Game On!

Morning All…

It’s game on in the Premiership now, with all those International games over. It was a decent International break this time round – a break that was very much needed – our form going into the Internationals wasn’t great and of course, we had a spate of injuries. Now that the Premiership is back, we’ve got 9 games to win the league… despite our draw against WBA, it’s not over yet – we need to start by winning against Blackburn at home on Saturday and see where that takes us!

The good news is – I believe at the time of writing – that we will be able to select Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Theo Walcott for the game… it’s been a while since we’ve seen those three players, that’s for sure… and just to scare you… we also have Abou Diaby back… * gulp * but with Jack having played two Internationals and looking tired, he may slot back into the team…

And the Dutch coach says Robin is fine after his injury scare:

“Robin got a knee to his thigh – with luck he could play for Arsenal this weekend.”

With luck? I don’t know what that means… I mean, how painful is a bruised thigh be?

So, a little earlier than usual… but we could field this team…

Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Song, Walcott, Cesc, Nasri and Van Persie…

Did I just hear someone say TheoVanNasregas?

It could well happen, the golden four players who seem to have a scoring and winning mentality (in the league anyway!)…!!

There will be lots more team news tomorrow for sure, but for now, I just want to talk about the David Rocastle tribute this weekend. The Arsenal legend passed away 10 years ago today and in memory of the great man, @SheWore, who runs the She Wore A Yellow Ribbon blog, is part of a group of people organising an evening at the Rocket, this Saturday.

And to quote:

The night will also have some of Rocky’s family in attendance along with ex-players, famous Arsenal fans, an auction of Arsenal memorabilia and much more to be announced. Tickets are priced at a minimum donation of £10 and all profits will be going to Great Ormond Street Hospital at the request of Rocky’s family.

Read more here.

The event is this Saturday at the Rocket (April 2nd), from 8pm – 10pm… There will be an auction, and so far it includes a signed shirt of Cesc Fabregas as well as several other amazing items!

Well, that’s a wrap for today, but I expect to hear a little from Arsene later on, and will give you my thoughts this time tomorrow!!

Reserves, Internationals… Anything But The Real Arsenal…!

Yesterday was a decent day of football – I say that in comparison to a day without football – albeit not the results we wanted…

We saw Arsenal Reserves take on Wigan Reserves in a game which saw Jens Lehmann start and saw an outing for ex Arsenal player Jérémie Aliadière… who is back at the club training with us whilst he tries to find a new club. Don’t worry, I’ve been assured that he hasn’t or won’t sign for us! It was also an outing for Miquel, who has recently been in the first team, as well as the rising stock of Conor Henderson – a player we all saw recently at the Emirates.

That game didn’t go too well, with Miquel being sent off after 20 minutes and Lehmann making a few misjudgements – the German stopper did make a few very good saves and showed that he is still at the right level. Having seen and heard a few bits and bobs about the game, I am beginning to feel a little bit more confident that if called upon, he could do a job… I did wonder why Arsene didn’t put Miquel into the mix along with Koscielny after his initial debut but on this performance, you could start to see why – as a defender, mistakes need to get out of your system and perhaps Miquel needs a bit more time in the reserves…

In the Internationals, England took on Ghana in a decent friendly – the result was 1-1, with Andy Carroll scoring for England… Jack Wilshere played about 70 minutes and was quite influential. He did look a tad tired and had a few bad tackles both for and against – I hope he recovers in time for the weekend – but I have to say, an all round pleasing performance. Holland vs Hungary was the stand out game of the night, with the scoreline 5-3 in favour of the Dutch – a game which saw Robin Van Persie start for Holland, score a goal and then was substituted at half time with an injury – let’s hope it’s nothing serious.

* gulp *

I’ve just saw a report saying that it is a serious knee injury….

* gulp *

Trying not to panic…

* phew *

Just read this from the Dutch coach:

“He got kneed in his thigh. But he can play with Arsenal again this weekend.”

Okay, let’s hope that’s that – I’d hate to have him out again this season – when we have Robin in the team with Cesc, we know we can score at any time…

In other internationals, I did manage to catch some of the France vs Croatia game – which was a decent game – Nasri was being industrious as usual… but I have to make two points – first, Gael Clichy looked terrible – caught out of position, caught with the ball in dangerous positions – and secondly, Alou Diarra is actually worse than Diaby!

