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.


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!

Enjoy your day people.
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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.


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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Learning’s from the North London Derby defeat

Frustrating times once again for gunners fans across the land. With hopes of pulling off a result to get our season back on track we came up short once again. How do you put a finger on it to pinpoint the cause? The problem is a finger isn’t enough to identify the cause, two hands may not even be enough because the problems identified before the season are still there, the problems identified when the last transfer window opened are still there and right now there is nothing that can be done to fix this until the season is over.

giroud spuds

It‘s never nice to lose any game, double that feeling when it comes at the hands of your local rivals. We are at the business end of the season and now is not the time to throw things away, with each week we are losing time to put together this magical run of form which is meant to save our season.

With our champions league campaign over (I’m sorry but it is), all focus should be on the league, every game treated as a cup final (a cup final we win, get out of my memory Birmingham game!) as the players fight to the end to repay the managers faith in them.

It’s not quite working out that way so far and I hope that Arsene, if still in the Arsenal hot seat next season will take note of those that have underperformed, let him down and put his own position at the club under the greatest pressure it has ever been.

Some of my conclusions after witnessing the North London Derby:

Defence not solid as a unit.

It feels like Groundhog Day having to write this same problem up so many times this season. The Bould factor has long evaporated and each week we have come to witness our evident defensive shortcomings. In the games where we keep a clean sheet it tends to be pure luck that we do not concede. Our back line just does not perform well enough in games to form a basis in which to win a game. Every game we play the opposition know they are good for a goal against us, we guarantee in every game at least one golden opportunity for the opposition to score a goal. It just depends on the quality of the player that gets the chance whether they take it or not. When we concede goals we should be saluting the excellence in creating an opportunity against us but instead we end up noticing how comical the defending was that gifted the opposition the chance. This is a trend that needs changing and fast.

Giroud simply not big enough a player to rely on

Giroud was probably our worst performer in the match, totally ineffective, he was totally out of tune with the rest of the team and highlighted one of our biggest shortcomings. Up front we lack a match winner to make the difference in games finely poised. I believe Giroud has a lot of qualities we’ve lacked in previous seasons but those were qualities that were required as a plan B when things didn’t work. Our system does not allow Giroud to play up top with another striker and so we have to rely on him as our main attacking threat. Arsene didn’t buy a striker in the last transfer window to compliment the Frenchman or provide an alternative when things aren’t working and yesterday was a fine example why it may have been a mistake. In the early stages of the game when we were pretty much in control Giroud found himself in the position to run onto a couple through balls but lacked the pace or cutting edge to produce a goal scoring chance. I believe ruthlessness should be shown in front of goal at any time in a match, we should not be waiting until we are behind late in a game to put real effort in. sometimes a chance can be missed early in a game much like yesterday and when wasted it is shrugged off because the forward expects more of the same. In big games chances aren’t guaranteed in high numbers throughout a game so you have to take your chances whenever they come. Yesterday that was taken for granted and we paid for it.

Defensive midfielder still a priority

This is not a dig at Mikel Arteta, he is still one of our most vital players but his strengths are not fully utilized in the holding role. We have not replaced Alex Song who despite his tendency to drift forward to help in attack offered a physical strength that we currently lack. It was good business getting the money we did for Song but in not signing a replacement we weakened the squad.

Big game mentality lacking

We really have lost the knack to raise our performance for big games. When we have faced a top of the table clash we have come up short almost every time. This is a worrying habit and the only consolation is that we only really have Manchester United left to play from the top teams although Everton could maybe be added to the list.

Run of games for Podolski up front

With the limitations of Olivier Giroud and no possibility of signing a new striker would it hurt to give Podolski a run of games up front? Theo Walcott can play up there but struggles against teams that play deep. The German has been preferred on the left hand side by Wenger and hasn’t really tried him there. He can finish, he is mobile and I’m sure he could get on the end of the chances the midfield make for the forwards. It is only a suggestion but you look back to earlier in the season when Gervinho was given a run there and wonder why wasn’t Podolski given a similar opportunity?

What’s with Ramsey at right back?

This is a weird one for me, the use of Aaron Ramsey as a makeshift wing back. We were first introduced to this in the game at Sunderland when a red card forced the use of the Welshman there. Now we are seeing it more and more; on reflection Ramsey played well when moved there but Carl Jenkinson was also having a good game at right back. In the grand scheme of things it weakened our defence at a time when we were chasing the game and needed to ensure a third goal didn’t go in. I believe Jenkinson and Ramsey offered the same attacking threat and therefore found the change bizarre.

