Arsenal have only themselves to blame in United draw

After 90 minutes Arsenal fans were left feeling frustrated at the waste of the chance to take all three points against Manchester United at the Emirates yesterday. If offered a point before the game I’m sure most Arsenal fans would take that offer but when the final whistle blew they will have looked back with frustration as Manchester United were gifted their equalizer.

afc v man u

With my rose-tinted glasses off Manchester united were in no way played off the field, they posed a threat on the break throughout and defended well but the goal conceded by the Gunners was easily avoidable. Bacary Sagna did himself no favours with poor concentration gifting the ball to Robin Van Persie, even from that point his error could be atoned however a rush of blood to the head resulted in an unnecessary sliding tackle which ended with Van Persie’s legs taken away and a penalty awarded.

The Arsenal fans groaned in frustration and you could also see on the Arsenal players faces similar emotions after having their hard work undone in a few seconds of madness. The last person Arsenal fans wanted to score in the game got his chance and took it. He didn’t celebrate must like in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford though I’m sure that respect was more directed to his former manager than the fans that once idolised him. He did not need to do anything, The Manchester united fans made sure they rubbed it in with banners highlighting Arsenal’s poor decision last summer with text such as “thanks for RVP”. The same fans that sung year after year about him being a rapist now sing a different song about the man whose goals made the difference for them taking the Premier League title.

Some points from the game yesterday:

Sagna madness

sagna tackle

Bacary Sagna had one of those moments yesterday, that moment everyone who has ever played the game at any level has experienced at least once in their life. When you make the wrong decision in a scenario which if performed 100 times you would do the right thing on the 99 other occasions. You feel stupid, your teammates look at you like you are a moron and you just want the world to swallow you up and take you away from that moment in time. Sagna will certainly have regretted his actions and I’m sure he got a barrel load from his team mates at half time. His game was definitely off for the remainder of the match as errors crept into his performance. The claims for Carl Jenkinson to be promoted to first choice grew stronger and it’s hard to argue as the Englishman has been usurped from the starting eleven despite playing well whenever Sagna has been fit to play. Arsene Wenger has shown some ruthlessness in other positions but has resisted the temptation so far to address the right back role.

Guard of honour

guard of honour

The guard of honour had been talked about all week and received a lot of press coverage. The whole ordeal had been blown well out of proportion, it lasted less than a minute and the players got on with the game. Fans booed as expected, I don’t think the Manchester United players will have sleepless nights about it, Van Persie didn’t milk it. Yes, it isn’t ideal to have to applaud a former player for his feats for a rival, it’s an embarrassment that the board and the manager will have to address but in comparison to the handshake furore of Terry/Bridge and Suarez/Evra it’s a non story to anyone outside of the club. Thank god it’s over and hopefully will never need to be talked about again.

Relaxed QPR

There is always the notion that it’s easier to play against a team with nothing to play for; I actually feel there’s more potential for a banana skin in such games. Arsenal travel to freshly relegated QPR for their next game and on paper it looks like a straightforward victory for the Gunners. With nothing to play for why would QPR even be bothered with the outcome? It is for that very reason that a carefree team playing with no pressure can be a massive threat. Arsenal does have something to play for and nerves can creep into their performance. I actually believe if they were not relegated and needed points to salvage chances of survival the psychological mindset of the QPR players would have been all over the place and played into the hands of the Gunners. With no pressure and there being a Spurs connection in their team I am pretty sure any points will be hard earned.

Enjoy your day people.

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Theo Walcott creates a shift in Arsenal history

The moment Theo Walcott put pen to paper on his new contract yesterday it marked a moment in Arsenal history that could be looked back on as a turning point in Arsenal fortunes. The signing is much deeper than securing the services of a promising young player with so many years ahead of him to make history for the club.

Although the signing of Walcott in addition to the five youngsters who penned new deals earlier this season has gone a long way to stabilising the team and securing a British spine of the team for the future it is still the one secured for Walcott that is the most important/significant.

theo applaud

The reason why I am saying this is for the club to retain the services of Theo Walcott taking into account the stage he was at with his contract it showed to the fans that the club was able to secure the services of a star asset who had held all the cards in terms of their career choice.

