Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Friday, December 31, 2010

Can Arsenal’s defence survive the last 10 minutes at Birmingham?

By 1970’s Gooner

We have seen it often enough especially at away games. We dominate the game, miss a lot of chances, score and then we think that it will be enough to win the game. This gets dangerous when we score the goal(s) in the first half as we tend to slack off and just try to play a neutral game.

A recent example of course was at Wigan where we came out in the second half thinking that the game was won. It also happened against Tottenham and at Sunderland if you remember.

And I believe the probability of it happening again against Birmingham tomorrow is high. I can see us playing our usual game and scoring. But Birmingham have a good record when coming from behind as they showed against Manchester United and Tottenham.

They have two ingredients that allow them to be successful at this.

The first is that they have players who are gritty and determined, fighting till the last whistle. The second is that they have Zigic who, as he did against Man Utd, can come on the later stages of the game and use his aerial power to good effect.

And we have seen how awful we are defensively in the high ball game.

That is why I am posing the question in the title above. Can we hold out in the last 10 minutes?

We can improve our chances of succeeding in two ways. One is to be ahead by two more goals than the opposition.

The other is to play Djourou.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wenger priming his stars for a sprint run in

By 1970’s Gooner

All is not lost yet. We were very close to the three points which would have been achieved with our second 11 and then everybody would have been praising our “strength in depth”.

But we were done by a combination of bad refereeing, too many changes and defensive lapses.

The referee gave Wigan a non existent penalty as there was no contact on the player who in any case was clearly outside the area! And to top it all a clear handball from Nasri’s free kick inside the area was completely ignored. Sickening really when you consider that Fabregas’s similar handball was punished.

But I feel the real reason for dropping the two points were the many changes made by Wenger. Most of the players looked rusty and could not play together as a unit. Just like the away games at Shacktar Donetsk and Braga.

Wenger should have made changes to rest players but not as many. In my opinion Djourou should be starting every game even if there are two days between games. I don’t think he would have scored that own goal….You don’t see Ferguson resting Vidic and Ferdinand too often do you?

Arshavin had a big impact on the game but he is useless defending and tracking back. Eboue needed that support but he often was no where to be seen.

Diaby, Denilson and Rosicky found it difficult to jell.

Wenger should have kept the spine of the team intact. Fabianski, yes. Djourou in the centre of the defense. Song in the middle of the park to provide strength and penetration and van Persie in attack.

Wigan would have had no chance with these players starting.

Still Wenger knows that we are only half way through yet. There is a long way to go and his aim is to prime his key players so that they are fresh enough to be able to put in a sprint on the run in.

Manchester United are not really playing that well this season. They are certainly not playing better than us.

Chelsea are struggling to find form and I don’t see them putting in a run to catch up the lost ground. They will drop more points as they find that their narrow home win against Bolton proves to be a false dawn.

Manchester City are blowing hot and cold and they don’t look capable to put in a consistent run.

And don’t forget we have home games to come against the Manchester teams.

Arsenal though can do it. We have most of our key players back (van Persie, Fabregas and Walcott) and when Vermaelen returns (to play alongside Djourou) no one will be able to catch us.

And this draw at Wigan would be long forgotten….

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Three reasons why Arsenal’s title chances are still alive and kicking

By 1970’s Gooner

Yes it was a dreadful performance. A performance that was littered with mistakes, inaccurate passing but above all not enough mental strength to counteract a difficult opponent on his own ground.

Chamach looked tired, Arshavin only lasted a half and Nasri was lost on the wing. Rosicky had his most ineffectual game and Wilshere kept making mistakes. The defence especially our full backs did well and on the whole Squillacy and Konscienly played much better than I thought they would.

But as is often the case we need to score at least two goals to win a game and sadly we were awful in that respect.

We lacked a leader in midfield to take the initiative and when Nasri drifted in the middle in the second half we looked more in control. But our “impact substitutes” of Fabregas, van Persie and Walcott added nothing in attack and so the game drifted to a sad end.

Let’s not duel too much on this defeat. We can and I predict we will put in a new run of wins together like we did after the Chelsea defeat to be genuine challengers. Some of you may be having severe doubts about our title potential but please consider the following:

1. Our current table position has been achieved without three very significant first team players

Fabregas (from the beginning of the season and also recently), van Persie (from the beginning of the season) and Vermaelen (for about the last three months).

I think that if all three were fit enough to start the game against Man Utd we would not have lost the game and judging by Utd’s average display we most probably have won it.

As these players are coming back to fitness I expect that we will soon be a team full of quality, creativeness and defensive stability.

2. We have played the other three major title contenders away already

Please take note of this. We will be facing Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City at home (I don’t consider Spurs as having the stamina and consistency to last the course).

And I believe we can beat them all. None of them are playing particularly well but more importantly we will be playing them with our full compliment of players. And when we do that we have every chance of winning those games .

3. We have found a pair of safe hands!

Bye bye Almunia thank you for your services. In young Szczesny and Fabianski we now have a pair of sound goalkeepers who we feel we can trust to keep us in games by making vital saves, like Szczesny did last night.

So stop the gloom and doom please. This team ain’t finished yet…..

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Arsenal can win at Old Trafford if two weaknesses are corrected

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsenal’s performance against Partisan Belgrade was so typical of late. Play was dominated, possession was around 60% throughout and the opponent was down and almost beaten when the first goal went in.

But yet again we manage to gift them a goal.

Do you remember Aston Villa’s first goal at Villa Park? Clichy decided to switch attention away from the opponent who was ready to shoot and backtracked to cover someone else.

Sqillaci who is a far more experienced defender did exactly the same last night. Instead of marking the goal scorer he backtracked to mark someone else. The first rule in defending is surely to stop the opponent from scoring isn’t it?

I was worried throughout last night’s game. Our defending was far below of what can be characterised as average. The two new defenders brought in this year appear not to have jelled together, don’t cover each other well and lack communication.

I think that unless they play a blinder against Manchester United we will be leaking goals right left and centre. I really do and if you think I am being overly pessimistic then you are letting your heart rule your head.

This weakness in my opinion can only be mitigated by selecting Djourou in the starting 11.

Not that he is not prone to errors but he is obviously much more battle prone and hardened in the rigours of the Premier League.

And he has been very impressive this season showing positional awareness and strength, both in the air and on the ground.

Unlike our French pairing in central defence, Fabianski has not been giving me the jitters. He has impressed with his very competent all round display and has been keeping us in games recently.

The save from Fulham’s Kamara at 1-1 was as crucial in my opinion as Nasri’s winning goal. And I have a suspicion that Almunia would have been found wanting last night when that shot from outside the box, when the score was 2-1, looked goal bound.

The other weakness that was very obvious last night was the absence of a playmaker.

Song and Denilson are defensive midfielders of course and we shouldn’t expect that they will take up playmaking responsibilities. The decision to play van Persie in the hole behind Chamakh did not work in my opinion.

He was much more up field than dropping back to pick the ball and direct play. This meant that Denilson and Song had more responsibility placed on them to do the playmaking.

When Fabregas returns then indeed van Persie and Chamkh could be paired up front with Cesc dropping back to his original role of dictating play from a deeper position.

Rosicky would have been ideal last night. And I insist that he should start at Old Trafford on Monday with van Persie dropping back to the bench. He is not yet 100% fit and it’s better to bring him on late in the game as an impact substitute rather than having to sub him.

In this way we gain a playmaker and a stronger bench.

And we maximise our chances of victory against Manchester United and the title…

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Vela set to join ex manager in Spain

By 1970’s Gooner

Media reports in Mexico have shed more light in the mooted move of Carlos Vela away from Arsenal in the January transfer window.

He is set to join Real Saragoza in Spain who are currently managed by ex Mexico national side manager Javier Aguirre.

Aguirre knows Vela’s abilities very well selecting him in Mexico’s World Cup squad.

Real Saragoza are currently embroiled in a relegation fight and Aguirre has only been appointed their manager two weeks ago.

Apparently he has requested Zaragoza to enquire about the status of Vela at Arsenal.

