Van Persie wins the double…

If only it was League and Champions League, it would have been the ultimate double. But for Van Persie, in a season where we lost four key men in Cesc, Nasri, Wilshere & Diaby – it took a special effort to lift us to a level where we can compete, and Van The Man has done that no end!

The Dutch striker today was named 2012 Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association and yesterday, he was named Player’s Player of the Year 2012. Today’s award is by Journalists and publications and the Player’s Player of the Year Award is by players – winning both, surely shows that he is by far the best player in the league.

Chief football writer at The People and FWA chairman Steve Bates, said:

“Robin was the overwhelming choice of our members this season and deservedly so after a magnificent campaign for Arsenal. The quality of his goals, attacking movement and consistency in a turbulent season for the Gunners has been eye-catching. The considerable size of his majority in the votes cast by our members reflected the general view that he has been the season’s most outstanding individual performer.

And this tops off yesterday’s accolade.

Winning the PFA award, for any player is an amazing feat, and a sign of class & respect from fellow pros.

Van Persie was very touched at yesterday’s award and said:

“If other people are saying it, it is special, but it is even more special if your opponents are saying it. It is very special because you are playing against them week in week out and every single player does everything to win. In the end, if they make up their minds that I am the best player it is a big honour.”

He was also keen to give the thumbs up to his team mates:

“Without them I could not have achieved it. ”For example Theo Walcott, he has given me more than 12 assists and I do really appreciate that.”

In life, you have to realise where you are, how you got there, and who helps you to get there.

And for those of you who love the game, you’ll most likely play the game. Pro Evo, that is… and PES2013 is out soon, and the trailers are out now…

Check it out…

Tottz is back tomorrow for his Wednesday digest – here’s to see Barcelona or Chelsea thump Chelsea or Barcelona (depending on what floats your boat)…

Arsenal’s Biggest Summer…

Afternoon all and it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in North London. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, there are smiles on people’s faces…. and that doesn’t happen that often during a season – especially where Arsenal’s season has been one of embarrassment. I’m not going to start ‘aving a go… but instead reflect on why this is Arsenal’s most important and biggest summer.

If you look at the current squad, there are a lot of very good players – but in reality, how many “world class” players do we have? If you think about it, we only have Cesc, Van Persie and possibly Nasri. Two class players, capable of winning games. Back in the day, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Henry were all players capable of winning games from nothing – plus we also had the likes of Van Persie on the bench as well and a solid spine to back them up.

The problem is now, that the bench of game changers has turned into a bench of has-been’s – Rosicky and Lehmann, and a bench of kids, Ramsey, Gibbs, etc and a bench of fringe players who offer little or no substance when they come on, Chamakh, Bendtner, Denilson etc.

If anyone thinks for a minute that these players “will come of age” next season, they will be mistaken… When I hear Arsene come out and say this:

“We have enough quality to beat anyone in the world, even with the current squad. You have a Champions League Final and only one team has beaten both of them and that is Arsenal.

It worries me! He is right though, we have beaten Barcelona and Man United at home this season, so yes, we can all agree that there is a lot of quality in the squad. But then again, we’ve lost to Newcastle, West Brom and Aston Villa at home – so, what is the reasoning for that?

Arsene said yesterday that this is our biggest summer:

“[One of the most important summers of my time at Arsenal?] Yes, I think so, we had a few important ones but this will certainly be a big one, on all fronts.”

And I really hope it is… it has to be – the likes of Van Persie, Cesc and the emerging talents of Ramsey and Wilshere need quality players around them. Having a clueless Walcott on the right of midfield and a hopeless Arshavin on the left doesn’t help much – to have people like Bendtner, Chamakh and Denilson on the bench simply doesn’t inspire. I don’t agree when I say project youth has failed, it’s created a nucleus of good players – enough quality in the side to beat the top teams and compete until March / April…

Just imagine a team like this:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Vidic - Vermaelen – Marcelo

Nasri – Cesc – Wilshere – Hazard

SuarezVan Persie

With a bench of Fabianski, Djourou, Song, Ramsey, Walcott, Arshavin, Chamakh…

And the likes of Gibbs, Koscielny, Lansbury, Miyachi, JET, Watt in and around the squad…

This example of a squad has proved to me that we are 4 players short of team able to compete on all fronts – of course, the four players I’ve mentioned, Vidic, Marcelo, Hazard and Suarez are only examples of players out there that would transform our squad – but I don’t think for one minute we’ll possibly sign any of them. If you now look at the bench, you’ll see it’s relatively strong – with players available to change the game. That’s what we need.

Our left side is obviously in need of a full scale replacement – neither Clichy or Gibbs have really proved themselves and they need to be replaced. Out of the four players I mentioned, Edin Hazard could be a realistic £15m signing if we wanted him. Of course, Vidic, Marcelo and Suarez are out of our budget – they’re first team players and talismen for their current clubs – but if Alex Ferguson can find Hernandex for £8m and Vidic for £6m, then surely Arsenal – who apparently have the best scouting network in the world – can find players of that quality.

