West Ham 1 – 3 Arsenal: Battled it out..

After a disappointing loss at the Emirates against Chelsea, it was a return to winning ways against an in form Olympiakos in the Champions League midweek. Our general form this season had shown signs of improvement, a more exciting team than last season, new players playing well, and the return of some others has seen us with a more balanced squad. The only problem is that we’ve only won 2 of our 6 Premier League games. We’ve played some hard teams, but now we go into a period where we play West Ham (today), Norwich, QPR and Reading – and it’s the period where we have to win all our games.

Today’s line up was:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Arteta – Ramsey

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

With a bench of Martinez, Koscielny, Santos, Coquelin, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin.

It was a battle, that’s for sure, with West Ham playing well when they had possession, Diame impressive in midfield for them and Andy Caroll always a threat. Despite some very early pressure that saw Giroud have two shots deflected, it was West Ham that went ahead through Diame when he nutmegged Aaron Ramsey and was left in acres of space in the box to finish with aplomb.

But then, before half time, there was the moment every one was waiting for. Giroud picked up the ball in midfield and fed Podolski, who motored down the left and then crossed back in for Giroud to prod it in the back of the net with pace. His first Premier League goal and and excellent move.

It was 1-1 at half time,  and the second half was a matter of being patient. West Ham had their chances, and we should have had a penalty when Aaron Ramsey was upended in the box. It could have been a talking point, but thankfully not due to the quality of Cazorla. First, he put Giroud through from deep who fed Theo through to make it 2-1 – Walcott speeding in from the right and tucking the ball around the West Ham keeper.

And then Cazorla made it 3-1 with an excellent strike from distance. What a goal, from left to right with his left foot. An amazing strike and a goal he’s deserved.

Arsene spoke after the game and said:

We weakened a bit physically in the second half but overall it was a very important test for us today. We expected a difficult game. We were not disappointed – a game with a lot of pace, where both teams went for it in different styles. It was a good test mentally as well, because we went 1-0 down with their first shot on goal. We came back and won this game. You could say that we had a good performance today overall.

And the boss also commented on Giroud contribution…

In similar situations he nearly scored like that against Olympiacos on Wednesday night. He was good today. He had the physical presence and scored the goal. That will help him a lot I think to adapt very quickly.

We go into an international break now and it was important to get the win and go into the International break on a high. We play Norwich next and although they’ve got quality players, we should be strong enough to beat them and really push on. The future is bright, the future is red & white. Let’s hope we get through the International break without any injuries and return to action in 2 weeks…

Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea: Post Mortem

A loss. A loss to a title rival. A loss at home. All in all a bad day in the office. I’ll try not to too negative, but how flat was that performance? Resting the first XI was supposed to re-invigorate the team and keep them fresh, but instead, they all seemed off. Second to the ball, devoid of ideas, sloppy, lazy. If we play anyone in that frame of mind, we’ll lose. An early injury to Diaby didn’t help – Ramsey and Arteta in the middle for the most part of the game didn’t quite work. Gervinho was just confused. Our line up was…

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

In the match programme, Vermaelen said: “A win today would send out a statement that we’re in very good form.”. So, what does a loss at home mean? Now, I’m not going to slate the team, it’s been a positive-ish start to the season, but I don’t think Chelsea played particularly well and for that reason, it really felt like we gave them the game. When we needed to up the pace and try other things, we couldn’t. It actually felt like we were captain-less  The first goal was for Chelsea and it came through some poor defending from Koscielny, who despite being grabbed all over by Torres, was too focused on the player and not his position or the ball. Torres flicked it in 1-0 to Chelsea. After conceding, we stepped it up a gear and Gervinho got one back just before half time with a good turn and finish.

The second game became a battle of chess, Chelsea not scared of us at all and happy to play and defend, but another defensive mistake let to another Chelsea goal. Arteta losing the ball in midfield, Vermaelen giving away a free kick and then Kos and Mannone somehow allowing the free kick to go directly into the goal – it was one of those cross come “end in net” goals. At 2-1 down, we didn’t seem to have the fight to go and try and get the winner, it all seemed a bit too lethargic. Diaby’s early injury and his replacement with Ramsey, really did unbalance the team, and it felt that we never really recovered from that.