When the last transfer window shut at the end of August with Theo not signing a contract in many fans eyes, myself included it seems the days of Walcott as an Arsenal player were over. We had been there before in recent times with former captain Robin Van Persie; once he reached the stage where he could talk to other clubs his departure was inevitable.

Much like Samir Nasri before him the players were the ones that had the power over the club in negotiations and dictated proceedings. Arsenal is too big a club to be the ones taking the runner up spot in any standoff with their players. The years haven’t been too kind to the club in the past 8 years meaning negotiation powers have weakened, the lack of silverware has certainly dented the clubs standing amongst other big clubs. Where in the past players would want to play for a club based on their admiration for their style of play and history this has been overtaken by the desire for quick silverware and/or extortionate wages.

All those years back Matthieu Flamini started the trend when he upped sticks and headed for AC Milan on a free; the club has since struggled at times in negotiations to persuade players that Arsenal were going places as their contracts moved rapidly towards the final year.

flamini gooner

This is why when Theo Walcott signed the contract when he was in a position to start negotiations with any club of his and his agent’s choice it could signal a buck in the trend. It sent out a message to all that Arsenal does have the power to hold onto its star players even at its most vulnerable in negotiation proceedings.

Many will mention that the reported wages of £100k are a bit over the top for Theo, maybe they are but sometimes you have to pay that little extra to show your ambition. If Theo was to decide to move on he would have commanded that £100k wage elsewhere with plenty suitors out there so to convince him to stay was a big moment for the club.

To discuss his transition to striker or his recent surge in set piece duties is for another time, right now we need to acknowledge and salute Theo Walcott for surprising a lot of us in committing himself to the club and now focus on moving on as part of a core of players that will take Arsenal forward (hopefully introducing some silverware to the barren trophy cupboard in the process).

Young Theodore James Walcott you may have dragged your heels over the past 6 months but you made the right decision in the end, you will not regret your choice.

Enjoy your day people.

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Nothing goes right on bad day for Gunners

Arsenal doesn’t like doing things straight forward; there’s always some sort of complication that makes an evaluation impossible to bracket as black and white. Tensions are high amongst Arsenal fans; we have been frustrated at the lack of any sort of signings to boost/strengthen the team. We have also spent the last 7 days hearing announcements that Theo Walcott has signed his contract only to discover nothing official from anyone that actually matters in the whole situation. Earlier in the day former player Robin Van Persie again found himself on the score-sheet to take Manchester United 10 points clear at the top, another dig in the ribs of frustrated Gooners.

Everything seemed to be falling in place to put Arsene Wenger straight into the firing line if we did not come away from the Man City game with a positive game, performance and result. Leading up to the game there were some signs that something was slightly skewiff. Firstly the news filtered through beforehand that the game was under threat due to a suspicious package being located outside the Emirates that resulted in the area being closed off to the public. The threat was quickly dealt with however rumours circulated that Mikel Arteta was in fact injured and would not be involved in the game, which was proved right and seemed another strike thrown into the mix before we even kicked a ball. The biggest factor to affect our game and pour cold water over the Arsenal fans optimism was the dismissal of Laurent Koscielny just 9 minutes into the game. A game changer indeed and so early in the match that any hopes of winning the game were heavily reduced. For the record it was a penalty, I would not deny that however the award of a red card is debatable. I could talk until I am blue in the face dissecting the decision of Mike Dean but that won’t change anything.

mike dean pen

It spoiled what had the potential to be a good game and from then on the defeat was an inevitable outcome. The injustice of the red card in a way deflected the rage that was going to be directed towards Arsene Wenger for some of his recent actions, comments and inactivity in the transfer market. You cannot really critique the performance of a team that was handicapped with one less player for the majority of the match.

