Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Reading 5 (FIVE) - Arsenal 7 (SEVEN) & 4,013 POTM's

Yep. It did happen. Promise. Swear on my life. A genuinely incredible 120 minutes and even though its the League Cup, the achievement and maybe redemption of clawing back a four goal deficit won't have been lost on the players and the 4,013 people who were miserable after 39 and footballgasmic after 120.

There's genuinely no need to analyse the game, there's no point because none of it made any sense and did anyone really learn anything from it apart from that football is bloody crazy?

What I do want to talk about is my men of the match, all 4,013 of them because they were the real heroes of last night and of our club. Travel delays had meant that most had to change plans because of rail problems in Central London at the drop of the hay, but they still made it. After the dross that had been served up in the last three games, I don't think many would of blamed them for upping-sticks at 4-0 and walking away. But they didn't because that's not what they do. These are the core support who keep our club going when things are both good and bad and on my Arsenal away days I would happily say we have the best set of away fans in the country without hesitation.

Onwards to Man Utd and can I order a no-drama 1-0 away win please? Thank You.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Arsenal 1-0 QPR - Belatedly

Morning all....

I'm currently housesitting for a friend in deepest, darkest Warwickshire this week who doesn't believe in Wireless Internet so these blog posts will be brought to you by the good people at BTOpenzone which actually seems faster than my own home internet, which pleases me less.

It was good to win on Saturday and win in any way possible, a draw or loss would of plunged the confidence to record levels of low so although it wasn't vintage Arsenal, it was a win all the same.

Massive plus point has to be the return of Jack Wilshere, he looked as if he'd never been away, the verve of his passing, the directness of his running and the pinpoint vision is something the Arsenal midfield had needed, it had begun to look jaded and slow the past couple of games. Bacary Sagna returning is also a massive boost, no slight on Jenko but Sagna is one of the best right-backs in Europe and gave Arsenal an out on the right.

The goal was controversial, no doubt but you'll take these things when they are given to you.

This week will be full of Robin Van Persie as Arsenal go to Manchester United on Saturday, but before that it's COC duty and the away tie at Reading. Looking forward to seeing Thomas Eisfeld get his chance, he caught my eye in the U-21 win against Everton where he scored 2 goals and I have a feeling as I said in the summer that he will follow Gnabry in making the bench for first team games before the end of the season.

More tomorrow...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Annual General Meh.....

I feel compelled to write this, which is bad for you and good for me I guess but it's been a prickly few days in the history of our club and the fractious nature of both the AGM and the "Internal Civil War" between sects of fans is not surprising.

If I'm going to make a sweeping statement to kick this off then it's that modern society is lazy, maybe down to the way people are spoonfed everything, maybe down to the way that everything is usually available at the click of a button, however this sweeping statement goes further, it goes into media, it goes into the Saturday Night culture of watching pre-selected "singers" sing when in all truth the path of the "competition" is mapped out already, but it's also going into Sport....and Arsenal.

These days you either seem to be an "Arsenal Knows Best" or "AKB" or from the "Wenger Out Brigade", there is no middle ground and whichever way you sway to puts you in a box with a moniker you'll keep for the rest of your life. The Arsenal Supporters Trust are one example as the people who are strongly pro-Wenger think the AST have agendas to embarrass Arsene, and the other side of the spectrum think the AST are spoonfed by higher powers at the club to keep the Status Quo in turn to access to the big wigs. And there's nothing like the Annual General Meeting to show this up and magnify it ten fold.

First off, I don't know of a single other club who conducts their AGM in a similar, "transparent" way as Arsenal and lead themselves open to questioning with the countries media present, and if there are, then I haven't paid attention enough (Mainly because I don't really care I suppose) so some credit must be divvied up there. However, the sight of a irritated Peter-Hill Wood and nearly comatose Stan Kroenke doesn't ever fill me with any confidence that the club are trying to be dynamic and forward thinking, in fact I see the irony that a club that's well renown for trying to keep it's business quiet ends up with the most talked about AGM every year.

