Thursday 23 August 2012

Ahh the EPL!

 Yes finally I have decided to come out of hibernation, and thanks to Shantanu to keep the blog alive.

The season has already begun and as every year we have the "Annual Exodus Drive" currently running at the club.Already a lot has been said about the exit of RvP, and it has hurt a lot, maybe more than Fabregas. It is like an ex-girlfriend who lives bang opposite your house and you are definite to see her more often than you like with her new boyfriend, as opposed to somebody who has shifted cities and you don't care who she landed up with.

But that is the face of reality, even though you would like to slap it, you realise that you've already been slapped by it. The more intriguing question, like every year was, who will be our next captain, a post that is becoming increasingly like the post of professor of "Defense against the Dark Arts". Almost as if it is cursed, whosoever lands up with the armband, leaves the club the next year. Which is why I thought AW would be clever enough to have realised by now that the armband should be given to Bendtner/Denilson/Chamakh/Squillaci(??).

Jokes apart, seriously, I am glad that TV is our captain and genuinely looks happy to play for the club, and on a more selfish note, is in a healthy contract position so we do not have to worry about it next summer. With Arteta assisting him, not in the literal sense of football(or maybe even in that sense), us fans can be more assured of the leadership that will be guiding the team.

We have a good summer considering the signings we have made. However there are still some holes to plug, and we cannot plug enough of them. I almost forgot to mention Song, whose departure came out of nowhere. I don't understand people justifying him leaving, who say that it is a tough choice to make when Barca calls you. Fans don't make that choice, they haven't done so for the last 7 years. Why should it be difficult for him? Then they go away and make some uncalled for remarks at their old club. At least SOng should've known better. If it wasn't for Arsene, he would probably still have been playing in the lower leagues. But that is done and dusted.

The most important thing is now to rebuild this squad, and I almost feel my fingers tremble when I type this, maybe there would be another trophy less season. We have made some new appointments in some key areas and they will need some time to gel with each other. But hoping for the best, knowing that the additions are experienced enough to understand how to react to such situations.

We don't know yet when Jack will be back, but his presence we certainly lack (without sound too poetic). Gathering from my experiences of last year with his "will he/won't he" comeback, I wont be convinced unless I see his name on the team sheet. Diaby has been looking good enough in the preseason and also against Sunderland. I sincerely hope, like RvP, out of the blues, stayed fit last season, Diaby follows suit.

Nonetheless, we still have to find replacements, and not just to make up numbers. There have been a host of suitors who are expected to be at least tracked by Arsenal. Though there were news that Arsenal have agreed terms for Nuri Sahin, we won't get carried away until everything is official. Apart from that I have a feeling that we might also sign another striker.

There is also the Theo issue, and I the feeling that he wont be signing a new contract is growing. If it had to be signed it would have been done by now. Though I think we have enough wingers, they still need time to settle and bringing in an experienced replacement would make sense. There are rumors that we might be after Jesus Navas, but we will see what happens.

We might be in a better position than last season. But it is all relative, we have to look at our competitors too.
Consider that we were at 'x' position last season and came to 'x-2' position after Fab+Nasri departures and finally ended up at 'x-1' position after new arrivals. But our competitors were at 'x+2' position at that time. This season, after the new arrivals, we came at 'x+2' position and after RvP and Song's departure we moved backwards to 'x' position. However, our competitors are now at 'x+4'. Maybe my algebra isn't good enough, but you get my point. I am not considering the potential improvement the new signings might bring, that is yet to be seen. But we have to make efforts that we prepare for contingency. Two years back we had to play Arshavin as a striker due to lack of any in our squad and that almost destroyed our season. We might have added Chamakh after that, but late(r).

I am sure that everyone has their sheets of "Lessons Learned" and there are signs of us trying to really "learn" from them. Next up is Stoke and as always it is surely going to be more of a physical game. Whether this squad can match there technicality with the physicality of Stoke, still remains to be seen.

8 days before the transfer window closes.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Gun-Ultimate is Back..
After a couple months of hibernation, Gun-Ultimate is finally back.. .

There is too much to catch up on from the last post here
Come May and we had a satisfying 3rd place finish in premier league, a spot in Champions League play-offs..  Finished over the Spuds..a decent finish to the end of the campaign.. I guess any Gunner will be happy with where we finished with the resources we had..

It was followed by a mixed-bag June though I must say..
Super fab RVP couldn’t get past the league stage,
Szczesny red carded in game 1..
Mertesacker warmed the bench, ­­
Kos got an odd-game,
Rosicky doing well to get Czech through the league..
Ox looked impressive.. what a bright future this kid has! ..Theo too had a decent Euro.. especially against the Swedes..
Arshavin.. looked decent until Russia’s surprise fall-out..
Bendtner was fabulous for the Danes.. hope it increases his market-value!
And our new boys in the town..

Lukas Podolski.. looked a bit rusty though i think he was playing a little off position wih Mario leading from front..
Olivier Giroud.. didn’t get much game time to showcase his skills..

The forced staff changes brings Steve Bould and Neil Banfield  to the first-team coaching staff after Pat Rice’s departure. It will be different to see a new face after getting used to seeing Pat Rice so often..

The 2012-13 EPL schedule is out and I see some not-so-easy fixtures lined up at start.. 5 out of 6 fixtures are such, that we can't afford to be rusty and dropping points.. We kick-start with Sunderland at home, followed by Stoke and Liverpool away.. Southampton at home.. should be the easiest.. and then Shitty away followed by the derby clash with Chelsea at home.. no wonder Aaron Ramsey says ‘Strong start can make a difference’.

Now let’s get to  the real business – The Transfer Market..
I wonder how always Arsenal is linked up with  so many and becomes nearly the most talked about side in the epl transfer market.. is it just because the way Wenger handles his business and keeps things too late..
But this time, we see a changed man in him.. he got Podolski and Giroud deal way early by his standard.. credit to him for learning from mistakes.. but there is still lot of unfinished business.. lets us stroll through the Arsenal market…

I know first thing everybody wants to hear is what RVP is saying or what he is going to say or what he is going to do..  the latest quote by RVP to skysports:
“I've thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract.”
"You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions”
That just sums it up for the time-being. It is hard to speculate where he might end up. Theres Juve, theres Shitty with title.. Till the time there is no confirmation of done deal, we can keep our fingers crossed.. My guess is Shitty might be the one after all.. lets wait n watch..

There is some good news floating in as well. Sao Paolo has extended the loan period for Denilson.. One monkey off the back for Mr. Wenger!

What happens of Carlos Vela?
Carlos looks to settle himself at Real Sociedad but the 3m-6m gap is a little too much to clear up very quickly..

Who wants B52?
There is just so much and so little about Nicklas that it is hard to believe the turn of events that can happen. Especially after a wonderful Euro he had with goals and ‘Paddy Power’.. There is Galatasaray and there is Malaga leading the race… he might as well end up being loaned for another season…

News on Chamkah and Squillaci is too limited even after rigorous scavenging, so not much to speak on them.

Lastly we have the Olymics where we can expect few of our players representing national colours.
With AW meaning business this time round and Sports extravaganza hitting the world theres lot to see and hear in this month of July..

Thursday 12 April 2012

We score, three more!

Scoring ways!
 Even though it was a comprehensive victory for us, apart from a handful of incidents, there wasn't much in the match. Almost everyone had written off Wolves after the first 11 minutes. Barring a few nervy moments on Arsenal's part, it was almost a lethargic cake walk for the visitors.

9 minutes into the game and Walcott was looking as menacing as ever. His runs behind and through the defense were brilliant and it didn't take long for the first opening. RVP lobbed a pass over the defense to Walcott and just when he was about to control and finish, in the penalty box, Bassong tackled him and Walcott went to ground. The referee had to award the penalty. Bassong was red carded for the being tackling last defender. The penalty was deserved, the sending off might be a bit too harsh. But that was the referee's decision. RVP took the penalty(his first goal in 4 matches), and that too in some style.

