Arsenal 0 – 3 Chelsea… At least November is over!

Arsenal 0 – 3 Chelsea

Ouch.

There is only one thing to say about yesterday’s game. Ouch. It was a nightmare of a game, and a massive statement from the opponents in regards to where the Premier League trophy will go at the end of the season. And for the 5th season running, it may not be the Emirates…

It was billed as the game that would define our season. Arsene went as far as to say it was our moment to show the world how far we had come. We could have closed the gap from 8 points to 5 points and have a game in hand. With our loss against Sunderland the previous week, yesterday’s game was very important not to drop points.

The good news before the game was that Gallas and Arshavin had both recovered from their mid-week knocks and were named in the starting line up, which in it’s entirity was:

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermalen – Traore

Denilson – Song

Arshavin – Cesc – Nasri

Eduardo

And on paper, that was some line up.

The game started very well for us, in the first fifteen minutes / half an hour, we looked like we were the only team in it. We had total possession, and our midfield passing the ball around the Chelsea team like they weren’t there. The major issue in the first half hour was the form of Eduardo who looked really out of sorts. His first touch was terrible. His decision making was too slow and I really don’t think he held up the ball once. He had several very good positions, but was very ineffective with his role.

When playing in a 4-3-3, the man at the top has to hold up the ball, and unfortunately for him and for us, Eduardo simply couldn’t keep possession. It’s the difference between the two players, Eduardo and Van Persie. VP has learnt the role well, he’s learnt how to play with his back to goal and how to bring people into the game and Eduardo simply doesn’t have that in his locker. Not yet. Don’t get me wrong, Eddie is a class player, a goal scorer – but he isn’t match fit or mentally match fit either yet. I do expect him to improve as he has more time in the team – if you remember Van Persie at the beginning of the season, it did take him 4 or 5 games to really kick into gear.

Unfortunately for us, the game against Chelsea was a game too early for Eduardo. When we had our possession, I turned to my good friend Bob and said “if we don’t score now, they’ll hit us for a sucker punch” and after saying it I started wishing that the team would prove me wrong.

It wasn’t to be, and by half time, we were 2-0 down. It was shocking. It was like we wanted it so much, so much… that we lost our positional discipline and 2 goals just before half time, via two crosses put us in a very bad position. The first came from bad positioning, and an overloaded right back area which saw Ashley Cole swing in a cross for Drogba to bundle in and moments later, the same player, same cross and this time Vermaelen bundled in an own goal.

0-0 at 40 minutes and then 2-0 down at half time is painful especially when Chelsea had done nothing to deserve the lead. It was more a case of self inflected than it was anything else and we always seem to do things like this in big games, remember United earlier this season? 1-0 up, an own goal and a penalty? Exactly.

We put Walcott on for Song at half time – and went more attacking. We seemed to have a different tactic for the second half which seemed to involve crossing the ball more – the only problem being we would never really beat Chelsea in the air, so not really a wise tactic. We saw Vela come on for Eduardo and Rosicky for Nasri, but much of the same, and no end product. No real goals threats. Well, except the disallowed goal, which was disallowed because Eddie challenged Cech…? Hmm, exactly. Watching the replay I could see why it was disallowed, but from where I was sitting, it really did feel like the ref was on their side totally. But having spoken to other people, apparently he was as biased as I thought he was.

Arsene thought otherwise, he had a dig at the ref (we’ll touch on that in a minute). As the game continued, we went forward and forward and started leaving holes at the back. Chelsea started to have more possession and a free kick on the edge of the area was dispatched by Drogba to make it 3-0. Painful and annoying. The title is a fair distance away now, 11 points is a lot. Chelsea were efficient but I do think the 3-0 was fortunate and very flattering.

Let’s hear from Arsene…

On the score as a reflection of the game…

“The score is a very unfair reflection of the game, but it is the score and we cannot change it now. I believe that Chelsea had absolutely everything for them today and we can only deal with that now and respond in our next game. Because first shot on goal, they scored. Second cross, they score. And after it was difficult. After, it was a turning point by the referee that I personally believe is not a serious decision. Very unfair. How can he see Eduardo kicking Cech when it was a Chelsea player who stops him from controlling the ball? The 2-1 was a very important goal in this kind of game, and that was a big mistake by the referee.”

On the opinions of the TV specialists…

“I am used to definite conclusions from people who see the score and have great knowledge. But I believe, let people talk and let’s play tomorrow and go back to training and practice. And that’s always what you get in an excessive world. I personally believe from what I’ve seen, that was not the case. I never had the impression that we could not win this game we were quite on top for a lot of the game.”