It is reported that Vela has already told Arsene Wenger of his desire to leave the team in order to have more activity. It is expected that at first he would go out on loan with an option for Saragoza to buy.

Vela, 21, has a valid contract for three more seasons with Arsenal.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Player analysis and ratings Vs Villa

By 1970’s Gooner

Another nail biting game for us poor Arsenal supporters. It felt that Villa where going to do to us what Spurs managed last week. And Villa were a far worse team than Spurs. They were awful in the first half and it was our own profligacy and sluggishness in front of goal that kept the score at 2- 0.

If it wasn’t for an outstanding Arshavin we would have gone in at 0-0. But he took his goal very well and then Nasri managed to score a difficult goal after missing an open goal a few minutes before.

Our defending was again poor and we allowed them to score two goals and get back in the game. If it were Manchester United going into a two goal lead the game would have finished 7-1….


Did not have much to do and what he did he did well. Could not be faulted for their goals. He was unsighted for the first one and the referee had a shocker of a decision judging Carew as not interfering. Absolute rubbish. 7


Had a good game and also provided forward thrust. He is a very consistent and effective defender. 7


Played very well and kept Ashley Young mostly quiet unlike in their last encounter when Young had the better of him. Clichy was however returning from a long absence at that time and lots of people forget that. 7


He needs more time to get used to the tempo and long ball tactics of the Premier League. He is not the commanding centre half that we need. He may develop into one but he is not at the moment. 6


At least he has more experience and does not take too many chances as he often decides to whack the ball up field if needed. However both of the Villa goals especially the second one were from players who should never have been allowed to aim for goal. The first came from a weak header out of defence and the second one the scorer was a few yards from goal without anyone near him. 6


As solid as ever. He is reliable and consistent in his performances. The first name on the team sheet. 8


Had a much much better game today than at Braga. What a player he is turning out to be. At such a young age to be able to play with so much maturity and skill is amazing. It’s like watching Fabregas when he started playing for the first team. And what a vital goal he scored. 8


What a mature and significant player he is turning out to be for Arsenal Football Club. He can be a play maker a scorer as well as track back and defend. Scored with a marvelous shot on the volley. 8


My man of the match. He was back to his best today, weaving his magic and holding the ball up very well bringing players into the game. Scored the first with a typical run and shot that is his trade mark. I hope that he kicks on from here and has another great season. 9


Had a good game getting involved in a lot of good moves and providing that wonderful Fabregas like through ball to Chamakh for the third goal. He is a more direct midfielder who turns with the ball and dribbles past players which is what we need from midfield. 7


Wenger will have a decision to make when RVP is fit and ready to play. Chamakh had a very good game holding the ball well under pressure, scoring the vital third goal and setting up the fourth. An excellent all round performance. 9

Djourou is the missing link

By 1970’s Gooner

I cannot understand why Wenger insists on dropping Djourou for the Premier League games and insisting on starting with Koscienly.

Djourou has been outstanding in all the games he has started using his height and new found confidence to become a very effective central defender.

He has developed a new found steeliness and his heading ability is up there with the best of the League’s defenders.

He is therefore the ideal centre half for Arsenal as most teams tend to pump those high balls into the area more than half expecting to reap the dividends.

And they normally do as Tottenham have found out when scoring their third and winning goal and Villa too today when our central defenders couldn’t head the balls clear for both of their goals…

It was really frightening today as Villa scored their first goal almost at the same time as Spurs did last week. You could feel the nerviness that begun to surround the Arsenal players.

Song and Wilshere started defending deeper, Arshavin and Rosicky started to look tired and the home crowd spurred the home team on.

It seems to me that the only way to keep two goal leads is to score a third and a fourth. These players simply cannot defend leads by playing conservatively, negatively even. They only know one way and that is to attack.

And that is why we need our defenders to be at their top, to win everything in the air and on the ground because the protection they will get will not be enough.

And that is why Djourou is vital for this team….

Friday, November 26, 2010

The three options for replacing Fabregas against Villa

By 1970’s Gooner

It seems certain that Arsenal have to make do without Fabregas for at least two weeks although to my mind, taking into account Fabregas’s dodgy hamstring on the other leg, we will probably have to do without him for longer.

So Arsene Wenger has to come up with a more lasting solution to this problem rather than conjure something for just the Villa game. There are three options available:

1. Promote Jack Wilshere

Arsene Wenger has insistently be playing Jack Wilshere along side Fabregas in almost all games that Jack was fit. This looks like he is fast tracking him in order to prepare him to eventually take over that role.

So Wenger could take the courageous decision and promote Jack to a more central role behind Chamack where he could utilise his magic left foot and try and pull the strings.

I wouldn’t put it past Wenger in taking such a bold move. He sometimes does tend to prioritise the development of a player ahead of a particular game’s needs…

I don’t disagree that Jack has what it takes to develop into a major player for Arsenal Football Club. But to play in this vital position away at Villa Park may prove too early for him.

I hope that Wenger shies away from this option.

2. Rosicky takes central role

Wenger may not want to disturb Asrenal’s established line up too much so he could opt to give Rosicky a more central playmaker’s role. He has been getting back to fitness after that long lay off and his maturity and dexterity could provide the answer.

Nasri could also share the play maker’s role by coming infield, as he does tend to do anyway, switching positions with Rosicky now and then.

But I think most of us would go for the next option.

3. Nasri comes to the fore

The more viable option is to bring the in form Samir Nasri into the middle and play Walcott and Arshavin on the wings.

This is the more obvious and sustainable solution as Nasri is a natural play maker and would relish the opportunity to pull the strings from midfield.

This is what he tends to do anyway as he never stays on the wing too much.

We all saw how he weaved his magic from this position in the France team when they so outplayed a very pedestrian England side in the friendly at Wembley. It was like watching Arsenal play…


Sagna Djourou Squillaci Clichy

Song Denilson


Arshavin Chamack Walcott

P.S I hope that Djourou stays in the team as he has been our best defender so far

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Denilson and the referee condemn Arsenal to another defeat

By 1970’s Gooner

What a difference Chamack made when he came on. We started to hold the ball more in the attacking areas and thus brought the midfielders in the more threatening positions.

We even won a penalty. Stone clear but the referee and his aides (!) at the back of the goal got it wrong! If we had gone ahead, then it was game over and everyone would have been saying what an “efficient performance by Arsenal”…

Added to the referee’s ineptitude was Denilson’s total inability to offer any defensive cover for Djourou and Squillaci when they went forward in Braga’s area to try and take advantage of a dead ball situation. On both occasions in the second half we let in two goals!

Denilson who was left behind as cover was nowhere when the goal scorer raced through him for a clear run on goal. And for the second goal he decided to foul the player as the ball was coming out of Braga’s area instead of staying with him and delaying him.

Is it really necessary for both Djourou and Squillaci to go forward?

I thought Bendtner was awful tonight. He never got going, was always coming infield to receive the ball but at the same time crowding Fabregas out. Most important of all he never held the ball well.

He should shut up and try and get fit before he starts mouthing off. Arsene Wenger should not have started with him. Chamack should have been there at the start, done the business and then given a rest in the latter part of the game.

With Fabregas out of the Villa game I hope that Wenger gives Nasri the role of playmaker behind Chamack. I am sure he will make Fabregas’s absence go unnoticed and prove that if Cesc does leave in the summer we have a ready replacement.

