Olympiacozzled… A hard earned victory…

Our beloved Arsenal were the only English team to win in Europe this week. Surely that deserves some respect? As much as we do, the media do seem to look down at Arsenal and not give us the credit we deserve. Yesterday we played a decent game, a tactical game, rode our luck at times, but came home with the three points. 9 players were missing through injury - Thomas Vermaelen, Sebastian Squillaci, John Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Ignasi Miquel, Ryo Miyachi, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Yossi Benayoun, Theo Walcott and Gervinho – and additionally, three first team players in Gibbs, Ramsey & Van Persie started on the bench – which meant that we didn’t exactly have the ideal starting line up to crush a team, but we had a team that could do a job and that’s exactly what we did. We saw United without Rooney draw 3-3 at home to Basel, so with 12 players missing, it surely means we’ve done a good job!

The starting line up yesterday was Szczesny; Sagna, Song, Mertesacker, Santos; Frimpong, Arteta; Arshavin, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Chamakh and it was a bit of a risk and gamble from the manager to rotate. But it paid off – the players coming  in will be better for having played yesterday’s game and the one player who really impressed was Oxlade Chamberlain. I was discussing his name and what we call him with the infamous “Bob” yesterday and although he has Chamberlain on his back, isn’t “Oxlade” much better, it rhymes with blade which is a weapon, so much cooler… From now on, he is the Oxlade. Oxlizzle… okay, that’s going too far…

It was Oxlade himself who opened the scoring when he collected a pass and dribbled to the left of the penalty area before dispatching a left footed shot across the goal. We started well and Oxlade was in the centre of everything. He does look like a real gem. In fact, all the action happened in the first half hour – with some good play by Santos, crossing well and then receiving the ball when it came back out to score from the near post. Our defending was a little bit suspect – but it happens when you change the back four – which we did again, with Song & Santos coming in for Koscielny and Gibbs. We conceded a headed goal shortly after going 2-0 up and for the rest of the game, we rode our luck. Late cameos from Robin Van Persie and Aaron Ramsey added some extra attacking prowess near the end and the introduction of Gibbs – playing in front of Santos helped us see out a nervy last 20 minutes or so.

A win is a win is a win and despite the depleted squad, it was a good outing. The question of course, is whether we’ll have the likes of Gervinho and any one of our missing central defenders back for the game at White Hart Lane this weekend. It would be nice to have a slightly stronger squad for that game… against super favourites Sp*rs…

With Arsene Wenger serving his last game of his suspension, Pat Rice was calling the shots and spoke very highly of Oxlade after the game:

He can go inside, he can go outside, he’s got that injection of pace and I think what he needs now is to be consistent in his play. I am sure that is something he will be working on because he’s certainly not a stupid boy. He has good people around him and they are telling him all the right things. He is a very confident boy, a strong boy and he listens to what people tell him. I think he makes his own mind up because when you are a professional footballer loads of different coaches tell you lots of different things. What you have to do is pick out the best things that are applicable to you. That is something Alex will no doubt actually do. He is very friendly with Theo and no doubt he will give him the benefit of his experience as well. From Arsenal supporters’ point of view, they are going to be seeing a lot of this boy. Whenever he breaks in permanently he has a big, big challenge to now get in front of Theo. I know that Theo is a very strong-willed guy as well and he won’t give in easy. It all bodes well for England anyway.

Indeed, Alex’s performance bodes well for us and for England and it looks like his prominence is immediate and he could make a real impact this season. He’s another option we have at our disposal and direct competition for Theo Walcott, which is definitely needed. Competition for places is paramount to keep players on form and Theo’s been good but a little inconsistent this season.

We don’t know whether Theo will be back for the game on the weekend, but we will have to wait and see how the rest of the week pans out injury wise – if Theo doesn’t make it, then Oxlade could be thrown into the deep end (again) in the North London derby!

