Gibbs and Djourou join the injured! Vela and Botelho off on loan, Song suspended for three games

August 17, 2011

Arsenal played the first leg of the Champions League play off last night and ended up taking a slender lead into the second leg.

In terms of injuries, however, Arsenal are two more players down.

First off, left back, Kieran Gibbs, got off injured. He was having a decent game before he was substituted in the half time break.

Djourou,who came on for Gibbs after the break with Vermaelen going at left back, himself got off injured ten minutes later. Djourou produced one crucial block during his time on the field before he was replaced by Jenkinson.

After the game, official Arsenal site released this statement (later taken down):

“Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou both picked up minor hamstring problems during Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Udinese on Tuesday night. Gibbs was replaced by Djourou at half time and the Swiss defender was in turn replaced by Carl Jenkinson 10 minutes later. Both players could miss Saturday’s game against Liverpool.”

Arsenal official twitter account tweeted this:

INJURY NEWS: Gibbs and Djourou have minor hamstring problems and could miss Saturday’s game against Liverpool

With Traore already injured, during the reserve game against United, we are left with no left backs and only three first team defenders. Jenkinson filled in at left back last night and he wasn’t comfortable back there. The big question now is who are we going to see in defense against Liverpool? Wenger will certainly have to make some tough decisions! I shudder even at the thought of losing one of Vermaelen or Koscielny now.

In transfer news, last night, Arsenal announced that Carlos Vela and Pedro Botelho are going to spend the 2011/2012 season on loan in Spain.

Vela will join Real Socieded, he was unveiled today. Botelho will join Rayo Vallecano.

Although, I would have loved to see Vela play for us this season, I have to admit this loan move is the best option for him to play regular football. He has the talent and in my opinion he hasn’t been given a fair chance at Arsenal to show that. Spanish game will suit him better and will polish his skills further. Maybe, next year he will play for us. The only concern is he might not return as these loan moves usually turn out to be permanent transfers in the end.

Apart from this, Alex Song is going to serve a three match ban, starting from the Liverpool game, after he accepted the FA charge. He was charged with violent conduct after the game against Newcastle United for stamping on Joey Barton.

The FA statement on the official Arsenal site said:

Arsenal’s Alex Song will begin a three-match suspension with immediate effect after he accepted a charge of violent conduct. Song was charged following an incident during Arsenal’s fixture at Newcastle United on Saturday, August 13.

This is further bad news for us because our claim for Gevinho’s red card has already been rejected. And seeing how Song performed yesterday, he is going to be missed dearly in the next three league games. He will, however, be available for the second leg against Udinese.

With players going down left and right for Arsenal through suspension and injuries, it looks to be a tough two weeks for us. With this pace, I am afraid by the end of this month, we won’t have a first team to field. I hope this makes Wenger realise that our squad is not big enough as he is claiming.

 


Team news ahead of Udinese, Bendtner might be involved today | Arsenal, Newcastle and Alex Song charged by FA

August 16, 2011

Arsenal today will play the crucial first leg of Champions League play-off against Udinese.

Arsene Wenger on Monday gave an update on the squad in his pre-match press conference. He revealed that Rosicky faces a late fitness test ahead of the game despite being included in the squad. Apart from that we are going to be without Van Persie and Nasri through suspension.

Arsene said:

“We have an uncertainty from Saturday about Rosicky. He is in the squad and will have a fitness test on Tuesday morning. Of course we have Van Persie and Nasri suspended.”

Wenger himself is going to carry out one-match touchline ban.

On respecting the ban, Wenger said:

“I can be in the hotel with the team. I just cannot be in the dressing room pre-match so I watch the game from the stands like everybody else. I do not want to cheat with the rules but I can watch the game.”

In interesting bit of update, we might see Bendtner in action today after Arsene confirmed that he is still an Arsenal player. No club has until now acquired his services and the manager added that if things remains the same, he will stay at Arsenal and fight for his place.

These were Wenger’s words:

“In his interview Bendtner said he was gone, but I checked and he’s not gone at all! I promised I would let him go if he found the right club and that has not changed because when I make a promise I keep it. But if he doesn’t find the right opportunity he will stay and fight for his place like everybody else. He looks sharp in training.”

In other news, FA has pressed charges against both Arsenal and Newcastle in the aftermath of the game on weekend. The incident, during the game, involved mass confrontation between players from both sides that ended in Gervinho’s dismissal.

Also during the game, Alex Song acted out of order when he stamped on Joey Barton. He is separately charged for violent conduct. Both the clubs have to respond by 18th while Song has until 16th.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have also lodged a claim, following Gervinho’s straight red card.

following is the statement that was released by FA:

“Newcastle United and Arsenal have been charged by The FA with failing to control their players following Saturday’s (13 August) fixture at St James’ Park.

