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What Arsenal team will show up against Partizan?

Wenger thinks of what to do

Okay, I am done sulking and making noise simply because we lost over the weekend. Yes, we lost to West Brom, yes, Odemwingie ripped into our defence, yes we conceded 3 goals, so what? Even Barcelona lost at home to Hercules and still bounced back in style in the next game. So who says we won’t win the league because we dropped 3 points in week 6? There are still 32 odd games to go and the faster we got this behind us, the better.

We travel to Serbia on tomorrow (Tuesday) to face Partizan Belgrade. They lost on Matchday 1 to Shakhtar Donetsk so they will be desperate to impress in front of their home crowd. The squad list was released some hours ago and some names were notable absentees.

Arsenal squad to face Partizan Belgrade:

21. Lukasz Fabianski
53. Wojciech Szczesny
3. Bacary Sagna
22. Gael Clichy
6. Laurent Koscielny
7. Tomas Rosicky
8. Samir Nasri
11. Carlos Vela
15. Denilson
17. Alex Song
18. Sebastien Squillaci
19. Jack Wilshere
20. Johan Djourou
27. Emmanuel Eboue
23. Andrey Arshavin
29. Marouane Chamakh
28. Kieran Gibbs
46. Henri Lansbury

Diaby and Almunia are the most notable names missing from the squad travelling to Serbia. Almunia reportedly has an elbow injury and will be out for some time, while Diaby has been dropped from the squad after his dismal showing over the weekend. He was obviously not fit against West Brom and made us pay for his lack of fitness.

So, Fabianski is poised to replace the injured Almunia, Gibbs also makes the squad following a return from the foot injury sustained against the Spuds. Lansbury is rewarded for an outstanding performance against Spurs as he also travels with the team. It should be noted that we are still without Fabregas, Robin, Theo, Bendtner and Vermaelen, although Cesc and TV5 may make the team for the crunch tie over the weekend. Partizan Belgrade are back in the Champions League after a 7 year absence and will be out to show what they have learnt during that time. Arsene recognizes the importance of bouncing back with an assured performance.

It is important to get a good result against Partizan Belgrade. First of all, it gives us a good opportunity to qualify if we can then win our home game afterwards. As well, it is important before going to Chelsea that we have a good performance”.

We need the sort of response the boys gave at Shite Hart lane after the Sunderland game.This is to hoping our boys can put up a classy performance, play beautiful football, score goals and most importantly get our season back on track. We need a big boost before the game against Chelski this weekend, and a huge win will go a long way in lifting the spirits around the club.

Keep the faith gooners, it just might be one of those magic European nights for us. It’s me again, back from my three-month break, doing my thing for Memoirs of a Gooner.

C’mon you Reds, let’s do this!

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
Faf says so!


Number 1 and 2and Given

The goalkeeping situation at our club becomes more and more confusing and frustrating with each passing day. Recent stories concerning our custodian in goal for this season have sort of robbed our backline of some stability it so badly needs. Since the curtains were drawn on last season, gooners all around the world have been clamouring for a new goalie amongst other signings. Well, we got Marouane and Koscly, two players who have proven themselves to small extent.

Arsene started the whole thing with his declaration that he had no confirmed Number 1 going into the new season. Why Le Boss will utter such and has not done much about it still beats me. Four names have been linked to the post of the top man with two fothem already at Arsenal. Our first choice goalie for next season is likely to be one of Almunia, Schwarzer, Given and Fabianksi. Yes, the same Fabianski!!!

Shay Given, 34, was snubbed by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini at the weekend and had to watch from the substitutes’ bench as Joe Hart excelled in his absence at White Hart Lane. At a point, he even had to applaud the outstanding Hart. Given had indicated earlier in the week that he was not prepared to play second fiddle to anyone at Citeh and has been given the green light on a move away from the Eastlands.

Mark Schwarzer, 37, is said to be desperate to join us after an initial bid was turned down earlier this month. He missed Fulham’s season opener with a back injury but his representatives have made it clear to the Fulham board that the Australian shot stopper wants to move across London due to the lure of Champions League footie. Our current number one Big Al meanwhile feels demoralized with the current situation. He admitted that he might look to move away from the N5 should we secure the services of either men as they will be direct competition with him for top stop, and most likely relegate him to the bench.

The last and definitely least popular of them all is our second choice Fabianski, who yesterday said that he was determined to prove himself a worthy number one. Fabianski joined from Legia Warsaw in 2007 and has not had the best of times. He is trailed by high profile errors and has practically lost the confidence of the fans. While He has a great future, I feel we currently need someone who’s going to calm the defence down and be consistent, at least more consistent than what we have now.

