Another Interlull begins…

Morning Gooners,

It’s another Wednesday but this time I hope the gremlins that took down the WOA site including my Wednesday post last week aren’t up to any mischief this time round.

So since my rather glass half empty post we’ve managed to bag a couple of timely 3-1 victories.

Firstly against Olympiacos in the Champions League. Much has been written and over analysed about a ‘shaky and poor’ first half, while it wasn’t vintage, the Greek champions arrived with a game plan to close us down two to a man and deny us any space. This game plan worked and as a result our play looked sloppy. In the end, like when we take on teams lower in the Premier League, the Greeks tired in the second half and Arsenal secured a good win that puts them2 points clear from Schalke, who are up next at home. A job well done on the night, lets save the vintage performances for the latter stages hey?

Next up was a tough trip to Upton Park. A away London derby day, the return of Le Boss’, Fat Sam and a big target man in Andy Carroll. Better Arsenal teams have come unstuck at such a task, after the first defeat of the season to Chelsea, this was big test. The good news is that we passed with flying colours, as Dev wrote on Sunday: ‘Battled it out…’

Dev has covered most of the facts and details around this game, never the less it is worth stating again how much of a boost this result would have given our players (and fans). With all the other top clubs winning on the weekend, Arsenal couldn’t afford to playing psychological catch up as well as points catch up. The talk was rightly about Cazorla after the game, the little magician is really starting to show his worth and he also doesn’t go missing during the tougher games. His goal, well that was a thing of beauty. Body shaped in one direction but hitting completely across the ball to put it into the opposite corner. Top work, Santi.

That win unfortunately takes us into another interlull break. Yawn!

The interviews and headlines out there are rather tame, for example, ice cream loving Alex Hleb has said:

 [Guardiola is] not the best coach in the world because he coached the best team in the world with the best players. It is not difficult to win with a team like that. I think Villanova will achieve the same success. The best coaches in the world are Mourhino, Alex Ferguson and Wenger.

I learned more from Wenger at Arsenal than Guardiola, but he’s a great coach. It is also true that he was the coach of the strongest in the world, so we managed good results”

Thanks Alex, I’m sure Wenger will be happy to hear that after you turned your back on him. No mention of Alec McCleish in your list though?

The man who scored his first goal EVER, (forever ever ever?) on Saturday, Giroud has been talking about Arsenal life:

“I could speak basic English (before) but not enough to really talk with my team-mates, understand the coach’s talks and adapt to my new country.

“You have to adapt. You have to learn habits and customs of the country when you arrive.

“The easiest thing would be to remain with your fellow countrymen, and I can already see that here.

“I am not improving as quickly as I should, even if I’m speaking with English and foreign players.

“The Frenchmen tend to stay together when we eat and in the changing room. It is logical and only human. But I try to talk with others in English, even with the media.”

He added: “It is not easy to come to a new country. You are far away from your family. You have to be mentally strong.

“I think I am mature enough for England. It is the perfect moment now – I am 26 years old. I could not wait too much longer.”

On goal scoring…

“Unconsciously maybe I put myself under more pressure,” he added. “I think I can be honest with myself.

“I still feel a bit of tension when it is time to score, a lack of success. It is so tiny.

“But I’ve made good runs, I’ve already provided four assists and there is good support from my team-mates.

“You must not give up. You cannot be worried. I know what I have to do.”

 

Bless his rather large and perfectly formed frame.

Well that’s it from me, next weekend it’s Norwich away but until then let’s all pray all our players come back fighting fit.

Have a good one Gooners.

Tottz

Feel free to follow my ramblings on twitter @Tottz82.

Chelsea reaction & Olympiacos preview.

Morning Gooners,

It’s 4 days on yet I still can’t wash off the frustration of saturday’s first defeat of the season. The fact I felt rare bit of over confidence going into the game personifies the frustration, a case of miss placed optimism.

I want to write how it was just an off day and the defeat shouldn’t mean too much after 38 games but a large part of me can feel elements of recent actions repeating itself.

Lack of leadership at the back when defending set pieces. We have conceded 5 goals this season, which is actually quite impressive but 4 of goals have been preventable through better defending and an authoritive figure. Steve Bould can work on set piece defending in training all day but who will be his voice on the pitch to ensure these actions are actually followed?

I love the spirit and fight shown by Vermaelen but the repeat of defensive mistakes seen in previous seasons is again making me nervous. I agree with the sentiment (albeit in hindsight) that Mertesacker’s calming influence and leadership was missed on Saturday but with Captain Vermaelen as a guaranteed starter, Per had to make way for the pace of Kos.

With 51% possession and 17 attempts on goal, 4 on target, Arsenal struggled to really enforce their agenda on to Chelsea. We looked quite static and at time with a lack of movement and fluid play. Again, while this was just one game, these are traits we all all fear repeating themselves.

