Chelsea defeat a wake up call after good start to season – AFC

Not the result we wanted, not ideal to let Chelsea take all the points from us at home. Drogba is gone, the big bully isn’t around to strike fear into the Arsenal defence any more. Games against Chelsea over the past year have been on a more level playing field due to the evaporation of the once fear factor we had. Yesterday the performance in itself wasn’t bad from the team, we gave as good as we got but in the grand scheme of things the failings of old reared its ugly head.

The soft goals we conceded yesterday were the exact kind of goals many fans thought were a thing of the past. The recent improved defensive performances were attributed to the influence of Steve Bould on the training ground but yesterday we seemed to take a backwards step with the quality of the defending from those two set play goals.

It was mentioned by the sky TV pundits that the loss of Diaby to injury shortly before the free kick led to some disorganisation when lining up to face the free kick. I find that slightly clutching at straws even if the comments were in our defence. At the end of the day for the first goal we allowed Torres to steal a boot in and score an easy goal. Koscielny really should have been stronger and read the flight of the ball. It looks like he expected the ball to drift out of play but from not attempting to attack the ball it gave the advantage to the attacker. He will no doubt learn from that but at the same time better is expected from him in those situations, he’s not a raw 18 year old he’s a defender who has set a high standard from his efforts last season and should carry on that improvement. I can’t be too harsh on him as he was excellent last week, no defender is immaculate in every game, even the best have their moments.

The first goal was a set back but we worked our way back into the game with a good equalizer from Gervinho. He controlled a drilled cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain swiveled and smashed the ball into the roof of the net to continue his purple patch of goal scoring form.

In this game Gervinho showed his good and bad sides, last week I commented on the fact that despite his missed chances his influence on the front line was positive and he was a constant thorn in the Man city side. I still feel he can play in that role and his goal was another reminder that he can and that maybe he deserves to be given a chance there than Theo Walcott. The other side to him was the one we saw when the changes were made in the second half and he had to shift to the flanks. His passing, his dribbling, everything just didn’t come off as he frustrated in the latter stages; some may argue he frustrated before the changes but I disagree.

The second goal we conceded was another soft goal as the ball went in direct from a Juan Mata free-kick. The ball was played into the box and despite the ball taking the slightest of flicks off Koscielny the ball was heading into the back of the net regardless. Those kinds of the goals are the ones I hate the most, there needs to be communication in the box whether the keeper orders his players to leave it or the defender ensures they clear the ball, neither happens and then everyone ends up looking rather silly. Its harder to accept conceding those goals as you expect those kinds of balls into the box can be worked on in the training ground. Back to the drawing board, basics need to be worked on. Conceding soft goals can be disheartening to the rest of the team and the sooner we iron them out the better.

Some accusing fingers could be pointed at Arsene team selection yesterday, after a man of the match performance against Manchester City last week Per Mertesacker’s reward was a place on the bench yesterday. Should he have been dropped? In the for case he has been in his best form in an arsenal shirt and would have lined up against Chelsea full of confidence. In the against case the Chelsea line up was full of pacy players who could look to exploit the Germans lack of. Arsene clearly went for the defensive pairing more capable of dealing with the pace of hazard, Torres et al. was it a mistake? A hard one to call but when you look at the result and the goals conceded then maybe calling it an error is the easy option.

When asked about dropping the German Arsene Wenger said:

“That is a decision which was based on the opposition we played. You can say it was a wrong one maybe, but I believe is a lowering the quality of the players who played, they are internationals.
If you do not play Koscielny or Vermaelen and cannot win the game, you will ask me the same question.”

A fair point indeed, he was not protective of his teams defending in general as he said:

“They had three shots on target and scored two goals, from soft set-pieces. Defensively we were just not at the level you have to be in a game like that, which is where we were punished today. For the rest, we have shown quality and spirit but we have to show more personality and authority on the goals we conceded.”

A clear indication that he was not happy and that maybe his players faced whatever the Wenger version of the ‘Ferguson hairdryer’ is.

