Archive for the ‘Premier League 2009/10’ Category

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Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland: Job done, next please

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10,Title chase 2009/10 last 13 games on February 22, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

It was a game we should have won on paper, and we did. No complaints.

I can’t give you an in depth analysis of the game to be honest, I didn’t see it due to work commitments, the same commitments that mean I will be missing the game against Stoke as well. Why can’t the schedulers work around me, eh? Why?!

From what I have heard the side flattered to deceive, chances were missed and as usual we had a hell of a lot of players missing. It was good to see Nicklas Bendtner score and it would be foolish to bet against him getting a few in the games coming up, he is a rhythm player and he is going to get a very decent run in the side in his favored position by the looks of things, it his time to shine. It was great movement to get on the end of the brilliant Eboue’s cross and a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Onto Eboue, I’ve heard he had a very fine game indeed. I believe him to be the only player we have that will  get the ball and really run at people with pace and power, a type of player we sorely miss. We have contrasting options at right back with the more defensive Bakary Sagna and the offensive Emmanuel Eboue, a good conundrum to have. Eboue deserves to start against Stoke.

It was important we capitalised on more dropped points by United, leaving us two points behind but as they are not playing in the league next weekend, we can overtake them with a win away at Stoke, which is much easier said than done. It goes to show we are still in the mix, third favorites most definitely but this season has thrown up so many twists and turns who would bank on a few more in the final 10-11 games of the season?

Hopefully we will have a few more returnees against Stoke and its high time we gritted our teeth and went at them and won. Twice now they have made mugs of us, proved THEM right, and by ‘them’ you know who I mean, the doubters and critics. More than ever I want this team to prove them wrong, to shove their words down their throats so hard they come our their arse, we want to challenge? We must must win next weekend.

From reading around it seems Samir Nasri had a decent game which is good to see, maybe he has read some of the criticism I’ve given him recently. He has not been up to scratch, floating around on the edge of game is not living up to the 12 million quid price tag, he should be winning them and/or contributing to wins. I hope his performance was an improvement and he can carry that on next weekend because its gonna be a tricky one.

The same goes for Theo Walcott, there has been a lot of praise going around for his performance but excuse the sceptic in me when I say, if he wasn’t English, would the same things have been said? He was blinding in parts apparently, but in others…just the same old Theo, no end product. I hope it was an improvement. He’s been unlucky, a good run of form now would get him on the plane to South Africa.

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Part 2/13: No euro-hangover allowed against Sunderland

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10,Title chase 2009/10 last 13 games on February 20, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

Over the past few season we have had a fair few hangovers – of the non-alcoholic variety.

Of course I mean the European midweek variety, and we can’t afford to feel sluggish, tired or generally shite tomorrow, the team is depleted but the show must go on, we need three points to keep our faint title hopes alive. We have dropped points after three midweek European games so far this season.

We have lost Diaby to a knee problem, Eduardo’s ‘small small small hamstring’ is still hamstrung and we may well lose Sol Campbell too. There is a chance we could have Song and Almunia back but its no certainty either, all in all it is a bit of a pickle, and congested in that injury treatment room.

Gallas is out for weeks, Eduardo’s injury length is indefinite, as is Diaby’s. Robin van Persie is out for another two months at least, Gibbs – the season, Djourou – the season and Andrey Arshavin could be out for a few weeks too.

Sunderland will not want to take the game to us, so we need power, pace and some decent finishing. I’ve had it with playing Nasri and Rosicky together on the flanks, its samish and unsuccessful, I’d start Eboue there as he is probably our most direct player. It is an important game for Bendtner I feel, he needs that all important goal to get his confidence in front of goal up. He has been out a long time and has been rushed back into a big run of games, he needs time but we don’t really have it.

In midfield I’d be tempted to start Ramsey ahead of Denilson in Diaby’s absence, Cesc and Song make up the other two.

We just have to hope Sol Campbell makes it, Kenwyne Jones is the type of forward we have spectacularly failed to deal with this season so we need to be wary of him and the 15 goal Darren Bent who rather stiffed us one up in Sunderland.

No points can be dropped, if they are its gotta be game over … but I’ve said that before, we all have. I’ll be missing this one as Ive got to work. Typical.

til tomorrow. Come on you redsssssssssss!!!