Lessons we learnt today:

  • Gervinho should play on the wing, not up front
  • Giroud needs to start scoring
  • Oxlade isn’t quite ready for the deep lying central midfield role
  • Diaby will miss a chunk of the season with niggling injuries
  • Walcott’s lost his spark on the right wing, doesn’t seem too interested

Arsene spoke generally about the game and was disappointed about the way we conceded the goals today:

I feel we played against a good team, but we gave the game away. They had three shots on target and scored two goals, from soft set-pieces. Defensively we were just not at the level you have to be in a game like that, which is where we were punished today. For the rest, we have shown quality and spirit but we have to show more personality and authority on the goals we conceded.

And on Mertersacker’s exclusion he said:

That is a decision which was based on the opposition we played. You can say it was a wrong one maybe, but I believe [that statement] is a lowering the quality of the players who played, they are internationals.
If you do not play Koscielny or Vermaelen and cannot win the game, you will ask me the same question

We’ll see what happens on Wednesday, but I’d expect Kos & Vermaelen to play again and I would expect Giroud to be given the 90 minutes.

Adios for now… here’s hoping for some positive results for us in the other games…

6-1 to the Arsenal as the team start gelling…

It’s been a tough Summer, with key players leaving and a turn around in playing staff. Last summer, our main players who left weren’t quite replaced and it left our start to the season in a bit of disarray… We ended up going through the season lacking something and becoming heavily reliant on RvP… This Summer, despite the change around, you have to feel that we have a better group of players in terms of quality and motivation – Santi Cazorla and Lucas Podolski are just two examples of the quality signed and replacing players leaving with new players ready to play.

Last time out, against Liverpool, it was an impressive display throughout the team, and definitely a step in the right direction and the challenge for the team was to build on it and continuing improving. Our line up yesterday was:

Szcznesy

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Arteta – Coquelin

Oxlade – Cazorla - Podolski

Gervinho

Giroud had been dropped to the bench and Gervinho favoured in a different position – with the fit again Szcznesy replacing Mannone, who hadn’t conceded a goal in the Premiership so far this season. A surprise inclusion on the bench was Arshavin, who was named alongside Mannone, Koscielny, Santos, Giroud, Ramsey and Walcott.

Southampton gave Man United a scare last time out, going 2-1 up before losing 3-2, and if that game told us anything, it was that we need to focus on playing our game to the maximum of our ability. And what a great start it was. From the off, we really got going and the little Spanish maestro was in the heart of everything.

The first goal came through some excellent work through Podolski who wrestling the ball from a few players, charging into the box before sliding it to Gibbs who shot at goal, forcing a defender to push it through his own net, 1-0 to the Arsenal. And Cazorla, Podolski and Gervinho combined with Gibbs a lot in the opening stages, putting some really good moves together.

The second goal was absolutely sublime – after a lot of pressure from us, Coquelin was fouled outside the area – Podolski stood up and took the free kick and it went round, high and in – 2-0 to the Arsenal… but there was more – Cazorla holding the ball, releasing Arteta who played in Gervinho to make 3-0, a drive at the near post… and then it was 4, when some good work between Podolski and Gervinho saw the second own goal of the day… 3 goals in 5 minutes…

4-0 up and Southampton looked like they were crumbling… but they did get one back just before half time, with some bad goalkeeping from Szcznesy saw Fox tap it into an empty net – the Polish number one fumbling a straightforward cross.

We took the pedal off the gas in the second half, but we eventually made a break through for the fifth as Cazorla pulled the strings again in midfield, putting substitute Ramsey in on goal – some nice footwork saw him evade the defender and shoot on goal, the ball hitting the post and Gervinho tapping into an empty net…

And there was still time to make it 6, when fellow substitute Theo Walcott scoring against his former club after Vermaelen charged into the area, Cazorla found him, a thumping shot and the rebound falling into Walcott’s path.

6-1 to the Arsenal, some positive vibes in the team, the fans all smiling – tough summer? What tough summer? Le boss was obviously quite happy and praised the team after the game:

Especially in the first 45 minutes we had a high level. We had a good combination of pace, speed in our passing, quick combinations, and the movement was excellent. We were a bit lucky as well because they conceded two own goals, but overall I think it was a level of continuity with what we have shown at Liverpool and today. The game was very interesting to watch. In the second half we lost a bit of urgency, that is human, but we controlled the game and remained serious.

