From everly being on the sidelines crocked with one injury upon injury, captain vantastic Robin van Persie played the most minutes on the clock for Arsenal in 2011.
According to stats provided by Opta, the flying Dutchman put in 3,132 minutes to the Gunners’ cause over the last year, a massive feat in his career knowing his history.
And to underline how much he’s matured over the last dozen months, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was second on the most minutes in 2011 list, putting in 2,970 minutes between the sticks after only playing just once in the first team before then… Lukasz who? What is a Manuel?? Yea… I thought as much.
Coming in at third place is French centre back Laurent Koscielny who has grown from Ligue 2 defender almost four years ago to the Premier League’s most consistent performing defender with 2,896 minutes of football for Arsenal to show for it.
Meanwhile, the yellow card erroneously shown Thomas Vermaelen in the win over QPR has been transferred rightfully to LK6. Vermaelen on his part will be unavailable for Monday’s visit of Leeds through injury as will RvP, with the captain set to be rested by Le Boss to allow for Chamakh and Park Ju Young to feature upfront.
Club legend Thierry Henry could feature only if the club and New York Red Bulls decide on when Titi’s loan should end. The Yanks want him by February 20, we want his last game to be at home to the Sillywhites on the 26th… sort that out quick gentlemen.
I’ll leave the rest of the team news for the match preview. As for the transfer window, Arsène Wenger stays being the get-on-my-nerves ideologist, doing well to not hint who he’s really after though he did mention the injury situation at the back will require bringing in a defender on loan.
Other than that, “only clubs not tied to the present economic situation in Europe can spend”… ok le Professeur.
Have a splendid weekend, from us here at MG.
Good day from wherever you’re reading. Well as you already know there’s no Premier League action this weekend owing to Euro 2012 playoffs, 2014 World Cup qualifiers and a queue of international friendlies.
With just about the whole first team away on international duty, except most notably Mikel Arteta, here’s a quick round-up of how most have fared so far bearing in mind there are more matches still to play before returning to Colney.
Park Chu Young scored for South Korea AGAIN. Well, I guess that’s not news considering his International form.
Meanwhile, in a playoff match for a spot at Euro 2012, Czech captain Tomas Rosicky led by example with a sterling performance for the Czech Republic with both assists in a 2-0 win over Montenegro in Prague.
Wojciech Szczesny had a busy game and conceded two well taken goals from the impressive ‘why always me’ and Gianpaolo Pazzini as Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland fell to a 2-0 defeat to former world champions Italy.
Skipper Robin van Persie meanwhile fired blank along with his Oranje mates as Switzerland held a wasteful Holland to a goalless draw.
Elsewhere, Laurent Koscielny earned his first cap with the French national team in a 1-0 win over the United States in Paris while Thomas Vermaelen was involved as Belgium beat Romania 2-1 in a match that saw Razvan Rat miss a last minute penalty for Romania.
Andrey Arshavin’s Russia played out a 1-1 draw with Euro 2004 winners Greece while Alex Song’s Cameroun won 3-1 at home to Sudan in some of the other friendly matches played on Friday night.
No injuries to report so far… thankfully, as we look forward to world champions Spain at Wembley against England, while on Tuesday night Robin van Persie’s Holland face bitter rivals Germany in the top pick of upcoming matches involving our players.
That’s your lot for today. There’s really nothing happening besides the Internationals.
Oh! PHW says that there will be no contract talks with Van Persie until the end of the season. I wonder what you guys make of that, are we going to witness Nasri-gate all over again? Time will tell.
England-Spain is the game to watch today! Promises to be a cracker! 7 more days before proper football returns to our screens.
I can’t wait!
Much as Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey will want to believe Arsenal are not underdogs going into Sunday’s north London derby, Tottenham Hotspurs hold the upper hand ahead of the crucial Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal have won three successive matches since losing at Blackburn Rovers, scoring eight and conceding just two. Those two goals however came as a result of some poor defending and against a potent Spurs attack comprising Jermaine Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and the not so loved Emmanuel Adebayor supported by Rafael van Der Vaart, Gareth Bale and the industrious Luka Modric and Scott Parker, such moments of defending must be avoided otherwise.
Unfortunately, Laurent Koscielny is likely to miss the encounter while Gervinho and Theo Walcott face late fitness tests with Walcott more likely to feature on Sunday. Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun is fit as is French defender Sebastien Squillaci though Arsène Wenger would starting Alex Song at the back with Per Mertesacker.
The manager received timely boost from majority shareholder Stan Kroenke who stated the club is fully behind Wenger and trust in him to bring more success to the club. And le Professeur himself reiterated his passion for the club as today marks his 15th anniversary as manager, going further to say he has no problem going another 15 years with the club.
Another at the club just off a milestone is century of goals man Robin van Persie. Having made a substitute’s appearance in the midweek win over Olympiacos, he will be fresh for the clash. And it would be great to have him build on the 26 goals he has scored in his last 32 matches for Arsenal and what better venue to do so than at White Hart Lane.
Possible line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Song, Mertesacker, Santos, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott/AOC, Benayoun/Arshavin, van Persie (c).
A win over Spurs would not only give us some bragging rights, but also provide a much needed confidence boost to the team to spur the team on for the rest of the league campaign! Come on you Gunners!!
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With the international break gone by, without new injuries thankfully, Arsenal return to Premier League action when newly promoted Swansea City visit the Emirates later today.
The Gunners will have a mixed air of uncertain expectation hovering over when the match kicks off at 15:00, with several new faces now at the club and likely to feature against the Welsh side.
More imperative is how the Gunners will respond to the heaviest defeat suffered in a century and 15 years coupled with a horrible start to the league campaign that has left the club with 10 goals already conceded in three games.
Most of the spotlight hence, should fall on German defender Per Mertesacker who is in line for his Arsenal debut along with Spaniard Mikel Arteta who is expected to greatly cover up the lull in creativity from midfield.
Mertesacker and our defenders will hopefully not have much to do at the back as Swansea have so far failed to find the net in its three league matches, leaving the onus on the forward line likely, to comprise Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott, to deliver the goods mainly off the inventory of our midfield of course.
The main battle looks to be in midfield with the visitors known to prefer holding on to the ball as we also do hence whoever else Arsène Wenger puts in there should be one capable of getting the ball from opposition and keeping it with the team through some hold up play and more necessarily, assists for the feet upfront.
Being a newly promoted side, the expectation would be for a hounding of the Swans but remember, it took a lot of work to beat ten-man Blackpool – that also liked to play on the ball – 6-0 last season. Coupled with the new players still blending to the team, I’d actually take a win borne of an assured performance over a potentially deceiving mauling of the visitors.
Previous meetings have seen both sides with two wins each from four encounters with Arsenal winning the last of those by 2-1 some way ago in 1983.
And in some other bit of news, dear Professeur is back to his unrepentant stubborn self it seems after insisting activities on the final day of the transfer window were not sparked by the 8-2 demolition at Old Trafford… indeed!
Anyway, Camerounian midfielder Alex Song celebrated his birthday yesterday and we wish him a belated happy birthday. We also wish Frenchman Laurent Koscielny a happy birthday as he turns 26 today.
So for the birthday boys and more so, for the pride of the cannon… Let’s go for the win Gunners!!
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!!!