Archive for March, 2010

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Hammer time!

March 19, 2010

After some time without writing due to other commitments, I am back with a preview of the Saturday’s derby game – I am posting it a day earlier as I need to make my way to London today to do some work related stuff and I will be staying until Sunday because I am one of the lucky sixty thousand or so going to THOF tomorrow – I consider myself lucky as there doesn’t seem to be too many tickets available until the end of the season and I quite like WHU, especially after they did us a favour back in 2006. Besides, it is my first London derby, unless you count Chelsea v Charlton cup game a few years ago.

All sympathies aside, this is another cup final like game we need to win in order to stay within touching distance from the other two title contenders. Sure, they will drop points, but we need to gain on them if we are serious about winning the last (albeit the major one) domestic  trophy we still can. It will be interesting to see how our opponents will approach this game after getting humiliated at Stamford Bridge last week and even more so how will we, given the string of recent results and the squad brimming with confidence: as we all know, the line between confidence and complacency is very fine as far as this group of players is concerned and WHU have been a bit of a bogey team for us since we moved to the new stadium. I still remember us getting sucker punched by them when we should have mauled them and left them for dead in our first season there – I was at the pub full of their fans and they could not believe it either, honestly.

According to Our Glorious Leader, we will have our captain available for selection as well as Rosicky (both returning from injuries) and Song back from two game suspension caused by accumulating quite an impressive amount of yellow cards throughout the season. The only worry is that Billy is still injured and we will have to make do with one of the backup centre backs partnering Vermaelen – I have a hunch that this time it will be Sly to save impressive so far Sulzeer from fatigue, as this was showing a little bit in our last game. I may be wrong, as this time he had a whole week to recover and he may as well be raring to go in order to wash off the distaste left after storming out of Highbury during halftime last time he played them in Arsenal colours. The rest of back four pretty much picks itself with Clichy finally finding some form and Sagna looking good in the last game as well. In other areas we are almost at full strength – please feel free to think of your own favourites to start the game and I shall think of mine, I am guessing we would all come to pretty much the same conclusions anyway…

All of the sudden, it seems to be clicking into gear, don’t you think? It seems like all the underperforming players started playing like we all knew they could and like we fully expected them to – cynics may say that it largely coincides with the upcoming World Cup and the players’ willingness to get into their national coaches’ good books, I think I will stand by my own claim that they must have taken a long close look at themselves and considered criticism heaped on them by the fans, whose patience started wearing a little thin. It is really funny to see all the pundits who wrote us off a few times this season trying to back us up to win the title without looking like mugs – have to admit, I thought it would be between us and Chelsea this season but I was not too optimistic about us coming up trumps. Realistically speaking, we will probably finish a measly few points off the top, but hey, where is the fun in that? We will win the bloody thing – hell yes!!!

All I can do is keep my proverbial fingers crossed and sing my heart out tomorrow! I should be back with a game review on Sunday, but please forgive me if I get too wasted after the game and will not be able to string a few celebratory sentences together…

Come on you Gunners!!!

P.S. There is a small matter of Champions League draw today- bring’em on! 😀

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Who needs a snappy headline when you win 5:0?

March 10, 2010

It’s getting late and I will be losing a wee bit of sleep writing this, but I will gladly keep my eyes open using matchsticks today at work, as I am still buzzing after seeing the events that unfolded last night at the Emirates.

Legend has it that Saint George slew the dragon tormenting the good people of Silene, last night it was more or less all about Saint Nicklas doing the same with a little help of other fine heroes – sure, this would never have happened without contribution of other equally, if not even more impressive players like Arshavin, Eboue, Nasri and others. Our hat-trick hero missed a whole bunch of sitters a few days ago and anyone could be excused for laughing out loudly when told that he would score three goals last night. It seems like he must have used up all the shit luck allocated for the foreseeable future (or it has something to do with some sort of Danish voodoo where Jensen cast a spell making Nik unable to find the net with him in goal), let’s hope his first hattrick will boost his confidence ahead of the coming games for him to try and collect more of these lovely match balls.

