Gunners avoid Barca but meet Bayern.

So the draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League was made yesterday and we managed to avoid a mouth-watering clash with Barcelona instead drawing Bayern Munich. By means a tie that can be equally as hard as facing Barca, Munich are a team in top form in their domestic league, they currently lie top of the Bundesliga not to mention being the winners of their Champion’s League group.

Bayern celebrating

There is an Arsenal link to Bayern as Lukasz Podolski is a former player; he will definitely have a point to prove against the German giants. His spell with Bayern didn’t quite go to plan and many questioned his credentials when playing for a big club; he then returned to previous club Cologne to rebuild his reputation. He had his 2nd chance to prove himself at a big club when he signed for us in the summer and although on reflection he hasn’t set the world alight since at the Emirates he has been far from a flop either. He will be bang up for it and he has already given some of his thoughts on the draw.

poldi bayern days

It will be a true test to the Arsenal and we will need to pull out an almighty performance in the first leg and then finish the job at their ground. If we do manage to win the tie it will no doubt restore confidence back to the players; Bayern are last season’s finalists after all and a win may give the team the belief that they have every chance to win the competition. Football is so much about confidence and once the belief is there in the players then half the manager’s job is already done, he just needs to channel that belief and avoid it turning into arrogance because that is when teams come unstuck.

No team has a divine right to win any game; it takes hunger and wanting it more than the other team. Just turning up expecting to win doesn’t ensure anything as we learnt last week against Bradford. If Arsene helps the team keep up its momentum in the league and channels their focus; then with the home fans behind them we can take the game to Bayern at the Emirates.

There’s a lot of football to be played between now and 19th February when the first leg is scheduled; hopefully boosted by some new signings in January we will progress to the next round.

I do wonder how the postponement of the Boxing Day game against West Ham will affect the team in the long run. The strike scheduled by the London Underground staff had left the authorities with no choice but to cancel the game on that day. On the plus side it gives the players an extra rest over the Christmas period but we will have to shoehorn the game into January which I am sure will be at an unwelcome time. Additionally West Ham are struggling with injuries and it may have been the best time to play them; I have always preferred games on the board rather than games in hand as there is no guarantee you get maximum points from those games.

emirates empty

I suppose with the game off it’s a great opportunity to drive down to the stadium on Boxing day and visit the Armoury store. The roads will be empty and the shop will be less crammed with no game on. I’m sure to pick up a bargain or two in the sales, Arsenal Onesie..? Maybe not.

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates of the blog.

Advertisements

Naughty Vaz Te pays for his actions – AFC

A big fat slice of karma came flying the direction of Ricardo Vaz Te on Saturday afternoon. For those who saw the match on Saturday (I don’t think the incident that led to the premature removal of the Portuguese from the field of play was shown on match of the day) the cause was nothing more than the player deserved.

As a through ball was played into the area Vito Mannone rushed from his line and won the ball in what was clearly the keepers ball; Vaz te even though he had every right to try to get the ball when it was clear it wasn’t his to win he still decided to leave his trailing leg in which connected with Vito Mannone’s head.

The replays clearly showed it was a deliberate action and our keeper clearly felt the impact on the back of his head. Picture of challenge here courtesy of TGS photo

Seriously given what happened a few years back to Petr Cech it is very concerning to know players still take these immoral measures. We all know what the potential repercussion can be and so I cannot understand why players feel the need to try such sneaky cowardly actions just to try to gain an advantage in a game of football. If Mannone came off seriously injured you know the first thing that would happen is the overwhelming defence of Vaz Te claiming he’s not that type of player.

Well on Saturday he showed he is that type of player but given what happened immediately after his actions all will be forgotten as football fans all feel sorry for his unfortunate luck.

Yes the next events proved that what goes around comes around; usually karma takes its sweet time to even things out but on Saturday it took rapid action and within seconds of his boot flying in Vaz Te was sprawled out on the Upton park sidelines in pure agony.

It turns out the west ham player’s momentum carried him past the pitch and resulted in an awkward fall which produced a dislocated shoulder. Reports arose on Sunday that the player will be out for up to three months due to the injury. If the player had a time machine I am sure a different course of events would have happened in that instance.

I must go on record that I do not dislike west ham, I have no problem with the club and do not wish ill on any of their players however I was incensed by the actions of Vaz Te at that moment in time and can on conclude he got what he deserved for that. May he return from that injury back to full health and a little wiser and more aware of his actions in future. I would not condone it if an arsenal player did the same.

Away from the Vaz Te  karma we now have to content with two weeks of no football. well, no premier league football; I find it hard to get excited for international football unless it’s the actual tournament. Qualifiers and friendlies do not fill any void; they are always full of controversies and injuries. Will be interesting to be a fly on the wall to see how Ashley Cole gets on in his first day of training, apart from that I better find another hobby for the interlull.

The arsenal news over the next week ot so will probably be full of whether Theo signs a contract or not and I’m not even wasting my time researching our alleged £35m attempt to sign Falcao. I mean, seriously?

Enjoy your day people.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page.

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.

Please feel free to like the Facebook page.