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Shambolic Manchesters, Legend’s talk, Injury Updates and Twitter Training

Good day, Gooners! Last night, was a complete polar opposite to what we witnessed on Wednesday night. The remaining two English teams in the Europa League, Manchester City and Manchester United, put in shambolic displays, more like disinterested performances.

I am taking nothing away from Athletic Bilbao, who over the two legs outran, outmuscled and outfought their more illustrious opponents, but just the way the Manchester clubs have treated the competition, as an uneccesary evil, means it is time for UEFA to rethink the structure of the Europa League. Teams that fall out of the Champions League, after the group stages get into the Europa League, be it Viktoria Plzen, or be it Barcelona. Of course, for clubs like Trabzonspor, or even Valencia, the competition provides an alternate platform to compete for European honours, but clubs like Manchester United treat it like a ‘disgrace to be playing there’.

Of course, it may be the poorer cousin of the far more glitzy and entertaining Champions League, but clubs need to treat every competition with respect, because they have ended up there on merit. It is time for Michel Platini to rethink about the Europa League.

Regarding the game, Bilbao showed superior desire, throughout. Players like the young Iker Muniain, and the goal machine Fernando Llorente, bought through the Bilbao youth ranks, are among the most coveted players in Europe right now. Llorente’s volley was a beauty, and Rooney’s consolation was great. Manchester City, meanwhile, were 2-0 down in no time. Of course, they did fight back to win 3-2 and almost won in at the death, through Joe Hart of all people, but they were eventually knocked out.

News, closer to our hearts, then. Former players Sol Campbell and Perry Groves, both saluted the spirit of the Arsenal team. In the lowest of dumps, after the 4-0 mauling in Milan, and a 2-0 Cup exit at the Stadium of Darkness, left the Gunners reeling, but since then they have responded admirably, against Sp*rs, Liverpool, AC Milan and Newcastle United.

Perry Groves:

I have been impressed with their spirit. They are the first team in Premier League history to come back in four games to win, and that shows the spirit is there,The resilience is back after the disappointing results against AC Milan [in the first leg] and Sunderland. They are playing the Arsenal way and they have that bit of belief.The target right now is to finish in front of Spurs. If you had said that three or four weeks ago, when they were 10 points behind them, it looked unlikely. Now I think it is very likely if you look at our fixtures.This group needs to win a trophy and that gives you even more belief. In the team I was privileged to be part of in 1987, Arsenal hadn’t won a trophy for eight years.We won the Littlewoods Cup and that instilled belief in the players, the fans and the whole Club that we could win trophies, so that is the next step.

Robin van Persie gives everyone confidence with his goals,Tomas Rosicky seems to have that hunger and desire. When we were two down against Spurs it was him who dragged the team up by its bootstraps and drove them forward.Wojciech Szczesny in goal has stature and a physical presence, and for someone so young and learning his trade, he is well on his way to becoming a world-class keeper. You can tell that he instills confidence in the defence.Laurent Koscielny has been one of our most improved players. He has been excellent at bringing the ball out from the back, and that is Arsène’s way.

Sol Campbell:

The lads have shown a lot of spirit. You have to get a bit of the rub of the green, but that tends to come when you start being bolder on the pitch,Gamble on your skill, gamble in the box, gamble in thinking, ‘I am going to try this’. Start gambling your talent, basically. The more you bust a gut to win, the more you are going to see the crowd feed off that.You make your own luck, and against Newcastle there was a little deflection for the winning goal and the ball came to Vermaelen. But he was there because he busted a gut to get into the box.Sometimes it is not about the loss, it is how you lose and that is the same with winning. Winning in the last minute will give the lads confidence,Robin van Persie is flying and banging in goals left, right and centre. Everyone is starting to gel and realising what it means to play for Arsenal.That level of confidence and class is what they should be aiming for all the time. Sure, sometimes you won’t reach that level but you have to work out how to grind out a result, or shut the game down. That is a learning curve.Hard graft and talent go hand in hand. There are not many top players around the world who don’t work on their skill,Being responsible on and off the field is crucial. Everyone likes to have a great time but it is about realising ‘I want to win the league or the cup, so I have to knuckle down here’.You have to make sure you don’t waste your career and actually work hard and be a part of history.

Sol Campbell also spoke about Thierry Henry’s short second stint at the club.

