Defeated but not disgraced. Arsenal 0-1 $ity

Morning Gooners,

On paper and in the bank Arsenal faced an extremely tough challenge in the quarter final’s of the Carling cup against Man $ity. The night started with a minute’s silence / appreciation for the late and great Gary Speed. He never played for us, I’m not Welsh but I really liked Gary Speed as a player, person and a manager. When I heard the news on Sunday morning I was surprisingly upset and am still asking the question ‘why?’ For the man that made Ramsey the Welsh team captain, I hope he rest’s in peace.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Arsenal stuck to their guns and brought in the fringe players.

Team versus City:

Fabianski, Djourou, Squillaci, Koscielny, Miquel, Frimpong, Coquelin, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Park, Chamakh

The City team cost over £119m (Arsenal £33m) to build plus a lot more on the bench.

The game kicked off for Nasri as it was going to continues as he was booed in every touch. I’m no Nasri fan and while I was pissed off with him for the entire summer his performance against Liverpool when the team was severly depleted was extremely professional. To the point the fans even sung his name. He’s said a few things afterwards but I really didn’t listen or care.

Things they make on Blue Peter now

The first chance of the night fell to Arsenal after a brilliant passing move leads to Park shot saved well from a Coquelin cross. On second viewing, Park’s shot seem to hit both his feet before the keeper did well to save.

AOC, who had a exciting first half pop up with a first time shot 30 yards out and the lanky City number 2 keeper saved brilliantly as it was dropping into the top corner. A stunning strike but an equally stunning save kept it level.

City flattered to threaten our goal but their moment of the first half came as City brought on one of their youth academy graduates (honest!), Aguero for Kolorov but Nasri trotted over to the touchline, shook hands as he was going off only to be bemused to why Kolorov is going off. Same ol’ Nasri, ready to leave.

The worrying sight of the night was Park and Chamakh huffing and puffing but their games were not suited together. Both are not the fastest and both want to link up play rather than beat the defender. I know they cost a few bob more but Aguero and Dzeko complimented each other very well on the night, could the ever improving AOC have played upfront? Potentially.

The breakthrough goal, in the 83rd minute, came from an Arsenal corner unfortunately. City picked on a stray ball when Yossi and Kos both went for the tackle which led to a lightening break to let Aguero tuck in the goal. A real sucker punch for the team and City’s FIRST shot on target.

We only really had one chance after that. A cross was flashed across the box and how Chamakh didn’t throw himself at it like an old school number 9 I’ll never know. Van Persie’s ‘Come on’ reaction from the bench summed this up.

City won 1-0.

However, even though I write this after expecting to be beaten I’m gutted for some young Gunners that really stepped up against 10 internationals out there. Frimpong, Coquelin, Koscienly, Djourou and Chamberlain were simply brilliant. They wanted to win every 50 50, they wanted to drive forward and they wanted to win it for the The Arsenal. Their performances, not only tonight but against Bolton and Shrewsbury, justify our Carling Cup policy on and off the pitch.

We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of tonight, the positives by far out weigh the negatives. We do need striker with a cutting edge to back up RVP, the world can see that. I think we will sign someone in January but that’s not for now.

Sometimes you have to step back, take stock of what you’ve witnessed and put it in perspective. Last night is one of those nights and we have to take pride in a defeat that does hurt.

Bring on Wigan, some well rested first teamers and a bench of younger players who have shown they can step up if needed.

Come on The Arsenal!

Follow yours truly on twitter – @Tottz82

Arsenal 1-1 Fulham- 2 points lost, or 1 point gained?

*sigh*

I should mention that I didn’t watch or listen to the match, neither did I follow it live on twitter, although I followed the BBC live text somewhat. I’ve just watched MotD highlights, so at the moment, that’s all I’ve got to work on, so apologies if I miss anything glaringly obvious, or if the highlights didn’t capture the real nature of the match.

Coming into this match, we had high hopes. Fulham had never beaten us at home, in any competition, so even though it was a London Derby, we didn’t have too much to be worried about, other than ourselves, and what sort of performance we put on. And with a flying Dutchman in our ranks, scoring goals is nowhere near the top of the list of things to improve on. Actually, it should be the top of the list for Gervinho, as his finishing of late… Anyways, I digress. We came into the match with reasonable expectations of winning, continuing our amazing run.

