Hello Gooners across the world. Last night we witnessed something we wished Arsenal could have achieved. Chelsea beat Napoli 4-1 at Stamford Bridge in the 2nd Leg of the Round of 16 tie, to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
After losing the first leg 3-1 in Naples, Chelsea started off just the way Arsenal did, on the front foot. Despite not fashioning any clear cut chances in the opening exchanges, they opened the scoring on the stroke of half-an-hour, through a good cross from Ramires, headed in by Drogba. And, minutes after half-time, John Terry made it 2-0. At this stage, Chelsea would have progressed. However, they were pegged back by a fine goal from Gokhan Inler. Napoli seemed to have the upper hand, and were now leading 4-3 on aggregate. However, former Liverpool defender Andrea Dossena handled the ball, and Lampard duly obliged with a penalty. Chelsea made most of the tiring Italians, as they threw everybody forward in extra-time, and Branislav Ivanovic was in acres of space to score the winning strike.
Arsenal were so close to achieving the impossible, by attempting to overturn a 4-0 deficit, but they were halted in the tracks at 3-0. Chelsea found that extra bit more to dump Napoli, which means they now find themselves in the quarter-finals, as the only English team left alongside AC Milan, APOEL Nicosia, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Marseille and Real Madrid.
I still think despite yesterday’s performance, Chelsea won’t be able to beat the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid, who seem almost invincible this season. Of course, football is a funny game, and I may be proved completely wrong. All Arsenal fans will certainly hope Chelsea are put through their paces, in two extra Champions League games, and their involvement in the FA Cup still means they have a minimum of 13 games left to play. This might affect their league form, as they have trips to the Etihad and the Emirates down the line, and they also host Tottenham. They have, however won all their games since Roberto di Matteo took over. These include a 2-0 win at St. Andrews over Birmingham City in the FA Cup replay, a hard-fought 1-0 win over Stoke, and of course yesterday’s beating of Napoli.
Arsenal now have just 10 games to focus on, and a minimum of 25 points is required, to secure 4th spot, or probably even 3rd spot. That’s how tough the league has gotten, at this stage, where every weekend becomes pivotal. This weekend, however, there’s no action for Arsenal. Chelsea host Leicester, while our opponents on Wednesday entertain Bolton in FA Cup action. Chelsea travel to Manchester City, on Wednesday, while Tottenham host Stoke, who put in a dogged display against Chelsea few days back.
Moving on, Theo Walcott says Robin van Persie deserves to be Player of the Year.
Everything is going his way and that is great to see,The most important thing is that he is injury free and it is great to see him when he is not injured at all.When I was on the treatment bed alongside him it was such a shame to see so much talent wasted. He has made up for lost time, I am sure of that, and it is massive. Without a doubt he has to be player of the year.He is a great man, a great captain and is very important to this Club. You just give him anything and he will just put it away – left foot, right foot, and he has scored a couple of headers as well.He makes it look easy and it is not. I think Wayne Rooney is 10 goals or so behind him and he has had a fantastic season as well. It just shows you how good this man is.
It was a surprise that van Persie wasn’t named in the FIFA team of the year, despite scoring 48 goals in all competitions in the calendar year 2011. He is almost certain to feature this season, should he continue his amazing run of form. Staying with Robin, Newcastle midfielder Jonas Gutierrez has slammed the Dutch striker, for his behavior in the Newcastle game.
I can’t understand a person like that,I think it is not right. When you feel like that, it is because you are not a good person. I don’t care about the football, I’m talking about the person. When you have people who do that, it’s not right.It didn’t help the game – both sets of fans are having a good evening, they’re enjoying the game. He made a big mistake. I say well done to Tim for staying calm. In a second, you can lose your mind, but we have to stay focused.
Of course, there are two sides to a coin. Some may say van Persie overreacted to Krul taking time on his goal kicks, while some will say Krul took too long for his goalkicks, and van Persie’s behavior is justified. Staying with Robin, Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has told Gunners to stay calm, as, according to him, van Persie is going nowhere.
I think Robin and his family are very happy in London and I don’t think he is solely motivated by money as some players are.
He also told Arsenal will be willing to splash the cash if they find the right player.
If we find the right person for the right position we are happy to buy. We have got enough to pay anything but silly prices.