Many people say we need a big strong defensively midfielder… but it’s not the defensive midfield position that has let us down – United don’t even have such a player… it’s the team formation, the team defending as a unit and the individual mistakes that our back five his season have created that have undermined our season – confidence in our team mates and mental strength has been lacking.

I’m not an accountant and obviously not the manager, but for me, the exodus of Clichy (£10m to Juventus), Eboue (£6m to Athletico Madrid),  Diaby (£8m to PSG), Denilson (£7m to Sevilla), Squillaci (£3m to Villareal), Almunia (£2m to Galatasary), Bendtner (£12m to Bayern)… could easily raise £50m +… surely enough to get 4 quality players Arsene Wenger style… I’m not sure if you would agree with me, but who would your four players be, if you had a £50m budget?

Arsene continued talking about the summer and said:

“[That my first priority is to keep my squad together] is true [but it] doesn’t mean that there will be no movement. There will be some movement of players who have played less, who need to play and as well of course we will try to strengthen our squad again but we want to keep the basis and style of play we have. We are very very busy all over our Club, we are looking, analysing, talking to people. There are two steps in the transfer market during the summer, the first is very early and the second one is very late.

Considering it is late May now, do we think we’ll suddenly get a news of a new signing very soon? Hmmm, debatable… but fingers crossed…

Okay, back to the Arsenal Ladies game, it’s half time, they’re looking good, and we’re 2-0 up… come on you Arsenal….!

The Season Continues…

Indeed, my friends, the season continues and no matter how disappointed we all are – we have to put the recent final defeat behind us and focus on the games ahead. The recent loss of Walcott & Cesc as well as the even more recent loss of Van Persie has put us into a very precarious position in terms of personnel in the next 3 weeks or so. Our first choice players will have to consist of Bendtner, Arshavin, Rosicky and Chamakh – players who have not performed well at all in the last couple of games (Arshavin aside). I’ve been raving about the difference between last year and this – talking about the players who we will have this season compared to last – but up to the lead up to the game – suddenly we’re dropping like flies.

We need to decide which competitions we want to win and then focus on them. The Carling Cup has been an obvious distraction. It’s meant we’ve used more of the first team that we should have – it’s had counter effects on our league form and also the team we choose for the FA Cup – 2 replays already… and the fatigue and injury is evident for all to see. I’m confused to why we have so many players on loan and also confused to see why we want to go for all trophies with a relatively small squad.

Where we are right now, personally, we need to focus on one competition – unfortunately for us, we have 4 games in the next 10 days ranging all the three competitions… so we’ll see how Arsene prioritises in the next week or so. Focused on the Premiership is the obvious thing, considering Man United’s recent loss to Chelsea. We’re 4 points behind them with a game in hand and it’s essential that we win our games in hand and really give it a go.

Check out the run in for both clubs:

United

Currently on 60 points, with ten games to play.

  1. Liverpool (a)
  2. Bolton (h)
  3. West Ham (a)
  4. Fulham (h)
  5. Newcastle (a)
  6. Everton (h)
  7. Arsenal (a)
  8. Chelsea (h)
  9. Blackburn (a)
  10. Blackpool (h)

Arsenal

Currently on 56 points, with eleven games to play.

  1. Sunderland (h)
  2. West Brom (a)
  3. Blackburn (h)
  4. Blackpool (a)
  5. Liverpool (h)
  6. Sp*rs (a)
  7. Bolton (a)
  8. United (h)
  9. Stoke (a)
  10. Aston Villa (h)
  11. Fulham (a)

Our run in looks relatively easier than United’s but with the number of games we’ve played, the fact that we are the Arsenal and the injuries we have got too – who knows which is the easiest run in? Outside of the Premiership, the next game is Leyton Orient away and it would be nice to win the game – at the same time, United away is the next one if we do win it – one of the hardest games of the season, a game where our first team failed to turn up to…

We’ve got injuries to Song and Koscielny for the game, so it looks like we might just give Miguel another run out… My predicted line up for the game is:

Almunia

Eboue – Squillaci – Miguel – Gibbs

Denilson – Diaby

Bendtner – Rosicky – Arshavin

Chamakh

With a bench of Szcznesy, Sagna, Djourou, Clichy, Wilshere, Nasri and a youth product, perhaps?

All that is left to say, is that we all need to keep the faith, not over-react, back our team and get a win against Leyton Orient!!

Did Wilshere play himself into a permanent England role?

Fabio Capello has fallen in love with Jack Wilshere.

Yes, it’s a little odd that he has recently had such an attraction to the player – but at least it has been on pure merit, unlike Sven with Theo.

Jack Wilshere has  played himself into first choice for Arsenal – at age 18 and it looks like the young Arsenal player has played himself into a place in the England team at the tender age of 19.

