Title Claims Could Hurt Wenger Again – AFC

The media has once more set Arsené Wenger up for the fall, after the Arsenal boss confirmed that his side have a chance of a title shot, just four games into the Premier League season.

Wenger was speaking after the Gunners’ dominant 6-1 victory over Southampton, a result that will be remembered as part of a very good weekend for Arsenal. He was asked if he was confident of winning the Premier League this season.

“We have a chance for the title but first we must show consistency,” Wenger told BBC Sport. “We have the quality to do it but we have to show how much we want it.”

This positive response is just what Arsenal fans will want to hear after witnessing such a confident display over the weekend.

Yet for the media to ask Wenger such a question just a month into the season is disappointing, as they will no doubt chase up the manager on his comments later on in the year.

If Arsenal do have a blip, then Wenger will look just as foolish as he did last season, when he claimed that Arsenal had a shot at the title, before that 8-2 defeat to Man United.

Two seasons ago, the Gunners were in the running for all four trophies and Wenger was drawn in to saying he thought his Fabregas-led side could do the quadruple. One month after that quote and the entire season was up in smoke, with Wenger made to look clueless for jumping the gun.

But what can he say? Wenger’s hands are tied when asked questions on future trophy success; he cannot say he believes that Arsenal have no chance of winning the title in case he upsets both players and fans.

The media love a sound bite and will always run with a manager claiming an early stake in the title race, but it is nevertheless frustrating that Wenger has been drawn into a discussion over the championship before the season has properly got underway.

Arsenal remain outside favourites for the title, at 21/2 in the Premier League odds.

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AFC turn on style against Saints to move third

Goals galore yesterday, this was the swashbuckling Arsenal that Arsene promised us to be patient about after our first two games of the season yielded no goals. Yesterday we came out with verve and swagger of a team who expected to win and put in the effort to ensure we won.

Some of the football at times had the fans drooling in the stands; at the centre of everything was mercurial Santi Cazorla. Everything good was flowing through his magical small feet. So comfortable on the ball, so direct and so unpredictable he is a joy to watch.

Southampton clearly were swept away in the first half and but for a fumble late in the half by Sczcesny which led to us conceding our first goal of the season there was only positives to report from our game.

I commented yesterday how Olivier Giroud could possibly break his duck for the season against the Saints and join that exclusive club with Bergkamp, Henry, Wright et al. that possibility shortened once Wenger decided to start the guy on the bench. Unfortunate in the greatest sense of the word as Kelvin Davis seemed to try his best to give us goals yesterday. Taking nothing away from our boys at least three goals could raise questions over the quality of the goalkeeping. Giroud did get on the pitch in the last 10 minutes or so however it was probably not enough time for him stamp his mark on the game and get amongst the goals. He will no doubt be up for playing against his former club on Tuesday.

Although Giroud did not start the game you cannot question Arsene’s decision making as his choice of Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervihno were constant threats all game. Gervihno receives special praise for his contribution to the game, he is often maligned for his questionable decision making and finishing that accompanies his quality dribbling and close control. Yesterday he had one of his best games in an arsenal shirt as Wenger gave him a chance to shine in a central role. Though as is the Arsenal way the front three were inter-changing positions all game making it a nightmare to mark. Gervihno relished this opportunity and came away from the game with two goals. His contribution was such that when he was substituted his received a standing ovation from the whole stadium and the whole crowd chanted his name as he walked off. He was clearly lapping up the adoration as he took his time walking off and acknowledged the appreciation by waving back to all. Podolski played his part, he is a very direct player and loves to receive the ball, turn and run at the defence. He can definitely be an option in the central striking role and doesn’t need to be pigeon holed on the left hand side; he was rewarded for his efforts with a nicely taken free kick. It’s nice that we have so many options for free kick takers, it leaves food for thought for the goal keepers as they have to consider all options. In the past Robin Van Persie would take all free kicks and at times it would be quite predictable.

The defence was good again and were only let down by an error by the keeper. Carl Jenkinson was impressive yesterday and seems to be really growing into the right back role. The run of games is clearly doing him a world of good and his confidence on the ball and battling is evidence of this. The real test of his development will be against better quality teams but so far this season he has definitely stepped up a level compared to last.

Our keeper Sczcesny seemed a bit rusty and was clearly ruffled by his mistake which allowed Southampton to score. Maybe nerves from the mistake crept in as his kicking was really off in the second half and played the defence into trouble quite a few times. We all know he is a quality keeper and he will move on from this but with Vito Mannone doing nothing wrong in his two game cameos there may be more pressure on our Pole to keep up the standard to ward of any competition.

Overall yesterday was a fantastic performance from the whole team, an absolute treat to all the fans in the ground,  we now kick off our champions league campaign this week on a high, lets keep the momentum up boys.

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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Barcelona grumbles lead to rumours of return to AFC. Arshavin uncertainty

Some news has been emanating from Spain that a former Arsenal midfielder is not happy at the moment at the prospect of not playing 90 minutes for his team Barcelona. Instantly the first name that springs to mind is that of Alex Song though even the most arrogant player would not be complaining at lack of minutes after three weeks at his new club. No the player in question is in fact our former captain Cesc Fabregas; although the midfielder has started every game for the Catalan giants he has been slightly perturbed by the fact he has been hauled off in nearly every game so far and has broken his silence on the matter.

