Archive for the ‘ General ’ Category

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

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…

FA Cup vs Carling Cup: Which is more important for Arsenal now?

In life, there comes a time when we have to make some difficult choices, some things we have to make more important than the others. Prioritize some aspects and leave some stones unturned. Arsenal are in a similar state right now. For obvious reasons, the Premier League and the European Cup remain our priorities. Even though it is hard to admit it, there is a strong possibility that we will be kicked out of one of the two ‘weaker’ cups very soon.

Our squad this season has substantial depth and can withstand a bumpy run of fixtures more strongly than before. Consequently we find ourselves competing for all available trophies even in the middle of January (and are in respectable positions in all of them too). But as the fixtures get congested, Wenger will have to rotate the team heavily and inevitably we will not be able to put the same amount of quality/effort in all the competitions.

Hence we will be forced to choose between the two cups now. I am not saying we should ‘give up’ on any one of them, but prioritize one, realize that as we progress further our chances of being knocked out become stronger. This will become especially true when we suffer more injuries and some players start to feel the effects of fatigue (like Arshavin).  Last season this was not a problem become we played a largely second-string team in the Carling Cup, leaving the big guns to fight for more esteemed honors.

Arsene Wenger has made it clear, not once but twice, this season that he is taking all four competitions seriously. Just today he spoke about his targets for the season and how he will use the rotation technique to help his team cope during the most rigorous months of the year. He said:

“I will go for it [all four competitions], but we will have to rotate.

“Our success depends on the way the whole squad can focus on the different competitions. I believe we have the quality to qualify no matter what I do on Wednesday. It’s just how much we are able to focus on the competition.

“The timing is not the best but it is down to us because we could have beaten Leeds at home. We didn’t manage to do that but now there’s no reason why we should give up.

“I will prepare [for] this game to win it then we will see. It is important we go there with a positive attitude.”

It’s very ambitious of him to try doing so and I stand by his intentions. This Arsenal team includes players who have not yet won any major trophies in the whole of their careers and I believe until they get the taste of winning a trophy, any trophy, they will not grow the hunger for it. You do not become addicted to smoking until you had your first taste of a cigarette.

But the question remains, which trophy should Wenger concentrate more on? In which competition should he field a stronger team? The FA cup or the Carling cup? On first glace, the answer seems rather simple. The FA cup is more prestigious and Arsenal are a side that specializes in winning this cup (10 times). In fact the last match in which we won a trophy was the final against Manutd in the FA Cup (2005).

But the FA cup is still in its preliminary stages and Arsenal have to progress a lot further before they are in a realistic position to actually win it. Although it is called the FA cup ‘3rd round’, it is actually the 1st round for Premier League teams and there are still 64 teams in the competition currently(not counting the teams that have already progressed for the next round)! Whereas, in the Carling Cup, the completion is nearing its end and we are playing the semi-finals against Ipswich. Thus this aspect of the competition is very alluring as we are in a strong position to actually winning this competition and obtaining our first trophy since 2005.

In my opinion we should put more effort on winning the Carling Cup this season. A trophy which is so within our reach should not be ignored. We play Leeds United for the FA cup replay on Wednesday and I think Wenger should take a leap of faith and field a weaker side than the one that faced West Ham the other day. But what do you think- should Wenger fully concentrate on the match against Leeds on Wednesday and hope that the team remains unscathed or put winning on the line and rotate strongly? The FA cup or the Carling cup this season?

Do let us know.

New signing is imminent, only two centrebacks left

Arsenal have been going through a quick run of fixtures for the last couple of weeks. It’s been horrific to say the least. On the 27th of December, we had the win against Chelsea. Two days later we faced Wigan and drew. On the 29th, a couple of days later, we played Birmingham City. We got absolutely no rest as we faced Mancity three days later.

It is no surprise then that we are already having a few injuries.  Rotation or no rotation, when you are playing back to back games with only two days between then, there is no way you can avoid injuries. In fact, I am bit surprised that we have so few injuries so far. I was absolutely confident that the likes of Van Persie, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott would have gotten injured by now. Jokes aside, we do have one important injury update to give.

Wenger has just now informed that Seb Squillaci had picked up a hamstring injury in the match against Leeds United in the FA cup. With no positive signs coming from the Vermaelen injury, this new injury is a massive blow for Arsenal. We now have only two centrebacks available and the situation suddenly looks like an emergency.

This was Wenger’s update:

“If he [Squillaci] has a problem then we must quickly go for a player,”

“Squillaci came off with a little hamstring problem and if we only have two centre backs then that cannot work with the number of games we have.”

Hamstring injuries are one of the trickiest sort of injuries. It could take only a couple of days to recover from or it could mean a month on the sidelines. Just when you think the player has recovered and you play him, he aggravates the injury and is out for several months. In my opinion, there is no way we can cope with only two centrebacks, given the fixtures. If you look at the fixtures, we still have to continue back to back games for weeks to come.

