Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland – Onwards & Upwards

October 18, 2011 - Leave a Response

Hey guys, sorry for not blogging in months!

 

Here’s my new piece on Arsenal v Sunderland for PlayUP Football (@playupfootball on Twitter):

http://www.playup.com/uk/blog/index.php/2011/10/18/onwards-and-perhaps-upwards-for-improving-gunners/

 

Hope you enjoy!

Those Spaniards vs Some Club Near Liverpool

May 28, 2011 - Leave a Response

Note: Not exactly Arsenal related but since it’s such a massive, monumental match I thought I’d do my own preview.

Massive match today. A match where one club can make history. The nerves will be setting in and kick-off is just a few hours away. But you already know about Stevenage v Torquay so I’ll focus on that other match. The one taking place at the best stadium in North London that isn’t the Emirates. It’s some Spanish team facing that team from London. What? Not London? But their fans… oh, I see. Apologies, it’s some Spanish team vs. that team from a place near Liverpool. Apparently they’re pretty good so there you go.

I’ve watched that near-Liverpool based team a few times this season. First they fought for their lives and somehow managed to grind out a draw at home to the mighty team that is Glasgow Rangers. Impressive, huh? That’s nothing. They went to Wolves, put in the performance of a lifetime and ONLY lost 2-1. Amazing. That’s not even mentioning only losing 4-0 at the cauldron that is Upton Park against the team that is so strong they manage to hold the rest of the league up. Honestly, can you get any better than that?

They have some amazing players too. Wes Brown for one, and that goalkeeper with more consonants in his name than Szczesny. Darron Gibson, who has the most amazingly-powerful-but-not-very-accurate shot ever. John O’Shea, who once actually scored IN Liverpool for that near-Liverpool based team. Owen Hargreaves, who’s so good that he gets left out in the interests of fairness. Obertan, who is the love-child of Mikael Silvestre and as such has inherited his amazingness. Bebe, the £7m Youtube bargain. The list goes on and on.

However, for some reason the best-manager-in-the-entire-history-of-the-world-forever tends not to play these players. No, he prefers people like that ageing Welshman whose name I can’t mention in case I get sued; the guy who looks like that green fella from that movie with the donkey that has Eddie Murphy’s voice; the ‘little vegetable’ who scores a few goals; an olympic swimmer whose name rhymes with ‘Granny’ and even that dude who got his name stolen by a mildly successful Spanish team, who seem to win the league whenever Arsenal do. For that reason (and the fact that their left-back is a c*nt of the highest order) the favourites have to be…

… that Spanish team! Who are also a bit good. Apparently they won a sextuple in 2009. That might be impressive but it just sounds wrong. Like that other team, I’ve watched them a few times this season. They lost 2-0 to Hercules, but that’s understandable because I’ve seen what that man can do in the movies. I’d let him win too. They visited the best stadium in North London that actually is the Emirates and even managed to score. Because we felt sorry for them. So we decided to only win by one goal. Fair’s fair, right? You won’t believe this, though. I’ve actually seen that Spanish team win a match. No seriously. They beat Madrid because the Real players were all so worried about hurting the little guy that they let him run straight through and score. Made his night that did.

The Spaniards also have some moderately good players. Like Pinto (who isn’t good but his hair deserves a mention) and Biscuits. But, again, like that other team, the manager insists on playing people like Fred Flintstone’s cousin along with some guy famous for dating Shakira. Then there’s some dude who could literally (possibly) fit the whole of Spain into his big mouth. There’s the scary looking guy who might have scored the winner in the World Cup Final and that little dude we’ve already mentioned. Up front they have a 12 year old and a guy whose name got stolen by a Birmingham-based Premier League club. What’s with these clubs stealing players’ names anyway? Sheesh.

Back on topic, and there’s clearly a vast array of talent available for both sides. Though most will be on the bench. Poor Wes. I believe  that the mental strength and spirit of the t… sorry, got sidetracked. I believe (the bookies) that the Spanish lot will have just slightly too much for Liverpool’s neighbours and will take home the trophy. As a bonus, they’ll also be second in the main headlines on Sky Sports News. Behind Stevenage v Torquay, but you already knew that. The near-Liverpool based team’s fans can at least have a night out in London to drown their sorrows.

After all, the taxi home won’t cost much.

Vote for your player of the season!

May 24, 2011 - Leave a Response

Who is your Arsenal player of the season? Please vote!

Fulham v Arsenal – Let’s Finish On A High

May 21, 2011 - Leave a Response

The end of a season, no matter how bad it’s been, is always a bit depressing. Then again, the last few months have been depressing as well. All the same, you could argue that a break will do us all good, but I’ll be shocked if my Twitter timeline isn’t full of ‘I miss my Arsenal!’ or ‘All is forgiven!’ or ‘Fuck off Barca you classless c*nts!’ in the very near future.

Before any of that, though, we have the small matter of our final game of the season to contend with. I know most people think it’s a dead-ringer, but we must not lose sight of the fact that third place is still very much up for grabs. It’s improbable, yes, and completely in City’s hands but with the way things have gone this season, you just never know. I hope the players remember this, and it’s up to them to put in a performance tomorrow. Whatever happens, we can always have a laugh at the team below us. Every cloud and all that.

