Category Archives: Premiership

Striking at the heart of it!

My mind’s is picturing Arsene as Calvin right now! Do you seriously believe that we need reinforcements? Sorry Arsene, but we do. And it is not due to the scheduling of African Cup of Nations. We just do not have any strikers. Presence and absence of Chamakh would hardly make a difference right now. And I doubt if Arsene even knows whether Park Chu Young is still in the country. But there is one thing similar between Park Chu Young and me- Our chances of convincing Arsene that we can play as a striker for Arsenal. As long as you are going to fail an exam, it does not matter what the margin is. To be honest, I would be gobsmacked if we do not buy a striker. I know geniuses are eceentrically flawed in their beliefs. The more you harp them about any shortcomings, the more they go into their preconceived notions. Ask a United fan about the need for a central midfielder since 1532 BC that Fergie chooses to ignore. Or Arsene telling us that Silvestre is Maldini in disguise. Or my boss telling me to improve the quality of my work. Yet Arsene, I plead to thee- The strikers you signed are not good enough. Let us accept it and rectify it. We still have time to address it. Signing Henry is a stopgap arrangement at best.

Till such wisdom dawns upon us and we are stuck with status quo, whom do we play with in the centre forward position for the next week. RVP has been given a rightful rest and somebody has to step up to the plate. As ridiculous as it sounds, I would give the chance to Theo. YES, THEO! There is no point in playing Chamakh or Park Chu Young. They do not seem to be part of the solution. So let us try something else. For whatever we all may say about Theo, he was a proper striker when he joined us. I have not seen people beat goalkeepers at their near post so consistently as Theo when his head is right. Yes, he looks gloriously out of confidence, right now. But Leeds is as good an opportunity you can get to get your confidence back. Lest we forget, this kid looked the deal as a striker in the Carling Cup final against Chelsea. The move could achieve one of two things

  • Theo scores, gets his confidence back and actually may look like a back up striker in the future.
  • Theo does not score, realizes he is asking for an extra zero during contract negotiations, asks his agent to shut his tramp and sign that bloody contract on the table.

I am a blue tinted optimist, but i see both Theo staying and eventually emerging as a good striker for Arsenal. The time is here, the time is now! Throw the gauntlet to Theo! Can you do the business in this period as a striker? It is better than giving the umpteenth chance to Chamakh, see him conspicuously absent in the pitch, hope he remains the same with Morocco hastening their exit and comes back miraculously playing like Crouch (I seriously cannot even dream that Chamakh can play at a level beyond Crouch!). Oh, and amongst all this milieu, we are also praying that Van Persie is fit through this period. Some interesting stats on the latter- Van Persie has played the maximum number of minutes amongst all Arsenal players in 2011 (Courtesy- Arsenal website). Van Persie (with the notable exceptionn of St. Diaby) has been injured for the maximum number of minutes amongst all players since he has signed for us (Courtesy- My educated guess). So do the math on the latter happening for yourself! Till then, good luck, ye Gunners!

Article written by V. Vikas (http://www.arsenal-view.blogspot.com/)

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Arsenal vs Spurs

As some of you may know from the comments section, I live in a house full of yids. It’s just a fact that I am one Arsenal supporter surrounded by spurs fans, my mum, stepdad and younger brother are all yids. My family is from Peckham but seemingly all of them support the team even those (women) just vaguely aware of football feel the need to support the club that has been passed down through our family lineage.

Thank god then for my Aunt’s now ex-husband (shock horror) for slapping an Arsenal shirt on me and taking me to Highbury when I was just about walking. From that moment on I have been in love with Arsenal FC, I’ve felt every high and every low, the wonderment of winning trophy after trophy, the disappointment of losing the Champions League final. I’ve seen the league shift and change, title giants like Liverpool fall away to be replaced by Chelsea who rose from obscurity on the back of twenty pound notes thrusting them into the limelight like a papery magic carpet.

For years though a constant of Arsenal life was that our North London ASBO neighbours have firmly lived in our shadow. Anytime they tried to poke their whiskers out and smell the fresh air we’d slap them back into the void of empty dark that is our turbulence.
However this year it seems someone has left the door open and our mischievous little pet has been frolicking in the garden, exposing itself to anyone who’ll dare to look at it. Van Der Vaarting wherever it pleases, showing it’s Bale’s to passing children. Filthy little creature.

