Posts Tagged ‘ Robin Van Persie ’

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.

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.

Bend it like Bendtner

Our super star striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic wannabe is finally heading to a graceful Arsenal exit.

I’ve been so surprised over the last one year of his continued insistence of trying to leave Arsenal. His main justification was that Wenger was sidelining him from the Arsenal first time when he feels he is ‘ready’. You’re ready Nicklas, nobody doubts that. That’s why you were Wenger’s first choice striker in the Champions League a couple of seasons back. When Van Persie had been sidelined through injury and Bendtner was available, he was playing. Sadly enough, Bendtner couldn’t live up to his own standards last season and Marouane Chamakh took his spot. Still he continuously got chances, and except for a few quality finishes, he continuously failed.

So I hope he doesn’t blame Wenger, because he did get plenty of opportunities. In fact, a lot more than even the fans wanted.

It’s his ego that is always questionable. On many instances he said that he has the potential to be the world’s greatest striker, and compared himself to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (who knows why Ibrahimovic is his benchmark in the first place?). It’s not joke to be of the class of Zlatan. No doubt there was a lot of hype around him. Steve Bruce picked up his potential pretty quickly in his loan spell to Birmingham City. Still, you can’t just go to the press and make over-confident statements like that. Prove your quality on the field first, and others will judge potential and ability. I’m sure he expected ‘top clubs’ all over the world to come knocking after finding out his transfer availability, but that didn’t happen. Hopefully that has brought him back to earth.

Either way I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes. He’s still young, so maybe he will be a top world-class striker one day. If only he was a bit more patient, he could have been an Arsenal favourite.

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.

 

Get Rid of Arshavin

We know Juventus as the club who have been constantly trying to unsettle Robin Van Persie by showing an interest in him for the past couple of years. Ofcourse, they failed miserably. Robin Van Persie has Gunners blood now, so he’s not fazed by that sort of stuff too much. Juve have finally turned their attention to another Arsenal favourite Andrei Arshavin.

I’m not actually sure whether Arshavin has become an ‘Arsenal favourite’. I personally like him a lot, but quite a few fans still don’t think he should start as regularly as Wenger makes him. Recently, he’s been missing easy chances which should’ve been scored and could’ve changed the scenario of the match.

Arshavin’s role in the team will certainly change over the next few months. Assuming our midfield and attacking options are injury free (fingers crossed), he will definitely have to find a place in the Arsenal bench more often. With Nasri and Walcott playing so well, I don’t see Wenger placing Arshavin as the ‘genuine’ starter anymore. Is the Russian captain happy with a more subdued bench role for Arsenal? I’m not too sure.

Andrei Arshavin joined us in January 2009 and has made the starting lineup on a regular basis. Therefore, he has definitely contributed to any of the successes and failures we have had as a team over these last two years.

What if a bid were to come for Arshavin? How much is he even valued at the club? Should he be sold if the bid is much higher than we expected? I’m not saying Arshavin should be sold now. The more quality players like him we have in the squad, the more likely we are going to win any silverware this season.

He is 29 now and should definitely be at his peak right now. However, he doesn’t seem to be at his best and we probably won’t see any drastic improvements in his game in the near future. So let’s be realistic, as Arshavin is not irreplaceable. If a situation like that was to arise, Wenger should spare some thought.

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. 🙂

Who Should Arsenal Face: Barcelona or Real Madrid?

So the much anticipated Champions League draw is tomorrow afternoon (in my time zone anyways). The four teams that we can draw are Schalke, Bayern Munich, Barcelona or Real Madrid. Does anyone have a feeling like me that it’s most likely going to be one of the Spanish giants?

Our Champions League campaign started on a high when Arsenal comprehensively won the first three group games, but had to wait to the last game in order to secure qualification. We only have ourselves to blame for making things so difficult. But as many people predicate our team, that it wouldn’t be Arsenal if they didn’t do things the hard way.

Copyright Getty Images

Some fans seem to think that it’s best not to focus on the Champions League and actually get eliminated early to focus on the Premier League. This could be maybe because of the disappointing performances against Shakhtar and Braga, so the ‘hope’ of winning the competition has dissipated. Unfortunately, Arsenal have found themselves in a similar sort of position in the Premier League for a countless number of times in the past few seasons and yet haven’t been able to capitalise on them.

One of the fans I talked to recently said that he wants Arsenal to face Real Madrid to give them the same 5-0 thrashing that Barcelona did (woah, that’s the spirit!). Many may also want to face Barcelona early on in order to take revenge of last season. That is a possibility, especially since our team does look a lot stronger than when we faced Barcelona the last campaign. This time, Samir Nasri is firing at all ends and we have the likes of Chamakh and a fit RVP, so Bendtner is less likely to be our primary front-man. Others of course, are still wary of facing Spain’s dominating footballing forces and would much rather fancy their chances against Schalke or Bayern to progress further into the tournament.

Questions about our weaknesses remain. Football pundits ask whether Fabianski is ‘good enough’ to protect the Arsenal goal for them to win the Champions League? Does the Arsenal backline possess enough quality and depth to prevent the likes of Messi and Ronaldo scoring goals aplenty? Is Chamakh prolific and lethal enough for the Gunners attack to lead us to glory?

The problems are there. But do we sulk about them and lose confidence, or accept them and move on? The latter seems to be the right way to go. Does it really matter whether we face Barcelona or Real Madrid early in the competition? We’ll have to face them eventually if we are to win. So why fear them at all?

I cannot accept any element of fear in this Arsenal side. We are a team that has played in this prestigious competition for 13 seasons so far. The team needs to exuberate confidence and the winning mentality must flow through the veins at all times. Whether we play at Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeu or at the Emirates, we must be in it to win it.