Tomorrow is Thursday, which means we’ll be able to start focusing on the Blackburn game – until then, party on!

Thierry Henry Puts A Smile On Our Faces….

Thierry is a legend, and that’s a fact.

The man himself was on Sky Sports News yesterday… you can read a bit of it here (Georgie Thompson’s blog, pre-interview)… as of yet, I have not been able to locate a video copy of the interview – but as soon as I do, I’ll post it in the comments!

The interview itself was by the Sky Sports presenter Georgie – and she spoke to him about a wide array of topics – from his childhood, from his time at Monaco, his time in New York so far – but more importantly, he reminisced over his time at Arsenal. And when you see the passion that Thierry still has for the club, it’s absolutely amazing and heart moving.

Thierry has stated many times before, but again yesterday of his desire to come back to Arsenal… he’s even said he come back a water boy… but the consensus is that he should come back as assistant manager or even manager when Arsene goes… I’d be happy to see him back alongside or after Arsene, that’s for sure!

Back to the current Arsenal team, and Jack Wilshere will again play for England tonight; despite his 40 appearances or so for Arsenal, he wasn’t deemed tired enough to have this game off – let’s hope he doesn’t pick up an injury – as he is probably our best player at the moment. Future England captain?

Tony Adams (who knows a captain when he sees one)… was very vocal about Wilshere:

I think Jack has been fantastic this year. He appears to be a winner. I’m excited that Jack has come through, an English boy and we need them at the Arsenal. I saw him in the Manchester City game and I thought he was better than Cesc (Fabregas) on the day. I thought he was refreshing, intelligent and technically very good and physically he gets stuck in as well. I’m a big Jack Wilshere fan, Wilshere for captain, why not. I have to say Wayne Rooney [is the best forward in the Premier League at the moment]. He’s just hit form, sadly for Arsenal, at a critical time which isn’t good for Arsenal but great for Manchester United.

There is a massive debate going on at the moment about whether Jack Wilshere will play for the seniors or stay in the Under 21′s – as Kieran D said in yesterday’s blog, the decision to play in both tournaments is nothing short of ridiculous. It’s impossible to think that a player can play a full season for Arsenal this year and next and play in the under 21′s and full side and expect him not to get burnt out – despite the noise from both Pearce and Capello, I’m sure – well, more hopeful than sure – that they will both come to their senses and not sacrifice the one genuine talent that could lead both club and country to glory.

Arsene spoke on the recent speculation and said:

“What the FA has to decide is whether the player is in the first-team or in the under-21s,” said Wenger. “I don’t believe a player ever performs when he has been in a top team and comes back down to the under-21s. When a guy like Wilshere has played 40 games in the season, he needs a rest.”

Of course he does, and Arsene has even rested him during the season to ensure he can perform – it’s club vs country again and it always seems like England are quite happy to use and abuse Arsenal players.

I’m going to start my “fingers-crossed-ness” that Jack doesn’t get injured tonight when England take on Ghana…

Til then… Adios for now…

Summer Practice

Good morning! I missed my regular Monday spot last week due to a serious attack of the John Terry’s. Work got so busy it was horrendous, bastards everywhere. But in any case, it’s calmer now and so I actually have a moment to think about something that doesn’t involve writing enormous reams of code for men with big sticks.

The trouble is, there isn’t really a lot to write about down Arsenal way. I mean there’s loads of stuff I could revisit, the lack of spine in the team, the disappointment of the Carling Cup, the return of crazy Jens, Arsenal’s awful record with injuries…. but I don’t want to ruin another week just yet.

One thing I will say, I’m still far more unhappy about losing the Carling Cup final than being knocked out of the Champions League or the FA Cup. Whether United played well or not, we were beaten by two very good teams in those competitions. That United are still in both, and will have the added burden of an extra 7 fixtures should they reach the finals of both, makes our run in easier in terms of rest and recuperation between games.

We don’t have to win every game either – we need to win our game in hand, beat United when we play them and then match their results. That is a big task, but we should have key players back and more importantly, for the first time in years, 9 games in 9 weeks – with virtually a week between both. Niggling injuries that cause a player to miss a midweek game, or various tweaks and pulls, should be allowed to rest and heal and generally, the squad couldn’t ask for better conditions in which the enter the title run in.