The pressure is really on Giroud not only to deliver quickly but deliver immediately. Having missed another chance on Saturday, the pressure is just going to intensify. No other striker in recent history has faced the same pressure as Giroud due to another striker being present to ‘pass the baton’ on to the new comer. Think about it from Wrighty to Anelka ; Suker to Henry; Greedybayor to RVP (at his 8th attempt), but poor Giroud just has the baton thrown at him. Regardless of what you think of him I question the decision by the club and player to let Bendtner move without helping to cover the goal scoring requirement. Remind me who paid his wages until September?

Anyway the chance to move on quickly comes in the shape of Olympiacos in the Champions league. The boss will be serving the 2nd match of his 3 game ban so Steve Bould will deputise. The Boss has also spoken about how an instant reaction from the Chelsea defeat is going to be key:

“They are still down of course, but we have a Champions League game in front of us at home and we want to put things right,” he declared.

“There were a lot of positives in that game as well, what was not good is easy to correct.

“It is about how we respond. I am impressed by the mentality of my team, but the mentality is as well about how you respond to disappointment.

“I am confident we will, but that is what we want to show tomorrow.”

.

 

That’s the photo we’ve all been waiting for, it’s taken 14months. I doubt we’ll see Jack in the first team until the end of October but light might finally be at the end of the tunnel for our number 10. I seriously can’t wait to see him back in action

“He came through it all right,” Wenger added. “There was no reaction.

“We are pleased but it is now down to taking the right time to ease him slowly back.

“We are all very happy, and he especially must be exceptionally happy, but he has been out for 14 months.”

With Arteta rated doubtful for tonight after sitting out training, the boss is deciding whether to risk him or not.

“Arteta will have a test tomorrow morning. We will make the decision then whether we include him in the squad or not. He has an ankle injury.

“We lost Diaby, who has a thigh strain. He is definitely out for three weeks as well. Apart from Diaby and Arteta, everyone came through well.

 

A win tonight and a win against West ham (and Fat Sam) on Saturday will definitely mean we’re back on track but with the old mistakes still looming in the background, we really need to ensure every game is treated with the utmost respect and concentration.

 

Come on the Arsenal!!

~ Tottz

Feel free to follow my ramblings on twitter @Tottz82

 

 

 

City, Theo & Coventry.

Morning Gooners,

After the battling point on Sunday at City, Arsenal return to action in the Carling/Milk/Coca Coca/Capital One cup against League One Coventry.

Before we get to that let’s cover a few hot topics doing the rounds;

City post mortem –

48 hours on, I’m still very happy not with our point but the performance too. Arsenal were in complete control during periods at the Etihad. With the majority of possession and over 200 completed passes more than City, we showed no signs of nerves or intimidation. On the contrary, we saw players such as Ramsey, Gibbs and Jenkinson step up to the challenge and arguably have their best game in an Arsenal shirt. Add that to Mertesacker reading the game better than a lonely chick read 50 shades of Grey on the train, Arteta the efficient water carrier and Koscielny reminding everyone of the quality left on the bench so far this season. This game was the second of three tests during a 2 week period, next upChelsea. With a win atMontpellierand a point at City, winning theChelseagame would complete the first big challenge ahead of us.

There were developments areas that did come out of the City game too; in particular the goal we conceded was frustratingly poor. Zonal marking, Man marking, whatever you want to blame, it’s just bad defending in my book. Mannone going walkies; two defenders standing underneath a jumping Lescott; heading in over Arteta on the line. No defence is perfect but we should have defended that set piece far better.

Gervinho, Gervinho, what do we do with our Gervinho. It’s easy to knock him after Sunday’s game (believe me many have!) but let’s not forget he was probably our best player against Montpellierand Southampton, he had earned his starting position. He started the game well but then he had that chance along with that touch. His confidence and game were over. Gervinho, however to his credit never stops. I have read recently that he has attempted (and maybe completed too) the most dribbles in the league, he constantly receives the ball in space and attacks the full back, however, he lacks something I believe it’s too late to teach him; composure. When was the last time you saw Gervinho stop the ball dead, have a look up, assess his options and pick out a player with a pass? Or when did you last see Gervinho infront of goal with a solid first touch and then calmly slot it in the corner? No, me neither.

Gervin-Nooo!!

Those lucky enough to follow me on twitter will have seen my tweet on Monday morning, ‘While Gervinho get’s his chance upfront, I wonder what the man who craves this chance is thinking…

Those lucky enough to follow me on twitter will have seen my tweet on Monday morning, ‘While Gervinho get’s his chance upfront, I wonder what the man who craves this chance is thinking…

Theo Walcott;

The Theo contract situation does not seem to be moving any faster but after watching Gervinho get the chance up top, I did wonder what he would have been thinking as this is the position he badly wants to be given a chance in. Funnily enough he answered my question later that day:

“I’m not a footballer who goes after the money,”

“It is all about the football. I signed as a striker and it is about time – I want to play up front. I am definitely a striker and feel I have matured in that position now.