On Chelsea’s physical strength…

“They are strong players, yes, physically strong players. But that is an impression as well. When a team is 2-0 up and just defending their half and play is on the break, it’s too easy to have that impression. I don’t share that point of view. I think they lost many balls today, where we couldn’t take advantage and made many technical mistakes where we couldn’t take advantage, and that has nothing to do with the physical impact of the game.”

On Chelsea’s title chances…

“I believe at the moment they are in a very strong position, but this team, for me, they can drop points. I’m convinced of that. That’s an impression I have.”

On Chelsea’s 11-point lead over Arsenal…

“Yeah, we are 11 points behind Chelsea. At the moment our title chase has gotten a big blow. Before we speak about ‘title’, we have to win games and you could see that the damage done at Sunderland was deeper, confidence-wise, than it should have been.”

On his impressions of how Arsenal played…

“If you come on Tuesday, I will give you an analysis of the game, physically, technically, and you will be surprised. But I cannot stop you from having your own conclusions. Because when Drogba pushes one away or Ivanovic makes three fouls and pushes people away against Villa, he looks much stronger. But you would be surprised if you see the final analysis of the game, they have an advantage in the impact, but that didn’t make them win the game today. In the play today, you will see them 60 percent behind the ball, and that has nothing to do with physical impact.”

On the potential penalty for Carlos Vela…

“I don’t know. On the penalty I think it was at least a foul on the edge of the box. If he gives a foul to Drogba when he scored, he cannot say it was not a foul on Vela. I just think that on the goal, he made a massive mistake, because you cannot say that one of our players kicked the ball out the hands of Cech. That means he has seen it, or he has not seen it. He can’t be wrong on the foul, but you cannot say to me that he saw Eduardo kicking the ball out of Cech when it’s not true. You see in the replay that Eduardo doesn’t even intervene. [The referee said] dangerous play, Eduardo kicked the ball out of Cech’s hand. ”

On the referee’s match experience…

“I do not want to talk too much about the referee. I think we make mistakes, and I just think the referee got the turning point of a game wrong. When you start a game in the second half and you are 2-1 instead of 2-0, it’s psychologically different. And he got that decision wrong. That does not mean that we don’t need to look at ourselves and ask why we conceded the goals.”

On possibly buying players in January…

“I believe I would rather have all of our players back. I am not in a mood tonight to say straight away after the game that I would buy players. We have to deal with the disappointment, and respond to that massive disappointment we had today and try to win our next game. It’s as simple as that.”

On Didier Drogba’s performances against Arsenal…

“He’s a good player. It’s funny because he doesn’t do a lot, but he’s efficient in what he does. You would be surprised by the number of balls he touched today. Jimmy Greaves was a great player, you still remember him. And Drogba is a great player, nobody can deny that. He’s very efficient. I think as well, at the moment he’s in a period where he kicks the ball and it goes in because you cannot tell me he wanted to kick the ball where he kicked the ball on the cross. He’s a good free-kick taker, but on the first goal, at the moment he has complete confidence and he doesn’t wonder ‘will I score or not?’. He just goes for it and he did very well. It’s a great goal, the first one, but it’s a goal of a striker in complete confidence.”

On Chelsea taking three points at Emirates Stadium…

“I feel today that the initiative they had to go home with 3-0… it’s well paid.”

On the idea that the title race is over…

“I do not think it’s over. I think we are fighters and we have to show that in the next game. The problem we have at the moment that we face is that people will not believe in us, so we have to make sure that lack of belief does not diminish our belief. And that’s where we have to be mentally stronger than we were until now. Because until now, we had some credit that we earned at the start of the season from the specialists, and then we a lose a game. And now it will be harder.”

Personally, we’ve got a decent defence, a decent midfield, but from this time last season, we’re without the departed Adebayor and the injured Bendtner, Van Persie and Diaby and that means we lack height. The players we are playing are all lacking match practice – Denilson, Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky, Eduardo and Vela haven’t played for ages and need games to get fitness. We can recover, but it’s a tough one. I kind of feel that I write a similar article at the end of each November, but it looks like it’s down to the 3 cups if we’re going to win a trophy this season.

And that starts with Man City away on Wednesday in the Carling Cup, which will see our youngsters take on the mighty Man City. We’ll see how many competitions we are in on Thursday, as it will be a tough game for the kids. In the FA Cup we’ve got West Ham away – which is arguably the hardest of all the third rounders….

Okay, time to think positively….

Actually, I’ll start tomorrow. Til then.

Arsenal vs Chelsea – Match Day Live!

