Monday, 27 February 2012

Arsenal vs Spurs: Post Match Report

Evening all,

The euphoria from yesterday has carried itself over and what is usually my least favourite day of the week; Monday went by swimmingly and the smile is very much still plastered across my face.

It is fair to say that the game yesterday is exactly what the doctor ordered. I spoke of the enormity of the task at hand yesterday and how big the game was. I also spoke of the need for a big performance with extra emphasis on our work off the ball and how we approach the game. Not only did Arsenal do all those things well they exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic fan.

Arsenal have had a turbulent season to say the least which has led many fans to express their dissatisfaction and rightfully so. It has been my belief since this team has been assembled at the start of the season that whilst this team are short of two or three players I have maintained that they are far better than they have performed. They have been lacklustre since the turn of the year and a defeat yesterday could have meant the end of our Champions League ambitions. I don’t think there are many people that were filled with confidence when they saw Benayoun named in the starting XI ahead of Chamberlain and Gervinho, myself included but it worked.

Arsenal were immense and bar a couple of bits of misfortune it was a fully deserved rout. Arsenal created more, worked harder, used the ball better, were quicker, direct and ruthless. They smelt blood and they went for the jugular which is something that this set of players have been criticised for not doing in the past.

It would have been impossible to guess after five minutes that Arsenal were going to produce one of their most inspired performances in recent times. After some interesting positioning from the back four following a Tottenham break Vermaelen recovered to some extend as Saha found himself in a good position. It seemed as though Saha had lost his opportunity when he pulled the trigger and shot. Were it not for a wicked deflection on the underside of Vermaelen’s boot, the opening goal would not have been attributed to Saha.

So after 5 minutes and one goal conceded most Arsenal fans could be forgiven for fearing the worst. Especially when, against the run of play, Gareth Bale, in my honest opinion, deceived Mike Dean into awarding a penalty by diving over Szczesny’s outstretched hand. The trick worked and Adebayor duly converted the spot kick to make it 0-2.

If the opening period was a poor, the response was anything but. Arsenal came back swinging. They were truly magnificent. This is the kind of performance the fans have been hoping to see all season. Great work ethic, combined with the confidence and positive play one expects from an Arsene Wenger era Arsenal.

Arsenal almost pulled one back immediately with a neat flick from Walcott on the edge of the Tottenham area nearly converted by Robin Van Persie as he rattled the wood work. Thankfully, we did not have to wait long as the ball ran out to Gibbs who in turn teed up Arteta to cross who found the awesome Sagna who thundered a header past Brad Friedel.
If the first got the crowd going, the second sent them into raptures. Robin Van Persie scored one of the finest goals of the season. The finish was inch perfect from his immaculate left foot. You can only appreciate the beauty of the finish if you look at the goal from the angle behind the goal. It was truly stunning.

The momentum continued following the break and we found ourselves in the lead following a great Rosicky finish getting the goal he deserved. This goal I think best summed up the performance, it was tenacious, a never give up attitude, great work rate with a sumptuous bit of technique to finish things off.

This meant Tottenham had to try to attack and as soon as they did, they were punished twice by similar Walcott goals. We broke quickly and Walcott showed real character to turn an ordinary performance into a match winning performance.

It was a superb performance and one that has galvanised everyone involved with the club. It was a much needed boost and while it doesn’t mean that all our problems have miraculously been solved, it has shown that we are more than capable of competing for a Champions League place. Arsenal are a side capable of far more than they have shown for the most part this season and this should now be the blueprint of how we should set up for the rest of the season. If we demonstrate this level of passion and commitment every time we play, then I think the outlook may not be so bleak after all.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

North London Derby Preview! Team News and Injury Updates!

Morning all,

So we have yet another “must-win” game upon us with the familiar back drop of doom and gloom surrounding our chances. We have for the first time in a long time been dubbed as underdogs at home against the scum. Whilst I have no problem with that I do not necessarily attest to Totten**** apparent brilliance at the moment.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of today’s tie there has been news of Arshavin’s exit via a loan deal back to Zenit. Wish him the best of luck and despite his frustrating decline I can’t help but remember some of the great things he did. Although few in numbers, moments of brilliance will forever be remembered by Arsenal fans around the world. Aside from that, that is 70k a week extra we can give to RVP. Anyway, back to business.

