Aftermath of United defeat: Changes required, Santos and Park signed, Benayoun next?

August 30, 2011

After the humbling, thrashing (whatever you want to call it) on Sunday, only one thing comes to my mind, we are where we deserve to be. It had to happen one day, better now than in the middle of the season. To waste a whole summer doing nothing but losing your best players, what else do you expect!

Even two days later the pain hasn’t lessened and there is no point in going over it again. If you, however, want to see what is wrong with Arsenal, this game will show you everything, if you can muster the strength to watch it. It does get unbearable because this was all avoidable. Our inability to acknowledge our weaknesses and rectify them, our inability to accept that we are not good enough, our inability to find finished players (where do we look? I am still wondering), our ability to find an excuse for anything and our ability to make a mess of everything has led us to this point.

This summer was the perfect opportunity to make everything right and make amends. Last season’s ending was the cue that we cannot continue the way we were going. What followed in the summer is in front of everyone. Starting the new season weaker than where we finished, without a proper attacking midfielder, without a proper left back and without enough depth in any position and then come out and say that we cannot find the right players is just too much Bullshit. (Here I was thinking that a day rest will have reduced my anger but it does feel good to have it vented out)

Who to blame for all this? the board, the management or the owners.  Who will accept the responsibly and answer the fans what they were doing this whole summer?  I guess we won’t get the answer to this any time sooner.

So, we have to move on as it is no good crying over spilt milk. Changes are required on a massive scale. We cannot any more be content with mediocrity. We cannot any more wait for results; steps are required to be taken to bring instant changes. Lots of work needs to be done as we now have another opportunity to make things right.

Starting with changes in the back room staff because they clearly are not doing a good enough job. Either the fault is with them or with our players. Our players make the same old mistakes game after game without learning from them. Look at Walcott, 5 years on and he is still where he started. His shooting might have improved but he is still naïve like every other player that plays for us. We don’t adapt and we don’t learn. We don’t even know what do to when things aren’t going our way. Heck, even the manager makes decision that forces you to bang your head on something. Either the back room staff needs to change or else the whole management, board and owners. I am afraid Fabregas was right when he said that he stagnated at Arsenal. It seems our whole club has stagnated.

Signing players is the most obvious thing that has to be done. And we don’t need three to four players; these were the number required when we had the squad of last season. Now we need at least seven to eight and they have to be finished products. 17-year-olds won’t do us any good as we already have plenty of that. We cannot any more wait for players to develop; we have waited long enough in the last 6 years.

The other thing that needs to be done is to make everyone accountable. The players have to be responsible for a bad game. We cannot anymore allow our players to hide behind the excuse of inexperience. We cannot anymore consider being in the top four a job well done (even ending in the top four looks unlikely this season). The manager himself has to change his definition of success and his philosphy. Being in the top four is good but winning trophies is the ultimate thing. You cannot expect everyone to buy the crap that being in the top four is success.

I am sure that we will see changes at Arsenal. My only concern is we cannot have any more delay. Indecisiveness now is not going to be repairable. We have a strong foundation, only our inability to make the necessary upgrades is going to be our downfall, which I am afraid has started and we are plummeting down with the speed of a bullet. I will be glad to be proven wrong, rather I am desperate to be proven wrong. However, as things are going, we can forget top four for this season.

On a lighter note, there has been some good transfer news related to Arsenal. According to numerous news outlets we have signed Fenerbahce’s left back Andre Santos for a reported fee of 6.2 million. The news of the deal started circulating late last night and according to some news sources, Arsenal have confirmed it to them that we have signed the player. The player himself will be in London today for the medical and subsequent signing of the deal. Arsenal’s official site isn’t showing anything but we can all be rest assured we have signed a left back after all, a signing I have been asking for ever since Clichy departed.

Also we are close in on Park Chu-young. The news has been circulating for the last two days. Nothing has been made official but I have a feeling all our signings are now going to be announced on the final day.

We are also in for Benayoun, Alex and Malouda after several sources have claimed that we have enquired about them. I have my reservation on all three as they are all Chelsea rejects. If they weren’t good for Chelsea, they cannot be good for us. However, if we don’t get any one, we will have to make do with them and that is if they want to come.

