Football Trumps Transfer Dealings For Gunners

After the events of the last few days it was nice to get back to the part of football we enjoy the most – the football on the pitch. The closing of the transfer window presented an unwelcome distraction as at first the lack of transfer activity was followed by the questionable caliber of acquisition to the squad which then led into the revelation of the injured condition of a certain Kim Kallstrom.
Granted the whole saga involving the Swede has caused much embarrassment to fans and employees of Arsenal Football Club but until the results on the pitch are affected I couldn’t care less.
An Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inspired performance ensured that Crystal Palace were dispatched without too much effort moving the club back to the top of the premiership table. Despite a quite flat first half as we all know games are won over 90 minutes and any apprehension to the success of Tony Pullis’s ‘park the bus’ strategy were swiftly dismissed when Oxlade-Chamberlain found the back of the net two minutes into the second half.

oxlade chamberlain
Given the recently publicized reduced midfield options at the club Arsene Wenger chose yesterday to back up his claims that Oxlade-Chamberlain could eventually develop into a top central midfielder by giving the young Englishman a start there. He certainly did not disappoint and refreshingly gives Arsene a selection dilemma for our massive game next week at Anfield.
After so-called successes in the transfer window didn’t work out quite so well for other clubs it’s nice that the Arsenal were able to exhibit their strength in-depth despite having nobody walking through the Emirates doors… well, uninjured. The injuries are temporary, same with the bans being served, so the players will return eventually to help the cause.
My personal regret is not having a striker join the ranks but I suppose if Nicklas Bendtner can build upon his new-found commitment to the club then we just may have a ready-made player to share the central attacking burden placed upon Olivier Giroud’s shoulders.
The tough run starts from now so it was important to get maximum points against Crystal Palace yesterday. It is going to be a bumpy ride so strap in and hopefully by the end we will all be smiling.
On a final note Arsene in his own words explained the events of the Kallstrom signing. As speculated he was aware of the injury to the Swede’s back and admits the deal would not have gone through if more time was afforded to the club to find another player. Always best to hear straight from the horse’s mouth, it may not be enough to calm all Gunners’ Fans but hopefully at least knowing the truth we can move on from the debacle.

Enjoy your day people.

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Wenger Must Favour Liverpool FA Cup Clash Above Bayern

 
As if February was not hard enough. Arsenal, who have a home tie with Manchester United sandwiched between a trip to Anfield and the first leg of our Champions League clash with Bayern Munich – all within 11 days – must now fit in another clash with Liverpool after the FA Cup fifth-round draw was made on Sunday.
 
Four games in 11 days is tough but these four games is near ridiculous. Not even the most optimistic of fans who bet on football are backing us to win all four, and it will be interesting to see how manager Arsene Wenger guides his team through this tricky schedule.
 
The first is a booby trap waiting to happen. Liverpool are free scoring at Anfield and although we comfortably beat them 2-0 earlier this season, this clash will be no easy affair. Luis Suarez has his tail up and defensive duo, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, must keep him at bay.
 
Indeed, the pair are the keystone to Wenger’s plans over this coming month, for if Mertesacker and Koscielny can stay fit we might just come through unscathed.
 
They must next handle Robin van Persie at our place – something Thomas Vermaelen failed to do last time – while the midfield will be introduced to Jose Mourinho’s double agent, Juan Mata, who this week signed for United for £37.5m.
 
With the visit of Bayern coming after a second clash with Liverpool, Wenger must decide how seriously he wants to win the FA Cup. Thankfully, the draw has also pitted Man City against Chelsea, so victory over Liverpool means Arsenal have just one realistic rival for the trophy.
 
bayern
 
Wenger is of course going to play full-strength sides in the league, but should he sacrifice a potential spanking at the hands of Bayern for safe passage into the FA Cup quarter-finals? It’s a decision that will keep the boss awake this month and one many football betting punters would like to see made , for with the greatest will in the world the Gunners have a better chance of winning the FA Cup than making the Champions League last-eight.
 

