Category Archives: world cup

Final day victory for Gunners

MesutOzilNorwich

Well, what a season it’s been. Up and down that’s for sure… but I can’t help but feel most Arsenal fans will be thinking what could have been.

Arsene Wenger went out and spent big at the beginning of the season, at the last minute of course. Mesut Ozil was the player who came in for a big money fee. Initially, and for the first four months of the season, the German was first class. After January though, he looked to be tired and short of fitness. This, as has been in the past, was the story of Arsenal’s decade. A short squad, lacking the players needed to make a title challenge.

The first few months, in and around the Emirates, it felt like we supported a different team. The fans were more friendly, the atmosphere was buzzing; people felt like Arsenal could go on and win some trophies this season. We looked like we could do it and Wenger had finally got it right.

Then the injuries started coming, as they usually do. What we need to look at desperately is firstly our team of physios and also the training that Wenger is adopting. It seems to tire out our players and makes it easier for them to pick up injuries during the big games. Think about this, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was missing this year, Mesut Ozil for a lengthy spell, we lost Lukas Podolski for a while; Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky picked up an injury for a short time, Kieron Gibbs picked up his annual niggle too. There were many. Why does this happen to us at all important times of the season?

Into January, the injury to Theo Walcott against Tottenham was the final nail in the coffin. Even though we were top of the league then and flying high, we were short of pace on the flanks, all important in the modern game. Look at any other title chasing team, Liverpool have Raheem Sterling; Chelsea have Schurrle, Salah; Man City have David Silva and Jesus Navas. Arsenal did have Serge Gnabry on the bench, but he didn’t have a go, not really sure why Wenger didn’t put much faith in him. I expect to see Gnabry play a more important role at Arsenal next year. If he’s not guaranteed a chance, then please send him out on loan somewhere Arsene.

Then, everything went downhill into the last 10 games of the season. Psychologically, Arsenal took a battering with the 6-0 defeat against Chelsea. That’s when it was all over. We still continue to show that we can’t compete against the best top teams, that really does hurt. We need to change that if we’re going to compete next year, that means we need a class defensive midfielder, someone like Fernandinho; also a good replacement for Bacary Sagna. We also need to keep Lukas Podolski and think about bringing in yet another striker. We don’t have enough forwards to challenge for the title. I wonder if some of our promising wonderkid’s will have a go next season?

As for the final day for Arsenal, it was a victory and a comfortable one as well. Aaron Ramsey scored a wonderful goal, Marco van Basten-esque in fact. Then Carl Jenkinson also got on the scoresheet as well with an impressive goal. Finding some room in front of goal and spanking home in decent fashion. I wonder if he’ll be brought in to replace Bacary Sagna next year as a straight swap? So very ironic that his first goal for the club comes in Sagna’s last game…

So it’s on to the FA Cup Final against Hull City next week and then it’s job done and on to the World Cup for the majority of our players. We have had a brilliant little spell of form recently, it’s just a shame we couldn’t hold up against the top teams this season and it might’ve been different indeed.

We’ve also got the all important and expected contract signing of Mr. Wenger coming up soon. When will that be announced? How long will he sign for? Is he doing a Sir Alex and will he retire at the end of the season unannounced? Very unlikely, but it is peculiar that Arsene is keeping his cards close to his chest. I expect he’ll sign a two year contract and that he’ll not be spending much money at all this summer. He really doesn’t think he needs to. What he should be doing though is bringing in some experienced heads to join his coaching team. Dennis Bergkamp is doing a wonderful job at Ajax as Frank De Boer’s assistant, how about bringing him onto the coaching team? What about the medical team? Can we bring in some experience from a rival club there? How about the backroom team? In the age of big data, do we have quality people who are analysing our opponents? Can we add some knowledge here… I’m sure most of our rivals do.

Anyway, it’s a final day win and congratulations to Man City. To be honest, of all the teams at the top I was personally happier that City won the league… can you imagine if Liverpool won with that average squad? What about Jose Mourinho with his negatron tactics?

Let’s learn from this season, lift the FA Cup and spend big in the summer. It’s been a mixed season indeed… onward and upward.

