Guess who’s back, back again?

I know that all of the WOA writers are busy with New Year plans, so this is possibly going to be the shortest ever blog on here, but I thought it was important enough to step out of the sunshine here in Melbourne to say on behalf of everyone at World of Arsenal, WELCOME HOME THIERRY. The King has always said he would return to the club in the future in some shape or form, but who in the world thought it was to play for us again? There are arguments for and against this signing, which I’m not going to go into now, but I think everyone who claims to be an Arsenal fan loves this guy, and it is going to be amazing seeing him wear the red and white shirt again. Happy New Year to everyone, normal serivce will resume next week.

Arsenal 1 – Wolves (Hennessey) 1

Morning Gooners,

In the end there was an inevitability of Arsenal’s inability to take advantage of the Christmas gifts presented to them after yesterday’s results. I have just arrived back from the game and I can honestly say that result has tarnished my Christmas break.

We went into the game knowing that a win would put us into to fourth given Chelsea and Liverpool drawing at home on Boxing Day. Those that follow me on twitter will have seen my pre-game comments stating that this was by no means a home banker and players like Javis and Fletcher would be a threat.

After a tough few games against Man City and Villa, Le Boss rightly rotated bringing in Rosicky, Yossi and Djourou. The team was:

Szczesny, Mertesacker  ,Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou, Rosicky, Arteta, Song ,Benayoun,Van Persie, Gervinho

After both teams getting in behind each others defences, Arsenal broke awake from a Wolves attack through Rosicky who brilliantly carried the ball into their half, squared it to Yossi in space who cut the defence open with a ball to Gervinho was beat the keeper and fired it into the net.

A goal in the opening 8 minutes, time to kill the game off early on right? Wrong. We created chances in RVP, Vermaelen and Arteta but Arsenal slowly became more casual / tippy tappy in their play, Wolves picked on these mistakes and eventually got their equaliser during a period of sloppy Arsenal play. A needless corner was headed away but the second ball was picked up by the misspelt Hunt who floated a deflected ball back into the box where Fletcher’s header crept passed Szcz. Much of the crowd screamed for offside but news soon filtered round that Song was strolling out of his right back postion and played Flethcher onside.

Thinking back about the second half right now, it’s a blur of frustration, disbelief and aggression toward Stuar Attwell the referee. I can not remember Szcz having anything to do at all in the second half however it was a different story for his opposite number, Hennessey was continued to have the game of his life. The keeper saved brilliantly from a RVP freekick (twice), Mertesacker point blank header, Vermaelen shot, and a variety of other shots but Arsenal just couldn’t stick the ball into the net.

It was not only the Wolves keeper in the spotlight but Stuart Attwell wanted to make sure everyone knew his name on the way home too. Simply put, the referee lost total control of the second half and this affected both teams. A few of his moments:

  • Incorrectly positioning a wall for a free kick then trotting back demanding Arteta to hurry up and take it only to be told by RVP to get out the way as he was taking it.
  • Penalty incident number 1 – A very obvious handball and booking Veraemlen for protesting.
  • Penalty incident number 2 – The Wolves players hauls down RVP preventing him getting near the ball from a corner. Ref is in line and gives nothing
  • I’ve not seen the replay but it looked like the ball spun away from Milijas who then took ball and man trying to win it back, the ref saw it has a red card, Harsh.
  • 3 subs in a minute. Instead of demanding all happen at once, the ref stopped and started the game 3 times in order of the subs to happen. Both sets of players and benches were furious.

We threw everything we had at Wolves but in the end they held on for their first ever premiership point at Arsenal.

With 17th shots on target there is a fine line between being unlucky and poor finishing but tonight we’ve got to be fair sportsman and credit Hennessey for his top keeping.

Wenger was also in reflective mood after:

It is frustrating but I am more frustrated by the result than the performance and the spirit. You cannot fault the attitude or the commitment or the desire to win the game. We missed a great opportunity but we just have to keep going and take the positives out of the game today.

Their keeper had a good performance, they saved a few on the line, they did fight like mad. It was more important for us to go in 1-0 up at half-time because I know with the way they defend they would not survive like that for 90 minutes and we would have much more space in which to play. At some stage they would have had to come out. But I felt we lost our way a bit between 30 and 40 minutes and on that occasion we were caught. The only thing we can learn today is to keep the spirit and when you’re 1-0 up to keep our level up.