“I have always said I want to win trophies at Arsenal. Thierry joined when he was 22 and started off slowly. I am only 23 and I want to be a legend like Thierry. Hopefully it can be with Arsenal.”

“Last season I played a lot, had plenty of assists for Robin and scored goals from the wing,” said Walcott.

“Now I want to develop and step up as a striker. Arsene has said he will play me up front more.

“It is a case of having trust in me. I have learnt my game on the wing but when I look at what I did last year I feel can do even more. I am desperate for the opportunity.”

“My time will come,” he said. “When I get the opportunity I will take it.

“I could play there against Coventry – that would be a nice gesture. I will play anywhere for the team but it’s about time I played up front.”

 

 

As always, Theo makes his pointed as a well articulated and measured young man, he comes across well and not like your typical dogging English footballer. I actually can’t argue with any of the points he makes above. We will all have our separate opinions about how well he would do up front but he was bought to develop into a striker, he wants to be a striker, before he commits his long term future, why not just check if this will ever happen?

However, the current difficulty for Theo is that he is currently stuck between a ‘rock and a hard place’; talk to the papers about what he wants or commit with faith in Wenger doing the right thing for him. For me,  Wenger is absolutely doing the right thing by not starting Theo right now. After Nasri and RVP had wonder seasons in the penultimate year of their contract and walked out; 6 amazing months from Theo will see him walk away for nothing at all. If Theo wants to play, he must commit to the club and team first.

And finally Coventry in the League Cup.

The Arsenal faithful (including me!) have done it once again by selling 60,000 tickets out for league cup tie against league one opposition. The League cup has always been a fantastic opportunity for the fans to see the potential stars of tomorrow at the club. Tomorrow’s game could include Eisfeld, Frimpong, Gnarby and some unknown Russian called Arshavin.

Wenger spoke about Gnabry and Arshavin in his press conference:

“Serge Gnabry is a great hope for the future,”

“I rate him highly. He is in the category of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott – guys who have great power, great pace, good dribbling skills. Goal scoring potential and good vision as well for the final ball. He can play central behind the striker or on the flanks.

“He had some injuries. If he continues his development, I think he could play this season in the first team. At the moment he needs to work and ensure he remains fit.

“I have personally a great respect for Andrey Arshavin because sometimes some wrong ideas circulated about him – that he doesn’t care, but it’s completely the opposite,” said Wenger. “He’s a 200 per cent professional who works every day very hard in training. At the moment he’s a victim of the high level of competition that exists for places. I think he has a huge respect from everybody in the dressing room, and especially from the staff. We will give him of course some competition on Wednesday night.”

A big test ahead on Saturday too, a win against Chelsea and I really do think we could start to believe in what could be achievable this season.

Have a good one.

~ Tottz

Follow me on twitter @Tottz82

Pod-goal-ski!

Morning Gooners,

The Champions League returned last night with Arsenal travelling to the first time french Champions Montpellier. The team line up was close to what many should have expected:

Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Diaby; Podolski, Cazorla, Gervinho; Giroud.
Subs: Shea, Koscielny, Santos, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott.

Arsenal started the game with a booking in 21seconds as Diaby took ball, man and family with a crunching tackle, Away from that we looked in control as we knocked the ball about at the first ever Champions League tie at the Stade de la Mosson.

However, on the 9th minute TV made a really unnecessary tackle on the left edge of the box, won none of the ball but enough to bring the man down. Penalty. The players and most viewers looked on in disbelief but replays showed that the Spanish refereeing posse got the call right. Bellhanda, who was heavily linked to Arsenal, stepped up and chipped it in as Mannone looked on.

The boys didn’t panic and as always under Le Boss we stuck to our game plan and it paid off within 7mins as Podolski was put through by Giroud through ball (after a 19 pass move, trust me I was counting) and tucked it passed the keeper.

Arsenal had the bit between their teeth and were in the lead two minutes later. This time Jenkinson was released down the right hand side and crossed perfectly for Gervinho to tap in (albeit off the keeper!).

Chances were sparse for the remainder of the half but Montpellier came out all guns blazing in the second half. With chances hitting the bar and missed due a lack of composure, we were facing our first real test of the season.

Montpellier may have lost their star striker but their creative and defensive core was very much present. They refused to let us settle on the ball and were adventurous in attack. Arsenal couldn’t get the ball down to create anything worth mentioning.

Montpellier’s best chance to equalise came in the 80th min as Belhanda found himself 8 yards in front of goal, after Mertesacker dove in and missed, but he could only fire it straight at Mannone. I prefer to call that a good save.

Match day one, three points. It was by no means a vintage performance but an away win in the Champions League is always a precious win. A part of me is also very happy that the back line got a proper test today too. Steve Bould has done a fantastic job of organising the defence but this reminds all involved that the hard work has just began. A point to note about the defence is the new found maturity of Jenkinson and Gibbs. Many have rightly been nervous about their positional play and concentration but they have really stepped up this season.

