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Theo Walcott disappoints! No going back for this midfielder and Robin is not Racist!

October 31, 2011

So then, Yossi had naffed off the Blue side of London having tweeted:

‘What a great win today!!! Well done guys!’

Good man I say, I would have been pretty narked had he thought otherwise and I think we can safely assume he won’t be returning to the Chavs next summer, in fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Wenger kept him on after his deal comes to an end.

The Chav fans certainly don’t want to see him back and have since labelled him ‘Judas’ – Ah, happy days eh….

Don’t suppose Yossi will lose too much sleep over that..

Walcott has been talking about his goal on Saturday and how he is lucky to be alive!

Hhaving missed a chance to pass to Aaron Ramsey who was free, he fell over, got back on his feet quite rapidly and somehow, after getting past a few static Chav defenders, he blasted a heartfelt shot with venom passed a hopeless Cech to give us a 3-2 lead he said:

I managed to lose my balance but get up quite quickly. If I hadn’t scored Aaron (Ramsey) would have killed me because he was free.

Sometimes you just have to be selfish and when it pays off, it’s all worthwhile, I hope this kicks starts a bit more go in the not so young anymore English winger/striker!

However, having put in his best performance for a good few weeks now, Walcott has kind of put his foot in it and said just what we hoped he or any of the other players wouldn’t start saying:

We don’t want to say where we’re going to finish at the end of the season, but the way we’re playing at this moment in time we believe we can beat anyone.

Why?

Why not just enjoy the victory, a victory which still had a few faults within the performance, keep his head down and concentrate on what goes on on the pitch?

Why start telling the world that we can beat anyone? Keep those thoughts in the changing room and don’t set the team up for a mighty fall. We have a massive game tomorrow night and that should be on every players mind, nothing else right now.

Feet on the ground Theo…..

One thing I did like reading though was his comments on Robin van Persie:

He is a great leader, a great captain. Anyone in that dressing room will tell you he is an absolute leader.

Good, it seems we finally have a captain that players look up and believe in his leadership…

About time to eh?

Talking of our leader, he has totally rebuffed the stupid suggestion that he is racist after his celebrations on Saturday:

It is totally ludicrous to suggest that my action of brushing my shoulder could be construed as anything else but a showing of joy and celebration.

Hasn’t Robin celebrated in a similar fashion before?

Funny how this has been highlighted after a game against the Chavs, the side whose captain does have a case against him to answer…

Oh well, onwards and upwards for us, Champions League again tomorrow night and a victory against Marseille should be enough to secure our involvement in the knock-out stages…

Have a good day all….

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That One is For You Mr Buck!

October 30, 2011

This fixture would tell us more about ourselves than any other recent one.

We arrived at the Bridge having won six of our last seven in all competitions, including some credible wins – notably away at the Velodrome in the Champions League and at home versus Stoke last weekend.

Chelsea on their patch is a different proposition entirely, an impressive performance – be it win, lose or draw – may suggest (dare I say it) that we can still mount a credible title challenge. An unimpressive performance may have suggested our good recent run is a false dawn…

Even if we had gotten off to a great start this season and were sitting in the top three, we would likely have gone into this match as underdogs, so I would not have considered a loss as decisive – I was more interested in how we played and competed.

Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson were back in the squad but had to settle for a place on the bench.

Prior to kickoff, we received confirmation that we will face unbeaten league leaders Manchester City at home in the Carling Cup quarterfinal tie. Piece of cake, eh?

We lined up Szczesny, Santos, Kos, Mert, JD, Ramsey, Song, Arteta, Theo, Robin, and Gerv.

Fab, TV, Jenks, Frim, Rosicky, Arsh and Ju rounded out our bench.

The last time we won at the Bridge (late 2008), Robin scored twice as we rallied from 1-0 down to win 2-1 over a Drogba-less Chelsea side who arguably were trying to get Big Phil sacked. We lost each subsequent home/away/cup match to them until the 3-1 home win at the end of last season.

In last season’s 2-0 league loss here, we started quickly and had spurned two great early chances to score, so when Theo laid goals on a plate only for first Gervinho and then Robin to spurn, I feared the worst.

In the first move, Theo burst past a certain Cole as though the latter stood still and put a great low cross in for Gervinho to scuff wide, Theo  then repeated the move, only for Robin to shin wide.

It was almost inevitable we would pay for not converting and the bill was presented a quarter of an hour in. Mata was afforded way too much time and space on the right and he put a great cross in for Lampard to beat Mertesacker and head home. Great cross that it was, Mertesacker should have done better to cut it out or at least put Lamps off.

For the next ten minutes, we gave as good as we got but were neither side were able to fashion any clear openings.

That changed on the half hour mark, as Chelsea should have made it 2-0, Lampard put Sturridge through on goal; with time to pick his shot, the latter sent a tame left foot shot wide with the entire goal at his mercy.

That was a huge miss, and we needed to make Chelsea pay for it and we only had to wait five minutes…

Ramsey started the move with a great through ball to Gervinho, who drew Cech and squared for Robin to equalize.

Within seconds, Sturridge thought he had restored Chelsea’s lead, but he was rightly ruled offside as he fired home…

Just as it looked we would go into the break even, Chelsea did regain the lead. Ramsey conceded a corner down the left, Lampard delivered it and Terry beat Mertesacker to the ball to bundle it home. It was a good finish from Terry but once again, the German was beaten easier than he should have.

Neither Arsene nor AVB made any halftime changes.

Robin worked Cech with an early shot, as we looked to make a quick response to Chelsea’s late goal. Throughout the first half, Boswinga had given Santos fits down the left. With three minutes gone, the roles were reversed, as our left back latched on to Gervinho pass, got free down the left and slid the ball through Cech’s legs for our second equalizer.