I spoke to him beforehand and he told me the Club were thinking about bringing him back,I had lunch with him and told him to go for it. I said, ‘As long as people know you are coming back and helping out’. But he did more than help out really.He has shown great mental ability to come back and play so well. When he was called upon, he did his best – above and beyond really. It was fantastic.

Amidst all the high spirits, there is one player who is still having a hard time dealing with a low point in his career. Gervinho admitted that he needs to get over his penalty miss in the shootout in the African Cup of Nations Final, against Zambia.

It was hard, it’s very difficult getting to the final and then losing on penalties,It was a disappointment with the penalty, as the team suffered, and in hindsight it was one of the toughest moments of my career. But I’ve had lots of other hard times. Missing out on a big title was hard, but I’ve had other setbacks in my career and come through them.If you’d have told us at the start of the tournament that we’d be there in the final at the end, we would have taken it, but at the end of the day that’s football. There are always winners and losers, but being with the Ivory Coast, you pick up so much, it’s a great experience, even though it was difficult for us.

We had our big disappointment in the final of course, but we’ll try to make up for it next year, that’s our big motivation. I think that every time we take part in the tournament there is a great desire and determination to win it and we can use our disappointment from this year to try and do better in 2013.We’ll keep hoping and hoping and believing that one day, we’ll win this tournament. We played well and we’ll keep working towards that.

In my opinion, African football has been improving every year,I think that it’s already got to a very good level with all the teams and good players of a very good quality. African football is coming up to a good level, even if we saw to our cost with the performance of Zambia in the tournament, but this competition will make it easier all [African footballers] to progress and we should all be happy with that.

The Ivorian made his return in the 2-0 loss against Sunderland in the FA Cup, and has since featured as a substitute in most of the games. His place has been taken by the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Gervinho did miss a sitter against Newcastle, and hasn’t looked sharp enough, but Arsenal fans will be hoping he returns to his best soon.

A little injury update then, from Le Prof, Arsene Wenger.

Jack’s scan was positive. There is no problem, it is normal evolution and he is continuing his progression. It’s too early to fix a date though, we go day by day with him.

I believe Per will be out for the rest of the season,Basically there are only six weeks to go [this season] so I don’t think he’ll be sharp enough to come back and play. He would need to train and get back to full fitness.

The return of Jack Wilshere, even for the last 5-6 games will be a huge boost for Arsenal, who have been without a bus of players throughout the season. Abou Diaby, will feature for the Reserves, soon, as he attempts to overcome his long term injury problems. Francis Coquelin is still a few weeks away. Andre Santos, meanwhile played 60 minutes for the Reserves against West Brom in a 3-0 win. He will be available for selection for the trip to Everton, and will provide more options at the back.

“I am very happy to be playing again because it has been a long time,” he said. “I feel good and I hope to be able to play next week at Everton.It has been a difficult time because my ankle was in pain and I didn’t feel good, but now it feels good again and I’m very happy to be back.I’m really pleased the team have been doing so well. The displays have been strong, the spirit is good and we have 10 games left so we must finish well.

In other news, it was revealed by Arsenal’s communication director Mark Gonnella, that the youngster’s at the club will be trained in handling their Facebook and Twitter accounts more maturely.

From day one when they start wearing the Arsenal badge they become people that everybody is interested to hear from. Whether they’re playing for the first team or part of the Academy, suddenly their views are of interest. Thousands of people will follow them [on Twitter, not in person] and react to what they are saying, so they need to learn very early.If you say something on Twitter you’re not just talking to a small group of friends or people who are very close to you, you’re actually talking to thousands and probably millions of people.There can sometimes be problems, while sometimes there can be a great story and it’s all good. What we’re here to do is make sure they get it right more than they get it wrong.

Youth coach and legend Steve Bould, too shared his views on social media.

We were quite lucky, we never had any of this Twitter and Facebook and constant media pressure. It’s tough for them, they have to learn early that things they do and say in the public eye.They grow up. They’ve got old heads on young bodies and so far we’ve not had too much of a problem. Certainly when they get to the fringe of the first team that’s when it really matters because the whole world wants to know what they’re doing. Any little snippet that they find can be used, so they need to be careful.

I think it’s a fabulous opportunity, something as I’ve ever said, we never had to deal with. When I first faced a camera I didn’t have a clue what to do. These kids have got it all early, but everything is set-up for them to be professional on and off the pitch.