So from the events of yesterday I have a few points to raise:

Koscielny didn’t help the situation.

koscielny hold

Depending on what side of the fence you sit on he either deserved to go or he didn’t. What was conclusive from the incident was he did have his arm around Eden Dzeko and therefore deserved to be penalised for the incident. If he received only a yellow card we still would have had to face a penalty in the first 10 minutes. All season the team have been conceding unnecessary goals and if converted (in the alternate universe where Koscielny received only a yellow) that would have been another on the list. Our French defender although a favourite of many fans, has a knack of the odd silly moments. He has quite a few red cards already during his spell with Arsenal and I think it’s time that Arsene or Stevie Bould had a word with him on being a bit more aware of the consequences of his action when in the box. We can’t rely on Referees to use common sense in games so the best policy is to not give them any reason to make their rash decisions.

New players are contributing to their teams.

In a so far inactive transfer market for Arsene, fans cannot help but notice that players are scoring for their new clubs. Daniel Sturridge managed to get on the score-sheet earlier in the day with Liverpool, Demba Ba has got off the mark for Chelsea already and looked to have settled at his new club. It’s just a sign to show what kind of impact a new signing could have on the team. I know any new signing  would have been just as powerless as the players on the field yesterday once we went down to 10 men and so my argument doesn’t have much standing but I still believe our current squad has gone a bit stale and returning injured players will not revitalize it. New blood is needed the sooner the better.

Arteta injury means big problems.

The news of Arteta’s injury is not welcome news at all. Arsene has ruled him out for the rest of the month and the question is how do we cope with the loss of our Spanish pass master? Arteta has made the defensive midfield position his own this season and his ever-present season so far hasn’t drawn up the dilemma of where suitable cover would come from. Abou Diaby slotted into the role yesterday however being his first game back after his long absence it will be wishful thinking to believe he can cover until Arteta returns. His body will most likely require some recovery after his shift yesterday, the extra running having to deal with an extra man won’t help at all. The other option on offer is the two young guys could step up to the mark. Francis Coquelin has been on the fringes of the first team all season without ever threatening to oust any of the starting midfielders. With the injury to Arteta, an indication of Wenger’s true belief in the young Frenchman was shown by the manager choosing to play Diaby in front of him. With the games coming thick and fast this January he is bound to get a chance at some point but it’s important to see how he overcomes this first rejection. Emmanuel Frimpong is also back at Arsenal after his loan spell at Charlton and could be in contention for a place; I would expect Coquelin to get preference over the Ghanaian but would not be surprised if he does make an appearance this month.

Walcott performances up front need adapting.

theo v kompany

The longer the contract situation with Theo Walcott continues the more stringent his performances will be critiqued. Once again the young Englishman was given a chance in his preferred position up front but once again he came up short. With a continued run of games he is bound to improve but his contribution in that position needs more variety than just running off the shoulder of the last defender. After the 7-3 victory over Newcastle it was quite clear where Theo’s strengths lied but after that game opposing teams did their homework and decided it might not be best playing a high line against him. This has resulted in him being quite ineffective when he is not running onto long balls. The sending off didn’t help him yesterday as the added contribution of Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken away. There has also been a recent increase in Theo taking set pieces; it does make you wonder if his ongoing contract negotiations are resulting in him receiving special treatment from his colleagues. I think there are players better place to take the set plays and I think he needs to concentrate on scoring goals if he plays as the striker in the team. Once he masters that side of his game then he can expand into contributing to the set plays, you can’t become Thierry Henry overnight after all. In conclusion what I’m trying to say is with all the hassle over the new contract Theo needs to show he has more in his locker to justify the efforts to keep him.  It’s starting to look like Wenger will not spend again and so more responsibility will lie on Theo’s shoulders to prove the managers stinginess is the right decision.

We now face Swansea in the F.A. Cup third round replay this week, our biggest chance for a trophy this season. Let’s hope the Arsenal can get over yesterday’s result very quickly.

Enjoy your day people.

