Arteta Hints At Mental Strength In The Simplicity Of It All

It’s the lunacy that gets to you in the end. It’s been creeping in for a while, manifesting in the bold promise that there would be a preview of the Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund this morning. There won’t, it will be tomorrow. The idiocy is a contagion though, not limited to the premature senility of a blogger. The media have it as well; Ancelotti to replace Wenger? Wenger to replace Capello? The latter is a hint of treason; King ‘Arry cannot be stopped, not even by Her Majesty’s finest.

These presume to continue with the story that Wenger is in the death throes of his Arsenal reign. It is an interesting interpretation of the phrase ‘short-term‘ that the Frenchman used to describe his managerial tenure at the club. It would be strange if a 62 year-old man who has professed no desire to manage into his 70s, referred to his career as anything other than short-term. Replacing him is going to be a poisoned chalice. Much like Liverpool found when Roy Evans ended the reign of the fabled Anfield Boot Room, promoting from within is not necessarily the best option. Ask Wilf McGuiness what it is like to be an unknown replacing a legend. Ancelotti or his ilk will be the calibre coming in.

The players will adapt but it takes time. Wenger does things differently. Mikael Arteta attests in The Times this morning,

Players aren’t weighed down with 40 different instructions. Wenger gives a player six or seven clear ideas and that’s it, in 20 minutes you know what you’re doing. If I try and replace Cesc, that’s where it will go wrong. I’ve been here weeks, he was at Arsenal for eight years, it would be impossible for me to replace him in that sense

In other words, Keep It Simple, Stupid. Except for the last word of course, Wenger is famed for requiring intelligent footballers. Whilst they are at Arsenal of course, departing the club seems to bring out the stereotypical stupidity. Doesn’t it Mr Bendtner?

Back to Arteta. He is ramming home the message he is not Cesc-lite. The current trio in midfield have gelled into a cohesive unit with Song and the Spaniard’s combined experience compensating for the exuberance of Ramsey’s youth and his sometimes casual approach to possession. Those injured and recovering have a tough job to replace the current incumbents. Why would Wenger change a winning team? Many believe – not myself I hasten to add – that Diaby is a definite starter. I cannot see it. Many believe – myself included – that Wilshere will be a definite starter in the New Year but is that the case? You would not have thought of Arshavin struggling to get into the starting line-up but Gervinho has taken his chance there. Missing them on the pitch, mind, but as a provider he is on a par with the Russian.

Wenger has always tried to make Arsenal impose their game on others. It has mixed results, normally working but when it doesn’t, it backfires spectacularly and that is not just limited to this season either. However, sometimes those games where it goes wrong are cathartic. The recent run has been stronger because of them. Arteta hints at more unity behind the scenes,

The dressing room is a mirror of the bad times a team have out on the pitch, or rather that spell of 15, 20, 75 minutes even, when the team really suffer. In those moments you look at how your team-mates react, the looks between them – that tells you everything. When all seems lost a good dressing room pulls together. That’s invaluable.

How many times in the past has the dressing room been accused of being too nice a place to be in? A different, more confrontational leader in van Persie will change the dynamic, as well as new, more experienced personnel who want to be at the club. Looking back at last season, you wonder if half of the problem as Winter turned to Spring, was that certain key players had decided to leave and simply had no enthusiasm for the fight? Combine that with the fickleness of youthful confidence and the implosion which followed, is hardly surprising.

The fragility has not entirely gone but persistence in pursuit of victory is not the sign of a weak squad. Gradually the defeats at the start of the season are being erased from conscious thought. The lessons are more or less learned and being put into consistent practice. Individual errors will always happen, the key is not to repeat them. Once that happens, anything is possible. Well, not anything but the impossible seems less unrealistic.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on November 22, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 246 Comments.

  1. I beat bigbrovar bloody ell!

  2. And still lost!

  3. Feels like I conceded in injury time

  4. Oh brother, where art thou?

  5. Keep it simple indeed. I wonder what McLeish tells his team.

  6. Yogi,

    I would agree about Jack (laughed to hear about his anti-Spuds bet!) being an immediate starter. As for Diaby, I think it’ll take him going the rest of the season uninjured and performing consistently when brought on in order for him to convince Arsene and earn his place as a starter. Given these conditions, I share the faith of those that see his potential success here.

    COYG

  7. Thanks for that kick off YW

    There is plenty of lunacy around with commentators and pundits, but much of it has its own mediocre, self interested reasoning: For Arsenal, unless we win every match and put some silverware away at the end of the season we will be deemed to be failures and every mistake will be over analysed and overstated, it is the tabloid price of undefeated success.

    We were truly great.

    Times have changed, it is not as it was, obscene money has taken over a few clubs, but we still have that reputation hanging over us and until Wenger goes, that will continue, he set that standard. It could be worse though, we could have done nothing and be like Tottenhots with absolutely no reputation at all weighing on their unexpectant shoulders.

    Arteta’s points about simplicity are amazingly revealing about skilful management. Wenger likes intelligent players and keeps instructions simple. It explains everything from why England did so well under the basics of Ericson and why they struggle with so much expectation of what their game should be, to why it is so hard to get your kid to do anything from the touchline like tracking back, which seems utterly obvious to you.

    There is a popular myth that we only use 10% of our brains and there are vast untapped resources waiting there for us to harness. It is nonsense. As one scientist wrote ‘a cell that does nothing is dead and dead cells are dangerous’.

    It turns out we are mentally stretched driving a car or making complex football manoeuvres. Ask us to try and concentrate on anything else, like thinking about the ramifications of just having let a goal in while we are doing it, and we soon suffer concentration collapses.

    Training is what takes the pressure away from the mental processes and support from your team mates and fans is what takes away the pressure you load on yourself if you screw up.

    Simplicity in the heat of it is key, what goes into making the instructions simple is the hard bit.

    Long Live AW

  8. I like diabby, he is perhaps the most naturally gifted footballer we currently have, even more skilful than lil jack. Shame about his injury record, if he pulls it together he has everything in his locker to be world class. Strength skill size good pace for a midfielder he just needs the rub of the green like rvp this season. He can also play behind rvp as a false number 9 as well as cm, in short a typical wenger player versatile creative, maybe he will come good like rvp!

  9. If we the midfielders that are playing now are all fit, then I think it would be good for Wilshere and Diaby to be brought slowly back to fitness through some reserve team football. This would enable them to work on their fitness while getting some actual match time in a less intense environment and have the side effect of passing on some of their experience to the younger players in the reserve side. Especially Diaby, I would have though 5 games minimum for him (possibly up to 10) working through 20, 30, 45, 60 minutes etc. up to playing at least a couple of full 90 minute games before he’s even considered for the first team. If he comes back next season and can play a full season it would be much better for him and the club rather than putting him straight back intot he first team squad playing in the intensity of the premier league. Wilshere I could see back in a shorter timescale, but if Song, Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Benayoun, Coquelin and Frimpong are all fit then I see no reason to rush either back at all.

  10. Just to labour the point about simplicity.

    Big Brov’s dominance was overthrown by a simple piece of information released by YW a couple of weeks ago, (which was about following the site on Twitter, letting them inform you of the post or something like that.)

    The simplest piece of information gives us all the opportunity to compete with the ‘first’ on this site, hence improving all of our performances and ensuring dominance by an individual is no longer assured.

    Brilliant management YW: the result will inevitably be diminishment of the practice.

    And you say you can’t do anything about Idiocy!

  11. Runebreaker and Block4,

    I agree both on Diaby’s potential and on the need to take our time in getting him back. Fingers crossed, his experience with the club gets better as his health and match time increase!

    Jack I expect back sooner.

    Happy days

  12. YW – Good write up. Your comments on RvP benig more “confrontational” are interesting. I have long thought that one of the problems that we have suffered with for the past few years is lack of responsibility by some players. People never really seemed to be held to account for lax play by their teamates. Maybe with a bit more experience in the dressing room this culture is starting to change.

    A great example of this was the lge game that Jens played last year. The Blackpool winger beat Sanga and got his cross in. Sanga had got back though and blocked the cross which went out for a corner. I noticed Lehmann giving Diaby a right earful in the penalty box as he had let “his man” get goal side of him. Jens bollocked him even though the cross did not even make it into the box. That is the sort of thing we having been missing for year IMO.

  13. Absolutely agree with you Runebreaker about Diaby. As he’s back in training this is worth having a look at.

    Get rid of Diaby, he’s too inconsistent and injury prone…It’s a discussion that a lot of Arsenal fans go through.

    Let’s take his ability first. For me, he possess a subtle technique in tight areas and running with the ball which can never be taught, it is a sublime gift for a footballer. Added to that he has a great strike on him, and has a good engine. He’s ideally suited to the attacking midfield role.

    There are areas he can improve on, he needs to release the ball quicker and drifts in and out of a game. But if he has a consistent run of games in his favoured position, then I believe we have a world class player on our hands.