Afternoon folks…

It’s here – the game you’ve all been waiting for… Arsenal vs Chelsea, at the Emirates… on a cold and rainy day at the end of any Arsenal fan’s most hated month… November… rumours coming out of Ashburton Grove today aren’t good – with Gallas set to miss the game with an eye injury and Arshavin still suffering from the same clash of heads mid week.

The team line up now looks to be:

Almunia

Sagna – Silvestre – Vermaelen – Traore

Song – Denilson

Walcott – Cesc – Nasri

Eduardo

With a bench of Mannone, Eboue, Senderos, Ramsey, Vela, Arshavin and Rosicky.

Let’s hope that Gallas miraculously recovers in the next couple of hours and that Arshavin does start, but if not, let’s get behind the boys who are taking the field and cheer them to Victory!!!

Over to the comments!

Oh My Gosh, Robin is out for the season!

Oh my gosh, today was probably the worst day in the season so far. So bad, that I had to get up and write a quick article on it… When I woke up and check my phone, there it was… the news that I just couldn’t believe was the case… Robin Van Persie will be out injured for 4 to 5 months.

Wow. In shock!

The club released a statement:

“Robin van Persie returned to Arsenal on November 22nd following an ankle injury sustained whilst on international duty with Holland. The injury was expected to keep him out of action for between four and six weeks. Upon his return, the Arsenal medical team conducted a thorough review of his scans, his early injury management and the treatment he had received. Having scrutinised these in detail and assessed the response of his ankle, the club’s medical team concluded that further investigation and opinion was required. Advice was sought from the leading ankle specialist Mr Niek van Dijk, who confirmed that more extensive damage had been suffered than was first diagnosed. In order to repair his ankle, Robin will undergo surgery next week in Amsterdam to reconstruct the ligaments. The club’s medical team anticipate that a full recovery will take between four and five months.”

Shocking news and the interesting thing is that it looks like the diagnosis could have been done when he returned from International duty – but it looks (to a certain degree) that the club trusted the initial report from the Dutch FA, which was most likely normally sufficient with x-rays etc.

Robin Van Persie was very disappointed and talked about the recent treatment – the now famous horse placenta!

“In the area of torn muscles and partly torn ligaments she has treated players in the majority of cases with success. A number of Liverpool and Chelsea players have all benefited from her treatments. They were all back on the pitch in a very short time. As I was enjoying a fantastic period with Arsenal and the first official diagnosis from the doctors was that I would be out for six weeks, I wanted to bring that period back to three or four weeks. But the ligaments in my ankle were completely ruptured. That’s why the treatment in Serbia, we know now, never had the chance to be successful from the start. I have never wanted to go for alternative medical help before. Normally I am too cool for that kind of thing. But because I wanted to grab every opportunity to get fit again and to be back on the pitch with Arsenal, I decided to have a go. If it does not help me, it won’t harm me either. That was my motto. I had the treatment methods checked intensively before I went out there. I demanded to know if there was any way it could do any damage. It couldn’t. Which is why I went. A lot has been said and written about it. But the method of treatment in Serbia is not a bizarre thing. I did not have anything injected in my body. The treatment was solely on the surface.’’

He went on to talk about the treatment and how it’s had such a bizarre response from the UK media recently but he doesn’t regret disclosing his treatment methods, apparently it’s the norm in Serbia!

“People say I should have kept it quiet. But because I always want to be honest and I felt as if I had nothing to hide, I wanted to be open about it. I was in continuous contact with the medical staff at Arsenal, with whom I have an excellent relationship. In fact, I admire our medical people at the club for giving me the chance to work on a really fast return into the team. A lot of other people made comments without having any knowledge of the treatment methods in Serbia. But I was surprised by the hype and some of the bizarre comments. All those people forget I only had one goal with all this: I wanted to get back in the team at Arsenal as quick as possible.’’

To be honest, this latest set back must come as a massive blow to the Dutchman – he’s been struggling with injuries since he joined us, and personally I can’t remember when he had an injury free season. As a fan, I’m very very upset – we’ve lost one of our most influential players, our vice-captain for the rest of the season – a player who was having arguably the best season of his career.

“It is so frustrating to be out for months. I was having a super season with the team. I had never felt as strong and powerful as this year. Apart from, I think, two matches, I either scored or made goals in all the games we played this season. I was getting so strong, that I felt nobody could stop me anymore. That is the greatest feeling you can have as a player. It is such a pity that great run has been stopped for the time being by one kick in a friendly international match. It is a real shame for me, for the team and for the fans of Arsenal.’’