Two massive points dropped at home make no mistake. After the hard work at Villa Park we should have finished the job off in the first half. Instead we took our foot off the pedal and became worryingly complacent. However, this is nothing new; we’ve seen Arsenal teams of recent years do exactly the same.

If the newspaper reports are true and Le Boss is giving himself a week to decide whether to sign Henry or others, then surely this result should make his mind up. Do you think the Wolves defence were at all intimidated or worried at the sight of Chamakh coming on? I very much doubt it. We crossed in ball after ball in the final 15mins without ever looking like we were going to score. If Bendtner was coming on, maybe a different story.

A worrying stat I also read yesterday was that Arsenal have only scored 19 goals in their last 15 home premiership matches and have only scored more that once 4 times in that run. For a team known for their attacking football that is a very worrying stat.

The good news is we don’t have to wait long to right our wrongs, QPR (with Barton and Warnock) are up next on Saturday.

Enjoy your Wednesday Gooners.

 

Feedback welcome – @Tottz82

Arsenal vs Wolves: The Preview

Merry Christmas to all… I hope you have all enjoyed the time you’ve had with friends and family and now that the Scrabble, Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit is over… and the Turkey, Lamb or Ham has been eaten, it’s time to focus on a major piece of football, which is Arsenal vs Wolves.

Wolves are no mugs – they do have a leaky defence – but they make up for it in tenacity and energy. In fact, twice when Wolves have been losing matches this season 2-1 and 2-0 respectively, when they’ve looked out of the game, dead and buried, have come back to win them. There is a very good solidarity about the Wolves players and we’ll have to on top of our game to beat them. Doyle hasn’t been as prolific as previous seasons, but the player is undoubtedly talented.

Arsene spoke about the opposition and had praise for Mick McCarthy:

“I like Mick McCarthy because behind his severe outlook he is a guy who plays in a fair way. His teams go for it and he has a positive approach to the game. It reflects his real personality. He is a guy who loves football. He is a fighter and will keep going until the last minute. And that’s what you expect from them against this time.”

Arsene knows this, and I am sure the squad know this too. We’ve had a little bit of a break – an extra day than others to recover and we should be raring to go. Yesterday, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City all drew. For us, that means a win will bring us closer to the top four – heck, a 5-0 win would see us go 4th… but all we can do is concentrate on our game, focus on what we’re good at, and win every game, one by one.

Team news following the break is that Djourou may be fit enough for a place on the bench, but either Coquelin or Mi,quel may start. Personally, I think Coquelin will get the shout if Djourou is not fit…

Szcznesy

Coquelin / Djourou – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

With a bench of Almunia, Squillaci, Frimpong, Rosicky, Benayoun, Oxlade, Park

The reason I haven’t got Arshavin or Chamakh on the bench and I have Oxlade and Park on the bench is down to Arsene’s recent comments about both players being ready for first team action.

In fact, Arsene says he is practically ready:

“He is not far. He is a talented boy, it’s all there – he just needs that toughness in the games and because every game for us is so tight… the other night, again, I could have brought him on and you have the hesitation to do it. But you do not want him to be a little bit overawed by the intensity of the game. He is ready to play. He is just missing that experience at the top level. You have to throw him into a few games.”

He was on the bench against Villa, so I would expect the same – but perhaps in lieu of Arshavin, who has been pretty useless to be honest… when he has come on, he hasn’t quite clicked, hasn’t quite managed to keep or pass the ball, and those are two very important parts of the game.

I would like to see Rosicky start ahead of Ramsey on current form, as the Czech midfielder has been very exciting in his cameos this season. Of course, Ramsey is much younger so naturally more inconsistent, but if things aren’t going our way up front today, I would like to see Rosicky on the pitch as soon as possible.

Festive wishes to all, let the 3 points be ours!!!

 

 

 

Dreaming of a Red and White Christmas

It has been a while since I last blogged for Dev, but I am pleased to provide you with my review of the season up to Christmas. I have been busy with a temporary relocation to Australia and, I must admit, too upset to write about Arsenal for the first part of this season. Anyone who makes the effort to write about this great club on a daily basis deserves a lot of credit. The same goes for all the bloggers out there who share their views and opinions with us every day. I have been at Dev’s flat late at night after a game, ready to go home to bed, only to see him open his laptop and start writing a blog for the next day. We are blessed with a team of smart and dedicated writers at WOA and they deserve a special Xmas congratulations for providing yet another year of good reading.

