Transfer Deadline Day: Updated

12:49: Bolton Sign Ryo Myaichi (on loan)

Bolton have completed the signing of Arsenal winger Ryo Myaichi, who will spend the rest of the season at the Reebok Stadium.
Wanderers boss Owen Coyle has fought off competition from Fulham to land the talented 18-year-old winger who will get a chance to shine in the Premier League between now and the end of the campaign. Arsene Wenger was impressed with the development that Jack Wilshere made during his time at Bolton and the Gunners chief will be hoping that Myaichi will make similar progress.

It’s an interesting one – if the below noise about Arshavin is true, then that will be two wingers out of the club – but I suppose the way to look at it is that Oxlade is ready for the first team and so replaces Arshavin. Henry is available until Gervinho returns, so again, we will have options. From a footballing point of view, a few months with Bolton playing regularly will go a long way in the progression of Ryo as a player, and if Jack Wilshere is anything to go by then we will see a better and adapted Ryo next year.

12:37: Russian, Anzhi Makhachkala, in talks with Arsenal over possible purchase of Andrei Arshavin

Anzhi Makhachkala officials are in London and are aiming to pull off some sensational business for the wealthy Russian side on transfer deadline day. It is believed that the Dagestan giants want Arsenal’s Russian schemer Andrei Arshavin.

Probably something that every Gooner wants, although he is a lot of experience leaving (if he leaves), and that’s the only thing to worry about. Oxlade & Gervinho are ahead of the player in the pecking order and his use within the team has diminished. Anzhi Makhachkala can afford his wages, which has notably been an obstruction with players leaving. Let’s see if they’ll give us cash for him too.

11:32: Gazidis defends the Arsenal spending policy

“We’re in three competitions this year. Manchester City would love to be in three competitions. They’re not. So money is not everything in this game. I don’t disagree that it’s important. But we do things based on a value system. We’re about creating star players, not about buying them. We’re about what happens in a team, between players, not individual superstars. And that’s an inspiration to people around the world. We can’t afford to compete with oil money and we can’t afford to compete with super-wealthy individuals from Russia. But the more important thing about our model is that it’s sustainable. Our business model means we can continue to do what we’re doing forever. We’re proud of the way we do things and we’re proud of the results that we’re able to produce from that.”

Something we’ve heard again and again from Ivan G – not exactly what we want to hear – to be honest, I don’t think Manchester City are jealous of us. In reality they have a better team and are challenging for the title and the Europa cup. They’ve never won a title. For us, we used to win titles and now we’re not – on top of that, they signed one of best players from last season in Samir Nasri. I think Arsene, Ivan and a lot of fans are actually quite jealous of the players, the team and money City had. Weird from Gazidis if you ask me!

09:53: Arsenal sign Thomas Eisfeld for an estimated £600,000

Arsenal today completed the £600,000 signing of Thomas Eisfeld from Borussia Dortmund. Standard Sport understands the 19-year-old has signed a four-year contract with the Gunners after undergoing a rigorous medical at the club’s London Colney training ground yesterday. Arsenal’s medical staff wanted to ensure the attacking midfielder had no lasting damage from anterior cruciate ligament damage suffered in 2009.

Eisfeld is a youngster, he has just turned 19. He’s not had much first team experience for Dortmund and the club are obviously happy to see him go, negotiating a relatively low price. They don’t rate him, but Arsene does. We don’t know much about the player, except that he used to be highly rated before a cruciate ligament injury. Dortmund think he won’t recover – sounds like a similar story to Aaron Ramsey – but obviously Arsene and the rest of the team think he will – I don’t think he’ll feature anywhere near our first team this season, but if Arsene is right, he will certainly be an interesting signing for the future.

Previous news:

  • Rhys Murphy has joined Preston North End on loan until the end if the season
  • Luke Freeman has joined Stevenage for an undisclosed fee
  • Chuks Aneke has extended his loan spell with Stevenage until March

This page was last updated at 13:15 on Tuesday the 31st January 2012

Arsenal 3 – 2 Aston Villa: The Highs & Lows…

Yesterday’s game was one of those “it’s all over” games, one of those “heat in mouth”, one of those, “we’ve blown it” games, and also it was a comeback game! Basically, it had all the emotions under the sun. The delight of Oxlade starting and the excellent start turned into disappointment when we couldn’t score, which then turned into more disappointment when Villa scored, and then again when the scored again…

Disappointment turned into frustration, which turned into booing at half time, booing at the team and at the manager. Should we boo our team? Personally, I think not, but the debate after the game was focused on whether people should be allowed to vent their frustrations, how do fans show their thoughts? How do they express to the team that they’re not happy. Recently, the desire, the commitment and the individual mistakes have made the fans upset, and the booing at half time, was probably a cultimation of the last 3.5 games. I’m not a booer myself, but can see why some fans have resorted to booing.