Some people might argue that if Ashley Young's antics against QPR were criticised, so should Theo Walcott's. But I guess they just have to look at both the incidents, you have the Youtube, and see for themselves if they are similar or world's apart. No more comments on that.

Wolves were down to 10 men inside the opening 10 minutes and the home supporters almost felt sorry for their team. However, it got worse just 2 minutes after the first goal. RVP again made a square pass to Walcott near the Wolves' penalty box, and he finished it neatly past Hennessey. The crowd was frustrated at being 0-2 down in 11 minutes. They targeted their frustration on Walcott and booed him throughout the match, whenever he got near the ball. He looked a bit turned down after this and it just looked like the crowd rounded him up a bit.

Actually it was not just Walcott, but the whole team put on the brakes and played cautiously, content with passing the ball around and keeping possession. This added to the home supporters frustration and they started cries of "Boring, Boring" to put off the Gunners.

Arsene said,
We started well and then had a situation where we could control the game. Did we push on or not? After that we played a bit with the handbrake on, they played deeper and defended like mad with a great spirit until the end of the game.
Maybe that gave Wolves a chance to try and attack a bit with whatever they had. Some defensive lapses allowed the Wolves' players to put crosses into the box. Santos, in particular, looked a bit off his game. Though he is not known for his defensive capabilities, he did not looked comfortable at all in defense.

Szczesny didn't have much to do in the match apart from two brilliant saves. One came when Jarvis crossed the ball to Doyle who headed it goalwards, and though Szczesny looked to be going the wrong side, made a brilliant fingertips save from 3 yards away and parried the ball away. Another one came, off a Milijas shot and the Pole made a save it at his near post.

Though we were looking quite comfortable in the game, with 0-2 ahead, there must something going at the back of the Arsenal players' minds that if Wolves scored a goal, they will be right back in the game. The third goal had to be scored, but it couldn't come soon enough. Midway through the second half, Song was dwelling far forward in the oppositions penalty box and made a pass to Benayoun on the edge of the box. Benayoun spotted Hennessey moving towards the far post and shot at the near post for a clever finish.

The third goal surely sealed thee victory for the Gunners and the only thing left to take care of was the clean sheet, which we got. We got some goals to add to the goal difference, RVP was back on the score sheet and three more points in the league for us. RVP equalled Ian Wright's Premier League record of scoring against 17 different teams in a season. We are now 5 points ahead of Rottenham and Newcastle, and sitting happily in third position. Arsene said,
I am very happy that we are in this position but I am also very cautious because some teams have been in that position before. We want to win our next game because where we have come from this season we must be focused. We have come from very deep and to stay in this position we have to focus on our next game.
Obviously focus is going to be important, considering our next match against Wigan and their recent exploits. They were very unlucky to lose against Chelsea and they came back strongly to beat Manu yesterday. Surely the Gunners have a lot to study before the Monday night game and there are enough lessons learned already for us to act positively and "focus" on the next game.

Go Gunners!

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Back to business...Wolves vs Arsenal

Good to see the number 8 jersey on worthy shoulders!

It has been a horribly long time since I dropped the last post. It has been a low 10 days for me, health-wise. But now I am back in business, after being sick. No this sickness is not because of Ashley Young's potential Olympic gold winning dive against QPR, or the FA's decision against Arsene and not even Balotelli's kung-fu practice on Alex Song, neither from FA's reluctance to punish Maverick Mario for trying to involve violence in his game. Maybe those things will make you more than just be sick, but feels good to be back.

One thing that I did not miss was our continual form, if not ascent. But there has been something in the past two months that has almost ensured that the ascent is slow but steady and the things that looked bleak at the start of this season are proving quite sparkling now. Our win over the cash kings has just strengthen that belief that, maybe, money isn't everything.

I have never seen this league being so fierce in competition, where, barring few teams, almost every team has a reason to fight until the end of the season. There are only 6 games left to be played and it is almost impossible to predict which teams will finish in the third and fourth spot. I am considering that Manc, 10 points ahead of Arsenal and 8 behind Manu, won't give up on their title challenge. However, a lot of teams have just evaporated under pressure of the title race in the past. Manc are showing signs of that kind of pressure. Rottenham, who were in the hunt for the title until they came across us and then their slump in form, are now struggling to stay in the fourth spot.

Back to tonight's match against Wolves. When you look at the league table, you will see Wolves at the bottom. It's so easy to be complacent and underestimate your opponents in such situations. We have already paid the price against QPR just 10 days back and we are not lucky enough, like some other teams, to have referees who would be grateful enough to be the 12th man on the pitch. But you just get the feeling that there are enough players in our team who have got their heads screwed tightly to their shoulders, who will be sensible enough to guide themselves and the team to focus.

Arsene has shielded himself from any kinds of prediction and do the simpler thing, take each match as it comes, and try to win it. He says,
Let's not anticipate, that is something else that is important. When it gets to the last sprint, the focus on the next game becomes the most important part because you are always tempted to anticipate. We have the experience to know just to deal with the next one and that is the only important thing.
Although, Arsenal has been successful on each of their trips in the past to the Molineux, Wolves have a decent group of players in their team, but again, predicting anything based on what is "on paper" is as good as predicting what's out there in the universe.

As far as team news is concerned, we have Gibbs out due to a groin "fatigue". AW insists that it's not an injury, it is just a rest for his groin. If I am not mistaken, it is Gibbs' 9th or 10th straight game after returning from injury. But given his age, you would expect him to be fitter, but there you go. Which means Santos gets a start in a long time. He offers that extra edge in the attack, thanks to his Brazilian roots, but I am not too sure about his defensive capabilities. Jarvis has been pretty good for Wolves this season, and Santos will do good to keep him quite. Gervinho still stays out with an ankle injury, Benayoun might get another start in place of him. Kos is suspended after clocking 10 yellow cards this season and Djourou takes his place. Sagna's inclusion is still doubtful. There was no news about him being injured, I think AW will want to play safe. But excluding Sagna might mean changing 3 of the back four and that may give enough reasons for our defense getting out of sync.

All things said, I think it is a good chance for us to score some goals, gain on the goal difference. 3 more points and that would put us 5 points safe from the fourth spot!
Go Gunners!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Missing links

I know it's a little late in the day to be writing, but there has been hardly any news at all other than some transfer rumors or some Rottenham players bragging their socks off. Honestly, throwing away a 12 point lead and then going behind by 3 points and then coming level again isn't a point of pride, it's a point of shame. Everyone's thinking about how Arsenal is the team under pressure now, what about the time when they went almost two months without a win!? They went from a team talking about being in the title race to a team talking about Champions League qualification chances. You shouldn't be thinking about how much pressure others are in, you should be thinking about your own inabilities.

We have RVP talking about his central striker role and evolving as the target man from being the second striker. For me he is better suited to the main striker role than as the second striker. Yes he does quite well in the link up plays, but for me, his greatest asset is his positioning sense and then the finish. At the start of the season, I though Ramsey might be suited to play just behind RVP, but the depth of squad and a lot of reshuffling meant that he wouldn't be able to adapt to that role.

A lot of people blame him for not playing up to his potential and his inability to create. However, if you look at it, he has been playing all over the midfield and just hasn't found the time to settle in. He has shown great determination to comeback after that horrific injury, when people had written him off as being another Eduardo case. I honestly feel that Arsene should make up his mind about Ramsey's role in the team, and then give him time in that role. He is too good-a-player to be getting a squad player role.

A lot of our problems in recent seasons have evolved through players who have not realised their full potential for the team. Either they have proved the manager wrong in opting for them or the manager has just not found the right tactics for the player. Arshavin is an example of a player who hasn't done his ability any good. But then again, before arriving to Arsenal, he had been used to playing as the second striker, in the hole. Playing on the wings was a bit new to him, but it was something he handled well in his first season.