Arsenal players have been in much of Twitter’s news as of late. Wojciech Szczesny left Twitter, recently, saying he needs to focus on his career more. Good move, that. But, Emmanuel Frimpong got involved in a verbal kerfuffle with Piers Morgan, who did deserve a bit of a hard talk, after all his negative comments about Arsenal. Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, is one player, who is constantly tweeting. Be it, him having a beer, or taking a stroll down the local park, or even answering nature’s call, he always keeps his followers updated. Probably an overdose. He even claimed once he would prefer winning the World Cup with England rather than the Champions League with Arsenal, and also made it public of his desire to see Chelsea qualify to the next stage of the Champions League, both of which have angered some Arsenal fans, to some extent.

That’s today’s wrap then.

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 16, 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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Milan Preview + Lots of Stats + Lots of News + More..

AC Milan vs Arsenal, San Siro, Champions League

Kickoff – 19:45 GMT (01:15 IST), 15th February 2012

The earth has done a full 70 rotations, and here we are, again, the Champions League. The best football competition in the world is back, and the wait has been too long, and everyone’s waiting for the action to get started.

Arsenal face their biggest test of the season, as they head to Italy to face the Italian champions, and 7 time European Cup winner AC Milan, in their formidable and hostile home, the San Siro. A tie, which Arsenal would have liked to avoid, but then again, as Arsene Wenger says, you can’t avoid anybody at this stage.

I say it’s a conspiracy. If we do beat Milan, it will be to face either a Barcelona or a Real Madrid.

Both teams go into this game, on the bounce of 2-1 away wins against dodgy opposition. While Arsenal required a 34 year old legend to strike a last gasp winner on a potholed pitch in Sunderland, it took a 19 year old hotshot to win the game for Milan at the Stadio Friuli in Udinese. Both games were mirrors of each other, as Arsenal and Milan were down 1-0 with 15 minutes to go.

Recent form for both sides have been topsy turvy. Arsenal recovered from losses to Fulham, Swansea and Manchester United, to secure progress in the FA Cup by beating Aston Villa, and then thumping Blackburn and narrowing past Sunderland. Milan on the other hand, lost to Lazio and Inter, but did win 3-0 against both Novara and Cagliari. However, they lost to Juventus at home in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final, as recently as last week.

Going by the history books, the Gunners have a formidable one against Italian sides. Here’s how Arsenal have fared against Italian opposition.

1970/71 – Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – Lazio (A) – D 2-2

1970/71 – Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – Lazio (H) – W 2-0

1979/80 – European Cup Winners Cup – Juventus (H) – D 1-1

1979/80 – European Cup Winners Cup – Juventus (A) – W 1-0

1993/94 – European Cup Winners Cup – Torino (A) – D 0-0

1993/94 – European Cup Winners Cup – Torino (H) – W 1-0

1993/94 – European Cup Winners Cup Final – Parma (N) – W 1-0

1995 – European Super Cup – AC Milan (H) – D 0-0

1995 – European Super Cup – AC Milan (A) – L 2-0

1994/95 – UEFA Cup Winners Cup – Sampdoria (H) -W 3-2

1994/95 – UEFA Cup Winners Cup – Sampdoria (A) -L 3-2 (Won 3-2 on penalties)

1999/00 – Champions League – Fiorentina (A) – D 0-0

1999/00 – Champions League – Fiorentina (H) – L 1-0

2000/01 – Champions League – Lazio (H) – W 2-0

2000/01 – Champions League – Lazio (A) – D 1-1

2001/02 – Champions League – Juventus (H) – W 3-1

2001/02 – Champions League – Juventus (A) – L 1-0

2002/03 – Champions League – Roma (A) – W 3-1

2002/03 – Champions League – Roma (H) – D 1-1

2003/04 – Champions League – Inter Milan (H) – L 3-0

2003/04 – Champions League – Inter Milan (A) – W 5-1

2005/06 – Champions League – Juventus (H) – W 2-0

2005/06 – Champions League – Juventus (A) – D 0-0

2007/08 – Champions League – AC Milan (H) D 0-0

2007/08 – Champions League – AC Milan (A) – W 2-0

2008/09 – Champions League – Roma (H) – W 1-0

2008/09 – Champions League – Roma (A) – L 1-0 (Won 7-6 on penalties)

2011/12 – Champions League – Udinese (H) – W 1-0

2011/12 – Champions League – Udinese (A) – W 2-1

So, it is quite evident that Arsenal have had the better of Italian opposition on many-an-occassion. The proud record stands at P 29 W 14 D 9 L 6.

