North here we come! Orcs await…

August 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Premier League, Transfers

So as the heading goes we are off North tomorrow morning, this is not a special treatment from the club either, the lads are going there to earn three points end off!

So Sahin deal did not come off in the end, to me it wasn’t a final transfer deal to be honest. When Jack W comes back to full fitness and takes to field his presence becomes rather obsolete so we have lost and gained at the same time without spending big bucks! Frankly I have never heard of him until now which is strange because I’m always in the know how place.

You could say the club is eyeing up every penny and somewhat shame on us for not bringing him in, however we have a structure and a wage bill to consider. A loaned player cannot make more than the current lads in the squad I believe we offered £2 Million and a buyout clause. Liverhoof beat us with £5 million and a staggering £115000 a week. Considering their situation they are heading for disaster already!

Stoke here we come then, it will be a good and physical stern test for the new lads as we know nothing comes easy off over there even Tony Pubes hat for that matter. Defence needs to be tight especial on those set pieces that stick of a man can always cause damage. The only area which I think we are a bit short is the hrrrrrrr DM Arteta is not that kind of player and I would like to see him bit more advanced if you ask me. Jack is on his way back which is a blessing in disguise however we still need that DM someone like Gilberto Silva who would keep his post occupied unlike Song who left us cut open to counter attacks.

Enough of that , big game tomorrow for those of you going take care and look after each other. I will be here in my chair shouting for the lads!

Come on Arsenal!

Singing The Praises Of Song

We all know Alex Song the tenacious, tough tackling defensive midfielder. Yesterday, however, he showed us a side to him that we had only glimpsed before. Song, 24, showed us that he’s not just a tough-tackling, knuckle-headed dm. In fact, he showed such incredible craft and vision so precise that he is on level terms with David Silva for most successful through balls. Defensive midfielder? Let’s see.

We shall start at the beginning, where did he come from? Well, he was born Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong on September 9th 1987 in Douala, Cameroon. At the age of 3 Alex was left fatherless when his father sadly passed away. His cousin Rigobert, however, stepped up to the plate and took it upon himself to give Alex a father figure and nurtured him. Rigobert was a major factor in Alex looking to football as a career. Unfortunately he was unable to find a club or academy where he could play regular football and improve his ability.

At the tender age 16 of Alex moved to France and joined SC Bastia’s youth team. In 2004 François Ciccolini took charge of the club and was so impressed with the 16 year old he decided to promote him to the first-team. In the 2004-2005 season Alex managed to notch up 31 first team appearances.

During Song’s spell with Bastia he attracted an increasing amount of interest from top European clubs. Bastia, however, regarded Song as a prize asset and didn’t want to sell him so they agreed to loan him to Arsenal for the 2005-2006 season where he made 5 appearances before Wenger decided to operate a clause in his loan contract and signed the Versatile player for £1,000,000 on a four-year contract despite heavy competition from Lyon.

Song’s Arsenal career had began bright where he had made several league and Champions League appearances in the lead up to the January transfer window. On January 9th 2007 Alex scored his first goal for Arsenal in the memorable 6-3 drubbing of Liverpool in the League Cup. On 30 January 2007, it was confirmed that Charlton Athletic had signed Song on loan until the end of the 2006–07 season. [Although he impressed, Charlton were relegated and Song returned to Arsenal after racking up 13 appearances for the former premier league side.

The 2008-2009 season proved to be Song’s breakthrough season where he made 48 appearances in all competitions for the first team. The following season, however, he played in all but one of Arsenal’s first twelve Premier League games and also finished third in Arsenal.com’s player of the month for October, behind Cesc and RVP. Alex quickly established himself as an integral part of Arsenal’s midfield. His tough tackling, commanding performances allowing Arsenal’s more attacking, creative players to attack more freely. More specifically he was the perfect partner for Fabregas. Two completely different players who complimented each other’s style of play and formed the Arsenal engine for the 09-10 season. The following season saw Alex finish with 42 appearances in total, 5 goals and 3 assists in all competitions.