Villa watch out…

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Player analysis and ratings Vs Everton

By 1970’s Gooner

Fabianski: Almost excellent once again. Made a string of fantastic saves late in the game when Everton piled forward. He is a fantastic shot stopper but again looked vulnerable when that high ball came across his goal which Saha headed on the post. Still I feel more safe with him now than with Almunia. 9

Sagna: Faultless and reliable. This I think describes his performances so far and what a strike for the goal. He deserved it. 8

Clichy: Needs to concentrate for 90 + minutes as one aberration can cost us as it did in the Ukraine. He nearly messed up again today but overall had a very good game. 6

Squillaci: His only real mistake was when he let Saha run passed him clear on goal. Thankfully Clichy was near enough the scene to create a doubt in the referee’s mind about being the last player. Other than that he is a no nonsense experienced defender and that’s what we have been lacking. 6

Djourou: The run of games he is getting is proving very beneficial for him as his fitness and awareness have improved in great leaps. He was awesome today, winning almost all the headers and most on the ground. 8

Song: Another great box to box performance from Arsenal’s most efficient performer not only today but in every single game this season so far. He was providing that needed cover in defence as well as winning the ball in midfield and setting off attacks. 8

Wilshere: I think he will be a great player but today he tried to be too clever in front of our box when a good thump of the ball would have done. His passing was also not at his best. But I have a feeling that Wenger is fast tracking him in case Fabregas is not with us next season….5

Denilson: Came on for Wilshere and I thought had a very good game winning the ball well in midfield and even setting up the second goal. 7

Nasri: He is a very “mature” and important player for Arsenal this season. Plays with his head, can dribble passed people, set up play and score goals. Today he was effective in his role, keeping himself on the wing for most of the time thus stretching the Everton defence. 7

Arshavin: Looked fresh with a lot of energy today but this was more in the first rather than the second half. He is not the player of last year who ran passed players as though they were not there. Today his first touch was not that good and he was not that willing to come back and provide adequate cover for Arsenal’s full back. 6

Fabregas: An improved performance by the skipper and took his goal very well and this is good news for Arsenal as we do need a Fabregas who can score goals as well as set them up. His passing was again not up to his usual top standards but I feel he is beginning to get back to his best. 8

Chamack: He lost the aerial battle with Distin I am afraid. He did not win many headers today which was unfortunate as Arsenal tended to take that option of sending high balls to him from the defence. Also missed a clear chance to make it 3-0 when he missed from a few yards with an open goal. 6

Man of the Match: Fabianski

One of Wenger’s substitutions made the difference against Everton

By 1970’s Gooner

I can’t understand why Arsene Wenger insists on starting with Wilshere in the middle of the midfield for Arsenal.

Sure the kid is playing beyond his years and will surely, if his head is not turned by all this media attention, become another Arsenal legend. But he is not yet that physically strong or wily enough to contribute effectively in this very significant area of the pitch.

Even when Fabregas was at the same stage of development as Wilshere is now he didn’t get to play in the middle. Wenger used to deploy him on the right wing, if you remember. He did the same with Diaby for a few seasons before he could trust him in the middle.

It also seems to me that Wilshere tries to be a play maker as well as attending to his defensive duties which somehow tends to crowd Fabregas out when he drops a little bit back to receive the ball.

When Wenger made the substitution at half time with Denilson coming on I felt a lot more confident that we will come away with the win. Denilson is now very fit and on form. He showed today and whenever he came on in recent games that he is maturing into an effective midfield defensive player.

He is very energetic, positions himself at the right places, wins the ball and lays off the simple pass to a free player. This is how we scored the second and decisive goal, when he passed the ball to Fabregas on the edge of the area who guided it to Chamack who then returned it for Fabregas to strike it in.

A great performance by Arsenal winning two consecutive games on the road and coupled by a very satisfying home defeat by Chelsea means we are only two points off the top.

Let’s beat the hell out of the spuds next week….

Friday, November 12, 2010

Arsenal’s defence has not got any better. Something else changed

By 1970’s Gooner

I watched Arsenal’s display at Molineux which was another hard fought win but with a clean sheet. It is the third so far this season in 12 games, which is not too bad considering that we gooners have come to expect that we usually need to score more than one goal to be sure of the three points.

Arsene Wenger bought two new centre halves this year and along with Djourou returning to fitness has created enough cover to cater for any injuries, such as Vermaelen’s.

But I ask you, are these new additions any better than when Kolo Toure or Gallas were playing?

I think that they are adequate and will improve as they get to grips with the Premier League but they are not significantly better than what we had in recent seasons.

But what has changed so far however is the goalkeeping situation.

The goalkeeper is the make or break of a good defensive unit in my opinion.

No outfield defender can totally subdue the opposing forwards totally, 100% of the time. There will come a time when the opponents will create two or three goal scoring chances and that is when you need your goalkeeper to come to the rescue.

To save the one on one when their forward has raced though clean on goal.

To make that spectacular save when the shot has got goal written all over it.

To keep you in the game and give the team a chance to go forward and get that winning goal.

And this is what I have seen happening with Fabianski.

He did it against Wolves when they were in the ascendancy during the second half pushing to score the equaliser. He made at least three wonderful saves especially the one in the last minute when he dived to his left and stopped that shot form outside the area.

He did it in another significant win for Arsenal (and another clean sheet) against Manchester City at Eastlands. His save in the first minute from Silva and then again on a one to one situation later on, kept us in the game and the rest is history as they say.

He made the mistake against Newcastle of course and I hope he does not repeat it. He seems to have learnt form it as a similar situation arose against Wolves but on this occasion he fisted it away.

It is of course early to go overboard about Fabianski but I hope he carries on his good performances as he will prove vital in this coming busy November and Xmas period.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Bendtner: “I have no pain”

By 1970’s Gooner

Nicholas Bendtner hasn’t kicked a ball sine Denmark’s defeat to Japan during the World Cup in South Africa. He was carrying a groin strain into the finals which he chose to ignore.

His problems began with that car accident he suffered at the end of 2009 on his way to training at London Colney.

And he did admit that he compounded the injury by forcing himself to play for Denmark in the World Cup.

“Both you and I can figure out that if I had a two and a half month break, rather than going to South Africa, I would have been much further ahead now. I would have been close to playing again, both for Arsenal and the national team”

Well, he is now almost ready to return to action for his club. He has since Monday been training with the Arsenal squad

“Now I'm ready and it is a great day for me today. Some of the boys have time off because of their internationals, but otherwise I train together with the other first team players at Arsenal and I've enjoyed myself so much” he said to the Danish press.

The encouraging news is that he is pain free:

“I have no pain in the groin and have trained so hard physically, that maybe I'm in my best shape ever. I need only a couple of reserve team matches to be quite sharp in football terms. It’s my hope that I can be with the first team in 14 days”

Let’s hope he makes it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I hope Wenger drops more players

By 1970’s Gooner

Almunia has been dropped of course. Arsene Wenger has used this cheap excuse of a phantom injury to drop Almunia in the past usually right after similar howlers.

It is not all poor Almunia’s fault of course. Arsene Wenger chose, for whatever reason, not to replace him this season and now he has to drop him and play another suspect keeper who hasn’t put a foot right in almost all his important appearances in the first team!

God help us, for if Fabianski doesn’t mess up big time in Belgrade he will likely play against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge….

Yet that”pathetic” as I called it, performance against West Brom was not only down to the keeper. There were a host of other players that let us, the team and themselves down.

Players like Clichy who hasn’t been himself lately,

Sagna who looked tired when Thomas just went passed him,

Koscienly who lacked pace,

Diaby who looked out of sorts,

Song whose covering and passing let him down,

Eboue who failed to give width and

Arshavin who this season gives me the creeps because I fear he may be passed it (I hope I am wrong).

I would give Denilson a chance. He looked sharp whenever he came on and looks much more mature, physically and mentally this season.

I would rest Clichy and if Gibbs is fit enough (he is travelling with the squad) I would give him a game. He deserves it and he has been in good form lately.

I would also give Sagna a rest. He needs it. Eboue can deputise.

Rosicky should come in and play on one of the flanks.

I wouldn’t start with Wilshere in Belgrade, he is too young to face a partisan crowd and players.

I would consider saving Chamakh for the Chelsea game as he is the only real choice for this position and we do really need to get a result at Stamford Bridge.


Eboue Konscienly Squillaci Gibbs

Denilson Song


Rosicky Vela Arshavin

Bendtner’s tattoo says it all

By Aries

Nicklas Bendtner and his other half, TV Baroness Caroline Fleming, have given an interview to Elle magazine which is to be published this week.

Extracts from the interview which have been published in advance show that the young Arsenal striker is very much in love and enjoying family life with his super rich partner and her two young children.

“When I got into Caroline's life with the kids and all, it was a huge change and something I had never tried before.