Moreover, Arsenal’s record at the San Siro is admirable. They thrashed Inter 5-1 in 2003/04, thanks to a certain Thierry Henry, who is in the squad for tomorrow’s game, and beat AC Milan 2-0 in 07/08, when Cesc Fabregas bossed the Milan midfield.

Aaron Ramsey, who scored the equaliser against Sunderland, is optimistic about Arsenal’s chances, going into the game. He also weighed up Arsenal’s team talk in midweek.

We had a meeting last week about doing well for the rest of the season and one of the points that came to us was to never give up in the game,That was the case against Sunderland, and we showed it against Aston Villa too.We have good team spirit here and belief that we can still win the game. It was nice for me to get on the scoresheet as well as Thierry getting the winner.It’s been a fantastic period for him coming back to the Club he supports and has done so much for. It’s a great story for him so far.There was a great atmosphere in the dressing room after the game and everyone was enjoying it. We were 1-0 down with just over 10 minutes to go, so it was a great win for us.

Both, the Welsh captain and Arsene Wenger have reiterated the need to attack Milan from the word ‘go’. It is of paramount importance to get an away goal, which will ofcourse boost the Gunners’ chances of progression.

AC Milan also have had their mind-talks. Both Clarence Seedorf and Kevin Prince-Boateng are in confident mood ahead of the clash. The Dutch midfielder, who, is like a billion years old now, says he is also pleased for his compatriot Robin van Persie, who is on a hot streak this season for Arsenal.

They are a strong all-round side and they always play good football,Van Persie is finally exploding and I am very happy for him, but we know what we are going to have to deal with and we are ready. It is going to be a tough game – Arsenal have always changed important players a lot over the last six or seven years and have still managed to perform well. They haven’t won trophies but they are still a dangerous team.I don’t like to talk about fear in sport, in general. I think you need to respect your opponent but if you prepare the way you should so you can perform at your best then it is down to you.”

And former Spu*s midfielder, yes, you heard right, Spu*s midfielder Boateng, is quietly confident of sinking his former club’s arch-rivals. The Ghanian international, who was recently in the news, after his model girlfriend revealed that the reason of Boateng’s recent injuries are down to the fact that they have sex nearly 10 times a week, has returned to full training after recovering from an injury.

Also, returning for Milan, are the preciously talented 22 year old Brazil striker Alexandre Pato and the highly experienced Italian international Allesandro Nesta. Also, Cristian Abbiati, Milan’s first choice goalkeeper will return to take his place from Marco Amelia.

Arsenal will be without Per Mertesacker, who injured himself, while attempting to control the ball, on the potholed pitch at Sunderland. He recently tweeted an image of his swollen ankle, and the news seems to be ligament damage. He is surely out of this one. Some good news, then that Jack Wilshere could return earlier than was predicted, after he suffered ‘another setback in his recovery’ last month. The tentative dates are end of the month.

The Mertesacker injury could mean a defensive reshuffle. Thomas Vermaelen, was recently quoted in the Belgian media, as being fedup of playing at left-back. However, later reports say that his comments were skewed, by the English media, who are adept at making monster-trucks out of tricycles. Here’s a transcript of the interview, I have taken from Arseblog News, who in turn have taken it from Untold Arsenal.

You have been injured for a while last season and also this season. Are you back at your old level?

I feel great and play like that. But because our left backs (Santos and Gibbs) are out injured I had to play as left back in the last weeks.  I think that is unfortunate but there is nothing that I can change about that.

Did you talk about it with Wenger?

Yes, but what is said between us stays between us. Everybody knows playing left back is not my preferred position.

Why do you think that despite all this  you after all are a good left back?

I don’t think I am a bad left back. I do my job over there. But I am never really completely satisfied with myself after playing there. I want to get to my highest level in each game and I don’t have this as a left back. When the team wins I’m happy, but still it is a bit frustrating.

Why are you so much better as a central defender than as a left back?

Tell me why does a striker performs better in attack than in midfield? I’m just trained as a central defender.

And, with left-back Kieran Gibbs returning to full fitness, it is common sense to say, Wenger will move Vermaelen to centre-back. Easier said than done, however. Gibbs is returning to first-team action after a four-month injury layoff, and is still short of match fitness and confidence, according to the manager. Pushing him into the first team, in a high-intensity encounter, would be a risk. The hunch is Vermaelen will continue at left-back, with Djourou partnering Koscielny.