As with our first equalizer, Chelsea responded within a minute. On this occasion, Cole got free right outside our area and Szczesny rushed out and brought him down. It was clearly a foul, and the question was whether referee Marriner would deem Szczesny the last man – resulting in a sending off – or not.

Kos was covering on the other side of goal and appeared to have gotten far enough back to make himself the proverbial last man. So Marriner opted for a yellow and a free kick, much to our relief. Szczesny then produced a fine save, diving to his left to keep Lampard’s deep free-kick out…

Chelsea came again, this time Santos ended the attack with a great tackle on the edge of our box…

We then took the lead for the first time, ten minutes into the period, there appeared to be little on when Theo drove down the right with the ball.  He checked inside and then slipped over about 30 yards from goal. Despite the presence of two defenders around him, he got up, collected the loose ball, went in alone on Cech and beat the Chelsea goalkeeper at his near post for our third of the afternoon.

We have had gotten plenty of criticism for defensive howlers over the past couple of seasons but I cannot recall too many instances where we simply gave up on a play, as Chelsea appeared to and let the opponent score. That is not, by the way, to diminish Theo’s effort and overall performance in any way. He has often played well against Chelsea, and today was no exception, certainly his best performance for several weeks.

We knew Chelsea would try and respond but we made the better chances, with Ramsey – having another great game – fashioning a good chance for himself but unable to apply the finish.

AVB then made his first change, replacing Sturridge with Malouda and then bringing Lukaku on for Ramires ten minutes later.

JD was the first Arsenal starter to make way, with Jenks replacing him on 75. AVB made his final change, Meireles for Obi-Mikel a minute later.

The changes were not immediately decisive, however, as we held firm at the back and defended well throughout the side and when conceding possession,we worked hard to either win the ball back, or cut Chelsea’s routes to goal off.

With just over 10 minutes to, Robin reacted angrily to an inadvertent-looking elbow as he and Ivanovic contested a high ball. Our captain appeared to shove the Chelsea defender as they walked up the pitch and Ivanovic collapsed, probably to get Marriner’s attention; the referee took note, spoke to both players and issued yellows to them both.

At the 80 minute mark, Rosicky came on for Theo and within a minute, Chelsea were level.

During the move, Lukaku clearly fouled Santos, pushing him off to retain possession, and feed Mata, who beat Szczesny with a wonderful curling strike from just outside the box…

So after going 3-2, we were pegged back again and with ten-plus minutes remaining, it was anyone’s game…

Arsene certainly thought the foul should have been called, giving fourth official Webb a prolonged “what for” on the sidelines…

Just as 3-3 full-time started to look likely, we regained the lead four minutes from the end of regulation.

Malouda actually started the move with a poor back pass which sold Terry short, the Chelsea skipper awkwardly slipped – similar to Theo earlier in the half – and Robin was on the ball in a flash, going in one-on-one with Cech.

The Chelsea keeper, probably anticipating Robin to shoot with his left foot, dived to his right; Robin simply checked on to his right foot, rounded Cech and stroked the ball into the empty net for his second and our second lead.

Arsene made his final change two minutes from time, replacing Gerv with TV.

We wrapped it up in the second minute of stoppage time, clearing a Chelsea corner for a four-on-two break. Rosicky waited for Robin then sent him clear down the left and our captain beat Cech at his near post (again!) for the hat trick.

Chelsea were finished and we saw out the remainder of the 4 minutes and 45 seconds stoppage time with no further trouble.

Our biggest test of this recent run turned into what was clearly our best sustained half of football, our biggest league win and our first away league win of the season. Perhaps it is a bit ironic that such a key victory was not rewarded with a rise in the standings: we started the match in seventh place and moved up to sixth at the final whistle but Liverpool’s win at the Hawthorns in the late kickoff moved us back down to seventh.

No matter, we are on the right track and if we keep playing like we did in the second half, we should be back in the top four sooner rather than later…

That is not to say, however, everything was perfect.

We were defensively shaky in the first half – particularly Mertesacker and Santos and we didn’t take all our chances.

Everything improved dramatically in the second half and that is a performance to build upon.

Robin will obviously get the plaudits for that hat trick but everyone contributed to this win. For me, other standouts were Theo, Ramsey, and Kos, with Gervinho and Arteta also having fine games.

Over 90 minutes, every team will make its share of mistakes – this was an afternoon where the good far outweighed the bad…

I will say – yet again – that we and the players can help ourselves by not getting too far ahead. Since the disastrous collapse at Ewood, we have steadily climbed the table, are topping our CL group and are into the Carling Cup quarterfinals. We clearly have momentum, we are getting some of our injured players back and our current players look to be getting more and more comfortable with each other’s games.

So let’s quietly continue doing this.

We are on our way back, which is evident and does not need saying. In fact, there is little that needs to be said. Let our actions on the pitch do the talking, and lets refrain from proclaiming what we are going to the do to this team or that team…

That is advice my compatriot and erstwhile Chelsea suit (Chairman) Bruce M. Buck would have done well to heed. On Thursday, discussing the club’s failed attempt to re-purchase the Stamford Bridge freehold, he told supporters to “get together and beat the crap out of Arsenal.” Our only response is to smile and point to the full-time scoreboard…

A final word on referee Andre Marriner. I thought he did a fine job this afternoon. He made some decisions which upset both sets of fans – notably Szczesny’s yellow instead of red and Lukaku’s foul on Santos in the build-up to Chelsea’s third goal.

