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Wenger Watches 8-2 Again, Wants Better Defending + Latest Injury News


Hello good Gooners from wherever you are reading from. Been a tough couple of weeks for us, watching dear Arsenal manage to get past Leeds United between two league defeats at Fulham and Swansea, both games in which we scored first.

And now, we have those demons of Manchester visiting and memories of the early season annihilation comes to mind… can we pull a win off?

Asides, Le boss admitted to watching our 8-2 defeat again “because you have to face reality” said the Wenger.

While he believes the scoreline was an “accident” on the day, Wenger has nonetheless called for the backline to get their acts right ahead of Sunday’s crunch encounter.

“When you come back to 2-2 and then 30 seconds later it is 3-2, it is very difficult to swallow.” admitted the manager just as he expressed his surprise that we lost to Fulham and the Swans, no thanks to defensive errors and called on the defence to be improved for Manure’s visit.

Away from that, Wenger would rather not lose our favourite Russian Andrei Arshavin, who will be celebrating a third year at the club soon. The manager’s reasons being the squad worn thin by injuries coupled with his quality and admittedly, the cocky Russian’s put in good performances recently.

Finally, Wenger updated in the injury situation at the club, stating Thomas Vermaelen doesn’t look like he’ll play on Sunday as well as Thierry Henry who has a calf problem. Mikel Arteta is completely out while Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson are a couple of weeks away with Jack Wilshere set resume full training soon after them. Quite a number of bodies we’ve got in the injury room.

That’s the bit from here so far. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs and have a great weekend, expect a preview of the big game on tomorrow.

Cheers!

Arsenal ends 2011 on a high: The Player Ratings.

Szczesny (7): Dominated his area well, was confident at set pieces and made a couple of saves when called upon.

Djourou (7): Better from the Swiss. Made a few good passes forward and stood his ground well at the back.

Mert/Kos (8): The partnership keeps improving. They combined excellently, Mert with the brains, Kos with the aggression. Great performance.

Vermaelen (7): Good game, did not have much to do, and went about his job well. Went off with an injury.

Song (6): I was not too impressed with Alex. He kept misplacing pass after pass and did not do enough work for me.

Arteta (7.5): Another commendable performance, kept things ticking in the middle. Had a couple of good attempts on goal.

Ramsey (7.5): Put in a good performance, created most of our chances, and almost got one himself. He should have had an assist.

Walcott (5.5): Average game, not enough impact, the pass from Ramsey was perfect and he should be putting those away.

Arshavin (6.5): Improved performance, can still do better. He put in a decent shift and got a good assist.

RVP (8.5): He was a nuisance to the QPR defence all afternoon. He was sharp and intelligent. Made some good decisions and runs only to be let down by his execution. Well-taken goal!

SUBSTITUTES:

Coquelin (7): Came on for Vermaelen in LB and did an amazing job. He’s a good footballer, that lad.

Rosicky (6.5): Replaced Arshavin and offered a different threat to the opposition. Almost got a goal.

Gervinho (6): Came on, was full of running but his end product was below par. He really needs to work on that.

So there you have it, despite having our worst start ever, we enter 2012 in the top four. If that isn’t mental strength then I don’t know what it is.

RVP did not get to break Shearer’s record, but at least he broke Henry’s. 35 goals in a calendar year is no child’s play, and now that the pressure is off, we can only hope he continues to deliver the goods next year.

P.S: It’s most likely our last post of 2011 and we just want to say a big thank you to everyone of you, our amazing readers.

You have made this a worthwhile experience, you have given our cyber life a meaning.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Come 2012, let’s do this again!

From all of us at Memoirs Of A Gooner, have a pleasant and safe start to the new year!

Cheers!

Arsenal fail to take advantage: The Player Ratings

Szczesny (6): Had nothing to do the entire game. Could not do much about the goal.

Djourou (6.5):Did OK. Put in a few good tackles, but we still need Sagna back ASAP.

Kos/Mertesacker (8):The pair performed admirably. Granted they didn’t see the ball a lot, but the few balls they were faced with, they handle properly.

Vermaelen (8): Another good game. Did all we could expect, bar score a goal which isn’t his duty really.

Alex Billong (7): He put in a fairly good performance, can do way better though. He’s a professional and should cut out such rash challenges.

Benayoun (6.5): First 20mins, he was everywhere, but he faded as the game wore on. Nice through pass to Gervinho for the goal

Arteta (8): Went about his job quietly as usual. He was everywhere and put in a good shift.