The unfairly over critised Giroud worked hard up front and played a large part in both our goals; Gervinho looks like a different player from the one who returned from the ACN a broken man. The forward who I’m quickly falling in love with is Podolski. He works tirelessly, uses his experience on the ball and is lethal in front of goal.

That bloke who moved up north got 30 goals last season, a tough act to follow for any individual but if Podolski can get 15 goals, Giroud 10 (I’m being realistic!) and 20 between Theo, AOC and Gervinho; the void can be filled through a balanced team. Surely a more healthy solution for the all involved?

In other news, there has no been no movement on the Theo Walcott contract situation. Wenger, who hasn’t started Theo since the first game of the season, had his say yesterday:

“It can (change selection policy), but at the moment I still hope to extend his contract so at the moment, it doesn’t affect me. Of course at some stage…,”

“If in April it (the contract) is not done, you can think it will be difficult to do.”

 

He added In response to potential fans backlash toward Walcott (ehem, Fossie from row 8!);

“You want your players to be supported no matter what kind if contractual situation they are in,” Wenger added.

“I hope it will not affect him and that it will not affect our fans.

“Theo has gone through a lot at 23 years of age. A lot of positives, a lot of negatives and he is level-headed.

“We are lucky: I don’t know what they do at Southampton, but they bring players out, (Alex Oxlade) Chamberlain and him, with their feet on the ground.”

 

That’s it for today. The Champions league is off and running with three points already on the board.

Next up City away. The main aim is to go there and not lose. With City leaking goals we can definitely come away with something if we stick to our new found principles in defence and natural attacking instinct.

Game on!

Have a good one,

~ @Tottz82

Interlull over… Business time.

Morning Gooners,

It’s an interlull week already in the season so the news is pretty sparse this week to say the least.

I’m typing while watching the Ox not really get into get into an average England performance at home to Ukraine while also keeping an eye on Giroud’s France take on Belarus. Not much to report there from the big man either.

Staying in France, Abou Diaby played 90mins and scored in the victory over Finland. The now fat water carrier, Deschamps said;

He felt a bit of muscle pain in training…

Parts of the media and bloggers are reporting that as Diaby is knocking on heavens door, more respected outlets are saying, ‘he’s got a niggle, he’s been rested’. I’ve got a feeling it’s the later but given Abou’s luck with injuries, a small knock could escalate into a longer lay off.

The boss attempted to allay any fears about Diaby on French TV:

“[The injury] doesn’t seem serious to me at all. He has a small chance of playing on Saturday.”

I said last week he needs rotating and resting given the time he’s had out but with selfish international managers on the scene, our players will always be at risk. In fact, Arsenal have more players away on international duty than any other team in the league. Yikes!

Swiching over to Spain, Carzorla (who’s playing in the USA of all places this week…UPDATE:  OK correction, he was playing Georgia… I blame skim reading Arseblog! Thanks @Nitz21), has talked about how happy he is with his early season form:

‘They have paid an important amount of money for me and the role they’ve given me is the one I like,”

“I love the style of the team. Wenger’s philosophy is to control the game and I like to be on the ball. Furthermore, the boss has put me in a position, second striker, with all the freedom I want to have.

“He told me to be at ease and that he’d play me where I could most help the team. It surprised me in pre-season when he put me as the second striker.

“I’ve come to play on the wings with the freedom to move inside, but Wenger has immediately put me in this position.’

And long may he stay in this position. I do believe there will be a few tough nights ahead for him in the League. Your typical ‘he’s not that kind of player’ defenders will get wise to the fact that our Santi is the player to watch and attempt to bully him out of games through rough house tactics. If Graham Hunter’s quotes from last week are to be believed, Santi won’t be intimidated.

Cazorla went on to talk about the help of Arteta while settling in to English life:

“Arteta has advised me a lot, he told me football is much faster and less tactical than Spain. It’s more give and go,”

“Mikel has helped me to learn to see the game and said that if we play rapidly with the ball we’re going to create a lot of danger and we’ll beat most teams.

“Wenger wants him (Arteta) now as a defensive pivot and he’s doing it very well. He gives real balance and he can win the ball back and play it out because with the ball he’s spectacular.”

Arteta is the new engine room and yes, he can be quite spectacular.

Back in England, our fast improving prospect at right back Carl Jenkinson has made his intetions clear,

“My ambition for my whole career is to play for this football club. I want to be good enough and make my mark here.

“I won’t be happy until I’m playing week-in, week-out. That’s what I want to achieve.”

Carl Jenkinson is an Arsenal fan living the dream. From watching the team in the stands to being signed up to be part the squad. Have a look at the photo below. This is Carl Jenkinson’s actually bedroom he grew up in at home, he’s Arsenal through and through and part of a dying breed in the modern game. Carl Jenkison, you have my support Gooner.