    As to his injury problems, it mostly stemmed from that leg break at Birmingham, whilst playing for The Arsenal. So he has my sympathy on that. Furthermore, unlike Eduardo, he doesn’t seem to have lost any crucial ability when fit. Robin and Rosicky is back from years of injuries, let’s give Diaby a chance.

    How many top class attacking midfielders are available worldwide? More importantly, we lost a world class player in Cesc. Ramsey is a good player but he’s still has a lot to learn. Wilshere is more suited for the Arteta role. Step forward Abou.

  14. @ Runebreaker,
    I liked the sentiments you expressed about Diaby, with which I totally agree. It’s not his fault that persistent injuries have blighted his career at Arsenal. If only we can have a period without hurt, I’m convinced we will see him emerge as yet another legend in the history of our great Club.

  15. I’d agree with your dressing room ruminations Yogi.

    There was someting rotten there last season and it wasn’t just the ‘Great Dane’. I like the cut of Arteta’s jib, was he this vocal at Everton?

    A good clear out of the uncommitted works wonders in my experience.

  16. Really intresting read agree JW should be brought in as soon as he is fit but Diaby should not be rushed back.

  17. @block4 The problem with bringing them back slowly is that there’s reserve league matches are few and far inbetween. After tonight’s match there is only 3 games left this year.

    To get Diaby 5 reserve matches it would take till the middle of January.

  18. Regardless of who starts, there are going to be some big names not even making the benchh when we get Diaby and Wilshere back.

  19. The best part is that two months ago Diaby and Jack would have been definite starters,now,there is at least an argument and alternative………it shows the club is in good nick.
    There is even debate on our best two central defenders……who’d have thought?
    We just need one more top striker and we are set.

  20. Diaby broke his leg up at Sunderland, not Brum.

  21. IMO neither Jack or Diaby should be rushed back, for 2 different reasons. Jack because hes a young lad and we dont want being too eager to damage him long term. And Diaby because he has been damaged long term and needs to be eased back into the fold. Diaby is back in training so he should be back soon. I will say though that as much as i like Diaby i really do feel when he comes back his Arsenal future hinges on him staying fit. Do that and he will have a future here. Relapse and i think it may just be the end. So initially we have a player to come in for Rambo for 20 mins or do per game, which will only help Rambo while in turn easing Diaby in. It will be up to them then to see who deserves to start. Then with Jack back we have again initially a player to come in for Arteta near the end of games and then a fight for a starting berth.

  22. I actually prefer Diaby playing deeper (ie, where Arteta is playing). When he picks the ball up deep, or breaks up an attack, and bursts forward he really takes some stopping. He is more suited to being a box to box player, than somebody to sit behind the main striker IMO.

  23. Too many midfielders, not enough time.

    I’ve never missed Nasri, or has that been put to bed?

  24. Fungunner,

    “Another difference I notice is that this squad can turn games around. Whether it’s that the listen to the half-time talk more, or AW is doing something different, or they’re just more motivated, they can come out in the second half and play differently to how they played in the first half, change gear, execute different tactics. Last season, especially towards the end, I always felt that AW struggled to get through to them or to get them to change anything – the odd flurry aside, they finished a game the way they started it. Is that fair, do you think?”

    I think Yogi’s post and consolsbob thoughts about the rotten apples answers this question. We have heard the word mental strength alot in the last couple of seasons but i believe we are seeing it more and more in this new team (cliche i know but true) . Plus as several players have stated there is a new found unity within the team which has been crucial in our revitalization. I think the best thing that has happened to us in the summer gone by is letting go of people that didnt want to be here in the first place.

    I believe both Diaby and Wilshire can be starters but all that depends on how good they are when they come back and how their current replacements are playing because if either Arteta (Jacks replacement in my opinion) and Ramsey (Diaby’s) are on form and doing great then, it would be unfair to drop them just because some people’s favourites are back from injury. As many have suggested easing them in with 20mins of play time here and there would be ideal for either. In any case with our injury record and the many games we play I believe they will get their comeback chances soon enough.

  25. Sorry to break the thread about Diaby but I notice the English press are really ramping up the hype about the championship form of the Totts (and by implication Harry for England). One suspects the talk is geared at baiting Arsenal fans and I have bitten. I didn’t see their game yesterday, but for those who did, are they real contenders? Just wondering.

  26. Shotta – I don’t think they are contenders as their overall squad is not that strong. They were certainly very good last night though. They have a good 1st 11. Parker and Modric dominated the midfield, and Adebayor up front ran his socks off (won’t last). The lad at right back Kyle Walker looks an excellent player.

    Interesting to see people thoughts on Diaby/Wilshere in regards to positioning. I think Wilshere is more suited to being the advanced midfielder. He is certainly a more “clever” player that Diaby. I think Arsene has played Jack deeper so far, but I think this is to give him a more rounded game. For me, he is the most natural plaer in the squad to play as the advanced midfielder.

  27. I wish Diaby was back now. Song needs a rest and while Diaby wouldn’t be the ideal replacement I reckon if Rosicky, Arteta and Diaby started in midfield against Dortmund we wouldn’t miss Song as much.

  28. ga – I have a gooner sibling who thinks they have a good squad but, like you, I believe they lack strength in depth.

    Re Diaby and Wilsher I agree they are two different types of midfielders. I think more “clever” is a wrong characterization. They both like to take their opponents on with clever tricks.

  29. Shotta, to be fair to Spurs they are playing great stuff, but are slim on the ground. Thier record at the lane is becomimg quite impressive. 9 wins from 10 and 6 points off the top coming into Christmas, to dismiss them as title contenders would be foolish. Especially as there next 4 see games against WBA, Stoke, Sunderland and Bolton.

    They will add in Jan too – of that we can be sure.

  30. Darius – You need to sue Rory Smith of The Independent. He has borrowed your nickname for David Luiz without any attribution:
    “Those who have noted the similarity with Bob, the villainous clown of Simpsons fame, will be pleased that David Luiz, his doppelgänger, has developed into something of a sideshow.

    As usual the pundits are six months behind ACLF.

  31. Shotta – Yeah, maybe a bad desciption. Wilshere is more likely to spot an incisive pass maybe? I think Diaby can cause more danger running from deep, and I just see Wilshere playing further forward.

  32. Love the post, YW, and agree especially with the last two paras. And the parts about the dressing room.

    @ SA Gooner
    I agree with what you say about the value of a few simple instructions – AW doesn’t have to try to cover every eventuality when he instructs his players. The players feel trusted to use their instructions as a basis for making their own decisions on the pitch. RvP must love that.

    @ Runebreaker | November 22, 2011 at 7:43 am & Gunner Young
    Great posts – we have another special player there and let’s pray this is the season he finally breaks free of the legacy of that horrible tackle.

    @ Block4
    Re Diaby and Wilshere, we do need to bring them back slowly, but might as well do it in first team games.

    @ Scott
    Agree about the mouthwatering choice. And so far, most of the squad have delivered when called on. Last season, we had great depth on paper in most areas but it didn’t work out so well on the pitch for reasons which have been well rehearsed.

  33. @ firstlady
    I’ve been thinking about it myself as well, and another reason for being able to react and turn a match around is leadership – RvP’s, TV’s, Arteta’s, Song’s… And of course experience. Our squad’s average age may be lower, but the age and experience of our first team might be higher. Just another thought, anyway.

  34. Fun – Don’t forget Mertesacker.

  35. Minimalistic man management. Reminds me of van Persie’s recent story on his 100 goals DVD of how Wenger made him a better player simply by asking a question. When you are capable of asking the right questions of an intelligent player you don’t have to say much else at all. As SA Gooner says “what goes into making the instructions simple is the hard bit”. Wenger is a master.

  36. dammit!cant believe i’ve got tears in me eyes after reading the full transcript of the interview wenger gave to l’eqipe on arseblog news. that man is beyond class.

  37. @ ace | November 22, 2011 at 10:59 am
    Yes indeed. When we step back and look at our club in the round, we are very lucky indeed.

    @ firstlady
    Just realised that was not really “another” thought! but anyway – being able to change what they are doing is a welcome change from the end of last year.

  38. @ fungunner no worries :D.

    Ace I got around to reading it this morning and I felt the same way you do. We are lucky to have him, even his humbleness comes through the interview.

    Not to repeat the old news on the Mert blunder/ foul but I noticed Wenger wasnt very impressed by the ref as he was on the 4th official making known his complaints. He obviously thought it was a foul.

  39. @Wengerball, I did say that even getting Diaby back to full fitness (and by that I mean playing 90 minutes twice a week) by next season would be good enough. The schedule of reserve games allows for plenty of rest and conditioning work in between. I’m looking way long term for him, he’s only 25 after all.

    @Fungunner, Playing a few games in the reserves would be ideal, like I said, lower intensity and pressure. In first team games you have to be going at 100% from the moment you step into the game.

