Will lack of signings dent performance against Villa?

The football season is back at last, Aston Villa are the first opponents of the season at the Emirates as there is finally real football back to take our minds of other distractions. The frustration at the lack of transfer activity has reached boiling point as Arsenal kick off their campaign with only young French hopeful Yaya Sanogo the only acquisition. Such is the irony of his signing the youngster with a well known injury record is injured and cannot play a part in today’s game.

The injuries are racking up as Mikel Arteta has joined the crocked list with Thomas Vermaelen, Nacho Monreal and possibly Carzorla could join them also. Moral is low amongst the fans and the injuries merely add to the bad vibes. It shouldnt be like that on the first day of the season, it should be one of great optimism, looking ahead to possible silverware and excitement of what new signings can add to the team.

Arsene Wenger is a manager who has pioneered the importance of the psychological aspects of the game, whether it’s from the players on the pitch or the fans in the stands and confidence adds that extra percentage that can be the difference between a win a draw and a defeat.

By delaying the signing of players to strengthen the team especially when quality players have become available at reasonable prices only to sign on elsewhere it has added to the pressure the Arsenal players will face in the game today. A stray pass and the groans start, a missed chance and the groans get louder. These things can get worse over time and is certainly not ideal to start the season.


Think back to last seasons opener when Olivier Giroud missed that golden chance against Sunderland to possibly win the game, he didn’t score, the fans gasped but cheered him on, they got behind him and willed him on. Imagine a similar scenario tomorrow with the  game poised at 0-0. If Giroud misses a similar chance you will see a completely different reaction, the personal built up frustration will be directed at the player and he will notice it. He’s a big strong lad and should be able to deal with any abuse but deep down abuse and criticism can affect the best of players.

When you try to look at Arsene’s reasons for not signing players so far I suppose apart from the obvious of poor negotiation skills and scouting there could also be some truth behind the theory that he could be putting a lot of faith in the youth.

Of course Arsenal and blooding youth is nothing new but in the past few years the focus on youth has reduced heavily as the need for experience to coincide with younger players has been recognized. we have been less dependable on youth than in the past as past projects have proved less fruitful, has there been an about turn? Gedion Zelalem will certainly play some part this coming season, Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpoom have been talked up by the manager not to mention the possible opportunity for Ryo Miayachi to finally prove his apprenticeship is over.

These young players do excite me don’t get me wrong but i think their time should come in the Capital One Cup and possibly some FA Cup action. The premier league and champions league assault will require more experienced personnel to make the difference when it matters.

This is just me speculating and you never know what could happen between now and the closing of the transfer window, I am sure we are all in agreement that the last minute buying is not healthy going into the season. whether players are 99% signed on the condition that we confirm qualification into the Champions League proper I don’t know but i am a little bit hoping this is the case and a glut of surprise marquee signings will storm through the Emirates doors once Fernebache are beaten.

For now its time to focus on Aston Villa and the threat of Benteke, it wont be as easy as we think. the boys (who are fit) will need to be on it from the start and win convincingly to bring back some good feeling. I’m looking forward to going to the Emirates today and will get 100% behind the boys.

per skipper

Congrats to Per Mertesacker who has been nominated as Arsenal Captain in the absence of Arteta and Vermaelen. A role that shouldn’t phase the experienced BFG. Clean sheet today please.

Come on Arsenal!

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Several points from Gunner’s win over Swansea

We won the game; we are into the next round, that’s all that matters isn’t it? With morale low in the team and frustration high amongst the fans the win over Swansea was the perfect tonic. There were as many plusses as there were negatives from the game but we have finally managed to break the hoodoo which Swansea seemed to have had over us this season.

I won’t give a match report on the game; I am sure the majority of you watched the game and/or know the outcome however I will discuss some points that became apparent to me from viewing the game.

Wilshere is a class above

jack celebrates

In a season of ups and downs so far one of the biggest boosts to the team is return of Jack Wilshere from injury. He has shaken off the rust, integrated himself back into the Arsenal engine room and is now at the point where he can dominate games. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is Arsenal through and through it is a refreshing sight to see him in full swing. Teams now recognize him as the danger man and target him. Manchester city put that into practise at the weekend but it didn’t break him. As much as I love Santi Cazorla, given his early season form he became a target and at times would play within himself when given the extra attention. Jack has now been receiving similar attention but has managed to brush off the extra attention and still graft it out. Some of the challenges he has been on the end of I am surprised he has got up from many of them but that just shows the steel he has acquired to complement his majestic skill and control. Yesterday Jack put in a man of the match performance which was well deserved despite close competition from Michel Vorm. He drove on the team and was an inspiration leading by example, the icing on the cake was his winning goal to take us through to the next round.

