Good Morning, not sure quite how to feel today after the Champions League Draw. You could have put your house, car and children on us drawing Barcelona in the next phase, it was always going to happen. It gives us a chance for a bit of revenge for last year but Barca are looking even stronger this time around and they look simply irresistible at the moment. Of course we only have ourselves to blame for the difficult tie after finishing second in our group, whoever we got would have been tough, facing either a trip to Spain or a trip to Germany.
However we mustn’t go into the game fearful of a defeat like every other team facing Barcelona does. Half the problem with facing Barca is that most teams are beaten before they even walk out onto the pitch. We have enough weapons on our side to cause them a problem and providing we can keep everyone fit, we may just be able to pull off a result. Last season we had a half fit Fabregas at the Emirates, and no Fab, Arshavin, Gallas, Song or RVP in the mauling we received at the Nou Camp. If we can keep Fabregas, Nasri, RVP, Chamakh and Walcott fit we have more than enough to cause Barca a threat. Also hopefully Vermaelen and Diaby will be back to full fitness by then, so that could be a welcomed boost.
Anyway back to more important matters for the time being, a visit of Stoke in the League where 3 points are a must once again. After Monday’s disappointing defeat against United its important to bounce back in great fashion and a stuffing of Pulis, Shawcross and Co will be exactly what the doctor ordered. Hopefully a bit of payback also for Ramsey’s broken leg in last season’s game which has hopefully only just put a holt on Rambo’s career, and who knows maybe he will be back in contention for the Barca game.
Stoke will be also looking for a bounce back of their own after suffering a defeat at home against Blackpool last weekend and they have gone 3 league games without a victory, which see’s them occupy 12th place in the league. Stoke haven’t beaten us at home since August 1981 when they beat us 1-0. Before Arsenal’s 3-1 victory against Stoke away last season, the previous 10 ties between Arsenal and Stoke had always been won by the home side.
This game will mark Ryan Shawcross’ first appearance against Arsenal since his horrific tackle broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg in February and Wenger has called for fans to show respect to Ryan. However despite this from Wenger on the other hand we got Tosser Pulis shouting out about how dirty a team we are in regards to our disciplinary record this season. Very rich from a guy who sets out his team to be physical and boot teams off the pitch. Hopefully no more injuries will be handed out after Saturday’s game.
Szczesny could continue in-goal for Saturday’s game after Fabianski has a reported hip injury which could rule him out. If Szczesny carries on from Monday night then this could well be his opportunity to stake a claim for a regular first team spot. Despite only playing 4 games this season there is something about Szczesny that makes me feel safe and comfortable with him in between the sticks. This is a feeling I haven’t felt since Jens was at the club during the Invincibles era. The boy certainly has something special and hopefully another good performance on Saturday will see him secure the number one spot.
A lot of talk to be made over the Barca tie, lets just put that to the back of our thoughts until february comes around and concentrate on putting the pressure on United in the title race, 3 points tomorrow will certainly do this and will put us top of the league ahead of the Chelsea v United game on Sunday, and a draw there will certainly do us no harm. So lets rally the troops and batter Tosser Pulis tomorrow.
Cheers for reading, have a good Friday and enjoy tomorrow’s game.
I’m not going to sit here and start slagging off the Arsenal team and saying how poor we played and this, that and the third. The facts are that we lost 1-0 at Old Trafford thanks to a superb finish from Park Ji Sung. In a game like last nights it was always going to take something out of the ordinary to separate the teams and the little Korean supplied that for United.
In all honesty United probably just about shaded it overall, they looked more threatening than we did going forward and despite boasting the majority of possession we failed to create any real significant chances, other than Chamakh’s shot that was blocked by Vidic. United pressed us all over the pitch and failed to give us much time on the ball, they were happy to let Koscielny and Squillaci have the ball but when it came to giving it to Wilshere, Song or Rosicky in the centre, a United wave of pressure leapt onto us and we were unable to conjour up a killer ball.
