Gunners back to winning ways despite flaws

Three points on the board and an advancement on the premier league table to keep us within touching distance of our London rivals. It wasn’t pretty, far from an enjoyable experience but in the grand scheme of things the win was recorded. It’s all the team can do right now, the past seven days have been a complete disaster for the club and so it was a bit of a relief to see us remember how to win at home. Confidence amongst the team is shot right now and it will take a while for the team to find a swagger in their play again. All be it that same swagger is what has infected the players with complacency in the games where they are expected to win. Maybe the realisation has sunk in now and the players now recognize what is required when you pull on the red and white of Arsenal.

The team have talked a good game this season, the players have come out (via the platform of with the calls to arms speeches for the big games, they highlighted the dangerss of taking teams for granted and they roundly spoke out in defence of the manager. The problem is all the talk seemed to count for nothing when they didn’t back up their words when on the pitch.

We have lost almost all our big games this season, we have fallen foul to inferior teams in the cup competitions and the players have let the manager down when he has staked his reputation on backing the players and their potential to achieve greatness.

jack v villa

Right now everyone in the club is hurting and despite scraping the win yesterday; you could sense a slight indication of unity between the players. They can certainly sense the negativity emitting from every direction and they are channelling it into their play to turn it around.There was definitely more effort put in from the players.

Understandably the past week contributed to the nerves in the teams play yesterday and the turnaround to regain confidence will take some time. There are some major flaws with the team but we missed the opportunity with the recent transfer window to address them so now we have to soldier on, accept what we have and keep the faith.

In terms of the game yesterday a couple things I noticed:

Santi Cazorla sure knows how to hit em.

Of all our players in the squad the one player I feel has that knack to blast a ball in from range is our Santi. His goals yesterday may not have been blockbusters or contenders for goal of the month but his range of shooting is vital to our recovery. Some days they skew off his boots at a 90 degree angle away from the goal but when he gets it right there are not many keepers that can stop ‘em. That threat around the box keeps defenders on their toes and can often create space for others. He took his goals yesterday very well and I for one am grateful for his persistence.

santi celebrates teamates

Monreal has a great delivery.

It has been clear in the games that Nacho Monreal has played this season that he has the best delivery of all our fullbacks at the club. One of the frustrations of the past is when our full backs work themselves into good positions then deliver a poor ball or start turning back inside and losing the momentum. With our lack of options up front it is important that we play to the strengths of what we do have. For what Giroud lacks in pace he makes up for in aerial threat so quality delivery is vital. Monreal had already walked away from the game with an assist for the winner but additionally he put in some terrific crosses during the game; the kind of deliveries that has people raving about Leighton Baines (calm down). Let’s hope he can continue that for rest of the season.

The team lacks ruthlessness.

Yes, we are coming off the back off our worst spell of the season and the team is working its way back to confidence however there were a high number of chances created to win the game comfortably. The profligacy at times had the fans pulling their hair out; at one goal up there was plenty chances to put the game to bed. Instead the team was punished for their lack of efficiency and ended up conceding a soft goal started from our own corner. All season we have lacked the ruthless edge to kill off games and nearly paid for it yesterday. Too many times the wrong decision was made up front and at other times we were just unlucky. We have paid for this many times this season and it is certainly something we need to fix if we are to charge into the top 4. I know players don’t miss on purpose and sometimes reacting on instinct can draw out fantastic goals but the glamorous efforts should be reserved for when we are 2-3 goals up.

Arsene really needs to stop using that ‘handbrake’ term

I know we understand what he’s trying to say when he says it but with every time he uses the phrase it comes across as some sort of parody. It’s like when you have a contestant evicted on big brother and they watch back their best bits at the end and discover that one phrase they use all the time; if Arsene was in the big brother house he would probably use it to describe a million situations much like the Smurfs use the word Smurf. He probably doesn’t realise how much he uses it and would blame it on TV editing.

Yesterday he used it in his press conference to say:

“It was interesting as well to see that we were focused, united, a bit nervous and you could see we played a little bit with the handbrake in some situations because the second goal didn’t come.”

I get ya Arsene

Anyway, let’s hope the recovery continues in our next game, away to Spurs. We can only take things a game at a time. Things won’t be fixed overnight so I think it’s important not to criticize yesterdays performance too much, just appreciate we achieved  a win and get behind the boys for the North London Derby.

I’m sure there’s nothing better to motivate the Arsenal players to raise their game than facing Spurs. The handbrake will be well and truly underused next Sunday.

Enjoy your day people.

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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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Arsenal announce arrival as team to take seriously

Resilience is a wonderful trait to have; it is a joy to watch when your team refuses to lie down. My feeling after the game yesterday was one of pride and slight disappointment that we didn’t leave the Etihad stadium with all three points. This really was the first real test for Arsene Wenger’s team this season and they did not disappoint. Yes, we may have conceded a soft goal but the thing that sets this Arsenal team apart from some of the past is the refusal to be ruffled by it, we did not lose our shape rushing forward for an equalizer only to succumb to the dreaded breakaway counter attack goal. No, we kept playing our game and got our just rewards from Laurent Koscielny’s equaliser.


