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Arsenal Survive Aerial Onslaught at Stoke: Match Report, Player Ratings + Wenger’s New Man

van Persie levelling matters at Stoke (picture from Arsenal.com)

van Persie levelling matters at Stoke (picture from Arsenal.com)

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:

Szczesny7

Sagna8

Koscielny7

Vermaelen7

Gibbs7

Ramsey7

Song7.5

Rosicky8

Benayoun7.5

Gervinho6

van Persie7.5

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.

Positive Injury News + Thoughts on Wigan loss and PFA Nominations.


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.

Match Report
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.

Player Ratings
Szczesny6

Sagna5

Djourou7
He has deputised pretty well for Koscielny, just unfortunate to be on the losing side tonight.

Vermaelen7.5
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.

Santos6

ArtetaN/A

Song4

Rosicky6.5

Walcott3
Blimey!

Benayoun6.5
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.

RvP6

Substitutes
Ramsey3
My word…

Gervinho3

Oxlade-Chamberlain5

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.

Remember to follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

Have a pleasant day nonetheless!

Latest Team News ahead of Wigan + Wenger’s thought on divers


Good day wherever you’re reading this from. Tonight we come up against Wigan Athletic with a chance to open an eight point gap on the Spuds and Newcastle United.

Both teams were not involved in league action over the weekend due to the FA Cup semi finals in Wembley. The weekend proved that the FA Cup still has its magic. I mean…Carroll scored a winner, how often does that happen?

It was also fun to see Chelsea thump our noisy neighbours 5-1. This season they have conceded 5 goals to City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Big club mentality, you say?

Quite funny how Harry Redknapp is still the “top candidate” for the England manager’s job.

There were mentions of cheating from Chelsea and the win (despite the margin) was tagged controversial by ESPN. The Sp*ds lost and that’s what matters.

Talking about cheats, Le Boss claims divers should be hit with a 3-match ban. Who can blame him, considering how many cases of simulation we’ve witnessed in the past week. Said Arsene:

“I must say the English players learn quickly. If an obvious dive is punished by a 3-match ban, then players wouldn’t do it anymore. I would support it”

Ashley Young alone won 2 penalties in 2 games, both undeserved and set United on the way to claiming maximum points from both games. Whether they would still have won those games without those penalties is open to debate.

Onto Arsenal news, Wigan visit the Emirates brimming with commendable pride after being ‘overlooked’ to get at least a point at Chelsea before deservedly defeating league leaders Man. United in midweek.

It therefore doesn’t look to be the easy 3-0 win we got over them here last season, a notion Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky stresses:

“Wigan beat Manchester United on Wednesday, so that’s an indication that it will be a tough test for us.”

Even Fergie thinks they can win if they manage to nick a goal against us, and that’s saying a lot.

Coupled with the fact that the Latics are fighting against the drop, the importance of this match is not lost on Rosicky.

“People might not usually regard a match against Wigan as such a big one, but they are still battling relegation, so there is a lot at stake for both of us.”

Rosicky is likely to return for this tie after being rested for the win at Wolves last Wednesday while Gervinho is in contention as he’s recovering from an ankle injury. Gibbs has a 50-50 chance, and following Santos’ horror defensive showing at Wolves, the Englishman should return to LB if fit. Djourou will partner Vermaelen again at the back with Koscielny serving the last of his two-match suspension.

Predicted Line-up:
Szczesny. Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Santos. Arteta, Song, Rosicky. Walcott, Benayoun/Ox, van Persie.

We all would love for Oxlade-Chamberlain to get some starts but Benayoun has played well in the last two games while we all know Walcott (somehow) remains an ‘integral’ part of Le Professeur’s plans *sigh*.

If we go into this in the business like manner we did last time out at Molineux, I fancy us picking a win. And having in mind that while Arsenal have won nine of the last 10 in the league, Wigan have lost just once in its last six.

