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Does Chamakh deserve to start against United? That was not for the faint-hearted……

October 31, 2012

On a night of pulsating emotions, one which only Arsenal could manage to put its fans through, the Gunners managed to make the mother of all comebacks.

From 4-0 down after 37 minutes and with all Arsenal fans fearing the worst, somehow, the team managed to claw its way back from the dead to win 7-5 in the end.

Make no mistake, this was one heck of a roller coaster ride and not for the faint-hearted.

Here is the line up and the timing of the substitutions:

Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Djourou, Miquel (Meade 105), Arshavin, Frimpong (Giroud 62), Coquelin, Walcott, Chamakh, Gnabry (Eisfeld 62).

Subs Not Used: Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Yennaris.

We fans believed that the starting eleven was a good, one which could win last nights clash, albeit marginally.

But what we saw unfold in the first half made us think twice and look on in horror.

During a comedy of comedies, Arsenal managed to contrive to put itself  4-0 down after 37 minutes. With fans fearing the worst and some of them already leaving the ground, those of us who chose to remain, steeled ourselves for a night on par with the 8-2 mauling at OT.

At one point some of the Arsenal players were playing so badly that anyone could count on one hand the amount of players who were putting in a shift.  In fact I guess one finger would have been difficult to fill up with a name. For all their expensive players Arsenal were dishing up a performance not even worthy of Sunday league Football.

Between the 12th and 18th minute Arsenal managed to create for themselves an utter disaster, where Jenkinson, Miguel, Koscielny and Djourou defended with inexcusable naivety. Noel Hunt, Hal-Robson Kanu,  Jason Roberts, Chris Gunther and Mikele Leigertwood all contrived to mock the above mentioned back line. And how they enjoyed doing that, they seemed to dance to every goal that went in and at that stage it was three!.

The crowd at the Madjeski stadium could hardly believe what they were seeing, especially when a fourth went in after Gareth Macleary’s cross from the right found its way in courtesy of a header by Hunt.

I was not impressed with what Arsenal were giving the fans.  And neither were those at the Madejski seeing that some of them  were already leaving while those left began chanting ‘We want our Arsenal back’.

Arsenal laboured and laboured and could barely string a good attack together. The midfield were not giving enough cover to the defence and the latter were like headless chickens running around without any shape or direction.

And then the comeback began. It was route one goal through the centre. Just before half-time, Andrei Arshavin passed a through ball for Theo to race onto and he made no mistake with a lifted shot over Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Arsenal started the second half a lot differently to the first, we were attacking more, desperately searching for a second goal. Even route one football was tried, anything just to get us back in the game.

Then the miracle began around the sixty minute mark, as too did the first substitutions.

Giroud and Eisfeld came on for Gnabry and Frimpong and as Wenger confirmed after the game, we went 4-2-4, all at attack to get this game back..

The second goal came from the most unlikely, that being a corner and this one was taken by Theo Walcott. Giroud got his head onto the cross and fired home with great pace past Federici. It really was a great header..

The match ticked on and for all their effort it seemed as if the team were going to pay for their first half lacklustre and careless attitude.

With only a minute left Koscielny managed to steer the ball home for what seemed a consolation goal and a respectable loss of 4-3.  The fourth official signalled 4 minutes of added time.

However in the 95th minute, the referee having added on an extra minute after Reading carried out a bit of time-wasting, we bombarded the Reading goal for what would surely be the last time. Walcott’s shot towards goal, the ball clearly crossed the line but was not given, the Reading player scrambled it out (with his hand it looked like) only as far as Jenkinson who blasted the ball into the back of the net!

(The goal was later credited to Walcott)

But who cared at that moment, it could have gone in off of anyone for all I cared.  Yes even the ball boy!

We were level and still alive in the cup.

Extra time started well for Arsenal who looked on the front foot now. The momentum was with us and Reading were feeling the effects of someone who thought that he had conquered the Italian love of his life only to see her in the arms of someone else.

Suddenly the game burst again into life when Chamakh fired a low shot through the legs of Kaspars Gorkss and beyond Federici’s outstretched fingers  to put Arsenal ahead for the first time.  The Reading fans did what some of the Arsenal fans did earlier…….and that was leave the stadium.

Pogrebnyak headed past Martinez to make the scoreline a mind-boggling 5-5. What would Mourinho have to say about this?  He had derided Arsenal once for winning 5-4.  But drawing 5-5?  Surely there must have been only one somewhere who believed in such a score and betted on it?

With the game heading to penalties Walcott put us back in front and everyone thought that was it, but Chamakh had other ideas and having acquired the scoring bug which was missing since December 2010, he decided a famous victory.

As Reading attacked, the ball came to Walcott half way inside our own half. He played a long ball up the field which the Reading defender misjudged. The ball fell kindly to the Moroccan, who lobbed the ball over Federici to make the scoreline 7-5.

There was no comeback from Reading this time…..

Surely Arsene Wenger must start Chamakh against United at Old Trafford, he wants a hat-trick.

