Arsenal 1-0 QPR. Lovely 3 points, thank you very much!

So we just about managed to beat QPR at the Emirates. a lot has been said by all and sundry about how dreadful we were, but do we or should we care? There have been so many matches we’ve played where we’had produced fantastic performances, which chances coming from multiple angles, but have either managed to draw or lose due to poor finishing or lack of concentration at the back. Obviously the ideal scenario would be great performances with wins at the end, but we do not live in an ideal world. Bearing that in mind, what is wrong with the occasional dodgy performance with 3 points at the end of it? We’ve had 2 avoidable losses in a row, and in my view, getting all 3 points was more important than the performance.

Anyways, with my thoughts out of the way, I’ll try to describe what happened. Not that there’ll be much in actual action to talk about…

Mannone

SAGNA – Mertesacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Ramsey – Arteta – Cazorla – WILSHERE

Giroud – Podolski

Did you notice that!? Sagna AND Wilshere in the starting lineup! Amazing! It’s been how many years!? And if anything that’s worth celebrating!
Good start to the match, though, with Julio Ceasar coming to QPR’s rescue, even while having a few moments of his own. Fabulous crosses from Sagna down the right, one of such Ramsey only being able to head over the bar. Good linkup play from our two returnees, too. I guess they must have spent a whole lot of time playing together while trying to get match fit…
We really ought to have taken advantage of Ceasar’s early shakiness, because he only got better as the match went on! Cazorla really ought to have made it one nil to us early in the second half, after finding himself in acres of space on the penalty spot, but our little maestro could only blast high and wide. I didn’t get to watch the match as I was out and about, but twitter wasn’t too impressed with our performance. Not that we didn’t create any chances, but we didn’t create enough, what with us being a team that likes to have many bites at the cherry before scoring.
QPR were defending stoutly and it looked like a draw was on the cards, until a moment of inspiration, sorry madress, came over QPR defender, Stephane M’bia. He was fouled by Vermaelen, and despite having won the free-kick, he thought it’d be nice to have a swipe at Vermaelen in retaliation. Unnecessary. Straight red. Easy decision.
You do tend to worry though, when a team already playing defensively go down to 10 men that they’d be even harder to break down, as they pretty much just camp inside their own half. Something we had with find a way of dealing with. A combination of Ceasar saves and the ball not quite falling right for us made it seem like it be a hard-fought draw for QPR, but alas, we did manage to break the deadlock!
Arshavin, who’d earlier come on from Gervinho, received the ball from Arteta, on the left, and having beat the defender near the byline, swung the ball in for Giroud to meet with a good header. But his effort was saved by Ceasar, and a bit of pinball ensued, with an offside Arteta finally being able to tap it in, after hitting the bar. 1-0. We could have and almost made it two, or even three, but Ceasar was there. And then QPR almost equalised! A dazzling run by Jamie Mackee from just beyond the halfway line, beating Arteta, Santos and Vermaelen in quick succession, and it really looked like he’d score the equaliser, but his effort from just inside the 6-yard box was saved by Mannone. He should have taken a better shot though, but our gain, so no complaints.
And that was  it! 1-0 to us, 3 points to us, thank you very much! Was I happy? Damn well sure I was!  Getting the win was vital, and it didn’t really matter how it came. It could have been on own-goal for all I cared. Getting out of the cycle of defeat was crucial, as Arsene said in his post match comments. We got the win that we can now build on. And hello? Wilshere is back!!! Not expecting miracles from him of course, but he played really well yesterday, and he can only get better! Think on that for a minute… Barring any niggles, of course. Fingers crossed!
I wasn’t feeling optimistic after the two defeats, but I feel much better than I would have if we’d had a storming performance, but somehow allowed QPR to snatch a draw or something. I’ll take this. We have to build on it, of course. We’ve got the Capital One Cup mid-week and then Man United in the league. Let’s see how those go, but honestly guys, let’s not complain much about yesterday. A win’s a win, right?
And come on, Arsenal, let’s go on a good run now!

