Gary Cahill to Arsenal? Sign him!

April 16, 2011

Defense is one of the areas where Arsenal has looked vulnerable this season despite performing admirably on most occasions. And it is no wonder that we are linked with a new defender every now and then. Since last season, one of the names that have been frequently linked with us is that of Gary Cahill, who currently plays for Bolton Wanderers.

Now, Gary Cahill has come out and admitted that he wants to play at the top level of European football. He also revealed that his manager, Owen Coyle, is supportive in this regard.

Speaking to the Daily Mail regarding the transfer speculations since last season and his future ambitions, Gary Cahill said:

“It’s a bit weird in a way. Normally when there is transfer speculation, the manager comes out and says, ‘They can forget it – he’s going nowhere’. But the thing about our manager is he’s not only ambitious for himself and his club, he’s ambitious for his players. He wants them to have the same drive and desire to get to the top. He expects us all to want to better ourselves.

So when all the speculation started last summer, he called me in for a chat. He checked first of all that it hadn’t turned my head, then he came out with this statement about outgrowing the club one day. He just said, ‘Gaz, if you were happy just to tick along at your age there would be something wrong. You’ve got it in you to play at Champions League level and I honestly believe it’s going to happen for you’.

It was lovely to hear that, really flattering, and what he said has made it easier for me to contemplate moving on and taking another step forward in my career. If there is an opportunity to do something big you want to take it.”

He also admitted, after seeing Jack Wilshere’s progress this year, that he wants to be out there and test himself against the best. He continued by saying:

“I still speak to Jack Wilshere after his loan spell here and when I watched him in the Nou Camp (against Barcelona ) the other week I couldn’t help thinking, ‘That’s where I want to be: testing myself against the best’. I know there is extra pressure to deliver and prove you’re worth a place alongside top players but I like to think I could handle that.

At 25, I’m still young but I’m not exactly the new kid on the block. I have played enough Premier League games and gained enough international experience to be ready. I thought Jack did really well over there in Barcelona. I want to show I can hold my own in that company.”

This will have alerted many clubs as Cahill hasn’t mentioned a specific destination for which he wants to leave.  On the other hand, when reading between the lines, I think that Gary Cahill is looking for a move to Arsenal and wants to come here. Why? Because he wants to play top European football and considering the EPL table right now (if he stays in England) only top five or maybe six teams can give him that opportunity. And in these teams only Arsenal are in need of a centre back. Also he has given the example of Wilshere’s progress here at Arsenal, which wouldn’t have been possible if he were in another club. And I have a feeling that he wants to do the same. That’s how I see it and maybe I am wrong.

Still, I would go for him anyways before any other club makes an offer. I see no harm in signing him as he has plenty of Premier League experience, he is good in the air, he is good with the ball at his feet, and he has strength and most of all he is only 25. Besides we were after him and we know he is one of the better options available and he is prepared to leave Bolton. And most of all, he is only going to get better at Arsenal under Wenger.  

I hope we do make an offer for him and sign him this summer because we won’t get a better opportunity than this. Or someone else will definitely sign him and considering Man City and Chelsea’s wealth, they will be the first ones to go for him.


Arsene Wenger on why Fabregas started on the bench and Samir Nasri’s injury

April 3, 2011

Arsenal’s title hopes were dealt a major blow after yet another lackluster performance which left Arsene Wenger disappointed and frustrated.

Speaking after the drawn game against Blackburn, Arsene Wenger admitted that it was a frustrating performance which lacked energy and sharpness and how it’s a major concern to see the team perform as such. The manager added that it is difficult to find one reason for such a display as he conceded that part of it was down to Blackburn’s good defending and more of it down to the poor offensive performance from the team.

When asked about why Fabregas started on the bench, the manager revealed how the decision was a difficult one and down to the concerns of Fabregas as in the past he has been troubled by his hamstring when returning from injury. Arsene Wenger explained that with the number of setbacks Fabregas has had this season, it is only logical that things are done step by step in order to avoid a recurrence of the injury.

