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My thoughts on a quiet yet intense week 27 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

I’ve struggled to know what to write the last couple of days. We are currently in one of those customary periods of silence from the club following a disappointing result so there isn’t a great deal to talk about or any news to discuss. It’s probably for the best though that Arsenal.com goes into hibernation for the week, you don’t want to anger fans further with silly articles – and there are a lot of angry fans out there. It is strange though that in the build up to a match that was the biggest game of our season just a couple of weeks ago there is this deathly silence.

So basically I haven’t really planned what I’m going to write today, I just thought that I’d sit down infront of the keyboard and type whatever comes out. It’s partly due to the lack of news but it’s also a good exercise for me to release some feelings I have. I could start previewing the Man United game but frankly the match isn’t wetting my appetite much at the moment.

What has been the main point of discussion doing the rounds on the Arsenal blogs is pretty much the state of our football club. Many are upset with how our title hopes have so dramatically and depressingly fallen and with that there always comes anger. It’s been a few days since we lost to Bolton now and I’ve calmed down quite a bit. I’ve accepted the position we’re in and that’s that as far as I’m concerned personally.

However some extremists have taken our recent failures as the final straw and there’s even a protest being organised for the final home match of the season, against Aston Villa. The group, ‘Where has our Arsenal gone?’ or the black scarf brigade, as some are calling them have published  this press release detailing their grounds for protest and will march before the Villa game to make their voices heard. However as The View from N5 points out, all their arguments for protest are quite ridiculous really. There’s stuff in there about the club not making enough commercial revenue, a mention of the kits we wear, a call for Peter Hill-Wood to get the sack, something about moving the away fans to the upper tier and some other bits that you can read for yourself if you haven’t already. They do talk about the rumoured rise in season ticket prices which is something that all fans are going to be upset about and I see their point there but it hasn’t even been officially announced yet.

I can’t say that the points they outline are enough reason for a protest march. We’ve seen plenty of football protests in recent years but we’re not in as bad a position as any of those clubs. For that reason I find it somewhat embarrassing that a group of fans are choosing to do this, it’s good that we care about the club and we will fight to resolve problems but I just don’t think this one is right. The papers are going to pick up on this and the opinions of a few fans will be taken as the opinion of all of us and I can see a big falling out ahead. Also how silly is it going to look with people holding signs saying, “We’re fed up with the lack of revenue the club makes through commerical deals! But we don’t want to pay for it by buying new kits every season!”

I guess we’ll see how that all turns out in a few weeks. To be honest I was a bit surprised when I read that statement the other day that there was no mention of Stan Kroenke or any takeover issues. Now that would be something that I could understand protesting against, not that I’m saying I would be joining in that march but I can understand how Gooners might not agree with it. I’m also surprised that there was no real mention of on the pitch matters which to me is what is most important. They do say that we need to buy two world class players to propell us to the next level but most people know that it’s not just as simple as that. You can’t just go to Madrid and ask for Kaka just because we want him. I also loved this line:

We want to see Mr Wenger repeat his early successful years with the club.

Haha! Well obviously.

It’s on the pitch matters that interest me most, obviously I care about the business of the club, how we are run and all these types of things but I’m just a football fan at heart and I get my kicks out of going to watch Arsenal play, not worrying about our financial revenue. Our fall from a title winning position has been quite dramatic and quite depressing. I have tried to remain optimistic for as long as possible but I’ll admit now that the challenge is over.

It’s all down to this run of draws that we’ve been on. It absolutely ridiculous. I can’t make my mind up what it is down to, the performance hasn’t been up to scratch recently and although sometimes you saw the players look like they really wanted it the overall attitude has not been right for this title fight. Everyone has got their theory about why that is, be it lack of experience, lack of quality, being paid too much, not enough competition for places, formation, personel or whatever else you think it’s down to. Personally  think it is a mixture of all of these things plus a total lack of mental strength.

You can tell that this is something that Wenger thinks is very important just from the amount of times he mentions mental strength, attitude and desire but somehow he’s not inspiring it into his players. This drop in form at the business end of the season is becoming too familiar now and once again it has been our downfall in our hunt for our first trophy since 2005. I think we have massive issues with confidence and I believe we were just a few minutes away from solving that problem this season. It’s a kind of catch-22 but we need the confidence gained from winning silverware to be able to win silverware. We almost achieved that this season in the Carling Cup and I’m convinced that if we hadn’t of made that disastrous error in the last minute of the final we’d have gone on to win it in extra time and things would be a lot, lot different right now.

There’s no point in keeping on thinking back to that now, I guess all we can do is hope to put it right next season and I hope Wenger takes the Carling Cup are seriously as we did this season. If we could’ve won that it might’ve propelled us on to greater things in 2011. However now I’m just hoping that 2012 can be our year of triumph whether we need to win the League Cup on the way or not. I’m already thinking to next season, but this one ain’t over yet. We still need results to keep us in the automatic qualification spots, dropping to 3rd or even 4th will be further damaging to our already in-tatters confidence so we need to get behind the team and support them right up until the final whistle on 22nd May at Craven Cottage.

A few so called supporters this season have lost touch with the definition of their description; we’re there to support the lads and do everything we can to help them win. It’s pretty simple. After 22nd May that is the time for questioning, that is when we can look to change personnel, add experience, add quality and sort out issues with the team. Up until that point though I hope you’ll join me in supporting the team to the end. I am not 100% happy with how things are going for us at the moment but the summer is the time to question who should remain at the club and who shouldn’t.

Well that’s more than enough babbling on for this afternoon. Thanks for reading Arsenal fans.

Bolton 2-1 Arsenal – 24/04/11 – (Premier League) 25 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Well that’s it; done. I’ve come to get used to the title race coming to the end but this year I really hoped we could go all the way and despite hoping and hoping after draw after draw it is finally over now after yesterday’s loss to Bolton. In a way it’s pretty relieving, no more hoping and dreaming, just whatever happens happens and we look forward to the new season.

It’s all very similar to the way it fell apart last season, a bad April month taking us from a great position to completely out of it in the space of a few weeks. It’s kind of depressing, but it was coming really. It’s been coming since we lost the Carling Cup final, since we drew 4-4 with Newcastle, since we lost a 2-0 lead to Spurs, since we lost a 3-1 lead to Spurs, since we scored against Liverpool in the 98th minute and didn’t win… I could go on and one but all of these games are examples of where our confidence has been absolutely destroyed, hence the terrible run in. Wenger keeps going on about our mental strength but it is our complete and utter lack of this that has been our downfall. I now can’t stand it when Arsene mutters those two words in the hope that if he says it enough it will be true, well it’s not – we’re in pieces and we need sorting right out.