Rosicky (7.5): Started amazingly for the first half hour, and went down one gear for the rest of the game. Probed for an opening and could have got an assist.

Gervinho (7.5): He was frustrating and brilliant at the same time. The talent is there for all to see, his delivery/execution is appalling though. Well taken goal.

RvP (7):The record was evidently on his mind, as he made some unusual decisions. He squandered some chances he would normally score. The few chances he put on goal, he met an inspired goalkeeper.

SUBSTITUTES

Ramsey (6): Came on for Alex Billong and rightly so. But he did not add much to the game. Could have had an assist.

Chamakh (4): Came on, almost gave RVP a concussion and bled through his head.

Arshavin (6): Showed some signs of improvement. Got into some nice positions but his decision making had the mark of a player short on confidence.

Wolves at home and we still fail to take advantage of slip-ups by City, L’pool and Chelsea. That’s sad, really.

Van Persie did not fire on all cylinders today and we struggled to get a goal.

If this does not convince Wenger that we need another striker, a potent one, I do not know what will.

Any comments or thoughts? Please share them below.

Arsenal vs Liverpool : Match Preview + Transfer News

Coming off clinching a landmark 100th win at the Emirates Stadium with victory in midweek over Udinese, Arsenal will be seeking a first win in the still nascent Premier League season when Liverpool come visiting in Saturday’s early kick-off.

The Gunners will be without African duo Gervinho and Alex Song with both handed three-match suspensions each for their part in the fraca with Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton last weekend just as Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere will sit out the encounter injured.

Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky has also been ruled out injured for the match as is Swiss defender Johan Djourou while Frenchman Samir Nasri will be in the squad despite edging closer to completing a move to Manchester City.

Also back in the squad and with an assured future at the club is Robin van Persie, expected to spearhead the attack in what would be his first outing as captain after being handed the armband following Cesc Fàbregas’ exit to Barcelona.

That also likely puts Marouane Chamakh back on d bench with Theo Walcott set to start alongside van Persie upfront or from the wings in light off Gervinho’s suspension. Young Ghanaian Emmanuel Frimpong could also be handed a starting shirt with Alex Song suspended while Ryo Miyaichi and Carl Jenkinson could make their league debuts.

Liverpool on their part have a full strength squad with captain Steven Gerard being the only notable absentee through injury. And Gooners should be wary of the Reds attack with Luis Suarez’s enterprise coupled with Andy Carroll’s presence a real threat notwithstanding their disappointing draw against Sunderland.

Carroll it was who scored the only goal in Newcastle’s shock win at the Emirates last season and manager Kenny Dalglish will be hopeful of a similar outcome from his number 9 with support from Suarez, Dirk Kuyt, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam.

Arsenal will bank mainly on van Persie upfront as well as the back trio of Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny – who have helped the club keep clean sheets in the last two games – to maintain that form against a fluctuative Liverpool side that had a disappointing second half last week following an impressive first.

The players would have their mental attribute tested and needing to down the poor aura of sharing points with the Reds last time they visited, in which Kuyt converted a 112th minute penalty to dent the Gunners’ title challenge then. And while it is too early for a defeat to either side dealing a major blow to any title ambitions, getting one over your rivals early on is never a bad idea and a win for Arsenal would greatly help boost belief in a team that so far has been largely devoid of creative spark and fluid play.

We’ll leave you with a bit of transfer news, we seem to have lost out in the race for Mata to Chelski which is rather irritating seeing as we found him, stalled stupidly till his fee went up and now we’re balking at the quoted fee.

But if reports are to be believed, we’ve agreed a deal to sign Lille winger Eden Hazard who in my opinion would be a great signing. Joel Campbell too has officially signed and has been training with the squad, he’ll probably have to wait a little longer before being involved.

Let’s pray we win at Udinese on Wed so we can sign A CB, a CM & and an attacker and all would be well again. From wherever you’re reading, enjoy the game.

P.S Let’s try not to boo Samir Nasri if he plays tomorrow, he just might score an own goal in retaliation.

Punkenstein

Follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

Champions League: An Early Italian Job for the Gunners

Arsenal’s 2011/12 European sojourn begins tonight, albeit a bit earlier than we Gooners would have wanted, when Italian side Udinese visit the Emirates for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League final qualifying round match with a place in the lucrative group stages at stake.

