Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nasri, Djourou and Vela mess up Arsene’s transfer strategy

By 1970’s Gooner

Will Wenger buy anyone of note? Will he decide at last to bring in more experienced players to compliment the exciting young talent that there is already there?

As we are about to enter the transfer window these are the questions on every Arsenal fan’s lips. And the tabloids as well as those papers that would like to call themselves broadsheets (which they are not when it comes to transfer speculation) have began to splutter out self made headlines.

It is obvious to a lot of Arsenal fans that buy buy should be Arsene’s motto for this transfer window. We would all like to see significant additions and some fans would like to see them almost everywhere in the team (they are so desperate).

The areas most expected to be strengthened are in central defense, a creative and a “destructive” midfielder and in wide midfield.

A centre back, a replacement for Fabregas, a defensive midfielder and another winger please Mr Wenger..

But I am not so sure if Wenger will go into the transfer market in any big way. Why?

Take the need to replace Fabregas and add a creative player in the middle.

This is indeed needed at the moment but Nasri’s performance against Portsmouth was so good I am sure Wenger would begin to seriously consider giving Nasri that midfield slot.

This would create the need for another wide midfielder but knowing how stingy Wenger is he would probably prefer to wait for Walcott and Eduardo to come back as well as Rosicky rather than splash the cash for a player that would take some time to fit in with the rest of the team let alone English football if he is from abroad.

And this is where Vela comes in. Do you expect that Wenger will go out and buy another winger when Vela’s obvious ability and readiness for the first team is waiting to be unleashed?

Judging by Wenger’s transfer behaviour so far he will make do with Vela, Eboue, Denilson and Diaby on the wings until the injured trio returns.

Central defender?

The emergence of Djourou who has been really impressive lately with his tackling, aerial ability and good distribution, has alleviated the need to buy.

There is now a nice blend of youth and experience in the central defensive positions that would be silly to disturb (unless someone wants out).

Defensive midfielder?

The emergence of Song has alleviated the need to splash the cash in the transfer market. He has been performing very well in this position and will grow further into it with more games.

And there is Diaby who has the potential to be the number one for this position. He can fill in for now until he grows up, learns to win the ball and lay it off to a team mate rather than trying to do everything himself. And there are others that can play in that position like Toure and Djourou.

So Nasri, Djourou and Vela are indeed influencing (some fans may call it messing up) Arsene’s transfer activity this transfer window.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Vela makes the difference

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsenal were weak in three important areas against Portsmouth at the Emirates and their inability to break down a well organised defense got the crowd frustrated and sometimes angry.

Tony Adams chose to rest Defoe so that he could play a more defensive formation but Arsenal were so tentative and at times vulnerable that I think that if he had been more adventurous he may have had more joy.

The first of Arsenal’s weaknesses was the lack of creativity in the midfield positions; the second was the lack of co operation between the two forwards and the third concerned the obvious lack of width in the team.

The lack of creativity in midfield was very apparent until Wenger took steps to rectify the problem.

Denilson was his usual self, all running and passing but no real inventiveness. Diaby was once again proving Wenger right in not yet trusting him in the central midfield areas. He was frivolous in possession, kept loosing the ball and turning into blind alleys.

It wasn’t until Nasri was moved into the central areas of midfield that we saw some real creative play with someone trying to organise Arsenal’s game a la Fabregas.

At last we seem to have found a real alternative to Fabregas and I think with more exposure to this position Nasri can play that role really well.

But Nasri’s introduction into the midfield wasn’t enough by itself as the Adebayor Bendtner pairing failed to work once again. It has never worked between those two and I wasn’t surprised it failed on this occasion too.

On the one hand Adebayor looked lethargic all afternoon missing two glorious chances to score. His mind appeared to be elsewhere. Where I wouldn’t like to guess…

On the other hand Bendtner was a nonentity in again another match. Until he was moved to the wing he looked without purpose and I don’t recollect one successful pass he made to Adebayor.

Both of them seemed to be playing individually and did not make any combination play between them nor did they attempt to.

But the real weakness that really proved to be the most important of them all was the lack of width. And as soon that was corrected the whole team picked up and looked purposeful and threatening again.

Bendtner’s move to the wing partially corrected this imbalance and he did provide much needed thrust at first from the left and then from the right.

But when the team was given its other wing, by the introduction of Vela, it began to fly again and then we caught a glimpse of the “old” Arsenal we know.

The one that stretches teams in the wide areas of the pitch, getting by the by line, cutting balls in to oncoming midfielders and creating havoc in the opponent defenders.

It also gave to Arsenal’s central midfielders, as to all teams who have a viable outlet on the wings, the additional option of passing the ball away from the heavily congested midfield.

And Arsenal’s opponents usually do try and put men behind the ball and congest the central areas of the pitch, don’t they?

Vela had a very good game when he came on. He run at the defenders, put the crosses in and generally wakened up a slumbering and almost stuttering team that didn’t look like scoring.

He deserves to keep his place in the team and so does Nasri, in the creative role.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Arsenal fans vote for Sagna. Players’ ratings Vs Villa

By 1970’s Gooner

We run, as we always do after a match, a poll as to who was Arsenal’s Man of the Match against Aston Villa. On this occasion the vote is almost overwhelmingly for one player.

Bacary Sagna is receiving the bulk of the votes with about 70% of those Arsenal Analysis readers taking part on the poll.

And he deserves it hands down.

His performance is probably the best ever in an Arsenal shirt with fantastic interventions culminating in that phenomenal clearance off the line of what looked a certain goal.

Arsene Wenger has unearthed some gems in the transfer market over the years and Bacary is certainly there at the top of the list.

Here are our player ratings for the game at Villa.

Almunia: Some exceptional saves keeping us in the game but with a few mistimed runs out of his area. 7

Sagna: Phenomenal performance. Man of the match. 9

Silvestre: Looked jaded with positional errors. 4

Gallas: Good in the first half, poor in the second culminating in that penalty. 5

Toure: Clearly not ready, physically nor mentally, to participate in this game at such a short notice. Full of mistakes and bad clearances. 4

Song: Average performance till he had to go off. 5

Ramsey: Poor, kept loosing the ball in dangerous areas. 4

Denilson: Full of energy and his persistence resulted in that first goal. 7

Eboue: Good performance, kept to his defensive duties well and made the beautiful assist for Diaby’s goal. 6

Nasri: Did not contribute much. Kept loosing the ball and was only a peripheral figure. 4

Diaby: Awful in the first half much improved in the second culminating in that fantastic goal. 6

Van Persie: Kept the ball well up front and combined well with team mates. Missed that chance to score the killer third goal (we need 3 goals to win a game now not 2). 6

Why don’t you see what we see Mr Wenger?

By 1970’s Gooner

We see a team that is stuffed with young kids, who have tremendous potential and who on their day can outplay anyone including the eventual Premiership champions.

We see a squad that has been shorn of its experienced players in the last four years which have not been replaced by anyone near their quality level.

We see a squad that when a few injuries fall upon first team players young kids are asked to do a man’s job.

We see the young kids surrender leads in the last few minutes of injury time because they do not possess the cunningness to run the clock down.

Yet we see phenomenal football, football the way it should be played, football that even Brazil would be proud of.

And we wonder in amazement that a team, our team, can pass the ball so well, weave so many pretty patterns and score so many beautiful goals that each and every one of them is a candidate for Goal of the Month or even of the year.

And we try and overcome our instinctive reactions to one defeat after another, to another victory snatched in the dying embers of an epic match, to another draw that should have been an easy win.

To another year of what should have been, if only…

If only we had a few more experienced players who don’t have to do the pretty football and yes who are over the age of 22.

If only we could buy ready made footballers in positions we are really weak rather than trying to blood in the promising youngsters and wait for them to reach adulthood.

