Saturday, 30 April 2011

Week round up

Another quiet week at Arsenal Football Club.

Wenger finally broke his silence in his Friday press conference, and stated the obvious in the fact that the Carling Cup was a turning point in our season:
"Since we lost in the Carling Cup, everything has turned a little bit against us."
It is a good point, but to be honest i think there have been many more turning points this season, from the defeat at the Nou Camp where we didn't have a single shot on goal. Which must have affected a team which has 60-70% possession in every game and countless shots.

The 4-4 at Newcastle was probably a massive turning point, as since then any lead we hold can be cut down, any lead. No team in the history of the Premier League has ever let a four goal lead slip, and look at the leads we've let slip since.

He also cited that the captaincy has been a burden on Cesc this season:
"It is too much for him at his age. I believe so,"
This coincides with the calls for leadership, as it is something we have lacked this season, and in past seasons. I'm not saying Cesc shouldn't be captain, but we just need more leaders around him. Vermaelen has been missed a lot this season, not only for his defensive abilities but also his natural leadership. However he doesn't seem to be changing the captaincy any time soon:
"Every difficulty in life will make you stronger, especially when you have a strong character, and Cesc is a strong character."
 The Boss also said that he will be bringing in more experience this summer, which is needed, but we need quality players with experience i.e no more Sylvestre's. Lee Dixon also points to the Leadership issue 

In other news this week, Vermaelen came through a reserve game against Manchester United unscathed, it was his first game since September so whilst he says he's ready, i'm sure Arsene will take things slowly with the Verminator.

Young Goalkeeper James Shea made a fantastic save in the game, which you can see here.

And Finally, The Emirates Cup lineup has been announced and we have games against Boca Juniours, and Thierry Henry's Red Bulls. Also competing are Paris Saint-Germain in what looks an interesting line-up.

Anyway, United tomorrow, and United preview blog in the morning. Come on you Gooners!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Title dreams put to bed in Bolton.

Well, that's it for another season then - as many of you probably predicted anyway whether it was one week, five days or 3 months ago. Personally, the moment where I realised our chance had faded was when Eboue carried out an act of unforgivable stupidity and charged into that cheatinglittletwat Lucas.

However, i'm not in the mood for a season review at the moment - That can wait a month. Yesterday was synonymous of our whole season in so many way. Patient patient build up around the box with little penetration, tonnes of possession, hints of a great comeback, mistakes at the back, conceding from a set-play, struggling with long ball tactics, terrible ref mistakes, missed chances, terrible cross/corner/free-kick delivery and something which, surprisingly, as we have had so much disappointment in the league lately, we have not witnessed in the league since the trip to Old Trafford on the 13th of December, a defeat.

The game was a horrible one to attend, but as it seems happens every week the away support were great especially as we were up against the 'wanky-wanderers' fans as they call themselves, confusingly. We didn't have the best first half, only a couple of shots from Theo, Nasri and Cesc hitting the post seemed to trouble Jaaskelainens goal. There were also some worrying signs as Sturrridge, at the heart of Boltons creative play, easily carved open our defence. Then we conceded from our Achilles heal of set pieces and questions should definitely be asked as to why we allowed 2 headers to be won in our 6 yard box. 

The second half started badly too, as the Ref gave them a penalty that never was, looking at the replays this morning I don't know how he gave it. But justice was made when Szczesny made the save. This seemed to spur us on and a couple of minutes later Van Persie capped of an excellent bit of skill by firing a goal into the bottom right hand corner making a new record of scoring in seven consecutive away games. After the goal it was relenting Arsenal pressure, as Arshavin came on for Theo and Chamakh for Song. Van Persie dropped into a deeper role and created a wonderful chance which Nasri wasted, a trick which Chamakh repeated minutes later. Wasted chances always seem to cost us, think back over the games and you'll see much more than any of United or Chelsea. How often do you see Hernandez miss a chance? Let alone two in a row. As the minutes came closer to 90 Bolton won a corner which was dispatched at the front post by Tamir Cohen. 2-1. Game over, Title Over.

You could sense the frustration amongst the crowd and players, but i really think more of the players should have followed Cesc's and Jacks lead by coming over to applaud the Away fans, as by now we are truly owed something from them. Something shiny, and silver preferably. 