Nevertheless, I felt he gave the players the benefit of the doubt on both occasions and I thought he was consistent in this respect. He kept his cards in his pocket for the most part and when tempers started to simmer a bit in the first half, he spoke to the players and calmed things down rather than flashing cards left, right and centre.

These are never easy fixtures to handle but I thought he and his crew did a great job, using restraint, common sense, and consistency.

So we head back home with a rather large scalp in our belt and a big away win over a credible opponent. Enjoy this now but don’t forget we are back to work on Tuesday, with our home tie versus Marseille. Win that one and we are just about into the Champions League group stages. Then we have a West Brom side at home on Saturday – a side that took four points from us last season. We can ill afford to spend too much time patting ourselves on the back over today’s result.

Neither should we dismiss it as just another win, yesterday’s result is a signature win and tangible evidence that we have turned a corner and heading in the right direction. This should show us that we need not fear anyone, so long as our attitude and application are right.

If we continue to play as we have today, we will win far more than we lose, and we have a real chance of turning this into a pretty memorable season.

So let’s celebrate a great win, and then get back to work, all teams are only as good as the last result, and – for better or for worse – we are certainly no exception to that…

Written by Oliver


Big Speech Arsene, Now we need a big performance to back it up…..

October 29, 2011

If we give absolutely everything and fight together for every single game in every single competition we can still look back at the end of the season and be proud of our attitude and what we have achieved.

Have we fans not been saying that for many seasons now?

It’s all very well Wenger coming out with this rousing speech at the AGM on Thursday night but why has he not been able to be as passionate with his words to the team over the last few years? Sometimes we have played so poorly and without passion it’s pretty clear the manager has not been able to motivate the players in a way he maybe could or should have done.

Thursday though, Wenger said he spoke from his heart and if he did, maybe the old motivational skills are on their way back and he’s got it in him again to get the best from the players?

We’ll find out later….

Seriously, we can beat this Chelsea side today, if every player ‘turns up’ ready to play and fight from start to finish. Each and every one of them needs to back up Wengers words with action, do that and be proud of the shirt on their back.

Team News:

Gibbs, Sagna, Wilshere and Diaby are all definitely out of today’s squad, Jenkinson may be fit enough to start, depending how his training went yesterday and Vermaelen is definitely in the squad but may not start. Wenger suggests that that decision is down to us playing again on Tuesday against Marseille.

Why, the most important match today is against Chelsea, why is he already thinking about the Champions League fixture? If Vermaelen is either fit for today or he’s not, the squad for Marseille will take care of itself when Tuesday arrives and I’m sure every Arsenal fan cares only about getting at least a point today at Stamford Bridge!

Remember this??

Of course you do, it’s only a few months ago………

Song, Cesc and Theo were the goal scorers when we last played the pensioners back in December, what a game that was too and despite Robin van Persie missing a couple of glorious chances in front of goal. Drogba, who is missing today having seen red last weekend was a threat that day, but the most notable involvement in the game was a bust up with John ‘Thomas’ Terry after we went 3-0 up!

Djourou was immense that day, maybe the first time one of our defenders had Drogba in his pocket and Theo Walcott had a day to remember, we need another from him today.

That victory saw us go to second in the league and the talk was all about us being title contenders, Wenger was one of a few guilty of making that comment.

We didn’t need it then and we certainly don’t need it now, regardless of the outcome of todays game.

In that fixture we lined up:

Fabianski
Sagna
Kos
Djourou
Clichy
Fabregas
Nasri
Walcott
Song
Wilshere
van Persie

Substitutes:

Szczesny
Squillaci
Diaby
Rosicky
Arshavin
Chamakh
Bendtner

Are we facing them today with a stronger squad than we did back in December last year?

Chelsea are on a pretty good run despite not keeping a clean sheet during their last eight games. The last time we beat them at their tired old ground was back in 2008, but maybe the significant statistic is that we are on a run of eight away league games without a win – our longest in the Premier League.

So the odds are stacked against us today, but as Wenger says:

If we give absolutely everything and fight together for every single game……

We may just spring a surprise on the pensioners today…….


Seven wins from Eight, are we out of the slump?

October 28, 2011

Morning all,

Seven wins out of our last eight, does that mean we are out of the slump?

I would say no but we are getting better though. Our confidence is building and team spirit is improving but we are still a way off winning the league, FA cup or Carling Cup not to mention the Champions League!

The hard reality is that it may take a season or two to get over the loss of Fabregas, Na$ri and Clichy.

Yes we have brought replacements and given time some of them may go close to replacing these old players but that time is not here yet.

Our worst result for many years is still emblazoned in our minds, I know we had a lot of players missing but 8.2 is a drubbing however you dress it up. Since then we have gone on a little run and the teams we have beaten have troubles the same as us in one way or another, so we can’t start praising ourselves up until we inflict some damage to some of those teams at the top end of the table.

The teams above us are there for a reason, they have set targets for themselves that we must reach but have we got the team to do that?

I don’t know the answer this season, unlike previous ones when I have always thought that our team was good enough to compete with the best in our league. It’s hard to say just where we really are this season as we haven’t had all our best players playing at the same time yet. Injury or suspensions has rendered that question impossible to answer.

Supporters are more upbeat than they have been since the start of the season, seven wins out of the last eight seems to have lifted spirits but we are still not playing impressively.We still hold our breath when we face a free kick but thankfully the players have started to deal with these a little better and supporters may have started to fidget less in their seats but they still expect a calamity to happen any minute.

Dependability has gone out of the window and we have gone from confident side to a team that plays one game at a time.

Wenger has started to introduce his latest crop of youngsters and early signs look encouraging but whether he uses them in the first team remains to be seen.