 

August

 

I have found a bit of time, and distance, to gather my thoughts on the ups and downs of the season so far. It started badly. Late in the transfer window we saw Cesc and Nasri depart, leaving us with a squad lacking in depth and quality going into the new campaign. And we paid the price for that. In our opening fixtures we lost Gervinho and Frimpong to suspensions, which rubbed salt into a very sore wound. Looking back now you can see that we never really stood a chance in our games against Liverpool and Man Utd. The only positive note in August, results wise, was the victory against a good Udinese side. As disappointing as our results back then were, the two games against Udinese gave me confidence we would come good.

 

August culminated in ‘that’ defeat against Utd, which I was unlucky enough to witness in person. Utd were on fire back then. The champions always have a strong start to the following season, tending to thrive off the buzz of the last. And we played them on one of those days where everything they did turned to gold and everything we did resulted in a red card, free kick, or goal conceded. It was a terrible result but, as I will explain below, possibly a blessing in disguise.

 

A few days later came the end of the transfer window. After the Utd game it was clear that we needed reinforcements desperately. Would a draw or win at Old Trafford have convinced AW otherwise? We’ll never know. By now though, what we do know is not to assume that he’ll make any signings in a transfer window. The defeat at Utd made sure of it though, and in the final days of the window we signed Mertesacker, Park, Benayoun, Arteta and Santos. All of whom, perhaps Park aside, have impressed highly since.

 

Mertesacker, while painfully slow on the turn, is an experienced international who seems to have found a great understanding with Koscielny and Vermaelen. Benayoun is another experienced player who will prove to be important for us this season. His work rate is excellent and AW clearly trusts him enough to bring him on late in games to seal a result. The OX was signed in early August and is going to be a gem of a player, waiting to explode on to the scene. Arteta is a top, top class footballer who should have been at Arsenal a few years ago. His play is more subtle than Cesc’s but he has formed a formidable partnership with Ramsey and Song in the middle. Santos was unfortunate to have been injured recently. After shedding a few pounds he made the LB position his own, driving forward at every opportunity and prodding a leg in when it was needed defensively. To Arsene’s credit, his signings at the end of August were top draw, and yet again he paid reasonable fees for all these players.

 

September

 

The problem with signing players that late on in the window is that they still need time to settle and gel. Going into September this was an Arsenal side I hardly recognised. We hadn’t bonded with our new acquisitions and it all felt a bit strange. Fast forward to now and this team is one we can really identify with. We have our boys in red and white back again.

 

Still, we needed time to gel and our defensive instabilities were not yet rectified. We lost at Blackburn, undeservedly, but due to frailties at the back and an infuriating inability to convert four or five golden opportunities in the last few minutes. Despite this defeat, we won every game in September apart from the draw in Dortmund, which came courtesy of a wonder-goal conceded in the last minute.

 

October

 

October started with a defeat to Spurs which I was unable to watch due to the death of my grandfather. From what I was told by biased and unbiased friends, we were unlucky to lose this game. They scored with a possible handball and a goal which Chezzer ought to have saved, I thought. We also had spells where we tore them to pieces. Nonetheless we lost and it represented a bad start to the month. We more than made up for it though.

 

The remaining five October fixtures returned victories. A last-gasp goal by Ramsey in Marseille was a sweet one, only overshadowed by a stunning victory at Stamford Bridge. Going into this game we had had a great run of form. However, this was our first real test since losing to Spurs and the whole nation was ready to write us off. We went behind twice. Arsenal teams of old would have crumbled. This team was brave and fearless. The celebrations at the end of the game reflected the importance of the result to the club and its supporters. It was the moment that made us realise we had healed our wounds from the summer, and were ready to fight until the season ends in May. I knew we had it in us, that level of character was there in our result in Italy against Udinese. The rest of the nation did not, however, and a result and score line like that was always going to make the world take notice.

 

November

 

November is normally a disaster month for Arsenal, but this one was relatively fruitful. We were the first English team to qualify as group winners in the Champions League, and our fine league form continued as we remained unbeaten for the whole month. Even in a lacklustre display against Fulham we had it in us to pluck a draw out from a game we would have lost in seasons past. The only sour note came in the defeat to City in the Carling Cup. Not the worst tournament to go out of, but you never like losing any game as an Arsenal fan, especially to a side like City who fielded a strong team against an inexperienced Arsenal side which matched them for 83 minutes or so.