Despite being close to signing a striker and left back, we still need plenty. Three players are, however, necessary just to be there number wise, a centre back, an attacking midfielder plus a defensive midfielder. Less than two days remain though. It is a race against time and let’s hope we get the quality signings we require or else this season we are in for a thrashing.

Before I conclude, I want to applaud and say thanks to the fans that went to Old Trafford on Sunday. You really did us all Gooners proud. The only good thing to remember from that game is your support. And I am also glad that Arsenal has decided to refund the away fans tickets, although in my view they deserve more than refunded tickets.


 


Manchester United vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

August 28, 2011

Note: I am posting this from my iphone so apologies if things are a bit out of order.

Another difficult week for Arsenal is at an end but not before a trip to Old Trafford. From losing Nasri to an amazing win against Udinese and qualifying for the Champions League to having a bid for Cahill rejected and not getting a work permit for Campbell, everything has happened this week for us.

Today, however, we need more to concentrate on the game at hand. So, forget everything that has happened, is happening or is going to happen because we need to beat United! This is the last game of this month and the tough opening fixtures that we got. We haven’t started the season the way we would have liked. Still, we have done well in some games under the circumstances.

Today also won’t be easy. And more than the game, to pick the starting eleven will even more difficult. We are really short of options in the middle. Overall we are without Gervinho, Song, and Frimpong through suspension. Wilshere and Gibbs are injured (and if you all have forgotten, Diaby is still out).

There is some good news in the defensive department though. Koscielny had a positive test, Djourou is also available. There are some doubts over Vermaelen but I am hoping he will make it. Rosicky is also on hand in the middle.

With all this in mind, I will start with Koscielny and Vermaelen at the back flanked by Sagna and Traore. United will use the wings extensively and it is better that we start with players on their favorable positions.

Upfront, there isn’t much of a choice either. Van Persie will lead the line and he will be flanked by Arshavin and Walcott. Arshavin had a rest mid week so let’s hope he is all geared up for United because we will need that. Otherwise, I will give one of Chamberlain or Miyaichi a start.

The middle is where things get real tough. I am sure we will see Rosicky and Ramsey but who will start as defensive midfielder is one big piece of puzzle. Considering Wenger, I am certain we will see one of Djourou, Vermaelen or Koscielny in the role. And since Vermaelen and Koscielny have a great partnership as centre backs, Djourou will deputize for Song (Personally, I prefer Koscielny in this role). However, this all depends if Vermaelen makes it. Otherwise we have Coquelin or Lansbury to come in the middle.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Traore, Djourou, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin.

As far as the game is concerned, United definitely have the advantage today. They know our weaknesses and will exploit them using the wings and speed. Nani is in good form and he will be continuously changing wings to force his way. Crosses will be flowing in right and left. Sagna and Traore will have to play intelligently and Ramsey and whosoever starts as defensive midfielder will need to give their support.

Rooney is going to act as their linchpin. He can distribute the ball quickly to the wings and then rush forward to receive the cross. Our midfield will have to be continuously on their toes to counter this. Don’t give Rooney space and he will be forced to play the ball sideways or back.

United do have problems of their own at the back. Their new keeper is certainly not class and down with confidence at the moment. They are also missing players in defense. So if we play this intelligently, we can surprise them. Testing their keeper continuously might do the trick today.  

The only thing is we will ne need to be a bit creative. United know how to defend against us so we will need to mix things up. Arshavin, Walcott, Ramsey and Rosicky will all have to step their games up if we are to get away with points here. We will have to fight for the ball today and hold our ground because United won’t hold back. Another loss for us is not going to go down well with anyone.

This brings me to the result. As was the case with Liverpool, I will take a draw at Old Trafford under the circumstances we are in. However, a win will be massive and make the coming weeks easier. I have my fingers crossed for we will surprise everyone with a win today, hopefully!

Have a good day and enjoy the game. Let’s hope we end this month with a high!

p.s. I was busy this week with work, travelling and also survived a bad flu and fever so wasn’t able to update the blog. Things will return to normal this week.


