Posts Tagged ‘ English Premier League ’

Walcott needs to start!

Our Chelsea curse is finally over and we can gladly put it behind us. It was an absolutely fantastic performance from all the players as they stepped up to the plate in the perfect time to give us fans an amazing end of year present. This match should also pull us away from the ‘big match chokers’ title. Finally.

Although Cesc Fabregas was the official man of the match, most fans felt it should have gone to Alex Song. I have often criticized him this season for being too attack-minded and failing to give effective cover when opposition often counter against us. However, it was due to his anticipation and hunger to score that Song found himself in a great position after breaking away from the crowd of defenders and provided that crucial goal right before half-time.

Let’s see, who else had did outstandingly well? Oh yes ofcourse, Drogba finally DID NOT score a goal and that credit has to go to our central defenders. Djourou just added another impressive performance to an already fruitful season so far. He did so well to intercept and clear a bulk of the passes and crosses from the midfield towards the Drog. Koscielny was a bit hesitant and nervy at times, but he still looked quite confident most of the game and did enough to protect the goal.

 

The likes of Song and Djourou have been playing like this the past few months, so it wasnt really anything new. What was new is that Walcott started, and gave us a match-winning show. He proved to us he doesnt just score and perform well against weaker teams like Blackpool and Partizan, but can make the likes of Cashley look like a fool! This shouldve been enough for our No 14 to send a message to Arsene that he should start games way more often, ahead of Arshavin and Rosicky.

I was also so delighted to see Robin Van Persie in full stretch. His movement was impeccable and was always looking to find some space and receive the ball. There is really a stark difference when RVP plays up front, rather than Chamakh. They’re both very different players and I’m not sure when Wenger will be comfortable starting them both together up front. I still think their partnership has the potential to thrive, but it will take time. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to give them too much time!

Overall, it was a strong response from the Gunners after their loss against Man Utd where they looked lacklustre for most of the game. One can only hope that we can build on this victory and continue to maintain this level of form. Can’t look too far ahead though, next up Wigan! Give us a New Year’s present this time Arsenal. 🙂

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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

Arsenal faces Manchester United: The anxiety ‘almost’ over

There has been so much speculation surrounding this fixture, that it’s been tough to follow ‘all’ of it for an average Arsenal fan like me. This just builds up to the intensity, and shows how badly both teams want to come out as the victorious ones.

Everyone seems to have had their say. Some a bit outspoken, while others simply reiterating the already known. Let’s sum up what’s been said so far.

Evra has possibly made himself the most hated figure to the whole Arsenal community by calling our club a ‘training centre’. Park Ji Sung questions our ability to win, partly due to inexperience. Sagna came up with a statement to just hit back at Evra’s unnecessary criticism (thank you Bacary). Nasri has said that he’s not afraid of Manchester United as they are much weaker offensively than they were before. Clichy has spread a strong signal of intent by saying that Arsenal are ready to change their tactical style of play, in order to beat United. The funniest comment, in my opinion was when Darren Fletcher came out of nowhere and tells the press that he’s not a ‘dirty player’ like Wenger has so before. I’m sorry Darren, but find a better excuse to get on the news (I don’t think even Man United fans care about what he says). Wenger and Ferguson on the other hand, have both come out with ‘respectful’ comments. They are two managers that have persisted in the Premier League for so long, and we all know how they must really feel like inside when it’s time they go head-to-head.

All of these comments seem to be insignificant now. After a few hours when the whistle blows for kick-off, none of these players will remember what has been said. All that will matter is the 90 mins of football that will determine the winners of this clash.

What really ticked me off today was when I was talking to one of my friends who is a hardcore Man Utd fan. He was telling me that even Tottenham are better than Arsenal now (nobody goes there). That’s where the Man Utd fans confidence level is. They criticise Arsenal before talking about the strength of their own team. You can’t blame a Man Utd fan. We have no one to blame but ourselves for not winning a trophy for so long. However, what my friend was also saying is that Manchester United are a ’10 star’ team in FIFA 11 and Arsenal aren’t. Well on that matter, I just want to tell all the Man Utd fans that the only reason their legendary team gets 10 stars nowadays is because they make Wayne Rooney one of the best strikers in the game. I won’t blame FIFA 11 on that either, because they didn’t know that Wayne Rooney wouldn’t score a proper goal for United in 5 months!

