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A week’s thoughts: Fulham, strikers, United and van Persie 25 April, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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Fulham v Arsenal _ Craven Cottage 2013

It’s been an eventful week since we last spoke. I was concerned going into the match against Fulham and with reason. I hoped we’d improve on recent performances there and win convincingly. That wasn’t the case, we struggled once again in the Thames sunshine but this time we came out with all three points.

I ended up picking up a last minute ticket for the game. It was a beautiful day in London but walking through the park to the stadium I couldn’t help but remember all the times I’ve walked through here after witnessing us lose miserably. I begged for that day to be different and I suppose I got it. At this stage of the season results are all that matter, however we get them. So I’m grateful. We played against 10 men for about 70 minutes but could hardly capitalise, our forward play was hugely uninspiring. After a bit of struggle and panic, we got the job done and we’ve just got to be happy and move on but we must improve for Sunday.

The win came at a cost though, we’re now without our only striker for three out of the four remaining games. I hoped we’d appeal the red, we did and it was rejected. At the time I thought it wasn’t perhaps a massive problem as Giroud has been pretty ineffective in recent games, and that’s being kind. However we’re now presented with a problem where we have no striker whatsoever. It’s not Giroud’s fault he’s the only option in that position, so I can’t get too angry at him when he runs out of ideas, that anger is directed at the stacks of cash in the bank vault.

Anyway, we’ve got three games now to to come up with a solution up top. Our options are clearly Podolski, Walcott or Gervinho; the latter two have both had somewhat successful stints in the middle at one point this season. However since then have proved they’re totally not cut out for it. My tip would be Podolski. He’s clearly unfit but with 4 vital games left this season I think we have to take the risk. When he’s come on he’s looked properly dangerous in front of goal, he has a stinging shot on him and it would be a refreshing change to see a striker in the middle who looks like he can stick the ball in the net from anywhere within 25 yards of the goal.

I say start him and if he doesn’t make the 90 minutes then so be it but he’s got to be our most striker-like option. I’d play Walcott to his right and if things aren’t working out they can always swap positions during the game. However saying that they both like an in-field wander from their respective wings anyway. Theo is probably the only one who’s convinced he’s a reliable option down the middle. He’s our top scorer but he hasn’t found any form since signing a new deal. Perhaps this is the time to tell him this is where he must prove his worth as a striker, maybe he’ll do it but I’m not confident. As for Gervinho – please Arsene, just no.

Since we last spoke Sunday’s opposition won the title at Villa Park. I have to say I’m pretty relieved they’re not coming to us with a chance of becoming Champions. It’s something I’ve been worried about for a long, long time. As it neared and became more likely I started to justify it being not so much of a big deal, but fuck that. It’s been lined up for a while that the points they would need to clinch 1st place could be made at The Emirates but thanks to City’s inability it happened early. They went from 1-0 up at Spurs to lose 3-1 which puts another twist into the race for 3rd and 4th. These final four games are absolutely vital for us now, they’re hot on our heels. I would’ve snatched at the chance to be in this position already after the loss at White Hart Lane but now we must see it through to the end. A win on Sunday against the Champions would be a fantastic way to start.

So now we have to do this ‘guard of honour’ which has been getting a lot of discussion this week. I really don’t see the big deal, it’s a bit of fucking clapping. I clap Gervinho off when he’s substituted, that doesn’t say that I mean it. What will I do on Sunday? I don’t know, I’ll probably be on the way from the pub to the ground in all honesty but if I’m there I suppose I’ll clap. As much as I hate Man United I do respect them, I don’t respect City or Chelsea because of where they’ve come from but United have done things (more) properly.

As for van Persie. He can get fucked, I’m not clapping that sack of shit. And I’m sure that will be the case for most of the 60,000. He’s going to get one hell of a reception on Sunday. I’m sure he won’t give a flying toss what we think, but for many it’s the first chance for them to show him how much he let us down. It’s the first face to face opportunity for many Gooners to tell Robin what they think of his demeaning statement and ‘the little boy inside him’. It’s not about money, I don’t care if it is or not quite frankly – this is personal.

He’ll score though. Of course he will. And his muted celebration will mean nothing to me. I’m sure some cunt will say in the Sky studio he’s won the class battle not making a thing of it whilst we roundly abuse him. Couldn’t care less. Booing and singing at him will do nothing but let off a bit of a steam about the whole situation. The only thing it will do it make him take back that ‘I will always be a Gooner’ bollocks. You will never be welcome here again, enjoy yourself up north.

People will say his move has been justified by winning the league. Of course he was going to win the league, United lost it on goal difference last year so buying the best striker in the country was obviously going to give them what they needed. I’d just like to refer you to this quote, that is all. He is nothing to me now.

The best response to him, and to his team that people have an issue giving a guard of honour is to beat them. If I were a player, clapping them out onto the field would do nothing more that inspire to to think, ‘Fuck it, we have to beat these cunts.’ That is the best answer we can give to the new Champions and to Robin van Persie. It’s going to be a tough game but we have to approach it like a cup final. No fuck that, like we did against Chelsea a couple of years ago, like we did against Barcelona. Like we give a shit basically, closing down the opposition constantly, harassing them and attacking with skill, pace and precision. I believe we can do it but the attitude must be right and perhaps have a little bit of luck go our way.

I’ll try write again before the game. Thanks for reading.

Fulham Preview: A Huge Trip to the Cottage 19 April, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
2 comments

No offense, but it’s hard to get inspired by a match versus Fulham. They’re the definition of a mid-table club and that’s exactly where they find themselves with no chances of European football next season nor relegation to the Championship. Perhaps that’s a good thing; they’re fighting for nothing except pride, on the other hand they have nothing to lose.

Arsenal however are still stuck in a big fight for 3rd, 4th and 5th positions with massive implications for losing that battle. We need to find the inspiration at Craven Cottage tomorrow which we’ve so clearly been lacking in recent years. Hopefully the position we find ourselves in is enough to drill into the team how vital a win is but then again we’ve gone into this fixture before desperate for 3 points and left with none. Every time we come to this game I’m convinced we’re going to turn around our fortunes at Craven Cottage and every time I’m left disappointed. We’ve won there once in the past 4 seasons, let’s sort that out Arsenal.

Despite our record there, we should definitely be easing through this one in the form we’ve been in. That has been our downfall at The Cottage, not so much the quality of Fulham’s performance but of our own. I’ve seen some absolute shockers from us there over the last few years, I don’t know what it is but we’ve been known to just fall apart. The draw against Everton was a minor blip in what’s been an incredible turnaround in form since losing to Spurs and I don’t think Tuesday’s draw was such a bad result or performance. We absolutely must go back to winning tomorrow though.

Spurs are just two points behind us now with a game in hand. As good as our form has been that is a bit of a reality check when we’ve been feeling a bit invincible recently. This is by no means over and there’s a shit load of work still to do. Win and we go five points above Spurs before they face Man City. I don’t know much about the pressures of being a professional footballer, but I can imagine that is a gap they won’t enjoy minding.

The team news for tomorrow is as follows:

Fabianski is not back. The keeper situation is similar to what it was before. It is a rib injury. It is game to game for him.

At the back everyone should available. In midfield we have a few people to check like Cazorla, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain. They will all have tests but I hope they should be alright. We have to test Rosicky who was not ready to start on Tuesday. There are a number of uncertainties about our squad but I will sort that out on Friday morning.

So only Arsene really knows the true fitness of our midfield. Which makes my job hard. So assuming everyone’s fit, if it were up to me I would love to see this XI:

Podolski – Giroud – Chamberlain
Cazorla
Ramsey – Arteta
Gibbs – Koscielny – Mertesacker – Sagna
Szczesny

I really want to see Cazorla back in the middle for this one. If there are doubts about Rosicky and Wilshere’s fitness then we shouldn’t be starting them – we have a massive game next weekend. Anyway, out of the three Santi in the best player in that role and that is where he should be starting. He’s okay out on the left, by why have okay when you can have brilliant? In his stead, I propose a rare start for Poldolski on the left. I believe he’s shown enough in recent cameos to warrant a start. He looks genuinely dangerous in front of goal and if worse comes to worst at least he’s not afraid to shoot (and shoot well)! Also Chamberlain has been very productive in his last couple of substitute appearances, more so than Walcott I would say. He’s replaced Rosicky’s forward-motion threat and as surprised as I would be to see him start I think he should be in with a shout of it.

As for Fulham I think we have to watch out for Berbatov. He’s struggled since leaving Spurs but is starting to find the net again including the winner against them a month ago. They’ve also got Sidwell back from suspension who always seems to do well against us, as does once-linked Mark Schwarzer. However they have got Gooner Big Phil at the back who surely owes us a favour.

As it stands I’m not making the trip West for this match, I’ll be watching live in The Gunners Pub I reckon. However no matter where you are this is absolutely huge game for Gooners everywhere and along with the scum and Chelsea fans will be watching very closely. If we turn up, we should walk it – that’s just a big ‘if’ considering years gone by. An early goal and a well-earned win and I’ll be a very happy man. Come on Arsenal, make me smile.

Thanks for reading.

