It has been no secret that Cesc Fabregas wishes to one day return to his hometown and boyhood club Barcelona. When exactly that wish comes true is anybody’s guess. It nearly did, though, this summer. The Arsenal captain requested that he be allowed to leave but the request was respectfully turned down by Arsene Wenger. That did not stop Barcelona to continuously make approaches for the midfield maestro only to be given the cold shoulder by Arsene Wenger.

Now the Arsenal number 4 has moved on. Wenger said he expects him to stay at Arsenal a lot further than just this season and today Fabregas just explained why that could be true:

“I have strong feelings for Barcelona and they will always be in my head. I try to watch their games most weekends. But my first priority now is Arsenal because I am a professional.

“What happened in the summer didn’t damage my reputation at the club or my friendships or relationships there.

“Many of my team-mates are also friends and they know my true feelings.

“It will be spectacular to repeat the Champions League final of 2006 in a stadium like Wembley. And of course to defeat Barca.

“I’ve never had a problem with the coach. He knows how passionate I am and that I will always give my maximum for Arsenal. I dream of winning the title with Arsenal. I never hid my intentions in the summer. I wanted to play for Barcelona but it wasn’t possible and that’s finished.

“Now I will always give my best for Arsenal. They are such a special part of my life and I want to be successful here. I will always be grateful to Arsenal.”

APPEAL:
Everyone is requested to please donate as much as you can for the rehabilitation of the flood victims in Pakistan. The country has been hit by one of the worst floods ever which has left over 20 million people homeless. Every penny you donate can help a person so please don’t hold back even if you cannot donate a substantial amount. Here’s a couple of links where you can donate online:
http://www.unicef.org.uk/give/index.asp?page=80
https://www.donate.bt.com/dec_form_pfa.html

Arsene Wenger can be very happy with his purchase of Marouane Chamakh. The Moroccan striker scored his fifth goal for his new club in the 2-1 victory over Birmingham and he was involved with both his side’s goals as the former Bordeaux man put in an action-packed performance.

Chamakh was brought down by Scott Dann in the area just before the half time interval and Samir Nasri made no mistake from the penalty spot.

For the second, Chamakh snuck in behind the Birmingham defence and was found by Jack Wilshire, before the striker jinked past a tackle to finish nicely. No one had made Birmingham betting tips to win the game before kickoff, but in the end Chamakh’s influence was vital to ensure the home side picked up three points.

The French born striker, who has made more than 50 appearances for Morocco, joined the club on a free transfer from Bordeaux in the summer and has endeared himself to his new fans with a series of impressive performances. Wenger had been a long time admirer of Chamakh, but had never been able to agree a fee with Bordeaux. The 26-year-old forward allowed his contract with the French club to expire and jumped at the chance to sign at the Emirates.

However, the striker’s goal tally this season might have come as something of a surprise to Wenger. In Chamakh’s 230 appearances for Bordeaux, he contributed a modest 56 goals. As with so many players over the years, playing under Wenger seems to be bringing the best out in the Moroccan.

Chamakh’s form couldn’t have come at a better time for manager Wenger, who has been without Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner for much of the new campaign. Chamakh’s performance showed his ability to play as a lone front man as well as in a partnership.

Arsenal will need their newest striker to carry on his form into the rest of the campaign. He bagged another goal as the side kept up its 100 per cent record in Europe when they hosted Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donesk, and the Champions League betting suggests they have every chance of pushing on in the competition.

APPEAL:
Everyone is requested to please donate as much as you can for the rehabilitation of the flood victims in Pakistan. The country has been hit by one of the worst floods ever which has displaced over 20 million people. Every penny you donate can help a person so please don’t hold back even if you cannot donate a substantial amount. Here’s a couple of links where you can donate online:
http://www.unicef.org.uk/give/index.asp?page=80
https://www.donate.bt.com/dec_form_pfa.html

The most successful manager in Arsenal’s history has turned 61 today. The manager has revitalized the previously boring style of play of Arsenal since joining in 1997 by introducing the free flowing, slick one touch passing game that we love to see every week; a style which is almost unmatched in Europe. With the beautiful football, Wenger has managed to win the Premier League thrice and the FA Cup and Community Shield four times each during his 13 years as Arsenal’s manager. The Frenchman reached a career high when he led his side, which came to be known as ‘The Invincibles’, to an unbeaten season in the 2003-04 season.

Lately though, he is going through a bad phase. 5 seasons without winning any silverware has led his critics to believe his time as a top manager is up citing his stubbornness to stick to the seemingly failed youth project and his stinginess in the transfer market as the main reasons. Another trophy-less season could be one too many. Till then, he is the leader at Arsenal and the fans should stay behind him through thick and thin.