There was a banner from the people who call themselves the "Black Scarf Movement" - a splinter group of fans discouraged at the general direction of the club and the way that modern football is trying to price out the common man. "Kick Greed Out of Football" was the mantra and while I have first-hand knowledge of being priced out, the notion then to spend, spend, spend on players certainly made me feel a twinge on the Ironymeter as well.

Black Scarf's points are as follows;-

1. A season ticket "lite where you are offered a cheaper option season ticket without cup credits

I agree with this because for one thing, our progression in the League and FA Cup has not been far-reaching the last few seasons, we normally end up with less people at these games because of the standard of opposition and if these tickets are then offered up seperately and sold at the same price as the League Cup prices the last few seasons, you're more likely to get 60,000 while not squeezinfg out the hardcore support.

2. Move Away fans to the Upper Tier, let Arsenal fans have the cheapest seats in the ground.

Hard to argue again here since other clubs are already doing this to us, I cite Newcastle and QPR as examples.

3. On renewal, allow season ticket holders a short-term repayment option from May until June.

Arsenal's season tickets are expensive and in an economical time where many people are struggling, £1,000 is a lot of money to put up straight away and again is leading to people not being able to watch their team.

4. Give Season Ticket holders a chance to downgrade to Silver Memberships.

I can't really argue with this either, if you've been following Arsenal like I have for nearly 25 years and are squeezed out financially and then are made to start at the bottom again, it leaves you feeling pretty unwanted and unappreciated for the thousands of pounds and miles you've accrued over the years. 

5. Change the complacent board, Give R&W holdings a say in how things are run.

Probably the only point I'm unsure about, a lot of fans have misgivings over Alisher Usmanov from  alleged tales of his past to the fright of being at the mercy of a Billionaire's plaything. I do think he should be given some role on the board, at which other company do you know is a shareholder who holds nearly 30% and isn't involved in any decisions whatsoever?

I think the problem with Black Scarf Movement is the way they introduced themselves, I understand minority groups in an organisation need to get themselves heard but I've also noticed the way they present things going forward is a lot more professional. A lot of people I've come across on the Internet who identify themselves as BSM are very vocal about Arsene Wenger not being manager of Arsenal anymore, and here's where the clashes start.

I think a club and it's supporters should be able to critique itself when it goes wrong, and praise itself when it goes right and there are things wrong at Arsenal and people are right to point them out, if everybody was to blandly follow the party line then the things that are quite clearly wrong at the club will start as a small problem and then multiply into a bigger one.

I give you the trophy drought - lack of investment in the squad to replace players who are sold to equal ability has moved us further and further away from silverware for seven years, players like Gervinho are expected to replace Robin Van Persie, an aged, injury prone Tomas Rosicky is supposed to fill in for Cesc Fabregas and so on.......

I don't choose to be part of any supporter group for the simple reason I have differing opinions on several different matters, the spokesman for the AST, Tim Payton is a controversial character on Twitter (I've called him out many times) but he is an Arsenal fan of a long time and in any personal dealings I've had with the man, I've found him to be a gentleman through and through, it doesn't mean I have to agree with him though.

Why I'm writing this is because I'm pretty aggrieved to read some comments in the last week about disagreeing with the manager and the board. I'm saddened to read some comments from people overseas telling regular attenders to "shut up" and criticise them from having an opinion which dares to be different to their own, and also disappointed to read comments from those inside the country who question whether someone is a supporter because of location.

Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for so long I can't imagine him not being there, and he has done many wonderful things for the club, but he is not some deity figure that does no wrong. There is a malaise at Arsenal, and has been for many years, the direction of the club is questionable at times, the loss of key personnel on and off the pitch are of massive concern but there is much to be proud of too.

It's in cloudy times like this where I enjoy Arsenal games more, I couldn't be more excited about QPR and Jack's return, so whether in Enfield or Eastern Mongolia...Up The Arse!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

No Fear for Null Vier as Schalke Take All Three

Consistent performances are what we've striven for, what we've been criticized for not doing when we've needed it most, can't argue at the moment for Arsenal have been consistent...... consistently bad for 180 minutes.

It got to one point in the second half where Arsenal's attacking flaccidity culminated in me thinking "Marouane Chamakh might be a good option" - Yup, at that point I needed sectioning. 55,000 people who didn't look or sound like they wanted to be there (Visiting fans aside) watching 7/8 people who didn't look like they wanted to be out there as well.