Per Mertesacker has taken a while to fit in but now seems to be settled in and has started to form a good understanding with Kos.

Arteta, who many had thought was a replacement for Cesc, will never be as there is no replacement for our ex captain, he was a one-off and his pin point passes and defence splitting runs is now just a distant memory. He has done a good job and although he maybe guilty of holding the ball too long but when you have no one running for positions what do you do?

Santos has been used spasmodically but with Gibbs injured so often, he’ll feature more no doubt.

As for some of our longer term players, Mr ‘reliable’ Sagna, injured right now with a broken leg, Alex Song, Mr I’ll run through walls for you is still doing his best and Arshavin, who is not one of my favourites is starting to improve. Mind you, maybe playing him in his preferred position helps!

Robin Van Persie has been like a breath of fresh air, his fitness has improved and he has found the back of the net, enough said, I don’t want to jinx him.

Rosicky has done what he needs to do mostly good but not enough, Theo Walcott ‘I’m not a winger’; well his form has been dreadful! He runs around like a headless chicken, where he’s running to nobody knows. Having played as a winger for four years or so, he now thinks he might be a striker.

A striker he may be but he has a lot of competition and Ju Park has just thrown a spanner in Theo’s works and with Chamakh, Gervinho and not forgetting the Ox and Ryo all looking for a start, Theo may be better off staying on the wing.

Chesney seems to have cemented his place as our No1 goalkeeper and from what I have seen of him, he’s probably the best of the three.

Thomas Vermaelen is again like a new signing and supporters want him back but where to field him? Wenger will have to scratch his head and work that one out. Jack Wilshere has been out since the start of the season and I doubt we will see much of him, maybe the last couple of months.

Aaron Ramsey’s form has started to improve but I think he misses Jack and Chamakh, well he has a lot to do and if he doesn’t soon, I think he’ll be off. Frimpong is in there battling with Coquelin for a place in midfield but both will soon become a fixture I am sure.

We also cannot forget that Diaby is yet to feature this season.

There are more that have started waiting in the wings and from what I have seen or heard about them, it’s encouraging for the future of our club.

Chelsea on Saturday, how are we going to do against a top team?

This is where we see if the team’s confidence is high enough to do battle and come out on top.

We will have to wait and see but with our old nemesis Drogba suspended our chances are far better. Chelsea have an ageing team and reading between the lines not all is well in their camp, you can throw money about all you like but ageing players mean slower players, we have to run them ragged.

I believe we will.

Written by Steve Palmer


Thank Goodness Wenger isn’t English…….

October 27, 2011

Morning all,

Seems like I was wrong in an earlier post I wrote suggesting that the FA was after our manager.

Wenger has publicly said that he would never consider managing England and he’s also said that the position should be filled by an Englishman, suggesting that the best man for the job is the fella down the road. You know the one, the twitchy wheeler-dealer but that’s not to say that Wenger wasn’t asked.

I touted Stuart Pearce but he’d already been appointed as the manager of Team GB for the next Olympics so I guess that’s why he ruled himself out.

The strange thing about this appointment is that Wenger is not to keen on letting his players play for team GB, I guess it’s because of Jack, Theo and Aaron and some of our other British players.

When you think of it, England do have a bit of a nerve asking for players to be released to play for their respective countries.

Look at Jack for instance, they want him to play for the under 21′s,  for the senior team aswell and you can bet your bottom dollar that he would also be called up for Stuart Pearce’s Team GB.

I’m a passionate Englishman, I would always like to see Arsenal players representing their countries but I believe that it shouldn’t be to the detriment of the Arsenal.

We find these talented players, usually youngsters and we either buy them from wherever or bring them through our youngsters program. We train them, nurture them, pay their wages, only for the FA or Team GB to use them whenever they like.

Recently we have been going through a bit of a lean spell, although hopefully we are through the worst times and are now improving game by game but with the injuries we have had in this first eight to ten games makes you realise that when were short of players the FA or England really don’t care, unless of course they have an international fixture coming up.

You have to consider that every home game at Wembley must bring in £3 to 4 million.

They don’t have to pay transfer fee’s or worry if any one player gets injured they just leave it to the parent club to nurse these players back to health. The FA must have insurance in case of injury but we have to play without the injured player sometimes to the detriment of our own club and although I like to see England do well, I would much rather see Arsenal do better.

We now have a few possible England players and perhaps Team GB and Wenger must be getting worried, after all the English press have had a field day at his expense since the start of the season which makes me laugh when I think of some of the comments and articles I have read about our poor players and Arsenals position in the league.

Will we make the top four, will Wenger get the sack, will he walk away, then, the same bodies ask for some of our players to make them a few quid and help them field a team. No wonder Wenger shows little response to them, not to mention some of the decisions their referees have given against us.

At the end of the day our players want to be seen on the big stage and we have already seen that not every Arsenal player views his long-term future with us and have jumped ship. Unless we start improving trophy wise we could lose a few more.

So should Wenger allow these players to play in these Internationals or the Olympics or should he just concentrate on Arsenal’s form?

Tough call if you’re a patriotic Englishman, thankfully Wenger is not.

Written by Steve Palmer


A Stroll in the Park, Simples!

October 26, 2011

We have a treat today, a match summary from Allezkev who was at The Emirates last night…

We lined up:

Fabianski, Yennaris, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Miquel, Frimpong, Coquelin, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin and Park.

Substitutes:

Mannone, Meade, Boateng, Ozyakup, Aneke, Ryo, Watt

We appeared to start out 4 4 1 1, although at times it was 4 5 1.

Arshavin played through the middle, Young was superb, constantly moving, making runs & making himself available.

