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A few thoughts on a few things, West Brom Preview + Lineups

West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal, The Hawthorns, Premier League

Kickoff – 15:00 GMT (19:30 IST), 13th May 2012

As we move into the final day of Premier League action for this season, my emotions remain mixed. This has been one of the most topsy turvy season I have been witness to, and I have watched just 8, including this.

Being an Arsenal fan is not easy. It is an extremely hard choice to make, and certainly not one for the faint hearted. While we had to endure millions of jokes butted at our 8-2 mauling, at the hands of Manchester United, earlier in the season, I have also had the pride of rival fans coming up to me and telling “Arsenal were awesome yesterday!”, after we beat AC Milan 3-0. While all Arsenal fans may sum this to be a largely disappointing campaign, the word ‘disappointing’, being used only in the context of lack of silverware, I don’t see this as a disappointment or a success. Rather, I see it as another season gone by. I always have seen it that way. Of course, I would be elated, more than anyone else, if we had a cup to go with it, but then, football is football. It goes on. There’s always next season. Players may go, players may come. But, Arsenal will always be close to my heart.

So, moving on, in our quest for Champions League football next season, is our extremely massive league encounter with Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion. After 37 games of league football, it all comes down to this, and it is still in our hands. If we win tomorrow, irrespective of what Sp*rs do against Fulham, we will be competing in Europe’s premier football tournament. Else, we will be competing in the rather harsh environs of the Europa League.

No disrespect to the Europa League there, but a lot hinges on our Champions League qualification. So much has been talked about this, and all of you know why qualifying for it is of paramount importance to the club’s fortunes at this crucial juncture. A 4th place finish means, we will have to hope Bayern Munich beat Chelsea in the Champions League final next weekend, and while I will be cheering on Bayern, irrespective of our league standing, just because I want the Gunners to be the first club, to bring the European Cup to London, there is no two ways about the fact that we have to win tomorrow.

Much has been said about West Brom players looking to give old man Hodgson a good farewell. On the flip side, we will have the same agenda on our minds, Pat Rice the man in question here. What a fine servant he has been to the club, and a win tomorrow, will be a nice gesture of saying ‘Thank You’.

All games will kick off at exactly the same time tomorrow, and while all of us will be scrambling for live scores, around the grounds, we all know that a 1-0 style win will do the trick. Robin van Persie has had a magnificent season for us, and at times I wonder, where we would be, at the end of the season, without him. Talk surrounding his possible exit from the club has disgusted me enough, and I hope he gets to the 32 mark, to be the Premier League record goal scorer, in a single season, and proceeds to sign a contract.

I don’t believe much in transfers, cos’ they are all a load of bullsh*t. 99% of them never really happen, and with us, it has never happened. This time, though, it seems a bit different, with Lukas Podolski signed even before the present season ends, and the next one starts. This statement of intent has led newspapers to link us with every other professional footballer on the planet. But, for now let’s not talk about it.

Team news, then. Theo Walcott will face a late fitness test, though I doubt he will start tomorrow. Attack wise, we weren’t too bad last week against Norwich, and I think we will stick to that midfield. Bacary Sagna injured himself last week, and is certain to miss the Euro’s, which is quite sad, for him, personally. I would expect natural right-back Carl Jenkinson to start, rather than Francis Coquelin. Another Frenchman, who could miss the Euro’s, not with injury though, is Laurent Koscielny. He has been bloody brilliant this season, and Arsene Wenger wants him to be in the France squad. Also, recent news that Wojciech Szczesny could be out for the final game, because of a knee/back problem, no one knows for sure. Meanwhile, Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie and Jerome Thomas will face late tests. Captain Chris Brunt is out for the Baggies.

West Brom play with a pretty straight-foward 4-4-2 formation, and the injuries to Brunt, Thomas and Odemwingie means starts for Andrews, Scharner and Marc Antoine-Fortune respectively. Without Thomas, I can see them playing a very narrow games, with minimal wing-play. This will also be Paul Scharner’s last game, and incidentally, for him, being an Arsenal fan, it is against the Gunners themselves. Shane Long can be a pretty useful forward, but he also has the tendency to be lacklustre. Fortune is a skilfull player, and Arsenal will have to be at their very best defensively, or we could be slaughtered, like last week against Norwich.

I was impressed by Gervinho last week. He played very well. His dribbling seemed much better, and there was also more pace, and more penetration, and we will require all of that. Benayoun, too, could turn out one last time in Arsenal colors, and, I hope, it’s not the same case for a certain Dutchman. In midfield, there will be an attacking battle between Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Youseff Mulumbu, Keith Andrews. Though the criticism of Ramsey has been a bit harsh, he will look to sign off the season on a positive note.

Last time these two sides met at the Hawthorns, Arsenal fought back from 2-0 down to 2-2, to keep their faint title chances alive. Some calamitous defending was on display last time, and surely, there won’t be any of that tomorrow. There ain’t any room for errors, this time round.

Meanwhile, Keep the Faith.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 12, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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Brimming With Pride!

It’s been over 30 hours since that almost famous match at the Emirates Stadium, and I am still smiling. Smiling, because rival fans are coming up to me and telling “Arsenal were brilliant against Milan, and almost did the impossible. Respect.”

After a topsy-turvy season, that it has been so far, to listen to such words, is heart-warming. Arsenal really played a gutsy game against Milan, and gave its fans real hope. A real sense of joy, that Arsenal is still a force to be reckoned with in the world of football. That dreams are real.

Consigned to the fact that there were no hopes of qualification, I switched on my idiot box at precisely 1:10 AM, on Wednesday morning. The cameras rolled on from the Milan side to the referees to the Arsenal side. You could see the determination in the eyes of the players. Was it possible?

Arsenal attacked right from the moment the game started. There was not a dull moment in the first half. A side, reeling with injuries, nearly 7 injuries in midfield, looked to make the impossible, possible, and overturn a 4 goal deficit, against the Italian champions.

The Italians were quickly put under pressure, as Arsenal’s pacy midfield looked to catch Milan from the start. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, was sizzling in midfield, as World Cup finalist Mark van Bommel tried to get to grips with him. The fact that the 18 year old former Southampton winger was sick the previous night and yet asked the manager to start, speaks remarkable volumes about him. He, didn’t, for a moment look fazed. And, what’s more, he is just 18 years old.

His first corner was cleared comfortably by Ibrahimovic. But, his second corner landed perfectly to the head of Laurent Koscielny, who lost all markers, and was alone to head the ball past Cristian Abbiati. The early goal was all so important to build the momentum.

Milan looked so cocky throughout the game. Ibrahimovic and Boateng had done enough small talk before the first leg, and they justified it in the first leg. However, Milan were so overconfident, that they even named 2 keepers on the bench, a ridiculous decision, for which, Allegri got reprimanded, by Silvio Berlusconi.

Soon, Arsenal created a flurry of chances. Theo Walcott sent van Persie clear of Milan’s defence, but the Dutchman’s effort was saved by Abbiati. Then, a mistake from Emmanuelson, saw van Persie in a great position, but he and Rosicky made a hash of a great chance. Arsenal surged forward again through Theo Walcott, who bamboozled Djamel Mesbah, leaving Rosicky in a great position to score. Score, he did, to the roaring approval of a vociferous crowd at the Emirates.

