Arsenal 0 – 2 Liverpool: Thoughts and Player Ratings

August 21, 2011

So, more of the same from Arsenal with a different result this weekend.

With a makeshift midfield and defense, we started this game very positively but then went into a nut shell. If was Liverpool who created the better ‘half chances’ as we drifted from one end to another, hardly having a shot on goal. Nasri did have a go at goal near the half hour mark, so did Frimpong. Otherwise both the teams lacked creativity. The second half was where things started happening. Kelly rattled the cross bar, Van Persie had a shot saved, Frimpong was then sent off, Suarez came on and tested Szczesny followed by Downing and then the unfortunate own goal, involving Miquel and Ramsey. From there it was always us chasing the game and Liverpool ended it with another goal, the final nail in our already full coffin.

There is nothing much to talk from the game so I will come straight to what I feel.

First off, this is type a result one is going to end up with by putting youngsters on the field, who hardly have any Premier League experience against a squad that surely means business. The youngster’s fighting spirits will give you hard earned draws and at times an odd win but you will never be sure.

What we saw today is prove enough that our young players have all the talent in the word but they need experienced players to guide them. They cannot on their own make us challenge for the title, they need support.  

And this is where I fear Wenger is wrong. To put so many burdens on players who have hardly played a full game in the League is asking too much and at one point it surely is going to spill over. Look what happened in the case of Fabregas.

And on top of that to come out and say that we need to keep patience is not going to go down well.

Result and obvious lack of investment aside, the players out there deserve plaudits for giving their all from the first ball to the last. The defense was solid and to have kept the scores level till the last quarter of the game against a fully fit Liverpool squad is proof that we are improving, at least in one area of the field.

As for the result, weren’t we expected to lose this one? Yet, we lost only after going a man down and that too by gifting a freak own goal and through some bad refereeing by the lines man. I know these will sound like excuses but it is the reality. Liverpool were ordinary. We had eight first team players missing against a squad that has spent a fortune on players since January, yet, they couldn’t do us any damage with 11 on 11. (There is sure hope!) And looking back, I have a regret that we could have even won this game had our first team played.

Yet, this is no reason for where we are or why we don’t have to buy. We had a whole summer to solve our problems and buy the players required. What we have been doing can only be answered by Arsene and company. To play Miquel and not Squillaci, to bring on Bendtner and not Chamakh shows indecisiveness on our manager’s part. With the season two games old, we haven’t decided who will we keep and who we won’t. I don’t mind though, because late is better than never and this show that Arsene has lost his confidence with Squillaci and Chamakh (or am I seeing too much into it?)

I don’t even want to go over the players that are out injured or suspended. The Udinese and Manchester game just got a lot tougher for us. Qualification for the Champions League must be, however, the priority. If we fail to qualify, I am afraid, we will have to find another coffin. More on the Udinese game when the time comes.

The bottom line is we still need to strengthen despite having many players out injured or suspended because we won’t survive the season playing like this.

Before I conclude, apologies are also in line for Nasri who showed he truly is a professional and his commitment is spot on. He was on fire and looked like he cared for the team.

Coming to player ratings

Szczesny: (8) He again was commanding and covered his area well. Made some great saves, one each from Carroll, Downing and Suarez. Not at fault for both the goals.

Sagna: (7) Shifted from right to left and didn’t put a foot wrong. Offensively didn’t contribute as he was not on his preferred side.

Vermaelen: (8.5) Well he surely is a beast. Got his head onto every ball and never gave Carroll or any Liverpool forward space. Led by example and later on tried to revive the team by some forward runs. Caught out of position on the second goal but we were already losing then.

Koscielny: (no rating) Unlucky, looked decent before he went off injured.

Jenkinson: (7) He looked solid on his preferred flank and he sure is the right cover for Sagna. His crossing was better but as always we had no one attacking them.

Frimpong: (7) He really impressed me bar his second tackle that earned him the second yellow. Not afraid to put a foot in and was extremely quick on his feet. Had Liverpool in check till the time he was on. Even had a go at goal from range. As for his temperament and discipline, he needs to keep that in check. Will learn with time surely but I liked what I saw from him today.