If only we had the time and luxury to risk losing our world class players again as they grow impatient and disillusioned when they see their exceptional talents and aspirations disappearing down the sands of time with nothing to show for it at the end of their short professional football lives.

If only we had the time to wait for all of those talented youngsters that proliferate the whole squad, from the first teamers, those hugging the bench to those getting ready to come out of puberty and join the first team squad, to grow up together so that at least one day we really could say that


Friday, December 26, 2008

Arsene’s Xmas wish list

By 1970’s Gooner

If I was Pat Rice or Boro Primorac come to that and had to make an assessment as to where Arsenal’s squad needs strengthening this is what I would have come up with.

Each position is analysed as to its first team player and available replacements. For those positions that a no buy is recommended I have included a “greedy wish”, a player that would be fantastic to have. Its Christmas after all!


Almunia has improved a great deal since taking over from Lehman. I think he is now accepted as a safe first team goalkeeper.

Replacements in case of injury:

Fabiansky is good quality and played well when came on against Manchester United but made an error in judgment against Burnley when he came out for a ball his defender had covered anyway. He has the potential and will certainly improve with more games.

Vito Mannone has impressed every time I have watched him for the reserves. He has the courage and the determination to succeed.

Recommendation: No need to buy.

Greedy wish: Wayne Hennessey (21), Wolves. Fantastic presence, very good on one on ones and excellent shot stopper. Would be ready to step into the first team. Price: Around £7m

Right backs

Sagna has been excellent and there is not a lot more that can be said about him.

Replacements in case of injury: Eboue as well as Gallas, Toure and Djourou.

Recommendation: No need to buy.

Greedy wish: Miguel (28),Valencia. An attacking full back in the Wenger mould. Price: Around £7m

Left backs

Clichy is probably the best in the Premiership. If he could improve his concentration levels he would rise to be one of the world’s best.

Replacements in case of injury:

Silvestre and any other first team defender. Traore should be recalled from his loan at Portsmouth next season as he has shown that he has the ingredients to be the next Clichy/Cole.

Recommendation: No need to buy

Greedy wish: Philipp Lahm (25), Bayern Munich. Runs all day and is a reliable source of goal-saving tackles and pinpoint crosses. Price: around £10m

Centre Backs

With Silvestre’s addition to the squad we have now found a good blend of youth and experience in this very crucial area of defence.

Toure and especially Djourou who has improved a great deal look like a pairing that will be Arsenal’s defensive heart for years to come.

Replacements in case of injury:

Gallas (if he stays) and Silvestre will provide the experience for Toure and especially Djourou to flourish. Take the money, if offered, on Senderos.

Recommendation: No need to buy

Greedy wish: Micah Richards (20). Will bring height and strength and could play at right back too. Price: Around £15m

Wide midfielders

One striking weakness in the team at the moment is the so obvious lack of width. This may be corrected when Walcott comes back and Nasri keeps fit. But beyond this there is a big void.

Replacements in case of injury:

There is therefore a real gap in available personnel whose natural position is wide midfielder.

There is young Vela and Eboue who has been moved to this position. Rosicky has been out injured for the last 12 months and it is doubtful if he will come back as good or at all.

Players whose normal position is not as a wide midfielder like Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey have been filling in but to no surprise without much success.

Recommendation: Buy

Transfer targets: Arshavin, Zenit.

Very much an Arsenal type of player and is at the right age of 27 where he will bring experience, skill and technique.

Price: Around £17m

David Villa (27), Valencia. Quick, tricky and with an eye for goal, he will punish any opponent's error. Price: Around £15m despite the huge buy out clause on his contract.

Central creative midfielders

As with wide midfielders there is not enough depth in the squad to deal with injuries such as Cesc’s.

Replacements in case of injury:

Denilson is still too young to take up Cesc’s role and so are Ramsey and Wilshere. The other midfielders are of the defensive type like Song and Diaby.

Recommendation: Buy

Transfer target: Diego, Werder Bremen.

At 23 he is probably more attractive to the Arsenal model.

I have seen him live and was very impressed. Possesses beautiful skills and creative ability.

Price: Around £17m

Central defensive midfielders

The emergence of Song has alleviated the need to splash the cash in the transfer market. He has been performing very well in this position and will grow further into it with more games.

Replacements in case of injury:

There is Diaby who has the potential to be the number one for this position but can fill in for now until he grows up, learns to win the ball and lay it off to a team mate rather than trying to do everything himself. Others that can fill in include Eboue, Toure and Djourou.

Recommendation: No need to buy as the time needs to be given to the promising Song and Diaby to grow into this position.

Greedy wish: Yaya Toure(25),Barcelona. The one that got away, but he can certainly bring ball winning skills and more importantly experience which is very important for this position. Price: Around £12m

Alonso (27), Liverpool. Is at the right age and experienced enough to take up this significant role. Price: Around £15m


The Adebayor and Van Persie pairing is as good as anybody’s.

Replacements in case of injury:

With Eduardo due to make his long awaited come back there appears to be enough quality forwards around.

There is also Bendtner who has shown in glimpses this season especially against Manchester United that he will be a good understudy for any of the above.

Recommendation: No need to buy

Greedy Wish: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (27), Inter. Creativity and vision like his rarely come in 6ft 5in packages, which makes him one of the most difficult players to defend against in the game. Price: Around £25m

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cesc’s absence may bring festive cheer

By 1970’s Gooner

You can’t deny that Cesc will be missed. Especialy now we are entering the business side of the Premier league season.

But where last season he was putting in wonderful match winning performances this season he has not been able to attain that level.

The reason is not easy to pinpoint but it is of course not only him that has been off form. The whole team has been performing inconsistently and the loss of Hleb and Flamini have not really been dealt with adequately yet.

So yes Cesc’s absence for up to four months will be missed but not by so much really. It can in fact bring with it some positives (in adversity if you like).

Just like when we were left with 10 players against Liverpool and he also had to go off injured the whole team pulled together and outplayed even outclassed a team supposedly gunning for the title.

The whole team will concentrate that much more now and play with the spirit of ten men.

I would expect that Wenger will keep Denilson in the central midfield creative role and play Song alongside him in the defensive role.

In my opinion this, strangely enough, will be a more balanced midfield than when Denilson had to carry out the defensive part of his duties alongside Cesc. A role he is not cut out to do and as such the balance of the whole team has been suffering.

Song I rate highly and he is getting better and better with each game. He will improve so much so that he will become irreplaceable in that position. I don’t think that Wenger will go into the transfer market for such a type of player now.

So Denilson will be able to concentrate on what he does best and Song will mop up alongside him.

Nicklas Bendtner has been awful recently but he will come into the team to lead the line against Villa just as he did against Manchester United. He was very good that day and I expect he can repeat that performance.

So the message is to stop worrying and get behind the team. We have the players to carry on without Cesc and win games against anyone.

There are positives out of almost all adversities. Don’t be surprised if we go on a long winning run from now..

And with this cheerful and hopeful message from everyone at Arsenal Analysis we wish you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Player analysis and ratings Vs Liverpool

By 1970’s Gooner

The referee made a mess of his decisions and by sending Adebayor off destroyed the game as a spectacle.

None of Adebayor’s two challenges merited a yellow card especially the second one where he was first to the ball and therefore had every right to shield it.

Arbeloa’s acting fooled the referee which goes to show how naïve he was.

How Adebayor gets a yellow card in the first (debatable in my opinion) foul he commits and Lucas gets his first booking after five fouls of which anyone of them could have been a yellow is beyond me.

Nevertheless I have to say that I doubt it if the result would have been any different if Adebayor had stayed on. Arsenal were not playing their beautiful football, started nervously and Fabregas was once again way below his best.

Still a wonderful individual goal by van Persie gave us the lead and probably would have won us the game but a positioning error by Djourou and Gallas’s inability to guide him resulted in a typical goal conceded.