 

December

 

I must admit that I missed a few games in December due to the 11-hour time difference between London and Melbourne. I did not watch the Olympiacos game because we had already qualified. It seems that was a good decision. Our performances against Wigan and Everton were efficient and professional and both resulted in victories. I watched the game against City (despite the 3.10am Monday morning kick-off!) and was thrilled with our work-rate and bravery. People continue to expect us to bottle these big games but we held our own, and can feel unlucky not to have taken a draw against an overwhelmingly more resourceful opponent. Our final pre-Christmas fixture was against Villa in which Yossi Benayoun grabbed a late, but vital winner for the club. It was important to bounce back from the City defeat and to get back into that winning habit again.

 

RVP

 

The whole team has really come of age since August, and they continue to do us proud week in, week out. However, it would be impossible to write a review on the first half of the season without dedicating a few lines to Robin van Persie. We have always had world-class players at Arsenal under AW but this guy is the best striker in the world right now. I wouldn’t swap him for any other striker in the Premier League. He has everything you ask for from a player in his position. Aerial ability, goalscoring free-kicks, tap-ins and wonder goals. The strike against Everton is, at the moment, the goal of the season. If you study his technique in the replays of this goal, it is simply breath-taking to watch. Every time I see it, it gets better and better, and the replay from behind the goal shows how his body-shape changes to adapt to Song’s lofted pass. Watch it and imagine how difficult it must be to execute in real time, in fractions of a second. Pure class.

 

2012

 

As vantastic (sorry I couldn’t resist) as RVP is, he continues to be our main goal-scoring threat. I am hoping that a clinical striker is signed in January as we lose Gervinho and Chamakh to the ACN. Arsene has hinted that King Thierry might be coming home on a two month loan deal. Could we ask for a better Xmas present?

 

We have drawn AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16, which will be played out in February/March. We could have faced easier opposition but they are not Barcelona, and we have beaten them before, so we have nothing to fear. With Sagna, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Diaby, Gibbs and Santos all to return to the side, we can hope to have a formidable squad heading in to the final straight.

 

When asked where I thought we would finish the season in the depths of our August misery I never flinched in replying ‘top 4’. I thought we would be in the top 4 again by Xmas and we are one point off as things stand. We have a favourable-looking Christmas/new year schedule in which we can hope to take at least 10 out of 12 points (3 already taken including Villa). If Santa is kind this year maybe he’ll let us have all 12.

 

Where the season goes from here remains to be seen. For now, I hope you all have a great festive period and New Year, and here’s to a Red and White 2012.

 

JAT (you can follow me on twitter @j1mm7t)

Aston Villa 1 – 2 Arsenal: Grinded it out…

Now that’s a result that I call “grinded out”. It was a hard, intense and open game. It had everything. Pace, skill, shots, saves, penalties, sending offs and more importantly – 3 points for the Arsenal. After a physical and mental battle against Man City over the weekend and with 8 players out injured, players playing out of position too, it was a game that had draw written all over it. And with the scoreline at 1-1 with a few minutes to go, it looked like it was headed that way. But summer loan signing make it 2-1 from a header in the 87th minute, and the points were ours!

Arsene experimented a bit with the team, mainly because Miquel was out through injury and this meant Vermaelen to left back and Coquelin to right back. It’s been quite a season for Coquelin, and the fact that he slotted in to right back is a testimony to his adaptability. Song was out suspended yesterday, so Frimpong came into the middle of the park and the team line up was:

Szcznesy

Coquelin – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen

Arteta – Frimpong

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

But, as predicted Aston Villa did target the full backs, and Coquelin especially. He did look a little exposed, but it’s a newish role for him, so fair enough. If we do need to play Miquel and / or Coquelin for the next couple of games, at least we’ll be at home – first against Wolves and then QPR.

We did start brightly, but it was obvious to all that we were jaded. Tired from the weekend’s exertions and thread bare due to the copious amounts of injuries to midfield and full backs. Even though we haven’t had a lot of games, due to those injuries, the players don’t get a chance to rest. Arteta is a prime example, he has played every game this season.

The first goal for us came through some excellent play through Walcott, a great turn and into the penalty box, before being dragged down in the box – penalty awarded and Van Persie dispatched with aplomb, for his 34th goal of the calender year and 21st goal this season. Amazing stats to be honest… 2 more goals before the end of the year and Van the Man will match the record of 36, held by Alan Shearer.

Aston Villa came out in the second half and really started well, put us on the back foot. We did well to hold off, until a mistake from Mertersacker allowed Albrighton in to score the 20000th goal in the Premiership. We turned it up a level and the introduction of Rosicky and then Benayoun was excellent – changing the game for the better. Rosicky looked sharp and has done for a while. It will be interesting to see if Ramsey is rested in the future and Rosicky started – with two home games coming up, that may not be a bad idea – the Czech midfielder certainly adds some creativity to midfield.

