Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Arsenal have renewed belief again

By 1970’s Gooner

Everyone considered the away game at Stoke as the next big test for the Gunners. Like Bolton away used to be before big fat Sam thankfully believed he could manage at a higher level than he is actually capable of.

And sure enough it looked that we couldn’t find an answer to the long throw ins and the physical side of the game.

It seems that our defensive coaching is surely lacking, as again players at the far post went AWOL.

Both Sagna and particularly Eboue just walked away from the far post. Surely they must have been told that it’s the second ball that has to be defended as much as the first.

How naïve and annoying it is to concede an away goal with Arsenal players abandoning their position from a set piece, again.

Remember Clichy’s walk about for Chelsea’s fist goal at Stamford Bridge?

And once you go a goal behind in an away game then it gets even more difficult giving the home team belief and something to hold on to.

But the way we fought back will have given a strong boost to the player’s belief, especially with Chelsea dropping points again.

It seems that Terry’s off the field behaviour but more importantly Cech’s replacement hilariously combined to bring about a defeat that a lot of you couldn’t foresee.

You see, it’s not only Arsenal that has to put up with replacing important players through injury. Now it’s Chelsea but next it could be Manchester United. We have had our share of bad luck you might say…

Of course what stood out at Stoke was the Arsenal players’ reaction to Ramsey’s horrific injury. They played football and run the opponents rugged eventually getting just rewards.

This of course was not the reaction that came after Eduardo’s injury at Birmingham two seasons ago where Arsenal’s challenge began to fall apart.

In a strange way the happenings in yesterday’s game could spur Arsenal on to strongly challenge for the title this time rather than wilt away.

It must be said however that after the Ramsey injury two other factors worked in Arsenal’s favour.

The first and most obvious one is the fact that Stoke had to play with ten men. The other was their obvious and increasing tiredness partly explained by their efforts against Manchester City in the Cup a few days before.

Nevertheless there were some other very encouraging signs to come out of this game.

The first is the obvious increasing fitness levels of several players like Clichy, Nasri, Rosicky and Bendtner.

The second is Bendtner’s scoring form. His second in successive games and what a centre forward’s goal that was!

I tell you Bendtner will flourish in this position and will prove a very significant player in our challenge for the title. He also offered an outlet or plan B. Something that was not there ever since van Persie has been out.

And we hit Stoke with a piece of their own medicine. A high ball into the box rather than messing about around their penalty area with short passes to feet.

The third is Sol Campell’s fantastic fitness level and form. I am astounded. He looks great and plays like he used to, like he never left Arsenal. And his experience is vey valuable.

I hope Wenger does not rest him for the next game though I fear he will…You know what I am thinking don’t you? Silvestre….oh my God.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three good reasons why Arsenal have a realistic chance of winning the title

By 1970’s Gooner

We have been written off twice already this season.

No one gave us a chance after we got thumped by Chelsea in that horrific defeat at the Emirates earlier in the season. But right after that Chelsea dropped points and we got back into it again with an unbeaten run.

Until we met with the big two again, in quick succession. And got thumped again…

But right after that both Chelsea and Manchester United lose their games and we are back in contention…once again.

So can we sustain the challenge on this occasion?

I believe we can and there are three good reasons why.

1. The other contenders will drop points playing each other

For a start we will not be seeing the sight of the top two again this season. In fact we will also not be seeing the sight of Liverpool and Aston Villa again.

Chelsea and Manchester United face each other at Old Trafford and both will play against Liverpool (Man Utd at home and Chelsea away at Anfield). A Liverpool with a fit Torres in the line up fighting for that important fourth place.

If we play our cards right we could be within touching distance before you can say Wayne Roonie.

2. Arsenal’s goals come from a variety of players unlike the others

Speaking of Wayne Roonie brings us to injuries and the fact that apart from Arsenal only Liverpool have been unlucky to loose their top striker for a long period.

If by chance Wayne Roonie or Didier Drogba got injured then Manchester United and Chelsea will find it difficult.

Manchester United are too dependent on Roonie who has been in fantastic form ever since Ronaldo freed the space for him to grow into.

And if he got injured I don’t think Berbatov could be as prolific.