Try to enjoy your day people. Stay strong.

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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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3rd Place secured – AFC

Well wow that was a tense final game wasn’t it?

All gooners, myself included woke up yesterday even more nervous than the day before.

So much to lose, we did not want fourth, no way in hell would fifth be acceptable but leading up to the game these were all possible outcomes.

The news that Clint Dempsey was definitely out of the game against Spurs and not a hoax meant even more we had to do the job ourselves.

Robin Van Persie was still on course to achieve another record; one more goal would equal the record 31 goals in a 38 game season.  Would we accept RVP getting the record and finishing fourth? Erm no thanks.

Onto the game and in typical Arsenal fashion it was not a straightforward affair. We tried our best to recreate the Norwich game .

It almost seemed a jinx that if Yossi scored early for us in the game we would eventually be 2-1 down.

And so it went, great perseverance from Yossi to close down the Fraudster impersonating a goalkeeper led to an easy tap in to take the lead. News had filtered through just before that Spurs had taken the lead. It was important to get that goal so the nerves didn’t get to players if they get wind of the score from white hart lane. 

So much for keeping it simple West Brom were level within 6 minutes and to be honest it was an injustice the goal stood. Shane long was clearly offside. Decisions like this can have such repercussions on a team and Mike Jones was a lucky man that the final result worked in Arsenals favour. Just look at the goals Bolton conceded against Stoke to see how a referee error can cost you.

I can only put the second goal down to nerves as Graham Dorrans slotted in easily to put West Brom 2-1 up.  Oh dear one of those days again? Please God no.

Luckily for us our 12th man wasn’t having any of it. Step forward Mr Marton Fulop.   Now the commentator reminded us a million times during the game this was Fulop’s debut for West Brom . To be honest this means nothing, he was not a 17 year old rookie, this is a full international and has played in England for the best part of  8 years.  Best stat of all is he was on Spurs books for a number of years, sent out on loan constantly while he was there I can only assume he wanted to dish out some payback to Spurs

Right on cue when we were struggling to get our rhythm Andre Santos lashed in a desperate shot after a West Brom player was robbed of the ball just outside the area. A good shot on target indeed; but a bread and butter shot for a half decent keeper. Mr Fulop proceeded to palm the ball in at his near post.

Good times, this was the game changer for me. A vital goal early enough in the game for us to push on and hopefully win now. Fulop was inspiring the Arsenal players, he certainly inspired me as he looked to make a mistake every time he was near the ball.

We needed to win this as Spurs seemed to be comfortable against a Dempsey-less Fulham.  Half time finished at 2-2. Not a complete disaster, we had a whole half to reorganise, Wenger had a chance in the interval to drill into the players that they needed to switch on and focus.

Second  half  we came out more determined, Theo came on at the break for Rosicky, I presume in the hope of causing West Brom to have more to think about from both wings. Gervihno was a threat constantly but had one of those games where every time he worked a good position he messed it up.

The important thing is by working these positions is West Brom had to adjust to ensure his threat was nullified Theo on the other wing would give them even more food for thought.

Eventually we nudged ahead in the game, that man Fulop was again sticking two fingers up at Spurs. From a corner swung in by Van Persie the keeper managed to connect with a punch. The punch to my amusement went in the opposite direction you would expect (behind him) and spun just enough for Koscielny to poke in the winner.

An absolutely amazing goal due to the sheer comedy value and the importance in our quest for third place.  The rest of the game was a nervy affair, Arsenal don’t do comfortable. A fourth goal would have settled everything.  We managed a few breaks here and there but a fourth goal wasn’t coming. We needed to maintain the discipline and focus to see this out. An absolutely terrific last-ditch tackle from Gibbs towards the end of the game typified how much we wanted to keep this. Arsene was pictured on the touch-line showing as much nerves as us fans.  The 5 minutes of injury time wasn’t easy on our heart rates but eventually the final whistle went and the game was won. St Totteringham day finally!!

Normality resumed, Spurs below us confirmed. A Great day all round, the tension finally gone. If I ever see Fulop in the street I will shake that man by the hand. He would probably somehow mess that up.

Even given the events in Manchester my only focus was on the Arsenal. Everything else was and still is irrelevant. My only concern is the Arsenal.

Enjoy your day people. I certainly will.