We can only wait and see.

Is this a footballing side?  You can bet it is.  But it surely is not a defensive side.

Next up those from Old Trafford.  And we have a score to settle.

Written by Devilgunner.

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Wenger on a German mission, Holtby linked & A Big Night in Berkshire…..

October 30, 2012

Couple of bit’s from the newspapers this morning. The Daily Mail report that Wenger is going German in a big way. He’s obviously very happy with what Mertesacker and Podolski have brought to the club and happy with the way both Gnabry and Eisfeld are progressing too. So much so, suggestion is that our chief scout Steve Rowley is spending an increasing amount of time in Germany setting up wider scouting for players.

Whether that is scouting younger players to feed his ‘project youth’ or whether it’s an attempt to spot the ‘raw’ player and sign him up before he becomes the next superstar I don’t know, but this has to be a really good move.

Talking of German players, the agent of Lewis Holtby, who in January, is free to sign a pre-contract deal with a new club if he intends to leave Shalke next summer, has confirmed that an English club has made an ‘interesting proposal’ for the player. Liverpool and ourselves are the clubs linked to him, along with Inter Milan.

Onto today’s trip to sunny Berkshire….

Here we go again, that competition held in the highest disdain by most managers in the EPL, the good old League Cup…


A competition that holds many memories for me, not least the 1968 and 1969 Finals, both burned deep into my memory. I recall in 1972, Norwich City rolling into town and a Graham Paddon inspired performance saw them whip us 0-3. That shock was compounded a year later when a veteran Ron Yeats rolled back the years and Tranmere Rovers left our hope in tatters, 0-1…..

I could go on, but I don’t want anybody out there slitting their wrists, so how about 1986-87…

I endured the 1st Leg Semi-Final defeat by Tottenham H, 0-1, Gus Ceasar played! The 2nd Leg and the memorable replay were both 2-1 victories, goals by Viv Anderson, Niall Quinn, Ian Allinson and dear Rocky Rocastle were the precursor to that wonderful 2-1 Final win over Liverpool. I wish we could play Liverpool in Final’s at Wembley every year, but not Cardiff…..

That was George Graham’s first trophy success with Arsenal. The League Cup was a competition that George was tied up with throughout his career. He won it again in 1993. I can still remember, with the scores at 1-1 with Sheffield Weds, saying to my son Kevin “What a waste” as Arsenal seemingly mucked up a move, and as the words left my lips, Paul Merson volleyed the winner and we all went bonkers…

My son often tries to repeat the trick, but up till now my catchphrase hasn’t worked.

Maybe Wembley 2013 might be a good time to repeat it..?

Back in 1967-68 Arsenal beat Coventry City, then Reading in the opening two rounds of the cup, on their way to the Final.

Tonight Arsene has his usual selection issues, but this game could be the ideal opportunity to start Jack Wilshere at the heart of the team.

Andrei Arshavin could play in the hole once more, directing operations.

Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott (if fit), Frimpong, Coquelin, Djourou, even Abou Diaby (a long shot I know) could all add their experience to the talented U21’s that’ll be involved.

Gnabry, Miquel, Yennaris, Martinez, Angha, possibly Olsson, Meade, Eisfeld and Akpom?

It promises to be another interesting and entertaining evening…


Written by Allezkev

Are we missing Alex Song??

October 29, 2012

Morning Gooners,

Last August, at the height of the transfer fun fest, Arsene Wenger surprised everyone by sanctioning the transfer of Alex Song.

Off went our Cameroon midfielder to that familiar destination, that is, Arsenal’s Spanish Bankers, FC Barcelona, for a very useful fee in the region of £15 million.

After many senior appearances, Song joined his old team-mate Cesc Fabregas on the Catalan’s substitute bench.

Back in England and beyond, many Gunners gnashed and ground their teeth in frustration (Not me btw).

Meanwhile Arsene tried manfully to complete a permanent transfer for Song’s replacement, Nuri Sahin.

A forlorn attempt it turned out as our old mate, the delightful Jose Mourinho, ensured that the German born Turkish International midfielder, moved to Liverpool on an expensive loan deal.

The common view by many Gooners, not shared by me, was that Wenger had weakened the Arsenal midfield.

A view, that I don’t concur with, because I felt that Song was an unreliable player who went missing when the team were up against it.
A player with a liking for the ‘show-boat pass’, but also with a lack of discipline that often left his team-mate up the creek without a paddle.

So, after just over two months of this season, do we miss Billong, because I have to say, for myself, that we do not!

With Jack Wilshere back on the scene, along with Emmanuel ‘Dench’ Frimpong, I personally think that we are well stocked in
midfield. Coquelin and Diaby (Don’t laugh), add versatility and dynamism to the more technical assets of Arteta and Santi the Genius.

,Long term Tomas Rosicky will add his verve and tenacity to the mix.

