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First summer signing close? Arteta talks of disappointment…..

April 18, 2014

Morning all.

Happy Good Friday folks, don’t go over eating now!

Nom Nom.....

Nom Nom…..

According to The Metro, we are very close to signing Eintracht Frankfurt’s defender Sebastian Jung after his agent admitted a summer move to the Gunners is on the cards. £7 million is the price quoted for this German international.

With Bacary Sagna’s future still hanging in the balance, Jung seems to be the player Arsene Wenger wants to replace him…

So, if true, it means all the chit chat about Lukasz Piszczek and Daryl Janmaat in the press has been nothing other than poppycock… Mind you, so is this I suspect as I still think Sagna will remain a loyal Gooner….

In other news, Mikel Arteta has been talking about his career with Arsenal and he’s not exactly overwhelmed…

That (playing Champions League football) I achieved what I wanted to achieve but with one particular regret — that I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I should have done.

And that”s because I always put too much pressure on myself, trying to improve things that are not going well, not just in my own game but other things around the players or the club.

I find it difficult to say ‘I love it’ because I’m constantly putting myself under pressure, there’s always a next target or a ‘we won but we didn’t do a certain thing well’ nagging away at you. And it’s always like that.

The fight to switch off gets harder and harder. I just can’t do it.

I have long discussions with my wife every time we have a bad result and I constantly think about what we can improve, what we did wrong, what happened in the game.

I wonder if Arsene Wenger goes through something similar?

Some good news is that Mesut Ozil could be back for Sunday’s trip to Hull City, the dress rehearsal for the FA Cup Final. Mathieu Flamini, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey should all be fit and raring to go too.

Arsene Wenger has been talking about Ozil:

He is a fantastic football player, and I would put him on the list to be player of the season next season.

The first season is the season in which you adapt, and then you know what happens and you get into it. I believe that he will know better his partners [in the team], he will know better the league and the potential is absolutely fantastic.

He is one of our main players offensively, and we are a team who is used to scoring goals, and recently away from home we haven’t scored so much, so it’s important we get our offensive potential back.

Go sign a pacey, deadly striker Arsene and your prediction might come true because as good as Ozil is, he needs some pace and movement ahead of him. Once that happens, we’ll start scoring a lot more goals than we have done this season, especially during the second half of this campaign. 

What to do with Kim Kallstrom though? He worked very hard for the team against West Ham and his defensive duties freed up Lukas Podolski to do what he does best, score goals.

If I was Arsene Wenger, I’d be tempted to stick with him against Hull, after all, it’s not like he’s going to be tired is it!

I watched some of the youth cup match against Chelsea last night, if that’s the best we have it will be a long time before we see many of the players who were on show making a step up…. Akpon and Vickers, despite his gaff for the goal, were the only stand outs…

That’s it for another day…..

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Bacary Sagna Staying? Koscielny going? Arsene goes with Project ‘pensioner’!

April 17, 2014

Morning all.

Ok, it’s all media speculation but at least it’s positive. Bacary Sagna is set to sign a new contract and remain a Gooner which if true is great news. He’s been on fire this season and players like him need to stick around and pass on their experience down to the younger ones, and hopefully with an FA Cup medal in hand.

Talking of the younger players, it wasn’t that long ago when Arsene Wenger was being heavily criticised for signing young players, playing young players and when we lost matches and won nothing, ‘project youth’ was deemed a disaster.

It took a while I know but maybe some of that youth stuff was all about not having too many pennies to sign big named players, because they come with big hefty signing fees and a huge salary. We all know that when we moved from Highbury, we couldn’t afford either.

On Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger fielded at starting eleven which when averaged out, was aged at 29 years and 188 days old!

Eleven years ago and against Leeds, the average age of our starting eleven was 195 days older!

We had Keown, Kanu, Luzhny, Wiltord, Pires, Seaman, Henry, Gilberto, Bergkamp, Cole, Parlour……… to name a few and trust me, naming a few of those makes me think…….