Arsene spoke about the booing and said:

“I’m sad we can’t always keep them happy. The only thing we can do is to show the spirit we showed today. I must tell you I just want to do well for this club that I love.  I understand that people question my decisions. I wouldn’t understand they question my commitment and dedication to this club. I understand they’re unhappy sometimes with the decisions I make.”

Going 2-0 down at half time, having lost three games on the trot, has created a sense of crisis amongst fans and the media, and the belief, faith and hope  is very fragile at the moment. The line up yesterday did please the majority of fans – with Arteta, Henry and Sagna all named on the bench and Oxlade Chamberlain named in the starting line up.

Szcznesy

Coquelin – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen

Ramsey – Song

Walcott – Rosicky – Oxlade

Van Persie

The line up also saw the return of Coquelin, who does generally seem more suited to the right back role than the hapless Djourou. The second half was going to be one of the biggest tests of the season. 3 losses, 2-0 down, potentially out of the cup. And the second half delivered exactly what we needed. 7 minutes, 2 penalitues and a rather peculiar goal from Theo Walcott and 0-2 turned into 3-2.

The penalties were deserved, the peculiar goal too, a reward for our change of desire, change of style and change of attitude in the second half. For me, one change more noticeable was the improvement of Aaron Ramsey, who didn’t have the best first half in the world, but then really did step it up for the second half. Arteta’s return on 71 minutes, Coquelin’s return to the team and Rosiscky’s recent run of games means that we may afford to rest Ramsey a little more now – I think he could do with less minutes, perhaps some sub roles – he always does look tired.

For the manager, the comeback was amazing:

“It was a good test to show that we had the mental qualities to come back. On the other hand it was important that we didn’t panic [at half time]. To concede a goal just on half time for 2-0 was a difficult blow, but we responded very well against Manchester United here [last week] and we did it again today. Overall it was a classic FA Cup tie, 2-0 down and we came back. We had to fight to score three goals and we did it well. I felt it was harsh to be 2-0 down at half time, but Aston Villa are a good counter-attacking team and unfortunately we couldn’t score in the first half. In the second half it was all us.”

But for me, the fact that we went 2-0 down and stuttered over the line still makes me worry, it still gives me a sense that we have not yet turned any corner. Optimist or pessimist, this current Arsenal team doesn’t really allow you to really ever think anything or rest on any laurel.

The major plus was the return of Sagna – having him back in the team, back in defence, will add a lot of balance to our back four. There is also news that Gibbs will return too, and perhaps it won’t be too long until we see two full backs, Vermaelen & Koscielny in our back four. That will be pretty darn good.

There is a bit of debate on Van Persie and whether or not he did one on Cuellar – both players jumping in the air for a head and the Dutchman’s elbow connecting with the Villa defender. It’s a bit of rubbish and nonsense from Alex McLeish and personally very annoying to see such press and noise around it – if you want to read more, click here.

I really do hope that this is our comeback, our turning point and will push us onto turning our season around. We play Bolton on Wednesday at the Reebok and they’re currently enjoying some decent form – having beat Liverpool last weekend 3-1. We’ll need to be on top of our game, and the return of a few key players may be the catalyst we need.

Stay positive, stay Goonerish. Til tomorrow.

Arsenal vs Aston Villa – The Big FA Cup Preview

Happy weekend to all… It’s been a funny old week, with a lot of realisation. Realisation that things have changed, realisation that we’re quite far off fourth, realisation that we’ve just not been good enough – and realisation that we, as fans, aren’t being very good fans at the moment. Calling for Wenger’s head is not what we should be doing really… after all the man has done. I have to presume that we don’t know the full facts concerning our ability to purchase players and yes, I know every team has them, but the amount of key personnel out through injury in the last five years has been absolutely crazy.

The news that Jack Wilshere could be out for the rest of the season is very worrying. He is our engine – and since last season, to lose Cesc, Nasri, Jack & Diaby from a squad would not be easy for any manager to deal with. With Jack in the “red zone” from last season, you have to wonder why he played in the Emirates cup in the first place… We have to hope we get Arteta back soon, as without him, our midfield is very unbalanced. Arsene spoke about Jack and told us that there is no return date…

He has had a little setback that is under investigation at the moment so I cannot give you how long he will be out for. At the moment he is seeing a specialist and as soon as we know more we will communicate. It sets him back a little bit but for how long I don’t know.  It is the same foot but a different problem to the injury he had surgery on back in September. But is it an inflammation? We have to wait a little bit.

The good news is that we do have a lot of players returning – news is that Sagna, Gibbs, Arteta and Henry will all be back after the Villa game, and Oxlade and Coquelin are already back. Much better news. Although, it makes it very confusing to know who will play tomorrow, but let’s give it a go:

Szcznesy

Coquelin – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Miquel

Song – Ramsey

Walcott – Rosicky – Arshavin

Van Persie

After last week, I think Arsene will not start Oxlade, but perhaps give him 30 minutes or so. The fans do want to see him, he is one of the form players at the moment. However, Arshavin is a player that Arsene is keen on getting back to some sort of form. I think the trick for Arshavin is to move him just behind the striker, and allow him a little bit of central action – he has played here before and looked much better than when he is out wide. It’s a little baffling why he’s playing on the left. Perhaps it is his work rate, or perhaps it’s his lack of defensive discipline, but whether he plays on the left or in the centre, he still won’t offer the defensive cover, so what’s worse? No defensive cover for a full back or none in the middle of the park when you have two midfielders covering you?

