Monthly Archives: August 2009

Arsenal complete Champions League check-in

The first full match I saw this season of Arsenal and it was a wonderful 3-1 victory at home against the hapless-Celtics at Emirates.  Coming into this match, Celtics needed atleast 2 goals to attain parity on the first leg score. Their gameplan was to score an early goal and put Arsenal under pressure at home. Fabregas was injured and Arshavin and Van Persie were rested ahead of this clash.

The team that started had a solid defence in the form of Clichy and Sagna in the wings, with the quick-gelling duo of Gallas and Vermaelen at the centre. The midfield comprised of Diaby, Denilson, Song and Eboue with Eduardo and Bendtner leading the line. Eboue had a good game and I think some of the feints and moves he has in his armour are really world-class, when he pulls them off. his performance was rewarded with a goal which was sweetly taken. Denilson, Diaby and Song played a very disciplined game showing the maturity that they are gaining. If they play like this then my opinion about them will only get better and better.

Bendtner had a decent game where he played a crucial part in the second goal with a elegant back-heel. But he missed a sitter of a header at the stroke of half-time. Eduardo had a great game except for the dive to win the penalty. This will be a mlack mark in his otherwise wonderful performance which involved a curler of a shot which was saved by the Celtics goalie. He is gaining in confidence and will be our 20 goal striker for sure this year.

Ramsey came in and got injured which led to Arsenal playing the last 5 minutes with 10 men. I hope he is back to training and fitness. Wilshere came along with Arshavin with 20 minutes remaining in the match. Arshavin is such a skillful clever player that there is excitement on the field when he is playing. He can make those telling runs, wonderful dribbles and feints and make those killer passes and score some goals. He scored his first european goal for Arsenal and I thought when he was on the field we could have scored a couple more. I love that guy and hope he stays fit and scores many more memorable ones, including a couple on Saturday;)

Credit to Celtics for providing wonderful entertainment in the tie. They played well and hard luck to them for the penalty decision. Not that not having that penalty would have saved them the tie because definitely Arsenal were the better team on the night  and also over two legs. Good luch to them in SPL now.

Without Cesc if we could show so much creativity on the field it is quite impressive. The passing and movement of the team on the whole was of high standard. Looks like this team is moving in the right direction in the league as well as in Europe. Now lets hope that we get an easy group in tomorrow’s Champions League draw. There is a wonderful article on the current Arsenal formation here. A good read I would say.

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Filed under Arsenal, Arshavin, Celtic FC, Champions League, Eduardo, Eduardo dive

Wonderful start…now maintain the momentum

You could not have asked for a better start than this. An away match against Everton is not an easy one be it the start or the middle of the season, but the 6-1 demolition job of Everton was the biggest margin of victory in the Premier League. Goals from Denilson (when was the last time he scored), Vermaelen(that is a scoring a debut), Gallas, couple for Captain Cesc and a return to scoring charts for Eduardo.

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Like Wenger mentioned after the match, when we are having a match like this, anyone in this team can score!!! Well that is quite true. We do have matches like this once in a while. Song and Denilson did have a good match and it is players like them who have to play like this week in and week out if we have to give a title-challenge come December. Already bookers William have brought down the odds of Arsenal’s title chances from 9-1 to 11-2!!! Mark Lawrenson in BBC had predicted a 2-0 victory to Everton in his weekly predictions, I am sure he is having a great day today. In a way I like it when people under-estimate us and we prove them wrong. I guess Patrick Barclay in Times is the only pundit who gave Arsenal some weightage.

Lets not get over excited by this win and prepare and finish the job at Celtics midweek so that we are assured of some revenue from playing in Europe. And then take it up from there. And one good word for Van Persie, Arshavin and Bendtner who were immense in the match too. Almunia was stellar under the bars catching every corner and cross that came to the Arsenal box. It really feels nice after we win like this 🙂

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Filed under Almunia, Arsenal, Arshavin, Celtic FC, Cesc, Denilson, Eduardo, Fabregas, Gallas, Patrick Barclay, Vermaelen

Arsenal Season preview -2

Arsenal have had some very imposing players in the centre of the park and ahead…but recently Wenger seems to prefer players of smaller physical stature, but nimble to adjust with the passing play of the team. So which is why we do not have a replacement for a Viera yet…