This is one of the biggest North London derbies in living memory and one can only imagine the pressure that is on the players as they prepare this morning. Let’s hope they channel this energy positively and come out swinging. I know everyone wants to win and I agree but given that the last two performances have been devoid of any character I want to see Arsenal out there. The Arsenal we all know. Not the shadow of the team that has appeared regularly since the turn of the year.

We haven’t had the best injury news leading up to the game but I would imagine that Koscienly and Gibbs will play at the back which should provide somewhat of a boost to our chances. With our injuries so depressing it seems the folk at have clearly given up on keeping up with it all. They have not updated the injury news this week but I can tell you that Gibbs and Koscienly were a doubt and had a fitness tests but will play from what I can tell. Diaby, Wilshire, Coquelin, Frimpong and most recently Ramsey are all missing in midfield while Jenkinson is still short in defence alongside Santos and Mertesacker.

I expect the team to look like this:


Sagna                                    Koscienly                              Vermaelan                Gibbs

                                    Song                                      Arteta


            Walcott                                                                                   Gervinho


Whilst everyone will have their own opinion on how we should line up and best possible tactics but I would like to see the Ox line-up and I would personally play him instead of Rosicky, in the middle. It will give the defence all sorts of problems with three super quick players as well as the movement of Robin Van Persie.

Either way our chances will rely on a portion of our game that has been less than satisfactory over the course of the past few weeks; work off the ball. If we play our lethargic brand of letting teams steam roll us and only pass sideways whilst under pressure. We need to push up the pitch, be positive and get the wingers and Van Persie involved as much as possible. If he is isolated the entire match then we may as well give up now.

I believe we can win, I really do. That is of course dependant on the character and commitment the Arsenal show. Either way, the atmosphere is going to be immense and I cannot wait, let’s hope I feel this way at the end.

The nerves are kicking in so I am going to go.

Enjoy the match and feel free to follow me on twitter for my take on the days proceedings. @goonerverse or!/GoonerVerse .

 movement of Robin Van Persie. ts of problems with three super quick players as well as the movement of Robin Van Persie. ositi

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Arsenal vs Sunderland Preview: Team news, injury updates and RVP likely to be rested!

Afternoon all,

Another important game in a series of crucial ties which, guess what? Yep, you guessed it, define our season. It seems that every time we have a shocker we have a series of matches that end up defining the season. Despite recovering in the league to some extent, our match today represents our last realistic opportunity to win anything this season; the FA cup.

I have made my thoughts clear on this in the past few days but I do not see the worth in winning the FA Cup and not qualifying for the Champions League. We could after all do both at this stage and the season, despite all the frustration will be looked on with much admiration from the fans and that is what will be remembered. However it seems from Wenger’s quotes this morning he pretty much concedes the squad available to him at present is not one that is really capable of challenging on multiple fronts.

Be that as it may it seems that any negative result will only encourage the ongoing negativity surrounding the club. Wenger has many staunch followers, I count myself among them if truth be told but the once vocal supporters are even muted at the moment. The dismay and shock amongst most fans is apparent but I for one that we can continue providing the players support on the pitch whatever our feelings may be. I overheard some Arsenal “fans” saying that they’d “love it if we lose, not even Wenger would survive that”. I just cannot comprehend this sort of attitude because surely whether he is the best man or not, whether he is too stubborn or just too crazy is by the by if we win. There is little to worry about with regards to our supporters today as our travelling fans are absolutely brilliant.

Lets get past the back drop and move onto the main event. We are in for another tough afternoon, that is for sure. I fully expect that the plough field from last week is still in shit condition and without attempting to create any pre-emptive excuses, it really did hamper our play last week and I fully expect it do so again. Both teams will have to deal with it but I just hope it doesn’t cause us any more injuries.