Actually he played as the striker for sometime, when RVP was injured and we had almost no striking options, but it simply wasn't his place to be. That was a time when another Arsenal youngster wasn't given much opportunities or simply wasn't deemed able enough to appear consistently for the first team, that was Carlos Vela. He has been a loanee at other clubs for most of his Arsenal career. Maybe these players just didn't come to terms with the rigors of the premier league.

When you look at the current team, you don't see too many big name players, but they have adapted quite well as a unit and that's the reason for their recent run of form. I know we have enough reasons to worry after looking at the current situation on the third and fourth spot, given our opponents in the remaining matches. However, we have done quite well, recently, against "bigger" teams. Frankly, I am more worried about so called lower opponents.

The Manc game is absolutely vital in terms of result, and the point(s) we earn in that match. More than the result, it is going to be the manner of the result that will matter most. It absolutely won't work if we play the way we did against QPR. Even Manc have been on a bad run recently and everyone knows how much a win for them in this match will matter in the title race.

We still have five days until the next match. It leaves with enough time to think over the tactics for that game. Arsene has a lot to think about arranging his players, his starting-XI. It's absolutely crucial how he handles his bench. A lot can happen with the right substitutions at the right time. I hope he keeps his plans B, C etc. up his sleeve, just in case they are needed. He has a lot on his plate than worrying about team members smoking their lungs out during night outs, and players who are hardly likely to play in the remaining matches.

Monday 2 April 2012

Pressure mounts.

The official Arsenal site mentions about a three fold plan for any successful team. Maybe not exactly, but there are various articles from Wenger and RVP talking about the next steps for Arsenal. Arsene talks about the QPR match and calls it a reality check(like I mentioned yesterday), he says,
It is difficult to explain because we prepared as usual. Maybe we sensed it would be easier than usual and once you have that in your heads it is difficult to come back to reality.
Yes, there might have been a hint of complacency, considering that you are playing a team from the relegation zone. If you look at our performance against the bottom three, we have lost against Blackburn & now, QPR. We have drawn a match against Wolves. Most of those losses/draw are down to complacency. Our performance in recent seasons against lower oppositions should have been experience enough. We have had trouble against Blackburn in the past too.

The question is, why should there be any complacency or any "taking for granted" at all? It's the premier league and teams have given absolutely everything to get here and remain here. Why should a lower opposition be so called? We already have classic examples of over confidence punishing teams, there were already lessons to be learned, but we simply did not.

Of course there is no need to over-react, we had won seven in a row before this loss. It's just that losing against QPR, after a winning streak against Rottenham, Milan, Everton etc, just seems hard to digest.
Arsene suggests,
We have to take the distance with that and put things into perspective. We have to go back to basics; that means to win football games and win your fights first. We have to play like we do. It is disappointing to lose a big run in the way that we did it here. At the end of the day the result does not lie. The focus was missing a little bit and the way we conceded the goals was disappointing. I felt that we lacked something, I do not deny that.
I guess a bit of change in strategy might help too. Though we might have new found belief and resilience in this team, I feel that our approach play has got a bit predictable. There seems to be no Plan B, C or D. The consistency is not consistent throughout the team. Basics, according to me, is not just moving around the football. You should be able to hold the ball too when teams are pressing too much. Which is why players like Arteta and Rosicky are doing well when teams press against them, they have the experience.

Just playing your own game and remaining blind towards the oppositions strategy is not going to help. We must be aware of our oppositions tactics and plan accordingly. Small things like TV or Kos charging forward with the ball, do matter a lot. I just didn't see these things happening in the match. Infact, Kos was hardly visible even in the defense. Usually, he is very good at making interceptions and carrying the ball out of defense, so is TV. Zamora did a very good job of holding both of the defenders and keeping them away from the ball as far as possible.

Our next match is absolutely crucial for us, to keep us in our current position. After Rottenham won their match against Swansea, they are level on points with us, but due to a lower goal difference, they remain in fourth position. We play Manc at home, and the team should be more comfortable at home, with a familiar pitch and 50,000 fans behind you.

RVP says,
Everyone is disappointed but towards the end of the week I am sure the spirit will be how it was. We’ll have a couple of days to be disappointed but after that our focus is on Manchester City. It is a shame we have wait eight days for the game, but it is how it is. Losing at QPR is a big blow but we have to look forward and the next one is a big one.
I am sure he'll be raring to have a go, maybe overcome his very short barren patch. Big players always thrive on big occasions. These kind of big matches is what they live for and dream of playing in. RVP is no exception to that. Even after the loss, he is confident that after the initial disappointment, the team will be back with their old spirit and enthusiasm to face Manc. He says,
Everyone is disappointed but towards the end of the week I am sure the spirit will be how it was. We’ll have a couple of days to be disappointed but after that our focus is on Manchester City.
 I hope the team is as excited as this to go ahead and take up the challenge. I am sure Arsene must be giving his "every match is a cup final" talk time and again. But that is what now the games are going to be like, cup finals. Chelsea won last night and are just 5points away from us now, so is Newcastle. Maybe these things will add more pressure on the team, maybe they will serve as boosters, but that's the fact. Let's hope we'll see a more dynamic team on the weekend.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Reality check.

The Premier League can be that cruel when you take it for granted, even for that little bit. It demands what it wants, and it expects nothing less. Last evening's performance showed you exactly that, and at such a juncture when the scales could be tipped almost in every direction. Every single team in this league is fighting for something.

We might have been low on commitment, according to Wenger, but if you ask me, this is the kind of defeat that has not happened for the first time. Maybe commitment is too harsh-a-word to use, but there was definite complacency. The '04 team did not become "The Invincibles" overnight. There was a lot of effort, lot of focus and consistency and commitment too. When you have had a seven game winning streak, does not mean that you are invincible.

Harry Redknapp last week mentioned that Arsenal were bound to drop points somewhere. I passed him off as a fool, who depended on our faults for his team to succeed. Maybe he had the Manc and Chelsea matches that we still have to play in the remaining seven. But you know what, we haven't yet played those matches and now we are potentially leveled on points with Rottenham, maybe potentially only ahead on a thin goal difference. Now most of us might be wishing for a Rottenham slip against Swansea, at White Hart Lane. It is true, the it doesn't take much for the wind to change direction! Also, Chelsea are now just 5 points behind us.

Manc drew against Sunderland last night and our three points could have put us just 10 points behind them, now its a 13 points difference.
Arsene said,
I do not want to single anyone out but of course we made defensive mistakes. It is a good shock to come back to what has made our strength recently. Subconsciously something was missing today. In the Premier League, if you miss something on the commitment front you are beaten. That is what happened today.
Apparently, something better from TV could have prevented both the goals. For the winner though, I think he was unlucky for the slip. If you observed carefully, there were lot of slips from the Arsenal team yesterday, we had some problem with the ball control, with managing our own pace. A lot of that blame can be put on the pitch. But, QPR were playing on the same pitch too, but then, it being their home ground they know it better and are better adjusted.
Arsene had something to say about the pitch too,
The pitch is not smaller than any other pitch. The pitch was bad but it does not explain our performance. We did not create enough to win a football game.
I am not sure what he meant to say when he says that it is not smaller than any other pitch,...yes, so? But he is right about us not creating enough. I don't think we played particularly bad, we had decent possession of the ball. QPR invited us to come at them with the ball, and then when the players came to close, they pressed really well. We have had problems in this season when teams have pressed against us. I don't think that I have seen Arsenal's usual passing game this season, that we are used to see previously. Yes we have passed the ball well in recent matches, but it is still not the way it was before.

Zamora was like a big mountain between the ball and our defenders. He shielded the ball so well that it forced our defenders to make mistakes. Kos was almost invisible in the game. TV looked over committed in tackles at times and let the attackers get away. Arteta kept the ball really well, but he has got to contribute more to our forward play. He anchors the team well, but he has more in him than just passing the ball sideways and keeping possession. For me, Song was the only one who tried to create something time and again. It didn't matter that some of his creations failed to materialise, but he is getting better with that in each passing game.