Plus points....well, um, you know. Per Mertesacker further staked his claim for the very easy title of "Arsenal's best Defender" with a solid, impressive performance, sullied by stepping out but wasn't helped by Santos playing  everybody onside for the goal. Arteta was his normal tidy, efficient self; Jenkinson tried hard as per and there were touches of brilliance from Cazorla. Second goal was classic Champions League away counter attacking as Arsenal piled (?) forward, Schalke broke and squared for Afellay who made it 2-0 very, very easy.

The injuries are playing a part and you can see the loss of fluidity without players like Diaby, Ox, Walcott etc etc but the squad looks awfully thin and short of confidence, even Gervinho's normal get-up-and go was tested in parts of the second half, culminating in him getting yellow for "Simulation" - The attacking side of things is starting to worry as you can't see a goal coming from anywhere.

Also the timing of the subs is now laughably predictable - 72 mins for the first one and it gives the incoming player hardly anytime to get any groove into the game, teams know what to expect from us and it makes us a million times easier to play against. Alarm bells are ringing out everywhere as it seems we only seem to run when we're a goal down and Schalke didn't have to be good tonight either. The difference is they have a striker they can rely on that when he's through on goal....he'll finish, I won't criticise Gervinho too much because he does try and run but you never have confidence he's ever going to do anything when he gets it.

Where does this result leave Arsenal? Dangerously poised in both competition and season as a whole, a difficult away trip to Gelsenkirchen awaits coupled with a visit to Old Trafford. The lack of attempts at goal are also terrifying - Schalke could of left for the airport and I still think we'd of struggled to find the net.


Mannone - 5 - Can't blame for the goals but the confidence he gives the back four is non-existant.

Jenkinson - 6 - Tried Hard

Vermaelen - 5 - Looks out of sorts. Captaincy weighing on him?

Mertesacker - 7 - Looked good. Pulled out of position for Huntelaar's goal

Santos - 2 - Awful. Out of position time and time again. Played Huntelaar onside and beaten for second goal.

Coquelin - 6.5 - Tried hard and got involved by faded.

Arteta - 7 - Tidy. What we have come to expect from Mikel.

Ramsey - 5 - Invisible.

Cazorla - 6 - Flashes of brillance but no-one to help him create anything.

Podolski - 5 - Looks injured and played like he was injured.

Gervinho - 4 - Ran about. Fell over a lot. Lost the ball even more. Booked for diving

Honourable mention for Serge Gnabry who looked like he wanted to do something when he came on.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Schalke Null Vier. A Preview

Schalke are the visitors for Matchday 3 of the Champions League on Wednesday night. Having opened their campaign with a impressive away win against Olympiakos they were pegged back at home in a 2-2 draw with French Champions Montpellier. Arsenal go into the game with maximum points after an away win in France and a home win over Olympiakos.

Previous Meetings

It's been 11 years since our paths have crossed in Group C of the 2001-2002 Champions League. Arsenal won the home tie by 3 goals to 1 while Schalke took their home fixture by 3 goals to 1. In a very rare piece of news both clubs are still managed by the same managers, Arsene Wenger and Huub Stevens

Injury News

Arsenal: Where do we start? Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere moved closer to first-team action, appearing in the U-21's 2-1 win away at Everton but the game will come too soon for Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who suffered a minor hip injury in the dismal, shocking, poor & laboured 1-0 defeat against Norwich. (NOPE, NOT OVER IT YET). Throw into the mix that goalkeepers Woijech Szczesny & Lukas Fabianski's injuries and add a dash of Tomas Rosicky's absence with a soupson of doubt over Laurent Koscielny and we're served 90 minutes of fright.

Schalke 04: The only thing I could glean from the German tabs today is that there is doubt over Papadopolous' travelling over for the game and there seems to be problems with both Draxler and Holtby, which is nice for us.


Arsenal played in that game at the weekend while our visitors secured a famous win in the Signal Iduna Park, home of arch-rivals and champions Borussia Dortmund. Arsenal have won 12 from 22 against German opposition while Schalke have only won 3 from 11 against English opposition.


