Thursday, 22 December 2011

Review Of The Year

Inspired by the rubbish Sky Sports one, I thought I'd compile my review of 2011, albeit just one of Arsenal rather than football in general.

1. Player Of The Year: Robin Van Persie

Is there any doubt? The man has scored 34 league goals, and 46 goals in general, this year and has equalled Thierry Henry's club record of 34 goals in a calendar year. He is also 2 short of Alan Shearer's record of 36. We've had some improved players this year, like Koscielny and Szczesny but this award has to go to Van Persie. His record is unbelievably good and consistent, scoring so religiously and performing so well during that time. The quality of his goals has been great too, he's scored quite a few belters. Also, he has become club captain and has so far done a lot better in that role that Fabregas, proving to be a real leader.

2. Goal Of The Year: Arshavin v Barcelona (16/2/11)

There are many contenders, but this was a 'worldie' as Paul Merson would say. It was a fabulous team goal and beats off other contenders such as Van Persie's half- volley v Barcelona, his volley at home to Wigan in January, his chip at Norwich and his free- kick against Sunderland. Other players have scored really good goals too, like Walcott at Chelsea, Park Ju Young against Bolton and Chamberlain against Shrewsbury but, Arshavin's brilliant goal at home to Barcelona wins it. That was a fantastic team goal, with wonderful football and an excellent composed finish. Let's not forget the magnitude of the game too, and the occasion. They add to the brilliance of the goal.

3. Celebration Of The Year: The Team v Chelsea (28/10/11).

It was something that showed us fans that the team was a truly together one. It was also brilliant for the fans to connect with the players at the end of the game and showed true appreciation of the fans from the players. Van Persie and Szczesny were probably the main leaders of this. Theo Walcott wheeling away with his finger on his lips at Sh**e Hart Lane was also a nice celebration, as were Koscielny's v Everton and Ipswich as they were both passionate team celebrations.

4. Flop Of The Year: Marouane Chamakh

Given our late season collapse after the Carling Cup Final defeat last season, there are a few contenders for this 'award'. Johan Djourou, Andrey Arshavin (despite winning goal of the year), Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri are all contenders for going off form for at least most of 2011. But the winner is Marouane Chamakh. Not only has he blessed our eyes with his poor touches, his lack of goals and his lack of skill, invention and creativity, but he has done it with such laziness this year too. Gold for the Moroccan.

5. Most Improved Player Of The Year: Wojchiech Szczesny

Alex Song has improved. As has Wojchiech Szczesny. Infact, he is a major contender for this award considering how far he has come since his debut at Old Trafford last December, he has become one of Arsenal's most key and best players, and one of the league's best goalkeepers. It's either him or Laurent Koscielny, however his dramatic improvement has been more since mid- September rather than throughout the year so, despite Koscielny's much improved maturity, positional sense, responsibility, tackling, strength and decision making, I'm going to give this award to Szczesny. His penalty save against Udinese was, not only immense, but also the main highlight and a good example of how he has become such as great goalkeeper over the last 12 months.

6. Team Performance Of The Year: vs Barcelona (16/2/11)

Is there any other contender? The team was absolutely fanatstic that night, Wilshere and Koscielny were especially marvellous, but everybody was great and it was a wonderful night. Our performance at Chelsea in October would be one of the strong contenders for 2nd place as, despite conceding three, we were really solid that day after the first 20 minutes and were fabulous going forward. After all, how many teams whack 5 past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge?

7. Signing Of The Year: Gervinho

Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta have been good signings, especially the latter but I think I'd have to say Gervinho has been Arsenal's best signing. Considering he has come from the French League, he's young and was expected to take on one of the main creater roles, he has done extremely well. He's contributed a few goals, this is maybe one area he could improve as his finishing hasn't been that convincing but you've got to be there to miss them and that's something that is under- valued in football- being there in the right place at the right time. He has contributed a lot of assists and created a lot of chances and works back well to do his defensive job. The Arsenal attack has more pace now and this is down to him. Therefore he beats the impressive Arteta, the increasingly improving Mertesacker and Andre Santos.

8. Manager Of The Year: Arsene Wenger

Without a doubt, he has been Arsenal's best manager this year. No- one else has come close. He has dealt well with setbacks and has guided the much changed team and seen it through many tough times this calendar year.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Winter Breaks Can't Happen

I’m getting sick of seeing managers and players moan about the ‘hectic Christmas/ New Year fixture schedule’ and wanting a winter break. We’re hardly into the festive fixture schedule and managers are starting to moan already, again.

Yes, I don’t know about physical conditioning and I’m just a fan and not a manager but I think there should not be a winter break, or even less fixtures over Christmas and New Year. Why?


  1. It’s great for us fans. Let’s face it, without us fans football would be nowhere. There would be a LOT less money in it; hence these overpaid footballers wouldn’t get the ridiculous amount of dosh they get.

For me, a fan, it’s brilliant. I’ve just been to Everton v Norwich on Saturday, right after I’ve finished college for the holidays (what better way to start my long- awaited Christmas break?). Then on Tuesday night I’m watching Blackburn v Bolton on TV, Wednesday night I’m going to Everton v Swansea and Thursday night I’m watching Tottenham v Chelsea. Doesn’t that sound great if you’re a football fan? It’s brilliant, football almost every day. Your team is playing every 3 or 4 days, it adds even more excitement and eager anticipation to the festive period and it’s great for Christmas presents.

Plus, another great Christmas tradition in football is Boxing Day football. Most games sell out, it’s a fabulous thing to do for a lot of people the day after Christmas, and it’s great to get tickets as presents for people, especially children and people who don’t get to go that often. You can’t take this away from the massive amount of loyal supporters and the people who are most important to this sport.

(Brendan Rodgers: One of the first to moan this year)

  1. The counter- argument to this would be ‘well it’s not good for the players, they need time to recover from games rather than playing every 2 or 3 days and that makes the quality of football decline’, but that’s what your 25 man squad is for. The allowance to register this amount of players and the transfer windows allow you to make sure you have a big enough squad to deal with periods like this in a season.
It’s not really like some teams have unfair advantages on others because they’re all in the same boat. They’ve all got to deal with this and change their team when they think it necessary. Man City are the anomaly because they can afford to have two world class squads, but this is why they shouldn’t be allowed to spend what they spend and why a spending cap should be introduced in terms of buying players and paying wages to players. But that’s another issue. Also, the games just after Christmas are scheduled against reasonably local clubs so the teams don’t have to travel far, so that’s another reason why it isn’t too strenuous.

Overall, it’s just brilliant for the supporters, whether you’re going to games or not, it’s fantastic to be able to go to games every few days and have loads of it to watch on telly. Even the away games are mainly not too far away so you have more chance to watch your team away as well. What a fantastic thing to do over the Christmas and New Year period, a haven for football. It shouldn’t stop. It’s one of the few things left in the soul of football, and this soul shouldn’t be ripped out any further than it already is, especially by rich, overpaid, over- privileged, selfish morons like foreign managers coming over and changing our wonderful game and it’s fabulous traditions, and leading people in the organisation of the game like Sepp Blatter and the Premier League and Football League's chiefs doing the same. Keep it as it is, it’s magnificent!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

So Close

Aaaaarrrggghhhh! Doesn't it make a defeat all the more frustrating when you come so close to getting something out of the game? Joe Hart made a string of saves, we had marginal offsides, unfortunate ricochets and should have arguably had a penalty.

It was very similar to our season, last season, in that we were so close to succeeding. It makes it more frustrating when you come so close. But it's better that than playing poorly and/ or getting well beaten (ask any Everton fan!).

I'm very proud of the team, they battled hard, matched Man City pretty much everywhere, caused them trouble in defence and we showed that we are genuine challengers to them, and the title. You may look at the table and say 'Arsenal haven't got a chance of winning the title, they're 12 points behind Citeh' and you'd be right. But the reason we are so far behind is because of the dreadful start we made. Things have changed massively since then. And that's not being biased, Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness said the same today. So if you summed up the teams since Arsenal's cuurent team was finally formed together, you'd see they are very close.