From what I’ve gathered, the first half pretty much was a snooze-fest, with someone even saying something along the lines of it being the worst half of football they ever watched. We did have one or two chances in the half, though. Arshavin had the ball in the net, but the flag had already gone up. Don’t know if that counts as a chance technically… It was mainly half-chances, Ramsey blazing over one time, but Fulham defended resolutely. I doubt they ‘parked the bus’, as that doesn’t strike me as a Fulham thing, but they did try to make it difficult for us to score, as they should! And they had their chances too, with Szczesny having to pull of a top save towards the end of the first half.

But all in all, it was a pretty drab first half, and luckily for some, the half time whistle eventually came!

As usual, and to be expected, after a dodgy first half, we turned up in the second half a bit better than the first, although nowhere near our fluent self, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me to find out that Fulham took the lead. Courtesy of an own-goal. By Vermaelen. You know we must have been playing nowhere near our best for an own goal to be scored by Tommy V! The own goal didn’t surprise me, but the scorer did, although like most of the own goals we’ve conceded, it was pretty unfortunate.

But I like what we did afterwards. We piled the pressure. It might not have been working before their goal, but as soon as they scored, we somehow found it in us to up the ante. You’d argue that we should have done this BEFORE they scored, but we could easily have put the towel in and gone, “oh we’ll, today’s not out day”. After the goal, Arsene made couple of subs, Per and Ramsey going off for Diaby and Gervinho. And with Kos still on the bench, Song had to go into CB duty. Chamakh came on for Arshavin less than 10 minutes later. The goal though, had sparked us into action, and Mark Schwarzer really had to earn his corn, making good saves! There was a really good one from a Djourou header. That would have been a very good goal. Someone needed to tell him that the auditions are over, we are no longer in the market for a goalie!

The pressure eventually told, and we equalised, through none other than Tommy V! Eventful day eh, Tommy? I always love it when players make costly mistakes, but find a way to make up for it before the end of the match. Could easily have sulked, but he put in even more effort than usual- and you can’t accuse Tommy of never giving enough- and got another goal, this time at the other end of the pitch. Wasn’t a flashy or spectacular goal or anything, just a downward header from a Theo cross, 8 minutes from time. Mistake rectified.

More pressure on the Fulham goal, but we couldn’t make it count, and we eventually ran out of time. Full time, 1-1. I was really sure we’d win, before kick-off, then at some point during the match, I was really worried we’d lose! But we ended up in between, with a draw. 2 points lost or 1 point gained? I guess time will tell, but I take the view that it could so easily have been 3 lost, so I’ll take the 1 point, thanks. Would have proffered all 3, obviously, but you can’t win all of your matches, so I draw will just have to do, sometimes. And like I tweeted, we didn’t lose. I don’t remember what a loss feels like anymore, and I’m glad the team didn’t remind me today. We’re unbeaten in how many games now? Let’s keep this run going, please.

I wish I could talk about stand-out performances today (other than Tommy V of course!), but I really can’t. Shout-out to Song though, having to play 2 different positions in one match. Aren’t you glad that Cameroon didn’t qualify for the African Cup of Nations? No need to worry about losing Mr Versatile-Awesome for an extended period. Fingers crossed the injury-gods don’t get to him! I heard Ramsey was delivering some gorgeous balls today. Shame no goals came from any, but at least they led to chances. Always a good thing. Oh, and Jack, too. He might be out of sight on the pitch what with him being injured, but he’s ensured that he’s not out of mind, whether it’s having a bet with Spurs fans that he’ll donate £3,000 to charity if they finish above us this season, or asking for donations outside the Ems with a charity bucket. Top lad. Future captain? Definitely got it in him.

Moving on from today though- there’s really no point in being negative about not managing to beat Fulham at home, and almost giving them a helping hand in beating us- massive game coming up on Tuesday. Not in terms of the competition- it’s the Carling Cup, and although it’d be nice to win it, I won’t shed a tear if we got knocked out- but in terms of the opposition. We’ve got City at home, in case you aren’t aware. The match is sold out, so should be a good atmosphere. Will probably be the Carling Cup team with a bit of first-teamers, but let’s give them a game, shall we? Can’t wait for it to unfold!

Gotta go to bed now, though. Be safe guys, and here’s hoping our unbeaten run continues past Tuesday!

