Fabregas joins worst team possible

Nice timing Cesc, seriously you couldn’t have timed it any better. Arsenal fans have been on a high ever since the Arsenal players lifted the FA cup. The World Cup was now upon us, in what was expected to be a far more relaxed interesting summer for all Gooners. The only thing that should have been bothering Arsenal fans was where to watch the opening match of the World Cup. Roll on the announcement earlier in the day of Chelsea’s acquisition of our former golden boy. Mourinho despite ending the season empty handed again managed to irk Arsenal fans. You can’t necessarily say he put one over Arsene Wenger as it was reported for some time that Arsenal turned down the opportunity to sign the Spaniard.

 

It’s never nice to see one of your better players join a rival, the situation with Robin Van Persie was clearly a different one and in the case of Cesc he was not even an Arsenal player. However, whether the manager is happy with his personnel in midfield or not when a player of the highest quality becomes available you cannot turn such opportunities away. Especially when the player is a former captain, idolised by the fans when at the club and still at an age where he can be deemed in his prime the last thing you want to see is him join a direct rival.

cesc kisses badge

From that perspective it’s hard to lay blame on Fabregas if he wanted to return only to be snubbed, where blame can be laid is the 2nd choice of Chelsea knowing how much the team and manager is despised in North London. All the talk of love for the club and Arsene mean nothing now he is a Chelsea player. I’ll whisper it quietly but I’d have preferred he join Manchester United than Chelsea.

 

After winning back favour with the fans after the FA cup success the decision to snub Fabregas has now taken Arsene’s one step forward two steps back in many fans eyes. You would have to think that there are major transfer plans in place to justify the Fabregas snub. It was hoped last year’s summer transfer window of frustration was a one off but this years has now started with a similar feel. The ‘big’ signing of the summer cannot be as late as Ozil’s was last year, it’s imperative that business is done at a minimum before the new season starts.

 

Life goes on, Fabregas is one player and Arsenal football club is much larger than any one player can ever be.

Enjoy the final people.
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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.

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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.

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A Win Tonight Is A Must For The Gunners

It is hoped that the Arsenal players took advantage of their extra days away from action and fully absorbed the football that did take place in their stead. For the results of the weekend should prove enough to motivate the players on what is at stake if they do not capitalise on their remaining home fixtures. Southampton refused to lie down and be walked over by Everton, their victory over the Toffees handed a massive advantage into the hands of the Gunners. Anything but victory over Newcastle tonight and the advantage will have been wasted.
Yesterday whilst witnessing the overconfidence by Liverpool and their fans prior to their game with Chelsea it highlighted how no game is a given. Form is a wonderful thing but it isn’t everlasting, all good things eventually come to an end.

liverpool fans premature

Newcastle are on a run of wretched form but that is not to say they will not cause problems tonight in search of turning things around. It is vital that a four point gap is opened up tonight and not just through expectation but by hard work, concentration and ruthlessness.

Olivier Giroud seems a different player now that some of the classier players have returned to the squad, Arsenal now offer a threat across the pitch; It will certainly keep Newcastle on their toes whilst hopefully a second successive clean sheet can also be achieved.

ozil giroud ramsey

Will project 4-4-2 be used again by Arsene? Probably, Lukasz Podolski is a grateful beneficiary of the change and more goals tonight will certainly cement a new-found niche within the team. I certainly hope he capitalizes on his chance and gives Wenger something to mould in readiness for next season’s assault.

Only two home games left and I’m feeling the withdrawal symptoms already, for all of you who are going to the Emirates tonight get behind the boys. We are the 12th man and can make the difference for the players.

Enjoy your day people.
 
 
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Returning Players Make The Difference For Gunners

The season is truly spicing up at the business end of the season for Gunners. The midweek defeat for Everton by Crystal Palace sent the pendulum swinging firmly into North London hands. The events of yesterday did little to divide the two clubs. Arsenal made short work of their trip to Hull while Everton also made easy work of a supposed banana skin in the form of a woeful Manchester United team.

With top 4 confirmation in Arsenal’s hands all they need to do is focus firmly on their games, winnable on paper but in hindsight stress inducing affairs. From now until the end of the season the psychological effect of every decision in games will be massive. With every goal conceded the doubt has potential to set in and affect the players’ performances. Not every goal will be a consolation after going four goals up, it could be an equaliser or the opener in a game and it’s from such situations that prove a team’s mettle.

Many suggest Arsenal has experience of chasing top 4 in the latter stages of the season and know what it takes to see it through whereas this is new territory for Everton and the cracks showed in midweek. Valid point to a certain extent however Arsenal have usually been the chaser, catching up to and then eventually overtaking a spluttering Spurs team with the kind of momentum being exhibited by Liverpool. This season (well recently) however the spluttering, sporadic form has been exhibited by the Gunners themselves meaning they can be also be seen as travelling in unfamiliar territory.

