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Ramsey back to his best. Wilshere return impending.

That injury to Diaby during the Chelsea game is a big, big blow to this Arsenal team. One of the main reasons why we were dominating games until then was because we were dominating midfield and we were dominating midfield because we had a delicate mix of players in the centre of the field. Although the spotlight has always been on Cazorla from the beginning, the contribution from Diaby was far too much to ignore. For such a tall man with such long arms, it’s hard to comprehend how he dribbled the ball the way he did and made decisive turns to burst out and open spaces in midfield. That unpredictable nature and the physical presence will be sorely missed.

 

But it was always in the minds of all Arsenal fans that an injury to Diaby was waiting to happen. It always does. And it did. Now what?  Obviously Coquelin is the most obvious replacement. He’s a guy I trust, mostly because he is very mature for his age. But should he really be the guy who would slot right in?

 

Maybe, but I think it would only be temporary. Ramsey is a player who is booming with confidence. His performances in the last couple of games have been very eye-catching and he seems to be on course to prove his doubters wrong. Confession: I honestly thought Ramsey might have lost it after his injury. His injury was so similar to that of Eduardo’s that I could not help but predict the same fate for the Welshman. But as of right now, the lad is flying. But the question is- will Wenger continue to play him on the wings? He has been effective but I think Wenger could slot him  to directly replace Diaby, as he has more experience than Coquelin. We got far too many wingers at our disposal if we play Ramsey in there. With Ramsey on the wings, players like Walcott and Oxlade are forced to be on the bench, merely acting as impact subs.

 

But there was one more piece of good news that Arsenal fans got to savor and that was the return of the teen-sensation, Jack Wilshere(well no longer a teen, but I like to call him that). No one has any doubt that this boy is an absolute gem.  He recently got back to full training and even had his first proper match with the Under-21’s a couple of days back. Even Frimpong, who by the way is also back from injury, recently tweeted that it was as if Wilshere was never gone,when asked about Wilshere’s performances in training sessions.  But Wenger did say today that he will be very cautious to bring him into the Premier League games.

“Jack needs a few games, progressive build-up to get his body used again to competition, to shocks, to fights, but he is doing extremely well, the situation looks very good”

“We have to be cautious, not crazy, because of his talent you are always pushed in a situation where you would like to rush him back, and we have to resist that.The next match should be next week and he is working very hard.”

When this boy is back in our squad, get ready for some major surgery to happen in the midfield. One thing is for sure, Wilshere is not the kind of talent who will be put on the bench for too long. Sooner or later, he will claim his rightful place in the starting eleven. In any case, there is no doubt about Wilshere’s physical presence in midfield. He even gave Joey Barton a run for his money the last time he played against him. This is why, I believe there is no reason why Wilshere cannot continue what Diaby was doing for us until now which was to provide immense offensive burst and also be a physical presence in midfield.

So that’s been your future forecast for the week. Stay tuned for more.

The Return of Henry and What It Means For Arsenal

After a thunderstorm of stories over the past two days, Wenger confirmed that he has decided to sign Henry for 2 months. So how do I feel about his return? Great, in fact, I am overjoyed at the return of our all-time record goal scorer. But that is at an emotional level. Practically speaking, I am satisfied.

 

In the current situation, Arsenal are very lucky. We are very lucky that Robin Van Persie has actually lived up to his goal scoring expectations over a course of a season. All of this possible because he finally has been able to stay fit and not get injured on a regular basis. In fact, I don’t remember the last time he was injured. But what if he was not as fit as he is now? There’s no way we would have recovered the way we had without the influence of RVP.

 

Looking at our current squad, we have no one to actually step up if RVP gets injured. Chamakh? The lad lacks serious confidence and from what I’ve seen so far, he can have little or no positive impact in the near future for the team. Gervinho and Walcott are both not naturals at that position (even if Walcott claims he is). And Park, well, Arsene did say he has completed his adaptation process, but I don’t really know how. Has he adapted to life in England or to the game that Arsenal play? The former I am indifferent towards and the latter is simply not possible with the number of games he has featured for Arsenal. In our current situation, we are really vulnerable and badly need a backup striker for RVP.

