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Archive for the ‘Cesc’ Category

Arsenal 1-0 Udinese: Great Result, Considering. Much More to Be Done

In Arsenal, Campions League, Cesc, Nasri, Transfers, Udinese, Walcott, Wenger on August 17, 2011 at 12:39 am

Since the game against Newcastle on Saturday the world is starting to look very different.  Whilst there has been much anticipation and little surprise, Cesc Fabregas now dons the colours of his beloved FC Barcelona.  There has been a lot of debate as who got the best out of the deal and at face value it would seem that Barcelona are rubbing there hands with glee.  They have finally signed one of the world most talented midfielders  and somehow they have even managed to persuade him to forgo a £4M sell-on clause which means that Cesc has also been forced to contribute to his transfer fee.

On top of this Samir Nasri has firmly driven a wedge between himself and the Arsenal fans by publicly expressing his dismay at some of the chanting from Arsenal fans at St. James Park.  The fact that the travelling support were so open regarding their feeling on the Nasri contract saga just goes to show how low his stock currently is with the fans whose expectations, by default, are very high in terms of player allegiance and committment to the club whilst under contract.  To have publically tweeted the two texts below can be perceived by many as a sign of contempt not just for his own position but also to congratulate Cesc on achieving his departure.

For everyone’s sake now it’s time for Arsenal to help manoeuvre Nasri’s departure from the club and we can only hope that the recent actions have not limited the choices for an exit and, as such, reduced the value in a similar way to Cesc’s with a one and only departure to Barcelona being possible.

So with Cesc gone and Nasri unlikely to be in Arsene’s immediate plans who is going to step up to the plate and take on the role of as the engine of the midfield.  Well, it’s certainly not going to be Emmanuel Eboue and the club have today agree terms with Galatasary in what is officially an undisclosed fee but rumour suggest that a figure of about €3.5 million.  Again, this move was not unexpected and it’s the right decision for both parties following some cataclysmic displays towards the end of last season which was epitomised by the penalty conceded at the death against Liverpool.

The changing room will be a quieter place without Eboue as he was a larger than life character which was open for all to see when he stood on the otuchline and greeted each and every place as the left the pitch at both half-time and end of match.  His turn around in character following his substitution against Wigan at the Emirates was amazing and whilst he still had his faults on the pitch his ability to deal with that personal adversity mae him into a cult with some sections of the crowd.  Even during the last general election there was a campaign to vote for Eboue instead of the other candidates.  Whilst this may have been tongue his cheek it helped manifest the cult status.

But the deep down, Eboue was his own undoing as he alway tried to do that little bit too much.

Good luck with the move to Galatasary, Emmanuel, you conducted yourself with great decorum (which some others could take a lesson in) and here are some of your finer moments.

And so onto tonight’s games against Udinese and I must admit that I knew little about their team other than that they have Italy’s top scorer for the past two seasons in De Natale

Tonight’s starting line-up was:

Szczesny

Sanga, Koscienly, Vermaelen, Gibbs

Song, Rosicky, Ramsey

Walcott, Chamakh, Gervinho

Subs: Fabianski, Ox-Chamberlain, Arshavin, Frimpong, Bendtner, Jenksinson

On the day that he was announced as vice-captain, Thomas Vermaelen lead the team out due to RvPs suspension from last seasons encounter at the Nou Camp.

The game started at a high tempo and this suited Arsenal who were passing the ball crisply and making good movements across the pitch.  In their first true foray into the Udinese box a sharp cross from Aaron Ramsey was met decisively by Theo Walcott and it was One-Nil to The Arsenal within 4 minutes.

Following this no team really got a stranglehold on the game and barring a couple of chances for Udinese with Szczesny saving well in the first half from Di Natale, the first half passed by with plenty of movement but no real chances to speak of.  At half-time, Gibbs was replaced by Djourou with the former suffering from a hamstring injury.

In the second half you could sense that Udinese fancied their chances of an away goal and continued to pressurize the Arsenal defence.  Just after 9 minutes on the pitch, Johan Djourou was himself replaced by Carl Jenkinson due to the second hamstring injury of the evening.  Is it me or does the Arsenal squad not seem to have had a problem with hamstring injuries over recent time?

Therefore, Vermaelen switched back into the central defence and there were now two right backs on the pitch and Jenkinson played out of his natural position and took the left berth for the rest of the game.

Udinese continues to press forward but were unable to convert their chances and possesion.  By the end of the game, Udinese has 12 shots at goal by only 3 on target.  By comparison, the home team only managed half as many shots with an equal 3 on target.

Theo Walcott has one great chance after being put through by Aaron Ramsey and whilst one on one with the goalkeeper Theo contrived to completely scuff an attempted chip and the chance ended as a damp squib.

Szczesny pulled off an excellent save from a Di Natale free kick just outside the box with the Arsenal No. 1 diving across the length of the goal to turning a curling ball around the post for a corner.

Walcott had the final chance of the evening when put through following on of Gervinho’s dazzling runs only to not put the far enough away from keeper, Handanovic, who made a good save but it could have be made harder for him.

What can we take from the game?  There were certainly some areas of promise.  Our defence managed to keep a clean sheet; we take a lead, albeit a rather slim one to the second leg; and the fans were vocal and supportive of the team’s performance.  Note: there was no announcement of attendance as previously informed by Ivan Gazdis but official numbers state that just over 58,000 were present tonight – there seems to be many more empty seats that this suggests……

As for areas of concern, unfortunately these outweigh the positives:

  • the central midfield seemed to tire in the second half and suffered from a lack of concentration in passing movements Read the rest of this entry »
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“New” Signings and Time for Arshavin to take central role?