One of the main factors (fixture list aside) that could help the Gunners see it through to the end is the timely return of some of the more creative, game deciding players to the squad. It’s not hard to deduce that many of the poor recent performances have been at the times when the team has been stripped to the bare bones. The performance yesterday versus Hull containing Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil showed a marked improvement in the Gunners. Although far from perfect it was more reminiscent of the kind of performance the Arsenal put in pre February when things were going so well.

ramsey celebrates

The verve and swagger had returned and despite having the pressure of the top 4 race hovering to upset the apple cart the Gunners were focused and determined on the Job at hand. It does make you look back with slight regret at what could have been if the injuries suffered did not occur but equally there were opportunities to address the more long term setbacks in the January transfer window.

The return of Laurent Koscielny also resulted in a long overdue clean sheet for the team, goal difference could be vital and so it was important to shut up shop. I’m not sure why but we never seem to keep a clean sheet when Thomas Vermaelen plays in the team, the goals we concede are not necessarily his fault but it was turning into some sort of hex. I think Tom next time one of those gypsy women in the street offers you one of those little flower things you better take one and give her 20 pence because you have certainly upset someone out there.

Next on the agenda is Newcastle next Monday, although a team in wretched form Arsenal learned the other week when they played a Swansea team in a supposedly similar run of form that when the pressure is on these teams can smell blood and often take advantage of it. Additionally Everton will have played their game on the Saturday so if they take three points from their game it will make things extra nervy.

Anyway, let me move away from the pessimistic doom and gloom, Arsenal won yesterday with a performance much like we know they can put in. With Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil back to boost the squad there is no reason why they cannot finish the job. The toothless performances will be a thing of the past.

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Gunners keep in the mix with victory over Spurs

Coming into the weekend it looked like a tough one for the Gunners, could they potentially lose ground on the title contenders as they prepared for a North London derby. Man city had pulled off an impressive victory taking into account they were down to ten men after ten minutes of their game v Hull City, Chelsea were likely to follow suit and stretch their lead to a morale sapping ten points. Aston Villa had something to say about that and following a crisp finish from Fabian Delph the ball was firmly planted back into Arsenal’s court.

When opportunities come your way you have to take them, Aston Villa’s win would have all been in vein if the Gunners did not get a result at White Hart Lane. Especially given the fact that Liverpool quite impressively dismissed Manchester United in the earlier Sunday kick off. They avoided their banana skin and so the Arsenal needed to follow suit and get something from the game to shove two fingers up at the doubters that have prematurely written them out of the title race.

Whether you think Arsenal will win the league or not the additional threat from teams below the top four places provided the motivation for the Gunners to do all they can to keep them at bay. It may seem farfetched to believe Tottenham, given their past 7 days were storming towards nicking the Arsenal’s position in the top four but as the saying goes forms goes out the window in derby games. The Bale inspired teams of the past have given Spurs the belief they can get something out of games against Arsenal. Not so much the matches hosted at the Emirates but certainly games at White Hart Lane provide a threat, a defeat would have sparked the ‘squeaky bum time’ comments whilst a victory would ease the pressure somewhat. A draw would have been good for Everton who have been creeping under the radar.

So taking all that into account the silky humdinger blasted in by Tomas Rosicky in the second minute to settle the game provided a welcome result for all connected to Arsenal. Mathematically it is still possible for the current top four teams to be caught but psychologically it’s a massive blow to the chasing pack.

rosicky

The goal itself was something special, the return ball to Rosicky from Oxlade-Chamberlain may have been somewhat fortunate but the finish there was no doubts over any fortune. The connection was so sweet the ball whistled into the back of the net as sharply as a bullet. The kind of finish you would expect from Rosicky. There are certain players that produce special finishes as if it’s programmed into their DNA. It can be 50/50 whether the ball flies into row Z but when they do connect correctly there is nothing more beautiful in the game of football. Andrei Arshavin had a similar knack for the special though it was his work rate that set him apart from Rosicky.

The defence as well deserve plenty praise for their performance yesterday, they stood strong and dealt with everything thrown at them. It wasn’t easy for the back four, the early goal adjusted the game plan slightly as the team were encouraged to soak up the pressure and hit on the counter. Although comfortable in the first half it was a different prospect in the second half as the expected pressure from Spurs intensified. Adebayor was always a threat and 100% concentration was needed for the entire 90 minutes. All the hard work was almost undone by a crazy moment from Szczesny when he dropped a routine catch at the feet of Chadli but a combination of Mertesacker and Koscielny doing their best Gandalf impression ensured the ball did not pass the goal line.

At the end of the day you have to take your chances if you want something in a game. Arsenal took one of their chances while Spurs wasted their gift, the stats showed that the Gunners had one of their lowest possession stats in a Premiership game but it’s what you do with the ball that makes that stat relevant.

The visit of Chelsea is next for the Gunners, never an easy game especially against a Mourinho team but the victory yesterday should give them great confidence leading up to the game. Roll on Saturday!

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