Hard Work Allows Second XI A Greek Odyssey

A lot of hard work has happened on the training pitch to get the squad to the point where, well, the manager thinks they can get better. Struggling to stay out of the bottom three to top five inside two months is some achievement – it’s like a trophy – but Arsène believes that anything is possible.

With that in mind, the squad players – or “the slackers” as I like to call them – are going to be offered a chance to improve their workrate in Greece this week. Or play themselves into form. Or just get a run-out in the first team. The starting XI is more or less picking itself these days, the compare and contrast exercise between the performances against Fulham and Wigan tend to back that up. Until you factor in that Fulham were a cohesive defensive unit and Wigan, well, let’s just leave it at they weren’t.

Taking the fringe players gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents, to remind the manager that they are not extras for the training pitch or to generally put in more of a shift that the usual suspects might. Let’s be honest, there is little motivation for Wednesday beyond professional pride – and that is a big motivator – for “the XI”.

With no other opportunities before January’s visit of Leeds, Leeds, Leeds in the FA Cup 3rd Round to rest players en masse, little wonder Arsène will do so in midweek. That is the beauty of the squad system. Before Uefa’s problem child came into existence, the option of taking a reputedly weakened team to a Champions League tie would have been the stuff of £50,000 fines from our Swiss-based chums. Now it is using the options available to Arsenal.

And in now way should it be construed as Arsène being able to exact a small amount of revenge on Marseilles for their sins in a previous lifetime. That Arsenal benefit means the misdemeanours of the past can be avenged with impugnity.

Even then there is no guarantee of Arsenal not winning. Olimpiakos (can’t remember if it’s a c or k this morning) will be motivated knowing that a point and a Marseilles defeat sends them through, the latter of which seems possible with Dortmund looking to avenge their three goal drubbing earlier this year. Do that and the French club could be out of Europe entirely.

Who can deny that for Monsieur Wenger, the revenge dish is cooling down as we speak.

Elsewhere as the temperature outside starts to fall, the transfer talk hots up – it’s tabloid-tastic once more at ACLF Towers. Emmanuel Frimpong is off to Wolves to hone his skills and perhaps allow Karl Henry to observe that tackling need not involve removing someone’s legs. That also suggests that Frimpong is behind young Coquelin when it comes to giving Alex Song a rest. That’s before we throw Diaby into the fray and remove him for a fortnight to recover.

Finally, Lukasz Podolski has “offers coming in”  – so did we until we did something about junk mail. And on that note we’ll end today before it degenerates any further.

’til Tomorrow.

 

Posted on December 5, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 306 Comments.

  1. Uno

  2. the player im looking forward to most against the greeks is alex..

  3. A complete second XI against Olympiacos please. I didn’t see anything to frighten us when they came to ours, the second side could get a result there.

    Watching Frimpong and Coquelin for the first time together in the League Cup earlier this year it was obvious to me that the Frenchman was much closer to the level needed for the first team. They both gave excellent performances against City last week though. A loan move will do Frimpers good and it’s even better that it’s at a Premier League team rather than a lower level.

  4. i don’t think the people in dortmund are really expecting the first teamers to play.

    when arsene says there will be experience, he means squillaci, arshavin, benayoun, rosicky.

    and he certainly believes the CC team is good enough to do the job. and looking at their performance against shitty, i would be confident too.

    i just hope that djourou partners squillaci in defence so that yennaris gets a run-out in his ancestral (?) greece.

  5. i think frimpong will definitely be going out on loan, barring some major event.

  6. Frimpong to wolves? i hope they can teach him decent football and not the way Karl Henry plays.
    Whats up with Henri Lansbury these days, i also think Ryo should go on loan again but to a premiership team even if its for 3 months

  7. i think a loan move for frimmers will be a good thing..

    as long as he plays regular..

    but with diaby carrying on in fine tradition i feel theres room for him to stay here..besides im enjoying the frimpong le coq battle…its pushing them both…and when they play together its like having another song…

  8. Yes, full second XI please. Don’t want to see RVP, Areta, Gervinho etc. anywhere near the starting line up or the bench for this one.

    Line-up:
    Fabianski
    Djourou – Squillachi – Koscielny – Miquel
    Frimpong – Coquelin
    Rosicky
    Oxlade-Chamberlain – Chamakh (or Park) – Benayoun (or Arshavin)

  9. fab
    yennaris jd squidge iggy
    le coq rosicky frimmers
    oxo chamakh arsh

  10. lansburys at west ham jeff

    yeah theres no point having ryo if hes not doing anything..may as well send him back to feyenoord for a bit longer..he was coming on shed loads there…now hes just gone missing..

  11. Fab
    Yennaris JD Sqil Miguel
    Frims Le Coq
    Arsh
    Oxo Park Benny

    4-2-1-3, i think such a formation would benefit Arshavin and Park

  12. JonJon
    I know he is at west ham and had a flying start to the loan move, i havent just heard as much from him anymore, is he injured or playing from the bench??

  13. to be honest i havent heard much coming out of west ham at all recently..

    its abit quiet on green street..

  14. Lansbury started very brightly at West Ham, scoring on his debut and becoming man of the match and has made 5 appearances in total, scoring once and assisting twice. Unfortunately he picked up an injury in October and has been out ever since.

  15. I’d rather rest Koscielny, move Djourou to the centre, and give some young player a chance at right back.

  16. ryo is injured till end of dec.

  17. Kaycee Naija gunner

    Oh, thou cultured left foot,what shuld i believ and wht shuld i not?

  18. i tink rvp has 4 games to get 5 goals to break shearers record. cos we have 5 games in the league coming up, and i think the wolves game at home might be the game key players are rested.

  19. I like JJ’s team

  20. perfect timing korihikage
    when he comes back we can send him out on loan..

    as much as i like lansbury as well..i think weve got too many players in his position, all around the same age as well..hes going to struggle to get a chance at arsenal..

  21. Marseille are perfectly entitled to complain like little bitches, and we are perfectly entitled to fart in their general direction.

  22. i think we should rest our players against villa..

    everton and city fall a week after eachother but villa is three days after city, so id make a load of changes for the villa game and then back to full strength v wolves and rotate again v qpr…take out fulham a couple of days later with a full team and then a fortnights rest until swansea with the leeds game in between…

    simples 😉

  23. “It would basically harm our places [in the Champions League] for the future and that is not what we want,” Wenger said, when asked if he wanted English teams to go out of the competition. We could go from four [spots] to three, so hopefully that will not happen.

    and most of us wanted the other teams to get knocked out in group stages….

    who would have thought that?? apart from wenger?

  24. if we are the only team through, will that affect the allocation for next season already? that would be a little funny, because it means that you won’t know which places are the european places till the end.

    does someone have a better idea?

    if us being the only team that gets through will see the premiership getting only 3 spots for the season after this, then i say, go for it.

  25. No, as far as I know the places are determined by the UEFA 5 Year coefficient or whatever it was called. So, in theory, as the last 5 years matter, one “blip” shouldn’t — in theory — do much for our number of CL places, unless one of the countries that has got fewer places than England do does exceptionally well.

  26. “That’s before we throw Diaby into the fray and remove him for a fortnight to recover.”

    Funny

  27. I’m sure it will nt affect next season’s slot for english clubs. Wenger is jsTinking of d long run effect.

  28. i guess in that case wengers just wanting the others to go thru so it gives them more games at the end of the season..hes just spinning it to make it sound like he gives a shit about the pl as a whole when really hes just wanting them to be as knackered as we will be..

  29. i think a season of bad performance won’t harm the allocation. not even in the long run. as it stands, italian teams, french and german teams don’t really have the quality to perform that well in the CL consistently.

  30. JJ,

    could be that as well. at the moment, city will have a tight schedule even without the CL. liverpool twice in the carling cup and utd in the fa cup. great draw.

  31. Wenger is right about the long term effect, but I guess, the other English teams going out would be a massive confidence loss, which we don’t factor in. Do you think the media will leave that go unnoticed?

  32. Korihikage

    The quota for English clubs will be impacted in the long run but only if, for example, Italian and French teams get to the last 4. If it is a one-off, there will be minimal impact but for several seasons, it will have a negative effect.

  33. thanks Yogi for the clarification..

    then as far as i am concerned, wenger is just putting out a smokescreen. or if he wants the other clubs to go through, it is to congest their fixture list, or to hope that they engage in some form of attrition with the other big teams in europe. i would for example relish chelsea-barcelona, with barcelona of course triumphing, but at a price.

    and as far as i see it, it will just be a one-off.

  34. YW,

    The impact is not immediate for the next season but could affect the next 5 year coefficient and the real impact would be felt in the years to come!

  35. I would like to see Mannone given a run out in Athens. He never did that much wrong and I remember a game against Fulham a couple of seasons back where he did a lot better than “not much wrong”. Since his loan ran out he has had no first team action.

    If Fab is keen to get out on loan in January, fair play to him, then giving Mannone a chance now seems common sense.

    Re Lansbury Evil WH fans very pleased with the lad and mad keen for Allardyce to sign him up – (assuming he recovers ! ) Always liked Lansbury – not quite the top bracket but a good footballer and not one whose career shopld be wasted on the bench

  36. One thing to be happy about is, Wenger is shrewd, he knows that if the PL teams do progress finishing 2nd in their groups, they will be drawn against top teams which might just give them 2 more games to go out of the CL.

  37. exactly Sriram, though i somehow see utd finishing 2nd and getting apoel.

