Arsenal claim 4th place ‘trophy’

So that’s it, fourth place secured with a win at Newcastle. No playoff though I doubt Arsenal fans were too bothered about that, Spurs won but that effort was in vain as Arsenal took hold of their own destiny and achieved the win required.

Any Arsenal fan that tells you they were not nervous before or during the match are cold faced liars, the tension was unbearable at times and the final whistle could not come quick enough towards the end.

AFC FINAL WHISTLE

Laurent Koscielny provided the deciding goal to maintain champion’s league football for the Gunners and was a rock at the back to boot. Man of the match in my eyes and it is hoped his form from the second half of the season is here to stay permanently.

The whole team deserves praise for holding their nerve to carve out the result when the pressure was surely on, Tottenham had the far easier game to play and it was important that Arsenal scored the first goal to alleviate any extra nerves which could disrupt their performance.

The importance of securing fourth place cannot be stressed hard enough, competing in the champions league is the difference between attracting players of the calibre of Jovetic or settling for players of lesser ability. European football is a bargaining chip in negotiations and will ensure top players will consider signing up at the Emirates, it also ensures the current squad won’t get itchy feet for football elsewhere.

giroud celebrates v newc

Many have commented on Arsenal’s celebrations at the final whistle, saying that they celebrated as if they had won a trophy; I can assure you if fortunes were reversed and Tottenham achieved the fourth place they would have celebrated the same way if not harder. Fourth place was at stake but also was the chance to better your bitter rivals, nothing can be sweeter than achieving at the expense of your rivals. A trophy was not won but the tears of the spurs players at the final whistle is worthy of celebrating 20 times over.

worth it

worth it

Arsenal can now build on this, it will take shrewd business from Arsene Wenger to improve the team and create a squad capable of challenging for honours in an Alex Ferguson-less Premier league. The core of the team is there, there shouldn’t be a Robin Van Persie-esque departure from the squad this summer. The additions from last summer should improve on their solid debut seasons and a clear out of the less involved players should come to fruition.

Andre Arshavin took to twitter to bid farewell to Arsenal, he thanked the fans, his colleagues and all the staff at the club as well as wishing the club well in next year’s champion’s league. It’s a nice touch from the diminutive Russian who never said a bad word about the club during his exiled period this season. He left the club with many quality memories most notably the 4 goals at Anfield and that winner against Barcelona. He will be fondly remembered by Arsenal fans and I for one wish him well in the next chapter of his career.

arshavin tweets

Guys, please take advantage of the bragging rights to all the Tottenham fans you know. Do not feel sorry for them because they would not hold back if roles were reversed. Make them feel like rubbish today and for the rest of the week if you can.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy…

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3 points are all that matters for Arsenal

Sitting in the premier league table above Tottenham Hotspur is a good feeling, one that has been taken for granted over the years by Arsenal fans but the general importance of the feat has never been underestimated. They have slowly chipped away at their north London rivals and with the win over Norwich have now climbed above their rivals.

poldi celebrates

Getting back above Spurs was the easy part; it’s now ensuring they stay there that becomes hard. It’s in their hands so there can be no complaints if at the end of the season fortunes change.

The game yesterday was one of high interest to me; based on my experience last year in the 3-3 draw with the Canaries I was quite desperate to get some sort of redemption with a victory.

Seated close to the Norwich fans it was a chance to go back and forth with the banter; despite a first half of wasted chances and no shots on goal for the visitors they still made a vocal presence in the stadium. The game last season was similar to yesterdays in the sense that top four and champion’s league qualification was very much undecided and Norwich had a chance to throw a spanner in the works.

The Norwich fans were not shy in ribbing the Arsenal faithful with chants of Thursday Night Channel five. Quite outdated considering the Europa football is screened on the ITV channels however it was nice to get the opportunity to throw those chants right back down their throats.

Based on yesterday’s game here are some points of note:

Wilshere was rusty.

The loss of Jack Wilshere was a big blow to the Arsenal team; he returned from his long term injury and eventually found his rhythm to become a key cog of the Arsenal midfield. Despite the team’s good record during his recent absence his return to first team duty can definitely be seen as a psychological boost to the team. Eyebrows may have been raised that he returned straight back into the starting eleven but considering last week’s two goal hero Tomas Rosicky was unavailable Arsene Wenger’s hand had been forced. Wilshere displayed rustiness in his game, although not awful he was way off his influential best, the Arsenal game was becoming stale as Norwich were relishing their backs to the wall defending and so Jack was sacrificed to inject new impetus into the Arsenal play.

Gervinho had one of those days.

It is inevitable that Gervinho will never convince all Arsenal fans of his worth. You never know which performance you will get from the forward and until consistency is added to his game he will split fans opinion. One thing he is even when at his most frustrating worst is he is a threat, his pace stretches teams and especially with the loss of Theo Walcott to injury he has played a part in the recent run of form for the team. We may have a laugh and a joke or moan at the times he messes up but he has pace and a box of tricks (that all be it has a success rate of 1 in 10) that when it comes off is a great tool. Yesterday wasn’t his day but his starting place was earned by his contribution in the previous two games, he may still play a big part in Arsenals quest for fourth place.

Defence was well despite conceding.

Yes a goal was conceded against the run of play but the partnership of Koscielny and the returning Tomas Vermaelen played well. That Norwich’s first shot on goal wasn’t until they actually scored was testament to how the Canaries attack was kept under control. As is the Arsenal default game plan they prefer to concede when under complete control however the goal was from a set play. I’m not sure who exactly was picking up Turner but that set play required a team effort to ensure all men were picked up and unlike the goal conceded against Blackburn in the FA Cup which was a complete cock-up there was fault but not entirely attributed to the centre back pairing.