The defence, I should say was unflinching. Thomas Vermaelen was gigantic, in doggedness, if not in size. He put himself on the line on many a time, and made a number of clearances. Laurent Koscielny, as ever, was composed, and never allowed Ibrahimovic to impose himself. The Frenchman looked all so comfortable dealing with the big Swede. Gibbs and Sagna, too put massive efforts, as Milan lacked creativity to work through Arsenal’s defence. The discipline was for all to see, as they kept a high line, and Ibrahimovic found himself flagged for offside, numerous times.

Chance became real hope, as Chamberlain surged forward, challenging the Rossoneri’s defence, whose best was to concede a penalty. van Persie had to replace the ball on the penalty spot, which may have disturbed his concentration, but not his will. Arsenal were 3-0 up, and Milan probably had their hearts in their mouths.

Milan were a completely different side in the second half though. More so, because Arsenal were tiring out, after having done most of the running in the opening half. They looked lot more composed in midfield. We can go another decade, speaking about van Persie’s miss, but he claims he would do it again, if he was in a similar position.

Chamberlain and Walcott played through injuries, because they had to. Arsenal had no real options on the bench. Park and Chamakh were thrown late on, but by that time Arsenal were out of steam

The final whistle bought a palpable sense of relief among the Milan players’ and fans. They were just happy to reach the finish line, and qualify to the next stage. On the flip side, the Gunners’ looked devastated. Not something you see often, when you win 3-0. Tomas Rosicky and Thomas Vermaelen looked crestfallen as they made their way to the tunnel. van Persie afforded a smile, but the dejection was clear to see.

3 weeks after a humiliating loss at the San Siro, and a painful loss at the Stadium of Light, Arsenal were all but written off as a force to be reckoned with, in the English game. Sites and papers were running amok with articles outlining Arsenal’s frailties, its problems and its shortcomings. And 2-0 down against Spurs’ after 34 minutes, you could almost see the media rubbing its hand again.

No one knows for sure, what happened. But, the team managed to find its resolve, its steel, to turn around things. They demolished Spurs 5-2, in 27 minutes, with some breathtaking attacking football. van Persie’s goal was a peach. Tomas Rosicky’s celebration was passionate. A week later, they came up against the Carling Cup champions, and, despite not being able to control the game, defended admirably well, and escaped with a 2-1 win. 3 days later, the Italian champions were run over by a young midfield.

I have always loved Arsenal, but the performance against Milan, makes me so proud of my team. So proud of my choice of choosing Arsenal as the club I wanted to support. Now, I am doubly proud.

Thanks Arsenal. 🙂

Proud to be a Gunner!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 8, 2012 in General

 

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Spu*s Preview + Team News + Loads of Other Stuff..

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur, Emirates Stadium, Premier League

Kickoff – 13:30 GMT (19:00 IST), 26th February 2012

Another Sunday comes our way, and after a week of much soul-searching for everyone related to the club, there is nothing bigger and better than beating your cross-town rivals in a derby game.

Yes, Milan made us look like schoolboys from a slum in Los Angeles. Not that there’s any connection there. And, then Sunderland heaped more misery on Wenger’s team, and with it ensued a whole lot of media negativity, about Wenger having to leave, Arsenal players having to leave, board having to leave, Arsenal responsible for global warming etc.

And, like after any other defeat, emerging from the shadows was Johan Djourou, the customary clumsy defender Arsenal have in their ranks after the likes of Ian Ure, Gus Caesar, Igor Stepanovs and Pascal Cygan, with comments like ‘You are going to see the best of me as I am playing in my favoured centre-back position’ and ‘Arsenal will be back stronger and better’. Yes, we know what the routine is like, because it has been quite a long time since this very pattern has been followed with utmost sincerity.

But, amidst all the doom and gloom, compounded with the fact that our fiercest neighbours are 10 points ahead of us, which seems an event of the long bygone past; there is a derby game, which Arsenal must win. There are no doubts about that, are there?

The Sunderland loss saw the Arsenal Supporters Trust raise many questions to the board, about the functioning of the club. Of course, the financial analysis by AST reveals that the Gunners are a healthy business, and that they are financially very sound. But, to the common Arsenal fan, who seem to be least bothered about it, will only want to see the results on the pitch, and hoping for a piece of silverware to go with it. The meeting between AST and the board, was fruitful by the fact that the club has decided not to hike prices for season-tickets. However, club level tickets will be increased by 2%. Ivan Gazidis, said

We understand the pressure fans are under in the current economic climate and hope this will go some way to helping them.Our season-ticket holders are the heart of our Club and we are recognising their loyalty by holding their ticket prices for next season.This is the fourth year out of six that we have held season-ticket prices flat against continuing pressure to keep pace with rising operational and player costs.

This seems to be a fair decision, with the possibilty of Europa League football being played at the Emirates next season.

Also, another fact revealed by the AST was that Arsenal have the fourth highest wage bill in the league. This is largely down to the fact that mediocre performers like Chamakh, Djourou, Squillaci and Almunia, who rarely even get to play, pocket £50,000-£60,000 every week. Seems ridiculous amounts of money. Heck, I run more than them and I get paid a penury compared to that, and I am at a job which requires me to sit, yet I run more than them. It is time the club gets rid of such deadwood.

Amidst all the turmoil, if rumors are to be believed, Stan Kroenke will be in attendance for the North London  derby. After being accused of being an owner, who doesn’t even bother watching a game, it seems a nice decision by him. Whether it will inspire the team to a win, is completely a different matter.

While we are on the matter of under performing players, Theo Walcott is one. He has been found wanting in most games, and seems out of ideas. However, Ian Wright came to the winger’s defence recently.

There is talk about whether Gunners skipper Robin van Persie, 28, will sign a new contract which is unsettling.And it is also really disappointing to hear people have a pop at Theo Walcott, 22.He is a good, young England player with a big future.

I am not sure where this comes from really, considering that Walcott has demanded £85,000 in wages. Bollocks, I say. On the lighter side, I found this hilarious illustration on one of the communities in Facebook.

Meanwhile, its been a week since Thierry Henry moved back to New York after a mixed loan spell. Coming on as a sub against Leeds to prod home the winner, and then unable to inspire the team to a result at Swansea, then supposedly making an invigorating team talk in the 3-2 reversal against Villa, a late goal in the Blackburn thumping, and a priceless late winner at Sunderland, he finished it off with an unyielding 45 minutes at the San Siro. Statistically speaking, Henry played 191 minutes, scored 3 goals, and had he played all season that would mean 54 goals all season. 😀 Before leaving for the States, Henry had a message for everyone supporting the club.

If you are an Arsenal fan then you are an Arsenal fan, that’s the way it is. Once a Gunner you are always a Gunner, you can’t change.I can’t talk for people whose families have supported Arsenal forever. But I am sure if you talk to their parents, and their parents too, they will tell you to enjoy this generation because they had some bad moments.I am sure the fans will understand that they have to stay with the team. We all need to be together because it’s the same when the team is winning and also when you lose.Even the generation before that won the Double in 1998 or 1971, they had some very bad moments,So that is what I would like to say to the fans: do not forget that.It was not always nice and pretty, you have to remember that we had some times where we just wanted to go home at the end of the game. The difference is how this team can react and I think this team can do that.We realise it is going to be a hell of a task but who knows? The Sunderland game is just around the corner so we have to go there and win.

