Gunners Sign Off Final Home Game With Win

The home schedule is over for another season at the Emirates, with fourth place secured the only motivation for the Gunners were to get three points on the board to send the Arsenal fans home happy one last time. Of course the FA Cup will be the final thank you (if won) to the fans but as we know the majority won’t have the opportunity to support the team at Wembley.

The football wasn’t the greatest yesterday, the pressure was off after Everton conceded fourth place to Arsenal and even though West Brom tried in the back of their mind they see themselves safe from relegation. Norwich did manage to come away from Stamford bridge with a point as Chelsea’s pathetic end to the season spluttered on however the chances of being overtaken by the canaries still are a very long shot.

Both sets of fans were in a good mood, the weather was sunny and kept the mood jolly. West Brom fans came armed with a variety of beach balls which we’re bouncing around the away end until the stewards got their hands on them.

Giroud saluting his winner

Giroud saluting his winner

 

With fourth placed secured many wondered if most the 1st team would be rested for the game, news filtered through before the match that Abou Diaby was on the bench and Aaron Ramsey would not be involved. I suppose the possibility of wholesale changes would be slim since all week the team would have been set out in training to get the win, the bonus of Everton losing came too late in the day to change all preparation for yesterday’s game. Ramsey was afforded the break which was good however a much weakened team would be expected for the Norwich game.

It would have been nice to see Abou Diaby make an appearance in front of the fans but an injury to Nacho Monreal equated to the final substitution of the day being a forced one. Arsenal’s very own ‘Mr Glass’ is likely to still be around next season, hopefully for a lot longer than he managed this season. The same can’t be said for Kim Kallstrom, he will be returning to his parent club once his contract runs out. After all the kerfuffle over his transfer to the Gunners his impact was quite minimal. No fault of the player himself but by the time he was finally ready; our premiership campaign was effective dead and buried.

One person whose future is still uncertain is that of Bacary Sagna, he hasn’t signed a new contract and the chances of him staying are pretty slim now. In the stands we sung his name during the game, letting him know we want him to stay however we have been in this position many a time over the years . To lose the Frenchman would be a big loss however no player is irreplaceable (ahem. Thierry Henry?) in most cases. Those right-back shoes would be big ones to fill but if it happens we just have to get on with it. My only hope is if Bacary does move on it isn’t to a premiership rival, it just doesn’t sit right with me. The Robin van Persie transfer to man united never should have happened and although the club had a say in that transfer it is more or less powerless with Sagna. We can only ask him to think about the fans that have supported him all these years before signing on the dotted line for another premiership club.

 

sagna

farewell?

 

Looking back now on what could have been this season, a top four finish and (hopefully) FA Cup trophy is far from disaster. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes this season and put them right next.

IMG_1916

The Norwich game is meaningless to me now; all I would like from it is some youngsters to play and stake a claim for next season. Victory on May 17th is vital to finish the season right.

Enjoy your day people.
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Nothing goes right on bad day for Gunners

Arsenal doesn’t like doing things straight forward; there’s always some sort of complication that makes an evaluation impossible to bracket as black and white. Tensions are high amongst Arsenal fans; we have been frustrated at the lack of any sort of signings to boost/strengthen the team. We have also spent the last 7 days hearing announcements that Theo Walcott has signed his contract only to discover nothing official from anyone that actually matters in the whole situation. Earlier in the day former player Robin Van Persie again found himself on the score-sheet to take Manchester United 10 points clear at the top, another dig in the ribs of frustrated Gooners.

Everything seemed to be falling in place to put Arsene Wenger straight into the firing line if we did not come away from the Man City game with a positive game, performance and result. Leading up to the game there were some signs that something was slightly skewiff. Firstly the news filtered through beforehand that the game was under threat due to a suspicious package being located outside the Emirates that resulted in the area being closed off to the public. The threat was quickly dealt with however rumours circulated that Mikel Arteta was in fact injured and would not be involved in the game, which was proved right and seemed another strike thrown into the mix before we even kicked a ball. The biggest factor to affect our game and pour cold water over the Arsenal fans optimism was the dismissal of Laurent Koscielny just 9 minutes into the game. A game changer indeed and so early in the match that any hopes of winning the game were heavily reduced. For the record it was a penalty, I would not deny that however the award of a red card is debatable. I could talk until I am blue in the face dissecting the decision of Mike Dean but that won’t change anything.

mike dean pen

It spoiled what had the potential to be a good game and from then on the defeat was an inevitable outcome. The injustice of the red card in a way deflected the rage that was going to be directed towards Arsene Wenger for some of his recent actions, comments and inactivity in the transfer market. You cannot really critique the performance of a team that was handicapped with one less player for the majority of the match.

