Some points to address part 2 – AFC

Yesterday I raised some points to you in the aftermath of the Old Trafford game, today I continue them to you:

Is it time to cut our losses on injury prone players?

Going into the united match the squad was weakened by the loss of injured players. Now injuries are not something you can avoid, it happens to all teams, it happens to us a lot but you reach a point where you question whether lady luck is not on your side or whether you do something about it and not have to rely on luck. Abou Diaby is a player I believe in so much, if he was injury free he has the potential to be up there with players such as Yaya Toure. He started the season so well, he produced the performances many fans doubted he had in him and then he got injured. All the momentum and progress lost as he spends another sustained amount of time in the treatment room. We missed his presence on Saturday and there is no real idea of when he will return to the team.

Thomas Rosicky although injured playing for the Czech republic over the summer is another player who last season was rejuvenated in arsenal colours. He proved his worth with some awesome displays as we stormed to 4th place in the table. Despite the heroics we find ourselves in an all too familiar situation where Rosicky is spending more time in the treatment room than on the pitch.

It just seems the longer we persevere with injury prone players the more the team suffers because when those players are injured we have no other options when first choice players become unavailable. A valuable place is taken in the premier league squad by players who cannot be called upon when required. We have done this for years only for the infamous line ‘like a new player’ to be used every time they return for a 2 game run.

Is it time to be ruthless and consider shipping on the more injury prone players? i would find it hard to see us get rid of Diaby but how much longer can we rely on him to play at least 5 games in a row without injury. Before you abuse me this is just a point I am raising, I am not campaigning for us to get rid of any players. For all the improvements made by Kieran Gibbs at left back his injury record leaves us in the situation where we now rely on Andre Santos to fill the gap, this leads onto my next point.

Santos has to play

Yes, I know he was torn a new one by Valencia on Saturday but not many full backs do get an easy game against the united winger. Our Brazilian is currently going through a crisis of confidence as the current negativity surrounding arsenal football club has produced a scapegoat. Will he turn around the perception? It’s a tough one to call, all players go through ups and downs and santos is definitely in the middle of a down period. He is being blamed for things that aren’t his fault at times and currently can do nothing right.

Santos defending has not been an in-house secret the nation is unaware of. We know his attacking can far outweigh his defensive side. More suited to a wing back role rather than an out an out full back role Santos is often found wanting out on the left hand side. Can it all be down to his positional play or could the addition factors of support and team formation contribute?  It is probably a combination of all three but I have to say I don’t agree with the idea of playing Sagna or any other player out of position to fill in at that role.

Santos is the specialist full back and it’s a choice Arsene Wenger will have to live and die by. It’s a player he signed and one he will need to assess on keeping or selling at the next transfer window but I think the option of playing an out of position player ahead of him is premature. He can still contribute at left back and if he was dropped for Sagna or Coquelin then there is no point registering him to play for the club ever again. If there is any chance of him regaining his confidence that would be shot to pieces to drop him for those options. Wenger needs to address how the team can help out Santos during his bad spell rather than leaving him to the lions.

what we as fans can do to help is to get behind him, as frustrating as it can be at times. never in history has a player raised his game after receiving verbal abuse from his own fans from the stands. we have to make do with him for now so the best we can do is unite and support all the team.

OK, moving away from saturday, we have a game today and hopefully an opportunity to bury some demons in the process. a positive result today will go a long way to restoring some pride back. At present it’s not looking good with our squad now weakened by the loss of Aaron Ramsey.

One thing Arsenal are good at is pulling off results at our lowest periods in a season. And that is why despite our threadbare squad travelling to Germany a win is not beyond us. The team need to stick together, fight for each other, fight for every ball and make the chances count. it is not beyond us, we are a better team than Shalke, tonight is the chance to prove it.

Enjoy your day people.Enjoy the game

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Hammers bubble burst, Walcott to sign on? – AFC

We are back on track again people, the setback of Chelsea last week is firmly behind us. Wins against Olympiacos in the week and yesterday against West Ham have restored the confidence and belief back to the fans and the players themselves.

Away to West Ham is not an easy game, the hammers were actually above the Arsenal in the premiership table before the game. Despite how much on paper the outcome favoured an arsenal win you cannot easily predict what will happen in a London derby. Throw in the factor that our nemesis of old Sam Allardyce is in charge of the east London club and you know we would have a game on our hands.