But, of course, the Sunderland game was lost. Sigh! Moving on, Gervinho did at times look lively in the cup game against Sunderland. He is just back after a draining experience at the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. Gervinho, unfortunately missed a penalty in the shootout in the final against eventual champions Zambia. However, Arsene Wenger says Gervinho will come over it

He was very down when I spoke with him on Monday,We don’t know [what impact the Africa Cup of Nations will have]. I see Yaya Toure played on Thursday night for Manchester City and sometimes the best thing to get things out of your system is to play a game and have a performance.When you are young it is important to focus on the next game and show you are a good player.

Moving on, Arsenal are one of only 16 clubs in England, to have responded positively to the Football vs Homophobia campaign. The other 15 teams are Aston Villa, Fulham, Liverpool, Newcastle Utd, Norwich City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Derby County, Ipswich Town, Millwall, Huddersfield Town, MK Dons, Wycombe Wanderers, Exeter City, Port Vale and Hyde FC.

Just like Johan Djourou, this time the PR initiative was handed to Bacary Sagna, who had the task of telling the fans that the team will have to fight hard.

We have to keep our heads up, work hard and think about the Premier League because we have a derby next weekend against Tottenham.We need to do it for us and for the fans as well. We have to react. We can’t play like this against Tottenham otherwise we will lose.We have one week to get ready for the game, to question ourselves, to work and to talk to each other. We are professional and we have to fight until the end. Personally I want to do it and everyone else wants to do it as well.We just want to thank them one more time even if we didn’t get the result. It is not easy for us and for them as well. We are just thankful for the support that they give us and we’ll try to win next weekend.We have to look forwards. We are fourth in the Premier League and we can’t let it go like this.

Sagna has been one of Arsenal’s most consistent players over the last few seasons. It is a joy to watch him come marauding from the back. He will surely have some scores to settle, after he was injured at Shit Fart Lane, last time round, and kept him out for 3 weeks.

Another player, who has been doing well, recently is Riyo Miyaichi. The Japanese youngster, transferred from Feyenoord over the summer, was shipped to Bolton on loan during the January transfer window. And, he has come good for them with a goal against Millwall in the FA Cup. It seemed a bit Henry-ish, the finish and he was quick to thank the mercurial Frenchman after his goal-scoring exploits.

I like the style in which you attack from the left to get into the box, like Thierry Henry does,When I was in Arsenal, I saw it many times as Henry scores the same way during training. Van Persie also did it plenty of times at opposite side, from the right flank with a left foot shot.They showed a very good example for me and that helped me score.At Arsenal the atmosphere is incredibly tense, but here (at Bolton) things are much more friendly.There were certainly difficult times. But it wasn’t a waste to practice with superstars (like those at Arsenal) every day. In fact I think that sort of experience was irreplaceable.

Couple of years back, Jack Wilshere was loaned out to Bolton, where he put in some commanding performances, and returned to enjoy a good first season with Arsenal. Hoping, Miyaichi returns with the same outcome.

Staying with youngsters, young midfielder Oghuzan Ozyakup has chosen to play for Turkey, despite captaining Holland to the final of the U-17 European Championship Final in 2009. He chose the land of his parents over the country where he was born.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s big German defender Per Mertesacker has been ruled out for the season, after he suffered an injury on Sunderland’s tractor pitch. However, he revealed recently he would be fit for the European Championships in the summer.

My participation in Euro 2012 is not in danger.Dr Stöckle in Tübingen did the operation on Tuesday evening, attached a piece of bone back to the ankle and patched up the deltoid ligament on the inside of the ankle.All went well and I’m in Donaustauf, Bavaria, for the physical rehabilitation.

Speaking of injuries, one man who will be returning from one is right-back Carl Jenkinson. After being thrust to the first-team, in no time, the youngster suffered an unlucky injury, which kept him out for quite some time. He returned in the reserve game against Norwich reserves. Also, in the side, which won 5-0 were Russian, Israeli and South Korean captains, i.e Arshavin, Benayoun and Park along with Morocco international Marrouane Chamakh. Despite all the international stars on show, it was infact Spanish defender Ignasi Miquel who donned the captain’s armband. Arshavin scored 2 goals, which will hopefully instil some confidence, while Park and Benayoun grabbed one each. It seemed like Wenger gave them a run out, not only because there could have been some discontent at the lack of first team chances, but also to keep all his options open, going into an important run-in.

Arshavin has been the subject of much transfer news recently and could be the subject of a bidding war between Russian clubs Anzhi Makhachkala and his previous club Zenit St. Petersburg. Anzhi recently appointed former Russia coach Guus Hiddink as their manager, and will be looking to sign the Russian midfielder before the Russian transfer window closes. Arsene Wenger still says he is one the midfield options and an important player for the club and wouldn’t want him to leave as of yet.

Staying with rumours, Walcott could be swapped with Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge. Seems a good move for me. Sturridge was an Arsenal fan as a kid, and has put in some good performances this season for the Blues. Would be an improvement over the over rated Walcott. Also, Lukas Podolski, who recently had a fallout with his club FC Koln, could be the subject of a move to Arsenal, after it was revealed recently that he and Mertesacker are good mates, and that Per is ‘doing his bit’, to get the German striker to North London. Another player linked is the all-action Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena.

Speaking of options, Arsenal will have one more option in the goalkeeping department after Henri Lansbury kept his first cleansheet. A defensive midfielder by trade, he kept goal for West Ham, becoming the second loaned goalkeeper from Arsenal this season! For some weird reason, Sam Allardyce decided not to go with a goalkeeper on his substitutes bench. Rob Green was sent off with 37 minutes to play in the Championship game against Blackpool. West Ham, who were 2-1 up at the time of the red card, eventually won 4-1.

Fabianski, here I come!

Another youngster, who seems to be at the top of his game is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He has however told he is keeping his feet on the ground, literally. He emphasized, how his dad, Mark Chamberlain, an ex England international, is helping him stay firmly rooted.

With him being by my side I can never get too big for my boots. He always keeps me rooted and highlights the things I need to do better.When I do have a good game he’ll have a quiet word and say ‘well done’, but that’s as far as it goes because he points out that I’ve now got to keep doing it.As a winger, when you have a good game and take people on then people expect the same every week. I’ve got to do what I can to apply that consistency, and that’s what he tells me.It’s the same with my mum – she was always encouraging me to do my schoolwork and focus on other things in life. I think I’ve got a well-grounded family network and that definitely helps me.

In other news, probably fuelled by the media, Ivan Gazidis has told Robin van Persie that he will have to see out his present contract at Arsenal, which runs out for one more year. No one’s sure if that really happened or no. van Persie is in a situation similiar to that of Nasri’s. A year left on the contract, would the club be cashing on him now. Mark van Bommel, meanwhile says van Persie would be perfect for Milan. Seriously, how many strikers can a team have? They already have Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Pato, Cassano and El-Shaarawy. Are Milan the new Barcelona? We might come to know very soon.

Samir Nasri, or le cunt recently in an interview with the media had some words for Arsenal.

Sometimes it’s good to win ugly,Arsenal are proof of that. They play good football but, after seven years, they don’t win.I don’t want Arsenal to fall down,I have respect for the players and the manager.It’s always tough when you change,When you go to another team and have to be involved 100% and I wasn’t.Now I start to be settled and you will see a better Samir every week.I never asked City to pay £24m so it’s not me.