It reminds me of when Toure was learning his trade. This was a common mistake he would make. If the ball was on the other side of the pitch he would switch off and the long ball would catch him out of position. It was then a race to get to the ball first.

The positive to come out of the game is the spirit shown by the players after the unfair dismissal of Adebayor.

They really fought for each other and Liverpool looked more vulnerable during the last 35 minutes than before. I hope the Arsenal players can maintain that for the games that are coming up in the festive period.


I feel safer now with Almunia than ever before. He is not really disputed by anyone now is he? He didn’t have much to do (as expected Liverpool did not create much anyway) but when he had to make the odd save he was right there. 7


Was the more attacking of the two full backs and put some decent crosses in. He also was resolute in his defending. 7


I was surprised that we did not see more of him in the opponents half. He was more concerned in keeping Kuyt quiet rather than going forward. 6


Did not do much wrong. But I would have expected him to guide the more inexperienced Djourou to take more prudent positions, behind and close to the forwards when the ball is far away. It was the third occasion that the two of them got caught out…6


I like Djourou. I think he will be Arsenal’s centre half for a long time. He has the height, heading ability and is a very good distributor of the ball. Pity he made the one mistake that cost us. 5


I am very disappointed with Fabregas. He is no way near his last season’s best.

One reason may be that he drops back a little bit more this season to cover for Denilson who is not a defensive midfielder.

Another reason maybe that Arsenal’s lack of width and with van Persie sometimes dropping back into the midfield the middle gets more congested thus not allowing him the room to play.

Or his head may be otherwise occupied with Barcelona circling around. Who knows? 5


He had a good game. He came more into the fore and took more responsibility when Fabregas had to go off. I think he has a great future in midfield. 7


He is not a right winger is he? He tries his best and defensively he is much more effective. But going forward? No not for me Mr Wenger. 5


Played well especially when you take into account that he has been out of action recently. He kept the ball well and tried to be creative which was important when you consider that Fabregas was not creative enough. 7

Van Persie

What a wonderful goal. This boy is dangerous in that he creates his own space with his trickery and his goal scoring ability is phenomenal. He did not however connect much with Adebayor. They need to keep close to each other and feed balls between them more. 8


He has been looking sharper recently after his recent absence and led the line well. However he perhaps should not have repeated the same “foul” after getting booked for a similar block. If it's one thing that referees like to brag about it is consistency. 6


It’s obvious why Wenger does not play him in the centre of midfield. He looses possession easily, is frivolous with the ball and thinks that he can beat all comers with his build.

However when he learns to be more conservative, win the ball and then lay it off to one of his own players he will be a great central midfielder. Will he learn though? 5

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Arsenal’s two key players against Liverpool

By 1970’s Gooner

In games like these all players obviously have to play to the maximum and beyond of their abilities. But there are two players from the Arsenal side that by performing their duties properly can swing the game for Arsenal.

Nasri I mention first because he is very important in that he gives Arsenal some kind of width.

Not the width that a real winger like Walcott or say Reyes did actually provide.

But nevertheless when compared to the alternatives available for tomorrow’s game in the likes of Diaby, Denilson or Eboue it will be a great improvement on that front (Wenger doesn't seem to trust Vela yet).

In one of my recent posts I lamented the lack of wingers in this Arsenal side (especially after Walcott’s injury).

I believe that this is one important area that when corrected will allow Arsenal to be up there closer to the leaders of the Premiership.

This looks like happening when Walcott and Eduardo finally become available for first team selection. The latter probably in two to four weeks time and the former a little later than that.

In other words I expect Arsenal to be far stronger in the run in for the title than presently. We just have to hang in there for the moment, by beating Liverpool on Sunday…

Width against Liverpool will also be created as always by the full backs as with all of Wenger’s teams.

Sagna and Clichy will attack Liverpool at every reasonable opportunity and the combination of Clichy and Nasri on the left wing will really test Liverpool’s right back and right midfield player (which could be Kuyt).

One other important benefit that Nasri gives to this Arsenal team is goals. He has the knack of getting into goal scoring situations and once given the opportunity will hurt the opponents.

He has done it so often this season especially those two marvelous goals against Manchester United at the Emirates.

The other player that I think will prove to be a very important for Arsenal is Alexander Song.

He would be the one to play the defensive midfielder role just behind Fabregas and in front of Arsenal’s defense.

I would expect that Denilson will be shifted to the right sided midfield role and Diaby will be on the bench.

I expect Song’s performance to prove pivotal because in the absence of Torres, Liverpool’s most effective player is likely to be Gerrard. Subdue him and I doubt if Liverpool can get a result against us.

If Song can stick close to Gerrard, limit his movement and track his runs into the box then Gerrard’s threat will be kept at bay.

And so will Liverpool.

Probable line ups



Sagna Djourou Gallas Clichy

Denilson Fabregas Song Nasri

Van Persie Adebayor



Dossena Carragher Hyppia Arbeloa

Riera Alonso Mascherano Kuyt



Prediction: Home win

Arsene, give the team its wings back

Arsenal’s lack of width Vs Boro’s makeshift defence

Monday, December 15, 2008

Do what I say! Be a Gooner be a giver

By Aries

On Sunday 21st December, Arsenal Football Club is dedicating its Premier League match against Liverpool to its Charity of the Season, Teenage Cancer Trust.

Arsenal players and directors will be donating a day’s wages to the charity dedicated to helping improve the lives of young people with cancer and are encouraging supporters to give what they can through the ‘Be a Gooner. Be a Giver’ campaign.

There will be a number of fundraising activities taking place at Emirates Stadium at the matchday and to mark the special nature of the match, Arsenal players have participated in a short promotional film alongside teenagers with cancer.

The light hearted advert, entitled ‘Do What I Say’, reflects the players’ support for young people with cancer. The Gunners stars appear in funny scenarios doing whatever the teenagers want them to do.

Arsenal Captain, Cesc Fabregas said: “I visited the Teenage Cancer Trust unit back in August so I know what this means to the charity and the teenagers it helps. I encourage all supporters to follow our lead and give what they can..”

Arsenal is the first to commit to funding part of Teenage Cancer Trust’s unit in the Day Care Centre which will be the first of its kind in Europe and is due to open in 2012.

For more information on the campaign and to donate please visit

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Arsene gets the tactics wrong again

By 1970’s Gooner

First mistake: No width

This issue was covered in my match preview and the inability of Diaby and Denilson to provide it at the Riverside made Arsenal too narrow and congested the midfield too much.

Also in the second half when we needed to stretch the play and get beyond Boro’s defense we couldn’t do it with a large percentage of Arsenal’s attacks going through the middle.

This weakness on the wings was further aggravated by Wenger’s decision to play Robin van Persie way too behind Adebayor almost as a fifth midfielder. This congested the middle even further and on many occasions left Adebayor without support.

A five man midfield is a tactic that is normally utilised in very difficult top four Premier and Champion’s League away games. Does Arsene fear the opposition too much these days or does he not trust his midfielders any more?

Second mistake: Fabregas played too far back

I believe it is the latter. For in the process of playing a five man midfield by van Persie dropping back it meant that Fabregas was pushed back into Arsenal’s half of the pitch even further.

This inevitably resulted in two things.

First Fabregas was mostly involved in areas where he couldn’t weave his magic and when this happens we all know the whole team just doesn’t function really.

Second it meant that the player that by default was left to make the play and distribute the ball was Song; and that is unacceptable to me.

This was corrected in the middle of the second half when we had to go for the winner but it didn’t work out.

The formation should have been 4 4 2 from the beginning with van Persie playing further up alongside Adebayor and with at least one genuine winger, as for example Vela who was on the bench, in order to give width to the team.

Still only Aston Villa won during this weekend which makes this point look not as bad. I don’t think that Villa can sustain a viable challenge for fourth place.

I also think that Arsenal will become a lot more efficient in the second half of the season when Eduardo and Walcott will provide genuine quality options.

