A Valiant Effort…

Winning 2-0 in Munich against a very good Bayern Munich side is no mean feat.

In fact, I have to say, I didn’t expect us to beat Bayern. I didn’t expect us to get anywhere near them. When I heard that we’d dropped Szcznesy completely, relegated Vermaelen to the bench and that there was no Podolski or Diaby in the squad, I feared for the worst. But the team did something great. They did what they should have done in the first leg and defended valiantly against a very good Bayern side.

As far as stats go, the home team had the possession, the shots and were more dangerous – but hats off to the back five who played their hats off – Fabianski’s best game by far, without a shadow of a doubt, pulling off great save after great save. Koscielny gave his all and Jenkinson and Gibbs showed why they are the future of the Arsenal.

The game ended 2-0 with an early goal from Giroud who looked so much better than he did in the first leg. If he could play like that every game, then we’d be slightly higher up the league than we are now and probably still in the Champions League. It’s great that we won and I believe it will be very good for us moving forward for the rest of the season. But why can’t we play like that all the time – well, the stats don’t lie, we weren’t very good – but at least we fought with passion!

Our very own Super Totti was out there in Munch supporting the team…

totti

And he witnessed a great victory… a victory which ended the game at 3-3, meaning we go out of the Champions League on away goals.

The best thing we can take from this is the spirit and fight we had. If we can take an ounce of that into the weekend, when we play Swansea, and pick up the three points we desperately need in the league, we could close the gap on Sp*rs and Chelsea and revive our last possible chance of getting into the top four.

It was a bold move by Arsene to drop Szcznesy and I was very happy with his deputy – Fabianski showed that he can challenge Szcznesy and perhaps should be in the sticks against Swansea. Another interesting move to relieve the captain of his duties. Vemaelen hasn’t been the TV5 we all know and love, he’s been out of sorts and Koscielny stepped in and showed why he should in the team.

Yes, we’re out of the Champions League, but today was full of positives – so let’s focus on them – and get behind the team – this weekend’s game against Swansea is our biggest of the season. We need Champions League football next season. Simple as.

Arsenal 2 – 0 Montpellier: We’re through…!

It’s been an interesting week in the world of football, that’s for sure. Man City getting knocked out of the Champions League was big news and Chelsea defeat to Juventus yesterday also putting Chelsea on the edge, resulting in the departure of Roberto Di Matteo. It made the evening even more telling – the Champions League is no mug’s game, it’s proper teams versus proper teams. Home games don’t necessarily mean home victories, and we saw that when we played Schalke here last time out.

 

Tonight’s game was very very important, and the team line up saw Oxlade in for Walcott and the likes of Gibbs and Gervinho on the bench:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Koscielny – Mertersacker  Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Wilshere

Oxlade – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

We didn’t quite get going until the second half, but the first half did show us a few things… The back four seems more balanced with the four players in the line up. I’m not sure who will give way for Gibbs on the weekend, all three centre backs (including the captain) showing good form – but I think Mertersacker and Koscielny are the best partnership.
The stand out player today was Wilshere – he was everywhere, and he just brings so much energy to the midfield – he’s an inspiration to the rest of the rest of the team. And it was fitting that he scored the first goal… some excellent play and an excellent header down into Jack’s path followed by a sublime lift over the keeper from the midfielder.
And it was Giroud who was involved again, for an amazing goal. A one-two with Podolski saw the German strike an excellent finish – RvPesque to be honest. I can’t describe it – you have to watch it:
It’s a great goal. I can watch it time and time again. It reminds me of what RvP was doing last season. If Podolski can start reproducing this game in and game out, it will be a really good catapult up the various tables & competitions we’re trying to win!
Arsene spoke after the game and praised Jack:

“He’s getting strong physically. Tonight he got in the box – he’s the complete midfielder you know. I believe he can defend well, attack well and these kinds of matches will give him confidence.”

We’ve got one more game in the league which could make the difference between finishing first or second… but in reality, either position has a certain level of difficulty:

“We will try to finish top of the group. You always feel a bit guilty if you don’t do it. There are groups where you have Dortmund first, Real Madrid second – you don’t really know what is the best. In this competition you just want to get to the next round and win the game. That’s all you can do. Now of course we go into a cup (knock-out) competition which is a little bit different. We have some time and it’s important we go into March with our best team available.”