Arsene spoke after the game:

Villa were dangerous but first I must say two things. We had two difficult away games where we had to give absolutely everything just over Christmas, physically. In the first half we controlled the game quite well and in the second half when they came back to 1-1 we had quite a difficult period. Then we stabilised the game and in the last 15 minutes you could feel we were on top again.

I can only congratulate Villa – they played well, gave everything and again it was a very intense game. In the end we got three very late points that are vital for us. We were a bit unlucky on Sunday and today maybe a bit lucky. Overall it was important to re-start with a win tonight. But if Villa continue to play like that then they will go up in the table, they had an outstanding game.

Finally, the Wolves game has been moved from bank holiday Monday, Boxing Day to the 27th. This is due to tube strike action, which means we’ll be on catch up by Tuesday as everyone else will have played by Monday.

It’s Sp*rs vs Chelsea tonight, scum vs scum… I want them both to lose – they’re both ahead of us in the league table, but as that can’t happen, I suppose a draw is the best result for us. And lots of yellow cards, red cards and non career threatening injuries (because that just wouldn’t be nice to wish for)…

We got the three points, and that’s all the matters right now… Roll on Christmas and very soon, roll on the mid-season review from JAT… all the way from his new found home in Aussieland….

Til tomorrow…

Aston Villa vs Arsenal Preview…

Afternoon all…

It seems a long time since we played Citeh but at the same time, it’s 2 days in 4 days… the team exerted a lot in that game and it’s very important for us to ensure we’re in the right mental condition to play what is a vitally important game.

It’s a difficult time for Arsenal full backs at the moment, with Sagna, Jenkinson, Santos, Djourou and Gibbs all ruled out through injury and when it rains, it pours. Ahead of tonight’s game, Arsene confirmed that it is likely that we may buy in January for that position. Unless a loan can do..

“It depends now on Gibbs. He sees a specialist again today [Tuesday] and if something happens there that he has had a real setback then possibly, yes. It is not a shop, you just take a good opportunity that is on the market when you can. Overall that’s what we are doing at the moment. We are starting to look at players if Gibbs is not back. On the other hand we have good news on Bacary Sagna because he has started to run again yesterday and today.”

It’s a tricky one – I wouldn’t really look at buying as we do have the numbers and players like Miquel, Vermaelen and Koscielny can fit in around the full back positions, but then again, how thin would that leave our back line? One more injury to a defender and that means we’ll start seeing Squillaci and Song deployed at the back. The question is who to buy, who would be available, who would be good enough but at the ssme time second fiddle to the other four injured full backs? Of course, another question altogether is whether we should look at loaning out Gibbs for a season to gain experience when or if he returns from his injury…

An interesting piece from Arsene more recently, whereby he talks about options:

“I can use Squillaci, I can use Miquel and I can use Coquelin [as full-backs],” he said. “But let’s be frank and honest, no solution will be ideal because whatever we do, two players will have to play out of position. At the moment we are coping well with it and that’s why inside the team we have to work as hard as possible so we do not suffer in this period.

Interesting to see him so honest. I think Villa will be looking at targeting our full backs. Especially without our human shield which is Alex Song, who is suspended for the game. Here is a go at a potential line up:

Szcznesy

Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Miquel

Arteta – Frimpong

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

With a bench of Almunia, Squillaci, Coquelin, Rosicky, Benayoun, Arshavin, Chamakh

Some may put Le Coquelin in the first XI instead of Frimpong, but I’d like to see Frimmers have a go in the middle as his energy could be what the team needs.

More after the game of course, let’s hope the boys bring back the three points!

Greetings from the mountains…

Greetings from the wonderful world of Val D’Isere… It’s been a world wind three days on top of the mountains and unfortunately I’ve not been able to reach any source of internet until now… Fellow writer Tottz is with me and JAT has migrated to Australia… So once again apologies for lack of blogship…

In our absence, the biggest thing was of course the game of all games, the Man City game, a game in which we played very well, but in true Arsenal fashion, failed to make our chances make the difference. A bit harsh, maybe. The game itself was pretty even to be honest, and from a neutral point of view, I can only imagine that it was an enthralling game – end to end… chance after chance… But of course for any Arsenal fan, it’s the result that matters, and it wasn’t the result we needed.