Another worry from yesterday’s game is the growing reputation Olivier Giroud is building for himself. After getting himself off the mark in the midweek game against Coventry it was hoped that his goal scoring confidence would return. And when he was introduced in the second half he did cause some problems for the Chelsea defence but despite his efforts the only thing he will be remembered for is his miss in injury time that would have salvaged a point for the gunners. His good movement in the box again created a chance, as he came up against Petr Cech he worked the ball around the keeper, slightly wide but still enough to hit the target. On this occasion he slid the ball into the side netting and the chance was gone.

I do have sympathy for the striker having the burden of being the replacement for Robin Van Persie as those are big boots to fill but the problem at hand is the striker not hitting his shots on target from his clear cut chances. I’m still 100% behind the striker but 1st impressions are hard to shift with the unforgiving press. The last thing Giroud needs is a tag as an underperforming striker, all we can do as fans is back the player to the hilt until he starts firing on all cylinders.

In general it was a disappointing result against Chelsea, The goals conceded may have raised concerns but we are far from in a crisis situation. We can overcome this result and continue our improvement this season. It’s Olympiakos in the champions league this week and West Ham away in the premiership at the weekend let’s get our season back on track with those games gunners.

Enjoy your day people

Please feel free to like the Facebook page

Arsenal thrash Coventry in style, Reading up next

At the moment the Arsenal are simply riding the crest of a wave. I’m just going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Last night Coventry came to town for the Capital One Cup and Arsene Wenger chose a team with the right mixture of youth and experience. The final result of 6-1 was testament to the hunger of the younger players to impress and the hunger of the more established players to stake a claim for a starting spot on Saturday.

Olivier Giroud started in what can only be seen as a confidence game for the striker. He indeed boosted his confidence with a quality dink over the keeper to open the scoring on the night and settle the nerves of the team in the first half. It was important the striker got his goal yesterday, considering the score line you would expect your forwards to hit the back of the net in the goal rush. I think what was also important was the fact he scored from open play, a set piece goal from a penalty doesn’t quite banish the demons and it was great to see him finish so calmly in open play. His penalty miss in the game is less damaging due to him scoring earlier; he was unfortunate not to score as it was a well taken penalty but when the keeper guesses the right way these things happen. Let’s hope Mr Giroud can now kick on this season.

Theo Walcott was given an opportunity to play up front and back up all the talking he has done this week about his desire to play in that role. Theo has admitted he would like to be a legend like Thierry Henry at Arsenal and believes this can only be achieved as a striker. Wenger duly obliged and called his bluff by selecting him in his preferred role. I have to admit after a mixed first half where everything wasn’t coming off Theo exploded into life in the second half and was rewarded with two quality finishes that were almost trademark Thierry goals. Definitely food for thought for Arsene, Walcott rose to the task and answered his doubters. Great for him but now the next step is to produce similar performances and goals against better opposition. That is probably one of the greatest criticisms of Theo is in the bigger games when you need the big players to stand up and fight he is usually anonymous. He is still young but the consistency is what he really needs to add to his game for people to take notice.

Andrei Arshavin seemed to have a lot of fun on the night, he played in a more central playmaker role without the added burden of protecting the flanks and it was clear he relished the role. It was reminiscent of his performances for Russia in the euros the way he was direct, spraying balls around and being a general nuisance to the Coventry backline. I noted yesterday that he needed to make the most of his opportunities in this game to force his way into Arsene’s plans in the premiership games. He surely did make the most of it and chipped in with a goal and assist in the game. This is the kind of performance the arsenal fans expect from the Russian and we know he can do it against better opposition too. Maybe Wenger will consider him in that role in future, he deserves a chance there as an option to alleviate the burden on Santi Cazorla to produce week in week out. It’s nice to know we have another player who can play in that hole effectively. Arshavin when he’s in the mood is a player to fear, let’s just hope he can maintain the hunger.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain just loves this competition; it was around this time last year that he announced his potential to the arsenal fans with a barn storming performance against Shrewsbury. He was clearly in the mood yesterday and had a great game against Coventry. Always direct, he pulled off a few flicks and tricks and was a constant thorn in the Coventry side. He topped it off with a finish that had the whole stadium jumping. A real quality strike from outside the box, hardly any back lift in the shot it cannoned into the top corner of the net and set the game up nicely for the 6-1 outcome. The timing of the goal was perfect as Giroud had just missed his penalty and it could have had a negative effect on the team and raised Coventry’s hopes. The Ox’s bullet of a goal banished any hopes Coventry had and merely added to the already exponentially rising stock he has. It really is exciting when you look at the abundance of options we have in midfield at the moment.