Final word on this post goes to Piermario Morosini, who suffered a heart attack on the pitch in Italy and died over the weekend. Our condolences extend to his family and friends in this trying period. These events put football in a different perspective.

That’s all from me for now, enjoy the game wherever you watch from. I’m putting my money on a 3-0 win, to the good guys of course!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

Cheers!

Arsenal Consolidate 3rd Spot With Wolves Win + Player Ratings

Good night for the Gunners this as goals from RvP from the spot and Walcott soon after put us on our way to a 3-0 win at bottom club Wolves, Yossi Benayoun wrapping up the night for us at Molineux.

That puts us five ahead of the Sillywhites and Newcastle as third place looks assured with five matches left to play and nine wins in 10 matches is a good run to carry into the run-in.

Straight to the ratings then:

Szczesny7
Another relatively quiet match for the Pole but showed great awareness with two top draw saves early and late in the second half. The former to deny Doyle’s header was classic.

Sagna6
Good game and good work rate from him. Got replaced late on by Jenkinsom.

Djourou7
Solid performance from him. Hope he keeps it up when Wigan visit. Wigan by the way beat Man. United and added a good twist to the title race.

Vermaelen7
An assured perfomance, as almost always from him.

Santos5
I’m not sure why he bothered. Attacked much but his defending was suspect a lot of times.

Arteta7
Quietly anchored the midfield superbly.

Song7.5
Complemented Arteta well, and bagged an assist yet again… this time for Benayoun rather than you know who.

Ramsey4
Oh dear. Hesitated when he should’ve taken a first time shot at goal. Had a clear penalty shout waved away but generally lived down to expectations.

Walcott7
Gets a 7 only because he got a goal and won us the penalty that saw Sebastien Bassong get sent off, otherwise wasn’t exceptional.

Benayoun8
Good work rate yet again and got himself a well taken goal from the edge of the box.

RvP8
You’d think some confidence would’ve drained from him after going four matches without scoring… then he does that from the penalty spot. He scores when he wants and apparently, how he wants. Vintage stuff.

SUBSTITUTES
OxN/A

JenkinsonN/A

So next up for us is the red devils’ unlikely conquerors Wigan Athletic on Monday and from what we’ve seen the Latics play in their last two matches, it’s safe to say we have a cracking encounter coming up.

Do tell a gooner to follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs, see you Monday night.

Wigan vs Arsenal Ratings : 4 To The One Man Team, 0 To The Team With 11 Men

Are we still a one man team? I doubt so, with Ramsey bagging 95% completed passes, Vermaelen grabbing a goal and an assist, Gervinho & Walcott with a goal & assist respectively BUT the star of the team & on the day Van Persie shone brightest. Today’s ratings is by a guest writer Tosin Alao ( @clownytee )

Szczesny7.5
Revelation of the century did not have much to do,but was at the top of his game when he was called to action.

Vermaelen 8.5
Yet again arguably one of the best defenders in the EPL and even in Europe. 3goals in 4games for the Belgian,simply outstanding.

Mertesacker 8
Impressed by the German today. Always said the giant is a very intelligent defender and he made a very important tackle,cutting out an attack for wigan

Koscielny7
Do we have a new right back?because I could not tell the difference. Great display today and will be a sin if he doesn’t start for France come EURO 2012

Santos7
Was a bit uncomfortable with him early in the game,but he had a solid game overall. He has to cut out holding on to the ball for too long when he can save the defence and clear the ball out. Overall, solid display from the Brazilian.

Arteta8.5
WOW!!!!Solid display from the spaniard, pity spain have so many quality players playing in the same position. Cracking goal from him”dirty stinking Goal as I would say”. Faces his former club next week,let’s hope he can break Evertonian hearts

Song8
Great defensive display from Alex,had to limp off at the final minutes of the game,let’s hope it is nothing serious. And yes we have him in January as Cameroun did not qualify for the African Cup of Nations.

