Friday, 25 February 2011

The Carling Cup Final......Finally...


The Carling Cup final… finally.

So here we are, a Cup final and Arsenal are in it. I remember how upset I was in 2006 and 2007 when we went to the Champions League final and the Carling Cup final and that has spurred me on and I always knew another final would come. Memories of Overmars and Anelka and Freddie and Parlour go through my mind; Pires’s winner in 2003 and Vieira’s penalty in 2005 were classic moments. Being only 23 (I actually wrote 22 and when doing my final check remembered!), my first Wembley/Cup final memory (that I actually saw at the time and not on Video or DVD years later) was the FA Cup final in 1998. Marc Overmars and Nicko Anelka got the goals and that’s when I saw how much winning a Wembley final means.

Cardiff was a special place because of Arsenal’s success but Wembley has the memories for most.

Wembleyyyyy Wembleyyyyyyy……we’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wembleyyyyyy!

The Boss says we have the belief and the ability to win things this season and there is no better chance to prove that on Sunday.

‘Do it for Eduardo’ is something that’s being said on the terraces, and of course, if we win, he will be happy. But doing it for ourselves is most important and if we do it for ourselves, Eduardo can be a part of that because of what happened to him.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a really passionate Cesc Fabregas - one who looks more committed then ever. We have seen Robin Van Persie return and score for fun, we have seen Arshavin come back to form and have seen the return of Nasri. We have seen Song develop, and what about young Jack Wilshere? What can I say about the lad that hasn’t been said already?! He played against two of the best players in their position of their generation in Xavi and Iniesta, and did not look out of place. Defensively we have improved a lot too.

Our squad seems to have come of age and we are ‘fighting on four fronts’ (a line I have used many times this season…because I love it!). A win on Sunday would really set us up nicely. We may not have Theo or Cesc BUT we have a squad. Arshavin is more then capable and so is Diaby, Rosicky etc. Rosicky has played some good football when he’s playing in the first team, and even when the second string side sometimes looks a bit unbalanced, he has still looked more than capable.

I am loving the fact we’re making the latter stages in all competitions because it shows we are a big club who are going for everything.

The Carling Cup has always been important; it has been used in different ways though. I had a few people say to me the other week ‘oh the Carling Cup is important now is it?’, suggesting that it’s only important because we are in the final. I do not disagree that we want it more this season but it HAS been important every year. The Carling Cup has given some players some valuable experience and has helped them grow as players. Fabregas, Clichy, Song etc all started in the Carling Cup. Even Thierry Henry got some valuable game time and developed in the Carling Cup (remember his goal against ‘Boro?)

So yes, it may have been used differently in the past, but it was important. Without the Carling Cup, you can never be sure if some of these players would have broken through or not. Some played well in the Carling Cup and were given their chance in the league.

I cannot wait for Sunday and every supporter I have spoken to feels the same! Win this and suddenly it will feel like we can win the League and some may go as far as saying we will beat Barcelona!

Barcelona however, can wait - this is a Wembley final and we want it bad!

Come on boys... Let’s win the first trophy available on Sunday and enjoy our day!

COME ON YOU ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Not Quite The Perfect Weekend


Not quite the perfect weekend but with all the recent highs, maybe a low was expected.

I did have my theory about first legs or ties where there is a replay and it may have stuck again! Winning against Stoke will put us back on track then we have our day at Wembley to look forward too.

Still fighting on all four fronts (my favorite saying!) and this time next week, may have the first silverware of the season.

Come on you Arsenal! Enjoy the week!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

First Leg Is Over And We Have A Lead


Ideally I would have loved a two goal lead but we were playing Barcelona, the best team I have certainly seen so just to have any lead is so positive.

As I said yesterday (when I was slightly over excited) that all I wanted was to be in the tie; lets be honest, Barcelona are quite special. The way they pass that ball around is special, there were spells in the game where we just couldn’t get it back and when we did, they pressed us so hard that we lost it again.

Then again, that spell near the end was equally special. I thought Mr Wenger made the right subs, Song was booked and taken off with the boss maybe seeing that we can afford to have all our attacking players on the pitch at once and it worked.

