In Depth Analysis of Lukas Fabianski…

Morning on a very rainy Thursday (if you’re in London)…

It’s been a very good week for British clubs in the Champions League this week with 5 out of 5 clubs winning their ties, ours of course being the craziest one of them all – as the Partizan manager said, it was pure entertainment – perhaps because of our inability not to mess up randomly during games. Our players do seem to have errors up their sleeves all the time – but hopefully, hopefully they are starting to stamp out their errors and the performance from Fabianski was a proof to that pudding.

Fabianski had a good game. He did well when called upon, despite the criticism surrounding him, was adventurous off his line, was good shot stopping and even saved a penalty. I have to say that it was one of the best performances, if not the best all round performance I’ve seen from Fabianski. Considering how he gets slated so much, his confidence must be low and to produce such a good performance – the question I have in my mind is whether we are now suddenly over-reacting to what would be considered a normal performance for a goalkeeper at a top level club?

Are we astonished that a seemingly error-prone keeper suddenly has a good game. Arsene was quick to praise the goalkeeper and said this after the game…

Fabianski had a good game, we have seen the player tonight who we see in training. He had a faultless game. I know it is in him. He got it out in the game tonight and hopefully that will give him the needed belief and confidence. I am confident he will come out as a great keeper, I have always said that. We have to keep confidence in him and he needs to gain experience from games like this. At the moment Almunia is injured, we will have to see how his injury goes but at the moment it is too early to say.

The big question is whether the Fabianski we saw against Partizan is the real Fabianski or whether it’s the exception to the rule.

Fabianski was clear that he was happy with his performance and went onto say that he is more than ready for the Chelsea game. If he is selected, which it looks like he will be, then we’ll need another sterling performance from the Polish International

“‘Overall I’m pleased with my performance. Not just some of the saves I made but my reading of the game, coming for the crosses and the way I played with my feet. Every aspect is important to me and in general I am pleased. I am ready. I was always ready. I was never bothered by all the things that happened. I always tried to focus on my work, on my job. We are all looking forward to the Chelsea match. Hopefully it will be exciting game.”

The big question is whether the Fabianski we saw against Partizan is the real Fabianski or whether it’s the exception to the rule.

It’s a bit strange that players like Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs have come out to defend his qualities – both are relatively new to the first team and have seen his qualities with a less obstructive view. One thing that is also positive is that Arsene Wenger isn’t stupid and for him to continually back a  keeper has to mean something… It has to mean something? We’ve heard Arsene say that Lukas is incredible in training, but just hasn’t shown it – and therefore, maybe we are seeing the right player now…

Gibbs summed up the feeling in the dressing room:

“He is a great keeper or else he wouldn’t be here at Arsenal. I owe him a lot, although I can’t really remember much about (giving away) the penalty. He put in a great performance. That is what he is in the team to do. Saving the penalty was just as important as scoring a goal for us. I think he felt like he had a point to prove. He has shown great character and he doesn’t hide away. We do feel for him (after the criticism he has had) because we know his quality and he has shown them against Partizan – that is why I think he expressed that after he had saved the penalty and all credit to him.”

So, there we have it – Lukas Fabianski – new man, perhaps? We’re going to need him to be for Chelsea.

Come on you reds…!

Partizan Belgrade 1-3 Arsenal: Relief in the end!

So, after that shambles of a Premier League game at the weekend, it was time to turn our attention to the Champions League, and make sure we avoid any hangovers from that game.

The starting line-up saw 6 changes made, with the likes of Koscielny, Nasri, Clichy, Rosicky dropped/injured/rested. Fabianski was preferred in goal, with Almunia injured.

Fabianski

Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Gibbs

Song, Denilson, Wilshere

Rosicky, Chamakh, Arshavin

Missed the start of the game, as I was on my way from work, but apparently, we started a bit shakily, withFabianksi already called into action inside the first 5 minutes. Was hurrying home as much as I could and was hoping the goals would wait until I got home, but it seems the players didn’t get my memo. Something to do with those floodlight failures earlier, I’m sure…

Good thing it was an Arsenal goal though, as Partizan were threatening. The goal was scored in the 15th minute by Arshavin, created by Wilshere with a lovely back-heel inside the box into Arshavin’s path and he lashed it into the back of the net. Say what you want about Arshavin being a lazy so-and-so, he’s been doing his thing quietly and getting the job done. I guess one always expects fire-works from him and in all honesty, we haven’t had any from him lately. But he’s been doing his bit. I even spotted him tracking back today…

So with the goal, we were getting into our stride and starting to dominate, and had chances to double our lead. Their goalkeeper was doing his best to keep them in the hunt, if not the game would have been over before half-time. When we did manage to beat the ‘keeper, Arshavin chipped effort ended up being cleared off the line by a Partizan player. It was very similar to Cesc’s against Braga, when he almost had his hat-trick.

But not long after Arshavin’s effort, Partizan got their equaliser, 30 minutes into the game. It came from a penalty, as a result of a supposed handball by Denilson in the box. I’m going to come all Wenger-like and say I didn’t see it, but I didn’t. The replay(s) I saw wasn’t conclusive. But anyways, a penalty it was. Cleo (anagram of Cole, I see!) took the penalty, calmly rolling it into the bottom right corner, sending Fabianski the wrong way.

