Archive for December, 2009

Twas the night before Christmas…

Add comment December 24th, 2009

…and I was still wrapping presents because my Amazon delivery was late in arriving.

The only Arsenal news is that we’ve been charged by the FA for failing to control our players, like some kind of neglectful parent.  When we’re found guilty there’ll be a fine to pay and that’ll be that.

Have a good Christmas one and all and I’ll be back with a Boxing Day blog.

Some yuletide snippets + a striker suggestion

2 comments December 23rd, 2009

Season’s Greetings to you all.  Yesterday Arsene Wenger took part in an online webchat, which brought us a stockingful of headlines in what would otherwise be a very quiet week.

First a round-up of other news: impressive teenage goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will spend a further month with Brentford.  This kid is a big talent, mark my words.  His performances in League One have been excellent, keeping three clean sheets in his six games there thus far.  He’s been so good, in fact, that one almost wishes we’d bring him back…

Another player who could be heading out on loan is Jack Wilshere.  Burnley boss Owen Coyle has been talking about his admiration for the lad, but there’ll certainly be other teams interested in him.  I’d be curious to see what sort of impact Jack would make in a team lower down the league – my early suspicion is that he might struggle without players of the calibre he is used to around him, which is why I’d be keen for him to continue his development with us.

Now for some hilariously mixed messages from Arsene Wenger and Abou Diaby.  Arsene has yet again pointed out that Diaby is, unlike Patrick Vieira (another tall black Frenchman), not a defensive-minded player.  Elsewhere, Diaby is spouting his defensive credentials and touting himself as a potential replacement for Alex Song during the African Cup of Nations.  Diaby’s talents are best employed further up the field – that holding role is far more likely to go to Denilson.

In yesterday’s webchat, Arsene broke the bad but ultimately unsurprising news that Robin van Persie may not play again the season.  That obviously turns the mind to potential replacements and the January transfer window.  Arsene has stated that he would buy a cup-tied player at the midpoint in the season, citing the example of Andrey Arshavin’s impact last season.

So who, if anyone, might we look to bring in?  I can’t claim this as an original suggestion, but what about Everton’s Louis Saha?  He has ten Premier League goals already this season, and is showing signs of the form that saw him succeed at Fulham and in his early days at United.  He is strong, quick, good in the air and an excellent finisher.  He also has plenty of experience in leading the line alone.  Crucially, his contract is up at the end of the season, so he might be available for a knockdown fee – and, as far as I understand the rules regarding Europa League participation, he’s not cup-tied for the Champions League.

The one obvious downside?  Saha’s injury proneness.  We could just be replacing one sicknote forward with another.  A stringent medical would be required, and even then his age would and previous record would make him a gamble.  He is, however, a proven Premier League striker.  We could certainly do worse.

Arsenal 3 – 0 Hull: Another good weekend for Arsenal

Add comment December 21st, 2009

Arsenal 3 – 0 Hull (Denilson 45, Eduardo 59, Diaby 80)
Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

For forty odd minutes, this was about as enjoyable to watch as an ITV special entitled ‘An Audience with Steve McClaren’.  Then Arsenal were sparked in to life by the sort of antics that made our most successful teams infamous.

After a free-kick was awarded some thirty yards out, Samir Nasri deliberately trod on the foot of Richard Garcia.  This sparked a melee in which Nick Barmby raised his hands to the Frenchman while the likes of Song, Silvestre and Arshavin attempted to play peace-keeper.

Nasri’s petulance could see him charged.  Whilst a three game ban would be irritating in the extreme, his spikiness doubtless sparked us in to a performance.  Before half-time we had squeaked in to an undeserved lead.  Another free-kick was awarded within shooting range, but Denilson lined up behind it.  As the Emirates heaved a collective sigh, the Brazilian reminded us all of his national heritage by stepping up and curling a lovely effort over the wall and in to the net.  One can only assume he was trying to cross.  Seriously though, a marvellous strike and just what was needed to break the deadlock in a stagnant first-half.

The game turned on a couple of minutes not long in to the second half.  Hull were awarded a penalty for alleged shirt-pulling by Silvestre.  Geovanni stepped up but his poor effort was saved by Almunia.  No matter, for the Brazilian seemed to be on hand to nod in the rebound – only for a diving header from team-mate Stephen Hunt to inexplicably prevent him from scoring.

We promptly went right up the other end and killed the game.  A beautiful one-two between Diaby and Song ended with the former crossing for Eduardo to tap in from a yard.  Hopefully that’ll give his confidence a boost.

Diaby was running riot and added the third himself, receiving Andrey Arshavin’s return pass, holding off the defender, and thumping a strike in off the keeper.

There could arguably have been more – sub Theo Walcott showed his pace to twice get in behind the defence, before showing his rustiness by missing on both occasions.

With Chelsea and United both dropping points it’s been another good weekend for Arsenal.  Next week against Villa will provide a greater test.

Give Hull Hell

Add comment December 19th, 2009

Phil Brown’s a-coming. After his behaviour in our meetings with Hull last season, he and his assistant Brian Horton need to meet quite the reception this afternoon.

There are lots of decent men in football.  Phil Brown isn’t one of them.  He’s an insufferably arrogant man.  The sooner he is ought of the Premier League the better.  Let’s give him an unhelpful hand towards the relegation zone.

Much as I would take pleasure from that, it’s worth remembering that after only drawing at Burnley we’re badly in need of three points ourselves.

Cesc and Traore both have a chance of being fit to face Aston Villa, but will miss today.  Denilson, however, is available and could join Diaby and Song in central midfield.  However, I’d be tempted to put one of Nasri or Ramsey in the middle to add a touch more creativity.

In transfer news, Jack Wilshere could join Burnley on loan, whilst Arsene says he will only buy if he finds a player of sufficient quality.  It’s even trickier than that: they have to be of the sufficient quality, the right price, and ideally not be cup-tied.

Speaking of cups, the Champions League draw saw us up against familiar foe Porto, which looks a very reasonable tie, especially compared to the challenges faced by the other English sides.

Winning today is vital.  Come On You Reds.

Inter & Bayern the teams to avoid in today’s draw

11 comments December 18th, 2009

In just a few minutes time, we’ll have the draw for the final sixteen of the of the Champions League.  As Group Winners, Arsenal will face one of AC Milan, Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, FC Porto, Lyon, Inter Milan, or Stuttgart.

Ahead of the draw Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has named Bayern and Inter as the trickiest draws in the Runners-up pot, and it’s hard to disagree.  That said, I wouldn’t fancy a tie against either Lyon or CSKA.  If Fortune is smiling on us, we’ll end up with FC Porto or Christian Gross’s Stuttgart.

Obviously, as our injury record this season shows, Fate hates us.  Expect a reunion with our friend Jose.

We’re all waiting nervously for news that could arguably be more significant in our season than the outcome of today’s draw: the result of Cesc’s scans.  Fortunately, the early signs are good:

“Cesc had a scan (on Thursday). We have not had the result yet. The only thing that is sure is that he will not play on Saturday. Beyond that, it all depends on the scan. Is it a tightness that just presents a small risk on Saturday or is it a slight strain – grade one or two? We’ll know that later. If it is a tear it is a small one and the maximum would be 10 days. So it is not long term.”

Fab news.  Literally.  Hopefully we’ll get confirmation that Cesc is going to be back harder faster better sooner in Arsene’s press conference this afternoon.

Join me on twitter for coverage of the draw.

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