In other news, Arsenal welcome back Gervinho after his African odyssey. While it ended in heartbreak for Ivory Coast, it was joyous for Zambia. Struck by tragedy in 1993, when the plane carrying the Zambian national side crashed near Libreville, killing everyone on board, it has taken 19 years for the ‘Chipolopolo’ to rebuild and reach the pinnacle of African football. What’s more, they did it just kilometers from where the tragedy had struck in 1993.

It speaks of volumes of the game itself, how underdogs have won against all odds. There was Greece, who won EURO 2004, after being touted as the first team to be eliminated after the Group stages. Then, there was Iraq, who won the Asia Cup in 2007, in the midst of political and civilian turmoil in their country. Now, football has a new team to celebrate about, Zambia.

Back to Gervinho then, who scored a brilliant goal in the semi-final, but missed a penalty in the shoot-out, which, had he scored, would have kept the Coast in contention. Also, former Arsenal defender Kolo Toure. Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba, missed a penalty in regulation time. Much has been discussed about the confidence of Gervinho, after that miss. He is still a young lad, with a bright future in front of him. The faster he gets past it, the better for him.

Moving on, Thierry Henry’s return to Arsenal has been nothing short of a fairytale. He scored the winner in the FA Cup game against Leeds, which secured passage into the next round. Then, he scored in his last minute at the Emirates against Blackburn, and he capped it off with a goal in the last minute of the Premier League, against Sunderland. He was full of praise recently, for Arshavin and both sets of supporters at the Stadium of Light.

Andrey’s cross was amazing,all I had to do was get a touch. It was perfect.You have to give him credit. I just had to get on the end of it. You can always miss but I was just the guy who put the ball in the net.I really must say I was on the end of a great cross. It just happens that it was me in the last minute so it is a story. But the most important thing was the three points whether I was in the team or not.

It’s always been a pleasure to come to Sunderland. I’ve always found this a very special place to play football and, when I was warming up, the fans near me started clapping. The atmosphere was fantastic.It being my last Premier League game, to score in the 90th minute was so special, something really magical.I stayed a bit longer with the Arsenal fans because I knew it was my last game in the Premier League so I wanted to say ‘Thanks, that’s it’.

And Henry also left a hint that he could be back next season as well. Legendary!

Sometimes you never know when something is going to end,I guess you can never say never. I never thought I was going to come back and play for Arsenal now. Who knows if I can say that this was definitely the end? We’ll see.

Wouldn’t it be the perfect ending to the fairytale, if he were to manage a winner at the San Siro as well. Meanwhile, I feel this is the perfect time for both England wingers, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to shine. Arsenal will need plenty of pace in Italy.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have confirmed they will be wearing the yellow kit, which was the away kit last season, and registered as 3rd kit this season. Not too sure, whether we will have ‘Fly Emirates’ or ‘Dubai’ as our shirt sponsor today, because AC Milan, too have the same shirt sponsor. The last time we had ‘Dubai’ on our jerseys, Tomas Rosicky scored a scorcher in Hamburg.

Milan are considered an ageing side. But, that’s all a myth. They have a massive and extremely talented squad. With 2 or 3 world-class players at every position, Milan will, undoubtedly start this game as favorites. Lead by the experienced Massimo Ambrosini, they boast the likes of Clarence Seedorf, who has won the Champions League, with 3 different clubs, Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan; midfielder Antonio Nocerino, who has been a brilliant player for them in midfield. Should Kevin Prince-Boateng start, it will be another player Arsenal will have to stifle. He has a good shot on him, and is known for the audacious.

Milan, in recent games have stuck to a rotation policy. Considering the fact they have a massive squad and a plethora of talent to choose from, it comes as no surprise. While Brazilian Thiago Silva and Allesandro Nesta will be the preffered centre-back pairing, Massimiliano Allegri has the likes of France international Phillipe Mexes, and Italian international Daniele Bonera at his disposal. With left-back Taye Taiwo loaned to QPR, Luca Antonini is expected to start in his place, and at right-back will be Ignazio Abate.

Up front, Milan will play 2 strikers, in a 4-4-2 formation, as they have for most of the season. With Pato just returning from injury, Cassano still injured, and El Shaarawy still a youngster, it seems more than likely that Ibrahimovic will be partnered by former Santos, Real Madrid and Manchester City striker Robinho.

Ibrahimovic is to Milan what van Persie is to Arsenal. The Swedish marksman has scored 21 goals this season, 4 in the Champions League, compared to van Persie’s 28, with 4 in the Champions League. Though Robinho has been under par in recent games, his talent cannot be undermined. Allegri could still however start with El Shaarawy.