Almunia is not a bad keeper, he is at decent; but maybe at a club like Arsenal, we need more than just a decent goalkeeper. All the blame should not fall on Almunia alone, the outfield players ( Denilson and Diaby anyone?) should take some stick for not protecting him well enough. Take Barcelona for example, Valdes is in no way better than Al, but his team shields him well against onslaught from opposing teams.

While Given and Schwarzer are rated over him, it should be noted that they have not actually experienced what it feels like to play at a top club like Arsenal; Champions League football every season and regular contenders for the title. The pressure and demands is much more than what is obtained in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Fulham or even Man Citeh. As such we can not really judge them on how they will perform with us. Schwarzer did not set the World Cup on fire in my opinion.

If we are to mount a successful challenge for the title this season, we will need more than just a good keeper. Koscly is suspended for the next two league games I believe, God forbid, if anything happens to Djourou, we’ll be down to bare bones at the back…in August! The new keeper if brought in will need some time to get used to his defence and vice versa and the beginning of a new season is not quite the ideal time to bed in.

Had the goalkeeper, whoever he is, signed during preseason, maybe I might be singing a different tune. But for now (this season at least), I feel the devil you know well is superior to the angel you do not know quite enough.

What do you guys think?

P.S: Nasri will today undergo minor surgery on his knee following a meniscal injury sustained during the match against Liverpool on Sunday. He will be out of action for a month. Familiar tales eh?

From wherever you are reading,have fun.
9jabred says so!


Reina horror

Everyone related to the Arsenal should be grateful to Pepe Reina for the one point we came out with from today’s game. After making probably the save of the weekend just a few minutes earlier from a brilliant Rosicky shot. The Czech captain exchanged passes with RVP, danced around a few challenges in the box and let it fly. I already stood up for what I thought was a sure goal, but funny enough the net was not rattled. How on earth did that not score? On replay, Reina actually had a hand to it, raising it just over the cross bar.

A seemingly harmless Rosicky cross saw the Spaniard clearly ridiculed after vying for the ball with Marouane which the Moroccan knocked against the post. The ball then fell to Reina, who fumbled it and actually threw it into the net himself. Handing one of your rivals a goal at the death, when a win would have boosted morale at Anfield? You simply had to feel sorry for him.

On second thought though, I think it’s just a case of fate paying Pepe back in his own currency. The bald Spaniard was at the centre of the Fabregas Barcelona shirt controversy. He actually made the announcement and clearly ridiculed Arsenal and us fans.

The match in itself was quite a tensed spectacle in which two debutants for both sides saw red. First was Joe Cole who was given his marching orders on the verge of half time for a scathing challenge on Laurent Koscielny near the byline. It looked quite nasty and “committed” as the English press would describe it but the decision on what colour of card to issue was the referee’s. Ironically, the same man who was fouled for Cole’s dismissal would follow suit after handling the ball in the 90th minute. He had been booked a minute before for a bad tackle to Kuyt’s groin. It was only normal for him to get sent off after committing a somewhat deliberate handball.

We had most of the ball, with the home team prepared to wait and hit us on the counter. Bar a TV5 shot which Reina did well to parry away, our possession amounted to nothing in the first half. The second half though saw both sides trying to take the initiative. Liverpool drew first blood when Kuyt intercepted a sloppy pass from Jackie and fed Ngog. The young Frenchman rifled a shot from a difficult angle through Almunia’s near post. Anfield went mad!!! Maybe, just maybe Al could have done a bit better; TV5 also sholdn’t have given him that sort of space. Our late equalizer came courtesy of the Reina show, and in a week when rumours are rife about us signing a new keeper, Al did little to build Arsene’s confidence in him.

I need to touch on the few positives I took from this game. While there is definitely room for improvement, Koscielny did not look out place against the big boys. He looked confident and his touches were assured. The red card aside, he had a good game. Another good thing was a great game from Rosicky. Mozart, as he’s fondly called changed our approach completely and seemed to bring life into our attack.

Some negatives though, Nasri bottled up AGAIN. He’s really inconsistent and needs to step up in big games. He seemed to play with the handbrakes and was sometimes too careful to open up the Liverpool defence. A complete opposite of Rosicky! Arsha also looked disinterested in the whole show. His passes were wayward and tired. He generally looked unfit. Theo still needs to improve his crossing. Yeah, it was just one chance, but we need to make these chances count. Our bench was a funny one with no natural centre back present. What would Arsene have done had Koscly gone down under the Cole challenge? Bring on a half fit Song? Lastly, if we think Diaby is our back up for Song in the defensive midfield position, then we are not serious about winning the title.

