Preview: Villa vs The Arsenal…. As Emirates Deal Is Announced

Arsenal announced today that we’ve signed a mega £150m deal for the sponsorship of our shirts for the next five years. That works out at £30m per season, which dwarfs the previous deal that came in at £12.5m. It’s something that Gazidis and Wenger have been talking about and something that they believe would happen, so it’s good to see one of the first negotiations take place.

Good work for the commercial team, and let’s hope it’s one of many to come. If we can keep on doing this and start making positive bank statements without selling players, we may be able to actually buy / spend more than we take in every year… And that could and possibly should start with Theo Walcott. I don’t know how much he is after, but I doubt it’s mega-bucks. I’ve heard it’s close and potentially if they’re not too far apart, we can sort this out now…

Talking about Theo, he’s still out injured, and possibly likely to be injured for Wednesday too – the gaffer summarizing the injury situation:

Santos is out for 10 days with an abdominal strain. Oxlade-Chamberlain looks alright. Theo [Walcott] is out for Saturday, but has a chance for Wednesday at Everton.

However, the boss did talk in depth about Rosicky and the injuries he’s had… and how happy he is to potentially have him back in the squad:

He should be back with us on Monday. He started in team training on Monday. Last year from January to the end of the season he was one of the most influential players in our squad. I hope he can repeat that because until now we haven’t seen him and he was injured at the European Championship. He has a similar injury to Scott Parker, they had operations at the same time and they will come back basically at the same time. It is very difficult [mentally] for him, because Tomas is a guy who loves to play, who is happy on a football pitch. When you have been injured as many times as he has been, it is not easy to take.

It will be good to have Rosicky back, he is a good player, and an intelligent one. He can create opportunities that others can’t and can move forward with aggression and positivity that helps us win games. Simple as, we need numbers, and Rosicky can add to a midfield that’s lost Song and Diaby and is really stretching the likes of Arteta and Cazorla, as they’ve had no rest at all!

Based on Arsene’s team news, the potential line up at Villa Park may well be:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Metersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Wilshere

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

I think Gervinho will start as Oxlade has a little niggle and I think the boss will keep him on the bench for the moment, I also think Gibbs will be on the bench and be introduced as a substitute if we’re doing okay, rather than going into the first team, considering the 4 players and goalkeeper named above look to be on top of their game…

It’s a vitally important game for us, with Chelsea playing Man City and a potential banana skin for United at QPR (who Harry may be managing come Sunday)… 3 points this weekend could be a very good and important 3 points… especially with a tricky tie at Everton mid-week.

Come on you Gooners!

Arsenal vs Sp*rs: The 2012 North London Derby…

Tomorrow is a HUGE game… when I mean HUGE, I mean HUGE…

Arsenal vs Sp*rs

We’re in a precarious position in the league, we actually behind Sp*rs in the league, we’re the lowest we’ve ever been at this stage under Arsene Wenger, we’ve had the worst start under Arsene Wenger and tomorrow, we play Sp*rs. And we play them at home.

Nothing short of a win is required, demand and more importantly needed, and therefore, it’s essential that we play to the best of our abilities, from defence to attack. We’ve played poorly and conceded goals for fun this season, but tomorrow is where we have to get everything right.

Arsene spoke this morning ahead of the game and distanced the occasion from the fact we need the three points:

“This year is important. Every London derby is important. As well, we dropped some points recently and we want to come back in a more consistent way of results. That’s why, of course, it’s a good opportunity to do that tomorrow. The distance is not big. It’s early in the season. First of all, we play at the Emirates. We know that it’s important we are strong there. As well, for us, a successful season is down to consistency of results. At the moment that’s what we are looking for.”

Team News

He also touched upon team news, and there is bad news concerning Kieran Gibbs, who we now understand is out injured for a while. Rosicky, Diaby and Gibbs are classified as long term injuries, so who knows when we’ll get any of them back. In slightly (possibly) better news, we may see the return of Szcznesy to the first team. Mannone has played the majority of this season and to be honest, he’s shown he’s not Premier League quality – the return of the keeper would be duly welcome. Gervinho and Sagna look to miss the game and but may be back for Montpellier.

