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Lukas Podolski scoop and a bit more..

Hello Gooners. While we wait with bated breath for tonight’s Manchester derby, news has just emerged from Germany that Lukas Podolski has confirmed his move to Arsenal.

This, taken from Arseblog News, that the German striker and his present club, FC Cologne, have released a joint statement. It says,

Hi folks, from next season I will play Arsenal FC. This change gives me the opportunity to play at international level in a top European club. This is a great opportunity in my sporting career.The decision for this step is not easy for me because the FC Köln, the city and the fans are very special for me. I’ll always carry FC in my heart. We must now concentrate all the forces together and focus exclusively on the league. Regards, Poldi.

This is certainly great news for us Arsenal fans, who have been waiting quite long for that one really experienced world class striker. No disrespect to Eduardo or Chamakh though. Eduardo was a fantastic striker for Dinamo Zagreb, but you could say a bit unproven at the top echelons of European football. Unfortunately for him, he got struck with a horrible injury, just when he was picking up the pace of the English game. Chamakh, despite a great start, has failed miserably to hold on to his place in the team, and much of it can be rather owed to the fine form of Robin van Persie. The less said about Niklas Bendtner, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Park-Chu-Young, the better.

I think Podolski will add a new dimension to our existing attacking array. He has chalked up 43 goals in 95 games for the national side. With Fiorentina and Bordeaux interested in Chamakh, I find it hard to see him at the club next year, and the same goes with Park. He may have delayed his military service, to prolong his football career, but he wouldn’t be happy warming benches for the Reserves, on cold nights in places like Barnet, Stevenage and Burton.

This leaves us with our on-loan strikers, Niklas Bendtner, who says he wouldn’t even join Sunderland if he got the chance to. I agree with him. He is the best striker in the world after all. We have Carlos Vela, once touted as the next big thing in Mexican football, before one Javier Hernandez came along. He has scored 10 goals for Basque club Real Soceidad, and they want to retain his services on a permanent basis. Vela was a bit of a question mark. At times, he would make you think you are watching Maradona, but then moments later, he would look like Nelson Vivas out of position. Joel Campbell, the Costa Rica international looks like one for the future, if he can get his visa and passport issues sorted.

Arsene Wenger and Israel captain Yossi Benayoun spoke about the over-reliance on Robin van Persie at the moment. While admitting that they have relied on the Dutchman, more than they should, this season, Wenger also urged him to finish the season on a high as we look to seal 3rd spot and automatic Champions League qualification, which helps us ease the fixture congestion at the very start of the season, as well as prevent us from even contemplating a possibility of playing in the Europa League.

He has to push us over the line. There are two games to go. We have been a bit over-reliant on him, I concede that. But it is difficult to change that before the end of the season.

Yossi Benayoun, compared the Dutch striker to his ex-teammate at Liverpool and later Chelsea, Fernando Torres. (Mind you, when he was in top form)

I have been lucky enough to play with some of the best strikers in the world,”he said. “Robin is one of the best in the world. It was the same when Fernando was on fire and scoring lots of goals at Liverpool. They are on the same level as two of the best strikers in the world.Every game at Liverpool we knew he could score. We know we must give Robin the ball in the right place and he will score. That is what we did against Stoke and he has been doing that all season.

In other news, Arsene Wenger is lining up his options for assistant manager, after Pat Rice revealed he would retire at the end of the season and probably spend his retirement days in Brighton, and enjoy the sun, while pondering over what has been a fine tenure at the club.

It will be decided very very soon and I will decide after that. It looks like he could stop, but it is not official yet. Pat is fantastic. He works every day hard and never speaks to the press – fantastic!

One man, who surely would love to take that position, is club legend Thierry Henry.

You know what? I might. Now do you think I would be a good one? You can never tell. I actually don’t know if that would be an option. I know I will be in the game for sure. Why not? Sure.Everyone knows the love I have for Arsenal Football Club, so you know it goes without saying where.

The King also spoke about his brief 2 months stint, when he scored 3 goals, 2 of which were match-winners.