    On last nights game, yest Spurs were very good, but I really have no idea what McLeish was playing at. He picked a team that were beaten before they took the field, six defenders, three forwards and a solitary midfielder (and a defensive one at that in Petrov), once they went behind there was no chance and even then he wouldn’t bring on N’Zogbia to give them a bit of attacking flair. Fucking hell, even I could pick a Villa team off the top of my head to give Spurs more of a game, at least go down with a fight. I do agree though, that behind Spurs’ first XI there isn’t that much, if King, Modric, Parker or Van Der Vaart are out then they’ll have problems.

  40. To be fair, if you could play Aston Villa the way they set up last night 38 times a season, you would be champions.

    Talk about pathetic, The Villa fan’s must be devestated that Lerner employed the football dinosaur that is McLeish, playing 2 full-backs in Midfield and Heskey on the wing – genius.

    You know a team are bad when the better option is ‘I’m A Celeb’ at half time.

    Anyway….

    Good post YW, I would suggest Arteta is more Gilberto-lite than Cesc-lite.

    Maybe not in playing style, he is certainly a more cultured player than the Brazilian, but in the cut of his jib.

    He has performed quietly, steadily and very well on the pitch, integrating into our style of play efficiently, and his attitude has been first class.

    He also talks very intelligently off the pitch, and has nothing but praise for our great club and manager.

    He has already proved what a great signing he is, and will be.

  41. Arteta is Arteta. Hes his own player. Hes tippy tappy when needed, his passes can be simple but can also be incisive, he puts a foot in, he tracks back, he breaks forward without the ball, he has a good shot with both feet, hes pretty decent on dead ball situations, hes mature, hes intelligent, hes articulate, he leads by example on the pitch and also off it. I have really warmed to the player and if im honest i wasnt sure at all about him when he first signed, optimistic yes, but unsure and wary. In 13 games hes convinced me completely.

  42. Durin the international boredom two weeks .I turned my self into an online bounty hunter fo anti-wengers and arsenal in crises suppoters. After to weeks of no success. I found few struggling ones here and there just hanging on on the notian of arsenal Is a one man team.As they all Now know most of their lies don’t ruffle our feathers nomore.To my astonishment on opening the last sespit of a website for a bounty hunter like me. this was an aldanis cave, never have I seen so much snakes and vernom dribling out of a website.the stench of hate wenger was unberable. And the language they used towards Aw would put a drunkered young lad watching a cage fight match in shameless to shame.trolling down LE GROVE lane I felt my nice favourite peperoni pizza I had aerlier in the day coming back up @ the speed of light. from that moment on I knew that the hives I was getting where from spuds media medication reaction posing as my daily asernal media medication .I just had loose my bounty coz my blood was now boiling with rage so I left without getting payed. I’m glad to have left with my mind without being brain washed lol. The notian behind this is not every website that say its an arsenal blog on the tin is what’s inside. And trolls are @ large among us suppurters. so we have to stand firm In *WENGER WE TRUST*

  43. That post is the very reason the internet was invented.

  44. I’ve never really fallen for the ‘Arry this and ‘Arry that banter; Spurs have improved consistently in three seasons and are in good form, they’ve spent quite a bit and bought well. They’ve gone for speed and counter-attack, which I guess is ‘Arry’s game plan. They have a big talent in Bale but if he goes it won’t be easy. Title contenders? They are close to par with ManU so far, arguably a more consistent attacking unit, and should be viewed accordingly. But stamina for the long haul?

    Selection for Diaby and Wilshere will be exactly as for Andrei, it will depend on form, fitness and confidence. Hard to say now isn’t it. But we’ll need them , that’s certain, come the hard winter run in. Depend on it.

  45. “It hasn’t been easy to keep our standards up whilst spending 500 million euros on the Emirates Stadium, including 150 million on the pitch alone… At this moment in time, there’s only 116 million left to reimburse. Arsenal can sleep in peace.”

    Am I correct in assuming that 116 is the outstanding balance of both the stadium and pitch? That’s incredible, very encouraging.

    Last question is a belter:

    L’Equipe: Why are you smiling?

    Wenger: I was thinking about a 10 year old kid who might have come to watch Arsenal for the first time with his dad in 1996. I was thinking that he’d now be 25, and he will have known only one chap on the bench. That makes me think I’m the manager of an entire generation.

  46. Great write up Yogi. I totally agree about RvP’s more outspoken nature and the effect that has in the dressing room. I can just imagine him rousing the team with the others all taking note. I think Chezney has the outspokenness and confidence to bark out orders to his teammates, or dish out criticism in games when needed too, even though most of them are his senior. You need that in a GK (as GA said earlier re Lehman).

    With those types in the squad, along with the professionalism of players like TV5, Arteta & Mert (who have all captained their teams), Song, Theo, Ramsey, Koscielny etc, we seem much more mature as a whole – both on and off the pitch. It seems like the team has lost a bit of petulance since Nasri, NB52 and Cesc have left. Players no longer have that sense of entitlement that we seemed to have before – And that’s a problem that seems to have held us back for a while. The heads don’t go down and sulk any more, they pick up and drive on with a quiet, yet determined, confidence that we will get the result. Lovely stuff.

  47. Spot on Matt. Spurs looked good, I think they probably are, but Villa were a sad excuse for a team.

    Agbonlahor couldn’t beat any of the defenders for pace, he’s lost it or interest. Did they have a shot on target, or off for that matter?

    McLeish may well take them into a relegation battle on that form.

    Spurs for Champions? No. Overhyped, but a reasonable side that will compete for top 4.

  48. I actually think Arteta plays more of the Alonso role in madrid without the frequent long passes alonso gives. He is a excellent worker off the ball and not afraid to get stuck in( thinks thats how wenger wanted Dennilson to play).

    Diaby is Just Diaby, best at being a box to box midfielder, i fukin love that man, I think he had his best form for us when he grew an afro hairstyle, maybe he should try it again

  49. Goo read YW.

    The keep it simple part made me think of ‘Arry’s tax returns. He kept it simple by not paying any.

    As for the tiny-totts winning the league! Not a chance. When the games come thick & fast over Dec-Jan their weak squad will be exposed.

  50. Diaby does really know how to go missing, you hardly ever hear or read about him talking to the media, when he aint playing its hard to even know what he feels or what he is up to.

  51. Had to laugh at someone on twitter last night asking why Diana Ross was playing left back for the spuds.

  52. When is Diaby ever going to ask for a number change?, i want to buy his replica jersey but i just cant put no.2 on the back(its to gary neville-like) .

  53. Diaby in the squad for Dortmund?

  54. RVP has now scored 52% of our league goals this season (the highest percentage in the Prem). The tag of ‘one man team’ is not going to go away, unless we can find more goals from the team and start to give RVP’s understudies some playing time – be interesting to see who starts against Man City.

    I can guess why Chamakh sat on the bench all game on Sat but I hope that in this run of games coming up he gets some playing time – we need to be able to rest RVP and to have belief in the alternatives should the unthinkable happen.

  55. It sadden me to see Villa make last night so easy for spurs, they already lost before stepping onto the pitch, didnt Mcleish motivate his players for the game?

    Petrov, Agbolahor, Bent, Delph, Ngzobia , i thought these were good players, they didnt even try, Ngzobia didnt even get off the bench

  56. Seems our Jack has a bet with spud fans. If spurs finish above Arsenal Jack will donate £3000 to charity but if Arsenal are above spurs their fans should donate the money to charity..

    Wenger said that the charity could get quite a good deal of money as spurs have lots of fans.

  57. http://news.arseblog.com/2011/11/diaby-returns-as-rosicky-misses-out/

    Diaby is in the squad ?, i just shit myself from excitement, ill like him to get a 10 mins run tomorrow and against Fulham and unleash him against City

  58. Like Cesc I suppose, I hope we have another good week. Interviewed whenever, he was on Sky Sports this morning. He reminded me a lot of any decent ACLFer. My team. Lacked confidence early, not easy to recover, but playing really well now, I been lucky enough to see every match this season. They’re looking good. So said fan Fabregas. Since he has no reason to say anything, the sentiment rings true when he says “Arsenal are my favourite club, I like the way they play”.

  59. Although my earlier comment did highlight how appaling Villa were last night, I would add (and it pains me to say it) that the Spuds do look a decent side at the moment.

    Are they better than us? Well you would have to say at this moment in time, probably yes, although they are currently playing about as well as they can.

    On the other hand, we are only going to get better as the season goes on, and are well within touching distance.

    It will certainly make for an interesting season, and it looks like they will be a lot closer to us than usual.

  60. Looking forward to the decent ACLF’er’s jumping behind the Fabregas comments, despite spending the last 6 months abusing him, devaluing him, attacking him and proclaiming they are happy he has gone.