That second goal showed what Arsenal are all about! I think it was Koscielny that won it, who gave it to Bendtner, who gave it to Wilshere who first time gave it to Fabregas who then released Nasri who ran, cut back and laid on a perfect ball to Arshavin who finished it nicely! Five passes and we got from our box to their box and scored. That was just great to watch. I was happy for Arshavin too because it clearly hasn't been easy for him over the last few months and in recent games, he has given it his all so fair play to him.

The phrase ‘come off age’ was used last night and Jack Wilshere certainly came off age. We as Arsenal supporters always knew what his capable off, but others doubted. I heard a few people question his ability last week when talking about him playing for England but I think yesterday may have even convinced them. He was playing against the best and did not look out of place at all.

Laurent Koscielny too I thought was superb. He was solid when called; he may have given it away sometimes but nearly every player did that once or twice however generally he was outstanding. He is getting better and better every game and I now believe he will be another great Mr Arsene Wenger signing.

A word for Manu Eboue too, I think people were nervous as Sagna was out, but Eboue stood up and gave it his all. He also gave it away here and there but in general, we would take the performance he gave. He did us proud. Well done Manu!

The Emirates was rocking and the boss and players came out to say how much of a difference it made. It was an epic night! I felt like I had played 90 minutes after the game, it really was special. I did take a few blows when the second goal went in but I will happily take them, I am sure I’m not alone! Jumping a few rows forward after the second goal wasn’t too clever either but who cares! We won!

The second leg will be very tough, we all remember what happened last season and Barcelona at home are completely different prospect BUT we have a lead and saw yesterday we can compete.

The season is hotting up! STILL FIGHTING ON FOUR FRONTS!!

Come on you ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


video
I stupidly was too excited and forgot to take any videos but have got a good one from my mate James Howard. You can follow him on twitter on http://twitter.com/jamezjamez

Thanks James!



Enjoy and Roll on Sunday!

STILL FIGHTING ON ALL FOUR FRONTS!

FIRST LEG DONE.....LETS GO FOR IT!!!!!!!


All I wanted was to be in the tie after the first leg and we are more then in it. That is all you can ask.

If we score two goals in Barcelona then they need four.

Say what you want, Barca looked rattled a little when we went 2-1 up.

Lets enjoy this first leg victory and go into the second leg with confidence. We are in the tie, lets go and enjoy it and just go for it! that seemed to work today!

and finally....

COME ONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OHHHHHHHHHH ARSENAL WE LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

No Big Preview....Lets Just Turn Up And Play


Good win on the weekend against Wolves and one which was vital with Manchester Untied winning earlier. With the up-coming fixtures, the next few games are massive and we must take maximum points.

Now its all about Barcelona. The next game BUT WHAT A GAME!

Writing this the night before is giving my the shivers! This is what football is all about.

Sammy Nasri back in the squad is a massive boast. Even if he does not start, having him in the squad and on the bench will be a boast to the players and us, the supporters.

I can't wait and that is why I am not going to even bother to attempt to do any sort of preview because let's be honest, this game does not need any preview, saying Arsenal VS Barcelona is enough.

Let's just turn up and play! and see what happens.

COME ON YOU ARSENAL!! come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Not Barcelona Yet, Wolves is Next Up And Thoughts On Wilshere For England


As people keep telling me, less then a week to go to the Barcelona game and I keep telling them not to worry about that because Wolves is what matters first.

Next game and all (I know I know, so original).

Wolves must be on a high having beaten Manchester United last week and that was a result which really helped us too. One week we are urging Wolves on and this week it will be the exact opposite.

Hope everyone has got over last weekends events, certainly kept me down for a few days. Seeing Wilshere NOT look out of place on the international stage made me feel better and seeing that Theo assist also did the trick. I heard a few people on Wednesday talking about Jack Wilshere and saying his just an average player who is nothing special etc. One went as far as saying this is why English football is in such a state if people are pinning their hopes on Wilshere who is ‘one dimensional’!

Talk about killing a player before they have even began! His 19 for havens sake! Give the boy a chance! Talking about it here is quite pointless as most people reading this will be Arsenal followers but I could not believe what I was hearing. England did not have the best of world cups (bit of a under statement) so as an England supporter, I want players like Wilshere to develop and lead the country to glory. Not just Wilshere, players like Rodwell and Johnson who I rate highly too.