Everton prove hard to beat but draw not disastrous 17 April, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
3 comments

Last night’s match against Everton was always one we were wary of when looking at the season run-in. With the inclusion of our next opponents at home, Manchester United, this was always earmarked as a possibility of dropped points. Everton are a good side, a team in form and yesterday I have to admit I was pretty nervous about the game. In the end I think it’s fair to say they didn’t really threaten to beat us, a few chances aside you can’t say they deserved any more than a draw. Where you have to praise them is their hard-to-beat setup. I haven’t seen us play such a team in a while where we really struggled to create chances and break down a defence for the whole game. Fellaini was absolutely everywhere, winning every header and making some great tackles and it inspired his teammates to a solid performance.

In the closing stages as they tired we were getting in behind them more but the Everton defence were still there to sweep up every attack, be that even on a couple of occasions a last ditch goal-saving challenge. If we had a bit more luck, some improved finishing or perhaps having a shot on goal rather than passing we could be celebrating a hard-fought win last night but it wasn’t to be. I would’ve taken a draw weeks ago looking at the run-in and I would’ve still taken that point yesterday afternoon so I think we’re still on track.

What that draw does mean though if we have to take all the points from our games against lesser opposition. If we can beat Fulham, QPR and Wigan I think we’ll be in a good position going into the final day up in Newcastle – hopefully it might even be wrapped up by then depending on the form of Chelsea and Tottenham. As for Man United any points we can take from that game will be a huge boost. Not that I’m just expecting us to lose but I think we may perhaps afford one loss dependant that we clean up elsewhere.

Back to last night and I was very surprised with the starting XI. After the Norwich game Wenger admitted he’d rushed back Jack Wilshere so I was a bit shocked to see that he’d started him again 3 days later. As it turns out his ready-made replacement, Tomas Rosicky must be even further behind as he didn’t even get on as a sub when we were struggling to create. However Jack did start and I’d say his performance improved from the weekend but it still wasn’t up to the standard we’ve seen of him this season. He was getting more involved due to Everton’s frustrating tactics but I didn’t find him as creative as we’ve seen before his latest injury.

I would’ve had Cazorla in his place, in his preferable central position but Wenger chose to stick him out on the left again. I’m not alone in thinking he’s 10 times more effective down the middle and I can’t see Arsene’s obsession with playing him out wide. Both on Saturday and last night our creativity massively improved when he moved behind Giroud so I can’t see how that’s not a sure sign to start him there. If Rosicky recovers well for the weekend I’d start him ahead of Jack but failing that it’s got to be Cazorla.

Expecting Santi to be in midfield, I was also shocked by the front three. Walcott was given his first start since returning from injury on the right and we had Giroud down the middle. I just can’t understand this worrying obsession with omitting Podolski from the team. He came on (and with Chamberlain) turned the game around on Saturday and I fancied him to get a start last night but still no. I understand he’s been injured recently which wasn’t widely known and maybe they’re easing him back in but still this season has been lacking in opportunities for Podolski. I’d like to see him start at Fulham but I’d be surprised to see it.

As for Giroud, well he didn’t have the best of games last night but we don’t have another choice. He saw the most chances fall to him but none went even close. If we had another option we could’ve tried to shake it up but our ‘massive’ squad contains just one centre forward. Work that one out. Arsene says he’s been testing Podolski out centrally in training which is interesting, I’ve been calling for that for some time but when the German can’t even get on the pitch I don’t see us trying it – even when he does look the most dangerous in front of goal. I’m still giving Giroud the benefit of the doubt, I do like him but I wish he had some competition. Surely that’s got to be top of the shopping list this summer.

As a team we struggled to click last night but that was mostly down to Everton. They defended very well and were physical with it too, the referee made it obvious for all to see that he had stepped up from the Championship for the evening with the amount of challenges he was letting go. I think maybe a more established Premier League ref would’ve let less of the Everton aggression pass and perhaps it would’ve been a different game but I’m not going to get into that. As frustrating as it was last night I’m okay with this draw, a win would’ve been brilliant but it never looked like coming and fair play to Everton for that.

I believe finishing above Spurs is now officially out of our hands again but they’re not going to win every game. I still fancy us to finish above them and a win at Fulham will put a tonne of pressure on them. We could be 5 points clear of them as they go into their match against Man City on Sunday and if they went on to drop points against the Champions things won’t be looking easy for them. We’ve got to prepare well now for the trip to Craven Cottage as that has not been a happy place for us in recent years, we need to turn that form around and get back to winning ways. Chelsea are the visitors there tonight so it will be an interesting one to watch for us.

Thanks for reading, build up to Fulham to come this week.

On an International Break 18 March, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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As our international players leave London to join their respective nations for World Cup Qualification duty, I have also escaped London for an intentional break of my own. I can’t say I will do much to represent the great nation of England except for beer drinking and rolling about in the snow – I’ve gone on a snowboarding holiday for a couple weeks. Long-term readers will know I fucked off here last year to return some 14 months later but there’ll be none of that this time.

I’m travelling back the day of the Reading game, which is a bit of a shame but at least I’m only missing one Arsenal match. I can’t say this trip wasn’t timed to coincide with the Internationals! So I’ll be back with a comment on the Reading performance.

As I sit here typing you this from Geneva Airport, it’s looking on the up again as far as Arsenal are concerned isn’t it? Two great away wins against Bayern Munich and Swansea, whilst the lot across North London have lost three on the bounce since beating us, dropping points against Liverpool and Reading with a thrashing in Milan in between.

I wrote previously that I hoped Liverpool might take points off them but I never thought they’d struggle against Fulham at home. I checked the scored with ten minutes to go yesterday and laughed my head off, I am sure now, that their wheels are well and truly coming falling off.

Spurs’ next four games are Man City, Everton, Swansea and Chelsea (can’t be arsed to look up in what order). That’s some ask in any kind of form. With our confidence seemingly on a sudden high you’d have to fancy us to topple the scum, again.

Win our game in hand and the gap is just a point, albeit that game in hand is against Everton but still. After losing at The Shithole I reserved us a chance of getting back but there’s not one fan or critic that could’ve imagined it to happen this quickly!

It’s up to us now to keep that pressure on, with an on paper easier run in of games. I reckon we can do it. And I’m absolutely loving it! I saw a few miserable Spurs fans at Stanstead Airport this morning which did nothing but widen my smile. Brilliant.

Now, we’ve got yet another gap between games. This time the focus is on continuing that improvement shown in the last two games whilst hoping players return in one piece from their international trips. At the same time keeping fingers crossed Jack Wilshere’s injury The lay off becomes longer and shorter depending on who you believe so we’ll see.

So I’ll leave you to it for a couple weeks, I’m off to concentrate on making sure I return in one piece from my own international break. Until then, enjoy Spurs fans shitting themselves, again.

Laters.

Proud to, proud to be, proud to be a Gooner 14 March, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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What an extraordinary night that almost was. I was one of the naive many going into this game hoping that things didn’t turn ugly, in no way did I expect what I saw. As the game drew closer yesterday I went back to thinking that anything could happen and we had nothing to lose, although the niggling thought we could get well and truly stuffed was still there.

My worries in my last post were about the strength of team we were going to field out there. In the end it was only really Wilshere & Sagna missing due to injury and Vermaelen & Szczesny dropped through form. Their replacements came in and put in a fantastic display in what was a very difficult job.

The ever-present optimist in me deep down thought that an early goal might set this up to be an interesting tie and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. A quick move out of the midfield and Walcott was suddenly in space in the right. Whether he shot or crossed I don’t know but it was a dangerous ball and Giroud managed to guide it under the crossbar. 1-0, is this really on?! It showed Bayern Munich we weren’t just there to make up the numbers and it stunned their home crowd, all you could hear for the rest of the game were the 3,500 strong Gooners and it was brilliant.

From there, we needed to be professional and hold the lead for a bit. We did just that, I maybe would’ve liked another before half time if I’m being greedy but 1-0 up at the break was a great start. We still had a lot to do in the second half and as time ticked on I was begging on the edge of my seat for another goal. To be honest though, we didn’t see many attacks. I haven’t seen the stats but we didn’t spend much time in Bayern’s box at all and I can’t remember Neuer having to make a save. I’m full of praises for last night’s team but if I had to criticize one element I’d maybe say we weren’t quite dangerous enough. Then again, that’s not exactly easy against that defense. There was a great chance though when the ball broke to Walcott and he looked to be clear on goal but was flagged offside. Wrongly, as the replays suggested but that was just our luck from the officials last night.

It looked as if we weren’t going to do it then with 5 minutes to go Koscielny slammed in a header from a corner and it was well and truly on! I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even celebrate I was just in shock, staring at the TV shouting words that couldn’t form a sentence if they tried. As you would, Bayern were time-wasting horribly and the shocking referee did nothing to help us out on that one. In the end we came so close to what would’ve been one of the most memorable results in our recent history but it wasn’t to be.