Both sides will have several key players missing through injury, suspension and Barcelona with Arsenal set to be without Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri through suspension. Jack Wilshere remains a doubt after sitting out Saturday’s fiery goalless draw at Newcastle United and Cesc Fàbregas has finally completed his protracted move to Barcelona just as Gaël Clichy has moved on to Manchester City.

Ivorian forward Gervinho looks set to get his European debut following a rough welcome to Premier League football at St. James’ Park while Theo Walcott’s bubbly substitute appearance there puts him in good contention for a starting shirt tonight coupled with van Persie being suspended and Marouane Chamakh in poor form.

Udinese on their part have lost Chilean playmaker Alexis Sanchez to the Catalan giants as well while their Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler has swapped their black-white stripes for the navy blue strip of Napoli. Imposing Colombian defender Cristian Zapata has joined Spanish outfit Villarreal and the transfer of Denis away from the club is just about completed.

Still available for the Italians in their quest for the group stage though are Maurisio Isla, assured goalkeeper Samir Hamdanovic and forward Antonio di Natale who has finished top of the goalscoring chart for the last two seasons along with Antonio Floro Flores who joins from Genoa where he netted ten times in eighteen games last season.

Despite the absence of van Persie and Nasri, the Gunners go into the encounter slight favourites based primarily on the healthy record against Italian opposition with both Milan clubs and AS Roma the most notable Italian sides overcome by the Gunners in recent years.

Arsenal also hold the slight advantage of match fitness on the back of pre-season matches and one league game while the Serie A; in the event players threat to strike falls through, will only kick-off at the end of August. There also is the record of Arsenal reaching the Champions League group phase for the 14th consecutive season that Udinese have up against them.

Hopefully, Saturday’s lethargic performance will have the lads see the need to raise their game a few notches ahead of the 19:45 kick-off.

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!!!

Arsenal Vs Barcelona : Match Preview

The Champions league resumes with the knockout stage that sees us pitted against the best team in the world according to popular and widespread beliefs, Barcelona. But are they really that mighty? On paper and in La Liga they are, but we all know the champions league is a different ball game entirely.

No point crying over spilt milk as we could have avoided this fixture at this stage if only we had topped our group, but as Le Boss is always quick to point out “To be the best, you gotta beat the best”. I love our coach, if only I shared his enthusiasm at times.

Looking to banish memories of last years deflating loss and eventual exit at their hands the lads are rearing to go and confidence within the camp can’t be any higher and as if that’s not enough good news, we only have one major absentee through injury and that’s TV5. After disposing of Wolves without hitting top gear and watching Barca held by a brave Sporting Gijon side, you’d fancy our chances especially with Puyol set to miss the first leg.

When we were drawn against the Catalans last season, I stood alone in saying we won’t lose at the Emirates no matter the situation and final outcome and I’m glad to report that this season am not alone with those thoughts. For some reason, gooners worldwide are calm about this tie and I’ll tell you why.

    For starters, we’re not missing that many players and we don’t have anyone carrying knocks at the moment. Last season, we had Rvp out injured Fab and Arsh both half fit etc

    The team is stronger than it was at this stage last year and the emergence of key players like Jack wilshere, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou has provided the fans with some cheer.

    If you think Messi is in form then RVP is form, banging in goals with his head, left leg and right leg.

I’ll get back to the 101 reasons why we can beat Barca but for now let’s look at team news ahead of the show down. Le Boss is most likely to stick to the same team that defeated Wolves at the weekend with the only real headache is whether to start Nasri(who has recovered from the hamstring injury earlier than expected) or play him from the bench. One enforced changed is the introduction of Eboue for Sagna with the latter suspended from the group stages. A healthy Arsenal squad will beat any team in the world any day to me.

Much attention has been paid to Paul Merson’s comments about the Arsenal players that would make the Barca team. I don’t have the exact comment but he implied that only Cesc, Nasri and RVP would enter the current Barca squad…….. as substitutes. Imagine that??? What rubbish. Is he trying to say Busquets is better than Song or Wilshere, or Maxwell and Adriano better than Clichy, or the trio of Iniesta-Xavi-Pedro beats that of Cesc-Nasri-Theo? In my own books, this is what a combined team of Arse-Barca would look like today and am sure most of you would agree.

    Valdes

    Alves Vermaelen Puyol Clichy

    Fabregas Song Xavi

    Messi RVP Villa

The bench would definately have more Arsenal players than Barca, a different formation would see Nasri and or Iniesta in the line up. But the matter on hand is how to stop barca, or how to make sure our game surpasses theirs. We need to take the game to them early, and focus on our own game rather than on individual battles, keeping possession for long spells during the game is also essential. This would make Barca chase the ball which they aren’t used to and we could capitalise on that. But this is easier said than done. Xavi would be looking to do what he does best and so too will Messi, but if we can keep one quiet then I foresee an advantage.

