Monthly Archives: April 2012
Breaking news just reaching us is that Arsenal have officially completed the signing of German International Lukasz Podolski for a fee believed to be in the region of £10.9M. After months of rumors and speculation, the news is finally confirmed. Podolski had this to say about the deal.
- “Arsenal provides opportunity to gain individual development and experience at a top European top club. I will always have FC Cologne in my heart, but Arsenal is a great opportunity in my career”
Just a day after confirming that Arsenal have been over reliant on RVP for the goals this season, he made his move on Podolski and it had been agreed since but the two clubs decided to put it on hold till season’s end.
For those wondering, despite playing for a team in the relegation mix pretty much all season, Podolski has 18 goals and 6 assists in 26 games. He’s definitely no Chamakh and his versatility(can play LF, RF & CF) is one welcomed by we fans.
With Podolski confirmed, and word from an inside source that Arsene wants to complete all his deals before the European Championship starts, you can expect the likes of M’vila(most likely to sign), Vertoghen/Giroud/Belhanda to follow suit. Great business it would be and just the right incentive for RVP to extend his contract. Have a great day.
Abou Diaby’s injury jinx struck again as he suffered a thigh strain in the dying minutes of our game against Stoke.
The injury is expected to rule him out for several weeks, possibly missing Euro 2012 in the process.
The visit to Stoke was only his second game back from another injury. He has managed only 5 appearances for us this season, playing just over 2 hours of football.
His recent injuries have been attributed to a horrendous tackle from Sunderland’s Dan Smith in May 2006. He underwent 3 surgeries to repair the injury and missed the UCL final in the process.
He’s suffered over 30 injuries since then and many fans are quick to ignore the fact that he barely plays. Some don’t even want to consider the fact that we may have a injury crock on our hands.
“Diaby is not injury prone”, they tell you, “He’s just unlucky”. A quick examination of his football history suggests otherwise.
Abou began his playing career at Red Star Paris’ Youth Academy, and the academy coach, Marco Lienel described him as “fairly quiet and quite frail“. “Frail” in my dictionary means “weak and delicate.”.
Diaby signed his first professional contract with Auxerre in 2004; a 3-year deal but he only lasted 2. He moved to Arsenal in 2006.
Jacques Santini, Auxerre Manager at the time felt the sale of Diaby to Arsenal was justified. He thought it was a strategic sale.
“Abou was one of the players I used at the start of the season and then he had to stop because of repetitive injuries.”
Diaby has managed just over 150 appearances since he joined 6 years ago. This looks like a decent figure until you consider the fact that he joined at the same as Walcott and Adebayor. Walcott who joined as a 17-year old and did not play at all in 2006 has almost 220 appearances. Even Adebayor played 104 games as an Arsenal player in half the time Diaby has been at the club.
Now there is no doubt Diaby is an absolute beast of a player, he holds the ball very well, dribbles well, shoots well. Heck, he was tipped to be our Vieira, but of what use is a player like Messi if he does not play?
Some may be quick to point to RVP as a reason why we should stick to Diaby, but it should be noted that RVP did not have any major injury problems prior to his Arsenal career. Even when he played the occassional game, his impact was felt. 73 goals in 197 appearances a testament to this. A return of a goal every 2.6 games is more than decent for a supporting striker.
Rosicky had a mysterious injury that kept him out for so long. The moment that was cleared up, he started rehab and we have him back.
Diaby’s future may not be at Arsenal. He may have had a couple of very good games for us, but those have been far too infrequent. He has not been able to achieve consistency because he finds himself continuously trying to build up to match fitness and also match sharpness.
Personally, Abou is a player I hope Arsene gambles with and sticks by. His contract runs out in 2014 and I would simply wait until then to make a decision. But we cannot continue to pay a player good wages to sit on the treatment table for so long.
If he cannot stay fit then there is a very justified argument that He should be replaced by someone who can play more than 5 games on the trot without such a history of injury.
If Diaby somehow turns it over and becomes an important player for us, I’ll be the first one to admit my mistake, eat the humble pie and support him. The current injury rules him out for the season, it may be until next season before that happens…if Arsene does not ship him out this summer that is.
Any thoughts? Share them below.
A draw obviously isn’t the best result especially in our quest to seal third spot but coming away from the Britannia with a one-all draw is a very good result for Arsenal.