It’s a tough set of decisions for Arsene, as we do have a mid-week game – this week it’s Bolton away on Wednesday – so do you risk Van Persie in a cup game? Well, with no real alternatives – Chamakh gone, Henry missing, it may not be a choice that Arsene has – Park did start the Leeds game. But that was more down Van Persie’s holiday than anything else. I wouldn’t mind trying Park out again against Villa and if it’s not working at half time, then put Van Persie on. After Bolton on Wednesday, we have an early kick off against Blackburn on Saturday. Let’s take a look at our next series of fixtures quickly…

  • Aston Villa (home), Sunday 29th Jan
  • Bolton (away), Wednesday 1st Feb
  • Blackburn (home), Saturday 4th Feb
  • Sunderland (away), Saturday 11th Feb
  • AC Milan (away), Wednesday 15th Feb
  • Sp*rs (home), Sunday 26th Feb
  • Liverpool (away), Saturday 3rd March
  • AC Milan (home), Tuesday 6th March

If you ask me, that’s a pretty tough series of games; and that’s the conundrum for Arsene – he has three priorities – finishing in the top four, wining the FA cup and winning the Champions League. So perhaps tomorrow’s line up may include a few more reserve players, perhaps we will see a start for Benayoun and / or Park? We will have to wait until tomorrow to see how Arsene handles it… I just hope for a good game of football. We desperately need a win, and the best way to win a game is to play your best side – a win tomorrow and it could spark the confidence we need for the next series of games.

The love fest for Oxlade Chamberlain has continued, and this time it’s the gaffer who’s been praising him:

“He looks to have [the same fearlessness as Rooney]. Now he has to show that he can play all the time but I believe he can. We have produced more players in the last 15 years than all of the top clubs in Europe put together and we are not scared to play players when they are of the level. I believe he has [that level]. Oxlade-Chamberlain operated in a wide position for much of last Sunday’s game but he was equally adept when drifting in off the flank. Wenger thinks he can play in a number of roles.  He can play centrally as well but he has grown up as a winger. And now I think as well he can play central midfield because he can produce a long pass, he can dribble. At that age, you know, you start first on the wing.”

He is the one talent who you have a certain interest in, the one who you think could really make a difference, the one who could win a game…

We’ll leave it at that for now – all eyes on tomorrow and the big game… til then, ciao for now.

Be careful what you wish for.

When it rains it pours and on Sunday the heavens opened on Arsenal FC creating a downpour many have never felt before.

Dev has already covered off the events of Sunday but the aftermath of THAT substitution still rumbles on.
Many of the players have leapt to the defence of our manager, RVP has gone as far as releasing a statement after camera’s caught him expressing himself in a similar fashion to us at that substitution;

“I was not having a go at the boss on Sunday — I was just sad to see Alex leave the pitch as he just gave the assist for our only goal.
“I was not questioning his judgement — I know it’s not my place to challenge what Arsene Wenger does…
“Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain had a calf injury. We did not know that but the boss did and brought Andrey Arshavin on.”
“The manager and I are fine and my relationship with the club is good.
“There is no problem, there is no conflict and there is no controversy.
“The boss knows that, I know that and the players know that.”

It says something about the severity of the incident when the club captain has to make a public statement defending his actions and backing his manager’s decisions.
Personally I don’t think I’ll ever forget the substitution. The noise and reaction was deafening, you couldn’t have been blamed for thinking we were taking off RVP and bringing on Teddy Sheringham (the c*nt). And no, I didn’t boo or give the boss stick. I’ll never boo my team cause it’s the team I love and pay money to support every week. If I ever felt the need to boo, I just would stop going and to be honest I rather the people who want to boo and give the team sh*t during the 90mins just didn’t turn up. Yes , I know everyone has a right to their opinion and the fans have a voice too, but for the 90mins respect the players and get behind them. Arsenal fans pride themselves of doing things ‘the Arsenal way’ with a touch of class and respect, events on Sunday have greatly damaged our reputation

So what now?

Well we fight on. Remember outplayed but never outgunned. We pray for the quick return of Arteta, Wilshere, Sagna and Gibbs. We need our players back in order to restore the much needed balance to the team. As for the great subject on peoples lips, Mr Wenger, I urge you to be careful for what you wish for.
Last week a comment on the WOA’s stated he wanted Wenger out and would take anyone to replace him as he’d had enough. Really? Is that the answer? Anyone. Is that what it’s now come down to? I doubt that person spoke for the masses but if the majority reading this agree then we’re set for some tough years.
I completely agree that Wenger has made a rod for his own back and his stubbornness in the market and on the pitch has created part of this mess but let’s not force the man out and then realise what we had when it’s gone.
I’m not going get the violins out and talk through his roll of honour because we all know how much the man has achieved with our club. I grew up and fell in love with Arsenal watching Graham’s team but I became an Arsenal fanatic watching the teams put together by Wenger.