And width.

P.S Johan Djourou will be Arsenal’s centre half for a long long time

Arsenal’s lack of width Vs Boro’s makeshift defence

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arsenal’s lack of width Vs Boro’s makeshift defence

By 1970’s Gooner

When Walcott was fit Arsenal had at least one out and out traditional winger as opposed to what today is termed a wide midfielder.

This is very important as any team that wants to play expansive rather than defensive football needs at least an outlet on the wide areas of the pitch so as to stretch play and draw defensive formations out.

It is also very important for quick counterattacks.

For as the opponents commit players forward especially on those occasions they believe they have a chance of scoring (eg from set pieces) it is imperative that Arsenal have the outlet to counter attack at speed before the defenders get back.

The other side of the pitch this season has been patrolled by Nasri who is not a winger in the Walcott mould but tends to come infield and join in playmaking like Hleb used to.

The width on this side of the pitch is provided more by the left back Clichy rather than Diaby or Denilson or whoever has been chosen to play there when Nasri has not been fit.

The problem with today’s game is that with Nasri unavailable it leaves Arsene Wenger with a decision to make.

Does he go for the more seasoned players for these two positions, like Denilson and Diaby (I hope he does not start with Eboue- he still looked unfit at Porto) or does he go for players that can provide real width like Vela and Van Persie.

In the first case Diaby and Denilson are more likely to help out in the midfield areas and defensive situations something which Van Persie and Vela may not be that prone or used to do.

Added to this is the fact that Middlesborough have their absentees in defense.

David Wheater is suspended and this would force Huth back into action. It is how he deals with the threat of Adebayor that will go a long way in determining how well Arsenal will do in attack, especially as there is not a big chance that Wenger will go for real wingers on the wide areas for Arsenal.

News coming from The Riverside also suggests that Taylor and old boy Justin Hoyte will miss the game. This may force Southgate into pitching three fresh faces into the backline.

Pogatetz will probably move to left back and Riggott will form the central pairing with Huth. Tony McMahon will likely get the nod at right-back.

Southgate will also be missing Mido and O’Neil and the likely starters up font will be the dangerous Tuncay and Alves with old boy Jeremie Aliadiere (who scored at the Emirates last season) and Downing on the wings.

It is vital that the Arsenal players play this game with the right frame of mind unlike their counterparts at Porto.

The win at Chelsea and the three points against Wigan must be followed by another victory to settle the players in a winning frame of mind and create an environment of consistency.

The key ingredient that is obviously missing.

Likely Formations


Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy
Diaby, Fabregas, Song, Denilson
Adebayor, Robin Van Persie


McMahon, Pogatetz, Huth, Riggott
Aliadiere, Digard, Arca, Downing
Tuncay, Alves

Prediction: Away win

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bendtner and Diaby were useless but there was a bright light

By 1970’s Gooner

What a pathetic display by nearly all the players bar Almunia, Djourou and Denilson.

Almunia made some very good saves and Djourou maintained his confident displays as of late. Denilson was everywhere hardly putting a foot wrong.

But the rest of the players selected to wear the Arsenal shirt at Porto were a disgrace.

Top of the list is that arrogant self proclaimed striker of all strikers Nicklas Bendtner.

Never once did the ball stuck to his feet. Never once did he make a meaningful pass to another teammate. Never once did he show any real interest in making a positive contribution. The only thing he got right was the headers, which usually found no one in particular.

He has really regressed as of late repeating that awful performance of his at Burnley. Who does he think he is?

I know he can play better. He has put in a very good performance against Manchester United where he ran the line alone up front. Bar that and I do not recollect any other meaningful performance he has put in for Arsenal.

I have similar feelings for Abu Diaby. He was equally bad as Bendtner and for the same reasons.

He took it upon himself to hold the ball in midfield and try and dictate play much in the same way that Patrick Vieira used to do. He, unlike Vieira, avoided passing to a team mate if he could, usually swiveled around the ball and headed into the horizon, which more often than not was a bunch of Porto players waiting for him.

He also decided that defending was not really for him so his concentration wavered during the corner kick and instead of just sticking to his man managed to lose him and thus offer a free header on a plate.

Well I have news for you Mr Diaby: You have a long way to go before you can reach those heights set by Vieira...

The others were not far away either.

Vela couldn’t hold the ball to save his life, Song deteriorated in the second half and kept passing the ball to the opponents.

Ramsey kept coming infield rather than go forward, Gallas decided to give up in the second half and kept making elementary mistakes and his mate Silvestre got caught out of position to gift them their second goal.

At least Eboue put in an indifferent performance rather than an awful one…

The only positive aspect to come out of all this is Johan Djourou’s obvious improvement.

His positioning was spot on, his heading was excellent and above all his distribution was sensible and accurate. He is fast becoming a real and viable option for one of the central defensive positions.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Eduardo penciled in for Liverpool?

By 1970’s Gooner

As first revealed on this site Eduardo had joined the first team squad for training as long ago as the beginning of November.

This has given him ample time to get his fitness back and be ready to take part in competitive games.

Boro Primorac speaking to the Croatian press has said that Eduardo has been training at “full intensity” levels:

“Physically dudu looks very, very good. We are absolutely satisfied with this part. The most important thing is to begin playing in competitive games” he said to Sport Index.

This is obviously considered necessary for him to get back to match fitness but more importantly overcoming the fear of repeating the injury.

According to the Croatian press siting information obtained in England, Eduardo could be set to play for the reserves next Wednesday against Aston Villa (10.12.2008) and not wait for the Portsmouth reserve fixture six days later (Friday 16.12.2008).

If this is so it would give him an extra game under his belt.

It would also fit in with the Croatian press’s speculation that if all goes well Eduardo could be ready to be part of the squad for the big game against Liverpool at the Emirates on the 21st December.

The next available games would be five days later against Aston Villa away on Boxing Day and Portsmouth at the Emirates on the 28th of December.

Whichever game in December is finally chosen would mean that the initial forecasts for a possible return to action around Christmas would prove accurate.

Eduardo close to return as he joins first team squad for training

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Arsene, give the team its wings back

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsenal’s main weakness is not the midfield enforcer nor a new goalkeeper or a tall and strong centre half. It’s not even poor Eboue.

Denilson as a midfield enforcer has in my opinion been a major weakness which has now been corrected; but for the wrong reason.

Arsene Wenger’s insistence on carrying on with Denilson in the central midfield position until a few games ago has indeed resulted in a soft middle without the obvious ball winner that the team is crying out for.

I have written about this before, sighting the other three top teams ball winners in midfield as prime examples of the type of player that Arsenal need and I believe have now found in Alex Song.

Chelsea has Jon Obi Mikel, Liverpool Mascherano and Manchester United can use Anderson or even Carrick. Denilson is not a midfield enforcer and I am glad that Song is now being used in that position.

In fact if he had been employed there since the start of the season, as Denilson has been, then I am sure that Song would have improved no end and certainly by a far faster rate than Denilson has.

Song’s performance at Chelsea is testimony to that.

Ever since Walcott and sometimes Nasri have been out of action Wenger has been using Song in the middle and pushing Denilson on the wide midfield areas.

So in a way Wenger’s insistence on always picking Denilson in the team has meant that Arsenal’s main weakness has shifted from the central midfield area to the wing.

When Nasri and Denilson play on the wings the team lacks real width. This was very evident in the game against Wigan at the Emirates and became even more apparent when Nasri had to go off in the first half.

Both players are natural playmakers not wingers. They can’t get past their player with any ease and they invariably come infield thus congesting the middle of the park even more.

This plays into the hands of the opponents who put 10 men behind the ball and congest the middle (unlike the big three who let you play).

Arsene Wenger has two options to give the team its wings back.

He can promote Carlos Vela on the left wing and play Nasri on the other thus continuing with the 4 4 2 formation. Denilson should be rested with Song continuing in the central midfield position.