  38. Anicoll- Always been impressed with Lansbury, more because of his heart and engine than his abilities. He has always impressed in his loan spells and it would be great to see him in our squad soon, but for a couple of years, he has not been getting the place he yearns.

    In the Fulham game, Mannone saved us and RVP just scored a great goal for us to win the match 1-0 at the Cottage. Mannone, in his next game, proved to be ordinary though. But, I go with your suggestion, we may well try him out in Greece. Or I would even be happy to see 2 of our other goal keepers playing 2 halves. Substitutions shouldn’t be a problem, as we will be fielding our second XI.

  39. i think benayoun probably won’t go back to chelsea after his loan, given the way they are clearing out players. if he doesnt mind rolling contracts, i am sure arsene would want to keep him. i like his attitude. but then, i have always admired him from his west ham days. he didnt have the best of luck at liverpool and chelsea i guess.

  40. I wouldn’t write off Apoel though. I remember United struggling against Otetul Galati for most of the game, before they won two penalties.

  41. actually i liked what i saw of mannone last season. and i think he did well while out on loan, didnt he? the thing is that he has sczesny in front of him, and fabianski is certainly more experienced, hence ahead in the pecking order.

    sczesny is the clear no1 now, and i think we need 2 keepers as backups willing to sit on the bench and come in when they are needed. one, an experienced keeper, and one a young keeper (hard to be younger than sczesny though).

    i think fabianski is at the stage in his career where he has to decide if he is willing to be a backup. for me, he is more than a decent backup. but it is his choice. and i won’t begrudge him if he thinks otherwise.

    in 2 years time, mannone will reach this stage too.

    the backup keeper position will be tricky. i wonder how real dealt with it with casillas. we need to take a leaf out of it.

  42. Korihikage- We all tend to forget that he had an amazing season with Liverpool starting many games during the season when they almost won the league and we (Arshavin) spoiled their party at Anfield. I wish I could get his stats at Liverpool for that season, I am sure he was very impressive, leading the blues to sign him.

  43. Sriram,

    i won’t. but between barcelona and apoel, who would you rather have?

  44. Korihikage- The question answers by itself, doesn’t it?

  45. Wasnt it sweet that Van persie got his goal but after we had wrapped things up already!

    Markus 10.43. very apt.

    The B team may just surprise the Greeks. I remember acouple of seasons when the team we took there was mostly made up of teenagers who played really well and lost to a solitary goal.

    Is there a chance for dortmund to go through? i would really like them to and if they were to meet any of the English teams (except us ofcourse) I’d bet on them winning.

  46. Real dealt with it for a few years by having the hugely eccentric Dudek lurking on the bench – one minute world class keeper, the next the full clown outfit WITH exploding car ! This is not a leaf I fancy.

    From what I understand about Fab he is looking to go elsewhere in Jan to get first team football to give himself at least a chance to get ahead on Szcz for the Euros – if he does get an offer then Mannone will be next in line (assumig the one whose name we nolonger mention) stays in his cupboard

    Like the idea of bringing in youth side’s keeper Sean McDermott to the squad later in the season

  47. Firstlady- Sorry to say, even if Dortmund do go through (which is my wish too) they won’t be meeting any English sides in the next stage of the CL, because all the other English sides only have a chance to finish second in their respective groups.

    2 years ago, We had great chances in that match, I remember vividly one chance, a low cross from the right into Vela’s feet, CV just couldn’t finish, even though he did well with his effort. We lost 1-0 in that game, but we were impressive. This is the time, to be impressive and to get a result.

  48. I would rather get Barcelona personally. Much more exciting to watch and the way we are playing, I would be surprised if we did not win.

  49. Anicoll- in your suggestion, we would literally strip out every bit of experience in that GK department, wouldn’t we?

  50. In order to progress, Dortmund would need to beat Marseille 8-0 and hope that Olympiakos draw or lose to us.

  51. Sriram, actually united and chelsea can stil top the group if all the results go their way..

    Irishgray, glad to hear that someone else is as confident of beating barcelona as me.

  52. Irish, we won’t until we reach the Quarters, they are topping their group themselves. The group winners only get the runners up in the other groups!

  53. Markus,

    i think by 5 goals would be enough for dortmund. but ja, it is an uphill task.

  54. Markus, are you pretty sure about them having to beat Marseille 8-0?

  55. Korihikage and Irish- Even I am pretty confident about us beating them this time round. Who wouldn’t like another round of Koscielny “Messi’s in my pocket”?

  56. Sriram – I realize that but I would still PREFER to get Barcelona now than anybody else. I cannot remember the last tome our team was playing with so much confidence. From the GK all the way up to RVP. And that is without JW in midfield, just how good will we be when he gets back? And just for the record most, not all but most, of my friends who support other clubs such as Utd or ‘Pool are becoming increasingly concerned about just how well we are playing. And it’s well they should be concerned if you ask me. Laters peeps 🙂

  57. Chelsea are in the midst of off loading their older players. Torres, Mata, Luis, Ramirez, Mccheachin, etc…..are the core of their youth movement.

    Anelka, Alex, Benayoun, are the 1st signs of this transition, with soon to follow: Malouda and eventually: Drogba, Lampard, Terry, Cole…….and I’m not sure what is the climate for Essian…….it appears that injuries dismantled his career.

    The big issue for these older players still on contract: their weekly salaries are exorbitant, which makes it difficult for other clubs to take on loan unless Chelsea is willing to subsidize.

    In the match at Anfield, where Arshavin immortalized his status with some Arsenal fans producing 4 incredible goals…….it was Benayoun (I believe) who scored very late for Pool to save a point.

  58. One more aspect is if City, United and Chelsea do fall out of the CL, they will be in the Europa league. That league also has some matches and it isn’t rocket science to imagine that these three teams would be racing to win the Europa League for pride (Note: Mancini’s comments on this after their defeat in Napoli) Any combination is going to be good for us.

  59. will be interesting to see if fulham can get anything off pool tonight.

    regarding champs league, lets take things one step at a time. but we know now that we have nothing to fear from them….if the ref can do his job properly!

  60. Irish- Even I am feeling that sort of concern about my friends! It is so refreshing.

  61. Dortmund’s goal difference is -5, Marseille’s is +2 and there are three points between them. Dortmund need to beat them by 8 clear goals, unless I’m missing something…

  62. Markus that is surely an impossible mountain for them to climb, ooh well it was one team that gave us a real game, i hope they do well in Europa!!If only they could sell us Gotze and at a reasonable price (anytime i hear 40m+ for him it makes me cringe).

    i would rather we meet barca at the final, that way we know our chances of being fucked by the refs are cut by half.Revenge of 2006 leave alone the two consecutive Cl they have bundled us out of is long overdue.

    I know there are no longer easy teams in the Champions league but any favourable draw to us until the final will be much welcome. Big teams in the recent 4 or so years have been our downfall in the cl, but if there was a season I felt confident of meeting anyone, this would be it, there is just something in this team that makes one feel confident irrespective of the opponent.

  63. I am missing something. God I’m an idiot. Blame monday morning.

    4 clear goals would do it.

  64. Arsesession- He scored the late equalizer and he also picked up one or two assists in that game as far as I can remember! It was a hugely exciting match to watch in all respects.

  65. A 4-0 win would leave Dortmund’s goal difference at -1, Marseille’s at -2, so Dortmund would go through.

    Of course Olympiakos would also need to drop points.

  66. This explains who can make it and who cannot!

    http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=1720707.html

    It is by 4 clear goals if Olympiakos lose and 5 if Olympiakos draw.

  67. Firstlady- I love it that your gravatar shows Laurent Koscielny, what a player!

  68. Whereas the Spuds only need to beat Shamrock rovers 6-0 and hope Rubin Kazan do not score. LOL.

  69. “yossibenayoun15Yossi BenayounFinished training now,soon we fly to greece we want to finish well the last game of the group.”

    Something about this man that makes me feel like he’s been one of us for longer, I hope Chelsea dont want him back.

    Irish you beat me to it, this might not be the best arsenal team but it has some X factor that fills one with confidence, and to think two months ago we were fighting relegation!!

  70. Markus- Should we really look at them? Forever in our shadow!

  71. firstlady,

    indeed. i had just seen benayouns tweet when i wrote that i would want him to stay longer.

  72. Sriram I have always had a crush on the man since he signed for us, in those early days i got tired of singing him praises(even when some thought he wasnt good enough) so I figured the gravator would do the talking for me.

  73. i am not worried about spurs at all. or liverpool for that matter. they are playing at their maximum right now, whereas we are at 70%. we have wilshere and sagna coming back, and the team gelling together even more. so we have much more to give.

    saturday’s win was a culmination of the efforts over the past 2 months or so. it is confirmation that we are on the right track. a next step in our growth as a team.

    and i have also seen a new belief and backbone that have been lacking in previous seasons.

    this is why i am quietly confident.

  74. Korihikage and Firstlady- Exactly, let’s hope he stays and our strikers find their scoring boots on wednesday.

  75. Markus

    Dortmund go through if they win 4-0 in those circumstances in view of the fact that they would hold a 4-3 aggregate over Marseille. Only in they win 3-0 does goal difference matter between the two. In which case they would be out.

  76. Firstlady- There are some gooner friends of mine, who did not approve of him in his early days. I was literally fighting for him in every corner, finally everyone seems to realize and I hate to say “I told you so”!

  77. Yogi,

    Another question about the blog, rather it is about your gravatar? Is it a symbol that Arsenal had in their early years?