However – all that needs to come in the summer though. I understand the frustration at the moment, that comes with falling out of the race for silverware but there’s nothing we can do at the moment. The summer is the time for change and I hope it is a very busy summer indeed. But we’ll leave that until then, all we can do now is try and enjoy the rest of the season as much as we can and just support them in the race for 2nd or indeed 3rd.

We started the game really brightly yesterday, we came out flying and it caught Bolton out a bit. I thought we should’ve had a penalty early on when Walcott was brought down but it wasn’t to be. We kept pressing though and we looked likely for an early goal. After time Bolton found themselves back in it; with every one of our misplaced passes and defensive slips the home side’s confidence grew as ours limped.

We had a few chances but the way things were going I wasn’t surprised when Bolton opened the scoring in the 38th minute. Sturridge the scorer from a corner after we failed to keep it out. They probably deserved their half time lead, we started well but that counts for nothing and they looked the more dangerous in the first half. Cesc had a shot blocked and I think we had one other chance but Bolton were almost through on goal a couple of times and really should’ve scored earlier than they did.

We needed to come out in the second half and sort it out but we nearly made it a whole lot worse. Djourou conceded a very soft penalty and it was up to Szczesny to keep us in it – and he did saving Kevin Davies’ poorly struck spot kick. If that had gone in then I fear what might’ve happened but we actually equalized not long after the penalty save. A nice drive towards the box, into the feet of Nasri who laid it off for Robin again who struck it low inside the post. A nicely taken goal and it looked like we had some confidence back. We spend most of the second 45 in Bolton’s half of the pitch, we were going for the winning goal and we were desperate for it.

However again just like the first half, every time we failed Bolton improved. They were catching us out on the break a few times showing us that we were still in danger of losing this one. Wenger threw on Chamakh in the 64th minute taking off Alex Song, there was no doubting that we needed to win.

Out best chances came to Samir Nasri. First he found himself clean through thanks to a great lofted pass from Cesc or Robin, can’t remember. I thought, ‘Goal.’ Had to be. Samir from earlier in the season would’ve stuck that in whilst already thinking about his celebration but he struck it right at the keeper and the demise in his form in front of goal epitomizes the dip in the whole team’s attitude. A few minutes later he had the chance to put it right when Chamakh nodded it down for Samir in front of goal but again he couldn’t put it away. I couldn’t fucking believe it.

We were desperate for a goal, I wanted us to score so much. Not just to keep us in the title race but to at least make next weekend’s game a bit more exciting. I had almost conceded the title after the Spurs game but I still hoped that we might keep the race interesting by beating Bolton.

Instead it was a 90th minute header from Bolton to put the cherry on top. There was no coming back from it, there was no way we were going to score two goals even in the 5 minutes of extra time and with that poor defending from yet another corner went our 2010/11 season.

So instead of hoping to at least keep next Sunday’s game versus United interesting I now find myself thankful that Chelsea overtook us so that United can’t win the league at our ground this weekend. God it’s fucked up being a Gooner.

The collapse since the Carling Cup Final has been incredible. I always said that winning that trophy would give us confidence for the rest of the season but the way we lost it ended up being a larger blow than anyone could’ve imagined. That last minute cock up between Szczesny and Koscielny has cost this season dearly and we all just need the season to just be over now.

It’s very sad to know it’s all over and I don’t see myself bothering to go again this season. It’s not that I’ve given up on them or anything like that or I can’t be bothered to go because we’re not in a title race. I just can’t really afford to spend that much money on a ticket, travel, food and drinks just to let down by the same mistakes time and time after again. It’s getting fucking boring and it’s making me skint!

I’m craving change; I’m utterly fed up of seeing us fall at the same hurdles every game, month, season. A change of manager? Who knows, to be honest right now I wouldn’t mind. A change of players? One or two positions still need serious sorting out and if Wenger can’t see it now then he really has lost it. Maybe something else needs changing, but now is really not the time. Lets just try and enjoy what’s left of the season because I know in two or three months I’ll be missing the bastards again!

Oh it’s tough being a football fan an Arsenal fan. But we keep going and our next target is to try and end the season on some high with a win over Man United.

Thanks for reading.

Spurs Preview: A massive North London derby 20 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

The North London derby is always vitally important to any Arsenal or Tottenham fan but today is yet another one that is just that little bit more special. A win always means everything to both sets of fans but we’re at a point in the season where we genuinely need the points, never mind fan pride. With Man United dropping two points at Newcastle last night we have an opportunity to close the gap which we must take. We’re not going to get a lot of chances to catch up on United so we have to take them when they come. We’re seven points behind them today so a win tonight could bring that back down to a much more manageable four. Four points is definitely a title race position especially when United have to play Chelsea and us.

Spurs are desperate for points too though and they will take confidence from beating us at our place. They can go level on points with Man City in 4th with a win over us tonight and they will be desperate to not only get back in the Champions League but end our title hopes. Let’s be honest, a loss tonight would pretty much be the end of it, there’d be a slim hope but nothing more than that. Also a loss for us and a win for Chelsea against Birmingham tonight would see us drop down to third, which is a bit shocking.

Lets not think about losing though, we have to have our eyes on the prize. We’re in a title race and we need a win at White Hart Lane – if the players aren’t up for it tonight well then they’re never going to be. We might have some complaints about Liverpool but that’s behind us now, we need to take confidence from Newcastle’s result last night and close the gap. Wenger says, “I still believe it is absolutely important, essential that we give absolutely every drop of blood to do it.” I hope that ambition is shared with the players. You’ve probably seen this interview with Cesc Fabregas that emerged yesterday and he talks about a difference between pretty football and winning things. This season was our chance to make the step up, we may have missed it but we’re still in there and I hope Cesc et al. have got the desire to make it happen this season.

We might not deserve the title this year but so fucking what, I want it. It’s still doable and to come from behind in the position we’ve been in would be great. Imagine what winning the league would do to the players, that experience would be invaluable. A win at Tottenham would be the perfect catalyst to the end of season run, Wenger spoke about trying to remain unbeaten until the end of the season but it’s wins we need. Three points tonight would set up a massive game on May 1st between Arsenal and Man United so lets make sure we’re in that position come May and win tonight.