The good thing is that we matched the opposition, and considering the amount of players missing, four full backs, our star midfielder in Jacky boy… It wasn’t the worst ever result.

On Wednesday we face Aston Villa away and three points are a requirement, without a doubt. It’s been an interesting season so far with six teams really making an impression at the top of the table. Man City’s win over us puts 12 points in between us, but we’re still only 3 points behind Chelsea and our immediate targets must be Chelsea and of course, Sp*rs…

Talking about Sp*rs, Szcznesy was in the press earlier today talking about how he basically just wants to finish above Sp*rs. A true Arsenal fan, right there…

“Getting above Tottenham is the main target,” Szczesny told the Evening Standard. “We don’t want to finish below them no matter what.

“That’s just my personal ambition because I am one of the fans and so it means a lot to me to finish above them. I am confident we will do so.

“They will slip up eventually. They have been in good form – you have to give it to them – but I am confident we are a better side and will finish above them.

“Time will tell if they can handle the pressure but they look good at the moment. Hopefully they will drop points in the second half of the season.”

Nice to hear a bit of passion and I’m sure a lot of Arsenal fans can identify with Szcznesy’s statement… But finishing 3rd is also possible, and even if we do get above Sp*rs soon, our challenge is to finish as high as possible…

Apologies for the short blog today, time to eat some food and get ready for tomorrow…

Peace out….

I’m Offski, as Arsenal get Milan in the Champions League…

Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls,

Today, myself and fellow WOA writer @Tottz82 will embark on a mission with  @i_am_jai and @bhavnishpatel to show the world how to ski… the blog, cleverly titled, I’m Off-Ski… getit? Meanwhile, back in the wonderful world of Arsenal… we have drawn Milan in the Champions League… and that’s one of the toughest of the group for sure…

Arsene before the draw:

“You cannot avoid anybody. You would say Basel but they were a very difficult opponent for Manchester United. So you take the draw as it comes, analyse it and plan for the game. The Italian teams have a history but you don’t know how it will go.”

The draw in full was:

  • Lyon v APOEL Nicosia
  • Napoli v Chelsea
  • AC Milan v Arsenal
  • Basle v Bayern Munich
  • Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona
  • CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid
  • Zenit St. Petersburg v Benfica
  • Marseille v Inter Milan

Each one of the ties is favoured to one team – I’ve bolded the team I think will win the two legs overall – but for us, it’s a very tough tie. AC Milan have improved a lot in the last couple of years and can now boast the likes of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho up front, with the likes of Mexes in defence, not to forget the likes of Van Bommel in midfield. We’ll have to be on top of our game.

David Miles, club secretary said:

“It’s probably the pick of the round. They’ll be two fantastic games. If I’m being honest, there are some other teams I would have preferred. Last time we played them in season 07-08, we actually went through after winning 2-0 in the San Siro so our recent history against them is good.”

The pick of the round, it is…

With Milan secretary also keen to praise the magnitude of the tie…

“Tie of the round. For the quality and the appeal of the two clubs it is a fantastic tie. Last time we lost 2-0 to Arsenal at the San Siro and we were knocked out by Tottenham last year. We are determined to go through. Last year we had lots of injuries but right now we are in a better status than Arsenal. But lots can change in two months. They have a great player in Robin van Persie and Arsene Wenger is a great coach.”

Lots of things can change in two months, that is for sure… first, we need a good old fashion victory against title rivals Man City, starting this weekend…

But for now, I’m offski…

Have you seen my lead?

Morning Gooners,

A quick fire blog from me today, a number of reasons why:

1)      There’s no a lot going on in the World of Arsenal

There seriously isn’t. We found out yesterday that Santos will be out for 3 months with ligament damage, leaving us with zero fit full backs, yikes! It’s a real pity for Santos as he’d started to show signs of improvement on the pitch and on his waistline. A 3 month absence will open the door to almost fit but not there yet Kieran Gibbs. I know what you’re all thinking, but that’s the only option we’ve got as buying another left back will leave us with 3 left backs when they’re all fit, unnecessary. Vermaelen, Mr ‘All action hero’ himself had a fantastic game at left back against Everton and he will deputise in the short term. As the first defender to score 10 goals in under 100 Premiership games, we have an able deputy.

Le boss has joined in the pantomime season by teasing the papers (and fans) in a game of ‘will he spend in January?’ … Oooh yes he will, oooh no he won’t..