Serge Gnabry is coming to the boil nicely and could prove to be a sensation in the second half of the season and Thomas Eisfield is showing encouraging signs of developing into another Freddie Ljunberg and could well get some 1st team exposure in the near future.

Then there is the Arsenal DNA that is Nico Yennaris, who, just like Jenkinson, is developing nicely just under the radar, so not many fans notice him. How many fans consider Nico when they’re talking about squads, teams and formations?

I strongly suspect that Nico gets a run of games, he’ll become as indispensable as our Finnish Englishman rampaging down the right flank.

With those same fans asking ” Where the Hell did he come from?”

Written by Allezkev

Attendance: 60,103 – Are they sure? Bacary & Jack’s return the bright light on a dull Saturday…

October 28, 2012

Morning Gooners,

Well the best part of yesterday was the return of our proper number 10, Jack Wilshere and what a return it was. No matter how many times Qpr tried to kick him or foul him, up he got and onwards he went. He was always at the heart of our midfield.

Bacary Sagna also made his long awaited comeback as Carl Jenkinson was given a well-earned rest. He too had a very good game. Finally we have two quality right backs in the squad, shame we can’t say that about the left side of defence!

One thing that struck from the beginning of the coverage of our game was the red in the crowds. Sadly though, this was not from the Arsenal shirts and scarves on display, it was from all the empty seats.

These are not good times…..

We got the three points in the end, but yet again, we huffed and puffed, lacked width and pace and but for a late strike, which there was more than a hint of offside to, we would have come away from The Emirates with just a point.

Mark Hughes said after the game:

The referee has absolutely killed it to allow their winning goal because Arteta was clearly offside on two occasions. I’ve been to see the referee and he has created some cock-and-bull story about Ryan Nelsen being off the pitch. I’ve no idea what he is on about because Ryan Nelsen at no stage went off the field of play. It has cost us the point.

Knowing that goal really narked him, makes it even sweeter!

Santos was one of the first to have a shot for us, and soon after, Cesar was beaten all ends up by what appeared to be a goal bound header by Aaron Ramsey, but the ball dropped onto the crossbar and off to safety. So unlucky.

Lukas Podolski shot wide and Wilshere nearly marked his return with a goal from distance but it wasn’t to be as Cesar saved.

Qpr target our left hand side as expected with Jose Bosingwa and Shaun Wright-Phillips both finding space but their final ball was nearly as bad as ours!

Giroud had a ‘shot’ on goal too and had someone been following in, they would have been able to capitalise on a fumble by Cesar, but we don’t do that do we?

After the break, Cesar made a quality save to prevent Per Mertesacker from breaking the deadlock.

Moments later, a huge scare as Junior Hoillet burst through and chipped the ball over Mannone. Thankfully, and rightly so, the offside flag was raised.

As said earlier, Wilshere was as the heart of everything, including the rough tackles committed by Qpr but nearly everything we did through the middle involved our little man.

Despite all of our possession, we failed to make it count again and Qpr had a few chances to hit on on the break. Thomas Vermaelen intercepted a Wright-Phillips cross which was Zamora bound and Sagna dropped into the middle to clear a dangerous ball away from Hoilett who was ready and waiting to pounce.

Same time as usual, Wenger made his first change, Wilshere, who had run his little legs off, was replaced by Theo Walcott and shortly after, Podolski was replaced by Gervinho. At last, some pace on the right, something which Aaron Ramsey hadn’t given us all afternoon, but he’s not a winger is he, so not much point in berating him is there? Blame the man who played him there! Podolski had a quiet game too.

Walcott soon made an impact by whipping in a cross to the near post where Giroud was waiting but he missed his chance, possibly the best chance of the afternoon so far. The ball found its way back to the near the penalty spot and there was Santi Cazorla who had all the time in the world to pick his spot. Rather annoyingly, that spot was Row Z behind the goal.

A truly dreadful miss!

Then a moment of madness by Qpr’s Mbia, after a little tussle with Thomas Vermaelen, which Mbia lost, he decided to kick out at our captain. Linesman’s flag was straight up and M’bia was straight off for an early bath!

At last, a decision went our way! Long before him, Granero should have been off the field, he made a number of late/bad tackles which on another day with a referee who could see, would have ended his involvement in the game a lot earlier.

The match finally came to life.

Cesar made another superb save after Jamie Mackie’s clearance bounced back off Nedum Onuoha towards goal and then shortly after, Gervinho exited on a stretcher after an innocuous tackle and was replaced by Arshavin.

Finally we broke the deadlock and our little Russian was heavily involved, playing a wonderful cross in from the left. Giroud met the ball with a good, strong header which Cesar saved but the ball rebounded to Arteta who  the ball onto the bar. The ball came straight back to the Spaniard who made no mistake from very close range.

Phew, at last!!

Now then, could we hold on for the remaining minutes?

Ramsey had a chance to make it 2-0 but yet again, Cesar saved well and he made another great save moments later from a super curled shot which looked to be creeping inside the post.