We have genuine top class players, that we have made rather than bought. Man City have a better squad, and so they should have. They've bought a great squad, we've made one. That's the difference between Wenger and Mancini. Wenger makes players, Mancini buys them.

The point is that there's not much to seperate the teams. Today's game is evidence of that. We are much more solid than we used to be, we have a top class goalkeeper now, we have one of the world's best players in our team in Van Persie, we have Wilshere to come back, our first choice (and all) of our full backs, including Sagna, who is key to the team. So there are a lot of positives. The only significant problem for me is that we need to take some pressure of Van Persie to score the goals and get other players such as Walcott, Ramsey and Gervinho scoring more. We could really do with buying a striker in January. He doesn't have to be world class, he just needs to be really good, Podolski would be good, I'm sure there are others out there too. We don't have as many goals from midfield in us as much as we used to when Fabregas was in the team. We don't reeally have a goalscoring midfielder like him or Lampard, or Van Der Vaart for example.

I thought Szczesny was fantastic today, Arteta was also brilliant, Koscielny and Vermaelen were rock solid. I didn't think the Richards handball was a penalty. If that was given against Arsenal, I'd be very unhappy and would feel harshly done by. Also, Van Persie's goal was offside, just. It was a very good finish though.

Anyway, what we have learnt today is that Arsenal can compete with the league's best, even away from home. And we have now got Man City, Man Utd, Tottenham and Chelsea away all out of the way with and play most of our rivals at home now, so there's an advantage we have over out top 4 rivals.

Match Ratings:

Szczesny 9
Djourou 6
Mertesacker 6
Koscielny 8
Vermaelen 8
Song 7
Arteta 8
Ramsey 7+
Walcott 6
Van Persie 7+
Gervinho 6+

Miquel 6
Arshavin 6
Chamakh 6

I can't understand why Wenger took off Walcott for Arshavin, Theo was just beginning to get in the game and have an impact on it. I do think he often makes changes when they're not needed, just for change sake, it's like he gets itchy fingers and can't help but bring them on. Also, if I was going to bring anyone on out wide, it would have been Oxlade- Chamberlain, especially after he did so well against Man City in the Carling Cup the other week.

Overall, things are still positive around Arsenal and I think most of the things to come out of today were actually positive, despite the defeat, and we should collect a healthy amount of points over the Christmas and New Year period.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Back To Winning Ways

I return after a long absence from blogging to write an article about today's marvellous win and performance at Wigan. It had been over year since I went to an Arsenal game and they won. That was Everton away last November. The time before that was a 4-0 win at Newcastle, and that was also the scoreline today.

Wigan started on the front foot much to my concern as I sat suprisingly positioned in the second row back of the whole away end (odd that we were sat there given we bought the tickets a day before they sold out and on general sale,and after we were sat about 40- 50 rows back last season here), but anyway Arsenal started to take over more after Wigan had their best chance of the game and would have gone ahead but for a fabulous block from Andre Santos.

Mikel Arteta lashed a shot in from about 25 yards (I think) to cue the celebrations of the first goal from me and 4500-ish Arsenal fans in the ground. Their keeper probably should have saved it but that proved the merits of shooting from distance every now and then. Almost immediately we won a corner which Van Persie swung towards the back post for out defender/ regular goalscorer Thomas Vermaelen to powerfully head home. 2-0. Cue even bigger celebrations and a 'Yes!' from me as I threw my arms in the air and clenched my fists. Get in!

The rest of the half was comfortable and we could have gone into it 3 or 4 up. The second half started off like the first- Wigan looking threatening, but continued like the first as Arsenal found their rhythm again to take control of the game and create a few chances. I'll have to see it on Match Of The Day later on but I think we should have had a penalty when Ramsey was sent tumbling, and Van Persie had a shot fly wide.

But then it came. After much pressure the mighty Arsenal made it 3-0 and 3 points surely secure when Van Persie's cute turn was followed by a parried shot and Gervinho put in the rebound to silence his harsh critics about him not scoring in all league games. The away was in bouncing, joyful, party atmosphere mood and continued it's loud noise that started even before the opening minute of the match. 'Jump up if you're 3-0 up' they sang. Then my Dad began jumping. (No he didn't really! It would have been funny if he had have!)

And what would a win be without Van the Man himself getting on the scoresheet. Theo Walcott made an intelligent run before being put through by a good through- ball and unselfishly squared for Van Persie who expertly finished to make it 4-0. Game over. And even then, Benayoun could have added a 5th.

It was a very solid, fairly comfortable (or as comfortable as it gets in this league when playing away from home) and clinical win where Arsenal showed strength, solidarity, creatvity, maturity, a killer instinct and looked a lot more intelligent than they were in the last couple of seasons at Wigan. Mind you, actually have our first choice team helped with that.

One of my favourite things about Arsenal this season is their togetherness that is evident and the closer relationship they have with each other and us fans. A good example of that is Wojchiech Szczesny singing 'We're by far the greatest team' in front of us at the end, joined in by the fans of course! They do seem a much tighter unit, not only defensively, but as a team as well in terms of togetherness and team spirit which is the first time we've been able to say that in years. A lot of our players are improving and there is a better variety of qualities in the team now, with more pace, strength, experience and aerial ability. We also have a solid, reliable keeper and a fit and in form Robin Van Persie (touch wood!)

Man of the match today goes to Mikel Arteta who was outstanding. He scored the first goal, his retention of the ball and his passing were excellent and he was solid defensively. Vermaelen, Ramsey and Van Persie were other contedners but the whole team today was brilliant so it's hard to choose and could have been almost anyone in the team.

Match Ratings:

Szczesny 7
Koscielny 8
Mertesacker 8
Vermaelen 8
Santos 7
Song 7
Ramsey 9
Arteta 9 - Man Of The Match
Walcott 8
Van Persie 8
Gervinho 8

Benayoun 7
Arshavin 6
Coquelin 6

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My England Squad: Part 1

As we are just closing on one of the much dreaded and despised international periods I am in the mood to convey my opnions on what the England squad should be at Euro 2012.

Firstly, in goal. Joe Hart is a given. What the issue here is the back- up keepers and when you look at the options you realise how limited England are in this department. Foster, Carson and Stockdale are all options. Paul Robinson would be my second choice but he rules himself out so I'd probably go with Stockdale and Foster as I've liked what little I've seen of Stockdale. He's also young so a potential long- term option. Going to the Euro's could be a big learning curve for him too.

In defence it is a more complex issue. At right back I'd have Kyle Walker. My left backs would be Leighton Baines and Kieran Gibbs (if fit) as Ashley Cole's 30/31 now and you can see he's declining, it's time to move forward and look to the future, especially with a World Cup in two years. In the centre back positions I'd have Terry, Cahill, Jagielka and Lescott. There is experience, strength and long- term options in those players and none of them are liabilities or injury prone. Don't get me started on Smalling as a centre back option, he wouldn't be anywhere near Capello's plans if he still played for Fulham rather than Man Utd. He's not good enough yet.  My additional defender would be Phil Jones as I think he's a good player and he's versatile; he can play centre back, right back and centre midfield. He could also be a good player to bring on to protect a lead if he can prove his ability to play the defensive midfield role effectively.

I haven't included Rio Ferdinand there because he's passed it, has lost one of his main attributes (pace), and is injury- prone. Plus, I'm not even sure he's first choice at Man Utd anymore. Even Jonny Evans gets in ahead of him. Say no more. I haven't included Ledley King because he's injury- prone and I haven't included Michael Dawson because he's not as good as Jagileka and Lescott in my opinion.

Part 2 of this article will be on my midfield choices. See ya.

Monday, 14 November 2011

How do the present Arsenal team compare to last season's team?

I've been watching some of last season's DVD review and it's refreshed my memory about what we were like last season compared to what the much- changed Arsenal team are like now. So I've had the idea of comparing the two teams, as you may have already guessed.