As a tribute to the witty Frenchman, here’s a few of his memorable quotes throughout his career at Arsenal:

  • [On Emmanuel Adebayor's stamp on Robin van Persie] “I watched it when I got home and it looked very bad. You ask 100 people, 99 will say it’s very bad and the hundredth will be Mark Hughes.”
  • [On how long Tomas Rosicky would be ruled out for at the start of his 18-month recuperation] “Days not weeks.”
  • [After Martin Taylor snapped Eduardo's leg in half] “The guy should never ever play football again.”
  • “We do not buy superstars. We make them.”
  • “For me, when you change more than three players in a team, you always take a technical risk because you change the deep structure of the team and the deep balance of the team, mentally and technically.”
  • “Nobody has enough talent to live on talent alone. Even when you have talent, a life without work goes nowhere.”
  • “At some clubs success is accidental. At Arsenal it is compulsory.”
  • [On Arsenal's recruitment policy] “If I give you a good wine, you will see how it tastes and after you ask where it comes from.”
  • “If you do not believe you can do it then you have no chance at all.”
  • “What’s really dreadful is the diet in Britain. The whole day you drink tea with milk and coffee with milk and cakes. If you had a fantasy world of what you shouldn’t eat in sport, it’s what you eat here.”
  • [On Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003] “He can only cheat.”
  • “Any man who concentrates his energies totally on one passion is, by definition, someone who hurts the people close to him.”
  • [On losing the lead of the league in November 2004] “It’s like a child who is used to having ice cream whenever he wants. When it doesn’t come when he asks he tends to get confused and nervous.
  • “Gerard is an open-minded and passionate man. I am the opposite: stubborn and stupid. But sometimes stupid behaviour makes you win.”
  • [Wenger's strong views on International matches] Gerard Houilier’s thoughts on the matter echo mine. He thinks that what the national coaches are doing is like taking the car from his garage without even asking permission. They will then use the car for ten days and abandon it in a field without any petrol left in the tank. We then have to recover it, but it is broken down. Then a month later they will come to take your car again, and for good measure you’re expected to be nice about it.
  • [On Reyes's departure] “Despite the global warming, England is still not warm enough for him.”
  • [Upon being asked if he had received the apology that Sir Alex had announced he had sent to Wenger] “No. Perhaps he sent it by horse.”
  • “Ferguson’s out of order. He has lost all sense of reality. He is going out looking for a confrontation, then asking the person he is confronting to apologise. He’s pushed the cork in a bit far this time.”
  • “He [Ferguson] doesn’t interest me and doesn’t matter to me at all. I will never answer to any provocation from him any more.”
  • “Ferguson should calm down. Maybe it would have been better if he had put us against a wall and shot us.”
  • [In response to Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that he possessed the best team in the league despite Arsenal winning the title in 2002] “Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home.”
  • “If I asked you who was the best team in the world you would say Brazil. And do they play good football? Yes. Which club won everything last year? Barcelona. Good football. I am not against being pragmatic, because it is pragmatic to make a good pass, not a bad one. If I have the ball, what do I do with it? Could anybody argue that a bad solution like just kicking it away is pragmatic just because, sometimes, it works by accident?”
  • “There is no better psychological education than growing up in a pub when you are five or six because you meet all different people and hear how cruel they can be. You hear the way they talk to each other like saying ‘You’re a liar.’ And from an early age you get a practical psychological education into the minds of people.”
  • [Arsene Wenger explains his football philosophy - something about not stifling creativity and taking away a player's flair] “When you’re dealing with someone who only has a pair of underpants on, if you take his underpants off, he has nothing left – he’s naked. You’re better off trying to find him a pair of trousers to complement him rather than change him”
  • “The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.”
  • [After the success of the Great Britain team at the Olympics] “I didn’t know the English were good at swimming. I have been in this country for 12 years and I haven’t seen a swimming pool.”
  • “If I go into a season and I say, ‘For fu*k’s sake, if we don’t win anything, they will all leave,’ I have already lost. The problem of the media is always to imagine the worst. The problem of the manager is always to imagine the best.”
  • “When you represent a club it’s about values and qualities, not about passports.”
  • [After the departure of Sol Campbell to Portsmouth] “It is a big surprise to me because he cancelled his contract to go abroad. Have you sold Portsmouth to a foreign country?”
  • [In response to Sepp Blatter's accusation that big clubs were guilty of 'child slavery] “If you have a child who is a good musician, what is your first reaction? It is to put them into a good music school, not in an average one. So why should that not happen in football?”
  • “A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.”
  • [On Jose Mourinho after the then Chelsea boss accused him of being a voyeur] “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”
  • [In 2003] “It’s not impossible. I know it will be difficult for us to go through the season unbeaten. But if we keep the right attitude it’s possible we can do it.”
  • [Arsene Wenger responds after Sir Alex Ferguson has a dig at Arsenal for their lack of homegrown players] I’m ready to take the blame for all the problems of English football if that is what he wants.
  • [On the qualities of Dennis Bergkamp] “Intelligence and class. Class is of course, most of the time linked to what you can do with the ball, but the intelligence makes you use the technique in an efficient way. It’s like somebody who has a big vocabulary but he doesn’t say intelligent words, and somebody who has a big vocabulary but he can talk intelligently, and that’s what Dennis is all about. What he does, there’s always a head and always a brain. And his technique allows him to do what he sees, and what he decides to do.”
  • “I tried to watch the Tottenham match on television in my hotel yesterday, but I fell asleep.”