Back to the real thing on Saturday with Southampton at home, there’s never such a thing as a ‘home banker’ when Arsenal are concerned so we’ll need to be on top of our game after the international break to take all three points. With Montpellier and Man City up in quick succession, it’s about to get serious again. Bring it on.

Have a good one.

~ @Tottz82

 

Cazorla & The D-Unit.

Morning Gooners,

And it’s still a good morning as many of us are still smiling from our first win of the season at Anfield.

Unfortunately I was unable not only to go to Anfield but actually watch the game at all due to a family birthday event. It’s the first time I haven’t watched a game in person or when televised for a very long time. Never the less, thanks to the world of twitter and push messaging services (thanks to @d_u_b_z) I was able to keep abreast of our performance.

Catching up on the highlights there were a number of notable positives;

Santi Cazorla

It’s only 3 games in but Mr Wenger’s done it again hasn’t he? Santi really is a talent. A playmaker who always wants the ball, ability to play with either foot; pace of mind & foot and a keen eye for goal or an assist. Reading quotes from Spanish football expert, Graham Hunter yesterday, he described Cazorla as “… a guy with the qualities that Nasri and Arshavin have, but this guy has bottle… He always turns up, home or away. He’ll be ferocious; fans will adore his attitude. He’s hungry all the time”. Exciting.

Ok again, it’s only 3 games and a lot can change but it looks like we’ve bought a player who can change a game in an instant with a single piece of vision.

The defensive unit

I touch on this last week but the defence is growing in stature and resilience in every minute played, say it quietly but it’s not even our first choice defence with Sagna, Koscielny and Szcz to return to full fitness. I was, and still am a big fan of Steve Bould, his influence is apparent. The team are defending as a ‘unit’ rather than individuals as in previous blundering years. For example when Gibbs was caught up field, Arteta moved toward the left to protect from a break, the team continued to close Liverpool down to turnover possession and create devastating counter attacks. Defending is a collective process and it can only be successfully achieved if every player is aware of their job to one another for the good of the team… See the George Graham years for evidence.

Abou Diaby

I write this knowing that within the next week Diaby’s luck may change and we’ll be talking about the player he could have been rather than the talent we all saw at Anfield. On Sunday, he was the Diaby we all want to see week in week out for The Arsenal. Strong on the ball rarely relinquishing possession, mobile, creative, simply a player you’d like to have playing for you than against you. Wenger has stuck by Diaby, almost as if he felt he owed it to him after that horrific tackle from the call operator who used to play for Sunderland. The Boss needs to rotate and look after Diaby for the next months but IF we can get 30 games this season from him, I’m confident we’ll all laud his influence.

We now enter an interlull break which is quite frustrating but with Wilshere and Sagna 2 weeks away from full training, it could also be seen as a timely break.

Away from the pitch, transfer deadline day turned into what I imagine Christmas is like for a Jehovah witness. I’m quite happy with the squad but I really do think a defensive midfielder would have given us a more solid option during games where the midfield is likely to be overloaded by the opposition. In the current set up Arteta is currently our deepest midfielder; while he’s not your typical DM he has the ability to play the role of the ‘water carrier’ very effectively. Gilberto was never the most combative in midfield but he had the ability to read the game so he was in the right place at the right time for the team. For what Arteta lacks in natural defensive expertise he make up in his abilities as an amazingly effective passer of the ball and a fighter. The steal in midfield will now need to come from Diaby, Frimpong and Le Coq, I’m sure I don’t have point out the obvious concern with those three players during the course of the season.

But this is now our team first team squad until January at least like it or not.  We could all talk about missed opportunities in the transfer window, talk about players who would have made us better, argue over players who should never have been sold but what has been done has been done and now it’s time to support the players that want to wear the shirt for The Arsenal.

The only team of the 92 league clubs in land not to have conceded a goal in their opening 3 games and players such as Sagna and Wilshere to return within the month how could you not be optimistic??!

Have a great Wednesday all.

~ @Tottz82

Boring Boring… Not just yet.

Morning Gooners,

So here we are again, another 0-0 draw, player(s) edging closer to the exit door and no strong rumours of any players making their way to the club.

Kicking off at Stoke on Sunday, I was actually satisfied with a point. Note I said satisfied with a point versus happy not scoring any goals. Stoke has never been an easy place for us to go; they hate us, we hate them and I hate Stoke more than both those put together. Stoke are our nightmare team, big powerful, love a set play and did I mention they hate us?

We controlled the game well, I really enjoyed watching us close down Stoke from the front, forcing errors and a regular turnover of possession that prevented Stoke from building up a head of steam (long balls) thus also silencing the crowd. However, controlling possession is all well and good but it really does mean nothing if you don’t create any chances that will allow you to win the game. I wouldn’t be as concerned if we’d miss chances as my sentiment would have been ‘next time will take a chance or two but at least we’re creating them’. For the first time I’m actually worried about the lack of creative edge in the team. If the chances had fallen to Giroud or Poldi then we could ask for patience but we’re struggle put anything up there for them to attack. Don’t get me wrong but Cazorla has been all that and more but time for Gervinho and others need to step up now.

