Do or Die week for Arsenal

Well, the weekend threw up some bittersweet results for Arsenal fans, a wide range of emotions will have been experienced by the fans that watched the games of their Champion’s League place rivals. Always starting with highs then come the final whistle that emotional was substituted for lows.

At the end of the day it boils down to the Arsenal having their destiny in their own hands, win their games and they get a top four place anything else and the opportunity arises for Tottenham to steal in.

It’s funny how Arsenal fans that experienced the drive for third place last season with the need for an Arsenal victory away to West Bromwich Albion in their final game were most probably unanimous in agreement that a finish to a season with so much riding on the final day should never be repeated.

afc celebrate

Fast forward twelve months and that is the exact position Arsenal find themselves in, hardly ideal and it’s probably worth getting a check up from the doctor that the heart is in good working condition because next Sunday it will be tested to full capacity.

Now with the weekends round of games complete there’s a clearer picture of what is required and the positive and negative factors that await Arsenal.

Wigan relegation/F.A. Cup

Now I certainly do not know many fans that have a dislike for Wigan Athletic, the relegation survival specialists pulled off an amazing feat on Saturday when they beat Manchester City to lift the F.A. Cup. The underdogs had fans up and down the country if not the world saluting the efforts of a modest well run club on a small budget triumphing over the money bags mercenaries. That victory alone is enough to add to the already massive number of neutral fans that would like Wigan Athletic to survive relegation once more this year.

wigan celebrate

As things have played out both Arsenal and Wigan need a victory to stand a chance of achieving their current goals. A victory for Arsenal will relegate Wigan; a victory for Wigan will almost certainly hand the remaining Champions League place to Tottenham and provide them with a chance of survival on the final day of the season. As an Arsenal fan I would take no pride in relegating Wigan but a win is vital now, and as much as any potential headlines would state Arsenal send Wigan down I would look further back to Wigan’s game with Swansea last week as the straw that broke the camel’s back. They had a real chance to put the pressure on those around them; they were playing a Swansea team with nothing to play for and failed to take advantage. Arsenal if they win will play a part in Wigan’s relegation but cannot be seen as the villains.

Their performance against Manchester City on Saturday I’m sure will have been watched by the Arsenal squad, they will realise how much of a threat they can be as Saturday was no fluke, and it was a deserved victory. Wigan will be fully aware of what they need to do and as much as Arsenal fans would like to think Wigan would be inhibited by their post match celebrations in reality they are professional football players who know what is at stake and will prepare for it as you would expect any professional football team would.

Newcastle safe                 

Newcastle secured safety with their victory over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday and will mean they will approach the game with Arsenal in a slightly different mindset. That does not mean they will roll over and let the Arsenal walk over them. They owe their fans a good performance to make up for the stress they put them through in the last few weeks. It will be their final home game of the season and I expect they will put in the effort to win the game. Depending on the result from Tuesday’s game Arsenal will be taking on the Toon army either desperate or super desperate with added prayers to win the game. One thing Arsene Wenger will not expect is any favours from Alan Pardew, the two managers have a long history of clashes over the years and the chance to put one over his rival is incentive enough for Pardew to take the game seriously with his team selection. Sunday’s game will be massive no matter how you look at it

Sunderland to coast or panic?

Many onlookers see Spurs final game as a home banker; it’s hard not to disagree. The awkward thing to take into consideration is Arsenal winning against Wigan on Tuesday saves Sunderland from relegation; they would turn up at White Hart Lane in party mode. The two clubs have no acrimonious history that I remember and the possibility of an upset there is very slim. Paulo Di Canio as a new manager would send his team out to put in a good performance but without the added incentive of something to play for his players may struggle to rise to the occasion. On the other hand If Arsenal fail to win on Tuesday the pressure will be on and we might have some sort of game on our hands.

di canio and larsson

I suppose there’s no point looking too deep into other team’s results until the midweek game is out of the way. As it stands Arsenal’s destiny is in their own hands, the players know what they need to do, the fans know what they need to do, Arsene knows what they need to do, time for Arsenal to make it happen.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Follow Gambeanosnitch on Twitter

Gunners avoid Barca but meet Bayern.