 

So does Henry have all that is required for this position? It’s questionable but very much possible. Looking at recent statistics, during his first season at NY Red Bulls when he was just adapting to American Football, he scored 2 goals in 12 appearances. But the next season (2011/2012) he seems to have improved/adapted significantly scoring 15 goals in 29 appearances.

The Hero Returns

But practically speaking, the influence of Henry can only be effectively felt if RVP actually gets injured. If he doesn’t in the course of 2 months, I doubt we will see much of Thierry Henry. Otherwise, the wing position, the position that he started his career at Arsenal, is the position that we may to see Henry playing in. With Gervinho gone, there will be a decision to be made by Wenger on who to play there. Arshavin and Rosicky are the only ones who I can see playing there. Out of the two, Arshavin is in horrible form and in my opinion should be the last in pecking order even after Henry comes in. Henry, who is practically a two-footed player, can put pressure on Rosicky for that position. So yeah, unless RVP gets injured/rested, we can expect only to play on the left.

 

And lastly, I would like to warn those who are expecting too much from the return of the talisman striker. He is, after all, 34 and a player very much in decline. Even though Arsene says he still has pace, I very much doubt it is enough to cause trouble for defenders already adapted to playing against players like Theo and Bale. Also, there are many who fear that the return of Henry might have a negative impact on our players, especially RVP, whose authority in the team may be undermined.  I do not believe so.  Henry and RVP have played before and have enough respect for each other for these types of issues to arise. In any case, although he might not get to see him much, I welcome Thierry Henry back at Arsenal with open arms.

An Article to Cheer You Up

The Barclay’s Premier League is back from the dead. Well, dormancy. Fans around cannot wait till the kick-off. Frisking through the sports section of the newspapers, watching shows in SkySports News they have already watched and fooling around in social media sites, the fans are ready the do just about anything to kill time right now.

Cannot say that I am an exception.

For the last few weeks, I have been in depression. Depressed about the fact that I feel that our team is not ready to challenge for the title, that there has not been adequate signings this summer and the ones that have been done were trivial.  All the negativity got to me. Sure, I was not caught up in the crazy ‘Wenger Out!!’ rebellions but I was sure as hell dispirited.

But today I woke up with an odd aura of optimism and hope. No, it’s not because we signed Joel Campbell, it’s something else.

It’s August 13th baby!

I realized that this is not the time to stay all gloomy and sad. The season hasn’t even started yet! A new season is upon us and here I was yesterday, all disheartened and heavy. I understand many fans are still not feeling confident about today, but seriously though, cheer up! It’s not that bad. There’s so much going on.

I am actually looking forward to Ramsey filling in for Fabregas. The same way I was looking forward to Fabregas filling in for the departed Viera. What a blast that was! Cannot wait to see how Ramsey proves that Cesc is not only replaceable but upgradable as well. Can’t wait to see how he links up with our captain RVP to score some wonderful goals.

Also looking forward to seeing enhanced wing play. I’m talking about Gervinho of course. With Gervinho and playing on one side and possibly Theo on the other, I simply cannot wait to see how our game will be changed. They will simply rip apart the likes of Simpson and Gutierrez. One thing I am sure our team will improve upon is our wing play. We seriously lacked width last season and with really fast wingers such as Theo, Gervinho, Ryo and Oxlade, our game might be very positively altered. As I said before, cannot wait to see!

Also looking forward to Rosicky. Hope he continues his pre-season form and finds his shooting boots because he will be very important for us this season, at least for the first few games.  I’m just praying that his injury curse has been lifted during his visit to the Egyptian gypsy and that he can live a normal life now.

Looking forward to our new No.1- no, not Almunia- the actual No.1- Wojciech Szczęsny(I still have to do a Google search every time I type his name). One thing that I believe will improve is our GK situation. With Almunia finally out of the picture (he’s what, 4th choice now?), I am expecting a significant improvement between our sticks over the last few seasons. Note that  this is the first season that we start with Wojciech  Szczęsny in goal and not anyone else, no bullshit. And also, Fabianski is a much better No.2 than Almunia, so that’s a win as well.