Ramsey just looked out of position playing on the left, the team just did not looked balanced. Most of our attack was concentrated and focused through the right flank from Sagna and Walcott. Walcott was kept quiet and contained well by Derry. The goal might have earned Walcott some points.

I know that we can't expect RVP to score in every match. But it's been what, 3 games since he scored? We have had goals from other players lately, but RVP has to be our target man. He has been playing a bit more in the middle for my liking, allowing Walcott to assume that striker role time and again. Even though it is where RVP should be playing, but that's if we have a regular central striker and Walcott is not a real striker for me. Till such a time, RVP must play in that role and I think he does pretty well in anticipating chances in the box and his position is second to none. He missed a chance yesterday, but that was down to a great save from their keeper. But you expect such chances to be taken with his quality.

Again, Gervinho was not in the starting eleven. When you have two full time wingers in Gervinho and Ox, I just can't fathom the reason to play Ramsey on the left. I understand that Rosicky has been playing where Ramsey is used to play often, but Rosicky has been in good form recently and completely deserves a start. Ramsey on the other hand just seems a bit hesitating when it comes to the final third, and maybe Arsene needs to think about his tactics more cleanly. Ramsey, for me, would be better suited in an Arteta position, but then again, Arteta has brought immense experience to that role. But I would never play him on the left.

Then, Gervinho was brought on too late and Ox, even later, for any impact to be made. The lack of playing time has made Gervinho a bit rusty too. Also maybe the African Cup of Nations miss might have affected him. But that thing is almost two months old now, shouldn't he have gotten over it till now?

It brings us to the Manc game next. They have had two straight draws and have fallen behind in the title race to Manu. They surely wouldn't want to let go off that opportunity to win a league title in a long time. Our job will be a bit tough, but its a match where we cannot be low on confidence or on concentration or commitment. Manc have a very good squad and players that could punish you  with the slightest lapse in performance.

So again, it is up to us to keep our league position intact and not slip up any further.
Arsene says,
We know how to respond, we have been exposed to this situation this season. We have a good opportunity on Sunday but it will be needed after giving away the points today.
Yes we have faced such situation in the season, but I think it is going to be tougher as we approach the end of the season. I am sure everyone is on their toes!

Saturday 31 March 2012


Kos returns to the starting lineup.

Hello again to everyone! I am back where I belong, and ready to byte away on the blogosphere.

We play against QPR today, at Loftus road. If we win, it'll be our eighth consecutive in the league, and according to Arsene, that is where he has placed his current focus on. With the gap between Manc and Arsenal not looking as big, thanks to Arsenal's current form, there are bound to be expectations.
But Arsene says,
We will try to give our best. What we can hope for is to be third. We can be fourth, we can be fifth, we can be sixth - we want to be as high as possible and that depends on our consistency now.
That is understood, and he just wants to keep his team's feet on the ground and not lose any focus from goal and add unwanted pressure on the team. Further he says,
We are in a position that nobody expected us to be in and we want to strengthen that position from now on. That depends on our performances. I see us fighting like mad on Saturday to win the game. That's all I see, I don't see further. We are focused on QPR, believe me. We know that is always a tricky game for everybody and that is what is important to us. After that we focus on the next one and our capability to finish the season in a strong way depends on just how much we focus on every game.
Yes its true that, back in September, no one would have believed that Arsenal would be in the third place, given the recent results and the depth and supposedly "under-quality" squad. But the team has faced all criticism that they could get, taken all the failures that came and have reached the spot where we are now.

The match is being played as I write, and speaking about the team, we have just one change, Ramsey starts in place of Gervinho. Kos has returned to the starting lineup after having a fitness test. Ox again starts on the bench.

Our London rivals, Chelsea play against Villa at an away match. Not that I care if anyone loses, but it is more important that we keep our consistency and not depend on others to lose matches so that we could move ahead on the table.

Keeping it short again, getting back to the match.
Go Gunners!!

Friday 30 March 2012


I apologise for suddenly vanishing from the blog scene. I have been facing some network problems. Also, due to some health issues, couldn't dust down my computer. However, things are looking better now, I am able to to put on my slippers in the right feet(actually one in the right and other one goes left, see, getting better!).

Since we have a game tomorrow, I will be talking about more on that tomorrow. For now, let me catch up on the world, it's almost as if  I am "Like A New Signing"!

Sunday 25 March 2012

Not just an one man team

Gibbs, Walcott, Arteta, all get on the score sheet.

Apologies for yesterday's missed post. Some problem with the stupid network, just didn't allow me to get through. But there's plenty on the agenda today, some positives and maybe some negatives.

Once upon a time, in the summer of 2011, the pessimist folks had written off the Gunners as just a feeder team, a training centre and probably just a long forgotten legacy. People had made predictions that the team was destined to be nothing more than a mid-table team and probably after 5 matches into the season, had declared the team as relegation material. Just 6-7 months later in the season, and here the Gunners are, not in the relegation bottom 3 but the league top three.

Our two London rivals, Rottenham in 4th and Chelsea in 5th, are 3 and 8 points, respectively, lagging behind us. We still have 8 matches to go in the season, and the strangest things have happened this season, but Arsenal are keeping their feet firmly on the ground. Out of these three, Chelsea have the tightest schedule, given that they are still in the Champions League. If they proceed ahead of the quarter finals, I guess it will be a test of their physical and mental strength. On the other hand, Rottenham have played out what seemed to be the toughest fixtures in the last 10 matches and gaining just one point out of games against Manc and Chelsea.

Arsenal have yet to play Chelsea and Manc this season and, for me, these are the matches that might just decide the finishing positions of these three teams. Maybe this is too far fetched or wishful thinking, however, Manc drew their away match against Stoke last night, and almost lost it, but that leaves them just 12 points ahead of us. They sit at the top ahead on goal difference but Manu have a game in hand. I know 12 points is a pretty decent margin, but who knows, we came were 10 points off Rottenham and now we are 3 ahead of them. It's a possibility, but our focus remains on our current position and as I said in the past, it's only ours to lose.

Coming back to last evening's game. We had just played Everton 3 days back, and that must have drained the players of some juice, but to deliver that kind of performance against Villa was amazing. It's what I call total football and total dominance. Our attacking play was almost accurate. Walcott, for me, gave in a man of the match performance. After taking so much criticism, he has grown in leaps and bounds. Maybe, the team has a new psychologist or it just might be that the are eating good, but whatever it is has added something to Walcott's brains that can keep up with his feet.

At the other wing, Gervinho contributed to both the attack and defense equally. Initially, I thought, Gibbs found it a bit, just a bit, tough to handle Albrighton's pace, but later on Gervinho kept tracking him down and matched him for speed. Not only Gervinho, but Walcott was good in defense too. Gibbs was pretty decent too, both in attack and defense, and his opening goal just showed the multi-dimensional nature of this Arsenal attack. When you look at Arsenal's right flank, it just looks impenetrable with Sagna and Walcott in it. They work around each other beautifully. The link up play between Rosicky and wither of the flanks is just a delight to watch.

Song has been a rock infront of the back four this season. Not only has he been solid defensively and with his interceptions, but his vision has been pin-point with almost 10 assists this season. It's almost as if we would want to forget Cesc in a hurry! When you look at the pass to Walcott which created the second goal, it is just a treat to the eye and I don't think there is a defensive midfielder in the league who can get that many assists.
Arsene says, praising both Walcott for the goal and Song for the pass,
Theo had a very good performance and scored a great goal. You have to give him credit for that. But I would like to give credit to the pass from Song, because it is not the first time he has done that. You do not see many defensive midfielders do that. If you look at the assists that he has made this season, you will see that his numbers are top in Europe.
RVP missed out again on the scoring, but he was not invisible in the game, he, alongwith Rosicky, were the key players in linking up between the midfield and the attack. Though I love to see him score, it's good to see that Arsenal can also gt goals from other parts of the pitch.