You look always for the right person, one who can mirror yourself in and hit it off with. With Caroline, I got almost the whole package at once and it is a gift "said Bendtner.

Nicklas Bendtner is now stepfather to Caroline's two children, Alexander who is six and Josephine almost four years and he enjoys it:

"Sometimes Josephine goes up on your toes, because Caroline always goes on toes, because she is accustomed to walking in high heels. These are small things, it's nice to notice.

Alexander and I play hockey and soccer in the hallway. We move things just by the way and then we play. It's great when children love sports”

Nicklas and caroline are so much in love that they have tattooed each other’s name on their left wrist. So when you see Bendtner kissing his left wrist after he scores you will know why he is doing it!

“It's pretty funny because I was never a person who would tattoo. Very modern. Super Modern. It is like a jewel. I think it's so beautiful, "said Caroline Fleming”

In three months Nicklas becomes a father for the first time and he is very happy with his lot:

“When you are in love and enjoying your career, you can not be anything but happy” said Bendtner.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What a pathetic performance

By 1970’s Gooner

What a really pathetic performance. Everyone except Nasri should really feel ashamed of himself. This goes to prove what is well known in football. It doesn’t matter if you play against the lowest opposition, you simply have to play at your best to beat them.

And the Arsenal players thought that by just turning up West Brom will lie down and roll over…Maybe they thought that they will save themselves for the “real” games against Partizan and Chelsea.

Almunia, what a clown.

Wenger’s inactivity in the transfer market is coming back to haunt him. Almunia gave away the penalty and then saved it well and that would have been ok but of course he gave away two really soft goals and the three points.

This does not absolve the rest of them of course. There was no movement, no pressing down their midfielders and the passing was woeful. Very unlike Arsenal where passes are crisp, precise and penetrative.

When Nasri had the ball there was not really a player moving into position to receive it and the opponents were given the space and the time to play their game. They played well and took advantage of the gifts given to them.

I expect that against Partizan and Chelsea we will see a different Arsenal. We may even win those games…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bendtner faces the blame for his long injury lay off

By 1970’s Gooner

Nicklas Bendtner’s problems with his groin began with that car accident he suffered at the end of 2009 on his way to training at London Colney.

He has now admitted that he compounded the injury by forcing himself to play for Denmark in the World Cup.

Speaking to Danish paper “Politiken” he said:

“Both you and I can figure out that if I had a two and a half month break, rather than going to South Africa, I would had been much further ahead now. I would have been close to playing again, both for Arsenal and the national team”

"I am a young player, but I do not know when such an opportunity comes again - that I can play in a World Cup finals. And again, no, I have not regretted anything”

The impetuousness of youth I say…

Just as well Wenger learnt from last season’s experience and made sure he got another striker in otherwise we would have been playing with Arshavin up front again for the next four weeks or so.

Monday, August 30, 2010

West Ham United and Arsenal; A tale of two teams in the same city.

By the Coach (who has an allegiance to West Ham)

There is a very strong paradox in English football. It is called West Ham United.

Over the years the famous East London club is providing some of the best talent in English football and yet its performance is one of mediocrity, to say the least.

Why is this paradox? Why is it that the club that produces so much talent hardly achieved anything significant over the years (with the exception of winning a few Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup)?

Some West Ham supporters will also argue that West Ham has won the World Cup. I disagree; England won the World Cup, not West Ham.

West Ham players were used to win the World Cup in 1966 just as they are today (and through the years) by other clubs to win trophies.

What generates this acute paradox then?

The answer is almost a total lack of ambition by the owners and low expectations by the supporters. The two combined together create a ground which is fertile for promoting personal gain.

And over the years, owners, agents, lawyers, even financiers and other intermediaries have taken advantage to make private fortunes.

And history repeats itself. Since it is almost impossible to alienate the loyal fans of West Ham United it is easy to use the club to make deals that create personal wealth rather than building an infrastructure and a team that can make West Ham great.

West Ham United fans are just so easy to fool. They are passionately in love with a dream team which in reality doesn’t exist.

So many supporters travel all over the country despite the fact that their team more often than not will disappoint them.

They spend so much money out of their limited income because they live and breathe West Ham United.

And unlike Fulham and some other London clubs, West Ham has a very strong supporter base which could easily fill a 50,000+ capacity stadium (such as the Olympic Stadium).

Moreover, West Ham fans are so understanding and forgiving. It is like they have been conditioned to accept their fate. Survival is everything, anything else is just a bonus.

But it shouln't be so...

So, lack of ambition and low expectations are the roots of the problem. Attitudes need to change before a real change takes place. This is easier said than done. It takes many years and sometimes generations for attitudes to change.

In the meantime, the owners and other people close to or associated with the Club who are proficient in promoting their self interest will always take advantage.

They will know that they can get away with anything as long as they package it properly so as to be palatable to the ever understanding, passionate and forgiving West Ham fan.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, in north London, there is Arsenal and a totally different story.

Arsenal, like West Ham has a huge support base. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Arsenal is a club that even before the era of Arsene Wenger and George Graham showed enough ambition both by the owners and management to build a team that competes and entertains and one which always aims for the top.

Unlike West Ham United fans, Arsenal fans are more demanding and less forgiving. They expect their team to compete for everything and do stay home if the entertainment and success level of team falls below par.

Some West Ham fans may say that Arsenal fans are spoiled and that they are not true fans. But I disagree. Fans should not give their support to the team unconditionally. Loyal fans deserve something in return for parting with their hard earned money.

The owners of the club should never become as comfortable as traditionally West Ham owners have been so as to take for granted the supporters and thus be tempted to abuse their position for short term personal gain.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Squillaci follows eboue and eight other things you didn’t know about him

By Aries

1. Sebastian celebrated his 30th birthday eight days ago on the 11th August

2. He was born in Toulon, France and has represented his country 21 times. He played in France’s defeat to South Africa in the recent World Cup.

3. He is only 6ft (1.83 m)

4. All his clubs bar the current one, Seville, have been in the French leagues. Toulon, Monaco B, Monaco, Ajjacio, Lyon

5. He has played 49 times for Sevilla scoring one goal

6. He played for Monaco in the Champions League final against Mourinho’s Porto losing 3-0

7. He won the French League championship twice with Lyon in 2007 and 2008

8. His goal scoring record is not that great. Played 372 games in total and scored 23 goals

8. Sevilla sporting director Ramon Rodriguez 'Monchi' confirmed: "The player asked not to play (against Braga in the CL qualifying game) because of the offer from such a big team” to ensure he won't be cup-tied in the competition for Arsenal.

9. Squillaci is said to support the eboue cause as he is a rastafarian eboue follower.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cheer up... Wenger made the wrong choices

By 1970’s Gooner

I was left disappointed rather than relieved at the end of Arsenal’s game last Sunday at Anfield.

Disappointed because facing 10 men we not only allowed them to score but also could not put them under the necessary pressure to get not only an equaliser but also a winner.

But when you think about it further, the performance should not have been a surprise.

For a start Arsene Wenger made the wrong choices for the starting 11.

Arshavin has been non existent all throughout the friendlies (and I watched all of them). He in no way deserved a start against Liverpool. He was a passenger, often giving the ball away.

Strange as he was not involved in the World Cup. Better to have started with Walcott who has looked sharper lately.

Secondly starting with Wilshere in the middle of the park was another decision that did not work.

The boy has potential for sure but to start him away from home and against Liverpool was asking too much.

And he was to be partly blamed for not controlling the ball outside the area which eventually resulted in their goal. He made the same mistake in the first half which resulted in a dangerous move by the opposition.

Better to have started with Rosicky who indeed looked the most creative and penetrative Arsenal player when he came on.

I do not see Wenger making those choices again unless he is forced by injury or these players improve their performances dramatically.

And therefore Arsenal’s first 11 will surely not be as weak again.

And there are two more reasons to be cheerful.

The first has to do of course with the likely return to the first team of three vital cogs in Arsenal’s engine: Song, Fabregas and van Persie.

Their stand ins left a lot to be desired. Especially Chamack.

