“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.