As I said yesterday, it was all about scoring first and scoring early without allowing them the away goal advantage and the good guys in red duly obliged – first goal came after Arshavin won the header from Almunia’s kick, the ball landed at Nasri’s feet and he fed our little Russian for him to charge into their box where he collided with their defender and goalie and the ball ended up banged into the empty net by the Dane. The second came fifteen minutes later when one of the Porto players tried to be a little bit too smart for his own good too close to his goal and this resulted in the ball being nicked by AA who danced between three defenders and squared the ball to Bendtner for the easiest of the tap-ins. Andrey had a chance to add to the tally a bit later, but blasted his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.

As much as it was all Arsenal in the first half and as much as the pundits were surprised how poor the visitors were, they needed just one goal to take us back to square one. Second half started with them pushing for it and nearly getting one from a set piece when Nasri managed to clear the ball off the line. It has to be said, we have taken our foot off the gas in the second half and this helped us to realise that we were far from home and dry – two minutes later, Nasri dribbled past half of our opposition’s defence and placed the ball at the far post. With three goals, we were all but through, but we felt like running a riot and scored another one after a classic counter attack: Arshavin pounced on the ball cleared from our box, ran half the length of the pitch and cleverly passed the ball to Eboue who rounded the keeper and scored fourth. The Ivorian also won a penalty for Nick to complete his hattrick.

Now this is what I am talking about – needless to say, Fabianski owes last night’s heroes a good few rounds of drinks after making it a bit difficult for his teammates ahead of this game. We are through to the quarter finals and I will be looking forward to the draw due to take place next Friday just ahead of the West Ham clash.

Just to wrap it up (I need to run to get myself ready for work):

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

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Porto preview – time to slay them dragons for good ;)

March 9, 2010

A very short post today – since the brilliant victory on Saturday, I didn’t get too much time to spare, due to our friend visiting us, getting drunk on Saturday evening, making a short trip to Broadstairs for the first seaside fish & chips of the season on Sunday and doing some less exciting stuff last night.

As we all know, the Fair Knights of North London haven’t managed a glorious victory at the dragons’ lair, hence we will have to do it the hard way with the ugly beasts coming to our castle all fired up and thinking we are here for the taking. Make no mistake: stakes are high and we will have to be at our brilliant best to get past them. The main thing is not to concede an early goal, stupid or not, as we may find it hard to score two or more if they will try to make it difficult for us. If we score early, we may be in for a treat if they choose to go all out attacking and open themselves up.

It is a bit late for writing a longer piece and elaborating on our team options. As far as I am concerned, we are more than capable to get the right result against them as long as whoever we have available is played to his strengths and walks out with the right attitude.

I am off to cook something tasty and fill my fridge with lager – it’s all about the right preparation, no?

Come on you rip roaring Gunners!!!

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Burnley preview. Walk in the park? Think again.

March 6, 2010

So, here we are, the international friendlies have gone by and for once we went through them virtually unscathed – yes, Carlos Vela got injured again playing New Zealand after scoring a peach of a goal, but if you take into the account the fact that he is not really a first team regular at the moment, you will see what I mean.

A lot has been said about the last week’s ‘unfortunate’ events at Britannia Stadium. I have voiced my opinion in the previous post and it did not change one bit. Shawcross came out and said he was not going to change either, which means that he is probably on course to add to the ‘impressive’ record of two fellow players’ legs broken at the tender age of 22. But no, he is not ‘that kind of player’. Twat.

Internationals or no internationals, our selection options are limited anyway – Big Sol joined Billy in the treatment room and Song starts his two game ban for collecting his 10th booking this season. This means that Silvestre and Denilson will both start – now while I don’t really rate either of them, I am intending on getting behind them fully and wholeheartedly: for the 90+ minutes today they are expected to do their best and some support could help them find the extra 10%, besides there is no point in getting annoyed with stuff you cannot change, is there? Here’s to both of them playing a blinder today and contributing to another fine victory by Arsenal FC. On the positive note, we are to welcome back Diaby and Arshavin and this should add some creativity, flair and maybe a goal out of nowhere.

Today, it’s all about the attitude: sure, it’s ‘only’ Burnley who only managed a single draw on the road this season and Coyle’s departure did not help them either, however, I have seen us losing or drawing a perfectly winnable game once or twice – the thing no Arsenal supporter wants to see today is complacency and knocking the ball about with no real purpose, we want to see The Clarets obliterated, this is a good chance to improve our goal difference, as this could be telling as far as winning the league this season is concerned. Yes, it may be THAT tight and we need to do ourselves all the favours we can. I want to see commitment, directness and belief – make no mistake, if we keep up with the two above us, we have every chance of nicking it. Yes, it would be nothing short of a miracle, all things considered, but hey, we probably deserve one, no?

