfer targets??
Another area for discussion is how the team will line up on Saturday for the game against Norwich. AW intimated that both Theo and Little Jack Wilshire will be playing. Given the excellence of Rosicky and Ramsey at WBA, should they be dropped?
I cannot see an easy solution to our midfield combinations. Arteta and Cazorla are certain starters in every game (unless fatigued) which assuming a 4-4-3 means there is just one midfield place available with 3 very good players vying for it. Wilshire has to be the front-runner for the shirt; he is a brilliant player and adds much to the team, but we have looked better without him! And then there is Coquelin, who will surely leave in summer if he does’t get more pitch time – 2 minutes at WBA will not satisfy his ambitions – or will Coquelin inherit Arteta’s position?
Is Wilshere tall enough to do this?
We have been winning playing a 4-4-2 with Gervinho regularly moving across the attack. His unpredictability adds some much needed “chaos” to the more prosaic work of Giroud. In my opinion, we have missed Walcott, our top scorer and a much improved contributor to the team. Not often mentioned is how TW works much harder tracking back and tackling, he tends to be attacking from deeper as a result.
Rosicky is one of our favourite players. I only know one fan who doesn’t love this guy (you know who you are!), and why? Because this is another player who plays with a smile on his face, and he has the drive necessary to propel his team. Whenever TR7 gets the ball he moves forward – none of the tick-tacky for Tomacz, he wants to get the ball into the box as quickly as possible. Mr Wenger said the other day that “
“He’s (TR7) such an important player who turns the game forward, brings movement into the game, makes a game look simple and you feel when he has the ball that something can always happen. Not many players have that in their locker.
“Before he played too far away from the box. I always played him wide but I put him in a position where he is more central now. He’s more dangerous to score.”
It’s no secret that “transfers out” remain as much a priority for Arsenal this summer as “transfers in”.
Leaving aside the likely departure of Brave Sir Robin, Arsène Wenger has stated that any more arrivals are contingent on selling players who are surplus to requirements or who want out.
The players in the Out Tray include some or all of Marouane Chamakh, Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Sebastien Squillaci, Johann Djourou, Lukasz Fabianski and Ju-Young Park.
If you can detect the sound of creaking when you read that list, it’s because those players are often referred to in the Arsenal online community as “Dead Wood.”
The conventional wisdom is that they all failed to reach the standard required for Arsenal. Some (like the defender we so optimistically christened “the Squid”) through not appearing to have sufficient ability, others (like the Walt Disney character known as Little Andrey) through lack of application.
Most fans would probably be happy if all were shipped out in the next few weeks, especially if there is a decent few million quid coming back in the opposite direction.
But hold on just a moment.
Lest we throw out any babies with the bathwater (a particular risk for the tiny Russian, it must be said) maybe it’s time to take one last look at those players we are so eager to discard.
Could any of them still contribute to the Arsenal cause?
In the Poll below I would like you to vote for the player (or players) whom you feel could have a chance of going on to have a successful career at Arsenal. But first let’s take a look at the individuals concerned:
Our carefully coiffured Moroccan is one player who, to my mind at least, has not been treated fairly since moving to the Hallowed Land of N5, either by Arsène or the fans. In his first season, while van Persie was still injured, he showed himself to be a very capable front man, holding up the ball well and scoring goals. When the Dutchman returned, Chamakh got very few opportunities and was never able to find his groove again. The reason I feel Arsène was unfair to him is that, although we may have acquired him as a Plan B, we hardly ever played to his strengths. Ironically, in a team without van Persie and with a more direct approach to attacking (as the arrivals of Podolski and Giroud seem to indicate), the Chamster might just come good again.
I will always have a soft spot for Nicki B. He is a ludicrous character, with an ego the size of Denmark and as much self knowledge as a Satsuma. But he can score goals and got some vital ones for Arsenal over the years. He has never had the class to be an Henry or a van Persie, but as a back-up striker who is used to the Premier League… could he still have a future?
Remember that winning finish against Barcelona? Remember the four goals away at Anfield? What about the superb cross for Thierry Henry’s winning goal up at Sunderland earlier this year? There’s no question that Arshavin has class, but he also often appeared lazy and uninterested. Mind you, he has spent his entire time at Arsenal playing out of position. He’s not a wide left attacker – he is a classic “creative”, someone who sits in the hole behind the front striker. Arsène is said to be scouring world football right now for a creative attacking midfielder. Maybe he already has one…
Poor Sebastien. He arrived at the club two seasons ago as, you would imagine, a third or fourth choice CB. Almost immediately Thomas Vermaelen got an arrow in his Achilles and was out for an entire year and our other defenders were so injury blighted they might have been Irish potatoes. The Squid actually played some very decent games for us, but coming in and out of the team, always with different defensive line-ups, meant that he soon started to cop the supporters’ wrath for bad results. His time may well be up, but he is a better player than many seem to think he is.
The Big Swiss may be the least deserving of a place in this selection, as there is little evidence that Arsene has any intention of selling him. However, his name regularly appears in the fans’ hit lists of defunct timber. His Arsenal life has been badly hit by injuries and he proved last season that whatever his merits as a CB, he certainly ain’t no right back. But, he has also looked very, very good when he gets a proper run alongside one of the senior CBs. At the very least he has a strong case to be considered an excellent fourth choice CB.
I suspect many Gooners would be happy to keep our only remaining Fab as back-up to Szczesny. The problem appears to be that the older of our two Poles-in-goal wants regular first team football. His error-strewn past means he will never get the top job at The Grove (despite Szczesny’s best efforts to out-Fabianski him). But would you keep him if he was prepared to remain as Number Two?
Er… yes… ahem… Anyone got any ideas what he’s like?
Now – time to get voting – and remember, you can vote for more than one player.