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.


Wenger confident that Nasri and Fabregas will stay, Gervinho gives his word to join Arsenal, Alisher Usmanov talks

June 13, 2011

Till yesterday I had the impression that it was only Man City who could hijack transfer deals by splashing cash. It appears now that Liverpool has also learnt the art. Liverpool this summer is in the mix of everything. They for sure are looking to strengthen their squad and are rumored to be after many players. After signing Jordan Henderson from Sunderland for a hefty price, one thing looks certain that they are ready to spend some money.

I felt joy when I read that Liverpool have blown away Phil Jones deal with Man United into smithereens. Daily mail has reported that Liverpool have offered £22 million for his services as they also revealed that Blackburn owners will be trying their best to keep Jones. Worrying news for Ferguson!

However, the thing that has worried me is that Liverpool has also upped their pursuit for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There are reports that Liverpool has matched our bid for him. If what the reports proclaim is true than we are losing our target faster than saying NO! Still I don’t believe this. If it comes to making a choice, I am certain that Chamberlain will pick us.

On the other hand, Bayern Munich has also joined Man United to sign Nasri. Money isn’t a problem for them but it remains to be seen whether Nasri really will leave Arsenal. With talks set to take place between Nasri and Arsenal this week, the Daily Mirror reported yesterday that Arsene Wenger seems to be confident in making him stay.  

In The Sun today, Arsene Wenger is quoted as saying:

“We will do everything to keep Nasri at the club. My wish is that he stays here. If he looks back he can see that he’s come quite a long way with us, and I think there is still a bit to do. It’s the club that makes the player’s career.”

Doesn’t it sound like ‘if you leave you won’t succeed elsewhere’? Still one thing is sure that Wenger will do his best to make him stay. As for reports surfacing yesterday about Nasri wanting £160,000 a week seem ridiculous to me. If it were a matter of money, Nasri would have gone to Man City or even Chelsea.

Wenger is also adamant that Fabregas is going nowhere. About Fabregas, The Sun has quoted him saying:

“I will be pretty clear about this. For me, Fabregas is with Arsenal for a long time and he will stay with Arsenal. It sometimes happens that the rumour can make the transfer.”

He will have a hard time in keeping Fabregas. I have resigned to seeing him go. It will be an added boost if he stays though.

Meanwhile, Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second highest shareholder, is using the sentiments of the fans to make his way into the Arsenal board. He blames the current Arsenal board to be the reason for the club’s demise in recent years and calls for a change if he were to be on board. He labels the board as selfish as he mentions the increase in tickets price as unjust on the fans. You can find out what all he said to the News of the World here.

He does, however, know that we need a strong centre half, a strong defensive midfielder and Nasri and Fabregas to stay.

Elsewhere, French newspaper L’Equipe is reporting that Gervinho has given his word to join Arsenal and a deal will be signed by the end of this week. Haven’t find many sources on this so can’t confirm if it is true. Also there is news saying that Ignasi Miguel will be sent on loan to Bolton to help secure Cahill. Now that seems something interesting.

Let’s see what happens in the coming days. For now have a good day and enjoy the summer.


We should let Nasri go! Carl Jenkinson signed, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlane are the new signings?!

June 11, 2011

First off, my apologies to all who read this blog for not updating it for a while. The truth is, I was stuck first stuck with my final year project and then the finals. The last three weeks for me have been nothing short of chaos. Anyhow, I am done with my graduation, the wait now is for the final grades. Just to remind, I have been cut off from the football world ever since the final game of the season and it will be some time before I get the whole picture of what’s been happening out there.

Nevertheless, the transfer rumors are in full swing with plenty of reports surfacing, some of them quite unbelievable. A few have even surprised me and I am disappointed by some. Anyways this summer is make or break for Arsenal. We have always had players linked with us but this time we have as many linked away. I don’t know what’s happening at Arsenal but if players want to leave then things are certainly not good.