15 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League A West Ham United
18/19 Add to Calendar The FA Cup A Leeds
22 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Wigan Athletic
25 Tue Add to Calendar Carling Cup H Ipswich Town
29/30 Add to Calendar The FA Cup H Huddersfield Town
(If Arsenal beat Leeds United in Round 3)
February
01 Tue Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Everton
05 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League A Newcastle United
12 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Wolverhampton W.
16 Wed Add to Calendar UEFA Champions League H FC Barcelona
19 Sat Add to Calendar The FA Cup N Fifth Round
22 Tue Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League H Stoke City
26 Sat Add to Calendar Barclays Premier League A Tottenham Hotspur
(This game will be moved if Arsenal reach the Carling Cup Final)
27 Sun Add to Calendar Carling Cup N Final

As you can see, until the end of the month we have to play consecutive  games. And the MAXIMUM number of days we have in between the matches is four(except for the match after Newcastle on the 5th)!!! Expect an extended number of injuries to be on their way. The only positive side is that  our Premier League fixtures are relatively kind. But that’s it, other than that we are screwed.

One player who we have been linked with this season is Werder Bremen centreback Per Mertesacker. Ever since the January transfer window has opened up, Mertesacker has been on the top of the ‘probable transfers’ list. The latest update comes from sport.co.uk.

The agent of Mertesacker gave Sport.co.uk an update this morning regarding any January move for his client:

“So far we have had no contact from Arsenal. We will wait and see but for the moment they have not contacted myself or the club.” Guido Nickolay told Sport.co.uk.

Arsenal manager Wenger has been perennially linked with the big German stopper, however the centre-half ruled out a move last summer pledging his short-term future to the German side.

Reports this morning also suggested that Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United could were also monitoring the player.

Sport.co.uk confirmed last month having spoken with a source close to the player that Mertesacker was ready to quit the Bundesliga for another top league, with the Gunners still interested in the giant defender’s services.

“I think he would like to move.” The source told Sport.co.uk.

“Or let me say it like this – he would be interested in seeing other countries.”

I, for one , would love to see Mertesacker play for us at the Emirates. The guy is a monster. He is 6ft 6 inch!! Plus he has all the necessary experience we need. He is a regular for the German national team and is of perfect age(26). Due to his height, he can not only defend well aerially but is a huge threat from set pieces, a quality clearly lacking in our current crop of players. Let’s just hope Wenger signs someone quick and that the player is someone like Per Mertesacker and pray that the Sol Campbell rumours are not true!!

Wenger’s rotation policy a MUST, not a choice

Last week, everyone started criticising Arsene Wenger after he made 8 changes to face Wigan after the Chelsea game. What made it worse is that the changes didn’t pay off, as Arsenal went on to draw 2-2 with Wigan. Wenger changes the winning lineup, we draw, so it’s Wenger’s fault.

The thing is I think Wenger would love to play his best lineup every match. If that ensures the win, then I think that’s what every manager would do. Play the same set of 11 players game in and out. With Arsenal, it’s a special scenario. Wenger has to take into account quite a few factors before making changes like that on a regular basis.

First of all, we have to consider that all our players are injury prone. Yes I said it, all of them are! Let’s just keep Vermaelen out of this since he’s still injured, you’ll find very few players who haven’t faced a lengthy spell in the sidelines. Especially out attacking options in Fabregas, Van Persie, Arshavin, Rosicky, Walcott, Nasri, Diaby and Ramsey have all faced injuries at times which have left them out of the side for months. Did I miss someone out because I am sure the list is longer.

Fans were so upset that Djourou didn’t play in the Wigan game after producing a match-winning display of keeping Drogba quiet against Chelsea. So we wanted him to play after 48 hours with barely any recovery time. We tend to think of only Eduardo and Ramsey having horrific injuries, but Djourou is making a remarkable comeback after a dreadful knee injury too. Would we rather see him be match fit for more of the season or risk the chance of him being injured again at a crucial point in the season?

Secondly, our squad is just way too strong. Arsene has a tough job in trying to keep them all happy. In football, the only way you can keep a player happy other than financial incentives is to put them in the starting lineup on a regular basis. As soon as Walcott didn’t start for 3-4 games this season, he started voicing out concerns of how badly he needs to start now. Walcott starts again and scores and assists against Chelsea. When Bendtner’s groin troubles are gone for good and he still didn’t make the starting lineup, he just wanted to leave outright. Wenger plays him against Wigan and he scores a wonderful goal. I’m predicting Arshavin might have to sit in the bench more often these days, so just wait till he starts speaking out publicly when that happens.

Wenger has to rotate his players, he doesn’t really have a choice in this scenario. Maybe he could toggle around with the lineups a bit more and possibly set two lineups that are a bit more equally strong. That will take some weeks to sort out as well. Regardless of that, expect a rotation policy to be there throughout the season. There is no way of avoiding it.