Capello focused on Wilshere pre-match and said:

“I know he prefers to go forward but an intelligent player can play anywhere. I used the example of Claude Makelelebefore. Andrea Pirlo also started just behind the forward player but ended up playing in front of the back four. The thing is, he plays with confidence, never with fear. And other players have confidence in him. He is not playing for a team that’s trying to stay in the Premier League. It is Arsenal, second in the table. It is incredible for someone so young. I know Wilshere is 19 but I remember the best players I managed; Baresi, Maldini, Raul. They all started really young. It is the same talent. But people have to wait. He is young and needs experience in big games, like the Champions League and matches between the big teams in England.”

The manager said this before the youngster’s debut and that’s saying something. To be compared to the likes of Baresi and Maldini is an impressive comparison and for me, he is a player in form and deserved  his chance.

The match ended 2-1 to England and after a sloppy start, England came back to win with goals from Darren Bent and Ashley Young – with Theo Walcott getting an assist for Bent’s equaliser. Wilshere started in a midfield holding role alongside Frank Lampard. With Wayne Rooney dropping back and Milner also playing from deep, we had our way with the midfield and Wilshere did a good job marshalling the opposition attack, whilst also finding time to move forward, run towards goal and spring some excellent passes – reminiscent of Pirlo in his prime!

When Capello says he is building the team around Wilshere – he literally is – with the Arsenal midfielder in the middle of everything good…

After the game, the manager had some positive words:

“I am happy with the result and the performance of some players. Wilshere in the first half played with confidence and it was an interesting debut”

And the player was also happy about his performance:

“It’s great to play for your country and I am delighted with my first start and I’m glad it was a win,” he said. “It was a difficult game but we kept the ball well and it’s great to play with players like that, they make it easy. Not going forward was tough but it’s quite similar to the role I play at Arsenal and I will play anywhere for my country.”

For me, Jack is miles above the likes of Scott Parker and Gareth Barry – and come the next game, I can see no reason why he won’t play in the middle of the park – I was glad that Parker got a run out as he is definitely a player who has deserved his place ahead of Jenas, Huddlestone and the like.

In other friendlies, Sagna got 90 minutes for France and despite a knock or two, completed the game – and even Abou Diaby got 30 minutes – which can only be good for the lad. With Diaby suspended from domestic football for 3 games following his sending off, he needs games – I hope he just doesn’t somehow play against Barcelona – that’s the last thing we need.

Rosicky scored a goal – wow! And Arshavin was also decent in his outing for Russia.

As things stand, there are no injuries for any Arsenal players.

I hope I am not corrected….

Til tomorrow, Adios!

Buying A Defender Could Win Us The Title…

Morning Fellow Gooners,

Today I am writing the blog with the help of “Lady WOA” who is talking to me about aliens and monsters and how they are in a film together. Whilst I maintain some sort of interest, I am actually thinking about the defensive crisis that is imminently looming. I’m not one who goes on about needing new signings and I do have a lot of faith in the current squad – but there are certain times when you need to buy to ensure that a crisis doesn’t happen – i.e. if two of your four centre backs are injured and the remaining two are injury prone and inexperienced.

With Nordtveit having left the club despite being our most promising youngster in summer and Miquel being promoted to the fringes of the first team despite never having played for our first team, we’re simply down to the two centre backs that we’ve seen in action for the last three games…

My main worry is that the two we have – although excellent at times – both have an error up their sleeve – we saw a bit of a shaky performance from Djourou in the last game against West Ham and we also saw a bit of a shaky performance from Koscielny against Leeds. Last season, our defensive mistakes were the undoing of us – we lose confidence and lose swagger. If either Djourou or Koscielny get injured or sent off, we have no other option…

Except the option of breaking our formidable midfield trio of Song – Wilshere – Cesc… “WilshCescSong”… doesn’t have the same ring as TheoNasVanCesc… but the last thing we want to see is Song going back into the defence and seeing Denilson come into midfield. Despite being quite pro-Denilson last season, I’ve done a complete u-turn this season and in light of the fact he has been our worst player this season, the thought of NOT having Song in the midfield and having Denilson in there – when it matters – and having Song in defence – doesn’t appeal to me at all!

We all know that we won’t see Squillaci for three weeks or so and we won’t see Vermaelen for the next 6 weeks – if his operations goes well… a big IF…

Vermaelen admitted yesterday that he is going under the knife…

“I’ll undergo this operation in Sweden. According to the specialist who will operate on me it’s a little tendon situated beside the Achilles tendon which is provoking the irritation.”

Arsene also commenting:

“It’s not a real surgery. It is to take out a little [tendon] next to his [Achilles] tendon. It is to open it a little bit and cut out the [tendon] that has been causing the friction. It is a procedure, that is the right medical term. We are very optimistic that [this will cure the problem]. But of course it is now what you call in football a little bit longer delay of four to six weeks.”

So, we have to buy…

Arsene, if you’re reading this, then there is no other option. Unless you honestly think the untried, untested and young Miquel is honestly an option, which I don’t think you do! Don’t live in the dreamland that we can make it through and Thomas Vermaelen will be back and fine soon – he hasn’t played since September!