The man man for us this season has been Szcznesy, who had another commanding presence in goal yesterday and he was proud of the defending yesterday and spoke after the game himself:

It was a very tough game. We knew before the game that it was going to be a very tough game. I think you have to give credit to our defence for keeping the result at 2-1 because they did put pressure on us. It was a great defensive performance in the second half. We did very well. I think we lost the ball too many times in the middle of the park and that created some problems and they looked dangerous on the break. We won the first half, we were 2-1 up, it was all about keeping the result that way and we managed to do that. I think we knew what we had to do. We had to keep the ball as long as we can. I thought we looked the better side in the second half and deserved the win.

It’s very interesting to see the reliance we have on Szcznesy and very welcoming to Arsenal fans to actually have a decent keeper in between the sticks. He’s been on fire this season and has really won us some points. I remember the penalty save against Udinese and I have to say, that save make the biggest difference of any save he’s made.

It will soon be time to turn our  thoughts to the North London derby this Sunday – where we are not favourites for the win – don’t we do better as underdogs anyway?

Til tomorrow, enjoy the win…

  • makattax

    3 points but what a terrible performance against the whipping boys of the group. How the hell are Arshavin and Rosicky still picked when niether of them offer anything going forward or tracking back. It was disgusting to watch the two of them coasting and offering nothing towards the effort. Even worse is that Wenger gives Rosicky the captaincy????? Just another example of the frenchman losing it! God help us if we play like that on Sunday, the spuds could be wallowing in it for months

  • gareth

    some people are so spoilt. A win is a win. I have seen Man Utd the last few season play crap, win one nil, fluke goals and win the league. A win is a win. I think Arsene is being slatted for the fact that not only did he win the league time and again but he did it in such style that so many on here think that is our devine right! Well it isnt and Man Utd dont win in the style they did with Becks, Cantona etc There is CURRENTLY only one team in the world that play with that style and win and I wont bother mentioning them as I have lost all respect for them. STOP picking fault, stop having a go, three wins on the bounce. The spuds will be a great game whatever. Rock on Sunday!! Support your team

  • salom

    3 points but what a terrible performance against the whipping boys of the group. How the hell are Arshavin and Rosicky still picked when niether of them offer anything going forward or tracking back. It was disgusting to watch the two of them coasting and offering nothing towards the effort. Even worse is that Wenger gives Rosicky the captaincy????? Just another example of the frenchman losing it! God help us if we play like that on Sunday, the spuds could be wallowing in it for months.

  • salom

    The past couple of games stated the obvious meaning the team needs reinforcement and Arteta is the new field marshal. The keeper Szczesny is a prime example of the right youth needed and given a break, Frimpong is another but the extraction of the underperformers is why the boys are in deep red. As long as the board is passive and wenger opts to buy the cheaper version knowing how rubbish they are and not even looking for better alternatives will hamper the club from becoming renown, attractive and a big force to be reckoned on the international stage. Wenger brought fame and glory and yet he single handed robbed the club of both of them. The demise of the invisibles meant an end of an era and a club. Arsenal will now live on its past while others including the small boys down the road look to a brighter future. The future of arsenal is bleak and uncertain as long as Dein is not around and wenger seeks unproductive youth policy. 8 goals are a testimony to levels pain wenger is ready to put arsenal through. Every fan knows the team is not balanced and not able to do well against stiff competition. This season will be more painful and more regrettable than the others and will be one fans will remember for a long time. The demise will be exacerbated when RVP breaks down. More pain and further agony will be felt when city runs riot and the barbaric Stoke ball about the small ones. I hope not but I cannot see this team doing anything special. survive relegation should be our target.

  • niech

    The derby game this weekend will tell us a lot more about the prospect of recovery. we have won three home matches that on paper, you would fully expect them to. Now we have – for the first time in living memory – a trip to Spurs in which the Gunners are very much the underdogs. However, the only thing I am certain of is that derby matches are a law unto themselves, and anything can happen. So who knows how we will all be feeling by 6pm on Sunday. At least the team goes there on the back of a mini-run which should boost confidence. And a definite improvement against Olympiacos was the way the team dealt with the last ten minutes. The visitors had one real chance of note, a tame header. But there were less of the normal collywobbles, perhaps the benefit of the experience of the new arrivals. Long may it continue.