 


Wenger will do his best to keep Nasri and Fabregas, Juan Mata linked!, Benzema rumor surfaces again!, Denilson to Villareal?

July 8, 2011

After venting my anger a couple of days back, I am back to myself again. However, I do stand by that we need to strengthen the team and sort it out quickly. With pre-season matches just round the corner, all focus needs to be diverted towards getting ready for next season. Transfer rumors do hinder a teams performance, no matter how hard one denies it.

We have until end of August to buy players, however, the speculations surrounding few of our players needs to be quickly addressed. Only then the negativity that is emanating from all corners of the blogosphere is going to stop. A couple of signings now will also be great!

First and foremost, Nasri’s situation needs to be solved. It should have been sorted out by now as everyday it gets more annoying. Dragging it on is only making things worse for us. If Nasri really wants to leave, for whatever reason, he must be sold to the highest bidder and as quickly as possible. Manu has already enquired about him.  Reports of an offer, official or unofficial from United, for Nasri has also been reported. Even though we have denied it, there might be some truth to it. There were also rumors of Man City claiming that they are close to acquiring him, which I don’t believe. With Chelsea also in the mix, we can have a bidding war which can only be good for us, if we get to a point where selling is the only option. The money received should then be spent to acquire a top replacement.

If he doesn’t want to leave, he must sign the contract quickly, Arsenal must announce it so that we may get on with our preparation for the season.

Personally, I want him to stay. He has been a good player for us and he has the potential to be a great player. He has had his ups and down but he seems to be getting consistent. No doubt he lost his touch in the later stages of last season; he still was phenomenal for us. It has taken him three years to somewhat fully express himself and he is only going to get better. That is the reason that all top three clubs in the league are after him. We can’t afford to lose an experienced Premier League player on a cheap to our rivals. For me, he is more important than Fabregas (this doesn’t mean that we need to let Fabregas go!)

We have the money, and we can offer him what he asks. Arsene Wenger’s comments today were positive and shows that the boss is intent on holding him. Speaking to Arsenal player, Arsene said:

“We will do everything we can to keep him [Samir Nasri].”

I know Wenger will try his best, but then, we did lose Clichy. So, you can’t do anything if a player wants to leave, which is the bitter truth in modern football. Allowing Nasri to run out his contract is going to be more costly to us than letting him go this season. A contract must, therefore, be signed this summer or else he must be shown the door. I am just hoping for him to commit to Arsenal quickly. All this, as I said before, need to be done without more delay. We cannot wait till September for Nasri to make a decision!

One announcement that we have all been waiting for is Gervinho’s unveiling. He is likely going to be declared an Arsenal player any day now. According to many reports he was in London for his medical on Wednesday, which was successful. The Daily Mail has gone on to add that only a small problem in the paper work has delayed the announcement. Better late than never, in my opinion. I am really looking forward to seeing him play in the pre-season. With so much being said about him in the press, I am certain that he will turn out to be a great player for us.

As for the recent rumors linking us to Juan Mata and Karim Benzema, they are great, I am more than certain that they are only rumors. With Gervinho arriving, I don’t see Wenger going for another forward. Mata might be an option only if we lose one of Fabregas or Nasri.

I am more interested in Hazard though. He, alongside Nasri and Fabregas, with van Persie ahead will be perfect! I know, sometimes it’s great to live in fantasy!

The Fabregas situation has also gone quiet. There are reports that Barca is offering Abidal in addition to cash, which I don’t see Wenger taking in a million areas. For me, anything less than Messi plus cash should be rejected. Wenger, today, made it clear that he will be trying to hold onto him at all costs. Speaking to Arsenal player, the manager said:

“Our position is always the same, we want to keep Cesc and I will fight as hard as I can to keep him”

I feel, by now, Barcelona should have realized that we won’t accept an offer less than what Fabregas is worth. Also, Fabregas should realize that Barcelona don’t really value him. He needs to stick with Arsenal, get over his injury and lead us to trophies. I am certain that this saga is going to continue till the end of the transfer window with Fabregas staying at Arsenal! I have my fingers crossed.