He will turn out to be an excellent buy by Wenger but on Sunday he repeated his performances in the friendlies: lacking control of the ball and also penetration.

The second has to do with Almunia.

He is Arsenal’s best goalkeeper at the moment but will not be when Given or Schwartzer arrive.

I don’t think that either of those goalkeepers would have let Ngog’s effort at the near post (which was a carbon copy of Imbrahimovic’s goal for Barcelona at the Emirates remember?).

So cheer up…..

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rosicky asks for time to think about his move from Arsenal

By 1970’s Gooner

It seems that the rumours about Tomas Rosicky moving away from Arsenal have some foundation.

Turkish newspaper “Hurriyet” is reporting that Rosicky’s agent has already started negotiations with Galatasaray. It seems that Frank Rijkaard, Galatasaray’s coach is in pursuit of a number 10 and Rosicky fits the bill.

It appears that Galatasaray are only willing to negotiate around a transfer price of 5m. Rosicky’s agent has already began negotiations with them with regard to the player’s possible demands. But crucially Tomas has asked for two days to consider the move.

If this transfer materialises it will mean that Arsene Wenger has decided to get rid of the two players that have suffered long term injuries in the recent past (Eduardo and Rosicky).

However Rosicky’s transfer will leave a big gap in the squad in terms of experience and quality.

Montpelier coach sets price for Spahic’s transfer to Arsenal

By 1970’s Gooner

A lot has been written lately about the “imminent” transfer of the 29 year old defender, Emir Spahic, from the French club Montpelier to Arsenal.

First there was the player’s quotes that the “deal was close” but this was swiftly followed by an official statement by Montpelier itself denying there has been any contact with Arsenal.

"There appeared in the media information that Montpellier are in negotiations with Arsenal regarding the transfer of Emir Spahic. Montpellier deny any contact with Arsenal regarding this issue"

Now we have a bold statement coming from the team’s coach Rene Girard who has set a ridiculous price for agreeing to the transfer:

"Indeed I am astonished. There has never been talk of this departure to the Emirates, he said to the local media and in answering the question of whether he will cooperate with Arsenal if they get offers he replied:

"Yes, but only if the English are willing to pay us 25 million pounds."

This rubbish is to be expected of course as Montpelier know that the player desperately wants to leave and they cannot stand in his way. They are merely trying to up the price as much as they can.

This transfer looks a wise move by Wenger. He will not only make sure that he has enough central defenders but will also be adding maturity and experience at the back.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fabregas in Spain celebrations wearing a Barcelona shirt (video)

By 1970's Gooner

'All I can say is that this is for all the Arsenal players and fans, they are a world-class club,'I am an Arsenal player and I am proud to be.'

Thus spake Cesc Fabregas...

Reading these comments right after Spain's World Cup triumph gives me the impression that he doesn't look like he will be leaving after all.

He was so embarassed when his felllow team mates, Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina and Bernabeu skipper Carles Puyol, had a chuckle at his expense by holding his arms, enabling Gerard Pique to push a Barcelona shirt over his head.

Fabregas smiled but as you can see he was clearly trying to get out of the shirt....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boro Primorac speaks on Eduardo’s future

By 1970’s Gooner

We all noticed last season what a different player Eduardo had been since his come back from that horrific injury. Sadly what we all feared came true. The psychological rather than the physical impact, as always, has proved to be the crucial factor in his rehabilitation.

There were many occasions last season when he found himself in the box with only the goalkeeper to beat and all he had to do was to stick a leg out… he failed again and again…

Arsene Wenger though granted an extension on his contract until 2014. He obviously wants to give him all the time to recover and at the same time protect his financial investment in the player.

So it appears that the only way to do that is a loan to another club. The alternative is to sell him but he would only fetch a fraction of the fee Arsenal originally paid for him, so that is not on.

The trouble is to convince the player that he has to move as Boro Primorac has revealed to Croatian paper “24sata”

“I do not know what will happen to Dudu. Preparations are just beginning and I do not know whether he will go or stay. He just has to decide - says Boro Primorac

It is believed that a move to a European club rather than in the more physically demanding Premier League would be better for Eduardo. This would give him the opportunity to build up his confidence ready to return to the Premier league fit and running.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Three reasons why you should bet on Holland to be crowned world champions

By 1970’s Gooner

There are many pundits who have already given the World Cup crown to Spain. And they are of course picking the team in form after beating Germany in the semi final so comprehensively.

Yet I can’t help thinking that they will end up being disappointed. There are three strong reasons why this will be so.

Lack of a recognised goal scorer

Yes you might laugh considering that Villa is top scorer in the tournament at the moment. Yet due to Torres’s lack of fitness he is not playing in his natural position which is on the wing.

The goals he has scored have come from the all out pressure and dominant possession that Spain enjoys. If for any reason this rhythm is broken then the chances for goal will be greatly reduced.

Spain reminds me of Arsenal a lot. Too much possession which stifles the opponent. But for this to be effective you have to have a real killer of a forward. Arsenal lacked that last season and finally paid the price.

Things would be different for Spain if Torres was fit but he isn’t.

The Dutch have the players to break Spain’s midfield domination

Mark van Bommel the Dutch midfielder is expected to start alongside Manchester City's Nigel de Jong in the defensive areas of the pitch.

Both will aim to cramp Spanish style and invention. And I believe they have the capability to succeed.

Germany allowed Spain too much time to monopolise possession and construct their attacks. Holland have the players to counter that. Succeed at this and Spain will be reduced to a team running around like headless chickens.

It will then allow the space and time for Robben and Kuyt to hurt them on the counter attack. Sneijder and van Persie will, I feel, have a field day on Sunday. Bet on them to score.

Spain have already reached their peak. The Dutch can get there

Just as when Germany was scoring those four goals against a dismal England and Argentina I could not help but feel that they were reaching their peak too early in the tournament.

It proved very difficult for them to reproduce that form against Spain and that was the main reason I predicted that Spain would beat them.

The same applies now for Spain. Can they reproduce that form they showed against Germany? Will the Dutch lie back and let them walk all over them?

I doubt it.

The team that wins the World Cup is usually one that reaches its peak at the right time. Remember Italy last time out? Nobody gave them a chance during the group stages and they had a difficult time qualifying. They won the World Cup though.

Holland have not played that fantastically so far but they have progressed to the final beating Brazil on the way.

They are peaking at the right time….

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Arsenal’s injury scares begin

By 1970’s Gooner

One of the main reasons for Arsenal’s failure to win anything last season was the unusually large number of injuries to key players coupled with the fact that the alternatives were inexperienced youngsters.

Robin van Persie was the most notable injury but as important was Nicklas Bendtner’s groin injury which deprived Arsenal of a viable strike force. Wenger had to rely on Arshavin for too long a period.

In fact that groin injury seems to be returning, as Bendtner who had suffered a recurrence of this injury just prior to World Cup, is now laid low with it again. It is so bad that he can’t even get out of bed.

“Some days I wake up and it's so perfect that we can go out to play tennis here on holiday, but a second morning makes it so bad that I almost can not get out of bed” said Bendtner to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

The Premier League begins on 14 August and there is a danger that the Dane will not be ready for the opening clash against Liverpool at Anfield.

Not that serious you may say as he will not be first choice anyway. But RVP himself may be playing with an injury.

He went to hospital for scans after hurting his elbow during the 2-1 victory over Brazil. And I am pretty sure he will play come what may against Uruguay tonight running the danger of aggravating it even more.

The same goes for Fabregas who wants to declare himself fit to face Germany in the other semi final. He is more likely to warm the bench rather than play of course, something he is likely to continue doing if he gets his wish to play for Barcelona…

Still let’s wish that they all return in one piece back ready for the start of the new season.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Paris Saint-Germain, Roma and Panathinaikos reject Gallas

By Aries

Gallas’s contract with Arsenal ends on 30th June and you would think that there will be a host of clubs queuing up for his signature. Yet three clubs that have recently reported showing an interest are now back tracking.

The real reason is the high salary demands by Gallas who is holding out for a two year contract with 80.000 a week.