The question remains whether Arsene will delve into the market? With Eduardo, Vela, Walcott and Bendtner all injury prone too, and three forward positions to fill, it does make sense to add to team in January – but January is 6 weeks away and we’ve got a lot to think about before then… starting with…

Tomorrow’s game against Chelsea.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Big Match Preview

Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen… the big game is upon us. We’ve faired well this season in general, but also suffered three losses this season, which currently puts us 8 points behind the table toppers (albeit with a game in hand) and of course, the table toppers are the team we play on Saturday.

Arsenal vs Chelsea
The Emirates Stadium, 4pm
Sunday 29th November 2009

As a season goes, we’ve played well, and scored goals. We’ve hit 6 past Everton, played a youth team against Liverpool and won, and disposed of a high rated Sp*rs team too. But for each high, we’ve had a low and the losses to Man United, Man City and Sunderland and of course the two dropped points against West Ham have shown that we’re not going to win the title without the correct desire and commitment in every game.

On Sunday, we take on a Chelsea side, who sit 8 points ahead of us in the league and if we beat them, we can reduce the 8 to 5 and maintain our game in hand. If we lose, it will be 11 points, and even with a game in hand, it’s a big mountain to climb. Of course, with absentees of Van Persie and Bendtner adds a little more pressure to their replacements, players like Eduardo and Carlos Vela, but a key man for us who we do need fit is William Gallas. As things stand, he is unlikely to feature as after he clash with Arshavin, the Frenchman is unable to put his lenses in in his right eye, and that’s a obvious a problem if you can’t see!

So before I take a look at what Arsene has to say, let’s take a look at the proposed team line up:

Almunia

Sagna – Silvestre – Vermaelen – Eboue

Song – Denilson

Walcott – Cesc – Arshavin

Eduardo

Now, there are some doubts over a few positions here – if Gallas is fit, obviously he will start ahead of Silvestre. The other area is left back and Arsene has been speaking about the choice being between Traore and Eboue and I think the Ivory Coast International will get the nod. I also think Denilson may start ahead of Nasri as he is more defensive minded. However, as he’s been out for so long, Arsene may decide to use Nasri alongside Song, so we’ll see tomorrow. The other choices to think about are of course the wings – and I have gone for Walcott and Arshavin because both players are the penetrative players that could help us beat a team like Chelsea.

Okay, let’s hear from Arsene, who is very much ready for this game…

“Everyone will look at the game to rate our potential, and I have no worries about that. We are ready for the game, are well focused, prepared and the confidence is good. We just want to focus on the game like we want to play it. It is a big test, yes – but that is what you want, to play these teams. I think there is a period for any team to come out and show its strengths. For my team, this moment has come. We are not any more a team that has to be considered to be young. I think we have the strengths and we can show that on Sunday that we are strong enough to compete.”

And I think tomorrow’s game will be a title decider for us – if we lose the game and go 11 points behind Chelsea, no matter how well we do for the rest of the season, I’d say it would be way to big a task to claw back the points. If we win the game, then it’s game on – this is truly a six pointer!

Our super duper defender Thomas Vermaelen was in the press and he stresses how important it is to win the game and also talks about  how he relishes the chance to play against Drogba

“Of course Chelsea is number one in the League so it’s a big game. There’s a little gap between us now so for us it’s important to win this game. I’ve seen them a few times and of course you know all the players and their qualities. Because there is already a gap, it’s important to win. If we lose though I still think we can win the league, it’s not a big problem. We’re always confident at home and we have to continue that against Chelsea.”

Yes, we’ve won every game this season at the Emirates and after last seasons 4-1 reverse, we have some revenge in order….

Over the comments for now, but I’ll be around this weekend, so will join you on the comments too soon!

My Thoughts On All Things Arsenal…

Arsenal 2 – 0 Standard Liege, and generally my thoughts…

Well, what a crazy few days that has been for me, it looks like I may have some major sponsorship happening very soon which will see a major change in the World of Arsenal… The site will be changing again and upgrading to a brand new look and feel and much more content. We’ve also got a few more writers on board and regular spots for various sections – in addition, more fan feedback and a few new widgets that will see the site be more interactive for games and match days… anyway, I’ll give you the proper low down in the next couple of days as and when it gets all confirmed.

So, onto the Standard Liege game and it was a good performance and a good reply after the disappointing defeat against Sunderland on the weekend.  We were always in control and we took our goals well, whilst never really getting into second gear. We took the opportunity to player Carlos Vela in a full team and it was important for him to play as without Van Persie and Bendtner, we need to ensure our strikers have game time and are match practice.

