Sunday, 27 February 2011

We must stick together and stay behind the team

I am gutted about today's game. It was a painful afternoon for me. But I am naturally an optimist and I will always look to the positives. I love Arsenal so much, that's why it hurts so much and it's also why I will stay loyal and get behind the team and cheer them on every game (even if they can't hear me).

Yes, today we were not at the races, yes we weren't convincing enough at the back and yes, we didn't seem to want it enough. It's worrying that we had an off- day in the cup final as you would expect teams to be at their best when playing in a cup final, as Birmingham were. And we have missed a massive opportunity to end the trophy drought. But having said that, people from outside would still have said 'well it's the only the Carling Cup'. Not that that's what's important but what I'm saying is that it wouldn't be a massive achievement. It would have been an achievement but it wouldn't be like winning the Premier League or Champions League. If Arsenal had won today I would have been ecstatic saying 'get in! what a great day, we've finally won a trophy!' and I would have been delighted at the achievement, but at the end of the day we have just missed out on a consolation/ bonus prize. Not one of the biggies.

As I have said, I am an optimist when it comes to Arsenal. I don't like being miserable or sad so I like to look up and put a positive slant on things. So here I go:

  1. In a week's time, things could be looking rosy. Man Utd play at Chelsea and Liverpool in the next 7 days. We play Sunderland at home so we should get 3 points and I expect Man Utd to lose one and draw one so we could be closer to top spot, Man Utd would be on a low and we would be on a high. We should also be through to the next round of the FA Cup and one step closer to that stadium I'm beginning to hate! I'm not just clutching at straws either, there is a serious possibility that Man Utd will drop a few points in the next week.
  2. Jack Wilshere, along with Nasri, was very good today and just highlights the fact that we have a bright future ahead. Van Persie and Arshavin also continued their good form and hopefully van Persie's knee injury isn't serious and he will be available soon, hopefully for the weekend. It didn't look bad so I'm not too worried.
  3. There was an element of unluckiness today as it was extremely unfortunate that our best player and inspirational leader was missing today. We missed his creativity in centre midfield and his goal threat and we didn't really have much of a goal threat from centre midfield today, Fabregas always looks dangerous and scores a fair few. We also missed his leadership. Now, by leadership I don't just mean vocal leadership. I mean the way he drives on the team, but especially the way he leads by example and leads Wilshere and Song in centre midfield. He is also the focal point of our team, and we missed that massively today. There's no shame in that, anybody would miss their best player in a cup final.
  4. The winning goal was just 'one of those things'. However it was 'one of those things' that often seem to happen to Arsenal. But we can't do anything about that, it's just a mistake, and it didn't half bounce unfortunately. It couldn't have dropped to Szczesny's right where no Birmingham players were could it? (If I'm wrong about that I apologise, I haven't seen it again.) I don't blame Szczesny at all for our loss, nor Koscielny.
  5. Also, we're still in three competitions. There's plenty more heartache opportunities for glory ahead! And better glory. I think the league format suits us more too, rather than the cup format as it's played over a 38 game basis rather than just a one game basis. Therefore, if you have one bad performance in the cup you can easily be out, whereas that's not the way of the league.
I hope everybody stays behind the team and aren't too downhearted about today. I think Arsenal fans are some of the best and loudest in the country and are the most under-rated in the country. So I hope they/ we continue to be supportive and get behind the team, I'm sure everybody will and it would be nice for eveybody to chant Szczesny's and Koscielny's names in the next game.

Come on Arsenal!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

One nil to the Football Team

Football Team 1 Rugby Thugs 0. I was just thinking after the Leyton Orient game that Arsenal very rarely win 1-0, and when they do it's generally through a late winner rather than an early one. Usually if there is an early goal in an Arsenal game, there's going to be at least one more goal in the game. Not last night though...

So after stand in centre half Sebastien Squillaci  nodded Arsenal in front after 8 minutes I was thinking 'Hmm, I wonder who's going to score next- Arsenal or Stoke?'

I might have been right to wonder had Cesc Fabregas not limped off after 14 minutes, as his unfortunate departure hindered the game. Arsenal were less fluent, less inventive, less creative and less threatening. However, the Gunners showed the true grit of champions by holding on without being troubled much as Stoke struggled to create chances.

It wasn't the most beautiful Arsenal performance ever, but the most important thing is that they won. You can't play brilliantly all the time, even at home. And what with Fabregas going off early doors and van Persie not being available it was always going to be difficult to be as good as they normally are when those two are playing.