Both clubs have been charged following a mass confrontation of players following an incident in which Arsenal’s Gervinho was also shown a red card in the 75th minute.

Following Gervinho’s dismissal Arsenal have today lodged a claim that the standard punishment of a three-match suspension is clearly excessive. A regulatory Commission will hear that claim on 16 August.

Meanwhile Arsenal’s Alex Song has been charged separately by The FA with violent conduct following an incident earlier in the same fixture.

Both clubs have until 4pm on 18 August to respond to the charge, whilst Song must reply by 6pm on 16 August.”

As things stand, we are going to face Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea without Gervinho and Alex Song.


Newcastle 0 – 0 Arsenal: Thoughts and Player Ratings

August 14, 2011

Just like last season’s opener, Arsenal started the new EPL season with a draw and going a man down.

I missed the first 38 minutes of the game, for the first time in a very long time I missed some part of a season opening game. Even so, I didn’t miss much in terms of action. Apart from the theatrics of Joey Barton, which I will discuss later, it was a forgetful game that had nothing to offer in terms of quality in attack from both sides. Newcastle failed to threaten us throughout the game despite using lots of aerial balls. Szczesny was merely a spectator.

As far as Arsenal is concerned, it was an overall decent performance. In defense we performed exceptionally well and more than what I was expecting. We were first to almost all the aerial balls and cleared away the dangers early. The midfield also provided great support, especially Song. The back four plus the midfield deserve credit for such a sound defensive performance. Still we should not to get carried away as we will need to maintain this standard throughout the season.

On the other hand, offensively we were rather ordinary. We did have lots of possession but failed to create clear cut openings. What we did create were not taken. We lacked ideas in the middle and failed to maintain a high pace to our passing. The flanks weren’t properly used and the finals balls were clearly lacking quality.

Coming to the sending off of Gervinho and Barton’s disgraceful conduct. Do I don’t need to narrate the incident!? In short Gervinho went down in the box, Joey c**t Barton lost his temper, dragged Gervinho up aggressively using his shirt and then went down clutching his face as if struck by a bullet in the resulting fracas of players. The replays showed that Gervinho hand did touch Barton on the face when trying to get away from his clutches and other Newcastle players.

The referee, who I am sure didn’t see the incident then somehow made the stupidest decision in football that I have ever seen, now a standard in EPL. He sent off Gervinho and only gave a yellow to the instigator, Barton. I was dumbstruck at what had happened. It was either a red to both or a yellow, just like Arsene said after the game. It was never a red to one a yellow to the culprit.  

I don’t want to say anything about Barton because you will always have players like him that don’t deserve to be on the pitch. As for Gervinho, he shouldn’t have reacted because that was what Barton wanted. Barton did it last season to us and he has done it again this season. Dealing with such players is only going to harm us. And this brings me to the point that we don’t learn from our mistakes.

As for Gervinho going down in the first place, the replays showed that he was clipped. Technically that should have been a penalty. However, I don’t want to see players going down this easily. I hate this when other players do it so it is not acceptable for one our players to do the same.

As for the Song stamp on Barton, I personally don’t want to see such incidents. Song should not have done it. He did get away with it in the game but we can lose him for three games if further action is taken on it.

Final Thoughts

Despite a decent performance, we need to improve a lot. We did miss Fabregas’ vision and we do need to replace him with someone who can do a job as well as him. The same is the case at the back.

I was again impressed by Gervinho. He sure has pace and he knows how to get away from defenders. He does need to improve his final ball and understanding with Van Persie though.

Rosicky, Arshavin and Ramsey need to take more responsibility and improve their work rate. Our game depends on quick passing and we certainly lacked that yesterday.

I was also glad to see Wenger making the right substitution at the right time. Bringing on Frimpong and Djourou near the end was necessary to end the game with a point.

We do need to control our emotions during the game as it can cost us in the long run. We are now going to face Manchester United and Liverpool without Gervinho and I hope not, Song.

A point away from home is good enough but, as I said before, we need to improve. We have to keep working hard as lots of work needs to be done still. A few more recruitment will really give us a boost.

Coming to player ratings

Szczesny: (6.5) Didn’t have much to do as Newcastle hardly had a shot on goal. Managed to catch and punch every ball that went down his way.

Koscielny: (8) Great performance from the Frenchman. Didn’t put a foot wrong. Read the game nicely and was always early to the ball and cleared the danger. Was also good in the air and covered well for Vermaelen.

Vermaelen: (7.5) Overall a good game for him but still needs time to get back to his best. Lost his man a couple of times and missed a few headers. Otherwise didn’t give space to the Newcastle forwards.

Sagna: (7) Solid performance as usual. Was caught napping on one occasion in the second half and still needs to improve his crossing.

Gibbs: (7) He also performed well and more than my expectations. Was always ready to attack and defensively showed composure. He was outsmarted a couple of times quite easily though. Needs to improve his positioning.

Song: (7) Another one who put on a great show. Shielded the defense well and was always pressing. Moving forward he produced one great ball in the second half. The stamp on Barton was, however, uncalled for and needs to reduce the number fouls he commits.

Ramsey: (5) He had an on-and-off game. Gave away the ball in dangerous positions but his pressing was better. Needs to improve his stamina as he looked tired near the end.

Rosicky: (5.5) His movement with the ball was good and looked lively but lacked the killer pass and then he disappeared near the end. Needs to take more responsibility and improve his work rate.

Arshavin: (6) He looked lively from where  I started watching the game but then became anonymous. Produced a great ball in the dying minutes of the first half. He too needs to increase his work rate and take more responsibility.  

Van Persie: (6) Was missing his killer touch in front of goal, should have scored on Arshavin’s pass. Was good on the free kick and provided good support in defense.

Gervinho: (6.5) Produced an impressive performance, not taking into account the red card. Showed his pace and skill with the ball. He was a continuous threat on the flanks but his final pass needs improvement as said above.

Subs:

Walcott (6) looked rusty and missed one of the better chances to score. Frimpong (6) came in and provided good support in the middle. Djourou (no rating), despite coming in stoppage had, had an opportunity to make an impact, was let down by his pass.


Player Ratings: Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal

February 5, 2011

You can win with 11 men against 14, but 10 against 14 becomes a very daunting task. People will say that Arsenal should have done more in the second half, and I agree, but it doesn’t change the fact the standard of refereeing was just poor today and it’s not for the first time. It is there for all to see how much the ref can influence a game. And I know it will be forgotten in a minute and no one will talk about the refereeing as they will have Arsenal to talk about. And such pathetic standards will continue because the FA is incompetent to the very core of its existence.

Coming to the performance of the team, it can be divided into two halves.

In the first half we were very much in the driving seat as Newcastle were at times mere spectators. We controlled the midfield, our passing was sublime, the movement was excellent and the finishing was spot on. At the back we were comfortable as we dominated the game.

The second half, however, was very poor as compared to the first. Down to 10 men, we struggled to control the midfield as Newcastle attacked our goal aerially through set pieces and long balls. Upfront there was no movement as we were stuck up at the back.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (7): Was a spectator in the first half. In the second he was the centre of attention. Made some brilliant saves and cannot be blamed for the goals. Still needs to improve his distribution on kicks.

Sagna (6.5): Good first half as we dominated the game. In the second did well on most occasions while we were being showered with long balls. Good cross for the assist on the fourth goal.

Koscielny (6.5): Top performance in the first half. Made some very good interceptions and was strong in the air. In the second he continued with it but we had too many long balls and set pieces to defend. The penalty conceded was very soft; in fact the ref was in no position to award it. However, he must be careful in the future in making such tackles in the danger area.

Djourou (7.5): Also had a top game. Partnered well with Koscielny and did well on every occasion. Scored a good goal. I hope he isn’t seriously injured.

Clichy (6): He too was brilliant in the first half. In the second made only one mistake that led to goal. Otherwise did well.

Diaby (7.5 – not taking into account his sending off): Impressive first half as he broke up the play of Newcastle very easily and linked up nicely with the forward players. However, he should have kept cool when fouled by Barton. It was what Barton wanted and Diaby complied.  

Fabregas (6.5): Awesome first half. The number of delightful balls he delivered in the first half was just a treat to watch. However, in the second he couldn’t do much as the pressure mounted.

Wilshere (6): He too was very good in the first half and similarly to all, vanished in the second. Isn’t the answer to our defensive cover in absence of Song, Diaby and Denilson.

Walcott (7): Looked dangerous whenever he had the ball. Took the first goal very nicely and good cut back for the assist on third. Provided defensive cover in the second half before he was substituted.

Van Persie (6.5): Scored three goals, one of which was called offside though. Provide good cover in defense in the first half but didn’t do much in the second. Delivered in some good free kicks and corners.

Arshavin (7): Another two assist to his name. Helped the team overall before getting substituted.

Subs:

Squillaci (6) needs to improve his communication with Koscielny as we can’t go on like this forever. Didn’t do anything wrong but also didn’t help the team with his experience. Rosicky (3.5) failed to do for what he was brought. In fact he made things harder for us. The second penalty was never a penalty, it was just incompetent refereeing which will go unpunished as usual. Eboue (4) also failed to provide cover in defense.

Well, we have certainly dropped two points which after the first half none would have imagined that we would drop. As it stands, we have to move on from here and not let this result be our downfall. There is still a lot to play for and with United losing, it’s not that bad. And I hope the result doesn’t affect us psychologically.

And seriously, one can only win against 14 men once a week.