The defeat puts us behind United and into Third 3 points behind Chelsea. We need to finish third to really show we have progressed as a side, but even that looks unlikely now, considering we have won one game in 9 in all competitions. Wenger saddled the blame for the result, but I really think the real blame for this particular defeat lies with the players after two stupid goals were let in. On a wider front though, the blame for our failed title bid? That is simply due to Lack of leadership, Lack of winners, and simply not good enough players compared to our rivals.

Changes are probably forthcoming in the summer, but that will wait.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

We're Back- Ownership, Blackpool, Title?

Have been away for a while sorry for the wait!

And what a while it has been for our club? Well quite a big one, or was it, has anything really changed other than the first win after 5 abysmal games. Silent Stan or, as we have all learnt Enoch Kroenke. Enoch? How the hell did he get Stan form Enoch? Anyway, since first investing 4 years ago, Stan - as he will forever be known as from now on - worked his was up to 29.9% which was just under the threshold whereby he would have to trigger a takeover. In the last few weeks he has since purchased Lady Nina Bracewell Smith's shares as well as the late, great Danny Fiszman's shares (RIP) and now has around a 62-63% stake in the club.

Furthermore, he now has to offer all of the remaining shareholder, Alisher Usmanov and his 27% stake seems rahter important as well as around one hundred small investors totaling 10%. The big question seems whether they will sell their shares to give Stan complete control, but the most recent news from the 'fan' Usmanov seems to be that he is not keen on selling his shares.

Onto the real questions and what changes we are going to face as a club. But to be honest these questions can only completely be answered by time, and all we can really do is sit back with our fingers crossed that he wont go all 'Hicks and Gillet' or 'Glazer' on us and this time next year we won't be going to down to Finsbury Park to cheer on AFCArsenal. 

What I, and all the clever people who have spoken before me, can predict though is that not much will change. Apparently Stan, after his four years of experience, sees not much wrong with out self-sustainable model and the only changes he will be making in the short term are to maximise the Turnover, and subsequently Profit, that Arsenal makes. Along these lines, there are already countless rumours of his tearing up our frankly abysmal Emirates shirt sponsorship deal and bringing in one of his many contacts. One can only hope that he does just maximise our profits and is able to hand Mr Wenger a hefty transfer budget, which we can only presume has not been present in recent years. 

Back to the football then.

Looking back at the Blackpool match and the only thing we should take from the game is the three points that were very much needed. I could go and jump on the bandwagon that the title is ours again, and we will win all of our remaining 7 games. A run which we have not been able to achieve all season. Or I could be all doom and gloom and say that we wont win the league, weren't going to win the league, and will never win the league again. However, I am going to stay somewhere in the middle of the two and say the obvious; We CAN win the league. We probably NEED to win every game, against United, Liverpool and the lot this man manages. But also United NEED to capitulate in a way which they never seem to have before, and just when they've started playing well.

But heres to the first of many trophies of the Enoch Era of Arsenal ownership, hopefully.

ARSENAL till i die,
RIP Danny Fiszman - the great man and big fan who made the dream of the Emirates happen.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Arsenal - Blackpool Preview

Another United win makes the three points even more crucial today, but given the fact that Mark Hughes, an ex United legend and Wenger hater, the three points were always inevitable. Nevertheless, we can start narrowing down the 10 point gap and given our recent form a grandspanking performance wouldn't do us the world of harm either.

Following up from yesterday, Walcott and Sagna are doubt but Alex Song seems unlikely to be fit and is out. The good news is Cesc and Ramsey look fit to be in the squad with Cesc probably ready to start. Given these changes I think the most liekly line up would be: Almunia Eboue Koscielny Squillaci Clichy Wilshere Diaby Cesc Nasri Arshavin VanPersie
With Theo and Sagna replacing Arshavin and Eboue respectively if fit.

Looking back on last year and Eboue was probably a shoe-in to start this away game against lesser opposition whether he played RB or RW. But this year he has drastically backtracked and along with Denilson seems like a player that Wenger has lost faith in. This is compounded by the fact that we seem to have signed Carl Jenkinson from Charlton, a versatile fullback.