I know this isn’t Bolton we were playing but then again this isn’t the same passing football playing West Ham of old, Allardyce has added a more direct steel side to West Ham ‘s play and have the added factor of Andy Carroll’s aerial ability for opposition teams to contend with.

In our favour the in form Per Mertesacker overcame his midweek illness and returned to the line up to partner Vermaelen. Gervinho despite his goal scoring form of late was shift to one of the flank roles as Wenger opted for the physical presence of Olivier Giroud while Aaron Ramsey was preferred to Coquelin for the central midfield role.

We returned to our yellow strip away shirt from last season due to the potential colour clash between the teams. The change of strip had no effect on the way we play as we settled into the game and pretty much controlled the pace of the game as we dominated possession and looked classy in attack. The Achilles heel of arsenal has to be their vulnerability when in control of a game. A goal looks like coming soon enough and then totally against the run of play we concede with the first threat at our goal. That’s exactly what happened yesterday as West Ham scored through Diame. The ball was worked to the wing, with Ramsey and Jenkinson shuffling Diame out wide, the West Ham player cut inside way too easily past Ramsey and had a clear one on one against the keeper and blasted the ball into the far corner with ease.

Ramsey is not a specialist defender however you would expect him to at least bring the man down if he fools you that easily from the position he was in. He was outside the box when he burst past Ramsey, once he was gone there was no catching him. In Ramsey’s defence he will learn from that error and I would not expect to see similar happen again.

We were in that similar position as old habits seem to be returning each week however we continued playing our game and dominating possession. We were rewarded for not losing our composure as in a counter attack Olivier Giroud sprayed the ball out wide to Lukas Podolski, the German worked the ball to the by-line and drilled in a cross which was poked in expertly at the near post by Giroud.

Finally our Frenchman has got a premiership goal; an important goal as well as it brought us right back into the game. He was overjoyed at finding the back of the net and more or less the whole team ran over to congratulate him. That goal will do him a world of good and maybe now the stats masters will find someone else to bother. Giroud was dangerous long before he scored and definitely gave the West Ham defenders something to think about.

The game was level at half time but the important thing was to get that goal coming into the break. This allowed Wenger to plot how we would win the game rather than having a game plan of getting back into the game. We carried on our same classy passing game in the second half with Santi Cazorla pulling all the strings. The hammers did have their threatening moments but we generally coped with their attack. Gervinho probably had one of his least effective games in a while; he has clearly relished the central role that when playing wide his impact from predator to provider was heavily reduced. His misery was finally compounded when Wenger made a change around 60 minutes bringing on Theo Walcott for the Ivorian.

Theo made his case for more starting spots by duly putting us ahead in the game, a brilliantly worked ball from Cazorla found Giroud in a counter attack. The Frenchman spotted Walcott’s run off the defender’s shoulder and played a perfectly weighted pass to the speedy Theo. His pace took him clear and one on one with the keeper, he finished with a cool slotted ball into the near post. Through his calmness in that position it was almost like he passed the ball into the net, the goal was nothing more than we deserved and Theo clearly emotional from his finish ran to the away fans and celebrated. His actions got him a booking but he didn’t care, his goal was another example to Wenger that he can finish if he gets the chances.

We managed to come from behind to take the lead, we deserved our winning position however there was still plenty of the game left to play and we needed to be focused. West ham worked a chance soon after Walcott’s goal with Nolan blasting over when maybe he should have done better. We needed a third goal to make the game safe, step forward Mr Cazorla. With Theo trying to dribble past his marker the ball broke free about 25 yards from goal, Santi picked the ball up, took one touch then drilled an unstoppable shot past the keeper and into the back of the net. The goal was amazing and the perfect icing on the cake to cap a magnificent performance from our majestic Spaniard.

The goal killed any hopes the hammers had and we were able to close out the game with ease. Another win on the board, a first prem goal for Giroud and another potential banana skin away game out of the way. The only downer after the win is the prospect of another international break to disrupt our momentum. Now we have 2 weeks of no domestic football while we sit at home and pray our squad return from their international games without any injuries.

How do you like them apples statto?

Wenger was in full praise of his team, on his assessment of the performance he said:

“It was a good test mentally as well, because we went 1-0 down with their first shot on goal. We came back and won this game. You could say that we had a good performance today overall.”