Well, you keep it to yourself, you f*cking benchwarmer! And, while we are at it, on-loan striker Niklas Bendtner has been banned from driving for 56 days after he crashed his Porsche, after driving it at 104 kmph.

Twitter wars, then, and one is brewing up between Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong and columnist Piers Morgan, who is an Arsenal fan. Here’s how its going!

@piersmorgan Stop chatting soo much rubbish you. UNO nothing about football u sit behind ur laptop nd just talk utter rubbish

@Frimpong26AFC Oh really, Mr Frimpon? Well truth hurts, sunshine. And I’m not afraid to tell it. (you can’t even get in THIS #Arsenal team)

@piersmorgan just don’t bring ur ugly face to the emirates cus we as Arsenal are sick and tired of ur abuse towards players and coach .we don’t need ur support u better of reading script leave the football to ppl that no about it. Wasteman. it still amazes me u call urself a fan? A fan don’t doesn’t do the things u do.the fans are the ppl that travels thousands of miles every weekend to support their team fans are the 60,000 ppl we have every sat fans don’t turn their back on their team. so yes piers u ain’t a fan u just some big old school bully that has too much time on twitter now u go bed wake up early 2 read

@Frimpong26AFC Big words, big guy. I suggest you focus on improving your game – rather than abusing loyal fans. Most of whom agree with me.

I actually like @Frimpong26AFC and his passion – but his youthful arrogance and complacency sums up #Arsenal ‘s malaise

@piersmorgan Loyal?? Well in football u have bad and good times the LOYAL fans are the one that remember the Good times And wait for More.

@Frimpong26AFC I’ve followed #Arsenal for 42yrs and own 4 season tickets. That entitles me to an opinion. Which is: we need a new manager.

@Frimpong26AFC you’re so loyal to #Arsenal you went to Wolves. So put a DEEENNCH in it and stop pandering to the blinkered minority.

@piersmorgan when was ur last game at the emirates? Instead of the Internet. What have u ever done for Arsenal in 42 years? Nothing

@piersmorgan ur entitled opinion of course u r but there are ways of doing it and tellin ur 2millfollowers rubbish we don’t need ain’t class

@Frimpong26AFC I’ve supported them. Nothing more, nothing less. And I want us to be competitive again, not perennial losers. #Arsenal

@Frimpong26AFC you started this by abusing a diehard fan who cares about his team. That demeans you Emmanuel, and I thought better of you.

@Frimpong26AFC I genuinely believe it’s time Arsene moved on, and we had fresh blood as manager. I am not alone. #Arsenal

Fancy a bet, Mr Loyalty @Frimpong26AFC ? I predict you’ll leave #Arsenal for more money somewhere else, before I stop being a fan.

Fancy a bet, Mr Loyalty @Frimpong26AFC ? I predict you’ll leave #Arsenal for more money somewhere else, before I stop being a fan.

I couldn’t give a damn what @Frimpong26AFC has to say. Much more interested in @Persie_Official staying than some rent-a-gob fringe player.

I quite fancy becoming manager myself. First two actions: 1) Pay @Persie_Official whatever he wants to stay 2) Sell @Frimpong26AFC to Spurs.

@Frimpong26AFC If only you were half as good on the pitch as you are with the cheap insults to #Arsenal fans, Frimpong. Pipe down, son.

I hope people read way fat Morgan is saying wen I start being rude don’t tweet me saying Frimpong is disrespectful and rude.KMT

@Frimpong26AFC You were shockingly rude the other night. To a fan that pays your wages. I suggest you learn some humility. And how to spell.

Right, off to the gym. Going to pretend my trainer is @Frimpong26AFC and give him a good hammering with the gloves. #Arsenal

@piersmorgan Well done y don’t we meet and do it properly instead of pretending

Seriously, I wonder what would happen if they really get into a brawl. Would be enthralling to watch 😀

Ahead of the North London derby, both clubs have issue a statement.

Fans should be aware that breaches of ground regulations will not be tolerated,A north London derby is always a special occasion and we hope this game will be remembered for both the action on the pitch as well as the positive support for both teams off it.

This is of course after Emmanuel Adebayor was supposedly the target of Arsenal fans in the earlier North London derby in October. I do agree that chants regarding the Togo team bus attack are completely against order, but is calling a cunt, a cunt, an offence? I don’t think so.

Team news, then. Laurent Koscielny was substituted late in the first half at the San Siro. After the match, Wenger said he ‘should’ be fit for next week. And, he should be. Kieran Gibbs was hauled into the first team after four months on the sidelines, on the biggest stage of all, the Champions League, and suffered a strain. He missed the Sunderland game, but should be fit for Sunday’s clash. Wenger’s team selection will be quite intriguing to watch. While Oxlade-Chamberlain, will be one of the first names on the team sheet, Wenger will have to choose between Gervinho, who had a decent game against Sunderland, and Walcott, who, as ever, looks, out of sort. I assume he will play Chamberlain on the right and Gervinho on the left. Also, Arshavin and Benayoun put in good performances against Norwich reserves in midweek. Of course, the present Spu*s side is a completely different proposition from Norwich reserves, but a surprise element could take the opposition by surprise. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin will both miss the game after picking up injuries against Sunderland. Szczesny returns after Flappyanski took his place in the FA Cup.

Spu*s selection looks pretty much straighforward. Despite missing Greedybayor, Rafael ‘Handball’ van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Ledley King for the FA Cup tie at Stevenage, it seems all of them are fit and in contention to face Arsenal. Redknapp’s team selection also will be equally interesting to watch. Whether he goes in with one striker or two strikers up front. Either ways it will prove problematic to the Gunners’ leaky defence. Should he choose 2 strikers upfront, it will be Saha and Adebayor, who clicked together instantly, in the 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle. That will mean a midfield of Bale, and the Croatians Modric and Modric . If he goes with only Adebayor up front, he will play wide Bale and Lennon wide and Modric/van der Vaart or Modric/Krajkcar in attacking midfield. As I said, either ways they will provide a bag full of problems. Spurs also have some decent options on the bench. The likes of Rose (Remember that cunt who scored a long range screamer couple years back), Lennon/van der Vaart/Kranjkcar (depending on team selection) and Defoe. Compare that to Walcott, Chamakh, (Yes, you got the point, I assume!)

As is clearly evident, believe it or not, Spurs do look a stronger side than the Gunners. Maybe, the Mayans were right, after all. The end of the world is preceded by strange occurings. Emmanuel Petit and Lee Dixon, in a recent interview, had this to tell.

This is the most important derby in Arsene Wenger’s 16 years as Arsenal manager,It comes at a very poignant time in the club’s history.If they don’t get Champions League football next season it’s going to be a nightmare,To get back to where they were, Arsenal need to sign big players in the summer and you can’t do that if you don’t play Champions League.Spurs are a better team than Arsenal,

There has definitely been a gradual shift of power over the last few seasons.There’s no bigger game than the north London derby at this stage of the season with so much at stake. So roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

Spurs were branded a team without ambition for almost a decade,But in the last two years they have signed so many good players and big characters that this team seems far more competitive than Arsenal.

