Wenger on Vela’s future and Ramsey’s loan extension

December 31, 2010

Aaron Ramsey, after recovering from his injury, made a comeback in a reserve game last month. He was, however, loaned out to Nottingham Forest to get much needed match fitness. He had a possibility to appear in 7 games for them till 3rd January, the stipulated time for his loan spell.

However, due to the weather conditions, he has been restricted to only one a few appearances. With the loan spell nearing an end, there were suggestions that his loan spell might be extended.

When asked about this, Wenger, today in his pre match press conference confirmed that he is not going to extend the loan. Wenger further said that he would have thought about it had Diaby been fit. As it stands there is no such temptation.

Although Aaron isn’t completely ready for the league but Wenger hopes that he will make it by February.

Regarding Vela’s future, Wenger commented that if a possibility arises, he will be loaned out. Wenger emphasized on not selling him as he regards Vela highly.

At the moment with too many options upfront for Wenger, Vela hasn’t featured frequently for Arsenal. For a player like him, he needs to play regularly and Wenger said that the solution will be to loan him out to give him the games he deserves.

Wenger in his pre-match press conference said:

“We did not get the number of games we wanted from him because of the snow. He is a snow victim and we are as well consequently.

But I am not tempted to do it [extend his loan]. If Abou Diaby was not injured I would certainly have considered it but not now.

Aaron is not completely ready yet [for the Premier League] but he has been practising every day with the group for two months. I hope that when he comes back he should be ready in February.”

“Some offensive players don’t play games like Carlos Vela. If he can get games somewhere else we will loan him out.

Not sell him, loan him out because he needs to play. He is a top quality player and at the moment we have too many strikers.

He does not get the games he deserves. He has an opportunity that I let him go somewhere.”

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Arsene Wenger’s latest update on Frimpong’s recovery and Diaby’s injury

December 30, 2010

We have an away game at St. Andrew’s  in two days time. Wenger, today, gave the latest on the squad ahead of the fixture while speaking to Arsenal.com.

Diaby: Out for three weeks

Wenger confirmed that from last night’s game we have only lost Diaby to a calf injury. He is to undergo tests but could be out for a minimum of three weeks according to Wenger.

Kieran Gibbs is still out due to his ankle injury, Vermaelen is not yet back and Almunia is also injured.

Fabregas, however, will return after his suspension. Rest of the squad will be available for the match against Birmingham.  

Wenger also gave the latest update on Frimpong who has been out since pre-season with a knee injury. He was sidelined for 9 months of which close to 6 months have already passed. Even so he is making good progress in his recovery from the injury. Wenger confirmed today that he is coming along well and close to running. In a month’s time he will be back to playing in training.

Wenger told arsenal.com:

“We lost Diaby last night for a while and he will have a scan today [Thursday] but in my opinion he will be out for over three weeks.

Of course Thomas Vermaelen is not back, Manuel Almunia is still injured and Kieran Gibbs is injured as well with his ankle. He is not back but everybody else should be available.”
 
“He is coming along well for a guy who has a cruciate.

“You count nine months and it is now nearly six. He is close to running and in one month he should start to play in training.”


Player Ratings: Wigan 2 – 2 Arsenal

December 30, 2010

The overall team performance was very much below par yesterday. We started very casually and never really stepped up. We enjoyed a good patch late in the first half but that was all individual brilliance. As a team we never really clicked today and here questions arise like where was the balance when the starting team was picked? Maybe Wenger will know about it.

The defence was quite shaky and never looked comfortable whenever Wigan were on the attack. The communication wasn’t there and at times most were caught out of position. The midfield is also to be blamed for our woes at the back as they never supported the defenders.

The midfield didn’t create much today. There were some moments where it looked like we were stepping up but the next moment it was all quiet.

Upfront, none of the players had any understanding among them.

Coming to player ratings:

Fabianski (5.5): He is a good shot stopper and is fine whenever the ball stays low. He just can’t make up his mind on the aerial ones and just doesn’t marshal his defence. Two goals in two games conceded in almost the same manner i.e. getting caught out of position. Besides that he did well in stopping N’Zogbia’s shots in the second half

Sagna (6): Wasn’t at ease today although showed good work rate while sweeping the flanks. Should have done better on the corner that led to the equalizer.