Arsenal vs Fulham: The Preview

Arsenal vs Fulham
on Saturday, 26 November 2011 17:30

Boys & girls, ladies & gentlemen… we are about to play Fulham at the Emirates, which, if we won the game, could see us jump into the top four. With Man United playing Newcastle and Liverpool playing Man City, some one up there is going to drop points!

We have no new injury worries or concerns ahead of the game, with Diaby coming through unscathed from his mid-week outing. Koscielny was a little bit tired by the end of the game and was substituted due to fatigue. Up front, Gervinho has been very good, but there is a little bit of a worry about him in front of goal. We may see Arshavin play against Fulham – most likely because Arsene has been keen to stress that he is a key member of the squad – not just backup…

Team news may see this line-up:

Szcznesy

Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Arshavin

Van Persie

With a bench of Fabianski, Djourou, Diaby, Frimpong, Gervinho, Benayoun, Chamakh

In his press conference, Arsene confirmed his faith in Chamakh and Park and said that both are very good players and are good enough to stand in for Van Persie if the Dutchman was injured or rested. Personally, I’m not sure – but against Man City in the Carling Cup next week, we should see a bit more of both.

With Jack Wilshere returning, there has been a lot of debate about who he would replace in the line-up for our best XI – many thinking Arsene may drop Arteta in favour of a Wilshere – Ramsey – Song partnership, but when asked about Arteta’s contribution, the manager heaped praise onto the Spaniard.

“Mikel is an extremely important player in our team because he has both sides that make a team good. He is consistent going forward, technically fantastic and he works very hard for the team. He is an organiser too and does the job defensively in vital parts. We look solid at the moment and he has to take a big part of the credit because he does both jobs offensively and defensively with quality. I am very happy with his defensive job and he is rewarded for it because he plays. If I play him it is because I am happy with the job he does and if he had not done such a consistent job defensively he would not be in the team. I believe that Mikel Arteta is a winner and on the pitch he does what is needed to help the team win. That’s what I rate.”

You can see it in every game, the player gets up and down the pitch, spreads the ball nicely, defends well, attacks well and retains possession. He reminds we a little of Jack and a little of Xabi Alonso mixed into one player. He has proved his worth to the team for sure. When Jack gets back, I am sure it’s going to be a tough decision.

The Fulham game is the most important one – and Arsene has been talking about taking one game at a time, and that’s exactly what we have to do. I’m very excited this weekend, I think all the players are looking forward to the game and if results go our way, it could be a very good weekend for us…

Come on you reds!!

Arsenal 2 – 1 Dortmund: Home & Dry…

Morning Folks… 2-1 to the Arsenal, Van Persie scores two… three points on the board, now top of the group with 11 points and a game to go. This is what we call “job done”… Job done to the point where we can send out the youth to Greece in the final game, win, lose or draw and still finish top. Arsenal were supposed to be the team that wouldn’t be able to make it through to the next round… after the away draw to Dortmund, questions were raised about whether we’d be able to make it through, whereas Chelsea, Man City & Man United were supposed to make it through at a canter. Now we’re through and the other three could all be kicked out by the time the group stages are over, suggests the media didn’t quite get their prediction right – but it also suggests that we are quietly carrying on with our business of winning games.

Yesterday’s line up was:

Szcznesy

Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

And on the bench was the returning Abou Diaby, who replaced the injured Rosicky – along side… Fabianski, Frimpong, Benayoun, Chamakh, Djourou and Arshavin…

With Robin Van Persie in such great form, he just seems to score and score and score. Another two goals yesterday for the Dutchman means he’s scored a whopping 38 goals this calendar year. All that I can say on that is………. wow…….. and also… just imagine if we’d had him fully fit for the last five years….

Arsene spoke on Robin’s form and said:

He is in a period where of course he doesn’t have to look for goals – they just come naturally for him. He is always in the right place at the right moment and he got two goals again tonight from positions that look easy but they are not. He just understands the game so well.

Arteta joined in with the praise:

“We all know how good he is. Robin keeps performing and scoring goals, making the difference. At the moment he is level with any striker in the world, his numbers are unbelievable in the past eight or nine months. For me, it is just a natural talent. Sometimes he looks as if he does not try, but beats players and scores and unbelievable goal. Robin is on fire, he is making the difference. Hopefully he can continue to do that and people can talk about him all the time, because that means we are winning.”