  78. Korihikage,not so much worried but pissed off! everytime i look at the table and see they are 5 points clear and have a game in hand it makes me want to slap Bale. Plus confidence breeds confidence, the more they go on this run without a loss/draw the more they might get it into their heads they can remain ahead of us. Not a good thought at all!!

  79. Just for future reference Yogi, it might help if I tell you that there is no ‘C’ in the Greek language.

    Just saying.

  80. Sriram 12.24 – it would involve stripping out almost all the experience in the GK department with Szcz our most experienced keeper

    As matters stand though our two most experienced keepers A——a, and Fab , while they might have a lot more games between them than the younger keepers at the club, I would be hard pushed to claim their experience recommended them over Szcz, Mannone or even McDermott ( assuming the kid can perform in the first team squad sessions)

  81. firstlady,

    they have been believing many things for some time now…

  82. Exactly @Korihikage. The best we can do is continue to win our games and hope they falter sooner rather than later!

  83. Firstlady- It’s only a matter of time, Ade-darn-door starts fighting with Bale and Van Der Vaart. Don’t worry about them. Focus on us.

  84. Anicoll5- We can’t claim that experience put them over the others during selection. I would be very happy if we had a reliable and aging keeper in there, who could teach a thing or two to the younger ones in training, like Schwarzer.

  85. Firstlady,I think it is sad to have a gavatar with a player on it upon whom you are harbouring a crush…………………..Oh wait,ignore that!!!!

    We cant beat Barca .It will not be allowed.Only Real or Red Mancs would be allowed that privelage.

  86. George- Super sarcasm! 😛

  87. I believe the chorus to Kos’ ‘Messi in my Pocket’ is:

    All I really want is Messi in my pocket,
    Fab in my hand, & Xavi in my wallet
    All I really want is Messi in my pocket,
    Fab in my hand, & Xavi in my wallet
    yeah yeah yeah yeah

  88. Actually, Villa in my Wallet would probably work better, as would Cesc…

  89. Gadget,You have to tell us what the tune is!Otherwise it is just a Mantra.

  90. Gadget-

    Would Xavi in your wallet make your Wallet stink?

  91. Wouldn’t*

    Anyway Gadget- I was just gonna mention about Villa! 😀

  92. hahahhaha, Sriram! It would indeed.

    Geogre, it’s taken from Wiley’s cash in my Pocket: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6bNKS8QAjM

  93. Gadget,Now it makes a good song 🙂
    Attention to detail is important to Meerkats.

  94. Talking about seriousness, Someone is having an avatar of Andrey Arshavin and having more than a crush on him.

    It would be lovely to see Red Mancs face Barcelona and prove you wrong George.

  95. you know, i just looked at the table, and we arent doing too badly in terms of goals scored. cant believe liverpool has only scored 17. rvp is jsut 3 short of them.

  96. Korihikage, if you look back, apart from the first 5 matches or so, the results we have notched up are excellent.

  97. I don’t have a crush on Andrei,you cheeky Sriram.
    I genuinely love the little fellow.

  98. Haha, sorry George, for underestimating the power of your crush… oh no… Love! 😛

  99. Saturday’s game was a superb performance. The 5 best things about the game were. 3 goals from a player not named Robin and defense, clean sheet, defense, clean sheet. Great stuff to see the team lock down at the back. Last 2 times at Wigan we imploded and gave up leads. I don’t think we will see that happen anymore. This team plays much more intelligent football. The other thing that I love to see is the energy, effort of this squad. That feeling of complacency and entitlement is gone. The other thing that made me happy was to see the club ignore the fact that they should have a penalty but it was not called. Instead of cursing their bad luck and conceding, we go out and score 2 more.

    Very happy that we brought mert into the team instead of waiting until next year. I realize that it was not “good business” when we might have gotten him for free next year, and we would have an extra $6M sitting in our bank account, but I am happy to loose some points in race for the accountants cup and actually claim a few more points in the PL.

  100. Bill.Top post.I agree 100%

    When we go infront ,you feel it is going to stay that way.
    Testament to how far we have come is that we have not really missed the best right back in the country.

  101. @consolsbob | December 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm, Olympiacos do seem to spell their name with a “c” though?? http://www.olympiacos.org/

  102. It was a good bit of business bringing Mertesacker in as he was badly needed at the time. Now for a striker in January to take some of the load off van Persie 🙂

  103. It’s transliterated; C is the English/Roman (I dunno) equivalent for Kappa, even though there’s no C in Greek alphabet. What I don’t get is why it was “Olympiakos” here for so long…

  104. George:

    Long way to go so its not time to start gloating about how great we are just yet, but this squad has a different feel. (I can never be too positive, its bad luck.)

  105. I looked all this up last time we played Olympia_os. It’s not something I’d know otherwise.

  106. I can’t wait for this. I hope Titi is still in town, would be so perfect.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2070199/Arsenal-unveil-statues-heroes.html

  107. Bill, I am not gloating.Just saying how far we have come defensively.Its there for all to see.

  108. Maria,I dont believe any recent player will be included.
    It would upset to many others if say Titi was included and Dennis not.
    Just cant see it

  109. JD.I dont see him playing .Its just if emergency he could play in any position on the field

  110. anicoll5 1:01 pm

    In relationship to our most experienced goalkeeper, MA, your comment that “I would be hard pushed to claim their experience recommended them over …, Mannone or even McDermott ( assuming the kid can perform in the first team squad sessions).” is a little too cavalier for my taste and is taking serious liberties with logic and reason..

    IMHO…you may have drank too much of that anti-Almunia kool-ade that most Arsenal supporters have had in recent years, much like the lemmings who belonged to the Jim Jones temple in the bush of Guyana. Desigunner did a statistical analysis of our three most recent goalkeepers (MA, Fab and Scez) and the results showed that M.A. has nothing to be ashamed of. But then lemmings and the hysterical sensationalist media and bloggers have never let a few inconvenient truths, get in the way of trashing someone who was a scapegoat for many of our defensive deficiencies. Contrast the nature of our defending today with what prevailed over the past two years.

  111. George:

    No doubt. The defensive solidarity is the thing that will keep us from going into another melt down. Attacking football is fun but even the great attacking teams are going to go thru a runs where they have trouble scoring, but if you can stay solid at the back then you can still get results. Defending is much a less a form thing and more about effort and concentration and should not be as subject to runs of form the way the attack can be. Consistency at the back will see us thru any dips if form of our attackers.

  112. George, the defensive statistics of the team after the first five matches give an altogether different view. It was odd to see some English commentator praising us during the Dortmund match for the way we defended and he even called our defense solid. That is quite a thing.

  113. George, I’ll be surprised if Henry isn’t one of the three, he is all-time top scorer after all. We could go on about who is the best player we’ve ever had all day, but anyone who doesn’t say Dennis Bergkamp would obviously be wrong 😉

  114. Cbob

    Looking at the Greek ‘original’ it seems that they use Kappa in the ‘native’ but anglicise it with a ‘c’. Which is not that odd I s’pose, Olympics etc., but it does get a tad confudelling remembering all this. I mean when did Romania cease to Rumania in the English language. And when did the ‘k’ become a ‘c’ in Olimpiacos.

    And yes, Mr Chapman Arsenal is first but no longer with these AFCs before we get to Aldershot. And if you think about it, The Arsenal is more imposing that just Arsenal, n’est-ce pas?

    YW

  115. Bill,Looking more like you have been right all along 🙂
    No gloat now

  116. Block4 Yes ,obvious to me also

  117. Thanks Yogi.

    As you say, hard work has gotten us to this position. We need to keep up this workrate for the rest of the season now, one game at a time. But for once we’ve actually got the luxury of resting pretty much the whole team against the Greeks – something we are very much in need of. And something that will make a big difference in the next few weeks. In past seasons, we’ve had to go for it at this stage, and often our bets players got injured as a result. This advantage is so crucial.

    The lads looked like winning against Wigan without even really breaking sweat, one of the (If not, ‘the’) best all-round performances of the season. Looked very comfortable at the back, and very relaxed yet dangerous at the front. Very nice to see. Gervinho looks like such a slippery character to come up against. Theo is scaring the shit out of defenders, Arteta’s work rate still surprises me every time. Koscielny is close to being our best defender now imo (very close battle between him, TV5 and Sagna). What amazing progression, and now, what an amazing defender. My first choice CB partnership would def be TV5 and Kos now. Two of the most intelligent and technically gifted central defenders on the planet if you ask me. I’m sure having Chezzer back there has helped massively too…

    I love Wenger 4 eva. Fact. End Of. Definitely. Imo. Arse.

  118. The Cesc Fabregas award for being a surprisingly good captain
    Robin van Persie (Arsenal)

    In the aftermath of the midfielder’s protracted and utterly tedious move to Barcelona, the Dutchman was handed the armband – a move that MTW thought was quite stupid, seeing as it he the only thing that seemed to mark him out as captain material was his seniority.

    However, the striker’s sensational form (good to see that his goalscoring drought only lasted one game, eh?) this season and the way in which he has dragged Arsenal up after their diabolical start to the campaign has shown that he is just the man for the job – and once again proven that MTW knows sod all.

    Van Persie netted the fourth in Arsenal’s rout at Wigan (though had the Latics not fluffed their lines big time for the opening two goals it may have been a different game) and celebrated not by running around like a lunatic, stripping off and kicking out at the advertising boards – MTW’s preferred way to enjoy oneself – but by diverting all the praise and acclaim on team-mate and assist machine Theo Walcott. A class act and a man who clearly inspires the young players around him.