Anyway, my point is that now Arsene Wenger has turned from youth to the mature and experienced players, he’s in the papers being questioned. Why??

Crazy isn’t it……

Every side needs a bit of experience otherwise and as said above, the younger players have no-one to learn from and despite the golden oldie starting eleven which faced West Ham, we still have a lot of them. Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Serge Gnabry to name just a few and then behind them are a number of very talented Academy/reserve players who will be looking for their chance real soon.

Finally, that 4th place in the Premier League is now back in our own hands after Everton were surprisingly beaten at home by Crystal Palace. Everton are now a point adrift and if we win all our remaining fixtures, Champions League football will be ours for another season. Well, as long as we win the play-off in August of course……

See, I always said I liked Tony Pulis. I wonder what he’d achieve with our current squad…

Transfer gossip:

According to Matt Law in The Telegraph, PSG, Monaco and Bayern Munich are all interested in signing Laurent Koscielny. No surprise really that clubs like those and no doubt others would be after him, he’s been in fantastic form all season. Law states that our Frenchman is earning just £50,000 a week right now which in today’s footballing world, is peanuts.

Best Arsenal hurry up and sort this one out before it’s too late…..

That’s it for today, have a good one…..

 


Where did that come from? Giroud stuns Arsenal!

April 16, 2014

I must admit that before kick off, I thought we were good to get one over the Hammers until I saw the team sheet, which I did not like one bit. All show and very little go in the midfield, to my eye.

Half way through the first period, I thought we were gonners…

We had nothing and the midfield was being over run well and truly, by bigger, stronger brutes….the kind we no doubt wish we had one or two of.

Early on, Diame was involved in a lovely move, and thank goodness our BFG stood strong, taking a body shot from the one time Arsenal target, which was probably goal bound.

Another few close calls followed and my concerns were heightened. It was all too easy for our opponents, and our back 4 were being placed under undue pressure due to our soft midfield.

This was the type of performance which has plagued us over the last few seasons.

I remember saying mid way through the first half that I hoped we could hold out until Ramsey came on, as embarrassing as that sounds against West Ham, but I was being honest, as we were showing nothing at that point and I felt Aaron would at least get something happening for us in the centre of the park.

We did create a few chances, but we were being outplayed, and luckily Diame is not a striker, as we could well have been 3 down by the half hour mark!

Next up was a touch of sportsmanship all too seldom seen in professional sports these days.

Hats off to Jarvis for keeping his feet when brushed, albeit very lightly, by Sagna. Suarez or Young would still be rolling around now asking for the penalty, but Jarvis kept up and chased the ball down as any footballer should do, but rarely, does these days.
Well played, sir.

Giroud has copped an incredible amount of criticism of late, and he did himself no favours when forgetting his right foot is not just to stop him falling over, and can be used to kick a football. What was he thinking? It was an abysmal attempt from a PL striker after he had done everything right to create space. A real shame to see a great move wasted.

Anyway, the inevitable eventually occurred, and the Hammers were in front.

How an attacker is allowed to stand alone 6-7 yards out is beyond me, but it happened, and we conceded after a scuffle in the box.
I guess it was a little case of poetic justice that Jarvis was the goal scorer, but there was nothing poetic about our “defending” on the lead up to the goal.

I am still not sure what happened over the next few minutes, although I remember Kallstrom getting away a decent shot on goal. I was in a daze, shaking my head, cursing and asking myself two questions. How did this happen, and how the hell were we going to turn things around, when suddenly we were level, thanks to the best left foot in world football, in my opinion, the one on the end of Podolski’s peg.

He has power and unerring accuracy when give just a little time and space, and when used the correct way is simply lethal.
Arsene, take note.

The goal also came at an important time, meaning we headed into the sheds all square.

Onto the second half, and, as if Wenger flicked a switch, we suddenly started playing football.

Our passing was fluent.

Players were energetic.

What had changed?

Who knows, but I am glad it did.

We were on top, and it seemed almost a done deal that we would go on to win the game, but even more so once we had gone ahead.
Momentum was on our side, and our class began to show-finally!

