Monday, 31 January 2011

Bizarre Deadline Day Fees and Arsenal v Everton Preview

So, there is 0 hours, 54 minutes and 21 seconds before the transfer window closes and still no shock bid from Arsenal for a centre half. Not that I expected one, but it would have been lovely to turn on Sky Sports News earlier to see the yellow bar at the bottom of the screen to see 'Arsenal on verge of completing signing of Per Mertesacker' or someone of that class (preferably with Squillaci going the other way!).

I am disappointed about that as well as the transfers involving Liverpool and Chelsea. I am hoping the Torres deal falls through so that Chelsea are still in the same state as they are now and I am hoping that Carroll doesn't join Suarez at Liverpool, as I think that would be a good signing, almost as good as Suarez as i think he is a very good player. However, the fee for Andy Carroll is laughable! £35 million?! Things are getting crazy in the Premier League. The Torres fee is OTT enough, but the Carroll fee is taking the biscuit.

Back to Arsenal, I'm hoping for another win tomorrow night against a team that plays a lot better against the top sides than the other sides. Although, we were too classy for the Toffees back in November so I'm not too worried about that, particularly with the game being at home. We seem to be the exception when it comes to Everton's big games as they have gone unbeaten against in their games against Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man City so far this season but lost to us.

On the bad side though, Samir Nasri will be missing who terrorised Everton in the return fixture and has been Arsenal's best and most dangerous player this season, as well as our top scorer, scoring 13 times, creating havoc among opposition teams and scoring vital goals. On the other hand, the advantage of having a squad like ours is that there is always someone to step in in a situation like this. I'd imagine it will be Andrey Arshavin who can hopefully turn up with a good performance without giving the ball away too much and  will hopefully create chances for the team and maybe stick one in the back of the onion bag while he's at it. Here's hoping.

Szcesny, Sagna, Djourou, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Fabregas, Walcott and van Persie are also probably going to start which should mean a better performance than the one against Huddersfield, and hopefully a similar result.

This isn't to say I'm unhappy with the game, because we won. We showed character to come back after 1-1 and make it 2-1 as well as dominating the late stages from the moment they scored and looked on top. The important thing was to win, and as long as Arsenal win, I'll always have zero complaints.

I'm predicting a 2-0 Arsenal win with Fabregas and van Persie scoring the goals in the second half.


Come on you Gooners!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Calmness, solidity and quality the keys to win

It was great to see Arsenal come away from Elland Road with a comfortable victory and an excellent performance. As an Arsenal fan from Leeds, it meant so much to me. It was like a second derby. For me to have bragging rights over the people I know that support Leeds is important.

The performance was solid for the whole game; fluent, creative and clinical. It was great to see them being so assured defensively. OK, we were playing against a championship team, but a good one and in a cup tie in a hostile atmosphere. Leeds never got to have a 'spell'. What I mean by this is that they never got us on the back foot for a significant period of time or have a dominant spell of pressure. This was good to see as it's very rare for a team not to have a spell of pressure or chances.

This shows how solid we were throughout the team, but especially in defence and midfield where we dictated the whole game, Song and Denilson were always around the ball. when they weren't on it, they were about to win it back and keep possession. The centre midfield of Nasri, Song and Denilson (and then Fabregas) dictated the game very well as well as being tight and solid defensively, digging in well.

The calmness and maturity of our performance was conveyed perfectly when Leeds pulled one back. We didn't show signs of weakening, becoming nervy, or letting Leeds build up a head of steam. I was very impressed at how we controlled the game and how we kept possession and got the ball back when we lost it. This was generally down to the midfield being so tight and solid, the defence being colossal and the wingers working back well.

Robin van Persie got on the score sheet again, it's great to see him scoring and getting back to full fitness and form. Nasri continued his goalscoring run, to call it impressive would be the under-statement of the season. He also orchestrated our attacks well and always looked a threat. Song and Denilson were solid, creative and good in and out of possession. Sagna looked as good as he ever has going forward; quick, creative, had good delivery and of course added a goal. He looked like a tireless, marauding Brazilian full-back. And he of course was as solid as ever. Gibbs looked like he's benefiting from having more games as he looked impressive and the wingers had their best performances for a while, especially Bendtner, who lets not forget was playing out of position, not that you'd be able to tell after that cross for van Persie's goal. David Beckham would have turned green with envy.

Another pleasing performance came from the man who was leading the line, Marouane Chamakh. I have been concerned about him lately, he's seemed poor and lacking movement and hasn't looked like scoring. But last night that changed. He ventured into good positions to get the ball, he looked dangerous in the air and linked up well with the midfield. He was unfortunate not to score when Schmeichel's save in the first half stopped his powerful header.

So, in conclusion, Arsenal are still in all four competitions and have a chance of winning any of them. You can't say this about any other team in the country, so lets count our blessings.