We did get a little sloppy in the final few minutes of the game, and conceded a goal we didn’t need to – I got a little bit worried, but the ref blue the whistle very quickly after their goal, which didn’t allow for another attempt… phew…

All in all, I really felt the performance was a very professional and disciplined performance. The defence was shaky at times, but it stood strong and did well – Dortmund are a very good side, let’s not forget that. Alex Song played very well throughout the game and at the moment, he is becoming one of the first names on the team sheet outside of Robin. Arteta, too, as a partner has been a good compliment to the Cameroonian. Thank God Cameroon didn’t qualify for the African Nations Cup… Koscielny looked very good at right back again, and it’s clear to see that he’s really making a name for himself at the moment. He tired by the last ten minutes and we put Djourou on for him, but overall, he has really impressed me this season…

On the other side is the mercurial Gervinho, who brings so much to the team in terms of skills, pace and pressure on the defence. However, in the last few games, he has had a lot of one-on-ones and good chances to score, but he seems to fluff his chances a lot. We all know that if Van Persie got injured, we’d most likely move him into the middle and have Arshavin on the left (as we did in pre-season) but his inability to finish his chances is very worrying at the moment. Let’s hope he starts maturing in front of goal soon, goals from him could be vital from left mid or from the middle…

There is a bit of a feel good factor about our team at the moment, and that’s very good. I’ve been waiting for this moment all weekend, and we need to continue our good form this weekend by beating Fulham… as they say, as we say… come on you Gooners!

Time to finish the job… Dortmund (h)

Morning Gooners,

The champions league is back and it’s a big match day too. At stake tonight is qualification to the knockout stage and a win would mean we go through top of our group. You’d like to think we’ve learnt our lesson from last year about why topping the group is slightly advantageous. The task at hand is by no means a formality as we face a Dortmund team full of confidence after beating the Bayern Munich 1-0 in their own back yard. Dortmund need to win their two remaining games to qualify for the next stage so expect them to be ready to battle for their lives.

Right enough worrying about ze Germans, we’re not exactly in the worst form going into this game. 5 league wins in a row but more importantly we’ve got our mojo back. We’re now watching at Arsenal team who are more direct in attack, not afraid to use very competent and pacey wingers; a central trio who are working in tandem with each other in front a stable line and a striker who’s not playing too bad right now I must say. The negative amongst you (and there are a few out there!) will point to the Mertesacker mistake versus Norwich as proof we’re defensively poor, not true. Mertesacker made a mistake, caught in two minds and got punished. Sky would have you believe he’s the new Bramble but for the rest of the game he was calm and controlled. With Vermaelen back and Santos growing in confidence in every game, the team can trust this defence.

My personal favourite man, Szczesney agrees:

“I can feel the improvement in defence. I think it has been the defensive work from the whole team; starting with the strikers, midfielders, defenders and myself.”

“Being vocal is my job, my job as a keeper is to talk to my defenders,”

“I feel like they trust in me, and when I say something they listen. I am just doing my job.”

Dortmund won’t come and sit deep waiting to attack us on the break, they’ll close out build up play down like Marseille did but when they have possession of the ball, they come at us.  We need to make sure we’re careful in possession and ensure Gervinho and Walcott are always exploiting their pace in behind their defence. I wrote a couple of weeks ago on here that the balance Gervinho and Theo offer gives us a far greater attacking dimension than we’ve had for a couple of years. They both switch wings with comfort and are a real threat when they pop up in the centre forward position. With Ramsey’s confidence growing in every game, I’m looking forward to a game of real quality. I think we’ll be unchanged from the team that beat Norwich with Diaby on the bench for the first time this season, great news for the big man who’s got the talent but cruel luck with injuries.

The Dortmund danger man, Gotze, has been our papers recently with The Arsenal apparently pushing for £30million move in January, mind games or some truth? Who knows.

Enjoy the game everyone… feel free to post score predictions!

Robin Van Deadly

 

Come on The Arsenal!

 

On twitter – @tottz82

Norwich 1 – 2 Arsenal… 5 wins out of 5…

Fog is horrible.

Well, fog is something that you don’t really care for, don’t really have a clue why people fuss about it or why it even exists. That is, until you get stuck at an airport for 6 hours waiting for a 40 minute flight from Paris to London… Apart from a horrible time shift from landing at 9pm to landing at 3am, it’s not the best use of your time… Missing the evening slot at home to watch Match of the Day and write my Sunday evening blog post was the major loss… so as things stand, I still haven’t seen the highlights! Work today and ATP tennis at the o2 tonight, makes me wonder when I will be able to see the match…

But, in my absence, Arsenal managed to secure a fifth successive win to make it 15 points out of 15… which takes us to level on points with Chelsea, Liverpool and Sp*rs – which in all fairness, I couldn’t see happening after our incredibly bad start to the season.