    Well, it wouldnt be weird for here. See now we have stopped conceding stupid goals and getting hammered the “Arsenal in crisis tag” has dropped, all focus on Chelsea now. I hope the Chelsea fans dont get so wound up about the media witch hunt……..

  61. Funnily enough – was just asked by a colleague if Spurs have a better squad than us at the moment.

    Interesting question….

  62. repeat repeat repeat

    The spuds are alright, but we will not know how good they really are until:

    1) after March when they have played nearly all the top teams. At the moment their fixtures are easy.

    2) when they have played us ……again. We have come a long way from their 2-1 win at the Lane and I would like to know if they have.

    The way things look now, if we are fighting for 4th place at the end of the season it won’t be with them. If we are fighting for third it probably will be.

  63. Matt @ 1:44 pm

    Personally I think you are behind the time. We have already progressed incredibly since the Spuds beat us by one…….at their home ground.

    …..and about the robustness…..the squad is much deeper. We brought in 9 new faces to replace 3 involuntary departures and 3 ejections……Gerv is a better winger than Nasri and Santos is inspired. The others replace Fab, but that gives us the depth.

    That has to be what enables us to be tougher and better without the Fab man. It should also help us come the fixture jam in Feb/March. Lots of players are now interchangeable

    ……and they are all players we like.

  64. I don’t think I am behind the time at all SA, not quite sure what led you to that conclusion.

    I agree we have progressed a lot since we lost at WHL, my point was we still have room for improvement, and will get better with the return of Sagna, Jack and Diaby, whereas the Spuds are probably as good as they are going to get right now.

    I also agree that Gervinho probably is, and definately will be a better performer than Nasri.

    My point was – on current form, the Spuds probably are better than us right now.

    I don’t take any enjoyment from saying that, believe me!

    I think we will be competing for 3rd with them and Chelsea, and certainly don’t believe we will beat them easily.

  65. diaby is in the squad for tomorrow

  66. Its a tough one Matt.

    I always, very childishly, debate with Spurs mates the comined North London starting 11:

    Sczc

    Sagna Kols TV5 Assou

    Parker Wilshere

    Walcott VDV Bale

    RVP

  67. I just had that very conversation Luke – Mine came out like this –

    Szc

    Sagna King TV Santos

    Theo Song Modric Bale

    VDV RVP

    Based on the fact that Jack is not fit….

    Santos vs. Ekotto is a tough call on present form, but based on haircut I would go with Andy.

    and Parker v Song is a tough call.

  68. No idea if Spuds are looking good as I don’t follow the filthy fuckers, but I would say that us and Chelsea are the only top teams to have had a bad patch yet. They’ll have one too eventually. Probably around the time Adebayor gets fed up and stops running so much (after the January window closes probably).

  69. @ jeff

    “I think he had his best form for us when he grew an afro hairstyle, maybe he should try it again”

    ha ha! I agree.

  70. @ dups

    “Diaby in the squad for Dortmund?” you mused.
    Could be…
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/team-news-diaby-van-persie-and-rosicky

    Diaby’s recovery has been “quicker than expected”. Blimey.

  71. Id be tempted to play Diaby, but thats would probably be foolish considering the amount of time he has been out.

  72. “and Parker v Song is a tough call.”

    Really?
    Not for me its not.
    Not one single Spud player gets in my North London 11.And that has nothing to do with tinted specs.
    We have better players on our bench than they can start.

  73. I think you know it does George. Tinted specs that is. Id take Van d Vaart and Bale any day of the week.

  74. VdV, Bale, Modric, Parker. All good players who would do well for us. Kyle Walker looks like he will be a very good left back as well. They have good players, they have a good team. But they will never be a better club than us. They don’t have the class.

  75. Matt, with LJW out then course Modric would start (thats probably my most biasd selection….)

    Criteria for canning BAE means Gervinho wouldnt get a sniff. Gervinho has an appauling BLC (boat, lid, chat)

  76. Bale is an OK player but I think Gervinho will have better stats at the end of the year.
    So VDV for Ramsey?Ok perhaps.
    But that is it.

  77. Thankyou for the blog this morning Yogi. Nice to hear that Rvp is one of the more vocal Captains. The team needs that kind of input.

    A sound discussion about one of my favourite players, Abou Diaby today by the Arsenal clan. In my mind, when fit, he can do anything. And, then to have Jack returning. My word, what a problem. I have a growing sense that this particular team is so deep in talent as in perhaps no other Arsenal squad in the past.

    I am not worried about the lack of scoring from other players in the squad. Eventually those other players will step up and produce. In that regard, I was astounded by the play of Theo and his opposite wing mate, Gervinho. Both are providers and will almost certainly begin to shift into the scoring column. I don’t think the team has any need to dip into the transfer market for another striker.

    Alas, that is my two pence worth today and may you all have a pleasant day.

  78. Rosicky out. I get the feeling we’ll name an unchanged team.

  79. Another great post yogi. I hope you are right to imply that this team has a stronger character then the last several years. I agree with cbob that something was rotten in the dressing room last season i don’t think there is the same level of technical skill with this team but I have never been a fan of a team built totally on technical skill. This group has more pace and much better energy and effort. That along with a more controlled way that we play especially in the back should see us have much more consistency. At least that’s what I hope. No bold proclamations coming from the boss or the players this season which is nice to see. We have been thru some amazing runs of form in past seasons only to see the club drop melt down during the last months of the season. What we are seeing right now is nothing but a good run of form and I am certainly not ready to proclaim victory over the struggles we have seen in past seasons. That will only happen with a consistent rest of the year. All that said the signs from this squad are certainly positive and I am confident that the intermittent bouts of complacency that we have seen from previous teams are dead and buried. Thanks again for another great post.

  80. ‘A sound discussion about one of my favourite players, Abou Diaby today’

    Aye.

  81. And not a mention of a dollar bill in that thread.

  82. The acid test for the team now is when we next suffer deafeat. We are on a good run, and how will we handle it? My money is on our reaction being better than last year.

  83. Andy:

    Our next negative result will be a test but the real acid test will come in the last 2 months of the season.

  84. VDV or Modric could make it in our team, that’s it. For all his flashiness I am not sure if Gareth Fail would be able to do the defensive job in our team.

  85. i ve watched about six spurs matches this season.verdict:parker is a standout player for them.but that isn’t surprising in a team of mediocre players.modric isnt the same player as last season.no spurs midfielder would get into our side.ramsey is a better player than modric and to suggest parker is better than song is ludicruos. the match against fulham showed how average spurs is.i’d pit our team against man city.and i see only yaya toure and silver getting into our first eleven.

  86. Walker is a right back.

  87. Dups – Yeah, my bad.

  88. Definately some rose-tinted spec’s around – that is for sure!

    So you wouldn’t have Kompany then Ace? Or Aguero?

    Just because players don’t wear the red and white, doesn’t mean they are not good players you know! 🙂

    It doesn’t make you less of an Arsenal supporter to acknowledge other teams are quite good, and have some decent players, even when it is the Spuds.

    Andy – if you are comparing us as clubs you are 100% correct – They never have, never will and in no possibilty can ever have the class that we do.

  89. Ace @ 3:52.

    Regarding the last sentence of your post I think someone put a few funny mushrooms in the salad you had for dinner or else your eye doctor has invented a much stronger version of the standard issue rose colored glasses.

  90. matt,definately won’t have aguero or kompany in our first eleven.in the squad,yes.

  91. Bill,i’d really love it if you talk football rather than sharing your knowledge on mind altering plants.

  92. Diaby anyone? Since he might play tomorrow, can we now have an honest debate….LOL

  93. A class act on his day Darius, unfortunately a prime example of how a top player’s career can be potentially ruined by a stupid, reckless tackle.

    Let’s hope he can stay fit for an extended period, and fulfil the potential to the full, and ram the word’s back down the throat’s of the usual idiot’s who say we should sell the guy because of his injury record.

  94. IMO: VDV, Modric and possibly Bale are the only Spuds that could make our team. I have no doubt about Bale’s offensive talents, I just wonder about him as a defender.

    As for the talent at Man City: not sure about their mentality but Aguero, Silva, and Yaya would figure if we are playing 4-3-3. Dzeko and Balotelli would certainly make our bench over Chamakh and Park, and Kompany as reserve for both Vermalean and Koscielny. With those comments Bill may well accuse me of sommeone putting a few funny mushrooms in my salad etc.

  95. Ledley King easily makes our team alongside Vermaelen, if his knee wasn’t fucked he’d have about 100 caps by now and be at any club he fancied. Koscielny has come on leaps and bounds and Mertesacker is settling in nicely, but King trumps them both. You’ll only have to watch next time he’s out for any length of time and see what happens to Spurs results to see that.

    Apart from that, Modric for Ramsey and Bale for Gervinho, both based on current form and what they have done in the Premier League. Our two may be better in the future, but not right now.

    When Song plays a disciplined deep role he pisses all over Parker and Walker is nowhere near Sagna.

