Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Almunia, Clichy and Fabregas at fault

By 1970’s Gooner

When I saw Song ambling on as a substitute in the 85th or so minute with 4-2 up smiling and shaking hands with his team mates it reminded me of the Liverpool players in that historic game in 1989.

They also, with a minute or so to go, were congratulating themselves, prematurely. And then they paid for it of course.

We also paid for it because in all their naivety the Arsenal players thought the game was over. Well it aint over until the fat lady sings…

It was a pathetic defensive performance when with only injury time to go we let in two goals.

First at fault was Fabregas who on two occasions opted not to keep the ball and play the passing game in the last few minutes.

The first was when Sagna was asking him to play the ball from a corner near the corner flag so that they could waste some valuable time.

Fabregas, who had a quiet game throughout, decided to swing the ball in the area giving possession away.

The second and fatal occasion was in the last minute of injury time when in possession of the ball again he decided to play it forward to Adebayor rather than keep possession.

They won it back lifted it forward and…they equalized! In the 94th minute!

Almunia had a terrible game. There I was praising him last week for his safe hands but he was definitely anything but that tonight. Whatever you say when a goalkeeper is beaten from that distance (for their first goal) he is horribly at fault.

And as for their second, well it was a schoolboy error. You cannot spill a shot like that. You just don’t do it.

And lastly Clichy lost concentration again and got caught in two minds. Jenas was then allowed to run through and shoot from outside the box to score their third and give them hope.

I say Clichy lost concentration again because he did it last season too; in the last minute at Birmingham to gift them their equaliser.

I feel like pulling my hair out. There we were last Sunday making up some of the lost ground on the leaders only to throw it away again tonight.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Player analysis and ratings Vs West Ham

By 1970’s Gooner

This was an important win as it was a real opportunity to make up some of the lost ground on Chelsea and Manchester United.

West Ham were up for it and did not look to put men behind the ball and try and defend in numbers. They broke with pace every time they won the ball pushing their midfielders forward to support Carlton Cole. They were therefore dangerous throughout the game.

Nevertheless three points and a clean sheet puts us in a nice position at this juncture in the League. Let’s hope that we do the same against Spurs on Wednesday night.


What a fantastic goalkeeper he is turning out to be. He personifies calmness and self confidence. He has developed the knack of making significant saves at very important points during the game to keep us from going behind thus providing the basis on which to move forward for the victory.

He did it on several occasions in Turkey and he did it again against West Ham where he saved Bellamy’s shot when he raced through onto a one on one against him with the score at 0-0. 8


Was steady tonight but just that. His runs down the wing were nowhere to be found. This was puzzling and it looks like he was on orders to refrain from doing so maybe in order to counter Bellamy’s runs. 6


Again he too was not that willing to make runs down the wing and his passing was not up to scratch. Maybe Wenger was worried about the lack of pace from his two central defenders. 6


He came back to action well and full of energy. He took up good defensive positions and covered for Silvestre’s rustiness. Looked to be out of pace when Bellamy raced through on goal though. 7


I am still cringing from remembering some of the howlers he made during the game in Turkey. He improved a lot tonight but was still below what I would consider match fit. On the one occasion when pace was needed he was found wanting and it took a save from Almunia to keep us into the game.

I still think playing these two (Gallas and Silvestre) in the centre of the defence is too risky as they both lack pace and therefore cannot cover for each other. Toure should hopefully return on Wednesday against the Spurs. 6


Looked to be below his best in Turkey and seems to have carried this indifferent form against West Ham. He did not go past his marker once, I don’t think, preferring to come onside all the time. This coupled with Clichy’s reluctance to go forward meant that we lacked width and penetration on the left hand side. Wenger has a decision to make whether to start him against Spurs. 5


The opposite can be said for this little devil. He, along with Van Persie, were the only real danger for West Ham.

His runs and penetration down the right wing were really unplayable.

I held my head in my hands when Wenger took him off in the second half as it was from him that I looked to find an assist or a goal.