Jonas Eriksson from Sweden officiates his first Arsenal game here but his second Schalke 04 game have overseen their 3-1 win over Valencia in the round of 16 in 2009.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Norwich 1-0 Arsenal - Grim

Can't think of any funny stuff for the headline today. Was Grim wasn't it? I can only dream how grim it was for the (un)lucky folk who made the trip, was very reminiscent of the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich in the 1st leg of the League Cup Semi-Final where the attitude and application were non-existant and questionable and the same as yesterday evening.

It was poor, turgid, flat, leaden-footed, dull, poor again and collectively devoid of any redeeming features both attacking and defending. What troubled me the most (There Was A Lot to choose from in this category) was....

Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face - Arsene 

Simply an unacceptable thing to comprehend, If I underrate the difficulty of a job where I'm paid big money I am reprimanded, also my manager who no doubt is paid considerably more is definitely told what's expected.

The Worrying thing is this isn't a new problem, there have been many, many times in the past where Arsenal just haven't turned up and shrugged it off as a bad day at the office, maybe there isn't enough pressure on these players to perform, maybe the manager has too much sway and power at the club where it isn't made clear what's expected and everyone has a cosy life with no pressure exerted.

This will cost Arsenal in the long run. It will cost them more than a few players with faces like smacked arses for a few days.

There's no point reviewing the game as it was so bad but congrats must go to Norwich who thoroughly deserved the win, they hassled and harried and took the chance when they needed to. Can always rely on Arsenal to kickstart someone's season.

Schalke at home in the CL this week, not like they've just gone to the home of their rivals and won.....Oh.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

*Exclusive* - Interview with Melissa Reddy.

Bit of a change of speed from me this morning, today is the first in a series about interesting people I have met along my Twitter journey. Twitter has been a very important part in my life in the last few years, it has helped me make some very good friends and some very good contacts.

First in the series is Melissa Reddy, a Liverpool fan who is very prevalent in the South African football media, but enough about my introduction and let Melissa tell you all about herself.

When she’s not busy tweeting f#$% as Liverpool concede another goal due to a defensive brain fart, Melissa Reddy spends her time putting together Africa’s biggest sport magazine – KICK OFF. An expert on South African football and well versed in the European game, her knowledge dvelves all the way down to the builders and painters who ply their trade in England’s non-league. The 26-year-old doesn’t just tweet, read, write, watch and analyse the game, she plays a bit as well. Her left foot is as bad as David Beckham’s vocabulary, but she has her did-she-just-score-that? moments. You can also catch her on SuperSport (South Africa’s equivalent to Sky) or on radio stations 5fm and Metro FM. Or just give her grief about Liverpool by tweeting @1stLadyOfFooty

1.     How did you become involved in Soccer / Football ?
Football has forever been a part of my make-up. I was watching John Barnes in those super tight Red shorts when I was expected to be playing dress-up with Barbie. Professionally, I entered sport reporting in 2007 with TEAMtalk Media, which was Sky Sports’ South African office. I worked across all their divisions (cricket F1 et al.), but once I started working with the football department, they wanted me on their team exclusively.  It was an online environment, where I shifted across ITV, Sky Sports and I used to also work on Blue Square Football, but most of my time was spent on the new South African website we had launched. After four years, in which I progressed from a journalist to head of the football department, I joined KICK OFF. I’m currently the Deputy Editor of Africa’s biggest sport magazine – and that puts a massive smile on my face. I am also an analyst on SuperSport, as well as on our most popular radio stations here in South Africa – 5fm and Metro FM.

2.     When did you decide and what was the key moment in your choice to become involved with the media side of the game?
While I was at university, I did an internship at Summit TV, which is a business channel. While there, all the seasoned journalists used to tell me I should dabble in sport reporting. In fact, wherever I worked, I received the same feedback – writing has always been a strength of mine and my passion for sport was undeniable. So in 2007, I applied for the job at TEAMtalk Media, and got it immediately. I then moved to Cape Town and my life basically centered on becoming the best I could in this field.

