Thursday 31 March 2011

David 'Rocky' Rocastle

2 May 1967 – 31 March 2001

Today is the 10th anniversary of Rocky Rocastle and a day he should be remembered.

David Rocastle “Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent.”

I was not lucky enough to see Rocky play live because of my age, but i have seen the DVDs and seen some of his best goals and all the tributes. The man loved the club and the club loved him.

A true legend. The word legend is thrown about alot in modern society BUT when it comes to Rocky Rocastle, its absolutely true.

He was simply a legend.

R I P Rocky.

Monday 28 March 2011

Thierry Henry - Legend

I have been wanting to write a piece on Thierry for a while and just wanted to remember the great man and the piece Sky Sports did made me do it!

Firstly, a great piece by Sky Sports on our hero, Thierry Henry. It brought memories flashing through my mind.

The ‘legend’ DVD always gets me quite emotional and this sky sports piece once again reminded me of how great Thierry Henry was.

Apart from the obvious, what I love about Thierry Henry is that he ‘understands’ what it means to play for Arsenal. He says himself that the likes of Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Ray Parlour (along with others like Seaman and Keown etc) made him understand what it means to play for Arsenal. Tony Adams in particular is said to have given him a speech when he first arrived explaining how important Arsenal is and what it means to play for us.

When the fixture list comes out, the first thing he looks at is when Arsenal are playing Spurs and that shows how much he understands what it means to play for Arsenal and understands the supporters.

At the moment, in this current squad, I am not sure if any new players that come will be made to understand what it means to play for Arsenal like Thierry was. Jack Wilshere off course has been here for a very long time and will understand that ‘feeling’ and there are others like Robin that may understand but will they make others understand it? I’m not convinced (Jack over time may well do though).

I could be wrong though.

Back to Thierry though, he mentioned two things that I smiled about. When he talked about big clubs he mentioned Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool and mentioned those teams a few times but had no mention of Spurs!

Also when asked about who he best player was that he played with, he without any hesitation answered ‘Dennis Bergkamp’. You may ask why the surprise, but he did play with Zidane who was an amazing player too. I was more surprised that he didn’t have to think about it. That shows how good Dennis was. Technically, Dennis Bergkamp was the best player I have ever seen.

Many people were quite shocked to hear Thierry mention Ledley King as one of the best players he played against. He said that Ledley was a tough opponent because of the way he defended etc. He also talked about Paul Scholes, which he has on a number of occasions, he talks about his goals and his ability to pick a pass. He also said his a big fan of Steven Gerrard. He talked a bit about Wayne Rooney and in particular his high work rate and compared it to the likes of Ray Parlour and Martin Keown etc.

A superb quote from the piece was ‘finishing the season unbeaten was quite special and to do it with my beloved Arsenal was amazing’. The way Thierry talks about Arsenal is special because he talks with so much respect. He loves the club and the club and supporters love him. He says he can never be objective about Arsenal and we all know he is still a big supporter of the club because he tries to come as often as he can to watch the team play.

Thierry Henry was simply a legend and his 226 goals for the club will never be forgotten.

His goals, his assists, his leadership, his pace, his mental strength and his love for Arsenal all stand out and the piece run by Sky Sports just reminded me how good he was.


Tuesday 22 March 2011

Where To Go From Here...

Our last proper victory was Barcelona at home (no disrespect to Orient because they were fantastic but are not a Premiership or Champions League side) therefore, it’s been quite a wait.

The WBA game was rather strange. The first half was totally different to the second half (the last 20 minutes anyway). We saw two things we have not seen in a while – firstly we made a half time substitution (Chamakh for Denilson), and secondly we played closer to a 4-4-2.

The last 20 minutes was quite positive, where we came back from the dead and looked closer to winning it rather then losing it and that did show some character.

However, the first 70 minutes or so is the most concerning because in all honestly, we were awful. In my last blog I talked about certain players needing to step up and that is still the case. We lost ground on Saturday however; there are still nine games to play. Our away record is still pretty good this year and we have five away games left and MUST win those (well most of them, depending on results elsewhere).

As I said in my last post, I don’t know if we are going to win the league and I would certainly make Manchester United favourites. They still have to play Chelsea BUT we still have to play them and Liverpool at home AND have to go to Stoke and Bolton, which have not always been happy hunting grounds for us.