News has come out that Mertesacker has had reconstructive surgery on his ankle ligaments. While I am no doctor I will say it sounds like this has ruled him out for the remaining season and as I have expressed, I really do think we will miss him. Laurent Koscienly is also out with a knee injury but the news is not as bad as initially feared. He should be back for the crucial tie against Spurs next week. They are the only bits of new news on the injured list and are added to the long term absentees of Carl Jenkinson, Andre Santos, Jack Wilshire, Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Frimpong. On a positive note though, we are likely to see Carl Jenkinson return to full training as of Monday.

Gervinho is likely to return to the team today after his excursions in the AFCON. Despite him missing a penalty in the final it is fair to say that he had a positive tournament from what I saw and we hope that he can bring some of the form he showed back with him. Chamakh may also play today as we are likely to rest key man Robin Van Persie as he has seemingly played all games of note so far this season.

Baring that in mind along with the absences of both Koscienly and Mertesacker this is the team I expect to line up today:


Sagna                          Djourou                       Vermaelan                   Gibbs

                                    Coquelin                      Arteta


Walcott                                                                                               Gervinho


I sincerely hope that the Ox starts in place of Walcott and Szczesny in place of Fabianski but this is the team I expect will play.

Expect a fierce and tough game today with no respite and don’t be surprised if it is a draw. I hope I am wrong and it is a stroll but as Arsenal fans we know life just is not that simple anymore…

Until tomorrow!


Arsene Wenger Best XI

After reading a certain quote from Wenger this morning of “We had a team capable of winning everywhere” my mind began racing. I have, over the past few weeks been looking at the team and the league table constantly wondering how we are going to navigate a route back to the top of the pile. A lot has been asked of Wenger and whether he is unable to see “what is so obvious to everyone else”. I look at the team and think of areas it can be improved but a lot of people wonder whether Wenger has the will or the way to make this team the dominant force it was in the early/mid noughties. A lot of people might question the decisions Le Boss has made but let’s try to dispel the notion that Wenger cannot spot a good defender or that he is unaware of which players are needed. Surely the quote in itself admits a recognition that his current crop are not good enough but I thought I would do something more positive by having a look at some of the players he has played in each position since he has arrived. Here is MY best Arsene Wenger XI.

Please bare in mind this is not set to tactics that Wenger would employ and instead is based on players I would choose to fit the formation I have used here. I contemplated a 4-4-2 and the team would look slightly different but I have chosen players who not only have ability but the character I think is essential. Hence the reason twats like Cashley would never get close.

GK - David Seaman

There was only ever going to be one really. Despite some competition from Jens, this is perhaps one of the most uncontested positions in the list. From “that save” against Sheffield United to his penalty stopping heroics, David Seaman has a catalogue of great saves. Despite the fact that he sported a questionable moustache and an appalling ponytail, it is fair to say he was a true Arsenal great. Some argue the best number 1 that Arsenal have ever had. I wouldn’t like to get into that debate today but suffice to say he is the best Arsenal keeper I have seen live.

RB - Bacary Sagna

It was a tough one between Bacary and Lee Dixon for me as the consistency he showed in his 600+ capped career was hard to look past but look past I did because the admiration I have for Sagna is second to none. I genuinely believe he is the best player in his position in the world right now and we have sorely missed him in his absence. I know this is perhaps poorly timed given his shocker mid-week against Milan, but that aside I cannot remember many times in his 141 game career that he has looked out of his depth against any forward in world football.

CB - Sol Campbell

Big Sol, perhaps the most controversial of all of Arsene Wenger’s buy’s, was at the time one of the top defenders in world football. He was bought from arch nemesis and neighbour, Tottenham for a free transfer and he had an immediate impact. He formed a fantastic partnership with Kolo Toure and was at the heart of the side that remained unbeaten for an entire season. He was able to fit into the team immediately and went on to win two league titles, three FA cups and two charity shields. He also won some individual honours during his time at Arsenal as he was in the PFA team of the year three times and both the FIFA and UEFA equivalent’s one time each. Include the fact that this was a free transfer and Arsenal managed to get their biggest rival’s player for free this was a great bit of business for the manager and more importantly one of the best centre backs to have played for us in the modern era. That is a huge compliment given the level of competition in this position.