3.     Football has always had the stigma of being a "Man's Game" attached to it, have you found any instance where sexism still rears its ugly head on your journey?
We may need a whole new dossier on this subject alone actually. Every exclusive interview I do is obviously only secured in a player’s bedroom, and not because I don’t spend my time asking lifeless questions like ‘how is the mood in the camp?’  I’m on TV and radio because I’m an attractive female, not because everyone that I’ve worked closely with in the industry is well aware of my knowledge. It’s stupid, sickening and shocking in 2012, but it’s still there. And not just for me – I’ve seen the ‘get back in the kitchen’ tweets sent to Kay Murray as well. This is someone who’s hosted the Ballon d’Or, and who will ace it again this year. If you’re good to look at, and don’t put forward your opinions or rock the boat, it’s all good. But if you’re brilliant at what you do, and people know it, you become a threat. Enter sexism.

4.     We can't let this interview carry on without talking about your beloved Liverpool FC, are you pleased with Brendan Rogers' start? Is there anything he could do better? And do you think FSG are providing the necessary support for the manager?
Liverpool Football Club: the longest relationship I’ve ever been in, and an abusive one often enough too. There are plenty of positives from Brendan Rodgers’ tenure thus far – we’re creating a clear playing identity, youngsters are getting the chance to show they belong in the first team, and the manager’s got a great football brain as well as the kind of humility that is stitched in the club’s fabric. Results haven’t always matched performance yet (see Manchester United) and Gervinho’s forehead is bigger than our strike force, but it’s a work in progress.  There’s always things that can be done better, and Rodgers will probably be the first to admit that. Our dealings in the transfer market were largely lacklustre, which is a direct result of last season’s wastage. To his credit though, BR hasn’t sulked – he threw a challenge to Raheem Sterling, Wisdom and Suso, who’ve all accepted with aplomb. FSG and BR share the same belief – Liverpool’s long-term health is more important than immediate gain. It’s hard to argue with that, but it’s also evident that the current squad lacks quality – a little investment in January will go a long way.

5.     What would constitute a good season for Liverpool in your eyes?
This is one of those head-versus-heart and reality-versus-fantasy question. Honestly, if we’re knocking around seventh, *Looks for a bottle of something stiff to gulp down*

6.     Who should we look out coming through the ranks at Anfield?
We’ve seen Sterling, Wisdom and Suso get a regular run out, but for now also keep an eye on Conor Coady, who is also one of England’s brightest young talents. He operates as a centre-back, but also turns out in the middle of the park. We should also see more of young striker Adam Morgan, due to a combination of our forward shortage and his brilliance through the ranks.

7.     And finally, many thousands of people on Twitter follow your account @1stLadyOfFooty, If you are indeed the First Lady, who would you choose to be your president?
The President of Footballdom has to be Diego Maradona. He’d walk through the negotiations with other ‘countries,’ or just chip them, perhaps even blow cigar smoke in their faces … And his sound bites would make those of Zlatan and Super Mario seem as though they were scripted for Teletubbies. Ah, it also means Sergio Aguero would visit the White House often. That’s a nice bonus, eh?

I want to thank Melissa for taking the time out to answer my questions and you can find her on Twitter at @1stLadyofFooty.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Wah. So International football happened this weekend and I can't really say I paid too much interest in it apart from the fact that Ireland are still crap and play dirgeball and the second thing is Theo Walcott's injury. Against San Marino. San. Marino. Out for "at least 2 weeks" with a bruised lung which actually sounds really, really painful. But it's annoying to lose a player in an international fixture.

But I Digress. The transfer stories are picking up the last couple of days; much to may people's dismay as the last window only shut a month and a half ago; but this is absolutely normal because clubs (Arsenal) usually plan strategy meetings for around this time to discuss January dealing so it's no big surprise.

So what do we need in January?

Having a few deja vu moments here as Arsenal identified the need for a striker around this time last season; They tried and failed with Lukas Podolski in January only to purchase him in the summer so maybe that would happen again; however top target Fernando Llorente may not be there in January so I would like to see them be proactive and secure a target sooner rather than later.

Defensive Midfielder?

Pretty clear to me now that Nuri Sahin was cover for Mikel Arteta and not Jack Wilshere, if you have been able to watch Sahin play for Liverpool this season then you'd have seen a similarity in a "deep lying, hybrid DM/Metronome" role, so do we need cover for Arteta?