Before I conclude, I got excited about the news linking Denilson to Villareal. However, I haven’t seen any follow up to the story. So, I am guessing that it was another false rumor and we will be seeing him around the Arsenal squad a bit more. I am starting to wonder if anyone will ever ever buy him!!    

Till next time!


Defending, Nasri and Bendtner | Injury news ahead of Villa | Wenger will strengthen the squad! |

May 14, 2011

“When are they going to learn …” this is what Ray Parlour, our former player, said that after the Stoke defeat and I feel no one but the team can answer this question and only when they play better. In my opinion not learning from our mistakes has cost us this season. I have not watched the last three Arsenal games and I regret only missing the Man United win. However, watching the highlights of the Stoke game has not been easy as once again we demonstrated our naivety in the basics of football.

Much has been already said about the Stoke defeat (it is my first post in two weeks!!) so I won’t discuss the game. Will something be done about the problems this summer? We will find out soon!! However, the thing that disappointed me was what Wenger said after the game. He said:

“We [have] conceded, I think, 21 from set-pieces and only 17 in open play. Less than anybody else in open play [but] we have been caught on set-pieces. Today, [Kenwyne] Jones didn’t even need to jump to head the ball in. That is something we have to correct. It is the easiest thing to correct in the game but you still must understand the flight of the ball and want to be first to the ball. I feel we are sometimes a bit naïve.”

The second goal that we conceded against Stoke was from open play and does anyone here think that it should have been conceded. If Wenger thinks that conceding such a goal is not a problem then I am afraid we are never going to improve. The numbers of goal doesn’t matter, the manner in which they are conceded matters. And what to say of the goals we have conceded on set pieces. Gibbs ducking at the last moment for the Stoke player to deflect the ball in for the first goal says it all. If Wenger is realizing that we have been naïve and need to correct our way of defending at the end of the season, then I am afraid we deserve where we are. Let’s hope, now that he has spotted the weakness, he corrects it for next season.   

Besides the reaction to the Stoke defeat, there has been lots of other news related to Arsenal but I haven’t had time to look at all of them. Mostly it has been speculations, possible transfers and what should be done to right the wrong. Many pundits have the same opinion that we need to buy to strengthen the squad. Yes! buying will help. We need players at certain positions and we need to let go of certain players who haven’t improved in the last three years. But with that we also need to address the attitude of the players. We have the talent, the players and we can beat any team if we want to. The problem is we don’t show up on plenty of occasions, which hurt the most, because we know that this team can perform. The Stoke game is the perfect example where we didn’t show up and there are countless others throughout the season. If we can’t change this, then I am afraid even buying players won’t help us much. Nonetheless, there is only one way to find out if we can improve by buying players and that is if we buy. And this is the only thing we haven’t done. So let’s hope that Wenger does buy quality for a change this summer

Also there were a couple of developments that I wanted to discuss. First was Samir Nasri’s agent comment regarding Nasri’s contract that went something like this:

“There is nothing going on with Juventus or Inter Milan. There are no problems with Arsenal, the opposite rather, as we are negotiating his contract extension.”

I hope this is the case because our first priority should be to improve and that can only be done by keeping our best players. Nasri was nothing short of phenomenal in the first half of the season and it will be a great loss if we don’t get him to sign the contract. That’s what I feel about Cesc Fabregas too. I know this hasn’t been his best season but he still has been one of our better players and we need to keep him at all cost. More on this when the time is right. Coming to Nasri, there was news on Arsenal.com where Wenger has said that he will do anything to keep him.  

“I will do anything possible to make him stay. We will do it at the end of the season.”

I personally feel that Nasri will stay and Wenger will do his best to keep him. However, it would have been so much better had the contract been signed in January. At least we would have avoided so many speculations. With no harm done as yet, we need to settle the contract as early as possible and before Nasri has a change of heart.

The other bit was about Bendtner who is looking forward to a talk with Wenger in the summer.

“I need to have a talk with him [Wenger] because I’m not satisfied with playing on the right wing, which I’ve done more or less all season long. I’m concentrating on getting our Champions League place and then we’ll do the evaluation at the end of the season. It’s certainly not the best thing for me but it’s not up to me and sometimes you have to adapt to what the manager says.”