All of a sudden the politics changed and they started to spend a lot of money. Big wages, bringing in many international players with big experience, big characters – mixing the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor with very good players already in the team like Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe.Now the quality is there and they have the mentality too. It will be very interesting to see how Arsenal react to this, especially at home. It’s a massive test after what’s happened during the last week.

Going into a north London derby, as fans you’ll read lots of stuff. As players you put that all out of the way, you forget it, because it is ultimately about what happens on the day.The thing to pay more attention to is recent results and Arsenal’s form is poor.That in itself is demoralising. But when I was at the club, if we ever had a bad series of results the next game you want to be a big one because it gets your mind focused on what’s coming rather than feeling sorry for yourself.

Meanwhile, Alex Fynn, who authored the book ‘The Great Divide’ in 2000, which explained the Arsenal’s dominance over Tottenham, said,

Certainly there is no great divide now,If anything, it may be role reversal.Wenger needed a challenge from his backroom staff and the board,This is the most significant problem he has failed to deal with.The other major clubs have arguably had better backroom staff and refreshed them on several occasions. Just look at Manchester United.Wenger has never had this and, as other clubs have moved on, Arsenal have stood still and maybe even gone backwards.Why has he not surrounded himself with men of quality? What on earth is [retired former Arsenal captain] Patrick Vieira doing at Manchester City?

I know this is my longest preview till date, but the clash is such it deserves nothing less. Meanwhile, while the world seems to coming to an end very soon, all I can hope is I have something to cheer come Sunday. 3 points and nothing less is what I expect.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal

AC Milan 4 (Boateng 15, Robinho 38,49, Ibrahimovic 79) – Arsenal 0

Man of the Match – Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)

Arsenal slumped to their biggest defeat in the knockout stages, yesterday as they slumped to a 4-0 loss to a dominant AC Milan at the San Siro.

Pre-match talks by Arsene Wenger were that of expressing concern over the pitch, which, infact was poorly laid out. Milan, who rely mostly on their central midfield and have minimal wing-play, had patched out both the flanks, and probably was a reason Arsene Wenger decided to start with only one winger in Theo Walcott, with  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being benched, and Tomas Rosicky getting a start. News came in some time before the kick-off that Per Mertesacker is probably out for the season. Kieran Gibbs started at left-back, in his first appearance in 4 months.

Regardless of the condition of the pitch, there was nothing to suggest in the opening few minutes that Arsenal would be mauled comprehensively on the evening. Milan, who started with Dutchmen Clarence Seedorf and Mark van Bommel in midfield, made a slow start, so did Arsenal. Clarence Seedorf, however picked up a strain in the 12th minute and was replaced by compatriot Urby Emanuelson.

But, the dynamics of the game changed minutes later. Antonio Nocerino spotted Boateng in a clear position. The gifted Ghanian, chested the ball down, and in one motion, smashed the ball past a hapless Szczesny. It was literally unstoppable.

Arsenal were visibly a bit battered, as Ibrahimovic toyed with Sagna and Koscielny, using his height and physique to best use. Robinho, who seemed quiet all this time, himself was giving Gibbs a torrid time on the left. Arsenal failed to build on patient build-ups, as they were broken down well by Milan’s rearguard.

Mark van Bommel was particularly impressive. Phillipe Mexes and Thiago Silva kept a tight leash on van Persie, who was anonymous for most of the first half. They made countless interceptions and shut down all supply lines from Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal’s midfield looked comparatively lightweight. Milan won the midfield battle as they wore out their opponents with some neat passing. Soon enough, Ibrahimovic cut down from the left, evaded Sagna, and crossed to Robinho, who obliged, by poking the ball past Szczesny, despite being under close attention from Koscielny and Vermaelen. By half-time, Arsenal’s woes were compunded with Koscielny picking up a strain of his own, and being replaced by the clumsy Djourou.

Wenger introduced Thierry Henry at the expense of Walcott, at half-time in the hope that the mercurial Frenchman would produce one last moment of magic before he left for New York. But, before he knew it, Milan had added a third.

More good work from Ibrahimovic on the left, as he fed Robinho. Thomas Vermaelen lost balance, and slipped, and Robinho calmly shot past Szczesny. Arsenal did put up some semblance of a fight though. Some neat build up play resulted in van Persie’s first shot on target, after being set up by Henry. Unfortunately, it was dealt with by an inspired Cristian Abbiati.

Thomas Vermaelen had a header over the bar, and van Persie had another shot, this time off his right-foot saved comfortably by Abbiati. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was pushed on to the scene. However, Milan dealt with him by marking him with Atonini and Emmanuelson. Milan had got all their tactics spot on.

The star of the evening, the super Swede Ibrahimovic, finally got what he deserved on the night. He fell down too easily with Johan Djourou in his path. The referee harshly gave a penalty. Szczesny guessed right, but Ibrahimovic’s penalty saw the back of the net.

It was a dissapointing end to an evening that had promised so much. It will also be something which Thierry Henry, or for that matter, Arsenal will completely want to forget.

With Arsene Wenger already admitting that the tie is as good as over, pride is at stake, when AC Milan come to North London in 3 weeks time.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (6) – Not helped by his defence on the day. Was very poor with his distribution on the night.

Sagna (6) – Struggled against Ibrahimovic, through the length of the game.

Vermaelen (6.5) – Lone ranger in Arsenal’s defence. Unfortunate slip, lead to Milan’s third.

Koscielny (6) – Unfortunate to have been injured. However, should have dealt better with Robinho on the second goal.

Gibbs (7) –  The only bright spot for Arsenal. Put a efficient display on his return after a long injury layoff.

Song (6) – Didn’t keep the ball too well today. And not able to contain either Boateng or Nocerino.

Rosicky (7) – Put in a good display, but was well monitored by Milan’s unflinching defence.

Arteta (6.5) – Not his night either. Milan kept a check on him throughout. Was guilty of losing possession on numerous ocassions.

Walcott (5) – Totally uneffective. Antonini had him in his pocket.

Ramsey (6) – Looked overwhelmed by the stage. Looked unconvincing and naive.

van Persie (6) – Rarely saw him with the ball. When he did have it, it was met with Abbiati’s hands.

Subs –

Djourou (6) – Conceded a harsh penalty. But, he is no Koscielny.

Henry (7) – Did his best to inject some inspiration and ideas into the game, but to no avail. Sad farewell for the legend.

Oxlade-Chamberlain (6.5)- Came on too late to get accustomed, and never could run at the Milan defenders with such a poor pitch on the flanks.

Overall Team Rating – 6.32

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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10 Positives for the Rest of the Season

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for Arsenal Football Club, on the pitch this year. The club has lost 3 of its 4 Premier League games, and only managed a point at lowly Bolton. However, progress was ensured in the FA Cup at the expense of Leeds and Aston Villa.

There have been many fans who have been calling for the head of Arsene Wenger after the run of disastrous results resulted in the club languishing in 7th position in the table.

But, it is too early to sack anyone. There are still loads of games left to play. Here are 10 positives for the rest of the season.

10) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s form and confidence

‘The Ox’ has made an electric start to his Arsenal career with goals against Shrewsbury and Olympiakos. And he did his reputation no harm with a sparkling display against Manchester United. He will probably continue playing on the left, unless Arsene Wenger decides to re-deploy Gervinho. At the moment, he is running high on form and confidence, and will cause lots of problems to lots of defences.