In Arsenal, Arshavin, Cesc, Myiaichi, Nasri, Ryo, Wenger on August 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Another series of pointless internationals have just been completed and thankfully, we won’t be hearing of RvP, Theo and Jack Wilshire returning from international duty injured.  They wouldn’t have played anyway but we must take the negatives from the postives.

Of those players that are likely to appear in the starting line-up for Saturdays game we can hope that Gervinho, Ramsay, Nasri, Sagna, Szczesny, Djourou and Arshavin return safe and sound.

Initial reports say Gervinho was inspring as the Ivorians took on Israel and from what’s been seen so far he looks to be just the player to provide that cutting edge on the edge of the penalty box that was so lacking against teams that held against our attacking line last season.

Continuing on the optimisim of new signings, it was confirmed yesterday that a new signing of sorts was finalised.  It’s only taken a number of months and a loan period to Feyenord but Ryo Miyaichi can now ply his trade in the red and white of Arsenal.  That’s two first team players who were unavailable last season but are now – these surely cannot be counted as new signings………

It will be asking of lot of the 18 year old boy to expect an immediate impact in the Premiership but I fear that time is not on the side of this squad given that we may still be seeing the departures of both Nasri and Cesc in the near future.  In recent time the Arsenal teams were renowned for having a young average age but it seems that this is getting lower and lower.  Imagine how the squad average will drop as and when Almunia leaves!

So with the potential of our main midfield creativity about to depart, who could potentially fill the void that will be left?  I would like to see Arshavin tried in that role – we know that his time as a lone striker wasn’t the most dazzling period of his career and he as often struck a forelorn figure out on the wings.  However, what I feel Arshavin needs in order to keep going is the ball at his feet and where better to be than in the centre of midfield.  This was where he was at his inspriational best when playing for Russia is Euro 2008 and when Zenit triumphed in the UEFA cup.  Maybe this season is the time to change things around a bit – for me though this should have been tried in pre-season and there was little evidence of that.

We should also be cautious that we find ourselves with another midfielder publicly opening their heart as a fan of Barcelona.  Maybe we should include something in our scouting process to try and screen out new signings who have the potential desire to play for the Catalans otherwise Arsenal just become a stepping stone.

On a final note, hats off to Gunnerblog for his Silent Stan video.  A marvellous parody and whilst I agree with some sentiments that Arsene Wenger is at risk of turning into his own caricature, it would be sad to see Arsene forced  out by fan pressure.  It would certainly be nice be able to stand back in May with some silverware to cheer about – that’s the challenege Arsene, prove the fans wrong.  Let the results do the talking, that’s was proves that the team has inner stength – the ability to win games when it matters.

Adios mis amigos

 

It’s all a bit crazy at Arsenal

In Arsenal, Cesc, Nasri, Transfers on August 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I’m apprehensive about how Arsenal are going to perform during next season.  This coming Saturday there should be huge anticipation about a brand new season, players will have had a good summer break and should be biting at the bit to win something this year to make up for the shortfalls and nearly successes of the recent past (which is far too painful to recall for now). Yet, it doesn’t feel like it.

Instead, we face the prospect of losing the creative spine of our midfield (if Chamakh is to believed) or they may stay (if Rosicky can be persuasive enough).  Others players are supposed to be departing but they’re still being named in the team.  And here lies the problem, where do we turn for concrete information?  Whilst you have to admire Arsenals stance in not disclosing information on new signing until a signing has been completeed, the club recently admitted that they are powerless to prevent the media from creating various frenzies around speculative stories. I am pretty sure they could do a better job in confirming the pure conjecture to avoid confusion – at the time of this posting Arsenal have been linked with 155 potential signings this summer!  I understand that Arsenals scouting network covers many parts of the global but surely if you were looking to bring new faces into the club you would focus on key targets and ensure that everything was completed and successful in the shortest time possible.  I do feel that other clubs in Europe have been more successful that Arsenal in adopting this strategy.

Apparently this week we’re going to potentially see some new faces but I can’t help but feel that this means that we have not leveraged the pre-season friendlies and training enough to embed news players and styles for the start of a new season.  In the past couple of seasons we have had pretty reasonable starts (relatively speaking) but this season the start is somewhat trickier.  We start against Newcastle where the demons of last season second half capitulation need to be put to rest.  This is then followed by the return of Liverpool  who we are yet to beat at home in 3 seasons.  And before the month of August is over there is another home match against a Premier League challenger, Man Utd and you can’t help but think that you cannot waiting for a new team to click when facing such teams.

So yes, it’s all a bit crazy at Arsenal at the moment, the recent changes in the boardroom; players publicly admitting that they have no desire to stay at the club (which hurts when you would like to think that the vast amounts of money would mean that they can actually play for pride rather than concerning themselves with how the household bills will be paid); a lack of conviction in the development and strategy of the team and the club.  But today we live in a crazy world and whilst our civil society is crumbling around us its been quite reassuring to have one constant in life, the goings on of Arsenal FC and whether or not we might hear of that new glimpse of a headline that will give us fans the much-needed hope that our team will put in a credible title challenge this year.  It keeps me going and I still keep the faith, that’s addiction for you!

Later on this week we’ll have a look the squad for this year even though it is bound to change despite some names being included in the Champions League squad.  We can have a look at the strengths and weaknesses of certain positions but trying to nail down actually names to regular positions is currently as reliable at a Mystic Meg prediction.

Until next time!