The sudden (and possibly temporary) rise of Tottenham from our shadow is something that got me to wondering, what would a North London FC team look like? Who from either side would make the grade and who would be a casualty?

So:

Goalkeeper: Brad Friedel VS The Schez
For me the Schez-man has this one, he’s young, confident, a good commander of his box and makes excellent reflex saves. Sometimes he gets a little hot under the collar, but then so did Brad Friedel – 30 years ago.

Right Back: Kyle Walker VS Bacary Sagna
Arsenal go 2 nil up here as for me there really is no question as to who will take right back. Walker has impressed thus far this year but Bacary is levels above him.

Right Centre Back: Ledley King VS Per Mertesacker
Tottenham gain a point back here as Ledley makes the starting eleven. Since his arrival Mertesacker has done…ok. Not brilliant, not the rock we were all hoping for but ok. His reading of the game and size makes up for his complete lack of any sort of pace and his rather panicky demeanour on the ball. 2-1 Arsenal.

Left Centre Back: Kaboul VS Thomas Vermaelen
3-1 Arsenal, Thomas is the obvious choice again, excellent going forward, excellent defending, great in the air, cannon of a left foot and has the same desire in the first minute as he does the ninetieth which is a mirror for his desire over a season. Great player. Spurs fans it is key to point out this isn’t me saying Kaboul is the opposite, just that he’s not as good a player as Vermaelen.

Left Back: Assou-Ekotto VS Kieran Gibbs
The zany Spurs left back takes the position from our fragile, hit and miss youngster every day of the week. I said Wenger was wrong to bank on Kieran and I’ve been proved right, his constant injuries and lack of focus on the pitch will cost us if he tries to make Gibbs the new Cole. Assou-Ekotto may be a touch on the bizarre side (odd boots and all that) but he is a great player – just sort out the hair.

3-2 Arsenal as we move into the middle of the park. For the purposes of this exercise we will envisage that both sides are playing a 4-3-3.

Right Middle: Luka Modric VS Aaron Ramsey
Tottenham level things up as without doubt Modric far exceeds the Welsh captain. I don’t think there will be an Arsenal fan that will argue this one.

Central Middle: Scott Parker VS Alex Song
This was a tough one, Song has had some great games this years, but then he’s also had some stinkers. For me Tottenham take the lead and Scott Parker takes the holding role. A player I was desperate for Wenger to fork out the poultry sum on and bring to our club and he’s shown why a lot of pundits thought the same. He’d have been ideal at the battling heart of our team. Great professional.

Left Middle: Rafael Van Der Vaart VS Mikel Arteta
I might upset a few people here but Arteta stops Tottenham from winning the midfield battle completely. His industry and willingness to get stuck into everything has made him a real asset and most any premiership middle would welcome him. VDV has had a few dodgy games and can go missing occasionally. But again for £8 Million Ol’Twitchy did excellently here.

We go into the forwards department tied at 4-4.

Right Forward: Aaron Lennon VS Gervinho
The Lille man makes it 5-4 to the gunners, his pace and ability to get at defenders really shone through against City at the Etihad and it’s really that game that decided it for me. If he could add finishing, boy he’d be a player.

Centre Forward: That Bloke VS Robin Van Persie
6-4

Left Forward: Gareth Bale VS Theo Walcott
Another no question decision here. Theo Walcott…I jest. Gareth Bale takes the spot over the English winger every single time. He has pace to burn like Theo but scores goals as well (as we saw yesterday) and has good end product, can think in tricky situations and retain the ball for his team by drawing fouls in dangerous areas.

So if my math is right and it usually isn’t, that’s 6-5 Arsenal. But a decision here or there, Van Der Vaart instead of Arteta and you’ve got a different outcome. Tottenham have bridged the gap considerably, I do though, honestly think we’ll finish above them, their legs will go come February and they’ll start to struggle to hold onto 4th but, they’re still above us right now.

If they lose Modric or Bale (less likely) in January it really is over for them, both players are so important. Arsene must look to an example like this and address it, we want an 11-0 whitewash but we need a Modric and a Bale. Gotze and Hazard would be nice – everyman can dream.

Here’s hoping we get over the blip against Wolves, buy some decent talent this coming month and charge all the way to May.

Happy New Year everyone.