A great goal from Podolski, a great performance by Jack, a clean sheet, progression to the next round. Happy days for the Arsenal, and time to rest and recuperate for the Villa game…
Til tomorrow…

Arsenal vs Montpellier Preview

Arsenal 5 – 2 Sp*rs: Papering over the cracks….

How can you not be happy after a 5-2 win against your biggest rivals…? Well, I for one am super happy… An amazing victory and bragging rights to the Arsenal. It was a nervy game from the build up to the end, credit where credit is due, and Sp*rs have a decent crop of players at the moment and they certainly showed it when they started the game. But thank God, Adebayor went mad, tried to maim Cazorla, and at 11 versus 10, we had it in us to come out eventual winners. But you have to admit, we did turn on the style, and perhaps it was the luck we needed.

Despite the maim attempt, Cazorla was certainly the man of the match along with Walcott, with the two players seemingly unplayable. Credit were credit is due, and winning the game was the important factor and we raised our game when it was needed. (Picture courtesy of Tottz82). My title says “papering over the cracks”, because I think we’re still a long way from getting into a position to challenge… the first 10 – 15 minutes showed us that we’re a little behind Sp*rs in terms of squad gelling. The midfield without Song doesn’t quite flow defensively yet…

Arsenal vs Montpellier Preview

Tomorrow we take on Montpellier at the Emirates and we really need to kick on and take our form into this game. After the draw against Schalke, it’s very important that we get the three points on the board. We have some good team news ahead of the game, with the news that Gervinho and Gibbs are both back in the squad; the manager saying:

From Saturday, we have [almost] the same squad. But one player who will miss Wednesday’s game is Walcott. It’s the injury he got during the game with his shoulder. We have to scan that today and see if there is no damage. He will be out for tomorrow but it should be short-term. We will miss Santos as well, who has an abdominal muscle strain. The two players coming in the squad are Gervinho and Gibbs. Gervinho had quite a bad ankle strain. Kieran Gibbs as well was out for a while.

Theo’s got a problem with his shoulder, which is a recurrence of his previous injury. Let’s hope it’s not serious. With the return of Oxlade, we can hopefully compensate for the loss of Theo – who is probably in the best form of his life…

My guess at the starting XI:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Wilshere

Oxlade – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

There is a slight worry that we seem to play the same players every week, twice a week, surely they’ll start getting injured, one by one… maybe with the return of Gervinho and perhaps if we can get Coquelin involved a bit more, we can rotate a little. Of course, the most important thing is winning the game. For that reason, I doubt we will rotate tomorrow, but maybe against Villa on the weekend, we should try and shake it up a little. Having said that, we need to win that game too!

But one game at a time… and let’s start with the very important game tomorrow… come on you Gooners!

Schalke 2 – 2 Arsenal: We’d have taken it before the game…

It’s all been quite negative in the press in regards to Arsenal. The players, the manager and the board have all been criticized heavily by the fans and media. Fans haven’t quite been too nice about the team or to each other, but that is what happens when things don’t go the way we want them to go.

I’ve been saying for a while that we have a plethora of players, and they do need time to gel. Tonight we played another change in personnel and this time we saw Vermaelen move to left back. I agreed with the decision before the game and we all thought that the switch would give us some defensively stability against a team who we knew would attack.

With Theo Walcott a surprise starter, considering the news he was ill before the game, the line up was:

Mannone

Sagna – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Wilshere

Walcott – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

And the inclusion of Walcott paid off as he was involved in everything. He is relatively fresh compared to the rest of the team as he’s not played too much the season, and it was no surprise that he scored the first goal of the game hovering around Giroud who latched on a mis-judged back header fluffing his chance, only for Walcott to knock the ball in.

It was soon 2-0 when Podolski threw in another great cross to the head of a diving Giroud who added another goal to his season tally. For me, the movement forward was a good sign. However, to be honest, it was against the run of play, as the home team had been playing very well up until the two goals.

But as individual mistakes have been costing us this season, it struck again a minute before half time, when Cazorla slipped just before the centre circle, giving the ball away, three passes later, the ball is in front of Huntelaar, and it’s 2-1 to the Arsenal – Koscielny accidently keeping two Schalke players on-side.

Schalke stepped it up in the second half and when Vermaelen forgot he was a left back, he left Farfan free on the right of midfield, and then conceded an own goal trying to rush to block him. 2-2.