The first half was fairly uneventful, Adam Bogdan made a couple of saves & Fabianski was forced to made a good stop.

Bolton put out quite a strong side and most of the first half was an evenly fought contest.

Vermaelen came close from a free kick, Arshavin looked as if he was going to chip it over the wall but instead slid a short pass to Verm who unloaded a thunderbolt that Bogdan did well to push away.

Bolton went for it from the restart and caught us but after they scored the game seemed to open up. We quickly equalised and soon after got a second. Boltons fragile confidence sagged, they had a good go at us but their finishing was terrible.

Young came close with two efforts, a dribble across the face of goal followed by a rasping shot from 20 yds that Bogdan palmed over and late in the game he again found himself in front of goal but seemed to slip as he turned and shot. It nearly crept in but Bogdan again saved.

A lot of fans would have gone last night, to see what all the fuss was about Oxlade~Chamberlain. Maybe he suffered a bit from all the hype and high expectations but it wasn’t his night.

He did some really good things and you can see his quality but it didn’t fall for him as a couple of chances went begging. He was a whisker away but he’ll have other nights when he’s the hero. He looked frustrated when he came off, so you can see he’s desperate to succeed. He still has a lot to learn but he’s a fantastic player and he’s at the right club to learn properly.

Park Chu Young announced himself to the Arsenal fans with a superb 90 min display. Despite being dwarfed by Knight & Cahill, he competed and won his fair share of high balls and as the game went on you could see him improving & growing in confidence. He always made himself available, was constantly making runs and angles for a pass.

He could have scored twice in the first half, a rasping 20 yard drive that Bogdan palmed around the post and an opportunist turn and shot in the area that Bogdan grabbed by the post.

A goal hanger..? A goal poacher..? His goal was class a goal scorers goal..!

Our Goals:

Arshavin gained possession on the edge of the Bolton box. Looked to go on a mazy run but just made a bit of space for himself and seemed to pass the ball diagonally across the face of goal and between the Bolton defenders and into the far corner of the net with Bogdan left stranded. It looked simple, or ‘simples’, but the execution was superb.

Park Chu Young scored a real strikers goal. Arshavin again gained possession, advanced on the Bolton penalty area and waited until Park, to his left, began his run and just sent a slide rule pass that Park ran onto. Park opened up his body and just bent his shot around & across Bogdan and the ground exploded. I think he is going to be a very useful weapon in the weeks & months ahead.

Katkuta was giving us problems but Miquel and Benny were doubling up on him and just about keeping him quiet.

Fabianski was a mixture of good stops & flaps. Overall he did ok, but I don’t want him near the 1st team. He will always be a goalkeeping enigma.

Yennaris had a very solid 90 mins. Tackled well, didn’t waste a pass and did enough to show that he has 1st team potential.

Miquel was a surprise at left~back but he did very well against a dangerous opponent in Kakuta. Benayoun often dropped back to support him [Theo take note] and together they nullified the danger.

Squillaci picked up a brainless yellow card, a foul on the halfway line with the Bolton player going away from the Arsenal goal but fortunately after that he got his head in gear and had a reasonable game. Just keep him away from the 1st team.

Vermaelen was the big selection surprise but he was superb for his 83 mins.

Besides his first half exocet he just went about his business with the minimum of fuss. He went off to a standing ovation, a job well done and a 1st team place at Stamford Bridge a near certainty.

Frimpong & Coquelin again showed their huge potential, they anchored the midfield despite some tasty Bolton challenges.
Both have different styles but both have complimentary assets that give our midfield that mixture of robustness and delicate technique. Chasing and harrying one moment, moving the ball around with precision the next.

Benayoun had a good solid game, buzzing around, always available, using the ball intelligently, helping out his team mates. Benny is a valuable member of the squad. Reliability is his middle name.

We had the full set from Arshavin, one minute we’d be pulling our hair out at another lazy misdirected pass, the next  we’d be dancing in the moonlight at his skill, vision and ability. We’d be moping around after giving away possession, next the axis in a sublime passing movement. He was behind everything good in this performance.

But that’s our meerkat..!

Other substitutions:

Ryo came on for Oxo, to a big cheer. He went on a couple of buccaneering runs that promise an exciting future. He gets you out of your seat that’s for sure and once this rough diamond has been polished he’ll be a dangerous weapon in our armoury. On one occasion he battled with a much bigger Bolton player and somehow came away with the ball, blasting off towards the Bolton goal. I think he is gonna be a big favourite of the fans in no time.

Ozyakup came on for Frimpong. He was neat, tidy and moved the ball intelligently, another with a lot more to offer.

Boateng came on for Verm & played out the remaining 7+4 mins without mishap.

Some of the passing & movement in the 2 nd half was top-notch. The defending at times was harem scarem but THIS IS Arsenal.

Some of the Benny, Arshavin, Park combinations in the 2nd half were of the highest level as Bolton were pulled all over the place.

Bolton did have opportunities and when Verm went off I did fear a late headed equaliser as they threw the kitchen sink at us but their finishing is terrible, at times, Hackney Marshes standard luckily.

Now for a home draw in the 5th Round. Palace would be nice.  :-)

Written by Allezkev


Surprise Vermaelen return tonight? Form goes out the window for this game….

October 25, 2011

League form bears little relevance to Cup Competitions in my opinion and especially in this Cup.

Teams change, different personnel come in for their chance to show their worth, prove that they deserve a chance on a regular basis.
We can expect little different tonight either, we should see a mix and match of old and new, experience and inexperience but whoever gets their chance, I hope take it.