Koscielny (5): He makes mistakes and then covers up. Why not avoid the mistakes and make life easier!!?? Was caught out of position many times yesterday. Did make some vital interceptions though. Gave away a soft penalty, although IMO it wasn’t. Still should have done better and he needs to stop doing costly mistakes.

Squillaci (5): Scored an own goal, although he couldn’t have done anything else due to the way he was caught. Bedsides that did a fair job but needs a lot of improvement.

Eboue (4): I had my doubts before the game in starting him, and they were confirmed after the game. He was harassed all night by Nzogbia. He was caught out of position many times and never was comfortable on the flanks.

Denilson (5): Very poor in the first half, rather being a holding midfielder he was completely absent. Improved somewhat in the second half.

Rosicky (6.5): One of our better players out there. He tried really hard and some of his passes were good but the players around him were too slow. Dropped down deep at times to get the ball and did well for his part.

Diaby (no rating): Not even half an hour had passed and he was substituted for an injury. While he was on did nothing of worth. I hope he does get back to his best because we will need him,

Arshavin (6.5): Anonymous in the first part. Woke up for like 10 minutes in which he changed the game and then went back to his usual self. Made an assist and scored an awesome goal in those 10 minutes. If somehow he can play like that for just 60 minutes, we would be having no problems in winning games. He did miss a chance in the second half that would have killed the game. We only want that he should play consistently because we know what he can do.

Chamakh (5): Another one of his disappointing games. Didn’t know what to do. Missed a few half chances besides contributing in defence.

Bendtner (6): He too like Arshavin was absent for most parts of the game. Did better in the second half. Scored a very well taken goal. He needs to step up though if he wants to be starting regularly.

 Subs:

Wilshere (7) was an example out there to others. He tried hard, made things happen and did his job superbly. Was involved in most of the things upfront and he brought some spark to our game when he came on. Nasri and Walcott were brought on far too late. No ratings for them.

Final word

Disappointing, yes!, but  it’s not a disaster. We didn’t lose and it was a type of match which we could have easily lost.  We have dropped two points and the manner of dropping the points is questionable. And yes, we could have done better but every day is not a holiday. We still have 19 games to go and anything can happen in them. At the moment we need to focus on our next couple of games and make sure the mistakes done yesterday are not repeated.

We have a a few days to prepare for our next match at Birmingham. It will be more difficult than this and I hope we do show up for it like we did against Chelsea.


Arsene wenger on the points dropped and making 8 changes to the team

December 30, 2010

After the impressive win against Chelsea, it was necessary to follow it up with a win. However, that didn’t materialize as we were held by 10-men Wigan.

Wenger, after the game, admitted that Arsenal didn’t do enough in the second half after coming back to lead the game. He was disappointed that they dropped points by conceding a goal when Wigan were reduced to 10 men.  According to him it was a difficult game as Wigan were committed. He acknowledged Wigan for fighting hard and never giving up.

However, Wenger maintained that Arsenal did well in coming back and dominating the game in the first half but was disappointed that they couldn’t continue with it in the second. In games like these you have to score the third because it can end up very easily as a draw.

Wenger, however, didn’t blame the 8 changes, that he made for the match, for the points dropped. He defended his decision on making the changes after the match by saying that it wasn’t a problem as he cannot play the same team every match with two games coming up in quick succession.

Many would argue that Wenger shouldn’t have made these many changes. I for one feel that although the changes were necessary, Wenger should have kept the balance of the team. Starting Denilson with Diaby, Bendtner with Arshavin, Eboue against N’Zogbia where some of the odd choices. However, with the team put out, we should have still won had we showed some urgency.

On the impact of this game on title race, Wenger commented that it will be known at the end as Manu also dropped points.

After the match, Wenger said:

“We were 2-1 up and playing against ten men and we dropped two points. Overall, it was a difficult game with high levels of commitment from Wigan. They caught us a bit at the start and after that we came back into it a little bit. In the second half we didn’t do enough and we conceded two goals from two set pieces.

