Monthly Archives: September 2013

Tomas Rosicky to return for Napoli game, Wenger wary of Napoli threat

Rafa Benitez Napoli

Happy Monday folks, there’s not much in the way of Arsenal news this morning yet but of course there is the preparation for the visit of Napoli to the Emirates in the Champions League this Tuesday.

Napoli are really looking good this year. Their attacking quartet of Higuain, Callejon, Hamsik and Insigne is young, quick and able to compete with the best. If we’re going to get a win out of this game, our defence will need to be at their very best. Arsenal have been good defensively this year. There’s talk of a possible return for Rosicky, who could be pushed out onto the left flank giving Serge Gnabry a rest. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Rosicky is often deployed in the middle but when we signed him he used to play behind the striker or on the flank. For us to get three points out of this game, we will need to play a smart, passing game. The only way we’re going to get one over the Italian side is by playing intelligent football and hoping our defence can keep up with their speed. On the left, Callejon will be against Sagna, this is where I’m worried. I would actually prefer to see Carl Jenkinson in there. Yes he’s experienced, but he has the pace to deal with the threat of Napoli’s wing play.

Napoli have already impressed in the Champions League this year, as they beat Borussia Dortmund in the last matchday. Wenger said of that performance: “For Napoli to beat Dortmund is certainly something very special and it will lift their confidence.”

That’s exactly right. This is a young team brimming with confidence as they look to be early favourites for the Serie A title. I’m also of the opinion that Rafa Benitez will be eager to produce the goods in front of English football fans, having been dumped by Chelsea at the end of last season; despite helping them win the Europa League trophy.

Arsene Wenger also referred to the pace of Napoli in a comment yesterday: “When they win the ball they come out very quickly with Callejón, [Marek] Hamsik, Insigne and Higuaín – they all come out like bombs every time they win the ball. This means that the transition from our team from offence to defence will have to be very quick.”

The question is can we deal with that little attacking threat, let’s hope so.

Have a nice week folks!

Swansea win sends Arsenal top of the league

Jack Wilshere,Per Mertesacker,Aaron Ramsey

So, Arsenal continued their good start to the season and Aaron Ramsey has kept up his goalscoring exploits. If you compare our season so far to this point last season, it couldn’t be any different. Aaron Ramsey has scored more goals so far this season than he did in the whole of the last two seasons and we’re top of the league, it’s truly amazing!

Yesterday’s game and build up was all about whether or not we could maintain this good form on the road against a big club. Granted, Swansea weren’t a big team until a couple of years ago, but a trip to Wales is always a good test for the boys.

Arsene Wenger decided to keep an unchanged side to the week prior and that meant young Serge Gnabry would be playing three games in a week. It’s experience like this that gives youngsters the chance to prove themselves at the highest level.

We started off on the back foot, but didn’t ever really look like we were going to be challenged by the Swans. In truth, Michu looked like their most dangerous player for the majority of the game, while Dwight Tiendalli and Nathan Dyer often looked like they would cause aggravation for our team from the wings.  However, I have to say, Sagna and Gibbs played excellently stopping the attacking threat of the Swans. It’s amazing to see Gibbs continue to develop after a rough start at Arsenal, but I think in Gibbsy England have a pretty excellent replacement for Ashley Cole.

In the middle of the park, we played pretty well. Jack Wilshere seems to be becoming more of a free role midfielder these days. He’s been given complete freedom to pick up the ball, get stuck into challenges and then roam forward and start build up play. He was saying earlier in the week that he hopes to score more goals soon – to be honest he shouldn’t worry about the goalscoring, just keep doing the simple stuff well. As for Flamini, what can you say… yet another solid game from the Frenchman. What a good start he’s having back at the Emirates. Of course, most of the plaudits will go to Ramsey again. He had an excellent game and bagged another goal, if he keeps this up then we too will be able to continue our good form.