So the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League was made yesterday and we managed to avoid a mouth-watering clash with Barcelona instead drawing Bayern Munich. By means a tie that can be equally as hard as facing Barca, Munich are a team in top form in their domestic league, they currently lie top of the Bundesliga not to mention being the winners of their Champion’s League group.

Bayern celebrating

There is an Arsenal link to Bayern as Lukasz Podolski is a former player; he will definitely have a point to prove against the German giants. His spell with Bayern didn’t quite go to plan and many questioned his credentials when playing for a big club; he then returned to previous club Cologne to rebuild his reputation. He had his 2nd chance to prove himself at a big club when he signed for us in the summer and although on reflection he hasn’t set the world alight since at the Emirates he has been far from a flop either. He will be bang up for it and he has already given some of his thoughts on the draw.

poldi bayern days

It will be a true test to the Arsenal and we will need to pull out an almighty performance in the first leg and then finish the job at their ground. If we do manage to win the tie it will no doubt restore confidence back to the players; Bayern are last season’s finalists after all and a win may give the team the belief that they have every chance to win the competition. Football is so much about confidence and once the belief is there in the players then half the manager’s job is already done, he just needs to channel that belief and avoid it turning into arrogance because that is when teams come unstuck.

No team has a divine right to win any game; it takes hunger and wanting it more than the other team. Just turning up expecting to win doesn’t ensure anything as we learnt last week against Bradford. If Arsene helps the team keep up its momentum in the league and channels their focus; then with the home fans behind them we can take the game to Bayern at the Emirates.

There’s a lot of football to be played between now and 19th February when the first leg is scheduled; hopefully boosted by some new signings in January we will progress to the next round.

I do wonder how the postponement of the Boxing Day game against West Ham will affect the team in the long run. The strike scheduled by the London Underground staff had left the authorities with no choice but to cancel the game on that day. On the plus side it gives the players an extra rest over the Christmas period but we will have to shoehorn the game into January which I am sure will be at an unwelcome time. Additionally West Ham are struggling with injuries and it may have been the best time to play them; I have always preferred games on the board rather than games in hand as there is no guarantee you get maximum points from those games.

emirates empty

I suppose with the game off it’s a great opportunity to drive down to the stadium on Boxing day and visit the Armoury store. The roads will be empty and the shop will be less crammed with no game on. I’m sure to pick up a bargain or two in the sales, Arsenal Onesie..? Maybe not.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Greeks make Arsenal work for victory

A win is a win I guess, in what was quite a cagey game Arsenal managed to do just enough of what was required to win the match. The game was riddled with mistakes all over the field, the fluency and quality that we have become accustomed to this season deserted the team last night. It could just be down to nerves as the team try to bury the demons from the defeat to Chelsea at the weekend.

From the team selection Per Mertesacker was probably expected to start in light of the frailties at the back exposed by Chelsea, but due to illness the big German was not involved in the squad. I thought Olivier Giroud would start the game but Wenger decided to utilize the Frenchman as a substitute. Mikel Arteta passed a late test to start at the heart of the midfield and Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Aaron Ramsey.

Gervinho continued his fine goal scoring form with the opener, although the goal was quite lucky in the way the ball broke to him but he still had to work the space and drill the shot home. He may still frustrate fans with his play at time but when a player puts the ball into the back of the net when played up front he answers back to his critics.

The goal we conceded was another where you question the centre backs as the Olympiacos striker drifted in between the two to glance a simple header past Vito Mannone. The goal itself came within minutes of us taking the lead and was on the stroke of half time. Steve Bould who was in charge yesterday due to the touchline ban enforced on Wenger probably gave a right rollicking to the defence for the goal.

Olympiacos did threaten throughout the first half and never let arsenal settle into their flowing passing game. The halftime score line was probably a fair reflection as we really needed to get out of second gear.

In the second half the game carried on in the same vein however we managed to score to take the lead. The goal was quite fortunate and a lucky ricochet from a cross allowed Gervinho a second chance to work the ball into the box and from the by-line he pulled the ball back to Podolski who shifted the ball forward and drilled into the back of the net through the keeper’s legs.

This time we managed to hold on for longer than five minutes as the Olympiacos team continued to threaten and keep us on our toes. One worrying thing I noticed and picked up by Niall Quinn in the commentary box was Thomas Vermaelen’s tendency to storm forward to join the attack on a number of occasions. It’s great when he scores goals for us but much like in the Chelsea game his ventures forward can leave us in trouble. He was caught forward on Saturday and it was from trying to get back that he conceded the free kick that lead to the goal. Yesterday he was storming forward with the game at 2-1. Even if a player covers for you when you move forward there are times when you should go and times when you stay. It was slightly worrying to see him nearly getting on the end of chances when a breakdown in attack would leave us vulnerable.

The game was evenly poised for the majority of the second half and required our defence to stay solid and focus on shutting out the Greeks. I feel Wenger and Bould should have a quiet word about when to stay and when to go to the Belgian.

As I was saying the game was still quite nervy and needed another goal from the gunners to make it safe, The Greeks committed forward looking for the equaliser and it wasn’t until deep into injury time that we managed a third when Aaron Ramsey burned away from his defender and dinked the ball over the keeper to make the game safe. This was far from an impressive victory but it was a victory; 6 points on the board so we just need to look forward and focus on the next game against Shalke.

Enjoy your day people

Please feel free to like the Facebook page

 

Deadline Day!! Bendtner,Essien gos.ECL,CapOne Cup draws – AFC

Big big day today, arsenal fans across the country (and world) expect some transfer action today. Arsene Wenger has hinted, he has teased the press that transfers will be made, he has kept his cards so close to his chest that we have no indication of who may be coming through the emirates door before the window closes. In the past few days Wenger has stated that any players coming in will be top top class players, no average players but top top class players. I hope he sticks to his word as nothing will be more frustrating than seeing us sign a couple of players who are the best players around for their age and have potential to be the best. We really need players ready to be leading lights in the first team now not youth who will jump ship as soon as they reach the required level.

All I know is I along with many other fans of all clubs will be glued to some sort of media awaiting news of players coming in whether it’s watching sky sports news, refreshing various football websites or listening to radio updates. We all get hooked in by the fever of the deadline day deals; I wonder who will be spotted in their private helicopter hovering over the football ground of the team they are going to sign for this time?

I really don’t think any genuine names have been thrown into the hat for potential arsenal signings, many have been mentioned without any solid proof to back it up. I personally have a feeling Clint Dempsey could be a potential signing, my reasoning for this is the silence, nothing has been mentioned from the American’s camp. This kind of silence could be because of the typical arsenal style of keeping everything hush-hush. Sorry guys that’s as far as my theory goes and it’s a pretty weak one. But never fear as I can guarantee you anything that does happen will be done TODAY.

With the incoming players not being so transparent we at least have some light shed on an outgoing player. It looks like Nicklas Bendtner has finally found a club that meets his 3 important criteria with news that Juventus are the most likely destination for the striker. After Dimitar Berbatov pulled a sly one on the club they turned their attentions to the big Dane to lead their line and he is known to have had a medical for the Italians and will probably have his move announced today. Good luck to him, he managed to get a move to a decent club (despite being Juventus pan B) after his agent’s phone refused to ring all summer.

Apart from the awesome excitement whipped up from today’s deadline day activity Arsenal were involved in some draws for a couple of tournament’s yesterday. In the domestic corner the draw was made for the third round of the capital one cup when we received a home tie against Coventry. A great draw and another brilliant chance for fans to obtain tickets at a discounted price to see some of the stars of the future grace the emirates pitch in first team duty. That game will happen in late September and I hope we can go on a good run in that competition with a nice balance of youth and experience.

In the slightly larger more important draw that happened yesterday the groups were decided for the champions’ league. Read into it as you may I think we received a reasonable draw considering some of the teams we possibly could have drawn. In our group we were paired with Schalke, Olympiacos and Olivier Giroud’s old club Montpellier. We will have to be on top of our game and the early season cobwebs totally blown away to ensure safe passage from the group.

There is slight relief that our group did not resemble that of Manchester City, truly a group of death. We’ve been in this competition long enough to not take any opponents lightly, no games are easy enough that we simply need to turn up. A good result in our first group game which is away to Montpellier would be a nice start.