It wasn’t a game for attacking players, Rooney and Nani looked threatening in drips and drabs but on the whole I felt we dealt with their threat quite well. However we didn’t seem to put Ferdinand or Vidic under any pressure and they were able to deal with Chamakh quite easily. I was disappointed that we didn’t get at Rafael a bit more, because he is probably the weak link in the United defence and I would have liked to see Nasri, Arshavin or even Walcott run at him as there are question marks over his defensive abilities. Arshavin had another poor game where he failed to make an impact and genuinely looked like he couldn’t give a S***, and in a game where a moment of brilliance from one of our ‘big game players’ could have made all the difference, Arshavin failed to stand up to be counted for.
Szczesny looked very accomplished in goal and made a few saves including a very Schmeichel-like save to defy Anderson in the second half. Other than a few dodgy clearances early on in the game, I think we can be proud of the young pole’s debut and he did his chances of staking a claim for the number one jersey no harm at all, and I personally believe he has the ability as well as the potential to be a great number one for us and one of the best keepers in the world.
The reason why Evra’s statements before the match get to us as fans, as well as the players is because there is an element of truth involved in what he is saying. Last night’s game was a prime example of what Evra talks about in the press, and lets face it even though Evra is a nasty piece of work, what he is saying about ‘men against boys’ isn’t far short of the truth. Last night’s defeat was our 5th in 6 games against United and makes it over 4 years since our last victory at Old Trafford came. The difference between us and United is that they showed a level of maturity in seeing the game out and when their chance came they took it. Us on the other hand struggled to create anything meaningful and when our chance did come it was squandered. The little things make a difference and although the term ‘men against boys’ makes me physically sick every time I hear it, its only because its true that it actually hurts.
The frightening thing looking at the team sheets before the game last night was the lack of leaders we had on the pitch defined by Rosicky as our captain, who in all fairness had a pretty poor game and was non existent for the majority of it. I couldn’t pick out any players from our starting line up who I looked to and said ‘yes, we are going to win because so and so are playing’. United on the other hand was different. Wherever you looked you could see a leader on their team, from Van der Sar in goal, to Rio and Nemanja in defence to Rooney up front. Having those leaders in the team are so important in gaining results in big matches and make the difference between winning and losing. The problem with us is that we have so much talent on the field but no natural leader that when the tough gets going is there to make sure the players don’t lose their heads and make sure the game is seen out, and the 3 points have been won.
The deciding goal came just before half time which was a real killer blow to our hopes as a goal before half time really did alter the moods of the players. Incidently that is the 7th goal we have conceded between 31-45 mins so far this season and has been a feature of our defensive issues this term, in regards to the fact that we lose concentration far too easily before the half time whistle. Another interesting stat is that we have gone 1-0 down 6 times so far this term and out of those 6 times we have gone on to lose 4 of the games. Something there isn’t right and maybe heads do drop when we go 1-0 down rather than showing belief like we have in recent seasons in coming back from behind. Also we have been losing at half time 4 occasions this season and on all 4 occasions we have gone on to lose the game. In comparison to us being level at half time on 8 occasions and going on to win 5 of those games. Going back to the stat I gave earlier about the conceding goals just before half time, I think it shows how important it is just to see the game through to the half time whistle and how important a goal just before half time can be in respect to the final outcome of the match.
Of course last night was a disappointing result and is now our 5th defeat in the league already, however we still are up there and as long as everyone is dropping points we are still going to be in with a shout. Hopefully now with RVP and Fabregas back in the side we can bounce back and put this defeat behind us and put United under some pressure, because United are by no stretch of imagination unbeatable, so they will drop points its just up to us to be there to capitalize.
That is all for today, Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed.