Did you see the last minute Arteta strike from the free kick? What am I saying, of course you did! To beat the quality of Shay Given from that kind of distance, he must have put some power through it. The ball finished in the corner and that shows you the precision. Shay Given made an amazing save to a first half strike from Arteta, from outside the box. He also saved one from Rosicky, but the free kick was just to good to be stopped. Later Arsene said,
I prefer it when he takes free-kicks with his laces because he has short feet. Usually the guys who have good insight have bigger, longer feet, and when a guy has short feet like that they are very talented at hitting the ball with their laces. The ball floats a little bit when they take it and I think he is more built to hit the free-kicks like that.
That might be too technical for me, but it's good to know that he knows his players really well and maybe those weren't panic buys after all.

About the negative, Arsene had almost played Kos, until he decided to pull him out of the team during warm up. He said that Kos had some problem with his knee and couldn't move after the warm up. Djourou replaced Kos, and did pretty alright except for an elbow in the nose from Emile Heskey that almost prompted another defensive replacement!

So that's 21 out of 21 now, and we have every reason to believe that we can keep our position, even if we have a couple of tough game. Seeing the way this team has shaped up in the last month, I strongly feel that we will keep our place.

Go Gunners!

EPL countdown: 8 to go!

Friday 23 March 2012

Looking "Forward".

It's strange that we didn't have a match for 10 days and here we are still basking in our third spot take over, and already it's time for the next game. Just in the space of two days, we play against Aston Villa at home. There are sure to be some tired legs in our side, but the spirits would be on a high. It's obvious that some Arsenal critics will credit our win against Everton to being a whim or plain luck, but we have had all the bad luck in the past and it's time that the fortunes turn around. Anyways, I absolutely don't think that the Everton win was down to luck, in fact, we were unfortunate to not get the penalty and some other crucial decisions. But lets not crib about that, we have our critics to talk about such stuff.

Arsene's decision to rest Ox might have been criticised if the Wednesday night game had gone the other way. But now that we have won it, I guess it was a very good decision, and he might be starting against Villa. Maybe Benayoun will get in the starting line up too. He was played against Liverpool without effect, but he might be useful against a smaller opposition, no offense to Villa. Don't forget, it was him who got off the bench to score the winner in the dying minutes, in the the reverse fixture. Gervinho has been getting off the bench in recent matches, but I think he still hasn't got over his penalty miss in the ACN finals. I can understand that, why don't you ask Szczesny and Kos if they have gotten over last years Carling cup final, and then maybe we can blame Gervinho.

What we need right now is a confident team, and we might see most of the side from Everton's game. There were no major injuries from that game. You just want to be sure that there are no pulls, or cramps or tears after playing 2 matches in 4 days. Last thing we need in such a crucial period is an injury. But then again, we also have had all the bad luck with our injuries too. Still, our central defense is a bit slim and looking beyond Kos and TV, you are staring at Djourou and Squillaci. Santos feels quite sorry for his team's defensive injuries these season, he says,
Both Kieran and I were injured at the time. When you can see that the team needs you but there’s nothing you can do about it, well it gives you a sour taste.
It was the first surgery for him, and they can be a bit tough to take sometimes,
It was very hard. When I found that I would need an operation it was very hard news to take. I was in the changing room when they told me and I cried.
But the good news is that he is back to full fitness now and ready to play whenever called upon. I won't be holding my head in my hands if I knew that we don't have Santos in our line-up but another regular left back, but it is always good to know that we have a fitter full back available, if needed. With all our full back problems this season, it is welcome to have two fit full backs waiting in the ranks.

It's a bit early to talk about probable line-ups for Arsenal or Villa, but whatever team they choose, it sure will be an interesting affair. Aston Villa, though a bit blunt after the departures of Ashley Young and Stewart Downing in the summer, they still have some decent players in their ranks. Their defensive record is not too bad too, with a world class goal keeper in the form of Shay Given. The most notable point is that Aston Villa have the highest number of draws for a Premier League side this season, i.e., 12. We almost drew the last time we faced them, only for a last gasp winner by Benayoun. But we are looking at a completely different Arsenal side now. I don't see too many goals in this match, with Villa's decent defense and our improved collective resilience.

Sagna says,
The Villa game is massive. Tottenham are just one point behind us, but we were 12 points behind them in February. We are here now and we deserve to be here, but we have to give even more. We can't think about 'what if?' - we just have to give our best and look after our team, not concentrate on the others.
Harry said yesterday that, and I guess most of the Rottens are saying this, that they don't worry about Arsenal leaping over them in the table, but you know that they most be shivering in their tights now that even Chelsea are hot on their tail. What more can you expect from a team who are relying on the Gunners' failures for them to get back to the third spot. But that's that, we still have nine more to play, and the competition is hotter than ever. If only the top two were a bit closer, this race would have gone to the wire. You can only imagine what the next season will show us! With some additions in the summer, there's every chance that this Arsenal team will go for everything in the next season.

Arsene said at the press conference,
We will not be a lot on the market, quantity-wise I mean. Quality-wise, certainly. But the maximum number of the squad is 25. We have many players out on loan and we will take a gamble if we find top, top quality of course.
We still have Jack, who has not played this whole season. Ryo is hot at Bolton, and he will comeback next season with some valuable PL experience next season. I know fans are not too crazy about Diaby, however, I remember when he was bought by Arsenal. A lot of top sides were after him, Chelsea mostly, but we secured him. And for all the comparisons to Paddy, he hasn't proved to be quite the hit with his injuries plaguing him. But I still have a feeling that he has still a lot to give to this Arsenal team.

Anyways, back tomorrow for team news and starting line up predictions. TGIF!

Thursday 22 March 2012

Vermilicious strike puts Arsenal to third!

Verminator strikes early!
5 league goals this season, better than some strikers :P

Ahhh bliss!! I didn't think that the third spot would come to us earlier than expected. Apart from a RVP goal, I think we pretty much got everything we desired from last night's game(s). Three points, a clean sheet, competitors dropping points! It feels good that finally everything is falling in place, the right place, for Arsenal.

It was a tense affair at Goodison Park, and it always is, but so have been some of our recent matches. I wonder if David Moyes could get his hand on a pot full of cash to spend on new players, Everton would have been on a completely different level. They gave us a fair chase, and for a few dubious decisions, we had better control over the game.

In stark contrast to the reverse fixture, where we scored the winner in the dying seconds of the match, here we scored in the waking minutes of the match. We started where we left off against Newcastle, Verminator scoring the winner there and last night too. It was strange, when 4 fully grown Evertonians could not stop a leaping TV! But such has been the fire and desire in this team lately, its ironic that this fire feels refreshing.

We kept the pressure from the beginning, and had some decent chances. Ramsey missed a chance that an injured Diaby wouldn't miss. But stayed close to Everton and we were hanging by the one goal lead. They got stronger and were successful in keeping the ball better. That is when they started creating chances, and one such fell to Drenthe, which he shot past Szczesny in the far corner, only to be ruled out by the offside flag. Replays clearly showed that he was onside and it was a legitimate goal, but fortune favored the brave. I think last night's match might have established a record or something for most number of offsides in a match. Arsenal kept a very tight backline, and more often than not frustrated Jelavic and Drenthe by keeping them offside.

I guess the second half made things even when a penalty, for Drenthe's foul on Rosicky, was ruled out and there was no more guilt. Everton continued to build chances in the second half, but with no luck. Though they had most of the position, Szczesny had very little to do. The credit goes to some terrific defending and amazing team work by players who covered for their mates when they were out of position. I don't think I have seen such fantastic team movement, maybe except for Barcelona, who are on a different level altogether.