The big difference is that last season we had Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy and this season we have brought in the likes of Gervinho, Arteta and Mertesacker. Firstly, in defence I believe we are better. For one, we have Vermaelen back fit who is our best centre back and our most leader- like. He is not only our best, but one of the best in the world in my opinion. Secondly, we have brought in Mertesacker who has added more of a physical presence to our backline and is a better defender than Squillaci and Djourou, who both played a lot last season and shouldn't this season. The negative is that we've lost Clichy and brought in Santos who isn't really good enough for a top four team so our left back position has weakened. Kieran Gibbs is our first choice left back I think but he's injured a lot but if he can keep himself fit and in form, Clichy's departure won't be a big deal at all.

In midfield, we have probably declined. We have lost the creativity of Fabregas and Nasri. On the other hand, we have brought in creative players like Arteta, Benayoun and Gervinho and the likes of Ramsey and Rosicky have really stepped up and are playing really well. So I think in time we won't suffer from that much, particularly when Wilshere gets back. Long term, him and Ramsey will be at least as good as Fabregas and Nasri were at creating and scoring goals. I'm not just talking 'long term' as in 5- 10 years, I'm also talking about in 6 months to a year's time. They are both quality and are only going to get better. But for now, we are weaker there. However, that is totally understandable and this season is probably a 're- building' season anyway, especially in centre midfield as we cope with the loss of Fabregas.

Up- front, we have our star man still in Van Persie who makes some of Europe's best strikers look like Emile Heskey at the moment. I referred to him in my midfield section but I think Gervinho is midfield/ forward as he is a mix between the two, creating and scoring. He looks better than Nasri to me. He is more suited to the Premier League with his strength, power, directness and pace and while perhaps not as creative in a pass and move way, he will create plenty as a driving, pacey, tricky winger as he is already proving. The only issue there is do we have enough creativity and authority in our midfield 3 to get the ball to him in dangerous positions on a regular basis, same with Walcott on the right. Gervinho is the signing I am most impressed with so far. He would have blossomed even more if Fabregas was still at the club but he still will with the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere feeding him, maybe even more so in the long term as Rambo and Jacky boy get better (maybe even better than Fabregas). In terms of 'outs' up- front we have lost Bendtner and Vela (if you even count him) and brought in Gervinho as a wide man and Park as a forward so I think we've probably improved here.

So overall I would sum us up as more solid and experienced than we were last season but maybe less feared by other teams and less creative. But my early impression is that we are at around the same level but may be too reliant on Van Persie and too reliant on Ramsey to create for the front 3 at the moment with Wilshere out still. But I think once Arteta has settled in more and Walcott gets into form more we will get better and Gervinho will get better and better as he gets used to the league so I think we're still a good team. Maybe better than Chelsea but I honestly don't know how to order Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool in terms of who's the best and worst out of the 4. Only time will tell, I think we'll know more around Christmas/ New Year but the four teams are so close and we could finish anywhere from 3rd to 6th this season I think.

Now, I like the Arsenal team from last season, and I like the Arsenal team from this season. But, which is better? There's only one way to find out... FIGHT!!!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Van Persie on fire at Arsenal outclass Chelsea

Well the Everton v Man Utd game disappointed. It did so in terms of how entertaining the game was, how many goals there were and what the atmopshere was like. But what certianly didn't disappoint was Chelsea v Arsenal.

And to think, I was only 10 minutes away from my 3-3 prediction being spot on correct! Not that I'm disappointed as I'm truly ectstatic with the 5-3 win. John Terry's slip to allow Van Persie to run in clean through on goal to put us 4-3 up with 5 minutes of normal time left has got to be one of the funniest things in football during my lifetime as a football supporter. The irony of it happening right after this whole racism row about John Terry was comedy gold too.

In all seriousness though, it was a fantastic win, that could be massive. No exxageration. It could boost our season immensely. Confidence will increase, belief will increase and opposition teams will fear us more now. I think it was fabulous, especially for the likes of Koscielny, who had a terrific game, Djourou, to up his confidence, Ramsey, Arteta, Van Persie and in particular Walcott and Gervinho who contributed highly and Theo had his best game yet this season. Which will up his confidence and perhaps spring him into form.

Quick Fact: Robin Van Persie scored more goals at Stamford Bridge on Saturday than Fernando Torres has managed in his career there. Says it all.

This is a quick article though, and I may elaborate on it more tomorrow but for now I'm just going to wrap up with my match ratings:

Szczesny- 7
Djourou- 7
Mertesacker- 7
Koscielny- 9
Santos- 6
Song- 9
Rambo- 9
Arteta- 8
Walcott- 9
Gervinho- 9
Van 'the man' Persie- 9

Jenkinson- 7
Verminator- 6
Rosicky- 7

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Everton v Man Utd is imminent!

It's been a while since my last post, but I'm back with a preview of the game I am attending on Saturday.

This is of course at Goodison Park. As a neutral Everton season ticket holder my second most eagerly anticipated game is Everton v Man Utd. Whilst I look forward to seeing Man Utd more as a team because they are better than Liverpool, the derby still probably just shades top spot because it is the derby. However, this is like a 'second derby' for Everton and the hate in the ground for Man Utd is just as obvious as it is at the Liverpool game. You can't help but enjoy the rip- roaring atmosphere. Pre- game and during the game.

It's a very interesting time for this fixture because of Man Utd's 6-1 thrashing by Man City on Sunday. Also, Everton have had a mixed week, winning in the last minute at Fulham after 3 consecutive defeats, but then losing after extra time at home to Chelsea in the league cup.

Man Utd's line up is highly unpredictable, so much so that it's pointless to try to predict what it will be but whoever plays for them it will be a fiery, exciting, interesting game that could go either way. I've tempted fate there by using those words, but that is what I think. It is always an intense and exciting fixture that usually delivers the goods, especially last season when Everton scored 2 stoppage time goals to draw 3-3.

I'm looking froward to the atmosphere which is always fantastic for this fixture, I am also looking forward to seeing the likes of Rooney, Nani, Hernandez and possibly Young play, although who knows which of them will actually start? Even if some of them don't there's the likes of Valencia, Giggs and Berbatov who are possible entertaining replacements.

Everton will also provide plenty of entertainment and it wouldn't be an Everton v Man Utd game without a controversial incident and/ or some Man Utd players winding up the crowd, to get things buzzing even more.
I am looking forward to this and I am anticipating an Everton win, although it could go either way. Everton could win, it could be a draw or Man Utd could leave victorious. Who knows?

One thing is for sure, I am buzzing about this game and I can't wait to get to my seat at about 11.50am on Saturday. Infact, I am even looking forward to stuff before that. Setting off at 8.45am, getting to my Grandparents house for breakfast, enjoying a nice brunch and then driving to our usual parking place near the ground. Then we'll walk to the ground, soak up the pre- game atmosphere on the walk, maybe walk around the ground before we take to our seats (after the usual pre- match bog trip of course- or is that too much information?) and stand at our seats for 10 minutes- ish, again, soaking up the atmosphere before watching what is surely set to be an entertaining game. Ooh, I'm getting all excited!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Robin Van Persie: A Class Act

That was a vital win. ‘Phew’ is the right word to describe my feelings after yesterday’s clash with Sunderland. Another one could be ‘impressed’, relating to the performance of our very own Dutch master.

He is the sort of player you want to watch in every game, he must be a delight from a neutral perspective, but even with your attentions elsewhere as an Arsenal fan concentrating on the game, you still can’t help but enjoy watching him.

One of his many qualities is that he is so consistent. With his goals, his skill, his link up play, his work ethic and his class. He just makes you want to stand up, applaud and bow your head. He is a perfect role model for young players.

What about the game then? Arsenal, like Van Persie, started off like a train, on steroids, with a full tank of petrol, going at 120mph, with the wind behind it. They were classy, hard working, kept the ball well, moved it fluidly, quickly and looked liked scoring every time they went forward. We played beautiful football, which was a relief to see as I was worried that side of us might have disappeared after this summers events. But it was the best I’ve seen Arsenal play since the Barcelona home game last season. Magnificent. Like the Arsenal of old; energetic, urgent, skilful, threatening and wonderful in possession.