The first bit of update I checked was on Nasri and Fabregas and the way things are, I am afraid we are going to lose both of them. I know in the back of my mind that Fabregas might go this season. The disappointment for me is Nasri’s situation. Frankly, we have made things worst for ourselves. A contract that should have been signed in January was delayed till summer and now things have gone too far for my liking. I know it is still too early to say anything but if the news ‘that initial talks with Man United have started’ are true then we may as well start looking for his replacement. In fact we would need to look for a couple because Fabregas might well be on his way too. I know Wenger will try his best to keep both of them. However, if both are willing to go then we should let them as it would do none of us good. I for one don’t want Wenger to lose transfer opportunities by wasting time in persuading players to stay who don’t want to.

And what do you expect after Nasri said this:

“Let’s find out if their [Man United] interest is true first. Then we’ll talk about it. I don’t know if I will sign a new contract. Anyway, the discussions are ongoing. Do I want to go to United? We should see if their interest is real and if it is concrete first.”

If he was committed he would have said straight away that he is staying. But hey! that’s just me. We can only wait and see what happens. Maybe it is to put pressure on us to increase his wages. Anyhow, Wenger is adamant that he won’t let him go to United. That would be like applying after shave to an open wound!!

The other disappointment for me has been Clichy’s situation. Why haven’t we secured him till now is beyond me. If Wenger has found a better replacement for him than Gibbs then I have no worries. If, however, nothing is being done then we are heading for more troubles. Daily Mail is reporting that Liverpool have offered£5 million for his services. I have said before that despite his flaws he is the best option available out there. I for one would like him to stay.

The better news on the other hand is that we have signed a 19-year- old right back, Carl Jenkinson from Charlton. Does that mean we have seen the last of Eboue? Time will tell. The good thing is that we are active in the market. Wenger seems to be excited about him as he described him as, ‘a player with great talent and natural defensive ability, but also a powerful player who likes to go forward”. I haven’t seen him play much so I have my fingers closed. Young guns are reporting that he will be given a chance in preseason to make his place in the first team.

On getting signed, Jenkinson said this to Arsenal.com:

“It’s a dream come true to have signed for Arsenal and I’m just so happy to be joining one of the biggest clubs in the world. I can’t wait to meet my new team-mates and work hard ahead of next season. Arsenal is a club with one of the best managers in football, many world-class players and an absolutely huge following. It’s a successful Club which will win trophies in the near future and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”

The other news that has surfaced is of Lille striker, Gervinho. With Talksport leading, everyone is reporting that we have signed him for £10 million with no proof of course. We have shown interest in him but till the time Wenger doesn’t come out with anything as he did in the case of Jenkinson, I am not getting excited.

The mirror on the other hand is reporting that we have finalized a deal to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. A deal worth £12 million and it is claimed that he will be declared an Arsenal player on the 1st of July. We have been linked with him for quite some time along with Man United and Liverpool. His father, at the start of this month, said:

“Considering where he was at the beginning of the season and end of last season, to have the clubs we’ve been hearing about looking at him, he’s made great strides. But watching him and watching his performances I think it’s well deserved. He’s only going to get better. A lot of people speak to me and say, ‘Maybe it’s too soon – look at Theo.’ But for me, I think Theo’s doing fantastic, he’s developing as a player, he’s still developing and he’s only young. To develop at a place like Arsenal can’t be a bad thing. In my eyes, I’d like him to go there as soon as possible, and continue his development.”

Everything is pointing in the right direction. I can see this deal happening if Wenger really wants to. With Ferguson getting the better of Arsene in signing Phil Jones, I bet Wenger will want to get Chamberlain now.

Well that is all for now. There is so much more to talk about that I have missed in the last three weeks. With time, I hope, I will have an update on all. At the moment I am brining myself up to date. By the way, it feels good to be back.

One thing is looking certain that this summer will be exciting!! Have a good day and best of luck to all those who are having their exams or will have in the near future.


Andre Arshavin is going nowhere, Denilson is!! And we have made our first signing!?

May 21, 2011

I cannot understand why everyone out in the football world is reporting that we are getting rid of Arshavin this summer. Arshavin has been one of our most important contributors this season in terms of goals and assists. Take away his contribution and see where we would have ended up. No doubt, he had his bad games and he has looked anonymous many times but he still has been producing important assists and goals. And seriously, do we want goals and assist or someone who warms the bench and comes on to make things worse?

There have been reports circulating that Chelsea are looking to acquire his services. Even Zenit St Petersberg has their doors open for him. What I find interesting is that they cite the manager’s frustration with Arshavin not performing well being one of the reasons that may lead to Arshavin’s departure. The other being that Arshavin himself wants to leave as he hasn’t been playing regularly. Both of these reasons are ridiculous because Wenger has many other players to be frustrated with than from someone who has scored 10 goals and produced 17 assists. And to make 51 appearances in a season, I guess, is more than enough.

Andre Arshavin is going nowhere until and unless he or Arsene Wenger says it.

And by the way why should we let him go!? He is a type of player that will produce something out of nothing. He is a game changer and despite looking lazy, he will produce one moment of brilliance that can win games.  Look at the game against West Bromwich. We were two goals down and going for a double loss against a newly promoted team. And bam out of nowhere, he scored the first goal. The keeper didn’t even have time to move. He followed it with an assist for the second and we were saved from another embarrassment. There are many other important goals that he has scored this season and you cannot rule out his assists.

And if I am not wrong, he is the most direct player we have. He is one of the few who will go for goal whenever there is a chance. This habit of his is on the decline though but that is due to the way we play. He is intelligent, he has these sudden bursts of speed and can power away from any defense and he has tricks up his sleeve. This season he might have looked lazy and uninterested but he has done more than some of the others who have played.

And you cannot deny that there has been a positive improvement in his attitude after his bad spell at the end of last year. These last few months he has been doing his defensive duties quite well too. At times he has drifted off but what more can you expect from a player who is nearing 30 and his specialty is playing upfront.

We brought him to score and create goals and that he is doing. Also, this season stats are his best yet for Arsenal in a full season.

We need to improve our team and selling Arshavin is not the way to go.  We can be better off without Denilson, Rosicky, Eboue to name a few but we will go a step back if we let him go.  

And speaking of Denilson, he has finally decided to quit Arsenal (about time too!!) which is the best thing that has happened ever since the win against Man United. He has told The Sun that this has been his worst season ever and wants to leave now for a fresh start in Spain or Italy. Below are some of his words which seem a bit ironic because he was responsible for some of the embarrassing moments in the last three years.

“A footballer’s career is over very quickly so it is time for me to move on. This has been the worst season of my life.  I’ve been to see Arsene Wenger and told him how I felt and he agreed to let me go. I need a fresh challenge and although I’m taking a big gamble, I’m ready to take that risk. So I am flying home to Brazil on Sunday and I’m hoping I can make a fresh start in Spain or maybe Italy.”

I am so upset. I am a winner and I came here to win trophies but I’ve been here for five years and won nothing. There’s something missing at Arsenal but no one knows what it is. Not the manager, not the players – nobody.  But we are still the best footballing side in Britain, we play beautiful football. Only Barcelona do it better. But we don’t win trophies. That’s so frustrating, you can’t imagine how frustrating. Some people say we don’t succeed because we are too young and naive – but that’s no excuse.

I remember leading Liverpool 1-0 and they scored in the last seconds. We were 4-0 up at Newcastle but drew. We also lost to Newcastle at home and West Brom and Aston Villa. We threw it away against Sunderland and Blackburn at the Emirates. Let’s be honest, some of those games were shocking, shameful. We are better than that. But until Arsenal stop throwing away those silly points in those stupid games nothing will change.”

You can read the rest of it here.

So, we have our first positive news for the summer. I think no one will be upset by this because except a few games, Denilson has always been a liability for us. And to be honest, he won’t be missed. My only regret is why he didn’t realise three years back that his time was over at Arsenal!? I will never know!!

Jokes aside, we now have to find a club that will offer the right money for him and then to find a top replacement for him. Bastian Schweinsteiger anyone!!