The man has single handedly revolutionised our club from mid table obscurity to a world respected powerhouse in a stadium to be envied and facilities you would dedicate your career to.

However, everything and everyone has their sell by date and if Wenger continues down this path of stubbornness and on pitch naivety, he will destroy his own proud legacy. Wenger has himself said it is a short term project now so why go out in a frustrated manner? Build the squad up to handle injuries, create a true competitive spirit and go out in a blaze of glory.

The buck will always stop with the manager at any club but I strongly believe the board have more to answer for than Wenger. They’re letting him take all the flack and are non existent in the fight to keep the club competitive.
The next few weeks will determine not only the outcome of the season but potentially the future of Arsene Wenger. Come what May, the team need our support.
Remember;  Victoria Concordia Crescit.
The Arsenal.

Comments welcomes – @Tottz82

Arsene: “If I’ve made a mistake, I’m sorry.” as we lose again…

What a world-wind weekend that was. The Oxlade Chamberlain debacle has overshadowed the whole weekend. A weekend where Man City beat Sp*rs and Man United beat us to make it a two horse race at the top of the table and make it a massive up-hill climb for us, now in 5th and needing a miracle to finish in the top four. Our performance against United in the first half was woeful and the missing Arteta is a player who we can’t function without. Which, in itself is worrying. Tactically, things weren’t right, and the players do not seem to be on the same page.

For the first time in a very long time, most AKB’s are now questioning our performances, our transfer activity and of course, after Oxlade was substituted on the weekend, are questioning our manager’s ability to make substitutions. A few people who wouldn’t say a bad word against Arsene – ever – are now doubtful about whether he’s been on top of his own game for the last 6 months. Whereas I am still a fan and don’t believe it’s entirely the manager’s fault, there are questions about signings and subs which can’t be ignored.

After Arsene subbed Oxlade, we went on to lose the game. Whether or not we would have won the game if Oxlade stayed on is debatable, but the reaction of Arsene post game… stating that he’s made over 50,000 substitutions in his time and the one line:

 ”If I’ve made a mistake, I’m sorry.”

Sums it all up for me – he made a mistake. Following that issue, he did then go on to say that the player was injured… whether or not you believe it. His former coach at Southampton did speak tot he player and confirmed that there was no problems with Alex continuing…

“He said, first and foremost, that he was super happy with his first match from the start, while he was pleased to have played well. I also got confirmation from Alex that he was neither tired or injured.”

Should we trust the manager? Or did he make a mistake? Did he then lie about it? Are we right to question the manager?

Van Persie certainly questioned him Ox was substituted, but since then the captain has released this statement:

I was not having a go at the boss on Sunday — I was just sad to see Alex leave the pitch as he just gave the assist for our only goal. I was not questioning his judgment — I know it’s not my place to challenge what Arsene Wenger does. He is the boss, he makes the decisions and that’s it… end of story. I have worked with the boss long enough to know there’s always a good reason behind his decisions — and there was again on Sunday. When Arsene makes a decision, it is based on a lot of information that everyone else might not know about and he will never betray. I admire him so much for that. As he said after the game, he doesn’t have to explain his substitutions to anyone. He was right to remind everyone that he has been in the job 30 years and made 50,000 substitutions — why on earth should he have to justify each and every one of them? He has all the information, he knows when a player is carrying a small injury, or has been ill, or is tiring. Arsene’s remarkable success in the game is proof enough that his decisions are made from knowledge and experience. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a calf injury. We did not know that but the boss did and brought Andrey Arshavin on. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Arsene Wenger. He is one of the best football coaches in the world, with a brilliant record of success here at Arsenal. I wouldn’t be here or the player I am without him. The manager and I are fine and my relationship with the club is good. I don’t want anyone misunderstanding the situation here for a moment. There is no problem, there is no conflict and there is no controversy. The boss knows that, I know that, the players all know that. But it’s important the Arsenal fans know that and that people in the game know that. We are all committed to doing the very best we can to bring success to The Emirates. We are not giving up on a top-four finish, no way. Losing to Manchester United was a setback — but it is not a knockout blow. The way this season is going I think it’s pretty safe to say there will be a lot more surprises before the Premier League season is over. There’s plenty of games still left, we have recovered from reverses like this before and we will win again. So anybody writing us off is making a mistake. This could still be a good season for us. We have the FA Cup to look forward to and the Champions League. We will all be giving 100 per cent to make sure we bring one of those trophies home, hopefully both of them.

Let’s all stick together and fight

Quite excessive for a substitution right?

