Archive for February, 2010

h1

17 Cup Finals.

February 22, 2010

First things first congratulations to the good guys in red for grabbing all three points on Saturday and may this lift their spirit, as well as ours in the football-less week ahead of us – time to iron out a few things and stay positive…

So, after this weekend we are just 2 points off ManYoo and still 6 behind Chelsea. There is also a bit of daylight between us and our neighbours, currently in the 4th spot – St Totteringham’s Day (STD) may come late this season, but as they say, good things come to those who wait, no? Let’s hope it is 10/04 – WHL is to STD what Lapland is to Christmas (or something)  afterall.

3 months. 17 games. Just one of them is an actual Cup Final and it is in 3 months time exactly. If we win all the games in the next 3 months, we will win the double, simple as. Each and every game until the end of the season is a cup final now and we will take the good, the bad and the ugly wins – you can do this, boys, if you don’t win a damn thing, I want to know that you gave it all…

Due to new commitments, I may not be able to write everyday for some time – no need to worry, I am not going anywhere and will do my best to give you a view on all things Arsenal as often as I can. Cheerio!

h1

Sunderland preview: bring us luck, Black Cats ;)

February 20, 2010

‘The black cat, for those who are not superstitious, can only be viewed as the victim of several millennia of smear campaigns. Many cultures have viewed the animal as an unlucky beast, and there are dozens of different superstitious thoughts regarding black cats. The poor ebony furred animal seldom gets good press, though there are certainly some cultures that have revered rather than despised the animal, and many rumors just as superstitious, but more positive about the black cat […] In parts of Europe and in Japan, a black cat crossing your path is good luck,  Scotland is most generous to the kitty; a black feline at your doorstep meant prosperity was coming your way.’

Good morning y’all. After 2 days of silence, during which I was setting myself up at the new place of work and getting used to commuting after 2 years of working within the walking distance from home,I am back with the Sunderland preview. The above introduction is a quote from this article, well, not exactly a quote, as I tried to keep only the good bits not to jinx today’s game. Once again, this game is one to show character and ‘bouncebackability’ after the embarrassing defeat at the hands of our own goalkeeper – trust me, it was really no fun to answer the same question time and time again: what do I have to say about my countryman? Well, what can I say? I feel for Lukasz just a little bit, as it was too big a game to come back into the side after a poor performance at Stoke, and he said it himself that he would like to play more and will ask Le Boss to at least loan him out in the summer, nevertheless, he is supposed to be a professional footballer, sometimes these are asked to punch above their weight and come up trumps or at least minimise the damage instead of inflicting it. I don’t think he will get another chance this season and despite Cesc coming out with a statement on how the team is behind him, I can see him shipped this summer. Oh well, no one can guarantee that a player will come good, but I have been saying all along that him signing for Arsenal was not a good thing for either side for obvious reasons: underdeveloped keeper cannot play a lot for a top team too often, which stifles his development and this is turning into a vicious circle. Besides, I never rated him at Legia either and let’s just leave it at that.

We have a game of football to play today, no? Both teams will want to win, each for different reasons: Arsenal have to go back on track and gain some confidence and momentum ahead of another trip to Stoke where our recent record is less than impressive, Sunderland on the other hand will want to clock up the first league win since November when they managed a 1:0 home win and that was against us. We need to win this and we need this win badly to stop the rot – again, we have quite a few players missing and the ones we have available need about every ounce of confidence they can get: luckily Song is back and it should allow OGL to move Denilson to his current best position, which is the substitute’s bench or behind it (may still inexplicably get a start ahead of Ramsey), with Gallas still out, Sol should keep his position in CB where he did more than OK in the last game.  Would consider playing Rosicky on the right and Theo on the left side of Bendtner upfront, introducing Vela or Nasri (or both) at the later time (no, not in the 88th minute). It will be interesting to see if Clichy will keep his place or if we will see Traore who at least has pace and was not as bad positionally as Gael is nowadays as far as I can remember. I am keeping everything crossed that we will approach this game like a cup final. We have 18 of these left to play…

Thank you for reading, come on Arsenal!

h1

Friday!