Article written by SuperCesc

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Christmas Villa

Arsenal take on Aston Villa in a mid-week game having narrowly lost to Manchester City on Sunday in a game that proved even with no actual full-backs and having lost our two best players in the summer and not adequately replacing them we’re still a force in the Premier League. Remember United, second in the league were thumped 6-1 at home against City. The Spuds (who judging by what their ‘fans’ keep saying seem to have the odd idea that the season ends at the end of the month…strange lot) lost 5-1 to City at home. We were narrowly beaten 1-0 at The Etihad in a game that most would agree we deserved a draw.

Still, it was an excellent game of football in which a defence of four centre backs and a whole team that cost a little over what Sergio Aguero cost City stood toe to toe with this vulgar giant and traded blows and on a few occasions almost landed the knockout blow. We need to carry this momentum on into the clash at Villa Park, every three points is essential and it worries me to see some blogs calling it ‘fairly routine’. It’s not; we cannot approach any game feeling we’ll stroll on and stroll off with the win. We need to win every single game in the next month and it’s doable.

Arsene Wenger can help out his squad who really did a lot to restore some gunner pride on Sunday by adding to it as soon as the window opens. Like some crazed woman who received several hundred pounds worth of New Look vouchers bombing down her local high street as soon as the January sale boards go up in the sparkly shop windows.

The Mail ran an interesting piece today on ‘health checks’ of all the teams in the premiership and what their shopping lists should be come January. For us it was some urgent cover at the back which I totally agree with, a backup striker for RVP, again totally agree with this and then Gotze who most people widely accept is high on Wenger’s wish list. If by the end of January we can see on that little scrolling ‘IN’ bar on Sky Sports News Vertonghen, Alex, Gotze and Podolski I think we’ll have a very happy New Year and a great remainder to the season. But, as Arsenal fans we are accustomed to the bitter disappointment of seeing no one arrive in transfer windows and Arsene to keep the faltering car running all the way home on nothing but sound bites and hope.

I don’t understand the big deal everyone’s making about Djourou being injured I mean….he’s crap. Yes it’s yet another injury to a defender but honestly, I think a TESCO bag that some inconsiderate fan brought along to Villa Park that found its way down onto the pitch and got caught in a slight breeze would be more of an annoyance than Johan to a Villa attacker.

My starting eleven would be:

Schez

Koscielny   Mertesacker   Vermaelen   Miquel

Arteta   Song   Ramsey

Chamberlain   Van Persie   Gervinho

Koscielny and Vermaelen are beasts at the back, we expect it from Tommy but Laurent (who I will now refer to as Larry Koscielny – because it sounds harder isn’t it?) has surprised a lot of people with his performances. He’s one of those in the squad that have stepped up to the mark when things went south for us. Arteta is another and Song has had some big games, he just needs to polish his tackling and passing up a bit and we’ll have a real midfield dynamo there.

Van Persie….we’re not worthy. And Gervinho tore City’s full backs apart and was a menace all game long, just needs to concentrate on that final product a bit more whether that’s a shot or a cross. Walcott was abysmal, his control was horrific. He ended up having to scoop the ball back under his control every time he was passed to because it had jumped off his toe. His runs were flat, and aside from a second half shot that Joe Hart saved he may as well have been at home. So I’d field Oxo and let him run riot, just tell him to go out and run his socks off. If he wants Theo’s place then these are the chances he’ll have to take. Equally Theo needs to learn in a top flight team you can’t have a performance in a massive game like Sunday and not go unpunished.

I can’t see us cocking up against a weak Villa side but we still need to maintain focus which I think we’re better at this year with a leader in each department, Schez, Vermaelen, Arteta, Van Persie.

Here’s hoping for three points this week, maximum points at the end of January, some real top class buys in the window and a happy new year.

Merry Christmas Gunners!

Article written by SuperCesc.

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Man City 1-0 Arsenal: Player ratings

Sure, it wasn’t a great result today, but not many teams are going to turn up at Man City and give them a game like that. The Arsenal players should be proud of that performance.

After that performance, you’ve got to fancy Man City strongly for the Premiership title this season. I can’t see anyone touching them if I’m honest. The bookies definitely fancy them, based on the current English Premiership odds. If Man City do win the Premiership, Gareth Barry will officially be the worst player to ever win the Premiership, bar Tim Sherwood.