I am not surprised here. Any one will be frustrated if he wasn’t playing in his favored position. If we want to keep him, Wenger needs to play him in the centre and not on the flanks. I don’t see it happening because of what Arsene has said recently:

“We are not specially buying on the flank. We have Walcott, we have Nasri, Arshavin and Bendtner.”

There you have it! Bendtner has been linked to a couple of clubs so it will be for the better if we let him go because here at Arsenal, Arsene will always play him on the flanks. At least it will create space for a winger and a new striker because right now Bendtner is occupying two places and not playing well at both positions (and sadly all is not his fault). The more thing that can be deduced from the above statement is that Arshavin, Nasri and Bendtner are all going to stay this summer. If this is the case, Wenger will be having a hard time in keeping Bendtner. 

Also Arsene Wenger had his usual pre-match press conference on Friday. The injury news ahead of the Aston Villa game looks positive. I am looking forward to Vermaelen’s return. Fabregas and Nasri may also be involved.

“We have lost Laurent Koscielny with a thigh strain from Sunday against Stoke. It opens the door for Vermaelen. I have not completely decided yet but there is a probability he will start. We have question marks against Fabregas and Nasri. They will be late decisions. During the week we lost Tomas Rosicky with a thigh strain. Diaby will be out but I believe that Clichy will be back.”

Apart from this, Wenger also said that he will look to strengthen the squad in every position.

“It is down to availability and quality. We don’t rule out any position and we don’t target any special position before the transfer market. We look to strengthen every year of course. But first we look not to weaken because we want to keep all our players, and then we try to strengthen. It’s not about the number [of players], it’s the quality. I don’t want to give out a number [we’ll go for]. I promise you that if we sign a player we will inform you and when we sell a player we will inform you as well. I would like to keep out of all the other speculation before that.”

I know it sounds more like ‘I won’t be buying’ but let’s hope this isn’t the case and we do get the players we need.

Tomorrow we play against Aston Villa.  Where we want to finish this season depends on how we play against them. We need at least four points from the last two games to finish above City and in third spot. Seeing the last three games, I don’t know what to expect from the team. Anything is possible. Maybe seeing Vermaelen return will put some extra energy into the players. And it won’t do any harm in finishing the season with a couple of wins.

The team that I expect to start is: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott, RVP, Arshavin

I hope we get a good game to witness and we win. And as I was writing this, Man United have won the EPL title by drawing at Blackburn. Good for them and well done!!

That is all for now.


Alisher Usmanov will not sell his stake, Szczesny and Djourou back in training and some other news

April 13, 2011

The big news in the past couple of days has been the proposition of Stan Kroenke’s complete takeover of Arsenal. Stan Kroenke increased his Arsenal stake to 62.89 percent by buying the shares of Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman. As a result, Kroenke has the control of the club and he was forced to make a complete takeover bid. If he can reach 90 percent, he can compulsory buy the rest of the club shares.

However, it seems now that it won’t come to pass due to a new development. Alisher Usmanov, whose RED and White Holdings own 27 percent of the Arsenal shares, has declined to sell his stake to Kroenke by saying that he loves Arsenal and that is the reason he is a shareholder. This is what he said:

“I’m not going to sell my stake. I love Arsenal, that’s why I’m a shareholder”

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) has welcomed the decision made by Usmanov and have also declined to sell their shares. AST, however, is not against Kroenke’s takeover as long as the fans have a say in the ownership of the club. An AST statement said:

“AST welcomes Red and White Holdings’ commitment to Arsenal and calls on all shareholders to work together. Their priorities should firstly be making Arsenal a successful football team, secondly placing no leveraged debt on the club or taking dividends and management fees out of the club, and thirdly helping supporters be directly involved in the club’s shareholding. Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one man.” 

I don’t know what will happen next but one thing is for sure that Arsenal will not be in the hands of a single owner, which is good news. I don’t want Arsenal to turn into a plaything for one individual. As long as the fans hold some part of the club, Arsenal will remain the club it is.

All I want is that whatever happens next, it doesn’t disturb the way the club is being run. As long as we have the money to sustain the team and buy players, ownership issues won’t matter much. I will also add that the best thing is to wait it out and see how things turn up, and hopefully it will be for the best.