That brings us up to the current season. Since the departures of Samir and Cesc and injuries to Wilshere and Diaby, Alex has found himself short of creative players in front of him with the fit-again Ramsey and new recruit Arteta being run ragged. Arsene did manage to sign Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea on a season long loan but thus far he has been unable to make a solid contribution to the team, along with Rosicky.

With that stark truth settling around the Emirates unrest started when Arsenal made their worst start to a season for 58 years and it was apparent the team was unsettled and largely relied on the injury prone skipper RVP to provide the goals.

Let’s fast forward to December 10th 2011. The Emirates is packed with over 60,000 expectant fans. After over an hour of play the scores are still level at 0-0 and the game looked destined to be goalless when up steps the Cameroonian Commander Alex Song. After seeing Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott and Gervinho all fails to play through a decisive ball to create a real chancee for Van Persie, Song leapt from the darkness to play a 20-yard chipped pass, from 15 yards into EFC’s half, over the head of Phil Jagielka for Van Persie to volley home brilliantly. Yesterday was much to same story, Alex was continually probing away at the Blackburn defence and played a huge part in Arsenal’s flamboyant success.

In my opinion, Song is one of the best players in the premier league and to compare to him to a player like Vieira is something that would be totally unfair. Alex has developed his own style of play and is beginning to master it, he has been trusted to fill a void left by the departure of four creative midfielders and I believe he has the talent to do so. He will be the perfect midfield partner to a fit again Wilshere. The future can only get better for a player who has maturity beyond his years and I think coupling his performance alongside that of Coquelin, Chamberlain and Walcott, not to mention those who didn’t play a part, I believe it is fair to say that the future is very bright under Arsene. All he needs to do this season is let the players do what they do best. Their confidence levels are brimming so a good run of form looks to be on its way.

AW has his philosophy to follow, I have mine. In Arsene I Trust.

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment on your views of everything Arsenal. Hope you enjoyed my debut article for ArsenalTalk and don’t forget to follow me. @leeodonovan

Dortmund, Diaby and THAT Dutchman!

November 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Champions League, Premier League

Greetings fellow Gooners!

Up to 7th and within touching distance of the Champions League places again…Crisis? What crisis?!?!

Of course, we all had our doubts at one point or another. We all had to listen to the media screaming about the end of Arsenal. We all had to listen to other “fans” crying out for the head of Arsene Wenger. We even had to sit through protests at the stadium before games (just what is needed when you have a team desperately low on confidence!). But, in the end, that “mentul strengff” that we have heard so much about and has been questioned so very much in seasons past, really has shone through.

1-0 down away to Norwich. Hhmmm. five weeks ago we would have been hoping that we managed to keep the score respectable but when a team is in the kind of form that we are in, when the captain is in a run of games like he is (more on him later!) and when the general levels of confidence around most of the players appear to be sky-high, anything is possible.

And possible it was! Another fantastic showing from van Persie, ably supported in yet another starring role by the also in-form Gervinho and Walcott who in turn are being given a backbone of extreme strength by Arteta, Song and the fabulous Ramsey and before you could say 2-1 to the Arsenal it was, well, 2-1 to the Arsenal!

Another three precious points in the bag on a weekend that saw Chelsea, Aston Villa and Newcastle all lose and BOOM there we are in joint 5th (I know, I know, we are 7th on goal difference, but joint 5th sounds so much nicer!), seven points clear of 8th place and looking straight up the backsides of the Toon and the Lillywhite Shite and toying with the idea of being 3rd when we were being asked if we were in a relegation fight only weeks ago!

On top of all of this exciting news, we could see a few shocks next weekend too with West Brom unlikely to make things easy for the Spuds for their visit to The Hawthorns, Newcastle away to the yet again smash and grabbing, 1-0 winning, lucky feckers United and Liverpool hosting Citeh. With us at home to the currently woeful Fulham, I expect to see us climb to 5th or even 4th by the end of Sunday. Seriously?! Did I just say that the same Arsenal team that lost all of its creativity and its best players in the summer, replaced them with a bunch of unknowns and rejects after being thrashed 8-2 by the eternally indebted, could actually be in the Champions League places with about two-thirds of the season left to play?!

And that is how fickle the football Dennises are and how even more fickle football fans can be.

