Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Really Wenger has only himself to blame

By 1970’s Gooner

Arsene Wenger put out a weakened team against Wigan away right after that ground breaking win against Chelsea at the Emirates. The result was a draw after Squillaci put through his own net.

Instead of playing his strongest team in order to capitalise on that marvelous win against one of the big four and keep the pressure on Manchester United he underestimated the opponents and dropped two very valuable points.

This game at the Hawthorns was equally badly judged. It came after a horrendous three or so weeks where we failed to beat Sunderland at home, gave that goal to Birmingham to lose the Carling Cup final and capitulated to a rampant Barcelona with no shots on goal (even when one of our players attempted one he got sent off for it).

Again his selections for that game which included two unfit players returning from injuries contributed to that dismal performance, the worst performance by an Arsenan team under Wenger (the second worse was the FA Cup final win against Manchester United in 2005).

In all honesty a win at West Brom would have restored the very badly shaken moral that has been so obvious recently among the young Arsenal players. So one would have thought the manager would have played his strongest team.

But what does he do? He starts in the heart of our midfield with Aaron Ramsey. Aaron Ramsey who has been out of Premier League action for 9 or so months and who only had handful of games for Notts Forest and Cardiff!

Don’t get me wrong. Ramsey is an exceptional talent but to expect a 19 year old together with Wilshere, another 19 year old alongside a rusty, unreliable Denilson, (another youngster) to run your midfield in an away ground where your opponents are fighting for their survival with a hostile crowd behind them is amazingly incredulous and stretching our patience to the out most reaches of our ever diminishing universe of hope.

And who made the mistake for the first goal? Ramsey not being match fit jumped before the ball arrived from the corner. Almunia failed to come for it and we are one nil down.

Ramsey was ineffective throughout, could not make an impact and missed the easiest of opportunities to equalize. Enough said about him, it wasn’t his fault he was picked to start.

Denilson was abysmall. He has been pretty awful every time he played this season. Why on earth did he start with him? Get Eboue in there and bring Nasri in the middle to provide the creativity that Cesc will eventually bring when he returns. And start with Bendtner on the wing from the beginning for Christ’s sake.

All is not lost yet.

The international break is coming to our aid, fortunately. Cesc and Walcott are due to return and Djourou and Cszesney will get closer to their comebacks.

Manchester United will drop points that’s for sure. They are not playing well and their coming titanic battles with Chelsea are bound to weaken them.

But Wenger has to get his act together. Get some moral back to the players for f****s sake.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

An open letter to the Arsenal players

By 1970’s Gooner

It was I think Harold Wilson, the Labour leader and Prime Minister back in the 60’s and 70’s that coined the phrase: “A week is a long time in politics”. And the same is so very true of the world of football.

You’ve all had a very difficult 15 days. The last minute defeat in the Carling Cup Final, Champions League elimination and now the defeat at Manchester United in the FA Cup.

The only game where one can say that you were truly beaten was at the hands of the best team in the world, Barcelona.

A team that you matched and beat at the Emirates in that epic first leg. A victory that made everyone all over the globe put Arsenal Football Club up there as one of the best teams in the world.

And in my opinion if Fabregas and van Persie were fit for the return leg it would have been a different story…

Do you think that Manchester United or Chelsea would have escaped the Neu Camp without a comprehensive drubbing? They would have certainly been handed a severe beating.

Your performance at Old Trafford suffered due to low moral and fatigue, coming so soon after the game at Barcelona.

Yet without playing at your best you still created enough chances to have won the game. It’s no coincidence that man of the match was Edwin van der Sar! If it weren’t for his fantastic saves a different story would have unfolded.

You now have an opportunity to write history for Arsenal Football Club. Only three points behind in the League and with one game in hand.

You have a week to rest your weary legs and more significantly, your souls.

Regroup, dust yourselves off and get going again. You owe it to Arsenal Football Club, the manager, the fans and to your selves.

Manchester United are still involved in the FA Cup and the Champions League and their long list of fixtures are bound to take their toll.

The League title is there for the taking. Win the next game at West Brom and the title race is back on again. The last 15 days will then be forgotten.

And you will then come to realise that “a week is a very long time in football”

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wenger’s choices prove him wrong at Barca

By 1970’s Gooner

Granted, the Barcelona we saw last night were from another planet. But Arsene Wenger’s choices of personnel were proved ill advised and aggravated what was already a very difficult football game for Arsenal.

Firstly to play Fabregas and van Persie when both were so obviously unfit substantially reduced the effectiveness of the whole team.

Cesc who tweaked his hamstring again was unable to offer that important outlet from defence to attack. He could not hold the ball at all nor find van Persie or even Nasri up front.

This meant that young Wilshere was left pretty much alone to carry out this function something he performed admirably under very difficult conditions. This boy will be a truly world class player in a few years.

Van Persie was another disappointment. He was unable to hold the ball in the few occasions he was provided it. He also lost his cool, probably out of frustration, and got booked which eventually led to his crazy dismissal.

And if this wasn’t enough the decision to start with Rosicky was also wrong in my opinion. He has been below par all this season and was unable to provide adequate defensive cover for Sagna nor an outlet for Sagna to pass the ball to.

The absence of Walcott proved a major weakness for Arsenal. Not only Rosicky proved inadequate but the very significant outlet of chipping the ball over the Barca hunting packs to the speed machine that is Walcott was not available.

This had troubled them in the previous encounters between the two teams and also relieved the defence of the continuous pressure that they found themselves. Alas this was not available.

Better to have played Bendtner there who has the physical presence to hold off opponents and to physically defend the space. He would have been much more effective than Rosicky.

I was impressed once again, though, by Djourou and Koscienly. They are both improving game by game and under difficult circumstances performed quite well. I don’t think that we need to buy any more central defenders especially with a fit Vermaelen around.

I don’t mind the defeat. It’s the manner with which this came about. I need say no more.

The important thing is that moral has to be restored and quickly because the Premier League title is there for the taking. Can the players find the mental strength to do it?

It’s up to you Mr Wenger.