Annoying to concede at that stage of the game, but you sensed we had it in us to wrap the game up, just a question of when. Oh, and apparently that’s our 13th away game without a clean sheet. Well, you don’t earn extra points for clean sheets, but it’s always a nice feeling for the team, having one.

So we went into half-time on level terms. (Un)deserverdly? Doesn’t matter. We had to step it up in the second half and take our chances, because we were creating them.

With 55 minutes on the clock, another penalty was awarded, this time to us after Chamakh was brought down in the box, after being sent through by Arshavin. The Partizan player was shown a straight Red, and Arshavin stepped up to take the penalty. He went straight down the middle, but unfortunately that didn’t work, as the ‘keeper saved it with his legs. Missed opportunity, but a positive from that, if ever there was one, is that Rosicky would probably have breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that he’s not the only Arsenal player capable of missing penalties! Probably.

But the game was still deadlocked, but with the extra-man advantage, surely it was only a matter of time? The Partizan ‘keeper was still performing heroics, but there was not much more he could have done about our second goal, which came in the 71st minute. Rosicky- fuelled on from his renewed confidence following Arshavin’s miss, probably- crossed the ball into the box from the right, finding Chamakh whose initial effort was tipped onto the bar by the Partizan ‘keeper, but he was first to the rebound, and headed it into the net this time! 2-1 to Arsenal, totally deserved.

I really thought we’d run away with the game from then on, but with 2 substitutions after the goal- Vela and Nasri for Chamakh and Wilshere- our rhythm was slightly disturbed and we were letting Partizan back into the game. But 10 minutes later, it looked like we’d sealed the game up, with Squillaci grabbing our third and his first Arsenal goal, with a glancing header from a Nasri right-wing corner. Arsene then made his final substitution, with Clichy coming on for Arshavin.

But Partizan were not done yet as very very shortly after out third goal, they had a really good chance to get back in the game and put more pressure on us in the dying minutes. They were awarded a penalty- their second, and the third of the game- for a Gibbs clumsy challenge which I thought had started out the box. Anyways, penalty given, and Cleo stepped up again. But this time around, he seemed to be channelling his anagram-sake from West London, and suddenly it was the Fabianski mini-show, as he saved well low down to his right. Well played, Fabi! And I said it was the Fabianski mini-show as not long after, he made another save in injury-time to prevent a goal that might have taken the gloss off our win a little. It was a top save and for a minute, I was worried he’d simply pushed the ball into the net (where have we seen that before!?), but he pushed it round the post. Well played again!

So full-time, 3-1 to Arsenal, and a good work-out. It was always going to be a tricky game with injury to our key players, but it was a winnable game on paper, and I’m glad we were able to pull through.

Nest up though, Chelsea at the Bridge. Much bigger test, and it’s such a shame we’ll be missing the likes of Cesc and Theo, and maybe Vermaelen. But as always, I’m always confident we can pull something out. Chelsea’ll be facing a new centre-back pairing, hopefully Squillaci and Koscielny (if Vermaelen is still not fit). Who knows, that might make all the difference! But we’ve got to be on top of our game, all 11 of the players, plus the 3 subs!

I’m well up for that game and I hope the players will be too, but for now, let’s enjoy today’s win!

Partizan vs Arsenal – Match Preview

So the squad has been announced and the full squad that has travelled is:

21. Lukasz Fabianski
53. Wojciech Szczesny
3. Bacary Sagna
22. Gael Clichy
6. Laurent Koscielny
7. Tomas Rosicky
8. Samir Nasri
11. Carlos Vela
15. Denilson
17. Alex Song
18. Sebastien Squillaci
19. Jack Wilshere
20. Johan Djourou
27. Emmanuel Eboue
23. Andrey Arshavin
29. Marouane Chamakh
28. Kieran Gibbs
46. Henri Lansbury

Which means that both Almunia and Diaby have been dropped – Arsene cited the reasons for Almunia’s non inclusion in into the squad as injury – with him apparently picking up an elbow injury during the  penalty incident – I’m unsure whether it was conceding the penalty or saving it. Diaby – we simply don’t have a club why he was left out – but most fans are aware that he was diabolical against West Brom, so obviously not ready for first team action. It’s a strange one – how come Diaby doesn’t play any reserve games when he comes back from injury? He is obvious in need of games when he returns. I think Arsene rushed him back to rest Wilshere, and it seriously back fired…

Anyway, onwards and upwards to the preview of the Partizan Belgrade game…

So with the squad above, and the current impact that the team is making with certain players, I think we’ll play a slightly different team tonight, with two holding midfielders, both ensuring the defence doesn’t concede, considering the most recent performance.

Fabianski

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Denilson – Song

Nasri – Wilshere – Rosicky

Chamakh

I have a hunch, just a small hunch, that Arshavin won’t start the game – I think he’ll be rested in time for Chelsea and we’ll see Rosicky come in for him. I’m pretty sure we’ll see Wilshere and with Diaby dropped, Denilson will come in to steady the ship. The evergreen Chamakh will no doubt lead the line in the absence of both Van Persie and Bendtner….