Szczesny – 8
Clichy – 5
Squillaci – 6
Koscielny – 6
Sagna – 6
Nasri – 6
Wilshere – 6
Song – 5
Rosicky – 5
Arshavin – 5
Chamakh – 5
Van Persie – 5
Fabregas – 5
Walcott – 6
So its Monday morning and instead of writing about the weekend’s results I sit here instead talking about the game tonight. Now Monday Night Football is no strange thing to us and I’ve always quite enjoyed it, because lets face it Monday Nights aren’t exactly full of things to do. However to have a United v Arsenal match on a Monday night has ever so slightly bamboozled me. Normally I’m used to watching games like Blackburn v Sunderland on a Monday night and now tonight the biggest game of the season is being showcased. I guess this really shows how much money plays a part in football these days.
Anyway on to the important stuff, the game tonight. A win tonight would firmly put us in the driving seat for the title race, whereas a defeat would install doubts into the players minds, as that would make it defeats against United, Chelsea and Spurs and 5 losses in total for the season. In my eyes United are there for the taking, this has to be the weakest United team I have witnessed in my 19 years of life. However we aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders either.
Historically we have had some good moments at Old Trafford and alternatively we have had times that are hard to forget. Who can forget Wiltord’s strike winning us the title in 2002, equally who can forget the 6-1 mauling we received in 2000. Old Trafford seems to bring out the best and the worst of both teams and I think this season will be no different.
The last 10 games against United have only seen us come away with 2 victories and suffering 6 defeats, and in our last 10 trips to Old Trafford we have only won once and suffered 8 defeats. That record has left us Arsenal fans without much to shout about in recent times against United and is something that needs to change if we are going to be victorious this season.
United’s defence is as shakey as I have ever seen them, they have conceded more goals than us this season and with Rio looking very unconvincing at the back, I don’t think we will get a better chance to beat United than we will have tonight. Of course however United are unbeaten so far this term and have the best home record in the Prem(W-7 D-1 L-0). If we are going to get a result tonight then we have to be solid defensively and exploit their weaknesses at the back.
It could well be Samir Nasri’s game tomorrow, if he plays well then I think we can come back with all 3 points. His direct approach, pace and trickery could be too much for United and if he delivers tonight could be a very good night. Juries still out on who will start tonight for either team as both managers have rotated quite a lot this term. A late fitness test will determine whether Fabregas will travel or not, but I think a place on the bench is all the Spaniard can hope for. Koscielny and Squillaci will probably start at the heart of defence and I reckon Arshavin will keep his place in the team, even though I think Walcott deserves a start ahead of him.
Song will have an important role to play tomorrow and it will be his job to sit in front of the back four and give us some added protection. I think he is a better player when he does a defensive job rather than pushing on and thinking he is Fabregas. I would like to see Song, Wilshere and Rosicky play through the middle if Fabregas isn’t fit of course, with Walcott and Nasri down the flanks. Alternatively I wouldn’t mind seeing Nasri through the middle with Song and Wilshere, with RVP, Chamakh and Walcott playing in a front 3.
Hopefully Evra’s comments in the press will spur us on to do well and will give us the ammunition to give United a real stuffing and what they deserve. It’s about time we put Evra’s mouth to rest because every season he says something and somehow it seems to get to us. Hopefully tomorrow night Nasri can shut him up once and for all.
Thats all for today though guys, enjoy your Monday and we look forward to that 8pm kick off. Cheers
On a cold, miserable night at the Emirates the team performed a bit like the weather, the odd gust of wind in a game of very few attempts at goal, but I suppose we can’t complain we are in the last sixteen of the Champions League for the 11th season running. Once again not very impressive at home and we looked very nervy up untill Van Persie slotted home the first half penalty, to say we deserved the lead would be an overstatement, we hardly even tested the Partizan keeper. When Partizan equalized you could sense that everyone could predicted that this would happen and was a typical ‘I told you so moment’. Thankfully late goals from Theo and Samir rescued 3 points for us that proved needless in the end as Shakhtar rightfully topped the group beating Braga.