Of the younger players that were drafted into the team Dami Martinez had a very good debut, despite the lack of pressure from Coventry he did everything that was required of him when called upon. His kicking was good, his claiming of the ball and he pulled of a couple acrobatic saves. He couldn’t be faulted for the goal and yesterdays experience would have done him a world of good. Martin Angha came into the side for his debut at right back and didn’t looked overawed by the occasion, he seemed very comfortable in that role and future is looking good for the young Swiss. His final delivery from the flanks may need a bit of working on but there are enough signs last night he the potential to be a future arsenal first team player. Nico Yennaris came into the side and was drafted into midfield, a position he plays quite a bit in reserves and he certainly had a good game in the middle of the park. Versatility is an attribute Arsene loves and he certainly showed Wenger he can play there if called upon. The only thing against him is his size but he has plenty of time to fill out and muscle up. Ignasi Miguel continued his development with an assured performance alongside skipper for the day Johan Djourou. He even chipped in with a headed goal and put himself in the shop window for a potential loan move to further his development. Serge Gnarby came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half and looked an almost carbon copy of our England midfielder. He is certainly another player off the production line that will excite the fans; he had a couple decent runs at the defence and came so close with a rocket of an effort.

It was nice to see Emmanuel Frimpong get on the pitch, he received a very warm reception from the fans when warming up and when he eventually got on the pitch. It has been a long journey back for the midfielder and now I hope the knee injuries can be a thing of the past. It really does seem like there’s no more room left at the inn but with Jack Wilshere and Thomas Rosicky still to return we really are spoilt for choice at the moment. Arsene I really don’t envy you right now as someone has to miss out each week and nobody at the moment is giving you a reason for them to be ignored.

We drew Reading in the next round of the cup, a shame its an away tie but cannot complain as we could have drawn far tougher opposition.

Enjoy your day people

Please feel free to like the Facebook page

Arsenal v Coventry: some pre match thoughts

Next up for Arsenal is the visit of Coventry city in the Capital One Cup. Not sure about the name of the tournament, it just doesn’t quite flow off the tongue either way it’s a trophy on offer and so I’d like our boys to have their name etched onto it.

Given the good feeling from the game against Man City it is hoped the momentum can be carried on from our younger more fringe players in the squad.

At the time of writing this post the squad for the game hasn’t been released yet however given the shots on the official website of the team training for the game it is clear there will be a mixture of youthful potential and more experienced professionals.

The likes of Nico Yennaris, Tom Eisfeld, Serge Gnarby and Dami Martinez will be joined in the squad by the likes of Johan Djourou, Andrei Arshavin and possibly Olivier Giroud.

I suppose when you consider how well the first team has been doing Arsene hasn’t been afforded the luxury of changing the team around and this has led to many players not getting a sniff of action so far this season. When you have a winning team you don’t tend to tinker too much and so there have been casualties in the likes of Johan Djourou, Maroune Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin. The game today is a chance for them to put themselves back into Arsene Wenger’s plans and give him a headache ahead of the London derby against Chelsea on Saturday.

At present Andrei Arshavin seems almost frozen out of the picture, surprising given the fact he did not move on in the last transfer window. I still feel he can play a big part in this season, with a new focus and drive it’s possible. The difference this season is there are plenty options ahead of him so any sign of laziness and he’s back in the stands. The competition may ignite him to the level we all know he is capable of, tonight could be the start of showing us that.