Vela has had a sensational season last year in Osauna’s first team contributing greatly to their survival in Spain’s top division. They are now real relegation candidates. He has shown during the Carling Cup games that with a good run in the team he can hurt opposing defences with his pace.

The other option for Wenger would be to switch to 4 3 3 and play Robin Van Persie on the left wing, Nasri on the right and Adebayor up front. The three in the middle would be Fabregas, Song and one of Denilson or Diaby.

No one can fly without wings and if this is not corrected we will come up a cropper again, pretty soon.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fabregas oil on canvas hits e bay

By 1970’s Gooner

Fabregas and a lot of other Arsenal players play football for a living but judging by their efforts at painting they better make other plans for their retirement activities.

They and a lot of other Arsenal players have responded to Bob Wilson’s charity “The Willow Foundation” to draw on canvas and put the result on auction at e bay.

The receipts will go towards the charity and judging by the bids offered so far they are likely to collect a sizeable amount.

The Willow Foundation is a national charity that provides special days for seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds throughout the UK.

Eduardo’s attempt shown below is proving one of the most popular with the highest bid so far reaching £195.

Robin Van Persie’s which is not too dissimilar is currently fetching £255

Nicklas Bendtner’s attempt which is slightly more imaginative is currently bidding at £113.00.

But Arsene Wenger shows his funny side mocking himself in his own painting which shows him with a large moustache and funny glasses! £216.50

Walcott is more artistic…£135.00

But one of the most popular is Cesc’s canvas shown at the top of the page. Cesc has drawn a bright yellow smiling sun thus depicting the concept of hope. It is now bidding at £330.00

The artwork is part of the Stars on Canvas project - a public exhibition of more than 200 canvases, each created by a different artist or celebrity in aid of the Willow Foundation (registered charity no: 1106746).

You can view the entire range of canvases, created by a host of actors, artists, cartoonists, chefs, children's illustrators, politicians and radio and television personalities online at

You can also join the bidding.

Willow will provide almost 1,500 special day experiences in 2008.

The auction will end tomorrow 6th December 2008.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Player analysis and ratings vs Chelsea

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsenal won this game mostly due to Chelsea’s failings rather than Arsenal’s positive and beautiful game.

Fabregas did not dictate play as he normally does and Adebayor did not really connect with van Persie to create goal threats.

Added to this was the apparent lack of width with Denilson and Nasri unable to offer any penetration on their respective side of the pitch.

The relative absence of Arsenal’s full backs from the attacking areas of the pitch meant that Arsenal were not really dominating play nor creating any real chances.

So it took a mistake by Almunia to throw that ball out to Nasri and the ensuing own goal by the otherwise faultless Djourou to gift them their goal. Other than that Chelsea did not create enough and ended up not having another shot on target!

Part of the reason was Song’s influence on the game. He is a much better defensive midfielder than Denilson and I hope Wenger keeps him there now. But a major reason was Ballack’s and Deco’s awful display. They could not create enough nor were they dangerous when going forward to support Anelka.

Another reason was Chelsea’s inability to bring someone from the bench to change the way they played. If Drogba had been available then it could have been a different story, like last season..

But credit must go to the lads. They showed real character to come back form one nil down and turn the game in the space of three minutes.

On both occasions Adebayor had a hand in it or shall I say a header. For the first he kept the move going with a header to Fabregas, I think, who played it to Denilson and then on to van Persie who came from an off side position to score emphatically with his right foot.

For the second, again Adebayor won the header in the area, van Persie turned and shot in one movement under Lampard’s feet and beyond Cech’s outstretched hand.

Let’s hope that on this occasion we do capitalise on the morale boost that this great victory may bring and for all of our sake WIN the next game.


Did not have a shot to save but still managed to hand them their first goal. 5


We need him in the team. He brings maturity and common sense defending. Did not venture forward much, probably on orders. 7


Back to his best. Combative and full of running but he also did not go forward much. Showed a lot of determination in the latter stages of the match to win the ball and keep the opponents out of our area. 8


He is showing real character in putting these fantastic performances for a team he criticised and taking all the flak that followed it. He is now a much better captain than when he was the official captain! 8


Was unfortunate to score that own goal. He was out of position and stretched his foot out to stop it. Still he had an otherwise marvelous game, commanding in the air and standing firm when Chelsea pressed for the equaliser. 7


Did not pull the strings as per usual but still had a hand in the goals. He needs to improve more if we are to sustain a winning run. 7


I really think that he should replace Denilson in central midfield. Kept his position, put in the tackles and protected his defence quite well. 8


He is not at his best recently. He is not creating any width for the team as he tends to come infield rather than go past his man. He is also not tracking back as much as he should, sometimes exposing Clichy. 5


He was not at his best today playing out of position. But you cannot fault him for his work rate. Made the assist for van Persie’s first goal. 6

Van Persie

One of his best games for Arsenal. It was not only his two well taken goals but his overall performance which was top class. He fell back to help the midfield, kept possession well and combined well with Fabregas and co. 9


Looked rusty but still provided that strength and presence that Arsenal have been lacking lately. Arsenal look a much better team with the focal point that he provides. 7.

Man of the Match: Robin van Persie

Mikel, 4 4 1 1 and the full backs the key to beating Chelsea

By 1970’s Gooner

There are a lot of things that need to work for you if you are going to win a game. First and foremost is to really want to come out on top. To want it more than the other team, to fight for every ball and for every little battle that will crop up all over the pitch.

This was so evident against Manchester United but so lacking against Villa and Manchester City.

Why this inconsistency will be a subject for another posting on this site. For now and today it is Chelsea in front of us and the above pathos needs to be exhibited in abundance if we are to hurt Chelsea and get back in the title race.

Beyond this however Arsenal need to address the opponent’s weaknesses and try and exploit them to the full.

Stifle Mikel

The first is that Chelsea’s play is mostly channeled through Jon Obi Mikel.

He is their Makalele who sits in front of their defence, protects their area, picks up the ball after it is won and organizes their play by bringing the ball out of their half of the pitch.

Put a man there in front of him to close down the space and shake him out of his way and you succeed in disturbing Chelsea’s flow and organisation.

That is why it is important that Arsene opts for a 4 4 1 1 or 4 5 1 formation today with Adebayor the lone striker but whoever plays behind him to drop back in the Mikel area and close down the space.

Press high up

It is also important that Arsenal’s midfield and forward minded players press high up the pitch thus forcing Chelsea’s distribution to be carried out as much as is possible by their defenders.

In this way mistakes will be made and balls will be won in their half of the pitch.

Exploit their full backs

The other significant aspect of Chelsea’s play that Arsenal need to exploit is the fact that Scolari instructs his full backs to go forward and support their forwards.

This creates opportunities for Arsenal because by playing a more conservative formation in midfield, stifling Chelsea’s full backs and more importantly hitting them on the counter attack in the spaces vacated will bring dividends.

Prediction: Clichy and Nasri combine for the winner

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who should be Arsenal’s captain?

By 1970’s Gooner

There are rumours surfacing that Gallas has quit the captaincy. Irrespective if they are true or not Arsene Wenger should strip him of the captaincy, drop him from the first team squad and off load him in the fast approaching transfer window.

What he has revealed about the tensions within the dressing room is something that goes on in any dressing room of any team up and down the country form the Premier League to the Sunday park league.

But there was no need to go public about it.

Johan Djourou and Kolo Toure should be the ones along Silvestre to play in the centre of the defence.

But who should be the new captain?

Almunia, Fabregas, Toure and Clichy are in my opinion the main candidates for the job. You can vote for your choice in the poll we have set up.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Van Persie may get the blame but he scores two for Holland (on video)

By 1970’s Gooner

Many believe that the six years younger than Gallas Arsenal player is Robin Van Persie.