Whether they bottle it or not, time will only tell. Arsenal could win every remaining fixture, whilst United collapse horribly and get knocked out of everything themselves – or Arsenal could just draw every game as yet another season full of promise and belief stutters to the end in a kind of wheezy, smack addled shit sack of disappointment.

What still gets right inside my head is that we lost the Carling Cup final to those horrible brum wankers. It’s biased, and sour grapes, but I really hope they go down. I’m sick of hearing the Birmingham’s and Stokes of this league bang on about playing football their way because it’s the only way a small club can survive. Everton have a similar scale of budget but, Fellani aside, are a lovely team. Bolton don’t spend freely, yet Coyle has them sitting in 7th place. Blackpool have taken to the premiership like a multi coloured loud mouthed rent-a-soundbite duck with a leaky back to water, scoring goals whilst they concede loads. 6 points separate the bottom 10 teams, showing that being thug’s doesn’t increase you chances of survival necessarily.

I’m not saying you can’t press the opposition, shouldn’t stifle the opposition, or shouldn’t play defensively. You just don’t have to go around slapping peoples heads after scoring or snapping legs. You can be a really tough team to play against without being twats at the same time.

I’m also sick of the “I have to set up my team to suit the players strengths” like it’s not the managers fault his team are cretins. Newsflash chaps, you signed those massively tall killer juggernauts. If your intention wasn’t to try and demolish the opposition you’d have made an attempt at assembling a smarter, more technically gifted team.

Anyway, losing the Carling Cup was a bitter pill to swallow – although in fairness Birmingham actually outplayed us for periods of the game, at actual football. Maybe criticising the football they play is harsh, I just hate them. I hope they go down. And then they plummet to the depths of League 2. And then the ground is stolen by aliens and sold to the French for rugby. Etc.

On a side note, Stuart “I Really Promise I’m Not A Massive Prick” Pearce appears to be a massive prick. Apparently Jack Wilshere will be required to play for the England U21′s for their Euro Championship Campaign. I think the idea is to ensure that next season he has a permanent run of injuries, before being dropped from the full squad for losing his form and not playing much. The aim of Stuart Pearce’s U21 set up you see is to try and ruin the players careers just as they start to gather momentum. Sabotage of the full national team appears to be his primary concern, masquerading as some sort of desire to “teach the kids how to win”. Pro tip, winning is not the same as being broken. Ask Charlie Sheen.

The England U21 set up should be used for promoting talent, providing experience and getting players used to international set up. It should be a seed bed, and when you move up that should be the end of it, unless you’re not good enough to stay there in which case you should move back age permitting. Having any player, regardless of club or country, playing full campaigns for U21′s and the full international team at the same time is a recipe for disaster. And a massive “I’m doing it because I can” prick move from Pearce.

Congratulations to Jack Wilshere…

Last season, Jack Wilshere was on loan at Bolton and quite a distance from the Arsenal squad. This season, he’s our first choice central midfielder alongside Song and Cesc, and has propelled himself into the England squad and become a starter…. at the tender age of 19.

What we’ve seen of Wilshere in the season gone so far, both for club and country, in the Premier League and Champions League has been nothing short of remarkable. We all knew Jack had the talent, but what we’ve now learnt about Jack, is that he has the desire, the will, the tenacity and the leadership qualities that every great great player has – and he has shown and proven to all of us – though his performances on the pitch, that he is something special.

Yesterday, Jack played for England alongside Scott Parker and Frank Lampard in an Arsenal looking 4-3-3 formation. He looked like he had played for years… Today’s blog is simply to say congratulations to young Jack  - an amazing rise in the game!

For those of you who haven’t read it yet, Fabio Capello said this of Wilshere a week ago or so…

“Wilshere, after the game against Barcelona, has arrived. You can understand the value of those performances. As a young player I think he is at the top, not only in England but in Europe and the world. He is first choice for me because he is good because he plays without fear, with confidence. I never saw someone so young be a leader on the pitch – it’s incredible.”

And he does look perfectly at home in the England central midfield.

He had fine game himself, but gave the accolades to his midfield partners…

“It was a good game to come into. A big game, a derby game, and we won, so we are happy and the 4-3-3 system worked well today. We got the opening two goals and that was the idea, to press them high, get early goals. We did that and we made it comfortable for ourselves. They had some chances but we felt in control of the game. The midfield shape worked well. We play it at Arsenal and it works better with one holding and two going forward. Scotty was great and so was Frank in there. It made it easy for me to play. You have to thank Scotty for that performance today and Frank is always great for England and they were brilliant again today.”