  96. diaby still remains one of arsene’s worst buy – dont be fooled by his false technical abilities – he is a dreadful player who should have been disposed off long ago.
    the day he leaves arsenal, would be the last time he’ll see champions league football- because he isnt at that level.

  97. shotta,my take exactly on the city players as part of our bench.in our 433,i take rvp,gerv and walcott/silver.or silver/gerv.as good as aguero is,rvp is ahead.

  98. boozy is in the building

  99. that said i think diaby could be useful, if played as one of the front 3.

    as long as he far away from our defence as possible, his technical could causd problems up front.

    he could be another gervinho.

  100. Is it even legal to have Sagna compared in the same sentence with Walker? The guy who literally had sex with the ball at Fulham to deny the Cottagers a clear goal and have the ref cheat them out of a palanty (as Chris ‘Theo hasn’t got a footballing brainn’ Woddle would say. Mind you, Chris Woddle was still working in a sausage factory when he was Theo’s age.

  101. that said i think diaby could be useful, if played as one of the front 3.

    as long as he is far away from our defence as possible, his technical could causd problems up front.

    he could be another gervinho.

  102. Would love to know what actual playing time Diaby has had with us and how it compares to other players. Anyone?

  103. SCz
    Sagna King TV Ekotto(Tempted to put TV there and Kos in the center)
    Song Mordic Wilshere
    Walcott RVP Gervinho(bet he would have better stats than Bale)

    So thats just Mordic, King and a dodgy Ekotto

  104. Hart
    Sagna TV Kompany Clichy
    Song Yaya Silva
    Walcott RVP Aguero

    Well thats 6 to 5, but hey we didnt spend 300m, they are supposed to have better players, dont mean they are the better team

    Still remember we gave them 3-0 away and the defended through out when they came over, Aguero, Clichy and Samir doesnt change my mind

  105. Apparently Sagna has been out injured, good job from JD, kos and most importantly Jenks for making us not miss Sagna much

  106. I am sure will have an almighty debate about 3, possibly 4, Spuds making our team but it is useful to note that they may have a useful 1st XI but should Bale, Modric or VDV get hurt they will be in a world of trouble. Like Aston Villa 2 or 3 years ago, I am fairly confident they can last the distance for 3rd much less 1st. That pretty much suggests that for Jack to win his bet we had better come 3rd or better.
    Just one man’s opinion.

  107. What is you’re favorite Diaby moments,

    1) when he kicked terry

  108. Shotta @ 4:47

    Right now with sagna out you have to put Richards in at RB. That changes when sagna gets back I am really warming to santos and he may turn out to be one of the better LB in the league but not yet. Midfield would be song toure silva. Front 3 would be some combination of RVP, aguero, blaotelli and dzeko with RVP the clear first choice of the 4. All their forwards are scoring goals. Theo and gervinho are doing some good things and the potential is certainly there but until they start to score you can’t really put them on a combined team. Hopefully they will start to score soon and that some of the pressure off RVP.

  109. Nice to see we still have one RB healthy and wanting to stay!!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2064671/Nico-Yennaris-signs-new-Arsenal-contract.html

    Oh yea, Fuck Tottenham!! Please do not let me see any of you mixing our team with theirs on paper, it sends shivers down my spine!! Bale is only fast when he has the wind behind him as those ears of his act like sails. The smart money will always be on Theo 🙂

  110. stop admiring other people’s lawns.it ain’t greener.maybe has more mushrooms and stuff i don’t know about.

  111. Could be wrong, as I haven’t checked. But Theo & Gervinho ( the ‘Brazilian’ wrote the Daily Telegraph’s hacky slappers) managed to collect more goals and assists in their respective leagues then most of their peers (players in similar positions).
    That includes, wait for it: Gareth Bale. I’d mention Hazard but I don’t want to upset my friends from Flanders.

  112. “stop admiring other people’s lawns”

    I have to agree with ace for a change. I just don’t get why we would waste our time the day before an important CL game against top quality opposition by discussing which Europa league team player would even get near our bench!

    The view from a distance always looks good. Maybe if we watched them as closely as we watch our players., we might see their feet of clay too.

  113. finsbury | November 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    My point exactly finsbury! Seems like a case of familiarity breeding contempt or taking the quality of our players for granted. When it comes to the ‘names’ out there in the media, don’t believe the hype. You also have to picture them in our system as opposed to the very different systems they might currently work in.

  114. Agree, Passenal.

    Let’s all wonder instead about Irish who coudn’t organise a piss up in a pub with limestone

    Ii’m still laughing.

  115. First class post today, Yogi (you seem like a fan of bad puns).

    The standard of comments – at least up until now – has also been very good today. The general air of positivity is refreshing – and, I have to say, somewhat unsettling!

    Re RVP, I, like many, was ambivalent about his appointment as captain. As with Cesc’s appointment, it had an air of being done in a desperate attempt to make him feel that he was the most important player at the club (and therefore wouldn’t leave!). As it happens, he is demonstrating that he is the most important player at the club! Let’s hope the second part follows. All credit to the Prince – he has shown a level of maturity that I wasn’t convinced he had. Perhaps the right appointment for possibly the wrong reasons…

    Re Spurs, yes, they have to be considered contenders – perhaps outside contenders would be a better description. As long as they have the “good” Adebayor, they must be a threat. If (more likely, “when”) the “bad” Adebayor surfaces, then they may falter. Injuries must be an even bigger worry. It will be interesting to see if they spend in January, particularly if, as seems likely, Redknapp will be taking the England job in the summer. I think they will buy Cahill plus maybe one or two others. (Yogi, I expect Ancelotti to replace ‘arry.) I am inclined to agree with SA Gooner’s comment above that, the way it looks now, it’s likely to be Arsenal and Spurs competing for third.

    Ace and Passenal, well said!

  116. C’bob – It was even wose then that mate as we were both in the same pub, at the same time, wondering where the other fucker was?!

    “Ii’m still laughing.” – Typo or really bad attempt at humour?

    Will you be watching the Man Utd game C’bob? Should be an interesting one. I quite like Alexander Frei at Benfica, I wonder if AW has cast a glance or two his way. A very effective midfielder, loves to get stuck in and has great vision. Scores a fair few as well, kinda reminds me (whisper it softly) of Rosicky from a few years ago. Plus Shrek is injured, so you won’t be forced to watch his ugly mug running around kicking players. 🙂

  117. Oops on my part, meant Basel for Frei!! Still would give him a go at Arsenal though.

  118. Do people genuinely think that Ledley King is better than Koscielny?

  119. Billy’s Boots, RVP was already vice captain under Cesc, so taking the captain’s armband was no surprise, especially given how long he has been with us now. He has also matured a lot from the impetuous young man who arrived here 7 years ago, I think marriage, fatherhood and his injury struggles have all contributed to making him the man he is now. He must have really suffered during those long spells on the sidelines given how much he loves his football, but I expect they gave him plenty of time to reflect. No wonder he is really relishing his fitness and good form as he knows how quickly it can go. And most importantly he was a gooner before he joined and his football philosophy is really in line with AW’s. Go back and read what he said when he signed his last contract. It’s very enlightening.

  120. WOW Benfica score in the opening minute!!HAHAHAHAH own goal by Jones!!!! Yea World class alright, World class idiot! 🙂 Awesome start to the game.

  121. “Do people genuinely think that Ledley King is better than Koscielny?”

    Not in a million years! The day King can keep Messi in his pocket and start the move that leads to the winning goal against Barcelona, I might revise my opinion!

  122. Evil – Well he is English so straight away the media will pick him over some “French” player. We Arsenal fans know better though!

  123. So why would everyone put King/TV in the centre in a hypothetical Arsenal/Scum XI instead of Kos/TV?

  124. Evil – No idea mate. King is not as good as Kos or TV in my book.

  125. Napoli 1-0 Man City

  126. Both Manc teams down 1 – 0. How great would it be if niether made it to the next round.

  127. Bill – It would indeed make a good week all that much better. It might even shut the press up for a bit from going on about how good Citeh are.

  128. 1-1 Berbatov who else? Dam!!

  129. And as usual a half-yard offside but as it is at Old Trafford, it still counts.

  130. Irish, I knew you were speaking too soon. They always find a way to jammy themselves a goal from somewhere!

  131. Dam it City level as well 1-1.

  132. Passenal – I know, I know!!

  133. Short lived joy. Both games now level. Sounds like the blue mancs getting smoked with only
    31% of the ball. Hopefully Napoli can come up with another couple of goals

  134. Scores so far:

    Bayern Munich 2-0 Villarreal L
    CSKA Moscow 0-2 Lille FT
    Lyon 0-0 Ajax L
    Man Utd 1-1 Benfica L
    Napoli 1-1 Man City L
    Otelul Galati 0-3 FC Basel L
    Real Madrid 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb L
    Trabzonspor 1-1 Inter Milan L

  135. Anyway, we don’t want them both out of Europe leaving them free for an uninterrupted run at the PL!

  136. They won’t be out of Europe if they lose tonight, it will simply mean both teams have to win their last game. However, it ight shake their confidence a bit which can only be good for us. In saying that, it is all Utd now as they keep pressing forward. Benfica have taken their foot off the pedal and are paying for it. Only a matter of time now.