At 2-2, neither team took many risks and both teams had good chances. Before the game, we’d have taken the draw – the key thing now is to beat Montpellier in the next game.

Arsene spoke after the game and was pleased with the performance, believing the team is gelling well.

For us it was important first of all not to lose and if possible to win. We managed the first part, not the second one. I felt that overall we played reasonably well, but dropped physically in the second half. The regret we have is that we conceded the goal just before half time and we missed the [Theo Walcott] chance at the end of the game. I think the two, of course, have a big impact on the result overall. Schalke never gave up and worked hard. I believe we have shown a good response to Saturday’s game and you feel the team is getting better. I think in one month, if we continue to develop, we will be there.

We now return to the Premiership with a key game against Fulham on the weekend. We’ll be without Jack, but hopefully we’ll have enough in us to get a very important three points in the league…

More tomorrow amigos.

 

 

 

Schalke vs Arsenal – It ain’t going to be easy….

Howdie Folks…

Firstly a massive thank you to Jat85 and Debs for some excellent blogging in my absence, whilst I was relaxing in the sun in Thailand. Some excellent blogs, and some great comments. Awesome stuff.

I’ll speak in more detail after the game, but pre-game injury news is as follows:

Ramsey (groin), Gibbs (thigh), Rosicky (tendon), Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Gervinho (ankle), Fabianski (ankle), Diaby (thigh), Walcott (flu)

What does that mean for us? Well, it means that we’re actually down to our bare bones… There is news coming in that Vermaelen may be moved to left back, which may see the following formation:

Mannone

Sagna – Metersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Coquelin

Cazorla – Wilshere – Podolski

Giroud

I don’t think we have any other options, although Walcott may have a last check to see if he can play. Personally, I think the above team is actually more balanced with Vermaelen left back and Coquelin in the middle than the team we played against Man United.

The bench would be Shea, Santos, Frimpong, Jenkinson, Gnarby, Arshavin, Chamakh.

Let’s see if I’m right… I’ll be back post match.

Arsenal 0 – 2 Schalke: Worrying Times…

One of the hardest times to write a blog is after a defeat. A defeat that you thought was coming, even worse. A defeat after a defeat, even worse. So, here goes.

Arsenal 0 – 2 Schalke: Worrying Times…

After the painful defeat to Norwich, tonight’s game was very important. Arsene and Bould had to make changes to the team, as we were simply too lethargic. The midfield wasn’t in the game, and that was one of the major changes that was made, with Coquelin coming in into central midfield. I was happy with that change, but not happy with Ramsey being moved out into righ midfield and Giroud being dropped. It kind of felt like we were playing 4-6-0.

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Coquelin

Ramsey – Gervinho  Cazorla – Podolski

That’s how we ended up playing, and no wonder we ended up with only one shot on target.

From the kick off Schalke looked the better team, they probed and prodded and looked far more interesting than us. We looked tired, lethargic and devoid of ideas. I don’t quite understand the game in tactic. I don’t know quite why we play in a way we’re not used to.

Personally, I say play players where they are most used to. For example, for the kick off, play Podolski up front, and Gervinho on the left. It’s confusing to understand why we don’t do the simple things like play players where they should be played. Ramsey on the right? That would never work. Without Walcott, or Oxlade, surely this game meant Gervinho had to play on the right.

At home, surely we had to try and win, so why not play Giroud? All very baffling. Schalke actually deserved to win, as did Norwich on the weekend.

The problem with the game was the balance, and with a strange balance and a tough team, we had a rely on discipline, and as much as I live Andre Santos, he wasn’t disciplined in defence, and to be fair, didn’t have much cover. He was exposed for both goals and his lack of matches really told. We will get better, but it may be too late.

Steve Bould:

We haven’t played anything like we can, I think that’s the big disappointment. We haven’t performed today. We lack a bit of confidence, for whatever reason, but it’s a tough competition and they [Schalke] are a good side in all fairness. They beat Dortmund at the weekend and played really well. A 0-0 would have delighted us I think.

When the management talk about being delighted with a 0-0 at home, then you know things aren’t going quite right. We’re currently 9th in the Premier League and just lost at home in the Champions League.