Apologies for the lack of a blog here and there in the last week or so… but add in a International lull and a trip to Luxembourg (with no internet connection)… and I’m sure you’ll understand… Keiran D will be back to tomorrow…

Til then…

Good Injury News… And Jack vs Aaron…

Afternoon All…

The World of Arsenal is a quiet place right now… and during International weeks there is a lot less action going on… but in reality we have loads to discuss, and two players’ fitnesses come to mind in Szcznesy and Djourou, whom we both have good news about…!

Injury News

There was a bit of a debate going on previously about the fitness of Johan Djourou. The Swiss FA has been in the press talking about Johan potentially playing this weekend for them – however, Arsene was adamant that he’d be out for the season… Well, the website finally revealed the news yesterday and he’s on the mend.

The Club can confirm the positive news that there isn’t a need for reconstructive surgery and he will now begin a period of rehabilitation on the shoulder before returning to training in around a month.

So, he may be back for the last couple of games of the season, including the vital clash against Man United. And in addition to the DJ Rou Rou (new name?), our young Pole, Szcznesy has also confirmed that he could be back around the same time. He’s been a revelation in goal since he became #1 and having previously broken and maimed into many bits…. this current injury doesn’t seem to bother him one iota!

“I work in the gym everyday, working on my lower body and my distribution as well which will be very good for me,” he told Arsenal TV Online. “I’m not getting bored, I can still do a lot of stuff. There’s nothing you can do when it happens – you have to move on, work hard on your fitness and make sure you come back stronger than ever. There’s not a lot of joint damage, the tendon is ruptured. So basically I have to keep my finger in a splint for four weeks and let the tendon heal. From then it will be a couple of weeks before I can be back in the squad. It’s very hard, especially at a time when it was going well for me. We have got some big games coming up.”

And where the likes of Almunia is at the end of his career, eye of the ball and all that… it looks like young Szcznesy is at the beginning of his career ready to kick on. I do like what I’ve seen from Szcznesy, but as the interview said yesterday, he’s the best of the bunch of pretty poor keepers. As a unit, we need to improve the whole department. I’d like to see us replace Almunia and you’ve got to consider that Mannone has had his chances too. In yesterday’s interview, we talked about someone like Reina coming in and making a difference and you’ve got to look at our team and feel that it’s a unit that can be improved…

We do have 4 Premiership games in May, starting with Manchester United at home – and it sounds like both Djourou and Szcznesy will be back for then…

Internationals

It’s Jack Wilshere vs Aaron Ramsey this Saturday, and I for one, I am really looking forward to seeing the two midfield maestro’s pit their wits against each other. A very short while ago, these two football players were just teenagers. Ramsey, signed from Cardiff a few seasons ago is now a mainstay in Wales midfield, despite his recent absence… and Jack is the new boy in the England squad who is an actual genuine player who can lead the country to great things (no pressure)…

There is so much stuff going on at the moment about the England captaincy… Terry or Ferdinand… what an outrage. But you know the funny thing? Jack Wilshere will be captain by the next major tournament and keep it for the next ten years, so who really cares about the interim!!

Til tomorrow!

The Interlull: Big Brother Style

Day 2 in the Interlull house, and WOA has been thinking about the season… It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and our squad has been tested to the maximum. There’s been some healthy discussions and some not so healthy discussions, especially on twitter and on yesterday’s comments.

But right now, I’m going to interview Kunal Torres, as you know Torres has moved to Chelski, so, he’s renamed himself Kunal Spidey Suarez… (PS, he’s a Liverpool supporter) We last interviewed him back in July 2010, here’s a glimpse of the previous transcript with regular writer JAT.

[Dev] So Kunal, welcome back to WOA and thank you for coming onto the blog. I know not many fans speak on other clubs blogs, so your time is very much welcome.

[Kunal] Thanks Dev, it’s a pleasure… as you all know, I’m a die hard Liverpool supporter, but I do read this blog quite regularly and it’s amazing to read some of the background around your season.

[Dev] So, Arsenal and Liverpool have had contrasting seasons, but now the season’s coming to an end, how do you think you’ve faired?