“We lose players like Chamakh and Gervinho to the Africa Cup of Nations so hopefully, touch wood, we do not get any injuries to our strikers. But if an opportunity turns up in that department then we will buy,”

“Economically the whole environment has changed and people suffer more. The clubs will suffer more financially and it’s much more difficult. Maybe we will have some opportunities because we are in a good financial situation.”

Those that read my column regularly know that I won’t be drawn into all the rumours as the transfer window draws nearer because we will never be able to accurately call it. The media will attempt to know what we’re up to behind the scenes but I doubt we even know what’s going on behind the scences ourselves!

They say a picture speaks louder than a 1000 words so all I’ll say is this:

 

2)      I’ve lost the lead to my SLR camera.

I’ve been itching for a reason to take my SLR camera to the new stadium and the 125th birthday gave me one. With new statues, fans in a celebration mood, legends on the pitch and the always beautiful stadium, I was able to get some lovely shots but only to find out I can’t upload any of them as I can’t find the lead. I, like any male in a relationship, have to blame my missus as she was the last person use the lead! Sorry Gooners, I wanted to share them with you but I can’t.

However a friend of mine and a far better photographer, @Jummy_cliff was not only able to capture the moment but upload them too. Check them out > http://t.co/3uzPHlTu

3)      All roads lead to Sunday

Man City’s defeat to Chelski brings an end to their 15 game unbeaten start, not exactly 38 games of invincibility is it?! On the surface it’s not the best result as Chelsea leap frog us to 3rd but I believe we’ve not only got enough to match Chelsea but better them over the course of the season. Avoiding defeat on Sunday to Man City is our first task. More build up to the big game over the next few days…

Have a great day Gooners.

Feedback welcome – @Tottz82

Arsenal edge past Everton and now for a week’s rest!

What a goal… What a beautiful goal…

If any goal was going to win the game, then that was the goal. Was it better than the one at Charlton, no, probably not, but was it fitting for Robin Van Persie to score it? Yes, for sure…

Sweet, sweet and sweeter every time you watch it. The winning goal. But it shouldn’t have really been a winning goal, we really should have put away of of the 12 chances at goal we had before that strike. One thing this game reminded me of is “that” game that last season we would either not scored or conceded a goal afterwards.

The line up was: Szcznesy, Djourou, Mertersacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Gervinho and Van Persie.

Vermaelen playing at left back due to the injury to Andre Santos, and if you haven’t heard, you may be a little shocked, but Santos is out until March now with an ankle injury. Announced the Arsenal.com on Monday:

Arsenal Football Club can confirm that, following investigations and subsequent medical opinions by Club specialists, left-back Andre Santos will have surgery to repair ligament damage in his right ankle sustained in the game against Olympiacos last week. Andre will have surgery in Brazil this week and is expected to be out for around three months. Everyone at the Club wishes him well.

It was a massive mistake from Arsene to play Santos – our only fit full back – against Olympiacos. The players were dis-interested and we had no momentum or reason to win that game. Yes, hindsight is an excellent attribute to have after an event, but even before the game all, if not all fans did question not only his inclusion but that of Vermaelen. It could have been worse, the vice captain himself could have got injured. But this injury to Santos, as Gibbs is also sidelined, means that Vermaelen will move out to left back, thus meaning we lose him out of the centre of defence for a significant portion of time too.

I was talking to a friend of mine and commenting on the loss of Rooney for Man United and how they struggle without him, which led nicely onto the topic of Robin Van Persie – his quality and how we’ve missed him over the years. He is flying at the moment, and our season turnaround is much connected to his goals. 32 goals in 31 games. If he were to get injured, then who would take his place. Chamakh isn’t good enough – that we know for sure. Park? Can he come in and do a job? Chamakh is off to the African Nations Cup with Morocco, so very soon, it will be Park only as the back up.

Chamakh may not last until the end of the ACN, with PSG rumoured to be interested, the player said:

“I am 27. I need to play. I cannot stay like this forever. If I played more, of course I would have more confidence and score more goals.”

The January transfer window should be our opportunity to ensure we rectify the situation, to buy another striker who can make a difference. If we don’t, we will pay the price. Arshavin playing left and Gervinho up front just won’t cut it. But January is a long time away, and between now and then we need to win win win… starting this weekend against Man City, who fell to this first loss against Chelsea where ex-Gooner Clichy got sent off…

We’ll have 4 or 5 days of build up to that game, so until tomorrow, my friends, until tomorrow…

Arsenal vs Everton… The Preview!