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…

Arsenal 0 – 2 Schalke: Worrying Times…

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

Arsenal 0 – 2 Schalke: Worrying Times…

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

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Coquelin

Ramsey – Gervinho  Cazorla – Podolski

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Bould:

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

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

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

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

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

Til tomorrow…

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

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

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

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

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Coquelin

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

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

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

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

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

And more recently, i.e. today:

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

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

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

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

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!!

A Case For Depth.

Morning Gooners,

Another interlull week means even less Arsenal related news.

Last Friday the Ox scored his first goal for the senior team against the might of San Marino.

Away from that Koscielny spoke his mind when asked who the hardest striker he has faced;

“He (Luis Suarez) is tiresome to defend against. He cheats. He pulls your shirt, giving small blows,

Koscielny said of the Uruguay international. “You always want to give him a kick but you have to be careful not to be red-carded.”

“He is a player who likes to dive as soon as there is contact. During a challenge we jostled a bit with each other and he fell. He started to talk to me in English, to say it was a penalty.”

Everyone’s favourite isn’t he.

While the Ox and Kos enjoy starting berths for their respective national teams, they have both struggled to hold down a starting position for the Arsenal.

Now if you listen to the lazy journalist or football pundit they’ll all come to the same conclusion regarding our team’s chances this season;

‘Arsenal lack depth to challenge’.

In previous season I would have struggled to argue this statement, also I would have been wrong but is that really the case this season? I think not and here are myreasons;  

Let’s break it down;

Goalkeepers;

Maybe not the best for me to start my argument really! Szcz has been injured for the majority of the season so far, I have absolutely no idea where Fabianski is but Vito Mannone has stepped up and put in some strong performances. If we had bought an experienced keeper we may not have lost to Chelsea but can you really fault him for any other goal?

Conclusion, Yes we are lacking in depth but I really think Don Vito stepping up will put much needed pressure on a cocky Szcz who has to understand he still needs to earn his right to be number 1 regardless of his talent.

Defenders;

The current back four of Jennkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker and Gibbs have really improved as a defensive unit since last season. Mertesacker has gone from the fallible fool to rightly being recognised as the calming leader of the back line. I’m not convinced with TV5′s defending still but he acts perfect partner for Per. With this being the case Koscielny, our most improved player from last season is stuck on the bench unless the manager needs him to handle a pacey striker. A nice luxury to have.

At full back, we now have two players for each position on the right and left. Jennkinson has been a revelation. He had made a hand full of appearances for Charlton before being snapped up as a complete unknown for The Arsenal. Fast forward a year and a bit, he was called up by Roy Hodgson to train with the England squad over the weekend. In the background is Sagna rumoured to be playing a game behind closed doors today to help his return to fitness. If Sagna was full fit for Saturday, who would start at right back? Jennkinson deserves to keep his place on his performance during some really tough games. Sagna benched.

Left back Gibbs has also been a star of the season so far. He grown into a stronger character and until a slight niggle at West Ham, he seems fitter than in previous seasons. Santos is a capable, although extremely different, left back and again demonstrates an depth in our full back options.

Conclusion; the defensive personnel is there if the mentality can be maintained throughout the season.

Midfield;

Let me just list the options available to the manager; Arteta, Ramsey, Coquelin, Cazorla, Arshavin and with Wilshere, Rosicky and Frimpong (and Diaby! Thanks @Palerme12 for that) all expecting to return by the beginning of November. The midfield is improving and ‘gelling’ in every game. Cazorla looks like a Premier League veteran when he takes to the pitch. Arteta is really taking to the deep lying midfielder/water carrier role and is the vital pivot the team is built on. Ramsey has much to prove to many but he has already made a positive start to the season.

The steady start to the season made by the midfield men also has a positive impact on the returning Wilshere. In previous campaigns the hopes of our season would have hinged on a player returning from a serious injury but for once we can be patient on Jack’s return as the current set up is performing admirably.