February 19, 2010

Morning everyone – I have scheduled yesterday’s post to be published  at 9 AM sharp, but for some reason it wasn’t to be. Due to starting a new job yesterday, I was too knackered to write something meaningful for today, but I promise to make amends in the shape of Sunderland game preview tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Have a nice day Gooners all over the world – it’s Friday, so there’s a lot of reasons to be cheerful  😉

h1

Poland apologises for Fabianski.

February 18, 2010

And this is pretty much all I can muster – once again, we have been exposed: no quality in the squad, no presence, no fight, yet we could have and should have won this game if it was not for the idiot selected to play in goal. Two absolute howlers from our no.2 gave the poor Porto side a win. If it was not for Sol heading in a goal in the first half, we would be as good as out of yet another competition. It’s back to drawing board for Our Glorious Leader as far as I am concerned: as our captain said, it was a result of schoolboy errors and it would be extremely difficult for anyone (unless you happen to be Arsene Wenger, that is) to disagree with that…

I am really sorry that I won’t write anything more, but I am starting a new job today and I will be damned if I will be there late just for the sake of stating the bleeding obvious: yes, we are still in it, but do we have a chance of going all the way?

I will leave you with that thought…

h1

Porto preview. Can we gun down The Dragons?

February 17, 2010

Good morning Arsenal junkies, wherever you are!

Man, it has been really tough going all cold turkey after that nice rush of games being played every three days or so, no? Fear not, we are about to get our fix in the shape of the first game of the Champions League proper: we are on our way to Dragons’ lair, which is a tough place to go and the Fair Knights of North London (as opposed to a certain bunch of miscreants from down the road) will have their work cut out if they want to return with their shields and take a step closer to the elusive big eared footballistic equivalent of Holy Grail. Our quest begins here and it’s up to the folk in the shiny red and white armors to become heroes and legends –  lock and load Gunners, time to go medieval on them!

After a good result against Scousers, we are set for another moment of truth tonight – this will be a real test of maturity, mental strength and squad depth: once again, our squad seems decimated by injuries and there is some serious need for some of the underperforming players to step up and prove their worth to the club and ranks of doubting Thomases amongst the supporters. While I don’t mind seeing Sol starting in Billy’s place, I have my reservations about two positions where we have been notoriously understrength squad wise: after losing Song (knee) and Almunia (finger) we will have to make do with our second choice defensive midfielder and goalie who had a few stinkers recently and should play out of their skins to prove a point. They should consider themselves very lucky that Our Glorious Leader has patience of a saint, however, even this has to be wearing a bit thin these days as far as I am concerned. Frankly, I don’t think they will be allowed too many more lapses before Le Boss finally wields his axe – please don’t get me wrong, I am praying for both of them to soak up the pressure and play a blinder, but barring this uncertain occurence, these two may be the very reason for our undoing. Then again, as usual, I would like nothing more than to be proven wrong.

Moving on to the front three: with Arshavin out injured, I reckon we will see Bendtner in the middle partnered by Rosicky and Nasri in the wide forward positions. Well, at least this is who I would like to start: there are other options in the shape of Carlos and Theo, but I think they may be worth introducing later in the game against tired legs when they should put their main assets to a better use and tear them a new one. This team should have more than enough in their locker to score a crucial away goal or two and if we get this right, we may be able to gain some priceless advantage ahead of the return leg.

Just a small mention of yesterday’s games: as I said, barring some miracle, both visiting teams (ManYoo and Real) are pretty much as good as through, with the former scoring three away goals at San Siro and the latter losing by just one goal to Lyon. You will say that it will be enough for Milan to win by two clear goals and for Les Gones to hold the irritated Galacticos to a draw in two weeks time to progress, but you have to admit that it is much easier said than done…

Thank you for reading, let’s hope for some top-notch entertainment and good result tonight!

h1

Are you watching, first teamers?