That ended somewhat after a dodgy 5 minute spell when Sunderland came back into the game more and Larsson bent in a brilliant free- kick to equalise Arsenal’s quickest Premier League goal, that was nicely taken by Van Persie on his so called ‘chocolate leg’. I’ve never understood why people have called it that as he has never really been totally one footed; he has always shown ability with his right foot and scored goals with it, like today. They must be referring to Rooney’s left foot, but getting mixed up. Because have you noticed how Rooney never gets criticised for being totally one footed? It’s never even pointed out. English biased- ness one suspects.

After half time though Arsenal stepped up the tempo once again and were completely dominant. Eventually, Robin beautifully curled in a delightful free- kick to send me and an enormous amount of other Arsenal fans, no doubt, into raptures. The relief! The joy! He deserved to score a free- kick of that class as he is often so unlucky with them, hitting the woodwork and forcing top class saves. He has always been a marvellous free- kick specialist.

Arsenal held on to claim a valuable 3 points to send us to, wait- take a deep breath, 10th! We are now only 3 points of the Scum and 4 points off Liverpool and with our fixture schedule over the next 2 months, we should be able to get level with them or above them, or at least get closer to them and really put in our claim for a top four finish.

It would be ideal to get to the half way point of the season in a good position, especially because I think the team will get better as the season goes along, much like in 08/09 as the team will gel together more and players like Gervinho, Mertesacker and Jenkinson will get better as they adapt. Also, players like Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshere should be available then.

Robin Van Persie was man of the match, 2 fabulous goals, a breath- taking performance and some amazing skill. His touch past Richardson and chip over Mignolet, with his weaker ‘chocolate leg’ I might add, was sublime and worth seeing over and over again even though it bounced back off the post, very unluckily.

But special mentions also go to Szczesny, for his amazing save from Cattermole to keep the score at 1-1 going into half time, and Rosicky whose driving runs, ball retention and creativity were fantastic. That’s the best I’ve seen him play for a very long time. Class. Also, Arshavin who came on with urgency, skill and a real threat that helped push Sunderland back and Arsenal forward. His mazy run at 1-1 was brilliant and he really did have a big impact when he came on, which will be reflected in my match ratings.

The crowd also played their part, encouraging better than usual for this sort of game and helping the team towards victory. That’s not a dig by the way, the atmosphere at Arsenal is very good for the games against the top teams and I understand why it’s quiet for games against the lesser teams, like everywhere else is to be fair. Now, a great chance to kick on and get up the table, come on Arsenal!

Match Ratings:

Szczesny 8- +1 for the Cattermole save. Literally a tremendous save.
Jenkinson 7
Mertesacker 7
Koscielny 6
Gibbs 7
Song 6- Got better as the game went on. His passing was generally poor, and at times, bizarre. Only high expectations have resulted in his 6. A younger player like Jenkinson would have got a 7.
Rosicky 8
Arteta 5- Below par. Passes sideways too often and a silly handball for their goal.
Walcott 6- Struggled to have an impact, but it’s harder out wide to do so. But OK.
Gervinho 7
Van Persie 9

Santos 7- You wouldn’t expect a left back to come on and improve the team and have an impact on the game like he did. Impressive.
Arshavin 8
Benayoun 7

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Top Four battle + Ian Wright's OTT comments

Arsenal sit 15th in the table. We are basically like Liverpool were this time last year. We don't look good at the moment for a top four finish whereas our rivals are in better form and with a significantly higher amount of points than us. But it ain't all over yet...

First of all, there are 31 games left this season. Second of all, Arsenal have key players out injured at the moment that will improve the team when they are back. And thirdly, EVERYONE has at least 1 bad spell a season. And to add to that, I don't think Liverpool or Tottenham have a better team than us. That is why I think Ian Wright's comments are a tad over the top about being 'delighted' if Arsenal finish in the top 6 or 7 this season.

I'd be gutted with that, so it's either a lack of ambition on his part, or just sheer panic about the club that he loves. Probably the latter. And let's bare in mind, he's not exactly the brightest tool in the box is he? First of all, who else apart from Liverpool and Tottenham is going to finish above us? And secondly, Arsenal will improve. We have had hard fixtures so far and I expect us to pick up a lot of points over the next couple of months, what with our fixtures being Sunderland (H) Stoke (H) Chelsea (A) Fulham (H) Norwich (A) West Brom (H) Wigan (A) and Everton (H). Even if we lose at Chelsea (which I have a sneaky feeling we'll win- you heard it hear first) then we're bound to pick up points from those other games, even the away games are quite nice ones compared to most.

If we were to win at least most of those games, it would be a big confidence boost going into the Christmas period. Players would be playing with more happiness, more confidence and hence more quality.

Plus, if you look at Tottenham and Liverpool do you really see a better team? Or a better squad? I don't think so, both are bound to lose a fair amount of games and both have problems as we do. Yes, that's right, other clubs have problems and weaknesses, it's not just the ever- highlighted Arsenal.

Tottenham will have problems up front, Adebayor is so inconsistent and always fades after a short burst of form when joining a new club. They are also unconvincing away and their players have short spells of form and then drift away for a while, e.g. Bale, Defoe and van der Vaart.

Liverpool have defensive issues, with players like Agger, Skrtel and maybe even Coates not being top four material. They are also over- reliant on Suarez and Carragher and if either of them get injured they will be in serious trouble. They also have the problem of being bad travellers.

Don't get me wrong, Arsenal have problems too, but we have a lot of top quality players, probably more so than the other two in Szczesny, Sagna, Wilshere, van Persie, Song, Vermaelen and Walcott. Plus 'good' players like Gibbs, Mertesacker, who has huge potential and will be a great partner for Vermaelen once he's fit, Arteta, Gervinho, Ramsey and more.

I do however think all three clubs are very, very tight and it will be a close battle with Everton maybe threatening too, and it will be extremely interesting from a neutral point of view. But Arsenal need to get firing very soon to make this happen.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Arsenal need a change of direction

I think to move forward Arsenal need to change manager. Arsene Wenger is a legend, without doubt, but his time has come to go. Either that, or change his philosophies but that isn't realistically going to happen as he refuses to adapt to the way the game is now.

We've lost our best player and another key creator this summer, so something in our style had to change as playing with a centre midfield playmaker was never going to be as effective without Fabregas, as there is no-one better than him at this. The 4-5-1 formation is dead, we need to change to 4-4-2.

We have the players now to do this, Walcott is now ready to play up- front for example. We have brought in players like Arteta and Benayoun who are suited to a 4-4-2, as would players like Wilshere and Diaby. It would make us a better team going forward and bring out the better in Van Persie rather than him being isolated and marked by 2 centre halves every game. Look at Man Utd, they player Hernandez AND Rooney up front which gives the centre backs two forwards to worry about, rather than just ganging up on one. Plus, if one has an off day, you have another one to keep you going. Look at Tottenham even, they had Defoe AND Adebayor up there, giving Arsenal two players to worry about there as well as threats from midfield in van der Vaart, Bale and Modric. They had threats from out wide, in the middle and even at full back in Walker. We should return to playing 4-4-2.

We also need to change tactics in defence. I don't think our defensive problems are individual, I think they are collective. We need to be a more organised team at the back and this comes from coaching and tactics used my the manager and coaches. Of course, we miss Vermaelen but you look at the defence today and think; Sagna is a world class right back, Mertesacker is a very good centre half, Song is and Gibbs is a very good left back. So I don't think we have a liability in there, I think it's a collective thing and a leadership issue, but I think that will be solved more by Vermaelen returning from injury.

I think the only way our tactics are going to change is through a change of manager, I can't see us moving forward with the way we defend at the moment, we need a manager or coach to come in and deploy a different philosophy of defending. A more tight, communicative, no- nonsense, compact way of defending where the priority is 'to get the ball away from the danger area'. Because we just invite problems at the moment. Add this to how much potenntial going forward we have that is hindered by the 4-5-1 formation.