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Clean sheet in Porto more important than Song or Arshavin

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10 on February 13, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

A quick one today, tired, fed-up and want to go into hibernation with a view to waking up June/July sort of time with the temperature a nice 30 degrees and nothing to do apart from chill. Instead I have a freezing cold February to deal with, there’s so little daylight I’m starting to think I’m nocturnal.

The only real news on an Arsenal free weekend (that means its not a proper weekend really), is that Andrey Arshavin has an injured hamstring putting him out of action for around two weeks, as he hasn’t been in the best of form and has been carrying a foot problem it could be worse, but its not like we have much choice in the attacking three at the moment. Eduardo should be back though.

Song’s injury is less likely to keep him out of the Porto game, I can see the boss doing everything he can to get him fit though, placenta, feng shui, the whole works. He’s even started chasing him around with incense sticks and massaging him with Donkey sperm from what I have heard. He’s valuable is ‘ol Alex.

Looking ahead to the Porto game, the most important thing is a clean sheet, Porto do not travel well. A 0-0 would suit me down to the ground because I reckon we can stick three past them at the Emirates, especially with a rejuvenated Arshavin to terrorise them. We have to be careful in Portugal though, if we want to go far we have to defend better than we have done all season – thinking about it, thats not very hard.

I’m off to bed, enough of this rabbling. Who the hell is gonna read it anyway?

’til next time.

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Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool: Still walking the fine line between success and failure

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10 on February 11, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

Well, this season really is a strange one, two weeks of doom and gloom and all of a sudden things aren’t looking so bad after we scrapped a good ol’ 1-0 against Liverpool, United drew against Villa and Chelsea lost at Everton.

The first half was dull and boring, there were a couple of chances, the best of them broke to Bendtner who smashed it just over the bar, a few inches lower and it would have been a brilliant goal. I thought he had a good game and he certainly gives us another dimension, he is a pest to defenders.

Liverpool had their chances too but their best one was squandered by Billy Gallas with a brilliant last ditch tackle that if mistimed, would have resulted in a penalty. Same goes for when he ran across Vermaelen and it looked as is the Belgian would boot him up in the air and take the consequences, he trusted Gallas though and what a tackle it was. Sign him up Arsene, I’m not liking the reports I’m seeing at the moment about his future.

The goal was brilliant, if un-Arsenal-like. Bendtner tried to clip it into the box, it hit the defender and came back to him, he slid it in to Rosicky who put in a beautiful ball (making up for his hash up of a decent chance earlier), for Diaby of all people to smash home with his head. It was a wonderful header, no keeper in the world would have saved it as it was just too powerful. He’s had a good season has Abou, he is improving a lot as the season goes on and it looks as if he has some new found discipline. The relief from both players and management was clear, the boss jumped around on the touchline and the players all jumped on the lanky Frenchman. Scoring is not a rarity for us though, keeping a clean sheet is.

Common sense said that Liverpool would create at least one decent chance, substitute Ryan Babel created it all by himself and his shot from just outside the box was heading into the top corner before Manuel Almunia pulled off a brilliant save, his fingertips diverting the shot onto the bar. For a keeper deprived of confidence he had a good game, there were few shaky moments and he was much more commanding – is there a way back for him? I doubt it but if he is going to have a good run of form, now is the time to have it.

Liverpool have screamed and shouted about the Cesc handball. A) It was handball, no doubts about it. B) It was not a penalty, Cesc was outside the area and the free-kick would have been in a worse position than the original was. C) It was never a free-kick in the first place. Karma? Quite possibly.

So that is part 1 of 13 out of the way, we are six points behind Chelsea, five behind United and we are holding onto the title race, just about. Both sides will drop points, but will they drop enough? I make United out to be favorites looking at their fixtures but it is a case of can we capitalise on dropped points? We have 13 winnable games left, these are the ones I think could be tricky: 27th Feb Stoke (a), 13th March Hull (a), 27th March Brum (a), 10 April Spurs (a),  24th April City (h).

The title winners will be the team with the best away form, Chelsea’s is pretty terrible, United’s is OK, ours has been average.