I can’t remember a Champions League home game where we have looked so flat going forward, Arshavin just looked like he didn’t want to be there. He was embarrassing, his attitude stank and every time he got the ball he gave it away. He may have 8 assists in the Premier League so far this season, but he didn’t look capable of a successful back pass to Fabianski, let alone setting up a goal for someone. I just can’t put up with Arshavin deciding to turn up to a game where he feels fit, I would sooner drop him and play Theo. As soon as Theo came on you could see the difference and a goal pretty much straight away, atleast he actually looks like he wants to wear the shirt. Arshavin should be dropped against United, not sure whether he will care too much but we should have him not caring from the bench rather than in the starting line up.
Van Persie and Chamakh in the starting line up didn’t quite do it for me, of course they will need time to get used to playing with each other, we can blame the lack of camaraderie and link up play down to lack of games together. However taking all that into account, I’m still not sure about them playing in the same team. On paper it should work, but too many times they were both coming deep for the ball and when we had the ball in wide positions, you look to see who’s in the box and you find Arshavin in the middle, and Van Persie and Chamakh our two main heading threats are hanging out wide. It just doesn’t make sense to me, obviously they will need a few more games together before we can really criticise, so we will see how that link up pans out over the christmas period.
The Partizan goal summed our season up defensively. Incapable of keeping a clean sheet and we give the opposition one chance and they score. Squillaci had a poor game for me, he hesitated in closing down Cleo for the goal and didn’t look comfortable at all. In contrast I thought Koscielny played quite well and he hustles attackers very well. However we just seem to switch off a few times every match which will allow the opposition to have a chance.
Shots to Goals Conceded Ratio Premier League; (Premier League Statistics)
Fabianski – 4.61
Almunia – 4.33
Cech – 6.76
Van Der Sar – 5.15
Hart – 5.35
Gomes – 5.75
Reina – 4.66
These Stats show that both of our keepers have the lowest shots to goals conceded ratio out of all the keepers playing for top six clubs. It shows that we dominate a game but give away a chance and the other team has a 1/4 in chance of scoring against us. It’s a statistic that needs to be put right because we can’t carry on giving teams a few chances to score and they gratefully accept.
I went to the game last night with 4 guys that have never been to the Emirates before and they were astonished with how quiet the ground was. They believed it may have been down to the cold weather and the tension in getting a result. But to people who attend the Emirates regularly you will know that the atmosphere always tends to be quiet. In contrast while us Arsenal fans were moaning how cold it was, the Partizan fans had their shirts off and sang throughout the whole game, whereas our fans sang in drips and drabs for a few seconds at a time, I am positive the lack of atmosphere at the ground effects our home form.
Well heading into the 2nd round draw tomorrow I am not confident at all. I just hope we don’t draw Barca, Real or even Bayern. Schalke will be the easiest draw for us and with our away Champions League form even that will be a difficult tie. Whoever we get we are going to have to play better than we have in the last 4 Champions League games or else we could be staring down the barrel of elimination.
That is all for today though folks, Champions League draw tomorrow so hopefully we will get a bit of luck and avoid Real and Barca atleast. Cheers for reading, have a great Thursday.
Fabianski – 6, Gibbs – 6, Squillaci – 5, Koscielny – 7, Sagna – 6, Arshavin – 4, Denilson – 6, Song – 6, Nasri – 7, Van Persie – 6, Chamakh – 7, Eboue – 6, Walcott – 7, Bendtner – 6
Well no need to stress the importance of winning today’s game, We the fans know it, Wenger knows it and so do the players. Theoretically and on paper this should be an easy win just like our previous Champions League home games, however the games against Braga and Shakhtar didn’t have this kind of pressure to go with it. It will be interesting to watch this Arsenal team under pressure to get a result. In recent years we haven’t looked too clever under pressure to get a result and Championships and cup competitions have been blown as a consequence. A win will be enough to see us qualify, we really don’t want to be thinking about any other result.
