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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Time to move on from Villa and focus on Everton.

The mood has now hopefully settled amongst Arsenal fans; the result and the substitutions in particular left many fans directing their fury towards Arsene Wenger. A 0-0 draw is one result that is universally unwelcome to football fans; the prospect of no goals has no place in any person’s life and can result in blood boiling frustration to those who witness the event. A score draw is acceptable because at least the ball has hit the back of the net; that is unless the team draws after being 4-0 up a la Newcastle. Anyway, it seems the lack of goals was contagious as the games hosted by Swansea and Chelsea on Sunday followed suit.

The biggest gripe was behind that substitution of Giroud and the resting of Jack Wilshere. The Jack issue I suppose is easier to defend, the substitution not so much. Hopefully we have grunted and snarled all the frustration out of our systems, put Saturday behind us and now focus our attention on the tough game against Everton on Wednesday.

I do have some points concluded from the game on Saturday, they are a more constructive and reflective round-up of factors I have noticed. Don’t get me wrong I swear blue in the face, throw ornaments and kick furniture with the best of fans when a match is on however it can be better to take time to reflect on things rather than vent in the immediate aftermath. Here goes…

Ramsey can do no right.

One thing that is clear is our Welsh midfielder is not the flavour of the month with many Arsenal fans. Forget the mantle of flavour of the month it has stretched closer to the past 12 months and longer for Ramsey. In an earlier post I had highlighted the Arsenal players most likely to be the scapegoat for the season, the player to feel the full brunt of the fans fury when fortunes don’t go our way. I predicted it was a toss-up between Ramsey, Andre Santos and Gervinho and to be honest I feel that title is being shared between the three. Gervinho stemmed the flow slightly with his purple patch of goalscoring form at the earlier part of the season; Andre Santos is out of the firing line lately simply because his appearances in the starting eleven have been heavily reduced more for his own sake than anything else. Ramsey has featured more in the team than the other two players and has come in for criticism for his performances regardless of what he contributes. I am not blind there are times he has struggled in games, more so when he has been deployed in the front three. In my opinion a position not suited for him but as a player you put in a shift wherever the manager chooses to play you. Ramsey’s problem is his performances are more under the microscope from fans than any other Arsenal players, any good he does is instantly forgotten and replaced by any misplaced pass or scuffed shot. On Saturday he was not awful, the team on a whole did not click but he still came out with the most criticism, he can do now right at the moment. I feel we need to ease up on him, he may still be looking for his best form but he won’t achieve that with constant groans and abuse. He is an Arsenal player at the end of the day and we need to support every player on the pitch not alienate individuals. Save the venom for the players that showed no respect for the club and left under acrimonious terms like the Van Persie’s and Nasri’s of the world.

Is Oxlade-Chamberlain suffering 2nd season syndrome?

It hasn’t quite clicked for the Ox this season, after such a prominent first season with the Gunners that elevated him into the England squad for Euro 2012 his development this season has stagnated slightly. Admittedly he has played a lot of football, he didn’t get much of a break due to appearing in the Euros this summer and suffering a few niggling injuries this season. It’s hard to single it down to burnout because he hasn’t had much of a run in the team this season but it was quite noticeable that his performances against Montpellier and Aston Villa were quite below the standard he has set for himself. He is still young and still learning his trade so he can be forgiven for not being at the stage where he wins games single-handed by just being on the pitch. We have though, witnessed him at his devastating best last season so when he is below par it’s quite noticeable. He still has so much to bring to the team and has that bums off the seat aura about him when he is on top form. 2nd season syndrome is more about players struggling to handle the pressure of the their achievements from the season before, I don’t think Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers from that kind of pressure, he is level-headed enough and the form of Theo Walcott on the right side ensures the fans are not overly dependent of Alex to perform. I hope the 2nd season theory turns out to be nonsense from me; the best way to rubbish my idea starts with Everton on Wednesday.

Defence continues to shut them out.