We have our annual AGM tomorrow, and boy, is it going to be interesting. I don’t think we’ve ever had an AGM when we’ve been so low in the table, with so many disillusioned fans.

The good thing about football, is that we play again on Saturday. This time against QPR and hopefully with Wilshere and Chamberlain back in the squad and hopefully with Giroud up front!

It’s not all over yet, there are many games to go in both competitions, but we need to find some form and find some form quickly.

Til tomorrow…

CL: Arsenal vs Schalke 04 – Arsene’s learning…

Back in the good old days, when Arsenal were slightly better than they were now, we had a different formation for Europe and away games compared to home games. Home and away in Europe, you’d see the classic 4-5-1 formation, whereas at home against the likes of a newly promoted team, you’d see 4-4-2.

Personally, I think the same applies to the current squad. At home against a lower league team, I think we’re more balanced with Giroud up front, 3 forwards behind and any one of the midfielders to hold (such as Arteta and Ramsey)… but against harder teams or even in away games, when we’re not quite getting a foot in the ground, we’ve got to look at putting in a holding midfielder.

In the previous post, in the comments, suggestions that we should have moved Ramsey outside of the deep two and installed Coquelin are very much merited, and from what I’m hearing today, it sounds like Arsene’s learnt a valuable lesson about balance since the Norwich game. Reports coming in are suggesting the following line up:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Coquelin

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

With the injury list of Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Fabianski (back), Walcott (lung), Rosicky (tendon), Gibbs (thigh), Diaby (thigh), Szczesny (ankle), Sagna, Wilshere (match practice), it means our bench has issues. Martinez has been on the bench for the last few games, but he is not eligible for tonight’s game, so I think James Shea will get the nod… meaning the bench will be:

Shea, Djourou, Mertersacker, Frimpong, Gnarby, Arshavin, Giroud

On James Shea, the boss spoke during our previous CL game and said:

“He was on the list as goalkeeper No 5 at the beginning of the season and now he is No 2! That shows you how quickly football can change. Martinez is ineligible for the B list and Wojciech [Szczesny] and Fabianski are injured.”

And more recently, i.e. today:

“I’ve spoken to Mannone – we both know mistakes can happen to every big ‘keeper. But I am not tempted to play Martinez. The biggest quality of a ‘keeper is experience. Putting an even less experienced player in now wouldn’t be the right thing.”

As Martinez is injured, I don’t think Arsene was referring to playing him today, more a general comment.

Tonight’s game is very important, we are not in good form at the moment, we have an ever increasing injury list and Schalke are a good team. But, look at that starting XI. It’s pretty good. It can win… At home we’re supposed to have the home advantage, so I emplore anyone going to the game to get behind the team as much as possible…

Let’s create the 12th man tonight and give some confidence back to the team…

Transfer Window – Last 24 Hours… AND Champions League Draw Reaction

Today’s blog is a bumper, action packed super blog, filled with two very hot topics… the transfer window delves into it’s last 24 hours and the number of deals done on Thursday was significant across Europe, but I think it will only be more today.

Players Out

Juventus have all but confirmed that Niklas Bendtner will be joining them – the deal initially on loan with a loan fee of £1.2m and with an option to buy for £5m. Despite global interest and so many admirers, it’s been a hard summer for the young Dane. I believe he is talented, that is true, but he head is too far in the clouds. Playing for a top team like Juventus and moving country away frm London / England could be a good move for the boy. He will hopefully get game time. If he improves, then maybe he’ll have a future at Arsenal or be signed permanently. I personally think, if he was ever going to be the world class player that Arsene thought he’d be, he’d be that player by now…

Maroune Chamakh is also very possibly on the way out, no clubs linked really… but he’s been left out of everything we’ve done so far, league games etc, so I think he could be off. I have no idea what it’ll take for him to get off our wage bill or sign for another club – he hasn’t exactly done anything to make people want to buy him – hopefully his previous credentials still have some weight.

Park is very heavily on his way out – apparently he’s been offered to every club in France, but it looks like Celta Vigo is his destination. Despite Arsene’s stance of only trying to sign “special players”, it’s quite clear that there is absolutely nothing special about Park. He literally didn’t get a minute in the Premier League last season and if we get any sort of fee for a sale for him, then it’s good business.