Guest post brought to you by M. Weaver

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Arsenal show Defensive Solidarity of Old at Villa Park

An interesting stat was highlighted on Monday night that few Gooners or football naturals would have known: Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have never lost in the Premier League when they pair up for 90 minutes.
The run, which began when Mertesacker made his debut during a 1-0 win over Swansea in September 2011, now stretches to 28 games as Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud’s goals kept us top of the table in a (slightly nervy) 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
The pair have kept 16 clean sheets over that time at a cost of 0.5 goals per game.
per and kos
It is incredible to think such a stat exists when you consider how poorly Arsenal began last season, but since both players have been fit, few fans of live football commentary would argue Per and Laurent  have not been the best defensive partnership in the Premier League.
So what can we expect in the coming weeks? Mertesacker’s reaction to the midfield giving the ball away for Christian Benteke’s consolation goal on Monday suggests the Germany international has no desire to give up his streak. Both players are fit, playing considered football and, for maybe the first time since Campbell and Toure, continually talk to each other on the pitch.
While the front guys have grabbed most of the headlines this season, it is Arsenal’s regimented defence that has been the main difference between this season and last. We witnessed in Munich last year, after Bayern had split us apart in the Champions League last-16 first leg, how much they were hurt by the 3-1 home defeat and since then this defence has toughened up.
Of course, there are a few hiccups such as our 6-3 defeat at Manchester City last month but every team has a dip in the season and, by the looks of our strong resolve to grind out results, our dip has already passed.
The Gunners host a relegation-threatened Fulham this weekend and, with only the slightest possibility of an upset  if you check out the online football betting, it is more than likely Per and Laurent’s run will stretch to 29.

Enjoy your day people.

Guest post brought to you by Royce Williams

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Arsenal’s Options for Aaron Ramsey’s Temporary Replacement

Arsenal’s Options for Aaron Ramsey’s Temporary Replacement
Who will Wenger choose to replace the Welsh Wizard while he is injured?

Even if Arsenal’s triumphant 3-1 victory against West Ham boosted them into first place in the Premier League, it definitely didn’t come without sacrifice. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey suffered a serious muscle injury to his thigh with just around 25 minutes left of the game against West Ham.

Ramsey has undoubtedly been one of Arsenal’s best players this season. With 13 goals in all competitions, the Welsh Wizard is the Gunners top scorer as well. Bwin.com reports that the Welshman turned out for Arsenal 47 times last season, making him a consistent performer for the team and one which would prove a safe bet for any sports fans prior to his injury. In addition to Ramsey’s efforts, Arsenal has managed to score the first goal in the league this season more than any of the other football clubs, with 13 openers in 16 matches. It’s a shame that Ramsey will be taking a leave of absence from the pitch as his odds for scoring the first goal were very much in the favour of the betting man. In a recent interview Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger confirmed the seriousness of the Welshman’s muscle injury and reiterated that he wouldn’t be in contention for a while.

“It looks (serious),” Arsene Wenger disclosed on Arsenal.com. “It looks like a thigh strain. I don’t know how serious the thigh strain is…I don’t know how long he will be out for.”

However, in a recent update on Ramsey’s injury, it would seem that the midfielder would be absent for 3 weeks to rest his injured leg. Currently, the betting industry predicts that with the Welsh Wizard’s absence, the Gunners odds to win the premier league was at 4/1.

Aaron-Ramsey

During Ramsey’s absence, one of the players that Arsenal can replace him with is German veteran Podolski, just like what the team did in the previous match, thus moving Santi Cazorla into an attacking central midfield role.

After winning against West Ham, Wenger expressed a few opinions on Arsenal.com:
“On the pitch we had Podolski and Walcott and Giroud and Ozil and Cazorla you know when you lose the ball you can be a bit vulnerable but we had to go for it.”
From a defensive point, Wenger may have some reservations replacing Ramsey with Podolski with Wenger likely concerned with balancing the team defensively. Perhaps the Gunners’ relief will come in the form of Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere, or perhaps Laurent Koscielny. Centre back Koscielny has just returned from an injury in the latest match with West Ham and seemed to be near to his best, once more. Koscielny has been a consistent player for Arsenal and his collaboration with Mertesacker on the field has been really great, again this season.