Ramsey7.5
Great display,was obvious he wanted to get a goal in respect of Gary Speed(RIP),hard worker and went into tackles. Better display than that from last week. keep it up RAMBO

Walcott7.5
Walcott!Walcott!!Walcott!!!,keeps impressing this season,was a problem for d wigan full backs and he created the goal for Robin. Hope he stays injury free.

Gervinho7.5
Forehead, as he is popularly called leaves us in January and has stated he will love to win the 3 remaining games he has to play in before he leaves to join Ivory coast. Had a great game and rounded it off with a goal.

Van Persie9
Captain Fantastic!!! Arsenal have been criticised of late to be a one man team because of the goal scoring form of this man. We forget players who create the goal for him and today we proved them wrong by having three other goal scorers and van persie assisting some of them. He bagged the fourth goal thanks to an impressive run and composure from walcott. Great season so far for the Dutch wizard.

SUBSTITUTES

Arshavin

Nothing much to say about the russian,had little time but was still sluggish in his display.

Coquelin
Came in as a sub and got into a tackle that was not needed and got himself a yellow.

Benayoun
Missed a chance he should have buried,I still think he deserves more games.

3 points in the bag and another solid display and Van persie show. Have a great day.

Tosin Alao

Roberto Carlos now plays for Arsenal|Wigan Preview + Injury News

Today’s Premier League game represents an opportunity for the team to return to winning ways.

We visit Wigan at the DW Stadium having lost and drawn our last two games. But the fact that not much fuss was made about our “winless streak” only highlights the amount of positivity our unbeaten run brought.

Our good run in the League is still intact though, the draw against Fulham didn’t harm us as much considering that United, Liverpool and Man City all drew their games.

But the loss to Man City in the Carling Cup hurts even more now, seeing as we would have had to contest with L’pool, Cardiff and Crystal Palace for the title.

One can also argue that we should be there to take advantage when the other top teams drop points in the league. If we keep dropping points like that, we won’t make the top four, not to talk of winning the league.

Meanwhile, our captain reckons we signed a full back who reminds him of Roberto Carlos. Andre Santos, our 28-year old left back has a lot in common with the legendary full back and this makes RVP happy. Said he:

“…what I really like about him is his confidence on the ball. He’s firstly a left back, but he’s so much more than that-he gets the ball to his feet, plays one-twos…I love his play.”

Glowing comments from the captain on a player who has definitely impressed but still has a lot of work to do. Andre Santos is a joy to watch going forward, but is somewhat suspect defensively. He’s still adapting though.

Back to today’s game, Wigan have won 4 points from their last two games, something which has lifted their sagged spirits after 8 straight losses. Add this to the fact that we have only taken one point from our last two trips to that stadium and you can be sure this game isn’t already won.

Three points is however a possibility. Heck! We are favourites to win this game, we just need to keep our calm, respect the Wigan players and make our chances count.

We’ll be without perma-crocks Rosicky and Diaby for this game. Rosicky is suffering from a thigh strain, while Diaby has returned to the injury table with a hamstring injury.

I expect Ramsey, Arteta and Song to return to midfield, Verma5 and the BFG (Big F**kin’ German) at centre back flanked by Andre Santos and Koscielny. The attack picks itself.

With Chamakh, Arshavin and Park firing blanks, I do not see them anywhere near the starting XI. Oxlade-Chamberlain may even replace one of them on the bench!

In all, it should be an enjoyable 90+ minutes of proper football. A 2-0 win for the good guys will do just fine. I’m not so sure I’ll get my clean sheet though.

Kick off is at 15:00 GMT; if you cannot be in the stands, support the team from behind your TV, PC, or radio. Just make sure to keep it goonerish wherever this post meets you!

Do leave us with your thoughts and comments.

Cheers!