Time to say thanks Arsene or time for Arsene to change the tactics and bring in a defensive coach who will have a senior role at the club in terms of how the team defend and the tactics of this.

Saturday Adventures

In my last blog article, I wrote about some of the Everton 'characters' and wondered if they'd all be there. Well, the ones I listed were all there and what a day it was for one of them: 'Referee Hater'.

The man seems to love hurling abuse at anyone who wear the referee's uniform, no matter who it is or how they're refereeing the game. What a day he must have had. He must have got home and his Mrs said 'Good day?'

RH* replies 'Yes, fantastic.'

Mrs RH responds 'Oh good, they won then?'

'No we lost' he says.

'Well why so happy?'

'The referee had a shocker!' He answers with a huge grin on his face. 'Can't believe it, that was the worst refereeing performance since Clattenburg in '07!'

Because let's face it, Martin Atkinson had a shocker. I very much enjoyed the eagerly anticipated (by me) Merseyside derby but I can't help but think it would have been better, with a better final result had the 'ref' not sent off Jack Rodwell for an excellent tackle on Luis 'DivesALot' Suarez. I expect it would have at least finished in a draw, with Everton the more likely to have won, judging by how the first 20 minutes panned out before the sending off.

The point is that the rules on football have gone loopy. Whenever a player's foot leaves the ground for a tackle nowadays he's sent off, even if he does win the ball. It's ridiculous. It spoils games and ruins one of the arts of football: tackling. It additionally punishes players who are good at this art. It's got to stop otherwise the game will not be as good anymore, and we'll get more and more games with less than 11 players on the pitch for each team.

It was however, like I say, an enjoyable day that just missed the more ideal result of Everton winning. I'll look forward to the next Goodison Park Merseyside derby. Maybe God will treat me to an FA Cup and/ or Carling Cup clash between the two rivals at Goodison Park. Or Wembley? Oh the thought of that does make me dream!

*Referee Hater

Friday, 30 September 2011

A Big Derby Weekend!

Oh boy. These two games are so opposite to each other for me it's unbelievable. I love going to Everton v Liverpool and I hate it when Arsenal are playing at Tottenham.

The first one is obviously Everton v Liverpool tomorrow lunch- time. I will be getting up at about 8.30am and setting off at about 9.30am to go to my Gran's for a nice brunch before my Dad and I set off to Goodison Park. My Dad isn't as big a fan of this game as I am so I may have to make sure he doesn't vere off road and end up taking us home or something instead.

We will then park up (maybe in his red car) and walk to the ground, which is about a 20-25 minute walk, soaking up the atmosphere before we arrive at the ground. We may decide to take a walk around the ground, to try to spot any famous people as we have in the past and to soak up the atmosphere even more. Once inside the ground we will take our positions at our seats about 10-15 minutes before kick off and have a look at which 'characters' have made it to the game. Will Mad Man be there? Will Fellaini/ Terrorist Girl? Will Played Man be there? Hairy Ears? Referee Hater? Only time will tell.

We will then sit down and I will enjoy the match. Of course my Dad will if Everton are 3-0 up or more (or the equivalent of) with about a minute to go. I am really looking forward to watching this. A great atmosphere, some exciting players, 2 teams looking for the win in a hopefully entertaining game with a few goals to be bashed in.

Then there's Sunday. Tottenham vs Arsenal at 4pm of all times. Bloody hell. *Sighs*. If Arsenal win, I'll be ecstatic but I do hate the North London derbies. I'm going to predict a 2-2 or 2-1 to Tottenham as I worry about us defensively at the moment. But, like Everton v Liverpool, I can see it going either way.

I don't really buy into Tottenham being a better side than Arsenal as people have been suggesting but I think the new look Arsenal are settling in and getting used to each other, and lets not forget have some key players out such as Vermaelen and Wilshere. While Tottenham just happen to have hit a shot period of form, but they aren't a better team or squad than Arsenal in my opinion.


Everton 2 v 2 Liverpool

Tottenham 2 v 1 Arsenal

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

How much can Oxlade Chamberlain contribute to Arsenal this season?

More than I thought when we signed him that's for sure. I've just watched him play about an hour against a Champions League side (OK, not the best one- but still a decent side) and cause them a lot of trouble with his pace, flair and direct dribbling and running. Not to mention his very well taken goal.

If you compare him to Walcott, as everybody seems to be doing, when Theo was 18 (OC's age now) you would say Chamberlain is the better player. He's got pace, which Walcott also had and still has, but he's got better technique than Walcott did, better decision making ability and is a better finisher by the looks of things. He can make a pass better than Theo could, he looks more creative and maybe even more confident too.

He didn't just beat players tonight, he breezed past them with confidence as well as pace and skill. He took his goal excellently and passed the ball well too. He looks like he can contribute a lot more than what I, as well as most other Arsenal fans I imagine, thought when we signed him in August. I thought £12 million rising to £15 million was a lot for an 18 year old, and now I see why we paid it.

He could be a useful under- study to Walcott on the right, or maybe more than that. He could also be a useful player to bring off the bench when we need a goal, with his pace, finishing and delivery all bound to be hard for opposition defences to cope with.

The most exciting thing is that he will only get better. He will become a better decision maker, a better user of the ball and a better passer and finisher for example. He already has talent and his talent will surely only increase year by year. and he's only 18, who knows, we could be enjoying his eye- catching performances and runs for a decade or more.

Elsewhere, I thought Santos and Song also stood out tonight in what was an important win, and not one than should be under- estimated as they were a decent side, more dangerous than I thought they would be. OK, we only helped and encouraged them with that during the first half but we got much better in the second half and overall, looked the more likely team to score and we didn't really look like conceding.

An important win and one that showed our strength in depth. We had Wilshere, Vermaelen, Gervinho, Walcott, Benayoun and Diaby all out tonight with van Persie, Gibbs and Ramsey rested on the bench and we still won and played well for spells.

Match Ratings:

Szczesny- 7

Sagna- 7
Mertesacker- 7
Song- 8
Santos- 8

Frimpong- 7
Rosicky- 7
Arteta- 8 (gets +1 for the goal- line clearance)

Oxlade- Chamberlain- 8- MOTM
Chamakh- 7
Arshavin- 5

Ramsey- 6
van Persie- 6
Gibbs- 6

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Back To Winning Ways

Ahh, that feels better. I'm still awaiting the chance to see the MOTD highlights and the Sky extended highlights of the Arsenal v Bolton game but I think I can still talk about it despite not having seen even a second of it yet.

The best thing was of course getting the much needed 3 points and climbing up to the dizzy heights of 12th in the table. Other positives from today are Robin Van Persie getting his century of goals for Arsenal and Alex Song grabbing a lovely goal (by the sounds of it.) Oh, and a clean sheet.*

OK, Bolton had 10 men at 1-0 for the last half an hour- ish but it was still a good win. Firstly, we were already ahead when that happened and secondly, it was our quality that forced them to go down to 10 men as they were unable to deal with the pace of Theo Walcott. Plus, it sounds like we created a tonne of chances in the second half and, of course, we took three and kept a clean sheet. So all in all, a good day Arsenal- wise.

Unfortunately we have a North London derby next Sunday (4pm kick off, which I hate) and it is really bad timing as Tottenham are on good form at the moment but even if we are without Walcott as well as our other absentees, we can still win there. Plus, we're due an away win.

I fancy us to stack up a good tally of points over the next few games as, Tottenham and Chelsea away aside, we have a pretty good looking fixture list between now and mid- December including home games vs Sunderland, Stoke, West Brom, Fulham and Everton and away games at Norwich and Wigan so there should be a very good tally of points racked up there that would take us up the table. Who knows, maybe even the top 10.

Let's enjoy the win. 2 in a row, we're having a laugh!

*FACT: We have now kept more clean sheets than Man Utd or Chelsea this season.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Physio Mania

It baffles me that Arsenal get so many injuries, and so many long term injuries. It baffles me even more why the club haven't done anything about it yet. Now super Jacky Wilshere is out 'for months' and should be back around Christmas.