CB - Tony Adams

I am sure this one will not induce any arguments from anyone for Mr Arsenal was one of the best players to ever put on the famous cannon embroiled red and white. He was a natural leader and a superb reader of the game. His application was second to none and the same applies to his organisation skill. Truth be told he was pretty much the complete defender and you could have had a team of Sunday league players next to him and he would be able to make them look top class. He was amazing and I love him. His goal against Everton was about as special a moment as I can remember as an Arsenal fan. With 504 appearances, 13 major trophies and an MBE to his name, nobody can deny that he is an absolute legend.

LB - Nigel Winterburn

With 584 appearances for the gunners and a number of trophies it is hard to look past him. Some people may look to one of the most cuntish characters modern football has ever seen as one of the best left backs, I however only see him as a venomous snake only capable of poisonous treacherous deception. So with that in mind there was only one real candidate, a true Arsenal man through and through.

RM - Robin Van Persie

Here is where it gets really tricky. We have had some of the best attacking players the premiership has seen in recent years and accommodating them is difficult to say the least. Especially when you consider the front two positions alone. In Arsene Wengers time we have seen two strikers break the Arsenal all time scoring record in Thierry Henry and Ian Wright but we all also witnessed the magic of Dennis Bergkamp and more recently his compatriot Robin Van Persie. It is hard to envisage any such list without all four of those names but it is ultimately impossible to accommodate them all in a lineup which does not compromise their natural positions. I did decide though, such is the skill and ability of Robin Van Persie that if all the players Wenger has had were in their peak he would still be the best available right midfielder (in my opinion). Despite being out of position, it is one he has played in a lot, especially internationally so although Ljunberg and the Romford Pele were both worthy contenders my love for Van Persie, rightly or wrongly, meant I just could not have a team without him.

CM - Patrick Vieria

Attributed as the player we have missed most by many journalists. The one that we never replaced. He, with his strength, power and pace was able to turn defence into attack with lightening quick precision. He was a pillar for us and gave us the leadership and solidity that we are missing now. He was a phenomenal presence in the team and undoubtedly the best central midfielder that we have had in the Arsene Wenger era.

LM - Robert Pires
Bought for just £6m from the profits of the Marc Overmars sale, it is fair to say that the Frenchman more than provided value for money. He was a phenomenal success and in a team with greats such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieria and Igor Stephanov, he more than held his own. In fact it can be argued that he was for large parts of his career one of Arsenal’s best players. He scored 84 goals in his time for Arsenal with 19 being his best return for a single season; not bad for a midfielder eh? He won two league titles, three FA cups and countless individual honours in his time at Arsenal. The highlight individually of course, was being recognised as the best player in the land by the Football writers in 2001/02.

AM - Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp is without a doubt one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the Premiership. I was considering playing him as the second striker in a two man frontline but I thought playing just behind two strikers would essentially be the same role but with two men to feed and work magic with. He had the most sublime touch and vision unparalleled in the modern game. Not only a killer pass but an eye for goal and what an eye it was. Some of the most memorable goals ever scored for Arsenal came from the Ice-man with the goal against Newcastle a particular standout.

SC - Ian Wright

Once Arsenal record scorer who Alan Smith described as the most natural goal scorer that he has ever seen. He played with some of the best strikers including Gary Linekar and was unequivocal in his assertion that Ian Wright was superior. Not only his goalscoring exploits but everything that came with it. He played for the shirt and he loved the club and despite some fans put off by his pessimism surrounding the club he only speaks as a fan. He would undoubtedly in his prime have scored for fun with this team.

SC - Thierry Henry

There was never really any doubt, was there? Arsenal’s record scorer and most celebrated talent, Thierry Henry is widely celebrated as the best Premier League player of all time. He scored at an incredible rate but it was his all round game that was really outstanding. He like many before him won two league titles and three FA cups and was instrumental in all of the successes. To highlight his importance as an individual just consider that in his time with Arsenal he was the French Player of the Year 5 times, Football Writers’ Player of the Year 3 times, in the PFA team of the year 6 times in a row, won the Premier League Golden Boot 4 times, won the European Golden Boot 2 times and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame to name just a few. In 369 appearances for Arsenal he scored a record breaking 226 goals along with a phenomenal 92 assists. He has since then further cemented his status as a legend and proved to everyone that he still is a world class act.