For me, Podolski and Cazorla have stolen the show this season – but there is also a better balance about the team, with Arteta really making a difference and on today’s performance, Gervinho looks to have turned a leaf…

You know we transform all wingers into central strikers and all the strikers into wingers! I decided that during our tour of Asia when I tried to play Gervinho there against Man City in that position. I liked what he did and it was in the back of my mind. It is interesting because he is such a great mover and he is so quick so when he is central, once he gets ahead of the central defender it is difficult to catch him back.

We travel to Montpellier on Tuesday and then Man City on Sunday – it’ll be an interesting next 7 days, but the feeling about it all is very positive indeed. Let’s enjoy the moment, and prepare for the midweek game, it’s been a good start to the season and we’re really getting into our stride…!

Weekend Overview…

The opening game of the season is always a very important game. Three points is a must and it doesn’t matter how you get them, but you need to get them. The draw is definitely a blow so early on, considering today’s game was the “easy” one out of the coming series of games, but it is what it is and emotions aside, what can be said about today’s game?

The line up was:

Szcznesy

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Walcott – Cazorla – Gervinho

Podolski

Two of our three new signings straight into the action – Podolski and Cazorla and a genuine buzz about the line up and new players in the team despite the exits happening in the background. Walking away from this game, you can only feel disappointed at the result… but the light at the end of the tunnel is the performance of Santi Cazorla: 4 shots, 77 Passes with 94% accuracy, 7 chances created, 3 tackles and 2 interceptions (via @Artekkers), and those are amazing stats!

Le Boss waxed lyrical about the player:

“He played very well and looks like he could be one of the buys of the season. He has everything you want in the game. He can play short, he can play long, on the right or left, he can play the final ball and works hard as well. He is a fighter so it is very positive for us. [He settled quickly and] that shows people who say you need to play a long time together. Great players do not need a long time [to settle].”

Despite the good performance from Cazorla, the reality of it is that we dropped points – a home game against a non top four team is a must win game. We’re already behind Chelsea and Man City – yes the fluency will come, but in all honesty, it should have already been here had we prepared properly…!

Le Boss summarised the game:

We played with a good spirit. We were serious, we put the effort in. Our basic fitness is alright but we lack sharpness and fluency at the moment to be dangerous in the final third. The few chances we had, we couldn’t convert them. Sunderland always play the same way against us, in the final third and defensively, and if you’re not sharp enough to make the difference early in the game it becomes difficult. They defended well, they defended the whole game very well, and we lacked something – sharpness and also quality and accuracy in the final pass.

We have quite a hard set of games, with Stoke away next… let’s see if we can gel in time for that game and get three points on the board…

Cologne [Koln] 0 – 4 Arsenal: Match Reaction…

That’s what I call an inspiring preseason game. The three new signings straight into the team and we weren’t short of inspirational performances either – with all three of the new signings impressing and some of the existing squad showing new leases of life. Koln have been relegated, so they are a team we should have beaten, but the manner and swagger in which we played was awesome. Giroud looked impressive and his shorts were on target and intelligent, whilst King Poldi was the man of the match with an excellent performance and 2 goals to his name. His first from the penalty spot and his second from just inside the area – a sweet left footed finish.

The scoring was opened by Vermaelen after a Mertersacker flick on and that for me, looked like vintage Bould. The final and fourth goal came through Gervinho in what looked like a very much Pro Evolution type R1 run with the ball and score. The Ivorian was one of the existing players that really stood out.

It was an interesting selection which saw Oxlade and Coquelin marshall the midfield from the start and the line up looked like this:

Mannone

Yennaris – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Oxlade – Coquelin

Walcott – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

It was an interesting forward line and very attacking – at the same time, very faithful to the 4-2-3-1 formation that Arsene has adopted in the last few years. The front 5 – if you include Oxlade were a breathe-taking combination to watch. The football was sensational and the play was cute but effective.

