Posts Tagged ‘ Cesc Fabregas ’

Captain Van-tabulous

Robin van Persie has caught the attention of the media, and the rest of the world. They’re all for the right reasons.

He sits on 34 goals for the year 2011 and close to beating Alan Shearer’s record of scoring the most goals in a calendar year. This would be an impressive feat in any league, but even more so in the Premier League because of the gritty and compact defenses that it possesses.

The timing of his incredible form in front of goal could not have been better. The club was looming with disappointment with the loss of stars Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Someone needed to step up to the plate and inspire hope into the side. RVP took the mantle of captaincy with glee and led from the front.

This season we witness the Van Persie that we missed in previous seasons, when he found himself injured in the sidelines on a regular basis. The past is past, and Wenger still had confidence in his ability as he became the Arsenal frontline striker.  While a couple of years ago he used to produce flashes of brilliance with his dribbling and powerful free kicks. Now he is able to singlehandedly produce a string of classy, consistent performances which reap positive results. Even though the side heavily relies on his performance day in and out, he handles the pressure incredibly well and thrives in it.

Transfer rumours will always surround a player of his quality. 3 years ago it was Juventus, and now it is Real Madrid and Manchester City who are anticipating his signature. It is difficult to gage the future but it is unlikely that Dutchman will leave the club so soon. He should realize his enormous responsibility and importance to the club, something he would not get in parity with clubs filled with big names. Either way, Arsenal fans can just hope that he pens a new contract with the club as soon as possible and continues to mesmerize us with his match winning contributions.

He loves the club, and he loves his role as captain. This was evident when he scored the wonder volley goal against Everton (see video below). Instead of doing a solo celebration for his magical personal effort, he ran over to the Arsenal bench to celebrate the crucial 3 points earned for his side. Salute to you, Captain Van-tabulous.

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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.

 

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.

 

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It’s time for revenge Barca, ‘cause revenge is sweet

Oh let’s cut the crap. We all knew who we were going to face next. Admitted that we ‘wished’ for something else but deep inside our fragile hearts we knew that it was time- time for revenge.

Some Arsenal fans are already moaning about how unlucky we are and that we can never win against a side like Barcelona. Really? If Arsenal fans feel like that then we seriously do not deserve to be in the Champion’s league. What’s the point of playing in the Champion’s League if we do not have the guts to face Europe’s top teams? It defeats the purpose, really. If not now, then when? We would eventually have to play them anyway. After playing in this elite competition for 13 seasons consecutively, we should be able to cope with this type of pressure. If Arsenal can ‘beat any other team’, why won’t it be able to beat Barcelona?

Arsenal are the underdogs in this match up. I know some fans prefer that we stay underdogs but frankly speaking, I don’t want us to be underdogs anymore. Why you say? Because I think Arsenal deserve more than just being a good club playing good football. I want Arsenal to be a club that puts fear into even the most elite clubs. I don’t want opponents claiming that they ‘rather face Arsenal than Chelsea or Manutd’. You know why people keep saying things like that? Because Arsenal never won the Champion’s League before. Yes, we went to the final once but ask any neutral footy fan if he or she remembers that game. I bet the answer would be ‘no’.

Arsenal are really unlucky. We again face Barca at the Emirates first. Personally, I would have preferred an away game to start with. That way we actually know where we stand when Barca come to play in our turf. It gives us the mental edge. But no, that won’t happen because lady luck’s a friggin’ Barca fan!

The one man who will be a key player for this tie is obviously our skipper Cesc Fabregas. He has to step up soon. I do not know what’s wrong with the chap. Before his injury he seemed very rusty. He made his comeback against Manutd the other day and he seemed even rustier. I mean, at a game like that adrenaline alone should make him be on his toes. But no, Cesc Fabregas’ 65% pass completion rate off the bench made him the most wasteful Arsenal player on the pitch. But the game is at the end of February and he has time to recover. But he has to step it up for this game, not just to the next level but to his maximum level.

At the end of the day, though, this is the biggest and the toughest game for Arsenal so far this season. I know revenge itself is not a good enough reason to play this game. But our pride is at stake this time. I am fed of us being the weaker of the two clubs playing the same way. I want us to be the best at what we do. I believe so, but the world does not. It’s time to put an end to this once and for all. Arsenal shall not only beat Barcelona, but go to win it all the way as well. Let’s keep believing, because it will make us stronger.

Manutd Strikers vs Arsenal Defenders

This fixture could not have come at a better time. Both Arsenal and Manchester United are in the form of their life. Arsenal have won four of their last four away games and Manutd have won four of their last four home games. From a neutral perspective, this match has got all it takes to be a season best. This match is the definition of goals.

But, the odds seem to be slightly tilted towards the home side. Manchester United have scored the most number of goals in the Premier League even though they have played fifteen, one less than Arsenal. On the other hand, Arsenal have kept only four clean sheets out of a possible sixteen. This indeed is worrying from an Arsenal perspective. Arsenal now have to score more than the highest scoring team in their own home ground whilst providing a top defensive display. Can Arsenal do it? Only time will tell.