Onward we march – Arsenal prepare for tricky Everton tie

Roberto Martinez Arsene Wenger

It’s the weekend and that can only be one thing, time for the Arsenal! Having beaten Hull City in midweek (courtesy of a very rare Nicklas Bendtner goal and a stunning Mesut Ozil performance), we’re four points clear at the top of the league and all is looking very rosy. Next up is the visit of Everton to the Emirates. The Toffees are in pretty good form right now, having just beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 21 years. I have to say, one of the most amazing stories coming out of that tale is the fact that David Moyes never managed to achieve that and Roberto Martinez did it on his first effort. I really like Martinez, he seems to have tactical wisdom whilst also focusing on good quality football. Should the day come that Arsene Wenger decides to step down, Martinez would be a quality addition. This weekend’s game should see the return of Olivier Giroud back into the first team and I think you might even see Theo Walcott make his first start since returning from injury. Mesut Ozil will need a rest soon and I challenge Wenger to give him the first 60 minutes on the bench. Will be very interesting to see how we line up. If we do win, we should keep our four point lead ahead of Chelsea at the top of the league. Chelsea have a pretty tricky looking visit to Stoke City on Saturday, I wouldn’t expect there to be too many goals in that game, so fingers crossed the likes of Robert Huth and Scowcross can do us a favour and keep a cleansheet. City travel to Southampton and I wouldn’t expect Pellegrini’s side to drop points there, Southampton’s early season form appears to be waning and Victor Wanyama also is out of this game.

I’d like to see Ozil rested, Walcott playing alongside Giroud up front and in the middle, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, Cazorla and Arteta. The rest given to Sagna and Gibbs should mean they are called up to the squad as well.

Elsewhere, it appears that Arsene Wenger has been offered a new three year deal and that he is very close to accepting it. Fingers crossed on this one. I’ve been worried that Arsene has been delaying for far too long to put pen to paper but it appears he’s been persuaded to stay by the board and his focus on signing young players and watching them grow up appears to be the catalyst for keeping him at the club. With a new deal for Wenger, you have to always be thinking ahead for the next few years and what might be possible with this cracking set of young players. He’s had his ups and downs, but he actually might well be on the verge of something special this season.

Also, the World Cup draw has been completed – another farce from FIFA as always. How on earth is Switzerland seeded?! In one group you have the mighty Greeks, Japan, Colombia and the Ivory Coast; in another, Germany, Portugal, USA and Ghana. This to me is an absolute farce. What is the point of having seeding if the same old boys are the ones deciding who gets seeded? Any chance that the fact FIFA are based in Switzerland has anything to do with it? Or the fact that Mr. Blatter is Swiss?! Regardless, England have been drawn Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay. That is a tough group. But as many have already said, to be the best you need to beat the best. Oh well, we’re not the best – so at least we won’t have to face the agony of another penalty shoot out.

Anyway, that’s all from the Sensei for now – enjoy the game and come on you rip roaring Gooners!!!!

Mesut Ozil to take a rest vs. England, The Ox has injury setback?

THE OX

Happy Mondays guys

So not much of note this morning to talk about, but Mesut Ozil has been told he will be rested for the game against England. This is good news for Arsenal indeed, and Joachim Loew has laughed off speculation that he is not taking this game seriously because he’s fielding reserves. Who gives a monkeys? If Ozil is rested this is good news for our championship push as the player hasn’t had enough rest since joining us.

In other news, Theo Walcott is all set to make his long awaited return to the first team against his former club Southampton at the weekend. That means we could even decide to rest Giroud, depending on how long he plays against Ukraine this week. I know everyone wants Arsenal to sign a new striker but I don’t think we need to. We’ve got Walcott who wants to play more as an out and out striker and Podolski can do a job as a backup for Giroud. We don’t need to sign a striker even though it would be very nice to have.

In other news, it appears Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has had a major setback in his recovery from injury. That’s truly bad news and it seems that he won’t be back in the first team until New Year at the very earliest. The England international will be eager to get back up and playing against top opposition, especially with the World Cup coming up.

With Laurent Koscielny suspended for the France-Ukraine game, that’s a nice bit of news for Arsenal fans as well. He will need a break too.

So our major concerns will be Per Mertesacker, who is likely to play some part in the game against England, whilst Olivier Giroud has to be our biggest concern. He has been absolutely knackered in the games I’ve seen him this year and you have to wonder if France slump out of the qualifiers how that will make a difference to the striker mentally.

Fingers crossed he doesn’t play and they decide to play Karim Benzema instead. I was very surprised with Deschamps’ choice of players against Ukraine anyway and they will need all the goals they can get, so it might even work for them to play both Benzema and Giroud. Regardless of what happens, let’s hope he doesn’t get an injury too… we’ve so far escaped relatively unscathed.