Diaby not broken

It was encouraging to see Abou Diaby starting the game yesterday; after his long layoff he returned to the team on Sunday and managed to play the majority of the game against Citeh with an extra man. I honestly thought that would be too much for his body and so to see him start against Swansea was a nice boost. Could he be over the injuries this season? We’ve been there too many times to be optimistic about that but if he can avoid an absence that lasts as long as the last injury then we will be on to a good thing. His presence in the team provides assurance as he patrols the middle like a big brother to look out for the likes of Wilshere and Cazorla. I hope to see a lot more of the leggy Frenchman for the rest of the season.

Coquelin proves worth

Francis Coquelin earned a starting berth against Swansea, less of a surprise due to the injury to Mikel Arteta. Whether his selection was deemed by default or not the young Frenchman provided an encouraging performance to show Arsene he can be trusted to perform in the absence of first choice Arteta. He hasn’t reached the point where he dominates from defensive midfield but that’s hardly expected when he hasn’t had a run of games yet to sharpen up his craft. His mobility is one of his great attributes and he offers more to his game than just breaking up play. Wenger may not have started him in many games but he has been here and thereabout in the first team squad often utilized from the bench. Arteta’s injury is a worry but Coquelin can use this opportunity to his advantage and prove any doubters wrong and most importantly give Arsene a massive nudge.

Welcome clean sheet

It was nice to claim a clean sheet last night, the soft goals have been creeping in of late and so it was encouraging to have a complete shut out. The defence actually put in a good performance, there were the odd scares but in general the team remained focused and kept the Swansea threat to a minimum. The introduction of Michu in the second half which usually equals a goal against us didn’t materialize; this was the perfect outcome leading into the big game at the weekend. We now have a foundation to build on; Chelsea will offer a far different threat but it is still important we remembered how to stop teams scoring.

Too many chances missed

giroud miss

The one nil score line was not a reflection of the amount of chances we had last night. Although Michel Vorm was on a one man mission to thwart anything thrown at the Swansea goal there were a number of chances that you would expect us to score regardless of who was in goal. It was bordering on the point where you felt it was one of those days and Swansea would probably nick a late goal to rub chilli, sand and bleach into your eyes. Thankfully Jack had different plans but the profligacy was worrying and very frustrating on the night. Possibly we were saving up the accurate finishing for Sunday, I sure hope so, Walcott and Giroud I’m talking to you.

Empty stadium seats

Much fuss was being made over the number of empty seats seen last night. I believe it is being slightly blown out of proportion; in my experience cup replays have slightly lower attendances unless it’s a game against one of the big boys. Tickets go on sale for less time than a standard league game due to the unpredictability of having to play a replay. Add to the conundrum it is cold as hell outside at the moment, a freezing Wednesday versus the comfort of the couch and TV I think there is only one winner. I certainly don’t think the empty seats were some sort of protest from the fans and it is just mitigating circumstances that resulted in the gaps. Seats are paid for so I don’t think the Arsenal money men will be worrying too much. I think this topic is a non story; the commentators just needed something to talk about.

Bartley’s comfortable performances

bartley swan

It’s quite frustrating to see Kyle Bartley perform so well against us over the two third round games. You would half expect him to be torn a new one by our forward line but Bartley put in a performance to make a mockery of our decision to let him leave without giving him a chance. A lot of investment was put into the acquisition and development of Bartley and after his loan at Rangers you would think he would be pushing for a first team place. It may have been impatience on his part but I feel he could have offered something to our team if he stayed. His encouraging performance’s against Arsenal makes the fact we still have the likes of Squillaci still on the payroll a bit of a dampener. I am basing this only on two games and former players do tend to raise their performance against their former employee but it will be interesting to see how the career of Kyle Bartley develops here on in.

Enjoy your day people.

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New week but Swansea woes remain.

It’s Monday; can we put the events of the weekend behind us? Hardly, this is getting all too familiar now, the poor performances and results are becoming too frequent for any Arsenal fans liking. All teams go through bad patches but you would think the 5-2 win over Spurs would have been the launch pad to a positive run of results. Instead the opposite effect has happened, the performances have been way below par and the concurrent results prove that.


The Swansea result pushed us to a new low on the morale scale; I’ve never witnessed such negativity around the emirates when the game ended. Something has to change because right now we seem to be equivalent to a volcano bubbling up and ready to blow and the potential devastation of that eruption is frightening. I’m not part of the Wenger out brigade but I am unhappy with the where we are at right now.

Still, I’ve managed to compose myself after the initial red mist on Saturday to reflect on some points from the weekend’s events, feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section.