My Arsene Wenger Best XI


Friday, 17 February 2012

Arsenal FC a club in transition or a club in turmoil? Who can fix it?

The dust hasn’t even begun to settle and the fallout is certainly continuing from one of the worst nights I have witnessed as an Arsenal fan. There are “reports” of  Wenger’s foul mouthed fury at the players in an emergency meeting yesterday at the London Colney. There are “reports” of Wenger looking to change his ways and rid us of all our deadwood and giving up on pathetic excuses for players. Not in any of these reports was there any citation or any sources but that is not much of a surprise, such is the journalism in this country. I suppose it doesn’t need to be any good as nobody will question it, they just love the headlines and buy the shit. If Robbie Savage is allowed to have his nonsense published in a national newspaper, then it is clear that there is something gravely wrong however that is for another day.

Even the most optimistic of Arsenal fans will be unable to deny that things have hit new lows this season. Instead of pushing on and improving on a team that last year beat the best team in the world we have regressed to a point where we were unrecognisable.

All Arsenal fans at the end of last season were unanimous in our hope for investment and improvement into a team deemed by us as essentially not good enough. Instead we see a team this year far inferior to any of the teams that have come out in any of the seasons since our trophy barren spell started. They have been awful this season with disappointment after disappointment being handed out. The worst thing is I don’t think the team is as bad as has been made out. The very team that was annihilated by Milan has played well in patches this season and have had far better performances against far better sides.

That makes Wednesday night all the more unforgivable. There was not a point in the match where I saw anyone take any initiative or do anything to change the course of the match. Is that due to the player’s mentality? Complacency? Or is it that they just do not care?

All three reasons seem more than plausible after watching that “performance”. It was a joke. A shambles. It was utterly embarrassing and at the same time in many ways was fully avoidable.

We can go down memory lane and look as far back as the move to the Emirates stadium, we can look at the recruitment over the past few seasons or we can look at the abomination that was the summer where we mismanaged almost all major decisions that came our way. However that would give the players an excuse and as much as I think Wenger and The Board have caused many of our problems the players must take accountability too. They were awful and could have done much better and should have done better. Wenger for all his apparent faults has every right to expect his team to play much better than they did. Had they even played to half of their ability they would not have got battered in such a way.

People talk about how a shakeup is needed, whether it be managerial, the playing staff or even some rumblings about an ownership battle. How about we pull our socks up and everyone at the club tries to do what is expected of them as at the moment there is nobody at the club that can hand on heart say they are doing right by the club. (Well with the exception of the grounds man.)

Whether we are in crisis, on the verge of crisis or just plain shit needs to be addressed and like it or not that is down to all the people at the club at the moment. We have no real choice until the summer so instead of clamouring for change lets as fans continue to demand answers from a reluctant board.

Instead of cancelling press conferences and media outings let’s face the music, come out with a strong positive message and fucking get on with it. I would like the board, preferably the owner to come out and state what the expectations are from the team and how we are to achieve our aims. It needs a clear message as otherwise there are lots of questions and doubt which like it or not the players are not immune to and without giving them excuses will affect their performances I am sure.

This takes us into tomorrows tie where we will face Sunderland away, again on a pitch that is less than desirable. I think any temptation to rest players will have subsided. I understand how an exit from the FA cup will be perceived, but personally I am of the opinion that winning the FA cup and failing to get into the Champions League will be a catastrophic failure. Silverware or no silverware, the way football is, anything less that Champions League football means we will not be able to attract top footballers and the dwindling number that are with us will be manufacturing moves elsewhere. This would lead to a downward spiral and a far more difficult job for Wenger or any new manager.

We are now at a crossroads where we can choose to either fall apart and go by the wayside or grab the bull by the horns and sort our shit out. So here is a message to you Arsenal: Sort your fucking shit out!