[Kunal] Well, at the beginning of the season, I spoke about how both Arsenal and Liverpool would fair, I thought Arsenal would challenge and I thought we would struggle initially, but consolidate to a top 6 position. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be such a stuttering and difficult season. No team has really impressed me, and Chelsea seem to have had a lot of problems – without any real need for them. I’m not convinced that their manager has the players focused as you would still consider them the strongest squad. Man United have done well (it hurts me to say)… without really excelling. They seem to hitting their gear now, and their Mexican striker, Hernandez has been inspirational in the second half of this season – despite them having their weakest premiership squad… ever?

[Dev] Did you see Torres ever leaving? And how do you feel about his transfer?

[Kunal] Reluctantly I did think he would leave, as he had been playing outside the Champions League for a while. When Kenny came in, I thought he’d stay until the summer at least, but the manner in which he left (the day before the end of the transfer window) and going to another Premiership club was hurtful, something he said he would / could never see himself doing. However, I’m not one to dwell on the past (hence the name change) and actually think we’ve got now more options up front in Andy Carroll and of course, the the silky skills of Suarez. Fernando Torres – we hate you so much, because we loved you so much. Now you mean nothing to us.

[Dev] Liverpool are only 4 points behind Sp*rs now and 8 behind Man City, where do you think you will finish at the end of the season?

[Kunal] Well, we’ve played one more than than Sp*rs, but our form is quite decent at the moment, our recent away win at Sunderland was testimony to that. With Sp*rs distracted a little at the moment, we could creep up on them. Man City, 8 points? With 8 games to go… it would be amazing if we caught them…  especially considering they don’t have any European distractions. I’ll be rooting for them in the semis of the FA Cup of course. I am naturally a huge fan of King Kenny as manager, and the players seem to be buzzing off his return. It will be interesting to see if we could push for 5th or even 4th. Never give up hope until it’s mathematically impossible.

[Dev] What are your thoughts on Arsenal’s season so far….?

[Kunal] I think they’ve been incredibly unlucky with their season but then again, you make your own luck. When they played reserve teams in the Champions League group stages, then you kind of feel that they let finishing top for granted – and then finished second. So, in a way, they could have avoided Barcelona, and hey, they may not have got them until the final, which could have turned out like it did at the Emirates. In regards to their unluckiness, that sending off for Van Persie was probably one of the worst decisions I’ve seen – at that point it could’ve gone either way even though over the two legs Barca deserved the victory. Injuries have plagued their season and it would be interesting how far they would go if they had their first XI fit for a long period of time. Unfortunately for Arsenal, the pressure seems to have gotten the better of them yet again. I’m hoping that you guys can still win the league but with the recent results it’s looking like the title’s going to be handed to utd on a silver platter. I think there are also quite a few fringe players who aren’t good enough for your squad – Almunia, Squillaci and Denilson always seem to get into the headlines for the wrong reasons.

[Dev] And finally, who do you think Arsenal could do with out of the Liverpool squad…

[Kunal] Our best player on form this season has been Pepe Reina and that’s probably the weakest area of the Arsenal squad. With the young boy apart, Sczcnesy, the other three look very average, if not below average. A world class keeper like Reina could be the missing piece in your squad… he’ll cost you £20m though (which is still a bargain!)… and he wants to leave, unfortunately for us!

[Dev] Well, thanks again for some interesting insight… we’ll see you again in a couple of months!

Self Destruction Begins… WBA 2 – 2 Arsenal…

I will try my best to make this post as positive as I can simply because there is no point in being negative…

Despite the draw, the title is not over, we can still win the league but the questions are how we will fix the new issues which are prevalent in our side. As you know, we drew 2-2 with WBA at the Hawthorns and it wasn’t an impressive game at all. The line up was:

Almunia

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Wilshere – Denilson

Nasri – Ramsey – Arshavin

Van Persie

With a bench of Lehmann, Eboue, Gibbs, Miquel, Rosicky, Bendtner and Chamakh

The game started badly for us, Denilson especially seemed to be very much off the boil… the spine of the defence at the moment is Almunia, Squillaci, Koscielny with Denilson just in front – but it should be Szcznesy, Vermaelen, Djourou with Song just in front… We’re going to have to play with the first axis for the rest of the season, and it looks like they haven’t had much game time yet – but perhaps they will get better – perhaps playing Miquel now will help?