One of our best players is out for a while. well there's a change. It's no longer deemed a coincidence as it was a couple of years ago that injuries have been holding Arsenal back since 2005, and more so, since 2008/09 which also can't be a coincidence as this is around the time that Gary Lewin decided to move his boots permanently to the England physio room. His cousin, Colin, replaced him and since then our injury problems have increased season by season.

I used to class Arsenal as 'unlucky with injuries' but it can't be bad luck. It's got to be someone's fault, surely. Otherwise it's the biggest coincidence of the age. Something has to be done. I'm not a physio myself or an expert on Sports Science etc but I know that there's "somethin' screwey goin' on here" and it needs to change. A new physio or physio team, or even bringing in a mystical old African witch doctor who can connect with the Gods to cure injury. Something, anything will do.

Otherwise it will continue to hold us back.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Joys of Twitter

Rebecca Ryan is an 20 ish year old actress I am fond of from Waterloo Road. Last night I was slagging of her tweets to @JonnyEighty2 on Twitter for being boring. I did it bitter way due to her not getting back to my tweet/s in the past*. Then I sent her another tweet and she got back to me, saying 'Hiya :) x' which was really sweet and something she didn't have to do.

So I feel so guilty now that I bitterly slagged her off saying her tweets were dull. Especially when I'm quite fan of hers. Ah the impatience and bitterness of youth.

Oh, and I do realise that I sound like a stalker here, maybe I am, but I've been following (on Twitter, not in a stalkery way) her for months now so it's not like I've harassed her. I'm talking about 5 tweets over 6 months or so. And even then she only got 1 or 2. And I think anybody would understand the appeal of getting in touch with a celebrity, particularly one you are fond of. Especially when it was just to say Hi.

So to conclude, I'm an idiot.

*However most were my fault as I'd done something on the website when I set up my account that hid my tweets from other people, so my bitterness was made even sillier by the fact that it's mostly my fault anyway.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Good (ison) Medicine

I was planning to write a blog tonight about my beloved Arsenal losing at Blackburn, but I've wittled about it for the last ooh...( looks at clock) 10ish hours and I'm fed up of being miffed off today, so I'm going to vere my blogging in the direction of my Everton adventures...

I can't think of a better (realistic*) medicine for a painful Arsenal defeat than being at the Everton game. I can't help but laugh at some of the people that sit around us at the game. Kev next to me must think I'm a nutter, constantly spontaneousy laughing throughout the match but if you were there, you would surely do the same.

It does tickle me when 'Mad Man' gets up and yells for no good reason, or when 'Referee Hater' screams at the referee for no reason and whistle's the same, irrelevant tune all the time, or when 'Played Man' constantly says 'Played' and in so many humourous ways it is impossible to convey the humour of it in written text.

That's not even mentioning the man that spends his time at the football reading his programme, stopping at half-time and then leaving after exactly 67 minutes every game. Bizarre. Or 'Fellaini Girl'** who dressed like a terrorist today with hudded clothing on for no reason, dark shades and a shifty, myserious persona.

There's also the match itself. We very rarely (tempting fate) go to Everton and see a dull game, it's always eventful and usually with plenty of goalmouth action. The game was surprisingly good today, especially putting into consideration my dejected mood after Arsenal losing. Wigan were impressive (that's discluding there pointless passing on the edge of their own box that made Arsenal look like a 'no nonsense' team), especially Franco Di Santo and Victor Moses. And Everton were their usual forceful, creative selves. Which made for a good game that resulted in an even contest and a 3-1 win for the 'Mighty Blues of Everton' as 'Fabio' (I'll get to that in a minute) calls them.

'Fabio' is the announcer guy at Everton who reads the teams before the game etc and we call him 'Fabio' because he looks an awful lot like Fabio Capello. The difference is he's got more knowledge on football, despite him calling Alex Song 'Alex Young' last season and mis- pronouncing a lot of players names, including Gabriel 'Alobsigor' last week.

So, to conclude, I've had a good day in the circumstances and once again, football has been a good medicine for me. G' Night.

* That's therefore ruling out the obvious better medicine than football of a romantic afternoon and evening with Jessica Alba.

** She always used to wear those dreadful Fellaini wigs, hence the title.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Europa League

I find it silly that Tottenham are playing the team they are tonight. Some of their starters I've never heard of and they clearly don't give a monkey's about the competition. They are 'resting' their first choice team (and then some) and playing their reserves...

RESTING?! We've only had a few weeks of the new season, Tottenham have played 3 league games and 2 Europa League games so far (even then they 'rested their team in one of them) and some of their players will have had a two week rest over the recent international period. I find it staggering that they feel the need to rest players.

So my question is this: 'If Arsenal were in the Europa League, what would you want us to do?' I for one would want us to play at least a near full strength team and treat it exactly the same as we treat the Champions League now. That means playing with our strongest available line- up and trying to win it.

After all, it is a trophy. Not the most prestigous one I admit but it's still silverware and the feeling of winning something. I think if you're in it, you may as well try to win it. Especially at this stage of the season when teams haven't played that many games yet. And there's no FA or Carling Cup yet.

Overall I think it's silly to rest players unless they genuinely have played a lot of games over a short period of time, which only really happens around December/ January anyway which is when the European competitions aren't on anyway.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Un- Arsenal like performance should up confidence

Arsenal started the game off poorly tonight. We have Sagna's terrific clearance to thank that we weren't 1-0 down at half time rather than one up. But in the second half, Arsenal came out gritty and determined and were very professional.

When you think about it, we have quite an experienced squad now. Sagna, van Persie, Mertesacker, Benayoun, Rosicky, Arteta, Santos, Vermaelen, Arshavin, Chamakh and Song are all experienced and it showed tonight. We were so strong and inpenetrable in the middle tonight, as well as out wide. Song was magnificent, putting in so many strong, well- timed tackles and clearances and Mertesacker and Koscielny were very solid. Sagna was as solid as ever and Gibbs had one of his best games for Arsenal. The whole team contributed to the defence tonight, we had experience and solidity in centre midfield as well as the defence, with Walcott and Gervinho working hard to defend too. We were a very solid, strong defensive unit. The only issue tonight was giving the ball away in dangerous areas but that also had a lot to do with the excellence of Dortmund's pressing game (which we could learn from).

Song was my MOTM, he was so solid and strong. He tackled well, covered well, stayed discliplined and kept the ball well. It was the Song we've all dreamt of having on a regular basis. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, he also looked like a really good character out there, and probably deserved the captain's armband when Van Persie went off. He could well be one of our main leaders now. I can't think of him putting a foot wrong tonight. All he needs to do now is keep it up, keep playing consistently. It's easier said than done but if he can, we may have the league's (at least) best defensive midfielder on our hands.

Koscielny was very Koscileny tonight, but better than usual, A couple of mistakes but otherwise immense, particularly in the second half and particularly in the air. That challenge at the end at 1-1 was outstanding. Runner up to Song tonight.

Walcott's assist was excellent, Van Persie's finish and work rate for that goal were too. Mertesacker and Szczesny were very solid too and it was just great to see us being such a strong defensive unit, defending as if our lives defended on it and as a team, with no weak link. We were solid from set- pieces too generally.

Onwards and upwards to Blackburn where we will face a different kind of test, but one that shouldn't be as hard as tonight and I fancy us to win. Tis a pity I won't be there as I was last season for the 2-1 win (great day, upper tier to be precise by the way). Got a sneaky feeling we might win 3-0. COYG!

Match Ratings:

Szczesny- 7 +
Sagna- 8
Mertesacker- 8
Koscielny- 9
Gibbs- 8
Song- 10
Arteta- 8
Benayoun- 7 +
Walcott- 7
Van Persie- 7
Gervinho- 6

Frimpong- 7
Chamakh- 6
Santos- 6

Monday, 12 September 2011

What were Sky Sports thinking?