Bench: Szcznesy, Djourou, Gibbs, Eboue, Lansbury, Arshavin, Vela

It’s interesting to see Szcznesy on the bench for this game, after his recent comments… maybe Arsene is making a step in the right direction to prove to him that he is wanted at Arsenal. If he is as talented as Arsene has made out, then he needs games and we need a goalkeeper…

And after all the depressing goalkeeper comments, there is some good news in regards to captain fantastic, Cesc Fabregas:

“Cesc for Partizan is impossible,” said Wenger before his squad flew out on Monday. “But he has started to run so we have to monitor his progress in the week and there is a little hope there he will be available [for Sunday].”

If he is back for Sunday then I’ll be absolutely delighted… But in the meantime, who on earth will be our captain – with Almunia, Vermaelen, Cesc and RvP out, we may see a new captain – I think Rosicky had captained the side before, and Arshavin (oldest), Sagna and Clichy (longest serving) could be options…

More in the comments later… Come on you reds…

Ah, OdemOH NO NO NO.

I’m all shouted out, back at work with the horsiest of throats. You can thank the chaps on Saturday for that.

NOOOO. NO ALMUNIA. WHY? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE YOU BLOODY IDIOT. NOOOO.
WAIT!!!!! HE SAVVVVEEEEDDDDD IT. LOVELY MATTY AMOONEY! HE’S BLOODY DONE IT.
NOOOOO SAGNA, NO STAND UP, ON YOUR FEET!
OH SHITS SAKE! SHIT OFF! HOW DID HE SLIP IN THERE?

Etc, for 90 minutes. It’s no wonder I’m still having trouble breathing, let alone talking.

I think what hurts is not they we played badly, (I mean, have you even seen Manchester United this season?) but that we were unable to rouse ourselves and get back into the game whilst we were still a goal down. Or two. That we had to concede three goals before we started playing football is terrible.

I’m still on Clichey’s back. The chap cannot defend. It’s glaring. He needs one of those dog leads, you know the ones that are a bit springy with the button on them that winds the lead in when you’re dog is being a badly positioned shit. So that when he goes mental and bombs forward, immediately after he loses possession he pings straight back into defense ready to defend. Seriously, opposition teams must look at our left and think “Arshavin/Clichey… let’s have a go on that side”. Arshavin did look moderately more interested to be fair, elevating his effort level from one hand on hip to two hands. Two hands!

It’s all been said anyway, hasn’t it. We were poor in the middle, they capitalised on that and they took their chances. It’s disingenuous to blame the keeper, or the defense, or the midfield though. I’ve said countless times, if Arshavin (or any other forward) doesn’t needlessly concede possession there is no break, if Song makes a challenge there is no pressure, if the defense stop the cross and clear there is no shot and if the keeper has a decent chance he’ll save it. When all of those things break down, you’ll concede goals.

That isn’t to say the second goal wasn’t anything other than Almunias fault entirely. Those shots should be saved – I guess no one will persist with the lie that either of our main keepers are good shot stoppers, what with Flappyhandski juggling it into his own net midweek and Almunia playing volleyball.

My point is United’s middle and defense have been poor of late, and they’ve started conceding goals, regardless of the perceived quality of the keeper. A great keeper will give you a better chance when everything else falls down, but no one is 8ft wide and made of bricks.

My point from pre-season still stands – United have been looking for a replacement for an aging EVDS for two years and so far haven’t found one. Schwarzer has been terrible for Fulham so far this season, also punching the ball into his own net a couple of times – criticise Almunia all you want, but the fact remains there wasn’t a sensible replacement in the summer, so we’re stuck with the moron. You just have have to hope the other parts of the team don’t self destruct like they did at the weekend.

At least there was plenty of good stuff elsewhere this weekend. Spurs only losing by one goal at West Ham a particular highlight. What kind of moron says “it wasn’t a bad result” when you lose to a team who previously had just 1pt. That’s a terrible result.

Lovely Darren Bent as well, continuing his one man crusade against Liverpool, made me smile. Lovely to see him try desperately to ruin his penalty but somehow still get it in. That’s how you rub it in their faces. I’m waiting to see the next Darren Bent penalty where he’ll run up, slip over, headbutt the ball accidentally, and see it bounce not just off the post, but off the other post, the crossbar and then into the goal off the happless keepers back. It’ll probably be against us at the Emirates on the 5th of March.

Speaking of that game, Atwell is a fucking disgrace. Stevie G escaped with a yellow when he should have had a red for self defending someones face with his elbows, and Torres/Sloth From The Goonies scoring the most farcical goal ever in the history of football (minor exaggeration maybe).

The best thing is, people keep suggesting Attwell should not referee in the premier league. Where do you put him? The suggestion is the Championship. Derby and Forest won’t like that. As Hitler said, he’s a silly boy with a whistle who has the refereeing skills of roadkill.

Keep smiling.

Sunday Quickie: Arsenal 2 – 3 West Brom

Evening All…

Today for me was a non footballing day, a day spent the Godson… Anton. To be honest, sometimes, you need those days. It was strange being away from twitter, facebook, the blog and email for 24 hours, but definitely rewarding to spend a day with the little ones. In my absence, Stoke decided to beat Newcastle at St. James Park, Bolton took 2 points off United and Villa beat Wolves to complete a bit of a strange weekend for the Premiership – I think it’s the first time in a long time that neither Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Sp*rs have won in a weekend.