Until tomorrow!
The Sensei

After the international break Arsenal need to pick up where they left off

LaurentKoscielnyredcard

Happy Sunday folks – so the international results this week have been very interesting indeed. The most interesting of all has to be France slumping to 2-0 defeat to Ukraine in the World Cup qualification playoff. In my opinion, this could be one of the biggest upsets in qualification history… it’s going to be difficult for the French to come back. I was having a look at their team and I was very surprised by Didier Deschamps’ starting lineup choices. For example, how can you leave out Bacary Sagna and play Mathieu Debuchy instead? Even stranger, why on earth would you pull in an out of form Nasri ahead of someone like Valbuena? Very interesting. Anyway, we expect changes for the next leg. I’d not doubt France coming back into the tie, and Ukraine need to make sure that they defend strong for the whole game otherwise they could find themselves well out of the picture.

As for other games, well not much to say really. Chile absolutely spanked England at Wembley and even more proof that Roy Hodgson is just not the man to carry this team forward for the future. I was immediately surprised just how bad England were, but then again if you persist in your team selection that includes the likes of Frank Lampard then you’re destined for trouble. Expect a very rapid exit from the tournament in Brazil, don’t forget England are not even seeded.

As for Arsenal news, not much in the way of gossip today actually. Blaise Matuidi’s contract at PSG is expiring next summer and it seems that Chelsea and City are leading the way. I’d actually not discount us from the race to sign the midfielder. Mathieu Flamini is a great player but can we expect another season of quality out of him? Hard to say. Matuidi is what we need. He has drive, power and an excellent stopper of the ball… and he’s French. I’d say we’re in the race.

Elsewhere, Bendtner has been bleating on about his future again. I’d expect to see the Great Dane disappear out the exit door come January as we pursue our next striking transfer target.

In other news, we’ve also been linked with a transfer for Kurt Zouma again. This really excites me. He’s the best defender in Ligue 1 and he’s young, let’s say we actually do let Vermaelen leave you aren’t going to find a better backup for Mertescielny. Speaking of which, Laurent Koscielny also picked up a red card in the international game, which rules him out for the return leg in France . The centre back loves to get a red card or four every season, can’t doubt his commitment. At least he’s got another one for the national side and not domestic and that means one less player that won’t be on the injury table after the international period.

Anyway – have an excellent weekend guys and thanks for reading!

I hate the interlull! Fingers crossed there’s no injuries

England

When you’re on good form, there’s nothing worse than an international break. There’s three reasons why it’s annoying, firstly we don’t get to see our beloved Arsenal in action in the first place. Secondly, we’re actually having a decent season so far – if there’s one club where you get back less players from duty than you actually sent, it’s Arsenal. Thirdly, it’s the injuries.

I read this morning that Cashley Cole has pulled out of the England squad for the games against Ukraine and Poland and Kieran Gibbs has gone to replace him. Sincerely hope that Gibbs comes back in one piece, he has been a rock at the back so far this year and the last thing we need is a defensive crisis to go with our midfield and attacking ones.

In terms of the England game itself, I really have less and less interest in the performance of the team every game that goes by. In my opinion, qualification should have been wrapped up already. When you rely on two wins against the mighty Montenegro and Poland, you know you’ve not done the job well enough already. Still, it’s in England’s hands, which isn’t all a bad thing. Until of course they fuck it up on the day.

Some positives of course is that for the players are that already injured, there will be more time to rest and heal. A couple of players that we expect to return after the international break include Santi Cazorla. I’m already frothing at the mouth thinking about the combination of Santi and Ozil in the same team. That’s true championship winning class.

So, at the weekend the famous 12th win in a row didn’t happen which was a bit of a bummer. But I liked the look and fight of the Arsenal side at the weekend. We gave it all we had despite having a patched up squad. Again Aaron Ramsey on the wing just doesn’t work. He needs to be playing through the middle. Jack Wilshere, despite smokegate, seemed to put in a decent enough performance even though he lost the ball far too often. For me, our best player was Mertesacker. Cool, calm and composed in the centre of defence. When the crosses come in I love knowing that the BFG is there in the middle of the box. Granted, their goal did come from a setpiece in typical Arsenal defensive fashion, but on the whole the German can be happy with his display. Laurent Koscielny was strangely anonymous for most of the game. I think that Flamini didn’t do so well covering, this is partially because WBA seemed to be playing a very attacking formation, Berahino and Anelka proved to be a constant threat. We were lucky to come away with the point, Anelka really should have put away that shot after all.

Elsewhere, not much else to report on in the world of Arsenal. We’ve been linked with a move for Alexander Milosevic¬†who is seemingly being tracked by every single Premier League club going. I don’t know much about him but having some more defensive cover would be nice.

That’s all for now, have a decent day Gooners!