Absolutely. Arteta's last few years have been hampered with injuries and you can only touch wood for so long.

So It's of no surprise that stories in the media today are ones talking of Arsene's bank balance for Jan and tales of Abel Hernandez/Llorente etc being linked. It seems to me those meetings have already taken place. Let's hope they bear fruit this winter.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Transfer Tombola Time

Djourou to consider future in January & Mannone's Milan Dream

 Calciomercato in Italy have spoken with Johan Djourou's "Italian Representative" Flavio Ferraria about his "client" links with Roma which have been printed in the English Press this morning. I use the "airquotes" because the veracity of my Ferraria's role has been questioned a number of times. Although he denies any deal being done, he does speak of the fact that Djourou will reconsider his future in January and how Italy is of interest to him. Ferraria goes on to say how well he thinks Johan will fit in at Roma, I think Johan will fit in well considering their penchant for stupid defending this season as well.

Meanwhile Vito Mannone has spoken to Corriera Della Sera speaking of his desire to make the number 1 jersey his own, going to to say he would love to return to Serie A one day, and although he is being linked tentatively to Inter and Napoli in Italy, Mannone dreams of playing for his boyhood team AC Milan.

International Break Clear to everyone as Arsenal tediously linked to Alvarez. Again.

The international break is a barren time, especially for club teams, and even more for people who write about club football (WHY DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GETTING BLOGS ON NEWS) so someone somewhere has dipped his hand into the tombola of transfer news to rehash and pulled out the Ricky Alvarez to Arsenal ticket. You can read it here if you want - I suggest no.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

International Break: Snoozefest Update

After the highs of West Ham, we are brought down by the impending International fixtures and periodical "PLEASE DON'T GET INJURED" dance we all do. The U-21's won 2-0 last night and was beneficial for the likes of Sagna, Wilshere, Frimpong, Coquelin and Santos to get even more minutes under the belt. Special praise was dealt though for Serge Gnabry who looks like he'll be the next one to make transition from youngsters to seniors, however I am interested to see if Gnabry gets a loan a la Wilshere in preparation for this.

During the snoozefest I'm hoping to bring you some interviews from some characters I have met along my journey on Twitter so stay tuned for that - meanwhile here are the latest new snippets involving Arsenal.

Marquez: Guardiola "Perfect for Arsenal"

New York Red Bulls' Rafa Marquez has stoked the fire on Pep Guardiola's next move

"I didn't yet have the chance to meet Pep in New York," Marquez told SER. "We have been in touch before, to help him move here. 

"He will soon return to the game. I think he'll go to England. He'd be perfect for Arsenal."

Yes he would Rafa, tell him to bring that wee Argentinian fella and the ghostly looking Spanish dude with him as well.

Giroud: "Many more to come"

Arsenal's newly-christened striker in the Church of Premier League Goals Olivier Giroud has spoken of his relief on breaking his duck to French Station Radio Monte Carlo.

"It sounds a bit silly, but seeing the ball in the back of the net was something I was waiting for in the Premier League," he said. "At last I've been baptized, I hope there are many more goals to come.
"Obviously I was expecting things to be a bit complicated because the Premier League is of a very high standard, if not the highest. You have to adapt and even Thierry Henry took some time to score his first goal. It changes quite a lot of things for a striker, playing at the highest level for a big club like Arsenal, you have to be decisive.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, 8 October 2012

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham - Per Mertesacker works for Starfleet


Isn't life just happier and better after a win? First of all I consider myself in the "Bad Fan" category this weekend as I thought it was a 3pm kick-off....but onto the game.

What you think you're going to get from a Sam Allardyce team is usually what you get from a Sam Allardyce team and that's power, fight and restarts and that's exactly what we got. The first half was typical, vintage, lovely Arsenal in the fact we looked classy and composed without looking like we were going to score only to be undone by one moment of genius from West Ham's best player Mohamed Diame.

Diame tucked up Ramsey with a lovely piece of footwork before drawing Per Mertesacker into the "Do I block or stand off?" decision of which he did neither, his finish curled into the top corner beyond Vito Mannone was a thing of delight, but could we get back into this?