Kos and TV were as good as any defensive partnership, and Kos applauded his team's effort defensively,
It is not just the four defenders, it is all the team. Robin van Persie put in a lot of effort to help us too so all of the team defend and we attack together too. We have to take that into the next game.
I think we saw a different RVP in the match, who didn't score but got the cross through a corner for the goal, he was always in support of his team mate's. That was the perfect role played by a number 10 and that's how he should be. Walcott, though starting on the wings, got a bit more central. Still he had a quite match and was generally called for defensive duties to support Sagna, who has been a rock in the defense after returning from his injury. Gibbs, had a decent match and handled his flank quite well to defend along with the regular contributions he made to the attack.

We must have gotten a bit used to close matches, but maybe the team needs to convert the chances that they are creating and obviously the creativity has increased in the past month. But as we start the countdown towards the end of the season, we need to focus more. Our decisions in the final third need to be pin point, we need to be more lethal and unforgiving when converting the created chances.

Fortunately, our competitors for the 3rd and 4th spot, both dropped points. Rottenham, I was guessing maybe they would drop against Chelsea, but it came much earlier when they drew with Stoke. If it wasn't for a late strike, they might have lost all three points. Chelsea opened the scoring, but conceded two towards the end of the game. So that gives us a 6 point advantage over Chelsea and 1 point advantage over Rottenham, with a better goal difference. Arsene has still ordered his team to focus on each game,
We want to keep going. We must keep our humility and focus and fight for each other. That is what we had to do here.
The third spot is now ours to lose, but I have a feeling that, this time, we won't let ourselves down.

Here's what 'arry had to say,
It's all to play for. We can still finish above Arsenal. There's a long way to go yet: there's everything to play for."Arsenal won't win every game, will they? I want to finish third still.
Sure Harry, we'll see! I don't think St. Totteringham's Day is too far now!

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Everton vs Arsenal: Three more, we score!

Life is like that, unpredictable, unknown. All you can do is prepare, for the things you can predict and still it doesn't fail to amaze you. I have learned that the hard way, in the last couple of days and maybe, so has Fabrice Muamba. But there is a world of difference in what you know and still ignore, and what you can't avoid.

Wenger has been raving, since the start of the season, about the quality of this team and not until long ago, did we see that, that was actually true. We have reaped the benefits of having a fitter team and regular players playing in regular positions. No one could have predicted the injuries that happened and it was plain luck, or the lack of it. Maybe we don't have "super-quality", as Wenger likes to call it, barring a few, what we have is some very good players who play their best football at Arsenal.

Last year this time, we were going through a terrible collapse after the Carling cup loss, winning only 3 from the last 14, which saw us lose ground in the title race. Maybe that has served as a boost for players this time, and is responsible for our current winning streak.
Arsene says,
This season, it's completely different. We were completely out of the top four, we have come into it on a good run and now of course it is taking advantage of that momentum.
Arsenal still have some tough fixtures left this season. But so do Rottenham and Chelsea. Out of the three, probably Chelsea have the toughest run of fixtures and they are also involved in the Champions League. They have come back well in the last couple of games, proceeding ahead in the Champions League and FA Cup, after the departure of AVB. Rottenham have still Bolton to play, since that match was suspended due to Muamba's injury. I hope all the players play in their right mind and are able to get over that incident.

Arsenal still have ManC and Chelsea to play out of the last 10 games. Both of them are home fixtures, and our recent home form has been outstanding. We have made comebacks in four of the last five games, after going a goal behind. But the team's desire to get us out of that mess has been greater and a reason for our success. Some might say that Arsenal have been lucky to win those games, but if you have seen the games closely you will know how much the team has fought.
Arsene says,
Every time we were behind, we showed outstanding spirit. It is not fantastic for your emotions but overall when it finishes well you accept that you suffer. If that is the price we have to pay we are ready, but you just want to continue with the same attitude because I don't believe in luck too much on that side of the game. If you come back it is because you fight and if you fight you have a chance to come back. So let's fight first.
And it's true, as I said in the beginning, life is unpredictable, all we can do is fight.

The team for tonight's game against Everton is a bit  tricky to predict. But first, the news, TV had some problem with the calf after the last game, but he looks fine. Even Diaby is fit, but Arsene says that he'll play for the Reserves against Liverpool, maybe for an hour. Andre Santos is match fit and available for selection, as he was against Newcastle. I guess, Gibbs will keep his place, Arsene wouldn't want to deviate too much from his winning combination. Other than those, Squillaci is back in training, yes yes with Arsenal. Coquelin might be back soon, but still some weeks from training.

All signs are positive for Jack, but Arsene is reluctant to name a date of his return. I don't know he is training or not, his scans have been positive. Some news suggest that he might return till April. Iam sure Arsene wouldn't want to risk Jack in any way, unless absolutely needed. However, it'll be interesting to see how eager Jack is, to get back on the pitch, given that the Euros are around the corner.

Goodison Park has always been a tough place to go to. The fans are very passionate about their club and have always stuck with the team. The noise inside is immense, and it'll be the first time Arteta will be returning to his former club's home ground. Maybe their will be a roaring applause for their former hero, maybe not, it waits to be seen. Everton are on a good run too, being beaten only once in the last 11 matches. Arsenal will have to look out for the cross field passes for which Everton are famous for. They have a very good left back in Leighton Baines, and Sagna should be kept busy or the vice-versa. I think both are equally efficient defensively and lethal in attack. Baines might still have Walcott to contain.

Players to watch out for Arsenal are  Royston Drenthe, the loanee from Real Madrid, Fellaini, and I know Tim Cahill has not been at his best off late, but he is still a threat in the air. Chelsea will be playing away against ManC, and it will be interesting to see the result of that match. Whatever it is, the momentum should not be lost, there is very little room for squirming, and the focus has to be on the third spot now.

My starting XI for today:
Sagna - Kos - TV -Gibbs
       Rosicky - Arteta
   Walcott -  RVP - Ox

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Media Shame!!! + #Fabrice, get well soon mate!

Wake up media!

Doesn't feel good to be cut off from writing, but the circumstances demanded so. Have had a rough couple of days physically and striving really hard to get back to normal. Feeling a bit breathless, I think my lungs responded late to the shocking late winner last week. But feeling a bit back to normal now. It wasn't as bad as this, but I got out alright. My prayers with Fabrice Muamba for a healthy recovery!

I haven't been updated much about any news in the last couple of days, and now that I have returned, it doesn't look too different, apart from a boring ManU vs Wolves EPL match and some FA cup matches. Liverpool and  Chelsea both made it to the FA cup semis, and it would be interesting to see those. For a change, Torres scored in the quarter final against Leicester, well not exactly the opposition you want to brag about scoring against, but I think he'll take a goal even against Stamford Chess Group under-15 team. If that, I think Chamakh should get a game too, just to see if the global curse on these strikers has been lifted or not. Or maybe, just wishful thinking.

I have come across articles stating 5,10,15 reasons for RVP to leave Arsenal. Firstly let me make this clear, I think one reason is enough for any player to leave the club, that is, if a player wants to leave, he leaves. Don't give that crap about making more money, or winning more trophies and ambition impotency. Firstly, I agree RVP should get a pay rise. But just because some money bags at Manc or Manu are getting paid over the hill, doesn't mean that RVP is under paid. Yes he is one of the league's best, agreed, doesn't mean you can hold that ransom for more money. Don't forget, RVP was taken by Arsenal at a time when even his manager at Feyenoord was a bit worried about his attitude. Even many of the top clubs didn't want to sign him for that. Arsenal took him, they have seen him through injuries, and not just once, for every season he has been here before 2011-12. I will happily give RVP the salary he wants, if it fits in the financial fair play. "The name on the front is always important than the name on the back"

Let's look at how the other teams have fared with spending the whole Fort Knox on players.
Manchester City:
-Recorded a total expenditure of £1billion last year and more than half of that in loss.
-Toure, Adebayor,, Aguero, Silva, Kompany etc. getting paid £200K+
-Still trying to spend on getting players on board.
-Half of the players unhappy with lack of play time, some of them refuse to play in matches, so ego problems.
-No major players lost to other clubs in transfers.