For us, we were probably the worst out of the lot, with an abysmal result. One that was inexcusable. Kieran Delaney will be back tomorrow morning with his reaction, so for now, I’ll just touch on the game quickly. The line up was:

Almunia

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Diaby – Song

Eboue – Nasri – Arshavin

Chamakh

I’ll do a quick highlight of what I thought of the players – a shock result and some shocking performances. For me, the worst player on the pitch was Diaby – was he fit after his lay off from injury – I don’t thin so – if physical, yes, then mentally no. I’ve never seen a player play in such a way to break up his own team’s attack. We’ve been playing very well with Wilshere and Cesc in the midfield and Nasri and Arshavin on the wings, but with Wilshere rested and Cesc injured, Arsene took this opportunity to play Diaby. The Frenchman played well in the game against Blackpool, but he was obviously not ready for a return and combined with the lacklustre display from Eboue took a lot away from the team. Had we started with Wilshere and Rosicky in place of Eboue and Diaby, then I’m pretty sure we’d have been a few goals up rather than 2-0 down when Diaby and Eboue were replaced.

The team feed off bad players and Arshavin was another player off his game. With three of the front 5 off their game, that didn’t help the industrious Nasri or the hard working Chamakh. Almunia had a few moments of misery and that again proves to everyone that we simply don’t have a top keeper at the club. And one of my favourite players – Alex Song seemed intent on going forward and he really didn’t provide any cover for the back which lead to the penalty and the first goal.

So what did Arsene think:

“We made it more difficult because we were not at our usual level. Not defensively, not offensively. Overall everything was difficult for us today – passing the ball, winning the ball back, winning the one against ones – and we got what we deserved which was zero points. We didn’t deserve more. The positive is that we did fight until the last minute but it was just not good enough at that level to get three points.”

And that was an astonishing summation – it was clear that Arsene wasn’t happy with the performance and pretty much everything to do with the game. I don’t blame him, neither were any of us – the key thing now is how we react to this – it feels like I’ve been here quite a few times, Hull at home was definitely one of those, but this game was worse, it was so flat, it was ridiculous, no urgency and no want or will to win.

Let’s hope we bounce back in style on Tuesday and then hit Chelsea for 6 at Stamford Bridge… Til tomorrow, my friends, til tomorrow!

Arsenal vs West Brom – Match Preview

Yesterday was another mammoth press conference from Arsene and he spoke about a huge range of topics… I’ll bring you the highlights shortly, but first take a look ahead to the today’s game. For us, we need to build on the start to the season we’ve had so far, which sees second in the table. We’ve had a tougher start than table toppers Chelsea and dropped points away to Liverpool and Sunderland, but today’s game is a home game against newly promoted West Brom.

The game has come too soon for the likes of Cesc or Thomas Vermaelen, both who will miss this game and mostly the midweek game. Abou Diaby is back in the squad after injury and Alex Song returns after a suspension. The rotation will continue and we’ll probably see Almunia, Squillaci, Chamakh and Arshavin restored to the starting line-up. One player who I thought would get rested for the midweek game was Jack Wilshere as he has been involved in virtually every game this season – but he’s just got better and better!

So the line-up tomorrow could well be:

Almunia

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Wilshere – Song

Nasri – Diaby – Arshavin

Chamakh

With a bench of Fabianski, Eboue, Djourou, Lansbury, Denilson, Rosicky and Vela

There are fitness doubts over Denilson and Rosicky and news is that Diaby will have a fitness test later today too. We have a few injuries to key players at the moment, so even though Nasri and Wilshere played 120 minutes midweek, they are both in line to start again this weekend. And if they do, then I can see Denilson and Rosicky replacing them mid-week against Partizan. Nasri did have a tight calf against Sp*rs, but news is that he’s shaken it off.

I’ll be down at the Emirates for tomorrow’s game and I’m really looking forward to it – for those of you on twitter, I’ll be tweeting away as usual, @worldofarsenal – and two regular writers, @kieran_delaney and @debsgooner are both on twitter too and often give their opinions of everything Arsenal too!

Arsene Wenger took a little time out and talked about the various subjects in the news – including the news yesterday that we made a record profit of £56m – yep, amazing news. And for those of you who aren’t in the know – read this. Amazing stuff when you consider what we’ve done in the last 5 years – compare that to the many false dawns of the likes of Liverpool etc and to think that every club that has built a new stadium has been relegated puts our feat into perspective.

Arsene spoke heavily on the policy that he’s been so forthright in pushing – the youth project – and how the fact that buying a player for big money means he has to play him and that means not playing a younger player. We’ve seen the likes of Gibbs, Wilshere, etc come through recently and you have to admit that if we did sign Ozil, would Wilshere have been thrown into the first team?