February 16, 2010

Our Reserve League side managed to put Chelsea’s to the sword at Griffin Park last night. I did not get to watch the full highlights, let alone the full game (thanks again ATVO, their channel can show these games, care to explain why not ours?), but I have to give big thumbs up to JET and young Luke Freeman. The former danced through their defence twice, using his size and technique wisely to set up both goals, whereas the latter scored the first and calmly set up Giles Sunu to score the second goal after a huge deflection. Chelsea pulled one back immediately, but that was all they could do score wise – the game ended with Gunners win and it cemented their second position in the Reserve League South table.  According to the match report, Neil Banfield opted for playing 4-4-2 instead of 4-3-3 from the start and maybe, just  maybe, it could be a good idea for the first team against some when the other formation doesn’t work like it should – could this be the plan B we have been crying out for? There’s just one way to find out…

Champions League proper commences today with a bang – both today’s games should be quite interesting: we have the choice of AC Milan hosting ManYoo and the ‘new Galacticos’ travelling to Lyon.  I would like nothing more than both home teams winning, but I wouldn’t bet too much money on it, to be honest – AC Milan are nowhere near the force they used to be and Madrid will most probably be too much for Lyon to handle. Then again, you never know, do you? The beauty of football is that the games are never won on paper – if you need examples, look no further than numerous upsets we have witnessed in the domestic cup competitions: anything can happen as long as the team considered to be underdogs doesn’t walk out with damage limitation mentality. I will be watching the United game and cheer the Rossoneri to get one over our league rivals, as our chances of winning the damn thing will improve considerably without the other two British teams in the mix. Mind you, I am not counting our chickens as our game against Porto will not be a walk in the park either and I would consider a score draw a good result and a minimum requirement – anything less than that and it may be quite difficult for us to progress.

I will be back tomorrow with the Porto game preview as well as my thoughts on today’s clashes. Hasta la vista, muchachos y muchachas!

h1

Silence before the storm?

February 15, 2010

Rise & shine, everybody! We have gone through the weekend with no Arsenal game – just checked the fixture list and noticed it was the first since November when RvP went to play Italy in some poxy friendly and sustained an injury which practically ruled him out for the rest of season. Due to no football being played by the good guys in red, we have no new injuries to report. Well, we have a little problem with Song and AA, but there is hope that the former will feature against Porto in two days time, however, our little Russian will definitely not play there after picking up a hamstring problem.

There were a few interesting cup games to watch during the weekend, like So’ton v Pompey, where our former player, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie (currently on loan there from Spartak  Moscow) clocked up two assists and a brilliant, calmly taken goal in the emphatic win over their local rivals. It was the first South Coast derby for about 5 years – a few of my mates live in Southampton, I asked them if they were going and they just laughed: ‘Dude, it’s like trying to get a ticket to a CL Final or worse.’ I was told that Police was on full alert and ordinary, law abiding citizens were advised to refrain themselves from taking unnecessary walks in the parks and the like. In other games, Chelsea have obliterated Cardiff, Fulham put four past Notts County’s keeper, Brum defeated Derby and the other games played ended with scores level and require replays. To find out when the replays are due to take place as well as the quarter final pairs, click here.

It’s quiet. It’s too quiet. I am fully expecting fireworks in the coming two days with ManYoo playing AC Milan tomorrow and us playing Porto on the day after. This, with the other games played this week should give us some idea of what our chances of lifting the most coveted trophy in European football are. Obviously, there is the other lot of teams starting next week, but as long as we fare better than the other two British teams still in the competition, we are in with a chance…

Anyways, I am off to work – two more days, people! I am about to start new job in a few days time and I can’t wait, really. Not that I am a workaholic or something, but at least it’s something to look forward to. Have a nice day 😉

h1

Valentine’s Day guff.