Arshavin has been linked with Zenit, who themselves have nearly lined up a £40m transfer for Hulk. I’m not sure if spending £40m on one player is the best idea for Zenit… but who knows what goes on in the background. If the Hulk deal doesn’t materialise, then it may be the Arshavin deal is more likely…

Players In

You have to consider that if Chamakh, Park, Bendtner or Arshavin leave, then we must have a player or two lined up. We’ve got to the last 24 hours and we really don’t have anything hot to go with. Rumours for Detinho are just rumours… we’ve been linked with half thew Newcastle squad, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Cabaye and Tiote – but if Newcastle managed to sell Andy Carroll for £35m, then it doesn’t seem likely that any of the aforementioned players are in our budget…

In today’s papers, we’ve been heavily linked with a loan move for Essien, and where that may be a useful addition to the squad, no doubt, at the end of the transfer window, it doesn’t look like we have really progressed since last year… already 4 points dropped this season and the squad is getting thinner and thinner.

I hope Arsene proves me wrong and we get the three first team players that our squad needs… but I’m not going to hold my breath…

Over to something a little more interesting… The Champions League Draw… the groups are:

Group A: Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Paris St Germain, Dinamo Zagreb

Group B: Arsenal, Schalke, Olympiakos, Montpellier

Group C: AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Malaga

Group D: Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund

Group E: Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, FC Nordsjaelland

Group F: Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, BATE Borisov

Group G: Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic

Group H: Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj

The group of death is surely group D… but even so, you’d have to think Real Madrid and Man City are the two strongest teams in that group. Over to our group and we’ve got a German team, a Greek team and a French team… the same combination as last year and we know it won’t be easy… With a diminishing squad, I really do hope we have enough strength in depth to play in both competitions…

Our schedule looks like this:

Matchday 1
Montpellier Hérault SC v Arsenal FC
Tuesday, September 18
Kick Off: 19.45 UK
To be played at Stade de la Mosson, France

Matchday 2
Arsenal FC v Olympiacos FC
Wednesday, October 3
Kick Off: 19:45 UK
To be played at Emirates Stadium

Matchday 3
Arsenal FC v FC Shalke 04
Wednesday, October 24
Kick Off: 19:45 UK
To be played at Emirates Stadium

Matchday 4
FC Shalke 04 v Arsenal FC
Tuesday, November 6
Kick Off: 19:45 UK
To be played at Veltins Arena, Germany

Matchday 5
Arsenal FC v Montpellier Hérault SC
Wednesday, November 21
Kick Off: 19:45 UK
To be played at Emirates Stadium

Matchday 6
Olympiacos FC v Arsenal FC
Tuesday, December 4
Kick Off: 19:45 UK
To be played at Karaiskaki Stadium, Greece

Montpellier away is in about three weeks and will be a return to his former club for Olivier Giroud. I hope he manages to get one over them and push on… but they will not be a pushover – it’s not easy to win any league and last season, Montpellier finished above Lille, Lyon, Marseille and moneybags PSG…

Liverpool were in action against Hearts last night and battled their way to a 1-1 draw, which saw them through to the next round. I really hope they are super knackered, as we’re up there on Sunday. Liverpool preview tomorrow, but for now…

Enter the last 24 hours of the transfer window…

Arsenal & The Champions League Draw 2012/2013

We’ve started the season off in a drab fashion, and by that I mean 2 draws from 2 games – two 0-0 draws to be exact. Scored none, and conceded none; it’s not all as it seems – the performances have been very solid. The team have played well, defended well, controlled possession, but in both games we failed to score.

With Cazorla pulling the strings and Podolski and Giroud both getting game time, it’s probably a “bedding in period” that has stopped us from picking up the points in the last two games. However, it’s unfortunate, because ideally we wanted to have some sort of continuality to the team rather than rip it apart… However, Arsene’s not had that luxury and the new team means we need time to gel, and what that ends up being is 2 points from 6 against Stoke and Sunderland and now we’re off to Liverpool away.

There was a lot of talk out of the Arsenal camp about having a good start to push us forward, but it looks like it’s not materialised and yet again we’re on catch up – it’s going to be a tough next period with Liverpool away next, followed by a spritely Southampton at home, before we start our two games a week regime with the return of the Champions League.