Paris Saint-Germain and Roma have cooled off and now Panathinaikos officially announced only yesterday that they are not interested, denying ever making an offer in the first place. Their interest was widely reported in the French press who had Gallas seriously considering it.

Gallas is keeping quiet and has recently refused to appear before the media at the World Cup. If he does not lower his wage demands then he may have no one to speak to.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Galas to join Greek club Panathinaikos

By 1970’s Gooner

Gallas was offered only a year’s extension on his contract with Arsenal and was also set a deadline by Arsene Wenger to make his decision known by the end of May.

That deadline has come and gone and Gallas, who is usually quite outspoken, has kept totally quiet. So quiet that he has recently refused to appear before the media alongside Hugo Lloris at France's base in Knysna, Western Cape. Only the goalkeeper turned up.

"William has decided not to speak to the media for the duration of the World Cup finals," a team spokesman said, without elaborating.

One possible reason was that he was bypassed for the France captaincy by coach Demenech for Patrice Evra.

Another reason could well be however that he may not have wished to face questions about his mooted move to Greek club Panathinaikos, where his mate, ex Liverpool player, Jibril Cisse is plying his trade.

Radio Monte Carlo in France has reported, in the same manner it first broke the news last year about Cisse joining Panathinaikos, that Gallas has received yesterday night (Monday) an offer of a two year contract with 5m euros per year.

Cisse is likely to fill him in on Greek football and way of life. He has actually benefited from his move to Greece finishing top goal scorer and getting called up in the France national team for the World Cup.

Gallas’s contract with Arsenal ends on 30th June and the player is likely to keep his mouth shut till then.

What this means is that in one go four central defenders may be leaving Arsenal en masse. Gallas and Silvestre’s contracts are not likely to be renewed, Campell is thinking about joining Celtic and Senderos has today signed for Fulham.

This leaves us at the moment with Vermaelen and Djourou. No wonder Wenger has been talking about strengthening the defence.

He has to get on with it pretty soon though….

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Video van Persie scores again. Top scorer in the World Cup?

By 1970's Gooner

Robin van Persie has been on a hot streak ever since he so belatedly made his come back for Arsenal in the Premier League. He has been scoring freely for Holland in their friendlies prior to the World Cup.

His latest is against Hungary which you can see on the video above. He received the ball from Kuyt on the edge of the area and put in a delightful curler round the goalkeeper. This was Holland’s equaliser after which they went on to win 6-1.

Can he end up top goal scorer in the World Cup?

The answer is yes provided he keeps free of injury. I would put a bet on him to do what injury prevented him from doing for Arsenal this last season: score those amazing goals and help his team to glory…

Friday, June 04, 2010

Vela sinks Italy (Video)

By 1970's Gooner

Carlos Vela has began to convert the chances his Mexico team mates are creating for him.

In Mexico's first friendly almost two weeks ago he missed two clear cut scoring opportunities against England at Wembley and I thought, here we go again...

But now he is back on track. He drifted into space behind the defender and in one movement he slid the ball home to score the first Mexico goal in their victory against Italy last night.

I have the feeling that he will be a revelation in the World Cup which will be good news for us Gooners as he has not really fulfilled his early promise when he first arrived.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

At last Wenger has said what we all wanted to hear. But it's not enough.

By 1970’s Gooner

I made a plea to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal Football Club right at the beginning of the Fabregas transfer saga.

“Say it loud, say it clear Mr Wenger: “Fabregas is going nowhere” was the title of my post.

I was desperate that a clear and definitive statement should come out of the official Arsenal or Wenger’s lips stating categorically that this transfer was definitely not on.

And thankfully, albeit belatedly, we got it today.

“…yesterday evening we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response, we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain.

'To be clear, we will not make any kind of counter-proposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word.”

The chances of Arsenal selling Fabregas this season have now diminished.

Yet it can be reversed if Cesc himself turns against the club that nurtured him since he was 16 and against Wenger to whom he owes pretty much everything in his football life. It would also require a massively improved offer from Barcelona of say around the 50m to 60m mark.

The probability of these two factors occurring is pretty low in my opinion. Cesc has said that he will leave the whole matter to Wenger himself and that he fully trusts him. Also Barcelona have already paid out 42 m for Villa. They have limited resources left to go into a heavy bidding war for Cesc.

But I feel that all these goings on are clear indicators that this season will most probably be Cesc’s last in an Arsenal shirt. Unless….

Unless Wenger realizes that now is his last opportunity to really build a competitive team around his most precious footballer.

That now, this summer, is the time to go out and buy those quality players that will make a difference and propel this club back into title winning performances and Premier league domination.

Let’s pay the right price for a quality goalkeeper, for another two central defenders and for another defensive midfielder. Not stingily buy geriatrics or kids and ask them to perform way above their level.

Let’s go for it NOW, because next season WILL be too late. The bird will have flown out of its nest…

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I hope Walcottless England get knocked out at the group stages

By Aries

Four years ago we were all shocked when a kid called Theo Walcott was selected in the world Cup squad.

This time round, having had a strong hand in helping England qualify for the World Cup scoring that amazing hat trick in Zagreb, he is left behind by an ill advised Fabio Capello.

This means that Arsenal have no player representing England in the World Cup. This is my first reason for withdrawing my support for this team.

The other reason is almost as important. This squad contains four Spurs players.

Ledley King, who will probably fall injured in the first game he plays,

Aaron Lennon, who is nowhere as good as Theo in front of goal,

Peter Crouch who will prove inadequate once the opponents stick a decent defender against him who can head the ball,

And Jermain Defoe who will most probably warm Capello’s bench.

At least Theo will have a full pre season free from World Cup tiredness, both physical and mental, ready to take on the premiership defences and mount a serious title challenge with Arsenal FC.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Say it loud, say it clear Mr Wenger: “Fabregas is going nowhere”

By 1970’s Gooner

Fabregas’s departure, if it materialises, would be the final nail in the coffin of Arsene Wenger’s football model of development.

As reiterated on this blog on many occasions in the past this model of football development needs two vital ingredients to stay firmly cemented in place if it is to succeed.

The first is to strike and then keep in place the right blend between talented and technically gifted youth alongside experienced and hardened professionals.

In this way the team can be competitive against the more hardened teams at the top of the League, win trophies and at the same time bring on the youngsters under the guidance of the more experienced players to full football fruition.

A bit like Manchester United.

This Wenger has failed to do. He let or was not able to keep through stinginess and probably stubbornness (in not granting more than one year extensions to players over 30) experienced players who could have provided such a balance.

Players like Pires, Flamini and Hleb from the recent past. And if you want to go back a few years, remember Edu?

He left because Wenger and Dein tried to play hard when his contract extension was up for renewal. If he had stayed I have no doubt we would have won the league again at that time…

The second element is the need to keep the stars of the team while releasing the more aged players who have had their best years at the club, often at remunerative transfer fees.

Players like Vieira and Henry left leaving behind their best football years fetching about 15m each.

This policy keeps the finances in a healthy position ready to buy the next bunch of stars of the future. Players like Ramsey, Wilshere will be and like Fabregas once was.

Vieira, Henry, Overmars and Petit all, of course wanted out – but they were either 30 or approaching 30.

Which brings us to Cesc. If he leaves he will be leaving just at the time when he will be reaching his prime. He is only 24 and will be the youngest star to want out.

This past season has been Fabregas’s best.

Wenger pushed him just in front of two holding midfielders and granted him the freedom to roam in support of a main central striker. And he has excelled, providing more assists than any other player in the Premier League and scoring 19 goals!

Fabregas’s departure would give the message that Arsenal will for ever be a work in progress, getting near but not near enough, often clobbered by more street wise hardened opponents.

If you want to win titles and glory then don’t go to Arsenal….

In this coming season we are likely to see a physically and mentally more mature Fabregas ready to become a truly world star.

But will we? Is Wenger going to stand up to Barcelona, the money men, the Board and more importantly the player himself and say it loud and clear:


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Arsenal fans demand a new keeper

By 1970’s Gooner,

Arsene Wenger made an extraordinary statement in his weekly letter to the Arsenal fans. I get it on my e mail but I almost always ignore it as it usually reiterates an amalgam of his post match comments.