In the reverse fixture earlier in the season we lost a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2. That fucking hurt, and I hope it hurt the players too. They should be going there tonight not for revenge but just to put that right. We cannot let them take more points off us, it’s just not right. We’ve played there already this season in the Carling Cup, it was 1-1 after 90 minutes but we ended up beating them 4-1. We need to show that kind of dominance we showed in extra time that night, we need to remind them who owns North London and who is the team celebrating 50 years without winning the league.

It should be a pretty decent team playing tonight. There’s some great news that PFA right back of 2010/11, Bacary Sagna is back, not only will that strengthen us at the back but it means we’ve got no clown ready to give another 100th minute penalty away. Vermaelen is a bit short for tonight, it would’ve been great to have a player of his calibre available but Wenger is right not to rush him back. I feel that Jens Lehmann might fill his kind of void tonight, I’m sure the German will be making his voice heard in the dressing room. Arseblogger this morning speculated that Wilshere could be rested after Wenger spoke of Jack’s fatigue. He was withdrawn early against Liverpool and he did look quite tired. I think he’ll start him tonight though, his desire to win is something that we need tonight and hopefully that can rub off on his elders.

So here’s how I think we might look:

Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Song – Wilshere
Fabregas (c)
Nasri – van Persie – Arshavin

I’ve chosen Arshavin over Walcott for tonight, I feel that (if he’s up for it) he can offer us that little extra something special out of nowhere which might be what wins the game. Theo was a little bit disappointing on Sunday but I’ve always preferred him as an option from the bench anyway. However it might be a good idea to start him though to deal with Gareth Bale on his wing, Theo is good to deploy there not only to track Bale’s runs but also to use that space on the counter. It’s up to Wenger – Arshavin or Walcott; now I’ve thought about it more I think he’ll probably go for Theo but we’ll see.

Talking of Bale, Wenger says he and Van der Vaart are their main threat. Bale is decent but I can’t believe the hype over him this season. It’s an absolute joke. He won the PFA player of the year for basically one hat trick against a tiring, and shit Inter Milan side. And they lost that game anyway! I saw a stat recently that he’s got the same amount of assists as Van der Sar in the Premier League and that says a lot. He is going to be tricky down that left hand side but I really don’t rate him anywhere near some people do. After saying all this he’ll probably go and score tonight but fuck him, the chimp-looking, banana-peeling shit cunt. As for Van der Vaart, he’s a good player but gets tired easily, mark him out of the game and we’ll be fine. Tonight is about closing down every player in possession, think back to when we beat Chelsea in December, I want a performance like that tonight – I want to see the players really want this as much as the fans.

The nerves/excitement have kicked in already, I’m buzzing for this one. It could be a massive disappointment but at the same time it could end up being the result that we look back on as the one that changed our fortunes in the title race. I’m being optimistic but I believe we can do it, I’ve seen how we can fuck things up in the past but I truly think we’ll go there tonight with a huge desire to win. I wish I could be there tonight with the couple thousand Gooners travelling down Seven Sisters Road. I was after a spare but it doesn’t look like I’ll get one now so Sky Sports and a few beers it is.

There’s nothing left to say now, it’s up to the players to win this one for us. Believe in them and they will deliver. COME ON YOU GUNNERS.

Oh and finally…

The wanky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope,
The wanky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope,
The wanky Tottenham Hotspur went to Rome to see the Pope,
And this is what he said…
Who’s that team we call the Arsenal,
Who’s that team we all adore,
We’re the boys in red and white and we’re fucking dynamite,
And Harry Redknapp’s mother is a WHOOOOORE!

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool – 17/04/11 – (Premier League) 19 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

I’ve had a couple of days to calm down from this one but to be honest I was never really angry once I left the stadium. I was fucking furious at Eboue for that ridiculous push and the rest of the team for not just booting it out whenever possible but then I soon went into the all too familiar state of disappointment. I’m just about beginning to accept being constantly let down, it sucks but it’s been a recurring theme. If I earned a pound for every time I’ve used the words frustrating or disappointing in response to Arsenal then, then I could probably buy us a more intelligent reserve right back.

Although Eboue is a fucking idiot, you can’t blame the result all on him. Yes, he was the one that conceded the most stupid penalty I’ve even seen with my own eyes but once we’d gone 1-0 up in the 97th minute there should’ve been no chance for Liverpool to come back. We had just a few minutes to hold out and surely that’s not too much to ask? Oh, it is? Okay. Is it so much to ask to stick your boot through the ball just the once when there’s literally seconds left to play? That’s too much as well is it? Fucking hell are we trying to work counter attacks with one minute to go and 1-0 up now are we?

I asked before the game if we would stand up and show how much we wanted to the title and I guess we didn’t want it enough, especially not in those final few minutes. I’m not saying we didn’t try to defend but if it meant that much to us there would’ve been no team able to get through us never mind how weak our defence is. Well it didn’t happen and it ended up 1-1. I’ve almost accepted the result because it was 0-0 for so long and a draw looked likely but it’s just such a shame to take the lead and lose it like we did.

We dominated the most part of the game, Carroll and Suarez didn’t click and without Gerrard I’ve never really been that scared of Liverpool. We looked alright but we didn’t create enough proper goal scoring chances and Wenger has admitted it was a bit of a problem. He also said that Liverpool had a lot of men behind the ball defending which is also true. They did make it quite difficult for us and I’m surprised they played so negatively but I guess it worked if they came for a draw.

Over the course of the game, other than the penalties there were only a handful of chances for either team. Liverpool had a couple of half-hearted shots and we hit the bar from a header, had one disallowed for offside and the best chance was from a little flick from Fabregas to van Persie in the area but he couldn’t score one-on-one with Reina.

It was a frustrating game, Liverpool didn’t deserve anything but we weren’t doing enough to take the points for ourselves. I’ll just move on to extra time because that’s where all the action was; At the 90 minute mark it looked like it was heading for 0-0 unless there could be any late drama in the 8 minutes added on for a head injury to Carragher. We won our penalty when Cesc burst into the area and was tripped whilst dribbling – definite penalty. Robin van Persie had what looked like the chance to keep us in the title race. It was a massive, massive penalty and when he sent Reina the wrong way and stuck it perfectly inside the post he ripped his shirt off and the ground went mental. It was a huge goal and one that surely, surely would win it.