He should have been kept on as Diaby’s contribution was really neutral. 8


Had a solid game in the middle of the field receiving and passing the ball around him. He needs to be a bit more forceful in contesting the ball and also be quicker with his passing so as to keep the tempo of the game up rather than slowing it down. 6


Looked tired and was not up to his top best. His passing was not as precise as say it was in Turkey but he still run the game for Arsenal. 6

Van Persie

Was dangerous throughout the game and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. His shot from outside the box drew an excellent save from Green (who had to be at his best tonight) and his wonderful free kick rocked the post. It was from his pass to Adebayor (after he drew two players onto him as he shaped to shoot) that resulted in the first goal. 8


He was not in the game for the whole of the first half. He lacked concentration and could not connect with Van Persie well. It was as though they were both playing in isolation rather than in tandem as they should have been. He had one good shot saved by Green but his wonderful long through ball to Adebayor to send him clear for the second goal was something else. 6


He only played 25 minutes but what a contribution he made. I had my doubts when I saw the team sheet prior to the game with Bendtner and Van Persie in and Adebayor on the bench.

He is such an important player for Arsenal as he is the target man through which nearly all our attacks go through especially when we want to switch our style of play by playing the long ball. This was missing against West Ham and with Nasri, Clichy and Eboue reluctant to venture on their respective wings left us with less options going forward. 9

Man of the Match: Adebayor

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eduardo not allowed to give interviews

By 1970’s Gooner

The excellent news coming out of Arsenal is that Eduardo is ahead of schedule and nearing a return to competitive action.

As revealed by “Arsenal Analysis” as far back as August Eduardo has been recovering quite well and ahead of schedule in Brazil under the guidance of the national team’s doctor Jose Luis Runco.

We did in fact post “that video” that everyone was talking about on the site showing Eduardo being able to run, jump and most important of all kick a ball.

It seems that Eduardo’s recovery has continued to improve at the same rate because, as Arsene Wenger revealed, he will be ready to join the squad for full training in three weeks time.

Such has been the club’s determination to get him back fit both physically and mentally that he has been dissuaded by Arsenal from giving any interviews while he is in rehabilitation.

This has been revealed by his cousin and legal representative in Brazil, Nancy Da Silva, who said that “he can not give interviews because of a request by the club, who only wants to see the player focused on his return to football”.

She also revealed that the player’s rehabilitation exceeded expectations even in Brazil but that Arsenal wanted to make doubly sure before he was allowed to start full training.

“When he left Brazil in August he was ready to play. The work done has been exceptional, he was already kicking the ball normally. But Arsenal, with all reason, preferred to be fully sure before he made his come back” she said to the Brazilian media.

Eduardo’s return will come at the right time for Arsenal just before the Xmas fixture congestion and at a time when the title chase begins to get even more serious.

Monday, October 20, 2008

We are missing Hleb and Flamini badly and Clichy is not human

By Eros

I see you guys weren’t very happy with the article posted here a few days ago detailing the failings of the team and some ideas on how to improve the squad so as to give us a better chance for some much needed silverware this year.

Well I’ll give my two cents about both the Everton game and the previous post and please feel free to suitably shoot me down too if you wish….

Firstly what 70’s said is clearly not Rocket science. He said get a big defender to deal with the high ball and also buy someone that can replace Flamini effectively.

He also said Hleb was a good player and that we don’t know how Edy is going to be when he gets back, which are both true.

For all the frustration that sometimes accompanied him, Hleb was one of our outstanding players and a major reason that we got close to Utd and Chelsea last year.

He always set up chances or created space for the rest of the team to play their stuff. Testament to how good he was is that Cesc to this day is raving about him.

He was the only player in the team that could slow the tempo down and draw defenders out of position which was extremely useful against defensive teams.

Last year for the first time since 2004 we didn’t drop many points against mid to lower tier teams. If we had beaten Liverpool at the Emirates as we should have then we would have been within a win of the title!

I know we dropped points home and away to Birmingham and also had a bad run after the tackle on Eduardo but if we had won a game against the big four at home we would have been right there…

Flamini has not been replaced and that I also feel was a mistake especially watching Xavi Alonso having a blinding season with Liverpool.

I can’t help but think whether those few extra million pounds they wanted were not worth it considering the improvement it would have made to our title chances.

But as always Wenger was prudent and said no since he was cup tied in the Champions League. Benitez got lucky as who knows how they would have done with Barry instead of Alonso.

The defence thing I’m not so sure about, currently we have probably the quickest back four in the league if not the world. That is mightily important to Arsene as both his fullbacks spend more time high up the pitch attacking than they do defending.

Without the pace of Gallas and Toure we would be completely exposed to the counter attack as we saw a number of times with Senderos last year.

With that in mind pick your poison; is it set pieces and long balls or getting caught on the counter?