But that is next weekend and we have the small matter of Dortmund at home in the Champions League first.

Dortmund are actually in great form in the league of late, having dispatched Bundesliga leaders Bayern 1-0 away from home on Saturday to continue an unbeaten run that stretches back to the 18th of September, scoring 20 goals in their last seven outings and conceding only three goals in the process. They do seem unable to replicate anything like the same form in the Champions League though, with only four points from four games scoring three and conceding seven!

So a win is to be expected, but is far from guaranteed. Any team with players in the creative positions like Gotze, Großkreutz and Kagawa are capable of beating anybody on their day. It just seems that their day isn’t, hopefully, destined to be in this seasons Champions League. Another reason that the Germans should be taken very seriously indeed is that, should they fail to get something from this game, they will be out of the competition. They have nothing left to lose and everything left to gain and that is exactly what Jürgen Klopp will be telling his team.

So, with this game offering us the opportunity to guarantee qualification in the event that we win it, or even draw it for that matter, and Dortmund realistically needing a win to stand a chance of advancing in the competition, one expects that Arsene will put out something like his strongest side. With the injury list growing faster than it is shrinking (Rosicky – Thigh, Chamakh – Knee and Miyaichi – Ankle now added to the long-term injuries to Wilshere, Sagna, Jenkinson and Gibbs), I would imagine the team to look something like this:

Predicted Line-Up v Dortmund

OK, I know I have put Arshavin in over Gervinho on about three occasions so far this season only for Wenger to surprise me and leave the Ivorian in and, more surprisingly, the Russian out, but I really do think that this time he will get the nod, if for no other reason than Gervinho is playing a lot of games for us at the moment and is currently in a run of form that would allow him the luxury of this being a rest and not being dropped in favour of Arshavin. If you see what I mean?!

Predictions are tough for this one as with only a point needed to guarantee qualification one would think that a tight defence and a cat and mouse game of counter-attacking would be on the cards. There is, however, the small matter of Marseille playing Olympiacos at home thus almost guaranteed the three points, which would mean that a draw would leave us in 2nd place and hoping for a result away in Greece or Dortmund doing us a favour at home to Marseille in two weeks time, all of which sounds like the hard way to go about things…But this is Arsenal and the hard way IS the Arsenal way!

In truth, the best way to go about this is to get at them early, try to get an early goal and then keep going. Dortmund will be dangerous on the counter, of course, but then again, we are dangerous from just about anywhere right now! And can anybody really see us trying to grab a goal and then sit on it for the remainder of the game?! No, me neither. So, with all that in mind, I am going for a 3-1 win and a good performance to go with it. If Song can put in the kind of shift that he has been of late, we may even see the likes of Gotze struggle for the time and space that his game needs and we could even get away with a clean sheet! Arsenal?! Clean sheet?! Are you MAD?!??!

Come Wednesday, we shall find out! Mad or not, I genuinely believe that this is one of the best Arsenal squads for a few years now and one that has the potential to keep going where others have been found wanting. With players like Miyaichi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Frimpong and Aneke, Ozyakup and Miquel waiting in the wings, this really could be the beginning of something quite special that could last for years rather than the end of Arsenal Football Club as many were predicting only a few weeks ago.

And with Sagna, Jenkinson, Wilshere and Gibbs all still to return, we may even see a season where the all too familiar self-destruction sequence is avoided and a stronger team emerges after Christmas. Only time will tell, but I know that this is, yet again thanks to Arsene Wenger, a wonderful time to be a Gooner!

Diaby Returns AGAIN!