There couldn’t have been long left to go, but we knew we were going to have to soak up a bit of Liverpool pressure. They did plough forward and we defended it but we didn’t just boot it away, instead we fucked about with it on the edge of our own box, gave it back to them and then conceded a very dangerous free kick. It was surely one of the last kicks of the game and it was too unbearable to watch for a lot of people. In the end the free kick wasn’t good but what followed was infuriating and hilarious. The ball dropped to Lucas but had no choice to run away from goal towards the left corner flag. Eboue was tracking him but for some reason far beyond my intelligence he ran into the back of him allowing him to go down for a penalty. He definitely dived and made the most of it but I probably would’ve given a penalty too, Eboue stupidly just went into the back of him.

I mean if he’d let him run and given it a few seconds I reckon that could’ve been it, as Lucas got the ball, referee Andre Marriner was probably thinking about blowing up. He saw the foul though and had no choice but to give the penalty. It was a chance for the returning Szczesny to make himself a hero but Kuyt scored and the final whistle blew immediately.

I have no qualms about the 11 minutes of added on time. It all makes perfect sense, there was a minimum of 8 minutes and then there was the foul for our penalty, the time it took to take it, the minute or two of celebrations, the minute before they took their free kick and other things it was perfectly acceptable to still be playing past the 100 minute mark in my opinion. He could’ve blown the whistle after the free kick but there was probably about four or five seconds between that being taken and Eboue’s foul.

We’ve had some terrible, terrible luck this season but I feel like a lot of bad days could’ve been avoided if we had just been more cautious. We’re very accident prone and it has ruined our season. I’m upset because I don’t know if this group of players will ever get a better chance to win the league with Chelsea being as shit as I’ve seen them since before Mourinho and Man United having terrible away form. Also I don’t know how long this group will be together also, it’s possible for quite a few players to leave this summer, some for better some for worse but what really worries me is if both Nasri and Cesc leave. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it though.

It’s disappointing times yet again but we must pick ourselves up. Another loss and it really is over. Our next game is Tottenham away and how much they would like to inflict the result which ends our title hopes. We can’t let that happen, and after what happened in the home game against them this season I’m expecting the players to finally show some fight. If we can show it in just this one game then I’ll be slightly relieved.

We might have to win every game until the end of the season and three points at White Hart Lane is a good place to start. Szczesny believes we’ve got what it takes, I just hope the rest of the team does. This North London Derby is huge and I’d be lying if I’m not a little nervous.

See you tomorrow for the usual build up. Until then.

Liverpool Preview, Spurs 50th Anniversary & RIP Fitszman 17 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, I’m going through an extremely busy period work-wise at the moment and I got a bit carried away with that. Also this is going to have to be as quick a match preview as possible because late last night I got offered a ticket for today and my train is leaving Bournemouth in an hour.

So what’s the news? Szczesny, Djourou and Song are back which is a big boost for the defence. We had more good news in that department this week as Vermaelen has returned to full training. He won’t be involved today because he hasn’t played in months but Wenger has changed his stance on the Belgian and says he could still play a part this season. Sagna, Ramsey and Rosicky are likely to miss out today with niggles, hopefully they’re back soon especially Sagna.

So with that, I see us looking like this and it looks like quite a decent side again:

Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Song – Wilshere
Fabregas (c)
Walcott – van Persie – Nasri

For once we’ve actually got options so you could see any of Arshavin, Diaby, Bendtner, Chamakh or Squillaci starting or being decent options from the bench. Apart from the injury that will keep Sagna out for the second successive game it’s been a pretty good week for injury news and I’m confident going into this afternoon’s game now.

It’s a huge match today, Liverpool always is but we’re very much at the business end of the season now and points are more than vital for both teams. It should be an interesting one, our recent form hasn’t been great but hopefully the win at Blackpool wil inspire a bit of confidence today. As United played in the FA Cup yesterday, today’s game will take us level on games played. A win would take us a very tasty four points off the top but a loss would leave us a very bleak seven points behind. With so few games left a result like that could mean the end. After Chelsea’s win yesterday they’re now just a point behind us too (also played one more) so we need to win to keep them off our backs also.

I do think we can win today and before I go I might bet online on a 2-0 Arsenal win. If we can keep a clean sheet with that stronger looking defence then I think we’ll do it, plus the attacking threat of Walcott, Nasri, van Persie, Arshavin and Fabregas should be dangerous enough to score goals. It really could go any way but I’ve got a good feeling about today.

In other news well today is the 17th April 2011 and do you know what that means? It’s 50 years ago today that Tottenham last won the league. A lot has happened in 50 years, for example we’ve won the league title six times and have challenged for it for the most part of that. Today might be a nice anniversary for Spurs fans but it’s even bigger reminded for us of our dominance. ’61, Never Again. I haven’t got enough time to go into this too much but I kind of feel that they don’t deserve the time anyway, just a short reminder that yet another decade has past since they won the league and we’ll carry on with our business trying to win for ourselves it yet again. Here’s to another 50 years! Hey you never know, Nike might bring our a commemorative shirt for it.

And on a more serious not this week saw the sad and untimely death of board member and Arsenal visionary Danny Fitszman. The man did so much for the club that he will unquestionably be remembered forever. In fact I wouldn’t be making the pilgrimage to The Emirates Stadium today if it weren’t for Danny and that legacy will live on for decades to come. I wish I had more time to pay my respects to him but I’ll try get over to the newly re-named Danny Fitszman bridge later today. It’s a shame that the unveiling ceremony came just too late for Danny to be there or see the plaque but plans have been in place for this for some time so he will have known that his name will be proudly imprinted on the bridge to Ashburton Grove and be seen by hundreds of thousands of fans young and old. Thank you for all you’ve done Danny, rest in peace.

Right I better get myself off to the station now. Lets get them three points today lads, lets do it for Danny, lets do it for the 50th anniversary, lets do it for the league title; I have a feeling today will be another test of how much we really want this.


Arsenal in Usmanov’s hands, why United must win tonight & competition winner 12 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

The future of Arsenal Football Club still hangs in the balance today. We’re still waiting on Usmanov’s next move and it’s slightly ironic that it’s his action now that will have the biggest impact on the club’s future. Kroenke has been forced to make an offer for all remaining shares, Usmanov could sell up and walk away with a profit or choose not to sell and most probably not ever move off that 27% mark. If he sells, Arsenal belongs to Kroenke, if he doesn’t then not a great deal has changed apart from the small matter of a few hundred of million pounds.

I was shocked last night to log onto Twitter and see the strange and sudden warming to Usmanov that was going on. Somehow Kroenke was suddenly the bad guy and Jabba the Hutt was going to be the saviour. It was quite bizarre, I don’t get how he can be genuinely getting positive spin off this. I saw some rubbish about him planning to give shares back to fans or something but I feel like I’m being a bit gullible to believe that.