If there is a tall fast no nonsense defender that is quick with an astute positional sense that can also play a bit please feel free to point him out, personally I don’t know of one.

Against Everton we started very sluggishly as we are used to doing after the international break. We went one behind and Everton had a few chances to go 2 up but thankfully they didn’t. After the half hour mark we gained control of the game and never really looked back.

From where I am sitting at the Emirates I can see a few worrying things however.

We still can’t defend a corner to save our lives, miss too many chances and have a bad habit of conceding a goal with the first shot on target. Almunia is suspect coming for the ball and Clichy had to bail him out again today clearing the ball off the line.

We need Sagna back before the Manchester Utd game as both Rooney and Ronaldo seem to be getting into their stride.

Denilson got caught ball watching a couple of times especially in the first half allowing Yakubu to break through the midfield and run at our defence.

He improved in the second after instructions, I suspect, for him to sit back and allow Fabregas to orchestrate play more.

Song is not a right back we all know that, he only started because Wenger didn’t want to start with Theo after the long trip to Belarus with England.

Van Persie is not sharp enough yet, he wasted a bundle of good chances that he’d normally take or at least put on target. It could have proved costly but thankfully it wasn’t.

After scoring four for Togo midweek Adebayor had an average game.

He is always a willing runner, however sometimes he leaves me baffled with the constant obsession of running away from goal to the left when there is a big hole in the middle of the opposition defence but I suppose he will improve that with time.

Nasri was not involved in the game in the first half but he scored a crucial goal to get us back in the game. That gave him confidence and he raised his game after that.

Clichy was magnificent as usual and my man of the match.

He was everywhere, intercepted every ball he could and run down the flank as often as possible.

Somebody should check whether he is human.

I have a suspicion that he has two hearts and 4 lungs.

I have no other way of explaining how he does so much running every single game.

Fabregas was back to his best after a couple of ok performances, displaying his full array of passing and dictating play as only he can.

Walcott had a huge impact coming on in the second half and took his goal very well. Let’s hope we’ll see a few more from him in the next few weeks.

Eboue was solid without being exceptional but he did give balance to the team when he went back to right back.

I still think he is one of our more consistent players this year, and if he manages to get through more games without any histrionics I think he will get more support from the fans.

It was good to see Diaby back and hopefully he can stay fit for a few games so we can see what he can do next to the little Spaniard.

Finally I left Song and Silvestre to the end. I though they had a solid second half where admittedly there were not really tested.

Silvestre did some Utd defending booting the ball clear at every opportunity and Song looked infinitely more comfortable playing at centre half. Silvestre looked a bit rusty but that was to be expected as this was his first game back.

Overall we played some good staff in the second half moving the ball about with pace and accuracy and I don’t think a lot of teams can live with us when we do that.

We haven’t played well yet this year. We have only seen glimpses of how good we can be and if we can get to the turn of the year and still be in touch we’ll have a shot.

I think compared to last year we’ll get stronger after Xmas – injury permitting – and hopefully we will have two brand new players – Rosicky and Eduardo - to help us with a tough run in.

I have to say though that we are competing against a Chelsea side that are looking pretty good right now even with a host of injuries.

They have a huge squad with class replacements in many positions. I think however that their new found sense of adventure will get them in to trouble sooner or later and will give the other three a chance.

Three Arsenal weaknesses need correction

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Three Arsenal weaknesses need correction

By 1970’s Gooner

I was skeptical enough when two experienced and mature players were allowed to go during the summer. Hleb’s contribution even without goals was phenomenal and Flamini’s all round play was obviously irreplaceable.

Hleb (28) was replaced with Nasri (21) who is a very good player and gets in among the goals but he needs that adjustment time to be able to replace Hleb’s overall contribution.

Flamini was replaced by no one who could step in the first team right away (Ramsey is great but obviously not ready yet) and I for one hoped that Diaby and Song in the absence of a viable experienced alternative would have matured enough to play a big part.

But Diaby has been out injured so the jury is still out on him and Wenger for some reason considers Song a centre or a right back.

So we are less than ten games into the new season and the cracks are beginning to appear. Don’t get fooled by this laboured victory against Everton. A stronger team would not have allowed us to make such an easy come back.

Hull, Fulham and Sunderland didn’t and if the three weaknesses listed below are not corrected there are going to be a few more teams added to that list.

The central defence needs changing

Even when Gallas and Toure were fit and playing Arsenal’s defending in the middle of their area left a lot to be desired.