I suppose the one positive you can take from a 0-0 draw is the defence has produced a clean sheet. That’s the second game in a row we have managed a clean sheet and is a sign than we may have overcome the teething problem of soft goals conceded in recent weeks. With Kieran Gibbs returning to fitness skipper Thomas Vermaelen who was deputising the left back role was dropped to the bench for the Englishman to return. Vermaelen’s form had been a bit up and down when playing in the centre of defence in recent weeks but a reshuffle at the centre of defence was probably not required and was behind Wenger’s reasoning for his choice. Whether Arsene keeps the same back line against Everton is debatable, he will have hungry, fresher players to choose from and Vermaelen may have a point to prove if selected. The most important thing is the goals have stopped leaking and we need to continue that habit now.

Arshavin deserves more game time.           

I understand our Russian 23 is out of favour with Arsene this season; he is most likely to move on in the next transfer window however I feel when called upon he hasn’t let the team down. At times when we have had players missing through injury and been forced to play players like Aaron Ramsey out of position in the front three attacking role it does make you wonder why Arshavin hasn’t been considered. I don’t have knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes at Arsenal but I believe he could contribute more to the team than the Capital One Cup outings and the closing stages of Premiership games. Even if he is as good as out the door he has from the outside showed professionalism on the pitch, there has been no strops or rants in the press, he has just got on with it. I feel he can be utilized more until he has gone, when he does move then maybe he will let the cat out of the bag and give all the juicy details of what really went on but for now he is an alternative that can be used; we don’t have great depth in our squad but there are still players that maybe aren’t being used as much as they could.

So here they are, feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section. They are just points, I can be convinced to change my views if you present a good case. What we can all agree on is three points at Everton on Wednesday would be nice.

Enjoy your day people

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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

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Roll on Southampton, we have missed you AFC

My goodness i’ve missed you premiership, what a long international break that seemed. International qualifiers and friendlies just don’t do it for me. My interest goes right out the window, I take notice of our boys and how they do in addition to praying they don’t return to the Arsenal broken. After a summer of being spoilt by Euro’s, Olympics, Paralympics and Wimbledon there just always seemed to be something that filled the void until the new season started, now that’s all finished the past week or so has really dragged for me.

In addition to the lack of domestic football we have the transfer window closed, that led to no potential signings filtering through twitter and other social media platforms. The supposed ITK’s have gone into hibernation (or gone back to tweeting their love to Justin Bieber) meaning there’s no rumours to get the fans whipped into a gossip filled frenzy. We were taken back to the football news being actual reports based on interviews and international results. No bad thing I admit, it certainly makes a change to the usual things reported, I just need the football back now.

Southampton comes to town and it will make for a significant fixture for a few players in our squad. We clearly have links with Southampton after signing two of their brightest young talents in recent years. Theo Walcott was signed way back in 2006 amidst a media storm, his inclusion to the England squad for the world cup that year didn’t help quell the enormous pressure he was already under, he has finally started to show some of that potential seen in him when so young. Far from the finished article Theo has still managed to develop his game and the script for his career is still unwritten. He is still young enough to have a part to play in Arsenal’s future successes and move up to the next level in his personal development and gameplay. A chance to play against the team where it all started will no doubt be an emotional one and I’m sure he will show his old club great respect if he were to score against them.

Alex Oxlade –Chamberlain another former Southampton starlet who made the switch to the emirates gets a chance against his old club, there will be more ties to the team he plays since many of the players from his time there will still be present. It was only a year ago that he signed admittedly under the radar due to the heavy backlash received by the club in the midst of the departures of key players at the start of last season. An unknown entity to many Arsenal fans Alex has come on leaps and bounds to make himself a fan favourite, an integral part of the 1st team squad and a senior England international. Such an exciting player with so much potential for more, Arsenal fans really need to applaud Southampton for letting this one join our ranks.

Another player who can have an indirect link to Southampton is our French striker Olivier Giroud. I know he hasn’t played for them but im sure you all know by now (or just remember) how games against Southampton have become significant for some of our great players in terms of them breaking their league goal scoring ducks. Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp are just a couple of the quality players to get their first Arsenal goals against the saints after initially struggling to find the net in their first few games.

Could it be written in the stars that our powerful new striker could follow suit and finally boot that monkey off his back today? Why not, he would be in good company joining that exclusive club with the Iceman, Wrighty, Thierry and that other dutch bloke. He has the talent, and his first goal is just around the corner.
I’ll be at the game today and hope to witness the moment, I will no doubt give the loudest cheer if he bags his debut goal today.