Serge Gnabry opened the scoring with a crisp and composed finish into the corner. I really like the look of Gnabry, the German made a couple of excellent runs and almost created a goal earlier on in the game. It’s going to be hard for the young lad to move back to the reserves after Walcott and The Ox return from injury.

Giroud looked a little lost yesterday and so did Ozil. Luckily when our best two attacking players have bad days this season, we have the strength in central midfield to stay in the game.

Overall, excellent from the Arsenal. There’s not much in the news today, apart from talk of a potential new contract for Per Mertesacker. I have to say, we need to give him a new contract as soon as possible, he’s coming into the best years of his career and he still continues to produce the goods every game I’ve seen him in this season.

The next game sees us take on Napoli on Tuesday. Looking forward to that one. They are in my opinion better than Juventus now and will push for Serie A, and Rafa Benitez is a great coach who can do the business there. Will be looking forward to seeing how well Higuain plays as well of course!

Have a good Sunday, please post in the comments.

A Swansea win could prove Arsenal’s title credentials

Laurent Koscielny

Good morning folks, it’s Saturday which means it’s finally time for Arsenal to play again! This weekend we’re traveling to Wales to take on the mighty Swansea. A lot has been made already about Arsenal’s good start to the season, but we have yet to really be tested apart from that 3-1 home defeat to Villa. A visit to Swansea is traditionally quite a tricky test and I truly believe a win at the Liberty will prove our title credentials this year.

In the early kick off today, Tottenham battled out a 1-1 draw against Chelsea. I couldn’t think of a better result, even if Chelsea would probably be happier with the result, getting a point away at a potential title rival.

That being said, the Arsenal players will be well aware of the result earlier today and will be firing on all cylinders when it comes to kick off time this afternoon.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’d like to see Arsenal play something of a defensive formation. I’d put Flamini behind Wilshere and Arteta, with both Ozil and Ramsey having the freedom to roam behind Giroud up front. It’s not a particularly defensive look but as you well know Ramsey nor Ozil are wingers, so we should fill up the centre of the park to block any potential attacks from the Swans.

One thing about this game is it sees us take on Michu. He’s a lively striker and I read somewhere this morning that linked us with a move for the Spaniard in the January transfer window again. I also read another blogger mention that if we signed Michu we would definitely be challenging for the title come the end of the year. He really has been one of the all time bargains of the Premier League. He’s quick, mobile, good in the air, good at finishing and still has a fair few years left before he reaches his prime. He wouldn’t be a bad signing for Arsenal at all. For now though, the focus should be on crowding him out. With Koscielny and Mertesacker at the back I’m more than confident we can drown out any Swansea attacks.

If we are going to be realistic challengers this season, we simply have to beat them.

My prediction is that the boys should grab a 2-0 win today and I’ll be crossing my fingers, toes, chopsticks and everything else hoping for that result. Enjoy the game!

Youngsters impress in Capital One Cup win over West Brom

League Cup Win Arsenal

So, our youngster’s campaign in the Capital One Cup will continue through until at least October as Arsenal beat the Baggies on penalties to progress through to the fourth round last night. I have to say, I didn’t watch all of the game but what I saw of the Gunners’ youth players really impressed me. Chuba Akpom looks like a real talent. The 17-year-old looks like he’s going to be one heck of a player; I truly hope he gets some chances in the first team under Arsene Wenger. As we’ve seen in the past, this isn’t always the way with our beloved manager. It seems that at almost one point during every season we see a youngster push for a first team place and play regularly in the League Cup, for example the likes of Nico Yennaris, Ryan Garry in years gone past, etc. Akpom has impressed and could well continue his good form in the reserves, so the longer our League Cup hopes go on, the better for first team experience.

In terms of the result yesterday, an excellent victory indeed. Over the 90 minutes we looked to put in a lot of effort across the park and our reserves will be happy with their performance. Bendtner also returned to the first team and at times looked to be a bit short on fitness, which is no surprise considering it is his first game of the season and also his first Arsenal game since 2011. He did however get an assist, which will be a major relief for him. Arsene did say after the game that he expects Bendtner to keep this up, as he will be a regular in this year’s competition.