Arsenal had some cracking chances in the game, but you always felt that Man City could turn it on when they liked.

Onto the player ratings:

Wojciech Szczesny (8.5/10)Man of the Match. Cracking game from the young Pole, and kept us in it early on. Couldn’t do anything about the goal, and prevented an embarrassing scoreline. Potentially the best goalkeeper in world football.

Johann Djourou (5.5) – Once again, he looked totally out of sorts. He really is a dreadful player. We did look all over the place when he come off, but that was more due to the fact that our whole backline had changed, and it wasn’t a straight swap.

Per Mertesacker (7) – He really is as slow as people say he is, but his reading of the game is superb, and he will get better and better. He’s still adjusting.

Thomas Vermaelen (8) – Absolutely solid as usual. Looked great going forward too, and he could’ve pulled the result level late on. Glad to have him back and playing regularly.

Laurent Koscielny (8) – The most under-rated player at Arsenal. Was often used as a scapegoat last season, but he’s got potential to be an absolutely cracking defender. Looked assured, calm and strong all game.

Alex Song (6.5) – Not the greatest game in the world for Song, but he didn’t play too bad either. The early booking was always going to affect his game, but he still didn’t seem to learn from that, and was still putting it about. Needs to be a little less rash in the tackle.

Aaron Ramsey (6) – He didn’t play too bad today, but if he tries one more of those flicks, I swear I’m going to put my first through to the TV screen. He needs to cut that shit out of the game and stick to the basics.

Mikel Arteta (8) – A contender for Man of the Match. Had a solid game in the middle of the park, and I like what he’s added to Arsenal’s play. We haven’t got the prettiest centre midfielders, but they are resolute and a lot of that is down to Arteta. He’s settled in nicely at Arsenal.

Gervinho (7) – I like Gervinho. I like him a lot. He’s a very direct player, and at times frustrating, but you are going to get that with players like him. He attacks the defence, and it clearly scares the shit out of defenders. Obviously it doesn’t come off 99% of the time, but he will keep going.

Robin van Persie (7.5) – Not really sure what to make of RVPs performance today. You always assume he’s had a quiet game because he hasn’t scored, but he offered a lot up front. The reason he gets a lower score than usual is just down to the fact that Arsenal didn’t score today.

Theo Walcott (3) – Terrible performance by Walcott. He’s got this in the locker, where he just goes missing in certain games. Losing possession time after time, and not running at defenders. Certain games suit him, and certain games don’t.

Subs:

Ignasi Miquel (6.5) – He looked decent enough, and came into the game late on after a shaky start. He’s a young boy, and if he carries on then he’s got a decent future ahead of him. Looks a little too relaxed at times though.

Andrei Arshavin (5) – Not a good performance at all by the little Russian. What an enigmatic player he’s turned out to be. He’s almost the forgotten man at Arsenal.

Marouanne Chamakh (4) – I think he touched the ball once! I can’t really give him any higher or lower than a 5.

Based on this performance, I’m certain that we’ll finish in the top 4. Let’s face it, Tottenham won’t, and neither will Liverpool, so we’re only competing with Newcastle for the top 4 spot.

We’ve played Man City, Chelsea and Man United away from home, so it’s good to get those games out of the way. Even though we only won one.

On a side note, as much as I detested Gary Neville as a footballer, I can’t help but like him as a pundit. He has a very intelligent approach to the game, and he’s one of the few who knows what he’s talking about. I hate to admit it, but I like you Gary Neville.

On another side note, why does Joe Hart save every shot straight at him, and then do a some sort of acrobatic flip? I really wish goalkeepers would cut this out. This was why I loved David Seaman and Jens Lehmann so much; they made the simple stuff look easy. Joe Hart really does make it all look so difficult. And he’s looks like an arrogant little prick.

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Wenger has Gotze to get stuck in come January

It seems no matter where you go what you do you can’t escape Arsenal transfer speculation, even in September papers were linking us to deals in January ‘price agreed’ and ‘Arsenal make contact with’ are titles we’ve all become accustomed to. It doesn’t even seem to be tied in any way to form either, when we were having our worse start for 50 years the flow was as steady as it is now.