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Some points to address. Part 1 – AFC

It’s a new week, can we put the events from Saturday behind us? oh, well it was worth a try. The dust has settled only partially and many questions have been raised. The fans are still pissed (pardon my French) and want answers. How do we move on from this? We went into the game with a point to prove, that the team that turned up last year were a team in turmoil but now we have our house in order. In all honesty if Man United weren’t so wasteful they could have scored a similar amount of goals as last year.

I have a few points that I would like addressed. Of course I don’t have direct contact with Mr Wenger and so I don’t expect my point to go any further than you the reader but feel free to agree/disagree.

Where was Gnabry?

Now given the injuries we currently have to our more pacy options in the wide role such as the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho. One of the glaringly obvious points from the game was the distinct lack of pace in attack to really stretch the man united back line. Walcott virtually ruled himself out of that role due to his campaign to be played in a central striking position. So that left us with no real options of pace on the flank. Serge Gnabry has been included in the previous few premier league squads, he is young and raw but those qualities were probably exactly what would have been required from the bench to get at Evra or Rafael. I don’t know the full details of his non inclusion and he may well be nursing an injury from the midweek game against Reading but if not maybe he should have been considered.

You only need to look over at Liverpool and Raheem Sterling as proof that a 17 year old can make things happen. Gnabry would have been a good option.

Aaron Ramsey has been criticized for his contribution on the right hand side but in fairness that’s not his natural position. Wenger had asked him to play a role there mainly because his options were limited. He tried but in reality Ramsey was easily contained out on the right and rarely threatened from that position. I mentioned Walcott earlier and his inclusion in the team could also been determined by his 120 min involvement in midweek along with Arshavin. Gnabry played around 60 mins and would not have been suffering from the same level of fatigue if any. Some of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s real standout games last season when he was coming to prominence were in the high profile matches against both Manchester clubs. Could Gnabry have introduced himself to the watching public with a virtuoso display against united? That’s a question we will never know the answer to but some food for thought.

Time for Podolski to play as a striker.

At present the waiting list at Arsenal to play in the central striking position seems as heavily congested as our very own season ticket waiting list. We have players who don’t look the part scoring goals there, players who look the part not scoring quite enough; players who want to play there using their contract as ransom and then players who may get a chance due to capital one cup form. The funny thing is even when you account for the plentiful options for the position we still seem to be lacking a predatory striker that would scare the opposition and the fans would gamble all their earnings on scoring for the club at times of need. In my opinion no one striker has fully convinced in that position so far for us this season. The issue was slightly overlooked due to the number of goals being shared around the team earlier in the season. We almost believed that having a more all round team would help banish the ghost of Robin van Persie once and for all. What it all boils down to at the end of the day is defenders fear prolific strikers, the opposing manager has the conundrum of whether to pay more attention to the prolific striker or not. When more attention is made to that striker it can open up opportunities for other members of the team to exploit, if the opposing team chooses to ignore his threat then they end up punished when he finds the space to score goals. We need a striker like that, we may have that striker on our books in Giroud but he is still adapting to the premiership and right now is not that player yet. The question is do we wait until he becomes that player or explore more options in the meantime. I say there is no harm in trying the option of Podolski in that position. Can he play there? There’s only one way to find out.

If my memory serves me right Podolski was tried there in our season opener against Sunderland which finished 0-0 but never graced the central role again. I feel he is an excellent finisher who would take chances if presented with them. No harm in trying him there. All the plaudits for Podolski so far this season have been about how well he protected the left hand side in combination with Gibbs (not so much with Santos). Providing good defensive cover is a nice to have but on the offensive side if he isn’t on the score sheet the German’s contribution comes into question. signed as a replacement for Robin van Persie or not playing as a striker is not an alien position to him. on assessment of his season so far he has enjoyed a good start to his arsenal career but there is so much potential for more. we have players that can play in that left hand side role so Podolski should be given another chance to prove he can play there or not.