Ok that’s the frustration out the way, onto the encouraging part of the performance, our defensive performance. I’ve never seen Arsenal stand up to and dare I say it, ‘get in the faces’ of Stokes players quite like they did on Sunday. The forward line pushed their defenders into mistakes, we pressed in midfield to stop the threat of direct balls and this relieved pressure on our defenders and stand in keeper, Vito. We prevented Zero corners (I won’t go into how many we wasted), we handled every long ball well and for once I felt calm about how were performed defensively. How? Why? It’s simple for me, the Steve Bould effect. From the reports about how and why Song left, Bouldy doesn’t suffer fools; he’s a strict disciplinarian who will ensure the old George Graham School of defending is passed onto this slack defence. We might have not scored any goals but a year ago we shipped 8 goals at Old Trafford.

"Exit door is that-a way slackers..."

Next up is a crunch tie at Anfield. Liverpool have suffered from defensive errors and have scored two great goals from set pieces. Neither Arsenal or Liverpool have picked up 3 points this season so you’ve got to believe something will have to give.

An interesting fact I found out the other day which slightly worried me is that Arsenal are yet to win a game in the last 3 transfer windows, that’s now a total of 8 games. Coincidence? I’d like to think so but this speaks volumes about the lack of stability at the club during periods where squad rotation is a real possibility. The club’s lack of cohesion around the future of players and the direction on the field come to a fore during this time and it having a direct affect on the team. I could be reading way too much into this but 8 games?

I seriously can not wait for Friday when the transfer window shuts. Last night there were rumours flying around about Theo rejecting a new contract, more instability before Friday? You bet.

Lastly, I made a promise to myself about not discussing transfer rumours to the club on my column as I didn’t want to be another one of those bloggers that pedal’s sh*t to get hits. I let myself down with all the Sahin goings on didn’t I?!

Have a good day all; bring on the close of the window and Sunday!

Come on The Arsenal.

~ @Tottz82

…And they’re back!

Morning Gooners,

We’re back baby…. With a nil nil draw, but at least we’re back right! So a nil nil bore draw and believe me it was quite boring, how did this happen? I hate to be the kind of guy that quotes himself but let me quote myself from a couple of weeks ago:

Back to the Arsenal, 18 days before the season starts and there’s plenty to be sorted out. Are the players fit enough? With only one friendly left to play (in Cologne) , Wenger has indicated that Podolski and Giroud may not be fit enough to start the season and will been to be introduced gradually. Those of you that read my blog last week will know my thoughts on the actually practicalities of a Far East preseason tour.  Yes, we’ve raised our profile in the Far East and we’re now likely to receive favourable commercial offers from the region but we’ve also got a squad who aren’t ready to start the season as we require. Like I stated last week, we’re not the only ones on foreign shores, so are we all willing to sacrifice the good of the team in the short term for long term commercial gain?  Apparently so.

Saturday’s performance was rusty, slight heavy legged, and ultimately we resembled a team that were a week or two short of full fitness. Giroud and Podolski had only played 45 off mins in Cologne, so to point a finger at their performance is completely unfair. As I said in the quote above we effectively sacrificed 2 potential points for commercial reward in the Far East.

Looking at the positives from Saturday, well it was nice and sunny for a start; also the hype about Cazorla may just be true. He was brilliant. It’s only one game but he single handedly controlled parts of the game and his ball distribution was that of a Spanish matador. Once (not if) we get Poldi and Giroud up and running, Cazorla will be enjoying the slack defending the Premier League has to offer.

Away from the pitch the transfer market has hotted up, out go Van Pursey (and the child inside him) and Alex Song. I’m not wasting my energy on the former but I was quite sad to see Song leave. Stories from some talk about his slack attitude and a refusal to negotiate a new contract even though quotes from Song contradict this. Regardless, he got his ‘dream’ move to Barcelona. I’ve been slightly annoyed at many on twitter playing down the impact Song had on our last season, while he did have his wandering moments, his contribution at times was vital. Unfortunately like many in the recent past, Song turned his back on the Wenger project seeking pastures new, so likes the others he will be replaced.

Nuri Sahin’s signing is imminent but the saga is dragging on with a  Mourinho led Real Madrid reluctant to agree a buy clause at the end of the loan deal, why? Because Madrid know that Sahin is likely return to form at Arsenal under Wenger’s stewardship and a reduced sell on fee will mean losing out in the long term.