One name that has constantly popped up since the middle of the summer window though is that of 19 year old ‘wunder-kid’ Mario Gotze of Borussia Dortmund. The German teen has attracted attention from pretty much every big gun in Europe read, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan (Inter and AC), Manchester United, Chelsea (pfft) and of course Manchester City. I’m sure Liverpool were in there somewhere but as he’s not English and ridiculously overvalued ‘King Kenny’ will doubtlessly look elsewhere.

Arsenal are enjoying a real resurgence in form right now, Arsene managed to turn the vibes around at the club after the 8-2 thrashing with a few signings, we had the blip at Blackburn after that and a few slip ups but overall the team is plodding along nicely playing in a way we haven’t seen before.

Some of the technique the o-la-la if you like has gone out of our game but there’s a steady work ethic and real passion to grab the win now. The players seem to be enjoying each win all the more now and under Van Persie’s captaincy they really do look like they’re willing to fight for each other and the fans to get the victory. Though we have lost some of our flashiness it’s nice to see, we all remember the super slick Arsenal shipping four goals against Newcastle, or going 2-0 up against Wigan only to lose 3-2, or going 4-2 up against Spurs only to drop to a 4-4 draw. When Chelsea clawed their way back to a totally undeserved 3-3 at the Bridge this year I doubt I was the only one thinking ‘and wait for the fourth.’ But to my surprise it was us who bagged the fourth and fifth goals to take a historic win.

Some players have really stepped up to the mark and they deserve a pat on the back for it, it’s these guys you need to keep around. When the going got tough they didn’t need to be searched for, they were right there on the line fighting. I’m thinking of Koscielny, Schez, Vermaelen (now he’s back), of course RVP, Arteta, Gervinho. Ramsey is putting the effort in aware that our midfield talisman will return in a month or so. Walcott has stepped up his game now he can feel the breath of the Ox on the back of his neck. Frimpong and Coquelin have done well and brought a freshness and youthful energy to the team every time they’ve played. Andre Santos is improving with each game and it’s staggering how many attacks he starts each week.

But to notice the heroes, you can’t help but point fingers at the villains. Chamakh looks to be heading out of the club most likely to PSG (Le City de Manchester of Francais) and with a fee of £12 Million being talked about I wouldn’t shed too many tears at seeing the weirdly oily back of the Moroccan’s head. He’s been given enough chances and although some of his ball work and hold up play is good, he just doesn’t score enough goals or even look interested in being an attacking threat.

As much as it pains me to say it we need to look to sell Arshavin and bring someone in to replace him, and perhaps this is where young Gotze comes in.

I don’t know how many of you have paid attention to the German youngster since the summer but I certainly have (as much as I can) and he looks like a cross between a Fabregas and a Nasri. He has that killer ball in him, quick feet and a great sense of the game like Cesc. But he also runs the wings, has good pace and bags of tricks like Nasri. From reading up on him, joining his Facebook page he also seems a genuinely nice guy and has nothing but praise for us having played us. His agent said ‘Mario was wowed by the setup at Arsenal. The ground and the fans, the way they play the game is the way he wants to.’

Rumour has it Arsene is ready to break our transfer record and splash £25 Million on the kid. Dortmund want £30 Million but I think they’re playing hardball, though they are in a better bargaining position than say LOSC Lille who want a ludicrous £44 Million for Eden Hazard – another Arsene target.

The window opens in around three weeks and I hope we’re much more organised than we were this summer. What happened in August was nothing short of a complete shambles and it took an 8-2 pasting at Old Trafford to thankfully wake up everyone at Arsenal HQ and they pulled their fingers out.

Let’s hope the fingers are already out, the phones are in use, e-mails and faxes (if anyone does that anymore) are being sent and we are negotiating because we do need reinforcements. These players are trying to so hard and I can see a burn out in the very near future. We can’t expect Robin to carry the team to fourth alone. And we can’t expect Jack to come back and be our Cesc and Samir in attack – talented though he is.

However, I do appreciate you cannot change too much too soon and upset what is a very precarious balancing act at Arsenal. I think most of us can agree losing Chamakh in January would hardly upset the apple cart, neither would the loss of the Squid for a couple of million. Frimpong looks like he’s going on loan to Wolves and unless Diaby (who’s injured again having played five minutes of football) can string a few games together before January I’d be tempted to send him on loan to France with a view to a permanent move in the summer.