Conclusion; Depth is developing. Injuries to key players will test our resolve but if we can get Jack back and firing by November then the midfield trio of Carzorla, Wilshere and Arteta looks very attractive indeed.

Forwards.

Note I’ve used the ‘forwards’ instead of strikers, it was done for a reason. Giroud is our only recognised centre forward and links to a big move for a centre forward in January is no surprise. I think Giroud will develop into a strong centre forward (Did you know, he has the most assists than anyone else in the team with 4) but further help is needed.

Now let’s look to the wide berths, here are the options; Gervinho, Podolski, Walcott (sign da ting!) and The Ox. That’s four international players to take two postions in the team. Gervinho already has shown more this season then he did last season. Goals, assists and constant movement across the front line that makes him impossible to mark. Poldi needs no introduction, he’s a German master who will frustrate the Ox into improvement. As for Theo, well his positon within the squad is tentative until a contract is signed. Maybe Wenger does want to use him upfront, maybe he should start on the right but why would we give him the opportunity to flaunt himself in the shop window so close to him entering the last 6 months of his deal?

Conclusion; We lack another striker to help Giroud but the options out wide are fantastic. With Cazorla pulling the strings in the middle, creating chances should never be an excuse.

So the next time you here the usual conclusion from a pundit about ‘Arsenal’s lack of depth’, just ask yourself if he’s actually sat back and thought of all the options we have potentially. It may not be as bad as it seems.

Have a good week all, bring on Norwich away!

~ Tottz

Feel free to follow my ramblings on twitter @Tottz82

The International Break is Broken…

Apologies for lack of blog activity this International break, but I’ve unfortunately had a close death in the family and it’s been a real blow to the family. Having spent much of the last week in temples and other functions, I’ve lost contact with the outside world and everything Arsenal. Thanks to all the messages I’ve had from the wonderful world which is the interweb, but back to all things Arsenal…

As you probably know already, Mr Theo Walcott was polaxed by the San Marino keeper and is out for a couple of weeks recovering… but in more interesting news, Carl Jenkinson has had some glowing reports in the media and his choice to chose England over Finland… and Roy Hodgson backed the player talking about his future inclusions in the side:

 ”On this occasion, we decided to… keep Jenkinson up our sleeves, but he’ll be very much in our thoughts when it comes to the next friendly match. After speaking to Arsène [Wenger] I am also conscious that his rise has been meteoric. He’s only 20 and it’s nice to temper things a little bit, but he wouldn’t be out of place in the squad.”

Basically, the only reason that he hasn’t been included at the moment is because they’re no need right now to add more to what’s going on in his life, considering the recent rise to the Arsenal first team that he’s experienced. For Jenkinson, the knowledge that people are keeping an eye on him and he’s in the thought process of the manager is all he needs to know right now.

Vice captain, Arteta, has also been on the main web site and the magazine talking about his new position:

“It’s a very important job, balancing the team between attack and defence, and that’s what I’ve been attempting to do. I’ve had to change my mentality a little bit – I know that I can’t go forward as much as I used to, and I need to sacrifice more in attack – but if it’s beneficial for the team I’m more than happy to do it. If you want to play at a top-level club like Arsenal you have to adapt to different roles and situations. We’ve got so many attacking players now, with a lot of quality going forward, and I know I now have more defensive responsibility. I need to assume that responsibility to help my team-mates and I’m very pleased to do it if we get the right results.”

With Coquelin, Wilshere, Diaby and Frimpong all back in contention soon, I’m sure he can share the burden… I personally think we’ll get a little more out of Arteta if he were to play with the likes of a Coquelin or a Frimpong, where he could look a little more forward, as we know he has an eye for a killer pass or two…

It’s the international break and not much is going on… so I’ll leave you with Arsenal Vision’s song for Theo…

Enjoy…

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.

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…

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