  119. BTW: Our defending from the front is what sets us apart from two-three years ago. RVP, who is becoming a legend for his goal-scoring, has set an example in defensive work by a forward as shown by by his willingness to drop deep in midfield and hunt down the ball. Not to mention how many headers he has won defending on corners. In midfield, almost everyone, including yours truly, was unwilling to criticize the token defensive work by the mercenary rat as well as by our cry baby home-body who rarely distinguished himself by the urgency of his defensive work. In contrast, I have been more than impressed by the commitment to defending by Mikel Arteta even though he is nominally set up to be an attacking midfielder.

    As for Bill’s suggestion that it is all because we were willing to spend the dosh on Mertsacker, I think it is so typically simplistic. But yes our BFG has helped.

  120. Dennis must be unveiled!

  121. @ Sriram

    If you ever wanted to introduce someone to football……that Pool-Arsenal match would be it for me.

  122. Shotta:

    I think our BFG has helped a lot. I think we have had to adjust our defensive thinking and play a little differently then we did in the past becasue Mert does not have the pace of our previous CB. I think our positioning has to be better and we have to actually play good defense rather then counting on our pace to rescue us. I think the whole team has adapted. Perhaps I am letting my own bias creep into that assessment but for whatever reason we are a much more organized and intelligent team then in the past.

  123. Geog,

    Titi i feel made a bigger impact on the club, on and off the pitch. I personally pick him. But who am i?

  124. The worry for me is that while RVP has helped compensate for our lack of creavitiy in midfield at times this season, i don’t think any other stiker we have on our books has the ability to do that.

    Are we a more defensive midfield and thus team because we have to be or by choice?

    I personally would really like to see more of Rosa who had a excellent start to the season.

  125. Shotta.What are you suggesting?
    Is it that Bill is simple? Lol,even I think that is harsh.
    Maria , who is MTW?

  126. My own biased view would have DB10, Bastin and Henry. I’ve got a feeling though that Chapman will be there, and I would love it too if Wenger was one of them! Doubt Wenger would be, being current manager and all that, but it would be a nice touch…

  127. JD – could not get your link to open…..so here is Olympiac(k)os traveling
    roster:

    Squad (in alphabetical order):
    Andrey Arshavin
    Yossi Benayoun
    Marouane Chamakh
    Francis Coquelin
    Johan Djourou
    Craig Eastmond
    Lukasz Fabianski
    Emmanuel Frimpong
    Vito Mannone
    Ignasi Miquel
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Oguzhan Ozyakup
    Ju Young Park
    Tomas Rosicky
    Andre Santos
    Sebastien Squillaci
    Thomas Vermaelen
    Nico Yennaris

  128. Arsenal: Arshavin, Beneyoun, Chamakh, Coquelin,Djourou, Eastmond, Fabianski, Frimpong, Mannone, Miquel, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozyakup, Park.

  129. Maria- On RSPCA- lol 😀 and it was amazing to see how Van Persie lifted Walcott and showed that little Theo deserved the credit for the goal more than him. Note that, the ball bobbled and made it difficult for Van Persie to finish.

    It is almost safe to say that Van Persie galvanized the squad totally with his performances. In fact we have players in all parts of the field who dictate performances. Van Persie up front, Arteta in midfield, Mertesacker (BFG) in Defence/ Vermaelen and Sczcezny in Goal. Excellent spine to the team.

  130. Rosa, Santos, Vermaelen, Yennaris, Squillaci

  131. Maria,well you are entitled to your opinion.
    But…………………………………….Dennis was different gravy.The best player the English game has ever seen.Let alone Arsenal.

  132. haha Per wants us to put out a strong side so we can help German side Dortmund out. I don’t think Arsene would object much to that.

  133. I agree with George.

  134. It is an anglicesed version with a ‘c’. Different alphabet of course.Most Greeks speak English, at least the youger ones and those who live in cities, small nation with a huge history and a complicated language, the history of which is also complicated.

    Classical greek is a lot different than Modern Greek which was adopted in the last century after independence from the Turks. They also had ‘demotic’ greek which was a ‘peoples’ ‘ Greek, if you like. That was abandoned whenn they settled on the form of the language they use now.

    At least some of what i have described is accurate, all based on what my Greek teacher told me years ago.

  135. Does Arshavin remind you of the great man George?

  136. Maria- We were defensive by choice, because of our poor start, we had to ensure our victories against the teams we played against. Thus, we went ahead with a cautious approach. Even our results show that all our results in that period were small. Now that the confidence has grown in the team on the back of champions league qualification and a good winning streak in the league, we are opening up a little and attacking more fiercely. We will see more goals scored soon, but personally I see there is a general defensive discipline and awareness growing in the side and nail it all on the Arteta signing, to me, he has been the buy of the season up until now.

  137. Not really Maria.
    Dennis left a huge great hole in my heart that Andrei fill a little corner of.
    I am more enamored by the little fellows personality than his football skills.

  138. I have to agree with George about Dennis, he was absolutely one of the best footballers, the world has seen. Such confidence on the ball, such amazing vision, exquisite touch, skill and an Ice man like finish, words can’t describe his talent at all.

  139. so many line up options……..but what I’d like to see….(rest Santos & Vermaelen)

    —————Fab—————-
    ———– Squil – Dj ———–
    Yennaris——————-Miquel

    ———–Coquelin—————
    Benayoun ———————–
    ———————–Rosicky —–

    Ox/Park————————Arshavin
    ———-Chamakh—————–

  140. Arsesession- It is very much possible that we will start with the team like you put out.

  141. People look at me sideways when I say that I truly believe Dennis was the best player the world has ever seen.In as much as the increase in effectiveness that he gave to those around him more than compensated for any dribbling or finishing skills that the likes of Maradona my have shaded him on.
    Any attacking player in a Bergkamp team looked 50% better with him on the pitch.

  142. I agree with you george. Best player I’ve ever seen.

  143. Agree with Sriram about Arteta. His professionalism and his willingness to do the things that are needed has been huge. He is not flashy and certainly not as creative as Cesc but I still think we can still create plently of goals with a more direct style of play, although the sizzle of some of the past teams will not be as evident. The intelligence, game reading and professionalism that he and Mert have brought to the squad are going to make a huge difference in the consistency we will see the rest of the season. I hope anyway.

  144. I agree that he made the others play around him. He is the best player in the world according to me and not even Lionel Messi is going to make me change my opinion. I am sure, if the Netherlands had won a couple of Euros, Dennis Bergkamp would have been on everyone’s lips. It’s just Dennis Bergkamp reserved the best football for Arsenal and Ajax, that international recognition and fame never came to him.

  145. Maria,are you going to cede? 🙂

  146. Agree with George about Arshavin’s personality.

    re: RvP
    It is our loss (as fans and club) that this talent has been riddled with injuries. What he now contributes (outside of his finishing) is his movement and support, the extra work that most fans fail to notice.

    Once he has control of the ball at his feet, I can’t remember any defender taking it from him. Even if surrounded by 2 or 3 players, he has no trouble leaving them in his dust.

    On Saturday…..
    In the build up to the Gervinho’s goal,
    Arteta played a fiercely strong pass to vP…..and in one touch vP took all the pace off the pass and laid it softly off to Gervinho, for a 1-2 with vP……and then Gervinho proceeded with his run to the far post…..where he netted in the goal keeper’s deflection.

    vP made this control of the pass and lay off look so casually easy.

  147. pedantic george at 3:12 pm

    No George I don’t think Bill is a simpleton. Sorry if it came across that way. But his obssession with defense does simplify his judgments somewhat. But I have come to understand that his perspective is important, if not always accurate.

    For example, I would be the first to admit that I didn’t criticize Nasri and Cesc enough for not being exemplars in helping the defenders defend. But then I was always amazed when the majority criticize Denilson for lack of pace and then let Cesc go scot free. Goes to my point earlier about many setting aside a few inconvenient truths in search for scapegoats.

  148. yep… DB10, THE BEST in my opinion. He in fact led me to Arsenal! i was totally glad to see he was an arsenal player so it was easy after that! He also agreed to that rolling contract which was very loyal of him indeed

  149. Agree totally with Bill, especially with this-

    “The intelligence, game reading and professionalism that he and Mert have brought to the squad are going to make a huge difference in the consistency we will see the rest of the season. I hope anyway.”

    Should we also emphasize that these players are playing for the shirt and not for the package they get at the end of the week? It is clearly evident that there is a desire in the team and it just puts the past 6 seasons into perspective.

  150. Arsesession- I am sorry but the 1-2 was played with Song and not Gervinho like is mentioned everywhere.

  151. @ YW
    Nice one again.
    Is it just me, or are your posts getting a bit shorter? I demand more words.

    @ Bill
    BFG has been a great addition to the squad. However, our new solidity in defence was evident at Newcastle, before he had even been signed. It’s not credible to imply that AW was only changing things because of signing PM – who was his fourth choice and who is already used to holding a high line and playing in an attacking, flair team from his Dortmund days in any case.

    And in defence of BFG, he is not the brick shithouse that some called for. He is very tall and rangy rather than rocklike, and doesn’t dominate opponents by his size, but with his brains. He is a bit slow compared to Kos and TV but he is the opposite of slow-witted. He knows where to be and is a superb, tidy tackler. He is not dominant in the air – TV and Kos are still better than PM at winning aerial duels (although I assume that will come, as his reputation in Germany was one of dominance in the air). BFG has helped because he is a good organiser and has increased our strength in depth but he’s not responsible for Theo’s tracking back and Arteta’s defensive work in the middle of the pitch.