  • edison

    Everyone needs to shut up about how bleak the current situation is, stop reading The Sun and pipe down about how Arsenal aren’t the invincibles we once were.

    Start living in the present day mate and deal with what happens to our club. Shit Happens, we deal with it.

    At the moment we are winning games, stop complaining. At this moment in time it doesn’t matter how stylish our play is, we need to grind out some results and we are doing so.

    CESC, NASRI and RVP leaving isn’t the ‘demise’ of Arsenal football club, I’ve seen a lot worse happen to teams.

  • pires

    Spurs are favourites for the derby win for the first time I can remember in forever! As someone pointed out, we’re a confidence team more likely to build on good performances and put together streaks. We don’t do well when we have to bounce back from setbacks or surmount mental hurdles. This is why it is absolutely crucial to win this game over the weekend (convincingly or not!) – HOWEVER, this is also the same reason why I feel that the odds are heavily stacked against us. We’ve looked awful on the road this season, and I can’t imagine that the performances and results from the last few games have inspired confidence in the players. Add to the fact that maybe there are too many youngsters and new boys without prior experience or grasp of the enormity of this derby… and I’m very worried! Noone would be happier than me if we can defy logic and gross expectation to pull out this win but… recent history tells me that I should know better! If anything, I’m not so much worried about the loss of three points, but the effect on our league season going forward! This is about the most gloomy post I’ve ever put on here, but…

  • ny

    Sunday’s lineup

    ——— Fridel
    Walker-Kaboul-King-Ekkoto
    Bale-Sandro-Parker-Modric
    —–VanderVart
    ——Ade

    VS

    ——-Persi
    ———Ramsey
    Gervinho-Frimpong-Arteta-Walcott
    Gibbs-Song-Mete-Sagna
    ———-Szes

    ———————————————-
    subs(Spurs) : Kranjkar,Pienar,Lennon,Pavluchenko,Defoe,Corluka

    Subs(Gunners): Rosicky,Alex,Coquelin,Chamakh,Miguel

    Gunners , be HONEST .. which is better team?

  • kp007

    4-0 to the spuds i rekon…could be more but wont be less.

  • edison

    No Rosicky or Arshavin in the starting line up? brilliant.
    I have faith in Frimpong to deliver and lets see how well we do with Song in the back four. I think a lot of you negative ‘fans’ will be surprised.

  • Kodjo

    I’d rather keep Song in the middle and play Miquel at the back….its risky which ever way you look at it…cos the midfield have to be smart to track van der vaart and modric runs.

    Even though Frimpong okay…he is not as mobile….lots of strength but he needs guile too… will come good though …i’d rather play Song there for his exp and also to help Miquel out whenever possible.

  • edison

    dare i say it with Song at the back, he is enough of a player to not only defend well, but help frimpong when going forward.

  • salom

    Mightygunner here is the list again just to remind you of the real problem, where did the ONE HUNDRED & SEVENTY FIVE MILLION come from for this lot, out of thin air. Koscielny £11, Squillaci £7.8, Vermaelen £8.9, Arshavin £15.52, Nasri £14.08, Bichoff £0.26, Ramsey £5.63, Silvestre £0.84, Bothelho £1.06, Sagna £7.92, Eduardo £10.56, Fabianski, £3.83, Diarra £2.55, Rosicky £8.80, Denilson £4.40, Rui Fonte £0.66, Mertesacker £6.00, Gervinho £12.00, Oxlade-Chamberlain £15.00, Jenkinson £1.00, Arteta £10.00, Santos £6.00. How many of this lot have proved to be successful. You lot have run out of excuses for Wenger so you keep spinning this story about money. Well over £100million totally wasted on poor players, that has nothing to do with being self-sustaining, it’s all about rank bad management.

  • salom

    Modric and Parker I’d say are better than all of Arsenal’s central midfielders. Spurs look much more assured when King plays. ith Adebayor up for it I just can’t see how Arsenal will cope. If Arenal lost this one would that be Wenger’s last harrah. At what point would you say eough’s enough. All well and good the board publicly backing him now but what if Arsenal kept on losing? Wenger said qualifying for the Champions League was a distraction but had he kept Arsenal at it until the end of the season then they would’ve finnished 2nd or 3rd and wouldn’t have had to qualify. They only beat Swansea due to a goalie erro, beat 10 man Bolton and hung on against Olymiakos. I don’t think Arsenal’s problems are over yet.