Although Van Persie is correct in a few points, I wonder the real reason for sending out this message is – your guess is as good as mine. The worrying thing is that we’ve now lost three games in a row – to Fulham, to Swansea and then to Man United. It leaves is a very dangerous position and the reality is that we have a serious chance of finishing 5th or 6th. The captain goes on to say that we’re still in two competitions – the FA Cup and the Champions League – but will Arsene prioritise attempting to finish 4th ahead of the two trophies…

We do have Arteta back in time for the game this weekend against Aston Villa and we’re hearing that Jack Wilshere is also on his way back to full fitness. Both players will add a lot of depth to our squad – when both fit, will both start ahead of anyone else – and if Oxlade’s cameo’s are anything to go by, then he is a player in the making. Keep the players fit, get some full backs back and there is no reason why we can’t have a better second half to the second that the first. But, without any signings, the risk to Robin Van Persie and / or other key players is still very high.

We’ll do what Robin says, stick together and fight – but it is extremely hard to do so when you don’t see the players doing so themselves… or the manager for that matter.

But victory through harmony is what we’re all about… let’s back the team for the rest of the season. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. I am sure there is more & better to come.

Until tomorrow, stay goonerish.

Arsenal vs Man United: Last Chance Saloon…

It’s a big one… a decisive one… for both clubs… But for us, it’s a last chance saloon in what seems to be a collapse of any premier league ambition. For Arsenal, a club that has never finished outside the top four, and having lost our last two games in the league, it’s a very big possibility this season. Failure to win against Man United tomorrow will see us 7 points behind 4th placed Chelsea a potentially a whopping 13 points behind 3rd placed Sp*rs. No matter how many injuries we have encountered, the points tally is simply not good enough.

Arsene last week singled out the individual mistakes, the lack of focus in matches as a reason why we lost the games we lost. When it’s the manager himself who buys the players and trains them, then where does the buck stop? Is Benayoun as a holding midfielder ever going to do what Wilshere or Arteta can? Decisions this season have been strange, to say the least. Decisions in formation, decisions in the transfer market and decisions on the pitch.

Arsene spoke on on Friday and said a lot, but one thing I’d like to bring to your attention is this one line:

“If the players come back, we are strong enough [to make the top four]. If we do not have the players back we will struggle.”

Now that is a line that I’d have to disagree with. With the likes of Nasri and Cesc last season, we we only good enough for 4th – with their departures and the points tally we have now, are we really good enough for 4th with the players we have. Yes, we have a big squad, but how many of them are quality players? How many of them can compare with the old school of Bergkamp, Pires, Vieira etc? How many of our team would get into Man City’s team?

If you recall your minds back to the Blackburn game – we had everyone in our whole squad available, with one exception, Jack Wilshere – and we lost that game 4-3. Whilst I don’t want to be a negative person, I find it hard to believe that the return of our missing players is suddenly going to put us onto the form required to claw back 10 to 13 points. With the other teams in the forms of their season, we will also need them to drop points, and a lot of points.

But in football, there is always a chance.

Whether or not, we live in a dream or not, there is always a chance that something will change, form will arrive, games will be won and points will be accrued.

If we do beat United, and Sp*rs lose or draw to Man City, if Norwich can hold Chelsea or cause them a shock, then suddenly the gap isn’t so big.

Arsene spoke about finishing outside of the top four and said:

“For me it would be [a disaster] because I want to play with the best,” he said. “We want to be in there, in the top four, and to play in the Champions League. Anything else would not be good enough.”

And when your manager says that, you feel that it is still a possibility, that it’s the target. Earlier in the week, we heard that various players would be missing – Vermaelen and Henry suffering calf strains, with Arteta suffering a groin strain. Well, we know Arteta is definitely out – but the good news I’m hearing is that Henry and Vermaelen will be back in the squad and both may start…

A potential line up could be:

Szcznesy

Djourou – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen

Song – Ramsey

Walcott – Rosicky – Henry

Van Persie

Personally, I’d prefer to see Oxlade start the game and keep Henry in reserve… but I’d definitely not start Arshavin or Benayoun – they’re both not the players we need to win this game… Now that I’ve said that, I bet you they both will start!

Our come back will start tomorrow.

It’s time to shake off the negative vibes and focus of the players we have at our disposal… a win tomorrow, and we will be back on track to our target…

Come on you Gooners…

Keep calm but panic a little

Morning Gooners,

So here we are again, everyone is bickering and licking their wounds over another painful away defeat and I still don’t have broadband at home.

The Swansea defeat has invoked the sinking feeling we had back in August (maybe it has something to do with the transfer window).  Bringing in the new year has brought about our old problems; no defensive cohesion, individual errors and no fight.

We’ve all replayed the Swansea game in our heads since Sunday so I’m not going to go dissect the whole game to analyse where we when wrong. There are certain points I would like to raise that are still fresh;

1)  The Full back dilemma:

Wenger said a couple of weeks ago that to lose points due to lack of cover at left back would be ‘criminal’, well he’s done the crime so now we’re doing the time. IF we have been in the market for a left back on loan (let’s say Bridge for argument’s sake) shouldn’t this deal have been secured by the Fulham game? Why have we waited so long to put the problem right? I attribute both those defeats to our lack of full back cover.