Not much new in team news, Diaby probably won’t be risked due to a knock on international duty, Walcott missed the last England game due to a virus but was able to train yesterday. Szczesny is fit again and the long term absentees are getting closer to a return.
I’m glad the footy is back at the emirates, seems a complete age since I last went to the Sunderland game. Please guys give us three points and plenty of goals. Southampton can’t be taken for granted, they have given both Manchester clubs food for thought recently. They remind me much of Blackpool last time they were in the premiership plenty attacking threat and flair going forward however likely to concede as much as they score. Let’s hope our defence continue their fine run, come on you gunners!

Enjoy your day people

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England bow out on penalties, Chamakh doesn’t want to bow out – AFC

How many of you did not predict penalties in this tie? That was one outcome that everybody knew would happen. With no goals through 90 minutes and extra time England had finally succumb to the dreaded penalty shootout. It was definitely not a good night if your name was Ashley; both Young and Cole did not score their penalties which condemned England to taking the next flight home.

The game itself was not a classic by any means, especially if you were supporting England. After a bright start from both teams where it seemed they were prepared to throw two fingers up at all those who predicted a defensive stalemate from the two countries. That lasted all of five minutes then the real picture loomed.

As the game wore on Italy became stronger and stronger and missed quite a few chances you would expect them to gobble up. I believe the English post was struck twice over the course of the game and Balotelli had a game he would rather forget in terms of the chances he missed. England rode their luck a few times in the game as they became more and more tentative in their play. They dropped deep, kept their shape but at the times the broke on the counter they couldn’t string a number of passes together. The ball would break down and they would scurry back into position win the ball back and do the same over again.

As I had stated yesterday a game featuring these two countries needed the addition of someone special to produce that one piece of magic. I wanted that someone to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, England was calling out for his appearance. Rooney offered absolutely nothing on the night, nothing he tried came off and a lot of the promising attacks fell apart at his feet. Despite Jordan Henderson being trusted ahead on him last night young Alex will return to Arsenal with a lot of experience gained from his involvement in the tournament overall.

Theo Walcott did come on in the second half replacing James Milner who again was in the team on merit for his defensive qualities yet offered nothing going forward. Theo did in fact have the Italians on the back foot when in possession however that wasn’t in possession often enough as the England team seemed to force all their play on the left hand side. I have no idea why this was the case as Ashley Young gave the ball away far too much on the left flank and should really have been subbed at some point. I suppose in the end England believed their best hope to be penalties and played for them. Roy didn’t take that gamble the England team needed, the nation knew not to expect much when Henderson was brought on for Scott Parker and the only gamble Roy was prepared to take with the penalty shoot-out didn’t pay off. Not much else to say on the matter, the journey for the England team has ended at the quarter final stage. We didn’t expect much going into the tournament but gained belief as England progressed; we had some positives from Theo and Alex’s participation and will benefit next season from their experience gained.

In other Arsenal news the Bordeaux president has ruled out the prospect of Marouane Chamakh returning to the club this summer. It was though that after showing interest in the January transfer window for the striker they would renew that interest as it’s looking more and more likely he will become surplus to requirements next season. This has now been confirmed that Bordeaux will not be a likely destination. President Jean Louis Triaud said:

“It is not worth making things up. I tried to contact him six months ago when the transfer window was open”

he added:

 “Since I crossed paths with him at the Parc des Princes, he was able to tell me he was very happy in London, loved Arsenal and was fine where he was. We’re talking about things which do not exist.”

Don’t know what to make of those quotes, can Chamakh really be happy with the way his career has been going at Arsenal or is he happy with the bumper wages he is on? I stand by the latter, we must not forget he signed on a free and his agent would have made the most of that situation with wage negotiations. These same wages Chamakh is on would price him out of any move back to his old club. France isn’t known for its high wages apart from the money currently being thrown about at PSG.

I still believe Chamakh will move on if and when we complete the signing of Giroud from Montpellier but for now he is taking a seat next to Denilson, Arshavin and Bendtner in that waiting room of uncertainty.

Enjoy your day people

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