After a couple of minutes when it had sunk in all I could feel was an overwhelming pride. A pride for everything to do with Arsenal Football Club, even though we had just got knocked out I had a beaming smile as I watched the players go over to clap the fans. Those fans though, they did us proud as they always do. I was gutted I couldn’t join them in voice and numbers, they sung all game, all day and all night so credit to them. I loved it watching on TV seeing the silent Allianz Area except for the roaring of Arsenal anthems.

I’m so proud of that team last night too. I’ll hold my hands up and say I was wrong about them in my last post. I was worried Bayern were going to walk all over them but they absolutely bossed it. It needed to be a strong defensive performance and it turned out to be one of, if not the best display by them I’ve seen this season. Watching Gary Neville’s dissection of the Tottenham game you realised how all over the place we were, last night he was commentating and he was lauding the improvements. You could see it yourself though, the line was tight, the interceptions were strong, the full backs be positioned perfectly and as a unit they were tremendous. Bayern might’ve recorded a few shots but I’d say 75% of those were outside the box, last resort efforts.

I’m so glad to have Gibbs back for this run-in. He seemed to pick up a knock in the first half so I would imagine he’ll be rested as a precaution this weekend but he’ll be vital for us. Jenkinson on the other side is a credit to this club and has carried on where he left off at the start of the season. If Sagna moves this summer, I’m not worried at all – we’ve got Gooner Carl. Koscielny did great with Mertesacker too and if that’s not the pairing on Saturday then I don’t know what’s going on. Vermaelen has looked all over the place this season and Laurent showed last night exactly why he should be starting. Fabianksi too, everything that was asked of him he did without even the hint of a flap. I can only remember one really good save down low to his left, the rest were all relatively near him but he had safe hands last night. The four in front of him did a lot to help him, forcing Bayern away or to shoot high and wide from range. He should probably start on Saturday, if he doesn’t he’s got every right to be pissed off and I wouldn’t blame him if he left on the back of it. Either way, Szczesny needs to show improvement.

The midfield didn’t stop running all night. Rosicky, Arteta and Ramsey worked their fucking socks off and I love that. It was an experienced display from the three and it’s made me feel a little bit better about Jack’s injury. I hope it means a few more games for Tomas as he’s just been excellent the past two seasons when he’s had his chance. Up front, as I said we were lacking a little bit in creation and didn’t really seem that dangerous but they did quite well with what they had. Theo was maybe slightly better but too anonymous again, Giroud was kicked all over the park but I thought did well apart from a couple of ridiculous decisions. Cazorla the pick of the bunch as you’d expect, but Bayern expected it too and had him well marked.

A big shout out must go to Arsene Wenger though. He showed balls dropping our no.1 ‘keeper and captain and the guys he brought in showed why they should be getting more games. It must been tough to inspire a team for a match like last night’s but he bloody did it and nearly achieved one of his greatest European results. I wish it’d come off for Arsene, it would’ve been great for him. The task is now to see if he can reproduce that of his players at Swansea. For years that’s always been our problem, reproducing form like that and if we can do it we’ll gain 3 points on Spurs I’m sure of it.

That must be the focus now, to take this great 2-0 win against the form-team of Europe and apply it to our final 10 games. Did we enjoy the drama of last night? Sure we did. Do we want to be in that competition again next year? Fuck yeah we do. So go out and earn it Arsenal. You’ve shown us you’ve got the quality capable of it, lets go out and get as many of those 30 points as physically possible. The Scum are going to drop points, I know it. Lets be right at their heels ready to right that gap again.

Come on Arsenal. I bloody love ya.

Mission Impossible, to Mission Improbable, to Mission Inhibition 12 March, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
3 comments

We’ve all known it since the first leg, this match against Bayern Munich tomorrow night is quite the uphill task whatever way you look at it. The 3-1 loss in the home leg means we’ve got to score 3 goals against the meanest defense in Europe, but at the same time keep a clean sheet against one of best sets of attacking players in the world. It’s not an easy position to be in.

My thoughts about the game have changed a few times, and with the latest revelations about injuries and rested players, those thoughts are now rather worried ones indeed. For me it went from Mission Impossible, a 3-0 away win at the in-form team in the world is probably out of the question for the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or anyone else – never mind Arsenal. Then I started to drift into Mission Improbable territory. I thought, ‘Well it’s a nothing to lose kinda game.’ We either do as expected and get knocked out or we have the chance of pulling off one of the most famous results of recent years.

However now, for me, it’s Mission Inhibition. Our best player, Jack Wilshere is injured plus Sagna, Podolski and Szczesny have been left out for one reason or another. Not that he’s our most important player, but the fact that our no.1 goalkeeper has been rested in a game where we vitally need to defend well to have any kind of chance, that has annoyed me a little bit. It says to me that we’ve conceded the game and will not play a full strength XI. Now I’m thinking, ‘Shit, we better not get absolutely battered tomorrow.’

Our first team struggled (at home) against this side and now I have this horrible image of us going there and fielding a weakened team. I don’t mind going out of the competition, that’s fine. I just don’t want to be humiliated in the process! This may turn into a damage limitation exercise. Maybe I should have more faith in our ‘squad’ players but however positive you are that’s still going to be a weaker Arsenal side out. Arsene, despite dropping players, thinks it’s do-able:

“It is not mission impossible. It can be done, but first of all you need 100 per cent commitment, attitude and things to go your way. But usually football goes your way when you have the right attitude.

“There is a kind of [feeling of] ‘let’s really play with freedom’. Let’s start strong. We have to create doubt in their mind and you only do that if you have a real go. The chance you have is to [make] insecure the certainty Bayern have at the moment. That you can only do if you perform at your best.

“We can have a real go without being silly. We can’t think that the game lasts 30 minutes and throw everything forward from the first minute on. We want to be positive but also intelligent.”

“We have practised a lot and prepared for this game.”

I just feel like if he’s honest about giving it our best shot, then take the best team. At least the best defense! Szczesny has taken on critics this year after some sloppy displays but whatever you say about him he’s a much better ‘keeper than Mannone and Fabianski, the latter of which is tipped to play his first game in god knows how long, I’m not looking it up but it’s a long time.

Maybe how disappointed I am shows that there was still something inside me that thought maybe we could get something. I suppose I thought if we (somehow) defended really well and kept in the game then there’d always be a chance – maybe a late push for goals at the end. I don’t know. Or perhaps the fact that I’m obsessing over the defense in a game which we need at least 3 goals tells more.

Kieran Gibbs has come back into the squad which is a big boost. I hope he’s fit enough to start. Also Jenkinson did well at Spurs, hopefully he will continue on that form tomorrow. However what the central defense will do I have no idea. Vermaelen needs a rest/drop but then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wenger go and rest Mertesacker. And then there’s the ‘keeper, I’ll be crossing every limb that Fabianksi or Mannone can keep some goals out against an incredibly lethal attack.

I’m going to go try find the previous mission statement, the one that said, ‘Oh fuck it we’ve got nothing to lose, just enjoy the game.’ And with that I’ll be back with a match preview tomorrow. Until then comrades.

A Look At The 10-Game Run In 8 March, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
8 comments

It’s been a pretty quiet week, as you’d imagine. What with the poor result on Sunday and nothing to look forward to this weekend it’s been an ideal opportunity to bury some heads in the sand and take a break for a bit. I hope behind the scenes it’s being taken as a moment of a reflection and a time to focus on the mountain task ahead.

On the other side of North London. Things are looking all happy and cheery, they think the glory days are finally here. There’s still a way to go yet you lot, don’t forget how hilariously you’ve fucked it up before. Last night they beat Inter Milan at home 3-0. Great, two words for you: Europa League. No I didn’t watch it, I ended up watching some terrible thing about turning around the fortunes of a fancy dress shop in Liverpool and then moved onto a programme about what happened to the Hindenburg. We know what happened, it blew up. This is how far down my agenda the Europa League is. I do not give a fuck, I couldn’t give two shits that you beat team from a failing league at home.

We also beat Inter Milan this week, in obviously a far more prestigious competition, the NextGen Series. I watched that one, it was a game the likes of I’ve never seen live before which was closer to the water polo than football. Both teams struggled with the massively water-logged pitch but Nico Yennaris scored a great goal in the second half to put us through to the Quarter Finals. The Young Guns have got CSKA Moscow next at home, for which the venue has yet to be announced but it could be The Emirates which would be nice. I’d fancy going to that.

Edit: It has been announced that we will play CSKA at The Emirates. Tickets priced at £3/£1 for adult/child members, add a quid without membership. Good news! However I’ve just noticed I’m away snowboarding whilst the game is on. Never mind. You lot should go though!

Back to Tottenham though, as unfortunately that’s where our focus needs to be. Arsenal.com posted an article yesterday showing our form in the final 10 games of the season in years gone by. It doesn’t make great reading I’m afraid, out of the 30 points available we amassed 18 last season, 11 in 2010/11 and 17 the year before that. Before that we gained 23 in 2008/09 which is a pretty good haul but we were a different side then. 18, 11 and 17 doesn’t sounds like much out of 30 but then we’re never going to get 30. I mean if we did we’d probably end up in a title race so that’s not going to happen.