This is because the other 25 year old playing against Spurs was Bacari Sagna and he doesn’t seem to be the type that would create havoc in the dressing room at half time nor shout back or insult Gallas during the game.

Who ever that player is it seems that Arsene Wenger has a lot of work to do to and it will not be on the training pitch.

All this does not appear to have affected Robin Van Persie who scored two of Holland’s three goals in the victory over Sweden yesterday.

Wesley Sneijder took a short corner and then exchanged passes with Ryan Babel on the left flank before crossing for Van Persie, who put the Netherlands in front with a header in the 33rd minute.

Van Persie scored his second in the 48th, beating Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson from 15 meters (yards) after he received a cut back by substitute Rafael van der Vaart.

Kim Kallstrom pulled one back for Sweden in the 50th, scoring from the edge of the box, but Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt headed in Tim de Cler's cross in injury time to wrap up the win.

You can watch all the goals of the game on the video at the top of the page.

Gallas, can you shut up please?

By 1970’s Gooner

What is the point of being captain when you can’t keep your mouth shut?

I thought the captain should be vocal during the games not after. And especially not to the newspapers.

It’s obvious to me what Gallas is doing.

He has been heavily criticised on many occasions in the past for lack of leadership. This was especially so at the end of that fateful afternoon at Birmingham where Eduardo broke his foot and we conceded a last minute penalty.

The criticism carried on and reached a climax after the dreadful 4-4 draw against Spurs and the abysmal display during the defeat against Villa.

So Gallas goes public blaming everybody else but himself.

“There are teams who can do it well against us, and we have to be able to face up to these attacks. That is how they will forge their character, and how they will get experience. Even though they've played a certain number of matches, they're still young and still learning” he said of his team mates, to the papers.

In other words it’s the young players fault not mine…

He went on to blame one Arsenal, 25 year old, player for disrupting the dressing room harmony!

“When, as captain, some players come up to you and talk to you about a player ... complaining about him ... and then during the match you speak to this player and the player in question insults us, there comes a time where we can no longer comprehend how this can happen.

I'm 31, the player is six years younger than me."

“I am trying to defend myself a bit without giving names. Otherwise I'm taking it all [the blame]. It's very frustrating," he said.

So he is even admitting it himself. He is really saying “it’s unfair as it’s not my fault but this other player’s!

Come off it Mr Gallas. Stop spouting out to the press things that should be kept behind closed doors.

This is the job of a real captain. Someone who will try and resolve things quietly, liaise between the players and the manager and try and restore some harmony.

Not going public in an attempt that can only be interpreted as trying to absolve yourself of any blame for the team’s recent poor form.

This is the last thing we needed...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Come on Mr Wenger this team is short of leaders, all eleven of them

By 1970’s Gooner

I half expected it. This game came after that fantastic display and victory against Manchester United and again it seems that one good display is followed by one bad one. This inconsistency is of course a very noticeable symptom that characterises youth.

This defeat also came right after the young guns thrashed Wigan in the League Cup. Our last defeat was again after the youngsters thrashed Sheffield United 6-0.

It seems that apart from being inconsistent the Arsenal players are also arrogant probably believing that “if the youngsters can thrash Premier League opposition then we will walk it against Aston Villa” as they thought they would walk it against Hull.

Come on Mr Wenger this team is short of leaders, all eleven of them, it lacks a proper defensive midfielder and has no depth.

Fabregas is a shadow of himself with almost all of his attempted through passes failing to find an Arsenal player. And if he fails to perform then the whole Arsenal machine grinds to a halt.

I was, during that first half, wondering if Fabregas was rested for this game; he was so much inconspicuous it was unbelievable and when he did get into the game he failed to make one single positive contribution.

He has been off his best in recent games and I don’t care what his dedicated followers feel he surely should be rested for the next game. 4

Bendtner was a pathetic nonentity. Everything he touched turned to coal. He should be demoted to Steve Bould’s youth team or loaned to a third division team where he could find his level. I am very disgusted with him. 2

Nasri tried but also returned to his below par performances prior to the Manchester United game. Credit should be given to Aston Villa’s tactics which ensured that Arsenal’s wide men always faced a crowd of opponents whenever they tried to hag the touchline. 5

Walcott with his pace was one of a very few Arsenal players that played reasonably well. He was dangerous on the wing but whenever he went past his marker and cut the ball in there was no one in the area to take advantage. 6

That idiot Bendtner masquerading as a forward was way off those dangerous positions. So was Fabregas and Diaby who should have been bursting their gut to get in there.

Denilson huffed and puffed and kept his position well but he is not a defensive midfielder is he? 5

Almunia made that penalty save but he should have been better positioned for Villa’s second goal. A good goalkeeper does not let in those type of goals. 5

Gallas plays better with Silvestre and looks more confident but again he was done for pace and power by Agbonlahor who scored Villa’s second. 5

Silvestre gets better and better with each game he plays and provides security and no nonsense defending which is what has been lacking from our defense. 6

Sagna again had a solid game until he was taken off. Needs to improve on his crosses though as do a lot of other Arsenal players. 6

Clichy is one of a few Arsenal players that put in consistently good performances. He got away with it last week against Manchester with a header inside the area that just fizzled out but didn’t this week. 5

Diaby had an average game but did not get into the area enough for me. He should have been providing the support to Bendtner in more forward positions. He was instead staying more in the midfield areas crowding Fabregas and Denilson out and thus disrupting Arsenal’s normal rhythm. 5

Forget it then. No title challenge for this year, again…

Worst Man of the Match: Niklas Bendtner

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eduardo close to return as he joins first team squad for training

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger was optimistic about Eduardo’s return to action only last month when he said that the striker should be back by Christmas.

Well it seems that this may be sooner than we think as Eduardo has already been deemed fit enough to join the first team squad for training.

He has been away from London Colney since his horrific injury sustained at St Andrews against Birmingham back at the end of February of this year.

But now, after eight months of rehabilitation and intense physiotherapy, part of which was spent in his native Brazil, he has joined up with his team mates for his first training session with the first team squad.

He was welcomed by his team mates who were very enthusiastic to have him back into the fold. He did not however take part in the training game but followed an individual programme with the ball.

Boro Primorac, Wenger’s assistant speaking to the Croatian press, said that a major review of his progress will be made next week:

“Eduardo worked with the ball. The rest of his training will follow a special programme. The first team will train until the end of the week and a major review is expected by next week”.

This review is expected to follow a medical examination which will be taken into account in deciding Eduardo’s next steps in his recovery process.

If the doctors give the green light, Eduardo will get a few games for the reserves so that he could build his fitness up.

His return to first team action will be soon after that adding more attacking options for Wenger especially during the hectic Christmas period coming up in five weeks or so.

Silvestre and high balls a pleasant surprise for Arsenal

How do you beat Manchester United?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Denilson:”We showed personality to beat Manchester United”

By Aries

Denilson has been talking to the media after the fantastic win against Manchester United.

He was very excited as this was his very first game against Manchester United which, happily for him, ended in a victory.

“Manchester United was the only team that I had not faced in the Premier League and it was a special game for me, especially because we won” he said after the game.

The Brazilian also spoke about the criticism that the Arsenal team and Arsene Wenger have received in recent days because of the low average age of the team.

He went on to point out that even if the team was young it did not lack experience:

“Many say that Arsenal is inexperienced and for this reason should not win anything this season. But I do not agree. Our team is really young but has many experienced players” he said.

He also pointed out that the players proved their capabilities where it mattered, on the pitch showing personality in doing so:

“the most important thing is not talking about winning but demonstrating it in the field. Today we have done so, we showed personality to win this important match.

“This victory has great significance for us because we showed that we can fight for the title” he said.

Denilson a creeping up on you……

Silvestre and high balls a pleasant surprise for Arsenal

By 1970’s Gooner

A lot of praise has been hailed for this fantastic performance by the boys who when the chips are down they rise to the occasion and produce fantasy football.

