glorygunner

Arsenal vs Bolton: Match Report, #RVP100

In Arsenal, Premier League 2011/12, RvP on September 24, 2011 at 10:01 pm

That’s better!


 

Prelude

 

The backdrop to today’s game had been challenging this week – for fans, players and the manager.  Despite all the confidence that was coming from the club that things could be turned, the reality of the situation was that if Bolton won and the game between Fulham and West Brom was a draw the Arsenal would be bottom of the league.  Unfathomable considering the next league fixture would be away to the Spuds.

This meant that the first XI and Arsene needed to walking the walk rather than talking the talk in order to resurrect an appalling start to this season.  A start to the season that was compounded even further by the news prior to kick-off that Jack Wilshere was going to need surgery on his ankle and would be out until Christmas!  For all you good boys and girls out there, if you’re writing a Christmas list make sure that the big man at the North Pole hears our cries loud and clear from North London that we need Jack back and quickly.

The starting line-up pretty much picked itself considered the players available to the manager.  I had Santos in instead of Gibbs but other than that the team was as I’d thought:

Szczesny

Sagna  –  Mertesacker  –  Koscielny  –  Gibbs

Ramsey  –  Song  –  Arteta

Gervinho  – RvP  –  Walcott


 

1st half

 

It was going to be interesting to see how the defence would handle the burly exploits of a Bolton team that stills retains a reputation of being slightly more physical than the aspirational football that some people give Owen Coyle credit for.

To be honest the first half was not the finest game of football we shall see at the Emirates and Bolton were keen emulate that last game against the Gunners and try and nick a win.  The Arsenal back four looked nervy and unsure of what to with the ball and this gave Bolton the impetus.

Within a couple of minutes from the kick-off the first chance of the game presented itself to Darren Pratley who managed to get ahead of Kieran Gibbs from a crossed header and prodded the ball towards goal.  A chance very similar to one made by Swansea in the last league game at the Emirates and once again Szczesny was on par to the effort and he made another magnificent save to prevent any early embarrassments.

After this Bolton had a couple more chances from wide and each time the Bolton attack seemed to be better positioned that the zonal marking system adopted by Arsenal.

At this time, everyone’s favourite Bolton player, Kevin Davis, was warming up on the touchline.  A surprising move but it wasn’t long before he replaced N’Gog following a head injury and the Arsenal crowd gave him a “warm welcome” that a player of his tackling capabilities deserved.

The rest of the first half was quite a dull affair with the only chance of note was a retaken free-kick where Arteta played the ball short to RvP who had enough space to curl the ball just wide of Jaaskelainen’s far post.  A yard further back and that would have been 1-0 to Arsenal.

The main concern going into the half-time break was how were the Arsenal defence going to be able to shore things up at the back.  They had been carved open too frequently for comfort and whilst no clear cut opportunities were created by Bolton you still did not want to give them the chance to be more dangerous.

Just before the break the game livened up during 2 minutes of injury time both of which were created by Walcott.  The second of which was better which a shot from the edge of the box going over the far corner of the goal.  I’m not sure if this final couple of minutes gave the team a little more self-belief or that Arsene’s half-time talk changed the approach of some players but something changed over that 15 minute break and we saw a different Arsenal side in the second half.

 

2nd half

 

Who was it that said that a football is a game of two halves?  Today we saw two different sides between the first and second half and not a substitution in sight to claim the glory.  Rather than the first half when the defence appeared to be devoid of ideas and were unable to get the ball through midfield with much penetration, the start second half saw both Mertesacker and Koscielny taking the ball and moving towards the Bolton midfield.  A nice change from the sideways passing we’d seen so far.  What this did was to draw the Bolton midfield towards the ball and open up space between them and their defence and the dynamic changed in an instant.  Arsenal could attack the defence without having a to go through their midfield at the same time.

And within a couple of minutes, bang!  1-0 to the Arsenal.  For once, Mark Clattenberg made a good decision in allowing play to go on after Gervinho was clearly fouled and RvP scored a goal reminiscent of the one at home against Barcelona last season by beating Jaaskelainen at his near post.  The space was small and the keeper could be blamed for bad positioning but these are split second decisions and our captain took his chance to score his 99th goal for Arsenal.