There was an Arsenal Supporters’ Trust meeting last night and there they agreed that they will not be selling up to Kroenke and instead campaigning for supporter ownership. Now for that to happen we basically need Usmanov to not sell because then it would all be over. So I think this is where he has become the good guy, people need him to keep his 27% to stop a complete takeover. But then at the same time you’ve also got Kroenke saying that he doesn’t plan to take Arsenal off the stock market and he believes in the importance of small shareholder fans. There just seems to me to be too much going on, too many conflicting ideas and too many promises set up to be broken.

I can’t decide what is best for us. Kroenke sounds like a reasonable guy and if anyone has to take us over then I guess I’d want it to be him but then I think that for Arsenal to be owned by a single owner doesn’t seem right. I feel like we’re far too important for that and once in control he has far too much power over something so precious. At the end of the day there’s not much I can do about the whole situation and in times like this in life I tend to just sit back and just let what happens happen. I don’t know what you think about that but it’s just my way of thinking, there’s no point in getting upset about something you can’t control I think. I guess I could start up or join in a campaign for or against Kroenke but I can’t decide what I want right now so I’m just going to sit on the fence and watch the world go by and wait on Red & White’s next move.

There is evidence to support the theory that Usmanov won’t sell up. Upon hearing of Kroenke’s offer for Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s 16% the Uzbekistani offered an improved price for the stake. Stan offered £11,750 a share whereas the improved offer was £13,000 a share adding up to just under £130m for her stake. It’s a considerable offer but Lady Nina said she did not want to go back on her agreement with Stan and will be selling to him. So it does look as if Usmanov isn’t giving up just yet. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, weeks or months but at the moment no one knows what’s going to happen.

Lets move on to matters on the pitch, after all that’s what matters most in the long run; Jack Wilshere reckons Man United’s involvement in Europe will eventually effect their Premier League form. He says that we have the advantage by having a week’s rest between games. This is true, however United could be out of Europe tonight if Chelsea play well at Old Trafford. It’s the second leg of their quarter final tonight, Man Utd are 1-0 up going into that but it’s not unthinkable that Chelsea can turn that around. If they do then the league leaders will be in the same position as us with a week’s rest between games and this weekend they’re playing in the FA Cup anyway so fatigue from tonight will have no effect on their league form. Plus, next week we have a midweek game against Spurs so we will be the ones without a full week’s recovery.

That’s why I’ve been hoping United progress in Europe, the only way it’s going to effect the Premier League is if they get into the semi finals. And which game falls between the two semi final legs? The one against us. So that will be an advantage knowing we’ll be more prepared for the game plus it could effect their other matches – they might be tempted to rest players against Everton the weekend before the first leg and they play Chelsea the weekend after the second leg so that might have a knock on effect there too. You’ve got to take what you can get in the season run in, that’s why I’m cheering on United tonight in the hope that Europe and the league gets too much to handle.

There’s also this story about an argument between van Persie and Diaby at half time in Blackpool this weekend. I’ve never got this term ‘blast’. “So and so BLASTS another guy!” Don’t really get it, sounds a bit stupid I think. All I can imagine is van Persie with a Super Soaker in the dressing room at half time with a very wet Diaby. Anyway yeah apparently Robin was reminding Diaby about his costly red card at St. James’ Park and having a go at him for picking up a silly yellow just before half time on Sunday. If true, then I guess it’s good to see that the players are passionate about these games and know the importance of them. Diaby said he would learn from his sending off against Newcastle, it changed the game resulting in disastrous circumstances so you can understand RVP’s frustration. But then again, it could all be made up bollocks.

Okay regular readers will know I’ve been running a competition this week to win a retro shirt from Toffs. The competition ended at midnight last night and the answer to the question: What year is the earliest Arsenal shirt from that Toffs currently offer on their online store? was A. 1913 not B. 1927 as many people put, you need to look closer I’m afraid! There were quite a few people who got it right though and I’m going to now open a new tab and select a winner at random… LIVE. Oh how exciting.

And the winner is… James Warrener. Well done James, I will be in touch about choosing your shirt and getting that to you as soon as possible. Thanks to everyone for entering, I’ll try and get another competition up and running soon. I’ll also see if I can get a discount code for you guys on the Toffs store, until then though all the shirts are still available to buy if you really had your heart set on winning one you can check them out by clicking on the banner below.

That’s it for today then. It’s going to be weird cheering on Man United tonight but at the end of the day I fucking hate John Terry. So it’s acceptable.

Thanks for reading, speak to you soon.

Kroenke thoughts + Blackpool 1-3 Arsenal – 10/04/11 – (Premier League) 11 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

So yesterday was a pretty eventful day for Arsenal, we beat Blackpool 3-1 ending our run of draws which is pretty good but that was quickly forgotten as Stan Kroenke looks like launching a takeover of the club. The three points at Bloomfield road were vital in the short term but yesterday saw the biggest announcement financially involving Arsenal in a long time and it is set to change the future of the club. So I guess it deserves a bit of a mention…

Yesterday it was announced that the American would be buying out Danny Fiszman’s and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s shares which bumps Kroenke up from just under 30% to nearly 63% of shares. He will now make an offer for the remaining 37% but those shareholders are currently under no obligation to sell. The majority of that 37% is held by Alisher Usmanov’s Red & White Holdings who currently own 27% which is just enough to stop Kroenke reaching the magic 75% mark which would mean he could force any remaining shareholders to sell.

The ball now lies in Usmanov’s court, although Kroenke is stood waiting, racket in hand, in a much bigger court. Red & White have no obligation to sell but they could cash in now and have made a profit on their investment or they could keep the shares but have no real say in the club or anything like that. I can’t guess what they’re going to do but it does look now that sooner or later Arsenal will become yet another club to be owned solely by an investor. I’m no financial expert whatsoever and I’ve never really had much to say on this whole business in the last couple of years. Partly because I don’t understand the stock market well enough and secondly because it’s out of our hands really, whatever happens will happen and we’ll just have to accept it.

