Another weekend, and another must win game awaits us. It has been a mixed few days since the 5-2 win at Reading. And I say, mixed because, it was only f*cking Reading, and on the other hands, it is a massive win in the long term.
Having suffered a harrowing few weeks, the win came as a bit of plaster to paper over the quite visible cracks. But, hey, a win is a win, and it is about time we kick off. I am tired of the cliche that every time we win a game after a series of bad results, that game turns out to be the game, from where we kick start our season.
Two wins in the league have propped us up from 10th to 5th, and within touching distance of Chelsea and Sp*rs, who lost their only chance to finish above Arsenal, when the Mayan’s prediction of Apocalypse failed to come true. Of course, when Sp*rs do manage to finish above us, I am pretty sure, apocalypse will be near.
The biggest news of the week, however, was the Champions League draw. Arsenal drew Bayern Munich from the hat, which I suppose was any days better than drawing Barcelona. The tie of the round of course is Real Madrid facing off Manchester United, and it will be some occasion.
My first reaction on drawing Bayern was “Not Barcelona! Phew!”, but come to think of it, Bayern are a daunting opposition for any side, including Barcelona. They are an extremely efficient and attacking unit, with plenty of flair, and some big names. And, it would take a great deal of effort from a stuttering Arsenal to get past the German giants.
Bayern have quality all over the pitch, and that is a fact recognized by our two very own Germans. Lukas Podolski, who played at Bayern for 3 years, had this to say.
They played in the final in 2010 and last year,It’s a big club but we have the chance to win against Bayern Munich. They have a very good team with big players. There are two matches, one at home, one away. Both teams have the chance to win.
Per Mertesacker, who has plenty of experience against the Bavarians, whilst at Werder Bremen, said:
Maybe it’s a good opportunity for us to face them in February because we will be in our rhythm,We will hopefully go through the Christmas period in a strong way. We can do that.We have a lot of potential and Bayern know they will face an Arsenal squad that will be strong in February.We have to be consistent until then. We have to show that it’s not only our potential which makes us a good side. We have to get good results until the next Champions League game. It’s a long period for us and the German teams have a little break and a little rest. We will see what happens in February. But we hope we can get into a good rhythm to face them.
It will be an epic encounter between the two sides, who have faced each other previously in the knockout stages once, in 2004/2005 season, when Arsenal failed to progress, losing 3-2 on aggregate, despite a 1-0 second leg win at Highbury.
The other big news, is of course the signing of new long term contracts from Arsenal’s young English bunch. It is a promising step in the right direction from the club, and a lesson they have learnt since the failure of the last youth project.
Players like Jack Wilshere and Carl Jenkinson will be the future faces of the club, while Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey have plenty to prove in the coming years. On the other hand, new contracts mean a bigger responsibility to fulfill, as these players slowly pave their way into a first team, of full international players.
Few fans have mixed views on Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh midfielder, of course suffered a horrendous injury, when tackled recklessly by that Stoke thug Ryan Shawcross, who inturn got headbutted by Marrouane Fellaini, quite recently. However, former Arsenal captain Frank McLintock, of the famous 1970/71 side, spoke highly about the player.
Aaron is doing what I did when I first went to Arsenal. I tried too hard as well,I tried to do everybody’s work, and I think that’s what Aaron is trying to do now. He’s a lad that’s got a great engine in him, he’s got a good honest attitude.It’s a great aspect to have but he’s trying to do everybody’s job and he should concentrate a little bit on doing his own work and perfecting his own game.I would just love to have a chat with him and tell him to improve his performance by a long way by just simplifying his game.I feel he takes too many touches on the ball. He’s trying to over-complicate it. I’m not trying to sound too critical, I’m actually trying to give him a little bit of advice and my opinion.
Carl Jenkinson expressed his delight at the new contract, and is eager to repay the faith his beloved club showed in him.
Obviously I’m over the moon – really happy. I see my future at this football club and I’m delighted they see things the same way.Signing the contract shows commitment from me, which Arsenal can always count on, but it’s a big commitment from them as well. People here clearly have belief in me, and now I have to make sure I prove them right.I’m obviously really pleased with my progress over the past 18 months. Of course there have been some challenging times along the way, and I’ve had to work really hard, but I’m pleased with where I am now and I’m so happy with the new contract.Now I just need to take every day as it comes, working and training hard.We’re an English club and I think the core of the squad should reflect that,That’s why I’m delighted the other boys have signed up with me.Arsenal has such a vast scouting system that it can pick up great players from numerous other countries, and that will always be the case, but I think it’s fantastic and appropriate to have an English core. It’s something the [English] fans can relate to.
Theo Walcott’s contract situation still remains at loggerheads. However, according to some recent developments, rumors are that he will sign the new deal after all. Arsene Wenger has urged the England international to sign the new contact, and has told him, it’s time to give something back to the club.
Captain Thomas Vermaelen, however, is unsure whether the winger will stay at the club come next season.
Of course we want him to stay but that is something that is going on between the player and the club,I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes — we don’t talk about it. Of course, Theo has been invaluable for us when he played this year. He is dangerous for us and I hope he could stay this year.It happened last time with Robin in the summer. It’s the job of the board and the club what they are going to do with it so we can’t do anything about it.We know his qualities — he is quick and goes in behind defenders all the time — and I think we could find him yesterday and it helped us score a few goals.
Among other news, is of course the interview of Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who has a big stake in the club, but has no say whatsoever, in the club’s affairs. He spoke about how he felt Wenger did not have the right backing of the board, and he wanted to have a bigger say in the day to day running of the club.
However, the manager has again come to the rescue of the board, insisting that he has the full support of the board.
I believe I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that, We have worked over the years in respecting in what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources.Therefore we made decisions which, from outside, looked not based on purely football reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons.Let’s see how far this team can go,If we can add one or two exceptional players, we will do it. What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players.That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it – but that in January will not be easy.We have money, and why should I not spend it if it is to find the right players? I believe as well the first and most important thing is to keep confidence in the players we have. If we are consistent, we can come back.
Yes, I am pretty sure you heard these lines last year, or the year before that, or even the year before that. It has been quite a session of ping-pong between the media, the board, Usmanov and the manager regarding the top level management at the club, and surely we can do better than washing our dirty linen in public.
Right, to the football then, which means team news. Wigan are going through some sort of doomsday crisis, with nearly 8 players sidelined. James McCarthy, Ivan Ramis, Gary Caldwell (major doubt), Piscu, Antonin Alcaraz, Adrian Lopez are all out.
Arsenal are without Andre Santos, Abou Diaby and Lukasz Fabianski, which is not really much of a concern. No fresh knocks after the Reading game, and Olivier Giroud will be looking to start this time round.
Here is how I expect the sides to lineup.
They lost to Norwich last week, before which they garnered a point at home against QPR, a loss at Newcastle, and a home loss to Manchester City, after they got past Reading 3-2.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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