Ramsey: (4.5) He really disappointed me today. He was slow and didn’t have things going his way. Lost the ball on countless occasions and didn’t give the support I expected from him.

Nasri: (6.5) As mentioned above, he deserves some slack after his performance today. Sure he did fade away at the end but we were already stretched to the limits. Made a great run in the first half that ended in shot going just wide. Moved the ball around and even dropped down deep to get it.

Arshavin: (4.5) One word, unacceptable! He did try to change things around but nothing was going his way. Ironically, he created the only chance for us. Should have been substituted early in the second half.

Van Persie: (5.5) Was isolated and never got any support. Only got one chance and he hit it straight at Reina in the second half just before things started going from bad to worse for us.

Walcott: (4) He too was anonymous and below par. He was always surrounded whenever he got the ball though. Lost the ball on countless occasions and made runs that ended in nothing.

Subs:

Miquel: (7) He justified his picking ahead of Squillaci. Comfortable and calm on the ball and read the game well. His positioning was also good. Being involved in the own goal was unfortunate.

Lansbury and Bendtner: (no rating) Didn’t have much time to make impact and by that time we had faded. Lansbury had the time to get booked though but liked his attitude.


Arsenal vs Udinese: Preview and Starting Eleven

August 16, 2011

With everything happening to Arsenal in the last four days, the only thing left was a Champions League play off! We are going to face Udinese, tonight, in the first leg of the qualifier with a much depleted squad.

Udinese are a decent side and they will offer us more than what Newcastle did on the weekend. These fixtures before haven’t caused us much trouble before. Therefore, failing to overcome Udinese over two legs is not only going to be disastrous, we will also have a hard time in attracting players to the club this season.

Just like us, Udinese have also lost their best players. However, they still have a team that will give us a hard time. With Di Natale, they have a striker that can cause us all sorts of trouble if we are not on top of our game. They will test us on a more continuous basis than what Newcastle did and they will surely look for an away goal. Being Italians, they will also have a sound defence and give us very little space. This also will prove advantageous for us if we utilize our pace effectively. Therefore, quick and accurate passing will do the trick and open them up.

Still, I am expeceting a tight game so our first priority must be to not concede a goal and then find the winner.

With Van Persie and Nasri suspended and Wilshere out injured, we are without three key figures. Rosicky, it is now confirmed, didn’t pass his late fitness test and suddenly we have very limited options to start with.

We were short of ideas going forward against Newcastle, now with no Van Persie and Rosicky; I am hoping that the others will rise to the occasion and make their mark.

I am caught between Chamakh and Bendtner to take the striker role. Chamakh didn’t have a very good pre-season while Bendtner was busy trying to move out. Still, with the future of Bendtner not clear, I will start with Chamakh and hope he shows he is a striker. Bendtner can come on later, if required.

To partner him, I will go with Arshavin and Gervinho.

In the middle I will start with Song and Frimpong behind Ramsey. Song has the ability to produce great passes, so I will want him to play a bit up field. Frimpong should stay behind tonight and shield the back four. Ramsey will have to take more responsibility and make sure he doesn’t give the ball away in dangerous positions.

The backline will pick itself up. Sagna and Gibbs on the flanks, Vermaelen and Koscielny to partner as centre backs. Szczesny will of course be in goal.

We can then bring on Walcott and Chamberlain for their pace. I am also hoping that Arshavin will take over as the creative outlet for us today. He can carve open defenses easily and tonight his skill will be more than needed.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Frimpong, Gervinho, Chamakh, Arshavin.

Udinese’s Manager, Francesco Guidolin, admitted that this is the most important game in their history. So,we won’t have it easy any minute of the game, over the two legs.  If we want to qualify for the group stages, every player will have to perform. His words were:

“Udinese also has a tradition of playing in Europe before, but for the charm of the match and for the opponent then this is probably the most important game in Udinese’s history. I would probably compare it to the match against Ajax in the UEFA Cup some years ago but because it is the Champions League this is probably more important.”

