Jekyll & Hyde FC

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I dont usually write a blog so close to the end of a game. I usually wait for all the weekend/week games to help give a more objective view, but I can’t let the debacle of the Newcastle game go without some fresh thoughts.

It was the Arsenal Jekyll and Hyde we saw in spectacular fashion. Championship winning 45 minutes in the 1st half, and I don’t know how to describe the performance in the 2nd half. This is not the first time we’ve only showed up for part of a game, but even at 4-0 we all thought job done.

To lose a 4 goal lead (first time in EPL history) is unforgivable. I have blogged my views on our fate this season but even I was left dumbfounded by our capitulation. With Djourou going off injured, what a surprise AW reluctance to buy re-enforcements is going to cost us.

Why did this happen at St. James’s Park?  A few factors:

1. We can’t defend – we can’t even see out a game leading by 4 goals! How can AW not have bought a CB in the window – criminal.

2. No leader – I love Cesc but he isn’t the leader we need in this team. Someone else needs to step up/AW has to buy someone in. We need someone who could have grabbed the players by the scruff of the necks and haul them over the finish line to ensure we win. This is the 4th time recently we have let good/big leads slip – Spurs 4-4, Wigan 2-3, Spurs 2-3 and now Newcastle 4-4 – we need a big leader. Chelsea and Man Utd would never let a sizable lead slip.

3. Diaby – just because he looks like Vieira I think we all give him a chance. Well, sorry Abou, this latest incident could mean the end of your brief, stuttering Arsenal career. But can you blame him? He was certainly a silly boy, but if you watch the tackle,given previous history with his glass legs, I don’t blame him for reacting:

In this day and age you simply can’t react. Barton’s tackle was a leg breaker.And if Diaby was to be sent off – then how did Nolan stay on the pitch when he got Chesney in a head lock when our GK wouldn’t give the ball back? It was OK though, Dowd adminstered punishment – he booked Chesney!

4. Last but not least, and although I have a lot to say on this point, it is only 1 ingredient of a bad Arsenal mixture at Newcastle, Phil Dowd – supposed professional referee.

Twice in 2 weeks I can honestly say we have had the worst 2 ref performances I have seen in this country.

It wasn’t looking good when this Barton ‘tackle’ in the 1st half went completly un-punished:

He went straight through AA, but it was OK because he got the ball.

Next was that Barton tackle on Diaby that went un-punished, but for me, the final insult was the 2nd penalty decision for Newcastle (the 1st was dubious as well) –  – how on earth is this a penalty?

Again, I am not laying complete blame for this debacle on Dowd’s shoulders but he certainly didn’t help our cause!!!

Finally, I want to raise something that I heard on the Radio 5 Live’s commentary of the game in the first half that left me appalled. Danny Mills, co-commentator, said that he thought Newcastle defender Coloccini should not have allowed Theo to get past him for the 1st goal – he should have tugged his shirt or pull him down and run the risk of a red card. How can such a view be allowed to be aired publically – Mills said that Coloccini should have cheated in order to stop Theo. No wonder English football is in a state if anyone else agrees with this.

Our only bright spot so far is that United lost meaning we actually gained a point on them and keeps our Invicibles immortal for a while longer. I hope they remain immortal forever!