And lastly, Emmanue Frimpong. Sure, the kid goes crazy on twitter through his #DEEEENCHEs, but as long as he performs on the field, he can #DEEEENCH all he likes. With Denilson gone, he will be the one to fill in and thank god for that. Even at his young age, so far, every time he played the DM role, he played it better than Denilson. His physical presence is a very welcome bonus. We have an abundant amount of technical players but sometimes all we need is that good ol’ bully-type time player and Frimpong can be that player.

So as you can see there’s a LOT to look forward too. And if you are still going to cry in that corner, then I pity you.  New history will be written today and I sure as hell want to be a part of it, regardless of how it goes.  Up the Gunners!

 

PS: LAST DAY to join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

What Effect Did The Pre-Season Games Have On Fabregas And Nasri?

This has hardly been one of our best pre-seasons in recent years. Whether you accept it or not, there is a very pessimistic vibe around the club now-a-days. Anxiety mixed with tension from practically throwing away our title hopes last season still remains. The lack of signings so far, especially in the defensive department, is not helping at all. On top of that, we just lost a trophy in our own tournament which featured far weaker teams than previous pre-seasons.

Of course, the boos were unnecessary and uncalled for. It’s just another pre-season game, after all. The whole point of the matches was to improve fitness levels, try out different formations and experiment with different combinations of players.

I think there were a number of reasons why some of the fans were upset:

1)     Szczesny, Djourou and even Wenger himself have been saying how they have been practicing to avoid conceding silly goals. But, in none of the pre-season games did this show. All we saw was the same shaky Arsenal defense giving away comfortable leads and conceding at the most awkward times. At the moment, it looks like the ‘one defender’ Wenger promised may not be enough.

2)      Arsenal has been poor in most of the pre-season games so far. Yet after each match, Wenger would come out and praise the team as if it was all fine and well. He even managed to squeeze in some ridiculous comments such as ‘we managed to play well for 60 minutes’. Sometimes I feel Wenger intentionally tries to anger the fans! I just hope he acts differently in the dressing room.

3)      According to Wenger, this is supposed to be our ‘most important transfer window’ in a long time. Yet, so far, there is hardly anything that’s been done in the transfer market to A) strengthen our defence and B) replace players who have or are yet to leave.

4)      Squillaci

So, losing the Emirates Cup was pretty disappointing and some fans certainly overreacted to the situation. But there are some delusional fans that have hardly reacted. I remember reading some of the post-match tweets saying stuff like ‘Glad that we didn’t win the Emirates Cup, now the players will want to win the PL title even more’. I’m sorry, it’s one thing to be spiritual but that’s just absurd. How can anyone justify losing/drawing in any game, regardless of its triviality, as being positive?

Some fans went on to say things like ‘I’m glad we are playing this bad, at least this will help Wenger realize how weak the team is!’ If you ask me, losing a pre-season game is hardly something which will bring Arsene to realize the problems within the team. If throwing away 4-0 leads and making ludicrous defensive errors in actual competitive cup matches did not bring Wenger to reality, a mere pre-season friendly surely wouldn’t!

In any case, all this pessimism brought me to think about the Cesc and Nasri situation. Both are apparent want-aways but both have different reasons to leave.

Cesc wants to leave the club to play for his boyhood club Barcelona. In fact he wanted to leave for quite some time now. Reportedly, Fabregas was ready to leave Arsenal last year but cunning Arsene convinced him otherwise. Arsene bought Fabregas for one more year saying that Arsenal would win trophies the following season. Cesc was already frustrated with the lack of trophies after serving for Arsenal since he was sixteen, but he couldn’t say ‘no’ to the man who made his career. So that was that, one more year for Cesc. But as we all know, the trophies never arrived and things are now more unstable than ever in the Cesc transfer saga.

The Nasri situation is quite different. Although it’s clear Nasri is reluctant to sign a new contract, the reason for not signing is still obscure. Some say that Nasri is a typical sports mercenary and is holding up for a big-wage contract offer while others say he would not commit to a club who are not winning trophies and furthermore doing hardly anything to change that.