I’ve been told there have been many debates on twitter about our football club and many opinions have been expressed. Everyone is very passionate about football and therefore everyone is entitled to their opinion. People deal with passion differently and some people like to argue it out, some people just like to talk about it and some people would rather keep themselves to themselves and go with the flow.

As much as I love the debates on twitter, I will be keeping out of it because that is my way. I do hope come match day (which seems AGES away) everyone is re-united and gets behind the team.

Prices of season and match-day tickets have been highlighted too. Match days do cost A LOT! Match day tickets whether it’s a season ticket in club level or a red membership cost a lot and along with transport, a pre-match pint (or 6), a burger and chips, program etc shows it really does add up. If prices are to continue going up, everyone has the right to complain because we are in a recession where people are losing their jobs and money is hard to come by. Like many, Arsenal gives me an escape from the world and match days are when I tend not to answer my phone and just block everything out because there’s nothing more special then going to watch the Arsenal (or whatever club you support).

The prices I (we) pay is the reason why I am not ready to give up on the season. Call me arrogant but I am not paying all this money to go to the remaining games to think the title race is over and I will have that ‘hope’ that Arsenal pull it off…..after all, what else can I do.

Enjoy the international break, let’s hope our players come back without injury and all our countries win (unless we are playing each other!....Wilshere VS Ramsey……what a prospect!). Also, enjoy the Arsenal-less time, I certainly plan too!

As always…Come on you Arsenal!

Thursday 17 March 2011

Horrible, Horrible Few Weeks...

Let’s be honest, the last two weeks have HURT! Make no mistake about that.

We’ve gone from “Arshavinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn” in the first leg against Barcelona, to the cup final in Wembley, to Sunderland at home, to the Camp Nou, to Old Trafford; it’s been a very painful journey.

It did feel like the end of the world on Saturday, seeing us go out of another competition and seeing Johan Djourou’s season ending.

People say it always feels better in the morning but Sunday morning was no different to Saturday night, though Monday morning was slightly different.

I don’t know if we are going to win the league but what I do know is we are still in the title race and are in a good position.

I took a few days away from football (because of recent results and also coming back from Manchester with a bit of a cough) and thought I would just re-think things.

I’ve come to the conclusion that without Johan in the side and playing with two centre backs in their first full season at Arsenal, we will inevitably concede goals. The two were outstanding away to Sunderland and hopefully that sort of fight will return but you cannot help thinking we will concede goals purely because it’s their first ever season in the Premier League.

With that being said, I always feel Arsenal have enough to outscore opponents. After the international break, Cesc and Theo should be back to join Robin, Sammy, Jack etc and offensively at least, we are not missing anyone. Alex Song too is a must; we need him back and with Johan out, Song’s presence is even more vital.

The WBA game comes before the international break, so if we can scrounge out a win, we have a bit of time to get the likes of Cesc, Theo and Song fit. WBA is a huge game and after the past two weeks, nothing but a win will do.

Aaron Ramsey may have a part to play too; he looked bright at Old Trafford and has had some good time on the pitch on loan since his injury. Rambo is undoubetdly a massive part of Arsenal’s future but I think he may play a part this season and be a bit of a surprise.

If Arsenal are to win the league, some players need to step up. Some players may even be playing for their futures. I will not name names but everyone has their own opinion on who should perhaps go at the end of the season or those who just need to work harder.

At a time when ticket prices may continue to increase, player’s wages will be highlighted and therefore players who do not give 100% will not be given much sympathy. The players in the squad MUST show real desire if Arsenal are to win the league and can take a leaf out of the Jack Wilshere book. Every time he puts a foot on a football pitch, he plays with such heart and commitment, that’s what everyone needs to look at.

As a supporter, I feel I have my part to play and that’s to keep supporting my team, I will not talk for anyone else because its not right for other supporters to talk for fellow supporters and at such a emotional time, for me, the best way to channel my emotion and even frustration is by going to WBA on Saturday and singing my F****** heart out!!

Yes, if you asked me on Saturday or Sunday or even Monday if Arsenal can win the league, I may have given you a negative answer, but that’s why I waited a few days till writing this blog….you ask me now? And I’ll tell you that Arsenal CAN win the league – it’s ten cup finals and if we give 100% in ALL ten games, Arsenal CAN win the league.

See you at WBA.

COME ON YOU F****** GOONERS!!!!!!!

Monday 14 March 2011

Week Off Means I Am Taking A Few Days Off...