Well… If I am correct, the gaffer did say that there was a chance that he’d be back in less than a month… er… dream land?

“Let’s count the weeks to Barcelona and you will know. I count a minimum of four weeks, maximum six, so it is not an unrealistic target.  But don’t forget as well he is a little bit in the situation of Aaron Ramsey, he has not played since the beginning of September, that means he will need some games to be completely fit.”

But the time is now to buy another centre back!

Squillaci is not good enough at this level, Djourou and Koscielny are good, but they would thrive learning off and playing with someone experienced… Arsene did say if he did buy it would have to be someone with Premiership experience.

Just imagine if we signed Gary Cahill or Phil Jagielka from Bolton or Everton respectively – not the worst touts as signings – but it would send a huge message to our rivals. It would mean that we had backup whilst Vermaelen is out, and a long term replacement for Squillaci and more time to develop the likes of Miquel… Perfect signing, right?

It could just win us the title…

Fresh Ideas? Or Maybe A Bit of Luck?

Morning all, and it’s a very Snowy Sunday morning today. The snow is sooo nice, it’s like out of movie… and today is a cold cold day too.

It’s been one hell of a year, 2008, and with our recent run, many people are wondering where it’s all gone wrong. I’ve read all the papers today and there is a sense of “it’s all over”, “Arsenal lost it”, “Fresh Ideas needed”, “Liverpool will win on Tuesday” and to be honest it’s all nonense.

Excuses are excuses, yes, but they “excuse” the status quo. What I mean by this is that whatever people say, we have peformed admirely this season and definitely not had lady luck on our side.

It’s all over? No way!

I don’t think it’s all over by any means. I have predicted in the title run in piece that Man Utd will NOT get three points at the Riverside. I think Middlesborough all raise their game against the big four at home. I can see them losing or at least getting just the one point. That would leave us either 5 or 6 points behind with United yet to play Chelsea and us. Game on is what I say.

Arsenal have lost it? Rubbish

We haven’t lost it, we’re one of the youngest sides in the premiership and we’ve played some fantastic football this season.  We’ve been extremely unlucky to have Rosicky, Eduardo, Van Persie and Denilson all out for long periods and the smaller injuries which have kept Toure, Fabregas, Hleb, Walcott, Diaby and others out of the season for long periods of time.

Just imagine United without Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez (site Rosicky, Eduardo, Van Persie), they would be a shadow of the team they are with those players. Just imagine Liverpool without Torres, Gerrard or Chelsea without Drogba, Anelka and Lampard. Any team would struggle.

So have we lost it? No. Are we tired and our players overused? Possibly.

Fresh Ideas Needed? I don’t think so.

We don’t need fresh ideas. We started the season in awesome fashion, which saw pundits and fans alike ulogise over the quality of football and the quality of goals. Adebayor has scored some amazing goals, especially the one against Sp*rs. We’ve beaten Chelsea (nearly twice) and played Liverpool off the park 3 times this season. We’ve had wins against top European sides and a night of glory in the San Siro. But our injury woes this season, we haven’t been able to rotate the players. The same nucleus of players have played nearly all the games all season.

If we didn’t have such unpredictable injuries this season, players such as Eduardo and Rosicky would have surely gained at least 8 points between them (Brum, Villa, Wigan, Boro) and we’d be up there. Next season we’ll have a few more players coming in, such as Vela and Botehlo. With Rosicky back and Eduardo returning in November, our squad should be bulkier. With the possible addition of one or two players in, we’ll defintely have more of a squad next season.

We definitely don’t need fresh ideas, we just needed a couple of lucky breaks especially with injuries.

Liverpool Will Win on Tuesday. Yeah right!

With our two draws against Liverpool, everyone seems to presume they will win on Tuesday. I don’t think so. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot and have some really unlucky decisions with stonewall penalties in both games. We should have won all three of the games that we’ve played against Liverpool this season have played them off the park. On Tuesday, we’ll be at Anfield and we’ll play them off the park again. This time, we’ll do a Milan and score a couple. Can’t wait, bring it on!

It’s Sunday and I’m looking forward to see Middlesborough take on United. It’s going to be an interesting game. Have a good one, more later…!]]>

A Tribute To David Rocastle…

Tomorrow is the 31st of March and it marks the 7th year anniversary of the great man's passing. For those of you old enough to remember the tricks, skills and flair of such a talented player, it's a day that you'll always remember. For those of you too young to know or see Rocky in action, he was a truly naturally gifted player and someone who can only be described as "Arsenal through and through". His love for the game was immense and played the way that Arsenal have always been affiliated with.

Rocky

All About David Rocastle

In association with www.rocky7.co.uk 

Aron Lazarus and Marc Levy are two Arsenal fans and Rocastle fans who have set up the site, here’s an insight to what the site is all about and a bit of a history about Rocastle.

Who is David Rocastle? 