This became very apparent last season during the tough games against the other big three in the League and also against long ball teams who can play the high direct ball into the middle to a tall and capable forward like Drogba and Davies (of Bolton).

The reason is that Gallas is not the type of central defender who will attack the long ball with force and gusto.

And because Toure’s forte is his pace rather than his heading ability you have two good but similar defenders who do not necessarily complement but rather emulate each other.

Add to that the fact that Gallas is not as quick as he used to be and you have an area in the team that will probably let you down in enough games during a season to cost you priceless points.

Wenger has allowed Senderos to go, has promoted Djourou and brought Silvestre into the squad.

In my opinion this is not good enough. Silvestre looked out of sorts against Everton and even if this could be due to rustiness he does not look the tall and commanding centre back that Arsenal are lacking.

Djourou needs to be given the chance to prove himself but even if he shows that he is up to it with regard to defending the long ball he lacks experience (like so many talented Arsenal squad players) so errors will unavoidably cost you priceless points again.

The other option is Song of course who I think is the most accomplished of the alternatives but as I have written before I am really enthusiastic about his defensive abilities in midfield rather than in central defense.

This is because his height and built do not equip him adequately enough to withstand the rigours of the long ball merchants in the Premier League.

So Arsene Wenger does really need to buy a strong, tall, agile and accomplished central defender to partner Toure.

Otherwise we will be letting in silly goals often from corners and free kicks and then running around like headless chickens (well almost like headless chickens) trying to reverse the situation.

Denilson is not a defensive midfielder

Denilson is a creative midfielder with beautiful skills and high energy levels. But he is obviously not a defensive midfielder and this is as plain for everyone to see. Isn’t it?

Look closely at how Everton’s goal was carved out and you will see they were able to move the ball through the central midfield area around Denilson who was not able to stop them or even contain the move.

A proper defensive midfielder would have been in front of his defence and not behind the Everton attacking midfilders.

If he was in front of his defence he would have been ready to tackle hard or even foul so as to stop the move.

But that is not in his nature and he is obviously not to blame for this as he is not a defencive midfielder.

I can not excuse Wenger for persisting with Denilson.

Ok the natural player for that position is obviously Diaby but as he has been out injured Song should have started a few more games than he did.

My guess is that Wenger will give Diaby his chance (hopefully starting with the next game) and review the situation at the end of season. But if he is not up for it we would have lost more precious points.

There is hardly any strength in depth in the squad

This has been talked about a lot of course but it has got really worse this season! Look at the bench against Everton if you please and you will see mostly kids who we all know are talented but not yet mature or battle ready.

The bench contained players like Vela, Hoyte, Gibbs, Ramsey and Fabiansky.

I ask you who will deputise if Clichy picks up an injury?

Not Traore as he is on a season’s loan at Portsmouth. It will probably be the slow and rusty Silvestre or a player playing out of position like Song or Eboue again.

Song in particular was lacking positional awareness against Everton yesterday who were quick to exploit it with all their good moves and their goal coming from that side of the pitch.

Other positions that lack ready made viable deputies are:

Goalkeeper (Fabiansky is talented but inexperienced in the Premier League).
Central defence (as explained above),
Both central midfield positions (who is really Fabregas’s deputy?),
At least one of the two wide midfield positions
The striker come front man position (is Bendtner ready to be as effective as Adebayor? I am assuming that Eduardo returns unscathed and would be vying with Van Persie for the number 10 position).

Don’t get me wrong, all the “deputies” are very talented exciting players with a very bright future ahead of them.

Players like Bendtner, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere and all the others are going to be gracing the Premier (or some other) League in the future.

But they are a work in progress, like Arsenal Football Club has been under Wenger for the last four years.

Wenger now runs the real danger of imprisoning himself in a football model which could get out of control; where buying more mature players may be seen to infringe on the progress of the young starlets.

This however could end up with Arsenal being a nursery for world class talent who once they get disillusioned by the lack of success re emigrate to other clubs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vela fails to impress

By 1970’s Gooner

Since Sven Goran Erikkson was appointed coach of the Mexico national side he put his trust on the young shoulders of Carlos Vela and Giovanni Dos Santos to get the goals.

However during Erikkson’s six games in charge the youngsters did not manage to get on the scoring sheet.

The consensus in Mexico is that both players have fallen short of expectations.