So, by and large, our first weekend ends in a draw, a lucky one for that matter but it’s all good. You can not rate a draw at Anfield as a disaster, can you? Forget the Chelsea win and an almost certain Man United win, it’s just the beginning of the race. As the Nigerian will say, NO SHAKING!!!

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

Almunia is s**t, Fabianski is useless and Our defence is average!!!


Today’s post and its title is inspired by something I’d like to call Stone Cold Facts, meaning I get to say what I want the way you feel,not the way we want to believe it is).

After watching the highlights of the long-dead Legia Warsaw game, it’s hard to ignore the obvious cracks in our defence and take away just the positives. Was it fatigue? No. Did we underestimate them? No. Were we too relaxed because it was a friendly? Maybe. Or was our defending just shambolic as a whole? Lapse after lapse followed by heavy legs and lack of bite in the tackling and Fabianski’s already popular horror shows led to us succumbing to a 3-goal deficit in only the first half.

If that happened in a league game,irrespective of the result which ended 6-5 in our favor, the media been all over us saying stuffs like, ‘more of the same’ and ‘you can’t win anything with kids’. And with such a performance who would blame them, even AW’s reaction by indirectly giving Fabianski the middle finger says it all. We’re all tired of been reminded that our goalkeepers are not world class and should only be employed at the circus or better still, a middle-placed Premier League team.

Arsene’s obvious blind spot for goalkeepers; Shabaan, Wright, Taylor, anyone? made it a shock when it was reported that we were contemplating a loan deal for Shay Given. No I ain’t kidding you. Much to my delight Shay Given also said he’ll look into a possible loan move if he’s not first choice at the Eastlands. Terrific proposition huh? Sincerely I can’t wait for him to join and with the lure of Champions League football, it should be hard for him to resist. With another Centre Back hopefully arriving soon, it might finally be our year. Therefore, I recommend Almunia be sold, Fabianski loaned and Sczesny be promoted to 2nd choice.

Onto less pressing issues, our new French-Polish defender has pledged his allegiance to France,angering Polish fans in the process. Also congratulations to Arsenal trio Theo, Jackie and Kieran on their call-ups to the Three Lions squad. This will obviously make one time Gunners great, and now Academy Director Liam Brady, a proud man as two out of the three passed through him.

Arshavin confirmed this morning that he has returned to full fitness following a muscle injury that ruled him out of the Legia match. Denilson and Abou will face late fitness tests though. Also should Cesc and Robin fail in their battle for fitness for the opening game of the season, it is most likely Jackie and Frimpong will be drafted into the match-day squad. Let us hope our new defender (if Arsene does sign one) is with us by then.

We really need to start the season on a good note, and while Anfield will be buzzing with the arrival of Christian Poulsen, these are not the best of times at Liverpool and I have no doubt we’ll be in for a good showing from our boys.

From wherever you’re reading, have fun.
Escobar says so!

6 things I learnt from watching the Emirates Cup.

Emirates Cup winners '10

Hallo gooners world over, the Emirates Cup, the two-day tourney which has served as a curtain raiser to our season for the past 4 years went down this weekend, and as it’s almost become tradition, the “coveted” cup is staying home. But that’s only a bit of what we learnt from a competition that included A.C Milan, Celtic, and Lyon. We ended up with 8 points in total, 4 for earning a win and a draw, and the other 4 points for scoring 4 goals. I feel it gave us a fair idea of what to expect in the coming season as most of our players were around and played at least one match.

So, I’m just going to touch on a few things I learnt from watching the team play in both matches.

The most interesting thing I noticed is that we are somewhat stronger upfront. I say this with uttermost respect, but it seems as though we have replaced a shattered Eduardo with a skillful and hardworking point man in Marouane. While it’s still too early for any assessments, the Moroccan was everywhere over the weekend, he was our focal point in the first game and played his part very well. His first touch is quite assured, his link-up play is impressive and he definitely has an array of skills to boast of.

Koscly just might be the real deal. After unconvincing performances earlier in pre-season, the Polish Frenchman really came to life at the Emirates and performed quite admirably. He was calm and assured in his tackles. Even though he still has a lot of improving to do as the atmosphere over the weekend will be different from what’s obtained when the season proper begins, he looks a decent buy and even his partner had this to say about him.

“He’s a clever player, quick over the ground, quick with his feet and looks to be the complete defender. I think we can work together well, he’s right-footed and it’s often better to play one left-footed and one right-footed defender together.” Vermaelen said.