Our second goal was simply world class, and anyone disagreeing would surely be doing so only out of a dislike for the players involved :)

The ball from Vermaelen was amazing, and the first touch and finish from Giroud showed what he can, but seldom does….

It was pure class, and beautiful on the eye.

The crowd were now showing something as well…..all, ahem, 59,977 of them, give or take a few tens of thousands.

Santi, from distance, nearly finished a sensational move on the counter, with a beautifully struck shot that missed by inches.

Ramsey then came on to replace Rosicky, who had a terrific came, as usual, but we looked even better for the move.

The game was done when Giroud received the ball in space wide on the left, he found the head of Ramsey, whose ball to Podolski was a touch of brilliance, and again, that left foot had the ball past the keeper before he knew it had been struck.

A solid performance over all that, if repeated, will see us undefeated for the remainder of the season.

If we can see similar work rates from Podolski and Santi every week, it could only be a great thing for the club, and the earned their wage.

Arteta was fantastic as well, though his best work went unnoticed by most, and this is the type of game he is suited to.

Kallstrom worked his way into the game very well, and most definitely has quality which will be of use in the coming weeks.

A special mention to Vermaelen, who was absolutely superb last night, shutting down Carroll in the air on several occasions, and just brilliant in general.

I have said for a while that Aaron Ramsey has a very rare gift. He makes other players perform better when he is on the pitch, as well as being incredibly effective himself…… (Emma, you can borrow that one, but it is mine :) )

His work rate and positional sense means others can do what they do best, and when he plays, we simply play much better.

Our win/loss percentage when he plays this season shows just how important he is, and in my opinion, his injury was the single biggest reason we lost form. The kid could easily end up with his own statue at The Emirates one day.

One last comment.

Arsene, sign Diame!

Written by Scott from Oz


Arsene’s staying? Casemiro wanted & A night to blow away the bubbles…..

April 15, 2014

Morning all.

I’ll start with the transfer gossip and The Mirror report that as well as Morata, we are hoping to sign Casemiro, a Brazillian box-to-box midfielder. I’ll admit to knowing nothing about him but he’s being described as being the player who could take over from Mikel Arteta.

This is Jack Lang of The Mirrors view of him:

He has played a little deeper for Real, picking the ball up from the defence and starting attacks. While perhaps not a natural defender, he could perform a role similar to that of Arteta at Arsenal, anticipating danger rather than clattering into opposition players on a regular basis.

That made me chuckle…….

Seems like only hours ago that we were celebrating our penalty shoot-out victory in the FA Cup semi-final, maybe that’s because it was. Why this fixture has been scheduled for tonight goodness only knows, surely tomorrow would have been much more sensible.

Still, it is what it is and there’s nothing like playing again after what should be, a morale boosting victory…

We needed it too…..

Could do with these two on form tonight....

Could do with these two on form tonight….

Just like we need the return of a few players…

Team news from the manager:

We have plenty of uncertainties for muscular problems and fatigue. Who could be available who was not in the squad on Saturday? Maybe Rosicky and Koscielny – we’ll have to test him definitely today. There are plenty of uncertainties so I have to make up my mind late on.

The main uncertainties are Monreal who had to come off with a dead leg. Podolski had a little [muscle] problem but I think he will be alright. Then there is Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey (both muscle tightness). They are the main problems.

Koscielny will be tested today (yesterday) and I have to decide after training if I take the risk or not to start him tomorrow (today).

Well I hope Laurent Koscielny passes his fitness test with flying colours because we need to get our defensive stability back again.

Same goes for Aaron Ramsey but considering he is only just back from a long-term injury and after playing for such a long period of time on Saturday, maybe it would be wise to rest him for this one and let Kim Kallstrom make his full debut, after all, that’s what we signed him for. If Serge Gnabry is fit, then play him too and let Oxlade-Chamberlain have a breather as he too struggled towards the end of Saturday’s game.