In the game against Jamaica last Saturday Mexico lost by a single goal and both forwards played the full 90 minutes with the Tottenham player impressing less than Vela.

According to sportscaster and ex goalkeeper Raul Orvañanos, Dos Santos deserved to be benched for the next game against Canada as he was lacking in confidence.

“Dos Santos is not that good at the moment because even with Tottenham has had not so good performances. The English team already played seven games without a win in the Premier League” he said.

“Carlos Vela must play because he was far more confident that Giovani" he continued.

In fact Erikkson stuck to his guns and started with both players for Mexico’s next qualifying game, yesterday Wednesday (15.10.2008) against Canada in Edmonton.

Carlos Vela however failed to impress and in fact it was Dos Santos who gave the assist for the equalising goal.

The game ended in a draw and Mexico need only draw their next game against Honduras to proceed to the next phase of qualification for the World Cup where six teams will fight for three places.

Ali Gerba scored first for Canada in the 12th minute. Mexico, who could have advanced with a victory, equalised when Patrice Bernier deflected into his own net after a powerful shot by Salcido in the 34th minute.

The goal gave Mexico renewed hope and energy but three clear opportunities, falling to Luis Perez, Carlos Vela and Andres Guardado went begging.

You can watch the goals and Vela's miss on the video screen above (Vela appears on the video around the 5.20 minute)

It was from the counter attack after Guardalo’s miss that Canada put together a move from the right wing with Gerb sending a pass to Radzinski who had no trouble converting from inside the area in the 49th minute.

Mexico equalised in the 64th with naturalised Argentinean Vicente Matias Vuoso after Dos Santos crossed from the left. Vuoso rose above his marker to plant the header firmly into the net.

A minute later Vela was substituted and another forward from Spanish side Deportivo, Omar Bravo, was sent on to try and get the winner but to no avail.

Erikkson’s record reads; played six, won three, lost two and drawn one.

Vela and Santos like Fabregas and Messi: World stars in the making

Monday, October 13, 2008

Brazilian wonder kid Dentinho reveals his preference

By 1970’s Gooner

Much has been written about Brazilian wonder kid Dentinho who has been banging in the goals for his club Corinthians in the second tier of the Brazilian League.

Arsene Wenger was first to recognize Dentinho’s abilities who is now regarded as one of South America’s hottest talents.

As first reported by "Arsenal Analysis" Dentinho could have been with Arsenal since last season but his Brazilian club “Corinthians” refused to sell him.

It was then widely reported in Brazil that Dentinho was on the verge of a £3million move to Arsenal.

“Arsenal made a proposal but Corinthians did not agree for them to negotiate. I was not bothered, I think that my moment is going to arrive” Dentinho said a year ago to Brazilian internet sports paper

Ever since then Real Madrid showed a strong interest but again with no avail.

However, it has been reported recently in the Spanish press that Arsenal were about to buy the player and loan him out to Spain’s Segunda Division side Salamanca.

Håvard Nordtveit and Pedro Botelho are currently on loan with Salamanca and Carlos Vela was "parked" there for a year before moving to First Division Osasuna for the next two years of his stay in Spain.

However Dentinho himself has today revealed that after receiving some offers, the latest from an Arab club, he intends to honour his contract with Corinthians which runs until 2012.

“I intend to fulfill my contract until the end. Clearly, it is my dream to go there (to Europe) as any player. But now I have no desire to go” he said.

But he did not rule out such a move in the future if the financial situation of both his club and his family demanded it.

“Because of financial conditions it is sometimes not possible to refuse a proposal. My family is large and has a lot of people who depend on me” he said to the Brazilian press.

Dentinho’s contractual rights belong to three owners. His club Corinthians with 57.5%, the group DIS, owners of supermarkets “Sonda” with 22.5% and the remaining 20% belong to his agent and manager.

Can we have our best player back please Mr Wenger?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More injuries reduce Wenger’s options for Everton

By 1970’s Gooner

It’s just as well that Arsene Wenger managed to recruit Silvestre from Manchester United in the last throws of the transfer window.

After allowing young Senderos to go out on loan to AC Milan (with a view to a permanent deal) he was left with Djourou as the only direct replacement for his preferred central defensive pairing of Gallas and Toure.

But lo and behold Gallas, who has been going through a period of self reflection lately, managed to pick up a thigh injury and after missing the France Vs Romania game has now withdrawn from the France squad to face Tunisia in Paris on Tuesday.

