Posts Tagged ‘ Arshavin ’

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

Advertisements

Barcelona finally outclassed

Yesterday was historic. It’s the day we’ve been waiting for a long, long time. The day when Arsenal finally beats Barcelona. To all those who support Arsenal, it was a special moment. We forgot about everything else going on in our lives atleast even for a few seconds, to spare some thought on this glorifying victory.

Those who saw the match should however know that it wasn’t really an easy ride. Barcelona really dominated the game in the first half. They played breathtaking possession football, passing it around almost training session like. It was not a pretty sight for the thousands of fans in the Emirates Stadium who were eagerly waiting for a result. If the first half was so poor, then what could’ve possibly turned it around and placed the match in our favour?

It was possibly the first time in a major victory that Cesc Fabregas is not at the heart of attention. In fact, it was the young Jack Wilshere who inspired everyone. He was arguably the best player in the whole match and he got stuck in at the Barca field when they had possession and made some fantastic passes when he had the ball at his own feet. His perception was brilliant and tracked back extremely well to always anticipate and tackle that growing Barca move. What a display from this young Gunner. If anyone had any doubts about him, this performance should remove them completely. Actually the rumour is out already that after yesterday, Barcelona have lost their interest in Cesc Fabregas and have shifted towards Jack Wilshere. Hopefully this will never happen!

 

 

Wilshere was the Man of the Match, but it was one moment of brilliance that catalyzed this win. Robin van Persie’s form just continues to get better, and he continues to impress. I don’t remember the last time RVP was so prolific. I still remember just a couple of months back all we were talking about was Chamakh and his goal scoring form. Woah, but where is Chamakh now? He is pretty much out of the scene because van Persie comes back in the team in a bang! What RVP provides to the team is that cutting edge finishing ability. Just the way he moves when he has the ball in his feet is mesmerizing. I mean no offence to Chamakh, but van Persie is provides just a totally different class of striking ability up front. It was his awareness that made the crucial goal. It was a flash of inspirational play, from a true Gunner.

You know who is our super sub now? Before it was Walcott, now its Arshavin. Andrei won’t be too happy about because he wants to start for Arsenal every game. The important thing is he is making an impact in every game he features in now. We get glimpses of the old Arshavin back in his true colours. It’s his ability to be at the right place at the right time which makes him such a great player. His finish yesterday might have looked easy, but it wasn’t at all. A composed and accurately placed strike from our little Russian. Not even a sign of doubt in his eyes when he struck that. This is the Arshavin we want to see everyday.

However, the department that most impressed against Barca was the defence. Yes, the defence. I can’t believe I’m saying this as well. Wenger didn’t sign anyone in January and many started to speculate that we would stand no chance against a resilient Barcelona side. The first half was horrid though. There was a lack in concentration and Song’s flurry of tackles was frustrating to witness. But the defence regrouped, and put up a match winning defensive display. It’s not easy to contain the likes of Messi and David Villa upfront for even a few mins, let alone the full match. Djourou and Koscielny were right on the money as they kept intercepting passes and clearances with great precision. Then again, we have the Szczesny factor, who also seems to be improving on a daily basis. From being in the utmost outskirts of the first team, he is now out best goalkeeper and is putting up match winning displays against the best teams in the world. It seems as though the future of our goalkeeping lies in good hands. It must be said, Vermaelen’s absence was not felt yesterday. Just to put it in the most simplest of terms, our defence is awesome!

It’s not over yet, since it’s just the first leg. Nou Camp will be a hell of a game, and Barcelona will be at the top of their game. Whichever way it goes, this victory means a lot.

Leading up to the next game, Andrei Arshavin puts it perfectly when asked about Arsenal’s chances.

“Without belief you can do nothing, so we must believe”

Couldn’t have said it any better, it is belief that will take us forward.

 

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.

 

Sending Vela out on loan

So Wenger confirmed it yesterday that Carlos Vela is most likely to go out on loan. It seems that Bolton is the most likely place he’ll be joining.

I had expected Vela to be used way more off the bench this season than he has been. Except for a handful of start for the Carling Cup and a couple of appearances in the Premier and Champions League, Wenger has kept him out of the pitch for most of the time. Although he’s still somehow scored 3 goals in competitive matches just shows that his goal scoring record isn’t as bad as most people may think.