I like Olivier Giroud and not just because he is ridiculously handsome, he's a nuisance to defenders and you can see how hard he's trying to impress and he gives it everything he has which as a fan, you cannot be anything but impressed with. However he hasn't got the memo that Arsenal players don't usually attack the six-yard box as his goal proved, lung-busting run at just the right time to flick beyond Jussi to equalise.

I'd of taken a point at this stage, I think it was important not to lose this game after what happened at Chelsea and the patchy performance midweek, Arteta was metronomic again, Cazorla hopped, skipped and jumped his way through midfield but more was to come, Giroud's throughball was calmly, slotted home by Walcott (YES, I KNOW!) and the only sensation more bizarre than watching him slot one in was watching him run through and not worry about it, I knew he'd score. Theo Walcott is the anti-Gervinho

The third goal was just class. There was only one moment of Hammer Time! in the whole game and it wasn't from a claret and blue, it was the tenacity of Walcott to poke the ball to the Spanish Wizard who just wrapped his left round the ball and it whizzed past Jussi. Game over. Job done.

Annoyed at the fact it's an Interlull now but with Mertesacker looking tired and a knock for Gibbs, it may just come at the right time.

Things we learnt:

Per Mertesacker works for Starfleet - He has the uncanny ability to halt Thomas Vermaelen from charging up the field, clearly the man has possession of a tractor-beam and works on the sly for Starfleet

Theo Walcott is the Anti-Gervinho - Coolness and calmness personified with his goal.

And.....Olivier Giroud will be fine - It's annoyed me how many people have had to come out in defence of OG since he's joined. The guy is finding his feet and actually is a very important part of the squad, he is a nuisance, and very empathetic in his build-up play resulting in how often he's involved in goals this season. Let's hope this is the first of many Premier League goals.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Nearly a Wet Sham,onto West Ham...

Olympiakos have been overcome, and now all eyes on West Ham and a real test of Arsenal's character as they come up against old foe Sam Allardyce and West Ham. Hammers have played some decent football this summer but you can't help think that Big Sam will revert to his "Beat Arsenal 101" Textbook for the game on Saturday.

Set Pieces, Throw-Ins and "Restarts" will be the order of the day and watching Vermaelen and Koscielny vs the Greeks will have Andy Carroll and Sam licking their lips. I think Per will start if he's able to overcome the flu which meant he was taken ill on Saturday morning. Going to have a quick run-through of who I would start if I was picking the team today (Basically if no-one gets laid out before Sat)

GK: Vito Mannone - Vito has kinda reached the "Johan Djourou" level of people realising his limitations as his exposure to the first team grows, had Szczesny came back in after the Man City game, we'd all be wistfully talking about his stint in goal, but he is our most senior goalkeeper.

RB: Carl Jenkinson - Can't believe this kid's progression this season, I always used to have "The fear" whenever I saw the ball go towards him last season but now looks a more assured player and someone who really looks up for the slog, in fact both fullbacks have been key for Arsenal this season.

CB: Per Mertesacker - I've written stuff and said countless times that Per is an important player for Arsenal, not always for the things you see on the ball but for the things that you don't see, the talking, the positional wisdom and also the fact that Vermaelen never goes rampaging forward with Per, now whether that is because Vermaelen trusts Koscielny more or Per shouts at him not to go is another matter.

CB: Thomas Vermaelen - Because he's captain. Needs to atone for his shocker on Wed.

LB: Kieran Gibbs - Probably Arsenal's player of the season and rightly rewarded with a call-up to the senior England squad, links well with Gervinho and Podolski whilst remaining strong defensively.

CDM: Mikel Arteta - First name on the team-sheet. If you're looking for an undroppable player who should be captain, then Mikel is probably your man, looked a bit off-pace Wed due to the ankle knock and lack of prep time.

CDM: Aaron Ramsey - Diaby's injured and I'm scared about seeing Coquelin's naive play against a robust West Ham midfield that could see him up against Diame or Diarra, plus Coquelin seemed to take an calf knock.

AM: Santi Cazorla - Picks himself. Wizard. Always looking dangerous.

AM: Theo Walcott - Soz Theo but it's the wing again for you, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has been poor for a couple of games and Theo's cameo's have me excited.