 What people are doing unfairly is criticising Djourou and Miquel. Yes both have made mistakes and both have been caught out of position on occasions but in Miquel, we are talking about a rookie centre back who is being asked to play left back far too often. I actually think Miquel has done well considering the mess he’s been thrown into.

The reason we didn’t bring in cover at full back is because Sagna and Vermaelen are nearing returns into the first team. It’s a feeble excuse that has cost us 6 dear points and will have an impact come May.

 

2) Too many passengers:

I was there on Sunday and the frustration at a number of players not pulling their weight was vocal through out the away stand. The main perpetrators were Arshavin, Walcott, Yossi and for the first 30mins, Song.

Arshavin, has the ability but he doesn’t want to be there. His heart looks elsewhere and his performances are a pale shadow of the player we know he can be.

I defend Theo as I truly believe people are way too critical on him but on Sunday he looked a player devoid of any confidence, running the ball out of play and unable to find a Red shirt with a pass. He took his goal fantastically but he needs to step up and step up soon.

Yossi, correct me if I’m wrong but his best performances have come off the bench? For a player of his experience, he should be able to dictate play and calm things down atSwansea. Instead he gave the ball away along with cheap freekicks. Not good enough.

When we have stand full backs and 3 passenger players, the rest of the team really don’t stand a chance against a great footballing team asSwansea.

 
3) Expectations on Ramsey:

Aaron’s name was on the lips of many fans for the wrong reasons on Sunday night but I feel sorry for the lad. Wenger himself told us not to forget this was practically Ramsey’s first full season in the first team, unfortunately Le boss has forgotten that himself. Ramsey is a talented player but he is being asked to do the most difficult thing in the footballing world, fill the void left by Cesc. Ramsey isn’t ready to dictate play and control games in the final 3rd on his own. Sunday’s performance optimised what I’ve seen for the last month, he tries too hard to be the player he thinks we want him to be. Clever turns, flicks and backheels that never materialise, easily dispossessed and tiring at the end of games.

 We need to buy a playmaker to save the set up of this team and also let Rambo mature into the player in his own natural time. A school of thought is maybe that Jack will step up into that role but again how much expectation are we putting on to a young head??

I know may of you are waiting to criticise the team, Wenger and board below, you probably have every right to. I am hurting as much as any one of you but the bottom line fact is that this is the club we love so we need to get behind the players regardless of issues. 4th is still up for grabs and the United game at home is our chance to react the right way.

‘Wake up and focus’

Enjoy your Wednesday.

 

Comments welcome – @Tottz82

Arsene Wenger: “It is time for us to wake up and be focused”

Arsene Wenger normally defends his players, looks at the circumstances, the refereeing decisions, so it’s very unlike him to “have a go” at his squad… but that’s exactly what he has done in the last day or two after the defeat at Swansea. I’ll start today’s blog with his quote:

“That’s now twice – at Swansea and at Fulham – where we have given the game away. At our level that is frustrating and not good enough. It is down to a lack of composure and the right decision-making. It is alarming because at Fulham we were 1-0 up and we lost the game. Today we came back to 2-2 and straight away we gave the third goal away. It is really a concern. It is a massive opportunity [next Sunday] because you feel we have given six points away in the last two games in a way that is unbelievable. It is time for us to wake up and be focused – we have a good opportunity to do that against Manchester United.”

Having read that quote first in Sky Sports and then again on the official Arsenal website, I find it refreshing that Arsene is actually saying what we feel… It’s strange though, because he obviously feels like he is not getting enough from these players, but refuses to buy new ones – yes we have a lot of players coming back from injury, but who is to say that they will stay fit – we have 4 full backs, a central defenders, 3 midfieldsers, Gervinho & Chamakh to come back… But that still leaves us short if Van Persie gets injured on February the [insert Henry's last game date in here].

The worry is the final position and we’re getting further away from 4th than we’d like – and most fans are genuinely worried that we’ll finish behind Sp*rs and outside the top four… I am an external optimist, but even for me this season has been tough… I really do hope Arsene has something up his sleeve, or if not, that our injured players come back and make the massive difference that is much needed…

Tottz is back in the AM for a proper blog, but I thought I’d just leave you with that quote… something to mull about…

As always, stay positive…

Swansea 3 – 2 Arsenal: 7th loss of the season. Very worrying.

Seven losses this season before the end of January makes it a very worrying time for Arsenal at the moment. Having never been out of the top four in the Arsene Wenger era, we’re very very close to it happening this season, without doubt.

The 7 losses this season have been:

  1. Swansea 3 – 2 Arsenal
  2. Fulham 2 – 1 Arsenal
  3. Man City 1 – 0 Arsenal
  4. Sp*rs 2 – 1 Arsenal
  5. Blackburn 4 – 3 Arsenal
  6. Man United 8 – 2 Arsenal
  7. Arsenal 0 – 2 Liverpool

Despite having injuries to various left backs and right backs, the core part of the squad – the likes of Van Persie, Walcott, Song, Koscielny, Szcznesy and Ramsey are all first choice and good enough to make the team tick. That was the negative part about the result – that we do have talented players, but they are not good enough.