For 5 minutes after the restart Arsenal suddenly woke up and the interplay between Gervinho and RvP was delightful and further chances were created with the Bolton goal starting to take a peppering of shots.

After 55 minutes it was time to say cheerio to David Wheater who was sent off for a professional foul on Walcott.  RvP play a through ball to Theo who was starting to find his gear when he was pulled back by the Bolton defender.  It looked somewhat harsh from where we were sat but the rules are the rules and he committed a foul as the last defender – even though the goal scoring opportunity may not have quite presented itself at the time.  Nethertheless, for the second year running, Bolton lost one of their central defenders to a sending off and it was only proper for the fans to wish David their best as he went for an early bath.  Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio! Cheerio, cheerio, cheeriooooo!

Whilst it was unlikely that the sending off would have had a great impact on the new found enthusiasm for Arsenal to attack the Bolton goal there were plenty of chance created.  Arteta had  a couple of opportunity, RvP had a header wide and even Koscielny had a chance from outside the box.

Bolton did create one chance of their own following another one of those controversial play-ons whilst a player was down injured.  With a Bolton defender down in their own box, Arsenal continued to play on and try to create a chance.  Jaaskaelainen was obviously try to get people to put the ball out of play when all of a sudden Bolton had a break and Chris Eagles was one on one with Szczesny.  Eagles could have done much better given the opportunity but the young Pole made the save and ultimately the ball went out of play.  Words were exchanged between the Bolton goalie and RvP to the point when Robin appeared to want to take on the entire Bolton defence in order to tell Jaaskelainen to shut up.

Would Jaaskelainen have been moaning if Bolton had gone onto score – of course not but those are the rules and both teams have to play to them so not sure what the problem was really.  If a players seriously injured then the referee would have stopped play but that is why the rule came into force to avoid people going down too easily and stopping play.

Anyway, not allowing this to effect his day in any way, the second goal and headlines for the game went to the club captain, Robin Van Persie.  Good work from Theo in the far corner allowed him to cross the ball across the face of the goal and RvP to flick the ball into the back of the next.  2-0 to the Arsenal and 100 goals in an Arsenal shirt for Robin. #RVP100

A great milestone for him to achieve joining the 100 goal club which has a membership of only 17 players.  Having become captain, RvP seem to have taken the responsibility in his stride and whilst he can be an inspiration of the pitch to his fellow players the class of the individual shone through when he paid his respects to the fans whilst the announcement from the tannoy was about him reaching his own personal achievement.

With 4 minutes left Robin came off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Chamakh yet there was still time for another goal.

In the final minute of normal time a pull-back from Sagna back to the edge of the penalty box found Alex Song in a clear shooting position.  However, he still had a little bit of work to do and  took the ball from his left foot just wide of the advancing defender to crack a right-footed drive into the top corner.  3-0 to the Arsenal and that felt much better.

The game finished and the slight dampener on events was that Theo Walcott came over in injury time (Theo, injury time is not supposed to be the time you get injured it’s just a little bit extra that the referee adds on, normally for no good reason) and we are yet to hear what the injury actually is.  At the moment there are mixed reports as to whether it’s good or bad and we can only wait and find out in the next day or two after the obligatory scans has been performed.

 

Summary

 

It’s certainly great to have another home win under the belts and this one being a little more convincing.  Made all the more important when you glance at the other results of the afternoon and all of the other top 4 hopefuls were in winning positions two.  Arsenal now find themselves at the heady heights of 12th in the league and Bolton drop down to bottom of the table.

As I alluded to earlier, this really was a game of two halves and there was no obvious reason as to why the Arsenal team came out for the second half so much more energised.  Maybe the power of a good team talk made the difference…..?

If you look at the shooting stats you can see that the possession that Arsenal had today was being created into chances and even though the goal/chance ratio is still quite low at least all of the goals were registered on the Arsenal side of the scoreboard.

Next up is the Champions’ League group game against Olympiacos and as Wenger has admitted after the Dortmund games, mistakes may have been made in the past by not seeing the group stages through to topping the groups so I would anticipate that he will be pushing hard for a win of Wednesday.

 

After this is off to Sh*te Hart Lane next Sunday (obviously due to Thursday Spursday) and the next real test to this team to put in a good performance and show the league that the Arsenal are back and mean business.  And if there’s anywhere you want to have mean business then it’s against the Spuds that you want to be meanest.

On a final note, I’ve had great feedback on new items and features for the blog and will be considering all suggestions here that you have regarding what you would like to see from this blog.

Until Wednesday, come on you Gunners!!!!!

GloryGunner

Have Your Chance To Input Into The Ultimate Arsenal Blog

In Arsenal on September 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

 

Hello and welcome to the GloryGunner blog.

 

This is important I need your help in order to help you. 

Why?  The world of Arsenal blogs is very congested and runs the risk of becoming somewhat repetitive and monotonous as a consequence.

This is where you can give input and help differentiate an Arsenal blog that has been designed around you. 

To do this I need you input below on ideas and suggestions on the ultimate Arsenal blog that you would visit on a daily basis.

 

Be part of it, help create the new GloryGunner blog.

Come on you Gunners!

GG

Arsenal: Borussia Dortmund Preview, AST AGM

In Arsenal, AST, Campions League on September 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm

First things First – Dortmund Away

Tomorrow brings back the Champions league format for 2011/12 season and will be held in that big German spare tyre known as Munich’s Allianz Arena.  As German spare tyres go it always makes me think of Helmut Kohl for some reason – I mean, who’d want to be referred to as a big Helmut!

Anyway, moving on, as the journey proper starts in Dortmund and this could prove to be a tricky test.    They’re the champions of Germany (so obviously unseeded and in pot B for the draw) and they are renowned for having quite an atmospheric stadium with both seated and standing areas allowing for a capacity of just under 81,000 fans.  It has also been noted that they haven’t had the best of starts to the season currently sitting at 11th in the Bundesliga after an indifferent start.  Nothing Arsenal fans could potentially imagine of and it’s obviously great going into a game against a team struggling to find form……..oh.

The line-up for Dortmund could be quite interesting and if I were to choose the players on the comical merit of their surnames I would go for the following:

Weidenfeller

Koch – Kringe – Hummels – Piszczek

Bender – Goetze – Großkreutz – Kehl

Zidan – Le Tallec

Arsenal go into the match with a couple of players hoping to be on the plane not making it.  Aaron Ramsey has picked up an ankle injury in training and to be honest I think a rest wouldn’t be a bad thing for Aaron at the moment given the amount of match play he’s had recently.  It’s one think getting an ankle injury that you can recover from but it’s another getting a Jack Wilshere injury that seems innocuous at the time but end up being 3 months on the sidelines.

Tomas Rosicky is also going to be out of the game and I’m sure he’ll be gutted at missing the chance to return to his former club once again. 

So with this in mind the squad that travelled to Germany was only 18 men strong and with Ramsey out it’ll be interesting to see who will play in the centre of midfield.  If Wenger sticks with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation then I would imagine that Gervinho would come in for Arshavin and would he be willing to play both Song and Frimpong in the middle with Arteta just sitting in front.  Could you imagine that?  A Song/Pong tag team in the middle of the park and if any player was lucky enough to get between then then SMACK Mertesacker will be straight onto him.  If so, then I would imagine the line-up would be something like this:

Szczesny

Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs

Song – Arteta – Frimpong

Walcott – RvP – Gervinho

Tomorrow’s came is the start of a two-match ban extension to the one imposed by UEFA for Arsene not using his own phone to speak to the bench against Sudanese.  Which in turn was a ban for the magnificent performance by Massimo Busacca in the game against Barcelona when he sent off RvP for continuing to take a shot some 100ms after the whistle had blown amongst 95,000 squealing fans in the Nou Camp.  Therefore, Pat Rice will effectively be in charge tomorrow so no doubt we will see lots of flapping of arms from the touchline.

AST AGM

On another note, the Arsenal Supporters trust held their AGM this evening and whilst I was not in attendance the great job of certain Tweeters gave the wide audience a true insight into how the AST keeps the current Arsenal management team on their toes.  And rightfully so.  From the snippets I’ve seen it there were some great insights to many of the questions of the tip of fans tongues:

 

Are the fans committed to the running of the club Yes The fanshare scheme is only a year old and currently has 2,000 members and has invested over £1M.
Does this run against the plans of the current owner(s) Yes Due to demand from fanshare scheme there is not enough shares available (in a capitalist world this must push up the price).  Current owners “cooling” on previous promises for increased fanshare

£2M was raised by selling Armoury bricks (wonder if that includes maintenance outside shop entrance/exit?)

Arsenal unable to meet wage demands of players Not true Arsenal currently 4th highest wage payers.  Current structure though means that persistently injured Abou Diaby is on a higher salary than the highest salary earner at Spuds at £60K a week (A WEEK)

This means that it is hard to differentiate top earners amongst the squad.

New Stadium Hindering Progress Yes/No Arsenal is not getting the same value in the current market compared to other clubs.  The number of partners is currently limited to long term exclusivity deals.  This hinder underlying revenue for club rather than just impacting transfer budget.

Transfer budget currently stands at £50M following summer activity.  Therefore, this has actively not been spent.

Therefore reduced income can only translate to increase ticket prices which impacts fans rather than owners

Reinvestment in the squad is not available No As mentioned earlier, the transfer fund currently sits at £50M.  This is the amount left after recent transfer window.  Money said to be spent only on players that can improve the squad.  However, with revenue linked into aforementioned commercial partner deals the only way to increase revenue would be to have more success on the pitch.  Double dilemma at the moment as current squad does not have the depth to push on through the final stages of the season in 4 separate competitions.  Therefore, no investment, no progress.  No progress, no prize money.  No prize money, no investment, etc., etc.
Arsene not willing to spend money True The transfer policy for the club is between Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis.
Are the board/owners actively managing Arsenal? It would seem not The perception is the Kroenke is not driving decision making at Arsenal and his investment in a strategic one.  All team management and to that extent, the strategy of the club, is driven by Arsene Wenger.

As highlighted above, the fanshare scheme could be at risk due to neither Kroenke nor Usmanov willing to release shares and Usmanov only releasing the same number of shares than Kroenke.  Suggest that only individual purposes are being served rather than embracing fans desire to be more involved.

 

Looking back over these comments there are some big areas of concern. 

The financial power that Arsenal may have had a few years back has gone and whilst it appears that it is not the actual debt of the new stadium that is holding the club back it is in fact the deal that were negotiated at the time that may have lacked a little foresight through the life the of terms agreed.  This will impact the club for the next 3-4 years at least. 

Furthermore, and reading between the lines, there is a strained relationship between Gazidis and Kroenke with Ivan struggling to get Stan to commit to anything or become more involved in the over-arching strategy and implementation.  I have been critical of the squad’s development since Gazidis joined the club and this was before Kroenke was heard of at Arsenal.  There seems to be some conflict here and as to what the resolution will be we will have to wait and see but this dynamic may not be something that will stand the test of time – something will break.

What’s also concerning during the intervening period is that fans can expect additional trauma with transfer situations like the Nasri debacle that was just experience.   Long term contracts needs to be resolved for Robin van Persie, Alex Song, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen and with the spectre of every Arsenal fans favourite agent, Darren Dein, hanging over these deals then we have some rocky times ahead.  And people still cry out for the return of David Dein………!

There will be more detail on the AST AGM via various channels but I’ve filled in my forms already for the AST and they have a stake at the top table and with the right approach, they have the chance to influence the future of the club.  Thanks to @legrove and @DarrenArsenal1 for the updates during the AGM.

Right, bring on Dortmund tomorrow – love a bit of Champions League!  Until then, Auf Weidersehn Pet.

GG

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.