  • salom

    It seems a very long time ago that I decided to support Arsenal; it must have been around November, 1970, as I distinctly remember loosely following Chelsea and enjoying their 1970 FA cup win over Leeds. Not for me, though, the bright lights of the Kings Road, Peter Osgood and co. I switched to boring old Arsenal and, after watching Charlie George secure the double in 1971, that was it: a Gooner for life.

    I managed my first visit to Highbury at the tender age of 12 in 1973, and watched Liverpool beat us 2-0 and, although I was disappointed, it mattered not a jot. I was bowled over by the experience, much like Nick Hornby was in the film of ‘Fever Pitch’. Many games have followed, and I have witnessed some wonderful times, along with, of course, lots of disappointments too.

    At one stage, Arsenal were all that mattered to me, and my weekend mood was completely dependent on how we had fared. I was either the life and soul of the party or in a black mood of despondency if we had lost. This probably peaked in the famous 1989 season with Mickey Thomas’s goal in the incredible 2-0 win at Anfield to clinch the title; something I never thought I would see happen again after such a long time since 1971. I thought to myself: it does not get any better than this, and gradually I brought my Arsenal support into some sort of perspective.

    That is not to say that Arsenal had suddenly become unimportant to me, but I was able to as a human being whether we won, drew or lost. Probably because of this, I am – thankfully – happily married, with a lovely wife and daughter who both hate football and cannot understand my passion for a football team. It is, though, a manageable passion now.

    I come now to the ‘Wenger Years’. What can I say about 1998 to 2005? Those years probably saw some of the best football Arsenal have ever produced. I am not going to debate whether Wenger was lucky to inherit such a solid defence and keeper, although what we have witnessed post 2005 suggests that he probably was. All I will say is that Wenger gave us some wonderful times, whether he was lucky or not, and I thank him for that. I think this is why many of us have been so very patient with him up until now.

    I realised after the Bolton game that I was not happy about us winning. This feeling intensified when I read about Wenger claiming we could still get back in to the title race and Gazidis coming out with the usual empty promises of money to spend in the next transfer window. On top of that, Wenger was also quoted as saying his top players may have to be sold as their contracts are running down. I wonder why the likes of RVP don’t want to commit pen to paper. Could it be that, like so many of us supporters, he has no faith anymore in the manager?

    Such is my conviction that Wenger is bleeding our club dry of quality and experience, and such is my bafflement over so many decisions he has made, that I can no longer blindly support my team with him in charge. The Board, too, makes me sick to the stomach with their spineless, greedy behaviour and their blind worship of all things Wenger. Finally, as I said right at the beginning of my article, the fact that we still have fans chanting Wenger’s name was the final straw.

    The only way Wenger will be sacked or will resign is for Arsenal to struggle badly this season and, for me, that is more important than Arsenal having another season of scraping home fourth. I want a short, sharp shock, Wenger out, and a huge wake-up call to the club in general that we are sleep-walking to mediocrity. Perhaps then we can start on the road to recovery and get some ambition back at the club (and a defence).

    Because of this, I am ‘resigning’ from The Online Gooner as I do not feel that I can contribute anymore. You all know my feelings, and I thank everyone who has agreed with my sentiments. I sincerely hope for better times ahead for Arsenal, but it has to be with a new manager, as my trust and respect for Arsène Wenger has reached the point of no return. So I am now in the football wilderness with no club to support, but even that is better than swallowing any more of Wenger’s ridiculous comments and lies. I just hope it is not for too long, and I hope to be fully behind a new Arsenal manager ASAP. A new Board as well would be even better, but that would be pushing my luck too far, I think.

  • Truegooner

    Haha u dickheads u got all ur figures wrong by the way!! Think u hav forgot about ljungberg,vieira,petit,overmars,Henry and so on. We made millions on diarra and anelka and again so on! Not only r we a gud team but a fantastic business aswell!!!!