We have a squad and we seriously need to use it tonight. Zelalem, Akpom and Eisfeld are all options too although it does seem that Arsene Wenger is reluctant to call upon any of them right now…..

Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby were both training yesterday, who knows, we could see either, we might even see both!!

Head-to-head

  • Arsenal have won six successive league matches against West Ham and are unbeaten in the last 12 meetings in all competitions since a 1-0 home defeat in April 2007.
  • West Ham’s only goal in their last five visits to the Emirates Stadium was scored by Jack Collison in a 5-1 defeat last season.

Arsenal

  • The Gunners have only taken two points from their last four matches. They have not gone five league games without a win since registering five successive draws in January and February 2009.
  • Arsene Wenger’s side have gone 15 home games unbeaten in the league since the opening-day defeat by Aston Villa.
  • They have earned more points than any other side this season after opening the scoring: 55 from 20 games.

Big Sam will no doubt head to The Emirates rubbing his hands together with joy, he’ll know there is no better time to be playing us. Not only because of recent form but playing 120 minutes of football just a couple of days ago will have taken a lot out of our players. Well some!

We have just six games left of this seasons campaign, six matches in which certain players need to step up and start playing the way we all know they can, the way they did before Christmas, the kind of dogged football which saw us rise to the top of the league and not the kind which saw us fall away so rapidly.

Arsene Wenger on the future:

We do make plans for next season, we are really focused and working very hard. Every day we spend time on that.

It’s vital to me to make the top four. I want this club to play in the Champions League.

What will be an advantage is our desire to play in this competition because we love the Champions League and just to imagine how much we love it will help us to achieve it. I would like them rather to concentrate on the pleasure to be in it rather than the pain of not being in it.

It is vital for the young players as well. You learn more by playing against Bayern or Barcelona or Real Madrid than if you play in the Europa League, that is for sure.

You don’t go backwards, but you want to play with the top teams.

On the other hand for many years I had to convince you it was important we were in the top four.

Now it is in a reverse ­position, you say to me, ‘you realise how important it is for us’.

A sure sign he’s staying?

Arsene Wenger wants that top four place and there’s no doubting that will have been drummed into the players minds.

Enough to see a better performance and a much needed league victory?

I think so…..

COYRRG’s, go blow away the bubbles and give us something to be cheerful about……..

 

 

 

 

 


Youtube, don’t we have a keeping coach? Are we about to lose the wrong one?

April 14, 2014

Morning all.

Hero of the FA Cup semi-final, Lukasz Fabianski, has been talking about his superb penalty saves which secured us victory on Saturday:

To be honest with you I did some homework but none of them [the Wigan penalty takers] were on my list!

The guys who stepped up to take penalties [were different] so I was just guessing. It was more intuition rather than my homework that I’d done.

I was surprised that [Jordi] Gomez didn’t step up as the first one. Then I saw Caldwell and Collison taking the penalties, so I was just guessing.

I did look at YouTube and things like that, but I didn’t see anything of Collison or Caldwell on there.

Ok that’s quite a funny story really isn’t it, but what on earth is going on with our goalkeeping coaching?

Did they not do any homework on the Wigan players and the way they take penalties?

Why was it left to Lukasz Fabianski to scout around on Youtube for a bit of assistance?

Why wasn’t the keeping coach and our keepers and yes, both of them, sat down together going through everything so they had a heads up on where certain Wigan players usually place their spot-kicks?

Thankfully, in the end it didn’t matter because Lukasz got it spot on.

Talking of our older Pole, are the club about to make a huge mistake?

Szczesny has taken a bit of stick recently, especially for his performances at Anfield and Stamford Bridge when we conceded a glut of goals. Yet on the other hand, in every game Lukasz Fabianski has played for us in the FA Cup he has looked calm, assured and has seen us through to victory. Ok, he had a mad moment on Saturday but to his credit, he soon realised the error of his ways and got back into position quickly.

For sure, you could sense it in the crowd after we conceded the goal, there was a really stressful few minutes as we tried to get back in the game.