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Robin van Persie will sit this one out, maybe Wenger will keep him on the bench for that ‘just in case scenario’ – but I hope not, he needs to take this opportunity to rest and rest properly, not be sat around on a cold damp chilly night in London.

This is our starting eleven from the last round against Shrewsbury:

Fabianski
Jenkinson
Miquel
Djourou
Gibbs
Chamberlain
Coquelin
Frimpong
Benayoun
Ju Park
Chamakh

Substitutes:

Damien Martinez
Nico Yennaris
Daniel Boateng
Oguzhan Ozyakup
Ryo Miyaichi
Chucks Aneke
Sanchez Watt

Whether Wenger takes tonight’s fixture a little more seriously remains to be seen.

After all, we are facing a fellow Premier League side in Bolton, one that we huffed and puffed against in the league and only managed to score the second and third goal once they had been reduced to ten men.

He has no choice but to makes changes at both left and right back due to injuries to both Gibbs and Jenkinson, no doubt Santos will come in on the left but on the right, I’m not sure who will play.

I strongly suspect that Djourou will continue there, however, we are talking about Arsene Wenger here, who knows what he will do, maybe Yennaris will be his choice. ;)

Squillaci could come in to play alongside Miquel, unless of course Thomas Vermaelen makes a welcome return, he certainly looked ready in training yesterday..

Will he, or won't he??

Wouldn’t it be a sight for sore eyes to see him back in red and white tonight, a massive boost to every player in the side and every fan across the world?

Wenger said yesterday:

He is back in full training again, he is alright now.

I think he will be at least on the bench.

The midfield will no doubt be the same, unless Tomas Rosicky comes in to add a bit more experience to the side and having been an unused substitute on Sunday.

One pairing I hope stays the same as the last round is Ju Park and Chamakh, both need playing time and both need to have a good game. Hopefully they can get a few goals between them, not only for the team of course and the result tonight but maybe more importantly, for themselves.

Things are starting to improve a little for us but we should be very aware of the wounded animal…

Bolton are struggling, they are suffering maybe the worst they ever have done under Owen Coyle and tonight they will be glad to escape the pressure of the Premier League and they have just been on the receiving end of an earful from their captain Gary Cahill:

A few of the lads, myself included, need to have a look and question themselves over whether they are doing enough.

You can maybe afford to carry one player but you cannot afford to carry a handful and it has been different players in different games.

When you are under pressure, there is only so much you can head out and defend. It is difficult because I was out there (against Sunderland) thinking, ‘Why are we under so much pressure?’ We were defending all the time. We have to sort it out.

Owen Coyle has confirmed that he is planning to make seven or eight changes and no doubt those coming in will want to impress their boss, wanting him to believe that they could be the players to turn their season around – another reason for us to stay focussed from start to finish.

This is going to be a tough fixture and nothing should be taken for granted.

I hope Bolton sort their troubles out but not tonight, I hope they have to defend as much if not more than they had to at the weekend when they lost 2-0 to Sunderland.

We need to continue our mini recovery, grow and build each game and there would be no better way to go and face the Pensioners on Saturday than with another win under our belt…

Oh and of course be in the pot for the next round ….


Who else could save the day, other than our currently-indispensible captain?

October 24, 2011

The pre-match main talking point was whether he would start today or not.

During a mid-week presser, Arsene hinted that Robin may be kept in reserve in order to give him a breather and keep his minutes from ballooning out of control.  The other main point is whether or not we could continue our good recent run of results, continue climbing the league table, and add to what has become a pretty good home record this season.

Our previous three home wins came against sides really struggling at the time; Stoke are far more formidable and a far different proposition from the likes of Swansea, Bolton and Sunderland.

Last season, we struggled to scrape a 1-0 win here, and took a 3-1 drubbing at the Brittania.  A win would move us closer to the top four, while a Stoke win could potentially move them up to fifth.  So there was plenty at stake for both sides…

To nobody’s surprise, Robin made the bench this afternoon, with Chamakh getting the start in his place, yet another opportunity to show that he can be a reliable goal-scorer for us.  JD retained his place in Jenks’ continued absence, and Ramsey and Gerv returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Rosicky and Arsh (who started at the Velodrome on Wednesday).

We lined up Szczesny, JD, Kos, Mert, Santos, Arteta, Song, Ramsey, Theo, Chamakh, and Gerv.  Song led the team out as captain which was a nice show of faith from Arsene and recognition for Song’s recent excellent performances.

Our subs were Fab, Frim, Benny, Rosicky, Arsh, Ju and Robin.

Note there is no natural defender in that group,  Arsene clearly intended to use Song as his emergency centre back in case something happened to Mert, Kos, or JD (with Kos possibly shifting to right in the event of a problem with JD).

As with recent matches, we started quickly, looking for an early goal.  Stoke did not sit back, as they attacked as well, making for an open start.  With ten minutes gone, we should have opened the scoring, as Theo won a corner, Arteta whipped the ball in and an unmarked Chamakh made an absolute mess of his header, unable to even hit the target.  Not an encouraging start from our off-form striker…

Both sides continued to pressure, as both Walters and Arteta shot wide from decent positions.  Ramsey then drove his shot narrowly wide but the opener was not long in coming and in the 26th minute, Gerv got us on the scoreboard.  Ramsey made the goal, chipping his pass over the defence,  Gerv chested the ball down and fired low past Begovic to get us on the board.

Gerv then almost created a goal, storming past Wilkinson and sending in a fine low cross across the goal face.  Unfortunately, no red shirt was far enough forward to turn the cross in and the chance dissipated.