Alan Hansen will have probably being drooling last night, seeing a title chasing team 'grind out a 1-0 win' and while I think his obsession with this is a bit OTT, he is right in (constantly) saying it's a good quality to have and it is a sign of a very good, maturing team.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Sheer Audacity

I can't believe Ryan Shawcross has the gall to criticise Arsene Wenger AGAIN for having said negative things about his tackle last season on Aaron Ramsey. Here are his quotes:

"He has a habit of saying things like that but I'm big enough to deal with it. He has been doing it for a long time but it's not going to affect me."

"He can say what he wants, it will just make me stronger. I've said it before, he seems to have a problem with Stoke but we'll let our performances talk."

Firstly, he doesn't 'have a problem' with Stoke for no reason, he has a problem with talentless thugs breaking his players' legs. I think Tony Pulis would have had a moan had Ramsey broken Shawcross' leg.

Secondly, he has criticised players for this for 'a long time' because it keeps happening to his players! I notice that Stoke never suffer from any of this yet Arsenal have had three in four years. So I think Arsene has every right to convey his disgust at this, particularly when it happens to a young, upcoming player.

Thirdly, 'we'll let our performances talk' is a comment that brings a smile to my face. Oh yeah, you mean those leg- breaking performances that have proved to be so successful in recent times with Arsenal having beaten Stoke on the last three league occasions?

What a complete idiot. I think I take Arsene Wenger's word more seriously as he is 100 times more intelligent than that troll.

Anyway, rant over. It's disappointing that form players Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny are out tonight but I'm still confident of a win. Hopefully Nicky Bendtner and Squillaci can prove to be good, capable squad players tonight as this is a good test of how good our squad depth is. Can we cope when two important players are out? I think we can and we will tonight.

I say Nicklas Bendtner, it could be Marouane Chamakh. But I expect Bendtner (hate typing his name, I always spell it wrong at first) to take the field tonight given his recent form and Chamakh's. It's pretty harsh but I would expect Arshavin to be on the bench with the fresh legs of Nasri and Walcott returning. I would probably agree with that should it be the case tonight.

A positive bit of injury news is that Johan Djourou is back which is important as he is just what we need to cope with their aerial threat, and with Koscielny being out. I am predicting us to go a point behind Man Utd tonight with a 3-0 win, with Fabregas, Bendtner and Nasri with the goals. Maybe Arshavin too. 3 of those four anyway!

Come on you Gunners!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What a night!

It's never dull being an Arsenal fan is it? It's hard for me to describe just how delirious and ecstatic I am right now. I've been nervous all day about this game, but that makes it worth it. A fantastic night and performance that makes me so proud to be an Arsenal supporter. Everyone from Jack Wilshere to Laurent Koscielny to the fans were brilliant tonight.

I hate Barcelona, because of their off the field comments, I think a lot of their players and senior staff have been incredibly disrespectful to Arsenal over recent times and they also dive and moan a lot on the pitch, but they are a great side and I admire any team that plays excellent football (unless Tottenham one day start playing great football).

So we have done fantastically to beat a great side. I know it's two legs and it's only 'half time' but screw that, I want to enjoy this win! Not only was it great to defend well overall, play great football, attack well and score two goals but it was also brilliant to show such mental strength and desire to win and come back from being a goal behind as well as managing to chase them down and keep our fitness throughout the game.

That was probably the most impressive performance I've ever seen from Jack Wilshere. I thought he was outstanding, he didn't put a foot wrong and won battles against the likes of Messi, Xavi and Busquets so often. His discipline, his tackling, his positioning, passing, commitment and desire were fantastic. He's just a brilliant player and believe it or not, he'll probably improve every year for the next few!

Laurent Koscielny was a rock, getting the better of Messi, Iniesta and co. so often and defending well in every department, from his focus, determination and his reading of the game. I think everyone was fantastic and it's harsh on the others to pick out players. I might do another article about this tomorrow but for now, I'm just going to finish with my match ratings:

Szceszny 8
Eboue 7
Djourou 8
Koscielny 9
Clichy 9 (gets +1 for the goal)
Song 8
Fabregas 8 (gets +1 for the 2nd goal)
Wilshere 10
Walcott 7
Nasri 8  (gets +1 for the 2nd goal)
van Persie 9 (gets +1 for the goal)

Arshavin 8 (gets +1 for the 2nd goal)
Bendtner 7

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Referee's vs Arsenal/ Match Fixing?