Surely the current way Arsenal are playing is not helping either of the situations. The same old problems shroud the team and this seems to be clear to all but Wenger. In the last game, Nasri seemed to be in all sorts of disarray. His mind never seemed to be in the game. Cesc  reportedly left the match during half time. The fans losing hope in the team is one thing, but when players themselves lose hope, it’s something completely different.

But, maybe things aren’t as bad as they look. Maybe we will perform when it’s required for us to perform and maybe things will be done to fix all the issues before the start of the season. Maybe…

 

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Thoughts on the Mata Stories, Lucas Biglia and the Left Back Situation

Not much on the news today. Seems like the same old rehash of the last few days. Transfer-wise, nothing solid has emerged and it seems Arsene will wait till the last moment again. Some Xabi guy made some Cesc-like comments today but I was not bothered to read. Biology and DNA were never my strongest suits and should be left to professional footballers. The transfer window itself seems like a rehash of last season.

Another potential replacement for Cesc Fabregas seems to be out of our reach now as Santi Cazorla has signed for Malaga. I do not know if we were really after him but if we were, Malaga signing him really shows the power of money in the modern transfer market. A player is willing to give up an opportunity to join an elite club like Arsenal to join Malaga. Really says a lot, doesn’t it?

Speaking of Cesc replacements, the Mata situation has warmed up a bit now. When I first saw us being linked with Mata, I right away called bullshit. But the rumour has survived long enough to catch my attention. To be honest, the Mata situation has been bit like a roller coaster ride. At first Mata, himself went on to say that he was happy at Valencia, but never actually dismissed the possibility of a transfer. But in the past few days, Mata has been constantly linked with us which is leading me to believe that there may actually be a story in this. Maybe Valencia are intentionally playing ‘hard-to-get’ to get a better deal out of Arsenal? But, just has a heads-up, Mata used to play for Real Madrid as a youth, so maybe we should do a DNA test before seriously looking into this transfer. Eh?

The Metro links us to a new midfielder named Lucas Biglia. I have never heard much about this guy and after  searching through the web, apparently neither did the internet. He plays as a defensive midfielder and therefore is not a potential replacement for Cesc as many might have assumed. The Torres look-a-like is 25 and has only recently capped for Argentina. The few Youtube videos about him do not give away much either. I am in no position to make a final judgement here but I do not think he can add anything to our squad for the immediate season. In any case, Lucas has clearly stated that he is open to transfers and that, for some reason, it would be easier for him to play in other leagues than his current league. This is what he said:

“I think I have come to the end of my time at Anderlecht… The board know what I want. Playing for Argentina opens lots of doors for me.

“Sometimes I feel I have to work harder because I play in Belgium. It would be easier in a different league.”

 

In other news, Walcott and Henderson have joined Abou Diaby and Cesc Fabregas in the list of pre-season injured players, with Henderson being out for at least 6 months. So your squad doesn’t seem that big now, does it, Arsene?

Arshavin, who has been pretty lively in pre season has dismissed rumours about him leaving and has talked about his personal targets for next season. He aims to score exactly 15 goals for next season. If he cuts down on his laziness, that target should be achievable for a player of his caliber. I just hope he does not stop scoring after acheiving his target of exactly 15 goals! That would be plain stupid.

Lastly, I would like to talk about one position which no one seems to be concerned about- the left back position. I do not have any exact stats from previous seasons, but many of Arsenal’s conceded goals came from the left hand side. Clichy was very error-prone and opponents constantly took advantage of this through counter attacks. Furthermore, Arshavin who plays in the left of midfield is not one who tracks back very well. Even though Clichy has left Arsenal, both his replacements are very similar to him. I do not know about Traore, but Gibbs’ performances in pre-season weren’t very convincing. I still think Wenger should find a replacement for Clichy soon as we cannot afford to take any more risks for this season. If Jose Enrique’s recent rant on twitter is anything to go by, Arsenal should seize the opportunity and make a move for him. Plus, the Spaniard has only one year left on his contract- the optimum condition for Arsene Wenger.

Well, that’s all for today. Hoping for some positive news tomorrow. Till then, take care.