This must cast doubts whether he can make the game against Everton next Saturday at the Emirates.

Even if he does manage to shake the injury off account has to be taken of the fact that he has been out of action and training during the last 10 days or so. This would probably render him unfit to start against Everton.

The player that a lot of Arsenal fans would like to see feature in the first team is Johan Djourou.

He has after all the height that some fans and experts have been highlighting as being one of Arsenal’s major defensive weakness; especially from set pieces.

But lo and behold he too manages to get injured. This was during Switzerland’s laboured victory against Latvia on Saturday.

He got hit on the cheekbone suffering concussion and his inclusion in the team to play against Greece next Wednesday in Athens is in doubt.

"I do not think Djourou will be able to play in Greece", said Ottmar Hitzfeld the German in charge of the Swiss national team.

So the only fit central defender left for Arsene Wenger to pick in the case Djourou still remains unavailable will be Silvestre.

He managed to get a full game under his belt last week for the reserves against Stoke and he showed that after being out for so long he still possessed the knack of defending.

But will he be ready to face the tougher test of a Premier League game?

The other worry for next Saturday’s game against Everton is Bacary Sagna who picked up a knee problem during France’s game against Romania.

He spent today, Sunday, in the company of another injury victim, Patrick Vieira undergoing examinations on his right knee.

Sagna has been diagnosed with a tendon problem in the right calf and he also misses the friendly against Tunisia.

Again we would have to wait to see if he makes it against Everton next Saturday. The only possible replacement could be Eboue who would be switched back to his original position. Nasri and Walcott would be the ones to play in wide midfield.

There are no news about Robin Van Persie’s injury but if he also does not make it Bendtner more probably than Vela would partner Adebayor in attack.

So we could end up with a lot of changes for Saturday. Let’s hope they are for the good.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Juventus in for ex Arsenal midfielder

By 1970’s Gooner

It was not so long ago that Gilberto Silva had been an Arsenal regular. But in the last transfer window Arsenal accepted an offer of £1.25m from Greek club Panathinaikos and Gilberto packed his bags and off he went to ply his trade with the Athens outfit.

Now only a few months into his new club come the news that Italian giants Juventus are seriously thinking about putting in a bid for the midfielder.

Claudio Ranieri the Juventus coach has, according to “Corriere dello Sport”, identified two areas that the team needs immediate strengthening and these are in defence and central midfield.

It has also been revealed that Juventus had tried to sign the player three years ago during his time at Arsenal and went as far as negotiating terms for his transfer but the deal fell through.

It is hoped that Panathinaikos may be willing to allow the transfer now that their progress in the knock out stages of the Champions League looks less likely with two defeats in two games.

However the Panathinaikos hierarchy have said that no offer has been received and they are in any case not interested.

The Italian press is valuing Gilberto at £7m! At this price maybe the Greek club would change their mind.

Another alternative for Juventus is believed to be Inter’s Dejan Stankovic (30)who is valued at £8.7m.

Gilberto is currently with the Brazil national squad for their two qualifying games against Venezuela and Colombia.

He has been praised by the Brazil coach, Dunga, for his contribution to the national team and his fatherly attitude towards the younger players called up in the squad.

“He offers maturity and experience to the rest of the squad but above all he is a wonderful person” he said.

Gilberto has been celebrating his 32nd birthday and his teammates presented him with a birthday cake.

Here are some of the pictures.

Can we have our best player back please Mr Wenger?

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie shows why Wenger was right to off load him

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Appiah refuses to go on trial

By 1970’s Gooner

Stephen Appiah was a much wanted man up until very recently when one team after another was reported to be withdrawing their interest.

First it was Arsenal with Arsene Wenger stating that he was not in talks with the player. Then Harry Redknap of Portsmouth pulled out saying that he couldn’t afford the player. The same came out of Paul Ince's camp at Blackburn.

West Ham themselves with their strong Italian connection in their Sports Director Gianluca Nani were in direct contract negotiations with Appiah up until very recently when their Icelandic owner was severely hit by the present financial crisis.

Gianluca Nani himself was Brescia’s sporting Director prior to joining West Ham this year and Brescia were the club who kindly let their ex player, Appiah, train with them recently in order to regain fitness.

Negotiations with West Ham which reached the point of agreeing a £40,000 a week salary were far advanced.

But other reports suggested that Appiah was asking for even more, £60,000 per week, which seemed to have put Redkanp and Wenger off.