Frimpong and Wilshere are two youngsters that will most likely and soon break into the first team. On first sight, Frimpong looked quite scared and uncomfortable but as soon as the match began, he eased himself into his defensive midfield role and took no prisoners. He was not fazed by the pedigree of the A.C Milan players as he hassled the opponents here and there, and won the ball a lot of times.
For Wilshere, is talent is not in doubt, it’s only a matter of whether he has the attitude to make his talent come to the fore. He had two amazing games and even struck a Scholesque volley against the cross bar. His confidence and ball retaining abilities are amazing and he was at the heart of everything Arsenal did. Despite his small frame, he seems to enjoy the physical aspect of the game.
Both players gave a few passes away, but that can be attributed to their youthfulness and it is safe to say that will be eradicated as they mature.

Bad habits are very difficult to kill and that was obvious again over the weekend. Our penchant for conceding unnecessary goals is something that denied us the trophy last season. In both matches we conceded cheap goals, goals we could have avoided. It is very sad to see us scrape through a match we should have easily won. No one expected the tension that accompanied the closing minutes of the Celtic match; not after going 3 goals up. Arsene needs to tell the players that it takes a mean defence to mount a successful title challenge.

Cesc might have set his mind on leaving for Barcelona. Still on holiday, I watched on TV this morning as he was honoured in Spain for his part in the World cup triumph. And as he addressed the fans, he stated that he would love to see them more often. What that really means, I can’t tell you, but one thing I am sure it does not mean is flying from London to Barcelona every weekend to say hello to his fans! I think it was Arsene’s wish that he addressed the fans prior to the Emirates cup but he refused. His games are not funny anymore and I think he should state categorically if he wants to be with us next season or not. He needs to end this sequence of boring stories of how he adores gooners worldwide while at the same time breaking their hearts with his comments concerning Barcelona.

Almunia is not leaving Arsenal, at least not this summer. Speculations were rife about him leaving when he was not included in the previous matches, but on Sunday, he was back in goal as number one and captain too. To be fair to him,, he had a good game albeit conceding two goals and seems to have done enough (not enough in my opinion) to convince Arsene to keep him. Arsene said yesterday that he is only in the market for a defensive player (more or less a defender) which you will all agree is more important right now than a goalkeeper. But what law says we can’t have both?

So that’s it mates, my lessons from watching my team play two matches back to back. I am sure our views will differ on some issues I raised. Why not tell me what you saw differently and what needs to be done about them.

See you in the comments.

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

Silly season in full flow…who was he referring to?

Le Boss

So it seems we are approaching that moment of the year when the rumours have started flying again. These stories as silly as they might be can be interesting to read atimes. Due to the fact that we’ve suffered another trophyless season, the media believe that we must purchase every available player, from goalkeepers to strikers…every department. But Wenger has come out to say He believes in his team but if he can make an addition-two or three maximum, he’ll do so.

Now notice the highlighted phrases, they sound familiar don’t they? That’s the same stuff we heard last summer when we clearly needed more than a centre-back. The same lines he used during the winter when it was obvious we would struggle without another striker to replace the injured Robin. Now the season is over for us in terms of trophies that is, and I think I’m right to say we missed a few experienced heads in there. We all saw the difference an experienced head can bring into this team. Campbell anyone???

Now for Arsene to think this team, without any good additions will win anything next season is simply ridiculous. Yes, we will win the Emirates Cup, destroy the pub clubs in Austria and Poland in pre-season but when the real action starts, we’ll be found wanting again. I hope this is not the case though. We should get Chamakh in the summer as it seems Arsenal are just waiting for his contract to officially run out before making an announcement.

Of all the names being thrown around, only a few interest me and those that will do a good job in the team. Joe Hart will be an extremely good addition with both Big Al and Fabianski putting in unconvincing shifts. I wouldn’t mind one of those ‘hardcore’ centre backs like Hangeland and Mexes to partner TV5 next term. I really do not think Willie will be renewing his contract next season, and I pray Fish head will be allowed to leave and “sin no more”. So one of those plus TV5 with Sol (hopefully) and Johan as back up wouldn’t be a bad idea I suppose.

So Mourinho beat Barcelona last night, he was visibly and understandably ecstatic; describing the moment as the best in his career but what caught my attention was a comment about his team. Said he,

Inter haven’t played a Champions League final for 38 years – this is something that we were all waiting for. This isn’t a squad of children who can wait 15 years to play a final”.

Something in me tells me convincingly that Jose was referring to none other than the Arsenal youngsters and this is a sucker punch coming from the Portuguese tactician. He’s definitely no admirer of our youth project and can point to his victory of Barca as evidence of something children couldn’t manage.

Finally, Arsene says he’s disappointed in stories that have been circulating about Andrei’s wish to play for Barcelona. He believes the lad must have been misinterpreted by journalists who want to sell their papers and I think I agree with Le Boss. But what if those comments were actually made by Arsha? Well that’s an issue for another day…

Your thoughts?

From wherever you are reading, have fun.

9jabred says so!