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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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Is it now a two-horse race for the Premiership?

With Chelsea failing to pick up three points on the road to Fulham, and Man City losing to United at Old Trafford on the weekend, is the Premiership title race between Man United and Arsenal? I’d like to think so.

Chelsea are now 12 points behind leaders United, and mathematically still in with a shout, but realistically an almost impossible mission. I don’t like to rule teams out unless they are mathematically out of it, but with Chelsea’s confidence shattered after a poor couple of months, it does seem that they will be battling it out with Man City for third place.

Man City are only 4 points behind Arsenal, but 8 points behind United, with the top two both having a game in hand. City have had a great season, but I just don’t think they’re ready yet. We will see a stronger City next season, and they will definitely be challenging. You’ve got to fancy City to finish third this season.

Chelsea will definitely finish in the top 4; I can’t see Liverpool catching them now. The weekend game against Wigan was a great chance for Liverpool to gain some ground, but I can’t see it happening now. Liverpool will finish 5th.

With Arsenal, having spent next to nothing again in the transfer market, you’ve got to be happy that we’re still in with a shout with 12 games remaining.

Man United have some tough fixtures coming up. They’ve got to play Liverpool, Blackburn, Newcastle, Arsenal and Chelsea away from home, and their away record has been diabolical by their standards. On paper, Arsenal have only three ‘tough’ fixtures, Man United and Liverpool at home and Stoke away.

Now is the time for the Arsenal team to stand up and be counted. I’ve got faith in this team, and I’m confident that we can challenge Man United all the way. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be one of the best Premiership ends for a long time.

That’s all folks!

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City park the bus and their keys go missing

Mancini paid us the ultimate compliment by playing a way that he did. I can honestly say that if Arsene did this we would have lost our heads. For all I hate Manchester United, I am sure even their fans have a greater sense of self-respect. It’s acceptable if Aston Villa and Evertons of the world would come to town and park the bus. But, if I genuinely feel that my team is challenging for the title and Tevez, the centre forward, the man upfront, plays in a defensive midfield position, I would be genuinely frustrated with my manager. I have not yet added the fact that the value of the team in terms of transfer fees paid accounts for GDP of some nations.

All said and done those were two points dropped. But I don’t think there has been a single Arsenal fan whingeing about the performance. Perhaps, there is a message out there to Arsene Wenger and the players. The fans want to see 100% effort and football to match our credentials of being the most attractive team to watch in the country. I know we all get upset with the Anti Wenger brigade. But, just for the brief moment, you wish that the manager, at least privately, gives a rollicking to the players when they gave a performance like the ones we saw earlier against Newcastle. Back to Wednesday’s game and the swagger was well and truly back. I don’t know how much of it can be attributed to having a defense to rely upon, but it does play a part. Van Persie link up play was superb, though his finishing was rusty by his standards. Wilshere had his best game in an Arsenal shirt, to date, in my opinion. He has an uncanny ability of being in the right place in the box, unmarked to complement a passing game which belies his age. Cesc and Nasri delivered sharp, crisp performances which are becoming a joy to behold. The entire team played well. There would be such days and just part of a long season. If at all, there were disappointments, it was from the substitutions. Arshavin was an apt substitute to bring on, but he has to play on the left or central. His body shape somehow does not seem appropriate to play on the right wing. And do not get me started on Mr. Nicklas Bendtner. He was so lazy it was untrue. He kept playing this three-centimetre-passes-that-improve-my-opta-stats-but-worthless-to-the-team passes (also known as ala-Denilson passes) all along. How can he be brought on with Chamakh still on the bench? I just feel Bendtner is too much of a pompous *** who needs to get his head in the right place. Don’t believe me? Just check the photo on the front page. Enough said. I would rather give Vela a chance than Bendtner. I hope Bayern Munich is tapping him. £15 million for him would do just fine.