As Wenger said:

“We want to be in the Champions League, we want to qualify, that’s what we want to achieve.”

And that is what we would all like. Despite being short in number, I am confident the team will give a great response. It is our first home game of the season, by the way, so a win will be a an ideal result.

Have a good day and enjoy game. Hopefully in a fortnight, we will be in the group stages of the Champions League.

 


Cesc, Nasri, defending and Wenger: A look into the summer that has passed and what comes next!?

August 12, 2011

Here we are, almost three months after we ended the last season in dismal fashion, at the start of the next. A summer that was promised to be different has so far been the same.

Although a lot has happened since I last posted on the blog but considering what we needed and what was required to be done hasn’t been done yet.

Yes, we bought Gervinho, who looks impressive and give us a direct approach for a change, and we bought Oxlade Chamberlain, who will be a star in the next three years and Jerkinson, who also is one for the future. They all are welcome additions to our squad and in future they will turn out to be great players for us for sure. But in terms of preparing for the next season, we have  been where we ended last season. In fact, if you ask me, we are considerably weaker than before. And before everyone jumps at me, I am not being negative, it is the reality.

The Fabregas saga, the Nasri situation, the way our defense performed in the pre-season, these are proof enough that we have stood still in terms of improving as a team.  

I am not fussed about Fabregas or even Nasri leaving, heck I am because you seldom find a Fabregas. It is just that if they wanted to go, they should have been shown the door at the start of the window. Their replacements should have been bought to gel in with the team. We are less than 24 hours away from the start of our first game of the season and we still haven’t figured out what’s up with both of them. Even now is not too late, sell them and buy the replacements, that is, if we do want to replace them.

I am convinced for sure that we will lose both of them before the window closes, what I am dreading is that we don’t bring in the proper substitutes.

I know most will say that we have Wilshere and Ramsey and I don’t disagree. These two are going to be great players and one day they will be world class. Nonetheless, they still have a lot to prove and for this season they certainly are not the answer to the void that will be left by Fabregas’ departure.

Personally, I don’t blame Fabregas for leaving and don’t have anything against him. I would have liked him to stay. He has given us close to eight years of delightful football. His skill, vision and ability to change games won’t be forgotten and I will always remember him as one of our great players. And I believe we will never truly replace him with any kind of player.

I, however, don’t have many sympathies for Nasri. I know he is a good player and likely go on to be a big player. Still after having one good season where he was close to consistent doesn’t justify his attitude. If he were loyal to this club, he would have signed the contract back in May. He isn’t and he never will be. The best thing is to sell him and get done with it. He isn’t worth more time than what he has already wasted for us.

As far as defense is concerned, I was always on the edge of my seat whenever the opposition was attacking in the preseason games. No matter what people say, we just have forgotten how to defend or just don’t want to.  I know that when we want to defend, we can, the game against Barcelona last season is proof enough. Why don’t we do it consistently is a question only Wenger can answer.

Why haven’t we improved our defense or why haven’t we bought any defender is also beyond me. Squillaci clearly doesn’t know defending, Djourou and Koscielny are known to make the stupidest mistakes, Vermaelen is returning after a year and I hope he starts from where he ended, when he was injured. On the left, the situation is even worse. I know this has turned into a cliché but Gibbs is not ready. I have said before, he is not a defender at all. He can be a good winger and that is all. And his injury record is also not great. Traore is stable but he is not better than Clichy right now and we all know Clichy had his flaws. So why haven’t we got a replacement for Clichy yet? For me this is  relying too much on hope!

The irony is that, at the moment, I myself am desperately hoping for Vermaelen, Koscielny and Djourou to have a great season without injuries. I am also hoping for Traore and Gibbs to pull off performances worth player of the season awards. And, I know I am getting too far, but I am hoping Wenger will buy a defender and a left back.  