Our line up was “the usual”, with the only difference being Koscielny to right back and Mertersacker to centre back.

Szcznesy

Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

The game itself, was open and it was an individual mistake from Mertersacker that allowed Norwich to go ahead, when he misjudged the flight of the ball and failed to clear his lines. That issue aside, he had a decent game. But for us, we have a level of confidence and the mercurial Gervinho was the culprit who missed loads of chances… but created two for Van Persie to score, taking the Ducthman’s tally to a million goals this season… but more vitally, the three points were ours!

Last week, Robin Van Persie was full of praise for Theo Walcott and this week, post Norwich, Theo has been talking about the captain and the synergy between the two players:

“We just love playing together. Over the past few years I have had my injuries and he has had his so we have not been able to sustain a run of games together.  But this year you can see signs that we just know where each other is going to be on the pitch. To be honest it makes it is easier for both of us. Robin is one of the best strikers in the world right now and a great leader too. But then the whole team is gelling now. On the second goal you could see there was a lot of movement not just with the ball but without it. We were creating space for players and a lot of us are in form at the moment. And of course it is easier when we are winning. If we want to climb up the table then, no disrespect to Norwich, but we should be coming to places like this and winning,” he said. “I did not think we deserved to be 1-0 down but they closed us down well. It was important to get the goal back before half time and we played some beautiful football.”

We have three home games next – Dortmund on Wednesday and Fulham on Saturday. Personally, I don’t care about the Carling Cup – despite the insistence that it could be our only chance of winning a trophy… we can’t compete in four competitions – we found that out gruesomely last season. We need to concentrate on the league, the Champions league and the FA Cup… so the third game, Man City at home in the Carling Cup can be one for the kids.

Dortmund on Wednesday and Fulham on Saturday are two games that we just must take maximum points from. The destiny of both those competitions is still in our hands…

Til tomorrow, adiós…

Norwich vs Arsenal… The BIG weekend game preview… As Thierry Henry trains with us…

Mr Arsenal, Thierry Henry is back training with us. Seeing the old boy is such a reassuring sight – he’s such a legend, it’s unbelievable – and seeing him back in training seems so right. I do hope he has a future at the club when he retires from football – out of all the Wenger signings, he is the one who genuinely loved the club, Mr Arsenal… Thierry Henry. The man is 34 years old now, so only a few years away from a coaching role?

Arsene Wenger spoke about Henry and the lift he gives younger players:

“Thierry was in with our training today, and he does not need to show how good he is. He just wants to stay fit and enjoy the football club again, because he is at home here and it is always good to have him back. When you are not the day before the game, it is possible of course for him to practise with the first team. It is always a lift to see what a big player he still is.”

In his prime, he’d demolish Norwich single handedly… but at the moment, in his prime, we have the goal scoring machine which is Robin Van Persie… and he is fit and raring to go after a week’s rest and should spear-head our attack tomorrow… in fact, as far as I am aware, we have no major injury worries… except for the long term absentees in Diaby, Sagna, Wilshere and Gibbs. I’ll touch on a few players comments shortly, but first, let’s look at a potential line up:

Szcznesy

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

With a bench of Fabianski, Mertersacker, Djourou, Frimpong, Rosicky, Arshavin, Park

This week has been a week of self praise for sure – with Walcott hailing the impact that Gervinho has had on the team, describing him as the “perfect signing” – and hats off to Arsene Wenger – I really think Gervinho is a quality player and a exact fit for a club like ours – his style is very good, he dribbles well, has a good eye for a run behind the defence and a good eye for a pass – and he’s still young & learning his trade…

But something else worth highlighting is Robin Van Persie’s praise for little Theo Walcott:

After every single goal, people ask me, ‘Who gave the assist?’ I just say, ‘Who do you think?’ We have that connection, I know what he is going to do, which is very important. It’s vital to have a player around me, as a striker, who knows where I move, how I move, do I want the ball into feet, do I want it behind. He knows where to find me. Stuff like that is vital. It [his 100th goal for the club] was just a big honor and I asked Theo to celebrate with me, I had my history with Arsenal Football Club.