Most probable lineups..

The fact that Milan have players like Gianluca Zambrotta, Fillipo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso (all World Cup winners), Alberto Aquilani, Mark van Bommel, Mario Yepes, Urby Emanuelson, Sulley Muntari, Antonio Cassano, former Arsenal midfielder Matheiu Flamini and Maxi Lopez, all internationals, some of whom are out of the first leg owing to injury; in reserve, is proof enough of the depth and quality of their squad, and a representation of the challenge that Arsenal will have to overcome in 2 legs.

But, like I said, football is capable of anything. It is going to be a treat to watch these two teams pit their wits against each other.

And we all know who we want to win!

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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Capello, Terry, Redknapp, ex-Wives, Cats, Bungs, Poorer cousins, The OX, Dench, Djourou and Sunderland

Sunderland vs Arsenal, Stadium of Light, Premier League

Kickoff – 15:00 GMT (20:30 IST), 11th February 2012

Hello again Gooners!

It’s been another eventful week in the world of football. There’s just no day without any football headlines.

Let’s start off with the biggest news in English football this week. England boss Fabio Capello has resigned from his post! It comes as no surprise to me! Fabio was never the man for the job, and England never did anything notable of sort under him. Instead, they went on to make more bizzare headlines.

After Steve Mclaren was shown the door, for not qualifying for Euro 2008, Fabio Capello was appointed with a huge pay packet to lead England to its next 2 major competitions, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. And all of it had its fair share of drama! Of course, there was the 2-1 win in Berlin over Germany, and the 4-1 beating of Croatia, Theo Walcott scoring a hat-trick. Then, John Terry was stripped of his England captaincy, after he was involved in a sexgate scandal with ex-England and Chelsea teammate Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend. It became a huge media sensation, with Wayne Bridge refusing to shake Terry’s hand in a game between Chelsea and his new team Manchester City. This affected their World Cup preparations, as they huffed and puffed their way through an easy group comprising the likes of United States, Algeria and Slovenia. After that, they got spanked by the Germans 4-1. Capello was heavily criticised for his methods.

First, he was accused of employing fascist rules in their training camp, with a strict regime. Players weren’t allowed to voice their opinions over tactics and formations. Steven Gerrard was played on the left side of midfield. Moreover, Capello had selected mediocre internationals like Ledley King, Emile Heskey and Robert Green, the latter guilty of a high-profile keeping error against the USA. The FA decided to stick with the Italian manager, as they bid to qualify for the 2012 Euro. John Terry was reinstated as captain, as England managed to seal their place in the competition. On the way, Wayne Rooney recieved a suspension that will see him most of the group stages.

Coming to the resignation, again there was the involvement of messrs John Terry. He was alleged to have racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, in a Premier League game at Loftus Road. This lead to him being stripped of captaincy yet again. And, also an interview by Capello in the Italian media stating that Terry shouldn’t have been punished until he was proven guilty in the court. However, this was a decision, the FA say they had taken with the full consent of Capello himself. The FA saw this as a breach of contract and that’s that. England seem to be heading to another tournament, courting disaster.

The man who is leading the contender’s list to take over the job is none other than another man embroiled in controversy, the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. The burly manager, whose wife is supposed to have better finishing skills than Darren Bent, was recently acquitted of all charges. First, he was accused of illegally tapping up players. He was secretly filmed to have tapped up Blackburn player Andy Todd. Then, there was the tax evasion trial, where ex-Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric is alleged to have transferred enormous sums of money into Redknapp’s Monaco bank accounts. Let’s see where this circus moves on to next!

Moving on to another part of the world then, to the Africa Cup of Nations. Arsenal had two representatives in the games. While Marrouane Chamakh has returned back to London, without as much as a goal, Gervinho has been putting impressive performances for Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast have now reached the final, where they will play the surprise package of the tournament Zambia, who beat African giants Ghana. Gervinho netted a wonderful goal against Mali in the semifinal. He picked the ball near the halfway line and ran unchallenged to slot the winner. This would mean Gervinho will start for his nation in the final on Sunday. Meaning, he could be in the team for the FA Cup 5th round game at Sunderland on 18th Feb.

Speaking of which, Sunderland took 113 minutes to beat Middlesbrough in their 4th Round FA Cup replay at The Riverside Stadium. This can only bode well for the Gunners, as they hope to face a physically drained Sunderland side, in their search of 3 points. What goes around, comes around. In a weeks time, Arsenal face the Black Cats again, on the bounce of their mammoth Champions League clash with AC Milan.

