Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

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!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bendtner admits delay in his plans for world star status

By Aries

Bendtner is a very determined and confident lad. Even Arsene Wenger has alluded to it recently after his hat trick against Porto.

Nicklas then followed that up with a crucial 93rd minute winner against Hull which kept Arsenal’s title hopes alive.

Bendtner has been talking to the Danish media after that game and he again did not mince his words on the subject of his self belief.

“I've always been like this. Also off the pitch” he said to Ekstra Bladet, a Danish paper.

- I believe in myself, as well as I can. I am who I am and it’s up to the others to decide whether they like me or not” came the reply from the 22-year-old striker, who has recently astounded people in the game by cheerfully announcing that he will soon be a world star.

And he doesn’t mind the reaction and the pressure on himself such statements generate.

“No, not at all. It's easy to talk. You must also prove it. And so I say no more than what I know will happen”

”If I look honestly at myself, I see that I do not have a poor technique, not a bad shot and not a bad positional ability than many others around”

“So I take it easy, because in the end I will sit back with a big smile when I have reached my big goal”

When asked when his breakthrough to the world elite will happen:

”It should have been here this season, but then I'm suddenly in an unfamiliar position, had a car accident and missed much of the season with injuries”

”Now I play the last 20 matches. So now my goal has been postponed until next year. But it can start at the World Championships”

Let's all hope that this self belief and goal striking sequence continues while playing for Arsenal. The World Cup can wait...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arsenal’s major weakness needs to be addressed, otherwise forget it

By 1970’s Gooner

What a moment to start talking about weaknesses in the team when we annihilated Porto so comprehensively.

In a performance that was reminiscent of past Wenger teams who played “total football”, beautiful football, football that most of us now only see when we play (or our children play) Play Station!

Nasri has come back to full fitness and is now dictating games.

Clichy is back to his startling best, both defensively and offensively.

Rosicky also back to his solid and influential performances.

Walcott after a run of games is the “old” Walcott we came to love.

Diaby has cut out the nonsense selfish bits and is becoming a monster.

So is Song and Eboue.

Bendtner is getting the goals.

Yet something bugs me and it has to do with our central defensive players.

Now that Gallas is out for another month we are definitely short on quality replacements.

My hair stands on end when I see Silvestre in the starting eleven. He is a disaster waiting to happen.

His latest gaffe was Burnley’s equaliser at the Emirates when he stepped out of defence without looking around to see if there was any danger.

He has repeated the same mistake in almost every game he played (think back to the game against Sunderland when Bent was through on goal on more than one occasion). He is also so slow it’s unbelievable. Even Sol is faster than him.

Campbell has been a revelation so far. He is strong, very good in the air but above all he is so experienced. However, as Wenger has said, he cannot play more than one game a week. Apparently after Tuesday’s game against Porto he is already suffering from fatigue and is doubtful for Saturday.

With Gallas and Djourou out and Senderos out on loan, the only alternative for Saturday, if indeed Sol is out, will be Silvestre.

Hull are no pushovers when it comes to strong, physical and fast forwards. Forwards like Altidorp and Fagan who look like giving Silvestre the run around.

God help us…

Let us hope we score more goals than they do.

Until Gallas returns to fitness I really think that Song (who is unavailable for Saturday’s game) can and should fill in at central defence.

Nasri (or Fabregas when he returns), Diaby and Denilson can form the trio in the 4 3 3 formation that is serving Arsenal so well this season.

Keep Silvestre on the bench Mr Wenger.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Five reasons why Arsenal suffer so many injuries

By 1970’s Gooner

Three horrific injuries in the last five years.

A string of injuries bedeviling the whole squad throughout this season.

Djourou, van Persie and Ramsey out for the long term.

Clichy, Gibbs, Gallas, Diaby, Nasri, Rosicky, Denilson, Arshavin, Eduardo, Vela, Walcott and Bendtner. All have been out for some time when you take into account the period taken to get back to match fitness as well.

The second most fouled team in the league…

There must be a reason for all this and since I do not believe in bad or good luck or coincidences here are five very plausible reasons why Arsenal players suffer so many injuries.

1. Arsenal’s style of play

Arsene Wenger’s style play as we all know is all about possession, quick passing and continuous movement. This inevitably means that opponents either get sucked into rush tackles or deliberately foul to disturb the rhythm and momentum of the attacks.

They also get frustrated and probably feel humiliated being passed to death without getting a sniff of the ball.

We all played or are playing football at various levels and we don’t like it, do we, when this happens. Some take their frustration out on the opponents, who else?

2. Small and non physical players Vs past Wenger teams

Vieira, Petit, Silva, Henry, Adams, Keon, Winterburn, Dixon, Bould, Parlour, to name but a few. Need I say more?

This current Arsenal side is characterized by a plethora of relatively smaller, lightly built players who are highly skilled and technically gifted.

Arshavin, Fabregas, van Persie, Nasri, Rosicky, Denilson, Eduardo, Walcott, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere….

Compare these players to the list of past Arsenal masters above and you will see what I mean.

The current crop will, more often than not, get roughed up as they cannot use their built and physical power to defend themselves on the pitch.

It is no coincidence that ever since Wenger put emphasis on these type of players that Arsenal have been winning awards for fair play or for receiving minimal cautions!

It wasn’t like this when Vieira and co were around.

Add to the above the fact there is hardly a British player in Arsenal’s starting eleven these days.

And the ones that have remained in the squad are taught to play football the right way…(the only British players in Arsenal’s current squad are Walcott, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere and now Campell).

3. Young and inexperienced squad who get roughed about

One of Arsene Wenger’s explanations of that dreadful defeat at Stamford Bridge was that “our average age was 23 and theirs 29”

Yes indeed and this means that invariably Arsenal’s starting eleven is lacking in experience and game nous. They try to play proper, genuine and what I would call innocent football.

In their pursuit of perfection and desire to play the beautiful game they forget about protecting themselves. But the opponents don’t….

4. Overuse of players makes them more prone to injuries

Wenger usually refuses to invest in new players preferring to rely on the home grown talent coming through the academies.

Commendable though this is it also means that when injuries do happen it will be a young and relatively inexperienced player that will fill in.

It also means that the existing first team players may not get enough rest through rotation. And too much use of anything, be it machinery, cars or football players results in faults, erosion, injuries…

Denilson (back problems), Clichy (back problems), Gallas (back problems), Diaby (knee), Rosicky (hamstring), Arshavin (hamstring), Eduardo (hamstring) ….

5. Opponents adopt the physical approach

Yes I left it last and it is indeed a strong reason for all these injuries.

Opponents especially those out of the top four (or five now?) will decide that in order to get anything out of the game they have to adopt a strong physical approach, "rough them foreigners up and let them know who’s boss".

They have seen it get results in the past and they will always feel they have a chance against a team like Arsenal.

They get a helping hand from referees however.

They do not give enough protection to teams like Arsenal allowing hard tackles to go unpunished and keeping the yellow and red cards firmly in their pockets.

Unless really something horrible happens...