It was indeed a joy to watch but when that 90th minute goal was scored we all had the jitters and were fearing that a déjà vu was about to materialise. This anxiety was even more compounded when we kept making the same mistakes during injury time as we did against Spurs.

Instead of keeping the ball and playing it to each other we went looking for the third goal and on most occasions this was with our defensive midfielders Denilson and Toure! Still we held on and the boost to the young player’s moral will I believe be massive.

There were two characteristics in Arsenal’s play that impressed me.

The first was the strong and ever improving performance of Silvestre.

He was very good in the air, attacking the high ball with authority and determination.

He is also a no nonsense defender who is not ashamed to kick the ball in row Z if he has to.

I think he may prove to be that strong and tall central defender that we have all been asking for.

Now who will be best to partner him between Gallas and Toure is another question but his partnership with Gallas yesterday was spot on.

Wenger will probably persist with it but I believe that in the centre of the defence you need one of the two to have a fair amount of pace; like Toure’s.

The other was the readiness of the Arsenal wide players to cross the ball into the United box much more often than we have been used to seeing from them.

Clichy in particular crossed at every opportunity creating at least two very good opportunities for Bendtner to head in. Sagna and Walcott were also putting the crosses in but their delivery was below par.

United especially Ferdinand and Vidic have been vulnerable as of late from high crosses coming in at an angle. They were exposed during their away game at Everton where they conceded an equaliser from a header by Fellaine and again they were found wanting against Hull at Old Trafford.

They conceded a goal from Cousin’s header from a dead ball situation that was eerily similar to the one that Arsenal conceded to Hull and the same player in our 2-1 defeat at the Emirates!

And of course our first goal yesterday came from a high ball into the heart of their defence from a free kick by Fabregas. Maybe Wenger had spotted this weakness and gave the necessary instructions.

Finally we cannot resist here at “Arsenal Analysis” to blow our own trumpet.

We received some criticism concerning one of our posts prior to the game: “How do you beat Manchester United?”

We suggested that we should press high up the pitch (so that Vidic and Ferdinand are forced to distribute the ball from that far back) and also that Clichy should not allow his attacking responsibilities to be restrained by Ronaldo’s threat.

Bendtner and Diaby aided by Fabregas kept pressing high up when United’s defenders had the ball. They were ruffled which disrupted United’s game and helped Arsenal perform the beautiful game in their half. Bendtner who had an average game overall did particularly well closing their defenders down.

Clichy was very impressive for Arsenal again. He ventured forward as often as he could and created a lot of trouble for poor old Gary Neville.

Along with Nasri they run the show on that side of the pitch but for Bendtner’s inability to head the ball into the net Clichy’s efforts would have received a lot more praise than they did.

All we need now is for the boys to play with the same determination and persistence against the “smaller” but more powerful teams whose first priority will be to stop you from playing; unlike the Manchester United’s of this world.

How do you beat Manchester United?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Clubs lining up for Appiah

By 1970’s Gooner

Many thought that when the captain of Ghana, Stephen Appiah, became available in the market for defensive midfielders he was ideal for Arsenal.

This is because he has the necessary experience at the top level (he was for many years at Juventus), possesses physical strength and has leadership ability, attributes that this current Arsenal side so obviously lacks.

But although originally considering the player Arsene Wenger stated that he was not in the running to snap him up.

Many thought that even though Appiah was considered a free agent after leaving his last club Fenerbacse, his high demands for wages, which were reported to be as high as £ 60.000 per week and a lack of action for 9 months due to a knee injury were enough to put Wenger off as well as a host of other interested clubs.

Appiah himself denied that his wage demands were putting off clubs and refused to go on trial to prove his fitness.

“If they want to check me out in terms of fitness that is fine but don’t tell me to get on the field and play for you to see how good I am because even if I am sleeping and I wake up I can play” he said to the Ghanaian press.

Appiah then went on to prove his fitness by playing in Ghana’s last two World Qualifiers.

Well, we can reveal that there was another reason why Wenger may have been put off.

And that is because Fenerbacse were letting interested clubs know that they still held the player’s registration and were demanding a hefty transfer fee of £ 7m!

The confusion prompted, Fifpro, the players union, to release a statement urging Fifa to iron out the issue once and for all to enable Appiah to play.

In its response Fifa said its decision to release the player on a free transfer still stands:

“On 11 June 2008, after giving the parties time to present their positions on the matter, Fifa advised by fax to both parties to consider their labour relationship as terminated and to focus on the financial aspects of the matter.

“It was also advised that should the player sign a new contract with a new club, in the case that an International Transfer Certificate were needed for an international transfer, the Turkish FF should provide it, in order to not hinder the player’s career”.

Since this has been cleared out there are now a host of clubs strongly interested in the player. This list includes Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham as well as Fulham and West Ham.

Harry Redknap while at Portsmouth was very interested in the player but the club's finances proved prohibitive. Spurs could prove to be more generous than Portsmouth especially now there are no transfer fees involved.

I wonder if Arsene Wenger might rethink his position on the matter.

Appiah refuses to go on trial

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How do you beat Manchester United?

By Eros

What I do know is that you don’t beat them by defending as stupidly as we did against Spurs, by playing as meekly as we did against Stoke and by missing those chances we created against Fenerbacse.

But beat United and everybody starts believing again. The team believe they can compete, the journalists are kept quiet and the fans are reassured that Wenger has not gone potty.

Lose the game and the murmurs will turn into strong discontentment with severe implications for the policy chosen by Arsene Wenger of relying only on youth.

The uncertainty for the future of this team will multiply and the commitment of certain important players for Arsenal will be jeopardised…

Liverpool beat United by playing a relentless pressing game, closing down every corridor and stopping their free flowing passing. But we cannot do that as effectively as we don’t have the players to do it.

Most, if not all, of our available midfielders are more creative by nature rather than defensively or negatively minded. It’s not in their DNA if you like.

Also United will have Ronaldo, Carrick and possibly Hargreaves back making them a different, more passing team, to the one that lost to Liverpool.

So we will greatly increase our chances of winning if we manage to keep the ball away from them. As the old saying goes “they can’t hurt us if they don’t have the ball”.

Go with 5 in the middle

For this reason – and the number of injuries - I think we should go with 5 in the middle.

My five would be Nasri, Cesc, Diaby, Song and Theo. Wenger might choose Denilson and leave either Diaby or Song on the bench although I would want to see some steel there.

I think Ferguson might go the same way, pushing Rooney to the left wing and Ronaldo to the right but free to roam and support Berbatov through the middle.

If that is the case then we will have a couple of areas that we could exploit and get at their defence.

Arsenal’s full backs can provide the winning thrust

As always with Arsenal, the full backs are our most important players. They provide the width and most importantly set the tempo for the rest of the team.

Firstly Sagna and Theo must push Rooney back on to his full back. Make him worry more about defending than attacking. Frustrate him and hope he drifts out of the game.

While Rooney will be willing to run back all day, Ronaldo may not. He tends to stay high up the pitch. Clichy MUST ignore what Ronaldo is doing and play his natural attacking game.

One of Kolo, Silvestre (Djourou if he plays) or Song will aim to get to Ronaldo in time and stop the counter attack.

Clichy and his mate Nasri can win the game for us

Whoever is playing at right back for United is going to be partially exposed because of Ronaldo not tracking back.

If it’s Brown then Clichy will beat him on the outside, if it’s Da Silva, Nasri has the ability to twist him inside out and if it’s Neville, well, I expect to have a number of free kicks in and around that area. Maybe Silvestre can punish his old team from a set piece!

If one of their 3 in midfield has to move over to cover for Ronaldo’s absence on the right side then this will release Cesc in the middle, hopefully allowing him to dictate play and dominate the midfield.

Bendtner, who I expect to play up front, will aim to drag one of the centre backs out of position with his movement giving our midfield the chance to break forward and try and finish off moves.