But it was no way comfortable in the dying moments. Abel Taarabt sent Esteban Granero off down the right but he shot wide. Mackie  tricked his way past THREE players but Mannone saved well from point-blank range. (ok, I know Mackie hit his shot straight at our keeper)

We did hold on.


Three much-needed points chalked up but we still have a way to go……..

Next up Reading in the Cup…

Have a good day all…..

Five set to leave in January & Time to turn the snakes into ladders!!

October 27, 2012

Morning Gooners,

A bit of gossip from the ever unreliable Daily Mail. They report that FIVE players are heading for the exit in January and they are, Theo Walcott Johan Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci, Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh. Arsenal are believed to want to keep Theo but a contract agreement is yet to be reached.

Apparently the sales are to boost the coffers, ready to spend big!! Really?

Onto today.

Last Saturday we faced one of the few sides in the league who had won a single game all season, ninety minutes after kick off, Norwich had changed that statistic and deservedly so.

Midweek we faced Schalke 04 in the Champions League, a side who I believe had never been victorious on English soil. Ninety minutes later, they had broken that duck.

Today we face a Qpr side, who like Norwich, haven’t won a fixture this season!

Heard the old expression that ‘things always happen in three’s’?

Well for sake of all of us, that better hadn’t come true today. We have a trip to Old Trafford in a couple of weeks and we want revenge for last season’s mauling and to have any chance of that we need to start building up our confidence, not go further down the snakes on a snakes and ladders board!! We need to be climbing the ladders and jump-start our season!

Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong could all be back in the squad today, if I had to pick one to start it would be Frimpong. Him alongside Arteta. Qpr have a few quality players these days who could create chances if we don’t stop them and we need to stop them if we to stop the rot.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) faces a late fitness test, but defender Kieran Gibbs (thigh) and forward Theo Walcott (chest) remain sidelined, along with first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and Czech winger Tomas Rosicky (hamstring).

Here’s the statistics from Opta:

  • Mark Hughes has lost all five of the Premier League games as coach away from home against Arsenal.
  • QPR have gone 20 Premier League games on the road without a clean sheet.
  • The Gunners have conceded a league high 83% of their goals in the first half of matches.

Mark Hughes is not one of my favourite managers and a high scoring battering of his side today would pleasing on the eye but to do that we really need to perform a lot better than we did in the week.

Sadly though, none of us know what kind of ‘mood’ our players will be in, if they are up for this, put pressure on Qpr from the off then we know they are after a win.

If they start with the same old tippy tappy passing around just to keep possession, then we are all in for a long and dismal afternoon.

That’s it for today, fingers and toes crossed…..

Thinking the Unthinkable….

October 26, 2012

No matter how much we all love and respect Arsene Wenger and believe that he is a gentleman and no matter how grateful we are to him for turning the club around when he first came, instigating the move to the Emirates and for buying some wonderful players for us to enjoy playing the best football in England, it seems quite apparent to me that something is wrong at our club.

Yes, something is broken.

Why do I believe this?

Well, it is largely the evidence of my own eyes over the past several seasons.

I can feel it already. You are coming up with all the caveats that have surrounded Wenger’s recent years. The consistent top 4 finishes, the financial draining effect of the new stadium, the rise of the sugar daddy clubs, the appalling luck with injuries. Yes, I agree 100%.

They have all had a massive effect on Arsenal Football Club and its ability to compete at the highest level. I also contend that no other manager could have kept Arsenal in the CL for so long under such restraints. He has done incredible things for us all.

The lack of trophies can be attributed to many of these, except of course the ridiculous loss to Birmingham in Carling Cup final a couple of seasons ago. Laying, buried in the atrocious experience of that rainy day, there was a burning question that is still unanswered. Why did we lose that game? How on earth did we lose against a very, very poor team lead by surely one of the least inspiring managers ever? If you think it was Koscielny’s mistake alone that cost us that game, then that’s up to you.

I believe it was very typical of Wenger’s Arsenal of the past several seasons when faced with a big game. But that is past and not worth dwelling on at this moment in time as it’s the present and the future that concern me.

Wenger has been a very great manager for Arsenal and I have said before that one of his greatest tricks is downgrading expectations by convincing so many fans that we are paupers and that Chelsea and Manchester City are the big bad wolf with no morality or sense of fair play.

In some ways he is right of course. There are no financial restraints at those clubs as we have seen.

This January, in complete defiance of Financial Fair Play, I can see both of them blowing us out of the water with massive transfer fees and wages paid to players that are in fact sorely needed at our own club. But we cannot afford them. We know this because we operate the self-sustaining financial model that gives us both the moral high ground and players like Chamakh and Gervinho plus several others who should be nowhere near Arsenal Football Club because they are not good enough. Not their fault at all. Just not good enough to help take us where we ought to be heading.

We can all debate who is and who isn’t good enough can’t we. It’s a fun after dinner chat but it doesn’t really address the big question as to whether Wenger has still got it in him to win the CL or the PL ?