If we win those games, we will be in the title race in the closing stages. We are walking a very fine line though, one defeat could knock us out of the title race and almost certainly finish our season, I still think we concede far too many goals to win the Champions League, this Arsenal team continue to survive though. Now all the team need is a week of defensive drills to keep a clean sheet away at Porto next Wednesday.

It must be said, the line between success and failure is getting smaller and smaller, we could take the league down to the last day and get to the final of the Champions League and lose, that would mean this season is a failure in some ways, its a very, very close call. I for one would bet on a few surprises between now and the middle of May.

Til tomorrow.

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Part 4/4, but also part 1 of 13: Arsenal v L’pool

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10 on February 10, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

Check out the SoccerPro competition at the bottom of the post.

So the nightmare run of games is coming to an end tonight, but it is also a start of a run of 13 games which we should not lose, not that you expect us to go on a 13 game winning streak. It would take us a run like that to contend for the title again.

Tonight the team probably won’t be to dissimilar to the XI we put out to face Chelsea on Sunday, whilst it wasnt a bad performance, the key tonight is our defending. It has to be much, much better. Clichy needs dropping to the bench and I would shift Vermaelen over to left back whilst bringing in Sol Campbell into the left center back slot, keeping the left/right foot combination. Its gotta be worth a shot, Kuyt has been in decent form so hopefully big Verm can give him a few kicks.

Hopefully Diaby is fit enough to start again, we need some power and drive in the midfield offering something different from the very samish Rosicky/Nasri, I prefer Rosicky to Nasri who has flattered to deceive this season, he needs to start producing more performances worthy of his 12 mil price tag, a goal tonight would give him a confidence boost.

The general consensus seems to be that Bendtner is still not fit enough to start which is fair enough, rushing him back would make our problems worse if he got injured, so Arshavin will probably start up as a center forward – again. Nasri will probably occupy the left flank, with Walcott on the right. All three of those players need a performance and it would be greatly appreciated if they turned up tonight.

We really have to be careful tonight, a defeat would mean Liverpool are two points behind us and drag us into the group of Liverpool, City, Villa and Spurs, lets win tonight and keep those a decent distance behind and get a run of wins going.

Its been two weeks of criticism so now lets really get behind the team, its not like they will have enjoyed the three games previous to this – at the end of the day, a draw and two defeats isn’t the end of the world (although it feels it), a win tonight would left move a lot of the bad feeling along, dropped points however, would mean  a lot of disgruntled fans will probably start voicing their displeasure. We had this at a similar stage last season with that run of agonising draws which meant that whilst we went on a long undefeated streak we just stagnated and didn’t even threaten to get in the title race.

The players need to prove a point tonight, if they don’t do that, expect a few departures at the end of the season.

Til tomorrow

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The buck stops with Arsene; we won’t win anything like this

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10 on February 8, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

Two games against fellow title contenders, two losses, we are not the first or second best team in the league, we have played against them four times this season, scored  2 conceded 11. We are simply not good enough but that could have been addressed in the transfer window, quite simply it wasn’t.

What we have is a team of tippy tappy players, there is no real drive and no real power, United have Rooney, Chelsea have Drogba …. up against them we have a pocket sized Andrey Arshavin who is a … you guessed it, playmaker.

Im a staunch Wenger supporter, I admire the guy greatly but he needs to accept this – we will not win the league without defending very, very well and some real power up front.

Our defence is a shambles, the ‘keeper is afraid, incompetent and well out of his depth, his number two is inexperienced and a rash decision maker, the position that the boss described as the ‘most important on the pitch’ is being filled by players that will be hard pushed to win a prestigious trophy in their career.

Our left back has been a wreck for the past season, the second choice got injured in a dispicable tackle by an angry Standard Liege player, the third choice … well, the truth is in the name. You don’t have quality third choices – thats not his fault.

Up front I don’t know how we are expected to win games with three identical players, it is food and drink for defenders. When Bendtner came on he won a free kick almost straight away by being more direct, that free kick almost ended up as a goal, we are just far to same-ish going forward, other teams know what to expect and just play us on the counter, where they nearly always end up scoring. Why can’t we adopt the approach of other teams and just bring the player breaking away down? Sod trying to tackle them fairly, if they are gonna score take them out without thinking twice, if its a yellow, fair enough.