Yes, now we are just jumping topics. Speaking of cats now, the Anfield Cat has become an internet sensation after its short stint on the Anfield pitch! ‘Kop Cat’ was even subject of a Sky Sports enquiry, after the channel went in search of the feline in surrounding areas of the ground. The club even went on to say that this cat has an uncanny resemblance to Moglet, the unofficial Liverpool mascot in the 80’s.Moglet was adopted by the club’s ground staff after being left outside the stadium gates and was considered a lucky omen by the players and staff. Could this be the long-lost relative of Moglet? 😀 Makes you wonder, doesn’t it! Meanwhile, the Twitter account of ‘Kop Cat’ has attracted nearly 25000 followers! And there have been plenty of funny tweets too! 😀

Mancini said he rues the day he signed Tevez instead of me, explaining he could at least put lost posters up when I go missing,

Milk is so expensive at football stadiums, it’s an epic swindle,

Think it’s time for a cat nap, I ran my legs off tonight in true.

Me and Manuel Almunia have something in common, we both don’t really belong on a football pitch

‘In my 3 minute cameo I’ve ran past more players than Stewart Downing has all season

I live in Anfield and am fastest than Gareth Bale

Fernando Torres reportedly jealous I got a bigger cheer than he has all season!

What’s more, it seems like cats are going to take over the world. Just a day earlier, a black cat ran the length of the pitch at Nou Camp in a game between Barcelona and Real Socidead! Of course, it was no bad omen, as Barca beat Sociedad 2-1. Carlos Vela scored Sociedad’s goal.

Legends in their own right! One Catalan and one Liverpudlian! 🙂

And now we jump topics again. Carlos Vela says he prefers staying in Spain rather than return to London.

I am happy and the people support me. I owe Arsenal affection and gratitude for the opportunity that they gave me, but I was not happy there and this affected my work. It was hard day to day and, when it came to training, I was thinking about going home. Here, however, I am happy and have made good friends.

I am not too sure, what Arsenal could miss, should Vela not return to Arsenal. He has not lived up the earlier potential he showed, and has so far been the poorer cousin of Javier Hernandez. Speaking of poorer cousins, there seems to be lots of connections between Manchester United and Arsenal here. Park Chu-Young just can’t seem to get a game at Arsenal, and has been dubbed the poorer cousin of Park Ji-Sung. Even when the Gunners were leading 6-1 against Blackburn, Arsene Wenger decided him to leave him on the bench. With just one year of a proffessional footballing career left for the South Korean, after which he has decided to join the military, spending it on benches or occasionally in Arsenal reserve games is not what the South Korea captain has in mind. His agent revealed that he could be on the move this summer. And why shouldn’t he? He is the captain of his country, and was snapped up right under the noses of Lille from Monaco in a last-minute deal, only to be a makeweight. He has been one of Le Proffeseur’s most puzzling signing.

Speaking of signings, Arsenal have been linked with two more players in the French Ligue 1, more notably Eden Hazard, with the other being Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud. Giroud is being closely watched by Arsenal’s scout in France, former Arsenal defender Giles Grimandi, who says the club is closely monitoring nearly 20 players. Speaking of 20, it is the number of games Giroud has played this season, scoring 15 times.Speaking of 15 and 20, it is that number when converted into millions of pounds, that Arsene Wenger says Arsenal should be making as profits, if any summer move for Eden Hazard is to be made. Recent rumours of Thomas Vermaelen and Eden Hazard being cousins (not poorer) have been quashed. (From where do these come anyways?), with the manager saying he likes the Belgian winger for his pace, vision and his ability to unbalance opposition defences. It remains to be seen which club Hazard will turn out for next season, after saying he sees himself playing in the Premier League come August.

Hazard should he arrive, will be vying for a place in the first-team with the vastly talented Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has come out recently in the media stating that he is happy to learn new things in training from Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie.

I listen to everybody. People like Thierry and Robin who score goals and are attacking players like myself, you can always learn a lot from them. That’s all I do, I listen and learn.I have belief in myself and in my own ability. I just know that I have to keep working hard and learn off the boys, and then hopefully the rest will come. At the moment it’s going quite well for me so I’m just going to keep working hard.

His captain and manager insist on keeping a low profile for the England youngster, in a way to try and protect him from the hype that may turn him into another Pennant or a Bentley or a Bendtner. However, the players’ recent performances have attracted interest from lots of quarters, with many pundits claiming he can be the surprise package for England in the European Championships.

