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