Cazorla stood out – a player that would have done wonders for our team if we had him last season – but he looks everything the player he is hyped up to be. He looks like he love football and just wants to play, to entertain and to be part of a team who play good football. The combinations he put together and the way he linked up with the team was very impressive. Little deft touches here and an excellent passing range at the point where it matters means we’ll be more of a threat this season.

Giroud looked excellent, he peeled off the opposition defence, used the channels well and held up the ball when necessary. Whereas Podolski offered us something different, something quite exciting on the left, drifting in and very dangerous.

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote how I think it’s going to be really difficult to name the starting XI, but after this game, it’s going to be even harder. Out of Giroud, Podolski, Gervinho, Walcott, Cazorla, Arteta and Oxlade, it’s going to be hard to leave someone out of the starting line up. I suspect we won’t have a fit squad to choose from all the time, and it’s a nice dilemma to have.

Who starts next week against Sunderland is anyone’s guess and I am sure we’ll have time to think about that nearer the time… Today’s blog will be a short one, you’ve heard me praise our team and instill you with confidence… Arsene is also quietly (or not so quietly) confident too:

“We are in a much stronger position now because last summer we lost Nasri and Fabregas, and on top of that we lost Diaby and Wilshere [to injury]. So we lost four players at the start of last season and that is not the case this time. We want to [compete for honours] and we have a desire to. We are up for it and what we want is to come out of the season and know we have given our best. I feel we did that last year, finishing third with the start we had. The first target is to do as well as we can in every single game and see where we stand at the end of the season. But of course we want to fight for the championship.”

Tottz is back tomorrow for his usual Wednesday digest, for the meantime, don’t worry about Van Persie or Arshavin, just enjoy the team and enjoy the new signings…

Til tomorrow…

We finish 3rd… into the Champions League… (Happy St. Totteringham’s Day)

What an exciting day of football for pretty much every one in the league… Congratulations to Robin Van Persie and the rest of the boys for pulling out an epic victory to claim 3rd place in the league, which guarantees us Champions League football next season…

Happy St. Totteringham’s Day

Indeed, the day where Sp*rs cannot finish above Arsenal…

Van der Vaart: “There is no chance of Arsenal finishing above Spurs. We’re better.”

And today is a great day indeed Vaartmeister…

 

And another look at the table please….

 

Now in all this excitement and all of these jokes about Sp*rs, I haven’t really commented on the game yet. A game which actually shows how far we are away from where we need to be. Yes, we without Arteta, Wilshere & Diaby… but there is a lot which needs to be done to this squad to get it competing on with the top two…

More to follow…

Third Chance For Third…?

What a weekend of football it has been… Weekends like these, although good for the neutral, are hell for Gooners. Down at the Emirates with a whole host of friends, soaking up the atmosphere and ready to roll at 12.45 yesterday. The atmosphere was nervous, but confident. The line up was announced, and it was the same as last week, with Benayoun and Gervinho both starting on the wings:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Ramsey – Song

Gervinho – Rosicky – Benayoun

Van Persie

My seat was in the North Bank, upper tier, behind the goal and it was a good view of the entire pitch.

 

 

And what a great start it was to see Benayoun score in the first minute. No doubt about it, the Israeli was a decent acquisition last Summer. Someone who can compliment the squad. We won’t have him next season, and hopefully we’ll have recruited the world class winger that we all want. But nevertheless, it was a great goal from the Israeli and our nerves were settled.

But then… Aaron Ramsey went nuts. Yes, it wasn’t only his fault – but he was so poor, positionally, next to Alex Song he was non existent. If I had to contribute a bad performance to any player during one game, this was the game, and he was the player. But Arsene didn’t really have a choice with Wilshere, Arteta and Diaby all out injured. But I doubt Arsene thought it was going to be that bad. When you watch the game for the first time, you can instantly see how poor Ramsey was, but it made Song look bad too. He was covering two positions, and it was just too much for one person.

We lost the first goal to a complete lack of midfield and really, we should have had more sense. It didn’t help that our vice captain Thomas Vermaelen decided to run up the field and leave Koscielny and Gibbs to deal with the Norwich striker force and midfield. For me, it was a nervous performance and one that lacked cohesion. Norwich looked like the Arsenal of old, and we looked like the Norwich out of the Championship.