The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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What a week both on and off the field all around the Premier League.
For the Arsenal, the only action was on the green grass where we saw the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good was our fighting spirit as we succeeded in getting to the 5th Round of the FA Cup and, more importantly, getting 3 points against Everton.
The bad was our overall performances against Huddersfield and Everton. You need luck to win the Cup and so far we have ridden that after gutsy performances from both Leeds and Huddersfield. But we are through and that is all that matters. A good tie vs Orient lies in wait. It won’t be easy but we should be in the hat for the 6th Round.
I have to save the ugly for Lee Mason and his linesman, who since they have become Assistant Referees, have done nothing to assist! How on earth that was allowed to stand is beyond everyone in the football world except Lee Mason and the linesman. I have to quote Bill Shankly at this point:
“If a player is not interfering with play, he shouldn’t be on the pitch”
I am delighted though for Andrey, a player with undoubted ability but just hasn’t quite shined enough for us. I think it is his time to really go up a gear or two while Na Na is out. He has to start against Barca.
Also good to see Kos or Dave as he is known on the score sheet and save the day. Phew!
However, despite the good comeback, it is our lack of activity off the pitch over the last 4 weeks that will de-rail any championship bid from us. I have heard many arguments for and against AW splashing some cash. I am in the ‘for’ camp. I do appreciate AW’s and other fan’s view of that if we buy players, it stops the existing kids/players developing and where would you play them?  However injuries are just around the corner (Na Na and Song already down) and our track record of getting players back quick isn’t great (look at RVP, TV5 and TR7). My other argument ‘for’ buying is that the players are too complacent. There simply is not enough competition for places. The first team last night, bar TR7, are all sitting comfortably knowing that we lack quality in the ranks below them.
I definitely do not condone the money splashed out by Chelsea and Liverpool on Monday. There was a good article in the Standard talking about our history-less London neighbours. There they were a year or so back preaching about trying to break even/make a profit and promoting young players from within. As soon as things start to look flaky, like potentially not qualifying for the CL, Daddy Roman digs into his pocket. Astonishingly this was on the same night they ‘buried’ their announcement of recording a £70m loss, by splashing out £70m+ on 2 players.  They also sent out on loan some of their younger players. A big pack of lies from within Chelsea.
As for Liverpool, where the scouse media is having a field day and a mass love in, £35m for Andy Carroll? What would NB52 go for? I say £20m-£25m. He is a similar type of lummox player and has much more experience. The extra £10m for Carroll because he is English and therefore everyone goes nuts. Torres for Carroll – madness! If I was a Liverpool fan I would be far more excited by the arrival of Suarez. He is a class act and will score a hatful of goals.
People ask why we didn’t sign him. That is easy to answer – it is because he would have cost more than £2.50
To Newcastle it is next for the Arsenal. COYG!

Are we Tottenham in disguise?

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Back in 2002 a good Spurs supporting friend of mine was so excited to be going to Cardiff to see Spurs v Blackburn in the Carling Cup final.

Arsenal were well on course to the double that year so during that particular Wenger golden era I just could not compute how Spurs fans could get so excited over the Worthless Cup (which they lost in the end).

Roll on 9 years and there I am on a trip to Prague,sitting in a restaurant glued to my iPhone’s Yahoo Messenger staring at it for updates from my dad (@papalolly) on proceedings from The Emirates of us v Ipswich. I was beside myself especially at half time.

Of course all came good and we ‘strolled’ into the Carling Cup final where we face Birmingham.

The result was met with joyous rapture and led to renditions of ‘She wore…’ in the city centre of Prague.

But I couldn’t get my friend from 2002 out of my mind. His rationale for why he and all Spurs fans at that time were so excited rings a little too close to home for me:

He explained to me that Spurs couldn’t win the league,not in Europe (so couldn’t win the CL),weren’t in the top 4 and the FA Cup usually went to the big 4. Therefore,winning the League Cup was their ‘title’.

So here I am feeling jubilation that we are at Wembley in the worthless cup final.

It is a stark realisation of what we can only realistically win in football’s pecking order of things.If Wenger doesn’t buy (I’ll write another blog come the end of the transfer window) the league will be beyond us,we probably won’t overcome Barca in the CL,and we like to make it hard for ourselves in the FA Cup.

I feel a little like a Spurs fan.

A Two Horse Race?

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I was sitting in my car listening to Talksport asking Ray Parlour,Rob Sheppard and Kevin Kilbane whether with City and and Spurs dropping points,is it now a two horse race?

All,including me,are sceptical. They all think City still have a big say and with Spurs staring defeat in the face,getting a point at the death may galvanise them. We all know Harry was in Madrid to watch Forlan and they agreed if he came,they also will have a big say. Great story about Harry being pick pocketed whilst there.

(a good joke, what do Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp have in common? They have both lost money over Forlan)

Man Utd. finally showed a bit of flair this season by dispatching Birmingham very easily so it was important that we did the same with Wigan.I think at times it was fair to say that we were majestic and the scoreline flattered our visitors.Their GK just had a great day.

I have said since Henry left we have one world class player,Cesc Fabegras. I have always known RVP to be as well but he could only show the world and us in fits and starts.He simply gets too many injuries.IF, and it is a big IF,he stays stays fit we could take Utd all the way.I wouldn’t put money on it though.

Robin’s hatrick,like our performance was excellent and we picked up vs Wigan,where we left of vs Leeds in the FA Cup Replay.

We were,as expected, much more up for it at Elland Road than at the Emirates.All we ask is that we give it 100% every game and the performances at home vs Leeds and at Portman Road were simply very poor.

Apart from their wonder goal and a bit of pressure, Leeds didn’t do much. Nasri was superb,more in the first half than second. His goal was excellent. Lasagne continues to prove to me that he is potentially the best RB in the EPL, so it was great to see him score.

For me,the 2nd half went with a blur until to virtual ‘invisible’ Bendtner produced a world class cross for RVP to head home. Here is a great video of that goal from someone there (thanks @theRSD)

Back to Wigan at home and I think RVPs second was the pick of the bunch, taking Cesc’s through ball first time with a volley that flew past Al Habsi.

Cesc also showed that he seems back to his best as he had a say in almost everything. I am sure we will be saying goodbye to him this Summer so it is more than encouraging to see that maybe between Nasri and Wilshire that they may be able to pick up his mantle.

Oooompf!!! sorry, RVPs ball from his penalty has just landed!!

But enough of the distant future but onto the present. A big week of domestic cup action beckons with the hopeful dispatch of Ipswich. It won’t be easy. Then the romantic FA Cup tie with Huddersfield, with the history of Herbert Chapman and all that. That comment doesn’t do that man justice,but I could write a separate blog on him all by itself.

Looking forward to by ties,you gotta love the cups (when we are in them!!)

C’mon you Gunners

A View From Above

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Welcome to my new blog. I have been enthused since joining Twitter since the beginning of the World Cup last year that there are people out there willing to read what I have to say. Of course I am more than willing to read their views too.
I have called my blog ‘A View from Above’ because, apart the picture above being taken from my seat at the Emirates, I believe my views are taken from an aerial perspective – they are not always necessarily positive but what I feel is an objective view of Arsenal FC, the club I love and have supported for over 30 years and deep within my family for nearly 100 years.
I aim to write this blog weekly – taking into account all the games of the week – not writing on a knee jerk reaction to every Arsenal game. I’ll leave my thoughts on those on Twitter.  Hopefully (after I calm down) my thoughts in this blog will have that ‘view from above’ perspective.
A mixed week then. The performances vs Leeds and Ipswich were extremely disappointing. I don’t mind losing or dropping points as long as we give it our all, but I get sick when we don’t – we always get punished (quite rightly). Ipswich was the most disappointing. For the performance that we put in, we should have played the kids that were so magnificent at White Hart Lane. They would have shown more fight and spirit than the ‘first/strong team’ we saw at Portman Road. Well done though to Ipswich – a great win for them. I think though we should be too strong at home – but with luck against us, we could be punished for a very poor 1st leg showing.
I think I was similar to other Arsenal fans by wishing there weren’t 2 legs in the Carling Cup Semis, but after Wednesday, boy am I glad they are!! In truth I actually find them very unfair to the lower league teams as Wednesday showed. In one game anyone has a chance, but over two, the Premier League teams usually show their dominance. I hope we do in a couple of weeks.
After Ipswich a lot of fans were calling for a much better show against West Ham. I ‘expected’ a much better show and was glad we got it. We played well, but the Irons were truly awful. We don’t have a great record at Upton Park. They have quite a passionate crowd and it is a real London derby. But on Saturday there was simply no fight from either the team or the fans.
Of course it is related to their plight both on and off the field. I do feel for Avram Grant, and the rumours circulating before that he would be sacked after the game were in bad taste. I am glad West Ham didn’t sack him on Saturday night. Spurs then remain the club with the most un-gentlemanly act in dismissing a manager with the terrible way they sacked Martin Jol (during a game).
We did play well. It was great to see us dominate and take chances. RVP proved again how important he is to our team – but will he stay fit? Songwal Van Nasregashire on form are great and the goals from RVP and Theo were both sublime. However, for all our great play, West Ham were presented with a couple of great chances which most other teams would have taken. A warning there.
I hear that TV5 is having an operation this week. We wish him well and surely Arsene must now go shopping. If he brings in, as rumoured, either Upson or the mighty Sol, then our Scouts should retire. Surely Arsenal must be tracking a wide variety of players in all sorts of positions, and to bring in ex-players of questionable quality baffles me. I don’t think either will come back and we’ll see someone like Cahill or Per Mertesacker. But I could be wrong of course. I can never second guess what Arsene will or won’t do in the transfer windows.
I didn’t see either the Birmingham or Liverpool derbies but I did see Stratford Spurs v Manure, and the latter lived up to their name this season. How on earth are they un-beaten? They were poor, couldn’t pass and had no real ambition. They are reliant on a resilient defence which did well, squeezing Spurs inside, giving Bale and Lennon no real freedom. They also marshaled VDV and Modric well.
Although we’d all love to see their unbeaten run come to an end, a draw was ideal for us and Man City. We lay just 2 points off them and 6 over Spurs. A nice cushion. Let them and Chelsea fight for 4th.
Of course another furor resides around where Spurs will be playing football in years to come. White Hart Lane or Stratford.
Financially it makes sense for them to move. Emotionally and from a heritage point of view, they should remain in Tottenham. But I would laugh if they moved. I have spoken to many people and some who don’t quite realise our club’s South London origins and therefore haven’t realised the irony if they moved. Arsenal moved to North London in  1913 to the horror of Spurs and completed our mission of dominance 6 years later when we got promoted to the top flight at the expense of Spurs. We of course have stayed in the top flight ever since.
If Spurs moved, and I have a feeling they will, we would have pushed them out of North London. Someone said that if they moved we would always be their rivals. Sorry, we won’t. Our North London derby will be against Barnet.
My dad reminds me of when Spurs last got relegated. After the euphoria subsided, when the fixture list came out, everyone realised that there was no derby which left a huge whole. In a weird way, I think we’d all feel that too. Although after the most recent derby, I wish the fixture was obliterated forever.
A big week beckons again. Leeds at Elland road will be tough but if the team that showed up at Upton Park turn up in West Yorkshire, we will be in the 4th Round. Any kind of lack lusture display again and we will go out leaving a romantic Yorkshire derby in the next round with Leeds playing Huddersfield.
Wigan at the Emirates will also be tricky given our suspect home form but a team we should successfully navigate, keeping up the pressure at the top. All you can do is win and worry about the others after.
Until then, C’mon you Gunners!!
Thank you to @olegooner who got me on the road to blogging and I will always promote his blog – make sure you visit.