And although Chelsea got by when Drogba was away for the Africa Nations Cup their fixtures coming up are not as easy as the ones when he was absent.

So in the absence of Robin van Persie, Arsenal have managed to find the goals. Will Manchester United and Chelsea do the same if they were faced with similar circumstances?

I doubt it.

3. Injured players are back and getting fitter

Gael Clichy, Abu Diaby, Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, Eduardo, Nicklas Bendtner.

They were all out for some time and all need the time to get back to top fitness levels. This comes with games really, so the team has to carry them in a way.

Clichy was very rusty until very recently when he began to find some form. He will get better. The same for Walcott who is now getting games behind him and will come good later in the season.

Nasri too who is now becoming more influential during games. Diaby the same.

And there is Bendtner who really needs a few more games under his belt.

He will, I believe, become very influential as the season grows.

And there is Robin van Persie and Gibbs to come back of course.

But when you look at the other two, who have they got to come back?

Chelsea have Essien, Bosingwa and Joe Cole who will get fitter. But really it is Essien that will add something to the team. But like van Persie he is not due back yet. And Ashley Cole is out for the season.

Manchester United can look forward to Vidic and Ferdinand who will undoubtedly add a lot to the team’s defensive quality, when they get match fit.

Manchester United certainly have room for improvement over Chelsea but the greatest room for improvement is undoubtedly Arsenal’s.

And so are the chances of getting to the top.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

We’ve had enough Mr Wenger (and Mr Hill Wood)

By 1970’s Gooner

There’s something that either Mr Wenger or the Board are not telling us.

It has been patently obvious that the team needed a few more players of stature, experience and strength to transform it from very good to great.

The Board keeps coming out with statements that the money is there for Arsene to spend. Yet we see no real investment in the team. The only signings are those that are desperately needed to keep the team going. Not the ones that will have added more quality options.

Signings like Arshavin’s when the team really needed a player to help it make the Champions League places. That was last year.

This season it was Vermaelen. But again really desperately needed as Toure was on his way out.

Good signings but the absolute minimum.

And again this policy on living on a shoestring was repeated when van Persie and Bendtner got injured. NO SIGNINGS.

Except Sol Campel’s when Wenger realised that if either Gallas or Vermaelen got injured his only other real option was Silvestre! Another signing on a shoestring...

The result of this policy of stinginess is that when a first team player is out then there is a huge gap in quality and experience left to fill as the rest of the squad is littered with rookies or old has beens.

Examples are aplenty.

Song goes to the ACN and Denilson has to fill in...

Diaby gets injured and Ramsey has to fill in...

Van Persie and Bendtner are out Eduardo and Arshavin have to fill in....

Clichy and Gibbs are out young Traore has to fill in....

If either Gallas or Vermaelen get injured it will be Sol Campel or Silvestre, God forbid...

If Fabregas gets injured it will be young Ramsey...

Almunia is bad enough but if he got injured or dropped it will be the untried Fabiansky...

If the money was really there and Wenger chose to ignore it then I would call it CRIMINAL. For all that this team needs is a few signings that would have complemented this exciting pool of young players.

If the money is not there, which is what I suspect, then the Board should come out and tell us straight and proper.

Arsenal FC’s major issues an obstacle to silverware

This is the first a series of articles that an “Arsenal Analysis” reader has written with regard to what he considers as the major issues facing Arsenal FC that need to be addressed.

The first article deals with the most important man at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger. The rest will follow next week.

By Arse Case

Many many debates have been going around since the recent loss to United. I would like to provide an objective eye on the major problems at hand, potential resolutions to the issues and pose the questions that should be asked.

I believe this is an objective and fair analysis of what needs to be looked at this club. I am no pundit or crazed extremist lunatic fan. I am an Arsenal supporter, an MBA student with an objective eye.

This is what I think is blatantly wrong with the club and the issues that need to be resolved for this team to become a championship club, again.

Arsene Wenger:

Creator of Wengerball, the most exciting form of football seen on the planet. In Arsene we Trust, Keep the Faith, Frugal, Beautiful Football, Arsenal, all words that come to mind when Arsene Wenger's name is said.