As a result, I believe the team could well be (players in brackets are having late fitness tests):

Mannone (Szcznesy)

Jenkinson (Sagna) – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Wilshere

Ramsey (Walcott) – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

Wit Walcott, Sagna and Szcznesy having fitness tests tomorrow morning

It will be interesting to see how the players fair in the NLD, this is new for players such as Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud and will they know the intensity and rivalry required to push on?

Jack Wilshere

It was interesting to hear the boss talk about Wilshere and how much the NLD means to him… a little Ging up for the player… as if he needed it!

“Jack arrived here at the age of nine years old and that means this game is in his heart, in his brain, for the whole season every year,” said Wenger. From the youth teams up, the rivalry exists.”

Tomorrow is so important, it may give me a sleepless night tonight… very exciting and if you’re going to the game, please be the 12th man!

Til tomorrow… Come on you Gunners…

Arsenal 3 – 3 Fulham: Where has our Arsenal gone?

I’m sorry, but I can’t endure this week in and week out. It’s horrible, it’s not on, and as an Arsenal fan, it’s torture. How can we have a team as bad as this, where we simply cannot do anything. This season is by far the worst season for Arsenal and Arsene. Despite the random victories… the general consensus is that we can’t really play that well.

In this league, you get what you deserve and we deserved only a point from this game.

Arsene decided to re-instate Coquelin to the starting XI and continue with Vermealen and Podolski on the left. The starting line up was:

Mannone

Sagna – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Coquelin

Walcott – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

Ramsey and Santos aren’t in favour with the fans and the manager left them both on the bench. It looked like the best team we could field, which says something quite big  about the quality or lack of quality that we have at the Arsenal. We were very fortunate to go 2-0 up with goals from Giroud and Podolski. Walcott being instrumental in the game. An assist from the Englishman and another one for Arteta.

But from 2-0 up, we found ourselves 2-2 at half time. Some shocking defending and some shocking goalkeeping allowed Berbatov and Kacaniklicto show their class, with Ruiz pulling the string. Their first came from a corner when Berba knocked it in – unmarked 10 yards out – and the equaliser through Kacaniklic when Berba threw the ball back in the middle.

Some silly defending saw Arteta in trouble in the box and all he could do was foul his man, conceding a penalty, which saw Fulham go 3-2 up.

The man of the moment, Olivier Giroud soon equalised through some excellent work which saw him through on goal. He hit the post and the ball went out to Theo who spun it onto the head of Giroud who equalised with a thumping header.

And at 3-3, you expected us to press on – that we did… but we couldn’t find the break-through. On the 94th minute, we were fortunately awarded a penalty. Did we deserve it? No. Could we score it? Let’s see. My faith of our team made me send the following tweet before the penalty was taken.

Is that a penalty to Arsenal on the 94th minute? No way. Does anyone on the pitch have the bottle to take it? Nope. Doubt it.

And Arteta duly stepped up and fluffed it. 3-3 it ended.

Arsene spoke about the game afterwards and looked at the positives:

It was frustrating because we had the opportunities to win the game. We were caught in a bit too comfortable a position because we did the most difficult thing – we scored two goals to go 2-0 up, we were at home and yet at half-time we found ourselves at 2-2. At that moment we lacked urgency defensively. In the second half we gave absolutely everything and I have to give credit to the players, in the last three games what they have done physically is amazing. Even at 3-2 down we didn’t give up and continued to go forward and we had the chances to win the game.

My thoughts?

Well, personally, I don’t think we’re good enough at the moment. We’re not quite hitting the heights as we should. Conceding three goals at home is not good – it’s simple. We’re missing Alex Song. Arteta is suffering. The rest of the team are struggling.

I’d prefer to see one or two players come in and add to the team. We’re not going to do much with the current team, it doesn’t quite have the cutting edge that we need. We’ve got a lot of quality, don’t get me wrong, but the team is missing the special something or someone to drive the team forward and protect the back four.