    The comment about it not being good business not to wait till next summer doesn’t make sense, either, unless it was just another dig – we were looking for a central defender, we had already offered almost twice as much for Phil Jones, the fee agreed for PM was reasonable and AW had tried to get HIM the year before, but Dortmund wouldn’t sell.

  152. Fun Gunner, I hate to be pedantic but it is Werder Bremen and not Dortmund he was bought from.

  153. Almunia may not have “anything to be ashamed of” but it is was always obvious that he was not remotely in the same class of Seaman & Lehmann.

    Sir Chesney is already a better keeper than Almunia ever was or will be – which is astonishing at the age of 21. I hope that he stays with the club for life and fulfils his awesome potential – his character, passion for the club, leadership and will-to-win are ingredients that make him more than just a brilliant athlete.

    Almunia is a good athlete, a decent keeper but little more. The fact that we were after the accomplished but hardly awe-inspiring Schwarzer to replace him tells us all we need to know. That and the fact he is still on our books.

    Obviously the year’s without a trophy are not Almunia’s fault, however I am of the belief that if we’d had a brilliant – rather than merely average – keeper we would have stood a far greater chance. I guess Wenger could not find something exceptional at a price he was willing to pay – it matters not now – Chezzer is the future and is already establishing himself as something of an Arsenal legend.

    Fate willing he could become as important to Arsenal as Scmeichel was to Man Utd – that would be just fine with me.

  154. Jonny- Almunia could make a decent keeper in a team like say West Ham, not at a team like Arsenal. To be fair to him, his ability was not in question, but his mental ability, which was always a bit shaky.

    Our Polish No.1 Sczezcny has an exceptional attitude despite being only 21 and his confidence is contagious on the defence. Though his inexperience at this level is seen in games (like his run outside the box in the game against Swansea, if I remember right) he is an amazing keeper and is set to stay in the Arsenal goal for a long long time.

    Some areas, he could improve on, in my books, are his judgement of the ball for long range efforts and his ability on direct free kicks. But fair play, we have seen an amazing amount of wonder goals scored against us this season.

  155. i think you guys are hash on big Al. it was also a factor of the team he played in. I have no issues with WS, but he get a whole lot of pass which was not extended to Big Al, and that’s a fact! he fully merited his place in the team. i still think his problem was more mental than ability wise

  156. Sorry – meant Werder Bremen – Dortmund was on my ind because of the Goetze talk.

  157. Szceszny is dependable and confident, those are the two most important attributes for a goalkeeper at the top level. By the time they get to this level all goalkeepers are good shot-stoppers, then it’s down to how you can dominate your area, work with your defence and get over the inevitable mistakes that all keepers make. He’s getting top marks at the moment in all these areas, if he keeps progressing at this rate he’ll be up there with the best in the world before too long, a good showing at home in the Euros will lift his profile hugely.

  158. DB10 was also great internationally… i just dont get why htat team never really won trophies… it was watching him for holland that made me trace him to his club and found overmars as well as giovanni here as a bonus

  159. I caught a shocking news item, Socrates is no more ACLFers, and a quiet thought if we may for the great Socrates, former Brazil captain, multiple trophy winner and accolades far too many to mention; that articulate, joyous, profound and philosophical, intelligent, artful and genuine progressive thinker amongst footballers everywhere. It is a sad day. Thoughts to his family and friends, and to the Brazilians.

  160. The Alminia bashing was rediculous enough at the time, let’s not revisit it now.

  161. Message to self: Do not start a fight over facts vs opinion.

  162. Team Spirit- I have clearly stated that Almunia’s problem was more mental and not based on ability-

    ” To be fair to him, his ability was not in question, but his mental ability, which was always a bit shaky.”

    Even last season, he started off well and put away his detractors, but another bad performance against West Brom at the Emirates, we lost the match and he lost his place. I have to give him credit for coming on for WS at the Camp Nou and putting up a great performance, but by then, Arsene had already seen consistency from our big Pole.

  163. Shotta- Stats show a different picture, of course. We are not by any means bashing Big Al by calling him names. We are just critical of him. How many of you prefer to see WS at goal over Big Al? Tell me the truth!

  164. @team spirit – I really don’t think I was that harsh – have should be in his prime right now but only West ham have shown interest and even then not, it seems, with a view to him being their number one.

    Furthermore Almunia’s stats over the years showed him to be about middlish versus other keepers in the premiership.

    I’m surprised more clubs are not interested in him but not remotely surprised none of the big ones are asking. We are a big club and he is not quite good enough to be Number 1 for a big club – whether that’s mental, physical or both is moot. It’s a fact.

  165. “Doctor” Socrates- Rest in Peace!

  166. FG @ 3:46:

    Gosh, even shotta is letting me have a fun today. How about a little love from you 😘

    Just teasing. Anyway truth is some of the stuff we saw early in the season before mert settled in ManU and Blackburn especially smelled like some of the stuff we have seen in the past. Obviously far to simplistic to say its all because of Mert, but that does not have to stop me from claiming its all because we now have a stay at home lump. 😊

  167. He was only 57, as well.

    The squad for Greece is great as far as I’m concerned – no RvP, Song, Kos, TV or walcott. Hopefully AOC getting a start and Rosicky taking the central attacking position. I think we can win this one.

  168. @ Bill
    well go ahead and say it if it makes you feel good – just as long as you remember that it isn’t true…

  169. FG – certainly hope so – we have little to lose in attacking and they have big injury problems too.

    Excellent experience for some of our younglings.

  170. Jonny,you are a harsh man.Accept it and carry on regardless.
    We still love you 🙂

  171. FG:

    Wow, I can feel the love all the way over here in Texas.

    I will never forget that you always have been and always will be right. (smiley face).

  172. Tough call if you ask me – Bergkamp was a genius, so probably just edges out Henry, although you can’t deny that Thierry has scored some of the greatest goal’s we are ever likley to see.

  173. Thanks George – backatcha. 😀

  174. @Irishgray

    You want Barcelona, but I want Real Madrid. I spent the past month around my Real Madrid friends and they swear that theirs is the in form team in Europe. I would love nothing more than to get them in the round after next and bounce them out. I bear a strong hatred for both Mourinho and lesser Ronaldo.

    @Firstlady

    Koscielny gave the pass to put Theo through for Robin’s goal. No one has mentioned this thus far after the game.

    I knew from Laurent’s first game that Wenger had bought a very special player. That it took some a whole year, and perhaps even more, to realize what a great player he is just underlines how in love with big names some of our supporters really are.

    @Bill

    We have Vermaelen back and this gives us a bit more bite in defence. Per was also a very, very good purchase. However, our defensive solidity doesn’t boil down to just having these two at the back. What we’re doing differently from the last few seasons is that we give teams less chances to have a go at our CBs and we have players up front that keep teams well pinned back. Another important factor that we seem to have improved upon is our nerve. I think that the days when we would panic when not two or three goals ahead are well and truly behind us. We look a lot more patient in the build up than we have for ages. Now, when we have the ball we don’t mind playing it among the two cbs until something opens up further up the pitch. This draws teams out and we hit them when they’re stretched. I feel Wenger has taken a page from BBB and has instructed the players to remain calm until a better option emerges. This may be because we have older heads on the team and the younger players beeing exposed to so much high level football in their short careers. Who knows? All I know is that we have a swagger about us when in possession that very few teams can match at the moment.

    @Maria

    Welcome back. Glad to see you posting more often.

  175. Considering how most of the goals we have conceded in the past few games have been down to Merte making the odd mistake, I feel that solely crediting him for our defensive solidity is taking things maybe a bit too far. He has been a good influence and I think that his experience is the thing that benefited us most of all, but if we are all honest, the best CB partnership at Arsenal is Koscielny/Vermaelen. Merte is a good third choice back-up.

  176. People also seem to forget that even last season, we were solid in defense: we conceded the fewest goals from open play in the whole league. It’s just that we were undone by set pieces over and over again. This season the whole team is doing better at set pieces. Koscielny and Santos have been monsters in the air, while Merte’s aerial performances has only been average.

  177. Bergkamp was awesome for Holland, but he played for teams that didn’t get along. After Michels won the Euros in 88 there was a progression of coaches who didn’t live up to the great man and things got out of hand. Had those teams played for the shirt they would’ve done better than the current Holland team, given that they had much better players. A generation of awesome players lost for no other reason than ego. Holland fans like me have been suffering for ages over this.

  178. Now this is really creepy, I’m not sure how long I can handle it. I agree G69. Better go wash my hands!!!

    Actually I think may be the most important single thing you mentioned is the part about our nerves. We each have our biases about why it seems to be different now, but whatever it is, long may it live.

  179. Maybe it was really that in seasons past we always looked to play it to Cesc who was supposed to work some magic. Now, we don’t have that one player anymore, so we spread our attack around more.

  180. The draw for the FA cup is another dagger in the heart of those wonderful conspiracy theories. Will not be sad to see that whole discussion in the past although I am not sure what we can talk about if everything is good.

  181. Evil, I don’t have the statistics for fouls given away in our half, but I’d wager that we have cut down dramatically on those. This may go a long way in explaining why we look more solid on set pieces than we have for several seasons. Having said this, I think we’re not as fragile as we once were either. Other than Fulham’s goal at the Emirates, I can’t remember a team in the EPL having more than two or three chances at our goal since we overcame that horrible run of games at the beginning of the season. Not even Chelsea were able to get one on one with our keeper from open play.

