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.


Player ratings: Aston Villa 2 – 4 Arsenal

November 28, 2010

A good response from the team after a dismal week if not the perfect. There was a visible change in the team as they were hungry for the win and it is this hunger that we as fans want to see in the team every time they come on the field. If I remember correctly the last away wins against Everton and Wolves were due to some good defending and keeping as our forward and midfield failed to create much. This time it was the opposite.     

Our front line and midfield was great today and the defence was in shambles most of the times when we were under attack. Both the goals that we conceded were down to some bad defensive organisation. At the front it was some good passing and individual brilliance that led to the goals. In the middle we did brilliantly in the first half but lost our foothold in the seconf half most of the times.
 
The other thing that I want to talk about is our corners. Before the goal that Nasri scored on the corner, all of our corners were delivered to the near post and most of the Villa players stationed their easily dealt with it. The moment it was delivered a bit back we got the goal. We were predictable and the moment we mixed it up we got the goal. This is what we have to do.
 
Coming to player ratings:
 
Fabianski: Didn’t have to do much. Can’t be blamed for the goals as was unsighted on the first and not helped by the defenders on the second. Still he has to learn to command his area and need to communicate with the defenders around. His distribution was not that good today. 6.5
 
Sagna: Solid game. Was caught out of position a few times but did well on the right flank most of the times. A few of his crosses were also good. 7
 
Squillaci: Again he was not good with his clearences. Although our whole defence line was at fault for the first goal but it was his poor clearence that led to it. At times he was shaky but did his job. Needs to be more aggressive on the headers. 6
 
Koscielny: Bettter game then the last and better then Squillaci. Some of his tackles were brilliant and covered up nicely for Squillaci. Still needs a lot of improvement though. 7
 
Clichy: He wasn’t up to it today. Defensively was no where. Offensively did okay but went missing most of the times. Gave away possession a few times too. Not his best game. Was also at some fault for the first goal as he didn’t close down Clark. 6
 
Song: Was good in the middle and when going forward. Some of his passes were great and made some good interceptions in the middle. Defensively went missing a bit. Was at fault for the second goal as he didn’t challenge the Villa player. 6.5

Rosicky: Was one of our best players today. Ran, passed, tackled, assisted and had shots on goal. He did gave away the possession a couple of times but overall had an effective game. Great assist for the Chamakh goal. 7.5

Wilshere: Started slowly and settled in nicely. Had an ordinary first half but grew in stature in the second. Scored the final goal too, his firtst for Arsenal in the league. 7.5

Nasri: He too was one of our best players. He was simply outstanding. Was involved in everything that happened out there, displayed some individual brilliance and scored a beauty. This season he is getting better and better. 8.5

Chamakh: Another excellent game. Harassed the Villa defenders constantly. linked up with Nasri and Arshavin brilliantly and never slowed down. Held the ball nicely throughout the match. Scored the important third goal smartly and provided the assist on the fourth to seal the game. 8.5

Arshavin: Awesome stuff from the Russian. He was turning, running at the defenders, passing, creating, scoring, defending. He was every where today. He was at the heart of every thing that happemned out there. Scored a brilliant individual goal, provided the assist on the second and could have had another if Nasri had not struck the side neting. This is the type of performance that we require from him everytime. He certainly changed the game today. 9

Subs:

Denilson, Gibbs and Djourou came on for a short while and did what was asked of them. No ratings though.

This game has ended and now it’s time to move on to the next. We don’t need to get carried away and show up better than this for the next and build up on this win. As I have said before “consistency” is what we need right now.


Aston Villa vs Arsenal preview: The team has to respond today

November 27, 2010

Last week has been nothing short of  a disaster for us as we head into today’s match desperately needing a win to put the things right. The beauty of it all is that we are still two points from the top and in all competitions. Read the rest of this entry »


Fabregas’ injury investigation, Wenger’s injury update and Ramsey loaned out

November 26, 2010

Wenger: Gives an update on the injuries

It has been confirmed today by Wenger that Fabregas is going to be out for a couple of weeks at least. Wenger said that we will be a bit cautious with him as it is a recurrence of his hamstring problem. He said that he will listen to the medical team and Fabregas before deciding to play him. It all however depends on how he feels and if he is ready.