Rocastle, or ‘Rocky’ as he became known, made his Arsenal debut in a goalless draw against Newcastle on 28 September 1985 and soon became a regular member of the first team. In 1987, just before his 20th birthday, he helped Arsenal to a famous League Cup Final victory over Liverpool, and their first trophy in 8 years. This was followed up by another League Cup Final appearance a year later, but this time Arsenal surrendered a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 to a last minute Luton Town winner. Despite that defeat, Arsenal were on the up and, along with other starlets like Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Michael Thomas, Rocky was part of a young Arsenal team that were destined for greatness.

When did Rocky win his first league medal? 

In 1989, Rocky and his teammates tasted major glory, winning the clubs first League Championship since 1971 and in dramatic fashion, with a goal in the last minute of the last game of the season, against their nearest rivals Liverpool. It remains the most exciting finish to a league season ever and will probably never be matched.

This success was followed up 2 years later when Arsenal once again were crowned champions, this time in even more convincing fashion, losing just one game all season. Unfortunately, injury meant that Rocky’s contribution was limited to 18 appearances that season.

Did Rocky have International honors? 

By the age of 24, Rocky had been an integral part of a team that had picked up 3 trophies in 4 years. His huge contributions were well documented and on 14th September 1988, Rocky was selected to play for England for the first time, in a 1-0 victory over Denmark, which as provided debuts for England greats Paul Gascoigne and Des Walker.

Then what happened? 

Rocky was destined for a long and successful career on both the domestic and international stages. However, in the early 1990s, he suffered a series of injuries which began to hamper his game and in 1992 he was transferred to Leeds, much to the dismay of all Arsenal fans, by whom he was adored.

What happened after Rocky left Arsenal? 

After leaving Arsenal, Rocky played for a number of other clubs, including Leeds, Manchester City and Chelsea, however, the fans of these clubs only saw the Rocky magic in fits and starts as his career continued to be blighted by injury. In 1999, after further short term spells at Norwich City, Hull City and Malaysian outfit Sabah, Rocky succumbed to his injuries and was forced to retire.

What did Rocky mean to Arsenal?

In all Rocky made 14 appearances for his country, a staggeringly low total for a man with his talent. Despite leaving Arsenal in 1992, Rocky forever remained a part of the Arsenal family. The fans loved him not only because of his brilliance on the pitch, but because he played the game with a smile on face and his heart on his sleeve, and more than that, he always conducted himself as a gentleman.

Tell us more about Rocky’s illness 

In February 2001, Rocky announced that he was suffering from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and thousands of fans prayed for his recovery, but this was a battle that was too much, even for David Rocastle. Rocky passed away on 31st March 2001, aged just 33.

What did David Rocastle represent to you?
 
David Rocastle represented everything that was good about football. Honesty, passion, teamwork, commitment, and of course, sheer brilliance, and we believe that this is why he remains in the hearts and minds of all Gooners who were privileged to see him play and who continue to sing his name, even today.
 
How did www.rocky7.co.uk come about?
 
The ongoing love for Rocky amongst Arsenal fans is what inspired us to create this website, so that people could have a place to share their memories and stories about Rocky. However, we also felt that it would be great to create an opportunity for everyone to do something really worthwhile in Rocky’s honour.

Charities have been setup to raise money for cancer. Tell us about ways of raising money?

We are delighted to have teamed up with Arseshirts.com to produce 3 limited edition t-shirts in honour of Rocky. These t-shirts will only be on sale from 25th March to 30th April 2008 and every single penny of profit from their sale will go straight to TreeHouse, a charity that supports children with Autism. Rocky did endless work with children’s charities himself, so we feel that this is the perfect way to honour his memory.

For more info and for details on how to purchase shirts and see tributes to Rocastle from family and friends, visit the site, http://www.rocky7.co.uk]]>

A Look At Arsenal's Squad – Why It's Not All Doom And Gloom

Where did it all go wrong, 5 points ahead 5 games ago, and then 6 points behind now. The reason is the 4 points we've gained out of a possible 15 points. We've choked at the final hurdle, but why? What happened? Where did it all go wrong?

Well, it's not all gone wrong, it's far from it. Yes, we failed at the final hurdle, but with seven games to go, six points behind, there may be one more twist to the title race still. But even if we don't win the title, this season has been a turning point in the world of Arsenal. It's been a year where players have emerged, personalities made and a great progression of the team. The same players who dropped 11 points are the same who've won the previous 56 points. They're the same players who beat Chelsea 1 - 0 and Milan 2 - 0.

During the summer, many people called for big name signings. But Arsene knew the quality, knew the potential and knew what we could achieve. The reason Arsene hasn't bought is because when all our squad is fit, we've got one hell of a squad. With the squad we've got, and the new stadium debt, there is no need to buy big players.

It's been an unfortunate season in terms of injuries, as a few of our current big players have been injured for long periods of time. With Van Persie, Rosicky, Diaby, Denilson, Toure, Walcott, Hleb, Cesc and of course Eduardo suffering injuries which had kept them out of the team for more than 3 games in a row or longer.