Van Persie came to the rescue and turned 2-1 into 3-2 but even he missed a plethora of chances. At 3-2 up, we lost composure, and instead of keeping the ball, we panicked and before we knew it, it was 3-3.

Arsene spoke after the game, a very disappointed manager, but also acknowledged Aaron Ramsey’s bad performance:

He was unlucky with the first booking, it was a good tackle. It is part of learning your job, you have to deal with all kinds of situations and he will do that. He is very strong mentally and is going through a difficult period at the moment. But he will come off that stronger.

Arsene did go on to talk about how 3rd was no longer in our hands… but thanks to the sensational results today, where Aston Villa head Sp*rs and Newcastle lost at home to Man City, we’re still in 3rd. Something I really didn’t think would happen this time yesterday. It’s back in our hands and we have one game, a game in which we need to win, a game where a win would mean Champions League football, but anything but a win and it’s the Europa League.

Today my facebook status reads:

Dear Arsenal,

After a poor start to the season, you’ve shown me that you’re actually a decent side. It’s not been pretty all season, and I 8 – 2 say it but we’ve had some bad moments. We’ve also had some excellent moments (AFC 5 – 2 THFC, CFC 3 – 5 AFC)… but after our amazing March, you’ve lost it big time with 3 draws and a loss in the last 4. Sp*rs and Newcastle should have sped past us, butit comes down to the last game of the season. We’re 3rd. All we have to do is win. Win against West Brom and bingo, Champions League next season. We’ve got another chance. It’s a serious chance. Stand up, be counted, make it happen, and keep our talisman, Robin Van Persie… 1 game, 3 points. Fix up, look sharp. Til next weekend…

Regards,

Dev

Basically next weekend is a Champions League qualifier – one game – one win. The question is whether we can sort out the defensive frailties of the weekend and get the goals we’ll need to win. It was interesting how we ended the game, with AOC on the right, Gervinho on the left and Chamakh and Van Persie in the middle. We looked so dangerous.

I really do hope we can use AOC next weekend from the beginning as he really did make a difference. I prefer him on the wing right now – I know Arsene says he can play down the middle, but so can half the other team. Without Walcott, AOC really can bring some pace and precision to the right side. He linked up very well with Coquelin, who stepped in for the injured Sagna and looked very good.

Next weekend sounds like an eternity away now, but right now, we need to focus, prepare and get ready for the biggest game of our season.

Til tomorrow fellow Gooners, keep calm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forget Stoke, let’s concentrate on Podolski…

Today, both the player and the selling club announced that Lukas Podolski has been sold to the Arsenal. For the first time in many many many many years, we have acted early, focused on planning before the end of the season and targeted a player of stature, to add to the team.

Personally, I am absolutely delighted with the signing – he’s proven at various different levels, internationally and at club level, that he has the class that we need at the Arsenal. He’s quick, mobile, ambitious and could really compliment the team.

The player spoke about the move to Arsenal:

 ”The move to Arsenal provides a great opportunity for me to gain experience in international competitions at a top European club. I have made this decision not against FC Cologne but for this great opportunity and the good of my own individual development. This was not an easy decision for me at all, as Cologne, our fans and the city are something special for me. I will always carry FC Cologne in my heart. We need to pool our strengths now and have to be fully focused on our survival in the Bundesliga.”

And I think the player is very excited about playing in the Premiership and playing for a team like Arsenal. I think he’s a perfect fit into our squad and the big question now is how / where he will play – can he play along side Robin Van Persie? What does that means for the formation?

He often plays at a lone striker, and his finishing is Van Persie esque…

But to play along side Van Persie would require a reversion back to 4-4-2 or require either Podolski or Van Persie to play on the wings, which I don’t think either will do with any decent effect. Perhaps the early buy indicates a change of formation, as it will take a lot of pre-season to do this.

Next season’s line up with all our players and Podolski, could be:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Wilshere – Song

Walcott – Van Persie – Gervinho

Podolski

Could it work? Is it too attacking? Rooney currently plays that role behind Wellbeck, with Nani, Valencia etc on the wings, so why not? Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Diaby, Frimpong offering strength in depth. Benayoun surely won’t be around next season.