Out of all the missing players, I think Arteta was the key one – Song is used to having the Spaniard next to him and today, it was clear that Benayoun and Ramsey weren’t working as well with him as Arteta would have. We lost the calmness in our midfield and that caused us problems throughout the game.

Our line up was:

Szcznesy

Djourou – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Miquel

Benayoun – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Arshavin

Van Persie

The missing players, just in case you’d like to know were:

Fabianski, Sagna, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Santos, Gibbs, Coquelin, Arteta, Wilshere, Diaby, Gervinho, Chamakh

For the goals, Van Persie’s was excellent – the little Russian putting him through and the Dutchman opened the scoring with a sublime right footed shot – but we got instantly complacent which let the home team back into it – and a very strange decision to award Swansea a penalty saw then equalise from the spot – Dyer actually stamped on Ramsey and then was awarded a penalty. Swansea went ahead in the second half when some very good play saw Dyer in and free and he smashed the ball past Szcznesy. We equalised with half an hour to go, through Theo Walcott, good finish and good through ball from Djourou – but seconds later an excellent run from Graham saw Swansea go 3-2 up. Having put Henry, AOC and Rosicky on, we did look much better, but were unable to find the equaliser.

Losing this game was a game we could simply not lose. Arsene needs to have a deep look at the squad and if decide how we can improve. Whether it’s more players, or whether it’s a different approach on the pitch, formation, style, design. We need to do something different. We’re battling it for a Europa spot at the moment with Liverpool and Newcastle and that’s not exactly where we’d like to be.

Arsene seems to be lost at the moment to understand how we’re not performing and spoke after the game:

“I still don’t understand where the referee found the penalty [for Swansea's equaliser], then we defensively made some mistakes that we should not have done. When it was back at 2-2 we knew we could score a third but it was important not to make a mistake. But in the last games we have made mistakes that are difficult to explain. It is unbelievable, it happened at Fulham the same and again today.”

It’s a little worrying when the manager doesn’t quite have the answers.

We’ve got United next week and it’s important to focus on getting our injured players back and looking at our defensive organisation. There are 7 days until the next game, which will leave plenty of time for discussion.

Stay positive.

Til tomorrow.

Swansea vs Arsenal… Match Preview… Defensive Reshuffle…

The Premiership status quo returned on the weekend with Chelsea scraping a 1-0 win and Sp*rs and Liverpool unable to win at home… There has been a lot of debate over Sp*rs current form and also how Liverpool will challenge us for the top four… What is obvious, especially after today, is that all the teams above us will drop points and it’s up to us to ensure we can win our games. We play against Swansea tomorrow and the game is simply a must win. A win would put us on 39 points, which would be 1 behind Chelsea and 7 behind Sp*rs and give us a clear 4 point game between us and Liverpool.

Team news ahead of the game is that we don’t have any of our full backs yet and Vermaelen is still injured – the versitile Coquelin is out, Mertersacker is ill – but on the flip side Djourou may be back. Before I look at the team in more detail, let’s have a look at the project line up:

If Djourou & Mertersacker are available, then they should and will probably both play:

Szcznesy

Djourou – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Miquel

Arteta - Song 

Walcott – Ramsey- Arshavin

Van Persie

If Djourou & Mertersacker are not available, then we’ll be forced to move Song to the back:

Szcznesy

Yennaris – Koscielny – Song – Miquel

Arteta – Ramsey

Walcott – Rosicky – Arshavin

Van Persie

If one is available and another not, then you can mix & match the above two teams!

On Sky Sports News this morning, they did a montage on Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and to be honest, his highlights was pretty damn good – for me, the boy is in better form than Arshavin and should have a few more starts. We can’t write Arshavin off, he has more to offer than he has offered this season. And he can produce “the moment” in a game that makes the difference.

He will be on the bench of course, no matter who we start and he will be along side Thierry Henry. Lee Dixon thinks Henry can make a difference when he comes on to help us going forward…

If the game is locked at 0-0 with 30 minutes remaining, who you gonna call, Arsene? Well, there is only one man and his first name is Thierry. It would take a brave man to say Henry will do to Swansea what he did to Leeds, but I can’t resist!

And whilst Henry’s return has caught our eyes and the media’s attention too – one man who we can’t forget about is “that man”, the 21 goals this season man… Robin Van Persie… who hasn’t had any press coverage in the last few days, but is by far our biggest threat of the game. The goalscoring hero is in fine form and perhaps with the media away from him, he will get a bit of a break on the pitch and get a few goals… he is due another one or two isn’t he?