Van Nasregashire

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Sunday, 02 January 11, 11:03 PM · Comments (0)

By James Reuben (@jamesreuben)

A great win in Birmingham by the boys. Not that the Blues were any good, because they weren’t, but because we finally get a win at what has been seen as a relative ‘bogey’ ground, since the horrific Eduardo incident and Alumunia’s bird watching last season.

We didn’t quite play with the tempo we did vs Chelsea, but certainly more than on show at Wigan.RVP tried to go from hero to villain, getting involved and getting on the scoresheet, a terrible miss and a blatant handball. Cesc was always around and between him and Nana we were always going to get more. For me,I thought Jack played really well and I love what he brings to this team – persistence, determination, grit and ability. With Song playing the role of a proper DM I think we have found an excellent balance. If our new player Song Van Nasregashire performs coupled with on song AA23 and Theo, things look good for us.

So, the Transfer Window is now open and a load of rubbish starts to emanate from every possible angle around us.

I am pretty sure Wenger won’t buy anyone and because of this my stance on what will happen this season won’t change. We won’t win anything because we are frustratingly just a couple of players short of a winning squad. I think everyone knows this, except Arsene.

If we did go window shopping, who should we buy? I am not sure of who is available but I want us to bring in some real experience in key areas – all the way up and down our spine. If you look at our ‘spine’ as it stands – Almunia (don’t get me started), TV5 (where are you?), Cesc (injury prone and Barca bound) and RVP (not match sharp and once he is, will get injured) – I can’t get too excited.

All previous title winning teams had solid spines and we need to beef ours up pronto. Some good examples:

Seaman – Adams – Vieira – Anelka
Seaman – Campbell – Vieira – Henry
Cech – Terry – Lampard – Drogba
Schmeichel – Bruce – Keane – Cole

I hear Beckham could join the Spuds on loan. I would love him at Arsenal – not really because of what he would bring on the pitch but what he could bring off it – global commerciality, global recognition, and experience and guidance to our youthful squad. I am sure Wenger will cite his wages and the un-willingness to dislodge someone within the squad. For 2 months, just bite those bullets and bring him in – with shirt sales alone, his 2 months wages will be more than covered in one week and his experience to the squad would be invaluable. He could teach our wingers/FBs how to cross, teach the CBs how to defend against them, teach RVP, Cesc and NaNa how to take world class free-kicks and show Flappy and Chesney how to save’em! But Wenger won’t bring him in and the Board won’t realise the trick they will miss in make Arsenal some good dough and help our brand across the world.

Around the Premier League – I enjoyed seeing Chelsea squander more points – blimey how the mighty fall. I like Ancellotti but his days must be numbered with the ruthless Roman lurking about. I will be extremely miffed if Man Utd go all season unbeaten. They are very average but have that ability and luck to win or draw games where they shouldn’t (like at WBA). Spurs keep winning which is becoming annoying, hope that doesn’t last!

City to come to Emirates next – the amount of games over the holiday period is obscene because we don’t have a chance to basque in any glory (like v Chelsea) but it does help us get over any rubbish performances (like v Wigan). City are good on the road, but all I ask is that we show the same tempo and desire like we did v Chelsea. If we do, we have an excellent chance of taking all 3 points. If we don’t, we will probably be punished.

C’mon you Gunners!!!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad