Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

WHO IS KEY TO ARSENAL’S SUCCESS THIS SEASON?

…exciting times ahead at The Emirates?

Seven years of fruitful harvest, seven seasons of famine. Does the biblical story relate to a certain North London club? I think so! The Gunners sudden change in status from genuine title contenders to pretenders in the last few years has been surprising.  Arsenal has become a perpetual selling club losing their key players to local and European rivals.

Wenger and the board have continued to convince their fans that the club is headed in the right direction financially but for the suffering supporters, they have continued to endure taunts from fans in West London, Liverpool and Manchester.

Every season starts with huge optimism and expectation but as the season winds down, it seem to be the same old story of misery.

Perhaps 2012/13 season may be different, despite losing former Captain Robin Van Persie and influential midfield man Alex Song to Manchester United and Barcelona respectively, Arsenal have made a good start to the season with one win and two draws.

Five out of a possible nine points is a good start? Yes, considering how they kicked off last season. Their impressive victory over Liverpool gives room for optimism and how they have shut out their opponents from scoring in 270 minutes of play.

I have picked three key men who I feel will be crucial to the Gunners success this season.

STEVE BOULD

… marshaling the defence from the dugout

The former Stoke City, Arsenal and Sunderland defender had an illustrious playing career of 20 years has been promoted to the role of assistant manager at the club and has been saddled with the responsible of ensuring the back line is much tighter than it was before. Three games played, no goals conceded despite the absence of Koscienly and Sagna and maybe Andre Santos. The Gunners back four have stifled opponents, shielded their goal and are well coordinated when set pieces are whipped in. It is well documented fact that as long as your opponent don’t score, they are not likely to win. Scoring has never been a problem at the North London club with Professor Wenger’s philosophy and brand of football.

Steve’s role is keeping the defense performance top-notch. Time will tell if the early praises are not too premature.

ABOU DIABY

..can he stay fit?

Has the hour cometh for the man dubbed the new Patrick Vieira to finally lay claim to that huge comparison? Since his arrival at the club, only a few which includes Arsene Wenger have believed in the French man. A broken ankle stalled his progress as a youngster upon his arrival from France, his fitness has seen been a concern for his followers coupled with his indifferent form. The elusive midfielder has started the season well with a man of the match performance against Liverpool where he pulled the strings effectively. Such performance highlights the qualities seen in him when Wenger sanctioned his move from Auxerre to North London in the January 2006.

If he stays fit and can keep his level of performance high, he is a player who can lift his team above many on his day. I am of the opinion that Diaby’s performance for the Gunners is vital to their campaign this time around.

SANTI CAZORLA

…pulling all the strings in midfield

Once again, Arsene Wenger has shown us that he is still a master at wheeling and dealing. The capture of Santi Cazorla from Malaga is probably the best piece of business in terms of incoming player  the willy old French man has done most recently. The diminutive Spanish winger/playmaker is the closest thing to Andres Iniesta on the football pitch. Cazorla offers both feet and subtle skills, excellent crosses, powerful shot and he’s got to be the new jewel in the crown for the Gunners.

His link up plays with Diaby in the middle of the park shows a player who is ready to take up responsibility. Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski need to make the appropriate runs for the Spanish international to find them on the field – an example was Podolski’s first goal for Arsenal against Liverpool. He also adds his own fair share of goals from direct free-kicks and log range shots. The 5ft 6” man early season impression is leaving the Gunners excited about the prospect of a season deemed to be another long one after the exit of their erstwhile captain and talisman.

The season is just getting under way but these three men will need to play their significant roles to perfection if the Gunners will be celebrating for the first time at the Emirates.

I reckon you agree or disagree. You can have your say………

Advertisements

In Arsene We Trust?!

In Arsene We Trust? Or Rut?

Over the years, a large percentage of Arsenal followers have always put their faith in the “professor” and believed his judgment.