We are more than in it in the title race. If you look at Manchester United’s run in, from March, they have to play Chelsea twice (Surely, they can’t be as bad till March), us at the Emirates, Liverpool at Anfield (Hodgson should be sacked by then). I am happy that we are done with major away games by end of February. I think the real tilt of the title could start late this year, as late as March. We need to just keep pace with United till then. Once we have gotten it down to the last 2-3 months, anything can happen. And, by the way, I am not going to talk about the rest of the title contenders for a simple reason- There aren’t any. Man City are too scared of losing. Tottenham would always be considered as title contenders by the press since they go by Harry Redknapp’s flowery talk rather than their actual results on the pitch. Chelsea is in a real rut. Enough said.

Nice time for Sagna to serve a suspension as well. The next few fixtures look like the ones where we could do well with Eboue in the team. I can think of only positives at the moment about Arsenal. Leeds are a good team, but we should honestly be beating them, even with eleven changes. The team should probably be Szescesny, Eboue, Gibbs, Squillaci, Koscielny, Denilson, Eastmond, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner and Chamakh. I guess, I have squeezed a rest for everyone other than Kosser. But he is a young lad. He will be too eager to play anyway. I would have hoped for Vela/ JET rather than Bendtner but they might be busy getting a loan deal done. I hope Vela goes to Bolton. A nice manager who has wiped out the memories of Sam. Finally, an English manager who plays good football. I may be getting ahead of myself, but, five to six years of consistent good work, he might be a decent shout for succeeding Arsene. I hope JET goes to Blackpool since the latter really look short of one big striker. He played for them last year and had a great experience. If Blackpool stay up in the process, that’s an icing on the cake (Really like the fresh attitude of Ian Holloway!).

Carling Cup and FA Cup fixtures would provide a good break for our first team. But, I hope, it does not bring in any rustiness into their game. If we win the Carling Cup in February, it is going to give us the confidence for the title tilt in March. Come on, ye Gooners!

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

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Who can Arsenal realistically sign in the January transfer window?

I’ve just got back from the game, and I’m pretty disappointed that we didn’t win the game, after totally outplaying big-spending Man City, but we can take positives out of this game.

The game should’ve been dead and buried in the first half after hitting the post on a number of occasions, but you’ve to hand it to Mancini, he got his tactics spot-on tonight. He came to The Emirates for a draw, and his formation and starting line-up suggested that City were going to be a hard nut to crack.

It’s been suggested that Arsenal need to sign a top-quality centre-half in the January transfer window. If Djourou can stay fit, then we have absolutely no reason to sign a defender. Djourou and Koscielny look quality together, and Vermaelen is training again. Signing a player like Gary Cahill is pointless; he’s not going to warm the bench at Arsenal, and Koscielny is a very similar player. Squallaci hasn’t had a great start to his Arsenal career, but as a fourth choice centre-back, he’s not a bad player to have. I can’t think of many Premiership sides that have four top quality centre-backs.

Alex Song was my man of the match today. He’s been a better player over the last couple of months playing in a deeper role, and both Arsenal and Song are benefiting.

What players could realistically improve the Arsenal team? I don’t think there’s many out there if I’m honest. We’re the highest scorers in the Premiership, so it’s unrealistic to suggest that we need any attacking-minded players.

I can’t see any big signings coming in this month. If we were to sign a player, it would all depend on the fitness of Thomas Vermaelen.

What does everyone else think? Am I just deluded?

On a separate note, Carlos Ancelotti is under more pressure after Chelsea suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to a Wolves side that were bottom of the table before the game. There’s been talk of Ancelotti getting the sack. For me, that is absolutely nonsense. He’s one of the best managers in the world, and his record speaks for itself. Who are Chelsea going to replace him with? The only possibly answer would be Guus Hiddink.

Another manager under pressure is Roy Hodgson. Liverpool suffered their 9th league defeat of the season, after just 20 games, after losing 3-1 to Blackburn. Again, for me, the answer is not getting rid of Hodgson. You need to give a manager a chance, and 20 games is not enough for a manager to prove what he’s all about. The fact is, the big-name players at Liverpool, like Torres and Gerrard, just aren’t performing. Sack Hodgson now, you’ll be going straight back to square one.

I’m out of here folks. Please don’t get all negative after the result tonight. We’re still very much in the title race.