Instead we have to focus on what Tottenham and Chelsea do and gain 7 or 5 more points than them respectively. Spurs are on a good run and the confidence from being us and Inter will encourage them but I’m still holding out that their form book will go up like the Hindenburg and become engulfed in a massive ball of flames, fall plummeting to the ground, cause total destruction to all associated with them and possibly set a few people on fire. Might be getting carried away with that image in my head.  So, here are their final 10 games, and my complete guess at what the results might be.

Tottenham:
Liverpool (A) – Loss
Fulham (H) – Win
Swansea (A) – Draw
Everton (H) – Win
Chelsea (A) – Loss
Man City (H) – Loss
Wigan (A) – Win
Southampton (H) – Win
Stoke (A) – Win
Sunderland (H) – Win
Total – 19 pts

Chelsea:
West Ham (H) – Win
Southampton (A) – Win
Sunderland (H) – Win
Tottenham (H) – Win
Liverpool (A) – Draw
Swansea (H) – Draw
Man Utd (H) – Loss
Aston Villa (A) – Win
Everton (H) – Draw
Total – 18pts

Now obviously, that’s not going to happen but it’s just an estimate. Spurs will undoubtedly go and beat Liverpool on Sunday now I’ve said they’ll lose. However it gives you an idea of just how much we have to do. If those points totals come true then it means we must take 23 points to overtake Chelsea or 26 points to finish above Spurs. Quite frankly I just don’t see that happening.

What we need is big favours from the likes of Fulham, Everton, Wigan, Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland. We need Spurs and/or Chelsea to string together a run of two or three bad results to really give us a chance. And when you look at our run in, it’s not the easiest in the world either.

Arsenal:
Swansea (A)*
Reading (H)
West Brom (A)
Norwich (H)
Everton (H)*
Fulham (A)
Man Utd (H)*
QPR (A)
Wigan (H)
Newcastle (A)

Swansea, Everton and Man United are ones that straight away you can see potential points lost. We’re going to need an absolute minimum of 20 points which means winning all of those games without an *. However it’s not that unlikely we could take six points against Swansea and Everton and it’s not completely a given that Man United will come to The Emirates and win. At the same time though, that’s without even mentioning the strong likelihood of us screwing up against teams lower down the league. Whatever happens, we’re going to have record a strong improvement on those final 10 game points totals from the past three seasons.

It’s do-able, but it’s huge challenge. Can we rise to it? I really don’t know at all. I set out to write this to see what it will take to finish 4th, and to hopefully give me a bit of confidence of it happening. I’m not sure I’ve given myself that. As I said, we’re reliant on the Spurs fuck-up gene to enter the equation or the self-imploding-machine that is Chelsea Football Club to do it’s worst.

It’s going to be exciting either way. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and what those oppositions listed above us can take off our rivals. Speak to you soon as before that we have Mission Impossible Part I: The Bayern Job. Thanks for reading.

Tottenham take the North London Derby 4 March, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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tottenham spurs scum white hart lane shithole

Well that was pretty gutting/deflating/predictable/annoying/frustrating [delete/add as appropriate]. It was all looking so well for half an hour or so, we were dangerous and it looked like we were likely to open the scoring then with the blink of an eye the defence is split open twice like it wasn’t even there and it was 2-0 to them.

For that one minute it was 1-0 I thought, ‘Well that’s a load of shit but we can come back.’ However at 2-0 I didn’t know what to think or maybe I didn’t want to think it. I consoled in the fact Tottenham has thrown two-goal leads away to us in the past but this time it seemed like we had it all to do. In the end it was too much to ask and we only managed one in response which leaves us 7 points behind them with 10 to play. It’s a big task, it’s a do-able task though. However Tottenham have a strong advantage now, not to mention the confidence boost that beating us will give them.

As I made my way home from the game yesterday evening I was forced to imagine what it would be like if Spurs do finish above us. I managed to convince myself that it wouldn’t be the end of the world and that it would give us something to fight back for next season. But fuck that, I don’t want to entertain the thought. Come on Arsenal, you’d better get us out of this.

12pinsTo yesterday and after lunch I walked down to the 12 Pins at Finsbury Park for a few much needed pint-sized nerve settlers. All seemed well at the pub, the Gooners were in full force and full voice ahead of the most anticipated game of the season, the sun was out and it seemed like we were destined for a good day.

I was confident at this point, I thought we’d scrape a narrow win. I don’t know what gave me this idea, sheer blind hope I guess. At risk of completely losing my voice before I’d even arrived in Tottenham I got the short train ride behind enemy lines to White Hart Lane Station. I was in the thick of it, walking amongst the foul-smelling, knuckle-dragging wankers to the shithole they called home. In my head I imagined this famous image. I wasn’t keen to hang about and take in the sights on this particular away trip, I was straight into the ground with my fellow species.

Despite more of those nerve settlers than was probably necessary on a Sunday afternoon, they weren’t working and once inside I started to get a bit worried again. This was either going to go two ways I thought, an incredible thrashing I’d never forget or a disastrous thrashing I’d never forget.

And for about half an hour, I thought it was going to be the former. We were all over them and we were in full voice. It was great! I was situated in the upper tier just metres away from the caged locals to my left. I didn’t hear a peep from them until Gareth Bale was put clean through completely against the run of play to make it 1-0. For about a minute most of the Gooners were still voicing their support but then they struck again and it hit hard. I’ve only really been able to analyse the goals having seen the replays back today but even at the time it looked as if our defence was completely non-existent. You could tell they weren’t offside too, just two simple balls for two easy goals.

One of these days Vermaelen will have to be taken aside and told how to, 1. organize his defence, but 2. organize himself. Unfortunately that day was back in August/September time and Wenger missed the appointment.

We needed a goal before half time – that would really have changed things. But we never picked ourselves up in time. So we really needed an early second half goal and we got it. The comeback was on! My celebrations were unusually conservative considering the venue but my jeans and body stayed intact this time as we were still losing at The Shithole.

The clock ticked, time seemed to fly by in the second half and in the end the goal didn’t come. We couldn’t recapture that form from the opening 30 minutes and Tottenham recorded what could become the win that sees them finish above us.

They went mad, and rightly so. It’s huge for them. As was exiting down the aisle right next to the home fans after the final whistle one of them thought he should remind me of the score by leaning over the barrier and subjecting me to his vile face at close range. I politely placed him back in his enclosure…

It’s been a few years since I’ve visited that place and leaving the ground there’s always the chance of confrontation outside. I think it’s mostly down to the ridiculous policing of it. They form a line outside our exit so that when you come out the two sets of fans are separated down the road. However what on earth do the police think is going to happen when that line comes to a stop at the junction at the end of the road? I didn’t see anything that bad but there were some scuffles, I wasn’t the receiver or giver of anything other than words thankfully. Mostly being told to head back to Woolwich despite the fact that I live firmly in North London, as my father does and before him his father and before him The Arsenal who’ve now been here for 100 years.

A little further down they decided to separate off the home and away fans again and that was the end of it but you’d think there must be a better way of avoiding this rather than funnelling rival fans at one another, making it very clear who each other represent despite the fact most people have made the effort not to wear colours.

Anyway, we’ve got 10 days to reflect on what went wrong now. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I know what I’d rather be doing, looking forward to an FA Cup tie this weekend but that’s another story. We need to use this extended break to focus on the huge job ahead now. 7 points in 10 games won’t be easy but it is possible. I’m not going to give up anyway, I’ll be giving my 100% from the terraces so I expect the same from the guys on the pitch. It won’t be a trophy, but to overhaul Tottenham once again will be great triumph and an enjoyable one. Afterall, we did the very same last year and we were singing tales of this great victory just yesterday…

“There were 10 Tottenham points in The Gap.
There were 10 Tottenham points in The Gap.
There were 10 Tottenham points,
10 Tottenham points,
10 Tottenham points in The Gap.
And the boys from The Arsenal shot one down…”

Come on Arsenal.

Dreaming of a famous win 1 March, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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It’s always been in the balance me going to White Hart Lane this Sunday, but last night I decided for sure that I’d go along. To be honest I’ve been trying to avoid it for a number of reasons, mainly money but all that has been on my mind this week is this game and the ‘fuck it’ moment came yesterday evening. So now the derby is really on my mind, to the extent I had a rather distressing dream about it last night. The pre-match was all as expected, a few beers before the short journey east, lots of singing and equal measures of nerves. The first half was tense, as you’d expect. So tense it was plain boring and the whistle came for half time without even a shot registered for either team. For some reason I thought I’d pop home for a beer in the half time break, as you do.

All was well, we sat down, had a beer and then got ready to head back for the second half. I even contemplated getting a road beer from the off-licence that had magically appeared opposite my house but I thought no, we can’t miss the start of the second half. Off we went walking back to White Hart Lane but this is where the trauma sets in, I couldn’t remember the way for the life of me. We walked in circles, down dead-ends, across fields, into different dimensions – you name it, we went there. Still under the impression I could make it into the ground in time, I was pacing round North London like a mad man. However not once did I think to check the score, or even my watch for that matter still convinced we could make it back to the second half.