Pundits and skeptical fans have criticized his philosophy but everyone appears to agree that Arsene Wenger knows his onions and his decision should be respected if not necessarily appreciated.

The verbal assault has come in different form. His transfer recruitment policy, his preferred formation/tactics, perceived lack of hair-dryer treatment and now his substitutions.

In the midst of all this, the die-hard Gunners faithful always have a response to give – IN ARSENE WE TRUST.

Something strange happened at the Emirates stadium during Arsenal last league match against Manchester United. BIZARRE in the sense that in Wenger’s over 15 years reign in the North London, the entire stadium has never in unison chorused their disagreement like the one that happened when starlet Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain was substituted and replaced by Andrey Arshavin.

The moment that made the fans go mad

Chamberlain was the surprise name on the team sheet as he was included in the starting XI for the first time in the EPL and the young English man justified his inclusion with an awesome performance. His direct runs and dribbles gave seasoned veteran Evra a lot to ponder upon while switching to the other flank to torment Rafael da Silva. He capped his performance with an assist before he was substituted.

The decision to remove him was greeted with disapproval from the crowd, the expression of team captain (Robin Van Persie) and many who watched the game. In a contrast of fortune, Arshavin who replaced him showed his defensive vulnerability which led to the winning goal for the visitors – a defeat which leaves Arsenal in an uncomfortable position considering how their season has panned out so far.

After the game and in the mix zone, Arsene Wenger tried to defend himself;

“I’ve been a manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I don’t have to justify every one. I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn’t work, but he had started to fatigue”.

This particular decision appears to have incurred the wrath of probably the most loyal Arsenal fan including the popular CNN man Piers Morgan as they are beginning to lose faith in Arsene.

1/10000th of what @piersmorgan had to say about the substitution and the boss

Football fans are as dynamic as the game itself. It keeps evolving. One bad decision however costly isn’t enough to make me doubt Professor Arsene Wenger.

IN ARSENE I STILL TRUST…… What about you? Lets hear your opinion on the Professor in the comment box.

More headache for Sir Alex?

The stench of the defeat... too much for Fergie to bear?

Last May, Manchester United were taught a football lesson which lasted 90 minutes at Wembley in the UEFA Champions league final. Sir Alex Ferguson’s comment after the game was commendable – he praised the victors and set himself a target to build a Manchester United side using Barcelona as the benchmark.

In his over twenty years at the helms at Old Trafford, the Red Devils manager has fought for supremacy with Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea etc domestically and the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus etc on the continent but he has never had to battle for it in Manchester. It has been United all the way

Last Sunday’s 6-1 thrashing by their “noisy neighbours” at Old Trafford is United’s biggest home loss since 1955 and their first loss at home since Chelsea won 2-1 in April 2010 is the alarm bell the Knight wouldn’t want to hear.

“Super Mario” Balotelli scored the opener with a brilliant finish and the controversial lad gave us a quote for the week – “why always me“. Johnny Evans red at the start of the second half didn not help United case. “Wario” as some would call him scored his second and it was followed by Kun Aguero’s goal. Fletcher pulled one back and all anticipation of another great United comeback was extinguished with Dzeko’s goal. The man of the match, man of the moment and arguably the best player in the Premier league till date David Silva included his name on the scorers sheet with another aplomb finish past his helpless country man, Dzeko completed the rout with his second of the game.

Scoreboards don't lie..

United were dominated and outplayed by City. An unbelievable score line or was it a mistake?

The Blue side of Manchester have made a massive statement with this victory. It’s not just the three point but the bragging rights and the self-belief that wasn’t there during the Community shield.

Is power about to change hands in Manchester? I bet a lot of United fans will disagree but with the quality of players at Mancini disposal and the strength-in- depth that City boast of which can’t be rivaled by any side in England at the moment. There is a reason for concern, virtually all positions have two top players vying for a starting XI shirt which gives the manager an opportunity to use different personnel and tactics as he decides. An example was James Milner’s role as the box-to-box midfielder which was executed perfectly by the England international. That’s a luxury Manchester United can’t boast of at the moment. The once upon a time Vidic-Ferdinand combination which was MUFC backbone is no more with Rio’s fitness (or lack of it) and his  steady poor performances against Liverpool and Man City while his partner is either injured or suspended.