Another interesting bit of news has surfaced. Fox Sports is reporting that we have agreed a pre-contract with 23-year-old Argentinean, Ricky Alvarez. He will be joining Arsenal after his current deal expires at the end of the Clausura campaign. He is currently playing for Velez Sarsfield’s in the Argentine Primera División.

At the moment we only know that he is a 6’2” left footed attacking midfielder. Reports are that he is a versatile player and can play as a second striker. He has pace and has a powerful shot. He suffered a knee cruciate ligament injury when he started for Sarsfield back in 2008. However, since recovering, he has won the Argentine Primera División title in 2009.

Is this our first signing of the summer? Can’t say anything with certainty, although, we will know in a couple of days how true the reports are. Also can’t say what he can offer us with having not seen him play at all. He is left footed and his pace can only be an advantage. It does seem though that we are going back to old days with pacey wingers and all, if we do sign him.

Hoping for the best. That’s all for now. Have a good day!!

p.s. This post was written in two parts. I had written the part about Arshavin on Wednesday but didn’t get the time to post it. Arsene Wenger in his press conference on Thursday said that he expects Arshavin to be at Arsenal next season.


Arsenal vs Manchester United: Preview and Starting Eleven

May 1, 2011

Approaching today’s game would have been so different and wonderful had we won the Carling Cup final and the last 6 Premier League games. Now, it is only a game where we need a win to at least finish third and in the process make the title race interesting for some more weeks. Sadly we won’t be involved! The game which should have been the title decider (in a way it still is if Manu wins) is now only a game to restore our pride.

If you take a look at the league table, Man city are in a very good position to finish third provided they win all their remaining games and we lose even one of ours. Not likely to happen but we can be in serious trouble if we don’t perform in any of our remaining games.

To be honest, my heart is saying that we will win this one because we always perform when there is nothing nagging us in the back of our minds. We might have looked short on confidence in the last few games, but today, I feel we will get the response from the team, which should have come after the Carling Cup final defeat.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are looking quite strong. They, for one, have a much better defense than the likes of Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland and are better equipped in attack. It will be difficult to score as well as difficult to defend. The devils approach will be simple. They will get bodies behind the ball and score on the counter using the speed of Nani and Rooney. And they do know how to finish clinically. They will have no problem in defending all day and score a poachers goal. They have done it before and they will do this again.

We will have to be intelligent in our play. Draw them out of their half and then exploit the gaps using Walcott’s pace. Keep things simple. Make sure that mistakes are’t made becaue United will be waiting to pounce on it. One thing is for sure, we will have to give a massive performance if we want to take the three points.

Arsenal! Remember how you beat  Chelsea, City and Barcelona and forget what has happened in the last month.

As far as the starting eleven is concerned, there is nothing much to choose from. The same team that featured against Bolton is on the cards again.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Song, Fabregas, Nasri, RVP, Walcott.

I am tempted to start with Arshavin, if he can give a performance to remember and therefore shut the mouths of those who want him to be sold.

I hope Fabregas has his mind on the game as there have been reports of a break up between him and his girlfriend.

Arsene Wenger in his pre-match press conference talked about the frustrations and disappointments of this season and how the top four spot is not yet confirmed and how the focus is to win our games. He said: 

“We have to watch that. I am convinced that is not done. Even being in the top four is not done. We have to fight like mad. It is not a massive concern maybe because if Tottenham come up then Manchester City or Chelsea drop as they all play each other. But our focus has to be to win our games.” 

I hope the players focus on their game and finishing third or possibly second and not on what Tottenham and City and Chelsea are doing. 

That is all for now as there is nothing else to discuss. Enjoy the game and have a good time. Looking forward to a good game!!


Looking back at the week: Protest, Wenger, Fabregas, Pat Rice and Vermaelen | the story behind the new Arsenal Crest

April 30, 2011

It has been a long and busy week for me but finally I have found some time to update the blog. A lot has happened since the Bolton defeat though. The talks of a protest was a big surprise. Won’t say much about it! If the people who are in for the protest feel that it is the right way to approach whatever they want, good for them.