Has he? What do you think?

It’s not that easy to answer in a cool detached way as one always gets this nagging feeling of disloyalty and even if you don’t feel that, there are plenty of bloggers, including a swathe of complete idiots, who will remind you of your treachery and unspoken oath of loyalty in a heartbeat, as if you had forgotten. They will be along a little later.

So it hurts to even have to think about Arsenal without Wenger because it’s human nature to resist change and we know what to expect from him. And there’s all that stuff he’s done for us.

But, what about the board?

How responsible are they for the club’s excruciating but inexorable move backwards over the past few years – and how can this be turned round? The nature of Stan’s ownership, like most other things at the club, is shrouded in a fog of mystery and disinformation, seemingly designed to confuse. That Kroenke loves the self-sustaining model is certain. The problem is that he isn’t rich enough to take the handbrake off, smell the coffee and release ample funds for new and better players when the opportunity arises and he doesn’t want to put his hand in his own pocket. That’s for sure. Arsenal are a business asset to him. We feel somewhat differently.

There is also the thorny issue as to whether Wenger would actually spend the really big money on a player.

It appears that he has entrenched egalitarian views about running a football club where no players earn vastly more than others. This, in his noble philosophy, avoids tensions and resentments building up. Thus we see a very promising, very young player like Oxlade-Chamberlain given a massive hike in wages that coincides perfectly with a loss of form and Wenger’s reluctance to play him in front of Gervinho. I haven’t really worked that one out yet.

It also results in a build-up of deadwood, unwilling to move elsewhere and take a pay cut.

While on the subject I really cannot avoid the goalkeeping situation. If ever a manager had a blind spot it must surely be Wenger and goalkeepers.

For a club like Arsenal to be in their current situation is not just unfortunate, it is an absolute disgrace. We had to put up with Almunia for years when everybody knew he wasn’t good enough. Wenger said he was, we said he wasn’t and we were proved right.

Arsene was wrong. Who can possibly say otherwise?

It cost us and now we are in this position? Why is it that Wenger won’t buy a World-class goalkeeper?


He lauds Lloris but wouldn’t buy him. He bought Shaaban, Manninger, Almunia, Fabianski and God knows who else and they were and are not good enough. But all were cheap. Spot the common denominator?

Arguably the most important position in the side and he won’t buy a decent ‘keeper. Why?

The answer is obvious. He thinks that our current goalkeepers are fine. We have the worst goalkeepers in the PL purely because he won’t buy a world class one or even a very good one who could save us several points a year. What other rational explanation is there?

Yes, our first choice might be great in a few years but, as he has proved recently, he is not great now and that’s what counts. This alone is ample reason to be very worried about where Arsene is leading this club. It just makes no sense at all and when things don’t make sense questions must surely and rightly be asked.

There are of course many, many other things that also do not make sense. But, Arsene is a safe pair of hands who turns a profit every year, so I doubt we will see any changes for a while, barring a catastrophic season or two of underachievement. Even then I imagine Kroenke will be reluctant to ask Arsene to step aside.

Everything seems blacker when you lose to a side like Norwich. People got carried away with the away win to an awful Liverpool team, the draw away to Man City and a 3-1 win at newly promoted West Ham. After his “Moment of truth” spiel this week, the players let him down. He sat and watched as they played absolute dross, the goalkeeping fiasco bit him in the arse and he couldn’t motivate them to anything in the second half either. Arsenal are confusing and irritating at the same time.

Even with Cazorla, Podolski, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Arteta et al in place, Wenger sat there and watched, ashen-faced as the team and club were humiliated.

Many people are scared of Wenger going because of the alternatives, but let me leave you with a bit of blue sky thinking that may or may not appeal.

Kroenke decides that it’s time to sell as he sees the slow decline of Arsenal reflected as a reduction in the share price – and Kroenke is all about the bottom line. Usmanov takes over and declares that he wants to turn Arsenal into one of the biggest and best clubs in the world. He lets everyone know that if a world-class player becomes available in a position where the manager thinks we are short then we have the financial clout to compete with anyone. Arsene finds this all rather vulgar, says he still believes in Chamakh and is offered Hill-Wood’s old position as chairman. He accepts. Is that bit too far fetched for you?

It is me.

Usmanov states that he wants to own an extremely ambitious club and not one that is content to tread water. He offers Guardiola a 5 year contract. Guardiola accepts and the first thing he does is to buy a decent goalkeeper. He pays off the deadwood and tells them to sod off.

Ok. There are no guarantees as to success but it would certainly be an exciting ride where defeat to Norwich would not be meekly tolerated and players would not hold the club to ransom over contracts. Players would want to become part of the revolution. The player/club dynamic would change completely. You don’t pull your weight – you are out.

A dream perhaps – and dreams seldom come true.

But one thing is certain. If the club continue to slip away, something will have to be done one way or the other.

Written by Adam

Gervinho resorts to cheating!! Ninety Four minutes & a 17 year old kid!!