Wenger is under pressure like never before.

I believe this time that Arsene has lost the faith of a high percentage of fans this season. A culmination of several factors has pushed the limits of many arsenal fans, those being the continuing lack of silverware year on year, the selling of marquee players each season, the lack of quality signings to replace the marquee players and perseverance with the poor quality players. Those are just a few factors but seem to be key to the current bad feeling. It’s nothing new hearing the press mention the uncertainty of Wenger’s job but this season it seems slightly more real it could be a possibility. I don’t think the time is right for a parting of ways especially with a transfer window opening in January; there is an opportunity to right the mistakes and spend some of the so-called extra cash at Arsene’s disposal. I feel our next few transfer dealings can make or break our season and Arsene’s fortunes. One disturbing thing I noticed leaving the ground on Saturday was the witnessing of some fans chanting at Wenger: “you’re just a French Jimmy Saville, Paedo Paedo”. Although some frustrations can be justified to start attacking the manager using the kind of nasty, crass material we wouldn’t accept from opposition fans is taking it too far. That’s just a spiteful, personal attack on a human being which is uncalled for, any criticism for the manager should be kept to football reasons alone, they were just a handful of fans but I hope it doesn’t spread to more unhappy fans.

There are problems up front.

One thing that was evident on Saturday was that the alternatives we have to Olivier Giroud simply did not do enough to back up any claims they can provide any genuine cover in that position. On this occasion I witnessed the central striking role being alternated between Gervinho and Podolski but the threat was minimal. I suppose it’s unfair to base this on one game after all I have called for Podolski to be given a run of games in that position. Gervinho earlier in the season managed to score from that position but since he has returned from injury he has looked quite poor up front and on the wing.  Olivier Giroud did make an appearance in the second half but his threat was dealt with quite comfortably by the Swansea defence. Giroud has proved himself of late but we still require a plan B for when he isn’t firing. Right now experimenting is not the answer, we do not have that luxury as we slip down the table. What is the solution? Well I suppose the transfer window since Chamakh is not even considered an option we have no specialist centre forwards.

Why is Rosicky thrown in so soon?

It was only last Wednesday that we got our first glimpse of Tomas Rosicky as he had returned to training. It was good news that he would soon be returning to the team. Arsene in his press conference before the Everton game informed us that Tomas would be a few weeks away from gaining match fitness. He was meant to gain that match fitness with a few appearances for the u-21 team however he was named as a substitute or the Everton game. To be honest I put his inclusion down to the fact that Lukasz Podolski was a late withdrawal and Rosicky was making up the numbers on the bench. On Saturday he was named again and he even came on the pitch replacing Wilshere in the second half. I question why he is being rushed back; especially taking into account how long he was injured for. I’m not linking his appearance on the pitch contributing to the defeat I am just highlighting how his inclusion smacks of desperation. Andre Arshavin was again missing from the bench and I really need to understand how he is behind the pecking order for someone who hasn’t played this season. The last thing we need is for Rosicky to break down so soon after returning, the results aren’t great at the moment but the need to rush back injured players is a bit much. Diaby should be a marker that easing back into the groove is the best policy or face more time on the treatment table.

What style do we play?

Lately I have become slightly disillusioned to the type of football we play, we have always been known to playing beautiful football that would win plaudits from all over. Even when we weren’t winning any trophies we still had a style of play that would destroy teams, our only weakness was the ability to maintain the results throughout the whole season, and we would generally lose form in the final quarter of the season. This season the performances have been flat, even when we have won games it has been more like a chess stalemate between us and teams who in the past were never the same level as us. We don’t dominate teams like we used to and our standard recently has dropped to the point we are battling to get anything out of games, it is not enjoyable to watch from the stands at times. The formation we played seemed more effective when we played our rapid passing game with Fabregas at the centre of everything. Since he left along with some other personnel the question is do we have the players currently who thrive in our 4-3-3 formation? This season it doesn’t seem so, we still have quality players who can grind out results for us but are we now playing a system that gets the best out of who we have? Do we have the kind of system that would scare the hell out of anyone who came to the emirates as we dominate and overpower them? It could just be a confidence thing at the moment but it is a dangerous precedent if teams become comfortable playing against us at home. Once you lose the fear factor you risk a hard battle to regain that back. I just feel apart from some games early in the season we don’t seem to have the balance right in our style of play, the Shalke game was a warning we have not heeded. If we are to continue with the 4-3-3 then we need the right personnel playing in the right positions and have quality back up when injuries occur. Some of the holes that have been filled at times have been with the wrong players and it has affected the shape of the team, again I refer to the transfer window; strengthening is required of the squad and the uncertainty of players’ futures does not help. We need committed players working together and making our game play click once again.