Coming to matters concerning injuries, there have been reports that Szczesny and Djourou have both returned to training ahead of the Liverpool match and both will be available for selection in the squad. The reports confirm what Arsene said in his post-Blackpool comments that Szczesny is not far from returning. So if all goes well, we will have our first choice keeper and  Djourou available for the crunch final run in.

Yesterday there were also reports of a row between van Persie and Diaby at half time during the Blackpool game, concerning the way Diaby reacted before he was booked in the first half. I don’t know if it is true, although, if it is then it is good because it shows that the senior players are taking responsibility to put the wrong things right. It will be better for Diaby to realize that the way he reacted is only going to harm him and Arsenal and no one else. However, I would want that whatever happens inside dressing rooms should remain there because media will always find ways to exploit such incidents.

In other news, Wilshere has slammed the news of a possible move to Manchester City in the summer by saying this on his official twitter:

“People asking if I’m going city? I don’t kiss the Arsenal badge then leave – this club in my heart!”

Denilson is here talking about Shakhtar Donetsk’s Willian and wants him to come to Arsenal.

Champions League quarter finals are also under way and sadly we are having no part in it. Last night Man United and Barcelona qualified for the semi finals at the expense of Chelsea and Shakhtar respectively. Tonight we will find out who the other two teams are, although by now it’s pretty clear which teams will make it.

Till later…


Arsenal vs Blackburn: Preview and Starting Eleven

April 2, 2011

The last two weeks have been really boring to say the least and I am really looking forward to the games this weekend. The international break might have been too long for my liking but it did came at the right time for our team and I really hope that it will have given them a much needed breather from the League and time to move on from the disastrous three weeks of football we witnessed before the break.

From now onwards it is as straight forward as it can get. Perform and win each game and therefore lift the trophy come May or else prepare for the worst. And there can be no more excuses regardless of the fact that we have no keeper and no centre backs to rely upon. We have everything in our control and it is up to us to seize the initiative which we have failed to do throughout the season. We have been given countless opportunities and we have failed on all occasions. Thankfully we are still in it and things are still in our hands.  Hopefully we won’t make the same errors because a mistake now will be too costly and unrecoverable from.

We play the first of our last nine games today and it is at home against Blackburn. Before the United game at home we have 5 games to play of which two are at home and three away, including games against Liverpool and Tottenham. If we can go on a winning streak till the Manu game, the momentum will be with us and hopefully we will go on unbeaten (wins) till the end of the season. I don’t want to think about what will happen if we lose or draw even one of these games.

Today’s game won’t be easy at all because Blackburn are only a point from the relegation zone and they will do everything in their power to get points. It will be up to us to step up our game and play the full ninety minutes with passion and intelligence to get the win.  Goals will matter and if we keep the ball and produce some good scoring opportunities, they will come. The defense and midfield will have to do their part and keep Blackburn at bay. As long as we keep it simple, the three points will be ours.

As far as today’s starting lineup is concerned, the whole team picks it up itself as we have many regulars returning from injury. Fabregas, Song and Walcott are back in the squad and it would be foolish to not start with them if they are hundred percent. The thing of concern is the defense and goal keeper. I am desperately hoping that there are no howlers today because as long as we don’t concede we will not lose the match and I believe that upfront we will find the goals with the likes of van Persie, Nasri and Walcott.

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Almunia is in goal. At the back, Squillaci and Koscielny will start and they will be flanked by Clichy and Sagna for there are no better options than them.

In the middle of the park, with Song and Fabregas returning, they will surely start alongside Wilshere, who has been superb during the internationals.

Upfront too the players pick themselves up. Van Persie has been declared fit to start. Nasri will be there on the left and with Walcott also back, he will be on the right.

Probable Starting lineup: Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Walcott, RVP, Nasri

Before I end this, I want to add that Manu are playing before us and by the time we start the game, their result will be known to us. As I said before with things being  in our hands, any result for Manu shouldn’t be of any concern to us because we know our job is crystal clear, which is to win every game from now onwards till the end. Manu dropping points will be an added advantage, no doubt, but we cannot rely on their results for long. So hopefully when the game starts today, the team will be focused on their task.  