So from the events of yesterday I have a few points to raise:

Koscielny didn’t help the situation.

koscielny hold

Depending on what side of the fence you sit on he either deserved to go or he didn’t. What was conclusive from the incident was he did have his arm around Eden Dzeko and therefore deserved to be penalised for the incident. If he received only a yellow card we still would have had to face a penalty in the first 10 minutes. All season the team have been conceding unnecessary goals and if converted (in the alternate universe where Koscielny received only a yellow) that would have been another on the list. Our French defender although a favourite of many fans, has a knack of the odd silly moments. He has quite a few red cards already during his spell with Arsenal and I think it’s time that Arsene or Stevie Bould had a word with him on being a bit more aware of the consequences of his action when in the box. We can’t rely on Referees to use common sense in games so the best policy is to not give them any reason to make their rash decisions.

New players are contributing to their teams.

In a so far inactive transfer market for Arsene, fans cannot help but notice that players are scoring for their new clubs. Daniel Sturridge managed to get on the score-sheet earlier in the day with Liverpool, Demba Ba has got off the mark for Chelsea already and looked to have settled at his new club. It’s just a sign to show what kind of impact a new signing could have on the team. I know any new signing  would have been just as powerless as the players on the field yesterday once we went down to 10 men and so my argument doesn’t have much standing but I still believe our current squad has gone a bit stale and returning injured players will not revitalize it. New blood is needed the sooner the better.

Arteta injury means big problems.

The news of Arteta’s injury is not welcome news at all. Arsene has ruled him out for the rest of the month and the question is how do we cope with the loss of our Spanish pass master? Arteta has made the defensive midfield position his own this season and his ever-present season so far hasn’t drawn up the dilemma of where suitable cover would come from. Abou Diaby slotted into the role yesterday however being his first game back after his long absence it will be wishful thinking to believe he can cover until Arteta returns. His body will most likely require some recovery after his shift yesterday, the extra running having to deal with an extra man won’t help at all. The other option on offer is the two young guys could step up to the mark. Francis Coquelin has been on the fringes of the first team all season without ever threatening to oust any of the starting midfielders. With the injury to Arteta, an indication of Wenger’s true belief in the young Frenchman was shown by the manager choosing to play Diaby in front of him. With the games coming thick and fast this January he is bound to get a chance at some point but it’s important to see how he overcomes this first rejection. Emmanuel Frimpong is also back at Arsenal after his loan spell at Charlton and could be in contention for a place; I would expect Coquelin to get preference over the Ghanaian but would not be surprised if he does make an appearance this month.

Walcott performances up front need adapting.

theo v kompany

The longer the contract situation with Theo Walcott continues the more stringent his performances will be critiqued. Once again the young Englishman was given a chance in his preferred position up front but once again he came up short. With a continued run of games he is bound to improve but his contribution in that position needs more variety than just running off the shoulder of the last defender. After the 7-3 victory over Newcastle it was quite clear where Theo’s strengths lied but after that game opposing teams did their homework and decided it might not be best playing a high line against him. This has resulted in him being quite ineffective when he is not running onto long balls. The sending off didn’t help him yesterday as the added contribution of Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken away. There has also been a recent increase in Theo taking set pieces; it does make you wonder if his ongoing contract negotiations are resulting in him receiving special treatment from his colleagues. I think there are players better place to take the set plays and I think he needs to concentrate on scoring goals if he plays as the striker in the team. Once he masters that side of his game then he can expand into contributing to the set plays, you can’t become Thierry Henry overnight after all. In conclusion what I’m trying to say is with all the hassle over the new contract Theo needs to show he has more in his locker to justify the efforts to keep him.  It’s starting to look like Wenger will not spend again and so more responsibility will lie on Theo’s shoulders to prove the managers stinginess is the right decision.

We now face Swansea in the F.A. Cup third round replay this week, our biggest chance for a trophy this season. Let’s hope the Arsenal can get over yesterday’s result very quickly.

Enjoy your day people.

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Arsenal’s Fire Sale now on

The January Sales seem to have started at the Emirates, a number of players have been linked with moves away from the club in the past couple days. The fans have demanded signings to change our stuttering fortunes and it seems the manager has taken note.

As I understand the rules will still apply on the number of players you can have named in each premier league squad and so it seems we will move on the players surplus to requirement before any new faces come in.