Now that Podolski is in the bag where else can we or should we strengthen?

 

Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea. No Petrol In The Tank…

This time 2 months ago, with the same players, I’m pretty sure we would have scored at least 2, if not 3 goals. But right now, after our run of wins, we are looking jaded, devoid of ideas and generally, we’ve got no petrol in the tank. In fact, it’s not just us – Sp*rs are actually suffering from the same thing. We’ve got a small squad – i.e. a small starting XI – if fit, we pretty much know who would be selected.

Prior to the Wigan game, we had won 9 out of 10, but throughout this period, we had used virtually the same XI. Plaudits have been coming in about Walcott, Song, Van Persie and Arteta… but as we have got closer to the end of the season, those players have either got injured or are off form. Arteta’s recent injury sounds like a mix of the “red zone”, fatigue, and over-use, a little like Jack was last season. Walcott has been ruled out for the rest of the season now too – and Van Persie and Song are definitely off-form. The tank is empty.

Whilst our tank is empty and it looks like Sp*rs are in a similar situation – Newcastle’s recent addition of Cisse and recent come back from injury for Hatem Ben Arfa – they have two players who are fresh. For Chelsea, they have such a large squad, that they rotated 7 players and still looked very good.

For us, Rosicky has been very good, he has played a lot in the second half of the season, but no so much in the first half. And that’s probably why he stands out at the moment. For the rest of the season, I can only presume we’ll see more of Oxlade and Gervinho, considering the recent injuries. We do have Diaby back and if he can stay fit, then he’ll be a welcome addition considering our recent spout of injuries.

Today’s game showed a few things – we can create openings and chances – but our passing is off, and our shooting is definitely off. Van Persie had a few golden chances, but fluffed them all.

Arsene had a lot to say:

It was a very unfair result but it is a result. I think [we should have had a penalty], I think also we had chances. At the end of the game we had the chances and they had zero. I cannot remember them having one chance. Having said that it was a little bit of a strange game because before the game I thought it would be an open one – we had to win, they had to win. They decided to lock up the game and catch us on the break only, with two wide players who are quick, and Torres.

And on Van Persie’s poor form he said:

He played his 50th game [of the season] today and he gave absolutely everything again today. He was unlucky in the first half, he had a free kick he deflected and it was a clear-cut chance. Then when he was through I think he rushed his decision making a bit, when he took it with his right foot, because he had Diaby coming in completely on his own. It was not easy for him because he was completely on his own at some stages with not enough support. And he was caught offside one time and I am not sure he was.

There are three games left – we face Stoke next Saturday (away), Norwich at home the following week and then WBA a week later. Some would say they are easy games, but in reality, they’re not. We need to cross our fingers that results go our way and we need to find our form.

I’ll be back tomorrow for some more analysis, but for the moment, let’s sit back and watch the rest of the footie this weekend…

End of season collapse kicks in, as Arsenal lose 2-1 to Wigan at home…

Just when you think the Arsenal are safe from a collapse, just when you think we’ve secured something of importance for the season (i.e. third place)… bang, the most unexpected loss occurs, and takes the winds out of our sales. Last season, we were leading Wigan 2-0 with 15 minutes to go – at their ground – and ended up losing that game 3-2. We never recovered and went on to finish 4th, in a season where we could have finished 1st or 2nd had we kept our gusto. This season, Wigan again have been the team that seem to have derailed us.

The question is why? Why do we let ourselves get into this position? Why do we fail to win when it really matters? Am I being harsh considering we’ve actually won 9 out of the last 11? Or am I correct in thinking we really should have beaten Wigan, considering our home advantage and reasonably low injury list?

After the game, Arsene felt we were not sharp enough…

We have given a lot over the past two or three months and we were not sharp. Is it mental or physical? It is hard to know why. I felt in the first half we had quite a good response to being 2-0 down, but in the second half there was not a lot to come. We finished with Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Gervinho and Van Persie offensively and we didn’t create a lot.