And as fans, all we can do is get behind the team and give them the lift needed to perform. 

That is all for now. Have a good day and enjoy the match. Today we will find out if we are ready to take the initiative. Fingers crossed!!


International break: Djourou to return in 4 weeks, Lehmann must start, UEFA’s Ban and Pictures of Leaked Arsenal Home Kit

March 23, 2011

The problem with International breaks is that nothing exciting happens in it. This International break is no different as it is already getting boring and only two days have passed with 10 more to go. Also these breaks usually don’t turn up good for us with mostly our important players returning injured at the end of it.  This season, however, we have been quite lucky on that front except on a couple of occasions. Theo Walcott  got injured on International duty but he recovered. Vermaelen’s injury, however, has really bitten us in the arse as his absence has been felt throughout the season. Other than that, the breaks have gone well, for our team has benefitted in the shape of added rest and also our injured payers have recovered without missing games.

This International break has come for us at the right time as we have been going through a very bad patch of results. We have been knocked out of two competitions, failed to win a final and on the trot drawn two games in the Premier League, which has opened up the debate regarding our players’ mentality and lack of trophies. I won’t go into that because at the end of the season, we will know clearly where we stand and as to what we have learnt and achieved. We still can win the league, no doubt. If we fail, many questions will be asked and this time Arsene will have to answer them because hiding behind lack of experience will not be an option. We have to sort out our problems during this break and make sure our injured players recover in time.

As with most International breaks, there isn’t much happening. Players have been linked here and there as always. In the past couple of days, however, most blogs have come up with the players that Arsenal need to sell at the end of the season. There are a few players that need to released as they have been given too many chances, yet they have shown no improvement or consistency. I will be coming up with my list at the end of the season because right now it doesn’t feel right. We also need a few reinforcements but again I will discuss it at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, there have been a few developments. The first bit is good news in the shape of Djourou’s recovery. The official Arsenal website has revealed that Djourou has undergone an exploratory surgery on his shoulder, with no need for a reconstructive surgery, and is expected to return to training in four weeks. If we are lucky, we can have Djourou back for the United game, which will be a big boost because at the moment that game looks to be the title decider. Before that, however, we have to win our 5 games, including matches against Liverpool and Tottenham to really have a chance to challenge United for the title. With plenty of our regulars also destined to return at the end of this break, we can remain hopeful that this title can still be ours. And here is to hoping that the 14 gunners that have been called for international duty return in one piece, especially Nasri and Van Persie.

The second bit is the keeper situation, which is giving me nightmares. We have lost Fabianski for the season already and we have lost Szczesny for quite some time. As for Almunia, I have lost my trust in him after yet another howler against West Brom. I was excited with Lehmann joining us but that excitement has been short-lived after what Wenger said to Arsenal TV online.   

“Lehmann is like a guy who has not been in goal for a long time but who has kept his body fit. He has the basic physical fitness, he needs little bit of decision-making practice in goal.”   

After Almunia’s mistake, I don’t see any reason for Lehmann to not start the next game but this point of him not being ready is leaving many doors open. If he wasn’t ready, why was he signed in the first place!? And I am not complaining here because he can guide us through to the finish line with his experience but he would have done that even without signing. We needed a cover and a keeper who was in practice should have been signed, if Lehmann was out of practice. As nothing can be done now, Lehmann should be made ready to start the coming games because to be honest, we can kiss goodbye the tile if Almunia stays in goal. Here again the International break can come to our help because two weeks time IMO is enough for Lehmann to get ready. And hopefully he will start in goal against Blackburn (my fingers are crossed).

In other news, Arsenal will be deciding next week on whether to appeal the UEFA bans against Arsene Wenger and Samir Nasri after they receive the detail reasoning from UEFA. Now, one match ban is not a big problem and as is the case most ban appeals end in extension of it. So, I feel that it will be better for us if we don’t appeal and just serve the one match ban.

Finally, here are some of the leaked pictures of what is believed to be our home kit for next season to celebrate our 125th anniversary.

That’s all for now. Have a great day!


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