Bolton is a great club to go on loan, especially for someone of Vela’s talent. Owen Coyle is also someone who seems to love Arsenal’s homegrown players. One of the reasons why Jack Wilshere got a start in the first team is because he had a great spell on loan at Bolton. Coyle started with Wilshere in most of the games and he handled the pressure with ease, played a solid midfield role. It did show Wenger that Wilshere was capable of putting his talent out on the ground and was influencing ball play. Hats off to Wilshere though for capitalizing on his opportunity and cementing his place in the first team. You’ll see talented players all over the world who play well day in and out in training, but it’s the mental aspect of the game which you can only assess in players while they’re playing at a competitive level.

Rather than bench warming and training with Arsenal, it’s best if Vela gets first team action. We all know what he’s capable of doing, but us fans need to see whether he can maintain consistency at the top level. I’m sure Vela knows that he has a future at Arsenal but our attacking options are plentiful and too competitive. He should understand that even Walcott, Arshavin and Bendtner are needed to wait in the bench for their chance. Hopefully he’ll play his heart out (wherever he goes on loan) and proves to Wenger that he deserves a starting place too. I want Wenger to have a first team selection headache 24/7!

But wait, what happened to David Moyes and his Everton transfer plans? I thought he was looking for attacking options to bring in on loan to replace his under-firing strikers? I would’ve been so happy in Vela was playing for a team like Everton, as most players who have loan spells there had great ones (such as Jo and Landon Donovan at recent times). He’d probably score a lot more goals at Everton than at Bolton, who have scored quite a few goals this season, thanks to the rejuvenated striking pair in Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander. Oh well, I don’t manage Everton though so it’s quite insignificant what I think from a Moyes’ perspective! As an Arsenal fan, I’ll be happy if he stays in the Premier League (because apparently Valencia want him too), starts often and most importantly, creates and scores goals in plenty.

When Fabregas is fully fit

Our favourite Cesc Fabregas is most likely to be completely fit ahead of the clash against Chelsea next Monday. We really do hope he is’ fully’ fit because we can’t afford to continuously lose him on the same niggling injury. It also seems like Robin Van Persie has returned to full match fitness as well and possibly feature in the starting XI on a more regular basis.

After a long time we seem to have a team full of attackers who are fit to play (Diaby is almost close to return too). This is absolutely great, but strangely enough makes it ever more difficult for Wenger to choose a starting lineup. It should be a real headache for Arsene, but from an Arsenal perspective it’s a nice headache to have!

There are quite a few options that Wenger can opt for in the match against Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas will definitely make the starting XI and so will Alex Song and Samir Nasri. The question remains about the others.

I would genuinely like Theo Walcott to start. It’s about time Wenger puts some faith in him and starts with him even in the ‘big’ matches. He has been much more composed in front of goal this season, and could be an option since we struggled to score against Chelsea in the first PL match, and also against Man Utd last week. That would mean Nasri could play on the left wing with Fabregas in center, and Wilshere and Song in support.

So who will be our main striker then? That is the question to ponder. Chamakh has been in amazing form, but is he better than Robin Van Persie? I don’t think so. Maybe I would still go with Chamakh for the Chelsea game, but RVP should come into the lineup asap. If that means Chamakh has to sit out 2-3 games, then that may just be a possibility.

However, that’s just me and I’m quite insignificant in deciding who starts and who doesn’t! What Wenger will most likely do is play Arshavin, again. I know Arshavin is regarded as the ‘big match’ player, but he hasn’t really done much in the tough fixtures so far in the season. But, Arshavin will start for sure. Van Persie and Walcott will also most likely be used as ‘impact’ players off the bench.

There is ofcourse another possibility of dropping Wilshere to the bench. Who would like that? Not many Arsenal fans. Wilshere upon giving a chance in the first team has done brilliantly so far, and has established himself as a consistent performer. One thing that will happen is that Rosicky will have to settle for a place on the bench. Wenger, to everyone’s surprise, did opt to start with Rosicky against the Man Utd game. Although he didn’t do much wrong, he certainly didn’t do anything spectacular either. He would still have a vital role to play off the bench due to his versatility, as he could come on either to go for a win or even protect a lead.