  182. Bill, weren’t you a critic of our zonal marking on set pieces? I believe our improvement on set pieces has a lot to do with this shift in our defending. Look at how Mert, Van Persie, Santos and Vermaelen line up for corner kicks next time we play. I think you’ll find that we have improved on this strategy as the season has progressed.

    Our purchasing a big lump does not tell the whole story as you alluded to above. We are tighter at set pieces, which is something people like you wanted, we are more calm in our possession and we are scoring a lot. Couple this with a fit Vermaelen, an ever improving Mert, a solid Szczesny and we have all the tools to be great defensively this season. Oh, and let’s not forget Van Persie. I think his leadership has helped us out defensively by way of urging our players to fight for the shirt.

  183. who are the legends to be anveiled on friday?…… got me thinking

  184. Gains:

    regarding koscielny playing the pass to theo.. well this is just another example of how stats don’t tell the full story. it goes down as a theo assist, well done. but who played that ball to theo?

    people obsessed with just assists and goals will nv see the complete picture.

  185. G69:

    I still believe that the height and strength we see now in the team is a part of the improvement. I also believe that part of the reason we struggled in the the past was we did not stay organized at the back and instead counted on our pace to get us out of trouble and our pace and lack of height and strength indirectly caused us problems. The experience of Per have clearly made a difference.

    In my mind the real key is and always has been organization and concentration. Kos has become a much better defender then I ever thought he could. Before the season I was concerned that Kos/TV partnership would recreate Gallas/TV which I thought was a disaster, but I am confident that Kos can play the anchor role that Gallas could not. I will always believe that a good defensive team needs that anchor. TV is always going to be the aggressive more attack oriented 1/2 of any partnership, so even if Mert goes out with an injury I think the changes we have made and the Kos will serve us well at the back. Your thought about giving up less free kicks is also important. How much of that is due to Mert and Arteta we will never know but certainly they are a part of the equation. Also hard to quantify how much of a differnce Wojo between the sticks has made.

    The bottom line is that the defensive IQ of this group appears to be miles ahead of what we have seen from past squads and that is the real key in my mind. You know my theories but the real reason we could not play more like this is the past will always be a mystery.

  186. So Wenger doesn’t spend on defenders, no,
    2009: Vermaelen
    2010: Koscielny n Squillaci
    2011: Mertsacker

    All for a pretty penny but not David Luis money. Who is still in for the Chelsea man at approx 25 million?

    Message to Bill: It is not how much you pay but the quality you get

  187. Let’s not forget one thing though, for all the hate on Squillaci, the French man has silently carried out his defensive duties credibly enough. Not bad for a 5th choice defender, isn’t it? For all those who were calling him names, wouldn’t he have been a better pick over Miquel (not discrediting the youngster, in any way) in our home game against Liverpool?

  188. For me, our defense has improved because of our marked improvement on our wings, Theo and Gervinho have been massive in that sense. Song and Arteta have the awareness to drop into the back 4 if a full back pushes forward, the workrate on the wings and in midfield has improved our defense. And more importantly, our centre backs and the keeper have provided assurance with confidence and composure, both on and off the ball.

  189. hear hear shotta @ 6:12pm

    ..i remain POSITIVELY validated!

  190. Anyways the Liverpool-Fulham Monday night game is minutes away. This could be very interesting. Fulham is improving and so has Pool. IMO, while the scousers are favorites, this Fulham team is more resilient than past years. There could be an upset.

  191. Shotta- Even I am looking forward to that match, I somehow tend to like the Cottagers, they are a resilient and hard working side.

  192. Sideshow Bob, despite his huge salary and transfer fees, has proven to be a dud for Chelsea ever since he showed up at Stamford Bridge. With last Saturday’s non-sending off that makes it a handful of times that David Luiz has had to resort to fouling someone in a scoring position in less than a year, nevermind the amount of times he’s been made to look like a proper fool by players quicker and more agile than he is. Not a great stat for a player who came into the league being heralded as the second coming of Lucio. As it stands Thiago Silva, Juan and a few other players in the Brazilian league seem more poised to get a starting spot at CB for Brazil than the funny hair do’ed one at Chelski. In my opinion, he’s not fit to tie Koscielny’s boots.

    @Bill

    Bill, the height and strength we’ve brought in hasn’t been as big a factor as you imply. First of all, we defend set pieces differently now. Having adopted zonal marking means that we don’t have to rely on height alone for set piece domination. If you look closely at the way we’ve been defending corners and free kicks recently you’ll see that getting bodies in the way, as in not allowing opposing players to get into areas where a well delivered ball may cause problems, has been a great improvement. Also, as big as Per is I’ve never seen him dominate an opposing team aerially. In fact, Vermaelen and Koscielny are a lot more dominant in the air than he is. I know you were a big proponent of the big lump in the pre-season and you may want to pat yourself on the back for being right, but I just don’t see it. If anything Per is good at reading the game and getting himself into positions where he can intercept the ball. What we have is a big defender who does what smaller defenders are renowned for, thus rendering the simple “bigger is better” wisdom moot.

  193. The vibe here is a whole lot less putrid than it was 2 months+ ago
    Big up to AW & the boys for validating “our” faith.
    May the Second XI do us proud in Greece

    R.I.P Dr. Socrates, legendary purveyor of the beautiful game

  194. Sideshow Bob’s only good game as far as I remember seeing him is the game at the Bridge which they won against United last year. He scored a fantastic volley and was tripping Shrek all game long. Should have been sent off that game as well, but escaped and gained the fury of Mr. Red Nose.

  195. My prediction for the 3 statues being unvailed at the Emirates on Friday: (Hint, Arsenal.com has already published the list of top 50 Arsenal players of all time)

    And Top 6 in that list based on votes by Arsenal fans around the world are the most likely canditates for the 3 statues. My guess is that it’s the first 3.

    1. Thierry Henry
    2. Dennis Bergkamp
    3. Tony Adams
    4. Ian Wright
    5. Patrick Vieira
    6. Robert Pires

    Anyone wanna bet that it won’t be titi, Dennis and Tony Adams?

  196. G69:

    We will never agree on lots of things. At least I hope not.

    The team we are putting on the pitch today is clearly taller and stronger. Santos, Arteta, Ramsey, Gervinho. Mert, Kos vs. Sagna. are all upgrades in size and strength compared with prior teams. How much that has to do with our improvement can never be quantified. I suspect that this squad will be able to handle the long physical PL season better then past squads but only time will tell.

  197. Thanks, G69. I have to agree with you on Per, on most occassions it’s his partner rather than him that heads away the first ball. His gift of reading the game, is in marked contrast to slippy Terry, who has the same pace but lacks that intelligence. It’s rare to find PM running one on one with a defender.

    Also if Arsene really wanted a BFD we would have gone for Samba.

  198. D,

    I heard they want to mix up the decades. We are celebrating 125 years of The Arsenal.

    Titi to get the nod ahead of the rest.

  199. Bill @ 7:28 pm – Why don’t you back up your claim with some stats and figures. The would give your theory some credibility. I am not knocking you personally, just give me the facts.

    PS: From last year’s team we lost two big uns (Bendtner and Eboue) and two little uns (Cesc and Nari). This year Big Mert is the tallest of our new arrivals but I can’t be arsed to do the reseach on height for them all.

  200. I’d rather DB10 than Henry but, if Maria is correct, I would say it’s more likely Thierry.

  201. My biggest disappointment for that list of top 50 Arsenal players of all time is that Ashley Cole is No. 25. That and Paul Merson being 26th.

  202. The big problem for tha’Pool is the loss of Lucas – arguably their best player this season. I don’t see a natural replacement for him. Bodes well for our table climb.

  203. Shotta:

    Not going to look up the numbers but in this years starting 11 look at the size comparison. Gerv/Nasri, Ramsey/Wilshere, Santos/Clichy, Mert/JD, Kos/Sagna Arteta/cesc. Perhaps all a coincidence but no doubt we are bigger and stronger today. No way to quantify if this makes a difference but it is certainly circumstantial evidence to back my theory.

  204. Merson below Cole?!

    That’s beyond outrageous. I demand an inquest!

    I think the voting should be weighted according to your age – so Consolbob’s vote would count loads, mine less so but certainly more than the youthful Maria and Suga’s vote would scarcely count at all (I’m working on the assumption that a 4 year old has gained access to a laptop).

    That c*** Cole is surely only up there because too many voters are too young to remember what Merson (and others) brought to the team in his prime.

  205. I will be very happy if Frimpong goes on loan to a PL side. Le coq looks like he is a better player right now and he should be adequate Song back up. Love the size and strength of Frimpong and hope that he can develop the other parts of his game. He could be a monster for us.

  206. Darius,I will take the bet.

  207. Somewhat off topic, but a story about Socratase (from “Up all night” with Dotton Adeboyo [no ‘R”] ~ Having written poems, become an MD, done some scary democratic stuff to tell the then Brazil’s ghastly dictatorship..Socrates befriended a man from Yorkshire. Weird, but true – he was a typical northerner; nice to everyone except those who live below Watford.
    Okay, that was the intro. – here’s the story; Socrates asked to play for this non-league club, and the chairman/manager was not exactly annoyed at the request.. Socrates played one game, and it was a draw. Next game, Socrates wanted to play..but the manager didn’t let him, as Socrates [use an ‘x’ consols?] wasn’t allowed onto the pitch as he had, quote”A few buds and a couple of cigarettes”. What a man!
    This post is long, but so was that joint of skunk.. Muchas gracias, hombre y mujers..