APPEAL:
Everyone is requested to please donate as much as you can for the rehabilitation of the flood victims in Pakistan. The country has been hit by one of the worst floods ever which has displaced over 20 million people. Every penny you donate can help a person so please don’t hold back even if you cannot donate a substantial amount. Here’s a couple of links where you can donate online:
http://www.unicef.org.uk/give/index.asp?page=80
https://www.donate.bt.com/dec_form_pfa.html

A usual sight at White Hart Lane

“Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal – I think the champions will come from them.” Enough said! Those are the words of the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Redknapp. Thats the harsh reality which the ego of the fans of the club of the miserable half of North London doesn’t allow them to accept. Redknapp, however pathetic he is, knows Spurs aren’t Champions material. Three words – Not good enough.

The side playing in the Champions League this year instead of the usual participants Liverpool got defeated 4-3 at the San Siro by Inter Milan last night. The scoreline looks close, but it was 4-0 at half time before Gareth Bale (who is wasting is time at Spurs, he is clearly out of their league) got a hattrick and added some respectability to the final scoreline; not that there was a chance of winning. In the Premier League they are currently level on points with rivals Arsenal and Manchester United. But its only been 8 games and Redknapp knows his side doesn’t have what it takes to stay there till the end, using the fact that they are playing in the Champions League as an excuse. I, for one, can’t wait to see what excuse he comes up with after crashing out of the competition’s group stages.

“It’s hard. I think we’ve found balancing the Champions League with the Premier League difficult. It’s a new experience.

“Listen, if we can get anywhere near doing what we did last year we’ll be delighted again. That’s got to be our aim, to try to get another top-four finish. That’s the goal again. Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal – I think the champions will come from them.”

Something to taunt the Spurs fans about, as if there wasn’t enough already!

Cesc Fabregas is a player who, after playing a decisive role in the World Cup final earlier this year, has proved to the footballing world that he is capable of handling the burden and strain that high-profile matches can place on a footballer. Until last night, doubts remained as to whether the same could be said of his long-term replacement at Arsenal, the young Jack Wilshere.

Now, though, after a glittering display from Arsenal inspired by a rampant and hungry performance from the young midfielder, there can be no such doubts. Wilshere shrugged off talks of pressure and expectations, along with the nerves that must be building in him as he’s billed as the next big thing in English football on a weekly basis by the press, on the biggest stage at the Emirates in a crucial Champions League group stage clash. Watching him perform, it’s difficult to believe he’s only been playing first team football regularly for the last couple of years and is still just 18 years of age.

After a difficult week that saw him steal the headlines for the wrong reasons after being sent off for a tackle described in the newspapers as “horrible” and “wild”, he proved to those looking at Premiership betting prices last night that, for the most part, he’s able to channel his natural aggression and passion for the game into a style of play in midfield that is both effective and a joy to watch at times.

Arsene Wenger, a man who had to work hard to keep Fabregas at the club during the summer, with Barcelona attempting to lure him to foreign shores, will surely be delighted at the manner in which the young Wilshere coped with the rigours of the Champions League. At this rate, Wenger won’t be too heartbroken at saying goodbye to the Spaniard with Wilshere waiting in the wings to be his long-term replacement.

If the youngster can continue in this rich vein of form, Arsenal could yet turn out to be real contenders for European glory this season, despite many Champions league prices judging them to be outsiders for victory.

After reaching the final of the competition with Arsenal back in 2006, and progressing through to the latter stages consistently in recent years, Arsene Wenger is a man who has come painfully close to picking up the ‘trophy with big ears’, more commonly referred to as the Champions League!