Well those are my thoughts; please feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section.

I must add that thoughts go out to Peter Hill-Wood and family after the news of his heart attack on Friday. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery for him; no matter what your views on how the club has been run he is part of Arsenal and we stand by and support our own. Get well soon PHW.

On the F.A. Cup draw look at it as a chance for revenge. Swansea are not our rivals they are merely a club in our division, the sooner order is resumed the better. Wenger now has a chance to make up for Saturday at least.

Enjoy your day people.

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International break a time to recharge, Frimpong loan soon – AFC

Never thought an international break would be a welcome event but given the events of the weekend I feel us arsenal fans will appreciate the breather. Supporting arsenal is a full time job and the lows come part and parcel with the highs. The thing with football is it is an infinite journey with many twists and turns, there are no finish lines, you win a cup you move on to the next one. It isn’t like a rocky movie with a freeze frame of punching the air in glory at the end you plan for the next season and move on.

Saturday’s draw felt like a defeat to many gunners’ fans, to throw away a two goal lead at home to a side not on our level hit hard, really hard the missed penalty rubbed salt straight into the open wound that was our patience.

The bad feeling peaked on Saturday and it took a day or two for the fans to calm down. Would a midweek game have given the team a chance to fix the errors from Saturday? Probably, maybe but for me the mini break gives me a chance to recharge my faith and belief in my team.

Provided there are no major injuries from the international games I can realign my focus on the massive game we have coming up. Last season the match against spurs was a major turning point in our fortunes as we overturned the bad feelings from previous games and restored the belief in the team. This season things are slightly different however the bad feelings are lingering. Losing to Tottenham is not acceptable at any time, and if that were to happen this Saturday then the Wenger out brigade will be at their strongest, a defeat would make any defence of Wenger a hard task.

We do have some positives leading up to the north London derby. The form of Olivier Giroud is a positive, the Frenchman is starting to find the back of the net more regularly and the confidence is growing.

We will need the big guy to bring his A game on Saturday, if there are still arsenal fans out there yet to be convinced about Giroud’s abilities then the winning goal against the spuds will elevate the striker to god like status (for a day or two). I for one feel a bit more confident he can cause some problems for the spud defence and hope he returns from France duties with no injury.

Another positive is the return of Szczesny to the arsenal first team, I would assume he is a shoe in to start on Saturday replacing Vito Mannone, although the Italian hasn’t been a complete disaster in the first team he has raised a few questions in recent performances. The header he conceded on Saturday is one of the goals you would expect a top keeper to save, he will be a lot better for the experience he has gained over the last month or so but now is a time for reflection to work on the good and bad sides of his first team game experiences whilst our Pole returns to number one duty.

In other news Emmanuel Frimpong went public to declare his determination to succeed at arsenal. Some rumours started to surface yesterday that the combative midfielder was going to be sold in the New Year as the club decided against offering him a new contract. Thanks to the platform of twitter the arsenal man put the rumours straight by stating he intends to stay at arsenal beyond this season, he also hinted that a loan move is on the cards. Which team that will be is not yet known but he clearly has been given the blessing of Arsene to continue his rehabilitation with first team football out on loan.

He built such a good relationship with Wolverhampton wanderers last season it would not surprise many if he went back there on loan. The drop down to the championship may not carry favour with all fans but I feel the chance for first team will take preference over whether it’s at premiership level or not. It would probably be a greater test at championship level for him as the tackles are not wrapped in cotton wool there. Of course we don’t want to risk a reoccurrence of the injuries he sustained over the years but in the long run he needs to overcome the psychological barriers such injuries can bring. It helped benefit Aaron Ramsey’s return to arsenal first team duty with his spells at Cardiff and Nottingham Forest and can do the same for the Dench mastermind.

Enjoy your day people.

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What should I do with my Andre Santos shirt? – AFC

Football shirts, an essential part of a football fans wardrobe, we wear them with pride, we wear them to death and when they are no longer in the condition acceptable to wear in public they make great house shirts to wear for any situation.

I have gone through my fair share of football shirts over the years, mainly arsenal shirts but a few random purchases have snuck into my collection. I own an Olympiacos shirt that cost me the grand total of £2 from the bargain bucket at sports direct last year. Too good a bargain to turn down, no logo on the front just the badge and kit maker logo, only a fan of Olympiacos would recognize it for me it’s a handy option for my 5 a side footie sessions.

With the prices of shirts and the frequency they are churned out at arsenal I don’t even own the current home or away shirt. The tight wad in me is happy to purchase the previous seasons jersey when they hit clearance prices to make way for the latest. Either that or the Christmas/January sales entice me to part with my cash.