After we managed to score the equaliser you could sense the relief, and from the penalties you could see the crowd react. I think this is for the fans, I think they have been waiting a long time and they show up in every away game, win or lose they always follow.

It was a great atmosphere today as well so it’s great to do it for them.

Nice to see he cares about the fans…

It’s true of course, in the main the fans do continue to turn up and support the club regardless of what they have to endure but just how long they stay so faithful remains to be seen, especially if things at the top stay the same. By that I mean an owner who really doesn’t appear to care what the future of Arsenal FC is, as long as he is making money and doesn’t have to dig into his very deep pockets with his very short arms and spend some….

Back to Fabianski, The Daily Mail quote him as saying:

I’m very happy we managed to go through to the final, it’s a massive thing for us, especially after such a difficult game. 

But I don’t know if I’ll keep my place – it’s up to the boss. After my performance, I hope I can.

If I was Arsene Wenger, I’d leave Fabianski in goal now. Firstly, he deserves to be there and secondly the more he plays now, the more confident and focussed he’ll be for the final next month.

Another thing, I’d do all I could to keep him at the club because I truly believe that the Flappianski of old is long gone and Lukasz Fabianski is on the way to being a top top goalkeeper…

Just a shame he isn’t going to be ours. Ouch!!

Hull City will be our opponents in the FA Cup final in May but that day is a while off.

It’s back to the league challenge now, well the 4th place challenge which is now out of our hands. Up next is West Ham tomorrow night at The Emirates.

Are we going to have eleven players fit enough??

That’s it for another day…..


Arsene Wenger got it right! FA Cup Final here we come…..

April 13, 2014
Wembley observes a minutes silence - 25th anniversary of Hillsborough

Wembley observes a minutes silence – 25th anniversary of Hillsborough

Morning all.

We had to wait 120 minutes for it to be right, but our order of penalty takers was spot on, as was the choice of players who were chosen to take them. Arsene got that all absolutely right, just as he did with standing by Lukasz Fabianski…

As for the rest of the match, well…………

We started well though and came out of the blocks with a bit of purpose. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular stood out, he was here, there and everywhere and getting forward either with or without the ball. 

Yaya Sanogo headed an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross against the legs of Carson within the first minutes – a foot either side of the keeper and we’d have taken the early lead we needed. Just before the half hour mark, Bacary Sagna fired a difficult chance high…

Sanogo had another chance soon after but that to went high and wide and then his inexperience shone through when he looked like going clear through on goal. His first touch was awful and Carson stopped any attack with ease.

I was one of a few who really wanted Yaya Sanogo to start, believing his pace and enthusiasm would give us something so different up front and to be fair it did. But his control and finishing was far from being good enough but to be fair to him, he didn’t stop, he didn’t sulk and as the game went on some of his passing was pretty good and he had one great shot which took a fine save from Carson to stop it finding the back of the net.

Despite all of the possession, we had slowly gone back to being that sideways, backwards and boring football side and it wasn’t pleasing on the eye….

Just before the hour mark, Per Mertesacker chopped down McManaman, penalty given, goal scored!

Get me a sofa to hide behind...

Get me a sofa to hide behind…

During the build up for the goal, Nacho Monreal suffered an injury (no doubt we will hear more from Arsene on that) and had to be replaced by Kieran Gibbs.

Just that change alone gave us far more impetus going forward….

What you thinking Arsene??

What you thinking Arsene??

Olivier Giroud was warming up and set to come on, I thought in place of Sanogo but no, Lukas Podolski was the man to make way. Strange one but we did look a little better playing 442.

Into the last 15 minutes of the match and it looked like it wasn’t going to be our day when Sagna saw his header hit the post and just after, Kieran Gibbs looked like he’d got the equaliser but somehow, Scott Carson made a superb save to push the ball wide….

82 minutes on the clock and all Gunners hearts were lifted.

Sanogo laid the ball off for Oxlade-Chamberlain, his shot bounced through to Mertesacker who was just wide of the far post and the big fella somehow managed to guide his header home..