The two goals that we conceded were down to defensive mistakes – the first down to our centre backs not being in the right positions and not tracking their players and the second goal we conceded was down to Almunia soley being rubbish and coming out for a ball that he shouldn’t have.

Credit to the team for coming back into it – Arsene is correct, they did show desire but they could have done a bit more to get into the game a bit earlier… I always knew we weren’t ready to win this game and perhaps the International break will do us good to regroup and come back and fight for the rest of the season!

Arsene spoke about the spirit of the squad and the effect of the game to the rest of the season…

I am proud of the spirit we have shown. It shows we are ready for a fight. We made things difficult for ourselves with the second goal and we faced opponents who were very well organised. It was a little bit attack against defence, like you do in training. We were nearly punished because they had a chance in the second half before they scored the second goal. The pitch was very difficult for us, it looked difficult to get passing to the top speed. It was more down to character and resilience, which we have shown plenty of. Mathematically, we [have] lost two points but psychologically we have won a point because when you are 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, you are not to unhappy to come back.

We’ve got a home game next on Saturday 2nd April – it will give the team some time off to regroup, it will also mean, that we should have Cesc, Walcott and Song back after the International break, which could rejuvenate our current squad.

WBA vs Arsenal Match Preview

Afternoon All…

And it’s a BIG  BIG game tomorrow… WBA vs Arsenal… And it’s so essential for us to get back to winning ways after a few draws and losses in our recent games. The Barcelona away  game and the Man United away game are two games and two competitions we must forget about now and for us, it’s all about the Premier League.

Newly promoted West Brom came to the Emirates, got the ball down on the floor and played football against us – not many teams do that – and it worked for them – they beat us 3-2 and yes, it was a shocker, but it was one of the few times a team has come to the Emirates and deserved to win. No bad tactics, no grudges held…. but revenge would be sweet.

It’s not going to be easy, by any means – they’ve loaned Carlos Vela from us for the rest of the season – and the boy looks like he is trying to prove himself, and has scored two vital goals for them since his arrival. He’s not had an amazing amount of game time, but he is get the cameo appearances from the bench and it’ll be good for him – of course, he is not allowed to play as Premier League rules dictate.

So, let’s go straight over to team news… and injury news… and yesterday Arsene revealed that Thomas Vermaelen would miss the rest of the season… (like we didn’t already know that!)…

“For Thomas Vermaelen the season is over. In fairness he has not played since September, I never expected him to be fit before the end of the season. He is not out on the field yet and it is impossible [for him to play] after six months without competition. I am confident he will have a full recovery but for this season we cannot rely on him.”

With Walcott, Cesc, Song and Djourou also out, it’s going to be a

So, back to the team news, of who can actually play

Almunia

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Wilshere – Denilson

Nasri – Diaby – Arshavin

Van Persie

With a bench of Lehmann, Miquel, Eboue, Gibbs, Rosicky, Bendtner and Chamakh

This is the line up that I see Arsene playing… mine would be quite different – I’d whack in Miquel instead of Squillaci –  he looks like he’s better, seems to be more proactive around the pitch, better vision – and certainly outshone his partner when paired together. I’d also put in Ramsey and Chamakh instead of Diaby and Denilson. Wilshere and Ramsey just ahead of the back four and then Van Persie in the Cesc role, with Chamakh up front… Why? Well, Van Persie is a creator and therefore, why is he our furthest man forward? He drops deep to collect the ball, but then there is no one in front of him. So let him dictate the attacking play (as captain) and give him options…

My XI to play tomorrow would be:

Almunia

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy

Wilshere – Ramsey

Nasri – Van Persie – Arshavin

Chamakh

Ramsey is a little gem in midfield and the sooner we play him, the better he’ll get – we could do with him in the run-in to the title… that’s for sure… Denilson has put in some decent performances since being dropped, but Diaby hasn’t – well, he hasn’t been dropped – he needs to be…

Come on you Gunners, let’s get one over the Baggies and get our season back on track!

Before I go… a quick one for you – the Champions League draw was made earlier today and it felt really strange not being in there and seeing Sp*rs in their. But hey ho, what can you do…. for those of you that still maintain an interest… here’s the quarter finals.

Sp*rs vs Real Madrid

Barcelona vs Shaktar

Inter vs Schalke

Chelsea vs United

The two stand out ties are Sp*rs vs Madrid and the all English quarter, Chelsea vs United…

Let’s hope this competition keeps United distracted from the league, and let’s hope Real Madrid do one over our North London rivals…

Til tomorrow…

In, out, shake it all about?