I am also off the opinion that the way we defend can only be improved if we change the way we practice. Right now, I am not convinced that what we are doing in training is helping. Is something wrong with our back room staff or is it just that we don’t give too much attention to it? Whatever it is, we need to solve the problem. And considering, we haven’t done it in the last two years, I know it will be much of the same this season, the pre-season showed that clearly. Still I am not giving up, there is always hope!

The thing that I am most pissed off on is that Wenger hasn’t kept true to his word. He said at the start of this summer that he will try to keep the best players and improve the team in places where it requires. He hasn’t done that yet. We have the same disastrous defense, we are about to lose Fabregas and Nasri, we have already lost Clichy. (I am grateful that we won’t be going to see Denilson this season though.)

Also If you remember, back in January Wenger said something about not buying a defender as we have too many of them already or something similar. Considering what we have bought this summer, doesn’t it seem ironic that he has brought in two wingers, when we already have a surplus amount of them but not a single defender which we need the most? And I am not complaining here. We do need them because we still don’t have enough depth in any position. We have many youngsters but they cannot be relied upon for the whole season. He also bought a right back but then went onto selling a left back and we are still stuck with Eboue.

He said that he will only buy players who will improve the team. As we don’t see any defender right now, does that mean there are no defenders out there that are better than what we have? Also except Gervinho, we can’t even be sure that chamberlain and Jerkinson will make it to the next level. I hope they will, but what is the guarantee that they will stay with us then. Nasri hasn’t committed yet after it took three years to develop him. Seriously! Sometimes I get really frustrated the way Wenger gives his justifications for not buying

Why the rant? Because I have to get these thoughts out of my mind. I know all is not bad. I don’t like the way we have dealt with the Fabregas and Nasri situation. I don’t like that we haven’t bought a defender and Left back. I don’t like that we are still stuck with Eboue (or not! a move to Galatasaray is on the cards)  and to some extent Diaby. I am willing to give Chamakh a chance. If I had my way, I would have sold him and played Bendtner in the middle, as there have been no buyers for him.

Despite all this, there are some great things to look forward to. I am delighted by Gervinho’s addition. He is the most direct player that we have bought in recent years after Arshavin. I just hope that he stays that way. He is quick on his feet, he can dribble and he has an eye for goal. He has adjusted nicely into the team and his partnership with Van Persie will be something to look forward to. Ryo Miyaichi has shown that he can play and he certainly has pace. He also got the work permit which is one of better news this summer. Frimpong is another one who impressed during pre-season. He certainly is going to be a great asset in the future. Jerkinson was also impressive and one day can be a replacement for Sagna. The partnership of Wilshere and Ramsey is what really excited me. Wilshere is certainly developing fast and his vision is improving. Ramsey too is doing great but he needs to take more responsibility. Both of them still need time though and they will get it this season. Van Persie is still on his goal spree and hopefully he will remain injury free. Szczesny is doing well in goal and no doubt he is going to get better. We have Fabianski and Mannone after him which leaves our goal keeping in good hands.

There are many other positives from the pre-season. However, for us to challenge for the top, we still are short on players in a couple of positions and if Fabregas and Nasri leave, we will need to add more. I just wish that before the window closes we will get the players we require and hopefully go on to have a great season and come out on top.

This season, the start for us is going to be what sets the tone to our season. With Newcastle, Manchester United, Liverpool and Champions league qualifiers in the next 15 days, we won’t have time to take a breather. We have to start on top from the first game and maintain that throughout the season. If we can get through these games with our heads held up high, than I will be convinced that we are there to challenge for the title. If we don’t, then I don’t even want to speculate on what will happen. Hopefully we will have a great season (I know there are too many hopes in this post but this is the only thing that will see us through the season, if things remain the way they are!)

Before I conclude, it was on this day last year that I published my first post. It has been one whole year for me since then and it has been a great experience. Going through all the games was fun, the wins and the loss, the delight and anger, the ups and downs, the happiness and frustration, it was just amazing. A big thanks to all who have visited this blog and still do and have been a part of it.

I have been busy for the last three, four months due to lots of reasons. However, I will try my best to posting regularly.  I love Arsenal and will continue writing about it. Thank you all once again! I have my fingers crossed for another great season, hopefully….