We have so much quality yet so much naivety, the worst possible thing we could have done yesterday is concede first, because then we fly forward blindly and just get smashed, even the manager seemed to recognise this but what we have is a bunch of players that seem unable to think for themselves. On the pitch yesterday only Cesc, Arshavin and Vermaelen are exempt from that statement.

Going forward we are so so predictable, what’s the point in having the speed of Theo Walcott in a contained space? Its wasted. Even Cesc Fabregas couldn’t pick a pass to one of the cleverest movers in the league in Arshavin, we are so one dimensional in games like this. Technical ability counts for very little in the top games, its about power, war, strength and being clinical. We fail in every department.

If we had van Persie fit would it be different? In the past two games, no. In the games before it, yes, certainly.

What we really need is a defence. What got us to the last final we were in? A strong defence. Our coach then is now sitting in a BBC studio as a pundit. Get Martin Keown back on the training pitch with our defence, get it sorted out.

Its hard to say if we are out of the title race, but being in a race doesn’t mean that you will win it.

Next up we have Liverpool who are closing on us pretty quickly is has to be said, we lose to them they are two points behind us, suddenly our season looks a lot worse than it did a few weeks ago. The title is a million miles away at the moment and it seems that Arsene may be forced to eat his words, third place better than the FA Cup? Ermm, I’d take the cup thanks very much, nobody remembers who finished third.

Keeping on the subject of the boss, after the Chelsea game he claimed that Chelsea never went forward, they still managed to score two, what does that say about us? What does that do the the boss’s reputation of moaning? Sort it, and yourself out Arsene. It is about time we stopped hearing the same excuses.

Til tomorrow.

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Arsenal v United: Lets show we are serious

In Arsenal FC,Premier League 2009/10 on January 31, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

A very good afternoon to you all. I’m looking forward to this one.

In a matter of hours the teams will take to the pitch at the Emirates and the 90 minutes that follow will be vital in the title race, we can’t win it now but we can go someway to making it even more difficult for ourselves. We currently sit third, a point behind United and five points behind Chelsea, who we face next week.

All the attention will be on Rooney v Fabregas, two exceptional footballers, but I think the game will be won or lost with either sides defence. Rio Ferdinand is suspended, Thomas Vermaelen probably won’t play after his injury scare in the week, meaning Sol Campbell’s remarkable return will continue as he is most likely to fill Vermaelen’s shoes.

Alex Song returns along with Eboue, the boss spoke about Song being knackered and not being able to play today but if we are serious about winning the title he has gotta be on the pitch. Plain and simple.

Up front we are short of options, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eboue employed on the right of the forward three to nullify the attacking threat of Patrice Evra – a little brat who needs a slap, but a decent player nonetheless.

Hopefully Nicklas Bendtner is fit to start the game because otherwise Arshavin will have to start in the middle, somewhat nullifying his threat and since he has a habit of scoring goals against the other so called ‘big teams’, I wouldn’t bet against him scoring today – I hope he is played on the left of the forward three with Bendtner through the middle. In the event of Arshavin having to play through the middle, Nasri should slot in on the left.

There will be goals in this game but it wouldn’t surprise me if it ended up a draw, most of the ‘super Sunday’ headliners end up bores and this one could just be another one of those, the spice has gone since the days of Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane squaring up and punching each other but hopefully this game can have a bit of zing to it, chopping Evra in half would be a good start – Eboue, note.

Hopefully Andrey Arshavin will be able to go toe to toe with Rafael, a talented but  inexperienced full back, with him supplying balls into Bendtner, hopefully that gives us another option, something we need after looking over the Villa game where at times we looked blunt and one dimensional.

A bit of brilliance could swing this game, and the title race either way, win and the Chelsea game becomes somewhat less important, lose, it becomes imperative to our title ambitions.

We need to really get at them from the off, scare them shiteless and grab a goal. Get them rattled and we can play our way. Stand off them, let them boss the game and they are more than capable of turning us over.

United have not beaten us at home for quite some time in the league, of course, there is that dreadful evening of last spring in the Champions League semi, but that aside, we have had the beating of them at home.

I am a little worried about this game, but looking forward to it at the same time.

COME ON YOU REDSSSSSS!!