Credit to them, they didn’t give up. I thought we tried very hard. The pitch became more and more difficult for us to put passes together. They defended deeper in the second half and it was more difficult for us to find space. Wigan fought very hard today. I felt in the first half we had a great dominance and came back well but in the second half we didn’t produce enough or offer enough.

We had a disadvantage that Wigan played three days ago and only 48 hours ago we played a big game in the evening. I had to change it because we play on Saturday and again on Wednesday so we can’t always play with the same team. But I don’t think that was a problem at all.

Last night Manchester United drew 1-1 with Birmingham, we drew 2-2 today so we will know at the end of the season. It was a difficult game, you always felt that any mistake at the back and we could pay for it. As long as we didn’t score the third goal in this kind of game it can end 2-2.”


Wigan 2 – 2 Arsenal report: The ref was clueless, yes but we have ourselves to blame

December 29, 2010

Well it proved to be a tricky fixture after all. Simply angered by this performance. We have no one but ourselves to blame for this along with the ref who played a major part but it would not have ended like this had we just shown some urgency today.

We started slowly, Wigan were making us look ordinary on the counter, upfront Arshavin and Bendtner were lazy, at the back we were leaving spaces open, in the middle  our players were taking  a nap, the ref had no idea he was refereeing and in all this Wigan took the lead through a penalty that was never a penalty.

We woke up somewhat but still were far from our best. Bendtner somehow got a shot in on goal that was saved by the keeper. The ball went to Arshavin who amazingly put it into the back of the net with an overhead kick. We were leveled. Minutes later Arshavin won the ball, powered down the middle, gave the ball to Bendtner, who was lucky that the ball stuck to his feet, and he slid the ball into the back of the net. We were leading now; surely we would wake up.

However, we returned from the break and started similarly. Wigan were having a go at us every time they got the ball. We should have killed off the game and we did get the chances. Arshavin missed a one-on-one after Wilshere did a one-two with Chamakh and lobbed in a perfect ball for Arshavin. Chamakh had a couple of headers off target.

And still we were not comfortable at the back. N’Zogbia had a chance to level up the scores but Fabianski did brilliantly to keep us in the game.

Wigan were reduced to 10 men when N’Zogbia was sent off for head-butting Wilshere. We now just had to keep the ball but as always we cannot live without making goal-conceding-mistakes. Wigan got a corner which was flown in to the far corner. Fabianski went for it but never reached there. He was caught off line as the ball flew back in and Squillaci, while trying to keep the ball from reaching the Wigan player headed it into the empty net.

When it seemed we will get the maximum points we did that. Anyhow, Wenger woke up after this as he sent Walcott and Nasri in.  

We tried and tried till the end but never got close to netting the winner. The ref made sure of that as we were denied penalty in a scenario similar to one in the match against Tottenham, where tottenham were awarded a penalty after Fabregas handled the ball while standing at the wall.

The final whistle blew with the final score 2 all.

Thoughts:

Well we didn’t show up the way we should have after beating Chelsea. We were far too casual. We created less and never got our game going. Arshavin and Bendtner were anonymous for the whole games. They did get the goals but you have to be involved at all times. Our midfield was just absent. We weren’t holding the ball for long and at times gave it away cheaply.

The ref was very incompetent and some of his decisions were bizarre.

Fabianski again showed that he is not good in making decision on the high balls. That is now two goals in three days for not being able to make up his mind. He leaves his line to catch the ball, stops midway in no man’s land, ball flows past him and the opposition has an empty net to aim at. Only this time it was Squillaci. It’s just not acceptable. The defence maybe was partially at fault but the keeper is the one that marshals the defence and at the moment Fabianski is not doing that.

I also feel that Wenger got it wrong with the starting lineup. There was just no balance. To start Denilson alongside Diaby, who is returning from injury is just plain wrong. He also was very late in making the substitutions. It was quite visible that we were having difficult times out there. We should have either scored the killer goal by bringing in Walcott for Bendtner or brought on someone like Song early in the second half to give some stability at the back, if we were to defend the score. Wenger did nothing and when Wigan equalized, Wenger then sent in Nasri and Walcott, by then it ws too late.