This time it attracted my attention as it was very direct and a little bit angry.

He asked the Arsenal fans to leave the transfer policy to him and we will see the results…

Is he getting fed up with everyone telling him to buy and buy and buy?

You bet he is.

But I am with the majority of the fans who are desperate and fed up to watch year after year talented youngsters play attractive football but get slaughtered by the big guns when the business part of the season arrives.

And there is one transfer that simply has to happen if we are to have a cat’s chance in hell to win anything next season and that is buying a new first team keeper capable to pull out those performances that will win you those points that Almunia and Fabianski certainly failed to do.

Van de Sar has been doing it season after season with Manchester United. Funnily enough Wenger passed on the chance to make that call that Van de Sar was expecting from him when leaving Fulham!

Shay Given, one of the best keepers in the League, was similarly available but again Wenger passed…

Petr Cech has been a top class keeper with Chelsea during those title winning years inclusive of this season of course.

Even Spurs have a better keeper than us. Gomez singlehandedly destroyed our chances to win the title.

I need not go on and on.

In fact the vast majority (82%) of nearly 2000 Arsenal fans that voted on our poll (see above) are clear that if Wenger does not sign a new keeper our chances of winning the title next season will evaporate EVEN if we buy all the outfield players that we need!

That is a strong message indeed.

There are numerous goalkeepers out there who are infinitely better than our lot.

David James may be old but so is Van de Sar. Joe Hart or even Shay Given at Manchester City, Gordon at Sunderland, Green at West Ham, Schwarzer at Fulham.

The list is endless and there are many, many keepers abroad which I am sure if Wenger puts his mind to it can come up with a decent choice.

But will he bother?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Tributes for Chamakh: “For me he is one of the best strikers in Europe and number one in France"

By Aries

The Bordeaux club’s people have begun to pay homage to Marwan Chamakh, who they consider a terrific footballer and person.

It seems that Arsenal will gain not only a very good footballer but someone with a very pleasant, kind and enthusiastic personality. Attributes that Wenger always considers important.

Patrick Battiston, Director of Bordeaux ‘s Training Centre, is sad to lose him but wonders if it is the right time for him to move:

“Well, obviously I would have liked him to stay a little longer. But that's life, that's football. The bird leaves the nest.

Whether it's the right time for him ... I do not know, you never know. Some are happy while staying in the same club, others want to discover new horizons, to learn other things”.

“Chamakh certainly earned the right to leave. But of course, emotionally, seeing a boy like him, especially when he is so nice it is always very emotional. It is even a little sad.

We had fun working with him. He has gradually taken large steps, while remaining the same, kind and enthusiastic. So yes, we will regret it. He has been a symbol to us”

Elie Baup who the Girondins coach between 1997-2003 considers Chamakh as the number one in France and one of the best strikers in Europe!

"Marwan was one of the most gifted players of his generation. He was rapidly improving every season and became one of the best strikers in Europe”.

“He's a player every coach would like to have in their team, for his generosity, altruism and the quality of his game head. For me, he is number one in France.

At Arsenal, he will continue to grow, because he will find himself in a supportive environment alongside players such as Nasri”.

Has Wenger unearthed another gem? Watch the video above...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Arsenal’s goalkeepers are a joke

By 1970’s Gooner

When Arsene Wenger said that due to Almunia’s wrist injury he would give a chance to Fabianski to prove himself I smiled. Wenger is up to his old tricks I thought as Almunia has probably been dropped.

On the other hand how can Fabianski prove himself in only three or so games? Surely you need more games than that to decide whether a keeper is good enough to win you the Premier League?

In fact the only decisive conclusion that could come out of this short run of games with Fabianski in goal could only be on the negative side i.e significant errors being made ruling the poor guy out of the reckoning.

And this eventuality has surely materialised. Or at least I hope that Wenger has now realised this!

Fabianski is not good enough to take that goalkeeper’s jersey. He should at best be loaned out so that he can learn on someone else’s back.

Nor is Almunia good enough and that is in my opinion quite obvious too. He has been given chance after chance, season after season but also failed miserably to convince.

It’s time to get the cheque book out Mr Wenger.

No team with real aspirations to win the title can do it with a goalkeeper, of at best, average quality.

Please go out and get a top class goalkeeper. And spend the money you say you have and give this very promising team the backbone it richly deserves.

A backbone consisting of the goalkeeper, a central defender (of an age below 30) and another strong defensively minded midfielder.

That’s all.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Which team, apart from Arsenal, would you prefer to win the Premier League title?

By Aries

It’s a hard choice really having to pick either Chelsea or Manchester United.

Normally I would prefer the team that played the best football to win the title and Arsenal have done that in my opinion. There’s not much to choose between Manchester United and Chelsea in terms of football played. Both have had good and bad games.

But there is a big difference between the two in their financial standing.

Chelsea have bought the titles they won and by extension they will have bought this one if they do go on and win it. Their financial strength is derived from big handouts from their owner and benefactor and not from what they earn through the normal sources of revenue open to football clubs, such as TV money, gate receipts, shirt sales and other marketable products.

Manchester United on the other hand have tended to rely precisely on these incomes which themselves are not inconsiderable but nevertheless football related.

However much it hurts me to choose a team to win the title other than Arsenal then I will vote for Manchester United.

Maybe Arsenal will win it! We still have an outside chance you know…

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wenger needs to get his and Hillwood’s cheque book out

By 1970’s Gooner

It is true that any team in the world will miss seven fist teamers like Arsenal have missed at various times this season. Robin van Persie, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Arshavin, and Fabregas.

But if their replacements were good enough then their absence would not have been felt so much. And Arsenal have suffered.

When the first teamers were out Wenger had to rely on aged players like Silvestre and Campbell or on young kids like Denilson, Eastmond and Bendtner.

The depth of the squad is simply not good enough and it is indeed a miracle that we have consistently been in the top four in the last five seasons.

I feel however that no major surgery is required in the squad but the major deficiencies have to be seriously addressed in time for next season.

And if Wenger finally gets his and Hilwood's cheque book out we may well be celebrating the title this time next year.

First and foremost Almunia and Fabiansky have to go. They have let us down on many an occasion this season and in important games too. No title winning team can rely on these two inadequate clowns.

And to think that we passed over Van de Sar when he was available as well as Shay Given last season! Wenger should buy a top class goalkeeper there’s no two ways about it.

Next shambles this season was our defensive cover. It was well known in advance that Djourou will not be able to offer cover to the two first choice defenders, Gallas and Vermaelen yet what does Wenger do?

He lets Senderos go out on loan, brings in Campbell and keeps Silvestre. Campbell has been brilliant but could not be used too often due to age and Silvestre …well, as I wrote too often in the past, he is a disaster waiting to happen.

Djourou’s long term fitness should be assessed and if he is ok then we need to bring in another quality central defender.

A central defensive midfielder is also needed because we cannot really expect Denilson to play that role every time Song is out injured, on Africa Nations Cup duty or banned.

And finally if Chamach is indeed coming this summer then we will not need more reinforcements in the forward positions.

All I can say is that Chamakh should have been at the Emirates in January. We may have been closer in the title race than what you may think.

Still, better late than never.

And if Wenger buys the right players this summer then all these barren years would have been well worth enduring.

For they will be seen as the necessary investment in the time needed to bring on the talented youngsters, like Fabregas, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Nasri, Walcott and van Persie to Premier and Champions League domination.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It’s tactics, not who starts, that will prove important in Barcelona

By 1970’s Gooner

Yes there are a lot of injured and absent players form Arsenal’s potentially most important game of the season.

There is Gallas missing from defence. Campbell is feared to be suffering from a hamstring strain and/or fatigue, Song and Fabregas are missing from central midfield and Arshavin from the offensive players. Van Persie is a long term absentee of course.

As a result most of the debate among Arsenal fans centres on the possible line up in the key positions where players are or could be missing.

Will Campbell play now that Song is out or will Wenger throw Silvestre in? Will Walcott start or will he be used as an impact substitute?