I believe Vermaelen had a good game, he was determined in the tackle and dealt with the threat of Grant Holt. Although Per Mertesacker is likely to return to the starting line up after serving his suspension it was encouraging that the Arsenal captain had an event free performance. He has set a platform he needs to build on to win back the confidence of the fans and the manager.

It was a penalty.

"it's not fair, they are time-wasting..."

“it’s not fair, they are time-wasting…”

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this non topic, the Norwich fans are bitter as you would expect from any opposition team who concedes a penalty but it was a clear pull on the shirt of Giroud from the Norwich player. Doesn’t matter who saw it a foul is a foul end of.

Enjoy your day people.

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Can recent history repeat itself against Bayern for Arsenal?

Interesting week ahead for the gunners; a week which has the potential to be the turning point in the fortunes of Arsenal football club. If history manages to repeat itself the game against Bayern could help restore belief amongst the players and fans much like what happened last year in the games against AC Milan. After a horrid 1st leg result against the Italians the team managed to pull off a gallant effort despite still being eliminated. The players were able to walk off the field with their heads held high, pride restored and a renewed belief and support from the fans as they saw out the season into third place.

ox v milan

The game with Bayern requires a massive performance from the players; they owe it to the fans, the manager and themselves to prove they do belong in the champion’s league amongst Europe’s best. The first leg played into Bayern’s hands as morale was low amongst the players and the Germans exploited that. We were totally outclassed and in my opinion at that moment in time it was not a true reflection of Arsenal football club. Now is the opportunity for the club to show they are miles better than that first leg performance.

A gift was presented in the form of Liverpool’s win over Spurs yesterday; the gap can be closed on our North London rivals in the league but a heavy/embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Germans is likely to filter through into the league form. A run of games is required now through to the end of the season, the club cannot afford to be hit and miss any more.

verm v robben

Elimination at the hands of Bayern may not be avoided but it does not mean Arsene’s team cannot pull off a victory on the night and/or produce a reassuring performance to restore pride. A performance of note is likely to be noticed by the Spurs players and the closer the season moves towards squeaky bum time the psychological effect that could have on their players is massive.

The Spurs performance against Liverpool was not bad, it was clear their confidence was up given their recent results and at the point they went 2-1 up the game looked to be theirs to lose. Thankfully for Arsenal fans they tried their best to throw the game away as they gifted two goals to Liverpool. Brain-dead defending which I thought was only a disease Arsenal suffered from this season ensured Liverpool left the game with all the points.

It is the little things that can turn a clubs season upside down, at 2-1 up they looked certain to add another goal and put the game beyond the Scousers however that moment of madness from Walker changed everything and from being at a level high in confidence and cruising the Spurs players now find themselves looking over their shoulder and worrying. Doubt can creep into future performances and if Arsenal takes advantage of the slip up it will make for a very tense run in.

suarez pen

oops…

Chelsea I still believe is the stronger of the two teams above Arsenal and likely to fix their problems while Spurs are the more fragile mentally and the team most likely to be caught. My only hope is the Arsenal mentality will grow stronger based on their Champions League efforts this week.

Enjoy your day people.

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Gooners to enjoy week as Spurs help the environment – AFC

It’s now Monday; the north London derby result is still fresh in the mind. As gooners we cannot let the opportunity pass to remind our spurs chums of the score. When you return to the office today look out for your spurs supporting colleagues and make sure they know the score. They are hurting right now and they need to feel even worse. We’ve been there, on the end of a bad result, you want the world to swallow you up. To lose a north London derby hurts even more, it hurts the spurs folk given the fact in all honesty they have closed the gap on us. A win against them is not a given like in the past, they believe they can beat us nowadays and for that reason it stings that bit more when they get beat. A five goal tonking is the icing on the cake and I will be sure to remind every person I know that follows that team.

“and then AVB said they dominated the game…”

Special mention must go to every arsenal fan who crammed into the emirates on Saturday. I have experienced a rocking atmosphere at big games in the past but on Saturday I felt extra proud singing along with the fans around me. It was nonstop, we were up for it big time and let everyone know through our voices. Our away fans are famed for doing the arsenal proud singing strong whether we win, lose or draw. On Saturday the spirit of those away fans transferred into the gunners in the stadium as the decibels would have blown the roof off the emirates (if we had a roof). If the fortunes on the pitch were different maybe the atmosphere would have gone flat but they didn’t, we sang, the positive vibes from the stands can raise the players and so it dd. I wish we could maintain that atmosphere for the games deemed less important but that is something that would take time to instil. It is intimidating to play in a stadium with such electric atmosphere and I think the arsenal money men are missing a trick if they ignore ways to boost the atmosphere.

Special mention goes out to Tottenham football club for their efforts in improving the environment. In these days going green is the way forward and it was nice of our not so successful neighbours for going out of their way to ensure the arsenal fans save on paper and wasting electricity creating new witty posters to gloat about the score on Saturday. The fact that we repeated the result from last season ensured we did not have to search too far looking for material to throw in the faces of the spurs fans. We still have our collection of 5-2 jpeg’s and didn’t have to dig far to post them back on facebook, twitter or on walls and telephone posts in the streets.  Good on you spurs, by folding against us you helped the environment.

It’s a short post today; I’m still recovering from birthday celebrations over the weekend (backed up so perfectly by the result on Saturday) and have only just started to regain enough vision to write this post. Please ensure you give the Tottenham fans hell for the whole week whether you work with them, they are your neighbours or distant friends on facebook. Stretch out the torture as long as possible, we won’t play them again for a while so make it count.

Enjoy your day people

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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

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