I don’t think Carlos Vela had his greatest game of the season, but having had a plethora of injuries and travels, he’s not really had much game time for our reserves let alone our firs team. The game will have done him good though and gives us another option up front come the weekend and the next couple of weeks without the first choice strikers around. Whilst I don’t think the Mexican will start on Sunday, he will give us another option from the bench.

One player who will increasingly start to influence is Samir Nasri – he scored a well taken goal against Liege and is gaining match practice. With Denilson also returning to the squad and putting in a stellar performance midweek, scoring a cracker of a goal (highlights below) – we’ve now got a plethora of fit and able players – all of them seem to be in the attacking midfield role though.

So, you can see why Arsene has adopted the 4-3-3 formation with so many attacking midfielders at his disposal… who will get the nod against Chelsea? You’d expect Song and Cesc to start, so you’ll most likely have one of Nasri, Ramsey or Denilson along side him. Personally, I’d like to see both Arshavin and Walcott start on the wings as they are the two really penetrative players who can unlock defences.

One player who miss the Chelsea game and the next 3 months will be Kieran Gibbs – he is so unfortunate and so is our left back situation – reports confirming he is out with a broken metatarsal, which is a massive blow to the player as he’s finally got his chance in the team and had been performing very well…

Let’s take a listen to what Arsene had to say…

“The first half was good, in the second half we eased off. We just kept the result and we were in control. You could see we lacked a bit of urgency in the final third because we just eased a little bit off in the second half. First half was interesting with fluent moving, it was a very good first half. If you look at the last nine games we have had a very good run but Saturday was not at the requested level. It is still in the minds of the players because you never forget a disappointment. But it was important to win today to prepare well for the Chelsea game on Sunday.”

And he also commended Denilson’s effort and talked about how he managed to score it, because he has small ankles!

“I think he has a typical Brazilian shot. With this floating ball I think they have shorter ankles and it gives a different flight to the ball. It is typical Brazilian technique and I tried to analyse it many times. I could only think maybe they have a bit shorter ankle in front and they can kick the ball high up with the laces. I have never checked it!”

Now that’s what I call over analysing…!

In other Arsenal news, Kroenke snapped another 10 shares a couple of days ago to make his share total to something like 29.99 or something… interesting, so only 1 more share until he can officially take over the club – what on earth is going on? Should we be worried…

No…

The moto is never be worried about something you can’t change! Til tomorrow, adios!

Arsenal 2 – 0 Standard Leige… And on we go!

Hey Guys… Sorry for the lack of the usual match report… the day after the game, I was approached by a large etailer in regards to a massive sponsorship of the site… I’ve been locked in negotiations all day yesterday and hope to have some exciting news for you very soon… stay tuned…

PS, I’ll be back later with a match report from Tuesday…!

Arsenal vs Standard Leige, New Match Day Live!

For tonight’s game, I’m going to be trying a new match day live, via my blackberry! I’m been busy trying to get this work, but not 100% sure if it will work!

After Saturday’s defeat, we really need to shake it off and put in a performance today. You get the sense that Arsene is very pissed off with the result on the weekend. He’s lamented the mental attitude of the players and more recently told the players that they had to focus on Arsenal and the games in hand rather than the World Cup. It’s a clear message to the team that they need to focus, concentrate and deliver on every game. It’s a clear indication that it was down to the attitude team for the loss and I doubt Arsene wants a repeat of that.

“We did not have the right fluency in our game on Saturday nor enough penetrative runs to force the issue in the final part of the pitch. That is why we were not dangerous, rather than it being down to any individual. I do not deny at all the super-class of Van Persie, I just feel we still have enough in the locker to score goals even when Robin is not there. Sunderland had one shot on target and we lost 1-0. That happens every 200 games. So I do not want to question every individual player. We have to support everybody. It is normal that the players are worried when they do not score. We have shown until now we do not rely on one player scoring. If Eduardo gives three assists and we score three goals, then that is just as important as scoring. Our game is based on a collective attitude and not individual stardom. That is why we educate our players, because we want them to know the importance of the collective game. We simply lost a game we did not want to lose at Sunderland, so let’s put it right and win the next one.”

A statement which I half believe and half don’t – yes Sunderland may had only one shot on target, but how many did West Ham have? How many did United have? And City? The point is… it doesn’t matter – it matters how many goals we score.

The lack of penetration as outlined in the match report was due to the fact that Rosicky, Nasri, Cesc and Ramsey pretty much occupied the same space on the pitch on the weekend and a clear sign that we do need the likes of Arshavin, Walcott and Vela to play in the forward roles. The more we watch the team play, the more we realise that Nasri and Rosicky are central midfielders in a 4-3-3.