  137. Napoli 2-1 Man City, Cavani with the second for Napoli.

  138. So us, tottenham and two mac clubs as top 4 with Chelsea and Liverpool loosing out ? I just cannot imagin tottenham pushing Chelsea out and us they won’t move… Tottenham are doing an ” Arsenal of old”this year. Great form ore Xmas then they will fall after.
    Wonder if Chelsea will pay up for modric.

  139. Heh if city becomes no2 in their group and barca no 1 in their hopefully they will meet. Good game plus city will be whipphed properly. (I hope)

  140. 2-1 Utd, Fletcher of all people. Benfica brought it on themselves, sat back and tried to absorb the pressure. Nani is destroying them on his own, never mind Valencia and the rest of the team.

    WOW 2-2!!

  141. @ Passenal

    Yes, I wasn’t surprised by RVP’s appointment, I just wasn’t convinced it would work. In general, I’m not a big fan of having a striker as captain. However, in his case, it is clearly working. I’m sure the points re maturity, adversity, etc you mention definitely help. It probably also helps that he is knocking in a goal or two every match! Wenger and RVP both deserve praise for how well it has worked.

    I read what RVP said after signing his current contract (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/8140042.stm) – very encouraging, and I hope he still feels that way.

    After reading the comments, the cynic in me couldn’t help thinking of all the other players who have said similar things and then found that, actually, they could imagine themselves in a different shirt, especially when tempted by a huge pay rise! I have faith that RVP will look at the big picture and, as long as the club comes up with a reasonable increase and continues to strengthen, re-sign.

  142. Nowadays I suffer football fatigue in relation to other teams. I am only interested in arsenal or occasionally watch the bundesliga. I’d rather watch reserves or under 18s arsenal games than watch mancs or spuds play. Spuds in particular I find so loathsome that my entire molecular composition goes anarchic whenever they are on tv. Especially now that they have adieu bayor!

  143. Benfica starting to play a bit. Game on as they say.

  144. Well u know the game is rigged I warrant mancs will squeak through as usual!

  145. Runebreaker – You have me in stitches. I feel your pain.
    But me personally, I have to keep an eye on the enemy. LOL.

  146. On a positive note diabby is in the team tomorrow well pleased for him and wishing an injury free season.

  147. Thanks for the clarification Billy, I thought you were talking about his personality or suggesting that he was only given the captaincy as a sop, whereas I had noticed his growing maturity and thought he had earned the role. Plus TV as the vice captain is actually the other captain on the pitch and Song is the midfield general. So all bases are covered.

  148. City in big trouble. They almost have to win tonight, a draw and they are in trouble JD a loss would be disaster. They have 2 yellows for dissent. Sounds like they are melting down. Hopefully that will start to happen here at home.

  149. Shortta I’d rather u than me man! Hope u givin em the evil eye!

  150. I’m with Irish there–best thing would be for Mancs to stumble and have some pressure on their final game and confidence hurt. Especially Blue Mancs. They have a huge squad and some fissures in their solidarity might open up that have been closed by making Tevez the bad guy if some of those egos weren’t getting the games they felt they deserved.

    Unfortunately I’ll be on a flight during our match–I can’t think of a bigger game since Udinese and wonder how we have avoided talking much about it: lineups, tactics, prospects.

    I think we are playing better now but so are they. I hope they are as exhausted by their defeat of Bayern, emotionally and physically, as we were after our intense victory over Chelsea. At Dortmund they did a great job of closing us down in midfield and attacking quickly. We did a great job holding firm and taking the few chances we created. It will be very interesting to see how we play this time, because Ramsey in particular has really come on. I think that could be the big difference.

  151. I like Edison cavani though a fine player! Great movement on the pitch and wot an eye for goal!

  152. Shortta should Shotta

  153. Bill, with a draw they still stay ahead of Napoli, though. They play Bayern at home and it looks like they will already have qualified so City could squeak through with a draw today. A loss would be big–really big. Come on Napoli!

  154. LG, I’m actually sorry Rosicky is injured because I would have started with him and dropped Ramsey to the bench. Ramsey can still be a bit sloppy with his passing at times and we can’t afford to give the ball away too much to a team that can really punish you with it. Rosicky’s experience plus the fact that he would be really up for this match against his old team would have been a good option in my opinion. Let’s hope Dortmund don’t travel well and as you say maybe their win over Bayern will have taken a lot out of them too.

  155. Dortmund tomorrow will be a hell of a game! I think Per will be fine as this will be a fixture he has played in before. I believe though that koscielny vermalen partnership is the best pairing for this game but with sagna out koscielny is ahead of djourou for the right back slot. He offers more of an attacking threat. My zecret weapon tomorrow is Santos though! I think he will be the ace up wenger’s sleeve!

  156. love reading posts about arteta..
    and im sorry to keep banging the arteta drum but hes an awesome player and the only regret i have with his signing was that it was 2-3 years too late..

    he has everything in his locker..short passes, long passes, grit, determination, technique, leadership..hes been one of the best players in this league for years and we got a bargain in the end

    the reasons why he hasnt been picked for spain yet is cos..1.. although hes very spanish in his technique hes too english in his mentality..2.. hes never played for a big club until now..3..spain have about 100 tippy tap midfeilders who all play with the top teams and get regular cl so cos of a combination of 1 and 2 hes been overlooked..

  157. Passenal Ramsey may still not be the finished article but his work rate is phenomenal. Also between arteta and song Ramsey is the only want who offers a genuine goal threat running from midfield. He has good movement in and around the box n genuinely believes he can always score. That’s what I like about the lad.

  158. Passenal, that is an interesting point. I do think Ramsey is playing with more confidence now than in September, so while he can be sloppy as you say, hopefully his willingness still to take risks in the final third will pay off with chances for our forwards and his own streaks into the box. Rosicky would certainly take good care of the ball and he didn’t get a chance to play away at Dortmund so would be super motivated as you point out.

    I think the key will be our midfield which hadn’t gelled when we played Dortmund. We are much stronger there now, though I do worry about fatigue. Song, Arteta and Ramsey have been playing a lot. So I agree Rosicky would have been fresh and well-suited to this game.

    What do folks think about Arshavin either starting or coming on in the second half?

  159. Rosicky unfortunately after finding his form this season is unfortunately getting disruptive injuries that means he can’t get a run in the team, I feel for him but with diabby back n wilshire in jan he find his chances limited.

  160. Benfica are really inviting the pressure here…

    2 long minutes….

  161. I also do think that in a game like this Santos could be a major wildcard and create problems for them. With Vermaelen and Arteta covering that side I am less concerned that he will be caught out if he comes forward and inside on occasion.

  162. True Runebreaker, but when we don’t have the ball – Rosicky’s work rate and tackling is superior and I think we have to dominate in midfied to win this one. We cannot be as loose in the middle as we were on Saturday.

  163. Agreed, Passenal, we were a bit loose and I think midfield is where this is won or lost. But the little Mozart isn’t available so Song-Arteta-Ramsey will battle. They might be a bit tired but at least they have developed a very good understanding.

  164. Limestone I wouldn’t start with arshavin, gervinho is much of a direct threat for me. And Dortmund have to attack this will open the flanks for theo and gervinho to exploit. I hope this is one game that arsenal make boring and taking our chances on the counter attack. Remember how marseille dismantled Dortmund, n also Dortmund had a massive game against bayern, I doubt they will perform at that level against us given we tippy tappy better than bayern.

  165. City lose – a good night all round! :0)

  166. Red Mancs draw. Wish they had lost, but failing to win at home is a blow and means they have to really go for it away to Basel who trail them only by a point. Not too bad.

  167. So the manc oilers loose n manure draw yet headlines tomorrow is arsenal are in crisis.

  168. I’m sure they’ll be fine LG as they have the experience of playing together now and hopefully they’ve had sufficient recovery and practice time since Saturday.

  169. Jonny, that is fantastic! Now they have to defeat Bayern. I am hoping Bayern play well and take the game seriously as a chance to show their superiority to the upstarts. Bravissimo Napoli!!

  170. Rune, I probably wouldn’t start with him either but I would plan on introducing him in the second half as he could give them problems and will be fresh.

  171. If we need to rest one of the midfield, perhaps Benayoun would be best to bring in?

    If the boss thinks Diaby is fit, happy to see him start . Just crossing everything he stays that way.

  172. Is that the first defeat of the season for the blue mancs? it will be interesting to see how they recover from this.