“I take this pressure with a distance,” he said. “For example you [the media] reproach me for not buying players but if I buy players Jack Wilshere doesn’t come out into the first team. You cannot have everything and I know that and I’m long enough in the job to have a development policy to educate the players. The most difficult thing is to play them and to stand up for it. Nobody else in the world [brings through as many young players]. I’ll give you one day the list of those at the top level who have made careers with me and you will see. You will be absolutely astonished. Take the list of the players who started here, for example Djourou, Senderos, Clichy, Gibbs, Fabregas and Song. Diaby is another who had basically never played before at the top level. Ashley Cole too. Of course people say always to buy but you cannot make careers and lives of people and on top of that buy everytime you have an injured player. We make a profit because we don’t spend – it’s as simple as that. What is unbelievable is that people reproach me for making a profit but no-one says a word about people who lose money. I manage in a safe way – but it looks like we are in a business where the quality is to lose money.”

And that last sentence sticks in my mind – we are in a business where the quality is to lose money – and you’ve seen that with the implosions of Leeds, Pompey, Southampton etc – spend big and pay for it later twice over. I for one, am absolutely delighted with the way the club is being run – the architecture of the business – the careful putting together of the finances – it’s like we’re in completely different world to most of the clubs in the Premiership – heck, most of the clubs in the world.

I don’t know how long it will take for us to pay off the stadium, to be completely debt free – but it will be sooner than originally anticipated and when we have – we’ll suddenly be a very very rich club – it’s going to be a very interesting future, and we should all be very glad to have such a good management structure in place!

Anyway, we’ve got a game to play – time to prepare myself for the match – come on you Reds!!!

Since we have a spare day… New Signings Analysis…

It’s been a busy time to be a blogger recently, with games coming thick and fast, meaning as soon as you’ve written a match report, the next day you’re writing a match preview of the next game… but today I have an interlude – a Thursday all to myself – to blog about whatever I want – before (of course), the WBA preview tomorrow…

So today I’ve chosen to firstly reflect on this week’s Carling Cup outings and then (for the main part of the blog), take a look at our new signings, and give you my “2penceworth”..!

Carling Cup Round Up

Well, what a great round of football the Carling Cup proved to be this week – out of the top 6 last season, only us and Man United are still in the competition. Of course, we knocked out Sp*rs – Chelsea were somehow beaten by Newcastle at home, whilst the shock of the tournament was Liverpool losing at home to Northampton at home on penalties…

The comment on the BBC site, read:

“Sad to see how much LFC has sunk. The fans deserve better, but I can’t see things getting better with no buyer, no cash to spend and no young talent coming through. It may take a few years of patient rebuilding and low expectations to resurrect the club.”

Wow, to think we were on a similar path a few years ago, pre-Emirates… people forget how hard it is to do what we’ve done. Down at Liverpool, the issues seem to grow and grow and looking around the Liverpool blogosphere, their fans are calling for Hodgson’s head… the same fans who were loving him when he took over…

This Saturday morning will see the fourth round draw and it should be an interesting passage, hopefully we’ll avoid Man United until something resembling a final or semi final… and hopefully we’ll get a home game so we can get loads of Gooners down to the Emirates as well as play a younger side – something we tend to do at home, but not away…

Analysis Of Our New Signings…

This summer saw a few new players brought into the squad, as well as a few people move on. Of course, the departures of Senderos, Silvestre, Campbell and Gallas were supplemented by the return of Djourou from injury, the signings of Koscielny and Squillaci and the return of Nordtveit into our reserves as backup… There has been one in and one out up front with Eduardo leaving and Chamakh joining, but it’s the middle of the part where suddenly we have a few more players – Wilshere straight into the first team, but Lansbury, Eastmond and the injured Frimpong are all in and around the squad too.

Maroune Chamakh

To be honest, I have to say I wasn’t too excited about Maroune joining before the season – when I met him in Vegas, I thought he was way too skinny and didn’t think he would be Arsenal grade. But I have been somewhat surprised to see how well he holds up the ball and brings people into play. The footage from the French league looked impressive, but I wasn’t sure if he could bring it into the Premiership – but he has – and he’s got 3 goals to his name too… Definitely a hit so far – and with Van Persie & Bendtner out for a while, he seems to be the current first choice striker too.

Laurent Koscielny

Against Sp*rs, he was simply brilliant and he’s shown in flashes that he can be very good – a worry in regards to the physical side of the game, some key clashes up at Sunderland and at Blackburn where you kind of felt he was exposed, but that’s something we’ll see improve as the season goes on. The main things about Koscielny is his positioning and aerial ability – which look very good. His calmness and decision making seem to be getting better – the Bolton goal aside – and I can definitely see the potential and the reasons why Arsene was keen to sign the former Lorient man.

Sebastian Squillaci

With Djourou, Nordtveit, Koscielny and Vermaelen, an experienced head was required as backup to the team… and Arsene managed to get Squillaci in on a relatively cheap deal – and from the small amount of football I’ve seen him play in – he looks like exactly what we needed. He seems to play the Arsenal way, seems to be relatively stable and good in the air. Physically he looked like he had Bolton in his pocket last weekend, so let’s hope for more of the same this weekend.

Jack Wilshere

Now onto Mr Jack Andrew Wilshere – a player who is suddenly a permanent fixture in our team – he’s played pretty much most of the games this season and he’s controlled a lot of the ball during his games. In fact, down at the Lane on Tuesday, it was in fact the Wilshere show – such was his impact on the team. To think the kid is only 18 is amazing and he will no doubt be the future Mr. Arsenal. In some  way, we’re very blessed to have such an amazing player start his career with us in such a fashion – this type of natural ability doesn’t come around every day and as long as Jack’s playing, we’ll have a chance for every trophy. To have Nasri, Cesc and Wilshere in the same team on form could be something special this season.