After the game everybody was waxing lyrically about the influence of Santi Cazorla on the team and this game. Wenger added:

“I think he was overall a delight to watch, from the first to the last minute today. He was very influential in our team and it’s fantastic to watch him play.”

Cazorla has really hit the ground running at arsenal it will be hard to imagine the team without him now. We do have players in reserve that could fill the gap if he was injured or needed a break like Arshavin or even Oxlade-Chamberlain or Ramsey but right now he is so vital to the new arsenal.

Some rumors surfaced last night that Theo Walcott is pretty close to signing a new contract now. The mirror claims he will sign a 3 year extension. I’ll wait until he has actually signed that contract before I start jumping for joy. He made his statement of his reasons for not signing so far and Arsene has dropped many hints over the past week that he will give Theo a chance in his favored position. I believe Theo will get his chances in the capital one and fa cup games in his preferred striking position but in the premiership games he will be played where Wenger feels he is needed for the good of the team. Once he adds consistency in that role and makes it impossible for Wenger to ignore then he will get his wish. But the question is whether he has the patience to wait for his chances, it works both ways really, Theo needs to keep plugging away and be prepared to play anywhere for the team but take his chances when they come; Wenger will need to honor his word if Theo keeps on producing.

I expect plenty more twists and turns on this contract situation but there could be a positive ending.

Enjoy your day people.

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Another goalless draw,Tiote no go,Song speaks out – AFC

Second game into the season and the second goalless draw; it’s not exactly the ideal start to the season. The Robin Van Persie sized monkey on our back refuses to go away and until the goals start to roll in we will have to fend off the scathing assessments of our attacking options. I suppose it doesn’t help when Robin himself is already off the mark in his Man United career, the comparisons will be made and last seasons goals will be mentioned at every opportunity.

Arsenal in fairness have not played badly in the two games so far, Santi Cazorla has taken to the team like a duck to water, the defence has not conceded a goal and that’s without first choice Laurent Koscielny playing a game yet. Neutrals watching the game yesterday will be cursing knowing they will never be able to get that hour and a half of their lives back. It’s very rare to get an exciting 0-0 draw and yesterday’s game certainly followed type by not exactly exciting the masses. As an arsenal fan I can’t find the game boring as my focus is solely on seeing the gunners succeed, I kick every ball, head every header and the heart beats faster when we attack or defend.

I’m quite happy that we have come away from the Britannia without a defeat, the ground hasn’t been the best to us over the years and on reflection Arsenal came off the pitch disappointed not to have all three points. We were hardly tested as much as we have been in the past against Stoke, we pretty much kept their attack under control and apart from the offside goal scored by Jonathon Walters the defence stood up to the task. Getting this tie out of the way so early in the season is a good thing I feel when stoke visit emirates that will be 3 points on the board, the away tie is always the banana skin with added pressure due to the bad feeling between the clubs.

The Stoke fans were at their putrid best yesterday, mocking Wenger at every opportunity and showing even more class by booing Aaron Ramsey when he came on as substitute in the second half. Nothing from that club surprises me from the manager to the players to the fans they really are something else and sooner or later their one dimensional football will be found out, let’s hope they are propping up the table this year. I’m quite glad Shawcross has decided against playing for Wales, he still thinks he has a chance with England; he should take a ticket and wait in the queue next to Jermaine Pennant and Joey Barton. Aaron Ramsey doesn’t need the extra burden it would have brought and the right outcome has come about.

classy fans who boo Ramsey

Back to the game and Arsene gave his thoughts on the performance in his post match interview, he said:

“We showed we are very strong spirit-wise and we were dominant in the challenges. We were prepared, highly-focused, defensively very strong overall. Offensively we still have some work to do because we miss a bit of accuracy in final third, in our movement and in our passing. We are used to finding each other blind in the final third and there is still something missing. But I still think we should have won the game 1-0.”

It’s a pretty fair and accurate assessment really, we are still finding our feet up front due to new personnel but I can see goals will come soon. Olivier Giroud worked hard up front and did some good things when holding up the ball and bringing others into play, Podolski was more withdrawn playing in the left attacking role, he certainly played his part supporting Gibbs in defence but also showed flashes of danger in the final third.