Johan Djourou is another player who was heavily linked with a departure from the emirates over the summer. The player went public to deny he was leaving however his national manager made him aware of the fact his lack of playing time will effect his opportunities for Switzerland. At present it’s not looking good for Djourou, always regarded as the 4th choice centre back his opportunities will come when any of the first three start slipping in their standards. Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertesacker are currently playing out of their skin and so Johan will have to make do with today’s game to play first team football and maintain some match sharpness. He will get chances over the coming season I just hope he is patient enough to wait for his chance.

Maroune Chamakh seems to have disappeared off the planet; today could be a chance to him to show his determination to still make it at arsenal. His opportunities have been heavily reduced due to the acquisition of Giroud and Poldolski and Arsene offering the opportunity of central roles to Gervinho and Walcott. Chamakh is not adaptable to play anywhere else in the team apart from central striker and that perhaps hinders his favorability with Wenger. The interchanging between the front players has been one of the strong points of our team this season and restricted chances for the striker and even Giroud to a certain extent. I guess our forward combinations are also dependant on the opposition we face and at present new boy Giroud is the preferred option when an out and out striker is required. Until our French striker finds the net this season Chamkah can take any opportunity that comes his way to push him ahead in the pecking order.

I have a slight inkling that Wenger may pair Chamakh and Giroud up front together in a slightly changed formation. This is just a guess mind you, I have no inside knowledge I just feel the game against Coventry could be a chance for Wenger to look at a plan B.

We may see the return of Emmanuel Frimpong in some capacity today, the league cup games have always been used as an opportunity for Arsene to bed in players returning from injury. He probably won’t be risked from the start but I would not be surprised to see him on the bench. It’s probably a bit too soon for Wilshere despite him returning to full training but Frimpong is ahead of our no.10 in the recovery stakes and hasn’t been out of the game as long as him. It will be a welcome return for the powerful midfielder and another stepping stone for him to work his way back to where he was at last season. A cameo appearance is not out of the question.

One player we may also see tonight is Craig Eastmond, remember him? After bursting onto the scene a few seasons back the midfielder’s development has stalled drastically. A couple of loan moves have failed to push him on in his development. This season is make or break for him and to see the likes of Henri Lansbury move on it is clear that he really needs to work hard and take his chances or he will be out the door.

I understand he has played a few reserve games in defence this season and it is this kind of versatility that may make him useful to Arsene. Although he was converted from right back to central midfielder initially, his potential as a utility player is not a bad thing. I will be interested to see if he is involved and where he plays.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s game; I’ll be down there as I can never turn down the opportunity of £10 tickets. It’s a different atmosphere than league games but it a chance to go to games with family and friends that don’t normally get the chance. I always enjoy seeing the next generation of players and how they get on in these games against better opposition than reserve level teams. I suppose I am getting ahead of myself by expecting us to beat Coventry today, they will be no mugs and we still have to turn up and perform to get the result. Here’s hoping for a good run in this competition starting from today and lots of home ties in future rounds. Good luck Gunners.

Enjoy your day people

Please feel free to like the Facebook page

Arsenal announce arrival as team to take seriously

Resilience is a wonderful trait to have; it is a joy to watch when your team refuses to lie down. My feeling after the game yesterday was one of pride and slight disappointment that we didn’t leave the Etihad stadium with all three points. This really was the first real test for Arsene Wenger’s team this season and they did not disappoint. Yes, we may have conceded a soft goal but the thing that sets this Arsenal team apart from some of the past is the refusal to be ruffled by it, we did not lose our shape rushing forward for an equalizer only to succumb to the dreaded breakaway counter attack goal. No, we kept playing our game and got our just rewards from Laurent Koscielny’s equaliser.

Bundle!!

This is a different arsenal, an arsenal full of confidence which as the away team outplayed Manchester City for the majority of the match. To say the goal we conceded came against the run of play would be an understatement. We were playing some beautiful football and but for some profligate composure in attacking situations we should really have been in front long before we conceded. Plaudits could be spread throughout the team for their performances as we stood up to the big test in front of us and dare I say it showcased our potential to contest for domestic honours.