Rosicky took time out to speak about Jack, and had this to say:

“He is great talent. For his age he has a great brain and he has a great future. When he has got the ball he is very calm, that’s something that sometimes younger guys don’t have – they panic a little bit or something. With him you don’t see that though – he is very comfortable with the ball. That’s the first quality you are looking for and he has got that. Obviously we want Cesc in our line-up but all players who started [at Tottenham] showed that they are ready.”

And that’s an accolade from a golden oldie…

So, that’s my take on the Carling Cup and the new signings… back tomorrow for a WBA preview…!!

Over to the comments for now…

Sp*rs 1 – 4 Arsenal…

Afternoon fellow Gooners, and yesterday was my first away game in quite a long time. To be honest, my Emirates season ticket has kind of spoiled me… a large ground, loads of space everywhere… a nice turnstile, a brilliant foyer and an excellent seat… nice facilities… and space for my feet. Down at WHL, I was given a blast into the past and once again reminded why the ground has been called “Shite Hart Lane” for so long… Even Highbury was ten times better than this place, and even that wasn’t good enough for us..

One of the funniest things on route to the stadium is that their official Sp*rs shop is actually a Petrol station…

Can you believe it?

There is such a contrast to the two stadium’s it’s unbelievable! When I was down at the Emirates last week, our Arsenalisation of the stadium, was absolutely amazing, actually, it was breathe-taking!

But back to the game, and it was a very passionate game – kudos to the away fans (including the WOAers), for the loud loud noise and continuous atmosphere and banter being created it was amazing…

Sp*rs 1 – 4 Arsenal
Lansbury 15, Keane 49, Nasri 91 (pen), 95 (pen), Arshavin 105

The line up was:

Fabianski

Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Gibbs

Denilson – Wilshere

Nasri – Rosicky – Lansbury

Vela

It was the strongest team we’ve sent out in the competition in recent times, but still boasted 8 changes from the team that drew up at Sunderland. And it was Arsenal from the off – our team wanted to win this and that was clear from the outset. We went into the lead courtesy of an Henri Lansbury finish after some excellent play from the team as a whole, but especially Jack Wilshere, who flashed the ball in front of the goal at pace, for Lansbury to slide in to make it 1-0.

In all honesty, all I could see what a comprehensive Arsenal victory but the changes Sp*rs made at half time – Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon on, did add a little bit more guile to the home team, who got back into it straight after the break with a dubious offside decision, with Keane finishing a pass from Lennon. Could Fabianski have done better – yes… should we expect him to? Probably not… I think with every game Fabianski plays, he edges himself further out of the pecking order and closer to a transfer…

The goal didn’t set us back and we were in total domination midway into the second half – Keane and Lennon did make Sp*rs look a little more dangerous on the break, but nothing the excellent Koscielny couldn’t handle. Surely he’s made the first team slot next to Vermaelen his own? But Sp*rs defended in numbers, often having 9 or 10 men behind the ball. But Arsene wanted to win this, and added Maroune Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin to the fray, but within the 90, it remained 1-1.

Extra time was a whole different story, with a huge territorial advantage to us, and Sp*rs showing that we are far superior in the fitness department resulting to two obvious challenges in the box, both resulting in penalties, which Nasri put away and then the icing on the cake with a clever, and quick free kick allowing Arshavin through on goal to make it 4-1 to the Arsenal…

A quick mention to the away fans, who I have to say were amazing… Even the Sp*rs fans were saying that it was deafening to them and made them feel so upset… Perfect… with a personal favourite chant being… “Shall we make a…. Shall we make a…. Shall we make a DVD???? Shall we make a DVD….” at 2-1 up… classic!

Arsene spoke about the results after the game and said:

The game was enjoyable. We played well in the first half but we were only one goal in front and after that Tottenham came back. We were for a few minutes a little bit in danger but slowly we took over again and in the final 20 minutes it looked that would could score, but we didn’t. Then we got these two penalties which in my opinion were penalties and that was the turning point of the game. But overall we played very well.

And took time out to talk about Jack Wilshere, who had a pretty awesome game and was a key component to the win…

He was outstanding. I am a bit cautious with him because you do not want to get too quickly too early all the praise. In the first half I think he has shown a little bit of everything you want from a football player. He got some stick and he could take it, he didn’t respond. He played, tackled, won the ball and tactically his position on the pitch was always good. He had an outstanding first half. He is fearless.

And one final snippet from the gaffer was about Henri Lansbury – a player who he compares to Ray Parlour and a player who could seriously make it down at the Emirates and go on to become an International too… he’s got it all…

He has not played for a long time and he is a bit like Ray Parlour – up and down, fantastic engine, good attitude. He smells when you have to be in the box. He is a player who is always in there when a cross is coming in from the other side. He always scores goals.

So, Arsene has finally taken the Carling Cup with a bit more seriousness than before – considering he could have started with JET and Eastmond if he really really wanted to play the youth… and that’s an interesting statement of intent. We’ve got WBA at home next, and we need to kick on in all competitions. Arsene knew was a rollicking to a very young team would have down for our team and confidence, so kudos to the manager.