October 25, 2012

We all know that is how long it took for us to have a shot on target and that came from a 17-year-old German called Serge Gnabry, a player I really hope we can keep hold of because he is going to be good, very very good.

No matter how many experienced, international players we had on the pitch, not one of them could manage that in regular time, disgraceful.

We really were awful again in the final third and yet again, sloppy defending was our downfall.

Here are how the two sides lined up and the substitutions are included!

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Mannone; Jenkinson (Gnabry 81), Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos; Arteta, Coquelin; Ramsey, Podolski (Arshavin 81), Cazorla; Gervinho (Giroud 74). Booked: Arteta, Vermaelen, Ramsey, Gervinho.

SCHALKE (4-4-1-1): Unnerstall; Uchida, Howedes, Matip, Fuchs; Farfan, Hoger (Jones 46), Neustadter, Afellay; Holtby (Barnetta 64); Huntelaar (Marica 87). Booked: Afellay, Hoger. Goals: Huntelaar 76, Afellay 86.

Referee: J Eriksson (Sweden).

Fifteen minutes into the game and Afellay nipped in behind Jenkinson and sprinted in towards goal, out came Mannone, who then dived at Afellay’s feet in attempt to get the ball, Afellay went over – penalty! No, how wrong could I be, Afellay was deemed to have taken the dive and was shown a yellow card.

How lucky were we, that should have been a penalty and at least a booking for our goal keeper.

Just after the half hour mark, Per Mertesacker made a great block to prevent Jefferson Farfan from taking the lead. That wasn’t the only time our Tiny German saved our night, he made three more strong and decisive tackles in the first half, one that I thought Schalke bossed, especially in midfield and down our left side.

In possession we looked lacklustre and out of ideas and our passing continually let us down. Gervinho, well he was yet again Gervinho, he ran around all night but in possession he looks lost and his distribution is late and poor!

Santos had a nightmare at left back and Schalke loved it, they hit us down our left at every given opportunity and how we didn’t go behind earlier than we did amazed me.

Huntelaar was guilty of missing a wonderful chance and I thought maybe luck was going to be on our side..

However, as we entered the last quarter of an hour of the game, the Dutchman didn’t miss his second chance, he breezed through the middle of Vermaelen and Mertesacker and his shot found the back of the net. Replays showed that maybe Mannone could have done better, the defence certainly could have done!

Benedikt Howedes then missed a chance to make it 2-0 after Farfan had yet again made Santos look invisible before getting his pass in.

Gervinho then went into the book for taking a tumble in the area, desperate measures from a man who had again had a heavy first touch and lost the ball. That was enough, off he went and Giroud (who should have started in my opinion) came on.

Then the killer goal came, and no surprises to see it coming from the left either, as Farfan once again left Santos standing, fired in his cross which found Afellay unmarked which was not surprising as Jenkinson had been substituted, and slotted in with ease.

2-0, game over and the home fans were on their feet, leaving!!

Well well, what is there to be said about that?

Much was said during and after the game, I am sure much more will be said today.

Steve Bould has spoken about our defeat:

We looked jaded, I don’t know why that is. Coming off the international break we haven’t performed really. I don’t know if that’s the reason but we definitely look jaded. With the ball we lack a bit of confidence. [Not creating chances] is not what we want, it’s not what we’re accustomed to. We normally create chances and at the moment we’re not, so we have to correct that.

How can they be jaded?

The AGM could be interesting today, then again……

That’s it for another day……

Arsenal ‘targets’ on show tonight and one would happily sign for us…..

October 24, 2012

Schalke 04 tonight at The Emirates and I don’t think there is anyone who wouldn’t want to see us batter them, giving us all the much-needed lift we need after the weekend.

Laurent Koscielny has overcome his backache and returns to the squad but this looks to be another fixture which has come too early for Sagna, Wilshere or Frimpong.

Yesterday, Wenger said:

We will see how they recover but 48 hours later is too dangerous.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also misses out tonight after picking up an injury at the weekend. Apparently one of the coaching staff is still looking into the big black hole which Rosicky, Diaby and Szczesny seem to have fallen into, goodness knows when they will be found and returned!!

Good news is Theo Walcott is back in training and should be fit for the weekend, but not tonight, Gibbs also misses out tonight but should be back on Saturday.

Arsenal have had a good start to the Champion’s League campaign as far as results go.

We have beaten Montpellier 2-1 in France and earlier this month we beat Olympiakos 3-1 at The Emirates.

Tonight will be a difficult fixture, or that we can be sure, hopefully because of that, the squad might be a little more focussed on the job ahead tonight and realsie that they actually need to put a bit of effort in for 90+ minutes.

If they don’t, we’ll get a battering by a side who will be high on confidence after they beat Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

But they too have their own injury concerns ahead of tonight’s fixture.

Attacking midfielder Julian Draxler, 19, is a major doubt having broken his wrist earlier this month and defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos is a doubt after more than two weeks out with chicken pox.