What impressed me was Jack did not look out of place; he passed the ball well and looked like he has been playing for years. The fact that he was so excited to play for England and got his shirt signed by all the players and is framing the shirt to me says it all. I think people who were judging Wilshere at the age of 19 should think twice. Jack Wilshere is someone who really wants to play for his country and I think he is a massive part of England’s future.

February time is when the title race gets moving. The Wolves game is huge with Manchester United playing Manchester City before. My theory about ‘If Arsenal won, would Manchester United still lost’ did show me something but in this case, its slightly different as we are the team playing second and not first. Considering we are behind Manchester United, we have to win regardless and it will not matter if Manchester United win, lose or draw. If Manchester United win, we know we have to win to keep close to the top and if they lose or draw, it will give us an extra boost to win to close the gap. We just HAVE TO WIN!

Our players seemed to come back from the internationals injury free and our two world cup finalists dropped out due to illness and could be back so in that respect, we are well placed. I am Sure we will learn more in the Mr Wenger presser about Johan Djourou and lets hope it is only bruising and he is fit to play because his vital.

Let’s beat Wolves then we can look to that small game on Wednesday night!

Come on you Arsenal!

Monday, 7 February 2011

If Arsenal Had Won, Would Man Utd Still Have Lost?



I must admit, I do not think so.

I tweeted it on Saturday and got some very interesting replies. I remember when we dropped points earlier in the season and on the same day Manchester United also dropped points. It was put to Mr Wenger if he saw this as a missed opportunity, and he said, it would be ‘worse’ if Man Utd had won.

Logically, if you drop points, and your main competitors gain points, you have really lost out. So if you drop points, you want your competitors to drop points too.

The other question I pose is if Arsenal had won, would Man Utd still have lost? I really think that if Arsenal had won, Man Utd would have too. I think Man Utd may have seen us drop points and without even knowing it, just took their foot off the gas. If we had won, they would have known they needed to win and the pressure may have spurred them on to get the points.

It’s just my theory, but looking at this weekend as a missed opportunity is very easy to do however the team that plays first cannot look at it this way. Manchester Untied may look at it as a missed opportunity as they played second and knew our result but when we played, we did not know the Man Utd result.

In a strange weekend, we ended up gaining a point even though in the 89 minute (or whatever it was) I did not think this would be the case.

Strange how football can turn out but the players must pick themselves up and perhaps the Man Utd result gave them the lift they needed. They now have a week till the next game and maybe getting away from club duties after this result may help the players (many will go and play for their countries) and they will come back (injury free hopefully) for the stronger.

Football hay……Nothing is decided yet…Come on You Arsenal!

Newcastle Vs Arsenal - Says it all....




(wanted a picture of Nolan taking down WS but couldn't find one! amazing!)

First half, Arsenal were incredible, every time they attacked, I thought they could score. Second half it all changed, as most people will know!

The performance from the ref is something that has got everyone talking. I do love the way mangers get so many questions after dodgy decisions but if they are honest, they get fined so why are they asked these questions? Asking them is just really unfair.

There has been some talk on Sunday night about strange betting patterns the night before and up to the game. Odds apparently lengthened on Arsenal to win outright which is strange as you would think Arsenal would be clear favorites and odds may shorten rather then go the other way. This may mean some money came in for Newcastle to win or a draw which is hard to make sense out of.

Not sure how true it all is but the game may be being looked at and in particular a few decisions that just happened to involve Tomas Rosicky.

The decisions the whole day generally really got me wound up. Even in the first half, a few decisions went against Robin Van Persie but in all honestly, I couldn’t see much wrong.

The big talking point came when Joey Barton went in on Abou Diaby. My initial reaction was that Diaby has let himself down by his reaction and got a deserved red card. I still believe it was a red card (how can you not) BUT the tackle was a poor one and I can see where Diaby was coming from. Barton may have got the ball but it was an aggressive tackle which if you play in slow mo, you can clearly see Barton’s other leg that goes into Diaby. Barton’s knee really went into Diaby’s leg and in slow motion, you can see the impact; that could have caused a lot of damage. This is a player who has broken his leg and was out for a very long time and then got another bad tackle earlier this season that kept him out for months. Another bad injury could potentially end his career. Can you really blame him for reacting? (He shouldn’t have but you can see why he did, I wish he hadn’t though!)