An early goal will be key tonight, if we can get that all important early goal then I think you could be looking at a massive win. However the longer the game stays at 0-0 the more nervy we will become and with our defence already vulnerable the more likely we will be to concede, which would be a total disaster. An early goal will see the goals flow, we don’t want to be leaving it late looking for a 90th minute winner.
Wenger will field a strong side tonight, I have my own doubts over Nasri’s fitness after he picked up a reported knock against Fulham on Saturday so I would not be surprised if Rosicky or Walcott started ahead of Nasri who could be left on the bench. I think tonight will see RVP get his first Champions League start of the season and only his 3rd start so far this term. This really is RVP’s type of game, a chance for him to set the scene alight and I would not be surprised if tonight isn’t the Robin Van Persie show and Chamakh to take a rest on the bench.
Koscielny is back in contention after recovering from the concussion he suffered at the weekend which reportedly was going to set him back 3 weeks, but he should get a start tonight, which is good news after Djourou has been ruled out with a thigh injury. Eboue is also set to return ahead of schedule after it was thought that he would be out for a couple of weeks, maybe a Sagna rest tonight is on the cards.
In the last 10 season’s the last game of the Champions League hasn’t been a very good omen for us, all be it most season’s we have already qualified before we get to the last game. Our record in the last fixture of our last 10 last Champions League campaigns is;
W – 3 D – 3 L – 4
The biggest vote of confidence however is that our record at home in the last 10 years of the last fixture;
W – 3 D – 2
Hopefully a 4th home win in our last fixture will be what we are talking about this time tomorrow morning. I will be at tonight’s game so catch me there, Enjoy your Wednesday and fingers crossed we will be in the draw for Friday afternoon.
We have all heard the saying ‘offence sells tickets, defence wins games’ and this quote can be applied to the Premier League in respect to the best defensive record takes home the Premier League. Since the 1999/2000 Premier League season 7/11 times a team has won the title they have had the best defensive record or on 3 occasions have had the second best defensive record. Only once in the last 11 seasons has a team won the title and had the 6th best defensive record in the league, and that was United in the 1999/2000 season where they conceded 45 goals.
The 1999/2000 season was also the only season in the past 11 years where a team conceding over 40 goals had gone onto win the Title. In the last 11 years only 4 teams have won the league conceding over 30 goals in one season, the other 6 times the team has conceded less than 30 goals and gone on to become league champions.
The problem with Arsenal’s lack of success in the past 11 years has been due to the fact that we can’t stop conceding goals. The lowest total we have conceded in one season was 26 in the 2003/2004 invincible’s season where of course we won the title. In the past 11 years we have in fact only had the best defensive record in the Premier League once, and that was the invincible’s season as stated above. That season was also the only season in the past 11 years where we have conceded less than 30 goals in a season. On several occasions we have actually conceded over 40 goals in one season, including last season, the 02/03 season(42) and the 99/00 season(43). All these statistics point towards the fact that we have failed to keep up with the best teams defensively and have suffered the consequences.
In the last 3 seasons the goals we have conceded per season are significantly on the uprise. 07/08 season we conceded 31 goals, 08/09 season we conceded 37 goals and last season we conceded 41 goals. In the 07/08 season United won the title and only conceded 22 goals, 9 fewer than we did. In 08/09 Chelsea won the title conceding 24, a huge 13 goals fewer than we did and in the 09/10 season the winner’s Chelsea, who had the 2nd best defensive record, conceded 32 which was 9 fewer than we conceded last season. These signs are not encouraging and shows that we are not exactly improving as a defensive unit. Of course each season is different to another but considering the title has only ever been won once by a team conceding over 37 goals in the last 11 years, it is worrying that we are still struggling yet again this season.
So far this season we have conceded 18 goals already in 16 Premier League games and although we sit smartly at the top of the table, we only have the joint 4th best defensive record so far. The average amount of goals conceded by a title-winning side in the past 11 seasons is 29. The average in the past 4 season’s is 26 goals conceded by the title-winning side.