To my mind it’s what formation and tactics Arsene employs not who starts that will prove important in Barcelona.

Barcelona dominated possession for three quarters of the game at the Emirates and if we are to emerge victorious in Barcelona we simply have to stop them playing by denying them possession.

This is the single most important aim that has to be achieved if Arsenal are to have a chance.

And for this to be achieved in an Arsenal way (i.e not kicking the opponents to death as some other premier League opponents do against us) Wenger has to employ tactics that will thwart the opponent’s midfield and deny them the freedom to pass the ball around.

This can be achieved by adopting a more conservative approach especially in the first half because if Barcelona score first then it’s most probably game over.

A more conservative approach implies changing the formation from a 4 3 3 we have come to enjoy in the Premier League to a 4 5 1.

4 5 1 as played by the Arsenal will and should not be a defensive formation where players just stay behind the ball and defend.

4 5 1 will make life very difficult for Xavi to weave his magic and also deny space to their full backs when they try to roam forward as they did at the Emirates.

Two more things also have to happen.

Nasri who will be deployed centrally should not play as far forward as Fabregas did in the first leg. He should instead, when Arsenal are without the ball, drop back into the middle and mark Xavi denying him the space.

Bendtner should also not forget his defensive duties form the front. Indeed Arsenal should mark Barcelona’s defenders tightly when they have the ball and force them to distribute long rather than short (to Xavi for example). Arsenal will then have a much better chance to win the ball back.

Once all these are achieved then Wenger will begin to think about match winning substitutions. It is important not to play all your hands right from the beginning because if something goes wrong then there will not be a lot of room for maneuver left.

Walcott should therefore stay on the bench.


Sagna Campbell Vermaelen Clichy

Eboue Nasri Diaby Denilson Rosicky


Subs: Fabianski, Traore, Silvestre, Merida, Eastmond, Eduardo, Walcott (to come on for Sagna, Eboue goes to right back)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The game at Barcelona is far from a foregone conclusion

By 1970’s Gooner

Yes they outplayed us. In the same manner Arsenal outplay other average Premier League sides. They had a multiple of about 3 in terms of shots at goal, passes completed and very real chances. They could have put this tie to bed from the first leg.

Yet we are still in it having come back from the dead, as it were, which goes a long way in explaining the fighting spirit and never ending tenacity that these players possess.

Don’t believe the press when they say we have no chance. They have failed to see that this Arsenal team were severely handicapped throughout the game. And these handicaps are not likely to be there for the return leg.

Consider the following:

1. Gallas was injured and should not have started

Arsene Wenger should not have started with Gallas. He only trained for three days prior to the game after being out for a month. This is not enough to judge someone’s fitness especially for such an important game.

Not only was Gallas handicapped during the game but his necessary substitution deprived Arsene of making a more tactical (free) change. It also meant that Song came back in defence, a move he was not ready nor trained for.

The end result was that Imbrahimovic was allowed the room to waltz into the area and score. Twice

2. Fabregas was injured and should not have started

What we all feared happened. Fabregas was allowed to start when it was obvious that the risk of him breaking down was high. He was also not his usual self, chasing shadows for most of the game unable to dictate play as he has been accustomed.

There was another problem created by his ineffectiveness. His position on the pitch, playing further up behind Bendtner, meant that he was the one that should have been dropping back, harassing Xabi and making life difficult for him.

Alas he was unable to do that and Xabi was free to weave his magic.

While Song was in midfield he also was not able to put up mach of a resistance against Xabi as he was positioned too far back in front of the defence to crowd Messi out.

This left huge gaps for Xabi to pick passes in the unguarded areas between Fabregas and Song. And from there Arsenal’s problems began.

3. Arshavin was injured

Andrey had to come off around the 20 minute mark depriving Wenger of another tactical substitution. He was also pretty ineffective during that early period when Barcelona were allowed to run riot.

So I ask you: Can you name a team carrying so many passengers that would have lived with this excellent Barcelona?

Yet we scrapped a 2-2 draw coming back from 2-0 down…. Pretty heroic I would say.

When we play the return leg none of the above handicaps will be there. Yes these players are of high quality but they are no good to us if they can’t produce that quality on the pitch.

We will be playing 11 fit men and will be employing the appropriate tactics to take advantage of the weaknesses that Wenger so expertly exploited by the only free substitution that he was allowed to make.

Eboue’s and Walcott’s pace but also their ability to dribble past opponents were used to terrifying effect against Barcelona’s weakest link which was their left back. Maxwell was excellent coming forward but defensively he had no answer to pace.

And Walcott and Eboue run riot there.

High balls into their area also troubled them especially with Bendtner’s height posing a threat. We didn’t put too many balls in there but when we did we reaped the dividends.

And our midfield, especially Diaby, will not sit back and admire their passing game I am sure.

And Barcelona will be minus their central defensive pairing.

So don’t despair there’s still life in this team yet….

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Greedy Wenger dents Arsenal’s title hopes

By 1970’s Gooner

I was very interested to see what Wenger had in mind when I saw Arsenal’s team sheet containing Rosicky and Walcott.

It was obvious that they were not going to be up to the physical approach that Birmingham have been renowned for this season.

And so it proved to be. Walcott was very quiet and Rosicky coming back form an injury lay off was pretty ineffective. He was almost at walking pace for most of the game!

The effect of this selection was that Arsenal had no width with which to stretch the game which inevitably meant that most of the play had to come through the middle.

But hell, that is where we were at our weakest. Especially against Bowyer and Ferguson who were both very combative indeed.

Song’s inevitable move to centre back (he had a fine game) meant that Denilson and Diaby had to act as the defensive shield. Neither did.

Denilson was not strong enough and Diaby was more forward minded than Fabregas even!

The lack of width and crosses also meant that Bendtner was not supplied the balls with which to do any damage.

It wasn’t until the two most obvious substitutions were made that we immediately began looking like we could score. And we did.

Arshavin and Nasri should have started the game. If they had we would have probably ran out winners from the first half.

What an earth was Arsene Wenger thinking of?

The answer is obvious. He was greedy enough to think that this Arsenal team could actually win the double! The Premiership and the Champions League.

That is why he rested these two players and Eboue as well. He intends to play them on Wednesday at the Emirates.

But surely the most important game is always the next one.

Wenger should have played his strongest team, get the win against Birmingham, keep us in the title race and then with confidence high go into the game against Barcelona.

But now it has backfired.

It seems that it is Chelsea who have benefited from getting knocked out of the Champions League.

Not us…

Monday, March 22, 2010

Let’s all cheer for Tottenham Hotspur!

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsenal are slowly but surely edging closer and closer to the final stages of a remarkable league campaign.

A campaign where no points have been gained against the other major rivals in the title chase but where nevertheless still leaves us only two points from the top with only seven games left!

Out of Arsenal’s remaining games there is one that stands out as the most difficult (after the confrontation away at Blackburn). And that is the North London derby against Spurs.

They have been well marshaled by Harry Redknap with some creative and exciting players in their ranks like the Croatians Modric and Kranjkar.

Their quest for fourth place is gathering pace and unfortunately we are scheduled to meet them in three Saturdays time after Birmingham and Wolves.

The degree of difficulty of this game is very obvious. We will be playing them away in a period where they are desperate to stay in that Champions League qualifying fourth place.

What will make this game doubly difficult however is the fact that it will come right after our own battle in the Champions League second leg against Barcelona in Spain on the previous Tuesday.

And we all know how tiring these games can be. The Spurs game will be played three days after Barcelona at 12.45 pm on the Saturday.

But if Spurs win their FA Cup game against Fulham next Wednesday then they will have to play the Cup Semi Final on the Saturday they are due to meet Arsenal in the league (on the 10th April).

This means that the North London derby will have to be postponed and played four days later on Wednesday 14th April (at 8.00 pm). Spurs will have to play us after only having four days rest while Arsenal will have had a whole week’s.

Yes I know that we can beat them anytime, anywhere, anyplace but at this critical juncture of the season every little bit helps.

So let’s all cheer for Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup!