@bosunescobar said “Arsenal will chop two, just watch” and we did. But I damn well am glad we gave West Brom three to chop… and Kieran Gibbs must surely have a place in Heaven after that aptly executed stoppage time tackle. Trepidation ‘whelms me at the thought of “had that gone wrong… “.
Francis Coquelin turned 19 on the day, Yossi Benayoun performed well for us again in what likely is his last game for us, anxiety got the better of monsieur Wenger and who better to cling on than Pat Rice, lifted by the players after the final whistle to an ovation from the visiting fans; in tribute to the end of his long service to the club.
It was a tense way to wrap up our season, Arsenal somehow always ensures of the drama. After Fulop flopped to let Yossi give us the lead after four minutes, two goals in four minutes meant we had work to do.
How the first wasn’t chalked off for offside leaves my being perplexed. How the second was scored left my emotions numb at our defensive movement, with Graham Dorrans making light work of Kozzer and TV5 there.
All that happened in the opening 15 minutes and our ‘noisy’ neighbours were at the time, ahead against Fulham by a lone Emmanuel Adebayor goal.
It wasn’t the ideal scenario for a week 38 fixture as far as any gooner was bothered. Any form of goal was craved and Andre the boss Santos duly obliged to get our gays back on level terms just after the half hour mark.
A tinny bit of skill before lashing one into the bottom corner and the Brazilian ensured we’d go into the break at 2-2 with the Sillywhites still leading by Adebayor’s goal i.e. they = 69 and us = 68… *shudders*
We showed some urgency at the start of the second half. Rosicky got replaced by Theo Walcott at half time, leaving Yossi with the task of pulling the midfield strings.
Jermaine Defoe doubled the Tiny Tots’ advantage just past the hour mark and we were on our way to 1) another nervy affair in the Champions League final qualifying round or 2) the Europa Leag… God forbideth!!
Marton Fulop obliged yet again. Making to punch away a van Persie corner but jumping into his (better placed to clear) defender and fumbling his attempted clearance instead, gifting Laurent Koscielny the goal to scramble in the ball.
No amount of goals scored at the Shite Fart Lane could help them now. Ramsey came on for Santos and Benayoun returned to the left wing after Gervinho went off for Kieran Gibbs.
Inspired substitution, the latter, thanks to that tackle I mentioned earlier. Made Gibbs my man of the match, along with the industrious Yossi while van Persie came a close third.
And though he did say in his pre-match note that he’d trade all his goals for a win at the Hawthorns, finishing dead on 30, just one behind the record number 31, had me feel a tad bit of “damn” for captain vantastic.
Nonetheless, he’s the PFA and FWA Player of the Season, Arsenal.com’s Player of the Season (yet to be polled but really, it’s not a contest) and the league’s ‘golden boot’ as well as Europe’s bronze boot behind “Angel” Messi and the oiled one, Ronaldo.
Summarily, it was a bipolar season for the Gunners. A good season thanks to going from fourth bottom to third from top in Wenger’s 900th league match for us. A bad season no thanks to making it seven years without a trophy… take the figurine out of Arsenal’s abode already -__-.
We missed Jack Wilshere gravely. Alas, Mikel Arteta would likely not be a gunner now if Jack wasn’t injured. A silver lining to carry into our campaign next season.
Lukas Podolski is a gunner, most imperatively alongside van Persie. Would be interesting to see if we adapt to a 4-4-2 formation or play the German from the left wing. Certainly hope he’s not a ‘replacement killer’ for you-know-who.
And finally, two more arrivals and no departure of players other than the Squillacis and Shishas will have us being real title contenders next season. M’Vila? Vertonghen? Biglia? Belhanda? Time will tell.
Congratulations to Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and (from some corner of my heart) Samir Nasri along with their title winning mates at Manchester City. Thoroughly deserve to be champions and what a breathless way to pip the Red Devils to it.
Take a cue Tiny Tots, that’s what you call a noisy neighbour!
Beautiful Morning to you all from wherever you’re reading, even if its not, surely the events of yesterday will at least make for a good start to the working week.
While we’re at it, someone send a bottle of wine to Dempsey(Bennett too) or better still, add the American to our shopping list for next season. With one year left on his contract he can’t command much and would be a great option off the bench or not. Well then, straight to the post.
Following the apparent success of last year’s visit, the club has announced it will be back at Malaysia as part of it’s Asian tour later this year ahead of the 2012/13 season.
This comes in addition to already set dates in Hong Kong against Kitchee FC on July 29 and in China against Manchster City at Beijing’s Bird Nest Stadium two days before.
You’ll recall that the match at the Bird’s Nest had its publicity done in the warm-up for Sunday’s league encounter between both sides with players of both clubs spotting shirts with words printed in Mandarin for viewers watching the match in China.
The Malaysian tour will kick off the club’s Asian tour, with the first-team squad to take part in an open training session in the Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur on July 23 before playing a match against a Malaysia XI at the same venue from 9.45pm local time on July 24.
Why The Nigerian Tour Might Not Happen
The Asian tour is expected to be followed by a tour to Nigeria early in August with Arsenal expected to play two matches, reportedly in Port Harcourt and Lagos, before returning to Europe to prepare for the 2012/13 season.
On a side note, I think the Nigerian date hasn’t received firm confirmation because the Champions League qualifying matches take place around the same time so I’m guessing the club is being cautious about confirming the date until third spot and group stage Champions League qualification has been cemented in the league.
The quest for that continues on Wednesday night when we visit bottom of the table Wolverhampton Wanderers, where a win would open a five point cushion for us over Sp*rs and Newcastle United.
Looks like the FA are looking into Balotelli’s reckless challenge on Song and if found guilty could be handed a 9match ban. Yes. 9 games, that’s his 3rd sending off in the league this season for the mercurial Italian.
Tomas Rosicky has been named player of the month for Arsenal beating Theo(2nd) and Vermaelen (3rd). He fully deserves it, the midfield has been key to our resurgence and he’s a man reborn, driving everyone forward. Unlike Pires I hope we keep him around longer.
Preview for that comes up here tomorrow morning. For now, have a pleasant day ahead.
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So Wenger says Teary Henry could make a return to Arsenal, apparently he’s impressed so well in training and continues to do better than all the strikers with only world class forward Chamakh doing better than him. I don’t have the exact quotes but I’d surely love to see the legend turned statue pull on an Arsenal jersey again & run.
This weekend presents another stern test of Arsenal’s push for the Premier League crown in our visit of league leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
Unlike the recent League Cup clash in which Shitty came out (most fortunately) victorious, this fixture will see Mancini having to deal with a full strength Arsenal, safe for Andre Santos who’s out till March much to le Professeur’s disappointment (at himself I presume).
The filthy billionaires will be without injured Kolarov and Gäel the Cliché thanks to his red card at the Bridge on Monday while I hear Yaya Toure will also miss out having reached the accumulated number of yellow cards for a one match suspension. Whatever team we get to face, Sergio Aguero is the man our back line must keep in check as well as Mario Balotelli should Mancini decide to start the one of a kind fella Mario is ahead of Edin Dzeko.
That said, Johan Djourou and Per Mertesacker; Per especially, have their work cut for them along with Koscielny and the Vermaenator who’ll play at left back.
Possible Line-up: Szczesny; Djourou, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Arteta, Song, Ramsey; Gervinho, Walcott; van Persie (c).
I’m pretty sure AOC, Syrup and most especially Dench would love to be a part of this fixture, even if it’s to be on the bench all through. Benayoun, Rosicky, Almunia and Arshavin :’( look the sure bets to be though.
In other matters, Jack Wilshere’s return now is for mid-February after a scan on his injury showed good progress has been made towards his recovery. Kieran Gibbs meanwhile should be available for selection for the trip to Villa Park.
Champions League Draw
And finally, we got AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16… we’ve done it on ‘em before, we’ll do it again.
For now, I’m going for a 2-3 final score in Arsenal’s favour. What’s your take? Have a pleasant weekend!!
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Last time out against Fulham, the pre-match stats tilted much against the Cottagers just as that building in Piza and against Manchester City tonight, same can be said. Most glaring of all being that we have never lost a home tie at the Emirates in domestic Cup competitions.
I’d rather not dwell on such stats, or on what could have been against Fulham, and focus on the match itself. Had the date read August 29, the above record would stand little chance of being after 90 minutes against such formidable opposition. Now however, certain factors have evened the balance and given Arsenal a realistic chance of making the League Cup semi finals… yet again.
Starting with the visitors. Having played virtually or all of the encounter on Sunday at Liverpool, we’re likely to not see ex-Gunner Gäel Clichy, James Milner and Yaya Toure feature after the trim saw out that pulsating match while David Silva (substituted at 90) and Sergio Aguero (at 82) will likely be rested.
Gareth Barry is out suspended along with the bi-polar Mario Balotteli while any one of Vincent Kompany or Joleon Lescott may be rested for Kolo Toure as both played all 90 minutes as well. All that said, this is City we’re talking about…
Edin Dzeko will definitely start and I reckon Pablo Zabaleta, Andy Johnson, Nigel de Jong and fan favourite $amir Nasri will start as well, which makes for a strong opposition against us tonight; not to mention a most capable Joe Hart in goal for them.
Hence, having brushed aside any notion of facing a weak (by fitness or quality) opposition, onto Arsène Wenger’s headache of what team to select appropriate enough to face City tonight and keep to his League Cup tradition.
Oxlade Chamberlain & Park Chu Yung are going to start the game, so too Emmanuel Frimpong, but le Professeur says 90% of the squad he knows already and the remaining 10% yet to be sorted. Arshavin after talking about him not playing enough games as his ‘abilities’ deserve before the Fulham draw, he’s done same for Yossi Benayoun ahead of tonight game so I believe the Israeli captain will start.
Possible line-up: Fabianski-Yenaris-Koscielny-Vermaelen-Santos-Frimpong-AOC, Benayoun-Coquelin-Gervinho-Park
In the end, I expect City to play defensive as it’s the approach manager Roberto Mancini has come to the Emirates with the past two seasons. Hopefully, the lads will come good tonight in the quest for a place in the last four. See you at the end of the game. COYG!!!!!
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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!!!