Then just as I thought we’d made it, we turned the corner and found ourselves back at Finsbury Park. Rage set in, I had a right hissy-fit that I was going to miss the second half and conceded that, that pub over there would have to do the trick. As we entered Arsenal had just scored! Yes! Why wasn’t everyone going mental though? Oh no, why? It turned out because it was the 95th minute and we were already 4-0 up by this stage, some youngster with the name ‘Parlour’ across the back of his shirt (no number, just Parlour) had come on and completed the quickest hat-trick of all time to make it 5-0 to The Arsenal. It wasn’t Ray, but some wonder-kid that Geoff Shreeves couldn’t quite contain his excitement about running onto the pitch, microphone in hand to get the inside scoop as Gareth Bale could be seen in the distance wondering quite what had happened.

The scenes at White Hart Lane were incredible but I was just sat there in this bar gutted that it wasn’t me there. Then I woke up, sulked for a bit, before remembering the game isn’t actually for another two days. 5-0 though ay? I’d take that if you offered it to me now.

Back to reality and there’s some team news. About Diaby is 50:50 and Bacary Sagna has been ruled out completely. Those who read my reaction to the Blackburn game will know that I won’t be missing Diaby too much but I think Sagna is a huge loss. In the last two or three games he’s put that bit of bad form behind him and has shown he is definitely one of the first names on the team sheet when fit. And in a game when the whole media focus is on an ape he would be marking, it’s a position Spurs will look to exploit.

We have a number of options for replacements:

Carl Jenkinson
Carl didn’t have the best of days in his last outing at Sunderland but he showed some great form early on this season. If he can reproduce that then we’re laughing. One bonus Carl does have up his sleeve is the Gooner Card, which automatically means an instant animosity towards one’s neighbor. If any of us were given the chance in this game, you know we’d give our absolute all. He’s our representative out there and maybe that will do him a favour.

Aaron Ramsey
Has done well when shuffled there against Sunderland and Blackburn. Although I believe he will start in midfield on Sunday in Diaby’s absence.

Thomas Vermaelen / Nacho Monreal
We could ask these two to flank the wings but it’s one thing to ask Vermaelen to play out of his familiar position on the left side but to also move newcomer Nacho to the right might be asking too much.

Francis Coquelin
I do like Le Coq, and do think he’s done well in this position in the past. I think he’s a strong contender for a start on Sunday but I have a feeling we’ll see Jenkinson. I love Le Coq’s passion and he’s great with and winning the ball. I’d be happy to see him play but I don’t see who it would be at the expense of.

Well that’s something the manager has to mull over today. Well, hopefully he’s already done plenty of mulling this week and knows his plan already. Carl will have seen the opportunity he has this weekend and I’m sure he would’ve been putting extra efforts in training this weekend to prove he’s the man for the job.

In Wenger’s press conference today he didn’t give much more away. Only than when trying to list off Tottenham’s ex-greats he struggled to do so but I don’t really blame him. Apart from that he said much about nothing. He was asked what the plan was for Bale which in brief he replied, “Nothing” but do you really expect him to divulge his master plan even if he had one? We’ve always been a team that concentrates on what we do, not the opposition; Whether you think we’re still strong enough to do that is an argument for another day but if we have any plan for Bale I reckon it won’t be a lot more than to make sure we’re providing extra cover the right back.

This huge derby has become a game of many previews, so expect another one over the weekend. Happy Friday people. I’m off to put a fiver on a Parlour hat-trick.

All eyes down Seven Sisters Road 27 February, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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I thought I’d better get myself on here before I slip into non-existence once again. Since we last spoke we lost to Bayern Munich, as expected, but got back to winning ways against Villa, as expected. We nearly managed to fuck it on Saturday forcing a late scrap for the win but I was relieved to see us manage to grab that second goal. And when I say relieved I mean I was fist-pumping in the aisle of block 6 screaming to myself in full-on fit mode. The 0-0 draw at Villa Park represented one of our most lackluster performances on the road and to have drawn again on Saturday would’ve really knocked us ahead of a massive game this weekend. You can have many complaints about the game, especially the defending/goalkeeping but fuck it, we won. I just hope someone tells them this week how if we back off and back off like that again for Villa’s goal we’ve got no hope.

On Sunday it’s arguably the biggest North London Derby in recent years with the two teams neck and neck in the race for fourth to finish above one another. It’s almost exactly a year ago we completed that unforgettable 5-2 comeback over this lot. Then, we were a lot further behind Spurs and it was really a ‘now or never’ sort of game for us. At 2-0 down early on it looked like Spurs were going to end that run of finishing below Arsenal, but as we know, we produced an incredible turn-around which sent Spurs plummeting out of form and us in the other direction.

This year, we’re hot[ter] on Tottenham’s heels and a win for us, at their place this time, would narrow the gap to just one point. If West Ham weren’t such a bunch of incapable cunts we would’ve been in a position to overtake them on Sunday but never mind. A home win for Spurs would push us away to the degree of 7 points with 10 games to play. Really, a win for either team should propel them on to the end of the season to finish above the other. The damage a derby loss can do is incredible and if we were to win on Sunday I’d fully back us to finish above them come the end of the season. However my fears about the opposite are strong.

I hate to admit it but if we come away from White Hart Lane with no points that could be it for us. Whatever Wenger says, I don’t rate our mental strength and I don’t know if we could cope with a loss when you take into consideration the boost it would give that lot. For these reasons, right now I’d take a draw.

It a huge, huge game but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. I find the derby too stressful nowadays, I just cannot enjoy it at all until the whistle has gone and it is won. I’m a complete wreck in the build up to these matches, it’s four days away and it’s already all I can think about!

Whatever happens, with Everton progressing in the FA Cup last night we will have no game the weekend after this. Our home match against the Toffees has been moved to a midweek in April so we’ll have 10 days to prepare for Bayern Munich away before a tough trip to Swansea. In the lead up to the final 10 games of the league season, an unfamiliar rest like this could make all the difference. It’s going to be fucking rubbish for us, the fans, having no match that weekend but it should give the players that extra bit of energy going into the business end.

dennis bergkamp gold

In other news it leaked last night that we’re getting a fourth statue outside The Emirates soon. Dennis Bergkamp in an iconic aerial take-down vs. Newcastle. As cool as it looks, I’m surprised they’ve chosen that pose for a statue. I personally would’ve gone for the image above but I guess it shows his great skill and touch. I’m just glad to have the Dutchman immortalized outside the ground along with other greats.

That’s it for now, speak to you later in the week in the build up our trip down Seven Sisters Road. Thanks for reading.

Red Army Ready to Battle The Germans 19 February, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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I haven’t really got time for a match preview today, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

We might’ve fucked up our chances of FA Cup glory, however you look at it we pretty much gambled those chances on getting a result tonight. Now Mr. Wenger, it’s time to see if those chips on red come in. We’re fresh and (should be) focused, let’s see what we can do against Europe’s form side of 2012/13. We’ve faced similar uphill tasks in this competition recently, obvious thoughts go back to the famous 2-1 victory over Barcelona a couple years back. Can we do it again?

Koscielny looks the only doubt, but apparently he posted on his Facebook today, very aptly put, he is ‘ready for the battle’. So I think we’ll line up as follows:

Szczesny
Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen
Arteta – Wilshere
Cazorla
Walcott – Giroud – Podolski

Now without Gibbs/Monreal, I see that as the strongest possible Arsenal side we can possibly field. So there’s no excuses. Arsene rates our team highly, so it’s time to prove what it’s worth.

I was dreading this match yesterday, but now I’m well up for it. I can’t call the result whatsoever, however I can be sure I’ll be fucking rocking in there tonight. We’ll have forgotten about the misery of Blackburn and I expect full volume in the ground. Thoughts go back to the infamous Man United 2nd leg a few years back, where the ground was the loudest I’ve ever seen it but that was soon hushed by an early away goal; I think that’s my only wish tonight, do not concede early – preferably not in the first half. Arsene was bigging up the positives of a 0-0 draw this week and saying we know it’s an 180 minute match so won’t be rushing. So we might expect an Arsenal side uncharacteristically keen to slow the game down, keep possession and dictate the pace. Saying that, who knows!

I’ve got a pile of work to get on with in order that I make the game on time tonight so I better get on. All I hope is this time tomorrow we’re still in the tie. Win? Well I’d be over the fucking moon.

If you’re joining me at The Emirates tonight, it sounds like there are plans for a rally of ‘RED ARMY!’ to echo round the ground. So I urge you to join in, not that you’ll need encouraging…

RED ARMY!

RED ARMY!

RED ARMY!

RED ARMY!

RED ARMY!

 

What a load of 18 February, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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Shit. What a load of shit.

I spoke before the game how a convincing win against Blackburn would put us in the high spirits we’d need going into a game against Bayern Munich in the form they’re in. I also said how damaging a bad result could be. Now we are there, I can’t believe it yet at the same time I absolutely can. Tomorrow night has been a game fans, players and staff having been looking forward to since the draw was made in December and I don’t know about you but I’m dreading it now. I just have no hope, no confidence.

As for Saturday’s game though, what bollocks that was. All too often this has happened and all too often we say, “This must be the final straw, we must apply ourselves against lesser opposition.” But no, the trend continues and I don’t expect it to stop. It goes to the extent that I was happy that we didn’t draw a weaker opposition in the Chamipons League because I knew against Munich we would give everything. I shouldn’t be thinking that should I!