What I’ll be most interested in seeing is how Wenger handles our two star strikers Chamakh and RVP in the next upcoming fixtures. Will Wenger give them time to build a partnership up front, or look to rotate them depending on the magnitude of the fixture?

Regardless of who plays for Arsenal, the next few games are crucial and I’ll hope that everyone involved plays well and gets us those much needed wins.

 

Follow me @sharjilh

Is Arshavin back?

Who in the Arsenal team do all the Arsenal fans regard as lazy, uninspiring and low in team spirit? Most probably Andrei Arshavin. Our Russian international, who is an evident Barcelona fan and isn’t used to playing in the cold, hasn’t really lived up to expectations recently.

Who do you least expect to step up to plate when squad morale is low after a week of terrible results? Probably Arshavin again. This time, he hits us all fans aback with a cracker of a performance.

Arshavin’s goal against Aston Villa was crucial. Although Arsenal were dominating from the kick-off, we were frustrated by not being able to convert the chances that were coming our way. That’s when Arshavin’s precise finish to the bottom right corner broke the shackles. Soon after he produced an insightful pass to break Samir Nasri free one-on-one with the goal keeper which Nasri missed (and shouldn’t have especially after the angle he beat to score in the Tottenham game earlier). He did however manage to assist Nasri later in the first half with a corner kick. Not only that, he did manage to make some brilliant runs on the counter to pose a constant threat to the Villa defense. Although it was a great team effort, he did enough to be the MoM.

Was his performance enough to prove that he’s back to form? Maybe, but there are still quite a few important games coming up in December. It was still great to see Arshavin play so well and take control against a Villa side who always tend to nick results off.

Andrei Arshavin v Aston Villa

Arshavin has always been one of my favourite players since I saw him play in Euro 2008. I’m so glad that he’s scored after a 9 game goal drought. Hopefully this will get him back on the goal trail. We desperately need him to.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not going to change too much. He will still be that lazy character always getting that odd assist and poking out for goals.

We can’t really expect all our Arsenal players to give their 100% every game. Arshavin certainly does not have the Gunner ‘spirit’ bursting through his veins. Our team still needs him. He’s a genuine match winner and has the ability to show flashes of brilliance at the most unexpected of times.  That’s probably why Arsene Wenger plays him game in and out, because you never know when his day is.

Man to watch vs Braga: Nicklas Bendtner

The squad for tonight looks rather shallow with a number of players missing with various reason giving it a kind of Carling Cup look. But we can assure you it is indeed a Champion’s League fixture tonight and it is one of those matches where we put our squad depth to the test.  Gael Clichy will miss the match through a back injury and Vermaelen and Diaby remain sidelined. Aaron Ramsey and Manuel Almunia have played 45 minutes tonight in a different fixture to regain fitness  and thus are not available for tonight. Arshavin and Robin v. Persie are set to be rested, the former because of playing back to back matches and the latter due to yet unknown reasons. Cesc Fabregas could also not feature in this match. This makes way for players such as Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshire, Carlos Vela, Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Eboue and Nicklas Bendtner who have been mainly on the bench this season.

Nicklas Bendtner is set to start today and with a point to prove. He had been complaining recently about how he deserved to start after he returned to fitness which was kind of absurd at that time as Chamakh was in form and Bendtner was surely behind a fit RVP in pecking order. But, Chamakh has been very plain in recent games and RVP seems to lack fitness which should  prompt the manager to give this issue a second thought. This indeed could be a make or break match for the Dane. If he can perform as good as his confidence seems to imply, then surely he could get a string of starts in the next couple of weeks. With only 5 league appearances this season,all of which were from the bench, Bendtner has been only a shadow of the player he was last season with constant injuries. This is an auspicious fixture for the Dane as he was very much a Champion’s League player last season scoring 5 goals which made him one of the top scorers of the competition.  But will today’s depleted Arsenal team be able to feed Bendtner at a ground where it has never played before? With key players missing in midfield, it might require Bendtner to shift it up a gear and provide a strong individual performance today. The current Arsenal team is bigger and more competitive than ever before and a good performance is no longer ‘good enough’. Nicklas Bendtner, although lacking in certain departments, has one quality that many Arsenal players seem to lack at the moment- confidence. If he can take advantage of this strength tonight, I fully expect Arsenal to beat Braga  and get the upper hand in our group.