The final whistle came and soon after, the start of extra time begun..

Sanogo had a good shot tipped over and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired a rasper which annoyingly rattled the crossbar.

That was pretty much it…

See what it means to them.....

See what it means to them…..

Penalties it was and Mikel Arteta, Kim Kallstrom, who had come on for Aaron Ramsey,Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all fired home their spot kicks.

Lukasz Fabianski was the hero as he saved both penalties from Caldwell and Collison.

Hero - Can't believe he's leaving....

Hero – Can’t believe he’s leaving….

That was enough to see us go through to our first FA Cup Final since 2005….

The performance left a lot to be desired that’s for sure, but we got there in the end and I for one am pleased as punch…

Many things have been going wrong for a while now, but let’s not be too hasty to forget all the good Arsene Wenger has done for our club. He brought us some great players, his arrival made sure Dennis Bergkamp stayed and he won trophies after suffering many barren years..

I haven’t a clue what the future holds for our manager but if he is planning to walk away at the end of this season, I truly hope it’s with the FA Cup held high because surely to goodness, he deserves it.

Finally, I want to wish Bob Wilson all the very best as he is set to undergo treatment for prostate cancer. Be strong big guy, you can fight it and win the battle……

That’s your lot for another day…..


Remember the last time? Go Grab it Arsenal!!

April 12, 2014

Morning all.

Three times we have met Wigan in the Domestic Cups, the last being the Carling Cup semi-final back in 2006.

It was a two-legged affair and not a good one!

Having lost at their place 1-0, we returned to Highbury needing just a victory by two clear goals to see us through.

We scored, taking the second leg into extra time and scored again to take a 2-1 advantage. All we had to do is hold on and we were into the final…

However, Jason Roberts struck with just seconds left and that was enough to send us packing by the away goal rule…

Funny enough, it was a defensive mix up which led to that winning goal, just as it was at Wembley in 2011……

Both sides are very different to what they were back then though and of course, Wigan were a Premier League side whereas now they are fighting hard in the Championship to try and regain that status. We, well things are pretty much the same, still fighting for that 4th spot and hoping our trophy drought will finally come to an end….

Today, we could take a huge step towards making that happen IF every person, player and coaches alike, give 100% from start to finish.

And we are going to have to because you can bet your bottom dollar, Wigan will!

Uwe Rosler has done his homework:

I watched the game last Sunday and it was another very impressive lesson from Roberto, tactically how Everton approached the game. 

Not a lot of people focused on how disciplined and how focused Everton Football Club operated in the first 20-25 minutes without the ball.

Everybody knows Roberto is focused on ball possession but how well the team worked against the ball at the beginning of game was very impressive.

There were good pictures for me to learn from and also take one or two things on board, like I did with Manchester City in the last round.

In the last round, Wigan went to the Etihad and withstood everything Manchester City threw at their goal, barring the one blip of course and they managed to do what only one other English club has managed to do all season and that’s come away with a win.

That’s the FA Cup for you, it’s all about one game on one day and giving your all, getting the right result and waiting for the next round, the next chance to pounce and get the unexpected result.

Not only have Wigan beaten Manchester City, they have also beaten PL sides, Cardiff and Crystal Palace in order to get to Wembley today.

So yes, respect what they have done, now let’s go and put an end to their great run!!

We have beaten Tottenham, Coventry City, Liverpool and Everton – all tough opponents and two of whom have battered us in the league.

League form goes out the window today, our poor league performances must go out the window, today is about 90 minutes, or 120 if that’s what it takes of non-stop 100% commitment, togetherness, organisation and passion.

It’s also about our manager having done his homework, he has to know what to expect from Rossler and his team and play in a way which will not only stop their threat but to know how to exploit any weaknesses the Championship side have.

Let’s not be another victim of of an FA Cup upset.

This is the best chance we have had in a long while to get to an FA Cup Final.

Go and grab it Arsenal!!

COYRRG’s!!!!

 

 

 


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