That’s a dream.It was the first time – put the national team aside – it was the first time I scored a goal as a fan of the team [I scored for].It’s too much to describe. I know I’ve never felt that before.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger also spoke about the appaling behaviour of the Stoke fans on Saturday.

I don’t think you can be especially proud to boo Aaron Ramsey,because I don’t see what he has done wrong in his behaviour. That’s an old story where the fans of Stoke stand behind their player. But it shouldn’t go as far as booing Aaron Ramsey.They have a relationship with me but I don’t have one with them! They do enjoy my visits] but I personally have enough experience to cope with that.I focus on what I love in my job and the way my players behave on the pitch. I am not responsible for the way people behave in the stands. If you want to stop that it is easy to stop but I cannot influence it. I have had so much in England, I have been here for 15 years, and basically I don’t hear it because I am focused on the game.It doesn’t bother me too much. I don’t listen too much to what people chant and I just think one day people in football will have to tackle that as well. It is easy to sit in the stand and insult people – it is the easiest sport in the world.I believe that it was a game where we have shown great character, great battling qualities. Overall we deserved at least a point and I can only give credit to my players for their battling qualities and the way they responded to what Stoke offered us – full commitment, well-organised, direct. We did not always cope with it but today I felt we did.It is important to win our next two games.

That’s a wrap then. More to come soon on the Podolski story. Do not forget to read the preview of the Manchester Derby here.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 30, 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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Eisfeld, Arshavin, Wilshere, Wenger and Bolton…

Bolton Wanderers vs Arsenal, Reebok Stadium, Premier League

Kickoff – 20:00 (01:30 IST), 1 February 2012

So, the January transfer window has finally shut. Well, it doesn’t make much difference to the Arsenal team, anyways. Gooners around the world, waited in anticipation and agony, and in hope against hope, that Arsene Wenger will finally bow down to their wishes and sign one massive player for a truckload of money, who would transform the fortunes of the club, and more concerningly, the immediate on-field problems.

Of course, that didn’t happen. We signed one massive player though, who has a legendary status at the club, a beard and has taken 34 revolutions around the sun. His name is Thierry Henry. He also has the small matter of 226 goals marked across his name.

Lots of banter coming in about the second signing though.

Wenger: Can we have Gotze?

Dortmund: No.

Wenger: Can we have Kagawa?

Dortmund: No.

Wenger: Can we have Barrios?

Dortmund: No.

Wenger: Can we have Großkreutz?

Dortmund: No.

Wenger: HMMM..(About to hang up, a few freckles formed on his forehead)

Dortmund: Hang, on a second. You can have Thomas Eisfeld for £420,000.

Wenger: Really? WOW!! OK, I will take him.

And thats how the very exciting transfer window grinded to a halt. We have an unknown midget from the minehouses of Dortmund, who will soon be bossing our midfield. Here’s hoping we have unearthed a gem. Arsene Wenger certainly thinks so.

“Thomas is a player we have liked for some time.We’ve watched him closely this season, where he has excelled for Dortmund’s youth team.He is young but has proven to us that he can play, that he has the attitude and technical ability to be a valuable addition to our squad.”

Gotze's poorer cousin!

Meanwhile, there were some players going out on loan for the rest of the season. Chuks Aneke extended his loan spell at Stevenage. Let’s hope he can score the winner against Tottenham in the FA Cup 5th Round. Riyo Miyachi, a schoolboy a year ago, has been loaned out to tonight’s opponents, Bolton. Let’s hope he returns a Wilshere. Sanchez Watt, another youngster, who has spent spells at Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday, has joined FA Cup high-flyers Crawley Town. And there could be one more exit. Anzhi Makhachkala (hope I got that right) are keeping tabs on out-of-sorts Russian playmaker Andriy Arshavin. The Russian transfer window closes in 3 weeks time, giving them plenty of time to hammer out a deal.

Arshavin has a mixed time in the English capital. After sparkling performance for Russia in the European Championships in 2008, he was under the radar of various clubs across Europe, including Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. However, Arsenal was his destination as a last-second deal was clinched on February 2nd. His impact was instant. He scored a brilliant goal from a narrow angle against Blackburn Rovers and then was a crowd favourite after he put up a once-in-a-lifetime performance at Anfield, netting past Liverpool 4 times. In the 2009-2010 season, he was played as a striker in most of the games, thanks to the club’s huge injury list. He further scored 12 goals and made 7 assists through the season.