Regarding Nasri’s head injury which was suffered early on in the game, the manager gave good news by saying how he is alright and will be available for next weekend.

After the game, Arsene Wenger said:

“It was a frustrating performance because we had no pace in our game. Overall it was a flat performance with a lack of energy level, a lack of sharpness. It was quite a big concern to see what we have seen today.

It is difficult to identify one special thing. I felt we started OK and after our game became flat. Very few players looked to have the resources to put the pace up in the game. Part of it is down to the fact that Blackburn defended well but I don’t put the majority of reasons down to that. I feel it is more down to our poor offensive performance today.

It was a difficult decision but you could see that he still has some concern. I believe he is over his injury. He got a little setback at the Nou Camp, but before the game he was fit. Today he was fit, but there was some still reluctance in his head, so I decided not to start him. He has had a few setbacks of course so he did not know completely if he could play 90 minutes. It takes step-by-step to get completely back and be free in his head and not concerned about the injury. He was concerned about having a recurrence.

[Samir Nasri] is all right.”


Barcelona vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

March 8, 2011

Well, it’s been very hectic as we have moved from one tournament to another in the last 10 days with tonight our fourth game, in as many tournaments, against after-all-not-so-mighty-Barcelona. This fixture no doubt has been in the minds of every football fan and Gooner  after we beat them at the Emirates three weeks ago. Even our players will have had this in their minds in the past week.

So, what’s the fuss about a match which many believe we will lose and as a result be kicked out of Champions league. Well, the fuss is due to the fact that we beat them and some still believe we can do it again. For me, I don’t care what many believe because I believe in my team and if we play good football then there is no stopping us. Even Barcelona knows we can beat them. A win, loss or a draw, we can and we will qualify.

So, how can we then qualify for the next round? We know they will score goals. So we just have to restrict them from scoring plenty and make sure that we score as many as them or at the most one less. We have to ensure that the game stays within our reach. It’s easier said than done because we all know if Barcelona goes on a goal spree, this game will be over in no time. We just have to make certain that we don’t give them too much time and space with the ball and take our own chances upfront. How this can be achieved? By playing twice the times better than what we did at the Emirates, yes, only then it will be possible. It is difficult! Yes, but to beat the best we have to give our best, our whole team will have to give in a top performance defensively as well as offensively.

So, who to play then? There can be no doubts about the backline and keeper for this one. Szczesny, Koscielny, Djourou, Sagna and Clichy will surely all start.

Big decisions are to be made in the middle and upfront. Wenger’s tactics were spot on at the Emirates; I hope his tactics are spot on here as well. I will go with Diaby, Wilshere and Fabregas in the middle as they are the best possible options available. I hope Fabregas is hundred percent fit for this because losing him now would be a disaster. And please Arsene don’t consider Denilson to start this one.

Upfront, it’s even trickier. We received great injury boost yesterday with van Persie traveling with the squad. He has made a quick recovery from an injury that had him ruled out for atleast three weeks. Now, I don’t care how he did it, I am just glad he is back.  However, I still won’t start with him. According to Wenger, he will start only if he is hundred percent fit and I hope Wenger sticks to it. We cannot risk a recurrence of an injury with him with many important games to come. Bendtner and Chamakh on the other hand have been doing well. However, they won’t score goals out of nowhere. So, who should we play upfront? I think it will depend on how we tactically approach the game. For me, I will go with Chamakh for his good work rate and his defensive capabilities. Not because to be defensive but because we will need someone to defend as well as attack. Van Persie is an asset on the counter but so can Arshavin be if utilized in that role and that’s why I will start with Arshavin too. He will have to put in a lot of effort at both ends of the pitch though. Nasri to complete the starting eleven.

Bendtner has been playing well but I will keep him on the bench with Van Persie and bring them on later if the game is within our reach. Although, I won’t be surprised if either of Bendtner or Van Persie starts.