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The spenders have been conquered

What a victory! It’s been over two years since an Arsenal fan could feel such joy run through his veins, a victory after which you scourge for every newspaper, blog and post match analysis, even if it means Jamie Redknapp is talking. It seems so unfair for the day to get over that you live and relive every moment of it.

From the first minute when Fabianski did not allow David Silva to emulate Drogba, it was a classic written all over it. Four minutes later, the red card spoilt the game. Everyone has been repeating what Mancini has said like a parrot- You don’t want to play with ten men against Arsenal. They will murder you. I find it rather astounding and stupid to believe. As an Arsenal fan for almost 15 years, I have always felt that Arsenal play worse against a side which has a numerical disadvantage. Reason- Draw is a victory for them and ten men behind the ball is really something Arsenal don’t like playing against. We want the opposition to attack us. But City did not put men behind the ball, or did they? They left Silva and Tevez up front. Everyone else was behind the ball. Arsenal generally do not fancy this. For the first goal, there were a myriad of players in the box! After the goal went in and Man City had to chase the game, we were afforded more space. If you still don’t believe me, rewind to Anfield. We struggled royally against ten men.

The victory was sweeter in the manner of the goals. If the first goal was poetry, the second was as sweet a shot as you can see. The third was a nostalgic counter attack reminiscent of the Henry era. Everyone barring Djourou had a wonderful game. A game when Denilson does not frustrate you, Sagna and Clichy delivered more than one cross each perfectly, Song scores from the toe of his boot to the top corner and Bendtner scores by curling the ball into the far post, well you know things are going your way. Sky gave the MoM to Fab. However it should have gone to Fab.. ianski. Footnote- I don’t think even in Poland did anyone expect Fabianski to be named as Man of the Match twice in one month by Arsenal fans. Well done ‘ianski!

The surprising thing about this victory was the composure we showed in the second half. We slowed the tempo down, kept the ball and wore the opposition out. For all I have wished and hoped for, I have not seen us being able to do this even in the era of Bergkamp and Vieira. We have always been a bang-bang team who just wants to outscore the opposition (Strictly sticking to the Wenger era). We killed the game off beautifully. After Song’s goal, Arsenal attempted 227 passes and completed 217 of them (Courtesy: Guardian Chalkboards). A passing percentage of over 95% for the entire team for a period of about half an hour. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. Denilson completed 72 of his 77 passes, Nasri 70 out of 80 passes in the game. Wow!

Denilson has really thrown his hat into the overcrowded ring of central midfielders. If Song ever misses out, I think Denilson is going to get the nod. Diaby and Wilshere would need to shuffle for the remaining position. Arshavin, Rosicky, Nasri and Walcott can fill up the two wings. Four centre backs. Eboue and Sagna, Clichy and Gibbs at respective wing back positions. Bendtner and Chamakh. Some days we may have the luxury of Van Persie as well. Wellington Silva and Vela can count for half a player each as well. There are two players in every position I think of except Cesc- He is irreplaceable currently.

There was a degree of maturity in the post match conferences as well with a lot of talk about taking it game by game. Extremely creditable. Winning at St. James’ Park two days after Eastlands would surely exorcise our away trip demons. Come on you Grovers!

P.S. – I have to say this. I am a cynic and a critic all in my life. But call me sadistic if you please, I enjoyed Adebayor missing from two yards and then being offside on a header from a similar distance which he, of course duly obliged by not being able to convert. So good to see the real Ade back!

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

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Arsenal can’t beat ‘big teams’, now jog on!

After beating Manchester City 3-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium, this will hopefully shut up some of the Wenger-haters for not having what it takes to beat ‘big teams’. I’m sure they’ll use excuses like ‘Man City are not a big club’, or ‘they had 10 men’, etc. It’s expectant, it’s typical of the moronic Wenger-haters.

One thing I want to get out of the way right now is this. We can win the Premiership. Whether fans want to believe that or not. We can win it.