I can’t complain about team selection, as in my match preview I picked a similar XI to go out and beat Blackburn. That is the problem though, that team should’ve beaten Blackburn. The quality is there, every single one of the players in our team would’ve displaced his opposite number in the visiting side. The problem is application, too many players either don’t give a flying fuck, think that if they turn up they will win regardless or a combination of the two.

Who’s job is it to ensure the players are fully focused? Primarily the manager and secondly the captain, here’s what they’ve had to say:

Wenger:

Maybe they still thought: ‘OK, we’re playing at home against Blackburn, it will be difficult but we will win the game anyway’, but it doesn’t work like that.

Vermaelen:

I think the tempo could have been higher sometimes. I think we had too many touches on the ball, didn’t respect the game sometimes.

How infuriating this that? It’s your fucking job to not only prevent that from happening but if it does, to put a stop to it and change something!

Watching on Saturday it just seemed like nothing would be done to change a terrible, terrible game. Whilst the score remained 0-0 we had the same attitude of, ‘Oh a goal will come, we’ll be alright.’ I’ve seen abject performances many-a-time before but this weekend’s was one of the most lethargic I’ve seen. I’d foolishly thought we were going to come out and batter Blackburn but it was clear early on it wasn’t going to be that kind of day when we won a corner and everyone stood around hands on hips waiting for someone who could be arsed to walk all the way over to the corner flag (Not that a corner would’ve produced anything, mind).

I’ve always said, if I see a player giving his all I can have no complaint about his ability. That’s why Carl Jenkinson has won so many over, he might not be all there footwall-wise but he gives everything. So since there was no effort shown by the majority of that team on Saturday, then fuck you I will go into how shit you are:

Gevinho
Will you please fuck off now? I was hoping he would start on Saturday and I was hoping that he would come back from Africa with a bit of enthusiasm to make something happen at Arsenal. But quite frankly Sir, you are not good enough. The image people will remember is him going through on goal in the first half after a great pass from Rosicky and lamely passing it wide but his general play around the area was shocking. He could not make a dangerous run or pass and I had no hope whatsoever if he did in fact find himself in a decent position. He did some alright work down the flank, but what is the point in having a player that can do that if when he gets to the attacking end of the pitch either gives it away or fluffs the chance? We have to cut our losses with this one immediately, but how often have we said that with Arsenal players and got an immediate solution? Well, Santos to be fair but that’s one!

Abou Diaby
You also, I’m sick up to my teeth with. The injury record is one thing, I stopped getting angry at that years ago. His form on this current comeback though has been dog shit. In the past when he’s returned he’s looked great, and has showed glimpses of that Vieira-esque style Wenger hyped him up to possess but this time he’s been awful. Every element of his game is gone: control, movement, awareness, passing and shooting. That’s without mentioning the absolute lack of effort. I’m not being funny, he’s lost it. If you have the misfortune of sitting near me you’ll hear he’s the most popular recipient of my tirade recently and I don’t see it stopping for two reasons, 1. He’s shown no sign of improvement as games have gone on, if anything decline going by the last show and; 2. Wenger will continue to play him, summed up rather well by him staying on the pitch at the expense of Tomas Rosicky. Bizarre. What’s next with Diaby? Wait until the next injury come back and see if he’s better then? What’s the point.

Arsene Wenger
Now criticism of Arsene is a touchy subject amongst us all but as a manager of a football club he is in a position to be questioned. Why weren’t the players motivated for this game? On Friday I remember reading something saying, “We prepare for this game like a cup final.” LIKE FUCK you do! Absolute bullshit, but we’re no strangers to that are we? I bet you’ll prepare for tomorrow night’s game for a final though, because it is our cup final this season. That’s the worst part, we’ll go out tomorrow night and lose, draw or win we will play our hearts out and we will question why the attitude was so different from Saturday to Tuesday. The quality of opposition should not dictate the level of performance, we need consistency in that – 100% of what you have every game. As I said, I can’t blame the squad selection but where was Wenger’s change for action on Saturday? The first half was possibly the most lethargic I’ve seen us all season, why not a half time change to shake things up a bit? But no, he’ll wait until the 70th fucking minute to change anything. And I know it was 0-0 when the changes were made, but why isn’t Podolski coming on? He’s a fucking striker.

I can rant as much as I want, but the reality is now we haven’t learnt from our lesson(s) (again) and we’re out of (both) the cups. Maybe next year we’ll learn to apply ourselves. Maybe.

The good thing about having the blog sometimes is it’s a place to vent frustration. I genuinely feel a little better now and I’m sure by the morning I’ll be looking forward to the Munich game again. I know we’ll see a different side in personnel and performance then, so at least we have that to look forward to! I’ll try and write something ahead of that tomorrow too.

Until then.

Blackburn Preview: All eyes on this Cup for today 16 February, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
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oxlade chamberlain blackburn

There’s something special about FA Cup days. Not so long ago this was a competition that was discarded as an unnecessary interruption to the league and European campaigns. Now, it seems to have regained it’s importance as another major trophy and I’m glad. In many ways its a product of how competitive the league has become, you can see that by how seriously the Capital One Cup was taken by ourselves and Chelsea but you can always count on ourselves and Chelsea to fuck things up. However the FA Cup in undoubtably twice the competition of the League Cup and I expect us to give everything to see us through to the next round.

There’s no escaping the thought of the Bundesliga Champions-elect visiting in 3 days time but we have to try, for 90 minutes at least, to forget about them. You might even argue today is the more important of the two games, if we are to force Peter Hill-Wood to go looking for the keys to the silverware cabinet come May you’d have to think the FA Cup is our more realistic chance of winning something. Not saying we should just give up on the Champions League, but today’s match is just as important.

Despite that, we will rest players today. It is a lower league opposition but we have to remember they are not far off a Premier League club. The engine of the team, Jack Wilshere will certainly be rested. Of him Wenger says:

“I will not take a risk. [I have] the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before.

“Wilshere and Koscielny have a test this [Friday] morning and Thomas Vermaelen should be back. He has a definite test today.”

“We have plenty of people in training today who have a test and we’ll see how well they come out of it. I am confident 50:50 with Wilshere and Koscielny, and Vermaelen 90:10.”

So you’d have to think Wilshere and Koscielny will be on the bench at very, very best. Vermaelen as well I’d be very surprised to see even if Wenger rates his fitness levels, he’s got a huge job to do at left-back against Bayern. I think we’ll see the captain on the bench but then again a rest for Mertesacker could also be as beneficial so we’ll see. It’s hard to call how strong Wenger will go for this one, but if it were up to me I’d go:

Szczesny
Sagna – Mertesacker – Miquel – Monreal
Ramsey
Diaby – Rosicky
Chamberlain – Giroud – Gervinho

Bench: Mannone, Vermaelen, Bellerin, Coquelin, Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski

Still a fairly weak team I’ve named there, but they are players that can/have individually shown class and I’d hope they can do that today. For the record, I haven’t been impresses with Diaby since this most recent return but Wenger keeps his faith with him and I’d expect him to start. I’d start Giroud too, he’s still getting into this run of form and I think it’s important to keep that going. A goal today and he’ll be raring to go on Tuesday.

I’d go for a strong bench, a replay is something we definitely need to avoid. Not only for fixture congestion but who the fuck wants to visit Ewood Park? No, no one. Vermaelen, Cazorla, Walcott and Podolski would all benefit a rest before Tuesday but I we could see some of them today. Maybe even from the start with a mind to bringing them off. Wouldn’t it be nice for a change to have a game seen off before the last 20 minutes and not having to chase it?

As for Blackburn they’ve just signed David ‘Rat-Faced Mustard-Eating Banter-Twat Anyone-Can-Lob-Almunia-You-Cunt Mega-Cunt Chav’ Bentley on loan and is eligible for today. The little shit-bag he is. I hope he does play, scores a tremendous own goal, ruining his hair-do, goes off crying tears of Colman’s Extra Strong Mustard forcing him to scratch out his eyes and… okay I’ll stop there. As for the rest of those cunts, they’ve still got some half-decent players despite going down. They’re a strong Championship side and cannot be taken lightly. I do worry with Arsenal when it comes to lower league opposition but hopefully we’ve got enough to knock them out.

In the last round we saw off Brighton but t wasn’t comfortable, we had to grind that one out in many ways as we did last weekend in Sunderland. I would take another ground out win here today but I’d much prefer a convincing win. Going into a tough game on Tuesday, a 3 or 4 goals today would ignite a bit of much needed confidence. I’m not expecting another 7-1 but I would rather enjoy us going out and putting them to the sword. Draw or even lose today, well that’s not going to do much for our beliefs going into Tuesday, never mind our ambitions in the FA Cup itself. I’m confident we’ll do it today, but with Arsenal you just never, never know.

I’ll set off and walk down to The Tollington in a few hours and then it’s game time. Your typical Saturday 3 o’clock FA Cup fixture, I can’t wait. Come on you Gunners. Thanks for reading.