Since having his leg broken for him some 5 years ago by that knuckle-dragging imbecile Dan Smith, his ability to stay fit has been seriously questioned. Strangely he is not particularly popular amongst Arsenal fans even though his playing statistics show a player of some impact. 20 goals and 14 assists in 158 matches for a box-to-box midfielder are not bad statistics at all, although I am aware that these numbers do not speak the whole truth regarding his at times seeming inability to make a decision in time to not lose the ball in the most dangerous of positions, neither do they show how easy it is to reduce your popularity when getting a stupid and unnecessary red card in a game in which we are 4-0 up at Newcastle only to then see the referee basically hand a draw to the Toon with a couple of unspeakably ridiculous penalty awards, a failure to send off one of their players for a headlock/strangulation effort on “the Pole between the poles” and a generally hideous defensive effort. To place all the blame on the midfielder for all of that seems a little unfair but scapegoats will always be found when needed and his was the most obvious place in which to point the finger.

in my opinion his return to fitness (and subsequent inclusion in the squad to face Dortmund), hopefully for more than a handful of games this time, should only be a good thing in terms of squad depth and, if he realises only a fraction of his enormous potential, we could see a great set of midfielders competing for places come January. Imagine this: Wilshere, Ramsey, Arteta, Diaby, Benayoun, Song, Frimpong and Rosicky all competing for three starting places. Competition for places is often overlooked in the bigger picture, but I believe that Walcott, Song, Koscielny, Gibbs and Ramsey are all showing great leaps in class since their places were no longer guaranteed due to the arrivals and emergences of the Ox, Frimpong, Mertesacker, Santos and Wilshere respectively.

As Arsene has recently said, this is a big squad but also a squad with strength in depth and “those who shall not be pleased” who claim otherwise are ignoring the obvious in deference of searching for more reasons to bleat.

Let them bleat, I say!

Van STILL The Man!

Robin van Persie’s incredible run of form since he finally managed to find a run of games without serious injury now sees him with 31 goals in 29 games in 2011, top of the goalscoring charts in the Premier League and a set of statistics that put him up there with the very best players in the world – 13 goals in 12 league games compared with 14 in 12 for Ronaldo and 15 in 12 for Messi.

Couple this with the obvious understanding developing quickly between him and Theo Walcott and the constantly improving form of Gervinho, we look like we can score whenever we attack, even if the bulk of those goals are coming from the one man.

Of course, without a new contract signed sealed and delivered, there is the fear that our Dutch talisman could be on his way for a fistful of dollars come the end of the season. Personally I do not put much stock in the relentless rumours of his inevitable departure and believe that a combination of the board, Arsene and the fans will do just as much as the team to convince him to stay as any amount of money could convince him to leave. A player enjoying his football as much as he is would find it difficult to leave any team, but one that actually wins something, which I believe that this team is capable of this season, would, of course, make it even more difficult.

The chance that he may go the way of the likes of Na$ri, AdePayMeMore and Clichy exists until that contract is signed but, as we have seen in recent years, signing a new contract doesn’t guarantee that a player will stay anyway. As fans the very best that we can do is get behind him, the team and the manager and show him and all of our other great players that we are the best fans in the world and that this team is one with a glowing future that he would be mad to leave behind.

So, let’s do our jobs and get behind the team and the manager as well as the captain and let’s make that 12th man truly count.

Come on you League Climbing, Champions League Knock-out Rounds Qualifying Bright Future Gooooooonnnnneeeeerrrrssss!

Real football is back!

November 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Premier League

Afternoon fellow Gooners,

I believe this International break was a bit too much of a hype with so called play off’s taking place and few friendlies doing the usual boring injection of football to our souls, it’s like being back from hibernation. I don’t know how some fans in Europe cope with the so called Winter break.

Anyway back to business please as usual as we LOVE IT!

Few niggly bits doing the rounds as usual, Blatter has made a complete fool out of himself and no one within UEFA is able to see the light at the end of the tunnel (must go to Spec Savers I say), a lot of people talking but not much being done about it. Some things never change as some would say.  He should really take it on the chin and disappear for once and for all. Racism should never be a part of football however the ones to blame play the game and perhaps they need to be educated. Then again  you are what you are and sometimes you can’t change the way other people think. Either way they should know better they are grown men and should behave with dignity and respect.

Back to Arsenal and ahead of Norwich there are good and bad news coming from the medical wing. Bad news for Kieran Gibbs and Jenkinson as these two are going to be out for sometime:

“He has a hernia and had surgery on Thursday. He looks like he will be out for between four and five weeks. At first he had an abdominal strain, certainly caused by the fact that he had a hernia already. When the strain was healed we discovered that he had a hernia. We had a fear that could be behind it so we decided to do the surgery.”