MATA UPDATE: Other than the news in the Spanish newspaper, the Daily Star goes as far as to claim that Mata will sign for Arsenal within the next 24 hours!

PS: Join our Fantasy Premier League for the 2011/2012 season, league invitation code: 169093-63714

Why Wenger’s Latest Comments Do NOT Make Any Sense

“Certainly, we will have to find one more defender. I can promise we work very hard on it. In fairness, everybody looks for players.”

“I don’t want to comment individually because I do not want to destabilise clubs. I do not want to do to other clubs what Barcelona some clubs do to us so I wouldn’t like to comment individually on any player”

 “We still try to strengthen our side but I’m already very happy with what we show at the moment. If you look all around Europe at the different clubs there’s very little movement. I will all speed up in August I think.”

”We are traveling [toCologne] with 23 players and 3 goalkeepers. We have a big squad already”.

‘’Looking at [Abou] Diaby, [Cesc] Fabregas and [Emmanuel] Eboue, still behind plus [Nicklas] Bendtner still behind, that’s 27-28 players, we have a massive squad already, there’s very little movement at the moment.’’

These are the latest comments from our Boss, Arsene Wenger. Anyone else feel there’s something seriously faulty about those remarks?

First of all, was our squad good enough to win the league last season? I am talking about the whole squad, not just the first 11. The answer to that question is clearly a ‘NO’. So basically if we have players leaving that squad and they are not replaced, will that strengthen or weaken the squad? It will weaken it.

So far, to improve our squad we have bought Carl Jenkinson and Gervinho. If you think about it, the signing of Carl Jenkinson probably did improve our squad but it did not really correct anything that was wrong with it. Jenkinson is a rightback and as far as I know, our critical problems last season were NOT in that particular position. To be fairly honest, I have no problem with the Sagna/Eboue combo at right back. Point being, although I welcome the signing of this youngster, I feel that he did not really fix any of the problems with our squad. He is just a ‘good addition’.

Gervinho signing for us is different. From what I know, Gervinho is a winger and we did lack width last season. So if Gervinho is a proper winger (we will probably find out today vs FC Cologne), then he will improve and correct some of the problems in the squad. Apparently Gervinho can play as a striker too, so he can possibly fill the void if RVP and/or Chamakh are absent.

Now, IF everything remains the same and we do sign a new defender (as Wenger suggests above), then I would say we have a decent squad for next season. But it’s not all that simple is it?

The real complication arises when players have to leave the squad. So let’s see:

1)     Clichy and Denilson have already left for Mancity and Sao Paolo respectively

2)      Bendtner, Almunia and possibly Eboue to leave imminently

3)      Either Cesc or Nasri or both to leave soon

So basically, FIVE players are guaranteed to be out of our squad next season. And although Arsenal fans are tearing up their hair with anxiety and fear, Wenger is ‘already happy’ with the situation!

He mentions that we have a huge squad already. Ok, but isn’t this pretty much the same squad as last season? Using just logic, nay, common sense, even a retarded person can point out the flaw in Wenger’s comments.

Is he trying to say that the squad, which is the same as last season, has improved so much  that he does not need any new additions? Is that even possible? It’s been just around 3 months since the season ended. In just three months, how much could a player have possibly improved?!

Players like Diaby, Rosicky and RVP will probably be out for long periods during next season as it has been for last few seasons. There will surely be other unpredictable casualties like that of Vermaelen last season. If you deduct five players from that squad, then surely it is something to be alarmed about.

As a wise man once said ‘Always prepare for the worst’, we should too, especially after seven years of failure. But so far, all that I  see is faulty optimism. Wenger is gambling at a time when the stakes are higher than ever. All I can do is just close my eyes and hope it somehow pays off.