One thing that I had stopped doing was purchasing shirts with players’ names on the back. The reasoning behind this wasn’t to save the pennies but the fact that every player I put on the back left us. There’s nothing worse than having a player leave and then you are stuck walking around with an ex players name stuck there much like the indignity of having an ex partners name tattooed on your body.

During the good times I purchased a shirt with Henry printed on the back – gone, Vieira – gone, Pires – gone, Reyes (don’t laugh) – gone. You can almost get away with most of those shirts when certain players carry legendary status with your club. Most of the names I mentioned carry high esteem amongst gunners long after they are gone and so their significance isn’t reduced. Though I am pretty sure there are a high number of fans out there that have possession of a shirt with Samir Nasri’s name across the back, possibly Adebayor too.

When players leave on acrimonious terms and you are left with a shirt carrying their name you might as well throw that shirt in the corner of the bathroom lying in wait for when the toilet needs a good scrubbing. Maybe the letters can be removed, I’ve never tried so don’t know how successful that is.

Now to my dilemma, earlier in the season upon one of my frequent visits to emirates I decided to have a look around the armoury store. I believe this was after one of the u-21 games that were hosted at the emirates. With only five thousand or so fans turning up that day the area was a lot less congested and the store had a more bearable number of people browsing. Normally on a match day the armoury can be so packed there is no room to breathe let alone move around. So on this day I was able to have a look around and take my time, I had no intention to purchase anything but it doesn’t harm to have a look. It was here where I spotted the shirt; it was a Brazil shirt, the latest shirt going for £25. the drawback? It has A. Santos and 11 on the back. Now I am a massive fan of Brazil, have always admired their football and the quality players they have churned out since forever. To own a Brazil shirt has been something I have always considered however I could never justify the purchase due to the price of the shirt. You never get a Brazil shirt for a reasonable price even the older shirts hold their price so to see that the current shirt is available at such a price I just couldn’t turn up the opportunity. I know it was going against my name on the back policy but I was getting a Brazil shirt. Santos was still popular amongst the fans; the speeding incident with the police was still fresh and probably endeared Santos even more to the gunner’s fans. So I bought the shirt, well happy with my purchase I wore it to my next home game I attended.

Fast forward a couple of months and Andre Santos can do nothing right at the moment. His mixed performances since coming into the side because of Kieran Gibbs injury have almost turned him into the pantomime villain amongst arsenal fans. Much like favour turned sour with Emmanuel Eboue once results stopped going our way a similar situation has developed with Santos and it seems it will take a hell of a lot of hard work to win back favour with the arsenal fans.

His confidence is low at the moment and his morale must have been shattered to pieces when Arsene decided to drop Santos in favour of playing Vermaelen out of position in the left back role. Not a good sign when a player being shifted out of position is preferred in your specialist position. That is probably the biggest sign yet that Andre Santos’s arsenal career is on borrowed time. He has every chance between now and the next transfer window to turn things around but at present it seems a hard task.

So this now leaves me in a situation where I have the Brazil shirt I always wanted but the name of Andre Santos on the back which is likely to result is some heckling from football fans. The weather has changed now so im less likely to wear a football shirt fully exposed, the cold in the stands will ensure I am well wrapped up and any shirt I wear will be covered up. However the times I do wear my shirt fully out in all its glory will I be hiding my back to avoid being seen? I suppose when you look at it in the grand scheme of things if every arsenal fan was offered a football shirt with any current players name printed on the back for free what percentage of those fans would request a Santos shirt? Maybe 2-3%? In a way the shirt is unique and maybe I should celebrate the fact I stand out from the thousands of Cazorla and Wilshere shirts.

I spent a season sharing a season ticket for a seat behind a bloke who brought a massive sheet to every game saying ‘Eboue is my homeboy’ funnily enough Eboue would spot this guy every game and on more than one occasion he would go over to the guy at the end of the game and give him his shirt. I used to look on enviously that this guy got the attention just for holding up a flag but he was bold enough to show his support for an out of favour player. The same bloke probably jumped off the nearest bridge when Eboue left.

Could Santos be my Eboue is my homeboy? At a time where he is public enemy number one maybe I should put on my shirt with pride, decorate my bed sheet with an encouraging message for Santos and display it at all the games I go to. It might inspire his performances; he may also donate one of his XXL shirts to me.

Maybe owning the shirt isn’t a bad thing after all, Santos you are my homeboy and you drive how you want. Make me proud to wear your name on my back you are a Brazilian after all…

Enjoy your day people.

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