I have heard some people call the tackle hard but fair however, I just do not agree. When I was asked about Wilshere's tackle earlier in season against Birmingham, I agreed it was a bad tackle (and a red card) and Eboue’s tackle in the same game which was a sort of scissors kick (one which Mr Wenger has called to be taken out of the game) was also a very bad tackle (even though he got the ball). So its not only when it’s against Arsenal do I think this but I really believe Barton tackle was a bad and aggressive one which could do damage.

The other offense I thought that occurred was when Nolan took our keeper out. Szczesny got the ball out the net and admittedly did hold it away from Barton however, what Nolan did was a red card offense. He raised his arms and if Diaby was off, then Nolan should have been too. Diaby was sent off for two pushes but in that incident Nolan also pushed Diaby a little (very soft I know but so where many other soft decisions..) and that could have been Nolan’s first yellow and his second was when taking down Szczesny. I thought Nolan was lucky to stay on the pitch.

An interesting thing that I have never understood is, after a goal is scored, the kick off is taken by the team that has just conceded so therefore the ball was Arsenals and our keeper had the right to take it from the net. If then he takes too long to get it back to the centre circle, he should be booked (by the ref) but here, he was just bullied and taken down to ground. This is a rule I have never understood.

I thought the second penalty was very harsh, I thought Rosicky was more putting his hands up because he was very close to the player and could not see and it is a bit of a reaction to keep your hands out for protection but regardless, I thought it was very soft. A lot of refs would not have given it. In terms of the match fixing here, I find it hard to believe because the decision was so soft that it could have gone either way.

The last free kick that was given was also soft, you see two players going for headers all the time and Rosicky did not lean into Barton as such but gave him a slight touch and the hard man Joey Barton went down like a fly. The finish for the fourth goal was fantastic though, a great finish.

On top of all that, Johan Djourou MAY have some ligament damage but a scan will tell us more, for our sake, I hope it is not a bad injury because in all honestly, WE NEED HIM!!

Looking back at this match fixing stuff; it’s a little hard to believe a player that was not even guaranteed to come on is involved in anything and with the decisions being so soft, the referee was the one who gave them and that looks more suspect to me!

Phil Dowd was in charge when Arsenal conceded a very late leveler at Sunderland when the allocated time was over and the ref let it go on for an extra 30 seconds and that does make you think about it a little…..

However, I do not believe any match fixing went on, I just think the standard of refereeing is just shocking at times! (Can you blame me…Saha goal other night and the decisions on Saturday).

There will be some people who disagree with everything I have said and may just call me biased. That may actually be true but football is a passionate business and football is my life so I am not even going to say sorry!

A big day or two with the Interpol stuff and the results of the scan for our best CB back this season.

Football is certainly a strange game.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Leadership Issues, A Keeper KO And A Great Comeback


Life certainly is not dull being an Arsenal supporter at the moment. The transfer window is shut; Fabianski is out for the season; a great comeback against Everton and questions about Cesc Fabregas and his leadership.

Well, let’s go through them one by one!

Cesc Fabregas, our skipper has been in the headlines for stuff that may or may not have happened during half time. I like most people do not know what happened and instead of assuming things, will look at the facts. Cesc Fabregas has not been charged and the Referee’s report said nothing about anything that may or may not have happened at half time.

I woke up Wednesday morning in a bit of a rage. I had been to the game so already had a lack of sleep but then woke up to the voice of Alan Brazil on that radio station! It was around 6.05am and he was saying how Mr Wenger and Mr Moyes accounts of what happened was the complete opposite and one had to be lying. I thought to myself, at least he is being fair and told listeners what both managers said and isn’t judging or giving his opinion about what happened…..till about 3 minutes later that is.

He then slated Cesc Fabregas about the incident then even Slated Mr Wenger about what he said about Chelsea. So one minute he is saying ‘one of the managers is lying’, then next minute it is obvious who he thinks it is. I know supporters can be biased but I would have thought a presenter on a radio station would at least look at both points of view.