A Few Things I Realized About Arsenal This Week

Looking back at the game against Ipswich and indeed the season so far, I’ve come to realize some changes that are unique to our squad this year- things which were not there or I did not feel were present in the previous seasons. And who better to share those feelings than my fellow Arsenal fans? So here goes:

1) Every player can make an impact at any moment: Time and time again, I have mentioned how full of depth our squad is this season. A simple way of demonstrating this is by randomly dividing our 25 man squad into two halves (well not equal halves of course). Do it a number of times and chances are you won’t be able to tell distinctly which half is better.  Arsene Wenger has always mentioned how he trusts each and every player in his squad and this time, and this time only, he actually means it. The obvious example was Bendtner’s impact last game…it was a match changing goal- possibly the ‘goal’ that will become the key to our first trophy in six years. I have never doubted Bendtner”s finishing ability as some other Arsenal fans did. One thing I did doubt, though, was his technical ability but he surprised me in that aspect this week. The way he handled the high ball from Jack was top draw stuff. ‘Twas smooth as silk to be honest and his finishing was mesmerizing to say the least. This type of performance reminds me that our players are in a constant process of improvement and what they were last season does not necessarily reflect on the current season. But I digress, the players in our team, ranging from from youngsters to more experienced ones, are well capable of surprising us at any moment, making this season more exciting than any in recent years.

2) We actually ‘CRAVE’ to win a trophy this time: I do not know if it is just me but I really feel there’s a different aura to the team this year. I can’t quite describe it myself- just an abstract belief at the back of my head that keeps getting stronger and stronger. Every year when we are on a good run, I find myself wondering when this form will end. I always look backwards. It’s something of an involuntary reflex that is ingrained in my brain, I guess, because we always screw something up and end the season with nothing. But watching the team play this season, I truly believe that we can do it this time around. I truly believe we are all in this together- the manger, the first team, the subs and the fans. I do not look backwards anymore. My eyes lie only forward because we have finally crossed the point of no-return and the only thing that is left is destiny.

3) We have been really lucky with injuries so far (I hope this does not jinx it): We really have. While Chelsea and Manutd have had injuries to the likes of Terry, Essien, Lampard, Rooney, Ferdinand etc, we had a pretty smooth ride down injury lane. We have had only one serious injury which was to Vermaelen, and the rest have been quite ephemeral. To be honest, our only serious concern thus far is to our defense, namely the CB position. Even then, Squillaci is coming back and is apparently ready to be in the squad for the next game. Sagna was taken to the hospital and in any other season, I swear, he would have been out for at least 3 weeks which would later be extended to around 6 weeks. But that is not happening. Sagna is currently  ‘well and in good spirits’ Injury gods such as Rosicky and Van Persie are still fit and running which really surprises me. So yeah, we deservedly have some luck with our injuries this season.

4) Szczesny apparently makes a world of difference: Sure, he hasn’t been world class in any way which is hardly surprising. The lad is only 20. But I think defenders actually trust Wojciech. Indeed, when defenders play in front of a goalkeeper who they really have faith in, there is an extra incentive to defend better. They have the assurance that they are not the last ‘reliable’ line of defense and that load of pressure off their minds really benefits them. Plus, at 6ft 5 inches he is the tallest keeper (and the tallest player) we have. Wojciech has some problems with his distribution but that is not a major concern right now because distributing the ball does not directly influence our defense and I believe his performances, although he has had very little to do recently, played a big part in achieving our current defensive record. I just want to make it clear, that by supporting Wojciech, I am in no way discrediting our other keeper Lukasz Fabianski who had been playing great until he got injured (?). All I am saying is that our defenders have been playing extraordinarily while Wojciech was between the sticks. That’s all.

5) I don’t give a sh*t what Manutd do anymore: I watched the Ipswich game on television and while watching it, I inevitably switched regularly between channels taking quick glances at the Manutd vs Blackpool game that was happening at the same time. It was a bonus to watch our title rivals concede two goals and quite obviously I enjoyed it. But, as they slowly came back to game and eventually went 2-3 ahead, I found myself to be less frustrated than I thought I would be. I realized that this season I genuinely believe we are better than them. This feeling has never occured to me before. I realized that this year, I finally trust our team enough to not care about what happens with the likes of Chelsea and Manutd. This year, we are the real deal and if we keep playing our cards right, we will win trophies no matter what.

But those were my feelings from this week. Next week, we have a very important game against Huddersfield and there’s no reason to underestimate them. After all, they are a club that at a certain time in history won the Championship for 3 consecutive seasons. Yes, I am serious…