“Carl has a stress fracture in his back. That’s just about rest now. We discovered that because he had a pain in his back. First you monitor it, then play a little bit and then you check again because you are cautious.”

The good news is that Wilshere is making good progress in his recovery and Diaby and Chamakh are back in full training. I know there is still some time to go for Jack even though we will only see him back in late Jan next year:

“We have no chance to get Wilshere back before the New Year. The only positive thing is the X-ray after six weeks – which was a vital one – and looked very positive and very good. So he will be on time and as planned. His surgery went well, his healing is going well, but still there is no chance before the middle or end of January.”

With Sanga and Jenkinson out it remains to be seen who will Arsene play in the right back position, something tells me that Djourou will be covering this spot, to be honest it’s a real shame as I have started enjoying Jenkinson’s crosses of late. This lad can definitely cross the ball.

Norwich will prove to be a tough test in my opinion, since being promoted back to the top flight football they have done very well. Last game I saw with them they came very close  away at Man U. We need to pick up from where we left it there is no other way, another must win game. We have already lost too many games this season. Opposition will be tough but I believe we have enough gas in the tank to overcome them and finally put those November omens where they belong.

Come on you Rip Roaring Free Scoring Gooners!!!

Hill-Wood Blabs Again & Abject Boredom!

November 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Transfers

Greetings fellow Gooners!

Yes, it’s that time again, isn’t it?! International break misery has set in and the tabloids are left with literally nothing else to do but find a few new ways to beat Arsenal fans over the head! Worst of all, they seem to be able to find hundreds of old ways to do it too! This situation is not helped when Peter Hill-Wood, the Arsenal equivalent of Prince Phillip, decides it is time to open that ludicrous out of control trap of his!

Speaking on the subject of Robin Van Persie and contract negotiations, he had this to say:

“He doesn’t want to talk about it at the moment and we are not troubling him.

“I think we will approach him near the end of the season. But we obviously hope that he will sign a new contract – I don’t see why he should not. I can’t believe he is unhappy with us.”


Which immediately rings two alarm bells…

1. Why are we “not troubling him” when his contract may actually be more important than qualifying for the Champions League this season?

2. Why would it be so impossible to believe that he could be “unhappy with us” when he is clearly carrying the burden of a major responsibility of the teams success and or failure at the present time and has seen an average of two of our best players leave the club almost every summer for the past 6?

I simply don’t get this! I know we are the most dramatic club in the EPL. I know that we do everything in the most arse about face, difficult and last minute manner that we possibly can, but why aren’t we simply putting a club record breaking contract in front of his nose right now, this very second or even better, yesterday?!

Seriously, 150k per week, a new Bentley and all the half-time oranges he can eat should just about cover it and, let’s be totally honest, a bargain if you consider what a player of his calibre and experience would cost if we had to replace him.

I am not saying that he is irreplaceable, no footballer is as the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson has proven time and time again when clearing out mega-stars at the drop of a hat, but I do believe that the costs and risks associated with replacing a player who has been banging goals in faster than almost anybody on the planet for the past 12 months are desperately long without spending extraordinary amounts of money and, even then, there is no guarantee of succeeding in finding a replacement that “gels”. Why even think about waiting when we already have a player that clearly gels like a MoFo?!!

But the highlight of Hill-Wood’s comments has to be this little gem…

“I think he is a decent fellow. He was quite difficult at Feyenoord, but we have had no trouble with him.”

HAHAHA! Oh my Dennis! If I were Van Persie I would be more than a little hacked off that this Muppet has actually decided that my past, over 7 years in the distant past when I was 20 years old and a very young man rather than just a young man, should be dragged up now. As for having no trouble with him, well, I think that there was a little trouble back in 2005, what with the Dutchman spending a couple of weeks in prison and all that, but again, that is history and it should be allowed to stay where it belongs…In the past.

It is time that Silent Stan decided that “we don’t need his sort” talking to the press any more and wrapped a mighty, magical conversational chastity belt around the old duffers chops!