Throughout the season, he was a popular figure in the English media. First, for his voice, where he was compared with a meerkat. And then, for his views on English weather and driving women. He despised the gloomy English weather as well as female hands behind a steering wheel.

The meerkat and his poorer cousin!

His 3rd season, he will be fondly remembered for the winner against Barcelona, which came at the end of a well-worked move, and was probably Arsenal’s best European performance in a long-long time.

But, this season had been the low-point for the burly Russian. He has looked completely out of sorts and the Emirates crowd has been unforgiving. There have been complaints about his willingness and his concentration. He has had the odd effort though, against Bolton (Carling Cup), Leeds and QPR, where did much of what was constructive. The lowest ebb came when he came on to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the match against Manchester United. A chorus of boos greeted him as he ambled his way on to the pitch. At that moment, I really felt for the guy. But, probably, a fresh challenge would do both, him and the club good.

Anyways, enough about Arshavin, for now. Arsenal welcomed back Coquelin, Arteta, Henry and Sagna back into the team against Aston Villa, after all suffered uneven times out in the physio room. Arteta will be the most important man back. He has been the fulcrum in the engine room and has been sorely missed in the defeats to Swansea and Manchester United. Sagna, who injured himself in the North London derby, back in October, is another player who has been sorely missed. His deputy, Carl Jenkinson, also fell prey to the injury monster. Wenger has since played Djourou, Coquelin, Koscielny and Yennaris at right-back, all to various success levels. Stability at that position is vital, and Sagna, who has been Arsenal’s most consistent player, over the course of 4 seasons, provides exactly that. Also, Arsenal welcome back Kieran Gibbs, who has resumed training with the squad and should be fit for the Blackburn game over the weekend.

Staying in the physio room, Jack Wilshere suffered another ‘setback’, which could keep him out for another 6-8 weeks, or probably the end of the season. This is really bad news, and probably sparked the Eisfeld signing. Arsene Wenger had this to say on the young midfielders’ setback.

“Jack is gutted. It is a massive disappointment, but I am really disappointed for him as well because he is a football animal. I am so sad that at that age you have to be out for such a long time with not any obvious reason. If you had told me that Jack would not have played one game by February, I would have said ‘that is impossible’. We miss that little burst from Jack. Let’s hope it goes well and we have good news from the specialists.”

And while we are about it, Eisfeld is another injury-prone player. He had an extensive medical at the club, before he was signed, and also a training session, to monitor his fitness levels. He had suffered a horror injury to his anterior cruciate ligaments (whatever that is!) in 2009. All we can hope is he can keep himself fit and be a vital player for the team.

And yes, while we are still about it, I got an interesting stat online. Since August 2002, Arsenal has suffered 138 more injuries than Chelsea to first team squad members. In the same period, Arsenal has suffered 86 more injuries than Manchester United.

2009/10 AFC 79; MUFC 55; CFC 52
2008/09 AFC 74; MUFC 62; CFC 46
2007/08 AFC 60; MUFC 53; CFC 42

To what extent these stats are true, I have no idea. But, it does make you think what may be the reason. Is it bad luck or just that we sign injury-prone players, who suffer long times out in the primes of their career, and are not the same when they make their returns.

Moving, on the Aston Villa game has been one of the highlights of the season so far. 2-0 down at half-time and 3-2 up, in 16 minutes of the second half is no ordinary feat. So, what exactly might have ignited that comeback. There have been reports of the captain falling out with the manager after the Manchester United loss. But, van Persie was quick to dismiss them all. And, celebrations in the Villa game, have raised a suspicion or two. van Persie raced his way to celebrate his second goal with Thierry Henry, while he gave Wenger as much as a little look.

Yes, I am blowing things out of proportion here. Henry, Vermaelen and van Persie did have a word or two with the team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are falling apart in the team. Arsene Wenger still reigns supreme and has a control over all things on the field. Theo Walcott revealed later, what van Persie’s words were at half-time.