Is Jack Wilshere the savior? Only time will tell.

Til tomorrow.

Arsenal vs Fulham: The Preview

After a crazy couple of weeks in the Premiership, Capital One Cup and mid-week’s epic collection of wins, draws and losses in the Champions League, we’re back to the main-stay of the Premiership. Our form has been a little erratic, with a loss last time out to Manchester United and a draw to Schalke mid-week.

The signs of improvement are there, but it’s down to us to improve our results in terms of points on the board. And it’s start tomorrow with our game against Fulham.

Arsenal vs Fulham

We’ve got Giroud and Walcott working now, which is a massive bonus for the team. It will be good to see how they continue to work together and to see if they can continue their recent work. Walcott is currently the top scorer followed by Giroud, which does lave the ever-present Podolski as a big question mark for me. He has seriously under-performed considering his start. Personally, I don’t think he’s suited for the left wing. He seems to me to be more of a striker than a winger.

With Oxlade potentially back in the fray, I’d rest Podolski and get him G’d up for the big North London derby. It’s strange to see Podolski’s sudden loss of form, but it’s quite reminiscent at his time playing for Bayern. He was deploy in a similar role and it was largely noneffective. For Cologne, given a central role, he flourished. With Gervinho, Walcott and Oxlade out in recent times, it did make sense to play him there, but now some of them are back (Gervinho is still 2 weeks away), perhaps he can move central.

In other team news – Szcznesy is back and raring to go! Although not quite back enough for him to start – I’m sure we’ll see him on the bench and prepped ready to return next week too.

Based on the team news I’ve heard, I think the line up could be:

Mannone

Sagna – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Coquelin

Walcott – Cazorla – Oxlade

Giroud

But, knowing the manager, I think he’ll play Ramsey instead of Coquelin and Podolski instead of Oxlade…

On Walcott’s contract situation, Arsene has spoken out:

“My desire is to keep Theo. We do what’s needed to keep him and hopefully [as] I told you many times, we can sort this situation out very soon. Very soon is before the end of December – one way or another, that is for sure. I don’t want to go into any details but you can believe me [that] we do the maximum we can to keep our best players.”

It’s so important for us to keep Theo; without turning this blog into a Theo contract blog, he is our top scorer this season, we’ve been training him to be good for the last 7 years. He’s finally getting somewhere, it would be criminal to let him go!

Tomorrow, against Fulham, we face a team in some sort of form – they’re currently level on points with us – both of us on 15 points and a win is very much needed!

I’ll leave you with some opta stats:

  • Arsenal have made their worst start in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, taking just 15 points from their opening 10 games.
  • Fulham have lost 12 points from winning positions this season, more than any other side.
  • 38% of the 13 Premier League own goals this season have benefitted either Fulham (3) or Arsenal (2)

Time to correct some of those records, I think!

Arsenal vs QPR: A must win game!

After a positive period cultimating in the win away at West Ham, we’ve had a bit of a horrid time with a loss to newly promoted Norwich and then a home defeat to Schalke in the Champions League. Arsene and the board met with fans yesterday at the annual AGM and it was much of the sameness. The AGM has been covered a lot, so I won’t delve into that right now.

We play QPR tomorrow, in what is literally a must win game. Anything but a win and we’ll have much greater problems with the league and the fans than we have now. The team hasn’t been playing well, and we’re looking for something different tomorrow – inspiration… and cue the return of Jack Wilshere. The English midfielder has had two reserve games and is looking fine now, and with all sorts of problems happening, I think his return could be the impoteous we need.

I don’t know what’s in Arsene’s mind, but if it were me, I’d play the following team:

Mannone (no choice)

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Sagna

Arteta – Coquelin

Cazorla – Wilshere – Oxlade

Giroud

I think Sagna and Oxlade could do a lot of damage on the left, as they had done on the right previously… I’d take Podolski out of the team – he looks knackered and he needs to know his place isn’t guaranteed. Giroud must be super hungry and Wilshere, Oxlade and Cazorla just look an amazing three behind him.