After an underwhelming performance at Olympiacos mid-week, we now face Everton at home in a very much must win game. Granted, we’ve done relatively well to climb up the table, but we have a long way to go. Everton are a strong team and we’ll need to be at the races in every which way possible by the time we kick off. We’ve had some slow starts recently, and perhaps that’s cost us points against Fulham and Olympiacos.

Against Everton, we need a fast start, an attitude of closing down and a desire to win throughout the team. We do have a slight injury problem as all 4 of our wing backs – Sagna, Jenkinson, Santos and Gibbs – are all ruled out with injury. Arsene summarising the injury crisis:

Santos has an ankle injury so he is out. He will see a specialist in the coming days. Mannone and Fabianski are both out. Mannone has a shoulder problem, he saw a specialist on Thursday night. Fabianski has a nasty cut on his knee. Almunia will be back in the squad. Everybody else who was out there in Greece looks available, and the players who stayed at home are available as well.

We do have 6 fit and raring to centre back though, in Vermaelen, Koscielny, Mertersacker, Djourou, Miquel and Squillaci and it would seem to me that we’d look at playing 4 out of the 6 of them… The big question is who will start… the two combinations that may work are:

(Right) Djourou – Metersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (Left)

or

(Right) Koscielny - Metersacker – Vermaelen – Miquel (Left)

The question comes down to who you’d rather have at the back, Djourou or Miquel. Personally, Djourou has been a liability this season (still no idea where his awesome form from last season went)… whereas Miquel has actually played quite well. Playing the latter four would mean keeping Koscielny at right back, where he has played very well and keep the Mert and TV5 together in the middle where they have also been decent…

So, my hopeful line up is:

Szcznesy

Koscielny - Metersacker – Vermaelen – Miquel

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Gervinho

Van Persie

With a bench of Almunia, Djourou, Squillaci, Frimpong, Rosicky, Arshavin, Benayoun, Chamakh

It’s a shame that we can’t have 12 of the bench, I’d like to see a place for Oxlade-Chamberlain, as to be totally honest, I think he can do a better job than Arshavin or Benayoun coming on to change the game if required. Let’s see what Arsene does, but it would be smart to reward him of a place on the bench due to his recent good performances.

Talking about good performances… today Arsenal unveiled the best accolade to a player who was full of good performances… the one and only Theirry Henry, the legend himself was award an amazing accolade in a statue of himself at the Emirates…

Pretty amazing hey! There were three statues – one of Henry, one of Tony Adams and one of Herbert Chapman.

Henry was down at the Emirates and spoke of his delight at the statue, but in the most humble of ways, to the man he is today, he credited his team mates for the accolade:

“I want to insist how important how important it was for me to play with some great players. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to play there.  When you look at the likes of the back four – Martin [Keown], Nigel [Winterburn], Lee [Dixon], David [Seaman], Lauren who came after, [Sol] Campbell, [Ashley] Cole – I am going to name the whole squad – Patrick [Vieira], Sylvain [Wiltord] too, who was underrated at the time because he was an amazing player. Robert [Pires] as well. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did – we went through a season unbeaten. I wanted to say that again – without your team you are nothing. It would not have been possible without them so I want to thank them too.”

He also spoke on how much he has been taken aback about the statue…

“When I left Arsenal [was the last time I was that emotional]. It’s part of the past now, but when I did leave Arsenal, yes [I cried]. The guys might be thinking that I’m saying this because I’m here right now but I love Arsenal, I’ve said it so many times.I support the Club now and I always come back. There’s something about Arsenal Football Club, it’s a family club. Every time players want to come back to train, to feel it, the vibe of the dressing room, to see the boss again and all the people at the training ground. There are great people all over the stadium. ”I’m more than proud – honoured, privileged. At the very beginning I honestly thought it was a joke, until I realised it wasn’t. As I said out there, 125 years of history, when you know the players that have played for Arsenal Football Club and I was chosen to be out there next to the stadium.  I always have something to say usually but I’m kind of speechless. The way the statue is with me leaning in front of the stadium is a great one – it’s exactly how I feel about Arsenal Football Club. Also facing not just the Emirates, but Highbury. It’s amazing. I never thought I’d be out there like that.  I was fortunate to have won a lot of stuff in my career but that tops it all. You don’t dream about that, it doesn’t ever come into your head. Like I said many times, I always went out there in the Arsenal shirt and played 100 per cent. I can only embrace it right now and what the boss said in his speech about me was overwhelming to be honest.”

And very deserved… Mr Arsenal…

He’ll be in the crowd against Everton, and I hope the team are inspired by him…

Come on you Gooners…