In the lead up to the game rumours filtered through that our skipper could potentially be absent from the squad. That was confirmed when the team was announced and Vermaelen was nowhere to be seen. It was revealed that he had not travelled with the squad due to Flu. Not the most confidence inducing news to hear, the loss of our skipper is a big miss in any game however given the strength of our squad his replacement Koscielny is quality enough to fill the gap.

The change in the centre back position was a forced change but Arsene had a surprise up his sleeve when he chose Aaron Ramsey to occupy one of the front three positions ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott. You could hear the grumbles across the country when that news came out. Aaron is still working on repairing his reputation which was slightly tarnished last season due to some mixed performances. The jury is still out in some Arsenal fans eyes however yesterday the Welshman produced one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt to reassure fans of what he brings to the arsenal midfield. He may not have the box of tricks of skill of the Ox or the raw pace of Theo but what he does bring is quality on the ball, quality in the pass and excellent ball retention. This was a characteristic that was definitely required against Man city to ensure our control of the game and Arsene deserves praise for taking such a bold step.

One of the potential negatives from the game was the disappearance of Gervinho’s shooting boots. He definitely had the lion’s share of attempts for us in the game but nothing came off for him. In some people’s eyes it may seem the same old same old with the Ivorian. However I could see a difference in the forwards play and attitude. Yes he missed chances but the Gervinho of old would not have even attempted to make some of the shots he tried. Clearly buoyed by his recent rich vein of goal scoring form he was clearly more direct in his play and seemed hungry to get on the score sheet. It didn’t come off for him yesterday on another day he’s scoring goals like he did last week against Southampton. I encourage the new hungry Gervinho, although it was a source of frustration for Arsenal fans yesterday I feel if he keeps at it his the confidence will continue to grow and those chances will be converted more often. Apart from that I cannot defend that shocking piece of control by Gervinho when put through by Ramsey. Seriously he showed the kind of touch I have only experienced when playing pro evolution or FIFA and the ball is played on to a player with a rating lower than 50, 40 even.

Arsene Wenger gave his take on our performance and the chances that went amiss when he said:

“We refuse to lose the game today and came back. We are happy with the team performance but a little frustrated because we had chances with Gervinho when we could have won the game. Gervinho was a danger but he was nervous in his finishing.”

I’m sure the manager will keep working on his finishing in training but again I believe with growing confidence it will improve.

At the back the Steve Bould factor was again evident as the whole back four put in a great defensive performance, they were protected well by Arteta and the rest of the midfield but held their own when called upon. I lost count of the number of interceptions on potentially dangerous through balls; in the past those kinds of balls were getting through.

Per Mertesacker has come on leaps and bounds this season and is now receiving the plaudits from the press who were so quick to write him off last season. The fact he was voted man of the match says it all, the big German has really shown he has what it takes at premiership level and shown up all those who seem to think defending is all about pace. Another player who seems to be showing improvement from last season is Carl Jenkinson. This young guy as we know is arsenal through and through which is always a nice trait to have in a player. Though being a super fan isn’t the only requirement to play for arsenal, you need the quality to become a regular. Although the unfortunate injury to Bacary Sagna has elevated Carl to first team duty he has taken his opportunity with both hands and he is doing enough to prove he deserves to be starting for Arsenal.

What we forget is when Jenkinson came into the team last season we were in complete turmoil because of the departures of some big players; He had to hit the ground running despite the lack of experience at the top level. The past season clearly allowed the defender to learn and work on his weaknesses. He almost seems a completely different player but this is just testament to a growing confidence in the player, no turmoil in preparation for this season and now feeling part of the set up. Much like Gervinho and Mertesacker his confidence has grown this season due to learning from last and it is clear to see.

Whereas last season I may have questioned his longevity as an arsenal player of the future I can now see the signs that he has potential to become an important player for us. Still plenty for him to learn and Sagna still owns the right back position but Jenkinson is definitely doing his chances no harm.