For me, Coquelin has definitely earnt a place in the side, far more effective than Aaron Ramsey…. however, what will Arsene play? I think he’ll play:

Mannone (no choice)

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Ramsey

Oxlade – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Why? Because I don’t think he wants to play Sagna or Wilshere just yet. With the Capital One Cup coming up on Tuesday, I think he wants to ease them in gently. Personally, I’d say play Santos in the 5th priority cup and play the best team you can.

I’m boarding a flight to Thailand right now, and with Totti in Vietnam, Debs and JAT85 will be taking over the blog for the next week… We’ve had some interesting comments recently, keep them coming…

I’ll leaving you with some inspirational words from the captain…

“I should stress that the last two results have not been about our mentality. Everyone here works hard, and I can honestly say that the attitude in this group is fantastic. A few weeks ago we played a good game at West Ham and won 3-1, and you don’t lose that in the space of seven days. Two negative results can put you down very quickly in football, but a couple of good games will do exactly the opposite. Of course it’s been a disappointing and frustrating week, but we know we have the quality to get back on track.”

Adios for now…

Norwich 1 – 0 Arsenal: Wenger: “The gap at the top is unpleasant.”

In football, people say they are no such things as easy games. For Arsenal, I’d have to agree that is the case. Norwich away from home was simply – by fans and by the players – underestimated. On twitter and facebook prior to the game, all the talk was about how much we’d beat Norwich by. People talking about winning 4-0, 6-0… we thought it would be a walk in the park. The players obviously thought that too, and the 1-0 loss is exactly what we deserved.

We’re 10 points behind Chelsea and in reality, we’re throwing it all away. Our form in the Premiership is bad, very bad. 8 games in and 12 points is surely worse than last year (someone please let me know!)…

As an Arsenal fan, it was plain and simple to see – we gave away yesterday’s game completely – don’t get me wrong, Norwich played well, but we didn’t show up, we didn’t play well and we just mentally were not there. Arsene spoke outside of the game and acknowledged that things are going wrong. Injuries are piling up… and we are not taking the Premiership seriously:

“The gap at the top is unpleasant. We had an opportunity to close the gap but we didn’t. It does worry me but what is more disappointing is we didn’t score.”

“We will wait until we see how players are when they come back. We did not create enough that is for sure”

“It was a poor collective offensive performance, although we have scored goals up until now.

“I believe we have to face the reality of the Premier League and if you are not ready from kick-off then you have no chance”

“What can I do now? I am angry because we have not created very much. ”

“There was always something missing – defensively we were not at our usual level.”

Those are some upset, angry and questionable quotes from Arsene. Sometimes he defends the team, but sometimes he has to lay into them because, without a shadow of a doubt, the performance we saw yesterday is not acceptable at our club. It did have the potential to be a bogey fixture, being straight after the international fixtures, and we suffered two casualties in the break, with Koscielny and Walcott missing through injury. Throw in Diaby, Sagna, Rosicky, Fabianski, Szcznesy and Gibbs and we’re slightly lighter than we’d like to have been.

BUT… we did start a lineup that include a whole host of great players. On paper, none of us thought the XI wouldn’t be good enough…

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Santos

Arteta – Ramsey

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

With a bench of Martinez, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gnarby, Oxlade and the eagerly awaited return of Jack Wilshere

Yes, we had the majority of the squad away in international duty, but these players are all top top quality players who should be able to beat a Norwich side who were languishing at the bottom of the table. No matter what, this team is good enough to win. But the battle is sometimes psychological… and we failed.

The problem sometimes does become the scoreline. As I talked about yesterday, we do prefer away games, because the home team will attack and give us space, but if we lose a goal to them, it changes everything. Yesterday there were two main problems:

  1. We didn’t close down in midfield
  2. Our goalkeeping was very very bad

So let’s look at the first issue – The Arteta – Ramsey – Cazorla combination. It’s very attacking, that’s true, although we didn’t really get going in the attacking third. But it can’t compete with proper midfielders – what I mean by that is that they are three luxury midfielders – just imagine Chelsea playing Oscar, Mata, Hazard with three strikers, it would be footballing suicide. Just imagine Man United playing with a central hub of Kagawa, Nani and Young… it wouldn’t be able to compete with proper midfielders, that’s for sure.