We’re not going to bank fortunes, perhaps £15 Million if the expected transfers of Chamakh and Squillaci go through and Arshavin stays put for now but it does mean we’d only have to spend £10 Million of our money (the fee for Arteta) to land Gotze who has made it clear we (along with those Catalans clowns) are his preferred destinations. Please Arsene, don’t do another Mata.

Lukas Podolski along with Damiao the Brazilian striker have been linked with Wenger clearly realising that Van Persie will need a rest occasionally and with Chamakh looking ready to jump ship and Park hardly inspiring confidence up top he needs a good understudy.

I know there are people who still want defensive reinforcements along with a whole host of new talent but I honestly think Mario Gotze and perhaps Podolski or another decent striker will be enough to see us start battling at the top of the table again. Don’t forget Wilshere will be back at the close of the window meaning our options in attacking midfield are mouth-watering.

Should the German arrive do you put him in the middle of the park? Or up top with Van Persie and Gervinho leaving a probable middle of Arteta, Song and Wilshere? That’s the beauty of a player like Gotze.

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Article written by Super Cesc.

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Arsenal – better than the sum of its parts

I saw this comment on Tim Stillman’s blog  at Arseblog.com and it inspired me to create an overview of what makes Wenger’s current Opus better than his last 5 versions. Here are some of my reasons:

1)      AFC now have a relatively settled starting line up. The same lineup started at Norwich and against DB but if it needs to be changed, Aw is willing to do it in order to rest vital players like RVP.

2)      I know this is going to enrage some people but the team displays a greater diversity without Fabregas. Players who used to rely on him sculpting play now have to share that responsibility and step up. This can be seen in the more fluid and committed teamwork we are currently seeing.

3)      Arsenal look a more dynamic team that attacks with greater tenacity. It i no longer a one man show through Fabregas or Nasri. They appear to be more efficient and dangerous, more direct and with more counterattacking nous.

3)      We no longer have just youth to rely on but the maturity of Arteta and the blossoming of Ramsey have provided us with the perfect mix of experience and enthusiasm.

4)      When rotation will be required, Wenger has the bench strength to feel secure in doing it. If we look at the likely side that will play against Olympiacos, we have Fabianski, Mannone, AOC, Park, Benayoun, Frimpong, Arshavin, Miyachi, Gibbs, Jenkinson, and Chamakh along with a few regulars to round out the squad….not a bad side!Last year the bench deputies weren’t able to do effectively replace the  injured or knackered first team players over the run-in and with Nasri, Cesc and Chamakh out of form it cost us.

5)      The cohesion built up since September is beginning to reap rewards, as this team actually looks like a true brotherhood, showing confidence and understanding lacking previously.

6)      This season, we could avoid the time consuming, energy sapping replays we faced last season in the FA Cup and the CC, provided we maintain this finishing-winning attitude.

7)      What a difference a year makes to our 2010 squad players who are showing greater maturity and more enjoyment as the entire team generates positive feedback and confidence.

8)      We have loaned out,shipped out or sold callow players such as; Bendtner and Denilson, Vela and Eboue. This has allowed us to experiment with our new transfers and our promoted youth.

9)      I am excited about the race between us and the Spuds. Fair competition is healthy and promotes an increased level of motivation, enthusiasm and will to win. Last year we didn’t seem to be overly concerned about that lot but this year, despite what AW says, the players want to repeat the usual domination in North London.

10)  The squad has remained positive, during the difficult period when things were going south and this has been rewarded with excellent results both on and off the pitch. Last year, after the CC debacle, we lost the belief we could win something and it showed.

11)  ¨People have understood that I am doing what I can and that, in the face of a storm, I have been solid and I’ve stayed on course. I don’t for a second have a desire to leave Arsenal.¨  Wenger’s own words highlight the rock that he has been for Arsenal and the players. When your manager is calm and reassuring even in the worst storm, the players tend to be so as well.

12)  It is obvious, as Wenger has stated, that a new cycle is starting. The team is going through another period of rebuilding again and starting with a more-or-less fresh slate can have very positive and liberating effects on those who are at the core of the Club.

13)  Despite the above, AW has created solid foundations on which he can obtain success. He hasn’t abandoned his youth adventure entirely, despite the ignorant claiming this. He has modified it with experienced players and a shift away from relying on one player in the midfield.