Other players have been linked too, with many people waiting on the new messiah, the saviour of all our footballing sins, a defensive midfielder. Do we need one? I believe we do need a dependable screen but why can’t three midfielders (let’s say Arteta, Sahin and Carzorla) do this effectively? Those three players, in a mature and disciplined manner, would retain protection and through holding their positions but also constantly moving the ball. My point is this need for a defensive midfielder is turning into a search for a universal panacea but it’s not that simple , the players need to be disciplined enough to understand they have a role in defending as a team and this defensive midfielder does not give them free reign to wander.

Our favourite fixture is up next, Stoke away with Liverpool away the week after. We need to be up and firing asap. The first game of the season will always be tricky and the expectations by fans will out weigh the readiness of the players fitness, so let’s think of it as a point gained than two lost!

Come on the Arsenal!

Have a good day all!

~ @Tottz82

When Saturday Comes…

Morning Gooners,

So here we are on the verge of the new season, players brought in (some of high quality too), players have moved on but the hot topic at Arsenal is still about the future of our captain, RVP. Something’s never change and yet again it’s been less of the ‘will he won’t he’ but ‘when will he’.

The unthinkable is fast becoming the inevitable as RVP is closing on his move to ‘arch rivals’ Man Utd. Similar to Frank Stapleton, 31 years on, RVP has set his heart (and wallet) on a move to Old Trafford. Arsenal seem to be playing a game of hardball, albeit in a weakened position thanks to THAT public statement,  by demanding close to the £25m (ONO, full service history, one careful owner).

What does this move say about all parties involved?

RVP:

H’s clearly willing to turn his back on his ‘I’ll always be a Gunner’ sentiment at the close of the season to wear the shirt of a key rival. I guess he clearly thinks by leaving this current squad at Arsenal, he is taking a step towards achieving his career aims. I’d disagree but I’m an Arsenal fan so my view point will always be bias.

Interestingly, friends who are fans of other clubs feel RVP is making the wrong decision by leaving Arsenal and joining a United team that flattered to deceive last season. For reference, these same fans rightly said Arsenal would struggle post Cesc.

 

United:

Well they’ll feel like the cat that got the cream while Arsenal fans just hope they soon find that it’s just soured milk. United fans will be overjoyed that they’ve just bought the best player in the premiership last season, bar none. At c£20-25million and 29 years old, they have every right to be cautious. Personally, I believe United are making a big striker signing as a signal of intent to their City rivals rather than a practical signing against the requirements of their squad. United do not lack a goal scorer or few; they lack someone to put their foot on the ball and dictate play. They also lack a proper defensive midfielder who can effectively screen the defence, especially in Europe. United have already missed out on Moura and Hazard, RVP was not their priority.

Arsenal:

Selling another captain in the summer, letting the best player in England go to our rivals and yet again taking a step backwards after impressive signings so far this summer. I’m not going to dwell and recover the roads that led us here, I rather be pragmatic (or a d*ck as I was told yesterday) and look forward offering support to the players that will take to the pitch against Sunderland, and the remainder of the season. Cazorla is a fantastic player that will fill the creative void left by Cesc. Giroud a more complete target man than Chamakh and Podolski is a real winner who wants to show everyone in Germany he can cut it. I also don’t think the spending is over yet. It’s time to look forward and get ready for the new season, players come and go but the club will always remain.

There is an argument to say that that RVP moving on will allow the team to become more balanced as the focal point of the attack is removed and the goal scoring work load is then shared between the likes of Poldi, Theo, AOC, Gervinho, Cazorla and Giroud. This argument at this point would be seen as clutching at straws but who remembers when Henry left? The season after certain members of the team stepped up and took Arsenal to the closest they have been to a title since 2004.

 

Away from the RVP saga, the rumours about Song potentially leaving for Barcelona seem to be growing stronger. If Arsenal do choose to sell Song, it will be entirely that, their choice. Song has three years left on his contract; the choice to sell will be made by Wenger and I’d expect a replacement to come it. It would be a pity if we did sell Song, as infuriating as he can be at times, we would lose a player who has grown in stature and popularity and I would argue he is the one most improved players in Wenger’s reign.

After 3 months of housework, watching the Olympics and putting up with daily transfer bullsh*t, the football season is finally here. I can’t wait to make the journey to the Grove on Saturday for a 3pm kick off, the Tollington banter and the sight of the hallow turf for the first time. Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint and if the Olympics have taught us anything, the crowd can lift an athlete to achieve more than they ever believed possible. When Saturday come…

 

COME ON THE ARSENAL!!!

 

~ @Tottz82

 

 

 

 

They come, they go.

Morning Gooners,

Lack of real football news right now but who cares about football while the Olympics are on!! I’ve been to the table tennis and have become addicted to gymnastics, swimming and hockey. The athletics haven’t even started yet! It’s been thoroughly enjoyable so far and I really hope our worldwide readers are enjoying the show in London too.