Morning All…

Johan Djourou miraculous (or not?) comeback

Yet another day goes past in the world of Arsenal, and another day which has see a lot of crazyness happen… the will he, won’t he BBC saga / Swiss FA saga – is Johan Djourou fit or not?

Let me tell you how the story unfolded – earlier yesterday, the Swiss FA released this statment:

“The shoulder injury to Johan Djourou is less serious than feared on Saturday and announced by the coach of his club. The Arsenal defender and member of the Switzerland national team was submitted to thorough medical examinations on Monday. At the end of a long exhausting day, Johan Djourou had new hope that his season is not over yet.”

And from that point on, it was “hurray, hurray and hurray” as the world went into over-drive excited at the prospect of Djourou only missing one game! But their was an air of caution, because nothing official was on Arsenal’s site and no-one at the club had an inkling about what the FA had said, and despite their instance, would there be a twist or u-turn?

And then surely… the one thing all Gooners did not want to hear….

But Arsenal told BBC Sport this was “inaccurate” and that the centre-back would see a specialist on Thursday. The club expect the Swiss international to undergo surgery and to be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.

Writing this blog (it’s now Wednesday morning) and there is no more information on any of the speculation / discussions yesterday, so we’ll have to bide our time and see what happens over the next few days.

Random Thoughts

So, last night was Champions League night and I had a night off, no gym, no work, flatmates were out… so it came down to putting on the CL football on the main room and turning the volume up loud whilst I cleaned up the house a little bit. As we all know now, United beat Marseille 2-1 in a game that if Marseille bothered putting on their scoring boots would have actually beaten United, but the ever so spritely Javier Hernandez was there to score 2 goals and help United progress. In the other Champions League game – Inter beat Bayern 3-2 at the Allianz Arena with a winner 2 minutes before time through Pandev, assisted by the very good Eto’o…

I did kind of want United to progress to the next round, as they will surely now have to play at least three more games that us (2 in the CL and 1 in the FA cup)… which can only help us in the run in to the title… if we want it that is – I say that because it was amazing to see how much United wanted to win, compared to us at Barcelona when we gave us a long time before the final whistle… but more importantly, it made me think about the strikers we have – with the exception of Van Persie – and the likes of Bendtner, Chamakh and Vela just are not in the same league as the likes of Pandev, Eto’o, Hernandez etc…

It’s a little frustrating because these players – Eto’o was a £7m signing for Real Madrid all those years ago, and Hernandez was an £8m signing last summer – compare and contrast to Bendtner (£500k), Chamakh (free) and Vela (£2.5m)… there is a saying that you get what you pay for and we’re starting to see that now as it becomes clear that some of our fringe players, well – most of our fringe players are not good enough. The title of this blog is “in, out, shake it all about” and whilst I’m not trying to be negative, or dismissive to the current squad, a few £7m – £8m signings instead of the £1.5m – £2.5m signings wouldn’t break the bank – heck if this article is to be believed, Blackburn are going to give us £15m for Niklas Bendtner….. sell, sell, sell…

Anyway, we have the whole summer to talk about in’s and out’s – I hope that Arsene makes the right decisions – not just in transfers, but in pecking order – the likes of Denilson and Eboue would have been more suitable to Barcelona away (rather than Diaby and Rosicky) and let’s hope Ramsey and Wilshere do maintain their position ahead of Diaby in any pecking order we have…

Eric Abidal

A good signing for Barcelona was the left back cum centre back Eric Abidal, who didn’t have the greatest reputation when he signed for Barcelona and it was for a high fee – but he’s shown in the last 2 years that he is rock in defence when called upon. Yesterday, we heard some terrible news about the player – that he had just been diagnosed with liver cancer.

The club announced:

“A liver tumour has been detected in the player Eric Abidal and he will be treated surgically next Friday. Abidal will be operated on by Dr Josep Fuster Obregon. Per the express wish of the player, we call for the utmost respect for the right to privacy.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to him and I really do hope he recovers quickly…

Alright chaps, that’s a wrap… adios for now… we’ll catch up tomorrow no doubt!

Jens Is Back… As Arsenal Try To Push Forward….