9) Return of Gervinho

Gervinho will soon mark his return from the Africa Cup of Nations, where he is representing the Ivory Coast. He has been a vital player so far this season, and has displayed good skill in taking the ball to the final third. Of course, he still lacks the finishing maturity, but he can only get better.

8) Return of Full-Backs

Bacary Sagna was probably Arsenal’s best player on Wednesday against Bolton. He controlled play on his flank very well, and made Martin Petrov a cropper. He has been sorely missed since his injury in October. Arsene Wenger has since played Coquelin, Jenkinson, Koscielny and Yennaris at right-back, but no one has been as influential as the dreadlocked Frenchman. His return will strengthen the defence. At left-back, too, the Gunners have faced problems with both first-choice players, Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos out. Again, Wenger has had to make-do with Coquelin, Miquel and Vermaelen. The return of Kieran Gibbs is a positive, ahead of the mist-win match against Blackburn Rovers.

7) Home Games Advantage

The Gunners face some crunch home games against Chelsea, Manchester City, Newcastle and Tottenham as they look to cement 4th spot. These games will be vital and must-wins, and the players will be looking towards the fans to create a charged atmosphere and help them on to victory. This gives Arsenal a slight upper hand over other rivals. Liverpool still have to travel to Manchester United and Newcastle, and they host Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham at home. Chelsea travel to Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, while also playing host to Manchester United, Newcastle and Tottenham. And, finally, Tottenham travel to Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. This sets up for a very exciting finish.

6) History Books

I may be taking the old-school route here, quoting history. But, then again, history tells Arsenal have never finished outside the top 4 in Arsene Wenger’s tenure. The closest came in 2006, when the Gunners, 5th all season, snatched 4th spot from neighbors and rivals Tottenham. Now, 7th in the table, the team has the massive task of overturning the deficit, and emulating the class of 2006. We may not finish above Spurs, but that’s hardly the point. Finishing 4th is more important that anything for the club now.

5) Return of Mikel Arteta

Mikel Arteta, when joining the club in the summer, had appealed to the Arsenal faithful to not compare him with the departed Cesc Fabregas. He may not be as talented or influential as the Catalan, but he has shown he can be as important as his compatriot. He has been the midfield general this season, and his ability to control the tempo of games has been a vital addition to the squad. Having formed a triumvirate with Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song, he had been sorely missed in the games against Swansea, Manchester United and Leeds.

4) Vermaelen-Koscielny Partnership

I read this interesting stat, that Arsenal have never lost when Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny have been paired together at centre-back. With Gibbs and Sagna returning, Wenger will most probably ploy Koscielny with Vermaelen, while benching Mertesacker, who is still a bit slow to English standards. Both Koscielny and Vermaelen can play like liberos, and both have shown vast improvement in performances. Koscielny is the best tackler in the league, and has the right defending trick, while Vermaelen brings guts and tackles.

Partnership!

3) Form of Robin van Persie

Much of Arsenal’s season so far has been based on the form of van Persie. He has shown his class, this season, and has lead the team from the front. Already having scored 25 goals in all competitions, and 19 in the league, he has also netted 4 goals in 5 games this year. Arsenal will be hoping he can continue his hot streak for the rest of the season, as the Gunners enter the business end of the campaign.

2) FA Cup Prospects

The FA Cup represents Arsenal’s best chance of a trophy this season. Having beaten Leeds and Aston Villa, both in cup-style fashion, it seems like Arsenal are destined for the Cup. While it took a returning club legend to slot home the winner against Leeds, it took a spirited second-half comeback from 2 goals down, to 3-2 up in the space of 7 minutes against Villa. Moreover, the last silverware we lifted was the FA Cup in 2005. How nice it would be, to end the trophy drought by lifting the FA Cup.

1) Champions League Prospects

There may be some arguments to this, but I feel Arsenal’s style of football will be better suited for Europe this season. Also, it is the only trophy missing in Arsene Wenger’s glittering CV. A trophy, we came so close to lifting in 2006, returns to action with Italian giants AC Milan, waiting on Feb 15th. Should we progress, we could face the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona. But, Wenger is known to spring a surprise in the deepest of dumps. Will this finally end our wait for European glory. I am not sure, but I have been dreaming for days, Vermaelen and van Persie lifting the famous ‘trophy with ears’!

So, these are the positives for the rest of the season. There are still plenty of games to play for, and a lot left to fight for. So, Keep Calm and get behind your team, fellow Gooners.

Keep the faith! 🙂

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Best of the Best

 

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Swansea aftermath, Transfer Rumblings, PLS, the best team in Europe and new Twitter terms!

So, here we are. Another miserable start to the week. A Monday, which could have been so cheerfully different, had the referee yellow-carded Nathan Dyer for simulation, instead of awarding Swansea a penalty; and more importantly, had Arsenal emerged out of Southern Wales with 3 points.

But, this is football. It goes on, so does life. Yes, I may be being a bit pragmatic or philosophical here, but as a football fan, you always have to be that. Every game cannot be won, you lose some, you win some. All that matters is your love for the club you chose to support, even in the worst of runs.

Fans can be so feeble. I go through loads of Arsenal forums on Facebook, and everyone’s suggesting sacking Arsene Wenger. The man, who has transformed the club from being one of the most underachieving clubs, to one of the best teams in the league. Yes, he may have gone 6 seasons without a trophy, and it might be 7 come the end of the year. But, sacking him will completely undermine his fantastic work over the course of 16 years. The 97/98 and 01/02 doubles, and just the way he challenged the authority of Manchester United, who at the time were treble champions, and were signing the best players from all over the world, the likes of Veron, Stam, Ferdinand etc. The 03/04 team that went unbeaten to complete one of the major achievements in English football. And, we have been unlucky in this barren run. Injuries have ruined our season, and we have lost 3 finals on the way. Say, we beat Manchester United next week, the same fans who want him out, will be posting comments like ‘Arsene Forever’ and ‘In Arsene we Believe’. So, do you think sacking the Frenchman is the solution. I leave that to you.

Henry has his word!

Speaking about fans’ frustrations, some did vent it out at the Liberty Stadium. Henry lead the team in applauding the fans at the end of the game.  One fan was particularly vocal. “Where’s the heart, character and the Fight?”, to which Henry angrily retorted “Get behind the Team support the Players and dont be Negative”. Hmm, now there’s something to think about. Yes, the fan was right. Arshavin and Walcott were disappointing yesterday. Actually ‘disappointing’  is an understatement. They were outright pathetic. Over that, Walcott wants 85 quid a week. Bollocks. Anyways, it took our club legend to sort out matters a bit in the middle. All I have to say is, be positive Gooners and get behind your team.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger was critical of the penalty that was awarded. At first, it seemed like a foul and that a penalty was the right decision. TV replays in the morning proved otherwise. Actually, Dyer had fouled Ramsey and took a tumble, a-la-Barca. Would the game have been any different, had that penalty not been awarded. I am afraid not.

You got that all wrong, ref!

Lot of talk then, about Arsene Wenger making some signings in the window to bolster his squad. Or, will it take another mauling at the hands of Manchester United to evoke that kind of urge in the Frenchman. Only time will tell. He has urged the team, though, or whatever is left of it, to wake up and focus for Sunday’s game.