The early team news is mixed. Cesc Fabregas is definitely out with a thigh injury,  but Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Abou Diaby face late fitness tests. There are also doubts over Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou, so at centre back it will most likely be Vermaelen and Squillaci (*gulp*). With the doubts over Clichy and Nasri, I think the team will probably be the same as the one which didn’t really show up against Villa. At the very least, it gives them a chance to go some way to making up for the last few months. Every cloud and all that.

The stats of this fixture are firmly in Arsenal’s favour. We have won 34 of our 48 meetings with Fulham, losing just 7, and have only lost 2 of our 19 matches against them in the Premier League. The cottagers have only scored 2 goals in their last 6 meetings with Arsenal but, rather worryingly, have scored 30% of their goals from set pieces which is the highest percentage of any team in the league this season. Form wise, Fulham have won 5 of their last 9 while Arsenal have won just 2 of 10. However, Fulham did lose their last home match 5-2, so confidence may be low. Every cloud and all that. [All stats from BBC Sport]

Should results not go our way this weekend, we’ll finish fourth and face an inconvenient Champions League qualifier in August. Notice how I say ‘inconvenient’ and not ‘terminal’. As our UEFA co-efficient is very high, we will be seeded and as a result can’t face the likes of Bayern, Villarreal, Benfica, etc. Potentially the most testing tie we could get is Marseille or FC Twente, and with respect to them, we don’t deserve to be in the Champions League if we can’t beat them. Should we lose our qualifier, we’ll go into the group stage of the Europa League. Which we have a better chance of winning. Every cloud and all that. (Yes, that was sarcasm).

In other news, it looks like Denilson is on his way out of the club because he can’t pass a ball is a ‘winner’. The term ‘jumped before he was pushed’ comes to mind here. Hopefully we can use his transfer fee to, umm, pay for the texts that Arsene will be sending to Bolton, PSG, Lille, etc. Not much else to say really, other than good luck and hope it works out for him. There were also rumours flying around Twitter last night that Argentine winger Ricardo Alvarez from Velez Salsfield has signed a pre-contract with Arsenal and will join in the summer. Young, injury-prone, unknown – perfect for Arsenal. He does shoot from outside the box though. Every cloud and all that.

So all-in-all, a very disappointing season is almost at its end. For me, though, the rollercoaster of emotions we’ve experienced over the last 10 months – jubilation, relief, happiness, anger, depression – sums up what it’s like to be a football fan. Regardless of how you feel about the team, the manager, the board or the club in general, you know you couldn’t do without it. Forget what’s gone on over the last few weeks and just enjoy the last 90 minutes of Arsenal you’re going to see for the next few months.

Let’s end on a high.

A Perfect Summer…

May 18, 2011 - Leave a Response

The overriding feeling at the end of this season is one of what might have been. There have been resounding highs and devastating lows (click at your own peril!). At one point it seemed certain that we’d end our trophy drought, but for whatever reason this hasn’t happened. People will have their own opinions on what went wrong – lack of signings, poor mentality, etc. – but the one fact everybody seems to agree on is the need to strengthen the team.

Personally I think we need a defender, a holding midfielder, a natural winger and a striker. It feels like we’ve been linked with every defender under the sun in recent times, but the one I would like to sign most is Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen (left). He’s Vermaelen’s partner for the Belgian national team and his old team-mate at the Amsterdam Arena, meaning the chemistry is already established. Strong in the air, comfortable with the ball, quick and versatile (can also play at left-back), he would be perfect for Arsenal.

We’ve also been linked with Scott Parker, who is expected to leave West Ham after their relegation. I’ve seen people on Twitter say he isn’t good enough, but I think he would be a good signing because a) he would be cheap b) he’s experienced in the Premier League c) he has a fantastic mentality and d) he has great hair. Jokes aside, he would be a great addition to the squad and would cost a good deal less than someone like Melo, who seems to be the preferred option. I think we also need to remember that Melo has been consistently poor in a very average Juventus side.

I think most people would agree on which winger to sign. Eden Hazard‘s reputation has soared in the last year or two, and you only need to look at the amount of compilation videos on Youtube to see why. Quick, skillful, can cross a ball, has previously hinted at a move to Arsenal and according to The Goon Blog we have first refusal on him. What are you waiting for, Arsene?

Finally, in the opinion of many we need a top quality striker to compliment RVP. We’ve been linked with Karim Benzema but personally I would love to see Radamel Falcao in an Arsenal shirt. Already highly rated before, his reputation has gone through the roof this season. He has been prolific for Portuguese champions Porto, and has set the record for the most goals scored in a single Europa League season (16). While there would be question marks over his price, I think it would be a more than worthwhile investment.

Of course, there would need to be changes within the club to accommodate these new players, and the manager would have to fit them into his team. But if we’re to challenge for silverware next season, money needs to be spent. Whether or not it happens remains to be seen.