One of the mistakes we probably made in the summer was not shifting on certain players that were not in the managers plans early enough and we were then left with the problem of not commanding buyers  for those players. Instead we had to make do with makeshift season-long loans and in Arshavin’s case keeping on a player. I still believe Arshavin could have done a job for us this season but his sparse appearances this season more or less signalled Wenger’s true feelings on the player. Players like Bendtner and Denilson are still AFC players despite the possibility of never wearing an Arsenal shirt again but their generous contracts they signed with us played a part in their reluctance to run out of the back door.

squillachi

This time around the first business in place it seems is the shifting on of players. Johan Djourou seems on his way to Hannover, Sebastian Squillachi on his way to Bastia and Maroune Chamakh is seemingly on his way to West Ham. The moves seem imminent although not confirmed yet Arsene did manage to confirm at least that Squillachi and Djourou have his blessing to find new clubs.

chamakh

With the spaces made by those players’ departures it seems clear Arsene Wenger has his targets, although he keeps his cards close to his chest it appears quite logical a defender will be a potential signing. All the rumoured players so far have been offensive players so it will be interesting to see who does come in.

The offensive side seems to hang in the balance depending on the developments of Theo Walcott’s contract situation. We have missed out on Demba Ba and the motives for Wilfred Zaha’s move seems more based on being a replacement signing rather than an addition to the squad.

The most important thing of all is the fact that Arsene is moving his chess pieces into place, he knows he cannot use returning injured players as new signings. The squad needs recruits and any players coming in have to be improvements on the players that move on.

This will be an interesting January, a month in which we have a few tough games coming up; a few bad results and the fans will be sure to let Arsene and the team know their true feelings.

Enjoy your day people.

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Tough Everton game up next for Gunners

Match day today, the Gunners face a tough game away to Everton at Goodison Park. To gain three points tonight would call upon all the players bringing their A game with them. We are boosted by the news that Theo Walcott returns to fitness and should play a part in the game. We badly missed the outlet of Walcott’s pace on Saturday and his return is a timely boost to the team. He has become an important part of our attacking game and maybe finally reaching the level of consistency that has been missing from his game over the years.

The fact that he has reached this not playing in his preferred central role is worrying for all those wanting him to sign a new contract. It has come to the point where his departure would be a massive loss to the team, we need him to sign a new contract and by that we need to keep him happy. Money shouldn’t be an issue, given the multi million pound deal signed with Fly Emirates last week.

We will need to keep a close eye on the developments as time moves ever closer to the midseason transfer window. One thing that can’t be read into too much is the talk of the selections for the 2013 calendar. The fact Theo is not included on the calendar could be down to mere coincidence. Each month contains a single player, that’s 12 players from a squad of 30 strong, some players will miss out, it’s simple maths.

Calendars and club catalogues can draw all sorts of confusion just by who is selected to front the pages, I would not stress myself trying to predict our transfer dealings based on a calendar. Right now in my office at work I have an Arsenal calendar with the November picture of Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie celebrating a goal. Can’t even bear to look at that thing, Calendars are more hassle than they are worth.

Everton will have Fellaini back after serving a one match suspension, it will be important that the defence are fully focused to contain the threat of the Toffee’s in form player. The two recent clean sheets will be a welcome psychological boost to the defence, the threat stems throughout the Everton team from the quality delivery of Baines from the wing to the trickery of the likes of Pienaar and Mirallas. Even though our past few games against Everton have been positive results the performances themselves have required hard ground out ethic. On paper we have every chance in reality it’s 50/50.

In addition to Walcott there’s a chance for fresher legs to return to action against Everton: Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, and Thomas Vermaelen may be utilized. Although we never suffered any injuries from the Villa game Arsene clearly had tonight’s game in mind when he made his team selection on Saturday. It may have slightly backfired given the result at the weekend but there’s a chance to put things right tonight. With players returning from injury Arsene Wenger has more of a luxury of players to select for the game than in past weeks, it may work in our favour, hopefully it will keep the starting eleven on their toes and inspire a great performance from each of them.

In other Arsenal news Emmanuel Frimpong has been given clearance by FIFA to represent Ghana at international level. The Arsenal youngster has made no secret of his desire to represent the country of his heritage. It’s a shame he turned his back on England but you cannot deny anyone the right to represent their country of birth. Some things are bigger than football and his decision is one made from the heart. It may cause problems in future when you consider the African Cup of Nations but for now he is not part of the current first team and so his recuperation from injury is priority, once he gets to the level he has the potential to reach then we can curse his absence from the team.

He seems to be doing ok on his loan at Charlton, he certainly won’t be given any easy treatment by the league one opposition, and he will be a marked man due to where he is on loan from and his status in the public. The experience will only make him stronger and more hungry to make up for lost time.