I’m perfectly happy with the club being run as it has been for years, with the club jointly owned by numerous shareholders. I’ve never really properly thought about what it would be like under a single owner but it does seem that if it is going to happen then Stan Kroenke is probably the best man for the job. He wants to keep the current board, he will make no personnel changes there although they would no longer be shareholders of the club – just employees, he has also promised not to put further debt to the club’s name by using loans to complete the buyout and the man has plenty of experience in owning sports clubs. He currently owns a club in just about every top sport in America including our US football partners the Colorado Rapids. He will also bring valuable input into our commercial sector which will be used to grow the worldwide brand of Arsenal to generate revenue, that will mean pre-season tours in places like Asia and America rather than our usual low-key Austrian training camp. I know already we had plans to tour Japan and surrounding countries this summer but I think that might be falling through after the recent disaster there. This isn’t a Chelsea or Man City style takeover though, we might see some cash investment in terms of transfers but don’t expect him to be our Abramovich or anything like that. I think Kroenke will be a lot more sensible and will be looking at the long-term future of the club rather than short-term investment.

It’s all very early days but it does look very much like the beginning of a takeover. The next step now is to see how Usmanov reacts to this, he could sell up to Kroenke and be on his way, he could stay put and decide not to sell or he could launch a counter bid. Now as accepting as I am with all this news, a takeover attempt from Usmanov would not be anywhere near as welcome and would cause up quite a stir. I’m not sure if he’s actually eligible to buy Fiszman’s shares as part of the lockdown agreement anyway though but I’m not exactly sure how all of this works as I mentioned.

Lets move on anyway and leave it at that. Those are the facts and that’s that for the moment. I don’t want to dig too far into it because not only is my knowledge going to get badly shown up but we have a game to discuss!

So three points then yesterday and we’re back on track. There were no slip-ups from United or Chelsea so our position in the table is unchanged but we kept up the pace which was important. We’re still seven points off the leaders with that game in hand. Dropped points yesterday would’ve been a disaster but we’re still there going into two massive games against Liverpool and Tottenham.

You could say we were a little bit lucky yesterday but I feel like we’ve deserved a bit of luck recently. We did well to get an early two goal lead but when we inevitably let the home side back in it we were on the ropes for a while and did well not to concede. I guess if you’re a Blackpool fan you’d be livid at the chances missed yesterday or the lack of penalties given but for once luck was on our side.

We never should’ve got into that situation though. Blackpool started the better side but we went 1-0 up in the 17th minute and doubled the lead three minutes later. Diaby almost lost the ball just outside our box but managed to win it back and the ball found its way out to van Persie on the left who took it into the box and put a great ball across to Diaby who had carried on his run and tapped it in for 1-0. In the 20th minute a great pass and move on the right and drive into the box from Eboue put him in a shooting position and what a clinical shot it was with the left foot to make to 2-0. Two unlikely goal scorers but two great goals and we had a (fairly) comfortable two nil lead. We really should’ve gone in at half time about 4-0 up though, we dominated for the most part and thanks to some good goalkeeping, a bit of luck and us not getting a shot away when we should’ve done, Blackpool kept it at 2-0 until half time. Nasri will be disappointed not to have scored yesterday and Robin will fell like he could’ve had more too.

After missing all those chances to put the game to bed it was inevitable that Blackpool would find a way back into it. They ended the first half well and carried that on into the second. Five minutes into the half they got one back, Taylor-Fletcher the scorer after the referee played two advantages in the build up, one of which was Lehmann bringing down DJ Campbell in the area before the ball was put in the net. With no ‘keeper on the bench Less Mason could’ve easily sent the German off and left us in a bit of trouble but thankfully he allowed play on and didn’t go back to book Jens. Almunia was apparently injured in the warm up handing Jens a shock 200th appearance for Arsenal, which meant there was no goalie on the bench and afterwards Robin van Persie said he would’ve been putting on the gloves if Lehmann was sent off. As exciting as that would’ve been I’m glad it didn’t materialise!

As to be expected, an extended period of Blackpool pressure followed that goal and on another day we might’ve gone back to 2-2. Had that been the case and we ended up drawing I think we might’ve been waving goodbye to the title so I’m glad we held out. Wenger brought on Walcott after an hour in an attempt to keep the home side back or catch them on the break and it was the latter that worked in the 75th minute. Squillaci made a good tackle at the back and gave it to Diaby who showed good strength to keep the ball and turn up the pitch clipping it to Fabregas, he touched it first time on to Theo who was away down the wing and in a matter of seconds we had turned danger into attack. Walcott was in loads of space running freely towards goal, RVP kept up the pace and Theo was able to pick him out with a good ball and Robin made it 3-1. Game over.

There was still time for one last shock, Gael Clichy got caught in possession on the edge of the box but Lehmann did well to come out and get a good block on the shot showing that he’s still got what it takes after an otherwise fairly quiet game.

So next Sunday we face Liverpool at home and what a game that is set to be. I have to say I fancy us and hopefully we could have some players returning from injury next week. If we’re lucky we could have all of Szczesny, Djourou, Sagna and Song back making us a lot stronger in defence – or certainly less for us to worry about! Plenty of build up to that to come plus undoubtedly more news on the takeover situation. We haven’t got a game in 6 days but it’s set to be a busy week. Come back tomorrow where I will be announcing the winner of the Toffs competition, you have until midnight tonight to enter that one so make sure you get your emails in if you haven’t already.

Thanks for reading, speak to you tomorrow.

COMPETITION: Win a Toffs retro Arsenal shirt 8 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Hello to everyone on this fine, fine Friday afternoon. What a glorious day, I’ve missed this sun I really have. Sorry for those of you stuck at work, the weekend is set to be a belter too. I’m here to try and make your weekend even better by giving you the chance of winning a Toffs retro Arsenal shirt of your choice. All you have to do is answer this simple question:

    Q: What year is the earliest Arsenal shirt from that Toffs currently offer on their online store? 

    Is it: A. 1913, B. 1927 or C. 1950

If you know the answer email your entries to: competition [at] the-cannon.com replacing the [at] for an @ sign.

If you don’t know the answer well click the banner at the top and you never know, the answer just might be there. I’m not saying cheat, just look for reassurance I guess. The prize is a Toffs retro Arsenal shirt of your choice so you can have any one of those beauties, I’ve got a few myself actually and you can’t go wrong – they never go out of date because they’re already out of date! If that makes any sense.

Good luck everyone, I’ll close the competition on Monday at midnight (GMT) so get your entries in. In the last competition I ran I didn’t get loads of entries to be honest with you so give it a go you never know you might win. Please enter just the once though. The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

A quick round up of the news and we’ve got some fresh injuries surprise surprise. Song is out and Sagna and Walcott are big doubts for Blackpool. Cesc Fabregas is fit to start but it’s a shame we’ve picked up more niggles.

I’ll fully look at the news tomorrow and build up to an important game in Blackpool. Speak to you then, make sure you get those entries in.