Arsene is an astutely stubborn businessman who sticks to his own rules regardless of the situation.

Can this eventually lead to his downfall?

His goal of creating beautiful, free flowing football, at little or no cost (to the club financially) has given him the respect of club owners all over the world.

Yet his strict business policies, frugal mindset and lack of will to be told how to run a club has given him a bad reputation amongst his supporters.

Arsene is a godsend to any shareholder of a club, as he continues to bring in revenue, without spending the earnings.

He has moved Arsenal to one of the biggest stadiums in the country, all while maintaining his integrity, keeping the books positive and developing great players.

It comes to mind that Arsene would be better of in the office managing contracts, scouting youth around the world and making blockbuster deals, at the most unimaginable prices.

His increased involvement in the office work, as well as on the pitch, has gotten him confused of where to go when it comes to making the right decisions for Arsenal at the present moment.

It is normally observed through the football world, as coaches ask for as much money as possible to make transfers that are needed to make the team competitive. Whereas the back office USUSALLY says work with what you got, or this is how much you are getting.

Arsene knows everything with the finances. He knows how much he is expecting to earn with the transfers he makes, how much revenue the team will earn, what it will take to purchase and keep players.

As an economist he knows hell of a lot about finance. But is it this financial wisdom that prevents him from performing his job on the pitch? Arsene, as a coach keeps on boasting about his " massive transfer kitty" that he has access to if he wants.

But fails to touch it.

The obvious decision that has to be made here is either he works the pitch or the back office, NOT both.

His business knowhow is clouding his coaching vision from making the transfers needed to improve the team. As a result he relies on players that he already has on the squad, knowing many of them are sub par.

The fact that they are youth and inexperienced means that he can hold on to them for cheap and when they become older and start to show the potential that they are expected to have (if they ever do show that potential), Arsenal will be able to sell them and bring in 100's% return on their investment.

But this is a business strategy, not a coaching strategy.

Coaching wise, he is the best tactician around.

He selects, nurtures and develops the youth better than anyone out there.

His idea of beautiful free flowing football looks genius on the pitch. His idea to hold on to the ball until they find the opening is great as well.

But it is obvious he lacks the mature, experienced players to help balance both sides of the pitch.

Arsene is a great coach and he is a great financial manager. But as a combination of both, his coaching side has been affected. The result after 5 years on the run is no silverware.

Top 4 finish is considered good enough and financial balance and long-term prosperity seems to be priority.

It is not fair to ask for his head after every game he loses. But it is justified to question his objectives when he has the chance to rectify his blatant problems, but refuses to act in a proper and expected manner.

How many years is it acceptable to go with out silverware? Or is Top 4 good enough for the powers that be at AFC?

Most sports teams and fans want results now. They pay to go watch and support a winning team.

It is true that each team needs to go through rebuilding phases, but the length of the phase and how they go about setting up the future has massive impact on fans and the support they provide.

The longer they have to wait for a championship side, the more weary they will get, the more they will complain and the less likely they will spend to support the team, ultimately resulting in a decline of revenue.

What makes a great manager? Ultimately a winner is all any coach wants to be. Here are a few Managers who are considered successful. You can decide by yourself what you think.

Silverware Comparison of a few “Great Manager’s” of the last decade

2000 – 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson: 10 Cups, 1 team (5 FA Premier Championships, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cup, 1 Champions League, 1 FIFA Club World Cup) – *8 FA Premier Championships in 10 seasons between 1993-2003)

Carlo Ancelotti: 8 Cups, 2 teams (1 Copa Italia, 1 Serie A, 1 Italian Super Cup, 2 UEFA Champions League, 2 UEFA Super Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup)

Gus Hidnik – 5 Cups, 2 teams (3 Erdersevi, 1 KNVB Cup, 1 FA Cup)

Jose Mourinho: 12 Cups, 3 teams (2 Portuguese Liga, 1 Super Cup, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Champions League, 2 FA Premier League, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cup, 1 Serie A, 1 Supercoppa)

Arsene Wenger: 5 cups, 1 team (2 FA Premier Champ, 3 FA cup - 2 years winning the double)