Stoke remained a threat, and on 34 minutes they equalized, albeit in slightly controversial circumstances.  Stoke were awarded a free-kick for a soft Kos foul on Crouch.  While our players may have felt slightly aggrieved at the whistle, they would have been better advised to concentrate on defending the delivery.

Whelan put the free kick in, we had a couple of chances to clear, didn’t, and Walters headed it across goal for Crouch to tuck away.  Back to square one…

Just a couple of minutes later, Wilkinson appeared to bring Chamakh down in the Stoke box as we tried to regain the lead but the referee waved play on.  Stoke got a few more free kicks and forced a corner, but we defended these reasonably well.  In the first minute of stoppage time, Chamakh had another golden opportunity, beating Upson to Arteta’s fine cross, but directing his shot wide when he should have once again hit the target.

The half-time whistle went a few seconds later.

Arsene did not make any chances at the break and we started the second half quickly.  Gerv continued to cause problems down the flanks, with him and Theo forcing corners which came to nothing.   As we continued to labor to create an opening, the fans started to chant for Robin.  Arsene waited 65 minutes, but when he finally brought our captain on for the disappointing Chamakh, it almost paid instant dividends, as his first touch was a fine cross which just eluded Ramsey at the far post.

Nevertheless, the substitution was decisive, as Robin restored our lead 17 minutes from time.  First half scorer Gerv turned provider as he cut the ball back for Robin to turn it home between Begovic and his post.  Pulis responded by bringing strikers Jones and Jerome on, and they combined to create a chance, as Jones headed down, but Jerome was unable to divert the ball in.

Eight minutes from time, we made the game safe.  Gerv once again did some great work down the left, crossing for Robin to convert his second and our third.

We pressed for a fourth, and both Gerv and Frim (who replaced the latter just after 90 minutes) had chances.  No matter, three was enough and we saw the stoppage time out comfortably.  Our third consecutive win in all competitions, and sixth consecutive home win (again in all competitions) moving us up to seventh in the table, with 13 points.

No, we are still not yet “back”, but we finally appear to get “getting there”, provided we keep the momentum going.

On thing that pleases me about our run is that we are more or less doing it under the radar.  This weekend’s plaudits go to Man City, and rightly so.  For our players and manager, it is past time to discuss what we can/will do, and take care of business without any background noise.

For us supporters on all sides of our current divide, it’s time to give the players and manager credit for bringing ourselves back from the depths to a respectable position.  It is also time to take one result at a time without going overboard on the back of a couple of wins and ramping expectations up through the roof.  Today we beat the best opponent we faced at home since Liverpool in week two, and got only our second league win by a 2-plus goal margin.

The next step surely must be to improve our wretched away league form.  Last season’s best Prem away side currently “boasts” just one point from a possible 12, with a whopping fourteen conceded.  Our next task is formidable indeed:  Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s early kickoff.  Nine-man Chelsea lost at Loftus Road this afternoon, so we will face them with Drogba and Luiz suspended. (Cole will miss the CC fixture to serve his automatic ban)

They are always difficult to beat at home and besides our excellent 3-1 home win over them at the end of last year, they have had our number recently.  We should approach the match confident and looking for a result  but if we don’t get one, I won’t consider it to be a halt in momentum, in light of the opposition quality and experience.

In other words, a win will be great, and a loss will not be the end of the world.  Our respective performance will be a mitigating factor, but we will not be able to assess things until after the final whistle, so there is little point in even mentioning that now.

So a good result and another step forward but that is not to say that things are perfect.  We still have a large injury list and our squad still shows signs that it is a work in progress.  For me, this moment’s most critical issue is that of our second striker.

Once again, Chamakh was provided an opportunity and once again, he utterly failed.  Arsene robustly defended the former during this past week, emphatically declaring he would not be sold in January.  While I can hardly expect Arsene to slap a “For Sale” note on Chamakh’s forehead, I think it is perfectly reasonable to question the latter’s long-term future here.

While Robin came on to save our bacon, I would prefer that he didn’t have to do so.  The fact that he did is more attributable to Chamakh’s ineffectiveness than anything else.

From this comes the question, how many chances are enough?

Since Robin returned to our lineup at the end of last year, Chamakh has contributed two paltry goals (one against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup), and little else, despite numerous substitute appearances and the occasional spot start.  Even the performances where he didn’t score but looked good and dangerous are few and far between…

This is not to heap all the blame on our lack of other-than-Robin-scoring on Chamakh.  That claim is grossly unfair, as there are plenty of starting eleven players who get far more minutes than he, and show little for it.  Robin and Theo were the only players who scored regularly in the first few weeks, and the latter has now dropped off the proverbial cliff.  Gerv got his second today, and the likes of Arsh, Ramsey, Benny, Song and Arteta have chipped in with the odd goal here and there but not nearly enough as a team.

But Chamakh is under the spotlight for two reasons:  he is Robin’s direct substitute, and is therefore expected to contribute the scoring; and he showed during last autumn that he is (was) capable of carrying the load.  That is now a distant memory and each successive ineffective performance does less and less to justify his place in our squad.

I just hope Arsene clearly knows when little/nothing will be enough with Chamakh.  I don’t think this can continue indefinitely – either Chamakh finds some semblance of form, or its someone else’s turn to try and provide goal scoring cover for Robin…

I want the guy to succeed, I admired his work at the start of last season but this is a results-driven business, not a charity.  If Chamakh can no longer do the job, then we have look elsewhere for a reliable second striker…

Chamakh conundrum aside, this was a solid win and a reasonably good performance.

While everyone did not shine, I thought we combined better than in recent weeks – perhaps a sign of the gelling process our squad is undergoing.  In addition to Robin, I thought Gerv in particular stood out.  Ditto for Ramsey, especially considering the emotional scars he may still carry from the Brittania two seasons ago.