“Come on we want to win this trophy, we must win this game!”

And, supposedly, Wenger had this to say.

“You can feel sorry for yourself or show you have the mental qualities to play for this Club.”

Walcott has been doing a lot of talking about winning a trophy for the fans. And that flukey goal over the weekend did the credentials no harm. Meanwhile, Robin van Persie escaped a possible match-ban after Villa boss Alex McLeish claimed he had elbowed his player, Carlos Cuellar. (Go, find yourself a different reason, McLeish!).

And, in other news, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been given the backing of Arsene Wenger, to be selected for England, for EURO 2012.

“You cannot rule it out – we will see in the next three months, If he does well, why not? It is not because you are young that you cannot play. We live in a world of immediacy.I would not have expected him to be so mature in September because he still looked like a boy.Now suddenly he looks like he can take pressure and that he has the personality to produce under pressure.”

‘The Ox’ was thrown into the limelight in the disastrous mauling at Old Trafford, which I don’t want to talk about. Since then, he has put on impressive displays, whenever he has played, scoring goals against Shrewsbury in the League Cup and Olympiakos in the Champions League; his most impressive performance coming in the 2-1 loss at home to Manchester United. He has drawn comparisons with England’s best striker at the moment, Wayne Rooney, who is similiar in build and style of play.

Well, all’s well that end’s well, we are in the 5th Round of the FA Cup, and will face either Sunderland/Middlesbrough, away from home, on 18th February. The FA Cup seems to be Arsenal’s best bet of a trophy this campaign, considering we are 18 points adrift of the leaders, and we will face Barcelona in the next round of the Champions League, should we ward off AC Milan (It’s a conspiracy). With heavyweights Manchester City and Manchester United, both knocked out; the remaining giants Arsenal and Liverpool, along with Tottenham and Chelsea, are favorites to life the famous cup.

Moving on to the game tonight. Bolton will be particularly hard to beat, this time around. Last time, Arsenal trounced them 3-0, thanks to a red card brandished to Dave Wheater, in a game, in which van Persie scored his 100th Arsenal goal. Bolton went on a terrible run, and occupied the last spot in the league for long periods, but since the turn of the year, they have picked up vital results. They have beaten Everton and Liverpool in the league and ensured progress in the FA Cup with wins over Macclesfield and Swansea. Their last game against Liverpool was the best performance from the Trotters this season. Having lost to Manchester United, 3-0, just a week earlier, they put in a battling performance against the Reds.

This time round, the battle will be won in the midfield. Bolton captain Nigel Reo-Coker and Fabrice Muamba will look to cut all supply lines leading to van Persie, managed by Ramsey and Arteta. David N’Gog put in a good performance against his old club last week, but emulating it in this fixture will be hard for the inconsistent French striker. Bolton lost Gary Cahill to Chelsea, but have replaced him with Tim Ream from New York Red Bulls. He will, however not feature tonight, as he is back in the USA, sorting visa’s. Bolton, will, in most probability, go with the same team that started last week.

Arsenal’s leaky defence will be tightened with the returning Sagna, who is most likely to feature, at the expense of Coquelin. Arteta, will take his place in the centre of midfield alongside Ramsey, with Rosicky having to content with a place on the bench. There have been rumours of Wenger planning to give Ramsey a breather, which would, of course mean Rosicky will take his place.

Here is how the teams could line up.

Yesterday’s results will give more impetus to Arsenal to collect a win. Chelsea extended the difference between themselves and the Gunners to 6 points, while Liverpool’s win at Wolves means they leapfrog us to 5th place, 2 points ahead in the table.

Memories of last time will hopefully not hover this fixture. Tamir Cohen scored a 89th minute winner for Bolton, despite Arsenal dominating vast periods of the game. That loss scuppered any hopes of a league title.

Praying for 3 points.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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A Polish cult hero, A Gazillion rumours, a Legend-ary Farewell and a Legend-ary Return

What a week it’s been!! Not just Arsenal-wise but football-wise. First, there was the small matter of a Manchester Derby. Then there was that little Barca hiccup. It moved on to a magical night at the Emirates before finishing off with a Johnson controversy at the Etihad.