I read an article on an Arsenal fan website about the possibility of match fixing and media driven bias against the team affecting referees.

There have been so many decisions in games recently that have gone against Arsenal. Not just minor things, but wildly bizarre things. Louis Saha's offside goal that was as obvious as Harry Redknapp's twitch and Newcastle's second penalty on Saturday. Nobody in their right mind would even comprehend that there was a foul there and that a penalty should be given. But it was. Two bizarre decisions in 4 days going against Arsenal. Coincidence?

Other decisions that have gone against us this season are the two penalty decisions at Wigan, the three hours of added time at Sunderland and a penalty at Man Utd that should never have been given. Also, the sending offs. People including Tony Pulis will look at our disciplinary record this season with huge grins across their faces but only three or four of those eight red cards (in all competitions) were deserved. Song's at Sunderland was a joke- I think it was the second yellow that was ridiculous, Koscielny at Liverpool- same as Song's, Koscielny's at home to Newcastle and Sagna getting sent off against Man City was just completely stupid and wrong.

This begs a couple of questions- Is there something sinister going on in terms of match- fixing or betting scandals? Or is the media bias against us getting into the heads of referees? By media bias against us, I mean how they can't wait to criticise once an Arsenal player does something remotely wrong, such as a simple sending off or complaining to the referee, e.g. Cesc Fabregas against Everton last week. If John Terry or Rio Ferdinand had done that would they have had the spotlight on them as much? I'm sick of our players and manager getting criticised too much and more than certain other clubs and players just because they're not English or because they play for a club managed by Arsene Wenger who everyone in the media seems to hate.

And now onto penalties. As I have already mentioned, the bizarre Newcastle episode (refereed by Phil Dowd), the penalty Tottenham got (refereed by Phil Dowd, who couldn't wait to give it) and the Wigan penalties. Add to this, the Song sending off at Sunderland and the fact that Sunderland equalised after stoppage time should have ended (refereed by...oh Phil Dowd).

If you still think this is just paranoia, lets look at Saturday's game at Newcastle as an example.
  1. Diaby sent off (probably rightfully) but Kevin Nolan not for his assault on Szcsesny.
  2. Newcastle's second penalty- why on Earth was this given?
  3. The free kick for Newcastle's equaliser- Not a foul at all. This is one example of a few that showed 'home refereeing' where Dowd gave Newcastle free kicks, bookings and penalties just because the crowd asked for them. He got caught up in the whole atmosphere and it was as if he was giving everything the crowd asked for.
Overall, all the decisions in the second half went against us and at times, bizarrely. I'm not saying that Phil Dowd single handedly gave Newcastle a draw, becasue Arsenal are partly to blame too. But he sure had a big part in it and if it wasn't for him, Arsenal would have won.

Decisions do go against you occasionally so it's not like I'm getting carried away just because of one game or incident, it's because of a LOT. More than anyone else, I bet. I am prepared for Arsenal to be hard done by every now and then, I can accept that, but when it happens to this extent and with this amount of bizarreness, I can't help but ask questions.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Cesc Fabregas Saga

I'm almost fed up of hearing about this. But I'd like to be able to air my views about it. What did Cesc Fabregas do wrong?

Well, from an Everton perspective he 'questioned the integrity of the club' according to David 'I have had something against Fabregas ever since the Arteta elbow incident in December 2007' Moyes. I can understand why he'd say this, but I think Cesc's intention was to question the referee, not Everton.

From an Arsenal perspective, absolutely nothing. It's nice to see such passion from our players rather than players like Adebayor who probably would have danced down the tunnel rather than portraying his disgust at that ridiculous decision to allow the goal. We want to see our players showing passion. If I had seen no-one, especially not our captain, complaining about it I would have been thinking 'Come on, where's your care and your passion?'

And as I ever so slightly hinted about two paragraphs ago, David Moyes (I can't be bothered typing his middle name out again) has had it in for Fabregas since that incident back in December 07 when we won there 4-1 and Arteta got sent of for elbowing Fabregas. It has always been pretty obvious he doesn't like Cesc or Arsenal in the slightest and this has heightened his reaction to this incident.

And of course, my Everton supporting family will probably argue I'm looking at it through red- tinted glasses and to be fair, if this happened the other way around and Wenger was criticising Phil Neville I would be on his side. But I do not think Cesc Fabregas has done anything wrong, I think he questioned the referee's integrity, not Everton's. He's not actually saying that Everton have given Lee Mason money to make decisions like that, it's a heat of the moment comic exxageration.