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3 Goals, 3 Points Clear in 3rd Place : Talking Points.

A wonderful morning it is for everyone connected to The Arsenal. The cloud of negativity that hung over the club since the start of the season seems to have vanished completely.

Yesterday’s convincing win against Aston Villa was our 7th on the trot in the League. The last time we managed this was when we were winning trophies at will. That gives you an idea of how long it’s been.

Granted, Villa were missing Bent and Dunne, arguably their best two players, but the manner in which we went about yesterday’s operation was emphatic to say the least.

I won’t bore you with a match report as I’m not really good at those and I’m sure you must have read it somewhere, if you didn’t see the game that is. So let’s look at the talking points.

Major positive for me was Theo Walcott. He gave a mature performance, was a nuisance and posed a constant threat. His goal was a joy to watch.

A couple of minutes earlier, Song gave him a similar ball, his control was on point but the ball drifted away.

On the second attempt though, he controlled perfectly, dropped his shoulder and showed good composure to beat Shay Given at his near post. His celebration showed what the goal meant to him.

Another positive was the defensive performance. Koscielny missed out through a minor injury and Djourou came on in his place. People wrote him off before he kicked a ball, and that’s sad to see.

Maybe he hasn’t been exactly great in his last few games but this is the same Djourou who was outstanding in 35 odd games for us last season.

Our capitulation against Newcastle last season began when he went off injured. So it was good to see him put in a great shift yesterday.

He, along with the 3 other men in defence did well. We kept a clean sheet at home, our first in the League in 2012.

I was going to single out Arteta for praise, but that wouldn’t be fair. So let’s just commend our midfield trio for yet another virtuoso performance.

Song got another beautiful assist, Rosicky continued his resurgence, Arteta got a bullet of a goal. Complete midfield performance.

Andre Santos returned to the team yesterday, Wilshere and Coquelin are not far off. Our injured players are returning at the perfect and we couldn’t be luckier.

Left to me, I wouldn’t bring Wilshere back for this season; except of course one of Song, Arteta, Rosicky picked up a serious injury.

Let him rest for Euro 2012, have a good tournament and come raring for next term.

No negatives yesterday, Koscielny had tendinitis and he should be fine. RVP didn’t get a goal for the 4th consecutive half. Worrying times. Nice to see the other players delivery the goods though.

All in all, it was a “dynamic” performance, one we needed. One made even sweeter by the failings of our closest rivals.

Spuds and Chelski played a boring goalless draw earlier. So the win saw us go 3 points clear, and with a higher goals difference.

I’d love to gloat and say we are back, but if this season has taught us anything,it is that things can change very quickly.

Have a good day wherever you read this from. Enjoy the win and share in the positivity. QPR up next, another 3 points surely?

7 Straight Wins, We Ballin’ : The Player Ratings.

Szczesny (6) – Had little to do all game. Did well when called upon.

Djourou (7) – A few scary moments. Other than that, a credible performance.

Vermaelen (8) – Solid game. Stood up to everything the Villa attack could muster. Helped up front when he could.

Sagna (8) – Did his usual.

Gibbs (8) – Good going forward as shown by the goal, but a bit suspect in defence today. Gervinho had to bail him out a few times.

Arteta (8) – Kept things ticking in the middle, a couple of attempts on target, and got his goal with a phenomenal strike from a freekick.

Song (8) – Did his job well, guilty of holding on to the ball for too long. Amazing through pass for the second goal.

Rosicky (7.5) – Continued his resurgence with an assuring performance. A joy to see him in such good form.

Walcott (8.5) – Good performance, great first touch and wonderful composure to get his goal.

Gervinho (7) – Better performance. Looked lively, got an assist.

Van Persie (7) – Started well but could not get a goal. Cut a frustrated figure late on, he’s surely had better days.

SUBSTITUTES

Santos (6) – Almost gave a goal away with his first touch. Settled well in the following minutes. Great to have him back.

Ramsey (6) – Came on with a fresh pair of legs. Added more bite to the midfield.

The Ox (6) – Good cameo. Picked up from where Theo left off.

There you have it guys! 7th straight win gives us a firm grip on 3rd place.

3 points ahead of Sp*ds, 8 ahead of Chelski. Not a bad time to be a gooner, eh?

