Man City next, Walcott contract an unwanted distraction – AFC

Match day at last, the time has come to reach our first real test of the season. Any win over Liverpool at Anfield always ranks highly in my book however the victory this season if looked more closely under a microscope showed a Liverpool team still coming to terms with a new system, a new manager and still broken from the bad buys of Kenny Dalgleish’s last reign. A win really was the only possible outcome from that tie and now we reach the stage where we take on the current champions in their own patch. This will be the acid test of how far we have come and how our improved defence can cope against quality opposition.

Both teams meet today coming off the back of gruelling away games in the champion’s league, we will start the game with a slight psychological advantage given the fact we won our game. Man City’s opposition were a far harder test, no disrespect to Montpellier but Real Madrid is another level of football club. The fact that Man City were fighting to the last minute it is hoped that physically they will show fatigue in today’s game.

From their team it looks like Sami Nasri will miss the game due to a hamstring strain obtained in the midweek game. In a way that will probably work in Arsenal’s favour. Too much is made of Nasri when the two clubs clash that part of the focus slips away as it turns into a personal battle.

These situations are definitely new to arsenal fans and have slowly crept up on us the past couple of years. In the past players that left the club acrimoniously were well past their peak to the point if we ever faced them their involvement didn’t warrant any attention. More frequently since Emmanuel Adebayor left the club we have come to face the ‘pantomime villain’ ex player. It certainly left a bitter taste the way he left the club with his tail between his legs to a premiership rival, although Man city weren’t as big then he was still a player in his prime moving to an up and coming rival club.

Nasri was then the next player to join that club and now the latest addition is Robin Van Persie to join the unique club founded by Ashley Cole. The games all of a sudden become bigger than one club against another, it’s personal between the player and the rival fans and the result almost becomes second best as long as that player has a poor game.

Back in the day all we had to contend with was Jermaine Pennant playing out of his skin against us to try and prove some point. He was so irrelevant most fans didn’t care at all because they knew his lack of brain cells would have him in the papers for all the wrong reasons before too long.

I’m quite greedy and would rather have the result and a poor performance from Nasri (if he plays). To be honest our team has changed so much that beyond Emmanuel Frimpong not many of the current squad will give two hoots about Nasri. He is clearly in our past and their focus is on bigger and better things.

It is hoped Theo Walcott and his non contract doesn’t affect the good start we have had to the season. Personally I believe once the transfer window closed and he didn’t sign anything that his days with Arsenal were numbered. His agent now holds all the cards and can hold the club to ransom over negotiation terms. I would not be surprised if the player moves on in the next window. Arsene Wenger is reported to be frustrated about the whole situation and gave his biggest indication yet that if things are not resolved in the next two months his hand may be forced to cash in on the England winger. Us Arsenal fans have been through it all before and understandably we are a little less forgiving despite the positive comments that come out of Theo’s mouth. If you want to play for us do whatever it takes as soon as possible so that your only focus is on the team. Right now doubts remain, some negative vibes are coming off from the stands and it will most definitely transpire into his mental state and affect performances when he’s on the pitch.

I hope he does prove us all wrong and signs a contract soon though at present everything points to him moving on. I’m sure with the pressure on from Wenger we will hear a lot more about this situation over the next few weeks.

Look at me rambling on about something other than today’s game. See Theo, even I’m distracted.

Back to today’s game and I’d take a score draw, anything more than that would be fantastic. it’s not impossible, heres hoping our amazing away fans sing us on to victory

enjoy your day people

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Is Ox the trump card vs Italy? Santos defending questioned – AFC

That’s three quarter finals out-of-the-way now, one more left. This one being the game which carries the most interest for me being England. Why I’m getting excited I don’t know, the football hasn’t been the most entertaining but I suppose once there’s representation from our own in the form of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain I get that sense of willing them and the team to do well like a pushy parent watching their child in an under-8 match.