  173. Well well money don’t buy u everything now united under pressure as Basel have a chance. Hilarious if city go out!

  174. rambo is very industrious..
    very all action but the reason i beleive he loses the ball alot is cos wenger has given him the keys to the team so to speak..
    without cesc we need a someone to step up and act as the playmaker. in certain respects…
    hes being ambitious in his passing trying to find the assist and unlock the defence with a perfect pass and as a result theres going to be stray passes…we saw it with cesc alot but cesc had alot of assists come the end of the season..so it will be interesting to evaluate rambos assists come may..

    also wenger likes his ‘number 10’ to be industrious so we can quickly adapt to a 451 without the ball..its the reason why arshavin dont play there..

  175. Great stuff City lose and are in big trouble. The only way thru is to beat munich and have napoli lose at Villarreal. Neither look likely. They are going to miss the knockout stage. Hope their European form comes back home with them. Red mancs likely to go thru but if they lose away at basel they will get knocked out also.

  176. 😀 That’d be magic, Limestone. Also they’d have to play on Thursday’s in the Europa – a great distraction but oh the ignominy!

    Also Man Utd now have to travel to Basel – it’s unlikely but if they lose that then both Manky teams would be in the Europa.

  177. Passenal

    They got roasted in Munich so not their first lose but this one hurts a lot more.

  178. Passenal, weren’t they humiliated by Bayern? They have reacted well since then by creating Tevez as the scapegoat.

  179. I very much doubt Diaby would start such a high pressure game as he has not played competitively for months. A seat on the bench and a little run out if we are sufficiently comfortable.

  180. Great thing with arshavin gervinho Walcott Ramsey arteta song coquelin diabby supporting rvp we have options to alter and change. N without relying on any one individual in particular which really is the difference this season. We r more of a team! In midfield at least!

  181. Citeh discover that all that glitters is not gold…what was it £800million….I will not gloat. So much for the pundits who
    thought that Citeh could ahem…. beat Barca!!!!.that Napoli will be a team avoid…not a typical italian team…vastly underestimated. Dortmund will be a tough game but I hope the Emirates crowd spur the team on to a memorable win. RVP the MVP again. COYG.

  182. I didn’t remember the Bayern game!

  183. Jonny, both Mancs playing Thursday nights would be dreamy!

  184. Heh, heh, heh. Nasri for the Europa League indeed. That is called going to a team with ambition.

  185. So City need to win at Bayern and Napoli loose away to Villareal right?
    What does the group table look like??

  186. Results :

    Bayern Munich 3-1 Villarreal FT
    CSKA Moscow 0-2 Lille FT
    Lyon 0-0 Ajax FT
    Man Utd 2-2 Benfica FT
    Napoli 2-1 Man City FT
    Otelul Galati 2-3 FC Basel FT
    Real Madrid 6-2 Dinamo Zagreb FT
    Trabzonspor 1-1 Inter Milan FT

    So do any of you guys reckon Jones will get reamed for scoring an own goal when not under any pressure? How about Ferdinand for setting Benfica’s second up from a nice layoff with his crotch, with noone near him either? Or will it still be all about Per?

  187. Rib cracking city fan moaning city not good enough in midfield n need to sign sneider surreal!

  188. We are enjoying this, but tomorrow’s game is a big test for us as well. I hope we play well and get a convincing victory against a very skilled and in form team. That would be a big boost to assure qualification while both Mancs are sweating. Chelsea also has a big game against Leverkusen. Can you imagine the “crisis” if they lose and Valencia win, leaving essentially a playoff final group game between them to see who takes second in the group if Leverkusen manages a result against Genk?!

    That would leave Arsenal the only English club certain to qualify going into the final group game. How about them apples?!? We need to take care of business tomorrow.

  189. JonJon, I would not mention the stray passes if they were as a result of trying to make something happen. But he can at time over run the ball and lose out or give a hospital ball to a team mate that leads to a loss of the ball. It’s not a big issue, but he could improve his decision making and choice of short passes. It looks to me like he tires as the game wears on and that is when the sloppiness can sometimes come in.

  190. 1 Bayern Munich 5 7 13
    2 Man City 5 2 8
    3 Napoli 5 1 6
    4 Villarreal 5 -10 0

  191. Shotta, and you know he will be starting all the Europa league games as he is on the Carling Cup squad behind Silva! Delicious…

  192. Runebreaker, that’s what happens when football clubs become a real life version of football manager. Isn’t that what you do if you lose a game on the play station? You just go out and buy another player

  193. Passenal, I noticed that as well. Against Norwich at the latter stages he did play the ball short in ways that put the recipient in some danger, so he could improve his touch and decision-making while playing for possession in midfield. But I think he tires because he runs a great deal. He is very aggressive going on runs into the box and then getting back to help out in midfield, far more than Cesc did, for example.

  194. Bradys right foot

    Another huge contribution from the ambitous arch bench warmer Samir Nasri. Only a matter of time before young Samir starts throwing the toys out of the pram.

  195. The Europa league was always boring to me, maybe City can make it exciting watching them play with all their millions on a cold Thursday night. lmao

  196. Limestone – My secret wish is Nasri in the Europa League but, based on the above table by Irish, Bayern will have little incentive to play all their stars in the return. They are already top of the group. City are not only rich but lucky. Bastards.

  197. Yeah thats right passenal, you keep aving digs at the players that have now come in and done better then the deadwood you were protecting the last few years. ulterior motive perhaps…surley not.

  198. Jonny- Imagine both the Mancs playing in the Europa League! What a thought, what a dream perhaps?

    But we have to finish the task in hand and beat Borussia Dortmund. They are good attacking team, with pace and attacking flair upfront, especially from Goetze, Shinji Kagawa and Lewandowski. They are good defensively as well with Neven Subotic and Hummels. It will be a cracking game. It will be end to end.

    I am predicting a 3-2 win for us, as there will be plenty of goals in this one. Van Persie (brace) and Theo Walcott to score. Goetze and Lewandowski to score for them.

  199. I thought the same too shotta. They will squeak their way through as Bayern will probably be saving themselves for their domestic league.

  200. Yes, Bayern are through, but we can hope that they still play for pride and at least get a draw. The table is actually:
    Bayern 13
    Napoli 8
    ManCity 7
    Villareal 0

    You have to hope Napoli can get a victory away to Villareal. If they do, they go through ahead of City. If City draw and Napoli loses, Napoli still goes through on head to head. So the only scenario is City wins and Napoli draws or loses. Still a tough road for them.

  201. Shotta – I think you are wrong there mate. I cannot see Bayern settling for a loss no matter where they stand in the tables. They are only 2 points ahead of Dortmund in the Bundesliga and will want to keep up their winning streak. They have a lot of pride in Bayern and do not like to lose. They may not start their strongest players but they will definitely have them on the bench to save face if they go behind. A draw is what I would put my money on.

  202. city aint out of it yet…
    bayern need to go to city and they have already qualified top of the group i think so maybe will send a ‘weaker’ squad…so this all depends on napoli going to the yellow submarine and doing the biz..i wouldnt rely on bayern too much..

    anyway..the benefit it has to us is that city have to play us twice in the space of not very much and an important cl qualifier,,,three massive games in three weeks in three comps that city simply have to win and i dont think theyve faced that pressure yet..

    we aint under any pressure nobody expects us to do shit and this team is feeding of that so we’ll see if 500 trillion can buy you mental strength..if we beat em in the cup and then they get knocked out of the cl id fancy us to take them at their place..especially if we are still in steam roller mode..

    depends on the results really but its not beyond the realms of possibility..

  203. City can batter Bayern 5-0 if they want, but Napoli only need an 1-0 againsnt struggling Villareal.

  204. It really does not matter either way as I do not see Napoli losing to Villareal.

  205. duke goonem, it’s possible to criticise without personalising and playing favourites. Some players can do no wrong and others can do no right, but that is completely unrealistic. Ramsey is a young player and is not the finished article so his game has weaknesses. If you choose not to see that, it’s up to you. If I see it and say it, I’m not suggesting it means he’s ‘shit’ and all the other negatives that some love to throw about. If an Arsenal player is unfairly targetted I will stand up for him, but I will not pretend someone is perfect when I don’t think they are.

  206. Still, Mancini was sacked from Inter Milan for miserably failing in every CL campaign, even though he was Serie A champion for 3 consecutive seasons…

  207. I think I might put a few dollars on Real Madrid to beat Barca this year, any one agree with that?

  208. Shotta- They aren’t lucky, because that is the wrong table! Napoli are placed second with 8 points and they have to face whipping boys Villareal on Matchday 6. Bayern Munich will not put out a strong side, but they will be looking to impose themselves in Europe and to carry the confidence through to the Knockout phases.

  209. Again, I agree with Irish, Shotta. Bayern will still not want to lose as they are the standard bearers of the Bundesliga and a perennial CL power–they will certainly want to go undefeated and put City in their place. I hope so, anyway.