Probable starting lineup: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Fabregas, Diaby, Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin

I guess there isn’t anything else to discuss. The bottom line is we have to keep the score line wthin our reach and then we can damage them with whatever chance we create or get. I have everything crossed for tonight and I am gunning for a qualification.

Have a great day Gooners and hopefully tonight will be a great night. Only a few hours left to kick off.  Before signing off, I will say again, no matter what the result, we will always be behind you Arsenal. Go Arsenal Go!!

p.s. I will like to add that if, and that is a big if, we don’t qualify despite playing well, it won’t be a disaster and I won’t be bothered much as there will still be plenty left to play for.


Arsene Wenger on Bendtner’s hat-trick and importance of Chamakh scoring

March 3, 2011

Arsene Wenger was delighted with both Bendtner and Chamakh ending up on the score sheet against Leyton Orient. Bendtner got a hat-trick and Chamakh opened the scores for Arsenal as they beat Leyton Orient comfortably.

Speaking after the match, the manager admitted the importance of Chamakh and Bendtner rising to the occasion and scoring after Van Persie’s injury as he added how confidence of both the players will be needed to be successful in the big games coming up.

Wenger was pleased with Bendtner in taking his chances yesterday as he said how it now puts Bendtner in contention to start in the vital game against Sunderland and added that all the focus is now on beating Sunderland as it will put Arsenal in a strong position.

Regarding Chamakh, Arsene added that he too will be required in the games coming up as he explained how fatigue caused his good start to the season to be disrupted and how he is now coming back to his best and how scoring will improve his confidence.

Arsenal will play Sunderland this Saturday before they head to Nou Camp for the 2nd leg against Barcelona on Tuesday.

After the match, Arsene said:

“We have lost Van Persie so for Bendtner and Chamakh to score is very important, they now have a level of confidence that we need to be successful in the big games.

You need your strikers to take any chance and tonight Bendtner did that very well. It puts him in contention to play against Sunderland. That for us, is a vital game. We have to make our decisions game by game, if we beat Sunderland we are in a great position so all our focus is on that game.

We need Chamakh with the games we have in front of us. He had a great start to the season until the end of November and after he had a little bit of burn-out. Now he looks, even in training, to be coming back. For a while he looked very tired but now it is good for him he has scored”


Johan Djourou on facing Lionel Messi and the return leg against Barcelona

February 18, 2011

Arsenal’s centre back, Johan Djourou, labeled facing Lionel Messi an amazing experience as his team overcame Barcelona on Wednesday in the first leg of the round of 16 tie.

Speaking after the match, Djourou said how it was amazing to have his skills tested against Messi, who is considered the best player in the world and who can always make a difference.

Lionel Messi failed to score on the night despite getting chances as the defender added how it was down to constant pressure by them that made it hard for Messi. Djourou was also delighted with his team in making things difficult for Barcelona who always find solutions on the pitch.

As for the return leg, the defender said that they will take a lot confidence from stopping Messi but admitted that it will be a different game and they will have to remain focused to do the same all over again.

The defender concluded by saying how it will be tough game where they will have to focus on not only Messi but everyone as players like Pedro and Iniesta can also make a difference.

The return leg against Barcelona is going to be played on 8th March at the Nou Camp.

Johan Djourou, after the match, said:

“It was amazing [to play against him]. For a defender to test your skill against the best, to play against the kind of player that can make the difference, it was amazing. Barcelona always try to find solutions on the pitch so it is down to you to make it as hard as possible for them. I think we did that well tonight.

I think we made it hard for Messi. It’s not like he was always clear, one on one with the keeper. He always had somebody next to him, someone tackling him, and it’s always difficult when you have someone under pressure.

We will take confidence [from stopping Messi]. That’s a big boost to go away with. It will be a different game [in the Nou Camp] so we need to show the same focus and have good communication at the back like we did tonight.

But Barcelona have so many talented players who can make a difference so it will be a tough, tough game. It is not just going to be Lionel Messi, they have other players like Iniesta and Pedro who can make the difference. We have to be focused on everyone.”