Appiah himself has responded angrily to these accusations:

“I don’t know what to say, but it’s ridiculous because I have not granted any interview for any journalist, for any paper, for any channel. So I don’t know what they’re talking about.

“I’m not like that; I’m not greedy at all. I have never been greedy so it’s not going to change anything for me” he said.

It appears however that the real reason for Appiah’s inability to agree terms with another club is that aspiring suitors still have some doubts about his fitness and the state of his knee.

The player has been out for almost a year after a botched knee operation in Turkey when he was on Arsenal’s Champions League opponent, Fenerbahce’s books.

Such was the incompetence of the doctors that when Appiah complained of breathing difficulties after the operation they diagnosed asthma! The real reason for his problems however was the blood clots he developed on his left leg.

Appiah’s first competitive game since out of action was a World Cup Qualifier against Libya last month and it went as well as could be expected.

But it seems that the real reason for not finding a club is his refusal to go on trial.

“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.

Arsenal have a habit of asking players to go on trial. They had recently another midfielder, Brazilian Mineiro on trial who eventually, after being rejected, found himself at Chelsea.

So the search by Appiah for a club goes on…

Arsenal lose out on Ghanaian wonder kid

By Aries

Hearts of Oak Ghanaian prodigy, Tawrick Jibril, had been handed a two-week trial period by Arsenal which was announced in June of this year.

However his club had refused to allow the player to go on trial at London Colney as they cited interest from other clubs in Spain and in England.

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. He was due to begin his trials in July.

The 16-year-old midfielder has been a target of some European clubs after breaking into the Hearts of Oak senior team this season. His impressive performances have resulted in his call-up into the national team.

It now transpires that he has, during the last three weeks, been on trial at Portsmouth were he has impressed Harry Redknap and Tony Adams.

Jibril was supposed to have spent seven days there but his stay was extended for a further two weeks.

It is reported that his technical skills have astounded Portsmouth who have made an initial offer but Hearts have made counter proposal seeking an improved deal.

The previous club to have made an offer for the player was Athleico Madrid for £700,000.

Jibril will be farmed out to Belgian side Zultew Warengem to gain European experience and the necessary documents to play in England.

He will in the meantime travel to England each month to train with Portsmouth.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Can we have our best player back please Mr Wenger?

By 1970’s Gooner

What is really astonishing is that Wenger said after the Sunderland game that he actually expected Roy Keane to play a more attacking style of play!

I mean did he really mean it? Did he really expect that Sunderland will actually play an open style of play, push men forward and leave the spaces open for Fabregas and Co to exploit?

Blackburn did that at Ewood Park by playing two men in more advanced positions and got annihilated. Roy Keane wasn’t going to be a fool and hand Arsenal freedom to play!

This is what Roy Keane said after the game:

“We've played Arsenal last year, Chelsea and United here, played 4-4-2 and got beaten 4-0; it could have been seven. Maybe Arsène Wenger should focus on his team. Part of the game is breaking down the opposition".

In fact most teams that play against the big four adopt a more conservative formation.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have to face it week in week out yet they find the way to get round it. I have not heard Alec Ferguson complain about another team’s defensive tactics. Have you?

The middle was already congested by Sunderland’s tactics and this was in a strange way aggravated even further by the tactics adopted by Wenger.

He played three central midfielders, Song, Denilson and Fabregas as well as Van Persie and Walcott on the wide midfield positions.

Add to this Sunderland’s five midfielders and you have “spaghetti junction”.

How on earth was Fabregas going to find space to weave his magic from such an area where space was at a premium only Wenger knows.

Clichy was not as effective on the left hand side for two reasons. He is not used to playing with Van Persie there so they did not hit it off.

More importantly Nasri is more suited to Clichy’s game as he tends to come in and allow the space on that left hand line for Clichy to exploit.

They also tend to play the one two very well together something that Van Presie was not that willing to do.

When Nasri belatedly came on, that left hand side threat from Arsenal was suddenly rejuvenated as Clichy began to bomb forward again.

The 4 5 1 (come 4 3 3) formation also resulted in Adebayor being isolated up front without anyone near to feed off him and lay balls to.

Fabregas is not really a forward player in the number 10 role and he was anyway instinctively dropping back to get the ball so that he could do what he is more used to doing well; dictating play.

Result? Stalemate for most of the game which was broken by another wonder strike. This is beginning to be a recurring theme, as in the Hull horror show, with again no one closing the scorer down.