I didn’t plan for this to be a long post so I am going to cut this feature into two. I will post part 2 with more of my points tomorrow.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my suggestions, good or bad

Enjoy your day people

Sorry Arsene, RVP doesn’t deserve our respect – AFC

There is so much riding on this game today, a season is defined by where you finish after playing all your games. However there are a number of games on your calendar throughout a season that require a victory at all costs or at the very minimum no defeat. Usually those games are reserved for your local rivals where pride is put on the line and there definitely is no love lost between us and Tottenham. But today the match against Manchester united holds equal standing to the north London derby due to a number of factors that have arisen over the past year.

We have always enjoyed a mutual rivalry with united due to our epic challenges for the premiership title back in the late 90’s and early noughties. But two key factors have raised the bar on this clash to the level of which victory would have grown men crying with glee.

We all know the factors I have mentioned: the 8-2 and Robin van Persie.

Now looking back at the match on that ill-fated afternoon in August we were taken to the cleaners, we were in a bad place; our squad was in turmoil as players instigated their departure from the club leaving us in limbo. With key players gone, injuries to senior players on the day we ended up playing united with one of the most patched up starting elevens I had ever witnessed. Players making their debut, players untried at the highest level, players who had already negotiated moves away and were just filling a gap and which was quite evident were more concerned with not getting any injuries to spoil their medical.

The united team smelt blood and as we know arsenal fans we went on to witness one of the darkest days in our clubs history. The manner of the defeat brought such shame and disappointment on the name of arsenal football club that it will take more than victory today to erase the memory from our heads. A victory would help though.

Since that ill-fated game we did purchase players who steadied the ship and managed to turn our fortunes around slightly. There is no talk of crisis anymore like we had back last august but there is talk questioning how far this club has moved on. A question that will continued to be asked until we finally return some silverware to the trophy cabinet at the emirates AND the walking, talking stain on our clubs history that goes by the name of Robin van Persie finally buggers off.

Never has a man who has achieved so much with the club and then showed such disrespect by sticking two fingers up to the club and joining one of their main rivals. We have over the years had our differences with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor or Samir Nasri but as we all know they were mercenaries and nothing those players do surprise us. They both joined our club with whispers of disruption and baggage at previous clubs, they initially knuckled down and showed their talent but their ugly sides surfaced and our club is a better place for not having those types around.

Robin van Persie is a player who spent many years at arsenal; we stuck with him through all the bad times he experienced with injuries and his short temperament. Arsene Wenger helped develop his game until he has become one of the most recognized and respected strikers on the world stage. He was club captain and he has experienced the top players leaving the club in the past. He knows what would be tolerated and what would not sit well with the club. He knows arsenal history and was fully aware of his actions when he made the decision to leave arsenal to join Manchester united.

We saw the passion he had when Adebayor joined Manchester city, that clash they had embodied the kind of bleed for your club mentality that fans of all clubs love. It could be just that the two players just never got on but still all the words he mentioned in aftermath of clashes with Adebayor showed how much he disliked the decision to leave the club for rivals in the name of money and quick trophies. How quickly times change.

Robin van Persie is finished with our club, those eight years spent with us mean nothing, he is not welcome back in my eyes and I would never acknowledge any achievements he received for our club.

Arsene Wenger has called for the fans to respect Van Persie and has likened the hate to some of the racial issues that has dominated football for the past few weeks. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with Arsene there. I am not encouraging hate on a player because of his nationality or colour of his skin. I am not condoning any physical violence directed at the player and I am not condoning any verbal abuse that goes beyond football banter (i.e. booing). But I do feel Robin needs to know how arsenal fans feel about him, he needs to be aware his actions over the summer were a disgrace and that he is never welcome back at arsenal in any capacity other than visiting when representing his new club. When his career is on the wane and he is desperately looking for a new club I do not want to hear Arsene has allowed him to train at London Colney to regain fitness and find a club. Those kinds of doors are shut on the player forever and I want him to know that.

To our fantastic away supporters, give him hell but keep it all above-board. Robin Van Persie is not worth risking getting yourself into trouble for.

It’s a tough ask for our boys to pull off a victory to gain back a smidgen of redemption from that 8-2 defeat but It’s not impossible.

We can do it.

Enjoy your day people.Enjoy the game

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