The Champions League Draw

The draw is this Thursday, 30th August 2012, is the group stage draw and there are quite a few interesting teams involved. There are still 10 games to be played tomorrow and Wednesday and the winners of the following two-legged games will join forces with the current 22 teams…

  • Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC v FC BATE Borisov (0-2)
  • RSC Anderlecht v AEL Limassol FC (1-2)
  • NK Maribor v GNK Dinamo Zagreb (1-2)
  • Udinese Calcio v SC Braga (1-1)
  • Panathinaikos FC v Málaga CF (0-2)
  • CFR 1907 Cluj v FC Basel 1893 (2-1)
  • Celtic FC v Helsingborgs IF (2-0)
  • Fenerbahçe SK v FC Spartak Moskva (1-2)
  • FC Dynamo Kyiv v VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (3-1)
  • LOSC Lille Métropole v FC København (0-1)

The current 22 are pretty much in order of co-efficient, although Barcelona have the highest co-efficient, Chelsea are seeded first out of the first pot, as they are the current champions…

The first pot / top eight are:

  • Chelsea FC (ENG)
  • FC Barcelona (ESP)
  • Manchester United FC (ENG)
  • FC Bayern München (GER)
  • Real Madrid CF (ESP)
  • Arsenal FC (ENG)
  • FC Porto (POR)
  • AC Milan (ITA)

The second pot is:

  • Valencia CF (ESP)
  • SL Benfica (POR)
  • FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
  • FC Zenit St Petersburg (RUS)
  • FC Schalke 04 (GER)
  • Manchester City FC (ENG)
  • Olympiacos FC (GRE)
  • AFC Ajax (NED)

The third pot is a very interesting one as it’s got Juventus, PSG and Dortmund in it… and two winners from the games above…

  • Juventus (ITA)
  • Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA)
  • Galatasaray AŞ (TUR)
  • Borussia Dortmund (GER)
  • Montpellier Hérault SC (FRA)
  • FC Nordsjælland (DEN)

So, what’s the hardest group we could get?

Arsenal, Valencia, PSG, Dynamo Kiev would be a very tough one… Thanks to the home rules, we can’t face Man City and both Valencia and Malaga – but one of the Italian teams, say Inter could also get Man City, PSG and Malaga in their group, which could be a really exciting one…

What’s the easiest group… Arsenal,  Olympiacos, FC Nordsjælland and FC BATE Borisov. I’d take that any day!

So instead of worrying about the Liverpool game, or who we will sign, we can watch tomorrow’s and Wednesday’s action and Thursday’s draw…

Arsene Speaks…

Howdies Folks…

Things are starting to hot up at the Euros and at the Arsenal… starting with matters closer to home and Arsene has been in the press talking about Podolski and Giroud. We’ve heard through all media outlets that the Giroud deal is virtually done, but not heard anything from the club or manager until now…

“Giroud didn’t play much (at the Euros so far), but he’s going to be an Arsenal player 90 per cent next season. I think he has exceptional potential and will integrate very well in our collective and our way of playing. He is a real team player and knows how to combine with other players and I’m sure he will do well with us.”

It’s sometimes hard to know if a quote is true, but with the quote above, it’s been published in all major football / sports sites, so you’d have to presume it’s true. Giroud has had some game time at the Euros – I was watching when he came on against the Ukraine. He didn’t get much of the ball, but he has impressed at club level…

There’s a nice video on YouTube showing his 2010/2011 goals… and he actually reminds me of Van Persie…

What do you think? People have compared him to Chamakh, for the simple reason that he is coming to us from the French league, but that’s too darn silly to compare someone based on which league they were in… as in that case Nelson Vivas and Messi are both amazing or both rubbish…

Arsene has also been speaking about Podolski, and said:

“Podolski did a great job for the German team, he has superb team work. He plays in a cautious way sometimes, but he’s still scored a very important goal against Denmark for his 100th cap. I am very happy with what I’ve seen from him.”

I watched a re-run of Denmark vs Germany and one thing that is evident is that Podolski is wasted on the left of the forward line – in fact, he was playing more of a left midfielder in a 4-4-2 if you consider Ozil sits quite high up the pitch. For me Podolski is a striker, and he is wasted when he plays so deep.

For Arsenal, it’s going to be interesting. If RvP stays, we will have four strikers who all suit the middle of the pitch – RvP, Giroud, Podolski and Joel Campbell. Whether or not we will end up changing our formation to 4-4-2 remains to be seen, but it may just make a lot of sense.