Theo sometimes seems a little bit wasteful and sometimes makes you wonder, but as a collection of people playing the three-pronged attack, Theo, RvP and Gervinho do seem to compliment each other quite well. In fact, the synergy is so good and exciting to watch, that the rest of the players in those positions are hardly getting a look in. Arshavin is actually in decent form, but can’t get past Gervinho – not a bad conundrum to have as a manager, and I’m sure competition for places helps the players get on top of their game. Neither Chamakh or Park Ju Young seem to have a chance in hell of getting past Robin Van Persie – who himself believes is in the form of his life.

Chamakh has spent a while adapting to life in London and his immediate impact and rate of 10 goals in 20 appearances has quickly faded in the show of our Dutch striker. His affect on the pitch has also reduced dramatically and although he has hardly had any playing time this season, when he does play, he doesn’t seem that affective. Whether or not he will get better is up for debate – he’s been linked with a return to Bordeaux, but when quizzed about it, he didn’t seem too phased and the good thing is that he believes he can succeed at Arsenal…

“I haven’t played as much, what with (Robin) Van Persie coming back from injury, but for me, it’s been a settling in period. It’s been good to play for a club like Arsenal and get used to the league, but I’m trying to learn, enjoy it and long may it continue.”

Our second back up striker is the ever busy captain of Korea, Park Ju Young, whose form for country is simply amazing. Every time he plays for his country, he seems to score. For us, he has played a few times, and scored one and actually played very well. But in his last outing against Marseille, he wasn’t at this best and perhaps that has got a few minds wondering – hence the link to Podolski recently.

Park spoke about his start at Arsenal and said:

“I couldn’t train much for about two months before I moved here. I just had to do some personal training instead. Since I joined the team it has been two months and I feel like I am in my normal condition now. The coaches adjust the training depending on the games we play and it’s good. I am settling off the pitch as well. All the Arsenal staff and everyone else have helped me. Also my wife is here so I don’t have many problems settling down.

I do like the look of Park and I think there is a lot to come from him… I, like a lot of fans out there, are just a little impatient…

Norwich will be a tough game. They play well, have a good crowd behind them. We don’t play well after Internationals – so tomorrow’s game is very very important in order to get back in the flow of things – 3 points is what we need…

Come on you reds…

Is the interlull over yet?

Morning Gooners,

Interlull break has left me bored tired and craving proper football. I miss the team news, I miss the need to double check my fantasy league team, I miss reading Mark Lawerenson’s almost never correct predictions on BBC Sport, I miss checking what black players John Terry will have to face the wrath of next, I miss seeing the pre-match twitter buzz from all the usual suspects (esp @10akhil!), I miss my Arsenal!

Anyway, only 3 more days to go and as you’d expect not much going on out there in Arsenal world (or The world of Arsenal as we should call it). The biggest news story since Captain Dev’s blog is that Chamakch may turn down Bordeaux if they come after him. The Bordeaux president said:

“I have left four or five messages on Chamakh’s number in the last two months, I’ve also left messages on Wenger’s mobile, but I have had no response.”

“I wanted to know the position of Marouane. If he is happy at Arsenal, and if he would be interested in a return to Bordeaux,” added Triaud.

 

The question is if they want him back would they pay a fee given he left on a free or if he went on loan would they be prepared to pay his probably hefty wages given the bosman transfer. Personally, I think he will make way in January and we will buy a replacement. Who? I have no idea so there’s no point even speculating.

The other story from Tuesday was quotes from a player who’s been thrown into the deep end by Le boss but is slowly starting to show signs of quality. Carl Jenkinson was playing non league football a year on loan from Charlton; 2 weeks ago he kept a clean sheet against Marseille in the Champions league.

“Sometimes, I just have to take a step back and really appreciate where I am.

“I have to pinch myself about is that I’m actually playing for Arsenal.”

“For me to come to where I was to playing in the Premier League is obviously a big achievement for me but the main thing I have to pinch myself about is that I’m actually playing for Arsenal.

“I can’t really portray how special that is for a fan of the club and for someone who comes from a family that loves Arsenal so much.

“It’s just a great thing to be becoming a part of Arsenal’s history, long may it continue. I’m settling in better now and I think people are slowly starting to see me as a player and what I can do.