This is a different arsenal, an arsenal full of confidence which as the away team outplayed Manchester City for the majority of the match. To say the goal we conceded came against the run of play would be an understatement. We were playing some beautiful football and but for some profligate composure in attacking situations we should really have been in front long before we conceded. Plaudits could be spread throughout the team for their performances as we stood up to the big test in front of us and dare I say it showcased our potential to contest for domestic honours.

In the lead up to the game rumours filtered through that our skipper could potentially be absent from the squad. That was confirmed when the team was announced and Vermaelen was nowhere to be seen. It was revealed that he had not travelled with the squad due to Flu. Not the most confidence inducing news to hear, the loss of our skipper is a big miss in any game however given the strength of our squad his replacement Koscielny is quality enough to fill the gap.

The change in the centre back position was a forced change but Arsene had a surprise up his sleeve when he chose Aaron Ramsey to occupy one of the front three positions ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott. You could hear the grumbles across the country when that news came out. Aaron is still working on repairing his reputation which was slightly tarnished last season due to some mixed performances. The jury is still out in some Arsenal fans eyes however yesterday the Welshman produced one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt to reassure fans of what he brings to the arsenal midfield. He may not have the box of tricks of skill of the Ox or the raw pace of Theo but what he does bring is quality on the ball, quality in the pass and excellent ball retention. This was a characteristic that was definitely required against Man city to ensure our control of the game and Arsene deserves praise for taking such a bold step.

One of the potential negatives from the game was the disappearance of Gervinho’s shooting boots. He definitely had the lion’s share of attempts for us in the game but nothing came off for him. In some people’s eyes it may seem the same old same old with the Ivorian. However I could see a difference in the forwards play and attitude. Yes he missed chances but the Gervinho of old would not have even attempted to make some of the shots he tried. Clearly buoyed by his recent rich vein of goal scoring form he was clearly more direct in his play and seemed hungry to get on the score sheet. It didn’t come off for him yesterday on another day he’s scoring goals like he did last week against Southampton. I encourage the new hungry Gervinho, although it was a source of frustration for Arsenal fans yesterday I feel if he keeps at it his the confidence will continue to grow and those chances will be converted more often. Apart from that I cannot defend that shocking piece of control by Gervinho when put through by Ramsey. Seriously he showed the kind of touch I have only experienced when playing pro evolution or FIFA and the ball is played on to a player with a rating lower than 50, 40 even.

Arsene Wenger gave his take on our performance and the chances that went amiss when he said:

“We refuse to lose the game today and came back. We are happy with the team performance but a little frustrated because we had chances with Gervinho when we could have won the game. Gervinho was a danger but he was nervous in his finishing.”

I’m sure the manager will keep working on his finishing in training but again I believe with growing confidence it will improve.

At the back the Steve Bould factor was again evident as the whole back four put in a great defensive performance, they were protected well by Arteta and the rest of the midfield but held their own when called upon. I lost count of the number of interceptions on potentially dangerous through balls; in the past those kinds of balls were getting through.

Per Mertesacker has come on leaps and bounds this season and is now receiving the plaudits from the press who were so quick to write him off last season. The fact he was voted man of the match says it all, the big German has really shown he has what it takes at premiership level and shown up all those who seem to think defending is all about pace. Another player who seems to be showing improvement from last season is Carl Jenkinson. This young guy as we know is arsenal through and through which is always a nice trait to have in a player. Though being a super fan isn’t the only requirement to play for arsenal, you need the quality to become a regular. Although the unfortunate injury to Bacary Sagna has elevated Carl to first team duty he has taken his opportunity with both hands and he is doing enough to prove he deserves to be starting for Arsenal.

What we forget is when Jenkinson came into the team last season we were in complete turmoil because of the departures of some big players; He had to hit the ground running despite the lack of experience at the top level. The past season clearly allowed the defender to learn and work on his weaknesses. He almost seems a completely different player but this is just testament to a growing confidence in the player, no turmoil in preparation for this season and now feeling part of the set up. Much like Gervinho and Mertesacker his confidence has grown this season due to learning from last and it is clear to see.

Whereas last season I may have questioned his longevity as an arsenal player of the future I can now see the signs that he has potential to become an important player for us. Still plenty for him to learn and Sagna still owns the right back position but Jenkinson is definitely doing his chances no harm.

Overall it was a great performance all round, even excusing Vito Mannone’s flap at the corner in which we conceded the goal; he pulled off some important saves to make up for the misjudgment. Our midfield were as majestic as ever and overshadowed the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva. The Arsenal post Robin Van Persie have announced themselves and intend to play a huge part in the premiership this year.

enjoy your day people

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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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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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