VANtastic performance : Players Ratings + Personal Notes

VAN tastic

Okay, I won’t bore you with the details of our game over the weekend, as I expect you must have had more than enough match reports to get a full idea of what Saturday afternoon was all about.

So I’m just going to pick out a few stand out things and make a few points.

– We were at our attacking best and would have posted a cricket score but for an inspired goalkeeper between the sticks. 3-0 still isn’t a bad score. They had no single shot on target, mind you. Yes, we were that good!

– If we are going to have any chance of winning a trophy this season, we have to keep Cesc, Nasri and Van Persie fit for as long as possible. These guys are the difference between an average Arsenal side and a world class Arsenal team.

– We have started the same 11 players in our past 5 League games and kept 4 straight clean sheets. Looks as if we know who our first choice defensive pairing MUST be in the absence of TV5.

– It was good to see Chammy29 get some minutes again and it was more interesting to see that he’s had no issues with coming off the bench in our recent games. He is arguably the reason we are still just 5 points behind United! But with Van Persie’s form, he has to settle for a place on the bench. Poor lad.

– Although he can do no right at the moment, it was good to see a section of the fans give a rousing applause to Andrei Arshavin as he went to take a corner kick…really inspiring stuff! Exactly what he needs at the moment.

– I was a bit baffled to see Cesc looking not too happy on the bench after he was substituted. I was worried he wore that kind of face considering the kind of performance he’d just put in. My fears were however allayed after it was confirmed he was sad only because he had not scored. Pheeeeew…that dude is a winner, isn’t he?

On the whole, it was gladdening to see us put that Wigan team to the sword. Up next Ipswich visit the Emirates on Tuesday in a game which will move us closer to the end of our trophy drought. We win that one and we are in the finals. We are in the finals and I see no upsets. An Arsenal win, a Carling Cup trophy. It’s our chance, let’s take it!

It feels so good to be a gooner right now, we are playing some good footie and things are really fitting into place. Let’s hope it lasts till the end of the season.

Here’s a little transfer news and even thought its not the one we are all craving for, after days of speculation, its been reported that we’ve moved quickly to agree a deal to sign Southampton’s teenage sensation Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Here’s a link to know more about him.
Oxlade-Chamberlain

9jabred signs out!

Escobar has got the ratings:

Chezzer6
Was He even on the pitch? Yes it was that bad as the young Pole was rarely troubled and had an uneventful afternoon.

Clichy7
Dealt well with the threat of Nzogbia and Stam and did well to join the attack. Good game from the Frenchman

JD7
What an easy outing for JD, barely broke sweat as he and his defensive partners were spectators for most of the match if not the entire match

Kozzer7
He won’t have it any easier than this, the frenchman could even afford to dribble out of his own half on more than one occasion.

Sagna7
The best right back in the League enjoyed another solid game. Had little to do at the back and went forward at ease.

Song7.5
Was very dominant from start to finish as he and Wilshere bossed the centre of the park and the assist was the cherry on the cake for him really.

Wilshere7
Steady, composed and good passing from the young English man. Rarely had to hit top gear.

Fabregas8.5
Captain Marvellous, brilliant display from the Spaniard, ran the show today as his passes were of the highest quality, two assists, winning the penalty and all these despite the roughhouse tactics from the Lactics.

Nasri7
Not as influential as he’s been all season, but still tested the goalkeeper on an occasion. Performed pretty well on the left of attack.

Walcott7
A lot of running and creating chances that weren’t converted, also had a shot on goal which Al Habsi was equal to. Held off Figueroa better than any target man could have to allow RVP net his treble.

RVP10
YES!!! 10. For the 2nd league game in a row, we’re giving him a perfect 10. His first league hatrick for Arsenal. He was simply brilliant and clinical and could afford to miss a penalty and hit the post.

SUBSTITUTES

Denilson4

ChammyN/A

Arshavin4

From wherever you are reading, keep believing. It will happen this season!

Follow us on twitter at @goonermemoirs