Personally I’d love to see Wilshere stick to Messi throughout the game, not necessarily as a man marking strategy but just to harry him each time he touches the ball, kinda like Tiote did Fabregas in the 2nd half of the 4-4 game at the Emirates. No matter the team that is sent out there, I expect nothing less than 100% from them, my only worry is the fact that Eboue gets to start, let’s just pray Barca continue their habit of repeatedly attacking from the right.

We will cause them problems as I expect Alves’ attacking instincts to be curbed and Pique won’t have it easy against the Red hot RVP, and with Wilshere and Song enforcing behind Fabregas our attacks would be devastating. Even they would need to be careful as to how they attack us knowing they have full backs not known for their defensive strengths and Walcott agaisnt Maxwell is already giving me goose pimples. Our defence needs to be on their toes, they’re used to playing against physical strikers and winning aerial balls and this might pose a problem as Barca forwards don’t require any of that and like to let their feet(which by the way are some of the quickest in world football) do the damage.

Irrespective of what happens come the end of 90 mins, football would be the winner as both teams have mastered the art of entertainment, winning or losing they’re always pleasing to watch and let’s hope we’re the one’s with the loudest noise come end of the game. I repeat I don’t see us losing at the Emirates, it won’t happen.

Possible Formation : Chezzer-Eboue-Kozzer-JD-Clichy-Song-Wilshere-Fabregas-Walcott-Arshavin-RVP.

Your thoughts?

Escobar

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

We’re Going To Wembley, YES WE ARE!

Gibbsy
Like many gooners worldwide, I have no doubt in the outcome of the game later tonight. Confidence is sky high and the players know a lot is on the line. The added incentive of winning a silverware for the first time since 2005. But wait, do we really want this? If our performance in the first leg was anything to go by then our opponents seem to know what’s at stake more than us. I’ll just call that game a ‘bad day at the office’.

Okay, we seem to have put our poor run of form behind us, emphasis on the seem, but again you would have bet your house on easy wins against Leeds (1st leg) and Ipswich as well. But now we find ourselves needing to run the latter of the green grass of our stadium. Ah well it could have been worse, I do remember that they could have been two up in that game. Yet this game is actually easier to lose than the 1st leg, because its no longer even ground seeing as the away goals rule counts and they are one up.

Now do you see Ipswich not scoring? Well with the tactic they are sure to use (long balls) no, especially if we’re crazy enough to play a high line in defence. If we’re to concede at all, I’ll prefer we do so very early so we can roll over them but its a cup competition, no easy games here. A clean sheet is essential for our progress. Wigan 2006 anyone???

Another thing which concerns me as regards this game, is what the team selection will be. I have no reason to believe that these people shall be in the line up. I mean Samir, Cesc, RVP,Song Theo; you get my drift? Need I mention that all our goals at Elland road came from our usual starters, but If Arsene decides a rest is needed by at least 3 of these above mentioned names,we might be in for a long night.

They will definitely park the bus, yes, the same one Man Shitty brought with them to the Emirates, albeit a less expensive one. That being said, we should have enough to move their vehicle out of our space and throw it where it belongs. Yes, you geddit, we throw it out!

As such we’ll need our wingers dearly this evening because what we should do is stretch their back four and move them out of place which should make movement easier down the middle; a fast paced game will also be just what the doctor ordered cue Mr. Walcott and Mr. Nasri maybe even the enigmatic Russian. My ideal line-up looks something like this:

    Chezzney

    Sagna JD Koscly Gibbs

    Denilson Wilshere Nasri

    Bendtner Chammy Arshavin

This way have Cesc, RVP and Theo on the bench in case things go out of hand. It’s been rumoured that Ignasi Miquel might get the nod ahead of JD just to rest him and Eboue might come in for Sagna, I say we leave Sagna on seeing how in his absence the Ivorian got some games. I’m looking forward to this game as I believe can be the turnaround of Arshavin’s slump and fancy Chamakh to nab a brace.

We hope Arsene gets his tactics spot on for all gooners the world over will stand behind me when I say, we need a trophy, BADLY!!!

From wherever you choose to watch,have fun and I’m sure we’ll all be rejoicing come the end of 90 minutes.

Ita!

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