At face value, this win isn’t that much more than a routine three points.  Beneath the surface, it’s tangible evidence that improvement is taking place before our eyes, with results and league position further reflecting this.

So let’s quietly keep this run going, stay under the radar and win our matches; one morning the rest of the league will wake up to see us right near the very top of the table, and wonder “Where did THEY come from?”

Written by Oliver


Robin Reliant or will someone else finally step up?? Today we’ll see just how far we have come…

October 23, 2011

Yep, by the time the final whistle goes somewhere around 15.20hrs today, we will have learned if we have taken further steps forward in our Premier League campaign or just same old few steps forward and the same plus one back.

Today is a huge test, not only as Stoke are a big side, they have been a physical side too in the past but now, as they sit above us in the league, they have also become a bit of a footballing side.

They have Crouch and Kenwyne Jones up front, possibly two of the tallest strikers out defence will face in the league.

They really gave Manchester united a fright earlier on in the season and maybe they were a tad unlucky to take only one point from the game, today is gunner be tough.

We know Jenkinson is the latest to be ruled out injured; he joins Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Sagna and Wilshere.

The good news though is apart from Jack and Sagna, the others are all due back in two weeks.

Stoke’s Pennant is a doubt through a dodgy hamstring but Higginbotham could return.

So far this season we have lost every game after playing in the CL, in fact we haven’t won a fixture after a European match since last November!!

Not so good eh, time for that to change…

Yes, we are starting to look a lot tighter at the back but we have still conceded five goals in our last six games so there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Up front, good old Robin the Reliant has been on form thankfully, he’s bagged 27 goals in his last 33 games. Today we need someone else to burden some of the weight – it’s time for the likes of Walcott and Gervinho to get on the score sheet and we certainly need a greater impetus from our lacklustre midfield.

Stoke are a tough nut to crack but Sunderland managed to do it, and convincingly too by scoring four times, so if they can, we can too. That game apart though, Stoke have conceded just seven goals in their other 15 fixtures.

Impressive eh?

In the centre of the defence they have a couple of old crocks in most people’s eyes, but Woodgate and Upson have done really well, two smart ‘free’ signings in the summer by Pulis but they haven’t face our main man yet, we all know he could undo them in a second, if he’s on fire.

Stoke have never won a solitary point at The Emirates, today we need to make sure that doesn’t change. The last league goal they scored at our place was back in 2009, courtesy of a Ricardo Fuller penalty.

Back in May this year though, they battered us 3-1 at their own ground, we don’t need or want anything similar to that score-line.
Our home results have picked up since the Liverpool and we have won the last three but we are still conceding too many goals, in fact only Bolton and Blackburn have conceded more.

That’s nothing to brag about eh?

Stoke are struggling to score goals, they have netted just six so far this season in the league and stats show that four of them have come in the last ten minutes of the game, hope our boys have been warned! They have only scored one goal in the first half so let’s get three goals in the first half, then game over! ;)

So, despite Stoke sitting above us in the league, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story does it?

It’s pretty clear that Stoke are struggling to score goals! It’s clear they don’t like conceding them either but we all believe we are on the up don’t we?

Today, if we get a strong display by our defence, a more dynamic and creative display from our midfield and of course, a clinical, ruthless display from any of our players who find themselves with a goal scoring opportunity – we can beat this Stoke side with conviction…

If not, well then anything could happen.

One thing is for sure though; round about 3.20pm today in UK time, we’ll all know just how far we have come in the last few weeks…..

Come on The Arsenal, your manager believes in all of you, go and prove to yourselves and all others just why he does…..

It’s time to push on Guys, three points is a MUST!!


Just when we looked like being safe! Two weeks for Jenkinson…

October 22, 2011

Richard Scudamore has rubbished all the suggestion about binning the relegation in football. In fact he’s labelled such an idea as being ‘nonsensical’.

Earlier this week the League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan claimed that the American and Asian owners of Premier League clubs had expressed a desire to do away with the tradition of the English game that has been in place longer than I can remember.

Scudamore however has dismissed such suggestion saying it’s:

(a), I could never see it; and (b), there’s been no serious debate about it at all.

It’s just a nonsensical starting point… it’s scare-mongering of the worst order in my view. There is absolutely no appetite for it. You just can’t make statements without being able to back it up.

I’m probably the person sitting with the most evidence. I speak to the clubs on a regular basis. I speak to all the owners – both foreign and British – on a very regular basis and there’s no appetite for it whatsoever.

Ok, of course I was jesting about us, I’m sure we won’t end up in the relegation zone, nowhere near it but the thought of not witnessing a relegation battle each season would be awful.

Maybe if we all supported one of the sides who ends up down the bottom of the league, we may feel different but that good old tussle is very important, just as the one at the top is each season.

Both fights are about money, at the top of the league, and I mean any league, it’s all about promotion and financial award for that achievement or just plain survival in a league which pays well through television viewing.

Added to that, a relegation battle can so often play its part in who wins a league, again, any league and I am sure that in the Premier League it’s played it’s part on many an occasion, not only to who wins the league but deciding who qualifies for the European Competitions.

When teams are battling for survival, it so often brings out the fight in them, maybe the best of them so to kiss that all goodbye would be so wrong, and a sad day for English football..

Thankfully, Scudamore is very much on the ball, long may that remain eh….

Bloody foreign owners, not only do they want to buy the league, they want to destroy its history too…..

Finally, Wenger confirmed yesterday that Carl Jenkinson will be out for the next two matches, his return should be for the Chelsea fixture.

Good, I think most of us feared the worst…

Have a good day all….


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