Bored, bored, BORED!
Ok, I know that we have finally managed to go into an international break with a decent run of form going, a couple of great wins behind us and a feeling that we may not have actually seen the best of this Arsenal squad as yet, which is quite exciting all round really, but I cannot help wondering how many injuries we will pick up this time whilst our players wander off around the world to play in qualifying matches in various competitions.

Terrifying prospect!

But apart from that vague point of interest, I can literally find nothing to alleviate the desperate boredom of these hateful breaks in the footballing calender. I know that many claim that international football is the pinnacle of football and is the basis for the general growth of this wonderful sport and some may even say that without it we would never have seen some of the best talents of the past 20 years playing on our shores and gracing us with their skills.

What a load of old pony, I say!

Take the European Championships, for example. This “glorious” competition is boring because there are only really a handful of all of the European nations that ever actually win it. Look at this map for an idea of what I am talking about:

European Football Championship Winners

See what I mean? All those big white spaces are countries that never have and probably never will win the trophy, EVER! Ok, I know the same could be levelled at the Premiership, La Liga, Serie A and maybe even the Scottish Premier League at a push (!) but I don’t fecking care about that. I love Premiership football because I love Arsenal and I know that, win or lose, come rain or shine they will always be the most consistent part of my life in terms of love and desire. European football at the international level is just plain boring ad has none of the heart of a club side competition.

As demonstrated by the “Winners Map”, the majority of international football is just a meandering path to almost inevitable conclusions. For all the qualifying “drama”, competition “drama” and winning “drama”, how often is there any actual drama in international football? Denmark won the European Championships about 100 years ago, or so it seems, but apart from that the list of winners of that competition reads like this since 1960:

Soviet Union, Spain, Italy, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, West Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece and Spain.

Ok, Greece was a bit of a surprise too, but who really cares anyway?! Did their players suddenly change the face of modern football? Did the country experience a massive upturn in the general desirableness of its league seeing a large influx of major talents wanting to leave the like of Spain and England to go and play there? Did they even go on to use that win as a platform for future development and thus further successes?

Did they arse!

For example, since winning the Euros in 1992 Denmark, with their “Golden Generation” of players, managed to fail to qualify for the next World Cup and fall in the group stages of the next two European Championships.

But surely Greece have faired better?

Nope!

Since winning the 2004 European Championships, with one of the most dire and George Graham-esque styles of play ever seen in modern international football, the Greeks then failed to qualify for the next World Cup, get knocked out in the first round of the 2010 World Cup and got knocked out in the group stage of the European Championships!

In fact, and here is a cracking statistic that demonstrates the utter futility of all international football, Greece have never actually won a single game in the European Championships finals apart from the 4 wins they managed to piece togther whilst winning the damned thing! Even more hilarious, Denmark have only ever won 6 games in the European finals and only managed to win 2 games, yes, read that again just to make sure you got it right, TWO GAMES when WINNING the tournament!!!

OH my Dennis! How can a team be called European Champions when they only actually won two games in the tournament?! Hold on…Quarter final, semi-final, final…Surely that would require three wins at the very least?! But no! There were no quarter finals that year, only two groups of 4 teams, 2 semi-finals and final and, hey presto, you are the “Champions of European International Football!” I think it tells a large part of the story when you consider that the 1992 European Championships were held in Sweden and of the four clubs to qualify for the semi-finals, three of them were Holland, Sweden and Denmark!

Oh, and just in case you forgot, even though football was good enough for the warring nations in World War II on Christmas Day, or so we are told, UN sanctions banning Yugoslavia from taking part in the tournament is the only reason that Denmark even got a free pass to play after not even managing to qualify for the tournament!

Oh please, give me a break! Just not an international one!!!

Jack’s Here Forever!
Young superstar come wonderkid, Jack Wilshere, has announced that he will stay with Arsenal forever! WOO HOO!

“Can I promise I will be at Arsenal for ever? I can promise that, yes.

“I’ve been at the club since I was nine and I’ve learned to love it. From the Patrick Vieira days, to Dennis Bergkamp, Cesc Fabregas, I’ve watched them come through and move on.