Brazil later went on to talk about Mr Wenger’s comments about Chelsea’s spending saying if a owner wants to give a club a present (money for a transfer) then what is wrong with that. That is all fine however; Mr Wenger’s point was totally different. He was saying that Chelsea voted for the fair play financial rule but then announce loses of 70m and then spend another 70m on players. He is not questioning Chelsea spending money, but is questioning what the logic of voting for the fair play rule was.

Sometimes I do feel no one understands what Mr Wenger is actually saying and jumps on anything he says. A bit like the tackling issue, Mr Wenger was talking about the art of tackling and the technique and the response he got was ‘Arsenal doesn’t like it when people tackle them hard’. Then the argument is that Arsenal are one of the teams with the most red cards this season, even though, Mr Wenger was talking about potential leg breakers and not just normal fouls.

Back to Cesc Fabregas and many people went the way of questioning his leadership skills and if he should be the Arsenal captain. At the start of the season I remember how the FA wanted only the captain to speak to the referee during a game and Cesc Fabregas is our captain and he has questioned decisions over recent weeks, how can anyone not questioning the Saha goal.

What happened in the tunnel is not clear and what Cesc said (if anything) is not clear however, footballers swear all the time. I remember that time at Highbury, I was sitting in the west stand and was close enough to hear Wayne Rooney totally let loose at Graham Poll and the language used was not the best! (Keep it at that). I am not trying to single out Wayne Rooney because there are many others but that is an example where I was close enough to actually hear what he said and was there in person. Football certainly is a passionate sport and the pressures involved in the modern game is such that sometimes it can boil over and players may use words they will not be proud off the next day (same can be said for fans, including myself).

Cesc for me has developed into a good captain. Everyone does question the leadership issue at Arsenal and Mr Wenger does believe in shared responsibility however, Cesc does more then that. He leads by example; you can see by his performances recently how he can control a game and dictate the pace of a game. He defends his players on the pitch and backs and supports them up well. Jack Wilshire tweeted that Cesc is a great captain and a role model to other players and I do not think he is the alone in thinking that from a player’s point of view.

A few people have said that Cesc’s anger ‘issues’ have come from him not getting a move to Barcelona. I cannot comment on what is going through Cesc’s mind but I can comment from things I have seen with my own eyes. I see a player who just wants to win. The little stuff off camera that people only at games can see backs me up. After the Ipswich semi final, the players were out applauding the fans and Bendtner was the first to start walking towards the tunnel but Cesc shouted and called him back because he wanted a team huddle. Small things like that just show me how passionate Cesc is about this club and what a good leader and captain he is and how much he wants to win.

So for me, we just have to do what we do well and continue backing our captain.

The game on Tuesday night was a strange one. We started quite slow and with the debatable goal, we seemed to lose something but what ever was said at half time seemed to work and we turned the game around. A word for Andrey Arshavin too, he came on and scored a very important goal. He put in more of a shift and that was great to see. When he was about to come on, I gave my usual encouragement to any Arsenal player coming on by shouting ‘Come on Andrey’ and the lad behind me shouted ‘ **** off Andrey’ (I will let you guess what the **** mean). Once he scored, I had a smug look on my face as I turned around. Lets be honest, he hasn’t been at his best but this is where the hard work starts. As Tony Adams said, he would be telling the players that the easy part is done and the hard work starts now, so for Arshavin, if he can put some form together now till the end of the season then we are in the business and that goes for every player.


Luki Fabianski has or will be going abroad to have surgery on his shoulder which will mean he will play no further part this season which for him, is a real shame. He worked hard to get into the team and cut those mistakes out and was playing rather well till he got injured. Will be interesting to see what happens in the summer but I hope he comes back strong because he did well this season.

Now comes Newcastle away, always a tough place to go (and a b**** of a commute for supporters!) On a personal level, I was looking forward to going to St James Park but due to reasons out of my control (other people in other words) I could not make it, so the live screening at the Emirates will be my destination this Saturday afternoon!

Winning every game is our objective so another three points is what we want and need. Come on you Arsenal (oh this season is starting to get exciting!) Every match day, I am like a kid at Christmas! Come on you Arsenal!!

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