We miss Diaby – in fact, since he got injured against Chelsea, we’ve looked a shadow of our former self. Arteta is trying, but it’s not natural for Ramsey to defend. Personally, it’s Arteta along side either Diaby, Wilshere or Coquelin. Ramsey in that position won’t work – he can only really play where Cazorla plays. We have options, but if we use them in the wrong places, then we only cause ourselves problems.

And then over to the goalkeeping situation. Szcznesy is injured, Fabianski is injured and therefore, we have Mannone in goal. He has been solely responsible for a few goals conceded this season, but yesterday, it was completely down to him. Firstly, he parried a shot that should of been handled, and then secondly, he didn’t get up to even attempt to get the ball or block the rebound in a timely manner. Yes, he’s our 3rd choice, but he needs to be better. It’s unlikely United will lose De Gea and Lindeegard both at the same time for large periods, so yes we are unfortunate. But this is basic goalkeeping and basic mistakes.

But in life and football, you will concede goals, and it’s up to score them to ensure we win games. The team just didn’t have the something something about them up front that they needed and that’s worrying. Gervinho is regressing, and it’s not a good sight to watch. Arsene – this is where you show what a great manager you are. Fix this quickly, chose the right players and get back on the training ground. 12 points from 8 games is simply not good enough.

Arsene said after the game that they deserved to win, and that’s the biggest condemnation of your own team:

“I hope it will have a positive impact. It was a shock to the system today. But you have to give credit to Norwich today. They played well, were completely committed and they deserved the win. Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face. But the Premier League is the Premier League. If you are not ready for the fight then you will always have bad surprises. There is a big difference between the amount of possession we had and the amount of chances we created. That is down to the fact that Norwich defended well and we did not create a lot.”

We go into an important week where we play in form Schalke at home on Wednesday followed by another home fixture to QPR – two very vital games. Winning both will give us confidence, but turning up will not win us those games. We need to work hard in the next few days to ensure we’re back and on form and capable of beating them in front of our 60,000 fans…

We’re in a precarious position now… let’s try and push on for our next two home games and see where that takes us… until tomorrow amigos, until tomorrow.

 

 

 

Norwich City v Arsenal: The Preview

The Premiership is back, it’s been gone for so long, I can’t really remember what happened last time out… but for us, October will be a vital month. I’ll start today’s blog with a quote for Sir Arsene Wenger III:

“In October the moment of truth starts for the team. The league establishes itself a little bit and the Champions League goes to decisive moments. Therefore of course, it’s important to be decisive and convincing.”

We play Norwich tomorrow at Carrow Road… we have a CL home game against Schalke – being German, they will be tough opposition, then it’s QPR and then Reading. We need 9 points from the next three Premier league games to get back into the title race. Being 7 points behind Chelsea already means against the likes of Norwich, QPR and Reading, we must absolutely without a shadow of a doubt win those games.

Team News

Team news ahead of the game sees the return of Jack Wilshere to the squad – or so we all think – Bacary Sagna could also be included in the squad. I doubt either will start, but we’ll see what the manager does. Gibbs is a player who is definitely out along with his English compatriot in Theo Walcott, who is still recovering from the attack during England duty! Diaby and Rosicky look to be out of action for the next month or so, so it’s basically as we were. In the goalkeeping department, both Szcznesy and Fabianski are out injured, so Mannone and Martinez will be our keepers in the squad.

My predicted XI is:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Ramsey

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

And for the bench, I think we’ll see:

 Martinez, Koscielny, Sagna, Coquelin, Wilshere, Oxlade, Arshavin

The manager has been in the press and has been talking about our style and how we’re more suited to away games. I’d have to agree. At home, it sometimes quite frustrating and breaking down teams becomes laborious. The good thing about away games is that the onus is on the home team to come out and attack. This means that they will always look to move forward and this leaves gaps.