It’s never easy watching a penalty shootout, but with this being the least of our priorities, I’m sure most were delighted that it wasn’t a major one for us. Still, it keeps the good form going and I’m sure Wenger will be delighted with the result.

We will now focus on our next Premier League game this Saturday against Swansea. We need to keep our good form going with a win over the Swans and this week’s midweek absence for the likes of Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud will do them some good. I’d like to see Arsenal play a defensive formation this weekend. I wasn’t completely convinced with Gnabry last night and we surely won’t want to play the youngster three games in a row.

If I were to be in charge, here’s the team I’d play this weekend:

Szczesny
Sagna
Mertesacker
Koscielny
Gibbs
Flamini
Wilshere
Ramsey
Arteta
Ozil
Giroud

I’d also like to see Ramsey playing on the flank, I know he’s been deployed there in the past and hasn’t impressed, but with the youngster’s current good form you have to keep the faith that he will continue to keep up the good work. Who would you play?

That’s all from me for now. Thanks for visiting!

Walcott injury leaves squad looking threadbare, Wenger claims Bendtner “can be unstoppable”

Nicklas Bendtner

Morning everyone, I personally am very glad it’s hump day; it’s been a long week and a couple of days since we were in action, when times are going well it’s funny how you miss watching the Arsenal in action and want to see them play as much as possible to keep the momentum going.

I read this morning that Tottenham have won 8 games out of their last 9, that’s pretty remarkable considering they lost their best player in the summer. Considering the scum have added a host of new players to their squad and, as seen with Sunderland already this year, that strategy doesn’t work; it’s a pretty impressive start to the year for the spuds. They won 4-0 at Aston Villa last night with Jermain Defoe grabbing a couple. Seriously, I can’t believe he stuck around at White Hart Lane after the way they’ve treated him. Anyway, let’s hope our lads can match them with a win against West Brom in the Capital One Cup tonight.

Speaking of the game this evening, we’ll be playing Nicklas Bendtner for the first time since 2011 in an Arsenal team. I honestly had never expected that the burly Dane would ever play another game for the Gunners, but it seems Arsene Wenger still sees something in the self proclaimed world’s best player and he will have another chance in the team. After disappointing loan spells at Juventus and Sunderland it will be very interesting to see how he does back with us. I’m not going to give him a hard time, but he really should have quit the club a long time ago. We don’t know whether there are financial reasons on his side or the club’s for Bendtner still being a Gunner, but I am sure most of you will agree we just want to see 100% from a player who has lost his way drastically in the past two to three years.

Arsene Wenger, rather interestingly, said in an interview: “It’s just down to attitude and fighting [spirit]. When he has that, Nicklas can be an unstoppable striker. He gets his chance. Our job is about that. Take your chance.”

I personally can’t see Bendtner ever being the unstoppable striker anywhere other than the Danish league, but I hope the forward can prove us all wrong.

In other news, it appears that Theo Walcott will be undergoing surgery on his abdominal injury this week. The England international will be flying to Germany to have some “minor surgery” and will be out of action for up to a month. I can’t help but feel this is a classic example of our players being overworked or over trained. I can’t remember the last time we had a completely injury free list of players, and when you look at Robin van Persie’s injury record since he joined Man Utd, you can see it isn’t completely impossible that our training methods are what cause all the aggravation for our squad problems. With that in mind, it looks like Serge Gnabry will continue to operate as a replacement for Walcott for the time being and our Japanese hero Ryo Miyaichi might get some game time over the coming weeks. It’s disappointing that we didn’t see this coming and Wenger should’ve been giving the players a bit more rest, but hey, when you get to mid season let’s hope our injury problems will have diminished and we’ll have a stronger squad to choose from.

That’s all from me for now – by the way thank you for visiting my blog!