To be honest, I can’t be bothered about all that title race and mentality stuff when it comes to United. All I want is for the Gunners to go out there and beat them, whether it’s at Old Trafford or not.

I don’t know how Wenger motivates his players before the match starts. I just want to tell all the Arsenal players that in order to be champions, we must feel like champions. Be a champion tonight. Go out there, and make us proud.

Follow me @sharjilh

If it isn’t the players or the fans…

This season has been a roller coaster ride so far and more so for Arsenal FC. The trickery that this club is playing on the fans is confusing and the sudden glimmers of hope that we see are extinguished and crushed so fast that we are left in a state of frustration and gloominess. We lose to West Brom and Chelsea in consecutive weeks and then thrash ManCity 3-0 at their home ground?  Then after a hard-earned win against West Ham, we lose to Newcastle? Wait we’re not done yet. We win the next 3 games only to get humiliated by our main rivals at home even though we were 2-0 ahead at half time! It’s ironic how Arsenal were the only team to win last week whereas all the other title contenders dropped points. This week, all the others obtained maximum points(with the exception of Chelsea and thank God for that) while Arsenal were the ones to lose. At the moment no one has any proper reason as to why we lost to sp*rs that day and more so to why we are so inconsistent especially at home.

The reasons for the inconsistencies for all the title contenders are quite obvious. ManUtd are a club in decline with aging players. Add to that the fact that their best player a couple of season ago has left for Real and the controversy involving Rooney; it’s clear that the club is not fully mentally and physically stable right now. Liverpool too have their own problems and are hardly considered top-4 quality these days. Other than a couple of good core players, their peripherals are weak including a manager who never managed a big club. The only reason Chelsea are in a bad run right now is  because of their injuries. With injuries to Fat Frank and Essien and to the core of their defense it is understandable for them to drop a few points now. This run is  temporary though and it is only a matter of time that before they bounce back. ManCity have a good crop of (money-grabbing) players but they need time to gel and their team performance will only continue to improve with time. Tottenham cannot cope with the number of fixtures they have. Playing in the Champion’s league is no walk in the park and the low match-fitness of some of their players sometimes become very apparent. And in any case, they do not have a good enough defense or a strike force to seriously challenge for the title this year. But what’s Arsenal’s excuse. We currently have a more or less fully fit squad. Van Persie and Fabregas in the same squad is a miracle that we experience only during the first few weeks of the PL. Hell, even our goalie is playing well these days!

Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Who better to answer these questions than the manager of the club himself? Arsene Wenger explains the reason for the loss to Tottenham:

“We can switch off at the back, We are not there. With five minutes to go you make sure you win your headers when you play at the back and we were caught unfortunately.’’

“We were 2-0 up and it was all in our hands. It’s a strange coincidence of facts that are very difficult to explain even when you are in the job as long as I am. But to completely lose the focus as much as we did and especially the second goal and third goal are very difficult.

“We wanted to keep the urgency and our defensive tightness alive [in the second half] but straight away when we came out [we conceded]. It’s not the first time that has happened and it is one of our weaknesses. Many times we come out and drop a little bit the urgency when we are ahead. We did not come out and be dominating.”

And whose fault is it that we still do not have a defender who can aerially dominate, Mr. Wenger? Even with signings of Koscielny, Squilacci and Vermaelen, we still do not have that big monster of a defender that we have craved for the last 5 years. Not saying that the players above are bad but they all have one single weakness-the same weakness the Arsenal defense had for years – defending a set-piece. And for the sp*rs game, can anyone explain why Djourou was dropped? I mean, if he had done nothing wrong for the last few games why should he be dropped. Koscielny is a better tackler than Djourou but Djourou is slightly better aerially and could have made a difference in that match.

So far all fingers point towards Wenger. It is his job to face it now. He himself admitted that this team has completely matured. He himself admitted that this squad now has a winning mentality. And, he himself admitted that this is the strongest Arsenal squad that he ever had. If it isn’t the players or the fans, then it’s you Mr. Wenger. The stakes are higher than ever now. Prove to us that you are still up for it. Prove to us that YOU still have that winning mentality. Prove it now because our patience can only last so long..