In order to analyse the game I assumed that Fergie will play a variation of a 4 5 1 formation but he could employ a more attacking 4 4 2.

But whatever formation he employs, the same thing will apply; we need to attack Brown (I consider him the weak link in their defence) and force their wingers backwards.

Whatever happens lets hope that we’ll defend better than we have done recently especially at set pieces and that we are in less charitable mood than Wednesday week….

All I can say is that we are well overdue a performance full of commitment and quality from the boys.

I think we will get it on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tony Adams snatches Arsenal target

By Aries

As reported on “Arsenal Analysis” recently, after showing keen interest, Arsenal have refused to pay a transfer fee for Ghanaian wonder kid Torric Jibril to his club Hearts of Oak.

Jibril is reported to have been recommended to Arsenal by the scouting agent Steve Rowley who watched the youngster play in one of the inaugural African Nations Championship qualifier against Niger.

The 17-year-old midfielder has been a target of some European clubs, including Athletico Madrid, after breaking into the Hearts of Oak senior team this season. His impressive performances have resulted in his call-up into the national team.

Arsenal wanted to give him a trial before committing any money but his club and agent refused to cooperate unless a fee of around £700.000 was paid.

Jibril has since been on trial at Portsmouth under the careful eye of Tony Adams and has yesterday signed a three year contract for an undisclosed fee.

"This is a very important moment in my career because it has always been my dream to play with a top club in Europe.

"I have been here for many days and I am happy with the facilities here and I am now relieved that the deal has been completed.

"I can fully concentrate on my career and hope that I can continue to develop to become what a lot of people expect me to be." Jibril said

The youngster will join Portsmouth's feeder club in Belgium, Zulte Waregem, later this month as his work permit is being sorted out.

His compatriots Stephen Appiah and Michael Essien both insist the 17-year-old sensation has the quality to play in the top-flight.

Just as well if you ask me. What Arsenal need at this juncture is experienced players who can pull their weight in the Premier League straight away not wonder kids who need time to be developed.

We have too many of those at the moment.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Arsenal are spineless

By 1970’s Gooner

As in every competitive situation in life you need to have a strong spine to be able to withstand the pressure that you will undoubtedly face.

In football you need it so that the team can be built around it. And you need it so that the balance of the team, so important in winning games, can be held together.

The players making up the spine should not only be capable but they need to be strong, confident and above all leaders.

And these characteristics assume paramount significance when most of the players are youngsters….

The spine begins with the goalkeeper and moves on through the central areas of the pitch from the centre back through to the central midfielder and finally the centre forward.

Previous Arsenal (and Wenger) teams had it in abundance.

The 1970’s double winning team had Bob Wilson, Frank Mc Clintock, Peter Storey and John Radford.

Earlier title winning teams under Wenger had Seaman, Adams, Vieira and Henry.

Chelsea now have Cseck, Terry, Lampard and Drogba.

Manchester United have Van De Sar, Vidic, Scholes and Ronaldo.

Hell even Liverpool now have a strong spine. Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Torres.

Where’s Arsenal’s spine? Almunia? Gallas? Fabregas? Denilson? Adebayor?

I listed above the four characteristics of a “spine” player. Capable, strong, confident and a leader.

The current Arsenal spine unfortunately fails miserably on all but one of the above qualities. They are only capable but lack distinctly in terms of strength, confidence and leadership ability.


Nearly all the Arsenal players are highly skillful with high technique levels but they are relatively small, fragile and almost meek players who rely too much on their skill to get them through the game. Then they cry like babies when they get roughed up a bit.

But it’s not really their fault is it? They have been brought together by a manager who simply refuses to acknowledge that the team is actually spineless and in desperate need for at least a strong defensive midfielder and a centre back.


When the average age of the team week in week out is between 21 and 24 then you are dealing with kids who, as with any youngster, in any walk of life, go through ups and downs in whatever they do due to lack of confidence.

That is why Wenger is always building them up trying to improve their confidence levels. And that is why they sometimes perform excellently but at other times when things don’t go their way they fall apart.

Another characteristic of youth is overconfidence and complacency; and we have seen this also a lot of Wenger’s teams. The latest example being the game against Hull where they thought that by just turning up that victory was assured…


This is the last but the most important characteristic that can qualify someone as a “spine player”.

Who is Arsenal’s leader on the pitch? Who is the one that when things go wrong he gets everyone else going, leads by example and takes the game on his shoulders?

No one. Not Gallas, the captain, not Sagna, not Clichy (though he tries), not Toure, not Denilson, not Fabregas, not Nasri, certainly not Walcott, not Van Persie and certainly not want away Adebayor!

Get a spine Mr Wenger…..

Friday, October 31, 2008

Nasri is struggling and Fabregas is playing deeper than Denilson

By Eros, offering a view from the "terraces"

What can you say…, what the f*ck where they thinking about? How can you give so many silly goals away in the same game?

Why was the best passing team in Europe unable to hold the ball for a couple more minutes?

Why does Arsene insist on making defensive substitutions in the 87th minute?

Especially when so many times in the past have cost us dearly through the confusion they create?

I bet if Nasri was there Clichy never trips on that ball!

All this stuff has been bugging me since Wednesday night and for the life of me I can’t figure it out.

We were bad on Wednesday, bad at the back, dire in the middle and bad going forward.

I know we scored 4 goals but to be honest we should have put 44 against that defence, they were clueless. Corluca has no understanding with Woodgate yet, Hutton had a mare of game and don’t even get me started on Assou Ekoto or Gomes…

I’m not doing a match report as I can’t bear to go through everything again but a few things that I picked up, watching from my seat at the Emirates, are of great concern to me.

The biggest concern in my opinion is the midfield; they are not dominating games as we are used to and they are not providing any protection for their defence either.

Nasri struggles to get in to games lately. He was a nonentity in the first half,

forcing us to play through the other side almost exclusively making us a lot more predictable.

Cesc again was playing deeper than Denilson. I don’t know if that was by design or because he has no confidence in the rest of the midfield to get him the ball higher up but it does no good to our attacking play.

He has to be forced to play a lot higher up where he can be not just effective but devastating.

Denilson's ethos is to be commended but he needs to get stuck in more, especially near the end when we conceded ground, he should have been hounding the ball down trying to get it back.

He should be attempting to close down Jenas for the 3rd goal.

He should have been in Modric’s face rather than allowing him a free strike on goal...

Walcott was our best outlet; had the beating of Assou Ekoto all night. He has the confidence of his team mates now and is beginning to become a very important player for us.

In general our build up play is too slow, it’s almost like we are going for the win by a decision and not by KO. That’s not our style. Are we tired this early in the season?

The full backs, especially Sagna, are not bombing forward at every opportunity, the midfielders are holding their positions more rather than making runs into the box to create confusion.

It’s all very un Arsene like and guess what? It’s not working!!!

Can we go back to the gun-ho version please?

The one attacking with everyone but the centre backs and the keeper.

The one that the full backs are further forward than the strikers.

The one the creates confusion because of the off the ball movement because that‘s what works best for us.

The rigidity that we currently employ doesn’t.

Tough games are coming up, probably the toughest sequence we will face all season: Stoke, Man U, Villa, City and then Chelsea.

The players have a chance to redeem themselves. In order for this bitter taste to wash away they need to comprehensively beat the mancs. Beating Stoke and Fenerbacse won’t do it.

Just a little mention on Tottenham

Modric was the best player on the pitch especially in the first half, where he found space and was given time on the ball. I was impressed and if they give him some protection and find a decent striker they’ll do a lot better than they are doing now.

P.S. Please may I never hear anyone again talk about changing the Gallas and Toure CB pairing. If Kolo was on the pitch there’s no way he doesn’t clean up Almunia’s mess or that he lets Jenas go all that way without an attempt on a challenge.

Get Kolo back in the team ASAP.