Overnight The Mail and The Express have run with stories which link us with snapping up Chelsea’s Michael Essien on loan for the season. Now we are just being teased, I for one am not a fan of the football equivalent of ‘blue balls’. The awesomeness of such a signing would be off the scale, Essien would be the type of ready for now player that would fit the quality of player we need. How true the story is I don’t know, the logic behind Chelsea letting a player like Essien move to a rival is enough to confuse Spock. Understandably the Ghanaian hasn’t hit the heights recently of his days when Mourihno was still in charge but he would clearly be a quality addition to any team. The loan transfer of Yossi Benayoun last year was a different proposition; he clearly wasn’t part of AVB’s plans and needed Arsenal as much as Arsenal desperately needed him at this time last year. Don’t get too excited on this news yet Arsenal fans but take comfort in the fact that all will be resolved before we reach September 1st.

Enjoy deadline day today people, it will come with many twists and turns. hopefully that hot presenter on sky sports news will work double shift today.

Please feel free to like the Gambeano Snitch Facebook page, share your thoughts and any rumours you hear. I think I hear Neymar’s helicopter flying above my head right now…

Arsenal a plan B? Vertonghen to prove his ambition

That awkward moment when a transfer target openly admits your team is plan B. Even more awkward the moment becomes when plan A is your fiercest rivals. Jan Vertonghen has openly admitted Tottenham Hotspur is first choice.

I suppose to get our heads around this we have to weigh up the factors for Vertonghen that is or was swinging his decision towards spurs. That one season they were in the champions’ league a couple of years ago I admit they won over many a neutral observer throughout Europe with some of their performances and results in that campaign, that put them and players like Bale on the map.

So I can understand players around Europe knowing a bit more about spurs through that campaign BUT that was two seasons ago now.

Add to that the fact that spurs were on the verge of qualifying for the champions league again next season would understandably be attractive to many a player. English teams are flavour of the month again; the new black in a sense.Chelsea’s victory in the champions’ league has added to the appeal of English premier league teams.

Now the fact Vertonghen is not a spurs player right now probably was due to the uncertainty of their place in the champions’ league. Now it is confirmed that channel 5 on Thursday night is their future the power has shifted towards team Vertonghen in negotiations.

It is at this point where I question the ambition from the Belgian defender. He will definitely be afforded more opportunities in the Spurs line up. They could potentially build their defence around him and so does his motivation stretch any further than being a regular in a team that failed to guarantee football at the highest level in European football.

He is moving from Ajax; a team which is one of the major power houses in Dutch football who regularly play champions league football and are used to challenging for trophies. Arsenal may not have won a trophy for a few years now but they have always competed at the top of all competitions and come close many a time. This is the point where an ambitious player should look at themselves and asses if they could be the missing piece that is the difference between taking that final step and obtaining success or if they just want to pick up big wages and play regularly without really challenging at the highest level.

It has been cited that Vertonghen isn’t prepared to face competition for places that appears to be the case at Arsenal however would that not be challenge enough to prove himself against what Arsenal currently has and show he deserves to be 1st choice? If you move to any big club you should have to prove your worth not get assurances of no competition and a regular starting place before you even kick a ball for a new club. I would prefer the players Arsenal sign to be ones who are prepared for a challenge and fight to prove their worth and have the desire to win things with the club and I hope that is the kind of player Vertonghen is if we are to sign him.

Spurs are throwing everything into signing the Belgian without many bargaining chips and probably using a champions league campaign from 2 years ago as their main selling point.

You find with most transfers over the past few years a player claims they have always admired the club and wanted to sign for them. These are words that if Vertonghen does sign for us cannot use as his public flirting with spurs will rest uneasy with many Arsenal fans.

We will expect as a minimum if he signs for Arsenal for him to just knuckle down and show in his performances how much he wants to play for this club. Thomas Vermaelen won the fans over instantly with determination and fight in his first few games for the club and Vertonghen has the potential to do the same. All the spurs flirting will instantly be forgotten.

It will be interesting to see how this transfer triangle will play out and what type of person Vertonghen will prove himself to be.

Arsenal is certainly not a plan B club. Jan, have the chocolates, flowers and sorry card ready if you turn up at the Emirates door.

Enjoy your day people

Feel free to like the Gambeano Snitch Facebook page for regular updates.

http://www.facebook.com/GambeanoSnitch