And finally, Carlos Vela has been banned for 6 months for Mexico – for apparently partying after a win early this month. Good for us in my opinion. No more long trips to the middle of nowhere, no more fatigue from International games, he’s Arsenal through and through for the next six months, so that can only be a good thing…

Harry Redknapped.

Hi guys, just a quickie, I’m not due to post but couldn’t wait to share this with you.

Harry Redknapp, 20th September 2010:

Arsenal have good kids, but there are not too many English lads among them.

Arsenal Football Club, 21st September 2010:

Come again Harry? Our three English lads can’t hear you, they’re too busy celebrating Lansbury’s goal.

Carling Cup Preview: Sp*rs vs Arsenal…

It’s not the Champions League, it’s not the Premier League, it’s not the FA Cup, nor is it the Carling Cup…

It is Tottenham Hotsp*r vs Arsenal… at the Lane…

No matter what competition it is, you can’t take away the occasion away from what will be a fierce encounter. The last time we went to White ‘art Lane was in the run in to the Premiership title and, for me, the loss there, was a pivotal nail in our title coffin. Whether or not it mattered in the end is neither here or there, but at the time, it wasn’t great being a gooner!

Arsene took time to comment about last year’s game:

“No, it was too late. We would still have had a mathematical chance but Chelsea didn’t drop any points, so it was too late. On the night we lost our chance but we would not have won the league. Let’s be realistic: although we would have been mathematically in the fight, we would not have won the league. I feel that we gave some cheap goals away but we battled hard to come back in the second half and the last 20 minutes especially, so overall it was disappointing to lose,” he reflected. “However we would not have won the championship by beating Spurs that night.”

Personally, I disagree – if we hadn’t lost there, who knows what would have happened? I doubt we would have lost against Wigan and Blackburn either and obviously we’d have put some more pressure on the eventual title winners.

But that game was last year and tonight is our time to get some sort of revenge. But who knows what team will be announced later today – with players such as Nordtveit and Frimpong absent through injury, it will be a relatively strong squad, but we will see Jay Emmanuel Thomas (JET) and that is great news as I’m sure – like me – most fans are quite exciting to see the young prodigy in action. Arsene took time out to single out JET as someone he has been looking forward to seeing in action to:

“Jay has class. Class to give the ball, class to finish, class to pass people. I believe he can play against anybody and score goals, but then again you must earn your place and on a daily basis he must show you have the hunger and quality. He has the needed quality without a doubt. I am confident that if he gets an opportunity he will show that.”

So, personally, I think we’ll be naming a first XI of something like this:

Fabianski

Eboue – Djourou – Squillaci – Gibbs

Denilson – Eastmond

Emmanuel Thomas – Rosicky – Lansbury

Vela

As you can see, it’s probably one of the strongest Carling Cup teams we’ve played, but it’s still 10 changes from the starting line-up with only one of the centre backs keeping their place – and only because we have Vermaelen and Nordtveit both injured. A few people have questioned why we look like we’re playing such a strong squad – but surely making 10 changes is change enough and surely it’s a game that is good for the likes of the above team to gain some match practice – Gibbs and Eboue need games to ensure if required for the big games, they’re ready. Fabianski is ready to prove himself, although, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Szczesny having a run out.

Denilson and Djourou are both returning from injury, so it’s an excellent game for them to gain some match practice and there is enough quality there for us to beat a Sp*rs side, who have their own injury and squad issues – enough quality – especially with Carlos Vela up front! One of my personal favourites…

Arsene has been impressed with Carlos Vela’s form and commented that he may lead the line tonight…

“It is about starting the game, carrying the responsibility to be the main striker and showing that you can deal with that. I believe that Carlos can – but then again you have to turn up at the right moment. It is a massive opportunity for him, he has worked very hard from the beginning of the season. He is a different player to what he was last year when it wasn’t easy going sometimes. He has a more mature attitude now.”

If this preview hasn’t got you excited for tonight’s game, then I don’t know what will… it’s going to be a great evening, I simply can’t wait!

Come on you Gooners!

SunderlOh FFS.

Morning Afternoon, what a day! This morning, I opened up a document and my computer said “Word” so I was all like ‘Yo!’. I’ve been busy as you can tell. Anyway… Dev was away, Debs didn’t catch the game, and I’m here later than usual in the standard “OH GOD I HATE MONDAYS SO MUCH” slot.  So you’ll have to put up with me for all your weekend catch up goodness and a (limited) match review.

I’ve read quite a few people moaning about the timing of Sunderland’s goal and just want to say this: the timing of the goal doesn’t matter at all. You play to the whistle. If Sunderland had of scored early on in the first half, most of us would have been relieved to finish 1-1, so in balance, the fact that they scored on the cusp of injury time is irrelevant. They scored. We scored.

Face it, we did the same to them in this fixture two seasons ago, what goes around comes around. And in any case last season we lost at Sunderland, they’re a decent team and it’s a tough place to go, so I would have taken a point before the match. That we finished the game with a point having played a large chunk of it with ten men is a testament to the teams strength and will.

Before anybody gets shirty, I’m not saying I’m happy with a draw overall, we had the chances to win the match and we failed to take them. Of course that hurts. But we didn’t lose and with 10 men, a point at Sunderland is a respectable result.