So tonight, I expect us to play the more attacking players in the 4-3-3 and I hope to see the following team:

Almunia

Eboue – Gallas – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Denilson – Ramsey

Walcott - Cesc – Arshavin

Eduardo

With a bench of Fabianksi, Sagna, Song, Traore, Nasri, Rosicky and Vela…

With us only needing a point, although I think we’ll go for the win, Arsene can afford to rest Nasri and Song, both whom I hope come in for the returning Denilson and the ever improving Ramsey. There are question marks to whether Ramsey and Cesc are too alike, but I don’t think we can judge that one on or two games alone. It is also interesting to see the lack of height we have at the moment with Diaby, Bendtner and Van Persie all out at the moment….

Okay, so it’s match day – I have a new update app on my blackberry which connects to the blog, so let’s see if it works!

Party Time!

Sunderland 1 – 0 Arsenal, a weekend of gloom…

Okay, so it’s taken me a while longer to get round to writing this report of the game and the main reason was that it was just such a bad result, such a bad approach and just felt wrong. When I look at the fixtures post International and knew we had Sunderland away, I knew it would be tough. Without Van Persie, I knew it would be tougher.

If we have any real ambition to win the Premier League this season, we really have to win games like this. No offence meant to Sunderland, but we’re Arsenal – we’re challenging for the title – and we need to win against clubs outside the top four, sorry, we need to beat them as well!

Overall, it was a very disappointing weekend. With United and Chelsea both winning and us succumbing to our third defeat of the season, it clearly shows that something is missing. The two games against the Manchester teams, both of which we lost, we more understandable in a way because we played very well and had a lot of unluckiness in the games. But against Sunderland, we actually looked ordinary, we looked blunt and that’s not just one or two players, it was pretty much all of them.

To top it all off, our neighbours and annoying neighbours at that, Sp*rs, went on to hit Wigan for 9 – yes 9! Ouch. That was really annoying. Like really really. The DVD is due on on Friday.

But then, just as I thought my weekend was the worst ever created, I received the following email:

Dear Dev,

We have some exciting news about the ticket that you bought for the Saturday 21 November draw. Please click http://www.national-lottery.co.uk/player/account/wallet/landing.do?link=email and enter your username and password to view the details online now.

Kind Regards
National Lottery Customer Care Team
www.national-lottery.co.uk

It was a bolt out of the blue, and I thought – wow, this could be it… unfortunately, in a way, it was just a tenner, but I think one of the first time I’d won anything – although 3 years of not winning anything on the national lottery means that I actually paid over £400 to win £10. Hmmm. Ouch.

So, it’s official. It was the worst weekend ever and all I can say is “bleh”.

The debate over Henry and all the media who har is just simply annoying. Henry is one of the most honest professional. My dear friend Bob said something very interesting and helps explain the “honesty” of Henry… When the incident happened – if you’ve seen the replay – you can obviously see it’s ball to hand rather than hand to ball. The incident happened and Henry played to the law of the game – the referee. Despite people saying the player was dishonest for doing what he did – Bob says, and I agree that actually he was more than honest.

Thierry Henry spoke to the officials and the Irish players and admitted and explained that it was a hand ball. He hadn’t seen the replays to know if it was discrete or obvious. Some players would have only admitted it after they saw the replay, but the former Arsenal player spoke about it straight away – that is honest. And what does he get in return, just loads of abuse – where is the respect? Thierry set the Premiership alight for the best part of a decade, he should be remembered for that not a decision that was not his to make.

Finally, I’ll touch on the Sunderland game. We had chances, but too many midfielders – Song, Ramsey, Cesc, Rosicky and Nasri… the last four players I just mentioned do the same thing on the pitch! And it showed, we had no variation. Sunderland played well and did well to cut off the supply and stifle our game. We really should have done better because we are simply better than that. Our season is not over yet but it’s hanging on thread at the moment. Our next league game is Chelsea, so we will surely see this time next week if we’re in or out of the title race.

Arsene was very upset at the performance and for the first time in a long time had a go at the team:

“I don’t think we missed anybody especially, no. We lost a game where we can only fault ourselves because we didn’t score, some players were not at their best and we gave a goal away on the only situation where Sunderland could score one today. It was on a set piece. I believe it’s more down to the fact that we made a big mistake on the corner because the game was there for the taking in the last 20 minutes. But of course, when you’re down, it makes it more difficult.”