Rumours of a squad clearout are growing stronger as our bad form - one win in seven against Leyton Orient to be precise - carries on. I for one wouldnn't mind seeing Denilson, possibly Diaby, Almunia, and Arshavin -at a good price - leaving. But frankly, other than one or two heading for the exits and one of two coming in, i cannot imagine Wenger overhauling the squad - it's simply not his way.

3 points is a must - COME ON ARSENAL

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Wenger Fights Back, Arsenal to do the same?

Only one day till the Blackpool game now and after one win in seven, time must be upon us to bounce back with a win. Against Blackpool, we have every chance to do this too. 

However they will not roll over as they did in the return game and, as we have learnt in recent years, teams in the relegation dogfight really do fight until the very last whistle.

Fight does seem to be the word of the day, as Wenger ended his midweek media break and came out with a very memorable press-conference. The Boss was in a defiant mood, and was verging on anger when this season was reffered to as a 'disaster'.
"We've done well for our age as we're second in the league. Is that a disaster for you? There are teams who invest ten times more than us, one player cost more than the whole team and they're behind us. I don't understand the way people think."
I know  growing number of fans are becoming disillusioned with The Boss, but I am not one of them, i prefer to revel in the success he has brought us and good changes he continues to do to our club day in, day out. 

Sure I will be disappointed if when we end this season empty handed AGAIN, but we have progressed again this year, and hopefully in the summer we can progress even more with new signings and a small clear-out of the deadwood. Hopefully I am not alone in rejoicing in his comments about staying:

"I don't think about leaving. I love this club and do the maximum for them. I don't think like that."
What people do not realise is the amount of influence he has on the signings here and that without him, half of our current squad would probably leave too, not to mention the lack of players we would be able to attract. Peter Hill-Wood agrees too after branding Arsenal fans who question Arsène Wenger as "stupid" and going on the question the role of the AST.
On to tomorrow, and if looks as if August's hero, will have to face a late fitness test ahead of the game due to a recurrence of his ankle problem. Sagna has a "problem" whilst Alex Song too is out, The good news is that Cesc is ready to start and will add some much needed attacking guile to the team that we have lacked in recent weeks.
Bendtner is the latest player to have the duty of rallying the team and goes all Xavi on us saying that the players must show "the DNA of Champions."
Whilst i strongly condemn any talk of DNA in football I do hope that we go out with a tantalizing performance tomorrow and get 3 points. I for one am praying for Fulham to do us the most unlikely of favors today too against a Rooney-less United.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Tuesday Gloom-

Tuesday and grey London weather replicates the the gloomy mood surrounding Arsenal. 

The pain from Saturday's defeat draw with Blackburn is still weighing heavy on fans and probably players' minds alike. For me the most annoying thing about the match was our lackluster attitude which was almost as if we were resigned to the fact that United are going to win the league, instead of really fighting to win in the way we have won our previous titles.

As the inquest continues, for once, there is not one person that seems fully to blame - or remaining blameless - and as Wenger says:
"The players have to think about their performance - and me too."
Frankly is we are to have any hope of winning the league we cannot afford any more mistakes - what many people have been saying for weeks - and we could do with a good performance, and good win. The last one we had in the league was probably Wigan, but on that day we came up against very weak opposition.

Anyway, still four days until another matchday - due to the Champions League - but hopefully we can enjoy the destruction of our neighbours' trophy dreams even is it has this man leading the battle.

On to our own teams though and the only news today is that Frimpong and Lehmann are set to deputise for the reserves this evening at Underhill as they take on Sunderland. Minutes on the pitch is surely a bonus for both and in Frimpong's case it would be great to see him try and get fit before the end of the season.

There is still a lot of fighting left to do this season, and we cannot afford to let our heads drop for too long if we are truly to consider ourselves as title challengers. Till next time, hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Welcome to 'I am Gooner'

Well what a time to start blogging. 

As we come to the end of yet another season, now only divine intervention can save us form ending this season with the unhappy predicament of an empty trophy cabinet. A pain which was only added to by the short, happy moments in which our players promised so much.

Yet here we are again where we have achieved so little. 

Still, moving away from all these pessimistic thoughts there is still 2nd place to cement whilst the thought of a whole summer full of unfulfilled promises, transfer gossip, and hopefully new signings fills me with delight!

Anyway, we are only a grandstand finish away form being champions!

Up the Arsenal!