The major turning point was surely Eduardo's injury. He got injured at Birmingham, and since then we have had this run. Eduardo was a big player for us and had really complimented Adebayor. But without him, the dynamic of the squad had to change. Ade can't be rested for any game this season and hasn't been since the Carling Cup semi final. Croatia manager said recently that it will be okay for Croatia but for Arsenal it's worse. And it's true.

We've had to rush back VP and he's just getting back to full fitness now. He's another player who've we have missed. He's a big player. And without him all season, it's been hard for the rest of the squad. But with him returning, then we do have hope to get out of this rut and start performing again.

The problem with so many injuries, is that although our first XI are pretty much okay-ish, they can't be rested. When United rotate and swap Rooney & Ronaldo with Tevez & Nani. We can't do that as Eduardo and Rosicky are injured. It means that our players tired quicker and make more mistakes, which at this season become more costly.

Then there is the Anderton of them all, Rosicky. We must remember that it must be even more frustrating for him than it is for us. As he's had to sit on the sidelines during a run we saw us go to the top of the table and he's had to sit and watch us fall from the summit.

Let's remember one individual whom could have been a big bonus right now, that's Lassana Diarra, but he's obviously someone who Arsene felt wasn't right for the club. And if he's not right, then let him leave...

So the question on everyone's lips would be how to rectify this for this season and how do we seriously challenge next season? The answer is not to do too much. Trust Arsene. With more experience for the likes of Bendtner, Walcott, Flamini and Fabregas, we'll be naturally stronger next season.

Keeping our squad fit for the season will be our main target. Having Van Persie & Rosicky fit for the season and squad members such as Diaby & Denilson fit for when they're needed will be the injection we need. We have players returning such as Carlos Vela and Pedro Botelho - the left winger we've all been calling for and then in November, the return of Eduardo.

If Arsene keeps the squad together, with the returning loan players, we will have a squad to be reckoned with. With Gilberto and Lehmann most probably leaving, we will have a reduction in the wage budget which will see just the one or two players in that we need. Our squad next season will be stronger and we don't have to burn the wallet to get there.

We were literally 5% off the title this season, let's see if we can get that 5% next season, and remember we still have a chance this season.

It's not all doom and gloom, in fact, far from it.]]>

The Title Run In: Arsenal's Remaining Games…

Arsenal

Man United

Chelsea

67 points (played 30) 67 points (played 29) 64 points (played 29
 
- Bolton (Home) Sp*rs (Away)
The midweek games on the 19th will be the day when all the top three have played 30. If Man United win, they will be 3 points clear, which is a big turnaround from a few weeks ago, when we were 5 points clear. 4 successive draws later. I can’t see Bolton beating United, but I can see Spu*rs at least drawing with Chelsea, they seem up for the big games nowadays and with losses to PSV and Man City in succession, they will need to avoid another defeat.
67 points 70 points 65 points
 
Chelsea (Away) Liverpool (Home) Arsenal (Home)
One for the diaries, and what a weekend it will be. I really hope we can beat Chelsea, I think we need to.With Chelsea’s addition of Terry, Lampard and Drogba, this will be a tough game. I will put the Chelsea game down as a draw, but I really believe Liverpool will beat United. I spoke to a lot of Koppites after the CL draw and they were all really disappointed about not getting United. I think this is their chance to get one over their bitter rivals.
68 points 70 points 66 points
 
Bolton (Away) Aston Villa (Home) Middlesborough (Home)
We’ve definitely got the trickiest tie this weekend, we have the quality but to beat a Bolton side fighting for relegation, we really will have to be on top form. I can’t see anything more than a win for United and Chelsea, so it’s three points all round.
71 points 73 points 69 points
 
Liverpool (Home) Middlesborough (Away) Manchester City (Away)
This is the 2nd time we meet Liverpool in part of our triple whammy. It’s going to be weird, but entertaining. I think we have more than them especially at home, I’ve got a feeling that we’re going to beat them and beat them good. With Middlesborough currently playing so well against the big teams, I see a draw up there but despite City eager to get into Europe and repay Chelsea for the early season drubbing, I see Chelsea coming away with all three points
74 points 74 points 72 points
 
Man United (Away) Arsenal (Home) Wigan (Home)
This is the match that we always knew would define the season even when we were 5 points behind or 6 points clear. As long as we avoid defeat, we’ll stay on par with United. Chelsea will surely win against a Wigan team in the relegation zone. This weekend sees all three teams end the week on 75 points.
75 points 75 points 75 points
 
Reading (Home) Blackburn (Away) Everton (Away)
With Chelsea gaining ground on the two top last week, they will come down to earth with a draw against an inform Everton team playing for 5th, whilst we hit 6 at home against Reading and United get unstuck at Blackburn 1-1. Plausible! Thanks Mr Bentley. This weekend sees us regain top spot.
78 points 76 points 76 points
 