Speaking of highly talented Arsenal youngsters, another one that springs to mind is Emmanuel ‘Dench’ Frimpong. The young defensive midfielder made himself a crowd favourite after he hassled and harried $amir Ca$hri in a Carling Cup game against Manchester City, so much so that Ca$hri wanted to go off when the fourth official raised his board, for a different City substitution. He was then loaned out to Wolves, to make sure he gets some first team Premier League action. However, despite ‘Frimponging’ Rafael van der Vaart, he has been the receiving end of ‘Frimpongs’. First, he suffered a facial injury when Stilian Petrov. After initial fears that he could be out for 3 months, he returned to action. But, again, he ruptured his anterior cruciate knee thanks to Joey ‘Brute’ Barton against QPR. This injury means he could be out of action for nearly 8-9 months. He was a crowd favorite at Wolves too, with constant chanting of ‘Deeench’ and ‘Frimpong’. Both Wolves and Arsenal released a statement.

Everyone at Wolves would like to thank the midfielder for his efforts whilst at the club and join Arsenal in wishing him a swift recovery.

Speaking of recoveries, Johan Djourou, who had returned from a long-term injury last season, has supposedly signed a 2 year contract extension, if Swiss newspaper reports are to be believed. I am not too sure how to react, but then again, it doesn’t sound so bad. Djourou has been played out of position, more often than not, this season. He has nearly 130 Arsenal appearances under his belt and is a Swiss regular, so it won’t be bad to have a international defender in reserve. Hopefully, his best years are ahead of him.

Moving on to the big game of the weekend then. No, I am not talking about Sunderland vs Arsenal. I am talking about Manchester United vs Liverpool, in the early Saturday kickoff. I am expecting a lot of handbags in this game, considering how much tension there has been between the two rivals off late. First, Liverpool fans have all been quiet for a while now, considering they are off the perch, now occupied by their fiercest rivals. And to put salt to wounds, they had their best striker handed a ban, that could have affected their entire season. The Patrice Evra-Luis Suarez row has been one of the major talking points this season.

Whether Suarez racially abused Evra or no, I am not sure, but about the match being a feisty clash I am sure. The earlier Premier League match between these two teams at Anfield, was one of the worst matches I saw. Both teams stifled each other out. The FA Cup 4th Round clash was quite exciting, and Liverpool put one over United, by scoring an 88th minute winner at the Kop, through Dirk Kuyt. Suarez is expected to start this one, after he came on as a substitute against Tottenham.

Ok, that’s enough talk about Liverpool, racism and the Ku-Klux-Klan. Now to the other big clash at the Stadium of Light between Sunderland and Arsenal. While Arsenal are riding high on the 7-1 mauling of  hapless Blackburn, Sunderland, themselves are on a high, after ousting neighbors Middlesbrough in the FA Cup 4th Round, and having won 7 of their last 10 Premier League matches, which included beating leaders Manchester City, since the arrival of Martin O’Neill. They have a team, mixed with experience and youth of the right amount. They have lot of ex-Manchester United players, the likes of John O’Shea, Fraizer Campbell, Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson and Wes Brown, who is injured, as well as former Arsenal midfielder, Sebastien Larsson, who has been their star performer this campaign. Martin O’Neill could make some changes, considering their midweek exertions against Boro, where they played out 120 minutes of draining cup football on a chilly night. But, then again, he wouldn’t want to change his winning formula. It will be interesting what team is put out on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger is cautious about the return of Kieran Gibbs. He is still probably a week away, and will not be expected to start at the Stadium of Light or at the San Siro. He is however expected to feature in the 5th Round, again at the Stadium of Light. Thomas Vermaelen will continue at left-back, and Bacary Sagna will take his place at right-back, replacing Francis Coquelin. It will also be interesting to see whether Aaron Ramsey or Tomas Rosicky will start beside Mikel Arteta in midfield. My hunch is Aaron Ramsey, after his 10 day rest. It must have surely rejuvenated the young Welshman, who has started most of the games this season, and will keep him fresh during the business end of the campaign.

It is going to be a tough game for both sides. And, this is probably Arsenal’s most important week of the season. We face Sunderland again in the FA Cup, and in midweek AC Milan at the San Siro. Hoping we kickstart a good week on a positive note with 3 points.

Thanks for bearing with the ‘Speaking of which”s!!

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Previews

 

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