I could go on and on about that Kompany moment, and so could you. We all know, how over a billion decisions have gone in the favour of England’s most successful club, with the feeblest of fans, that is Manchester United. Howard Webb, criticized heavily for his recent poor showing in the game at St.James in the league, where Fergusmoan’s men slipped to a 3-0 defeat; found himself out of United’s books. In came Chris Foy, and he made himself a darling of the Stretford End, or rather the away fans stand at the Etihad, with a brilliant one-man show. He sends off Moneybags City’s influential Belgian captain, Vincent Kompany in the 12th minute. Soon enough, United double their lead through Danny Wellbeck and in no time it is 3-0. I am not sure what half-time talk was offered to the City players. An offer to double their wages if they could muster a result, is my guess. Kolarov and Aguero got 2 goals, but they eventually ran out of steam.

The latest to suffer the 'Ferguson Hairdryer'! Webb and his chums! 😀

Meanwhile, in Spain, Espanyol caused an upset by drawing with the superhuman football team, Barcelona. Despite taking the lead through that goal-machine Cesc Fabregas, Espanyol managed a late equaliser, which leaves the Cataliens 5 points adrift of FC Real Ronaldo. At the end of the match, it felt like Espanyol had won the World Cup or something, going by the animated celebrations of their faithful, while Guardiola could only crinch in dissapointment, as his team couldn’t get past a bunch of mere mortals.

In the midst of all the drama going on in Europe, there was an emotional farewell to India legend Baichung Bhutia. Not as well publicised as even the Championship match between West Ham United and Birmingham City, on a cold night in East London, German giants Bayern Munich made the journey down to the Indian capital to play India, in what would be a fitting end to a glittering career. The Bavarians played a strong line-up, including the likes of Schweinsteiger, Lahm and Neuer. Pre match pleasantries were heart-warming as Lahm offered a Bayern jersey with the signatures of all their players. After the kick-off there were no pleasantries, as Bayern scored 4 goals in the first-half. Probably, they slowed down their free-scoring instincts as a mark of respect. Bhutia was bought off to a loud cheer and it signalled the end of the career the greatest footballer the country has produced.

Farewell Baichung!

Jetting back to Europe, more particularly north of London, where Arsenal hosted Leeds United in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. All pre-match talk was about a bearded bald Frenchman. And yes, there was also a stray ball that hit Martin Keown while he presented the pre-match show, down on the ground. (C’mon, Arsenal didn’t spend millions on building commentary boxes, for you to present a pre-match show, with Robbie Savage, on the pitch). Well, Sky Sports got what it deserved.

10 years back, he would have headed it clear! 😀

Anyways, the match was quite dull, as ditch water, as Leeds were happy to keep Marrouane Chamakh and his non-firing buddies at bay for most part of the first half. Chamakh has lost his shooting boots permanently, while Arshavin seems to have gotten all his shooting calculations wrong, as he blazed over effort after effort. But, all the mediocrity of the game was cancelled when Arsene decided it was time to throw his compatriot into the fray. 5 touches, 1 offside and 10 minutes later, the ball was in the back of the net, and absolute pandemonium erupted around the stadium. I too couldn’t control my joy, hopping about joyously in the living room. My usual goal-screams would have led to the neighbors complaining to the police, for sure.

Well, it didn’t matter, as after 90 minutes of huffing and puffing, Arsenal set a date with Aston Villa on the 28th. Henry, who got the Man of the Match award, for his 4 average and 1 world-class touches, told later in an interview about how he felt on scoring the goal. He said, it was his first goal as a fan, and it was an incredible feeling to score for the club you support. Henry reiterated that the same can’t be expected of him every week. Well, this ask more questions than it answers. Considering we required a 34 year old legend to score the winner against a patched up Leeds, it doesn’t augur well for a team that is aiming to qualify for the Champions League. We should have be beating them comprehensively. But, then again, this is the magic of the cup. It is all about these magnificent stories that make the FA Cup so great. Stories, which you would tell your children, according to Mr Wenger.