He went on to berate the mental approach to the game:

“I feel that some players struggled really to prepare properly, mentally for a game like that because you know after an international break it’s how well and how quickly the team can focus again. The international break doesn’t help but it’s down to us, as a team, to focus quickly again and to show that quality. (To win the) championship (you need) to be capable, every time, to turn up as close as possible to your best in a consistent way. When you cannot do that, you can lose games like that. It is a big setback because you do not prepare yourself to drop points in a situation like that. It’s not especially worrying, it’s frustrating, because I know we have the quality but it is frustrating when you see some performances today – that is very frustrating.”

Time to forget about the game, we have another one tomorrow….

I hope we put on a performance to make amends, but to be honest, if we don’t beat Chelsea, it’s over for this season, and it will still be November. But forget the doom and gloom, at the moment, it’s not over… here’s my plan:

  1. Beat Standard Liege with a semi reserve team
  2. Beat Chelsea with a full team.
  3. Win game in hand against Bolton
  4. Win every other game until the end of January
  5. Realise that we’re 5 points clear and then don’t lose any other games this season
  6. The title.

I like that plan… til tomorrow…

Sunderland vs Arsenal Match Day Live

Are you ready…?

I said… Are you ready??

It’s back – the Premiership is back and today we take on Sunderland at their ground in what we will a tough game without a doubt. With Kenwyne Jones suspended and Cattermole injured, it is actually a decent time to play Steve Bruce’s team. In the pre match press conference, Arsene expressed concern over both Gallas and Sagna who both played extra time on time on Wednesday. Arsene cited the midweek Champions League and of course next weekend’s big game as reasons to rest the two French Internationals.

Personally, with Gibbs and Clichy both out, I would prefer not to change two other players in our back four. Just imagine if Arsene rests Gallas and Sagna, it’ll be Eboue – Senderos – Vermaelen – Silvestre…. surely that’s too much of a change?

Arsene revealed yesterday that Theo Walcott is back in the squad but I don’t expect him to play from the start… I hope to watch the game on a stream today so should be able to give you running commentary via the comments as usual, but for the moment, here’s my estimated team line up….

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Silvestre

Ramsey – Song

Nasri – Cesc – Rosicky

Eduardo

The bench should see Mannone, Senderos, Eboue, Denilson, Walcott, Arshavin, Vela

I think… The proper team news will be posted in the comments as soon as I’ve got it… it’s exciting, if we win, we’ll close the gap on Chelsea and maybe break away from United… whatever happens in the other games, if we want to win the title, it’s games like this that we have to win!

Come on you Gooners!!! Over to the comments now…

Eduardo Signs, Gibbs Is On The Mend, Henry Debate Continues and Oh Yeah, The Premiership Is Back!

Eduardo Signs

Amongst all the doom and gloom of the international week, we’ve been given some very good news, as the club announced today that Eduardo Da Silva – our very own Crozialian – has signed a contract that will keep him at the club for a fair while to come. I’m unsure of the length of the contract, but the club and player have announced that it’s a long term contract. I’d expect it to be a 5 year contract and at 26, that will keep the player at the club until he is over 30…!

Arsene spoke on Eduardo and said:

“We’re delighted that Eduardo has signed a new long-term contract with us. Eduardo is a special player with huge talent and natural goalscoring ability, and we’re all so happy that he has committed his future to Arsenal. We have also seen in his comeback from injury, Eduardo is a human being full of courage, bravery and commitment. His full recovery from this injury is a testament to Eduardo’s character. We all look forward to enjoying Eduardo’s performances in an Arsenal shirt for a long time to come.”

And of course Eduardo – after recovering from his devastating injury – is back to full fitness. With Robin Van Persie being injured and likely to be out until the end of the year, it’s even more important that Eduardo’s raring to go – and the player himself says he’s more than capable of twice in a week. With Niklas Bendtner out too, it will be hard to rotate at the top…

“I am very pleased to have signed a new long contract with the club. I’m very happy and I hope to stay at Arsenal for as long as I can. This period is good for me now. I feel strong in my body and I feel ready to play 90 minutes every three days if it’s needed. I went to Croatia last week and everybody was telling me Arsenal play the best football in Europe at the moment. I agree with that. We feel we are strong now this season and we’re all going to give everything to win trophies.”

Gibbs Is On The Mend

The second part of the good news is that Kieran Gibbs is on the mend – the initial diagnosis of a fracture to the ankle was incorrect and he actually suffered severe bruising. News is that he’ll be back for Chelsea in 9 days, so that’s good news…

Henry Debate Continues…

Okay, I’ll keep this short, as yesterday’s comments have highlighted all the points, but Thierry Henry is not an Arsenal player any more, so whatever happened is not our fault!! Get it!!