There was one chance in the final minutes that fell to Olivier Giroud after a quick counter attack, with the stoke defense stretched Aaron Ramsey was steaming through the middle hoping to collect a pass into the middle however the Frenchman spotted Begovic off his line and attempted a lob from about 40 yards. In fairness it was a good shot and skimmed the roof of the net, if that went in we would be talking goal of the season contender. Giroud saw how close the chance was and seemed quite impressed with his effort unfortunately the cameras panned straight to Arsene who was screaming in frustration at a wasted opportunity to square the ball for a better placed player. Poor Giroud was not even aware of the bollocking he was due in the dressing room after the game. The important thing from that chance is it showed Giroud’s confidence to even attempt and nearly execute such a chance, his performance was ok and after a week or two of fine tuning in attack and we will score for fun.

Since I last blogged we have lost out in our pursuit of Nuri Sahin, a shame maybe but after hearing the kind of money Liverpool were prepared to pay for him for one season it is clear they haven’t learned from the open chequebook wasting of money Kenny Dalgleish brought to the club. Wenger has been quite open that he still intends to add to the squad before the window closes. I feel we really need to add reinforcements to midfield with Song gone. One player not coming in to replace him is Chek Tiote after Wenger ruled out any truth to that rumour. After being asked about the player in yesterdays press conference the manager said:

“Tiote is a good player but he is not on his way to Arsenal”

A shame as he was a player that had some good battles with song in the middle of the park for the past couple seasons and has impressed for Newcastle.

Alex Song has been speaking to the press over in Spain and claims that he wanted to sign a new contract to stay at Arsenal for the past year. He explained that the club kept putting off talks using the excuse that he had enough time and did not need to rush negotiations.

Song said:

“I was ready to commit my future to the club. All I wanted were talks about a new contract but each time we were due to sit down, the club postponed it. I was fobbed off. I wanted a new five-year contract at Arsenal. In the end I got one… at Barcelona”

Not the kind of thing we want to hear when we are trying to move on. It certainly turns the heat back onto Ivan Gazidis and his team as to why something like this could happen (if Song is telling the whole truth). As I’ve stated in the past the departure of Song is not a disaster and he can be replaced, the important factor is a player coming in as cover; Arteta and Diaby have been doing a good job covering but I would still prefer an experienced specialist defensive midfielder coming in. I won’t dwell too much on the contract situation with Song but it will be a problem with me if it become a regular occurrence.

Special mention to Vito Mannone who came into the side yesterday after Szczesny didn’t recover from a rib injury in time. Fans up and down the country were hardly filled with great confidence when that news broke however the Italian did all that was asked of him and came out of the game with a clean sheet. Fair play.

Enjoy your day people

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Ramsey in good form for GB, Cazorla medical? Afobe to Bolton?

The Olympics really are dominating all the sport news lately, not a complaint from me as I have been enjoying the variety of sports on offer at the moment. The Euros seem like a distant memory now as everyone is hit by Olympic fever. The golds and medals in general are starting to come in for Great Britain after a slow start even the football teams are going their bit as an Aaron Ramsey inspired men’s team dispatched of Uruguay and qualified for the quarter finals. Although I have failed to get overly excited by the GB mens team im happy about the performances Ramsey is putting in for the team. He has impressed in all his appearances so far and that can only do the Welshman good in preparation for the coming season. His confidence had taken a knock last season as his form was quite hit and miss, the fans weren’t shy to let him know about it which only hindered his form further. His form in the Olympics is the perfect remedy for him and his belief is returning with each game.  Good on the lad and i’m sure Arsene Wenger despite his initial objection to team GB involvement of his players knows that this exposure and good form is more positive to Ramsey and Arsenal than a random good performance against a Malaysian XI.

Some reports are suggesting that Santi Cazorla will be jetting into London this week for a medical before wrapping up the final details of a move to the Arsenal. As exciting as that news may sound part of me still wants more proof, where’s that grainy mobile pic of him at the airport? Something, anything please. The whole transfer saga seems a big mess based on the acrimonious meltdown that appears to be going on at Malaga at the moment. Lots of contradictory statements coming from within and outside the club it’s hard to know what’s really going on. All I care about is the guy signing on the dotted line so hurry up Santi and put us Arsenal fans out of our twitter fuelled paranoia and make the rumours a reality.