Schalke haven’t lost an away fixture in the Bundesliga  League so far this season, but when it comes to playing in England in the Champions League, they can’t buy a win.

Schalke defender Benedikt Hoewedes:

It won’t be easy for us, in London we’ll have to throw everything into the pot (but) with our fans behind us, I’m sure we can get a good result.

The last time we played Schalke in England it was at Highbury in the 2001/02 season, a game we won 3-2…

Lewis Holtby will be on show tonight and he would love to join us:

For me it was always a dream to play in the Premier League and it was always a team like Arsenal that I would like to play for.

Holtby’s contract is up in the summer.

Fans favourite Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will also be out to prove a point and he’s another player who has been linked to Arsenal more times than I have had hot dinners.

Would be good wouldn’t it if both did enough to convince Arsene Wenger to sign them but not enough to take any points back to Germany…. ;)

Afellay will be on show too whilst on loan from Barcelona, another player linked to us most transfer windows.

Oh well, no idea which Arsenal side will turn up, but at least they won’t have jet-lag as it’s a home fixture, unlike Saturday after their 14 minute flight to Norwich…

Let’s just hope they give all the home fans and those watching on television something  to cheer up about in relation to Arsenal, we certainly need it don’t we?

We more than deserve it too!!

That’s it for another day…..

Arteta confirms complacency and anger in the squad…

October 23, 2012

Ten points is a huge gap at the top and even at this stage of the season, it’s understandable to start thinking there is no way we can make up those points, not when you consider the depth of squad that Chelsea are able to boast.

Then, add to that the amount of injuries we seem to have accumulated yet again and it looks a tough season ahead doesn’t it, especially Saturdays performance still fresh on our minds. The loss and the performance doesn’t seem to have done wonders for the players either according to the captain vice captain:

We’re really down because we expected to win the game, they raised their game, they made it very difficult for us. I think we controlled the game, mostly, for 90 minutes. But you go a goal down, you start getting anxious, the goal doesn’t come, it makes it really hard.

For the amount of ball we had in the game, we should have done more and created more goal situations. We need more patience sometimes. It’s not the first time we have conceded the first goal, it’s very difficult.

If you go ahead, it gives you a lift, the other team has to take risks, and you can cause mistakes. You can’t get back in the game every time you fall behind. It’s a tough ask and we haven’t done it today.

We have time to come back. But we are down because we know how good we are and how good we can be.

Ok, there is not much point going over and over Saturdays performance, we all agree it was awful!

‘Expected to win the game’!! See, complacent, they all just thought they had to ‘turn up’ to win! Maybe they should start going into a game as if they are 1-0 down, they might have a bit more about them then!?

This team can be good when everyone is signing of the same ‘let’s play football’ hymn sheet and we need that to get back in tune ready for the visit of Schalke 04 tomorrow night. If we don’t, we will have a torrid time against a side who beat Dortmund 2-1 at the weekend.

Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Frimpong all played the full 90 minutes yesterday in a 2-1 victory over Everton so they won’t be included in tomorrows squad but I strongly suspect to see all three back in the squad at the weekend when we ‘welcome’ Mark Hughes and his delightful QPR side!

Back to the Under 21 fixture, Jack was here there and everywhere according to afc.com and the two goal hero, Thomas Eisfield could easily have grabbed himself a hat-trick, at least he managed two, if only we could have managed that same amount on Saturday eh?

One thing the U21’s did copy the senior team at though was going a goal behind. Oh, and to a moment of defensive sloppiness by Miquel, he was easily robbed of the ball by Vellios, who ran on and slotted past Martinez with ease.

However, unlike their senior counterparts, the under 21’s dusted themselves down and fought back. In fact they could easily have equalised moments after conceding when Eisfeld broke through the middle and let fly with a 25-yard strike which Everton’s keeper Jan Mucha could only parry.

Shortly after, the German did draw Arsenal level, Wilshere fed Meade on the left  and the full-back took a touch past Tony Hibbert, cut the ball back and there was Eisfeld to slam home from close range.  On 32 minutes, Eisfield grabbed his second and what turned out to be the winner. Wilshere was involved again, after cutting in from the right, he slipped a ball through to Eisfield who ‘drilled’ it past the Everton keeper.

There were chances for both sides, but we held on to take the points.

Why all the low down on the Under 21’s, well why not? They are the present and future of OUR club, in a few years time some will either be joining the current first team squad or they will be replacing players who leave for whatever reason.

And there are a few who are starting to show that their day won’t be too far away…..

That’s it for another day.

You haven’t got long Arsene! We need change and now!!

October 22, 2012

Morning Gooners,

Are we really good enough to win the Premier League, that is the question we should be asking.

High hopes were held by many after the first half a dozen games, but Chelsea’s game at home and Norwich away has brought ourselves to the point of double guessing ourselves but before we start hanging the blame on individuals we have to have a reality check.