Don’t call it a comeback 14 February, 2013

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
2 comments

Hello there..?

Well, long time no speak! I’ve been thinking recently it’s probably about time I came and typed on here. In fact I wasn’t even sure if the old place would still exist. This afternoon I wondered if I even remembered my password and after a bit of dusting down and cobweb clearing I thought I should at least pop my head round the door.

So how’s things? I’ve been good thanks. When we last spoke I was heading off to the French Alps for a ski season, that was brilliant but fuck me did I miss The Arsenal. It was torture watching Thierry Henry come back and knowing I wouldn’t be there to see him; that Leeds game almost had me in tears and my celebrations for that winner at Sunderland drew a lot of attention from a pub full of bemused skiers! There were bad times too, I had to watch both legs of the Milan tie out there and suffer, just like the rest of you and then there was the ups like the incredible 5-2 (the first chapter). I’d say the biggest test was seeing Thierry don the shirt again, that was the closest I felt to packing it all in and coming home but in the end it took a last minute winner against Man City at home for me to book my flight. I was coming back to England anyway but by my original plan meant I wouldn’t have caught any games before the end of the season, so I decided to take an earlier trip and get back for the Chelsea match.

I hadn’t been so excited for an Arsenal game in years. I was so happy to be back in familiar surroundings, at the pub with the guys and back in Block 6 singing about The Arsenal. There was a great vibe around at the time, hope that we could just pip Spurs to 4th after a fantastic run, yet all this hope and I wasn’t even treated to a goal! 0-0 it finished that that would be my last game until the next season.

That didn’t matter though, I realized that the most important thing to me was just being able to be there, at Arsenal with my mates supporting my team. Yeah we beg and cry for results but at the end of the day aren’t we all here because we love Arsenal? Arseblogger touched on this the other day, there are so many fans now so quick to crucify anything to do with Arsenal that they don’t like. I mean all of us wish us to be back challenging for titles and what have you but I’m not going to let that ruin my love for the club. You see too many people now that seem to take no joy whatsoever in supporting Arsenal. What’s the point in that?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no perfect specimen. I mean I’m fucking glad I wasn’t blogging around the time of the Bradford defeat this season. Then I truly lost the plot for a couple of days but soon afterwards I shrugged it off and was looking forward to next supporting the team.

I didn’t go to Bradford, but I was lucky enough to be at Reading away previously in the competition. What an evening that was and one I’ll certainly never forget. I’ve been to a fair few other away trips this year including the loss to Norwich, the bore-fest at Stoke and the great performance at City. Add that to all but one or two home games and I’ve seen a fair bit of Arsenal this season. I’ve seen all types of performances from the jubilant to the downright terrible but in all honest I’ve just loved being a full-time Gooner again. I’d like to get back into writing about them again but I just don’t want to turn into one of these people that will moan and criticize until I’m sat quivering in a rocking chair on my porch shouting every so often, “WENGER OUT” at passers by just to give myself the impression of sanity.

Before this ‘popping my head round the door’ turns into a lecture to an empty room I’ll wrap things up. We’ve got a massive week ahead of us now, in 7 days time we might be closer to knowing if it’s going to be another year without silverware or an exciting couple of cup runs ahead. Plus, we find ourselves in a similar position in the league to last year fighting the scum for 4th spot and as stressful, painful and lacking in ambition as you might consider it to be, it’s exciting none the less.

I don’t know about you but I’m on the edge of my seat excited for the upcoming games, I’m so grateful that I’m going to be at these matches and I can’t wait to sing loud and proud in hope to get us through to the next rounds of the two cups and rightfully restoring The Gap over Spurs. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

I’ll speak to you soon then, thanks to those that still check up on the site. That’s some dedication! Bye for now.

Gone Snowboarding. Goodbye for now. 9 December, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
15 comments

Well as you have noticed this hasn’t really been a good season for me in terms of keeping up the blog! It’s all been for a number of reasons and partly once you start not writing it becomes a bit of a bad habit. There is that, and also that I’m off to France until April to do a ski season. Realistically out there I’m not going to be able to keep the blog going; well if I can’t manage it from London I’m not going to be much better in the Alps with limited internet!

So basically what I plan is to come back with maybe a bit of a season run in writing in April and May and posts over the summer but have a big revamp and relaunch ahead of the 2012/13 season. I’ve had plans for updating the site for a while now and this summer seems like the time to do it. At this time there are so many Arsenal blogs out there that it’s hard to keep up, but together I’m sure we can bring back the glory days of this little blog!…

I don’t want to take the site down or anything though, I know people still come on it to check the Kits page and other links. I’ve also just added a new Wallpaper tab you can see up there. You might’ve downloaded some already in my last blog post but I’ve added another yellow and navy colour-way if you’re interested.

It’s going to be really strange being away from Arsenal for the majority of this season. I’ve been lucky enough to go to most of the home games and few away games this season and I’m loving it to be honest. It’s already been an incredible start to the season, so many ups and downs. We’re just starting to get into form again and find an 11 that can get results. They really seem to be working for each other this season, you can see the desire on the pitch and that’s always great to see. It’s hard to predict how well we’re going to do this season but right now we’re looking like we’re on the up and up. However always with Arsenal a few injuries and we’re fucked again. Robin has been an absolute dream this season, he’s flourished with a clean bill of health and the captain’s armband to boot he’s become Europe’s most clinical striker. His record in 2011 is just incredible; lets just hope he can carry that on into 2012. However take him, Szczesny and a few others out the team and we’re really going to struggle again – that couldn’t have been better demonstrated than at Olympiakos the other night. I’m not quite sure where we would go without van Persie; Walcott and Gervinho have their good days but they’re no RVP replacements. And then we have Chamakh and Park who I have no kind words for right now.

So fingers crossed we can stay as fit as possible. Right now we’re missing all our full backs but we’re still managing to cope. How long we can do that for we’ll have to wait and see but if we can get Sagna and Santos/Gibbs back as soon as possible I’ll feel a lot better.

All this is without mentioning the injured Jack Wilshere. He’s undoubtedly one of, if not the most creative players at Arsenal and getting him back in January/February will be a huge boost. The trio of Song, Arteta and Ramsey are doing well at the moment but adding Wilshere into that is only going to make us stronger. Get well soon Jack.

Whatever the football brings us between now and April it’s sure going to be exciting. I wish I could be in London to see it all but I’ve always wanted to work a ski season so there’s no better time than now really. I’ll miss The Arsenal like crazy but it’s nice to know they’ll be waiting for me when I’m back, hopefully in a decent position! One things for sure though, United and City won’t be in the Champions League. Hahaha! I’m flying out early Saturday morning so I’ll miss the 125th anniversary game vs. Everton, which is a shame for me, but enjoy that those of you going.

So have a good Christmas everyone, make sure the Arseblog Book: ‘So Paddy Got Up’ is filling all of your friends and families stockings this year! I picked up my copy last night at the launch, looking forward to reading that when I’m away. It was an awesome night at The Tollington last night, I’m still feeling horribly rough but it was so worth it. Great to see everyone one last time before I disappear off.

You might catch me over on my twitter from time to time, we’ll see. Otherwise look after my Arsenal for me while I’m gone and sing up in my absence. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!

Until next time.

p.s. Any readers heading to Meribel this winter give me a shout on Twitter or something and maybe we’ll go for a beer. Laters!

Arsenal wallpapers for iPhone, Blackberry, computer and iPad. 28 October, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
11 comments

Back in July I made a couple of iPhone wallpapers which seemed to be quite popular, ever since then I’ve been meaning to do a full range of wallpapers and I’ve finally got round to it. To download, click the thumbnail of the corresponding wallpaper you want, then right+click or ctrl+click and save.

iPhone

Blackberry

iPad (1024×768)

1280×800

1600×1200


While I’m here I shoud probably explain my absence. I’ve been slightly busy but to be honest with you I just haven’t really known what to say! I’ll be back soon, but for now enjoy these wallpapers. Shout out to @22eduardo9 on twitter who’s been nudging me since July for these!

See ya.

I have not gone into hiding 29 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
25 comments

I just thought after a weekend such as that, I should probably explain my absence. There’s no nice way around it, that was a disastrous trip to Old Trafford and never in my life time do I remember a more damaging result. I’m sure that goes for most people in fact.

So before the comments start coming in, ‘oh he’s fucking given up hasn’t he, bloody Gooner!’ I thought I’d let you know I’m off to Croatia in the morning. Outlook Festival, if you were wondering. It kind of seems like the perfect time to take a break in the end, thankfully the club will get a bit of a break this week too with the Internationals this weekend.

As shit as Sunday was, at least you know it can only get better from here. 2011 has been a shite year for The Arsenal and hopefully what goes on in the next couple of days will put us in a much better state to compete in this league.

So hopefully come the Swansea match things will be looking a lot more exciting and a lot less daunting for the coming season. Enjoy transfer deadline day; hopefully it’s a productive one, otherwise I don’t really know what the fuck we’ll do!

Thoughts on how we’re shaping up when I return. See ya.

Oh, before I go. Despite the 8 goals how proud did those away fans at Old Trafford make you? Love it.