Will Arsene make key signings part of his New Year resolution?

So Arsenal start the New Year in 1st place, a hard fought victory over a stubborn Cardiff team ensured they stayed there. The proud record of being the best performing team of 2013 can be seen as the perfect springboard to continue the improvement into 2014 and hopefully reap the benefits come the end of the football season.

The fans are happy (well most of them) and will no doubt be settling back into their normal routines following all the festive fun. As the majority of us tend to do in the New Year goals are set, a chance to put right the wrongs of the previous year with new gym routines or money saving tactics. We all enter into these with the best of intentions unfortunately the motivation dies before March is with us.

It would be nice to think that Arsene has incorporated some resolutions to help Arsenal for the second half of the season. The ideal resolution would be to make some key January signings.
As we all know Arsene isn’t a big fan of January buys, the Frenchman has a lot of faith in his squads and doesn’t tend to put his hand in his pocket at this time of year unless his hand is forced or a super bargain is available. One of the main requirements this season is a top quality striker to share the burden with Olivier Giroud. Will Arsene buy or will he see the recent change in Bendtner worth waiting for him to recover from his recent injury rather than purchase a player? Although whilst still an Arsenal player I’d back Bendtner 100% every time he goes out on the pitch I don’t see Bendtner part of any long term plans and for that reason it may suit both parties that he finds new employers during the transfer window.

bendtner

Arsene is also a big fan of adaptability in his players and he has said it in the past that Walcott and Podolski are very much able deputies to the central striking role. The recent return of Podolski has already prefilled the possible quotation of “like a new signing” though the German hasn’t quite grasped the opportunity in that role with both hands. His goal in the West Ham game reminded us of his valuable contribution to the team though his starting role in the Cardiff game in the central striking position was slightly underwhelming.

Podolski is one of the best finishers at the club and certainly offers a goal threat but at the times he has played in the central striking role it hasn’t quite clicked. This is taking into account times he played there before his injury also. One game does not condemn a player and you never know he could well grow into the role; he also didn’t have the luxury of the creative talents of Ozil and Ramsey at his disposal. Flamini has been a great acquisition to the Arsenal team this season but his performance in an advanced role on New Year’s Day was rather limited in the attacking third whilst Arteta covered.

Walcott also offers a goal threat though question marks will always remain over his effectiveness with his back to goal as opposed to the outlet of pace he offers on the wing. What we gain in Walcott playing central we lose from him not playing wide.

Taking all this into account a striking addition to the squad would be the best option, a loan or permanent transfer? If a top quality player can be brought in on loan I don’t see why not. A permanent arrangement can be readdressed in the summer. If it’s the difference between playing over the odds fees for a player and assessing a potential signing up close in the short term for peanuts then we all know which option our manager would rather take.

In addition to that a central defensive signing would be reassuring, beyond the excellence of the Koscielny/Mertesacker and the cover from Vermaelen there aren’t much options at all. Given Arsenal’s injury history it would be foolish to rely on the current partnership not receiving another injury for the rest of the season. Vermaelen is an able deputy but in recent times the Belgian has hardly been injury free himself.

per and kos

Arsene has never been one to recall players from on loan during injury crisis’s and so if the worst was to happen the next step would be to rejig the whole defence by slotting Sagna into the middle or calling upon the services of Isaac Hayden. Not ideal given the massive chance the club has of winning the title this year, the last thing Arsenal fans would want to do is feel regret at the missed opportunity of strengthening to enhance the clubs chances for silverware.

Well, Arsenal has a month to hopefully make the right signings and give the rest of the season a good go. Signings for the future are not required at present, focus really needs to be on the now, it’s the clubs best chance in years to bring in a trophy.

Enjoy your day people.

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