Szceszny- 7
Sagna- 9
Djourou- 9
Koscielny- 9
Gibbs- 8
Song- 9   MOTM (just)
Denilson- 8
Nasri- 8
Bendtner- 8
Arshavin- 7
Chamakh- 8

Fabregas- 7
van Persie- 8
Clichy- 7

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Robin van Persie- One of the Best

The difference between Bendtner and van Persie is massive. The difference is proved when you look at van Persie's recent performances and Bendtner's, for example Bendtner at Ipswich and van Persie yesterday. Van Persie offers so much more than Bendtner and Chamakh and he has shown that everytime he has played recently, and unfortunately Bendtner and Chamakh have also shown it.

He is a player of pure class. He's so intelligent, creative, clinical, skillful and has amazing technique. That's just a few of his many attributes. He is one of the most under-rated players on the planet, this is probably because of how many injuries he's had. It's so unfortunate for him that he has suffered so much with injuries, as imagine what more he could have contributed to us over recent years had he stayed reasonably injury free. We might not be saying how it's still 5 or so years since our last trophy. Who knows?

But now that he is fit and playing, hopefully for the rest of the season (at least) he can stay injury free, as if he is lucky enough to, he could be a massive influence on the success of our season.

Those 'pundits' and other people in football that can't wait to criticise Arsenal's recent lack of trophies always seem to forget that most of the time, we have been missing one of our best players, especially in big games such as last season. If he had been playing, we would have probably done better against Man Utd and Chelsea last season, for instance.

On another positive note, we have another 3-0 away victory to our name. Two in a row, two out of two in the league for 2011. Three consecutive league clean sheets. It's been a great start to the year in the league for Arsenal, and hopefully we can keep it up. Our away record reads:

Won- 7
Drawn- 3
Lost 2

And the two we lost were to Chelsea and Man Utd, where we were suffering with key injuries. It's very impressive, especially when you bare in mind we've been to Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City, Everton and Liverpool aswell as other tricky places such as Sunderland and Blackburn. Let's hope our away form also continues.

Final note- Theo Walcott now has 10 goals already this season. He has missed two months through injury which makes his tally even more impressive. It shows progress in his finishing and general play, and this is proving important in our season.

I'm very optimistic about us having a great season.

Come on Arsenal!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Ironic Win for Impressive Arsenal

I was thinking after the Wigan game that what goes around comes around and that sometimes you get decisions from referee's and sometimes you don't. But I didn't expect it to come around so quickly, and so ironically, as it did yesterday at St Andrews.

Arsenal were denied a last minute stone-wall penalty at Wigan on Wednesday night as a blatant handball wasn't seen by Lee Probert. Then, Birmingham were denied a stone-wall penalty yesterday after Robin van Persie handled the ball after Roger Johnson's touch with the score at 1-0. However, Roger Johnson could count himself lucky he was still on the pitch to be denied a penalty after he should have been shown red after 5 minutes for his cynical, typical 'We're playing Arsenal so go in hard and let 'em know you're there' tackle on Fabregas that quite a few teams have succeeded in performing when playing against us. After Nasri's beautiful goal to make it 2-0 shortly after half time, it was ironically Johnson who diverted the ball into his own net as he could only watch the ball trickle away from him, just like any chance of any points in the game for his team.

The irony doesn't stop there though. Remember Gael Clichy's 'foul' in February 2008 at St Andrews with the score at 2-1 to Arsenal in the last minute? I still maintain the view that that incident was the one that took the title away from Arsenal. A little luck at Birmingham was overdue for us, I don't even have to mention the Eduardo incident to back up my point even more.

Birmingham also felt they were hard done by in the build up to our first goal, feeling that van Persie went down too easily near the edge of their box. How easily he went down is irrelevant, he was fouled so it's a free kick.

It wasn't just Roger Johnson who could count himself lucky to be on the pitch until the end of the match. Lee Bowyer was even more dirty and cynical. He stamped on Bacary Sagna and when he saw he got away with it, went back for seconds later with another bad challenge on the full back. Some people never change. One word- Thug.

Arsenal showed the grit, maturity and determination to go with their sumptuous football to breeze past Birmingham, who had only lost once in their last 27 home games. An impressive record which includes beating our title rivals Chelsea and holding Man Utd, Tottenham and indeed ourselves last season.

I can't help but get excited when I look through our team, seeing it get stronger and stronger as players like Djourou, Song, Wilshere and Nasri are excelling and strengthening the team. The centre midfield of Song, Fabregas and Wilshere has almost everything; stamina, skill, creativity, goals, assists and solidity. The days of our midfield being 'bullied' look like they're over. In recent months we've been to places like Birmingham, Blackburn and Stoke and come away with all three points which shows improvement from previous seasons.

This team can win anywhere, against anyone. At least in this league anyway.