Italy is going to be a daunting match; anyone who does not follow either team will struggle to find any positives in a match between two sides whose strengths have been keeping it tight at the back. The match will be as close to a chess game as you can get, there’s no wonder that there has been talk of penalties as this game has stalemate written all over it.

Each country does have an ace up their sleeve to turn the game on its head and provide us with moments of magic to be remembered. In the blue corner is the unpredictable Mario Ballotelli, this guy is such an enigmatic free spirit that he could win the game single-handed… if he feels like it. There is such a fine line with this guy that he has as much chance banging in the winning goal as he has doing something brainless and getting himself sent off, let’s hope its Mr. brainless today. In the white corner it’s our very own Oxlade-Chamberlain. Young Alex has shown so much maturity in this tournament so far, thrust into the starting line up for the opening game against the French he did not let his teammates down.  He has done everything asked of him when he has come on for England as Roy Hodgson has laid down strict instructions to each player to maintain his tactical plans and ensure results are ground out.

Could this be the time that (excuse the copyrighted Wengerism) the hand brake is taken off?  Arsenal fans know what the Ox can do with the ball at his feet and we have witnessed at the Euros so far his unfamiliar restraints as more focus has been on keeping shape, playing it simple and not giving the ball away cheaply.

As these two defensive teams set up against each other it will need the intervention of a special player to make that difference to win the game. Why cant that player to make the difference be Mr Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

As much as I think Theo Walcott has earned an opportunity to start and be more involved in the England team I can’t see him getting much change out of the disciplined Italian defence. They won’t leave gaps to exploit and have the nous to play on his weakness: the physical battle. With that said I hope I am completely wrong, I want to be wrong on this front as I hope he can leave as big an impression as he did in the Sweden game.

It really is an opportunity for both our Arsenal starlets to make a real name for themselves. All eyes with be on Italy and England tonight, only one team can win and so someone has to play a part in getting their country through.

It was nice to see Laurent Koscielny play 90 minutes for France last night against Spain. Although Spain came away with a 2-0 win our centre back had a good game and wasn’t overawed by the occasion. Overall there were some undertones coming from the French that all was not well and just like what we saw with the Netherlands it affected the team performance. Nasri started on the bench and despite how much I dislike the mercenary I have to admit he has been one of the better performers so far for the French. The alleged disagreements that have gone on behind the scenes in the French camp had a knock on effect on Laurent Blanc’s team selection resulting in Nasri not starting the game. Even when he did come on in the second half his body language was one of disinterest as his true colours shone through; pretty glad that type of personality is no longer at our great club, good riddance. Let’s hope Giroud and M’Villa weren’t part of the infighting though I believe it revolved more around the senior members of the team. With France now out I’m hoping that the potential deals for the two players can now be concluded.

The Brazil national coach Mano Manezes made a statement this weekend that is unlikely to send ripples of disapproval through everything linked with Arsenal. When questioned about why Andre Santos has lost his place in the Brazil team the manager confirmed his reasoning for this was because Andre Santos is a little bit rubbish at defending. Not in those exact words I admit but the manager did say:

“The problem with Andre Santos is tactical. He turned my hair grey when we were still at Corinthians” “Why? Because he is tactically irresponsible, but he did score 20-goals and it was worth it in the end. It was value for money and with the Seleção (Brazil squad selection), you cannot pay this price”

Sums up his time with Arsenal last season, great going forward he adds that little bit of class to our play with his immaculate touch and control. He certainly scored some important goals for us at times but he also left us Arsenal fans biting our nails through nervousness with some of his defending.

Steve Bould will surely have defending on his radar this season and will ensure as a unit we will be stronger defensively. It will be interesting how Santos takes the news since this directly affects his international opportunities. Unlike Stewart Robson whose only audience should be the Samaritans hotline; Manezes words carry more power and would need to be adhered. He knows Santos from their time together in club football and has probably told the player this a million times. Quotes can look more serious than they are at times and the managers comments could  have been said more light-heartedly for all we know. Though as the saying goes: “many a true word spoken in jest”.