“But now there’s a crop of new players, Aaron Ramsey, myself, Kieran Gibbs, hopefully we can really create something special. I love the club and I want to be part of its future.”


Throw in The Ox, Koscielny and Miyaichi and I think we can say that there is a wealth of young talent at the club all over again! You could even throw a quick glance at Theo who seems to be improving with the added competition for places and still only 22 years old!

All that aside, it is great to hear a player in this day and age speaking in those terms. I just hope that we continue to build on the squad we have in the January window so that he can enjoy playing for us as well as do it for the love of the club.

With this in mind, I have decided to put together a “Jack-O-Meter” to, subjectively and without any real knowledge of the players, their mindset, aims or desires, judge where they would come regards the potential longevity of their Arsenal careers!

So, I will look at a particular player each week and make a totally arbitrary decision based upon nothing in particular aside from my own personal wishes, bias and random decisions! This week we will start at the very back of the team and judge “the Pole between the poles” Wojciech Szczesny:

Jack-O-Meter - Wojciech Szczesny

Well, that seems fairly conclusive! Szczesny will be with us for life, or as close to that as a footballer can get!

Oh, you wanted some reasoning behind this judgement?! Ok, how about this…

The young pole was literally nobody when Wenger picked him out of obscurity and gave him a chance to prove himself. He didn’t shower himself in glory at first and, if all truth be told, many Arsenal fans felt that he would be on his way out and that Fabianski would be the “next great thing” between the sticks. Wenger stood by him, told him to knuckle down and, when injuries and fate collided, the young(er) pole took his chance with, dare I say it, indeed I do, both hands!

Since then he has proven himself to be a match-winning, shot-stopping, penalty-saving maniac and, to boot, he spends most of his time away from the pitch roaring like a young Arsenal lion on Twitter! Some of his recent classics include, but are not limited to:

“How can you not get frustrated with decitions [sic] like that going ALWAYS Man Utds way?! Its a clear pen and sending off!”

And who can argue with that?

“Tweeps, what do you think Ashley was aiming for when he took his penalty?”

Quickly followed by:

“Is it a plane? Is it an aeroplane? No, it’s just Ashley throwing Chelsea out of the FA Cup.”

And my personal favourite:

Please continue the “Szczesny to Barcelona” rumours. Makes me laugh everytime I read it. haha”

So, aside from his obvious loyalties to our great club, Manchester United, Chelsea nor Barcelona are not likely to offer him a job any time soon, so that should help us to keep him!

A resounding 100 degrees Gooner, I think that we can all agree! And if you don’t, well, that’s just tough because it’s my Jack-O-Meter!

And on that hot, sticky note I shall leave you.

Come on you Please Don’t Get Injured Whilst Away On Boring International Duty Gooooonnnnneeeerrrrrsssss!

The Kids, The Tommy Gunner And A Defence Better Than United’s!

October 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Arsenal FC, Carling Cup

Greetings fellow Gooners!

It seems that the squad picked for the Carling Cup 4th round match against Bolton has even less experience than most assumed it would. After seeing a fairly balanced mix of youth and experience turn out for the 3rd round, I think that this change is indicative of the all round changes taking place at the club. A month ago Wenger may have been considering that winning the Carling Cup may have been fast becoming our best and maybe only chance of silverware whereas today sees us 6 wins out of 7 later in all competitions and a team that appears, finally, to be gelling. Maybe Wenger feels, like so many more of us, that we are yet to see the best of this team and, with Vermaelen finally looking to make a comeback, Sagna and Wilshere set to be ready for the New Year (where our seasons have tended to show that certain “collapse factor”) he may well be right.

Van Persie has, of course, earned himself a rest for this one but the list of players who would be currently considered 1st XI in the squad for tonight’s match is pretty slim indeed. Vermaelen and Arshavin will be the only real first-team players involved at all whilst Fabianksi, Squillaci, Frimpong, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Coquelin can all currently be considered “fringe” at best.

Aside from that there is a good chance we will get a look at Ryo, which I am personally very much looking forward to, Park, who has waited patiently since his last run-out against Shrewsbury in this same competition, Watt, armed with his new long-term contract and Ozyakup who, for my money, looks to be one of the classiest looking young midfielders I have seen since a little Spanish lad turned out alongside Patrick Vieira!