I want that 90 minutes back! QPR v Newcastle was an appauling game. It as decent for about 15 minutes of the first half but dreadful the rest of time, especially the second half. It made an afternoon in the company of Rachel Scarf look entertaining*.

What were they thinking having Norwich v West Brom, Fulham v Blackburn and QPR v Newcastle as the live games this weekend? There were plenty of better games available and people pay good money to have Sky to be entertained by things such as football so it is unfair that they should choose such dire, unattractive games to show live. Particularly 3 in one weekend.

I know they have to show every team a certain amount of times, but why? Surely if you are a Blackburn fan or a Fulham fan etc you're able to go and see the team play if you want because the demand isn't as high for tickets as it is at teams like Arsenal and Man Utd for example. Show entertaining games, that is what you're there for!

And if they are going to show games like this they should spread it out a bit rather than 3 in one weekend. Bloody idiots. Sky should be half price now this week.

*That is a joke that will fall on deaf ears for anyone who didn't go to Brigshaw High School. Rachel is a seriously dull character, I'm surprised she didn't keep falling asleep herself with boredom. I spent an afternoon with her in Leeds going to the cinema and for a drink and it was like going out with a rock. Lifeless. Not to be mean or anything.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A Great Chance

Arsenal have a got a great chance now to kick on and gather up a lot of points. We've beaten Swansea, that was important. It doesn't matter that it wasn't a 5-0 mauling, the win was what counted yesterday. 3 points was the mission, even if we had to sneak on at half time and score into an empty goal to do so.

Now the mighty reds of Arsenal take on Blackburn at Bolton Road and I'm not really sure of what to expect from the team that plays brilliantly every week according to Steve Kean. Still, we should win. Then there's Bolton (not at Bolton Road) who we should also beat, especially with it being at ze Emirates Stadium.

That's before the biggie. Oh yes, the North London derby. The meeting of two bitter rivals, North London's big battle, the meeting of titans, the day of drama and excitement, a time for nerves and get the point. A draw would be decent there but Arsenal could easily go there and win, it's a game that suits Arsenal and if we can win there (and stick the V's up at Adebayor in the process) that would be great. So 7- 9 points could and should be on the cards by the time we have Sunderland and Stoke at home consecutively. That's a fantastic opportunity to grab 6 puntos before we go to Stamford Bridge for another biggie...

Yes, the battle of London, the clash of title rivals, the...I'll stop that now. The point is that we have a good fixture period now where we can catch up to the Manc teams and the others and it could be later referred to as the 'kick on period of the season'. By me anyway.

Come on you Gooners!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Protesting 3 games into the season...

Only at Everton would you find protests this early on. Maybe Newcastle as well but they are pretty insane up there. Granted I'm not very familiar with protest marches but I love how the 'Blue Union' (dramatic title) have emphasised it will be a 'friendly' protest. I have this vision of getting to the ground tomorrow to see a thousand Everton fans with flame- throwers and grenades calling for Bill Ken'wrong'* to be hung before kick off.

Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily disagree with the protests but I think Everton fans sum up football fans generally. They think that money is no object, but they need to realise they aren't Man City. They can't afford to spend loads of money when they haven't got any. They just need to accept their club is skint and be proud of what they have achieved over the last few years because they have done brilliantly and it's a great club with passionate fans, a great stadium and a good team that has made it to the FA Cup final, broken the top four up at the expense of Liverpool briefly and got into Europe a few times, and with not much dosh. It's all a bit spoilt if you ask me. It's like a group of children throwing paddies because their parents won't buy them the new Action Man/ Spiderman/ Barbie doll^.

I don't have any strong negative feelings towards Everton fans, I'm talking about us fans in general. We forget sometimes that football doesn't revolve around us and that money doesn't grow on trees even in the beautiful game (or at Stoke). Even if it does grow in the players' bank accounts and at certain clubs like Man City and Man Utd.

Anyway, I'll look forward to seeing the protests tomorrow as well as the real reason we all go of course, the match itself. Everton v Aston Villa is always feisty and entertaining and often has a lot of goals in it, I enjoy the rivalry between them too as it's played like a semi- derby if you like.

* Don't shoot the messenger for that name.

^ I used to love getting Spiderman action figures, they used to come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Not only Spidey himself but also villians like Doc Oc, Scorpion and occassionally made up ones I think. He also used to have loads of 'away kits' as my Dad liked to call them. Spidey could be kitted out in blue, black, yellow or multi- coloured stripes and with a car or boat or flying elephant. You name it, the Spidey action figures had it. Brilliant.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Stop holding us back!

Arsene Wenger is driving me mad. His policies on spending money are ridiculous and he is holding the club back as a result. Our rivals spend more than pittence on wages and player acquisitions and we don't. It's embarassing.

It would be bad enough anyway, but at the weekend we got smashed 8-2. As if you need anything more to shove you into gear to sign players after you've lost 2 of your best players. What he should have done was actually do some business before the last 2 days of the transfer window, but no he has to wait longer to save half a million probably on a transfer.

He's got about 80- 100 million pounds burning a hole in his pocket so what does he do? Pull out of signing Arteta and settle for a loan deal on Benayoun, someone who has barely played football in a year and doesn't get into Chelsea's team. Just spend the money you tight- fisted prick!

Why not spend £30- 35 million on Tevez today? Why not sign another centre back such as Cahill or Alex? Why not spend the money required for the transfer and wages of Arteta? It's too late to get picky on wages and transfer funds with a few hours left of the window. We're in DESPERATE need of players. Sign some!

Not only that, but it's not just us supporters that will be pissed off, it's our current players too. Robin Van Persie (Arsenal's best player) has 2 years left on his contract. Will he sign another one once we've finished outside the top four and won fuck all again at the end of the season? No.

How is that good for the club?

I think we need to get rid of this clown and get someone who is going to spend the money we have available and not on young players like Chamberlain who aren't going to be able to contribute highly to our season. The man has lost it and needs to be replaced.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pride and Humiliation all in the same day

I come away from today's embarassing defeat proud to be an Arsenal fan as the Arsenal fans at the game today were absolutely amazing. They sung their hearts out and supported the team until the end, which is saying a lot when you bare in mind what the score was.

However, the team was a shambles defensively. It may sound bizarre after getting beaten 8-2, but we were acually good going forward. It was the most dangerous and creative we've been at Old Trafford in a fair few attempts. Not many teams score 2 at OT either, but...

At the back we were awful. Djourou and Jenkisnon had shockers, but I'm not going to criticise Jenkinson, he's very inexperienced and always tried very hard. Djourou however is just an idiot. He's nowhere near good enough for a top four team, it surprises me how good he looked for a portion of last season because now he looks about as useful as Wenger himself would be at centre half. He doesn't make the right decisions, he doesn't mark well, he's not dominant enough and he's not strong enough either.

Koscielny was poor too, he lacks aggression and dominance but he's a good player all the same and is a good asset to the squad at least. Traore needs to go. I can only imagine that no bugger wants him and that's why we've still got him. Otherwise we'd have been better keeping Eboue and getting shut of him.

On the plus side, at least the Spuds got battered at home! And Coquelin looked a hot prospect for the future, as do a lot of our players to be fair. We just need more players for the here and now. We didn't deserve to lose 8-2. Man Utd were ridiculously clinical and we were punished for it. We got them at a terrible time and they got us at an unbelievable great time. A justified scoreline would have been 4-2 to MU I think.

Arsene Wenger has got 3 or so days to sign at least 2 players, but 3 would be ideal. A centre back like Samba or Cahill, a centre midfielder like Diarra or Parker and a left or right back like Izaguirre from Celtic.

Arsenal 'till I die!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

It's Good to be Back

It seems strange to feeling like this what with Arsenal losing at home to Liverpool just before I sat down to watch Everton v QPR in my Goodison seat.

I wasn't too gutted to be honest by Arsenal's defeat, I kind of expected it after we went down to 10 men, having gone into the game already missing a lot of first team players anyway. I was disappointed but not gutted.