AM: Lukas Podolski - According to the Twittervine, up to 6 Arsenal players were suffering from flu-like symptoms coming up to Wednesday and I'll bet Lukas was one, scored a good goal but looked a bit lethargic. Still dangerous

CF: Olivier Giroud - DROPPING GERVINHO? DALTON ARE YOU MAD? Well Probably but hear me out - this game is going to be won in the trenches and it's going to need West Ham's defence to be occupied, although his goalscoring record doesn't look smart, Giroud's hold up play and intelligence will be absolute key for a game such as this.

Ars 3-1 Oly - Greeks nearly rain on our Piraeus

It was a win and at first glance, it looks a comprehensive win. It wasn't.

It was a jerky, clunky performance that in truth want very good. But we won "ugly" and I'd rather win "ugly" than lose playing well.

Pluses for the night include the weekly praise for the full-backs. Kieran Gibbs has been excellent this season, but I cannot believe the natural progression of Carl Jenkinson. He looked assured and confident going forward and back.

The other plus (sort of) is Gervinho, he gets masses of stick for his control, but I'd always rather a player makes a mistake by doing something positive than negative, and throw into that the fact he never goes missing and you have someone I can fully get behind.

Olympiakos were determined, well organised and very unlucky to leave London empty-handed and I can only hope we have wrapped up qualification by the time we go to Greece.

West Ham next, that means the Walrus and Restarts. Deep Joy. Per better be stocked on Lemsips.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Didier is a Dunce.

Struggled for headline today folks and only got inspiration when I heard the news that Monsieur Deschamps might be insisting Abou Diaby travels to Clarefontaine for the WCQ against Spain. I understand the fact Diaby is integral to Les Bleus but the guy is injured, but never mind, I hear he's great at recovering.....Oh. Yeah.

Matchday tonight and we pretty much covered Olympiakos in "depth" yesterday. Arsenal will be missing Abou plus the known injury news, however Mikel Arteta will have a fitness test on an ankle injury picked up in training and I understand his selection/non-selection will have knock on effects for the rest of the team.

I expect Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud to start however but the rest of the lineup will become clear as the day progresses.

Arsenal (Updated, Unconfirmed)

I am Vito Mannone

Corp Jenks
Johnathan Rhys Vermaelen

Santi Claus
Goldi Poldi

Up the Arse.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


It's nearly Matchday 2 in the Champions League and we welcome our perennial groupbuddies Olympiakos to the Emirates.

Last season's games were dominated by Andre Santos no less, scoring the second goal in a 2-1 win in London, and being carried off with a ankle injury that laid him off for 3 months in the 3-1 win in Piraeus. That game will also be remembered for Fabianski picking up an injury and Vito Mannone's "ninja air-kick".

Our visitors have been busy over the summer, raiding Nice for midfielder Drissa Diakite on a free and also snapping up Impressive Toulouse midfielder Paulo Machado for just under €3m. Goalkeeper Roy Carroll will be a familiar face but the Greeks have sold star players Kevin Mirallas to Everton and also former Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg, who has joined Segunda side Villarreal.

I'm told that Olympiakos will be without Midfielder Lubomir Fjesa, striker Rafik Djebbour and both vice-captain Avraam Papadopolous and captain Vassilis Torosidis who are both defenders.

Arsenal will be without Abou Diaby who is expected to miss the next month with a hip problem and the main selection issue is whether Per Mertesacker is recalled.

Arsenal (Probable)

Vermaelen (c)

Monday, 1 October 2012

And On And On..

The unbeaten run is over and it's annoying. It's annoying the way it happened, it's annoying who it happened against and it's annoying where it happened.

Looking back on the game, we didn't play well, Chelsea had done their research on how to press and how to rush us, you then couple that with the ability to break at lightening quick speed and you have problems.

Arsenal didn't look quite right. Vermaelen and Koscielny looked nervous, I saw Vermaelen bomb forward more in this game than I have all season, much will be made of the decision to drop or "rotate" Per but I'd of probably done the same, ultimately you live and die by the decision sword though.

We'll be alright though. I believe this team can and will recover, it starts with Olympiakos so we need to banish the defensive problems from their minds and from ours.