It will be interesting to see if our players’ mentality has been affected by the horrific injury sustained by a team mate. We can talk about professionalism all we want, but they are all human afterall – after Taylor broke Eddy’s leg two years ago, our season went down the pan, as the players could not lift themselves up. Yes, we got a result last week, but how much of it was down to shock and not having much time to think about what happened and how much down to maturity? I guess we will find out soon enough – if we build on what we saw after the third goal, it may be the case of waking a sleeping giant (i.e. ‘now you’ve really pissed me off’), otherwise, we will witness another nearly season, simple as.

Have a good day Gooners – catch you all tomorrow to celebrate!

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Is this a déjà vu or have we come of age?

March 2, 2010

Welcome back after a good few days without a word – change of my daily routine caused by the recent job switch left me a little bit distracted and I just did not feel like writing stuff just for the sake of it, as for the weekend, I was busy helping my friends move house, hence no match preview and post game analysis – I promise to make amends this week with a good game preview ahead of the next home game against Burnley and hopefully a jolly post match piece.

While I’ve been away, we have obviously beaten Stoke at the expense of Ramsey’s injury – all I can say is I want him to get well soon and I hope any sane football fan is with me on this. As for you, Mr Shawcross, you are a shitkicking, disgraceful sorry excuse for a footballer and you do not deserve to play in the world’s best football league, simple as.

Just like in that Taylor on Eduardo situation, Arsenal player was supposedly ‘too fast’ for ‘honest English lad without an ounce of malice in him’. Well, let me put it this way: in some countries the authorities will ask you to pass additional exam before issuing you with a driving licence for a car or bike above certain engine size or power – this is just common sense, as allowing people to operate machinery they are not capable of operating is simply dangerous for them and anyone within close range. Ryan Shawcross playing football at this level is like someone who drove a Nissan Micra all his life and has been asked to drive a supercar in a street race with the big boys – dents, scratches and all that. This time however, it’s more than a bit of a paint swap: our amateur driver caused extensive damage to a very rare specimen and it will take much more time in the garage to get it back on the road all purring and raring to go. My point is that if you are too ‘slow’ to play in this league then you pose danger to players with genuine talent and should ply your trade in a lower division.

I would not want football to become a non contact sport, but a red card and three game ban for someone who just took out one of the hottest talents in world’s football for a season is just laughable. Proper action must be taken against the players who like to ‘let them know they’re there’, which may sadly end up in a potentially career threatening injury. When Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg, someone said he should have been banned for as long as Dudu takes to recover to full fitness – taking our Crozilian’s fitness record since then into consideration, he would probably not be a footballer by now and you never know, such example would probably have saved Ramsey’s leg too!

Enough on that, now let’s move on to praising the good guys: despite looking shell shocked, players got their shit together and managed an emphatic win against our latest bogey team. That is what I am talking about, gentlemen! Now keep this up and show that you have matured and you can win as many of the remaining games as possible and you never know, we may just nick it.Three points behind the first placed Chelsea does not look like a mountain to climb and if we will do better than the leaders trying to contain City at home and mash them Spuds at WHL, then it may become close enough to get excited…

Question is: do we have it in us?

Comparisons between now and the situation from two years ago are all too obvious as a broken leg and some properly dubious officiating in the Champions League leave some of us a bit sceptical – some may say we have all been there before, and there is no point in getting our hopes too high not get disappointed, but hey, where is the fun in that? Like I said before, it’s all about expecting your team to win, or at least to give it a hell of a go and I will never accept anything less. We have shown that we can overcome the pressure and win an important game,  now it is all about building on it: we are entering a period where we play totally winnable games and aiming for 12 points and CL progression in March is not too much to ask, is it? This would allow us to enter the business end of the season on the boil and maybe, just maybe, surprise a few.

Thank you for reading and thank you for dropping by when I was ‘away’ for so long, now that I have caught a bit of rhythm in the new place I may be able to write a bit more. I will be back with a Burnley game preview and maybe one more post before that if I find enough time to write – still getting my head around all the new stuff at work and all that. Good news is that I no longer have to work on weekends and it will allow me to go to more games, starting with West Ham on the 20th…