Manchester United:
-Spent £20m on Ashley Young
-Spent £20m on De Gea
-Spent £15m on Phil Jones
-Still had to bring a player out of retirement
-No players lost in transfers.
-Lack of playing time for a £30m striker, a joint top scorer last season.

-None of the clubs are in contention for a top trophy other than EPL, still both struggling there too.

-Out from group stages of Champions League
-Out of Europa league too, after bragging about the finals.
-Scrapping wins here and there.

- Lost 5 top players(including Fabregas & Nasri), in summer transfers.
- Bought 9 players equivalent to the price of Sergio Aguero
- Arteta has scored more goals than Ashley Young or Samir Nasri in the league.
- Went from 17th league spot after 5 games, to 4th spot (and potentially3rd) after 28 games.
- Almost made the most famous comeback in Champions League history.
- RVP, top striker in the league and third in place to win the Golden shoe.

People have been talking about lack of ambitions, and lack of spending. But they forget that Arsenal spent £13m on a top talent in The Ox. He has scored 2 league goals in 9 matches. Nasri has 3 in 21 and Ashley Young has 4 in 18. Don't forget he is just 18!. There is difference between spending blindly and spending sensibly. If you talk about ambition, anyone who saw the Rottenham, Newcastle, Milan matches, would have to think otherwise.

Last time I said that there was a not a single article in criticism of these "Spend big and low returns" clubs. At least a mention about the way these two clubs shamefully crashed out of a competition which is only second elite in Europe. But no, they come up with criticism for Arsenal who have the best record in the past two months, whose manager has won the "Manager of the month" last Month and who is the "Manager of the Decade"!

It's nothing but pitiful from the media. Hopefully they can get out of their swivel chairs in the basement of their office and put out their necks high enough and remove their horse blinders, just to take notice. Please don't be the frog in the well!

Saturday 17 March 2012

Tipping scales..

It is a drag this Saturday with Arsenal not playing this weekend and Wednesday doesn't seem to come soon enough. I have been racking the net since morning, and I guess with all the success Arsenal are enjoying recently, the media has something less to criticise about.

Surprisingly, their no news about the media's pets, ManU&C, no words of criticism, you would think that at least there would be words of consolation for those two clubs. I guess Evra had a guilty feeling and he admitted his team's ineptness to compete in Europe this season. Thankfully that guy got something right!

We still have some positive vibes coming out from the team. Wenger has revealed that pressing is the key to Arsenal's recent success. Keeping possession and passing is Arsenal's style of play, and they need to win back the ball to keep that momentum. That was thing which was majorly missing from Arsenal's season, and with the resurgence of Rosicky, Arsenal's pressing and possession football looks more free flowing.

Milan and Rottenham were spectators to the pressing game recently. Surprisingly, after some analysis, it's been said that Arsenal did not necessarily get through more work, but more effective work. Efficiency has been another keys, in many others, for those performances.
Arsene says,
No they are not covering more ground, but it is not only about distances, it is about doing it together. It is the timing of doing it together that is vital, because you can run even more if you don't do it together. I believe we put the effort in from the first to the last minute. We don't look at the result, we just want to win.

At the start of the season it was difficult to understand where exactly will the creativity be coming from after Fabregas and Nasri left. Ramsey was still learning the trade, Jack looked to be out for long term and Rosicky, Arshavin had simply lost their touch. Ramsey got a bit overplayed, with Rosicky not getting much game time and Diaby was still being a  subject for medical research.

Even the fans have added to these performances, the singing, the cheering and the chants, that is what home teams thrive on. If you have looked at the recent matches at Emirates, the atmosphere has been awesome. As Arsene said, the players are giving the fans right vibes. But it had to come from the players first. The fans have been very loyal to their club and they just weren't getting enough in return. Lot of people have left, just complaining about the fans. Hopefully, they can realise that it is a two way deal. The fans have always been and always will be behind their club, the team just has to show that they worthy of that, which is what they have done and the fans are responding to it.
Gibbs says,
You can see how much it means to the fans and we need to continue that now to keep the atmosphere going. When the Emirates is like that, other teams can't play because it is too difficult. We feel like we have a lot more power when the atmosphere is kicking like that.
 There were some "out of the way" rumor about Alessandro Del Piero being watched by Arsenal. I don't know how much truth there is to that news. Unless, Arsenal scouts are holidaying in Italy, There doesn't seem any base to the fact that Arsenal might be interested in a 37 year old, and no offense to Del Piero. He still looks fit and still has some of his magic touch, but he simply doesn't fit in Arsenal's transfer policy.

The Podolski rumors keep appearing every now and then. After everyone, player, agent and club, having agreed on personal and social terms upon this deal, now everyone is denying that any deal is in place. Last week it was suggested that maybe Podolski had also undergone a medical with Arsenal. But he has denied of any medical having been done, anywhere in the world. Just has been a huge merry-go-round for the media.

J.Y.Park, an Arsenal player, has been relieved from the pressure of having to joining a mandatory military service for his country after two years from joining Arsenal. Initially, that was the understanding, however, South Korea's Military Manpower Administration announced the former Lille player would not have to join up with the force until 2022 because he had a 10-year residency visa from Monaco. But the trickiest part is, will he still get regular chances, after having played 2 reserve games already this month and scoring in both of them, maybe that's a knock on the door??

Don't count the chickens!

I want to draw your attention to some statements/claims made by some people this season and how true they hold as we move towards the end of the season.

Statement/Claim I (Manu manager on spending money to build a team): We are building a team to beat Barcelona and we want to be the best in Europe.
Reality: Manu couldn't even pass the Champions League group stages, after having beaten comprehensively by Basel. Now they are even out of Europa, after a worse defeat against Athletic Bilbao!

Statement/Claim II (Evra talks about chances in the Europa League): Europa will be a two horse race, between City and United.
Reality: Both horses out of the race.

Statement/Claim III (Vincent Kompany on Europa League finals):A ManC vs Manu Europa final would be bigger than the Champions League final.
Reality: What a pity! You need to actually get through to the finals for that to happen.

Moral: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Teams have grown over-confident of themselves, under estimating opponents. Just because you are a Champions League team, doesn't automatically make you the best team in Europa League, remember you are CL drop outs! Hope the reality has shaken them and opened their eyes to the world around.

Normally, I wouldn't have delved in to other teams misery, but Arsenal have been criticised so many times in the past for their methods and policies that there was a need for a reality check. Maybe EPL is the best league in Europe, maybe even the world, but when it comes to playing football, I think Spanish and Italian teams do it beautifully. We have been called as a "training club",  "a group of kids", by a lot of people and I remember Evra saying this during the last season. I am sure he would have realised last night that his adulthood is not going to win him any matches, after suffering a torrid time from Athletic B.'s wingers.Anyways, the results say it all and both Manchester teams are only after one thing now, that is the EPL title.

Back to Arsenal, there have been a lot of positive aura surrounding the club right now and people are talking about the new found belief at Arsenal. The fans have been getting behind their team a lot and the support after the recent displays has been roaring, I have never heard the Emirates being so loud!
Arsene says,
When the fans feel that the vibes are right they stand behind the team and support the team. With the recent history of the team having been more positive, the fans have more reason to believe that they can support the team and that they will win the game. But the dynamic always has to come from the team.
I am glad the team has responded well to criticism, and there is only so much you can handle. The team needed to have that belief in themselves about their ability, and that's the biggest achievement for them. It was not so long back when some low-lives had ruled Arsenal out of a Champions League spot for next year, and here they are ready to snatch the third spot from another over confident bunch of people.