“There have been ups and downs, as you all know. That’s part of life. From the downs, you can always learn a lot. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed it and hopefully there’ll be some more good times to come.”

The fact is the boy is Arsenal through and through. Last summer, a year before he joined The Arsenal , he went to watch our boys in the Emirates cup. He is living all of our dreams and then some. I don’t think he’s anywhere near ready to compete with Sagna for the right back spot but I for one will be getting behind him and giving him the best chance to succeed. We all are happy to give stick to players when they don’t pull their weight or if they disrespect the shirt but I doubt we’ll have that issue with Jenkinson. I’m looking forward to him developing the coming years.

Last week I enjoyed have a chat with a number of you about our best captain under Wenger, so this week I thought I’d throw another question out there for discussion;

Who has been the most underrated player of the Wenger era??

Feel free to suggest below or on twitter @tottz82

Have a top Wednesday Gooners.

Wilshere, Cesc, Transfers & More – Operation “Madrid 2014″…?

Morning All…

Another day closer to the Norwich game, but still a round of International football to go, with 8 games to bite our nails over, hoping that none of our players get injured. As you already probably know, Van Persie has not been risked by the Dutch manager and instead has returned back to the Arsenal training ground and will be wrapped in cotton wool until the weekend. We have three games in 7 days with Norwich (a), Dortmund (h) and Fulham (h) on the horizon and whether or not Van Persie will play all three games remains to be seen. Fitness-wise he can do so, but every game he plays will take a toll and additionally, runs the risk of injury… We’ll wait and see how it goes, but for me, if he is fit, then he should play. We don’t have an adequate backup, so play him. Against City in the Carling Cup, rest him… and if we’re through (by beating Dortmund next Wednesday) in the Champions League, then rest him against Olympicios away…

Former Arsenal captain, Cesc, was in the press talking about Van Persie and had this to say:

“It is his decision. At his age, if he wants to move, it will be his last chance and it he wants to stay he will stay and retire at Arsenal. We will see what he decides but he’s been very loyal to Arsenal for a few years. He is a key player, the fans love him. For me, he is the role model of Arsenal, the star player and they cannot afford to lose him.”

Now, I don’t entirely know if the comment was meant to mean something more sinister than it sounds, I don’t know whether it was a fly off the cuff comment, but if I hear Xavi start talking about Van Persie next week and then I hear Messi continue the week after, I am literally going to fly to Barcelona and feed maggots to the entire Barcelona team. From our point of view, we do need to keep Van Persie, we need him to sign a long term contract, for the confidence of the fans and of the rest of the players.

Whenever there are international games, the journalists get bored and start to focus attention elsewhere and we often get a round of transfer news. In this week’s transfer news, we have been strongly linked with the purchase of Lucas Podolski from Cologne. Personally, I’m not sure how such a talent has ended up at Cologne, and no bigger club has come in for him. He looks like such a promising player during internationals, but at club level, he has never been consistent enough. Cologne general manager, Finke, reiterated the desire to keep Podolski and their club

“Lukas Podolski is our most valuable player at the moment. We want him to enjoy life at our club. And we will surely explore all possibilities to make him stay at Cologne in the future.”

But it’s not only Podolski that has been linked with us this week, we’ve also been linked with Marseille’s Lucho Gonzalez and Rennes Yann M’Vila. And to be honest, all three players would be welcome at the Emirates. Podolski has done enough at international level to prove that he is capable of performing well within our team. Our midfield seems to be an area which seems to be more stacked that before with Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta and Song starting to flourish, but an injury to any of the aforementioned four players would leave us bare in the middle. Although we have some younger players coming through in Frimpong and Coquelin, you’d have to imagine a player like Gonzalez or M’Vila would add some skill, power and depth to the midfield.

Tonight England play Sweden, Germany play Holland, Poland play Hungry and France play Belgium – it’s an exciting few games to say the least, some match practice for Vermaelen, Mertersacker and another chance for Szcznesy to impress…

It’s back to new and regular blogger Tottz tomorrow… so from me, I’ll see you all on Thursday!

The Future Of England…

Writing blogs during the International break is a difficult task most of the time – but this season has been a whirlwind season, starting very badly down at the Arsenal, dropping to 17th in the league, but then turning it around to win 9 out of 10 in all competition to end up 7th in the table, closing the gap, virtually through in the Champions League and into the quarters of the Carling Cup… And after such an eventful start to the season, I’ve taken a mini-break from the blog to reflect on season so far…

Over the course of this week, I’ll take a look at certain players for club & country and how they’ve faired and where we are this season. For the moment, for today’s blog, I’d like to talk a little about England and the future of the England squad. For many years, I’ve been quite annoyed at the England national team. The quality of players hasn’t been the best in the world, but the way we’ve played has been the biggest let down of all.