Great news was revealed for Nico Yennaris yesterday as it was announced that the youngster has penned an extension to his Arsenal contract. Yennaris has been rewarded for his breakthrough into the first team last season. He made a few appearances at a time when arsenal were struggling for fullbacks and he made sure he made a lasting impression when he stepped in to team. One thing you cannot deny about the youngster is that he is arsenal through and through, he is one of the rare breed of players that idolised the club since childhood and many of us have seen the various pictures of him as a kid donning the arsenal kit as a club mascot. He was a junior gunner growing up and is currently living the dream working his way through the ranks. I believe his future will be as fullback despite his main position being a midfielder at youth. Wenger has history of converting players to new positions and I see Yennaris following in the footsteps of the likes of Kerian Gibbs and Lauren. It’s now up to him to take the opportunity and his new contract will act as the perfect motivation to succeed.

Good news on the horizon for another youngster as the rumours of a loan move for young forward Benik Afobe to Bolton seems to be building up credibility. The news of the loan move appeared a few days ago but then nothing materialised. Now reliable youth team specialist Jamie Sanderson from Young Guns Blog revealed that Arsenal have accepted loan bids from Millwall and Bolton for his services. In a situation as such Benik would be mad to turn down Bolton for Millwall. Given the previous successful terms at the club experienced by Jack Wilshere and Ryo Miyiachi a loan at Bolton  would be an ideal opportunity for Afobe. He has served his apprenticeship at league one and briefly at championship level and now I feel an amazing opportunity has presented itself to the gifted forward. For a player I believed was more impressive than Conor Wickam when the Sunderland man was earning plaudits left right and centre for Ipswich and England u-17’s I feel it’s now time for Afobe to show what he can do on a larger scale and prove he was the brighter talent.

Enjoy your day people

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Ramsey in GB squad, Campbell to La Liga, no bids for RVP yet – AFC

Stuart Pearce named his 18 man squad for the London 2012 Olympics yesterday; a squad that included young Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey amongst the likes of fellow Welshman Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards.

There was no place in the squad for Kieran Gibbs even though he was heavily tipped to be included. I don’t think Gibbs will be losing much sleep over his omission anyway.

The experience will be good for Aaron Ramsey, he had a tough season at Arsenal and the potential for a good tournament would do wonders for his confidence. The opportunity to learn off of Giggs will benefit him a lot and judging by the rest of the squad selections Ramsey has the opportunity to be one of the leading lights in the GB team. I don’t think Ramsey ever played in the same team as Giggs for Wales so this will be a special opportunity for the player.

Ramsey himself said of his squad selection:

“I’m delighted to be a part of it”

“It will be a good experience and a different experience to play in the Olympics, being part of a British team and playing alongside some of the English players too”

He is clearly excited and it’s a pity he didn’t have David Beckham there also to bounce off of. I hope he comes through the experience with his confidence rebuilt and a fresh impetus going into the new season. He has the potential to be as influential as Cesc Fabregas was to the team, he just needs to find his rhythm again and increase his consistency. Good luck Aaron I’ll be cheering you on but not Stuart Pearce.

Joel Campbell looks to be off on loan again for next season as word started to spread of his impending loan deal with La Liga outfit Real Betis. If the move does come to fruition that will be a great move for the young Costa Rican to make. La Liga is of a much higher standard than Ligue 1 and a real push in the right direction for his development. It is not known whether work permit problems are behind this move however given our recent acquisitions up front opportunities would be limited for the young forward next season. Better for him to test himself in Spain, although the Spanish league is dominated by the two giants there is still enough quality in the league to raise Joel’s standard.

In spite of the rumours of bids for our captain Robin Van Persie with wages and fees on the table from Juventus and Man City Peter Hill-Wood has come out publicly to state that there have been no bids for our captain as yet. He has also stated that Robin is not for sale as Arsenal does not want him to leave the club.

Hill –wood said:

“As far as I am aware nobody has made any offer for him and he is away so we are not in any dialogue at all”

He followed that up with:

“We’re not in the remotest bit interested in selling him”

Of course these quotes are based on what Hill-Wood knows, is there a possibility something could be happening behind the scenes unknown n to him? Probably not, though he is known for letting the cat out of the bag too soon on many Arsenal related issues. I know if I knew someone who can’t keep a secret I would wait until the last possible opportunity before I bring them in to anything.

Robin is apparently still on his holidays getting away from all the stresses of the last 11 or so months, I think the silence has made us all assume the worst though there’s still no guarantee he is staying what we need to do is wait until he is back from his holidays and having talks with the Arsenal men before we jump to any conclusions. Let the papers make up what they want but be aware nothing is happening for now so take all reports with a pinch of salt.

Enjoy your day people

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