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Apparently ‘spineless’ – but I think we’ll nick a win

In Arsenal FC, Champions League 2009/10 on February 17, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

This Porto team seem to be getting  a lot of hype, but they really are not very good. Yes, they have reached the last 16 but so have CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos, they have not achieved anything special. They sold their best players in the summer and haven’t scored in something like 4 or 5 games – their manager has said they are going to set their stall out and defend. If we fall at this stage the team has failed, the only real teams I fear are Barca and the other English sides, thats all.

Of course, it is wrong to underestimate them, PSV Eindhoven dumping us out of the Champions League is still quite memorable but we should have enough to beat Porto over two legs, even with all the injuries.

Here are the missing names:

Almunia

Gallas

Gibbs

Song

Arshavin

van Persie

Eduardo

Vela

Djourou

I think thats all of them, if its not, tough – but you get the idea. The biggest misses are Song and Arshavin, the out of form Denilson will come in for Song but I think if the manager wants to get the tie over and done with today, Ramsey could come in. Arshavin has hardly been at the top of his game and a few games out will probably do him good, but we hardly have a wealth of options up front, Nasri and Rosicky flanking Bendtner is a pretty samish frontline, Id start Theo instead of Nasri.

A clean sheet is really important, but an away goal is even more important. If we can get an away goal or a one goal lead it means Porto will have to take the game to us at the Grove which always means there is more space to exploit. They do not really have a stand out forward (there’s Hulk but he is shit) that will worry our defence, a lot of always made of ‘Hulk’ but he is just a big oaf, he’s hyped and hyped but has never done anything, I think he has 2 goals this season.

Apologies for this blog being all bits and pieces.

Just a note about all the plaudits for United’s win against Milan last night. A few years back I seem to remember an Arsenal team most people said was poor go to Milan and win 2-0 –  at the time Milan had the best player in the world, a young Pato, and a much younger version of the players they currently have. Did I hear this sort of praise? Not taking anything away from United’s win but Milan are past it.

Hopefully we can get a win tonight, get on a good winning run in the two competitions we have got left to fight for.

til tomorrow.

_______

Oh pleaaaaaaaase. Give up will you. Jesus christ.

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Adidas to take over from Nike / Emirates sponsorship

In Arsenal FC on February 15, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

Well, there has hardly been a dearth of Arsenal news over the past few days – but the little of it has been off the field. First of all I just want to clear something up. At the end of my previous post I said ‘who the hell is gonna read this anyway’ and it sparked quite a response. It was not a dig at readers, it was said thinking that nobody would be interested in the tired ramblings of an Arsenal fan – I was wrong, so thanks! Your comments are always appreciated.

Anyway, it seems news has become so desperate that fans have taken to mocking up fake home kits for next season, and sticking on the subject of kits, there are rumours of Adidas taking over as our kit manufacturer when the Nike contract expires. I like the Adidas kits, the Nike ones seem very samish and there is not much choice with the templates they offer.

We need to negotiate a much better deal than we have with a few recently though, an example of this I will be moving onto now.

Emirates, our sponsors, are every increasing their sponsorship of football teams, the latest being AC Milan, of whom they will pay $82 million over a period of four years, Emirates will pay us $156 million over fifteen years. You do the maths. Its not a good deal, it looks even worse when you look at AC Milan’s performances over the past few seasons.

Maybe if we had better sponsorship deals we wouldn’t have to be so stingy with the spending? Just a thought anyway…

AC Milan will probably now play in the Emirates Cup in August, last year there were no real eye catching teams when we have had the likes of Inter, Real Madrid and Juve in the past, two of them in one Cup a few years back. Lets get the glamour back.

David Seaman gives Manuel Almunia a boost of confidence. I suppose if anyone knows about goalkeeping its that guy.

Right, more team news tomorrow, Til then.

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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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BREAKING TRANSFER NEWS – ARSENAL

In Arsenal FC, January 2010 Transfer window on February 1, 2010 by Highbury N5 Editor

Reporter outside the Emirates Stadium – “We are just hearing some breaking news here on Sky Sports News concerning Arsenal’s transfer dealings on this brilliant deadline day !!!”

“Sky Sports News understand ….. Arsenal are making no moves for players in the remainder of the transfer window !! We just didn’t anticipate this at all !!

oh ….