Player Ratings: Arsenal 1 – 0 Stoke City

February 24, 2011

Massive massive win for us as again we were left to play against not only Stoke but the referee, who made his intentions very clear when the second half started. I know no one is going to talk about the biased refereeing in this game because we won the game.  Still it was so evident that I was wondering whether the FA is blind or just incompetent. The ref did all he could to help stoke, except yes he didn’t get the chance to gift-wrap Stoke a goal but credit to Arsenal who kept it tight at the back through some brave defending. I also know most will not agree but as soon as the second half started, the attitude of the Stoke players and referee changed all together. Here again credit to Arsenal for not conceding a goal because had we conceded, the ref will have continued with his biased refereeing and our complaints would have meant nothing. For example, Carew’s foul on Djourou in the second half was late and I felt it was deliberate and IMO that was a red card and anyone not agreeing needs to see it again with open eyes. There were many others including fouls on Walcott, Nasri and Sagna where the ref did nothing. The commentary itself was unbelievable as they made the Stoke player look like angels. It was like no one wanted us to win match.

Anyways, I will come to the performance as this will end up somewhere else if I continue.

It was again a game where we dominated the possession but upfront we didn’t create much. In the middle we moved the ball around well but just couldn’t open Stoke up as they defended well at times. We also didn’t finish the few chances we created. Fabregas’ departure IMO opinion affected our game plan a lot.

The defenders did a great job out there as they held up against Stokes rugby. The midfield and the forwards played their part in it as well as we showed great character in the second half to thwart the tactics of Stoke and the help they were getting from the ref.

Coming to player ratings:

A solid 10 to all the players for being resolute till the very end and for getting another win against a side being helped blatantly by the referee.

Szczesny: Great keeping from the young man. He commanded his area well and made a couple of excellent saves. Was confident on the set pieces and throw ins. Made an error on one occasion but thankfully we weren’t punished for it.

Sagna: Excellent defensive display as he made several important tackles and blocks. Upfront provided the necessary width but didn’t influence much.

Djourou: Great game from him as he demonstrated again his aerial dominance and reading of the game. Was alert on the set pieces and showed good awareness.

Squillaci: He also had an excellent game. Defensively was superb with his positioning and showed good strength as he didn’t allow anyone to get past him easily. He also scored the important goal as again his positioning was very good on that occasion.

Clichy: Solid again. A couple of times was caught out of position but overall did well. He too provided the necessary width upfront but couldn’t influence the game much.

Wilshere: Another outstanding performance from the young Englishman. He is impressing with every game as he showed his defensive intelligence and how well he is in taking corners.  Moved the ball around well and didn’t give away possession and showed good work rate.

Song: Another typical Song performance, strong and full of energy. Did give away possession a few times but overall did his job. Upfront didn’t get things going.

Fabregas: I hope he makes it for the final on Sunday as he was substituted in the opening minutes. Still in that very less time, he delivered in some excellent balls. When he was on, we looked more threatening as a team as we went a bit flat after his departure

Nasri: Was impressive in bits and pieces as he failed to make much impact. However, kept the ball well especially in the final minutes when we were under a lot of pressure.

Bendtner: A great response by the Dane as he gave an improved performance from last time. Rather, yesterday he did show some end product for his talks off the pitch. His positioning was good and showed good strength against the Stoke defenders. His assist was both excellent and intelligent.

Walcott: As always was a continuous threat whenever he had the ball. Struck the post in the opening minutes but should have scored on Arshavin’s pass in the second half. However, his decision making was not good at times. As for his injury, he is going to miss the final but I hope he returns for the Barcelona match.

Subs:

Arshavin: The first of the forced substitutions made by Wenger. He did very well after coming on. Made a couple of very good runs and should have had an assist had Walcott scored on his pass. In the final minutes combined really well with Nasri in keeping the ball. He could have also gotten a goal had he been alert to Nasri’s pass in the final minute of the stoppage time.

Denilson: The second of the forced substitution and as usual he continued with his side ways passing. Not complaining much as it helped us keep the possession last night.

Chamakh: Provided defensive cover but had little time to make an impact upfront.

That’s it for now. Have a great day and keep the faith as this title race is going to have many twists and turns.


Arsenal vs Wolves: Preview and Starting Eleven

February 12, 2011

With the International break over, it’s back to the Premier League today as we face Wolves at our home before we face Barcelona in Champions League.

We have had a good International break as Djourou and Song have recovered from their knocks and are available for today. Also except Rosicky, who has picked up a groin injury while playing for his country, everyone else, who went on International duty, have returned unscathed.

As far as today’s game and Wolves are concerned, they are second from the bottom in the league but they will be in high spirits after their victory against Manchester Utd last weekend. They will fancy their chances after seeing how we dropped points last weekend but they will need the ref support in order to repeat that again. Still expect a tight game and a pumped up Wolves.

As far as the starting team is concerned, I hope Wenger doesn’t make many changes for today due to the Barca match up next. We need to focus more on the League as IMO it is a more realistic opportunity of a title. Also with the Manchester derby this weekend, infact the derby will be over by the time we kickoff,  we have to get the maximum points as surely one of the Manchester teams is going to drop points.

For the starting eleven, Szczesny should remain in goal along with Koscielny, Clichy and Sagna at the back. Djourou is available but I won’t risk him for this one, not because of Barca but as a precaution. So Squillaci starts in his place and I hope he and Koscielny have a good game playing together.

In the middle, with Diaby suspended and injured and Wilshere needing a deserved rest, I will go with Song and Denilson.  I know most people don’t like both of them partnered up but we have to utilize the whole squad when we can and Wilshere already has played a lot games. Fabregas wasn’t involved in the International games, so he will be a sure starter.

Up front, Van Persie also dropped out of his country’s team, so he will be ready to start. To partner him, I will go with Walcott and Arshavin and surely they all will get us some goals.

Probable Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Denilson, Walcott, RVP, Arshavin

After the results of last weekend, we cannot take anything for granted. We have to give our best today for the whole ninety minutes and never think of the game as over even if we have a 10 goal lead. This is not because we cannot defend a lead but because we can never trust the ref to make fair and correct decisions throughout the game.

I will be content with a win, no matter how we get it so that we head into the Barca tie with confidence. And after last weekend we need a morale boosting victory.

Keep on believing and keep them crossed!!!


A Point is Good Enough!

September 20, 2010

I was left really disappointed and angry on Saturday about how the game played out. After giving myself time to think, I realized that it was just one of those games that hits you smack on the face without you even realizing and you can’t do anything about it. For most part of the game, I was convinced that we would get the three points even though we weren’t playing the way we play. It wasn’t the Arsenal that we are used to seeing. It was something different from what we have seen over the last couple of years and nothing was bad about it – except yes we didn’t create much. What I am talking about is the composure shown by our team, even with a man down. As for the goal that we let in at the last moment, shit happens, unfortunately we were at the receiving end.

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