Overall it was a great performance all round, even excusing Vito Mannone’s flap at the corner in which we conceded the goal; he pulled off some important saves to make up for the misjudgment. Our midfield were as majestic as ever and overshadowed the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva. The Arsenal post Robin Van Persie have announced themselves and intend to play a huge part in the premiership this year.

enjoy your day people

Please feel free to like the Facebook page

Man City next, Walcott contract an unwanted distraction – AFC

Match day at last, the time has come to reach our first real test of the season. Any win over Liverpool at Anfield always ranks highly in my book however the victory this season if looked more closely under a microscope showed a Liverpool team still coming to terms with a new system, a new manager and still broken from the bad buys of Kenny Dalgleish’s last reign. A win really was the only possible outcome from that tie and now we reach the stage where we take on the current champions in their own patch. This will be the acid test of how far we have come and how our improved defence can cope against quality opposition.

Both teams meet today coming off the back of gruelling away games in the champion’s league, we will start the game with a slight psychological advantage given the fact we won our game. Man City’s opposition were a far harder test, no disrespect to Montpellier but Real Madrid is another level of football club. The fact that Man City were fighting to the last minute it is hoped that physically they will show fatigue in today’s game.

From their team it looks like Sami Nasri will miss the game due to a hamstring strain obtained in the midweek game. In a way that will probably work in Arsenal’s favour. Too much is made of Nasri when the two clubs clash that part of the focus slips away as it turns into a personal battle.

These situations are definitely new to arsenal fans and have slowly crept up on us the past couple of years. In the past players that left the club acrimoniously were well past their peak to the point if we ever faced them their involvement didn’t warrant any attention. More frequently since Emmanuel Adebayor left the club we have come to face the ‘pantomime villain’ ex player. It certainly left a bitter taste the way he left the club with his tail between his legs to a premiership rival, although Man city weren’t as big then he was still a player in his prime moving to an up and coming rival club.

Nasri was then the next player to join that club and now the latest addition is Robin Van Persie to join the unique club founded by Ashley Cole. The games all of a sudden become bigger than one club against another, it’s personal between the player and the rival fans and the result almost becomes second best as long as that player has a poor game.

Back in the day all we had to contend with was Jermaine Pennant playing out of his skin against us to try and prove some point. He was so irrelevant most fans didn’t care at all because they knew his lack of brain cells would have him in the papers for all the wrong reasons before too long.

I’m quite greedy and would rather have the result and a poor performance from Nasri (if he plays). To be honest our team has changed so much that beyond Emmanuel Frimpong not many of the current squad will give two hoots about Nasri. He is clearly in our past and their focus is on bigger and better things.

It is hoped Theo Walcott and his non contract doesn’t affect the good start we have had to the season. Personally I believe once the transfer window closed and he didn’t sign anything that his days with Arsenal were numbered. His agent now holds all the cards and can hold the club to ransom over negotiation terms. I would not be surprised if the player moves on in the next window. Arsene Wenger is reported to be frustrated about the whole situation and gave his biggest indication yet that if things are not resolved in the next two months his hand may be forced to cash in on the England winger. Us Arsenal fans have been through it all before and understandably we are a little less forgiving despite the positive comments that come out of Theo’s mouth. If you want to play for us do whatever it takes as soon as possible so that your only focus is on the team. Right now doubts remain, some negative vibes are coming off from the stands and it will most definitely transpire into his mental state and affect performances when he’s on the pitch.

I hope he does prove us all wrong and signs a contract soon though at present everything points to him moving on. I’m sure with the pressure on from Wenger we will hear a lot more about this situation over the next few weeks.

Look at me rambling on about something other than today’s game. See Theo, even I’m distracted.

Back to today’s game and I’d take a score draw, anything more than that would be fantastic. it’s not impossible, heres hoping our amazing away fans sing us on to victory

enjoy your day people

Please feel free to like the Facebook page