In other Arsenal news, it looks like Arsenal and Sao Paulo have been unable to reach a figure for Denilson and he could be back with us at the beginning of July… if anyone has been following him then do let me know if he has got any better.

Additionally, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is in line for a new deal. Considering he signed one last summer, I don’t think we really need to give him a new deal just yet… maybe something should be looked at next summer?

And finally, tonight – it’s Germany vs Greece and a chance to look at Podolski once again… Mertersacker will probably not start, and unless Germany need to shut up shop, we may not see him either… Tomorrow sees Spain vs France, which does sound rather mouth watering, and then on Sunday, the big one, England vs Italy… With Ashley Young injured, we may just see our young starlet, AOC, in action from the start of the game…

Have a great weekend folks, and I’ll be back when next appropriate!

Why Robin Is Going To Be Sold…

The football season is officially over… well, nearly over… tomorrow represents the last day of the footballing calendar, with key games being played to see who will be promoted through the play offs and who will be crowned kings of Europe.

It’s a tough decision to make about who you want to win the Champions League. If Chelsea win, then Sp*rs are demoted from the Champions League next season to the Europa Cup… which will be funny considering they actually finished in the top four.

However, the problem with Chelsea winning the Champions League is that they’ll become the first London based team to do so. So it’s quite clear in my head. Bayern to win the Champions League. Sp*rs to qualify to the group stage and then get knocked out!

Back to all things Arsenal and it’s that time of year when we should be thinking about who is coming in, but in all honesty, we’re worried that we’re going to lose our best player. It’s a bit of a tough one, by now, Robin should have signed a contract and the continue delays can only point to one thing… that he is leaving this Summer. Despite his wife saying they’re planning to stay in London, you can’t take anything for granted nowadays and for the first time in a quiet a while, I think he’s planning to leave.

After all, he’s got the captain’s curse.

He did say in his post match interview after the West Brom game… “Whatever happens, I’ll always have Arsenal in my heart”… surely the sentiment of the statement is that he’s off. Patrick Vieira has been in the press talking about what will happen if he leaves – yes we will survive, but no we won’t challenge for the title.

“I think losing Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas last year was a big shock for the people who love Arsenal. If they lose Van Persie it will be a drama. With Samir and Cesc you could say, ‘OK those two are gone, but there is Jack Wilshereand Van Persie still at the club’. But if Robin leaves who is behind? If he leaves it’s going to be difficult for Arsenal to keep the top players, next year it may be Theo Walcott, then Jack Wilshere. But if they keep Robin they’re going to send a positive message to all the clubs and to all the people around. It’s really important to keep him.”

The fact  that we’re here again and we have a top player entering the last year of his contract absolutely sucks. Why do we let this happen? Well, it’s probably about money. Every time we re-sign, we have to pay a sign on fee and astronomical wages increase to even more astronomical wages. From a club’s point of view, by not signing last summer, there was a massive saving.

Signing now is perfect, as the club has already saved the money – but the problem is this.

If you are a football player and you’re offered an increased contract, you’d sign it. Why? Because you’d get paid more money. It’s a no brainer. If Robin is on £80k a week and his new contract is £120k a week, then bot signing it would mean that you’d lose out on £40k a week, which is £2m.

The only time you’d not sign and risk losing out on £2m is if you were planning to leave in Summer.

Think about it boys and girls, it’s getting pretty obvious.

There has been much debate about what to do now. Just as we have lured Podolski, taking him from £40k to £60k and the Champions League, there are clubs who are above us, who will be able to pay us what we want for Robin and pay Robin want he wants.

Michael on Football365, summed it up:

“Take the money, thank RVP for the transfer fee and his immense contribution to CL qualification and not waste the summer trying to convince him to stay. Use the WHOLE summer to build a team for next season and not wait until transfer deadline day.”

Planning is key, filling in the missing gaps is key. If all of this nonsense about Robin is going to end up blowing up in our face, and we’re going to lose him anyway, we might as well lose him now and then focus on the next step.

I really hope Arsene has learnt from last season. Don’t get me wrong – I will jump for joy if Robin stays, but I just don’t see it happening….

There’s a long road this summer, it can be protracted, long and painful or short & sweet and to the point. I’d prefer the latter, no matter who comes in and who leaves.

Here’s to a Bayern win tomorrow….

Adios for now…