I reckon that SAF’s team won’t go down like that  because the wily old Scot has all the experience to get his team back on the right track in order for his dynasty not to collapse right in front of him. One of his old comment during the emergence of the Abu Dhabi Manchester City when he said,

“over my dead body will City be the dominant team in Manchester”

must be playing on his mind now as he buries his head under his pillow once again like he did when City beat United 5-1 at Maine Road in 1989.

Time for a new approach….Professor Wenger

Think well, Professor

On the 15th of May 2004, Arsenal FC won its third Premier league title with a 2-1 victory of Leicester City and thus became the first team to go a full Premier league season undefeated with an average squad age of 27.4 years. The Gunners capped it up with the FA Cup a year later in the first goalless FA Cup final in over 80 years.

It’s almost six years and the Gunners haven’t won any major silverware since the FA Cup triumph at the Millenium stadium in 2005. A lot has changed at Arsenal Football Club – a move to a new stadium (The Emirates stadium), change in personnel on the playing staff; Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie are the only surviving members of the 2005 FA Cup team presently at the football club.

Arsene Wenger can be described as a manager who has built a team with a desire to entertain and attack with the sole priority of winning laurels. He has built a reputation of unearthing young talent and helping their transition to world class players by incorporating them into the Arsenal team. The likes of Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry were gradually integrated into the first team. Cole was a product of the team’s youth system while the latter two were brought in from AC Milan and Juventus.

A regular feel of the Arsenal bench... In recent times

His approach appears to have taken another dimension in the last few years with his over reliance of young talent (some questionable) at the expense of matured and experienced players. It is shocking to realise that Gael Clichy is the only Invincible left in the Arsenal squad of today albeit  Jens Lehmann (a bit of laugh here….) who signed a short term deal lately to cover up the Gunners goalkeeper crisis.

In the last few seasons, Wenger’s team have given in to pressure when it matters most and their mental strength has been questioned severally but the French man is hesitant on spending big on transfers despite the club’s financial profit posting yearly.

This season is proving not to be any different even if they harbor a faint hope of a final title push. In a space of three weeks, a quadruple dream which was supposed to be ignited with a Carling Cup win vanished into thin air.

The weight of expectation descended heavily on the young team in the Cup final, failure at the stage couldn’t be imagined, Arsenal got emotionally carried away and shockingly lost to Birmingham, followed with an elimination by Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 – although the Gunners are hanging on to a  ridiculous decision by the referee as a major factor in their loss. A few days later, Manchester United compounded more misery by dumping them out of the FA Cup in the sixth round. Arsenal fans have seen their darling team play three consecutive draws in the Premier league with their last league win dating back to February 23. The Gunners are eight points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand after 31 weeks of league football.

It seems like a continuous process year in, year out in the same manner with their rivals mocking them and tagging them as “The nearly boys”  despite playing attractive football and having their 60,000 capacity stadium packed full every match day.

Should he tow the paths of a more "successful" Fergie

The phrenic strength of Wenger’s team calls for inquisition. I feel Arsene Wenger should have held on to some influential figures likes Kolo Toure, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry who are still playing top flight football as well as being cult heroes in Arsenal to give the upcoming players some self belief in the locker room as well as bringing their experience to play in the big games where the young lads have faltered. His strict and prudent financial approach must be reconsidered. Solid investment in quality wonderkids like Manchester United did with Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Chelsea with Frank Lampard, etc would go a long way in helping out. Likewise an assurance of a long term future in the squad.

I believe it’s time Arsene dumps his professed belief and begin to mix youth with experience.
What do you think?