A strange outburst, surely something must be in the water over there in Spain as it was only a few days ago that Cristiano Ronaldo was voicing his frustrations over something within the backroom at Real Madrid. I know the last time I visited Spain I was advised not to drink the water there and stick to drinking the bottled water only surely with Barcelona DNA Mr Fabregas would be immune to anything suspect about the quality of the h2O flowing through the Catalan taps.

I feel part of Cesc’s outburst could be linked to the different personnel in charge of the first team at Barcelona, initially the Spaniard attributed part of his reasoning for cutting ties with Arsenal was down to his admiration for the man in charge at the time Pep Guardiola. Now that his former idol has moved on from the hot seat you do wonder if all is well in his relationship with Tito Vilanova. I am only speculating here but I hardly believe that Cesc would ever speak out if Guardiola was still in charge. His respect for the man would ensure anything he disapproved would be kept in-house, to speak out like that is a clear sign that 100% respect for the manager is not there.

The outburst itself was not damning of the manager directly and I suppose he was careful to not upset his fellow professionals at the Camp Nou. He did however say:

 “There’s no such thing as a great substitute in the world of football. I couldn’t tell you what makes a great substitute.”

Again I find it strange to find a player not happy despite starting every game; surely to start on the bench would be more frustrating for any player. I know players love to play every minute of every game and especially if you are a striker on two goals chasing a hat trick the last thing you want to see is your number come up on the assistant referee’s board. As a midfielder who has given his all and contributed to the team performance you just have to accept a change in tactics may be required; it’s not always an attack on your abilities but as a team player you have to accept the manager sees a need for change. If the team collapses and concede three goals after you come off then you may be justified to hold your hand up and give it the ‘I told you so’.

This news has sparked rumours of a return of Cesc to Arsenal, that’s a move I can never see happening until Cesc has long passed his peak. The moment he signed the contract to join Barcelona was the very moment he was priced out of any possible move to Arsenal. We could never afford him now, unlike us Barcelona know how to tie down assets and it would take a hell of a lot of money to get him. Despite the place arsenal has in his heart even he knows it could never happen unless it was some sort of loan deal. I wouldn’t read too much into the unrest, I’m sure he will kick on at Barcelona and get over his current irritation.

Andrei Arshavin is again in the news as uncertainty over his Arsenal future will linger until all the transfer windows are closed. I believe the Russian transfer window closes on Thursday and it seems our diminutive Russian attacker will be linked with moves until it closes. He has been named in our 25 man champion’s league squad though it would be suicide not to name him in case any move was to break down last minute, so him being named should not carry any weight to the possibility of him staying at the club.

I would like him to stay and believe he can still contribute to our team over the coming season, there is a place for him in the squad and he offers a different type of alternative to our attacking options. The telegraph paper has gone as far to suggest Arsenal are willing to let him leave on a free to get his wages off the payroll. A ludicrous suggestion, I know we have not been the best at getting money closer to the true valuation for some of the players we let go but the idea of a free transfer is enough to slap who ever wrote that article.

Enjoy your day people

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Deadline Day Withdrawal was Right Decision – AFC

While the majority of Barclays Premier League clubs scrabbled around on transfer deadline day, desperately trying to make team-disrupting signings, Arsenal remained relatively calm, as boss, Arsené Wenger, sat down for a quiet Friday night in.

Frustration may have been justified at this lack of final-day spending, yet Arsenal’s dominant display at Anfield on Sunday will hopefully have put certain fans’ grumblings of discontent to rest.

The only thing happening at the Emirates seemed to be the swinging of the exit door. Henry Lansbury had already sealed his move away from the club when the enigma that is Park Chu-Young departed for Celta Vigo on loan.

Nicklas Bendtner finally got his move away after years of underachieving in a red shirt, a reputation that has flown with him to Italy, as Alessio Tacchinardi – former defender at Juve – revealed:

“I will not say that Bendtner is a bad player, but he does not help improve Juventus either. He is not the player that helps them make the step up in quality,” said the despondent ex-international.

Two strikers out and none coming in may seem like a mindless move by Wenger but his confidence in his early-summer signings certainly paid off against Liverpool. 

What was the most refreshing about that performance was not just the 2-0 victory and the clinical nature of our goals, but also the working dynamic of Arsenal’s new front three.

Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla both showcased their talents to silence a stunned Anfield kop, assisting each other in scenes of telepathic communication reminiscent of Pires and Henry. 

Yet praise must also be given to Olivier Giroud, for if it weren’t for him, Podolski would not have opened the scoring. Unlike Bendtner, Park, or Marouane Chamakh, this striker knows how and where to make a run. 

While Cazorla ran direct at Liverpool’s penalty area, Giroud occupied Reds defender, Daniel Agger, with a great turn of pace, first dragging the defender into the middle before pulling him back out wide.

Without Giroud’s run, Agger would have closed down Cazorla yards before the Spaniard found Podolski in space. 

It is movement like this up the field that Arsenal have lacked in vital games. Luckily, we had RvP last season to win matches on his own but far too often Wenger’s boys find themselves camped in opposition halves with not enough movement to manipulate static defenders.

These new signings proved to fans betting on sports that they have what it takes to play as a unit and unpick tight defences. The boss may be tempted to delve into the transfer market this January but he will be happy with how his new forwards are progressing at the moment.

It seems Arsenal were right not to get caught up with desperate transfer dealings this summer and could benefit off the back of their withdrawal.

Post written by Alex Chang.


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