I think having a week without a game is what I need and no doubt what most Arsenal supporters need.

The last two weeks has been very emotional and therefore I will not write a blog and just wait for a few days to gather my thoughts.

Coming back from Old Trafford with a bad cough hasn't helped either!!

Arsenal We Love You....

Wednesday 9 March 2011

So Close, Yet So Far

I stopped myself from writing this straight after the game because it would have been 500 words of a personal attack on our favourite referee, and may have been slightly biased!

First things first, credit to the best footballing team I have ever seen. Barcelona are amazing, and just keep the ball so well. When they lose it (which is not very often) they press the ball so well that they get it back nearly immediately. Every time we got the ball, they swarmed all over us, and inevitably retook possession. I really respect that Barcelona will never change their philosophy - why would you if you have players like Messi, Xavi, Villa etc?

What a player Messi is, when the ball is at his feet and his running at you, it is one of the most scariest things in the world!

As for Arsenal, where can we start? Of course the sending off made it an impossible task and it was really all down hill from then. People keep telling me how Arsenal had no shots on target but until roughly 30 minutes before the end of the tie, Arsenal were going through. Barcelona were all over us, but as we Arsenal supporters know all too well, it’s one thing dominating a game and having plenty of shots on target, but it’s another thing actually converting those chances in to goals. The argument that some have made is that Robin Van Persie’s dismissal did not affect the outcome as Arsenal would have lost the tie anyway. However at 1-1 on the night, the Arsenal players will have realised that they only needed to score one more goal in the remaining 30 minutes of the tie (or hour if you include extra time), and Barcelona would have had to score 3 goals. But when the ref sent off Van Persie, that allowed Sergio Busquets to move forward in to his normal position in midfield which gave them an extra player in the middle of the park – how could that NOT have made a difference? Also, at the other end earlier in the match, Messi was ruled offside but took his shot after the whistle blew – why didn’t he get booked as well?

The sending off was just ridiculous and anyone with half a football brain knows it. In a stadium with over 90,000 Barca supporters and probably just as many whistles in the crowd, it would have been impossible for Van Persie to know for sure whether he was offside in the one second between the ref’s whistle blowing and him taking the shot. Even if he heard the whistle, his body was already in motion, and it wasn’t like he tried to smack the ball out of the ground to waste time. Surely common sense should have prevailed? The letter of the law tells the ref to book a player that wastes time, but this was not time wasting, Robin did not know if he was onside or not so he took the shot. Imagine if the flag had stayed down and he had stopped - he would have been slated!

What is the bloody point of a 5th official? Surely the referee could have asked him if he heard the whistle because I am convinced he would have said ‘NO!’. Even the Linesman who was in line with Robin wasn’t even asked, I do not see the bloody point of a lineman or a 5th official if they are not even used!

Perhaps the decision would not have affected the outcome of the tie, but who knows? The fact remains that when RVP got sent off, Arsenal were leading the tie. For me, it was a non-decision; there would not even have been a debate about it. It’s not as if the actual offside decision was contentious, or that it was a bad tackle or something that would have caused post-match debate - everyone just expected the game to carry on, and if the ref had not booked Van Persie then no one would have batted an eye lid.

I think tactically something had to be done too. We let them have the ball in their area too much and I thought if we pressed them more, they may have had to do something different. It may not have worked but listening to Spanish experts, that seems the way to play against them.

After Robin was sent off, we had no outlet and no one up front to hold it up and that meant the ball just kept coming back towards the Arsenal defence. The few times we did get it to Nasri, he was alone and there was no one up front to help him out or anyone for him to aim for either. Instead of bringing Arshavin on, I thought bringing Bendtner on and then maybe even Chamakh would have been the better option. We missed the pace of Theo Walcott too; perhaps he could have given us the forward thrust we were desperately missing.

I don’t think any Arsenal supporter will argue that Barcelona were the better team over two legs and deserved to win - however, the best teams do not always win. Arsenal supporters will remember that game against West ham (15 plus shots on target, West ham had one and won the game 0-1) or the game in Europe against CSKA Moscow (when we had many, many shots but the game ended 0-0). So the stats may back up Barcelona (as they usually do) but three quarters of the way through the tie, Arsenal were leading so to lose it is so disappointing. There is no shame going out to Barcelona but we were ONE goal away from knocking them out. I put a few quid down on the score ending 3-2 to Barcelona and perhaps if Robin had stayed on the pitch, it may have happened.