Henry later dedicated the goal to some ‘special people’. “I hope someone isn’t going to wake me up and tell me it was a dream”. Dream, it was, said Arsene Wenger, who couldn’t praise Henry more. After Campbell and Lehmann, it was Henry’s turn in 2011. And there could be more, after reports of a Robert Pires tweet, saying he was in London Colney for training. Boy, wouldn’t that be magical!

The praises came pouring from all parts of the camp. First, from Laurent Koscielny, who was quoted as saying Henry runs around training like a 20 year old. Ignasi Miquel and Kieran Gibbs were buzzing about sharing the same dressing room as the legend.

Well, now let’s put a stop to all the Henry plaudits, cos that would never end, were it to continue. The club now has a new charismatic keeper. After David Seaman and Jens Lehmann, its the turn of the young Wojciech Szczesny. The young Pole was in the news for various reasons, but both stemming out of his Twitter account. Firstly, he commented on Aaron Ramsey’s photo, taken at a golf event.

I don’t wanna be rude mate but you look like a rapist on that picture.

For which the Wales captain retorted..

I try my best mate we’re not all blessed with a good fashion sense like you.

Jokers, them lads!

Well, all in good humor I assume, and then he comes up with this audacious tweet after the Leeds game.

It was good to see Becks in the dressing room after the game last night although he was a bit starstruck when he saw me.

Surely, after Perry Groves and Jens Lehmann, we finally have a new cult hero. Here’s to Wojciech Szczesny!!

Some, off the field news then. Francis Coquelin, who limped out of the Leeds match, signed a new long term contract, which bodes well for the player as well as the team. He is a finely talented young lad with some good passing and defending abilities. Luke Freeman, who, 3 years back, was the target of Manchester United and Chelsea, as well, left to Stevenage for an undisclosed fee, for more first team opportunities.

Meanwhile, Arsenal seem to be linked to a host of multicultural stars from around the continent. Left-back problems have triggered rumours suggesting Arsene Wenger has made a bid for Aly Cissokho from Lyon. Other reports suggest Eric Abidal is on his way for £4.1 million from Barcelona. Wayne Bridge rumours have died down a bit, while reports arise of Arsenal scouts now having a look at Southampton left-back Luke Shawe, all of 16 years. Neil Taylor of Swansea says he is flattered by the interest of Arsenal. Man, the media can go crazy. If all these rumours were true. Arsenal would have 12, 274 left-backs at their disposal. (Just a random number) And going by recent luck with the fitness of left-backs playing for Arsenal, all of them would be injured and we would still have an Ignasi Miquel holding out right-wingers all over the Premier League!

Well, that’s not all, apparently. Marco Reus, of Borussia Monchengladbach (hope I got that right), who has signed a pre-conract with Borussia Dortmund, has been linked with the Gunners. So is long-term target Eden Hazard. Youann Gourcouff, too is a constant rumour. Mario Gotze, for whom, Dortmund have demanded a miserly £30 million, seems to have fallen out of the radar, to be replaced bu Lukas Podolski, who seems to be Gerd Muller in the German shirt and Francis Jeffers, when he puts on his club colours. Demba Ba, so good they named him twice, says he wants to move back to the capital. Whether Newcastle want him to, is out of the context.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all the hoolabaloo, Mikel Arteta has thanked Scottish football for his rise in English football. Yes, Mikel, we thank them too. For, if it weren’t for the typical Scottish physicality, Arteta wouldn’t have succeeded in the Premier League, where it is pacier. He has been a brilliant performer for us in midfield, not necessarily in the mould of Fabregas, but a major influence without any doubt. He also was happy at having the honour of captaining the club. Per Mertesacker, the BFG (Big F*cking German), as he is so fondly christened in other Arsenal blogs, drew words of praise from his mentor Tony Adams. Yes, we can all see where it comes from. Mertesacker has been tower in defence. Though still short of pace, his experience has been very handy in the resurgence. Together with Koscielny, he has formed a strong spine at the back. According to Adams; Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker could be the next Adams, Bould, Keown. Whether we would have a fully fit Santos and Sagna (Winterburn and Dixon) for the remainder of the season, is another matter.

So, that’s it, a roundup of quite an entertaining week. Swansea preview and lots more coming soon your way.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in General

 

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