Until Tomorrow,


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Milan vs Arsenal Preview and early Team News

It’s been a while. Even for my standards it has been a while. All I can do is apologise to the 10,000 or so people who have checked the site in this barren spell only to have old news. I can make lots of excuses about the millions of things that have been going on in my life but to be honest none of it really matters. I am back, and for better or for worse, you are stuck with me as this time I am not going anywhere. Not until I decide to go AWOL again that is.

So without further ado lets do what Marvin Gaye sang about all those years ago, only without the sexual connotations: “Let’s get it on”.

In these past few weeks the club has had more highs and lows than a crack addict trying to get clean. We have been declared to be a club in crisis with calls for the firing of Wenger, (yet again) only to come back into the Champions League places. I will admit I was dreading what the remaining season had in store for us but somehow through a combination of gritty and superb performances on our part, a sprinkle of rolling back the years from a particular living legend and Chelsea and Liverpool being utter dog shit we have managed to get back into a position where our fate lies in our own hands.

Whilst the job is nowhere near done, you cant help but feel the excitement of Thierry Henry scoring in potentially his last ever Premier League match and in the circumstances he did, all of which resulted us to be back in with a shout of qualifying for the Champions League. Hopefully we can use this as the platform from which we springboard our season to ensure qualification. (First time I have said that this season ;))

Either way I suppose the focus at the moment is on our Champions League encounter with AC Milan and much of the build up has in fact surrounded the impending departure of the formerly mentioned living legend; Thierry Henry. It is, as you all know, his last game in an Arsenal shirt. I know there has been talk about a potential return next year but that is something I cannot see happening and if we are in a position where we need him next year then we have not learnt anything.

Either way it is unlikely he will start and to be honest I will take any away win but you can’t help but feel maybe it is written for Henry to make his mark one final time in one magnificent way. Who knows but either way I expect him to feature at some stage tomorrow.

We are a little early for team news but the injury news, whist steadily improving saw a major setback at the weekend. I know a lot of people have negative things to say about him but I for one think he has been a great signing and one that will be missed. There is a great argument for having Koscienly and Vermaelan as our centre back partnership but one can not underestimate the impact Mertesacker has had. He has completed 974/1092 passes at a success rate of 89% highlighting a sense of composure he brings to the team. He has had a couple of shaky moments but he is far better than backup defenders that we have had in a very long time.

Either way his ankle injury is set to keep him out for at least 6 weeks but I would venture a guess at slightly longer given that Santos suffered a similar injury but then I don’t know what the fuck I am talking about. This means that Kieran Gibbs is likely to slot back in at left back and Vermaelan back into his preferred position of centre back. It also means that we have a recognised back four all comfortable in their positions for the first time since October 19th 2011 against Marseille when Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscienly and Santos made up the back four. That is an incredible 24 games since we last played a back four all in their recognised positions. It is therefore a relief that Gibbs’ come back has coincided with Mertesacker’s injury as otherwise we would be threadbare once again.

Mertesacker's injury is going to be more long term from what I am hearing which is a big blow. However it is sounding as though Wilshire is nearing a return with better than expected results from his scan. I remain sceptical on that front and will not be expecting anything so as to not get disappointed!

The team I fully expect to line up tomorrow should look like this with:


Sagna                          Koscienly                                Vermaelan                   Gibbs

                                    Song                                        Arteta

Walcott                                                                                                           The OX

                                                            Van Persie

This is in many ways our best XI at the moment and in the long term is looking closer to where Wenger would like to see the team. With our current squad the only contested positions would really be left back with Santos and Gibbs, Wilshire coming in for one of the midfield trio and Gervinho potentially displacing one of the wide men. My point really is that it is now or never for this team. Despite the many injuries we still have we are in a position where we have a chance. We can hope that no more injuries are forthcoming but this is a team capable of winning the tie tomorrow. We are playing a team with some quality players but a team that I don’t think will be comfortable dealing with pace. They are missing a number of key players and whilst Pato, Nesta and Boetang may have returned to training, one would imagine that they aren’t quite ready to step into first team football straight away but you never know.

Well, that’ll have to do till tomorrow when we get some tangible news on the team. Until then Gooners.