I am fully confident that Arsenal can dominate midfield even in the absence of Cesc Fabregas. And both of our top two strikers have enough quality to deal with  the Manutd defense. But can I say with the same confidence that the Arsenal can dominate the Manutd strikers? Unfortunately the answer has to be no. The fu

llbacks can possibly handle themselves but I am really concerned with the heart of our defense. Let’s see what might happen when the defenders go head to head with the strikers:

Koscielny vs Berbatov: Having never played Manutd before, this match-up is hard to predict. Koscielny is alright with his aerial ability although I would have preferred Djourou against Berbatov. I don’t think Wenger will listen to me though. If Koscielny can keep up with Berbatov aerially, I believe Koscielny will be at an advantage. This is because Koscielny is best at anticipating and tackling. I also believe he can cope with Berbatov’s pace which is not very high. What Koscielny has to be aware of is Berba’s killer instinct near the goal. A lot of low crosses will be played from both sides with the help of Nani and Park(possibly) and Koscielny will need to man-mark the striker really well.

Squillaci vs Wayne Rooney: I am most worried about this match-up. Unless we are really lucky and/or Rooney is completely out of form, I cannot see Squillaci effectively defending against the Englishman. Squillaci is slow. His tackling is so-so and aerially he his horrifying. Moreover, his partnership with Koscielny has yet to take off. If Arsenal are to lose/draw against Manutd on Monday, Rooney might as well be the reason for it. To cope with him, Squillaci has to be at the top of his game and Wenger has to apply some major tactics. Squillaci will not get away with it if he repeats the same errors that he made against Fulham and Partizan. Their strikers were lethargic, Wayne is not. Rooney will punish Squillaci cruelly for every mistake he makes.

Clichy vs Nani: This one can go either way. It depends on which Clichy shows up on Monday. Will it be the Clichy with the awesome tackling ability or will it be the absent-minded, error prone Clichy we occasionally see? Clichy can match Nani with his speed but it will be his awareness and tackling precision that determines who wins the duel. I say tackling ‘precision’ because Nani will be up to his tricks and everytime Clichy makes a bad tackle he will give away a free kick. And, we do not want to concede free kicks to the likes of Berbatov, Rooney and Vidic, especially when Nani will be taking them. Let’s just hope the right Clichy shows up on match day.

Sagna vs Park: This is one duel I am fairly confident about. The only thing that Sagna needs to be wary of is Park’s movements off the ball. That Korean can make some deadly runs and Sagna has to make sure that the Park-Evra combination does not work. But, I think out of all the Arsenal defenders, Sagna is the most dependable and I expect him to do his job.

Manchester United will be up for the game but so will Arsenal. To hide some of our apparent frailties, we have to dominate the game well. We have to make sure the ball is on the right side of the field most of the time. Manchester is a counter attacking team and I hope our players are training accordingly. This is not a run of the mill fixture; we have to do much more than we did against the likes of Fulham and Partizan. Manchester United will be looking to take advantage of every mistake we make and we have to always be one step ahead of them to win.

Truly ‘Hazard’ous

Eden Hazard, heard the name? Pretty much most people who follow football closely will know that he is one of Europe’s most talented footballers. He’s got electrifying pace, a great shifter (almost Messi-like) and has been a match-winner for Lille with some influential displays.

Can we get him? Nope, almost impossible now. Unless he is a devoted Arsenal fan, he won’t come to Arsenal. Although he is strongly linked to Liverpool as well, he won’t go there either. What will happen is that as soon as there is the slightest hint that Eden Hazard is available (if not this transfer window then another one), the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea will come in and try to swoop him up at unmatchable prices.

Eden Hazard

So that means another world class talent out of our grasp? I wouldn’t really look at it that way. It is true Arsenal have had some bad luck in the transfer market at times. Wenger did state that even the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres could’ve joined Arsenal at the time they were available.

If you actually look at our young attacking options, they’re quite amazing on paper. Samir Nasri is only just 23 and is becoming a better player by the day. He keeps playing like this and in a few years time we’re going to start to consider him an Arsenal legend. Also, the fact that he will be a considered a regular in the France team will help him mould into that star we need in our team. Theo Walcott is the potential ultimate Gunner for me. Arsene Wenger didn’t just give him the No. 14 shirt without a reason. He won’t fill up Thierry Henry’s boots, but he will be right up there. I’m hoping injuries are out of his way and with a few more first team opportunities, he will build more confidence and develop a better footballing brain to reach his peak.

The big name that fans don’t consider ‘youth’ is Cesc Fabregas. We often tend to forget that he’s still young (only 23) because he’s such an integral part of our first team. The truth is he will also only improve. The problem is that there is so much transfer speculation surrounding his link to Barcelona, that it’s not helping him. What’s even worse is that he’s been rumoured to go back to Barcelona since he started featuring in the Arsenal first team, and yet he’s still at the Emirates. Now what we need is for that speculation to disappear forever. Barcelona just signed Ibrahim Afellay, and Fabregas should be smart enough to realize that he’ll probably have to spend a majority of the time in the Barcelona bench as well. Once Fabregas is only seen as the indispensable Arsenal captain and not as a Barcelona transfer target, we’ll see a new Fabregas.

I’m not even going to talk about Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Carlos Vela this time. Also not even mention the likes of Samuel Galindo, Wellington Silva, Henri Lansbury and JET who are outstanding prospects in the making.

Now you ask yourself, should we really be thinking about Eden Hazard? It’s not the end of the world. The beauty about football is that talented players just keep on coming in the ranks. We also have the manager who has the best eye for youth.  So let’s be realistic and leave the ‘Hazard’ous one for others to handle.