We love you Arsenal, we do.
We love you Arsenal, we do.
We love you Arsenal, we do.
OH ARSENAL WE LOVE YOU!

Liverpool Preview: If Nasri plays, don’t boo. 20 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
10 comments

Today’s game is pretty huge. It’s weird but we’re only into the second weekend of the Premiership and this already seems like a pivotal match. In fact this is a huge 8 days what with Champions League qualification to sort out on Wednesday then a trip to Old Trafford next Sunday. It’s vital that we start this run of fixtures with a confidence boosting result today.

All the talk recently has been about signings, and rightly so. However no one was brought in this week (unless you count Joel Campbell’s announcement) so we’re just going to have to make do with what we’ve got. And what we’ve got isn’t a lot.

In defence Gibbs, Djourou and Traore are all injured which gives us a couple of options for the back four: Sagna, Koscielny, Vermalen and Jenkinson, or Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Vermaelen. The latter option scares me beyond belief but by the sounds of the way Arsene was talking up Carl yesterday I think he’ll go for the first option.

Up front Gervinho is suspended as we all know. RVP will make his first official appearance as captain down the middle but we’ve got a few options for the flanks. Walcott and Arshavin are the likely choices but Ryo Miyaichi is in the squad and everyone’s been raving about him this week. Still, I’d be shocked to see him today. Also we’ve got Oxlade-Chamberlain in contention but like Ryo I don’t see him being involved.

Anyway enough of that because the main problem is midfield. Song is suspended plus Diaby, Rosicky and Wilshere are all out. It means we have just Ramsey, Frimpong, Lansbury and the man of the moment Samir Nasri. Despite all that’s been said about him leaving this week he’s still just about with us and Arsene has been backing him saying he’s had a ‘fantastic spirit’ in training and if he plays today he can ‘prove how committed he is to this club’ whatever that’s supposed to mean. Whatever all that bollocks is about, it does seem that Wenger is setting us up for Nasri to play.

To be fair, it’d make sense for Wenger to play him. He’s sold most of our players, the others have got injured or suspended and Nasri is the best midfielder left at the club; We’d be bonkers not to play him, right? I ran a poll yesterday asking whether you would pick Nasri to play today and a shocking 70% of you said you would. Either he’s not as hated as people would like to make out or you know that we kind of need him.

I voted yes too – we do need him. We need to put our differences aside for 90 minutes and allow him to do his best for Arsenal. That means no booing, no name calling, no teasing, no money-waving, none of that. Do what you like after the whistle, but whilst the game is on we have to get behind the team. I can’t stop people voicing their opinion and I’d never want to but hopefully people agree that if he plays then booing him is not going to help any of us. It’ll be pretty awkward but if Nasri can play like he’s shown in the past it could be the difference between us winning and losing.

So, here’s how I think we might line up.

Szczesny
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Jenkinson
Frimpong – Ramsey
Nasri
Walcott – van Persie (c) – Arshavin

If Nasri is left out, then I don’t see us going with a Frimpong/Ramsey/Lansbury midfield in a game of such importance and difficulty. I’d be tempted to move Arshavin into that attacking midfield spot and see how he does. Even that sounds crazy when I say it so the decision to play Nasri becomes more and more justified.

I do fancy Arshavin today though; he has his history with Liverpool and they still fear him. Last season wasn’t a great one for the Russian but he looks to be in good shape this year, and by that yes I do mean his belly. I’m hoping he’ll be keen to return to the glory of his first season at Arsenal and tear defences apart again.

Going forward I’m not too worried about us. We lacked creation on Tuesday night but with Nasri in the side that should be helped. The defence itself I’m quite confident about, Carl being the weak link obviously but lets hope he has a debut first Premier League start to remember. The defence side of midfield is my main concern; we’ll miss Alex Song and as exciting a prospect as I think Frimpong is, he is a bit temperamental. Hopefully he’ll have his head firmly screwed on today and realise the massive importance of his chance today. This is his breakthrough season and this afternoon would be a good place to start finding form.

As for Liverpool, well they’ve bought players and stuff which is basically cheating really so I refuse to comment on such behaviour.

Whatever today is going to be, it’s going to be interesting. Enjoy the match and please get behind the team, the whole team. Thanks for reading.

Come on you Gunners!

Poll: Would you play Nasri against Liverpool? 19 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
30 comments

Good afternoon, happy Friday and all that. Just a quick post from me for the moment, there’ll be a full Liverpool up tonight or in the morning but for now, a quick poll.

Wenger had his pre-match press conference today in which he confirmed the state of our squad:

We have Song and Gervinho suspended. Diaby and Wilshere are injured. Djourou and Traore will not be available and Gibbs will not be available.

We will give Tomas a rest tomorrow. It is not a bad injury and he should be back with us on Monday but he is rested tomorrow.

It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs especially in midfield. With that news our only available players for midfield are Ramsey, Frimpong, Lansbury, Arshavin(?) and Nasri. Arsene said that Samir could be in the squad an available to play despite everything that’s gone on recently.

Any other day he wouldn’t be near the squad but we need the numbers at the moment. So what do you say? He’s our best midfielder right now so do you think we should just be mature and play him? Or do you think fuck him, if he wants out then we don’t want him involved?

Personally, as awkard and crap as it would be I think we need him tomorrow. I think in an ideal world the fans would hold off their boos and just let him do his job which he is still being paid to do and play tomorrow. In an even more ideal world we would forget this whole thing ever happened, he would sign a new contract and everything was hunky-dory with Nasri filling in where Fabregas left off. But I don’t see that happening!

So, back to the question. Should we field Samir Nasri tomorrow?

Cheers, speak to you later.

Arsenal 1-0 Udinese – 16/08/11 – (Champions League Qualifier 1st Leg) 17 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
5 comments

Well all you can really say about that is it’s a decent first leg result. We just about managed to not concede and we go into the second leg one up. Szczesny can take some credit for a few great saves, the defence made some good interceptions and there was some good work from Song and Ramsey.

And that’s really all the positives.

It does seem that I managed to watch the game through shit-smeared spectacles rather than the rose-tinted glasses I’ve been accused of wearing in the past. Maybe it’s just me but I thought we were pretty shit last night and the whole way home I couldn’t help thinking how bad this season could potentially be.

I’ll get onto the game itself in a minute but yesterday I spoke about how weak this squad is and it really did show last night. The defence was actually quite good again I will admit, however after last night’s injuries to Gibbs and Djourou, plus Traore’s the night previous and Eboue’s departure we’re incredibly short at the back. I’m worried.

As for the midfield we just lacked any creation. Cesc Fabregas said as he was unveiled as a Barcelona player that he would be watching Arsenal last night, if he did then he would see how much we’re missing a player of his qualities. Tomas Rosicky was the man given those duties last night and I’m sorry he’s just not up to the job. I feel bad because he seems like a nice guy but I just don’t think he’s first team quality and last night he showed it again. We’re screaming out for a signing in this position or for some miracle to happen with Nasri with him signing a new contract and he and fans are holding hands skipping through daisy fields again. But that’s not going to happen. We’re really missing Jack Wilshere at this time but he’s still out with the injury that kept Vermaelen out for the whole season last year. A friend of mine won the programme competition last night and met Jack afterwards who is still in a protective boot and said, “Really not sure when I’ll be back.”

Up front wasn’t much good either. Well on the flanks we did okay, Walcott obviously got on the score sheet and should’ve had two. Theo had some good movement at times, as did Gervinho who was happy to try things and switch into the middle when needed. However it’s still not looking great for Chamakh, he was totally anonymous last night and didn’t look like he had a clue what he was doing. No offence to the lad, but any one of our attacking options down the middle last night would’ve been more effective. It’s a dilemma because we need to play him in order to get his confidence up but on the back of performances like last night’s that we have seen so many times before it doesn’t look like he’s going to produce anything that might give him a bit of a boost. Robin can’t come back soon enough and if he could manage to stay fit for an entire season, what a time to do it.

Onto the game then and we were ahead in the 4th minute. Ramsey got down the right and whipped in a low cross which Walcott slipped inside the near post. Was a well-taken goal and with it coming so early we all hoped there would be more to come. However a long 86 minutes passed with no addition to the score and it ended 1-0. There weren’t a lot of chances created but the best of them fell to Theo with 20 minutes to go when Gervinho presented him with a shot at goal but his curving shot was tipped just passed the post. It was a nice move but a better save.

Udinese looked pretty decent and as expected Di Natale looked dangerous. He came closest to scoring for them with a free kick that hit the bar and was also denied early in the second half when Djourou came sliding in. Szczesny made some great saves to keep Udinese out but they’ve showed how dangerous they can be and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them score at home next week.

This tie is far from over and I worry if we perform like last night again in the second leg then we’ll be in trouble. I dunno maybe I’m being a little harsh but we’re weren’t exactly amazing were we? We’ll have Robin (and Nasri?) back for the second leg which will make a difference, and you never know fingers crossed we could have a new signing or two to field.

Thanks for reading, join me again this week where we’ll be trying to figure out who we can find to play midfield and left back for the Liverpool game this Saturday. Exciting times. Who’d have thought we’re just two games into the season!

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