It only takes a minute to score a goal; Nasri’s positive run brought a corner which then brought a goal, and what’s to say that may not have happened again?

The bright note from last night once again was Jack Wilshere; he yet again stood up and gave it his all. Jack seems to care who he is playing against and just gives it his all. Koscielny and Djourou also put in very positive performances, and Almunia was quite simply superb.

There was some Cesc bashing too but he just had a bad game. Yes, playing in Barcelona (where he is from!) may have affected him but to question his commitment and mindset was a little unfair - he just had a bad game! It happens to everyone. Perhaps the fitness issue affected him a little too.

Arsenal must respond on Saturday now. It is now a huge game and Manchester United have their European game next week where as we have a week’s rest. Hopefully Sir Alex may rotate his squad over the next two games.

So a trip to Old Trafford looms on Saturday and we have to just hope for the best.

The Barcelona tie is now over, but you can’t help but think, if only Robin had stayed on…there are no guarantees Arsenal would have scored or gone through but there are no guarantees that Barcelona would have either.


ps. The Champions League may be gone but the FA CUP and Premiership are still 'up for grabs'

Monday 7 March 2011

A Date In Barcelona...

You get the feeling that this Barcelona tie has been a bit of a distraction and it has been in the back of everyone’s mind for a while. The boss said something along them lines too and I think he is right.

How can a game like Barcelona not play on the minds of the players? This last week has been tricky to say the least. Wembley, Orient and Sunderland, all three were totally different but Sunderland (in the bigger picture, Wembley was awful and certainly hurt the most!) was very frustrating. We always seem to be relying on others to drop points and do not take advantage when we have the chance too.

The performance was a bit flat but Arshavin did score a goal and should have had a penalty and Bramble even praised Arshavin for being honest, but Saturday showed, honestly does not always win.

When asked in the presser about that incident and why Arshavin did not go down, the boss said ‘if he goes down, his a diver’ implying you just cannot win. You look at the penalty Newcastle got against us then look at this and it just puzzles you further!

Three points behind with a game hand (game in hand is at the lane) and still to play Manchester United at home so the league is still in the balance. There is not a league game for a while now (and no home league game in what seems like ages!) so focus swings elsewhere.

Barcelona away is the focus now. Cesc Fabregas looks as if he will start and so does Jack Wilshere. Alex Song is a big miss and off course he was missing last year too but he has looked a little tired over recent games so maybe, just maybe, it may not be the worst thing in the world if a fresh player comes in and does well. Id play Abou Diaby there (even though many will disagree) rather then Denilson. I really think Diaby can be a player but with his injuries (and in particular one really bad one) and not getting a run of games just keeps setting him back. I still think he has a lot to prove but I think he can do it.

I think we need two goals in Barcelona and we really can get a positive result. As I am a betting man, I have got a 3-2 to Barcelona prediction and that score line would see us go through (may not be good for our blood pressure or heart though). As the boss said, ‘it’s an illusion to think Barcelona will not score, so we need at least a goal’ but id go further then that and say we need two goals. Two goals mean they need four to go through.

Compared to last year, we are in a better position, not just the obvious goal lead but we have Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin fit and have a centre back partnership that is better then last year (perhaps not Vermaelen but safe to say JD and LK6 are better then Silvestre). We do not have Theo Walcott this time around but have Jack Wilshere who has been massive this season. Sammy Nasri is a better player this year then he was year so there is all to play for. We have put our self in a better position then last year and football is so unpredictable that anything can happen (Messi may only get three this year and we may get 2!).

Now, enough talking and lets make history!!

Come on you Arsenal!!!

Now I was just about to publish this and the news is out about how Robin Van Persie has travelled to Barcelona! What a boast that would be! Being included must mean he is capable of playing a small part and that small part could be the difference!

Come on you gunners!!!

Thursday 3 March 2011

Busy Busy Week!

Been a bit of a busy week hence lack of posts. Sunday was a day we would rather forget but Tuesday night gave us the type of boast we needed with Man Utd Losing then Wednesday night just gave us the much need win we so badly needed.

A perfect night because it was important for Chamakh and Bendtner to score and Clichy even got on the score sheet! It must have been a good day then!!

Sunderland is HUGE now, we must win and put the pressure on United who go to Anfield on Sunday!

Interesting times!

Come on you Arsenal!
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