On the transfer front, Henry’s arrival has kept the papers and fans busy and it doesn’t look like we’ll get any other players in, which in reality is quite worrying considering our squad depth. We’ve more recently been linked with another left back, despite Arsene saying that nothing is happening – although on Friday, he did say he was a “little closer” to something. Whether or not Oman’s Saad Al-Mukhaini is the answer, I don’t know… I suppose we’ve got to trust the manager about this, as we do potentially have Gibbs & Sagna back next week… fingers crossed…

Back to Swansea tomorrow and as I’ve said many times – it’s a MUST win game. We simply cannot afford defeat. United at the Emirates is next Sunday… wins inspire wins… Come on you Gooners!

@worldofarsenal.

 

The Race For 4th…

In the last week or so, our inabilities to pick up points during the Christmas period has left a lot of us quite disheartened. Coupled with Tottenham’s good form, the top four is looking like a target that is slipping away. Under the Wenger era, we haven’t finished outside of the top four yet, despite a few close shaves, and it’s something that we have always targeted as a minimum requirement for the season. At the moment, the table looks like this:

It doesn’t make for good viewing. We’ve scored less than the top four, conceded more than he top four, and therefore, in theory, deserve to be in fifth. My good friend Tottz82 mentioned that he believes we have a better squad than Chelsea or Liverpool, which when all players are fit is probably true. However, one thing to consider is that we have a lot of key players out for the foreseeable future in Sagna, Santos, Gibbs, Vermaelen, Diaby, Wilshere and also Gervinho and Chamakh away on International duty. As I said a few days ago, we are one Van Persie injury away from being average. I’m not trying to be negative, but there is a worry. With Chelsea, they have gone through their bad patch and I think they’ll get stronger in the second half of the season. Their manager will impose his style more and players like Mata & Torres will start contributing more.

With Liverpool, despite quite a bad spell of form, only 18 goals scored this season and some bad losses – they’re only 2 points behind us – which means despite all the furore of their season, they’re not “super bad”… So whilst, I think we have a very good chance of the top four, we definitely need to step it up a gear or two. We can’t presume Liverpool and Chelsea will be as bad as they were in the first half of the season. We can’t presume the top three will suddenly crumble – although for the first time in many, many years, Manchester United actually look like a club in a bit of a crisis (despite being 2nd, 9 points ahead of us and three points off the top)…

Arsene Wenger had his Friday match press conference earlier today, and let’s have a look to see what he said:

  • “We still feel that we produced the needed performance against Fulham – mistakes cost us.”
  • “Thierry was very happy with Leeds. It’s a big gamble when you come back like that and he qualified us.”
  • “Mertesacker and Rosicky I will make a decision about tomorrow. They have not re-joined the squad yet.”
  • “Swansea have the quality to play in the Premier League because they play positive football”
  • “Henry is ready to start a game. He can win us games off the bench or from the start. He just wants to help”
  • “I always said February for Wilshere. If he makes that then I am happy”
  • “There is still a long way to go this season. Tottenham are a good side but nothing is decided yet”
  • “Sagna is on the way back but Gibbs may be before him. End of January”
  • “Thierry could play out wide because he still has the reflexes of a winger”
  • “He has come back better than I thought, physically. His enthusiasm every day is a top-level attitude”
  • “Swansea play without fear anywhere. They do not look out of place in the Premier League at all”
  • “I don’t look at Tottenham. You look at the potential we have and make sure we do everything to fulfill it”
  • “This year we are still in three trophies and we will try to do as well as we can. We will fight to the end”
  • “At the moment, nobody has achieved anything. A few weeks ago everyone thought Man City would dominate”
  • “I bought Ramsey because he was quality. What people forget is that this is really his first season”
  • “He has a sense of personality and responsibility. Ramsey can take pressure”
  • “I am closer to a full-back, but only a tiny bit”
  • “Henry and Van Persie have a good understanding. They can make each other stronger”

Those are the quotes published by Arsenal, just after the press conference and they do contain a lot of information in them – for starters, we are apparently closer to signing a left back, albeit on loan, well, “a little bit closer”. Arsene may be able to drag this out a little longer until the full backs are back.

Also, some interesting news is that Arsene thinks Henry is ready to start – personally, I saw him get knackered after about 10 minutes on the pitch. I think we need to understand that the boy is now 34 and hasn’t played at this level for quite some time. Coming on at home, for 20 minutes against a non-Premiership team is one thing – but starting away in the Premier League is another thing. Arsene has to make a decision on Sunday of who to start the game. I’m sure Van Persie & Theo Walcott will be named in the starting XI – but the left wing position may be filled by one of Arshavin, Rosicky, Benayoun, Henry or Oxlade. I think it will be the little Russian, but if he doesn’t improve, then perhaps Oxlade Chamberlain will get a run out.

Arsene did touch on the possible of AOC playing soon:

“He is very close now and he will be used in the next six months for sure. He is working on [his defensive side], his urgency and his committed level as well. When you are a young, talented player you have to experience that talent is good, but that commitment at the top level is highly needed too. He is an intelligent boy, he understands that, and I am very happy with him. I am confident that in the next few weeks he will play.”

I’ll be back tomorrow for a Swansea preview, we may have a little more team news by then – until then, have a great Friday night!