With Gary Cahill, completing his move to Chelsea, there have been loads of rumours doing the rounds. Christopher Samba has supposedly handed his transfer request. QPR seem to be leading the race, but he would be a great signing for Arsenal, with his physical presence. He is an improved version of Mertesacker. But, it seems Wenger is not interested. Wayne Bridge and Aly Cissokho rumours are now getting boring, with some tweets claiming they have signed for us. There was a rumour that Wenger has been given £25 million to splash the cash on Belgian winger Eden Hazard from Lille. But, now Chelsea want to hijack the deal, just like they hijacked the Juan Mata-Arsenal deal. Another name linked is Schalke’s Julian Draxler (never heard much about him), to replace Arshavin. How hard would it be to replace him anyway. Sebastien Squillaci and Marrouane Chamakh have both been offered escape routes by Monaco and Fiorentina respectively, while Salomon Kalou could move to Everton, after Arsenal retracted their interest.

Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen could start against Manchester United. Considering how unlucky we have been with injuries, its a huge bonus to have him back. He typifies what Arsenal require at the back now – some steel and guts. Laurent Koscielny has shown much of that this season, but he has lacked a partner to share it with.

I was having a look at the injury list, and the ones who are away for the African Cup of Nations. We could make a decent team there, which would probably end up mid-table, but nonetheless a team. Fabianski would keep goal, behind a backline of Sagna, Jenkinson, Vermaelen and Santos. That’s a pretty solid defense. In midfield we could have the very talented, but eternally injured Abou Diaby, pulling strings, with Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s most important player this season, linking up with legen-in-the-making Jack Wilshere. There would also be a place in the lineup for the impressive Francis Coquelin, who would partner Diaby. Gervinho would prevent some pace up front, with Chamakh firing away blanks. Pretty decent, eh! And yes, we still have a surplus left-back in Kieran Gibbs!

Further news, then. Arsenal have confirmed a pre-season tour to Africa, Nigeria in particular. That is because, the usual curtain-raiser, the Emirates Cup has been cancelled owing to the London Olympics. Arsenal has a pretty large fan following in the country, mainly because of former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu, who won 2 league titles with the club. But, there’s one Nigerian we all hate, Obafemi Martins.

Closer to home, an IPL-styled football tournament has been launched, which goes by the name of Premier League Soccer. It will be held between February 25 and April 8. It is a lucrative proposition in a cricket-crazy country. However, I sincerely hope it brings about a change in the perception of the game. All teams are from West Bengal, and they can sign 4 foreign players, and should also have a minimum of 6 under-21 Indian players. Also, they can sign any of the ‘icon players’ on offer. The list includes names to have graced the beautiful game for the last 20 years. They are Hernan Crespo, Fabio Cannavaro, Fernando Morientes, Maniche, Robbie Fowler, Jay-Jay Okocha and last, but not the least, our very own Robert Pires. Already looking forward.

Never thought I would see him playing in India! 🙂

Back to Swansea then. According to statistics, Arsenal lost to one of the best teams in Europe this season, in terms of passing. Also, they boast two of the best passing midfielders in the continent, Leon Bitton and Joe Allen, as a report in the Telegraph shows. Here are some interesting statistics.

Here’s a table, showing the passing statistics of midfielders across the continent.

Player Team Passing Accuracy % Passes
Leon Britton  Swansea City  93.3  1127 
Xavi Barcelona 93.0 1830
John Terry Chelsea 91.6 1209
Sergio Busquets Barcelona 91.3 1086
Thiago Silva AC Milan 91.1 1068
Joe Allen Swansea City 90.3 1075
Mikel Arteta Arsenal 90.3 1318
Yaya Toure Manchester City 90.0 1552
Scott Parker Tottenham Hotspur 89.8 1035

He's the best there is!

Here’s a table, showing passing accuracies of teams across the continent.

Team Passing Accuracy %
Barcelona 89.2
Bayern Munich 87.0
Manchester City 86.2
Real Madrid 85.5
Chelsea 85.5
Swansea City  85.2
AC Milan 85.1
AS Roma 84.9
Tottenham Hotspur 84.7
Arsenal  84.6 

And, finally this table shows how good Swansea have been domestically, in terms of passing, bettering Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Team Passes
Arsenal  11188 
Manchester City 11088
Swansea City  11065
Chelsea 10742
Tottenham Hotspur 10590
Liverpool 10302
Manchester United 10242
Fulham 9330
West Bromwich Albion 8185
Everton 8158

So, there’s no shame in losing to the Swans afterall.

I will end on a cheerful note. In the Premier League match between Tottenham and Wolves, Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan from Arsenal, might have just added a new term to the dictionary ‘Frimponged’, after his powerful clearance smashed straight into the face of Spuds midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, flooring the Dutchman! LEGEND-ARY!

You've been 'Frimpong'ed!

More coming up soon.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in General

 

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Mid Season Player Ratings

We are almost halfway through in the season. With 20 games played in the Premier League, and 18 to go; and trophy hopes still alive on two fronts, in the Champions League and FA Cup, Gunners’ fans have a lot to look forward to in 2012. Here is how the mid-term report of the 2011-2012 season of Arsenal.

GOALKEEPERS :

1) Wojciech Szczęsny – The young Pole has had a mixed season so far. The season started disastrously, as Arsenal were thumped 8-2 by Manchester United. Szczesny was instrumental in progress to the group stages of the Champions League, as he kept out Udinese at bay, including saving a penalty. In the Premier League, he has made some vital saves, against Norwich, Sunderland and QPR, all of which were narrow wins for the Gunners. He also put in a brilliant show against Manchester City, a game which the Gunners lost 1-0. In the Champions League, he has put in some solid performances, notably against Marseille in both legs.

Appearances – 27

Rating – 7.5

2) Lukasz Fabianski – Having been kept out by his compatriot, Fabianski has had to content with only a place on the bench. He has had only 4 appearances, including the Champions League loss to Olympiacos, where he was injured. He made a barrage of saves against Bolton in the Carling Cup.

Appearances – 4

Rating – 6.5

3) Vito Mannone – Made only one disastrous outing this season, replacing Fabianski in Olymiacos. His howler gifted the Greek side their second goal. Has been loaned out to Hull, for the remainder of the season.

Appearances – 1

Rating – No Rating

DEFENDERS:

4) Bacary Sagna – The Frenchman, has been unlucky this season with injuries, and played in the tumultuous start to the campaign. His injury has left a huge gap at right-back.

Appearances – 10

Rating – 6.5

5) Carl Jenkinson – Signed from Charlton over the summer, Jenkinson has had a mixed start. Called into action for vital games against Udinese, Liverpool and as a sub against Chelsea, he has started 3 Champions League games as well. Has displayed a good work rate. Needs to work on his pace though.

Appearances – 11

Rating – 7

6) Nico Yennaris – Made a solid solitary appearance against Bolton in the Carling Cup.

Appearances – 1

Rating – No rating

7) Andre Santos – A deadline day signing for £6.9 million, the attack-happy Brazilian also has his season cut short by injury. Making his debut in the 4-3 loss at Blackburn, Santos has gone from strength to strength. Despite being accused of shunning his defensive responsibilities, to go on marauding runs down the left, the Brazilian put in some improved defensive shows, before his season was cut short. He even scored two vital goals, against Olympiacos and Chelsea.