The result is more appreciated based on the fact that both Manchester clubs got only a point there as did Chelsea, while Liverpool left the Britannia with nothing… oh yea, ditto the Tiny Tots.
Then the result is most appreciated when you add Wigan Athletic’s astounding 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle United, a result that means we will have a four point lead over the chasing pack when the rest of the weekend’s fixtures are over.
Over to our performance then. Having lost three of our last four visits here, going behind to Peter Crouch’s header after nine minutes made it seem it’d be deja vu.
More so as the goal had come against the run of play, with Begovic already put to test off a shot from Yossi Benayoun and the PFA & FWA Player of the Year’s header few minutes before Crouch’s goal.
Robin van Persie would finally register a goal from open play after going about 11 hours without one, getting on the end of a Tomas Rosicky cross to equalise.
Benayoun is commended here for winning the ball off Shotton and initiating the move that resulted in the captain’s 130th goal in his Arsenal career.
Unfotunately, the rest of our afternoon was laden with misses as Gervinho, Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey fired shots wide while van Persie had a soft header saved comfortably.
Most importantly, Bacary Sagna made a clearance late in the game as the towers that be at Stoke went aerial on us in search of an undeserved winner late on.
With that, the players get the following in ratings:
Szczesny – 7
Sagna – 8
Koscielny – 7
Vermaelen – 7
Gibbs – 7
Ramsey – 7
Song – 7.5
Rosicky – 8
Benayoun – 7.5
Gervinho – 6
van Persie – 7.5
Diaby continues his return to actually being a footballer with another decent appearance from the bench for Ramsey. We stay hopeful for his feet’s lasting ‘fitness’ this time around.
We could have had a penalty in the closing quarter hour of the match after Whelan ‘bullied’ the very industrious Benayoun in the box. Arsène Wenger revealed after the match that he’d been told by the assistant referee that the incident hadn’t been seen.
Onto another sensory device and Tony Pulis’ hearing left him unaware of the senseless booing of Ramsey who impressed on the day. He did criticise Gooners in the stadium for booing Ryan Shawcross… a rare case of SHS here; Selective Hearing Syndrome.
Wenger’s New Man
Le Professeur has hinted that his next assistant on the bench will be one with a history at the club, a welcome hint I might add, mind had started infatuating with the idea of Pep… nevermind.
With Pat Rice set to retire at season’s end, a host of names have propped including Tony Adams, Martin Keown and academy boss Steve Bould though the latter only recently ruled himself out, sort of.
Personally, I would much love to have the Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp as Rice’s replacement next season as I see him as an ideal successor to Wenger, who would prefer to have someone that will keep the ‘philosophy’ going at the club.
Share your thoughts below about the result at Stoke and on who you see being Wenger’s new sidekick from next season.
Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Badstuber, Alaba; Gustavo, Schweinsteiger, Kroos; Ribery, Robben, Gomez. Muller (sub)
That’s the Bayern Munich side that defeated a free-spending, star-studded Real Madrid team to secure a place in a Champions League final.
A closer look at this team and you discover that 7 of those players came through the ranks in Bayern Munich. Four were quality (not necessarily expensive) signings, to give them that cutting edge.
You already know where I am going with this, don’t you?
Earlier in the millenium, Wenger was in charge of a team that boasted world class quality in almost every department. All of them were playing well and more importantly, playing well as a team.
His blueprint for winning was pretty much what people were used to, a top quality team of experienced internationals added to pre-season with a couple of experienced players (in this case French or African).
He would occasionally add a high potential youngster to the mix. (See Cesc, Wilshere, Anelka).
They won trophies, in style too. But when the time came, the team had to be dismantled, some may argue it was done too quickly.
A move to a bigger stadium was on the horizon and funds were tight, there was a need to balance the books. The club had to change its strategy.
While I think Wenger had already started this before talks of a move to the Emirates cropped up, he planned on doing it on a much larger scale.
He struck gold with the likes of Toure, Viera and Henry and that must have spurred him on. We went through 2003/04 unbeaten in the league.
The difference between then and what we have now is that the team then was quite strong, strong enough to allow young players get some experience.
However, fast forward three years to 2007 and only Gilberto, Toure and Lehmann managed to survive the chop.
So what happened in between? Two things:
First, the Emirates stadium, despite already reaping rewards financially, seems cursed cursed to never house a trophy. Costing close to £400 million, it left the club in huge debt.
But with much of the debt now wiped out and Arsenal in (according to the books) “financial heaven”, there is no better time to buy than now.
The other factor was the loss of a certain David Dein. Yeah yeah, you must be thinking “not David Dein talk again”.
But the truth is he supported Wenger throughout his best years and was never replaced (nah…Gazidis does not count).
To be honest, I didn’t see how much this would affect the club at first I mean…he is just another memeber of the board. But his backroom dealings brought Arsene to Arsenal in the first place.
Also, he was supposedly a major influence on the transfers of Cesc, PV4, RVP, Petit, Marc Overmars, Titi, Pires, and Campbell.
Just take a look at Daniel Levy across the road at Sp*rs and Milan’s Adrian Galliani and you’ll understand my point.
Now Project Youth has gone through two phases. Wenger, around 2008, deciding some of them weren’t good enough (Muamba and Aliadiere) or they deciding Arsenal’s didn’t match their ambition (Flamini).
And there is the current crop of youngsters (Coquelin, Jack, Frimps, Oxlade-Chamb, Yennaris) who are not doing too badly.
The only real Arsenal-bred youngsters who have grown to full fledged regulars from Arsenal’s academy are Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs. Then we have the likes of Cesc, Cashley, Song and Sz13 whom we ‘took’ while they were young.
This season we probably have the most players out on loan in the history of the league. Some players will not make the grades at Arsenal, and we can all see that.
Project Youth should be about developing the quality (maybe few) players, not holding on to many average players.
Now, we do have a relatively strong squad, a good basis for two (assuming we already have Podolski) quality signings. Wenger needs to take a look at players like Denilson, Vela, Lansbury and Bendtner.
He needs to decide whether to give them one more season to come good or just cash in while there is still interest in them.
Bayern Munich have shown that you do not need to spend all the money in the world (a la Real Madrid), to compete with the best.
They have a similar transfer model to Arsenal, spending reasonably within their means. Wenger started this last summer by recruiting Arteta, Mert4, Yossi and Santos.
We showed a lot of promise against the might and money of Manchester City, Milan and Chelsea this season. Imagine a player like Cesc hadn’t left and we have a midfield comprising Arteta, a player like Cesc, and Song.
Project Youth has not failed, completely, Sz13’s and Oxlade Chamberlain’s performances this season evidence of that. It just needs to be readjusted to fit with the reality of today, a few experienced heads (Robben, Lahm, Ribery, Gomez) to take the young guns past the finish line.
Wilshere can be our Kroos, Ramsey our Gustavo, and Song our Schweini. We already have a better striker than Gomez so that’s settled.
If Podolski joins, and Wenger sees the chance to build on what has been an eye-opening season by recruiting another (or two) experienced player(s), next season will be ours to throw away. Cliché?
What we have at the moment is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken by buying those quality players to persuade RVP et al to stay.
A quick look at our current youth set up shows a number of ‘next big things’; the task before Arsene is making them more Fabregas than Aliadiere.
That’s as much as I can take today mates! The race for 3rd place is still hot even though we’re in the driving seat. A preview of our visit to Stoke will be posted tomorrow morning. Watch out for that.
Birthday shout outs to Punkenstein, one of the three authors on this blog. It’s been an honour mate. Reach for the skies!
Then there’s the talk of Pep Guardiola refusing to sign a new contract at Barcelona. What do you guys make of that? Pep at Arsenal? Hmmmmmm….
Share your thoughts in the comments.
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What a week of football we’ve had so far with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo keeping up their series of “I can do whatvever you can” after both missed crucial penalty kicks that played a part in their respectively team’s exit from the Champions League.
A case of “we’ll be back” next season for them. Speaking of next season, we’ve seen a number of kits surface in recent times as being our kit for the 2012/13 season. And what you’ve seen above is a new one that surfaced last night.
Evidently, it suggests we’ll be back to having yellow as our second kit, which would be a welcome move. Generally the design looks cool, and is the best looking rumoured kit for next season I’ve seen so far or what do you think?
The Sun first reported last night that Jack Wilshere will turn down any invitation from Stuart Pearce to be part of team GB’s football side at the Olympics this summer and instead concentrate on becoming fully fit for Arsenal next season.
This comes on the heels of ‘psychotic’ Pearce insisting the 20 year old will be included in the team GB squad if he is fit to play, a move that would see Wilshere miss pre-season with us.
Having not played competitive football this season no thanks to niggling setbacks in his recovery from an ankle injury, Arsenal would rather Wilshere was with us when he is eventually fully fit.
And though we recognise that Wilshere’s made quite an impression on managers with his an immense talent, Pearce will have 79 other players to choose his final 18-man squad to the Olympics from, he really should let Wilshere be for now.
Bendtner to Decide Future After Euros
World’s best forward Nicklas Bendtner spoke on Danish television and basically stated that he is not sure he would be a Sunderland player beyond this season even if the opportunity came.
He also said he will be open to the option of returning to us when his loan spell ends though reiterated his desire to leave the club and I feel it’s the best option for him, with Podolski’s ‘imminent’ signing, Chamakh’s reluctance to be shipped out and the presence (for whatever other reason than competitive football) of Park Chu Young.
He also however stated that a definite course of his future will be made only after playing at the European Championships at Poland and Ukraine.
For now, he says he has enjoyed having games under his belt at Sunderland even though the style of play at the Stadium of Light differs from Arsenal’s.
Le boss will be away from the touchline in Europe next season after deciding to not go the long (and ultimately fruitless) path of an appeal against his UEFA charge and fine for using fine language on the referee in the win over Milan.
Consequently, Wenger will miss Arsenal’s first three matches in Europe next season… the first three Champions League group stages most preferably.
That’s the bit from here today. Next up will be a preview of the tricky trip to face Stoke City as we look to seal that final Champions League spot in our last three league matches, starting from the Brittania.
Do follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs and have a great day.
As much as I’d have loved to move on, it is only fitting that one talks about the game we saw last night. Terry gets sent off, Chelsea qualify knock out Barccelona, and the most surpirsing of all, Torres gets a goal.
Crazy, crazy game if you ask me. Chelsea really rode their luck yesterday, I doubt Messi would have lost that penalty if it was Arsenal. That’s how unlucky we are.
It was good to see an English side go through to the final again, sad to see the arguably the best team in the history of the game lose out in such manner, and disgusting to see the reactions of some Arsenal fans.
We complain when ex-players talk about Arsenal, yet we find it difficult to keep our noses out of their business. That reeks of hypocrisy if you ask me.
So Chelsea are in the final and they have a shot at the title which is what really gets to me. Apart from the fact that they may be the first London side to win the Champions League, Chelsea’s result in the final may decide whether or not we play in the Champions League next year.
A bit of research on the EPL’s official website, and this is what I found out:
“No extra domestic place can be gained by winning the UEFA Champions League, therefore the team finishing fourth drops to the UEFA Europa League.”
This means if we somehow manage to lose our 3rd spot to N’castle or Spurs, and Chelsea somehow win the UCL, there will be no Champions League football for us next season. Our last 3 games include visits to Stoke and West Brom, grounds we have struggled in recently and we will need to dig deep to get 6 points from both games.
It is possible of course. We only need to banish the spirits that reared their heads against QPR and Wigan.
It looks like our favourite Brazilian, Denilson will be returning next season. His lawyer has apparently been in London this week, with the hope of securing an extension to Denilson’s loan deal with Sao Paulo but the club have denied him permission. It looks like Wenger wants him back in time for pre-season.
And with some reports stating Arsenal will look to wrap up M’villa deal before the start of Euro 2012, questions are raised over Denilson’s role in the team. Gut feeling tells me we just want him to return so we can ship him off, permanently this time. He’s in the same ship with Bendtner and Vela – those we may be looking to give away this summer.
Vela has been in good form in Spain. It can be argued that he is only scoring goals because the league is easier (for strikers), and that the pressure at Arsenal was too much for him. Flip the coin and you have an amazing talent who was rarely given a chance to impress (5-minute cameos when we are losing do not count). One can only hope Wenger does the right thing.
Which is exactly what he did when he ruled out Wilshere for the season and from participating in any summer tournament. But Stuart ‘The Pyscho’ Pearce has chosen to act out his nickname. Pearce has stated that Wenger cannot stop him from including Wilshere in his Great Britain squad for the Olympics this summer.
That’s his opinion. I can’t change his opinion, and it’s not of great concern to me. Will any manager get a veto over who I select? Of course not.
It is safe to assume that Pearce will ignore what is best for Jack who is still recovering from a year out of the game and pick him for the Olympics. Granted he may need some football to get him started for next season, but playing at the Olympics can equally make his injury worse.
We surely do not want him ruled out for most of next season again, do we? Time will tell whether or not Pearce allows that nickname to get into his head.
The players have been vocal, Rosicky talking about a 3-second system he’s trying to perfect with Song and Arteta, Sagna and Koscielny talking about how far they’ve come, and Szczesny staying grounded. You may want to look at this piece on RVP’s year in numbers. Interesting stuff.
So that’s all from me today, Chelsea’s win yesterday just raised my hunger for a trophy. They can do a double this year! They can also end up with nothing like us, so we should not be quick to curse our luck. Plus we did not have to spend 50 million quid on a player who scores once in 2 blue moons.
Podolski looks like a done deal, a creative midfielder will be in order. I expect Chamakh and Park to leave. I’m thinking do Bendtner and Vela deserve another chance at Arsenal or should we just farm them off?
Share your thoughts with me in the comments.
Have an amazing day wherever you read this from.
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Robin van Persie has expectedly been named as PFA Player of the Year, ahead of Sergio Agüero, Wayne Rooney, David Silva, Joe Hart and some other fella that should rather have been Alex Song in my opinion.
Anyway, our captain was consequently named in the PFA Team of the Year as well, partnered up front by Red Devils’ striker Rooney, rendering City’s Kun Agüero conspicously missing.
Newcastle United’s Fabricio Coloccini partnered Vincent Kompany at the back, ahead of either one of Laurent Koscielny or Thomas Vermaelen and I’m thinking the own goals cost Kozzer a spot there.
That ‘other fella’ found his way here too; as defensive midfielder, as did Yaya Toure in central midfield, David Silva on the right and the ‘other fella’s’ teammate… the demon monkey himself appropriately on the ‘left’.
A third Sp*ds player, Kyle Walker won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and was named in the right back position while Everton’s Leighton Baines got the nod for the left back position.
Walker beat our own Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck, Chelski’s Daniel Sturridge and also completed a dire night for Agüero off the field as the Argentine was also nominated in the category.
On a lighter note…….
Ashley Young was named diver of the year with Luis Suarez in 2nd place and Gareth Bale in 3rd. Also, Howard Webb won the 12th man award for the 3rd year running as United’s unregistered player.
Mikel Arteta won “best hair in the league”, Papiss Cisee won “how-to-pull-a-drogba/Torres-on-your-strike-partner” award. John Terry wasn’t left out as he won Racist of the year edging out Suarez again.
A big congratulations to van Persie who becomes the fifth Gunner to win he award and the first Gunner since the talismatic Thierry Henry won it successive years in 2003 and 2004.
All that said, what players would you have preferred to see in the PFA Team of the Year?
Share your thoughts on that and more below and tell a gooner to follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs
It was an overly dull London derby as Arsenal played out a goalless draw with Chelsea, a result fans of the Blues will be happier with but one that may well have ended their Champions League ambition from the Premier League point of view.
As for us, we were absent for much of the first half against a second string Chelsea. Captain van Persie hit the post (yet again) and the highly impressive Koscielny was denied by the crossbar.
Below is the player ratings…
Szczesny – 7
Assured performance from the Pole on his 50th Premier League appearance for us.
Sagna – 6
Good game as well on his century of matches for Arsenal.
Vermaelen – 7
When RvP hit the post off Walcott’s freekick, Vermaelen was next to him ready to pounce. Turn the 5 upside down and add a line where necessary… you have a makeshift 9. And he defends very well too, that we all know.
Koscielny – 8.5
Sterling performance from the Frenchman, especially in the second half. Unfortunate to have the bar deny him after losing his marker well.
Gibbs – 6.5
Good game from him.
Song – 7.5
A rock in midfield. Delivered some good balls and dispossessed the visitors on a number of occasions.
Ramsey – 3
He did throw a cool long ball for RvP in the second half. He however lost possession too many times, lingering on the ball when his job was to keep the game going.
Keep the faith here gooners…
Rosicky – 7
Was at a loss when he was substituted, then got word that he’s been ill recently. Good game from him nonetheless, felt he could have played a bit longer.
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5
Not the Ox we’ve come to love. Troubled the Chelsea back with his agility at times but brought little to the match.
Walcott – 5
Went off with a hamstring injury, hopefully not a serious one. Had an average game.
Van Persie – 5
Let’s be honest here, our captain vantastic hasn’t been the Robin that had us no longer needing a Batman lately. Now, he’s gone over 11 hours without a goal from open play, that’s not right!
Gervinho – 5
Diaby – 5
Thankfully, he saw this through unlike when he came on at Liverpool.
Santos – N/A
Summarily, we go six points clear with three games to play but Sp*ds and Newcastle now have two games more to play. When you do the math, today’s point is actually valuable. We just would’ve preferred three.
Do share your thoughts about the outcome and its implications below.
Arsenal will look to complete a Premier League double and also get a third successive win over Chelsea when the Blues visit the Emirates in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Roberto di Matteo’s side will be without David Luiz and suspended Branislav Ivanovic while according to a tweet by @BornGooner, Didier Drogba will miss the encounter as well, after picking a knee injury in the lone goal win over Barcelona on Wednesday.
Arsenal will be without Mikel Arteta who is out for 6-8 weeks with a sprained ankle that thankfully does not require surgery, while Yossi Benayoun is ineligible as part of the loan deal from Stamford Bridge.
Serial cold table patient Abou Diaby will likely be in the squad as a result of the above absentees while Laurent Koscielny returns from his two-match suspension, relegating Djourou to the bench and Squillaci to gunner-oblivion.
Szczesny. Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Santos. Ramsey, Song, Rosicky. Walcott, Ox/Gervinho. Van Persie.
With Diaby playing a half of the lone goal win over Oman’s Olympic team during the week, he won’t be ready to play from the onset. Fellow Frenchman Francis Coquelin is back to full training as well but will miss the match due to match fitness.
A win for us is crucial for, other than local bragging rights, getting closer to sealing third spot in the league and a place at next season’s Champions League group stage.
With Chelsea (boldly) harbouring hopes of making next season’s Champions League through winning this season’s, fourth place in the league would become a ticket to the Europa League in the (un)likely event of that.
It either way keeps alive hopes of finishing third for the Sp*ds and Newcastle United; both on 59 points from 33 matches, in fourth and fifth respectively, consequently serving a good incentive for both to put pressure on Arsenal with 64 points from 34 matches played.
Former Arsenal forward Tony Woodcock has joined the queue of voices imploring on captain Robin van Persie to remain at the club beyond the end of his current contract.
According to Woodcock, “With somebody like Robin, it cannot be a financial thing at this stage in his career. Players want to win things and he is not far from doing so at Arsenal”.
The forward who spent four seasons with the club in the 1980s stated further that Arsenal is close to ending the trophy drought and though finishing third should be considered a success in lieu of our start to the season, the fans do want to see the club winning trophies again.
Elsewhere on a lighter note, captain of the Arsenal Ladies Faye White has called time on her international career while also contemplating her future at the club after revealing she is expecting her first child, due October.
White has spent 15 seasons at the Ladies with 27 honours to show for her long service and according to her, would wait for the feeling (for football) to “switch off” in her head before deciding to retire from the club as well.
We extend our best wishes to her, just as we hope a repeat of last season’s 3-1 win last time Chelsea visited occurs. Share your thoughts ahead of the encounter below and have a great weekend.
Morning to you. Feels worse than a hangover this no thanks to the loss coupled with the news on Jack Wilshere.
I’d say it’s a good thing this is just coming up otherwise it would have been a real mess of a post.
Wigan Athletic had two goals in just over a minute very early in the first half to thank for a memorable 2-1 win at the Emirates.
It which pushes them five points clear of the relegation zone while at the upper end, allows for the Sillywhites and Newcastle as well as Chelski to close up on us in the race for Champions League places.
Franco di Santo helped his former club’s cause, eventually getting the ball in the net after a precise Wigan break from a poor corner at the other end.
We hadn’t recovered from going behind when Victor Moses made light work of Sagna and his deflected cross to the box was pounced on by Jordi Gomez who made it to the ball just before Szczesny to poke home a second.
Both goals came just as Mikel Arteta was being treated on the sidelines so the sight of Aaron Ramsey replacing him soon after.
This leaves us sweating over how bad the Spaniard’s ankle injury is with resurgent Chelsea coming up for us in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Thomas Vermaelen did pull one back after 21 minutes with a good header off Tomas Rosicky’s cross and you just felt then that sure, we still got this! No we don’t got this (bear with my ebonics) as Arteta’s calming chi was sorely missed by Song, left Ramsey exposed per se and rendered our wingers wingless, Walcott especially.
Walcott was on the field? Apocalyptic! Sagna could’ve done much better, Santos missed a good scoring chance in the second half, Gervinho brought nothing after replacing Benayoun, so too the Ox when he came on for Djourou.
Then Arsène Wenger made some noise about the impressive Ali Al Habsi’s time wasting on the night. Well, we’d be elated to see Szczesny do same for us with a similar score at a place such as the Nou Camp or Old Trafford… I’m just saying.
Szczesny – 6
Sagna – 5
Djourou – 7
He has deputised pretty well for Koscielny, just unfortunate to be on the losing side tonight.
Vermaelen – 7.5
Another goal and he’s certain to end the season as the league’s top scoring defender, well ahead of the likes of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll.
Santos – 6
Arteta – N/A
Song – 4
Rosicky – 6.5
Walcott – 3
Benayoun – 6.5
He had two headers well saved by Al-Habsi either side of the goals we conceded. Just shows how differently the night could have turned out for us.
RvP – 6
Ramsey – 3
Gervinho – 3
Oxlade-Chamberlain – 5
Summarily, we let ourselves down yet again as we were flat for large periods of the encounter with the exception being early in both halves.
Like at QPR, this is just a blip and there will be no need to raise ‘unnecessary dust’ about this.
Hopefully we’ll respond to this defeat just as well as we did against Man. $hitty and effectively end Chelski’s Champions League ambitions from the league end of the business, we’ll see how they fare against Barcelona either side of their visit to the Ems.
Wilshere out of Euros
And to cap a generally bad day at the office, 20 year old Jack Wilshere tweeted last night after the game that he will miss out the rest of the season and consequently the European Championships to be held at Poland and Ukraine.
“My ankle is good, I just have a few niggles and having been out so long I will not be fit enough for the Euros!” tweeted Wilshere who was civil in his frustration in a previous tweet that read
“Gutted, sad, devastated..its been a test mentally for me this season and it will continue to be tough until I am back out on the pitch.. “.
This was soon after le boss made known at the post match what we all along have feared for the lad.
“Jack will not play again this season and he will not go to the Euros, that is for sure.” said Wenger.
The manager went further to say “He is not ready to practise today or next week. He is devastated and you can understand that. What kept him going was that he still felt that, if it was not with us, he would have a good chance to go to the Euros but that is over now.”
Wenger however reckons Wilshere could make the Team GB squad to the Olympics later this year though he would much prefer that Stuart Pearce doesn’t invite Wilshere for that, to avoid a recurrence of what has been a mentally challenging year for the midfielder.
Here’s wishing Wilshere good and timely recovery from this.
The news on Arteta is not too good either. Wenger had this to say:
“It is an ankle problem…but it doesn’t look a little ankle sprain. It is a serious one.”
The Spaniard faces up to 3 months on the sidelines if our worst fears are confirmed. He was seen leaving the game in crutches, with his right foot in a protective mask.
If it’s any consolation, it comes late in the season. There are only 4 games left and surely we can keep our place in the top 3 in his absence.
There is some good news on the injury front for us though, with Francis Coquelin due back in training this week, while Per Mertesacker will fly back from Germany in the next two weeks, having travelled to his homeland for surgery and rehabilitation on his left ankle.
A decision is also expected this week on Abou Diaby, who has been building his fitness up in training, and is in contention to be in the squad for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea. Surely he can do better than Ramsey who has been unconvincing of late.
RvP nominated for Player of the Year
Captain Vantastic has been nominated alongside five others for the PFA Player of the Year award. Van Persie also is firm favourite to get the award ahead of Wayne Rooney, Sergio Agüero, Joe Hart, David Silva and I’m sorry… Scott Parker?
Why not just put Nicklas Bendtner in it then? I can feel the Dane being gutted by this ‘gesture’.
Agüero meanwhile was nominated also for the PFA Young Player of the Year seeing as he is still of age as the case here is. Our own Oxlade-Chamberlain made the shortlist as well along with Wale’s Bale, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker.
Apologies for the long post but last night’s victory left a sour taste in our mouths. What went wrong? Even Arsene doesn’t seem to have answers which is very unusual. Was it physical fatigue? Mental stress? Or just overconfidence?
Do share your thoughts with me in the comments.
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Have a pleasant day nonetheless!