Midfield: 3.5/5

Fabregas – The first name on the team sheet and the captain of the team, Cesc is the most important cog in the Arsenal wheel. He proposes the play from the mid-field and strings the passes to the forward line.  He is a 4.5 out of 5, but unfortunately his compatriots need to be of his calibre for him to take out his brilliance on the field, which is where we are missing our Viera/Flamini mould of player. A Song or a Denilson is not the solution, unless they improve drastically from their last season performance. Fabregas needs to provide some more bite to the attack, try some more long rangers and contribute to the goals from mid-field. With his new sexy hairstyle, I am sure he will 🙂

Rosicky – Our injury man hopes to be back by September post his latest injury. I truly truly hope he stays fit for this whole season and give us some creative edge in the league. I am dying to see him combine with Cesc,Nasri, Walcott, Arshavin etc etc. He is definitely like a new signing for us and lets keep our fingers crossed on him staying fit.

Walcott – Our boy to man story should get completed this year and he should be making a mark in the Gunners team and then make his mark in the England team. His spurts on the right will have to end in good crosses and goal bound runs should have a final product, if not a goal, atleast a shot on target. But I think he has had enough exposure in the last couple of seasons to mature.

Nasri – An unfortunate injury in the pre-season has ruled him out till October, but he will definitely be a key player for the team once he is back. He scored more goals than Hleb(not that Hleb scored quite a lot of goals) and is a good player to pass the ball and keep possession of. He needs to up the ante in the goal scoring department and the second year in the league, he should be a more thorough player for us now.

Denilson & Song – Wenger’s solution for a defensive midfielder rests on these two players, unless he gives more opportunity to Ramsey. Denilson’s dfensive duties are questionable but I do remember the stats which were provided by a guest columnist in A Cultured Left Foot, where the stats proved on the converse. But somehow, these two players are not visibly showing the efforts or the talents once on the field.

Ramsey – He will be playing in the Carling Cup and FA Cup to start with but will slowly get promoted into the Premier League. He has a lot of potential and I believe he could be the answer to the defensive midfielder we are struggling to buy.

Diaby – Where is he? Injured? I do not know what is the problem with him, is it laziness or lack of talent or sheer laid-backness…whatever it is, he better improve or else this is his last year in London.

Forwards: 4/5

Arshavin – The star of last season. Let me not praise him any more, let him prove that on the field.

Van Persie – The main contributor of our last season, with respect to goals and assists, he has signed a new deal and hopefully signed on a lot of responsibility too. He will have to guide the youngsters in the team and deal with the pressure of scoring for a team which missed out on a lot of scoring opportunities. Look forward to more from Van the man.

Eduardo – Our main target man, the clinical poacher, we would like to see him playing more frequently and staying healthy. We missed him last season and I would like to see him together with Van Persie.

Bendtner – With Adebayor gone, Bendtner will be the default link-up player in the forward line with a lot to prove this year. Wenger has a lot of confidence in him and it is time for him to repay his faith. He needs to miss less chances which anyway this team will be creating.

Carlos Vela – He has had a good start to his career in the league last year. But he will be the player to look out for in this year. He is starting in the Mexico team that is playing US this week. He has the skills and the talent to be a star in this team. We will see a lot of sub appearances from him this year.

Wilshere – Our player of the pre-matches, he has shown a lot of improvement and is pegging for a place in the reserves list, if not in the playing XI. But I think he needs to play more regularly in the Carling Cup and FA cup to justify a place in the League. But we will hear a lot of him this season, that is for sure.

I do not have any doubts on our forward line. They are a good lot and to me they are as good or better than the forward line of many of the top teams in the league. I have a hunch that Vela is going to be a star this year and will shine in the league and Europe.

Realistically we will finish in the top 4 but I seriously doubt if we can win the league. But we can finish anywhere between 2nd and 4th in the league with a chance of finishinng strongly in Europe as well.

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Filed under Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, Carlos Vela, Uncategorized, Vela, Wilshere

Arsenal season preview – 1

It’s that time of the year when you have to analyse the strengths and weaknesses, review the gaps of last season and if the new signings have been able to plug those, gloss over the new ones who might wear the jersey this season, predict the position in the league and in Europe. This is definetely going to be a difficult season for the club, both in the EPL as well as in CL. So lets start looking at the team now…

Goal Keepers :Rating 3/ 5

Almunia – He had a very good season by his own standards. He was brave at times and a bit nervous at others. But if he can produce a season like last one,  I think we can look at having a top 3 finish. He will be dealing with a new central defence combination and this could be quite crucial for the overall defensive record for the team this season.