Personally, I don’t think Oxlade or Gervinho contributed a lot. Gervinho is short of game time & confidence – Oxlade thought he had to do it all by himself every time he had the ball – and Theo – well, he had one of those very frustrating games. Arsene says we weren’t sharp enough – why not? Ramsey hasn’t played a lot of games, why isn’t he sharp? Gervinho came on with bags of energy, but no end product…

Wigan played midweek, and had a very energy consuming game against Wigan. Surely we should have been more energetic and sharper than Wigan. The problems we face now are also psychological – can we pick ourselves up – without Arteta – who has been our linchpin – and survive the rest of the season?

“It is an ankle problem. It looks quite a serious one. It is too early to say tonight. But it doesn’t look a little ankle sprain. It is a serious one,” revealed Wenger. Unconfirmed reports have since emerged claiming the Spaniard has in fact suffered a broken ankle which will come as a devastating blow to the Gunners who are already without another of their midfield stars, Jack Wilshere, for the rest of the season.

Ramsey will need to up his game considerably and the worry now is whether we can get back into shape for the game against Chelsea. Chelsea are back into some sort of form under Di Matteo, with a resounding 5-1 win over Sp*rs in the FA cup – yes, they play Barcelona tomorrow, and they should be more tired than us by the weekend, but that doesn’t mean anything.

The good thing for us is that Gibbs and Koscielny will be back into the starting up against Chelsea and they seem to add some structure to the defensive unit. We play Chelsea on Saturday, an early morning kick off – at the Emirates – the onus is on us, we’ll be the favourites, we need to ensure we don’t lose, and keep up the pace with a win if possible.

More analysis tomorrow, but for the moment, enjoy Bayern vs Real Madrid… and don’t forget Tottz will be back tomorrow for his Wednesday piece!

Til then…

Wolves 0 – 3 Arsenal: Closing in on third…

With Wigan and Chelsea coming up after today, Arsene decided to rotate a little bit, whilst not changing too much. The in form Rosicky was rested and Koscielny had an enforced absence – which meant that Ramsey started in midfield and Djourou at the back. Benayoun kept his place after some good displays. Gibbs’ absence meant hat Santos started too, in what was our 18th different back four combination of the season.

The line up was:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Song

Walcott – Ramsey – Benayoun

Van Persie

Although Ramsey

The opening exchanges were in our favour with a determination, and within 10 minutes, Wolves had a man sent off and we had a penalty. The penalty was won when Walcott cut inside, passed to Van Persie – who then chipped in it back into Walcott path, who made a darting run into the box. Ex-Sp*rs defender Bassong pulled him down, red card for the defender… Penalty to Arsenal.

Van Persie decided to do a little cheeky chip to score – not something I’m a fan of, especially when it’s 0-0 and it’s such an important game, but he did score – and it was his 34th goal of the season. Guess how many goals Wolves have scored all season? 34… you got it!

Arsene was also a little surprised at the choice:

It was a surprise to me because I have never seen him doing that. It was just what came into his mind at the last second he said.

And 1-0 became 2-0 very quickly, when the same combination and one two between Walcott and Van Persie saw Walcott through the middle and he slotted it past the keeper to make it 2-0.

The rest of the first half was a little run of the mill – we had a lot of possession and Wolves were quite frustrated, nothing really to write home about, it was all second gear.

Wolves had a bit of pressure in the second half and you felt it was self inflicted. We did get the safety third, albeit late on – Song played a slightly more advanced role today and when Van Persie set him down he left – his cut back found Benayoun and he Israeli got his name of the scoresheet to secure the points.

In the end, the scoreline was comfortable, and despite a little bit of pressure, it was a relatively straightforward game. Arsene summarised the game…

We started well and then had a situation where we could control the game. Did we push on or not? After that we played a bit with the handbrake on, they played deeper and defended like mad with a great spirit until the end of the game. If they keep that spirit then they still have a chance of staying in the league. On our part we controlled the game, although they actually had a spell in the second half where they created chances. Szczesny made a good save but after that it was a comfortable win.

We now return to the Emirates for the game against Wigan – who beat Manchester United today – and they are fighting for their lives. Their win against United actually moved them out of the relegation zone. No matter how much we think we’ve achieved, or how easy the opposition will be, we have to ensure that we focus and do our utmost best. We did so against Man City and Wolves and we need to apply the same tenacity to Wigan.

Til tomorrow, my friends, til tomorrow…