Enjoy your day people

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Podolski is here. RVP talks today – AFC

So Lukas Podolski has done some promo for the Arsenal. The official site released some video of the German in his first official interview as an arsenal player. Although the deal was announced a while back you still can’t help but get excited at the thought of Podolski turning out for Arsenal when you catch sight of him wearing the kit.

I mean the actual interview itself was no different from your standard Arsenal interview for a new signing. Lukas proceeded to say all the things we wanted to hear and tick all the boxes to satisfy the fans. This to me is such an important signing and very shrewd piece of business conducted by Arsene and his team.

It goes to show we do have the pulling power and that we can be crafty enough to nip in and get signings of big players. This is not the potential we have become accustomed to signing over the last few years. This is a player for the now, a full international with an impressive record for a major country in world football.

Can this Podolski signing be another piece of evidence to prove the Arsenal strategy for signing players has evolved from future to right here right now? I certainly hope so. Too many times over the past few years heavy resources have been poured into developing the future stars of Arsenal only for their heads to be turned at the very stage when they should be the leading members of the team.

We have lost too many players because of this and have had to reinvest in youth to get back to this stage. On the other side of the coin many players deemed for bright futures have failed to live up to expectation.

Any signing is a gamble at the end of the day but if we continue to add the odd experienced quality to complement the raw potential the right balance will enhance the team growth.

One significant thing to notice with the signing of Podolski is the countries in which the club is targeting for players.

Germany has always been a leading force in world football and currently boasts an envious batch of highly talented young footballers coming to prominence. I am encouraged by the fact that we are targeting players from this country as opposed to the star player from Kazakhstan per say.

Per Mertesacker was the catalyst to us attracting German players to our club.

Of course he offers a lot more to the club than attracting his mates but it always helps attracting foreign players to your club when you already have a countryman on your books.

Eisfeld is on the books, we have long been targeting Mario Gotze. A German core is not a bad thing at all.

Germans are known for their professionalism and winning mentality. The kind of mentality which belongs at big clubs. We are a big club and will return back to where we belong at the top of the table before too long.

I refuse to take notice of anything said by Samir Nasri. The guy is a massive waste of space and I’m ashamed to believe I used to cheer on this guy and sing his name from the stands. Karma will have something planned for him.

Robin Van Persie is set to have his much-anticipated talks with the Arsenal men today; it will be just as nerve-racking to gunners fans as we were on Sunday. This is a massive set of talks that could have repercussions on the whole dynamic of the Arsenal squad. If he were to decide to leave the Arsenal we WILL need a replacement. Podolski should be deemed as an addition of quality to build on our 3rd place finish not a replacement for our golden boot winning, top scoring captain.

This was one of the situations that left us in so much despair at the start of last season. The uncertainty over Fabregas and Nasri left us feeling somewhat underwhelmed when players were linked as they were seen as mere poorly shaped plugs to fill massive holes.

We do not need that for next season, we need to do everything in our power to keep our captain and build. If unfortunately he has already made up his mind to go then we must think long-term and buy a replacement of equal standing and sell RVP as early as possible. We cannot let this drag out; we cannot beg him to see out one last year on his contract.

As much as I love Van Persie if he feels the need to fulfil ambition elsewhere then we need to sell him ASAP. Wenger is a man of honour and will not stand in his way and hold him to ransom. We will need to rebuild as soon as possible.

Dont let go Arsene.

I have a gut feeling Van Persie is staying with the Arsenal. I believe today’s meeting will serve as Wenger and his team convincing our captain that Podolski is just the start. Robin will be assured that we will be bringing silverware back to Arsenal and that he will not regret signing a new contract.

England squad for Euros should be named today. Heavy rumours that The Ox will be included. Will be interesting if true but I will wait until confirmation before passing my views on what impact they may have.

Enjoy your day people