Derby (Away) Chelsea (Away) Man United (Home)
Well, it’s a big weekend this weekend – we travel to Derby on the Monday, so we are either clear by 1 point or 2 points or behind by 1 with a game in hand. I think Chelsea will want to beat United and United will want to beat Chelsea. Any result is good for us, but a draw is even better. Of course, I can’t see past three points for us!
81 points 77 points 77 points
 
Everton (Home) West Ham (Home) Newcastle (Home)
Knowing that a win would win us the title, I think we’re going to do it. Chelsea and United fight it out for second, both win and are 5 points behind with one game to go.
84 points 80 points 80 points
 
Sunderland (Away) Wigan (Away) Bolton (Home)
Having won the title, we field a weakened team against Sunderland and lose up north, but United and Chelsea slug it out for the 2nd spot, which United get on goal difference.
84 points 83 points 83 points
 

The closest run in ever… 84 points enough to win the league?

Let me know your thoughts…]]>

Feature: The Title Run In & Friday Round Up

* Just to clarify that the statement above was not to indicate that I am always in a bad mood nor that I have mood swings. On the whole, I am in a good mood, but the good mood stated is better than normal, maybe I should have said great mood?

It’s Friday and normally it would be the time to look at the weekend games. But as we’re playing on Sunday, I will preview the game on Saturday. This mean’s I’ve got time to do a feature on the title run in and examine who we’ve got, when we’ve got them, who the others have got, our winnable games and how we win the title…!

The Title Run In

There are just 10 games to go until the end of the season, let’s have a look at our run in as well as that of Man U and Chelski.

Arsenal

Man United

Chelsea

Wigan (Away) FA Cup FA Cup, Derby (Home)
We play this Sunday against Wigan and must pick up three points. With Chelsea entertaining Derby at home on Wednesday they will surely pick up three points.
68 points 64 points, game in hand 61 points, game in hand
 
Middlesborough (Home) Derby (Away) Sunderland (Away)
Chelsea will play Sunderland away – their game in hand – this may be tricky as Roy Keane’s side will fight feriously as they are looming near the bottom, but Chelsea may have too much. United travel to Derby, so a definite three points, and we play Middlesborough at home. I’m sure we would like to avenge our only defeat of the season.
71 points 67 points, game in hand 64 points, game in hand
 
- Bolton (Home) Sp*rs (Away)
The midweek game on the 19th season United host Bolton at home and Chelsea away to Tottenham. United are favourites at home and Chelsea would be ready to get one back over Sp*rs after the carling cup game.
71 points 70 points 67 points
 
Chelsea (Away) Liverpool (Home) Arsenal (Home)
One for the diaries, and what a weekend it will be. I really hope we can beat Chelsea, we’re playing well and they’ll want to concentrate on the FA cup and Champions League. Liverpool will be battling it out for fourth, so it could be a draw for all. I do actually think we will win this and United will beat Liverpool, but’s let’s wait and see nearer the time who’s available…
72 points 71 points 68 points
 
Bolton (Away) Aston Villa (Home) Middlesborough (Home)
It’s a win for us and a win for both of them. We’ve got the trickiest tie this weekend, we have the quality but to beat a Bolton side fighting for relegation, we will have to be on top form.
75 points 74 points 71 points
 
Liverpool (Home) Middlesborough (Away) Manchester City (Home)
This is when the predictions become a little harder as this game is sandwiched between two Champions League games. I have a feeling that United will become unstuck against Middlesborough and both Chelsea and us will draw in “must-not-lose” game. City will want to avenge the 6-0 drubbing and Liverpool will frustrate us with their “must not lose” tactics.
76 points 74 points 72 points
 
Man United (Away) Arsenal (Home) Wigan (Home)
This is the match that we always knew would define the season even when we were 5 points behind or 6 points clear. As long as we avoid defeat, we’ll stay on top. Chelsea will surely win against a Wigan team in the relegation zone.
77 points 75 points 74 points
 
Reading (Home) Blackburn (Away) Everton (Away)
With Chelsea gaining ground on the two top last week, they will come down to earth with a draw against an inform Everton team, whilst we hit 6 at home against Reading and United squeeze past Blackburn 1-0. Plausible!
80 points 78 points 75 points
 
Derby (Away) Chelsea (Away) Man United (Home)
Well, it’s a big weekend this weekend – we travel to Derby on the Monday, so we are either clear by 1 point or 2 points or behind by 1 with a game in hand. I think Chelsea will want to beat United and will do so. Of course, I can’t see past three points for us!
83 points 78 points 78 points
 
Everton (Home) West Ham (Home) Newcastle (Home)
Knowing that a win would win us the title, I think we’re going to do it. Chelsea and United fight it out for second, both win and are 5 points behind with one game to go.
86 points 81 points 81 points
 
Sunderland (Away) Wigan (Away) Bolton (Home)
Having won the title, we field a weakened team against Sunderland and lose up north, but United and Chelsea slug it out for the 2nd spot, which United get on goal difference.
86 points 84 points 84 points
 

The run in sees us win the title, even with draws against United, Liverpool and Chelsea and a final day loss at Sunderland having already won the title… I’ll leave it to you to make your own mind up on this. I personally think we will beat United, Liverpool and Chelsea but then we’ve just won against Milan away so my mindset has changed. If you asked me after the two league draws my tune may have been different. With our injury woes easing up at the right time, this season really could be ours. Which leads me nicely into a quick injury round up….