  208. George – that’s 3 pints (1 for each statue) when we get together for the Feb ACLF “ships in the night” drink up. Make sure I have your bloody mobile number because I’m not doing a Consols-Chris-Jonny thing of talking to each other and not even realizing we’re looking for each other.

    Maria may be onto something though if they go back in time. So I’ll also buy the lovely lady her favourite drink.

  209. “Hombres”..assuming there is anyone still living..as in Living, rather than tadpole style existing…One assumes that there will be..yet as my dealer says “Assumptions are the mother of all fu#k ups!”
    And what an assumption that is, the cretin.

  210. I love the revisionsts avoidence of players like Senderos. Maybe it is because they hated him so.

    You all remember Senderos Having a good game tonight so far against the £35M ‘lump’ and $uarez. Played for two with the horribly out of form (then) Djourou against England this summer. Played well. Played well at The New Arsenal Stadium recently. Oh: Helped Arsenal to get to the CL final without scoring a goal. Remember that?
    Yes indeed. I sure am glad Arsenal have signed a ‘lump’ and are looking to get bigger players, because they’ve never had them before. Kozza is a giant compared to Gallas or Toure! Or even Djourou. Did I mention the ‘high line’. Or how that team in ’06 must have played every single ninety minutes to exactly the same tactic and, um, line? Or even last years squad, who looked to be maturing at this stage of the season (maturing before disintegrating!). They must’ve played every single game holding the same ‘line’, wherever, whenever. Right? For the whole ninety minutes. That must be why they did so well. Or perhaps, maybe, I wasn’t watching the games?

    Yup. It must be true. Pffffft.

  211. Darius I have been looking at train tickets for the Blackburn Game.I will need a hotel or the likes.

  212. Why does RVP never count in the lumpoligists equations?
    That’s what really confuses me.

    The dude is massive!

  213. And a home ticket of course

  214. *sighs* < revisionists…

  215. Lol ,I could deffo get an away ticket

  216. RVP has started knocking out some headers especially defensively. His started doing what
    Dede used to for the Chavs and now is an important when we defending against set pieces.

    His taking responsibility all over the pitch.

    Captain Van Perfect.

  217. PG,

    “Maria,are you going to cede?”

    You’ve lost me there.

  218. Mara.the ground sway was for Dennis over Titi.
    I was just asking were you going to concede the point.I was being flip.

  219. Maria – since Yogi, Consols and myself are useless in organizing a drinking session in a pub – can you pull your finger out and get us together again. February was mooted and the only 2 home games are Blackburn and Tettenham though it will be hard to get Spurs tickets.

    George is already syked up and contemplating travelling in disguise in the one minibus travelling that morning from Blackburn.

    btw George, would be glad to help – and might be an idea from out of towners to stay at the same place if they have to stay overnight.

  220. RVP’s, our lumpy No.9 (or is it a No.10? F*ck. Why can’t he make his mind up?) been nodding away the occasional corner at that near post when defending for a while no?

    Arteta really set the tempo for that third goal, he was almost directing the teams play at that moment, with a selection quick passes. And as we all know know, the best teams, or teams in good form (do I have to use the term ‘attacking team’? No I though not. Thanks!) have always been capable of varying their tempo like that, for various reasons.

    Perhaps those great teams of yesteryear, or even last year, were just full lazy bastards who couldn’t be bothered to peg it up and down the pitch for ninety minutes. Which could it be?

  221. Hello everyone! I’ve been a gooner for quite a hwile now and um….. i would just like to introduce myself as i am a usual daily reader of this amazing blog.Ill name myself GoonerGuns and its a really nice feeling being a gunners fan despite going through the dark times with Arsenal. So hello everyone!

  222. I was immensly proud with the youngsters in the Man city game in the carling cup….hopefully they can produce similar performance liek this against Oympiacos. 😀

  223. btw George, would be glad to help – and might be an idea from out of towners to stay at the same place if they have to stay overnight.

    Darius,thats a plan

  224. Looks like we are going to end the day in 5th place. Can’t imagine Pool scoring enough goals against any team that has the great Mark Schwarzer in goal to overtake our GD. Go Fulham.

  225. Welcome home GoonerGuns.

    Darius – I need to know the actual date and number of people coming then I want everyone a 50 pound note only then I wil get to work.

    Ge – Gotcha

    And no i would never ‘cede’! As Darius pointed out it was Titi that won the greatest 50 playerS award. Dennis came second.

    http://www.arsenal.com/history/gunners-greatest-50-players

  226. Score in that game Bill?

  227. 0-0

    C’mon Swiss Tony!

  228. Maria.only the on line(youngsters)poll.
    Dennis won the vote of the Arsenal supporters club .Brady second ,TA third Titi fourth.
    So I am sticking my tongue out at you right now

  229. A journo asked Frimpong what dench meant at the press conference today. AW looked at him like he’d lost it. hahahaa

  230. George, if it aint online it don’t mean shhhhhhhhhhhh

    C’mon now you dhpuld know that by now.

    Also Titi did win the best foreign play award on Sky and that included the whole league. That won’t online though, so we won’t include that. hehe

  231. £50 Maria? You didn’t strike me as a the mercenary type! 😀

    The organisation bit is easy – suggest we meet in a more spacious pub – my suggestion would be The Junction, which is near the H&I roundabout opposite The Hen & Chickens. It’s pretty vast and does good pizza for those who want some pre-match sustenance.

    After that it’s just a question of exchanging a few numbers – Maria, Spy, Matt, Muppet and myself all know each other as do Yogi, Bob & Darius.

    I’ll happily post my mobile number prior to the game…

    simples, as George would say.
    🙂

  232. Fulham pressuring the 10 men of pool.

  233. Pool Fulham is a good game

    1 0 fulham

  234. FuckinYES! Liverpool losing.

  235. Pool got Spearing sent off! Dembele, Murphy and Dempsey dominating the match. Dempsey and Adam strike the post.

    As I type, Reina makes an error and Dempsey scores! Come on!

  236. Well well it’s all happening for dalgleesh a man down and a goal down with 5 minutes to go.

  237. It’s good to see challenges like spearings getting punished, it’s no good saying the player got the ball, what is the need for tackling like that in the first place! Hopefully this blood and thunder tackles will be wiped out for good!

  238. When asked if he regretted having words with Samira, Manny put on his best Arsene “I did not see that” face and replied ” Nothing happened, I don’t remember anything happening.”

    Arsene must be so proud!

    Also Manny grew up the wrong side of Seven Sisters, but was NEVER a Spud. My heart smiles.

  239. When asked if he was ever a Spuds supporter he said “Never that.” LOL

  240. It’s over, Reina’s mistake, Dempsey’s goal and the Media’s lovers Liverpool fall 3 points behind the Gunners!

  241. Arseblog just called Liverpool “We are England” had me laughing.

    Simple girl that I am.

  242. Maria- Exactly! Smiles wide! Smiles some more as Fulham do us a huge favor by beating Liverpool!

  243. Crisis club Arsenal 3 points clear of ambitious Liverpool!!!!!!!

  244. Sack Wenger, Kenny is a god.

  245. Is it FT on that game?

  246. Maria- It got over a long time back. If Liverpool have a chance at the title, why don’t we?

  247. So our point against Fulham is not looking so bad after all!

  248. Well done to Fulham.

    If Carroll is worth £35 million then NB52 is worth £50 million

  249. They are debating about the Red card over on this channel. Such an idiot, that Andy Townsend, utterly reckless challenge by Spearing, two footed challenge, both feet off the ground, high and excessive force, what more is necessary to deserve a red, if Dembele had gone in head on, he would have suffered the same fate as Aaron Ramsey, Thank God, such a thing did not happen. Good refereeing.

  250. This is Liverpool’s year don’t you know?

  251. So, the Pool lost. Sweet. Just one injury to Lucas, and they are useless. Carry on, king Kenny.

  252. Passenal- Very true but still it was an away match for Pool.

  253. anyone realised that rvp has got only 3 goals less than liverpool?

  254. It’s quite an achievement for Frimpong to be sat alongside Arsene at the CL press conference. Well done lad!

  255. Sriram –

    What in the world are you talking about? We are on the road to winning the title – Stevie Wonder can see that. Don’t pay any attention to the medja. We all know their either Spuds or Liverfool fans.

    We have the best squad, manager, RB, CB partnership, goalkeeper, Captain and DM. A beautiful Spanird that doesn’t ‘ardddddd, a LB who has more samba moves than probably ever guy on ACLF!

    Annnnnnndddddd the best young player in the league to return, guiding us to our double/treble. Can’t quite decide.

    I mean can you really compare than goofy doormat Suarez to RVP or Charlie ‘part-time plumber’ Adams to our beautiful Mikel????

    Pepe continuing to act a fool, I see. Man is shameless.

  256. Korihikage- Someone pointed out in the morning. Anyway, I’m off now. Good decision, staying up till 3:45 AM to watch Pool lose! Night lads!

  257. Manny referring to his fellow team mates as “my friends”, so very cute.

  258. I remember we were linked with Dempsey at the start of the season, wouldn’t be a bad idea at all and can play across the front line.

  259. Maria- Absolutely true about that. But I really do like Charlie Adam as a player for his time in the other pool, Blackpool.