  210. Basel are coming on leaps and bounds, if they can edge United in their current form at home, then both the Mancs would be left devastated. It could be good results for us for a couple of weekends.

  211. lol beat me to the bayern points i see..

    passenal i think your point is valid but diaby and rosicky aint really assist machines..
    rosickys adapted his game and in the best form of recent years but hes not the attacking player he was..i see him more like a scott parker type player now..

    i actually think diaby is more the obvious choice becuase of his direct approach in attacking,.. but hes not that industrious he doesnt cover the ground like a box to box guy does so we’ll have to see if this op has worked and if wenger trusts him playing there..

  212. I would put money on Real over Barcelona, Irish. They are an improved side this year and Barca don’t look as strong despite the additions. Guardiola keeps experimenting with formations. I think they have become bored and lost a bit of their edge–no doubt they believe all the hype about themselves. The biggest indication of this for me is how poorly Spain have been doing in their friendlies. They have won everything and are finding it hard to maintain that intensity. I could see them finishing second in la Liga and going out in the quarters or semis of the CL.

    I would relish an opportunity to play them again in the knockout stages, sometime in March, when Jack, Diaby, and Sagna are back. But playing RM might be an even bigger game by that time.

  213. Here’s a thought. man City play ‘Pool next in the PL, then us in the CC, then Norwich in the PL and finally then it is Bayern in the CL. They play us 2 days after they play ‘Pool, and have to beat Bayern to stand any chance of progressing in the CL. Does this mean that Mancini might sacrifice the CC? I certainly do not see his strongest team playing against us. Mybe this will put a few cracks in the City team, maybe a few losses as well.

  214. Barca aren’t the Barca we have come to know, I hope they are beaten by AC Milan. But Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are shaping up to be the top contenders this time round

  215. Irish- I just hope! The way we are coming on full of confidence, I can see us edging past City. In the last few weeks they have looked beatable.

  216. Irish if they odds are good, go for it. Mourinho has the players playing with intent and conviction not seen in seasons past. They look determined and even Ronaldo has stopped playing as though it is ALL about him.

    In short he may have turned them into a team.

  217. Irish – @10.22

    I like your words sir.

    I like your words.

  218. If we win tomorrow, we can start making dream predictions about the other three English teams going out of the Champions League. That would be classic and it could fuel Media support for us in a way, being the English representative to the UCL.

  219. We will probably play some version of our CC team as well however. And I would approve of that because we have ground to make up in the league and may need to win our final game in the CL group. Hopefully we win against Dortmund and can rotate players in the CC and final game both. I don’t like when we play team A and B; I’d rather see a mix of players from the squad with four or five changes. Last year we ended up with that sort of division and it didn’t work quite as well as we wanted.

  220. Sriram, you echo my thoughts above. But it starts with a victory tomorrow. Then let the gloating commence!

  221. LG, You echo mine about keeping the base of the team together and just making 4 or 5 changes. It might work better than having two completely different teams. But I guess against City, we will put out a very strong lineup. I can’t see Arsene throwing away the Mickey Mouse cup this year, last year’s last minute loss, should only spur us on to chase that trophy more. Winning that will boost the confidence of this side and provide a chance to win more.

  222. Is Ryo back from injury because if he is I would love to play him against City? Scare the shit out of them with his pace. Start with him and Chamakh and Park. Then after running them ragged for 65-70 minutes, bring on RVP, Gervinho and Theo. Simples 🙂

  223. Ryo is out with an Ankle injury 😦

  224. Maybe we will go for it, but I wonder. AW has said that the team was stretched to go for absolutely everything last year. We might be slightly less gung-ho in the domestic cups. For one, we have to rest RvP sometime. Arshavin, Frimpong, Coquelin, AOC, Benayoun need games. I generally think we should go for it but we have a bigger fight on our hands this year than ever before during the Wenger era in the league. It will be interesting to see what we do with the fixtures coming fast and furious the next couple of months. That is something AW mentioned about last year between November and February having so many games and losing our sharpness for the March-May period.

  225. Sad for Ryo. Two injuries this season and hardly a game in the first team after having a wonderful half season in Holland. Hope he recovers and can still contribute this year in the FA cup and odd league game.

  226. I read his interview on L’Equipe, the same question was posed to him by the Interviewer about whether he will go for all the 4 trophies. He replied with a big yes and stated that is how he would like his team to respond to pressure. I agree about resting players but against City in a match of such magnitude, should we rest players? On a side note, those players can be given starts against the weaker sides we will be facing in the PL in the coming weekends?

  227. If you guys in the UK listen very closely tonight you may hear a choking sound as the Blue Mancs plane goes overhead heading north.

    Should be a cracking game for us tomorrow. Hope we win and can rest in the final game. Be really nice to top the group this time.

    Will be very interesting to see what team we play for the CC. Glad we play at home. Hope we play a strong team. I suspect Mancini will not make this a priority hoping instead to win with his 2nd string. Should give us a chance to hear a few more choking sounds as we throttle them. This is getting fun.

  228. Mario Gomez has scored 26 goals this season, some feat eh?

    Messi has scored 50 goals in 2011. Van Persie, thats nineteen more to make up, lets overtake little Messi, come ON!

  229. JonJon, I don’t think we need to be that attacking in the middle for this game. I think we need to keep things tight in the middle and attack from wide using the pace of Theo and Gervinho. That’s why I thought a more solid player like Rosicky would have worked there as he can win the ball and help us keep possession. But since he is injured and I don’t see Diaby starting, it will be interesting to see what Wenger does.

  230. Sriram, good point, I think we should be able to rotate a few players in our upcoming league games. Maybe we can put our strongest team forward in the CC without straining them if we do so. I’d love it if we could strangle them as Bill graphically suggests!

  231. Theo had a great game Saturday and part of it might have been that Kos was very solid defensively behind him and didn’t come forward to attack too much, freeing Theo to use the space and his pace.

    Perhaps we will see something special again from him on Wednesday.

  232. Mess has scored 50 in all competititons, right? Robin has 31 in the PL and 7 or 8 other goals too. Still behind, but the PL is harder to score a ton of goals in than La Liga. Tough luck for City, though. But as long as theyre in the champions league next year, theyll be fine for stealing the best players and going out will make them better in the PL.

  233. leftpinky, not necessarily. Frankly it will be a major humiliation for them to play in the Europa league. In fact, they might have to win it to even salvage some dignity or ignore the competition completely. It may well sap some of their confidence and swagger. Perhaps their solidarity will be tested as all the big money players get frustrated sitting on the bench or going to games all over the continent out of the limelight. It would be better not to be in Europe at all.

  234. yeah passenal especially playing in cl games you wanna keep it as tight as you can really..
    although we are at home..
    rosicky would have been ideal for what your asking maybe with arteta pulling the strings a tad more

  235. So much for the Daily Mail’s exclusive yesterday:

    EXCLUSIVE: Micah given chance to make Fab impression in Napoli clash

    He wasn’t even on the bench!! I guess that must be why Capello looked so pissed off in the stands as he was there to watch Micah play. That’s what he gets for reading the Mail I suppose 🙂

  236. I think it is amazing that Berbatov’s goal tonight was his first in Europe since October 2008 when he scored against Celtic.

  237. Wenger has said Diaby is idefinitely in the squad, do not see him starting though. He has also said RVP will play.

    Finally a writer calling Stoke Shitty for what they are, a bunch of neanderthals playing hoof-ball.

    “Stoke City
    Unfortunate with a couple of poor decisions on a weekend of poor decisions in general, but the truth is that Stoke are running out of excuses. The Europa League can’t be blamed for their latest defeat – a fifth in six games – and their brand of non-football can’t be excused as a legitimate tactic for establishing a foothold. On Saturday, three years into their promotion to the top flight, they completed just 118 passes. Evolution has passed them by.”

  238. I think we are a different Arsenal to the one that played against Dortmund and Marsielle because the team was shorn of confidence and belief. I cant see Napoli losing to Villareal.Bayern may well play a weakened side but this will mean jack shit if Napoli win. Citeh in crisis. Now cant wait for that headline.

  239. HAHAHA,,, super results today. city of manchester in turmoil. first thing first. the GUNNERS have to make DOORMATS OUT OF DORTMAND. that’s taking care of things on our end. won’t be easy, but at home I’m super confident. won’t be easy as they have improved since last time we met, but so have we.
    for manure and shitty to be out of Cl would be a dream come true. BARKA and chelski aren’t assured of advancing either.
    we might see CESE and Nasri playing on thursday nights and meanwhile we continue on our way to the knockout stage. POETIC JUSTICE. UP THE GUNS!!!!

  240. bravo NAPOLI AND BENIFICA

  241. goonerkam

    Barcelona are assured of qualifying, they did so in the last set of matches. If they do not lose tonight, they will more than likely win their group.

    YW

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