To start off with, I was really saddened with the result against Bolton. I was very much looking for a win but all we got was what we have seen in the past and in far too many games. I didn’t see the game though as I had a class to attend at that time (yes on a Sunday!) but what I saw in the highlights didn’t do any good. It summed up our season very nicely. As long as we won’t learn from our mistakes and rectify them, we will be forever inconsistent. The manager and players have come under lots of criticism since then, some of which is justified but in most cases people have gone overboard.

The solution to all our problems and mistakes is not to sell Wenger or a complete overhaul of the team as most are suggesting. The solution, as far as I am concerned, is a return to basics, to mix things up, to try new things, bringing up youngsters such as Wilshere and Szczesny and reinforcing the team where it requires. We have become too predictable!

Arsene Wenger has taken all the blame for the failures of the team this season. I feel that more than Arsene, the players are to be questioned, who have let themselves and Wenger down despite doing so good till February.  Wenger is to be blamed for not using players in their favoured position, for believing in some for too long while they have consistently shown that they will never come good, for not strengthening the squad when required, for not blaming the players when they should have been blamed.  The players are, however, responsible for how they perform on the field. They are professionals who are being given insane amounts of money to perform and they should be held accountable for how they play.

However, with all the flaws that Wenger and this team has, for me they are still the best. After seeing how Real Madrid fared with all their money and star power against Barcelona in Champions league, I am convinced that money doesn’t guarantee success and that this team will come up good and deliver trophies. Both the Spanish giants have star power but the way they relied on cheap tactics was a disgrace to football. 

Most of our former players have been quoted as saying that we require at least three players to strengthen the squad. I agree with them on the numbers. To make place for the new comers, we will, however, need to sell a few as we have a few good youngsters also coming up.

Wenger is also saying that we need to keep this squad together. I say, keep it together but put in some experienced players to push the players when things are down. Buying will also help keep the few players who might be thinking of leaving. Will it harm to buy players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Gary Cahill who are only going to get better under Wenger and help us improve the squad? This is the question that Wenger needs to answer this summer and we have a long summer to talk about it. Wenger has won things before and it’s my belief that he will do it again. But he will need to make big decisions this summer.  

There was also the usual talk of Fabregas leaving in the summers.  Seriously! when is the media going to get tired!? Why can’t they just wait and see what happens than to just claim that anonymous sources have tipped them that Fabregas is leaving? And on top of it, every Spanish player claims to have been confided in by Fabregas that he wants to leave. I am not saying that they are making things up but at least have some decency to keep things to yourself. I don’t want Fabregas to leave and it would be great if we can keep him. However, if he leaves us, we can cope without him. And when he does, we will all know. It is doing no one any good by talking about his future every other day.  

One of the better news is the return of Thomas Vermaelen to the football pitch. He played for Arsenal reserves against Manchester United on Thursday. No doubt, it has been a frustrating injury for him and for us but hopefully he will return stronger than before. We might see him before this season ends but I am looking forward to the pre season. Wenger made it clear in his pre match interview that Vermaelen won’t be available on Sunday though. Vermaelen had this to say on his fitness and first appearance in seven months:

“I’m fit at the moment, I feel great and, in training, I don’t feel any problems. So physically I feel good. It’s up to the boss, he makes the decisions. I’m available at the moment so I hope I will be back in the squad soon and that is my target. The injury is fine, I didn’t feel anything today and played the whole 90 minutes without any problems. I’m really pleased with it.

It felt really good today and I’m happy to be back. It’s always good to be back on the pitch and your first game after a long injury is always special. It’s been a hard time, a difficult time and I’m happy to be back now. It’s been really frustrating because at the beginning I thought it was only going to be one week or a few days and I kept getting setbacks. It was a hard time but from these kind of situations you learn a lot. Your mental strength will be better and you always have to focus. It’s just a hard time but in these times you learn a lot of things.

It’s always important for players to have a good pre-season but for me it will be good to be fit before [the] holiday. I can go into the holiday with a clear head and come back fresh. This season was really unlucky for me but I am looking forward to the next months and the next years.”

There was also a Daily Mail report about retirement of Pat Rice at the end of the season.  Don’t know if it is true. Will talk more on it when things become clear.

Today there has been some new development on the crest that has been seen on our new (maybe!) kit for next season. I haven’t been tipped off with the information though. I read it first over here. The main features are:  

15 laurel leaves to the left side of the Club’s crest, reflect the design detail on the reverse of the six pence pieces paid by 15 men to establish the Club – the laurel leaves also represent strength.

The 15 oak leaves to the right of the Club’s crest give a nod to the founders who would meet in the Royal Oak pub.

Underneath the crest is one of the first recorded mottos related to armament and battle – Forward.

Tomorrow we play against Manchester United. A win for us will slightly derail their title chances. A loss will make things worse for us. Will talk more about it in the preview, which I will try to come up with later.  I won’t be able to see the game though due to my class.

Lastly, my apologies to all for not updating the blog regularly this month due to my work. It is going to be the same in May as my final semester is coming to an end but I will try my best to post whenever I get time (mostly on weekends). Hopefully, at the start of June, I will be free.   

That’s all for now.


Tottenham vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

April 20, 2011

Manchester United has given us another lifeline after their stalemate against Newcastle. With us drawing against Liverpool on Sunday, it looked as if it was all over for us. However, the title race is back on and we have a slight hope. Even so, our hopes will be over soon if we fail to get the three points against the Spuds tonight. Even our top four spot will be in jeopardy if we fail to win the game.

After the Liverpool match, I said that it was very unlikely that Manchester will draw two games then lose to us before we take the title ourselves, by winning rest of our games. After last night, Manu have drawn one game and hopefully there will be more. The question still remains; will we win the rest our matches? (we will find out tonight) Man United have given us countless opportunities by slipping up on many occasions. Only that we haven’t been able to capitalize on them. We again have a chance now and I hope the team gives it their all tonight against Tottenham.

Coming to the game, Tottenham are playing at home and they will approach the game as if it is a Champions League final, they wouldn’t know the feeling though, what it is to be a in a CL final. Nonetheless, they will do their all to take the three points and they surely have a few players that can make things difficult for us. Their approach will be straight forward, deliver in as many crosses as they can and hope for Crouch to head in. With RVD Vaart and Modric they can also mix things up. So our backline will have to be alert and on their toes at all times. We have already made too many mistakes and it is time now that we deliver.

As for us, we will need to play our game and never slack-off, even for a second and even if we are winning by two goals. Chances will come to us and we will need to capitalize on them. Their keeper is prone to mistakes but at times he produces excellent saves and I don’t want their keeper to be the man of the match.

Upfront, the combination of Fabregas, Walcott and Van Persie will be the key. In the middle, Song and Diaby will have to play a massive game. We can’t afford to make any mistakes today and we can’t afford any more slip ups. And please Arsenal! don’t make things complicated. Keep possession, keep it simple and shoot whenever the opportunity arise and we will get the three points.

As for the starting lineup, Sagna will join the backline in place of Eboue as he has recovered form his injury. The rest of the defense will remain the same as it was against Liverpool.

Alex Song has also fully recovered from his injury, so I expect him to start alongside Fabregas and I will also keep Diaby for his strength and height. Wilshere for me will be on bench because he has already played a lot and Wenger hinted of rotation.

Up front. the trio will remain the same as it was against Liverpool. However, I won’t be surprised to see Arshavin in place of either Nasri or Walcott. Nasri is going through a quiet patch but considering how he played in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, I will start with him.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Diaby, Walcott, RVP, Nasri

Similar to the Liverpool game, it is difficult to predict what the outcome of the game will be. We haven’t scored many goals in the last few games and we have been quite ordinary in the final third. Still, away from home, we have delivered. And considering Spurs, there will be goals today. Hopefully, we will score more and get the three points. Come on Arsenal!!

Have a nice day Gooners and enjoy the game while keeping your fingers crossed. Tonight, we will resurrect our title chances!!