Enjoying Madrid and trying to stay positive 6 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Tottenham fans sang “Are you watching Arsenal?” as they progressed into the quarter finals of the Champions League after a famous 0-0 home draw against AC Milan as we had been knocked out a day earlier to Barcelona. Yes, we were watching and we fully expected you to progress against of the weakest AC Milan sides in years. We were also watching when you played Inter Milan in the group stages; again, a big name side but one showing the decline in Italian football proven by the hammering they took from Schalke last night. We were watching again last night as you found out what the Champions league is really about. I’ve been anticipating this game for a while to see how Spurs got on against a side as tough as we face year in year out, and they flopped as expected.

Yeah Tottenham fans reading this will probably go straight to the comments section with something like ‘We got further than you lot! COYS!’ but you played fucking AC Milan and we played Barcelona, bit of a difference there. And in Barcelona we gave them a game for the majority of the match. Until Robin van Persie was sent off we were holding out their attacks and we could’ve gone through, it didn’t work out in the end and these things happen. However now Spurs now know what it’s like to play in Spain with 10 men and they got walked over trampled on. The 4-0 loss renders the 2nd leg pretty much useless, they might get a memorable goal but they’re not going to beat Real Madrid by a four goal margin. Not in a million years.

This day has been a long time coming, the day when Spurs found out just how hard the Champions League really is. It’s exciting, but bloody difficult. What’s also pretty hilarious is shouts of ‘We’re gonna win it’ and ‘Bring on Barcelona!’ from a few weeks ago have turned to ‘Redknapp out! He hasn’t got a clue.’ Brilliant. I can empathise with Tottenham fans, this year must’ve been exciting for them but I hope it’s their last. There’s a good chance they wont make it into Champions League next season and be back on Channel 5 where they belong. There’s one thing I enjoy nearly as much as an Arsenal win and that’s a Tottenham failure. And seeing as I haven’t seen us win for a while I’m going to enjoy this for a little bit!

Yeah you’ll probably think I’m bitter or whatever, frankly I don’t care. Football is there to be enjoyed and this is how I’m going to enjoy it. And don’t you dare bring up the whole representing Britain bullshit.

Anyway moving on to Arsenal and there really isn’t a lot to talk about hence the Spurs rant. It’s all gone a bit quiet which is probably the best thing after a third disappointing draw in a row, so you have to enjoy the little things like last night, just as much as they would’ve enjoyed our night in Spain. Unlike Tottenham, we’re still in a title race and I’m not going to give that up just yet, I’m enjoying it too much. Yeah we might have slipped up a little but I’m still hoping there’s room for United to do the same. They play Chelsea tonight in the Champions League and I’m hoping that will have some knock on effect for their weekend league game. It’s a slim hope though, their game this weekend is at home to Fulham; one look at the form guide shows that they haven’t won in their last five away games and it also shows that Man United have won all five of their most recent home matches. According to the stats it doesn’t look good, I’m expecting another three points for the league leaders but anything other than that would be a massive bonus.

We’re away to Blackpool who sit 18th in the form table but will be difficult to beat at their own ground. We’ll go into the game conscious of the fact we haven’t won in three games but this weekend is the time to rectify that. To put it simply, if we don’t then we’re out. I’m not saying we have to win every single game from here on in but if we don’t beat the lesser teams we have to play then we don’t give ourselves much of a chance.

I’m going to try and stay positive for the rest of the season. I was quite critical in my last post and I think rightly so but hopefully this week is a week for Wenger to sort things out with the team, get the most out of players and make sure we perform to our best again. We need to win on Sunday and I’m sure Wenger will be doing everything possible to make that happen this week. You have to be critical of the manager and players sometimes but now is the time to just get behind them and see what they can do in these 8 remaining games. The summer is the time to judge the team and that’s exactly what I’ll do, I think there is room for change this close season but there’s nothing we can do now so just get behind the lads, please.

The only news worth mentioning is Samir Nasri’s agent denying there has been contact from Italy about a move and saying he is happy in London. All this whilst a deal is still yet to be signed and he is just a year away from the end of his contract. I have no idea what’s going on there, whether Samir wants more money, his agent does, he’s had enough of this team, wants to play elsewhere or what the problem is, but there must be some issue otherwise he should’ve singed on by now. I’m praying a deal can be sorted because the loss of both him and Fabregas would be huge blow and I don’t know how we’d deal with it. I don’t want us to get to the situation where we have to decide whether to sell him this summer or keep him for one more year and let him go for free. Only Samir, his agent and Arsene Wenger know what’s going on but hopefully something will be sorted. After all, his agent does say in that link that he is happy here so hopefully that is the case.

There are also doubts over Gael Clichy’s future after he pulled out of talks last week. A move away has been on the cards for a while and as dodgy as he can be sometimes I’d be a little bit gutted if he left. I’ve always quite liked him and he’s shown this season that he can perform near his best but maybe his consistency has run out. I guess it’s up to the manager but I fell like we’re changing our defence far too much at the moment and a bit of familiarity would be good for us. More on those two stories as they develop.

Okay that’s it for today. More looking forward to the weekend’s game in Blackpool to come this week. Thanks for reading.

Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn – 02/04/11 – (Premier League) 3 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Well yesterday was a shit day to say the least. Watching West Ham go 2-0 up on United I was suddenly optimistic about the day’s football ahead but the league leaders showed exactly the sort of spirit, desire and fight that we so very rarely show. Arsene always goes on about our ‘spirit’ and our infamous ‘mental strength’ but more times than not I believe he’s saying that in order to make it seem true. I hate it immeasurably but we have one of the worst ‘spirits’ in the league.

It makes me quite sad that we’re in this title fight yet there is no ‘fight’ about us at all. We’re lacking leadership and togetherness and no matter how many times the manager comes out in a post match interview using those words I’m still unconvinced. The West Ham vs. Man United game was similar to our game at the Hawthorns a couple of weeks ago but United did what we should’ve done that day and showed our superior class and quality to win the game comfortably. Arsene praised the lads for coming back from 2-0 down against West brom but frankly we should never have been in that position in the first place and we didn’t do enough to come back and win. I don’t want to sound greedy but if we want to consider ourselves Champions we have to do what United did yesterday. So as you know, they won and we coughed out another draw to fall now seven points behind. My response yesterday was:

That might sound a little harsh but it’s true. Until Man United drop points we are out of this title race, seven points is a huge gap when you’re talking about a team of their quality and as you can see there’s only us and Chelsea you can see them dropping points against – and I’m not very confident about May 1st:

We knew the run in favoured them so we knew we needed to make sure we pick up three points on every possible occasion and just be hoping for good results in the other games. However from being neck and neck we’ve absolutely blown it with three draws in a row against Sunderland, West Brom and Blackburn. I had us nailed on for 9 points there and I think those 6 points dropped are what will lose us the title.