It is quiet out there, Fabregas might stay after all, Clichy gone? Fixtures shouldn’t be a concern!

June 22, 2011

When I had last posted on my blog we were close in on Gervinho, Cahill, and Samba.  A week later, a week into my vacations, we are still nowhere (or somewhere that only Arsenal can tell). Many have reported that they are done deals and I am hoping this really is the case but the silence from the Emirates is deafening. I have been waiting for an official Statement but nothing has come out yet. Do they want to give us a surprise? Or are they waiting for 1st of July? I do hope it is a good surprise.

Even the tabloids have gotten bored with the stories and now many have started asking questions. I believe in one thing though that if we have reached an agreement on the above players than there can be no stopping them in moving here. If, however, it was all speculation, we can forget them. Expect to see only Gervinho arrive as he is from the French League. While keep everything crossed for Samba and Cahill as their value has gone up and Man City and Tottenham are all also getting involved. And with 8 days to 1st of July, a lot can happen as within football things change within a day.

By the way, what were they thinking when they linked us to Barton, Odemwinge and Taarabt. Eto sounds interesting but I know it will never happen.

Coming to other matters, there has been a positive development for us in the case of Fabregas. Sandro Rosell’s, Barcelona president, comment regarding Fabregas’ value going down clearly speaks that they don’t regard him much and won’t go all out to buy him. Sandro Rosell said

“What is the limit for signing him? We’ll need to see. First we need to know what his salary is and what are his conditions. Everything is in relation to the salary and the transfer fee but, if last year we offered 40 million [euros], a year has passed, it is clear that this year his value is less. Since then there has been wear and tear and now he’s worth less. In the case that we were interested our offer would be reasonable. We would not go overboard.”

And added

“I don’t think he will go to another Spanish club. Cesc is of Barça, and if I were the president of another club I wouldn’t sign a player who holds dear the colours of another team.”

It also seems that they want Fabregas to put in a transfer request so that he can be acquired for less money. Well Mr Sandro, you can forget about Fabregas for now and forever for one, you don’t have the money and two, Fabregas is happy here and he won’t give in a transfer request. And after your comment no sane man will as you don’t appreciate his quality. I hope Fabregas does realize that Barcelona don’t want him and that the best thing to do now would be forget about Barca and play like a true leader for Arsenal and guide us to trophies. And in return Rosell will get to know the true value of Fabregas.

There has also been progress on Clichy’s situation with Roma showing interest in him. The value that is being quoted is £7-8 million. Although this is better than what Liverpool were offering but still in my view it is less. And I am astonished that the value of our players is so less considering a certain striker went for £35 million who isn’t better than Bendtner IMO.

The replacement for Clichy is a bigger concern though. Gibbs is in no man’s land, Traore is not better than Clichy, Enrique, with whom we are being linked, seems fine, Leighton Baines might do well. The rest is up to Wenger as to who he has in his mind. Else force Clichy to extend his contract as I have been saying all along.

Nasri’s situation has also gone quiet. And I still haven’t figured out what the real issue is. Is it money or trophies or is it his position? A month has passed since we played our last game of the season and still we haven’t sorted out one of our best player’s issue. And I can’t help it but ask what the hell are the people at Arsenal doing? We haven’t bought anyone! we haven’t been able to sell anyone! what really are we doing? Maybe I am getting impatient but seriously by now a decision on Nasri’s contract should have been taken!

Meanwhile, the fixtures have also been released for Arsenal for the next season and I had a smile when I went through the list. I was smiling because we have all the difficult fixtures in the first half of the season. No doubt the month of August is difficult but we always have a good start to a season and I am hoping we will be having another good start. However, it is a long way to go and  it shouldn’t be a concern as a season doesn’t depend on the fixtures, it depends on how you play. Before that we need to address the issue of our players and our team. Just over three weeks to our first game of pre-season before which we need to sign players so that they can gel-in and adjust with our style.

Before I end, WTTGT is reporting that Clichy has been sold to Paris St. Germain for £10 million. This seems bizarre to me. For now we can only wait and see what happens in the next couple of days. Have a good day!