February 14, 2010

Morning all. I did not feel so hot yesterday after washing down the lager with Sambucca on Friday night, so I thought I’d give it a rest. Not that there was much to write about: I could obviously rant about being deprived of football on the weekend after we threw the FA Cup, but frankly there was no point crying over spilt milk and given our injury situation, we needed the game at the council house just before the trip to Porto like a hole in the head. Stoke went to Eastlands, earned a well deserved draw and a replay probably just ahead of February 27th when we play them at Britannia. This may give us a bit of advantage as far as our ‘perfect run’ targeted by the likes of Arshavin is concerned: recently, we went there twice and lost twice, so we may need something special to avoid The Potters being labelled our ‘bogey team’ the way Bolton under Fat Sam were.

Speaking of The Trotters: today they play our not-so-glorious neighbours in the cup and I am looking forward to seeing Jackie Boy weave his magic the way he did against City recently – it’s yet another ‘surplus’ Arsenal player earning plaudits from the manager and fans of the lucky club, here’s to hoping that he will make some of them Spuds look silly today!

With not a lot ot write about, hacks continue with all this ‘Cesc to Barca’ stories despite all the parties firmly denying it – call me cynical, but I reckon this time there is no smoke without fire and if we fail to get our hands on one of two remaining trophies and/or address some of our squad’s deficiencies, he will be seriously considering his options in the summer. Rumour has it that he is refusing to sign the improved deal – my money is on his signing when he sees some transfer activity, bearing in mind how RvP was promised additions that never materialised last year. Losing Cesc would be a massive blow, dare I say bigger than losing Henry, simply because of their respective age and fitness at the moment of leaving Arsenal. Another player with uncertain future is Billy G. – PHW said there was no request for ‘special dispensation’ from OGL as far as breaking the dreaded ‘one year policy’ is concerned, I reckon it should be given, hell, even ordered without asking for it: Gallas is one of the few players of real quality in our squad and he has proven to have massive impact, being a born winner and bringing lots of experience to the table. Two year deal would also make a bit more sense even if he was to leave next summer, as he would not leave on a free. Please Arsene, don’t go all Bobby on Billy…

Just to conclude, I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. Show your love!

h1

Zzzzzz…

February 12, 2010

With the pressure off and no football to discuss in sight, traffic on blogs ground to a halt: after couple of months when we played a game every three to four days, making us wait for the next game the whole week seems to be a bit cruel if you ask me. This weekend, the league stops to accommodate FA Cup and Champions League  games – we travel to Portugal next Wednesday in the latter competition and it should be a hell of a game: in the hindsight, dropping out of the FA Cup looks like a blessing for allowing the players some rest before that, as our CL opponents will play a league game tomorrow. Yes, it’s only their league’s whipping boys, Leixões, but it is a game of football nevertheless and will hopefully leave their players a tiny bit less fit and rested ahead of the crucial first game of the knockout phase. As per usual, it’s a double edged sword: our next league opponents are coming to THOF on the back of eleven (yes, eleven, imagine that) days of rest since their trip to Pompey.

What do you call a forced break like this? Arseblog once coined the famous ‘interlull’ in respect of the intermissions caused by some irrelevant international games. Hmmm, none of these to be played, it’s the FA Cup this time. Cup-o-lull? Cuppa break? I’ll get my coat…

I guess this will be me done for today – I am changing jobs next week, today is one of the two days for me to do some boring stuff like servicing my car and the like. There is also a small matter of leaving do tonight…

Thank you for reading and have a nice day Gooners – off to save the world!

h1

All is well that ends well. Back in the race?