According to rumours, Arsenal sent a team to Germany to undertake a medical for Cologne striker Lukas Podolski. German papers state that the deal to sign Podolski is already through, and only few minor details remain. But, of course, unless its not official, Podolski is not an Arsenal player.
One man who will certainly be at Arsenal next season is Ryo Miyaichi. Currently on loan at Bolton, the Japanese youngster has put in some fine displays and was impressive in Bolton’s win over QPR over the weekend. Bolton have the reputation of providing the perfect platform for developing youngsters, by taking them on loan for a season, and giving them regular Premier League football. Two fine examples are Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge. Miyaichi said, after the QPR clash,
It was my first time to play on the right in a Premier League game,and it was a huge experience. I wasn’t able to go behind the defender but I discovered elements of my game which I can improve on so I’m looking forward to the next match now.If I’m on the left-hand side, I can run inside and take a shot as well. I find it more difficult to come inside from the right. I’m determined to try to work harder and widen the variety of my play.
I wanted to do something on my own, but I often couldn’t,Nigel (Reo-Coker)told me that all the QPR players are wary because of my pace, so what I need is to use my team-mates to my benefit. That was his advice.I want to try to broaden my playing style and be able to play on both sides. However, it’s easier said than done and I always try to take the opponents on. But I know that I sometimes need to hold my desire to do so, and try to contribute to the teamGetting used to Premier League football is the biggest change for me, especially, the experience playing against Chelsea and Manchester City.Those games gave me confidence but in the same time, I felt that I need to improve my game more and more.
In other news, Tomas Rosicky revealed in an interview to Czech website isport.blesk.cz, that he rejected big money offers from Russia and China, to continue turning out for the Gunners.
Arsenal let me get to the point where I had just half a year on my contract and could talk to anyone I wanted.It started to get interesting because I had very lucrative offers. This turned my head a little, but I have to say that Arsenal were my priority.In both cases [Russia and China] it was financially huge numbers, so that somehow you had to entertain it, it’s not easy. Some days I thought about it, but money is not everything, I’m glad I’ll be able to continue at Arsenal.I want to say that what was sometimes written, that I have played better because I’m fighting for a contract, had nothing to do with it.Although it [the contract] is now signed, it was just a matter of preparing the paperwork. I had given my word to the coach that I would stay much earlier.I am healthy, I play in the centre of the field and have rhythm from regular games. That is all together very important.When you play once a fortnight, it is difficult. I know I cannot handle all the games of the season, but the rhythm, being involved at least once a week is very important.
Another midfielder who has excelled this season is Mikel Arteta, who will return to his former club Everton. He is excited about taking on his old club.
Visiting Everton next week will be really special for me,It’s going to be weird to sit in the other changing room, warming up in the opposite half of the pitch and having the crowd against us. I just want to enjoy it.I really can’t wait to go there, and I hope I’ll get a good reception because I gave Everton everything I had in my time there and I love the club. Everyone there was great to me and, even though I left, hopefully people understood. There’s no reason for any of us to be unhappy with each other.
He can expect an applause when he gets on to the pitch, from the fans of the club Arteta served well. Finally, Arsenal have revealed a pre-season game against Kitchee SC, the champions of Hong Kong, as part of their preparations for next season. The match will take place in the 40,000 seater, picteresque Hong Kong Stadium. This is because of the cancellation of the Emirates Cup, owing to the London Olympics, taking place at about the same time. Ivan Gazidis, said,
It’s great that Arsenal Football Club is visiting Hong Kong again after 17 years.We have many followers in Hong Kong and it’s wonderful that these special fans will have an opportunity to see the first-team live in action.The match will follow on from our visit to Beijing, where we play Manchester City in the Bird’s Nest, and is another indication of Arsenal’s commitment to Asia.We’re all looking forward to visiting Hong Kong and playing Kitchee will provide the team with good preparation ahead of the 2012/13 season.
That’s the wrap for today, then. Coming up tonight, are more exciting games in the Europa League, including Athletic Bilbao vs Manchester United, Manchester City vs Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven vs Valencia, Udinese vs AZ Alkmaar and Besiktas vs Atletico Madrid, among others.
Jai Arsenal 🙂