14)  Historically, Arsenal have been courageous, innovative and  faithful to their values and this is finally starting to show results. ¨They try to do things with class and style. That’s why I defend them with so much fierceness. Because of these values. ¨ – again Wenger’s own words.

15)  Wenger has had the fortune of working with complete freedom and this has allowed him to fine tune the Club and start producing a winning side in his original mold. The real luxury in Wenger’s job is his having time, as he said. The Board and management have given him more than enough slack to achieve the rehabilitation of AFC, which not many managers get. This is a man who has realized his own mistakes and has responded accordingly, whilst still staying true to his footballing principles. Throughout the ‘storm’ he always behaved with integrity, never shooting his mouth off or over-reacting.

16)  Wenger’s vast experience and expertise developed over 25 years as a Football professional allow him to recover from just about any circumstance. He said, ¨That makes me think I’m the manager of an entire generation.¨

17)  Being the class act he is, he has never said anything bad about the fans, players, board or our history. He never derides a player or the team in public and contrary to SAF, he doesn’t even own a hairdryer!

18)  I see another change in AW’s style this season. He is more focused on NOW than what the team is going to be like in 2-3 years time. This is a subtle shift but has been reciprocated by his team.

19)  Contrary to the likes of Hleb, Flamini, Adebayor, Nasri, and Anelka, the current players he trusts  show the same class and are repaying his trust in them with heart,commitment and a will to win it for LeProf and themselves. He seemed truly and personally hurt by Fabergas and Nasri leaving and has learnt that no player is entirely predictable or reliable but he still preserves his class and trust in the team.

20)  The Team so far seems wiser, more gracious, more competitive and is showing unswerving commitment and dedication to AFC Footballing values and to Arsenal. In the past he expected the kids he’d brought into the club and transformed into the players they are to have the same sort of commitment and enthusiasm for the project as he does, that remains true today.

21)  The Board and Arsene are consistent in their style of management and dealings with each other and the players,fans and media, despite temptations to be otherwise.

22)  Szczesny: ¨That’s what you call presence, charisma, confidence. It must be a mixture of all that. He is a deep thinker, you do not play at this level and make the decisions he makes if you do not think about the game.” AW’s praise for his keeper is justified and the difference in nets this season has ensured that even our reputedly ¨unstable¨ defence has recovered the solidity that AFC traditionally displayed.

Players like Song, Walcott, RVP, Gervinho, Ramsey, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Santos, Szczesny and Arteta have stepped up their game when it really counts and deliver the goods week in and week out since September in all competitions. This has been a victory of the sum of AFC’s parts versus the sum spent on ¨superstars¨ at other Clubs. Here’s to it continuing until the end of May!

Article written by Don McMahon.

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Arsenal Evolution…. or Revolution?

There has been a heated debate over the last few weeks about whether the EPL has evolved into a world class competition and whether Arsenal’s improved form is due to Wenger being forced to change his tactical approach to EPL opponents after losing Cesc and Nasri. I wish to address both hypotheses and take a closer look at whether the EPL and Arsenal are evolving into something better or whether the original mutation has become an out and out revolution.

Lets take a look at club ownership and the influx of oilygarch and sugar-daddy golden geese in the EPL. It seems to have started with Abramovich at Chelsea, but in actual fact the spend big to win big philosophy was best personified in Real Madrid buying up every star they could entrap, starting back in the 50’s. Regardless, since Chelsea’s reincarnation under Abramovich, according to the media and many pundits, the EPL has come to a sort of fork in the road. In their view,gone are the days when only 2-3 big clubs like Liverpool, United and Arsenal would be competing for it all. Now, they claim, the EPL clubs can be divided into the haves and the have-nots, with Arsenal somewhere in between. However they miss the real issues, since we have always had the richer clubs and the remainder. What has changed is the reckless and bottomless spending and subsequent debt-loads teams like Chelsea, City and recently Liverpool have espoused as their central philosophy. These teams are on the opposite end of the scale to Arsenal, where frugality and youth development have been combined to enrich the team and the tradition at the Emirates. I would say, in this respect, that it has been a revolution and the big losers in this revolt have been the FA’s  ¨fit and proper persons¨ test and the EUFA Financial Fairplay rules while the beneficiaries have been the fans of big money clubs along with the improved level and diversity of the competition. We now have 6 Clubs who can compete for the titles and Cups with a reasonable assurance of being potential winners. My the revolution continue!