Injury News

While the long term injuries (Eduardo aside) ease up and players return to the squad, the niggling injury count continues to chop and change our squad for this weekend’s trip to Wigan.

Theo Walcott
For some unknown reason, young Theo played a behind the doors friendly against Colorado Rapids yesterday and injured his thigh. He injury is believed to be short term which will see him return for the Middlesborough game the following week. Arsene says: “Today we lost Theo Walcott. He played against Colorado Rapids and he got a little thigh problem. “

Colorado Rapids 1 – 2 Arsenal: see the full match report from Young Guns.

Abou Diaby
Injury prone Diaby picked up a calf injury against Milan and looks set to miss the Wigan game too.

Robin Van Persie
Robin played an hour against the Rapids yesterday and it was a good game for him to gain some match fitness. According to Arsene, he looked quite tired after the game and is most probably set for a role on the bench against Wigan. The boss said: “Robin played an hour and he looks OK. But it looks early for him, he finished the game very tired today so I will have to analyse that.”

Tomas Rosicky
The never present Rosicky will miss both the next two league games. He is currently suffering from a dislocated moustache, but will be back soon. Arsene estimates 10 – 12 days.

Kolo Toure & Alex Song
I’ve combined these two players because it seems that they will return at the same time. Arsene says that they may both be short for this weekend but will definitely be back next week. I don’t think we’ll risk Kolo unless he 100% fit, so if he does return it may be on the bench.

The starting line up will see the same outing as last time, but with Denilson replacing Walcott with Eboue suspended and Hleb moving to the left. Bendtner will get a start in place of the missing midfielders and Robin yet not fit to start.

More team news tomorrow.

News Round Up

Okay, let’s take a whizz round the papers and the net and see what else is going on in the world of Arsenal.

Arsenal FC Blog says this is our best chance to win the Champions League. With Man U & Chelsea having full & fit squads now and us having a little injury nightmare, it would be some acheivement.

The Champions League draw takes place on March 14th with Arsenal, Man U, Chelski, Barce, Roma, Schalke, Fenerbache and either Liverpool or Inter in the last 8. At this point, there is no restrictions on Nations, which means we could face one of the three other Premiership teams in the quarters. Paul Wright talks about how any team would be scared of us. But I’d still prefer Schalke, then Fenerbache and then a union with Barcelona in the final… let’s see what happens on the 14th.

Arsene talks to Arsenal.com about rumours that we were unhappy with the treatment at St. Andrews and mysteriously that Eduardo had a second operation. He also updates us on Dudu’s progress:

“I am informed by the medical people that he is alright. The first thing he must do is get over the risk of infection and that is going well. So we have no problems apart from the obvious big disappointment of him being out and not playing.” 

Here’s a link to Arseblog’s exclusive Eduardo interview. A lot of people read my reporting of it, but didn’t read the article and then asked me about it… so take a read today, it’s a very interesting read!

The media reaction has been great after the Milan game, but it has maybe a little bit over the top and this maybe doesn’t help when our players speak out. Almunia speaks about Cesc, and how he is a legend, but Ade goes as far as saying that we can beat everyone, he may not be wrong, but statements like that sometimes just intise the opposition…

A Cultured Left wants to start “beating every team in the world” by taking three points at Wigan.

Carlos Vela has been hailed by Osasuna coach Jose Angel Ziganda, saying: “He gives all time his best in a match, as well as that he has a great attitude to work very hard every day”. Read more on Carlos Vela News.

Young Guns also reports on 17 year old Pamphile Mihayo Kazembe, has been “put through his paces” by Arsene, is on trial with us. Spotted whilst watching his team mate Tresor Mputu. And The Arsenal Way reports on a young Welsh player, Aaron Ramsey, who is also on our wanted list.

A Huge Thank You

Thanks to all the readers who have written in with comments and suggestions… Yes, I’ve finally managed to replace the blue (non AFC colours) with red and white in the main image up on the top of this page. It’s had an immediate impact for me… let me know what you think! I plan to expand on this as time goes on and by the end of the season, I’ll have a more action packed blog. I love your views on the blog and comments on anything Arsenal, so do feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Well, it’s the end of a week, a great European night included this week and I’m sure you are all looking forward to our next game. Have a good Friday, Wigan preview tomorrow…

Update: An excellent comment on this blog did spot that maths is obviously not my strong point as I gave Chelsea only 2 points for a win against Wigan. If you do the maths, you’ll see Chelsea and United really fighting out for 2nd place.]]>