FairyTale Return As Henry Scores On Second Debut To Send Arsenal Through | Coquelin Injured

Wearing the number 12 jersey, 12 minutes before the end of his second debut, he scores his 12th goal against Leeds in the year 2012, ladies and gentlemen, Thierry Henry, is back. As someone said, “The first player to score inside the Emirates while he’s celebrating outside it(in reference to his statue)”

With all the media hysteria of Henry’s homecoming surrounding the game, one would forgive Leeds for feeling hard done by as the fixture was supposed to be about us & them and a possible cupset, and with the way they started out you could see they didn’t come to be rolled over.

Mixing youth and experience, Wenger went for a formation of Szczesny-Coquelin-Miquel-Squillaci-Koscielny-Song-Arteta-Ramsey-Arshavin-AOC-Chamakh. The first half was the closest you’ll get to a bore fest as chances were few and far between both teams, Ramsey and Arshavin at the heart of most of the attacking which just lacked the bite typified by an Arsenal team.

AOC was having a quiet game just like the Leeds attack which found Song & Arteta too much to handle in front of the defense. After just 20minutes, Coquelin picked up an injury and had to be substituted for Yennaris. The first half ended like it started with zero shots on target for both teams.

Second Half
Resisting the urge to make changes, the same team resurfaced and started to play like they really wanted it, AOC took it on himself and collected a pass on the left and ran at the defense before unleashing a stinging drive. That wasn’t the end, he went on another mazy run down the other end but missed the target.

Ramsey and Arteta kept feeding the Ox with passes as Chamakh continued to be pretty much inactive in the game and this time, the young englishman hit another rasping drive which was turned round the post for a corner.

AW had seen enough and called on club legend(former number 14) and current number 14(Walcott) to replace Oxo & Chamakh(I wanted Ramsey & Arshavin to go off as they had been average). In less than 10 seconds Henry had touched the ball but he was offside. But not to worry, the script had been written to perfection, Song slipped him a delightful pass, he took one touch, dropped his shoulder & bent it calmly past the goalkeeper… Vintage Henry, the celebration that ensued said it all, running and shouting and beating his chest before going to embrace AW & celebrate with the lads.

Leeds threatened to score but Chesney pulled off a great save to ensure no other mortal graced the same scoresheet as Henry. In what proved to be a poor performance, no one would remember as Henry grabbed the spotlight as he had done all week. I say let’s sign him till the end of the season.

We’ll leave the review of the poor performance for another time but credit to Yennaris who came on for Coquelin and showed pace, heart & desire, would get a run in the first team till Sagna is fit.

Well there you have it, we face Aston Villa in a couple of weeks at the grove, but before then, its Swansea on sunday. Do have a great day, see you in the comments. Cheers

Follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

Aston Villa vs Arsenal Preview + Gibbs Setback

Well the rush of the festive period is on us now, in the football sense of it, with a pile of fixtures to deal with in a short space of time and after losing at league leaders Manchester City on Saturday, Arsenal make the trip to the midlands to face 9th placed Aston Villa in a Premier League encounter.

The lone goal loss at the Etihad was our first reverse after a run of nine league matches undefeated, a streak that saw the club garner eight wins and a draw. That run indicates how very much we have improved in the course of the season yet at 5th place, 12 points behind Shitty, it also pays testament to how woeful our start to the season was.

To matters at hand however, we’ve won three of our last four matches on the road and with the Villans without Chris Herd, Emile Heskey and most importantly Darren Bent, our good run of form looks favoured to continue.

We’d have to make do without a whooping five defenders though after manager Arsène Wenger revealed Kieran Gibbs suffered a setback to his recovery from a hernia operation.

That opens the way for Ignasi Miquel to start at the back while ‘Dench’ Frimpong will also likely start with Alex Song set to miss out on the Villa trip suspended no thanks to his fifth yellow card picked up on Sunday.

Possible line-up:
Szczesny; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Miquel; Arteta, Frimpong, Ramsey; Gervinho, Walcott/Arshavin; van Persie (c).

Yes, Andrei Arshavin, seeing as the boss is willing to give the Russian a go in the team despite the obvious. And with a number of injuries to deal with, Squillaci could make the bench tonight.