Sandro Rosell, in typical Barcelona hypocritical fashion, stated that his team would never ¨sell out¨ like the money Clubs in the EPL are claimed to have done. Yet he sold his  rights to the Qatar Foundation. Of course he’d sell his mother to get enough money to get colour photocopiers or a player (with Catalan DNA) he really wants, in the Camp Nou.

Arsenal FC are another story. During the difficult 7 months after the CC last season and our spanking at OT, endless Anti-Wenger and anti-Arsenal attackers, including the minority AAA and moaner-groaner whiners who misnamed themselves Gooners and the media, launched a steady,relentless and merciless campaign against our Club and its administrators/managers. They cried for a Revolt against the tyrannical and stubborn Arsene-Board led conspiracy to destroy our great Club in order to make a fast buck. They wanted a revolution in the very heart of the Clubs’ Wenger inspired philosophy and strategy.

Their new mantra, which can occasionally still be heard echoing off the public toilets and hapless ex-players vacuous heads, is SEND,SPEND,SPEND and damn the torpedoes. This mantra is followed by another revolutionary chant which is ¨Off with their heads¨ -meaning Wenger and the Board need to be eliminated and replaced by Oilygarchs, sugar-daddies and other right thinking Fantasy Football afficianados.

Arsenal’s recent resurgence has flushed a great deal of this excrement down the pipes but the odour remains. In order to disinfect the Gooner airspace and based on my humble opinion, I submit that we are seeing an EVOLUTION of sorts, where AFC’s famous control and passing game is being modified, with considerable success, and mutated into a more direct, finishing yet also subtle counter-attacking strategy.  What is different with our Gunners that has turned their season around so dramatically?

1) The new, more experienced faces in the team have brought a renewed and more urgent counter-attacking style, while also strengthening and calming the younger players. They have also brought a challenge to every incumbent to do better and play with more heart, or lose their place. This is seen in the fact that some say Wenger has an embarrassment of choices in the CB and winger positions. He will soon have the same problem in the midfield. When were we last able to say that?

2) We also see a change in attacking style with Gervinho and Walcott offering rapid, incisive and pacey counter-attacking Football and also working hard defensively to recuperate the ball when Arsenal lose it. As well, we see Jenkinson and Santos offering an offensive threat that Gibbs and Clichy rarely ever provided.

3) Our midfield seems to be shaping up as the most significant and positive change this season. Last year we relied on Cesc and Nasri to generate and support the attackers. If Arsenal could have ever been truly said to be a one-man team, it was during the Fabregas hegemony where every attack went through him. Would RVP or Wilshere or Ramsey have been able to flower like they are doing this season if we had not lost our two midfielders?  Arteta has been a remarkable find and has become the little general like Rosicky used to be, supporting the defense when we are under pressure but turning the counter-attack into a deadly and very pacey threat to any team at will.

4) Our style of attack has become more varied and we seem to be moving away from the complex buildups of the tippy-tappy era where we felt a shot from anywhere further than the opponent’s goal area was unthinkable, to a more eclectic shooting philosophy where we can call on RVP, Walcott, Gervinho, Arteta, Ramsey, and even Song or Vermaelen to hammer one from distance or rely on Santos or Jenkinson to whip either the ball or themselves into the attack.

5) With the Verminator back and Koscielny showing a formidable partnership with him or Mertesacker, our back 4 is starting to show signs of rock-solid reliability. The maturing of Jenkinson and the yet to be proven Santos offers AFC the depth we have always lacked. Once Wilshere, Sagna and Gibbs return to the lineup, Arsene will have the unenviable job of selecting from a treasure-house of talent to rely on.

What mid-table EPL manager wouldn’t dream of having players like AOC, Arshavin, Frimpong, Fabianski, Miyachi, Park, Djourou, Coquelin, Aneke, Lansbury and Benayoun in their starting 11?  We have them on the bench or out on loan, along with players like Campbell, Vela, Bendtner and Silva!

Arsenal have successfully EVOLVED from a young but naive Barcelona light, to a gradually improving collection of united, skillful, calm, confident and relentless winners……despite the media and AAA’s desperately attempts to portray us as a one-man Club. Long my the evolution continue!

Article written by Don McMahon.

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