On being asked about the injury, Wenger said that he is not sure if it’s because of the World Cup. He said that the one thing he is sure of is that they will have to be cautious because if you have a hamstring injury you have a chance to get another. As for occurrence of the injury on the other leg, Wenger said that it is very difficult to predict. He further added that he doesn’t know much about it scientifically as the medical staff they have seen can’t say more about it. He said that they are investigating his injury. They have analyzed his body and it is not due to fatigue or tiredness. They will consult every specialist but the problem he said is that despite having scientists today you still get injured.

“It could be two weeks but we are in a position where we may need to be a bit more cautious with him because it is a recurrence of his hamstring problem.
I will follow what the medical people tell me and Cesc tells me – if he feels perfectly alright after two weeks then I will play him.
I don’t know if [the injury] is down to the World Cup. What is for sure is that every hamstring injury you have gives you more chances to have another one. That’s why I say maybe we have to be a bit more cautious.
This time we were concerned with one leg before the game and it happened on the other leg. It is very difficult to predict – I am not scientific enough to speak about that and none of the medical people we have seen yet can tell us more.We have analysed his body and it is not fatigued and he is not tired.
We are investigating as much as we can. The problem [is] before when you were injured you waited at home and when you could play again you played again – today you can have ten scientists around you but you still get injured.
We will consult every specialist we can. But at the end of the day it doesn’t stop him from being injured.”

Fabregas: We need him at 100 percent!

So with this time line, Fabregas is sure to miss the Aston Villa, Wigan, Fulham and Partizan Belgrade matches. He might be back for the Manchester game but seeing the past record I have my doubts about it. It will be a bonus if he will be back for that match but we have seen Fabregas takes time before getting to his best.  So playing him just because he gets fit might not be enough.

As Wenger has said that we have to be patient with him, so let’s not push him hard.  We need to give him time because if he gets another injury, he will be out for far too long then the two weeks now. Wenger has already gambled with him and let’s not go on the same path. The Christmas period is coming up and we don’t want to have a large number of players out with injury. I believe that he shouldn’t be played until he is hundred percent the rest is up to the Boss.

Speaking about others, Wenger said that Eboue is going to be out for a minimum of 4 weeks with a medial knee ligament strain. Everyone else will be available for the next match. Speaking of Almunia he said that he will be capable of playing but it will depend on how he responds.

“Eboue has a medial knee ligament strain. It can be four weeks, can be six weeks or can be eight weeks. But I think it will be four weeks minimum. We have a lot of bumps and bruises but everyone else should be available. Almunia should be capable to play but I will see how he reacts.”

Ramsey: Goes out on loan

The thing that has surprised me is that Aaron Ramsey after making a positive return in the reserves game has been loaned out. He has joined Nottingham forest on loan until 3rd January 2011. It is a surprise because Wenger had said before it will better if he stays here and makes his comeback with us. Now all of a sudden he is loaned out to a championship team. Maybe Wenger did give a hint when he said that he needs competitive games.

“Ramsey needs competitive games. He played 45 minutes and he did well. We need to get him slowly and progressively into competition mode.”

It is good for him in that he will get some match time but we know how it is in the championship. If he is pushed too hard it might hamper his return.  We know what setbacks can do if one tries too hard on returning from injuries. Diaby, Eduardo and Rosicky are a few examples. At first I was behind the notion that he should go on loan but the thing that changed my mind was that if he can get his match fitness by playing with reserves then it will be ideal. Still I really hope this move comes up good for him and he returns with no setbacks. Good luck to him.

This is all for now. The next game is just round the corner. We have to be ready for that and bounce back better than ever. We sure need a win this weekend.