“The games are a bit more open and because we have a positive attitude away from home. Sometimes we take more advantage of our chances [on the road]. I’m very happy with the behaviour of the team, [be it] away from home or at home. Maybe [we’ve] played with less freedom at home – with a bit more pressure. Let’s do well at Norwich, and I think that will put the team in a better position at home as well.”

There is absolutely no reason why we can’t beat this Norwich side. Individually, we have a great collection of players and they are all in form – Giroud scoring for France mid-week, Cazorla playing for Spain and looking good. Arteta’s had a rest, Gervinho’s got 5 goals this season and Podolski’s free kick was goal of the month.

Here are some interesting facts too!

  • Arsenal have not lost at Carrow Road in 11 visits since a 1-0 defeat on Boxing Day 1984 (W4, D7). They have also won a League Cup tie in Norfolk during that time.
  • Arsene Wenger’s side have scored 18 goals scored in their last five Premier League meetings against Norwich, who have also scored in each of those matches.
  • Norwich are winless in their last nine matches against Arsenal home and away since a 4-2 victory at Highbury on the first day of the Premier League in August 1992.

We’ve got the late kick off tomorrow, 5.30pm, so we’ll see where that takes us and where we start off in the table. A win tomorrow is very much required….

Come on you Gooners!!

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…

Arsenal vs Chelsea: The Preview (And Coventry Comments)

Happy weekend to all… I started writing this blog on Thursday, tried to continue on Friday, but life pressures meant I got nowhere with it… I’ll start today with a few comments about the Coventry game – first of all, I know that this is just the Coventry game and therefore not something that we should focus on too much, but how good was Coquelin? That boy is going to be something special. I really hope he gets sufficient game time and stays this season. He’s got everything in his locker, and most importantly, he has the desire and will to win.

Okay, so I won’t blog now, as it’s game time… but I’ll be back post game to tell you how we beat Chelsea 6-1… I’ll leave you with the likely team news…

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Let’s see what we’re made of…

Man City 1 – 1 Arsenal…

Wow, what a game, and what a super duper Sunday that was. The Premier League has been very exciting this season and today just added to what has been a very interesting start to the season. The news that Vermaelen was out only hit me around game time… and I was a little bemused to see Ramsey start on the right of midfield.

The team that started the game was:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker  Koscielny – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Gervinho has been preferred to Giroud in recent games, and I think that’s more to do with his pace than anything else. He has the ability to dribble past and get into dangerous areas and after a fine game against Southampton, he was again preferred. He didn’t quite have the game you need from a striker as he failed to make a striking impact on the game, and it’s a bit worrying that Gervinho doesn’t quite fit the bill and Giroud hasn’t got his scoring boots on.

We dominated the early stages and brought the game to City. They counter attacked and did it well and the first half was pretty even, with Arsenal edging it through some excellent play in midfield but City always looking dangerous. However, despite the early exchanges, it was City that went ahead through a Lescott corner when Mannone lost the flight of the ball from a corner. He’d played well all game, so it was a shame that he made the mistake, but take nothing away from Lescott either, it was a good delivery and header. The goal came on the 40th minute and it was a little bit of a sucker blow.

We had been playing well in midfield and defence but without the finisher at the moment, we spurned a lot of chances. In the second half, we again brought the game to City and were finally rewarded when Koscielny poked in from rebound from a corner, emphatic and too fast for Hart to stop it. There were a few moment of heart in mouth, but we rode any late storms and the introduction of Coquelin was a sign we were settling for the draw.

A draw away at City is something that we can be proud of – the way we played was also very pleasing. Arsene spoke after the game…

I am pleased because [a point] was the minimum we deserved today. I am pleased also with the quality of our performance and our spirit. Also a bit frustrated because I feel there was room to do more. We had early chances and very late chances, especially Gervinho at the edge of the box where he missed the target. But overall I hope this will reinforce our belief and confidence and reassure us about our potential in this league.

As I write this, it’s time to board my flight, Nairobi to London after a wedding in Mombasa… next up is the Capital One Cup and I’m sure it’ll be a very different team mid-week.

Until tomorrow…