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I have not gone into hiding 29 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

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.

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

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

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.

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Jenkinson
Frimpong – Ramsey
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.

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.

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!

Udinese Preview: We’re looking short already 16 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Tonight is the inconvenient yet incredibly important Champions League qualifier. We haven’t had any problems with this fixture in recent years racking up aggregate scores of 5 or 6 goals but if we did ever come unstuck it would be a disaster to go out at this stage. In a period where we need to be attracting some big talent to the club, if the lure of Champions League football is not there we will struggle to make any strong additions.

Udinese could prove to be one of our tougher qualifiers, they’re a decent side finishing 4th in Italy last year and they have Di Natale who was top scorer in Serie A last season. We will still go into this match as favorites but Udinese will be no walkover.

We could talk about their strengths and weaknesses but I’m a little bit worried about the state of our own side. We’re missing a fair number of vital names and I’m just got my fingers crossed that we can cope without them.

Obviously, we’re without Fabregas (I must make note of not saying this again), van Persie and Nasri are suspended, Wilshere and Diaby are injured and Rosicky will face a late fitness test. To add to that Wenger also has a touch-line ban meaning he will undoubtedly move from the bench to two rows behind with the fans in Block 1. It’s still an inconvenience though, it means he can’t stand there arms folded glaring when we’re not doing well.

Those handful of players missing illustrate just how thin this squad is. Without Robin we’ve got Chamakh, Gervinho or even Bendtner who need to perform through the middle. Chamakh hasn’t really impressed that often since his run of form around this time last year, Gervinho obviously has just joined and we can’t rely on him yet and Bendtner has had one foot out the door all summer.

Also with Wilshere, Nasri, Diaby and potentially Rosicky out it means the midfield will have to be three of Song, Ramsey, Frimpong and Lansbury. We really need reinforcements in this area. Hopefully Wenger will be working on bringing in a midfield replacement in the next two weeks because that is a very light looking midfield indeed.

What worries me more though is come the weekend you can add Song and Gervinho to that list of absentees, as they’re both banned from the incidents at St. James’ Park. Wenger says a lot of crap but when he says things like ‘this squad is massive’ it infuriates me. Hopefully it’s just part of the spew he dishes out to the press because we have far from a ‘massive’ squad. Hopefully we can get through these next few games with what we have while we look to bring more men in.

All this goes without saying that Wilshere could be ‘Vermaelened’. Every limb in my body is crossed that this is not the case.

So with that, here’s how I think we will line up tonight:

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs
Song – Lansbury
Walcott – Gervinho – Arshavin

With that team we could have Song playing his normal defensive midfield role, Lansbury providing the bridge between defending and attack and Ramsey playing that ‘Cesc role’ (another term that needs to be eradicated) that he did rather well in against Man United last season. Up front a lot of people are predicting Chamakh at centre forward but I think it might be Gervinho. The way Wenger has been talking him up suggests he rates him a lot and with his three match domestic ban coming up he might as well play him now and not worry about having resting him.

I’ve gone for Vermaelen as captain and I hope that is the case for the coming season. I’m fairly confident that van Persie will be handed the armband but I’d like to see Belgian take the position. We’ve been missing a captain with his attitude for a long time and I’d hope that his presence in that position could inspire the team in games which we start to lack focus and commitment. As I said I still think it’ll be Robin but I’d like to see Wenger surprise a few people and pick Thomas.

Edit: Robin van Persie named new Arsenal captain. No surprises there then, Wenger says Vermaelen will work with hi as his vice and I guess everyone can be leaders on the pitch they don’t need to wear the armband. Good luck to Robin, he is a proper Gooner after all.

As worried as I am about our squad, I think we should be good enough to get a result tonight – especially at home. A goal, or two or even three would be great but we need to make sure we don’t concede. That defence did well against Newcastle at the weekend so I trust them to give another solid display tonight. I haven’t mentioned the defence in this post because we have no injuries to the first choice pick but if you think about it there’s no one behind them really. Wenger really needs to get spending, and quick. So many departments need addressing it’s rather worrying. However as he would say, the time now is to focus on the upcoming game and not potential ins and outs.

I’m looking forward to my first competitive game back at the Emirates tonight. There were some bad memories there last season but hopefully I’ve left those behind with my old seat and a change of scenery might bring around a change of fortune. I’m in Block 6 nowadays and I’m looking forward to a bit of sing-song later on, but wherever you’re sat whether it be around the stadium, at the pub or at home get behind the boys because this game is hugely important.

Thanks for reading. Come on Arsenal!