Back to the Arsenal, 18 days before the season starts and there’s plenty to be sorted out. Are the players fit enough? With only one friendly left to play (in Cologne) , Wenger has indicated that Podolski and Giroud may not be fit enough to start the season and will been to be introduced gradually. Those of you that read my blog last week will know my thoughts on the actually practicalities of a Far East preseason tour.  Yes, we’ve raised our profile in the Far East and we’re now likely to receive favourable commercial offers from the region but we’ve also got a squad who aren’t ready to start the season as we require. Like I stated last week, we’re not the only ones on foreign shores, so are we all willing to sacrifice the good of the team in the short term for long term commercial gain?  Apparently so.

There are plenty of coming and goings still to sort out. I’ll stay true to my form and avoid getting involved in transfer tittle tattle but the goings seem to be focussed around Bendtner, Arshavin and Squillaci and the comings rumoured to potentially include Cazorla, Sahin and M’Vila (still clutching on to that!) . The comings are very dependent on the goings actually finally going.

One likely exit still to actually get going is the the departure of want a way RVP. Arsenal legend Henry had his say on the topic:

”We hope he stays and that’s the way it is,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports News.

”I don’t know exactly what is happening but as an Arsenal fan I want him to stay. ”He is still an Arsenal player and the boss has to deal with it.

”I just want Arsenal to do well. Robin will do what he will do and we’ll see.

”When I left, everybody cried, but then the year after they went on a run of being eight points ahead. Everyone comes and goes.”

Precisely, no one is bigger than the club.

Arsenal old boy Martin Keown has also been talking defenders:

“I think Koscielny is an outstanding player,” Keown told Arsenal.com. “He is very nimble on his feet and defensively in a one v one I think he is the best we have.

“Thomas Vermaelen is very powerful and attacks the ball brilliantly alongside him, so I think those two together look like a formidable pair.”

Throw Mertesacker in to the mix and we actually have 3 top level centre backs but the defensive organisation and collective mentality is out weakness. Sort that out and we’re a true threat.

With not much else going, that’s it from me.

Have a good one and enjoy the Olympics!

~@Tottz82

21st Century Pre-Season

Morning Gooners

The London Olympics are around the corner as is the new season and Arsenal kicked off their pre-season proper with a win against a Malaysia XI. I’ve only seen the briefest of highlights and while a win is always important, in pre-season it is more important to get everyone one of our players  match fit, sharp and most importantly at Arsenal, through to the first game of the season uninjured.

Arsenal had a couple of half chances in the first half through Santos and Chamakh but fell a goal behind on the stroke of half time with a great strike from ‘Muslim’. Arsenal took their sweet time but equalised on 86mins through great work by Yennaris and a finish by Eisfeld. Just when they thought it was all over, Chuks Aneke’s looping/deflected shot won the game for the Arsenal.

She's heard about his scoring record...

With no reported injuries, it seemed to be a very good work out in tough humid conditions and a Hackney marsh style of pitch. If anyone watched the game and tried to over analyse the performance as a team or of an individual, I feel sorry for you. It’s a pre-season friendly, it means nothing unless we pick up injuries. When I was younger (yes I just used that phrase!), you found out about your pre-season result in the column at the bottom of the newspaper the next morning. ‘Oh we won, that’s good… now who’s on page 3…’ would be my typical reaction.

Today’s pre-season games are part of money making worldwide tours designed to further the ‘brand’ name of the football club to increase commercial opportunities. Every manager would prefer to warming up for the season in a small training camp in North London or Austria. Arsenal are in the far east with Man City and United (I believe), while Liverpool, Chelsea and Sp*rs are all in the USA etc etc. The players gain no benefit from these locations; if anything their bodies are put under greater strain from travelling and ‘unusual’ conditions. To sum it up, Arsenal play Man City in Beijing in the Birds Nest stadium on Friday, what’s the point? Money.

Here are the highlights from yesterday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VVSsOLuFb4

 

In other news;

Emmanuel Frimpong has been charged by the FA for improper conduct on Twitter:

The FA released a statement today saying that Frimpong posted a comment “amounting to improper conduct and/or which brought the game into disrepute”.

The comment is believed to have “included a reference to ethnic origin, faith or race”.

The comments related back to a Tottnum fan who said ‘he’d pray’ for Frimpong to break all his legs and die, yet Frimmy gets charged. While Frimmy pleaded ignorance to his slur:

“Just wanna Say didn’t even no the word is offensive as u hear it all the time but u live and learn from ur mistakes Have a gd afternoon”

He like other ‘choc ice’ eating footballers need to learn to either grow up or delete their twitter accounts. I think Arseblogger sums it up brilliantly in this post:

http://news.arseblog.com/2012/07/twitter-guidelines-issued-as-frimpong-is-charged/

That’s actually about it if im staying away from Santi ‘the new Juan Mata transfer saga’ Cazorla and complete non story that is the RVP transfer saga.

Here’s to some good news soon on the transfer front, the quicker players are in and out, the better.

Have a good one Gooners.

~ @Tottz82