Morning folks…

First of all, a massive virtual high five to @kieran_delaney on his post yesterday – it was a great read indeed… and a second virtual high five to @DebsGooner who wrote a very inspiring post United match report… after the weekend or couple of weeks we’ve had… it’s a little bit of ground-hog day down at the Emirates at the moment – the mad month of March has seen us go from all 4 to just the 1 competition, but just as we thought the month could not get any madder…

We’ve just gone and re-signed Jens Lehmann, aged 41, as emergency cover for our goalkeeping department!

At the time of writing, it wasn’t confirmed on Arsenal.com, but ESPN did report this via Bild.de:

“Arsenal currently have a goalkeeping crisis and I jumped at the chance to help them.”

So, last season, it was Sol Campbell… this season, it’s Jens Lehmann… A lot of people are saying that we only have to do this because we didn’t sort out the goalkeeping situation in summer – which is obviously not true, as the only reason we’ve had to do it is because we’ve lost three keepers to season loan injuries in Mannone, Szcznesy and Fabianski. A desperate situation that called for action. And Jens is a winner – he was part of the invincibles… he will come in and tell these players what it will take to win the league. I doubt he’ll play, but his presence is the dressing room and the safety net of having an experienced keeper on the bench is something that will be a positive step for us.

In other news… Jack officially wants to beat Cesc at….

His twitter follower count… yes… it’s war, and it’s probably the least of their worries… but hey, for some reason, I really want Jack to win! Cesc started it with “@jack_wilshere loves his twitter more than his girlfriend” and then Jack replied with… “@cesc4official im trying to beat how many followers you have!!” and then good old Cesc gave him the inspiration he needed… “@jack_wilshere dont be jelouse, u will get there one day son.”

Back to slightly more important matters… the fitness of Alex Song…

“We would like Song back and we would like Fabregas back. We have now to cope with Djourou [being] out and he is an outstanding player. I don’t know [when Song will be fit again]. But certainly not for Saturday.”

Now, that last statement is worrying as the boss said he doesn’t know when Alex Song will be fit again! Song has been our lynchpin ahead of the back four and for me, if we was available for Barcelona, it would have been a whole different result. Alex Song is miles ahead of the likes of Denilson and Diaby (will they both start against WBA?) and it’s such a shame that we may have lost him for a while now. Our first XI with Song & Cesc in it and on form is a different kettle of fish. Our win percentages with both those players is so much higher when they’re both in the team. We concede less goals when Song is on song and we score more when Cesc in playing….

Despite the fall out in the last two weeks… we have an incredible chance at the title. I mean, really it is there for us to grab onto… let’s run down the run in’s (yes, I know we’re doing it again but it’s all so important!)…

United, currently on 60 points, with nine games to play.

  1. Bolton (h)
  2. West Ham (a)
  3. Fulham (h)
  4. Newcastle (a)
  5. Everton (h)
  6. Arsenal (a)
  7. Chelsea (h)
  8. Blackburn (a)
  9. Blackpool (h)

Arsenal, currently on 57 points, with ten games to play.

  1. West Brom (a)
  2. Blackburn (h)
  3. Blackpool (a)
  4. Liverpool (h)
  5. Sp*rs (a)
  6. Bolton (a)
  7. United (h)
  8. Stoke (a)
  9. Aston Villa (h)
  10. Fulham (a)

Who has the easiest run in? I think they’re both quite hard…. but only one team will win the title if they win all their games (that’s us by the way)…!!

I’ll leave you with some fighting talk from Arsene:

“Yes we have it [the spirit to win the title]. I don’t question that. We played Wednesday against Leyton Orient, Saturday against Sunderland, Tuesday against Barcelona with ten men and against Man United. It’s a very, very difficult schedule. It’s been very difficult for the players but they have never shown any sign of weakness mentally. Even on Saturday they have put in absolutely every effort and can only be proud of how much they fought. I question myself always, don’t worry,” said the manager. “But If I listened to everybody then it would be a miracle that we are still playing for the title with ten games to go.  Nobody in England believed we could even fight for the top four. The fact we are in the position we are in I think deserves a lot of credit. I don’t know [if winning it now would be my greatest achievement]. I let other people judge my performances. The only thing I can say is that I’m ready to give absolutely everything to do it. I’m confident we will but we need now to work to recover.”

Come on you Gooners!!!

Til tomorrow….