Fabianski – I need some more confident performances from him before I can say that he is actually going to be our future goalie

Vito Manone – Well too young and raw to make a comment

So, though Goalkeeping doesnt get discussed when we look at the shortages or excesses in the squad, we seriously have some problems if Almunia gets injured or loses form. Maybe we need to buy one of the experienced stoppers like Green or someone the next time they are available.

Defence:Rating 3.5/5

Sagna-Gallas-Vermaelen-Clichy – This will be the preferred back four and I think if Gallas doesn’t goof up and Vermaelen adjusts quickly to the pace of the Premier league, we have a solid back four. Clichy and Sagna had a wonderful 2007-08 and were in the Premier League team of the year. But they let themselves down with some occasional shabby performances and injuries last season. So this is a chance for them to come back and prove a point.

Ebuoe – Djourou- Silvestre-Gibbs – The back up for each of these four positions have actually got some experience playing last year due to various injuries of the starting four. Djourou and Gibbs have certainly matured into future stars. Ebour if he can control himself, provides some wonderful runs and breaks. He has a good skill to run with the ball. Song is a good utility player who can play in central defence as well as in the holding-midfield role.

The rating is 3.5 and not 4 because we have no idea how Vermaelen will adjust to the new surroundings and team-mates. So it all depends on him to make this rating go up and in the process have a strong defensive set up for the Gunners.

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Filed under Arsenal, Season Preview

Wenger remarks, Celtic tie and what to expect

The smooth operator that Arsene is in the transfer market, we cannot be sure about whom he is going to buy or not buy unless he does one of them come the end of the transfer window. But he sure has been talking about the money spinning clubs, especially Machester City and Real Madrid.

Manchester City at the moment look like they have a great squad quality-wise, but sometimes when you buy more than three players you take a technical gamble. Yes, sometimes it clicks straightaway but  sometimes it takes a few months and Real Madrid are in the same situation. They have bought fantastic players but you have to ask if they will click or not in a few months. Nobody knows. That’s not predictable. If you do not find your balance straight away it can be difficult.

Rightly said, given that Wenger himself thinks that no player should be bought beyond a particular value (in his case I think 15 million pounds will be the maximum). To him that player is not really wanted to make a team that he thinks will play football on the field for 90 minutes and win. He goes on to say

Real Madrid were not 10th last year, they were second. They had good players and a good team. City have more to create than Real Madrid.

A very valid point, certainly Real didn’t need such an overhaul to move just one place on the table. Even with this overhaul I doubt if they will really beat Barca to the La Liga title. And it must be such a suffocating period for the other players who are in the team seeing so many new expensive signings coming in. It is not a good environment to be in.

So it is Celtic FC whom we will meet in the UEFA Champions League play-off round in the Non-champions route on 18/19th of August and the return leg at Emirates on August 25/26th. This is crucial for the team as the group stage of the Champions league means a lot of money for the club, which is needed badly. The tie is not going to be an easy one and keeping the team fit and without injury is going to be key this season. Let’s hope we start the season well enough and carry on the momentum to Europe.

So can we expect more signings and exits from the club in the next couple of weeks??? The answer seems to be “yes”, given the fact that Senderos looks ready for a move to Everton. And given that we would definetely need to buy a defender. And also a defensive midfielder would be an ideal signing to close the season. I seriously think with respect to the forward line we have enough back up in the team, but we will need a midfielder if Wenger intends to play the 4-3-3.

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Filed under Arsene Wenger, Celtic FC, Champions League, Everton, Man City, Real Madrid, Senderos, UEFA

Toure, all the best

Its been a while since I blogged. Ade left us, I did not like him that much, but nor did I hate him…but I was upset, angry and pissed when he used to run himself offside or miss some sitters or not make an effort for a ball. I guess he has chosen his destiny and he will disappear like a Hleb who it seems is moving to VFB Stutgart!!! And where is Flamini???

One of my favourite players in the team, Kolo Toure, the man who put in 110% on the field, left us for Manchester City. He will be missed for all the efforts he put in the field, for those solo runs from defence, for those tearing-all-powerful shots on goal, for those shouting at Eboue for giving away the ball etc etc. All the best Kolo, hope you have a good 36 games in the league!!!

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Filed under Arsenal, Kolo Toure, Man City, Toure