Appearances – 14

Rating – 7.5

8) Kieran Gibbs – From a famed production line of left-backs, boasting the likes of Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and Armand Traore, Gibbs, too, like Santos has had his season cut short due to injury. Has made some promising performances this season.

Appearances – 9

Rating – 7

9) Per Mertesacker – Arsenal’s deadline day £7.2 million purchase from Werder Bremen, has been a major figure at the centre of the defense this season. Despite being called on to action immediately after his move, the German has put in some commanding performances. In a fast-paced league, the German does lack a bit of pace, but has made up for it with his experience and his astute reading of games.

Appearances – 21

Rating – 7.5

10) Thomas Vermaelen – The Belgian has missed a month of the season, due to injury. But, when he has played, he has added that extra bit of steel to the defence. Despite being played out of position, at times, Vermaelen has displayed a resolve, which the Gunners lacked for a long time. Has also found the back of the net thrice.

Appearances – 19

Rating – 7.5

11) Laurent Koscielny – A standout performer this season at the heart of the defense. He also earned his first international cap for France. The Frenchman has put in solid performances and has been the Gunners’ most improved player. In a physically demanding league, Koscielny has credited praise with his blocks, tackles and heading.

Appearances – 23

Rating – 8

12) Sebastien Squillaci – An unreliable defensive option on the bench, should sum up Squillaci’s time in North London.

Appearances – 4

Rating – 5

13) Johan Djourou – The Swiss centre-back has been called into action to play at right-back, and has put up some sturdy performances. But, still has been prone to the occasional error. Received a red card at Fulham, a match which Arsenal went on to lose.

Appearances – 19

Rating – 6.5

14) Ignasi Miquel – The young Spanish defender made a surprise debut against Liverpool, when he replaced an injured Koscielny. He has strung together some decent performances, and has also played at left-back.

Appearances – 7

Rating – 7

MIDFIELDERS:

15) Tomas Rosicky – Rosicky has mostly been an impact player this season, coming off the bench on numerous occasions. Despite his injury-marred career, the Czech Republic captain is determined to have a positive impact this season. His bursts of pace and energy has had its own impact, this season.

Appearances – 17

Rating – 7

16) Mikel Arteta – Another of Arsene Wenger’s last-minute purchases, the Spanish midfielder has been the most most important player in midfield this season. He has linked well, the defensive midfield Song and the striker Robin van Persie, while also manning a young midfield of Ramsey, Walcott and Gervinho.

Appearances – 22

Rating – 8.5

17) Aaron Ramsey – The Wales captain has struck himself down as a starter in Arsenal’s midfield, this season. Despite the occasional error, where he is guilty of conceding possession, Ramsey has been influential in  the team’s resurgence.

Appearances – 25

Rating – 7.5

18) Andriy Arshavin – The Russia captain has received a lot of flak this campaign for his half-hearted performances. However, he did make up for it a little, with a strong showing against QPR and also, earlier in the season, a lucky winner against Swansea.

Appearances – 23

Rating – 5.5

19) Yossi Benayoun – He may not have the stamina to last 90 minutes, but has been a vital addition to the Gunners’ midfield. The Israel captain scored the important winner against Aston Villa, and also been able to fill well in the absence of Arteta.

Appearances – 15

Rating – 7

20) Oguzhan Ozyakup – Made two substitute appearances in the Carling Cup.

Appearances – 2

Rating – No Rating

21) Abou Diaby – Injury-marred season so far.

Appearances – 2

Rating – No Rating

22) Alex Song – The Cameroon international has been one of the best players this season. Despite his tendency to get booked, he remains an important part of the squad. His ability to break up opposition play has made him first-choice defensive midfielder. Has some important assists to his name, specifically Norwich City, Borussia Dortmund and Everton.

Appearances – 23

Rating – 7.5

23) Emmanuel Frimpong – The all-action midfielder has been very much noticed this season. Despite getting sent off for one made moment against Liverpool, he was influential in the game previous to the incident, and also in the Carling Cup loss to Manchester City. Has done a decent job in the absence of Song. Loaned to Wolves for the remainder of the season.

Appearances – 14

Rating – 7

24) Francis Coquelin – Has put in a terrific shift, whenever called upon. Did play some games at his preferred position, central defensive midfield, but recent injuries have resulted in him filling in at left-back or right-back.

Appearances – 11

Rating – 7

FORWARDS:

25) Park Chu-Young – Signed for £3 million, on deadline-day, the South Korean striker hasn’t yet been able to make his mark in England. He scored on his second appearance for the club, a delightful finish against Bolton, but has failed to impress in his remaining 3 outings.

Appearances – 4

Rating – 6

26) Robin van Persie – Arsenal’s player of the season so far. No shadow of a doubt about it. The Dutchman has been prolific this season, finding the back of the net 21 times, including 17 times in the league, leading the scoring charts. Scored vital winners against Sunderland, Stoke, Norwich, Dortmund, Everton, QPR, while scoring a brilliant hat-trick against rivals Chelsea. He has taken the mantle of captaincy, after the departure of Cesc Fabregas, and despite the stuttering start, has managed to bring about stability to the club.

Appearances – 26

Rating – 9

27) Theo Walcott – Despite the abundance of talent and pace that Walcott possesses, he can be equally wasteful and erratic as well. Scored important goals in both legs against Udinese, to ensure passage to the group stages of the Champions League. And scored a brilliant goal against Chelsea. He has also assisted van Persie on numerous ocassions. However, proved to be wasteful on few ocassions as well.

Appearances – 25

Rating – 7.5

28) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – ‘The Ox’, a 18 year old winger from Southampton, drew lot of attention, when he moved from the South Coast to Arsenal for £12 million over the summer. But, whenever called upon he has showed his quality, scoring against Shrewsbury and Olympiacos. His burst of pace and skill over the ball make him the most coveted teenager in the league.

Appearances – 6

Rating – 7.5

29) Gervinho – The Ivorian winger, who was pursued by clubs all over Europe, after scoring 15 goals for Lille last season, eventually signed with the Gunners. Playing as a support striker, Gervinho has been impressive with his runs down the left, while also switching flanks well with Walcott. Equally wasteful in front of goal as Walcott, he has the talent to be a vital player in the squad in the coming year.

Appearances – 24

Rating – 7

30) Marrouane Chamakh – The Moroccan forward hasn’t been able to rekindle the form that saw him score 10 goals in the opening stage of last season’s campaign. Chamakh has been largely disappointing this time around, scoring only once, in the loss to Blackburn Rovers. Needs a confidence boost, and Arsene Wenger will be hoping the African Cup of Nations will give him exactly that.

Appearances – 14

Rating – 5.5

31) Riyo Miyachi – The promising Japan forward has made two substitute appearances in the Carling Cup.

Appearances – 2

Rating – No Rating

AVERAGE TEAM RATING (OF THE SEASON, SO FAR) : 7.63

SUMMARY – After some banter about Arsenal facing a relegation battle, owing to their disaster of a start to the campaign, Arsene Wenger has slowly but steadily rebuilt confidence among his players, as well as the fans, who now believe the club can finish in the top 4 and progress further in the FA Cup as well as the elusive Champions League. Major challenges still lie ahead, as Arsenal face AC Milan in the Champions League Round of 16, and a race to the finish beckons for a top 4 finish.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Player Reviews

 

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