Talking of injuries, Bacary Sagna is fit enough to run in training so we should be seeing him back in the team (sigh of relief) very soon. It is as you were for the rest.

With a record of six wins and six draws in our last dozen visits to Villa Park, I’m counting on a 2-0 win in our favour.

Do have your say in the comments and recommend us @goonermemoirs to your follows on Twitter.

Seventh Year

Arsenal

It has been quite a summer for Arsenal with the Gunners without doubt being the champions of transfer speculations all through. Can Arsène Wenger and his charges end a run of seasons without a competitive trophy at the seventh attempt?

An answer to that largely depends on the club’s mental approach going into matches and this is in two aspects. Firstly, we must kill games when leading and in the inability to do so, be able to hold onto such advantage till after the final whistle as evident from both legs of last season’s north London derby and home matches against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and West Bromwich-Albion as well as the infamous implosion at Newcastle where we ironically open this season’s campaign.

The other aspect of our mental approach to games is how we fare in the months of February and March, months that have proved the Achilles Heel in the leap towards a trophy in the last four seasons.

Last season’s episode proved the most painful, we suffered defeat to Birmingham City (now of the Championship) in the League Cup final on the last day of February, before enduring a mediocre run of form in March that pretty much ended all other title ambitions on other fronts.

And there’s the additional mental jabs dealt the team now no thanks to speculations surrounding the future of Samir Nasri & Fabregas who has reportedly agreed to a deal to return to his boyhood club. Which means a new era is about to start, one without the club’s best player. But no one man or player is greater than the club.

Meanwhile the latter is once more reportedly close to completing a £22m move to oil rich Manchester City, some reports even suggesting he may do so before the protracted tug for Fàbregas finally ends.

Arsenal’s hopes of ending the trophy drought will now rest on 20 year old Jack Wilshere(albeit not solely) as it was the English international who flourished – when Fàbregas was mostly half fit or out injured last season – with consistent and assured performances. While possessing admirable mental and physical strength, the rest of the team will determine just how much impact Wilshere will have this season.

With Laurent Koscielny apparently being the notable addition to the team last season, the Gunners actually did well until those dreaded months. This term, Ivorian forward Gervinho has joined and impressed so far with his quick feet and good composure.

Other than him, Wenger has (annoyingly) kept to his policy with a roll call of highly rated youngsters such as Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi. The transfer window however is still over a fortnight from closing so some much needed experienced players may yet arrive at the Emirates.

While awaiting those, Gooners will be banking on Robin van Persie to pick up from the fiery form of the second half of last season that saw the Dutchman finally show us his potential with a high return on goals per game. Having him fit for a whole season on such form leaves the heights attainable by the team optimistically imagined.

In the event of him being out injured as he is sadly prone to, Theo Walcott gets my nod to spearhead the front ahead of the overly disappointing Marouane Chamakh and the England international has publicly stated his desire to play upfront rather than on the wings.

Last season, he posed a real threat to defences with his raw speed that was, unlike previous seasons, complemented with much technique. This sort of form gives promise of this season being perhaps a breakthrough season for the 21 year old.

Those other than the above players that could contribute to a successful league campaign, and perhaps success in any of the other competitions, are Thomas Vermaelen, Andrei Arshavin, Koscielny and goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Woijcech Sczeszny just as I’m personally looking forward to how Aaron Ramsey fares with Abou Diaby’s injury presenting the Welsh midfielder a chance to impress.

Vermaelen on his part was out virtually all of last season injured and Squillaci failed woefully as partner to Koscielny. Consequently, the efficiency of our physios this season actually comes in just behind the team’s mental maturity as deciding factors on how this season will pan out.

Arsenal’s campaign begins at St. James’ Park in Saturday’s evening kick-off having survived getting postponed due to the violent scenes that besieged streets in London and Birmingham.

That match is then followed in quick sequence by games against title rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, with the Champions League qualifier against Italian side Udinese buttered between those red encounters.

In all honesty, Arsenal are strong contenders for the title and hopefully we avoid burning out at those times aforementioned!

That said, enjoy the season ahead, it’s great to finally be getting underway!

C’mon You Smokin’ Gunners!!!

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