Although the current Champions league betting odds suggest that Arsenal are not the side many people expect to be picking up the trophy at Wembley Stadium next May, Wenger knows that his side is more than capable of securing glory if his young players are able to display the best level of performance possible whilst earning the lucky breaks that any side needs to win a piece of silverware.

Having played well last season until coming up against a Lionel Messi who was simply unstoppable at the Nou Camp, Arsenal fans know that their side will need to ensure that they are on the right side of Lady Luck if they are to stand a chance of winning the competition this season.

However, whilst luck will surely play a part in the competition, it is clearly a Cup that is going to be lifted by the best side, not just the luckiest at the end of the day. With this in mind, Arsene Wenger will feel that he has a squad that is certainly able to go the distance, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen and Robin Van Persie clearly among Europe’s elite players. Wenger knows that the spine of his side is world class, provided they are able to stay fit for long enough.

If their best players can stay fully fit and firing, those betting on champions league action believe Wenger may finally overcome the biggest challenge of his career by winning Europe’s top club competition.

Arsenal legend Robert Pires is back at Arsenal! Its just for training but being one of the best players in the world in his day, and at 37 being more experienced than any current Arsenal player, his words of wisdom will surely help the current crop of youngsters. So remembering him amidst the crazy rumors that he might do a Sol Campbell, here’s a compilation of the Frenchman’s glittering career at Arsenal. Will make you remember what a world class player he was and how much we miss having someone who was not scared to shoot from long range!

Miss the Invincibles? Check out our “Legends” page.

Fabianski – Finally a good performance by the Arsenal number 21. Too bad he ended up conceding two goals, both of which were not his fault. Excellent decision making today from him. Knew exactly when to come forward and when to come and catch the ball. A couple of decent saves as well. (7)

Sagna – Faultless performance. (7)

Squillaci – Handed the captain’s armband today but the Frenchman did not live up to it. Looked shaky and showed a great lack of pace and strength against the likes of Drogba and Malouda. (5.5)

Koscielny – Gave away the free kick that led to the 2nd goal. But other that he had a good game. Made a few excellent tackles. (6.5)

Clichy – Many were starting to question whether Clichy should be the number 1 left back due to his indifferent performances lately but today he really turned up with a sound defensive performance. Hardly let anyone get past him and made good runs forward as well. One thing somebody needs to tell him though – you DON’T know how to shoot so please don’t bother trying. (6.5)

Song – Poor. He is going through a bad patch and needs to be demoted to the bench for a match or two to show him he’s not irreplaceable. Whenever he went for a tackle it looked like he’s going to give a foul away. And for a holding midfielder he spent way too much time going forward instead of doing his job. (5)

Wilshere – Excellent. Its amazing to see an 18 year old dominating the midfield against the big boys of Chelsea. (7.5)

Nasri – Was the orchestrator of almost all of Arsenal’s attacks. He’s been the player of the season so far for Arsenal and it showed today. Unfortunately the hard work didn’t pay off for him. (7.5)

Arshavin – He’s been out of form lately so today looked like a pretty good performance from the little Russian. But by his high standards he still needs to do a lot better. From day one we’ve been moaning he doesn’t track back enough and I don’t think its changing anytime soon. (6.5)

Diaby – Can anyone tell me what was he there for? Yes, he’s got physical strength but he was playing behind the striker so you expect him to add some creativity to the team which he clearly did not today.  (5)

Chamakh – He’s been a big match player for Bordeaux. Today’s performance suggested he can be one for Arsenal too. Yes, he really needs to work on being more clinical in the final third but other than that he’s all you want in a striker. Was on the end of all the crosses in today but it was just not his day today so couldn’t manage to work Cech with any header. (6)

Substitutes:

Rosicky – Should have been given more time. Wenger has always been criticized for making substitutions too late, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to change that strategy of his. A creative force like Rosicky can make a difference to the game, unlike Diaby. His introduction added a spark and suddenly the game shifted completely in Arsenal’s favor. The only thing lacking was the finishing. (7)

Vela, Emmanuel Thomas – Too little time to make an impact.

Same old, same old. Once again Arsenal dominated for majority of the match, yet they couldn’t get even a point.