Even if he was (and he kind of is and always been affiliated to Arsenal)  - it was accidental – so get off the great man’s back and leave him alone!

…and Oh Yeah, The Premiership Is Back!

And I’ll be back tomorrow to preview the Sunderland vs Arsenal game… with Kenwyne Jones and Darren Bent to deal with, I wonder what the line up will be???

Eduardo ready to fill void, as RvP flys to Serbia… But who will cover Gibbs & Clichy…?

So, Robin Van Persie’s injury will no doubt break up our flow, but at a club like ours, we cannot let injuries stand in our way. (Okay, well we kind of have in recent times, but not this season…)… but the difference this season is that we’re in a formation that has only one striker and four attacking midfielders and we have a more than capable back up for the main striking position in Eduardo Da Silva. In previous seasons, we’ve lost players and not really had anyone to come in for them. At the moment, we’ve lost RvP, but players such as Eduardo and the soon to be fit again Carlos Vela can make the step up. With Rosicky, Arshavin, Nasri and Walcott providing the supporting role alongside the captain, it shouldn’t be doom and gloom – albeit Robin Van Persie is a very big player for us!

Eduardo himself was in the press commenting on the situation and said:

“The boss knows our qualities and how they can fit into a formation. For me it is fine to play on the left or the right, no problem, the most important thing is to help the team and I feel good in those positions. It is a formation that gives us more movement and more creativity through the middle, although it is not easy because we have to balance defence and attack and that can be difficult.”

Whilst Eduardo is gearing himself up for an extended run in the team, Robin Van Persie is off to Serbia to “try out” a new treatment which uses placenta massaged into the ankle to make it stronger – random, very much so, but true. Who else thought it was a joke the first time they read it? Let’s hear from RvP…

“She is vague about her methods but I know that she first massages you for a long time with placenta fluid. I am going to give it a try. It can’t do any harm and if it helps, it helps. I’ve been in contact with Arsenal’s chief physio about it. The club has allowed me to have this treatment done.”

Hmmm, doesn’t really sound very specific, but of course placenta is a healing solution, so if anything, it can’t be bad. RvP is going to see Arsene on Thursday who will make the final decision, but it does seem like it is something that will happen.

And just as you thought we couldn’t extend our trusted old injury list (see the right hand side for the lengthy list)… we’ve suffered what is actually a big blow for us as Kieran Gibbs was injured when on International duty for the England Under 21s. When Gael Clichy was injured, we weren’t too worried as we had young Gibbsy in reserve, but with the recent injury, they are both out at the same time. Of course, we have two players who can deputise – one being Mikael Silvestre and one being Armand Traore… I’d say the former is fit and ready to play, whilst the latter is more suited to our game, but remains unfit and recovering from injury… Saturday’s team news is going to be interesting.

Initially earlier today, I heard that the injury was a suspected metatarsal injury, but news coming out of the world of Arsenal is that it may not be as bad as first feared… the BBC reporting… “A Football Association spokesman told BBC Sport that it did not look as though Gibbs had seriously damaged his ankle.”

Fingers crossed! Believe me, I was so upset earlier…!

Okay, just before I go, just a quick round up of the other news…

Fran Merida’s agent says he’s ready to negotiate with Arsenal after not receiving any other offers. Interesting, and very worrying that the desire to sign was not immediate…

“I do not know what Atletico are waiting for in bidding for a player who has half of Europe after him. It’s true that as a child he was sick about Atletico but everything has changed a bit. Now his heart and head are with Arsenal. There are much falsehoods in the world of football because the players do not decide what team they play for. The priority now is to negotiate with Arsenal and in the future we’ll see. The desire is to keep him at Arsenal and succeed.”

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Samir Nasri will not play a defensive midfield role when Alex Song is at the Africans cup of nations – instead Denilson will return and be fit enough to cover the role – any one think we’re due a DM signing in January? Anyone heard what Arsene has been saying about Vieira needing to move clubs to ensure his World Cup place… interesting….

Arsene on Nasri:

“No, [he is not a replacement]. I do not say that he could not, Samir is very tactically astute, but he is attracted forwards. He loves the offensive game. We have Denilson who can fill that role. He is more suited than Samir at the moment. Samir is more a player who has pace, is versatile around the box and can finish. It would be a sacrifice to put him down there. Also he has a little handicap in the air. He likes [that defensive role] and certainly, technically and tactically, he can do it but I believe he can be more efficient up front.”

And finally, there’s noise coming out of the Kroenke camp about how good Kroenke is as an investor and a businessman… it’s coming from the Kroenke side – but they may just have a point – more on that tomorrow…

Til then…