So already this season we are on course to conceding 40+ goals and unless there is a dramatic turn around defensively in the second half of the season, then we will do extremely well to win the title this season according to the statistics. Chelsea the favourites for the title at the start of the season have conceded 11 in their first 16 games. One encouraging factor for change however would be the fact that United have conceded 16 in their 15 games so far, but of course we know how United come strong in the second part of the season, it’s just a question of whether we can also.
I think its safe to say that defensively we haven’t been good enough this season, after 3-2 defeats to Tottenham and West Brom. It’s at home defensively where we must improve. We have conceded 10 goals already in 8 home games, which is far from good enough. Our away defensive record is much better only conceding 8 goals in 8 away Premier League away games. So one sign of encouragement would be that if we were to sort out our home form and keep up our away record then we are within a shout this season.
The second half of the season is going to be so important, Chelsea will recover from their recent slump, United will most probably pull their act together, despite being unbeaten so far, it’s up to us to sort out of home record and our defensive problems. If we can do these two things in the second half of the season then this season may be one to remember. The return of Tommy V, may help us out in that respect because there is no doubt that we have missed him this season.
Thanks for reading, Leave plenty of comments. Cheers enjoy your Tuesday.
Oh what a difference a few wins can make, a few weeks ago after defeats to Tottenham and Braga we were writing ourselves off after a very poor November. Now we sit here top of the table with a smart grin on our faces largely thanks to the brilliance of Samir Nasri on Saturday. After a pretty poor start to our league home form this season, many punters would have had a few bob on Fulham snatching something from the Emirates on Saturday and they would have got a decent return if it wasn’t for two pieces of Samir magic. Two expertly manoeuvred finishes won us 3 points after a pretty lacklustre display.
Samir has come on leaps and bounds this season and has added directness to his play reminiscent of his Marseille days. He has an incredible knack of just keeping hold of the ball and managing to find a way past his opponent. Not blessed with tremendous pace, he has a sort of Robert Pires edge to him and this season has proved to be very effective. This season was always going to be a big season for Samir after 2 inconsistent seasons. This term already he has bagged 11 goals in 19 games which is nearly already more than he has scored in the past two seasons accumatively(12). With 4 goals in his last 3 starts, this rich run of goalscoring form has been vital to us sitting top of the league and has really compensated for the absence of Fabregas.
Of course United have a game in hand, but that just makes the game next Monday all the more important, because a win at Old Trafford next week will open the gap even further and certainly put us in the driving seat for the first time this season. Before that though is a midweek European cruncher against Partizan, which is a must-win game in order to qualify for the next phase of The Champions League. I have my tickets ready for that match and hopefully a good win to match the occasion.
In other news I stated on Twitter last night that Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (JET) is set to join Wigan on loan for the rest of the season. Speaking to Jay on Saturday he didn’t seem 100% certain on the loan move but it seems likely that it will happen in the next few days. Bolton are also thought to be in the running but I think Wenger is a fan of the way Roberto Martinez sets his teams out attacking wise, so therefore Wigan would be first choice. Hopefully JET will gain a lot of what Jack Wilshere learnt on his time at Bolton last season and that will spur him on to improve as a player and who knows maybe JET will be a regular next season. His time has come and I think he is ready for the Premier League.
That’s all for today though, remember where you heard the JET news first, I was the first to break it on Twitter and it is first hand information. Take care and Enjoy your day. Cheers
Try the Question of the Day
Samir Nasri has scored two goals for France, however against what teams were they scored against?
Fabianski – 7, Clichy – 6, Koscielny – 6, Squillaci – 6, Sagna – 6, Arshavin – 6, Wilshere – 6, Song – 5, Rosicky – 6, Nasri – 9, Chamakh – 6, Djourou – 7, Walcott – 6, Van Persie – 6