Chelsea were the only English team to show some progress in Europe, after qualifying for the quarter finals. The draws were announced and Madrid have a fairly easier target against APOEL while Barca drew against A.C. Milan in the quarters. While Chelsea have a tricky opponent in Benfica, the Bavarians will play against Marseille. It feels a bit odd with Chelsea being the only English team to proceed out of the last 16.

But now, Arsenal can concentrate solely on the Premier League, which will give time for the players to rest after every match. Arsene has cautioned against taking opponents lightly and focus on what is important, which is carrying the momentum in to further games.
He says,
Sometimes there are games that you think will be difficult but they are slightly easier than expected, and sometimes the easy game is harder than expected. You don't make any plans. The only thing we know is what is needed from us: to be at our best no matter what people say about the situation.

If you look at the matches we have lost this season, many of those would have been expected to be won by us quite easily, but still we lost those. Although, it looks a completely different team now. It looks more ruthless and unforgiving.
Perry Groves, a former Gunner, says,
The resilience is back after the disappointing results against AC Milan [in the first leg] and Sunderland. They are playing the Arsenal way and they have that bit of belief.
Suddenly all these positive statements are coming out of every corner, and it's refreshing to hear some good stuff about this great club. Surely the players are aware of this adulation and the history that surrounds this club. Hope they continue what they are doing and bring back the golden days to the Emirates.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Smiles and Frowns.

A laugh is a smile that bursts.
 Here I am still trying to get off work, trying to shed some of the load off my back and still people around are piling upon. Perfect time to get to writing and get my Arsenal cells thinking. Although nothing much is happening around(I have reloaded the whole of the internet at least 50 times today), there are some news here and there.

Calling news as "news" doesn't make it any newer. Second match against the Magpies this season and either of the teams players is not happy about the other teams players. Last time it was Gervinho who bear the brunt of Joey Barton's theatricals and bullish behavior, obviously that left behind a sour taste in the whole of the Arsenal camp. You would think that after having a player like Barton in their team, Newcastle should be normal to that kind of behavior, yet RVP's cracking laughter on Tim Krul, according to Jonas Gutierrez, were not the characteristics a human would display! But wasting time adjusting the ball for a goal kick is the mark of a sportsman eh? Shouldn't that be covered in "Goalkeeping for Dummies"?
Gutierrez says,
I don't care about the football, I'm talking about the person. When you have people who do that, it's not right.
Well, we care about the football, because that is what the fans are there to watch. No one would pay to watch Tim Krul pick up the ball, 1 Mississippi... 2 Mississippi...3 Mississippi...think over where to place it, 1 Mississippi... 2 Mississippi...3 Mississippi. It's not a freaking dolphin show! I guess he must be bit frustrated with himself, having run around Sagna, without the ball all night.

Mikel Arteta has expressed his excitement of returning back to Goodison Park, this time to play against the team where he spent six and a half years.
He says,
I really can’t wait to go there, and I hope I’ll get a good reception because I gave Everton everything I had in my time there and I love the club. Everyone there was great to me and, even though I left, hopefully people understood. There’s no reason for any of us to be unhappy with each other.
He's right, there should be no reason for the Everton fans to be crossed with him. Obviously they would have been sad to see one of their top players leave, but at least it's not for more money. He left for a greater challenge, for Champions League football and playing amongst Europe's elite. Unlike some players, who just say that they are leaving for success but the smell of money beats the smell of success, he has done quite well for Arsenal. There is hardly any difference in the wages he was getting at Everton and his wages at Arsenal. Some players who left Arsenal for stuffing their pockets, learned the hard way that, maybe, they are not quite the talent they assess themselves to be for demanding such wages.

There was some team news this evening and Arsene Wenger has revealed that Santos is fit after playing 60 minutes for the Reserves team. Diaby too might play for them next week, and he needs some game time to regain confidence and fitness and the first team cannot afford to test those things at such a crucial time. Wilshere is said to be recovering quite well and there was scan done which showed some positive signs, but AW did not mention a date for his return. Even Coquelin will be back to fitness in couple of weeks. But the biggest blow is that Per will definitely be out for the season and that leaves us a bit thinner on the defensive front. However, it's good to see that after a tough schedule of games, we have come out without any injuries and we have players returning back, which gives us some options on the bench.

The Reserves vs West Brom game was played last night and the Reserves won it 3-0 with goals from Park, Gnabry and Aneke. Park scored his second goal for the Reserves and maybe he will be knocking on the door now, but I wouldn't bet on Arsene putting him in the starting XI straightaway. What's stopped Arsene from giving him regular playing time is a puzzler. Maybe, it is RVP's amazing form this season, but clearly things are not falling in place for the South Korean international. Chamakh played for 69 minutes and came off without scoring a goal, although he did provide an assist to Aneke for the third goal.

As we move towards the weekend, there is an odd feeling about Arsenal not playing any games, but a welcome rest will do some good.

Season countdown:10 to go

Much needed rest.

Just the start of the week Arsenal wanted and a much needed rest of 10 days staring at them. We don't play this weekend due to Everton's FA cup match against Sunderland, which means there are sure to be some tired Everton players after the match. Still they will be fired up against us, with their fantastic run ending last night in the Merseyside derby, where Gerrard scored all 3 for Liverpool.

Rosicky spoke yesterday about the importance of keeping the focus, lest they want to lost ground in the league now. He has been instrumental in the past month and his return to form couldn't have come at a better time. We are definitely a bit short in the squad and he has given us that added edge in the midfield.

Another player who has looked better in the past 2-3 games is Walcott. Maybe it is the competition from Ox or maybe he was just paying his dues, but Arsenal will definitely appreciate the contribution. Arsene stressed that he is just 22 and people forget that he is still young. Although he has got a lot of opportunities and Arsene has kept his undeterred belief in him.

Walcott has spoken about his admiration for RVP, after having provided several assists to him this season.
He says,
Everything is going his way and that is great to see. The most important thing is that he is injury free and it is great to see him when he is not injured at all. When I was on the treatment bed alongside him it was such a shame to see so much talent wasted. He has made up for lost time, I am sure of that, and it is massive. Without a doubt he has to be player of the year.
I agree completely, no other player at Arsenal, or for that matter, in the league, has looked as brilliant as RVP and if asked, I would definitely want him to be the player of the year. It was a shame that he was not nominated in the Ballon d'Or, after a fantastic run in 2011. For me he is right up there with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. You just keep on wondering what would have been of him had he not been troubled with so many injuries in the past.

Even though injuries are a part of the modern day football, they seem to favor Arsenal players more. It has been a horrible season for Arsenal injury wise. The results in January tell you the tale of how much Arsenal missed their regular full backs, and having all four of them out the game for a considerable time is just plain unlucky.  But now, after all of them have recovered, things are looking positive again. Santos will feature tonight in a reserves game, as will Chamakh and Park.

It is important to keep these players match fit since anymore injuries to anyone, and especially RVP, is going to be very tough. Though we have 2 international strikers other than RVP, one of them a captain for his national team, Arsene simply doesn't have enough confidence in them to offer them a string of regular match time.

Speaking of strikers, there is again a lot of speculation surrounding a deal having been agreed with Podolski. Although, both Arsenal and Podolski denied any talks between them, the rumors just don't seem to fade. The media, going one step further, claim that the deal might be completed this month. For me, any deal that is going to happen, now or in the future, is going to affect us only in the next season. So I suggest we better keep off them and focus on the current situation and enjoy our race to the third spot.

Walcott has warned Rottenham to look out for Arsenal, who are breathing down their necks. The points gap is just 1 now and we are level on goal difference with them too. Both teams have some crucial games still to be played in the season ahead. The team that is able to keep their focus and mental strength, will triumph. The Champions league spots are still up for grabs and the deciding factor is going to be the desire of wanting to be in that position and the dream of playing European football.