Goodbye Nicklas Bendtner and welcome Eden Hazard!

June 13, 2011

Nicklas Bendtner made it clear at the start of this month that he wants to leave Arsenal hundred percent. It now seems that he may have his wish as Besiktas have made an approach for him. It is being reported that Besiktas will be making a 10 million offer for the Danish front man this week.

However, Inter Milan is also in the mix, as they have shown interest in him. If both the clubs are involved, we may after all get a good price for the Dane. What then matters is where Bendtner wants to go and hopefully he will decide very soon. Personally I feel that 10 million is a great deal. At least we will get the money for buying Samba. And with him gone we may get room for signing a striker who is in-league with Robin van Persie.

In other news, we have stepped up our pursuit of Lille’s young winger, Eden Hazard and there are reports that we are going to bid for him this week.

With everyone having their eyes on Nasri’s situation, it’s about time we secured one of our long term targets before other clubs seize him. Eden hazard, widely recognized as the one of the best young talents is in sight of many clubs which now also includes Barcelona.

At Arsenal, many see him currently as a possible replacement for Nasri, if he decides to leave. However, I would want him to come to Arsenal even if Nasri stays.  The question that remains is will Arsene Wenger offer the £25-30 million price set on him? I guess that Wenger will this time because you rarely find talents like him. Below is an excerpt from an article written in The National about him.

His is the kind of pace which terrifies: quick changes of direction, instant acceleration, continuous movement. Coupled with the athletic gifts is a sublime technique. Hazard has the kind of ball control which cannot be taught, the type you see in video games, ball stuck to his foot. His passing is accurate, his vision is improving. What’s more, he is unselfish. So sound are his fundamentals that he will often pass up a shot to find a better placed teammate, a legacy of what he was taught as a child.

After reading the above, tell me if he wouldn’t fit at Arsenal!?

Have your say in the comments!


Karim Benzema to Arsenal! Agent denies rumours

May 14, 2011

We have got plenty of players getting linked with us at the moment and Karim Benzema, the former Lyon striker and currently playing at Real Madrid is one of them. He hasn’t enjoyed the best of times at Real Madrid ever since his transfer and speculations are rife that he may move to other clubs this summer. Even today there was a report that claimed that Benzema has been given the green light for a £25 million move to Arsenal. He has also been linked with Juventus and Inter Milan. The questions that remains is, Are these rumors true? I hope they are but I am not holding my breath!

The reason being, Benzema’s agent, Karim Djaziri,  recently dismissed all transfer rumours by saying that the front man is going to stay at Real Madrid next season as he is happy.  

“At the moment there is nothing and I think Benzema will stay at Real Madrid even next season as he is happy there. The rest is just talk.”

However, in football things can change pretty quickly. If we really are interested in him, and personally I feel that he will thrive here, then we should pursue him. He is not only talented but has won things and can adapt quickly to our style of play. He is strong and powerful and has an eye for goal. Only recently he had a goal spree for Real Madrid when Gonzalo Higuain was out injured. We were also interested in him while he was still at Lyon before Real paid big money to acquire his services. And the argument that I always give is he is only going to get better under Wenger.

We also need someone who can compete with van Persie upfront because frankly speaking Bendtner and Chamakh have failed this season when RVP has been around. Bendtner still has done somewhat better considering he has mainly played on the flanks and mostly as a substitute.

The only major obstacle in his signing can be the asking price as Wenger is not known to spend this much amount of money on a single player. But then nothing comes cheap these days. If we want to buy quality this summer, we will have to pay the price.

Many other clubs will be looking at how the situation develops at Real and they will be ready to pounce.  

But then again, Real Madrid might decide not to sell him at all as Benzema’s agent has suggested that he will be staying in Madrid.  

Anyhow, I have my fingers crossed but I won’t be surprised if it bears no fruit. I can already see the argument Wenger has in store for not acquiring a forward!

What do you think? Do we need a striker and should we pursue him?

Bonne journée!!


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.