In conclusion, it is two silly points dropped and I hope it doesn’t bite us in the end. We still are in it and let’s not be put off by this result. We have two important games coming up and we have to deliver in them. No more mistakes please!!


Theo Walcott on the emphatic win against Chelsea: ‘It was great to be part of that’

December 29, 2010

Theo Walcott had a very influential game against Chelsea as we defeated them in an emphatic fashion on Monday night. Walcott got an assist as well as scored the third goal that proved to be important in the end.

Speaking about the match he said that it wasn’t easy at all and it was all down to the whole team getting everything right that got the result. The attitude matters in such games and it was visible that we clearly wanted the win.

Walcott said that it feels nice to be a part of the team as they overcame the Champions by dominating the game for most parts and he further praised the fans for the atmosphere.

In the match with Manu we looked ordinary but against Chelsea we were a changed team as Walcott declared Arsenal’s performance against Chelsea as their best of the season so far.

As for conceding the goal he said that a win matters most. Walcott admits that it might have led the fans to think about the Tottenham outcome but we held on. Had we not missed our chances the scores would have been different and Walcott doesn’t mind it as long as the three points are taken. Walcott just wants that they continue with the winning and increase their points.

And hopefully it will bear some fruit at the end.

Walcott said:

“I wouldn’t say it was easy but I thought everyone got their jobs right. It was nice to get a win against a big team and against the champions. It was great to be part of that. It’s a dream really.

You could sense the atmosphere. The fans were right up for it, just like the players were and we just didn’t let Chelsea play.

It was nice to see an Arsenal team actually do everything right and hopefully we’ll just continue to do that.

In the Manchester United defeat [a fortnight earlier] we had spells where we weren’t at our best. But I think this was our best.

When they got their goal our fans might have been thinking ‘here we go, Tottenham all over again’. That scenario, but we managed to hold on and missed loads of chance. It could have been 5-2, 5-3 but a win is a win. We got three points on the board and we just have to keep on clocking them up.”


Wigan vs Arsenal preview: Go gunners!! Take the next step.

December 29, 2010

Two days back we had a massive win against Chelsea. The joy of it is still fresh. Yet today we have an away game and we cannot afford to lose this one. We have taken our big step and now we need to follow it up with another win. And it will send the message out that we are here for sure and we are gunning for glory this season.

But first we must not get carried away and approach the game with the same attitude as we did against Chelsea. Games over a couple days can be tricky as Man Utd found out yesterday and we must be focused. We need to build on the big win against Chelsea and hammer Wigan out of DW stadium, or else just get the three points in whatever manner we can.

The starting lineup is again going to be a tricky business as we have further two games in seven days and Arsene would have to keep the players fatigue in mind.

We can keep the same team that was out against Chelsea except for Fabregas who is suspended. Rosicky can come in his place or we can put out a different team. Whatever Wenger chooses, we would need another top class performance from everyone.

I would prefer that we drop RVP and Djourou as we can’t afford to lose them. They should have a rest before the next match. We have Chamakh and Squillaci who can come in for them.

I would also prefer to keep Walcott as he needs a run of games and start with Nasri on the left. In the centre bring in Rosicky, keep Song and change Wilshere with Diaby, as he also needs a run of games.

At the back I will keep Clichy as we have no other options. I still have my doubts on bringing in Eboue for Sagna as too many changes can sometimes prove to be a liability.

As for the keeper, play Szczesny as he is better in making decisions on the high balls.

So my team would be: Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Rosicky, Diaby, Walcott, Chamakh, Nasri

We can sub Nasri, Song and Walcott later when we have the game in control or as the situation is.

As for the game, we need the same approach, the same desire, the same hunger and the same team effort that we saw against Chelsea. We cannot afford to take them lightly and we cannot afford to switch off.

I have no doubts that we will get the three points that will take us joint top. However, doing it in style will make it sweeter.

Go gunners!! Show the world that this season is ours. We all are behind you.