Another boost to the team is the return of Tomas Rosicky to full training. We have been robbed of the services of Rosicky all season after an injury picked up on international duty with the Czech team during the Euros. His return will be a welcome additional and it is hoped he gets into the groove quickly once he returns to first team duty. Arsene said of Rosicky:

“Rosicky is back in the squad, not quite match fit but in full training. He needs a game or two in the reserve team. He has not played for six months but he is fit.”

It will be great to have him back, we have certainly missed the alternative dynamic to the midfield that Rosicky and Diaby can bring. Between the two we may get the opportunity of one or the other available for future match day squads continuously. Diaby is around 4 weeks away from returning to training so fingers crossed they both return and stay a little longer with us.

Enjoy your day people.

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Some points to address part 2 – AFC

Yesterday I raised some points to you in the aftermath of the Old Trafford game, today I continue them to you:

Is it time to cut our losses on injury prone players?

Going into the united match the squad was weakened by the loss of injured players. Now injuries are not something you can avoid, it happens to all teams, it happens to us a lot but you reach a point where you question whether lady luck is not on your side or whether you do something about it and not have to rely on luck. Abou Diaby is a player I believe in so much, if he was injury free he has the potential to be up there with players such as Yaya Toure. He started the season so well, he produced the performances many fans doubted he had in him and then he got injured. All the momentum and progress lost as he spends another sustained amount of time in the treatment room. We missed his presence on Saturday and there is no real idea of when he will return to the team.

Thomas Rosicky although injured playing for the Czech republic over the summer is another player who last season was rejuvenated in arsenal colours. He proved his worth with some awesome displays as we stormed to 4th place in the table. Despite the heroics we find ourselves in an all too familiar situation where Rosicky is spending more time in the treatment room than on the pitch.

It just seems the longer we persevere with injury prone players the more the team suffers because when those players are injured we have no other options when first choice players become unavailable. A valuable place is taken in the premier league squad by players who cannot be called upon when required. We have done this for years only for the infamous line ‘like a new player’ to be used every time they return for a 2 game run.

Is it time to be ruthless and consider shipping on the more injury prone players? i would find it hard to see us get rid of Diaby but how much longer can we rely on him to play at least 5 games in a row without injury. Before you abuse me this is just a point I am raising, I am not campaigning for us to get rid of any players. For all the improvements made by Kieran Gibbs at left back his injury record leaves us in the situation where we now rely on Andre Santos to fill the gap, this leads onto my next point.

Santos has to play

Yes, I know he was torn a new one by Valencia on Saturday but not many full backs do get an easy game against the united winger. Our Brazilian is currently going through a crisis of confidence as the current negativity surrounding arsenal football club has produced a scapegoat. Will he turn around the perception? It’s a tough one to call, all players go through ups and downs and santos is definitely in the middle of a down period. He is being blamed for things that aren’t his fault at times and currently can do nothing right.

Santos defending has not been an in-house secret the nation is unaware of. We know his attacking can far outweigh his defensive side. More suited to a wing back role rather than an out an out full back role Santos is often found wanting out on the left hand side. Can it all be down to his positional play or could the addition factors of support and team formation contribute?  It is probably a combination of all three but I have to say I don’t agree with the idea of playing Sagna or any other player out of position to fill in at that role.

Santos is the specialist full back and it’s a choice Arsene Wenger will have to live and die by. It’s a player he signed and one he will need to assess on keeping or selling at the next transfer window but I think the option of playing an out of position player ahead of him is premature. He can still contribute at left back and if he was dropped for Sagna or Coquelin then there is no point registering him to play for the club ever again. If there is any chance of him regaining his confidence that would be shot to pieces to drop him for those options. Wenger needs to address how the team can help out Santos during his bad spell rather than leaving him to the lions.

what we as fans can do to help is to get behind him, as frustrating as it can be at times. never in history has a player raised his game after receiving verbal abuse from his own fans from the stands. we have to make do with him for now so the best we can do is unite and support all the team.

OK, moving away from saturday, we have a game today and hopefully an opportunity to bury some demons in the process. a positive result today will go a long way to restoring some pride back. At present it’s not looking good with our squad now weakened by the loss of Aaron Ramsey.

One thing Arsenal are good at is pulling off results at our lowest periods in a season. And that is why despite our threadbare squad travelling to Germany a win is not beyond us. The team need to stick together, fight for each other, fight for every ball and make the chances count. it is not beyond us, we are a better team than Shalke, tonight is the chance to prove it.

Enjoy your day people.Enjoy the game

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