Internationals always see to throw up complications and in our case we had 15 players involved with international call up, Norwich had just 2.

When you consider the travelling our players have to do, to different parts of the world, playing different systems and being managed by different managers, coming home and then slotting back into club team football is always going to be difficult.

Yes we expect to beat teams like Norwich whether we are home or away but Norwich were up for this match!

Before kick off they had only 3 points on the board and they must have been dreading coming up against us, a team of talented players and their record against us is not good in fact its terrible. They knew we would have majority possession and we could seriously hurt them. They would have been told to shoot on sight, raise their work rate and defend in numbers, breaking away when ever they could.

In reality they did what was expected of them and Norwich fans would have felt a big weight had been lifted off of them after Saturday and they should be proud.

What about us?

Arsene Wenger was livid after this game, after having most of the possession we fall foul to an easy goal, a flash shot from outside of the box which swerved viciously and bounced just before it reached Mannone, making it difficult to handle. All credit to Mannone, he watched the ball but in flight it turned at the last-minute and all he could do was to parry the ball out only for it to find the waiting Holt who was left unmarked to drive the ball in what looked an open goal.

Supporters can criticise Mannone for not keeping the ball in his grasp but he was not at fault for this goal. Before the shot, we had three defenders that could and should have closed the player down but we decided to go on the back foot and give him time to take his shot and that was the mistake we made.

Overall, our defending this season is far better than the last few, but we still have moments when our decision-making is wrong and this was one of those occasions.

Norwich, while under a lot of pressure, managed do something that we find increasingly difficult to do and that is break away quickly when the opportunity presents itself and they were prepared to shoot on sight  and on Saturday, that came off for them.

We however, seem to be more focussed on keeping possession. We pass the ball around nicely but sadly, during one spell of twenty odd passes, fifteen of them went backwards or sideways. We have taken the surprise out of our game. Teams look like they are defending in numbers against us but that is only because we give them time to regroup and get back and defend. We seem to lack the belief that we can attack at pace and make that final shot count .

We are beginning to look like a team that is frightened to go forward, as soon as we gain possession we look backwards or sideways to pass the ball and for every forward pass, there are many more which go sideways or backwards and that is our undoing. Players like Gervinho, who plays at times like the ball is stuck to his foot, will undoubtedly keep the ball until he is surrounded by defenders. Then he passes backwards and by doing so, he slows our attack again. He is in all fairness a gifted player but he holds the ball too long but he needs to start releasing the ball a lot earlier..

Many a time from an advance position on the edge of the oppositions box we pass all the way back to our goalkeeper that is a no no. This should never be the case from that position but we seem frightened to take the shot when it presents itself so we opt for another pass.

Breakaway chances are exactly that, breakaway fast forward passes with forwards busting a gut to get in the box, strikers who are racing to score and catching the opposing side out. We find it very hard to make 3 passes forward and our players have some how become accustomed to looking backwards instead of forwards and until this trend stops we will struggle to score goals.

Giroud is our centre forward his confidence is at an all time low he looks lost in front of goal, so much that he never seems to be up front when he’s needed. He drops back, and at times when we are attacking we have no centre forward, in fact we seldom have a forward in the box because we pass the ball backwards instead of being direct.

We are still having trouble defending corners and dead ball kicks as we adopt zonal marking instead of man to man marking. For those who are not sure what zonal marking is, it’s when you spread your defenders out and give them zones to defend which should in theory cover all bases, but when opposing players rush forward we do not defend well. This way of defending has to change, zonal marking is fine for forwards coming back to help out but for seasoned defenders we have to go back to player to player marking .

Watch defending in any other team and you will see defenders grappling with attackers arms around them not even watching the ball coming in from a corner, they watch only the player they are marking and the aim is to make sure that that player does not get the ball.

Do you like me wonder why we never seem to get many penalty decisions compared to other teams?

When you look to see how many men we have in the opposing box it becomes clear that we do not get in the positions to compete for ball in the danger area and if you’re not there you can’t complain.

Giroud and Podolski are not small players they are rugged men that can mix it with the best but can we cross balls into the box and give them the chance to compete for headers on corners, no.

Vermaelen and Mertesacker will come up but can we get a cross into the danger areas, no.

We are missing out on good opportunities to score and until Wenger changes things, we will continue to do so.

I personally see a problem with our goalkeeping situation, although the keepers when fit try their best, we remain very weak in this area. Regardless of who we field in goal, they need protecting,  our defence needs to be more solid, our forwards need to start defending from the front, our midfield needs to be stronger and more disciplined too and of course our defence needs to be sharper and start closing down players a lot quicker.

Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff have got some work to do to get us back into the Premier League race, we are 10 points adrift of the leaders and if we continue in this vein, that gap will get bigger and bigger. We have the players and we have the talent but we need change in the system as this one we have is just not working.

Arsene it’s up to you and your merry men to sort this out.

You don’t have long either, otherwise this current system will get out of hand.

Written by Steve Palmer.


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