Another recurring theme is referee’s mistakes. Yes the ball did not go out but referees and their assistants do make mistakes.

A strong and determined team however should be able to play through these adversities and score the goals needed to win games.

We did not really create enough to have scored them and the reason is that the tactics employed stifled Sunderland (until the 85th minute) but they also stifled Arsenal’s creativity.

Let’s go back to 4 4 2 Mr Wenger with Fabregas where he belongs.

Wenger gets the tactics wrong, again

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Wenger gets the tactics wrong, again

By 1970’s Gooner

I know that a lot of you will not like this nor necessarily agree with it but I have to call it as I see it.

I was, during the Dinamo Kiev game, very frustrated and bewildered with the amount of respect shown for an average in terms of quality opposition and the deployment of Fabregas away from where he is best suited (in the middle of the field dictating play).

The result was the same as against Sunderland today. More importantly the way the game panned out was very similar, with Fabregas wasted in no man’s land between Adebayor and the packed midfield and Arsenal getting a last gasp equaliser to salvage a draw.

For God’s sake Mr Wenger don’t you see that Arsenal’s heart is Fabregas? He is the one that that makes the team tick. He is the one that creates all the positive moves and clever passes that unlock packed defences.

Yet this creative part of Arsenal’s play is left to Denilson and Song to produce. Not that this was the intention, but hell, what do you expect when it is they that will invariably have most of the ball in a game that Arsenal, as everyone knows, will dominate in terms of possession.

The formation of 4 3 3 come 4 5 1 was wrong and the positioning of Fabregas was wrong. What was also wrong was van Persie on the wing as he had to play there because this formation demanded.

But again he is not suited to playing there nor does he hit it off with Clichy. So another Arsenal weapon, Clichy’s forays on the left hand side were not so numerous nor were they as effective.

So in the end after all three of Arsenal’s most effective players were almost rendered non existent we end up scrapping for a draw.

Arsenal are too good a team to play such a formation and show so much respect to such an opposition.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie shows why Wenger was right to off load him

By 1970’s Gooner

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie was one of those exciting young guns that Arsene Wenger brought to Arsenal back in 2002 when he was released from Ajax at the age of 16 because of attitude problems.

He scored his first goal for the first team in the league Cup in 2004 against Everton, a game in which he also made two assists. He produced a similarly impressive performance against Reading the following year.

However, he failed to break through to regular first-team selection and it was thought that he had disciplinary problems at Arsenal.

He was transferred to Russian club Spartak Moscow for an undisclosed fee in 2006 but he joined Spanish side Celta de Vigo on loan for the 2007–08 season and in the last window he joined Birmingham City on loan.

However his attitude problems continued to persist.

Two weeks ago he got on the wrong end of his Birmingham City boss Alex McLeish after his bad reaction to his substitution in a league game against Doncaster.

The Black Stars forward who has won praise from McLeish in the past for his early performances went straight to the dressing room after he was substituted 39 minutes into the game.

"I explained to him that you don't go to the dressing room, you support the team from the dug-out when you come off," McLeish said.

“I don't want to take a gifted player and say he has to defend for us but Wayne Rooney does it and the top players in the England team did it in the week. It is part of the modern game at the top level.

"We certainly give the players the fitness to do it, it is just the understanding he needs”

Although Quincy was apologetic to McLeish and his team mates his attitude problems emerged again when he was recently called up to play for Ghana.

The national coach, Milovan Rajevac, has warned Quincy that he faces a long spell on the sidelines if he does not improve his attitude towards the national team.

He has already excluded Quincy from the 22-man squad for next week's crucial World Cup qualifier against Lesotho in Sekondi.

It appears that the problem was that the 21-year-old, although released by Birmingham well ahead of last month's qualifier against Libya, failed to join his colleagues in the national team until the last minute.

He claimed that he missed two scheduled flights to Tripoli for the game!

"Quincy has not been dropped from the Black Stars forever but he must think about why he has been dropped as guidance for the future.

Players must show that they are ready to die for the national team and his attitude before the Libya game was not good enough.

He plays in United Kingdom along with Essien, Laryea Kingston and John Paintsil and they all managed to arrive in time but he opted to tell stories” Rajevac said.

Quincy had a superb showing for Holland at the Fifa World Youth Championship 2005 but opted to play for Ghana, the country of his parents in January of this year.