So why today? Looking at the goals we conceded one could say it was just not our day. Goals like that aren’t scored everyday; but sadly for us Chelsea got two of them today. Both were unstoppable and it didn’t seem right to point a finger at anyone for making a mistake on either of them. But it doesn’t excuse the poor defending we witness today. We looked vulnerable on every single counter attack. Squillaci was exposed badly. We all liked him for his initial performances but today, in his first real test in an Arsenal shirt, he looked out of sorts. Lacking both the pace and power to deal with the seemingly uncontrollable threat of Didier Drogba. He did make a few good tackles but it doesn’t mean his mistakes should be overlooked. We were fortunate to get away with them today but it may not be the case any other day. The stand-in captain looked under pressure whenever a long ball was sent towards him. And he seemed helpless against pace. I know we shouldn’t be reading too much from just one performances but from what we saw today – simply not good enough against top class opposition. Koscielny looked shaky as well on a few occasions but he had a decent game overall. Though he was at fault for being beaten too easily by Anelka which forced him to give away the free kick that led to Chelsea’s second goal.

Ok so poor defending, but we got away with it. Bad luck – we didn’t get away with it. Another point to ponder was our inability to score a goal. We dominated all match. Had the lion’s share of possession. But what for? We just could not score. Fabregas’s creativity and decisiveness was badly missed in my opinion. I have absolutely no idea what Diaby adds to the team other than his physical strength. He’s wasteful. He gives away cheap free kicks. He just doesn’t have the quality you would want in an Arsenal first teamer. The difference was immediately seen when Rosicky was introduced.

Song really is starting to get the stick from some fans and rightly so. He’s giving way too many cheap free kicks away. He needs to work a lot on his tackling. And his passing as well. Too many of his passes go astray. He also needs to know his role. He is a holding midfielder so its just not right for him to spend majority of the match in the opposition’s half making, or at least trying to make bursting runs forward. He really needs a reality check. It’s too bad Frimpong got injured because it allows Song’s poor performances to go unpunished as there is no real replacement for him. You might say Denilson is but he’s not exactly a typical holding midfielder. But, honestly, I would rather give him a go next weekend ahead of Song. A little spell on the bench might help knock some sense into the Cameroonian.

Chamakh is fast turning into a fan favorite. He has a good leap, he links pretty well with the midfield, presses a lot, knows how to head the ball. Oh and he clearly knows how to win penalties! But one thing we haven’t seen in him is the final touch you expect from a striker. On a lot of occasions already this season we have seen him take too long to take a shot away when he has the chance to and other similar mistakes to waste goal scoring opportunities. Taking nothing away from his other qualities, he needs to improve his sharpness in the final third on the ground. In the air he’s great. On the ground, not so much.

Just 7 games into the season and we’re already trailing the leaders by 7 points. Its sad. It really is. Seems like once again we will be chasing for most of the season. Lets just hope we end up winning the race because we all know we can. There were a lot of positives from today as well so despite what it may seem from the reasons mentioned above, its not all doom and gloom. Our full backs were excellent both defensively and offensively. Fabianski had a great – and it has to mentioned, error free – game today. Made plenty of decent saves and wasn’t exactly at fault for either of the two goals. Nasri was outstanding. So was Wilshere. No surprises there. Arshavin… Well he was good. He had a good game in my opinion. Ok he still needs to track back a lot more but on the attacking front he was quite good.

Lets not forget we were without Fabregas, van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen today and things will only get better when they return. Still a long, long way to go till the end of the season. We’re still in it for all 4 trophies! Hope for the best

Fabianski - Doesn't have a good record against Chelsea, or any team for that matter!

Arsenal’s number 2 Lukas Fabianski will step in for Manuel Almunia this afternoon. The 25 year old Polish international has had a fairly unsatisfactory career so far since joining from Legia Warsaw in the summer of 2007.

He was considered to be a great talent and possibly a future replacement for the mediocre Almunia when he signed, since he had won the award for the best goalkeeper in the Polish League for the past two seasons. But a lot of high profile errors and severe criticism completely shattered his confidence. Finally this Tuesday he had arguably his best, or as one would remember – his only good- performance in an Arsenal shirt. A penalty save and a number of exceptional saves late in the game showed how good the youngster can be on his day. One would hope his lack of confidence issues are behind him now because he is required to really turn up today with a strong performance. Otherwise, another poor performance in an already downhill career could be one too many for him.

Fabianski though is feeling confident as ever ahead of the big day:

“I am ready to play against Chelsea. I was always ready, so we will see. I was never really bothered by all the things said. I was always trying to focus on my job and my work. That is what I was always doing and that’s why I am grounded.

“I’m not talking about just saves against Belgrade, but reading the game, coming for crosses or playing with my feet. Every aspect of goalkeeping is important for me, so I am pleased with my performance.”

We, Arsenal fans, are pretty much used to seeing our beloved club lose points because of poor goalkeeping. Here’s to hoping today will not be another one of those days and that Fabianski can put his bad days behind him.

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