Yesterday’s performance showed a different type of England team, a more cohesive and more trusting team. We didn’t see a fast flowing attacking performance and of course, we wouldn’t against Spain – but what we did see what a number of players who had confidence in themselves and confidence in their team mates. Players like Adam Johnson and even Stewart Downing know their potential and can come onto the pitch and make a difference. First team choices of Walcott, Lennon, Milner and others show a different level of strength in depth – something that Spain have shown in the last few years. With players like Wilshere and Gerrard still to come back to the squad, the depth is definitely evident now.

Theo Walcott spoke about the England team and echoed the thoughts of the squad depth…

“A lot of players got who came in all took their chance. But that’s what we’ve got in this England team. We’ve got so many great players in each position now. Tournament football, it’s very important to have 23 very physically fit players and the players that came in did that and everyone’s got to stay on their toes now.”

Rodwell, Henderson, Lansbury, Cleverly and Oxlade Chamberlain offer a group of young talented players that have a lot of potential too. And the difference between the England squad now and that of previous generations is that all of the players in the squad play at a high level of football, in the Champions League, in the Premiership and they play in a better style than previous squads.

The style of long ball has gone and now the play is more expansive. The only area that the I feel is weak, is the striking area – apart from Rooney, there is nothing obviously world class – but we have players like Bent and Ashley Young who are currently doing it for their clubs and also performing well for their country – Young a prime example of how hard work and tenacity can pay off. And on another note – maybe not in time for the current England squad, but Frimpong will be a big player for club & country very soon – and in Kieran Gibbs, we have a natural replacement for Ashley Cole at country level.

For the first time in years – and not because we won against Spain – but genuinely looking in from the outside – we look like we have a decent squad.

Til tomorrow, over and out…

A tale of two captains…?

So another interlull break is underway, I’d be lying if I hadn’t checked who Holland were playing (11th vs Switzerland and vs Germany 15th!). I’m sure our other players also have tough friendlies but I just happened to check the Dutch ones first, no idea why!

The media are already clearly bored in the interlull break having already published transfer stories including; M’Vila to Arsenal or Real, RVP to Inter, Javi Garcia to Arsenal.. *Yawn*. There isn’t any real point about talking transfers yet at the beginning of November and also no one ever has a clue about what the transfer policy for any window is going to be. I’m still waiting for the ‘imminent’ arrivals of Samba and Cahill from the summer.

What I will comment on is the team’s steady improvement back to acceptable performance levels and the weeks ahead.

Repeating what I said a week ago, the Marseille draw was a typical ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ performance and the team got back to ways with a comfortable win against WBA. The fact is the journey from 15th to 7th will be far easier than the journey from 7th to 4th due to the consistency involved to move the form teams above us. Just have a look at the weekend results around us to demonstrate this. While Arsenal picked up a comfortable win, other winners included Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea and Spuds. The losers of the weekend were Liverpool who were only able to pick a point. Arsenal will need to provide a base of three point consistency to take advantage of drop points around them to climb closer to the top four. Three point consistency does not always require top performances but the ability to get the points by hook or by crook.

The next five fixtures; Norwich (A), Fulham (H), Wigan (A), Everton (H), City (A). 13 points anyone? Yes please. We need to look at the season as small battles rather than a marathon with dreams of titles and cups.

To win these battles we’ll need character on the pitch to lead the team and one partnership is forming on the pitch that I discussed with my sister (@averz86) a few weeks back.  The conversation came from ‘is RVP a better captain than Cesc?’. My opinion was not necessarily but what RVP has is the chance to have his cake and eat it too. The partnership I meant was that of RVP and Vermaelen. On Saturday I kept an eye on this partnership, RVP leads the forward line by example by scoring and setting up goals while Vermaelen could be heard from the stands screaming at the defensive line to pick up their players and get back into position. To top it off RVP set Vermaelen for his goal too. For me the leadership and spirit of these two, either end of the pitch, will form the basis to how the team performs through the upcoming battles.

 

Enjoy your Wednesday.

 

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