I also think it is telling that Chamakh has been left out altogether for this fixture. If we consider him to be anything like in the manager’s thoughts regarding any first team football this season, one assumes that a match like this would be a perfect chance for him to get another 90 minutes under his belt as well as play against what promises to be a second string Bolton team too. The fact that he is not in the squad lends a lot of weight to the feeling that he is likely to be on his way in January and I for one would not mind that one bit, even if it is to put him out of his misery and give him the chance of a fresh start elsewhere.

In terms of team selection, well, it’s anybody’s guess really! There seems to be a general level of uncertainty as to whether TV5 will actually start the match as well as how many of the midfield kids will be on the pitch from the kick-off. The only real “certainties” appear to be Fabianksi, Squillaci, Benayoun, Ox & Park. So, perm any six from 13 for the jackpot!

Bolton seem to be playing a similar strategy to us with as many as nine changes planned from the team that got a last-minute lesson in playing all of the 90 by Sunderland at the weekend. I have to say, there are a couple of the Bolton kids I am looking forward to seeing, namely Gael Kakuta the 20 year old French winger on loan from Chelsea and tipped for a very bright future and a certain Fabrice Muamba who, in my mind, is one of the few young players to have left Arsenal and actually played some consistently decent football elsewhere. Looking at the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozyakup, Frimpong and Coquelin, it is easy to understand why he and the club felt that his future lay elsewhere, but I am always glad to see him play and play well whenever I get the chance.

Scoreline prediction? Well, not having the faintest idea what the team will be that will start the game, that is difficult at best! If I have to take a flying leap of faith, based on the team I have roughly in the back of my mind, I would guess that a tough, high energy game is on the cards. Lots of attacking play is unlikely with a midfield likely to be very competitive and congested. Counter-attacks and set-pieces may provide the bulk of the goalscoring opportunities and, with the defence that is likely to line up for us, I expect a very close game!

So, 2-1 or even 1-0 get my vote, although if I am pushed hard enough I will go for the former and say 2-1 to the mighty Gunners!

Let’s hope that I am right as we need to keep this run of form going to keep the mood around the club positive and the players in the 1st XI very much on their toes. Incredibly, after losing such quality players in the summer, we appear to actually have some serious competition for places now, and that is no bad thing. For example, if Vermaelen plays from the start tonight, looks fit and hungry and plays anything like as well as we know he can, who does Wenger pick for the Chelsea game? On the evidence of the past couple of games Koscielny is finally finding some real form and has been Man of the Match or very close to it in each of the past three games. Mertesacker may be getting a general vote of no confidence from some sections of the fans, but I cannot help but wonder why that is when he is doing EXACTLY what it said on the tin! A big, quick-thinking , slow-footed Tony Adams type of player is what we cried out for and it is what we got. Why some people are complaining about his lack of pace is totally beyond me! What did we think we would get? We screamed from the rooftops for 3 seasons for a dirty great hulking centre back and now we have one, did we really think he would outpace somebody like Thierry Henry?!

If you want my honest opinion, I think that there is every chance that, fit or not, brilliant tonight or not, Thomas may find that the bench is his starting place this weekend as Wenger has to seriously weigh up the wisdom of changing a back four that, whilst not perfect, is actually showing some real signs of improvement.

Anyway, over the past 7 games our back four has only let in 6 goals. To put that in perspective Citeh have let in 5 in the same period, the same as Chelsea and, I simply can’t help but throw this one in, United a whopping 11!

OK, with United losing 6-1 to the latest “buying all the toys” club, that statistic could be considered a touch misleading, but the reality is that even if they had only conceded 1 goal at the weekend, their tally over the past 7 games would be the same as ours.

And Sir Alex Ferguson said that a United side “would never let that happen”!

I have to tell you, 6-1 at home with your 1st XI on the pitch is certainly a lot worse than 8-2 big man!

And on that simply joyous note, I bid you farewell.

Come on you Soon To Be In The Carling Cup 5th Round Gooooonnnneeerrrrrssss!

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