Thanks and goodbye, Cesc. 15 August, 2011

Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.

Well today has been a long time coming but no one can really be surprised about the departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. The biggest surprise really is that it has taken this long; I was convinced he’d go last year and even more surprised that we left it this late to finally accept Barcelona’s measly offer.

We’re receiving just €29m that could rise to about €35m which means he’s left for little more than Andy Carroll cost Liverpool. The extra fees come from €1m over 5 years from Cesc himself and the extra cash is paid if Barcelona win something like two La Liga titles and a Champions League.

As rubbish as the fee is we’ve received for one of the best midfielders in the world, this transfer has never been about money. We never at any stage have been desperate for cash and unlike so many transfers recently the player himself has not left for wage reasons, in fact I believe he’s on less money at his new club. This transfer has always been about the simple request of a man to return to his home town.

We’ve always known that Cesc would one day go home; maybe some of us just hoped it wouldn’t have been so soon. His departure is nothing against Arsenal in any way, I believed him when he said in today’s press conference that he will always have Arsenal in his heart, he will always be a Gooner and will continue to watch Arsenal play whether it be on TV or in person. Call me a sucker but I believe that.

Some people are a little pissed off about Cesc’s actions but put yourselves in his boots. Imagine you joined the Arsenal academy as a youngster, took up an opportunity abroad and loved it, developed well and became their best player. Then halfway through your career Arsenal came calling back asking you to come home, you’d jump at the chance wouldn’t you? Seeing Cesc kissing the Barcelona badge today hurt, but I’m not mad at him for that – it’s his club and his home town.

So today instead of anger and resentment I’m full of sadness and thanks. We’ve been lucky to have Fabregas at our club, we’ve been lucky that we managed to pick him from Barcelona and have him develop to our benefit. Those 8 years have included some wonderful memories. From the early days watching this Spanish kid break into the team with all this potential, to putting Vieira on his arse in his comeback game, to all the performances and goals against Tottenham, the massive goals in the Champions League vs. Milan, Barca and others, the 3-2 winner over Bolton and the late equaliser against Sunderland, these are all just a few things that come to the top of my head, there are countless more special moments to look back on. It’s not just the goals and the highlights that you can look back fondly on but every single minute he was on the pitch for Arsenal, with or without the armband he gave everything and it was that spirit for which he was so loved.

Cesc also said today that his biggest regret was not lifting any trophies as Arsenal captain and I think that is echoed by the fans. It would’ve been great to see Cesc of all people lead us to our first piece of silverware since 2005 but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

So thanks for everything, Cesc. As much as I loathe your new employers there will not be any bitterness from me towards you. Just please, don’t turn into a cunt like some of your new colleagues.

So, time to move on. After losing your best player, for any club attention must turn to who you are going to bring in. Unfortunately, tonight is not that time because there are more departures on the cards. Samir Nasri could also leaving in the next few weeks and what a tragedy it would be to lose both he and Cesc in one summer. Well it’s a terrifying reality. It seems Samir ‘Na-Na-Na-Na’ Nasri has already lost his favour with the fans as a section of away fans this weekend turned his chant from, “Samir Nas-er-i – Nas-er-i” to, “Samir you’re a cunt – you’re a cunt!” To which he has replied to on twitter today:

I heard what the fans were singing about me on saturday and it is really disrespectful because i’m still a arsenal player

I can’t condone the chants myself. Samir is right actually, while he remains a player of the club we should be more respectful. I’m not saying those fans should be silenced because they can sing what they like they’ve paid to be there but I think they should consider their words. I don’t think he’s a cunt, I just think he’s very money hungry and shallow. I’m gutted about Samir I really am because he showed for a couple of months last season how good he can be but he’s got a bit big for his boots requesting the kind of money he’s after. Maybe we’ll let him have his wish and move him on to City or maybe we’ll keep him, move him into Cesc’s vacant position and hope he and the fans can repair their relationship. We’ll wait and see.

One more departure looks close to completion this week and that Emmanuel Eboue to Galatasaray. The club have confirmed they are in negotiations so unless anything drastic happens I reckon this will be done in the next couple of days. With Eboue going and Traore going off injured for the reserves tonight it highlights just how weak we are in the wing back positions. And I don’t care what Arsene thinks Carl Jenkinson is not ready for regular League and European action.

That should do it for tonight, more on who we need to bring in and who looks to be going out soon. Sorry about lack of updates recently, it’s been a difficult period for me. I’ll be back tomorrow for an Udinese preview.

Until then.


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