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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Liverpool walk alone as Gunners cruise to win – AFC

That’s more like it, what better way to get your first win of the season than winning comfortably at Anfield. This is definitely the tonic needed after the underwhelming feeling felt by gooners after Friday’s transfer deadline day. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up that I was not happy when no new reinforcements came in to strengthen the side especially a replacement for the loss of Alex Song to Barcelona. I still believe we missed an opportunity to snap up personnel at a reasonable price, when you see the likes of Clint Dempsey moving on for only £6m or Michael Essien going on loan to Madrid it does leave the feeling of missing out on good players when available.

With the deadline day inactivity fresh in the mind a trip to Anfield had the possibility of being the banana skin that would incense the arsenal fans even more and heap extra pressure on Arsene Wenger and the team. It was paramount that we came away from the game with at least a point and luckily for us Arsene’s men wanted more than a point and made sure they left clutching all three.

Now normally Liverpool away is a tough game, never mind the stats that we haven’t lost there for a while we have come away having to really earn our results in the past. They have never been easy games and we have had to ride our luck over the years to ensure we pull off the results. Yesterday I believe we came away with one of our most comfortable performances against Liverpool, don’t get me wrong it was not an easy game and they did cause us problems at times but in general we were in control of our destiny. I was waiting for the point in the game when Liverpool would step up the pressure and their overated world famous KOP would lift them as the twelfth man; im still waiting. Our fabulous away fans were in full voice throughout the game and it was only their voices I could hear singing throughout the game, of course this was aided by the team on the pitch as they provided the reasons to cheer.

Going into the game we were still without our no.1 Szczesny so Vito Manonne had a chance to build on his clean sheet in the last game, Mertesacker was signalled out as the weak link to be exploited by the pace and trickery of Luis Suarez by the Sky Sports team and our new signings were still looking for their first goals for the club.

It was nice to see Manonne put in an assured performance again, he did seem a bit uncomfortable with the physicality when the balls were looped in the air, but apart from that there were no complaints, he did everything that was required of him.

Mertesacker who is often dismissed due to his lack of pace took the opportunity to show football requires more than just pace. His 80 plus caps for Germany are testament to the fact he has faced all types of strikers and coped, for Jamie Redknapp and co to predict a torrid game for the German was naïve. Our big German played his heart out, used all his experience to put in a fabulous performance despite an early booking for a pull on Suarez. He even managed to pull out a goal saving tackle with his telescopic leg to deny Sterling; the Liverpool fans screamed for a penalty but all replays showed Mertesacker pulled off a great tackle.

In midfield we dominated the majority of the game, Abou Diaby was immense making the game look so easy for him at times, he made some great leggy runs reminiscent of Vieira in his Highbury days, an all round good performance which was a timely reminder to arsenal fans of what he can bring to the team when fit. Arteta was neat and tidy in distribution, tigerish in the tackle and seemed that little bit more determined in the game probably due to his Everton links; a great performance from the Spaniard protecting the defence. Now to Santi Cazorla our little pocket rocket, this guy is such a fabulous footballer whose stock is rising with each game he plays. Liverpool had no answer to his close control and vision, he really makes things happen when he’s on the ball and he provides the triple threat of being able to provide a key pass, able to shoot from distance with left or right foot and he has the skill to beat a man. The difficulty in defending against those three attributes led to the Spaniard laying on the opportunity in which Podolski scored to put us a goal up. It was important that our new signings made such a contribution to the team as Podolski showed his predatory skills to drill past Pepe Reina. Our German attacker did his bit in our win by playing an efficient game, he really helped out Keiran Gibbs on the defensive side and supported in attack. He was rewarded for his efforts with the first goal and also an assist when he played a slick one-two with Cazorla that ended with a howler from the keeper and the ball in the back of the net.

The game ended 2-0 as we racked up another clean sheet, what a difference from 12 months ago. The defence is really playing for each other and apart from a few dodgy balls across the pitch from Jenkinson they were very switched on. Up front the jury is still out on Olivier Giroud, he was often isolated up front and he tried hard to battle for the balls played up front, his work rate is not in question but what he needs to ensure is he takes the chances that come his way. Much like the game on the opening day against Sunderland he found himself with an opportunity to slot home, this time on his favoured left foot but he somehow managed to not hit the target with his effort.

I am very much behind our French striker and know he has goals in him but he needs that first goal for the club soon before it really affects his confidence. He doesn’t have the pace to speed away from the defender but he has the physical strength to work himself opportunities and his movement around the box is very good he just needs to score soon and banish any doubts about his finishing.

Overall I am very proud of our boys for their performance yesterday, we’ve scored our first goals and now we can go into our next game against Southampton with confidence up. This is providing our players come through the international break unscathed (light a candle in prayer for Abou Diaby who was called up for France).

One last point on the game, wasn’t it great to see Nuri Sahin struggle against our midfield yesterday? The Midfielder chose Liverpool ahead of us and to be honest showed nothing that we would have missed.

wrong dugout Brendan, you have to work with what you’ve got – good luck

In general Liverpool struggled trying to play us at our own game, you don’t learn tippy tappy overnight, those Liverpool players are used to direct long ball football and it was amusing to see them try playing triangles but just give the ball straight back to us after the third touch. They may get it eventually but for now the pass masters showed them why they are known for this football.

Enjoy your day people

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