I don’t blame people for not wanting to read the Arsenal news today but those of you that are here I apologise for the negativity today I’m just being honest – I think it’s over. Unless United have some kind of collapse or drop in form it’s looking too hard for us now. I am ever the optimist but I’m also a realist. If we win our game in hand at White Hart Lane and somehow manage to beat Man Utd then we’ll be just a point behind them but who knows if we’ll still even be seven points behind them when it comes to then; one point doesn’t sound like much but that’s assuming we win all of our other games and I just don’t see that happening at all.

I should probably move on to the game yesterday, but hopefully you’ll excuse me today for looking at the big picture. I really thought we were going to win you know, with all those players back returning from injury I thought we’d find what was needed and do the job with relative ease. We started really well but one break in play was enough Blackburn needed to get back in the game. It was a bad tackle on I think Sagna that had two players down for around three minutes and the rush of energy was broken, Blackburn could take it to half time at 0-0 and from there on it always looked like being a draw. It’s like we gave up after that initial first period, it sounds crazy but it looked to me a little like we couldn’t score when we were playing well to begin with so gave up thinking we could do it. This ‘belief’ that Wenger says we have is not translating itself to the pitch.

I spoke before the game about us having to dig deep and play well. And we didn’t. I also spoke about how the crowd needs to get behind the team. And we didn’t. I wasn’t there yesterday but I know what it’s like when the team isn’t performing it’s easy to just sit there and sulk about the performance. A lack of inspiration on the field is quite contagious and can easily transfer to the fans. I just disappointed that, that happened though. We’re in a title fight for God’s sake and if we can’t cheer, sing and get behind the team now then when are we ever going to? It’s sad, it really is.

The same goes for the team though. It’s really exciting and uplifting just being involved in the title race but when you see the players on the pitch not giving everything for the cause it’s depressing. I’m so sad we haven’t shown the desire that say Man United do in this time of importance. I really thought that we had what it takes to do this but after three bad draws I question the ability of this team. I’m sorry for not talking about much of the game itself but hopefully you’ll excuse me for that. I just did watch it but thinking back to the game is still pissing me off.

I’m still hoping but for today I am going to sulk. We’re still in there and I still hope we can turn it around but today I will be like a Mother who’s child has forgot to send that card – not angry, just disappointed.

Thanks for reading, lets hope for a more positive week of blogging.

Blackburn Preview / Come on West Ham 2 April, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Things are really heating up in this title race now, we lost ground on Man United last weekend so we need to make sure we don’t drop points two games in a row otherwise we could find ourselves out of this race very quickly indeed. Man United kick off at West Ham now and if they manage to win there we will be 8 points behind the leaders going into our 5.30pm kick off this evening. In that scenario a win for us would take us back to 5 points behind with that game against Spurs in hand but if United do win I think a draw or loss for us today could be devastating.

I’m looking at this optimistically though. United lost 4-0 there in November in the Carling Cup and I don’t think they will find it easy at Upton Park today. It’s a ground where any team can drop points and West Ham will be well up for this one. I wouldn’t like to bet on this being a win, loss or a draw today – it’s one of those ones that could go either way but I’m hoping the Hammers can do us a favour and help us make some ground on the league leaders. It’s one of United’s remaining fixtures that I picked out as a potential day for dropped points and to be honest there isn’t a lot of those days so I’m really hoping West Ham can get something.

However whatever happens there we need to do the business ourselves. Whatever the result at Upton Park 3 points it’s absolutely vital for us. We just have to win as many as we can until the end of the season to give us a chance and I believe we should be winning today. Blackburn haven’t won at the Emirates in their last four visits and they’re currently without a win in seven league matches leaving them a point off the relegation zone. Now if you’re a team that’s looking to win the league like Arsenal – you have to take advantage of that and make sure you win.

The team news is good. RVP, Cesc, Walcott, Song, Diaby and Bendtner are all in the squad, just Aaron Ramsey and Denilson miss out; the new Wales captain has picked up a groin strain but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about too much. The return of Fabregas, Walcott and Song is a huge, huge boost. It’s exactly what we’ve been missing in recent weeks; the skill, vision and passion of the captain, the pace and danger of Theo and a bit of stability in defense and midfield from Song. With those three back, I fancy our chances a lot more. We’ve really missed them in recent weeks and where we’ve dropped points at West Brom and Sunderland I think they probably could’ve been avoided with those three in the side. It gives the line up a more familiar look, more stability yet more danger going forward and this afternoon I think it will look something like this:

Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Song – Wilshere
Fabregas (c)
Walcott – van Persie – Nasri

Other than the goalkeeper and centre backs that’s the best side we have, however with Song back those three will get more cover. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Almunia is going to have one of his good days, he’s shown he can do it he just needs to concentrate and make no more silly errors. He’s got the backing of the manager and a mad German waiting in the wings if he slips up again.

Blackburn have got some injury boosts of their own. David Dunn, Samba and Phil Jones are all back in the side. They’re now too somewhere near their strongest XI but I still think/hope we are better than them and will take the three points today. It’s great to be able to type that front line up of Walcott, van Persie and Nasri with Fabregas behind once again, that four will threaten any defense around and I think that will be what wins us the points today. I can see us conceding but I fancy us to score at least a couple ourselves today.

The time to start digging in was ages ago but today it’s another massive day for Arsenal. The players need to be giving their all now every single week. The fans too, we need to support the boys, get behind the team and shout and scream us all the way over the finish line. Emphasis on that word ‘support’ there, now is not the time to be criticizing and moaning – that’s not going to achieve anything. We just have to get behind them whoever is out there on the pitch. I’m talking about people like Almunia, he might not be the most popular of guys at the moment but he’s all we’ve got and we have to try and give him some confidence. I’m hoping that there will be a decent atmosphere inside the ground today, we’re at the stage now where every game is huge and I’m hoping that’s enough to generate some decent noise today.

The United vs. West Ham game has just kicked off so I’m going to wrap this up and go watch that. It’s set to be another exciting afternoon of Premier League football, I’ve missed it. Come on West Ham, come on Arsenal, lets do it.

Enjoy the game.


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