  260. Jeff- Dempsey and Dembele, excellent!

  261. Surprised that nobody asked Manny about playing for England.

  262. It really is tough to go off this blog. Been quite an addiction and what a wonderful addiction, thank you Yogi!

  263. Manny ruled out playing for England because he had Ghana in mind. Personally, Coquelin is ahead of him in the team lineup, Frimmers needs a loan to notch up some experience and to improve on his first touch and passing.

  264. Dangerous tackling from Jay Spearing, its good to see such tackles punished.

    Frimpong sat with le boss at the press conference? Nice
    I wonder who chooses the player to go with the coach for press conferences, is it the coach?

  265. Pepe deserves it for being a part of Bar-cunte-lona in their bid for Cesc!

  266. Just watched a clip of Stewert Robson complimenting us on our defending, I nearly dropped my laptop.

    Well I never……..

  267. Sriram, I agree – I would have really struggled with him in our team if our bid had been successful!

  268. Just watched the Kroenke at the AGM clip. His urggghhhhhh..hands in pockets, belly sticking out, addressing those that came to the AGM like they were new Walmart recruits. Urgh urgh urgh me no likely. The accent very George W as well.

  269. It’s just as well that he’s pretty silent most of the time then Maria!

  270. http://www.givemefootball.com/premier-league/zanetti-inter-star-was-close-to-arsenal-switch

    Imagine had we signed this kid, we may have not gone in for Mikel. Arsenal curse does seem have hit him though. hahha

  271. Now we gun for Chavski. Once we overtake them we go after the scum and the one goal wonders with the alcoholic manager.

  272. Maria:

    “Just watched a clip of Stewert Robson complimenting us on our defending, I nearly dropped my laptop.”

    Now that we are defending well we are going to get compliments. No one was going to say anything good about us when we were crap, nor should they. Never could figure out what you guys expected.

  273. Damn right Pass. I don’t like him. His the type of American i dislike. I can’t help it. His ikky, very ikky. The Glazers talk was vomit inducing as well.

  274. Maria, I’ve watched Alvarez several times for Inter and I must say that he doesn’t look half as good as he did when playing in the Argie league. Too bad for him, he could’ve probably been something under Le Prof’s tutelage. The difference between us and other teams is that when Wenger goes for a player he must have at least ten different attributes which enable him to play Wengerball. Inter and other teams don’t even bother. If there’s a buzz about a young player they buy without considering how he’d fit in the side.

  275. Bill,

    I think it’s been a long time coming. We have defending well before in previous seasons and journos have commented on our games without properly analysing. Just reverting to the Arsenal can’t defend standard BS storyline. People were always extremely negative about our defensive – regardless of circumstance, game, injuries or ability of the opposition.

  276. Exactly G69, every young player that Arsene buys he has a plan for. With these other teams it’s not about how the club can improve the player, it’s what can we get out of him.

    If the player doesn’t produce immediately his put out on the crap heap. Sad really.

    This reminds me of the Petit situation, in his book he claimed the Barca manager didn’t even know what position he played. The club had brought him based on foreign media ‘hype’. Crazy.

  277. you just know eboue is one of the statues

  278. Bill, we were the only English team to qualify with one game to go and we have received no praise despite the fact that our group is the toughest. One faint, little compliment from a guy who is paid to cover Arsenal doesn’t mean we’re media darlings all of a sudden.

  279. Maria:

    We have defended well in short bursts in the past but never were we consistent enough for a top of the table team. We were a supremely talented team that performed below expectation because of our defending. I realize some of the journo’s went overboard but to expect them to analyze the way you would and to look closely for reasons not to be critical was never going to happen. Now that we are actually doing much better things are changing. Its gonna take some time but if we continue to play well most of the negative crap will slowly go away.

  280. gains its funny you should say that coz i read an article the other day which said our group was average..
    i had to chuckle..bearing in mind we were up against the best teams in germany and france..

    i cant even pronounce the names of certain teams in utds and chelseas group..

  281. our lack of defensive nous was mainly based around the amount of sloppy goals conceeded as well as the amount of set piece goals we shipped in..

    we seemed to have replaced that this year with own goals but on the whole we are starting to look more solid as a unit and more composed at the back these days…weve always been rather panicky but BFG’s presence and chezzers confidence is making a huge difference..

    were defending with more calmnesss..tv and kozzer play on the edge, they are quick they are fiesty they like to cover the ground…BFG is just 6’6 of composure and its allowing the others to bring the best out in themselves…he might not look like he fits in or like hes doing much but whoever plays with him is pulling out world class performances week in week out..his style compliments the others perfectly..

  282. Vela’s o’head goal.

  283. Sending the defenders off with Pat Rice seems to have done the trick,

  284. Remember him now Jonny?

  285. Well, well, well.
    Just as I fancied, Pool are turned over by Fulham. Now they have fallen three points behind us.
    Chelsea are now 2 points in our gun-sights.
    To paraphrase a classic, weary is the head of the pretenders for the top-four.

  286. RVP just tweeted the Carlitos goal.

  287. ive got no idea why wenger wont use vela and keeps loaning him out…

    wengers always had second thoughts on something about him but it certainly aint his finishing,,hes always been good in front of goal…

  288. Bill at 11:14 pm
    -For heaven’s sake Bill, your revisionism is odious. “We were a supremely talented team that performed below expectation because of our defending.”
    – We have been over this ground forever and you are very aware that towards the tail-end of last season there is abundant evidence that our demise was as much due to our lack of goal-scoring as to conceding on set plays. That is why that mercenary rat, Nasri, is excoriated because, unlike the 1st half of the season, he couldn’t arse himself to score the goals that would help us over the line.
    – Don’t tell me you have forgotten because you were knee deep in that debate. But you were never one to give up on your wrong-headed assumptions even when there is abundant evidence to the contrary.

    Wenger often states his philosophy; Arsenal is an attacking team that creates chances. That doesn’t mean we ignore defending which we all know could be better. But one could say equally that we need to be better at attacking as well. Maybe you could find be humble enough to agree with that statement.

  289. shotta that would make sense in lots of ways and i happen to agree the more chances you put away the easier you make the game (unless were playing newcastle or spurs) but if we take last year and use it to aply to that theory we scored the second highest amount of goals in the league..yet came 4th or 5th in the defending category…and our league position reflected it..we just couldnt defend consistently..
    to blame nasri would be incredibly foolish..only rvp was scoring, the whole lot of them apart from him couldnt hit a cows arse with a banjo and its periods like these where you need to shut up shop and take the 1-0’s
    cant expect the team to go out and score 5 goals every game..we needed to defend better..so in the games where we cant beat the parked bus 1 goal is enough..

  290. Yeah, JJ. It’s not like we’re playing the power houses that are Genk, ugly whatever the hell, Basel, etc. The team who may have an argument on this matter is City. But, then again, they’re playing Napoli who is below Udinese in Serie A and Bayern Munich who came in third last season. So not even they have it as tough as we do.

    I still maintain that the reason why we’ve been defending better is because we got rid of the prima donnas and now have a squad full of players who are playing for the shirt instead of for a fat pay packet.

  291. Hey fellow Gooners,
    I am new to this site and would like to say I am quite impressed by the tone amongst the people here and I also like the debating alot.

    Well that said here are my 2 cents of thoughts:
    We should indeed put up a 2nd string in Greece simply because they will have a chance to win if they play like they did against shitty

    The biggest difference this team has from last years team is the fact that this team can win ugly. That is partly because we have 2 midfielders that has the same work-ratio as Song. Rambo and Arteta might not have the same technical flair as Nasri and Fab had, but they posses something far more worth to the team that these 2 did,; well at least last season. They both fight for the team on all occasions. Besides that they both have more grit than Nasri and Fab. The 2nd part that makes the difference from last years team is that especially Kos and Walcott has developed even further and for Kos it seems to continue at high pace.

    I do agree that some players seem to have outplayed their role with Arsenal, mainly Arsharvin (though good attack play when positioned in “The Hole”) and to me Diaby. Every time I see him on the pitch I get icecold down my spine. Getting rid of those 2 would leave place for a new midfield signing. Would keep Benny cause eventhough he doesnt play much he does a terrific job when he do get a game.

    To sum it up abit; I have a really good feeling in general about the squad we have atm and I hope we can win something this, but I am convinced that we will win inside the next 2 -3 seasons.

  292. so, our 3 point lead over pool is in tact! Slowly but surely we are finding our way back to the top! A loos for everyone one above us on the table bar Chelsea (cos they are the ones to beat man city) in the next set of matches would be seriously nice!

  293. Has anyone else noticed that ever since Limpar Assist pissed off ‘around Europe’, Maria all of a sudden returned to ACLF. Whereas before, when Limpar Assist was regularly posting, Maria was nowhere to be found!

    My friends I believe we have been DUPED!!

    I believe Maria and Limpar are one and the same!!

    Or maybe I should just stop eating MDGunner’s pastys!?

  294. I have never seen Maria and Limpar in the same chat room, now you come to mention it.

    And, yes, sometimes I do slip a little tab of something into the pasties….

  295. Did not see the game last night. Checked the score this morning at work & just could help bursting out 😀 & then realizing being stared at..

    I expect City & Chavs sharing the spoils next weekend, so we go level with Chavs, provided we win against Toffees which I fully expect us to.

    @Sriram – I see we’re in the same country?

  296. Yeah, or maybe Maria & LA have had a tiff!

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