February 11, 2010

Madness. Absolute madness. When I signed the pact with the football gods using my own red and white blood, I should have read the fine print: ‘Supporting Arsenal may induce symptoms similar to bipolar disorder’. You would think it’s there somewhere, wouldn’t you? Just three days after going into the game at Stamford Bridge with no expectations and looking at the nine point gap off the top afterwards, we beat in-form Liverpool, they lose to Everton and the distance now reads six points. With ManYoo only drawing against Villa, it’s advantage Arsenal and the runaway pack now consists of three teams, possibly four if you take City with two games in hand into the equation.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? First and foremost, this post is a tribute to all the players who featured last night: this is what I am talking about, gentlemen, pride has been restored and my hat goes off to you. That wasn’t too hard, eh? Sure, there were a few things that may need to be ironed out in training, but I consider myself  happy with the fact that we managed to grind out a result after such poor run of games. The good guys in red have finally bounced back and let us hope that this result will improve levels of confidence ahead of the next week’s trip to Dragon’s Stadium.  Even the much criticised Almunia & Clichy had a good game with the former making an excellent fingertip save to deny Babel a certain entry on the score sheet and the latter looking much better than in the last two games, running, anticipating and making just a single ‘customary’ lapse. Good one chaps, more of the same please!

Arsene started with the XI nearly identical to what I suggested in yesterday’s post with the exception of Nasri and Eboue starting instead of Rosicky and Sagna respectively. The former lasted only 34 minutes and was replaced by my player of choice – to be honest, I am not too impressed with Samir who could do well with staying a few extra hours in the gym as he is looking a bit on the podgy side and should be told to make a bit more effort. Rosicky who came on instead had two significant moments in the game: a bad one when he fluffed his lines in front of Reina when through on goal as well as a very good one when he delivered a clever cross for completely unmarked Diaby to nod in. This proved to be the decisive goal that kept the precious three points at THOF.

At last, we saw more balanced team with Bendtner starting up top. He may be no Pele, but he looked lively and caused Scousers a few problems. Unsurprisingly, he managed to win quite a few aerial battles and used his physical presence well enough. I still think that having him as the only player of his kind is skating on thin ice, but there is nothing we can do about it, so we will just have to keep our fingers crossed for him to stay fit until the end of this season. Nicklas was yellow carded for diving on the edge of the box by Mr Webb, who chose to be a bit more lenient for Gerrard when he threw himself to the ground twice, first time trying to win a pen without success and once more for the freekick in the dying seconds, which Cesc blocked with his outstretched arm. Of course, the articles about cheating Arsenal and the hard-done-by Liverpool are written and pressed as we speak – if you expect any mention of Stevie Me’s embarrassing theatrics, think again: it should be clear for everyone by now that English players don’t dive/cheat, right? This is what these bloody foreigners do, I thought you knew…

Presence? Check. Pace? Check. Hunger? Check. Pride? Check. It seems like we can make the ‘plan A’ work, it’s all about the right balance, selecting correct personnel and motivation. Since we only employ one tactic against everyone, it’s pretty much about drilling the right levels of discipline into their heads: don’t leave your goal exposed, defend as a team and it may just work for the time being. It has to be said, if it wasn’t for Billy’s brilliant last ditch tackle in the box, we could have conceded one before we scored – there are already rumours that he may leave at the end of the season due to being offered just one year contract extension: I reckon the fans should unite and belt out ‘Two more years’ as we need warriors like him amongst our ranks. His experience is invaluable and if Silvestre warranted special dispensation to get 2 year deal, then Gallas should get it without asking as far as I am concerned.

Better. Much better. Not getting ahead of myself, but top three spot is ours to lose now, as the title is United’s or Chelsea’s. I still don’t think that they will drop enough points to make it exciting for us at the business end of the season, but all of the sudden, out title campaign doesn’t look the mangled wreck it was a few days ago.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day Gooners – I know I will!

P.S. Let’s all laugh at ‘Arry and Spuds: after Twitchy’s cocky press comments about their aim to leapfrog us in the table this season, they have lost to Wolves, which should shut them up for a few minutes – maybe there is a God afterall 😉