I found out that poncey faced Uruguayan had put the dirty side of Merseyside 2-0 up at theatre of beautiful football just after my first bog trip at Goodsion Park in three months, but I was still buoyed about the Everton game.

I'd missed going to Everton games over the last 3 months, and the buzz you get when you're excited about one and enjoying a nice wet Saturday afternoon full of football. Yeah, that's what Saturday's all about for me (with the exception of Arsenal losing of course).

Yep, a nice Spag Bol and piece of chocolate cake at my Gran's, followed by a drive to the game where we park up and walk to the ground, working off some of that chocolate cake in the process. We then take our seats to watch the game. I sit back, relax and enjoy what is 9/10 at least a 'good' game of football in a usually a good atmosphere. Oh, and a good pouring of rain is the icing on the cake, good footy weather!

Yesterday it was newly promoted QPR who came to play Everton. It was a decent game played in the perfect football atmosphere- rain and plenty of noise from both sets of supporters. Everton had a few chances, QPR one or two and there was the odd contoversial incident as there always is at Everton.

Then, after about half an hour Tommy Smith curled a beautiful shot into the corner of the Park End net to open the scoring. I actually thought it had been disallowed at first due to Kevin Friend blowing his whistle to try to stop the QPR players going to celebrate with their fans (God forbid that in football).

QPR didn't really create much after that, it was all Everton who declined as the game went on. Overall, it was an enjoyable game that just missed the better result of Everton getting something from the game. It wasn't even spoilt by the angry spitter behind me who gave me a shower and a half as his temper got more and more out of control during a 20 minute spell in the second half.

Another great thing about going to Everton is the mickey taking side of it. For example 'Hairy Ears' was on top form, giving us a good view of his tremendously hairy ears at half time. Also, 'Mad Man' had a stormer, conveying his madness at every possible opportunity.

All that was missing was an Arsenal win, and a more animated performance from referee hater.

Friday, 19 August 2011

If I were the manager...

For anyone who does read my blog, I apologise for the recent 'blog silence' as I have written my last 2 or 3 articles on Which is a website I recommend by the way.

This article may well be a summary of the many going ons at the club we call 'The Arsenal' this past week. Or maybe not, let's see where I go (I don't plan these you know). First of all, the question: 'How do you replace Cesc Fabregas?' Well my answer is you don't. There is not one player on this planet that is better than Cesc Fabregas at what he does, i.e. an attacking, creative midfielder. We could spend millions on some quality player like Sneijder or Modric but we still wouldn't be as good as we were in that department of the pitch as we were when Cesc Fabregas was at Arsenal. Instead, we should improve other areas of the team, such as left back, centre defence, defensive midfield and up front. Plus we have potential replacements for Fabregas at the club and many creative players such as Ramsey, Wilshere, Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky.

Here's what I'd do, or try to do, if I was the manager of Arsenal:

1) Sign a left back. Gibbs is a very good player who is only going to get better but he is too injury prone and we need a quality, experienced left back in the squad. My first choice would be Leighton Baines, so I'd try to sign him or someone cheaper if Everton's demands are too high.

2) Sign a centre back. Phil Jagielka would be my first choice, but Chris Samba, Gary Cahill and Per Mertesacker are also players I would like to see at Arsenal, even Scott Dann maybe. Koscielny and Vermaelen are very good centre backs and a good enough partnership to win the league in my opinion but we need strength in depth as Squillaci and Djourou aren't good enough in my opinion. This is not to say I'd bring 'Jags' in as backup, as I'd love to see him start most games, along with one of the best CB's in the world- Thomas Vermaelen.

3) Sign a striker. Chamakh isn't good enough and Bendtner wants to go so we don't want to be too reliant on Van Persie. Even someone like Defoe would be a good signing IMO.

4) Sign a defensive midfielder. Marouane Fellaini from Everton would be my first choice but Scott Parker and Blaise Matuidi would be good singings too.

5) Get rid of Squillaci, Chamakh, Traore and maybe Bendtner.

6) If there's still enough money left I'd buy someone like Mata or Hazard perhaps to replace Nasri who looks to be going imminently. Again, maybe someone cheaper, but I don't think the wing positions are a priority as we already have Walcott, Arshavin, Miyaichi, Gervinho, Chamberlain and Rosicky who can play there.

This would freshen up the squad and make us title contenders I think but with the one we have now, we'll be battling for fourth.

Another article coming up soon...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Why I'm worried

I am seriously worried about Arsenal. Usually I'm full of optimism going into a new season, and usually I think we're going to win the league, or at least something. But at the moment I'm pondering the thought of whether I think we'll finish in the top four or not, nevermind which trophy I think we'll win.

We've got serious problems. We still suffer massively from injuries, which ain't a coincidence. I don't know exactly how but the club are doing something wrong with training methods or nutrition or just simply being over- cautious and ruling players out when they could actually play. Another problem is we can't defend, especially from set- pieces. We're pretty good defensively if the first choice back four are there, but if one of the CB's are out we fall apart, especially when Squillaci comes into the team. Linked to this is the fact that our defending from set pieces is such a clear weakness in our game that teams will feed on it and we will suffer from it all the more, especially against teams who are strong at set pieces like Stoke.

Another problem is how over- reliant on Van Persie we are. If he gets injured, like he may well have done tonight, we would be screwed because Chamakh is one of many players at the club who is just not good enough.

Which leads onto the next problem of how many players we have that aren't good enough: the affore-mentioned Chamakh, Eboue, Traore, Squillaci, Mannone, Djourou, Ramsey and Lansbury, and we don't really know how ready Jenkinson, Miyachi and Frimpong are to be able to step in for the likes of Sagna, Walcott and Song. These players, between them, are going to play are decent part in our season and the centre backs and Traore especially I think will hinder us.

When we get injuries, which we inevitably will these players will come into the team and they simply ain't good enough to be in a team competing for and winning trophies. Therefore we are over-reliant on Vermaelen, Van Persie, Fabregas and Song. (Two of which are injury-prone).

We also still need a left back to replace Clichy, with Gibbs being injury- prone (he's already got a 'muscular problem after tonight's game) and inexperienced, and Traore being nowhere near good enough to play for Arsenal.

Additionally (as if we need any more!) the futures of Fabregas and Nasri look uncertain, and this isn't helped by the bad mood currently around the club and the clear vulnerabilities shown in the Arsenal team during pre- season, which isn't exactly going to encourage Fabregas and Nasri to commit their near futures to the club is it?
And our final big problem is we have a manager who is unwilling to break a sweat in order to sort out these problems. He is too picky and reluctant to sign players and he is too persistant with the affore- metnioned 'not good enough' players. And he's too reluctant to spend money and altar his stupidly stubborn contract policies which have held the club back in the past as well as the present, as I mentioned in my last article about Gallas and Flamini, and now Nasri.

This is why I am worried.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What to do with Marouane Chamakh?

The player screams the word 'enigma'. He can look a real handful at times, as he showed during the first half of last season, but he can be a frustrating motionless oaf like he showed during the second half of last season.

You may say 'well he didn't get as many games during the second half of the season' but that's an excuse for not scoring enough goals or not being as sharp but he barely seemed to try. He just sat on the shoulders of defenders and didn't move. His lack of effort and movement are the things that bother me, I think 'does he want to be playing?' 'Or is it just laziness?'

I don't know but I do question whether he's worth keeping as I would probably rather we kept Bendtner than him as he is a better player in my opinion. But Bendtner wants to go, whereas Chamakh doesn't so it's probably best to keep him and sell Bendtner.

My question about him is: 'Is he good enough?' I think he is good enough to be backup on his day. But he hasn't been on his day since Novermber. I would much rather us get a keen, pacey striker in there instead of him or play Walcott or Gervinho there in van Persie's absence.

In conclusion, I don't think we should 'get rid' because we don't want our squad to be too small, especially with all the injuries we seem to suffer from but I do think he needs to buck up his act. I am going to the Emirates Cup at the weekend and I would like to see Gervinho or Walcott played upfront and I think then we'd know how needed Chamakh is.