It was great to see Rosicky take the captains responsibility and step up, but why he didn’t let one of the other players take it I’ll never know. Maybe he’s got himself in his fantasy league team and needed the points? If so, it backfired, missing a penalty is like -5pts. Just ask Darren Bent, he cost me loads last season. Blasting the ball over the bar, maybe Rosicky got the wrong end of the stick after hearing the boss’s rugby comments and decided to play a bit himself. No conversion, no goal, waste. But otherwise Rosicky had a good game when he came on, so let’s not be too harsh on him, at least he took the penalty. He also indirectly gave us all a good laugh, as Waddle proclaimed “he’s hit that too well”. Fucking cabbage. How he has a job in TV I’ll never know.

Sunderland pressed, and for most of the match they were like the big bad wolf and the brick house. They huffed and they puffed but seriously lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Obviously they scored, but even that was a direct result of Clichey panicking. I bet Rosicky doesn’t have our French left back in his fantasy team. He’s a walking accident. Ball bounces, PANICPANICLASHITOUTOHFUCKPANICPANIC. It’s at total odds with the rest of the back line at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s exceptional on the interception, get’s forward and is great at putting crosses into the arses of defenders, but at set pieces or prolonged attacks he sort of loses all discipline and ends up spectacularly self destructing. Personally, I’d like to see Gibbs get a chance. He’s young and he’ll make mistakes, but we’ve already got mistakes occuring in that position so I can’t see any harm in it.

Otherwise the entire back unit looked great. Almunia was a beast again, shouting, punching crosses and generally acting the bastard. At one point he jumped on Bent who looked terrified. That’s exactly what I want to see from Almunia. He’s a good shot stopper, with great reflexes, but he is seriously error prone and nervy for crosses and corners. So far this season he’s been imposing himself on the box like Lehman used to (thankfully he’s not pissed behind the goal yet) and I think it’s really helping the back line. They know what he will do and can play without panicking. I suppose all this “we need a new keeper” posturing from the boss has had the desired affect. He’s playing for his place in the squad, not just the team.

Squillaci and Koscielny were incredible – so solid, crosses were cleared and they took nothing from the attackers. Kos in particular just looks totally at ease. Previous mistakes aside (entirely down to the steep learning curve I’m sure) he reads the game well, never panics and passes the ball around with ease. Squillaci made a few great challenges and showed his experience by easing out Bent several times. Poor Darren took a tumble at one point and Squillaci didn’t even turn to look. Excellent work.

I don’t want to dwell on Song’s dismissal, I’d have given him the second yellow myself – the first was harsh, even for dissent it came directly from an incident where Song didn’t touch the player. However, he was lucky to escape a booking shortly before. You can’t have many complaints about the eventual decision. Maybe he’ll sit and think about that, the obstruction was needless and cost him dearly.

One thing though, I’ve read quite a bit in the media and on message boards about how it is ironic that Wenger moans about challenges and then we get a player sent off. Wenger was speaking out about thuggery and career ending challenges. Song got sent off for dissent and obstruction. Hardly dangerous play. So not ironic in any way then?

Anyway, not much else to say that you haven’t probably read 1,000 times already since Saturday. In the end it was up to us to win the match and we didn’t capitalise on our chances. It’s not the end of the world, it could have been worse. Move on.

Speaking of moving on and sending off’s – did anyone watch the Barca match yesterday? Turns out England isn’t the only league were horrible clogging cunts turn out to wreck careers (see left). Messi appears to not have broken anything, but I’m not sure how. This challenge took place minutes before the end of the match – utter thuggery. Apparently Stoke and Blackburn have launched emergency bids for the perpetrator as he’ll fit in quite nicely with their teams of gladiators.

I don’t like Barca, obviously, but its a sad indication of the utter twattery creeping into the game internationally. We’re not the only league that suffers from cold calculated assaults.

Chap got a straight red, deservedly, but in England’s ‘Premier League’ I’m almost certain the ref would have given him a yellow. And then at the end of the match high fived him, given him a cuddle and shared a good joke.

So Chelsea kept up their winning streak, a streak that includes beating 5 shit teams in a row. Top class. I don’t know if any of you watched it, but Drogba basically flounced around for 90 minutes crying when his team mates didn’t pass to him. Great show from the captain. As great as he is to watch on the ball, I can’t wait until he retires. It was cringe worthy when he shook hands with the ref at the end, and hugged him. I don’t want my refs to be friends with the players, I don’t want the ref to call him Didier. I want him to say “fuck off and stop diving you moany cheaty twat bag”.

I’m nearly out of time, but obviously I can’t let Fat Sam and his Fat Mouth escape. I know the guy loves his guff, but proclaiming he could easily manage teams like Madrid was piss your pants funny. This is a guy who made “a step up to a big team” in Newcastle and was so hilariously bad he lasted about 17 days. Can you imagine the team talks?

“No Kaka, stop the short passes, launch it into the box. No I don’t give a flying fuck if you have options. Oi Ozil, get the fuck in the box, stop calling for the ball in your own half, christ, is this sunday league or what? Pepe, Marcelo, you’re defenders, what are you doing in your own half? GET IN THE OTHER TEAMS BOX.”

Kieran