Onto the game. Marc Clattenberg made some very good decisions, notably the sending off of Dedryck Boyata, and the foul on Fabregas to give away a penalty. Nobody can argue about these decisions, as much as Man City players wanted to. Every Arsenal player seemed to get booked for any foul, whereas Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany get away with murder continuously. Overall, Clattenberg has a decent game.

Starting from the back for Arsenal, Fabianski was absolutely immense in goal, making two world-class saves. My man of the match.

The defence was relatively solid, although Johan Djourou scares the shit out of me if I’m honest. Personally, I think he’s shit-house. Clichy and Sagna really need to learn to cross a ball.

Denilson was Denilson. Song seems to be revelling in his new role, going forward more often. Nasri was quality, and Fabregas was instrumental as usual. Arshavin was useless, and should’ve been subbed after about 15 minutes. Chamakh worked hard up front on his own.

Exciting times for Arsenal. Beating Man City 3-0 in their own backyard, with or without 10 men, is a great, great result.

A couple of things I will mention about Man City. Regardless of the scoreline, Vincent Kompnay is clearly one of the best centre-backs in the Premiership. He has never failed to impress whenever I’ve seen him play. Gareth Barry and James Milner is the exact reason why Arsene Wenger won’t overspend on English players. They are useless.

Goodbye.

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Sheikh ‘em up!

To be very honest, Shakhtar was a perfect game before a visit to the Eastlands. Nice passing rhythm, no injuries, 5 goals, what more do we ask for? A clean sheet, well it will come one day. And the way the Fab who stays closer to Minsk put it, if at all we had to lose a clean sheet, Eduardo isn’t that bad a person to lose it to. For Eduardo’s sake, I hope they make it to the next round. Squillaci seemed to think of it the same way. I, as a supporter can. You earn wages for keeping a clean sheet. So you better earn it.

To be very honest, it wasn’t a typical Arsenal 5 nil. It was more of a Chelsea 5 nil. 7-8 chances and five goals. Not necessarily a bad thing. Cesc and Wilshere were enjoying it in the middle of the park pulling the strings, making late runs and retaining the ball at ease. Chamakh was always in there, holding up the ball and making a real nuisance of himself to the back four of Shakhthar. Nasri was really lively, with a goal and an assist.

Our lineup is much more settled than Mancini’s right now. Diaby, Cesc, Song, Nasri and Arshavin will support Chamakh. Vermaelen appears to be a longer term absentee and I hope Kos is fit for this one. He seems to me as an ideal defender to cut out any ground passes and would do a good job on Tevez. I hope he is fit for this game. I am also hoping Mancini falls for the trap of playing 4-4-2 against Arsenal and gives Adebarndoor a start. Gut feeling- Ade is going to get kicked around since he is a world class striker and could trouble us his pathetic behavior by stamping on his earlier striking partner. They will play with three defensive midfielders – Yaya, Barry (actually, City fans should call him no-no. Don’t know how he always starts) and De Jong. But the real threat with City lies in the wings – Silva and Johnson. Clichy against Johnson is a close call, not a comforting thought for sure.

I saw them play the Chelsea game where they impressively won at home. I expect them to use the same tactics against us. The entire team drops deep, leaving Tevez to plough a lone furrow upfront. They counter attack, when they receive the ball and exploit it well with their pace. But the Arsenal team has pace to cope up with these counter attacks. Thankfully, they are not good in the air.

Despite all the clichés, possession is the key for Arsenal. It gives us the confidence to impose our game on the opposition. My heart tells me the Fab from Catalan would give us a performance to savor. It would be so apt. In a week, when Rooney showed how not to treat your club, it makes you introspect. Every word that Rooney said could have been said by Cesc. He would have gotten support from the fans as well. Yet all along, he has maintained dignity and showered great respect on the club and its supporters. Xavi keeps telling us that he has Barca DNA. But the disrespectful way Xavi has conducted himself in the last year, I would be shocked if he has some of it. There was a time (as late as a year ago), where I always believed, if not Arsenal let Barcelona win it since they stood for a respectable footballing tradition.

We should win this game. My heart says so. Our opponents had a game on Thursday. We should impose our tempo on the game and go for the jugular. Arsenal to earn 3 points, earn two goals and concede none.

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

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