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The Super Sunday encounter between Arsenal and Manchester City can rightly be called a battle of ideologies. Cash rich Manchester City have not been shy of spending money. They have made a completely new team over the last year or two spending lavishly. Arsenal, on the other hand, with Arsene Wenger at helm have been the least spending Premier League side. They have persisted with project youth in the past few years with not more than a couple of additions each year. Tomorrow we may well find out how right Wenger is when he says “You can’t buy success.”

We usually don’t term games this early in the season as must-win. But its getting the 3 points especially in big matches like the one tomorrow that help to keep those must win games to a minimum in the final stages of the season.

The trip to City of Manchester Stadium used to be an easy ride for Arsenal till 2006. But since the influx of virtually unlimited money at City, Arsenal have managed to avoid defeat just once in the last 5 trips to Eastlands. Not to forget last season’s 4-2 defeat – a result that was overshadowed by Emmanuel Adebayor’s infamous stamp on former teammate Robin van Persie. Neither of the two might feature tomorrow though. Van Persie, as usual, is out injured and Adebayor has fallen out of favor with manager Roberto Mancini.

What’s more worrying for Arsenal is that they have a horrible away form. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last 15 away games and have won only one of their last eight Premier League away games. It really makes one wonder whether Arsenal can manage to get the 3 points tomorrow. Looks doubtful, honestly speaking.

As for the team news, City have an extremely short injury list. Balotelli, Jo and Toure are the only big names doubtful for tomorrow. Balotelli and Jo will surely not be missed with the form that Carlos Tevez is in. 28 goals in his last 31 Premier League appearances, including 7 already this season, says it all. It is this remarkable form that has forced Adebayor to the bench. But the lanky forward did get a hattrick in the Europa Cup in midweek so he will surely be contesting for a start against the club where it all started for him. New boy David Silva is also starting to fulfill his potential and could pose a serious threat to the weak Arsenal defence.

Arsenal’s absentee list is a lot longer than that of City. Almunia, Frimpong, Ramsey, Van Persie, Vermaelen, Koscielny and Wilshere (suspended) will all be missing. The list has shrunk a lot in the last week or two. Sagna is back, so are Walcott, Bendtner and Fabregas. The captain’s return is a timely one considering the little man running the show from midfield this season, Jack Wilshere, is suspended. The probable line-up will be:

Fabianski
Sagna     Squillaci     Djourou     Clichy
Nasri     Song    Fabregas
Walcott     Chamakh     Arshavin

Fabianski is turning out to be a reliable goalkeeper. You don’t have mini heart attacks anymore whenever he’s called into action, and instead you really fancy him to pull out a save or make a good punch. Sagna is back fit and I would prefer him over Eboue because he’s better defender defensively. The back two pick themselves since they’re the only options we have unless Koscielny makes a surprising recovery from his back injury. At left back I wouldn’t mind either of Clichy or Gibbs but Wenger will probably go for Clichy’s experience. Nasri has been Arsenal’s best player this season so he’s an automatic selection. Song is the only holding midfield option we have. Fabregas picks himself. As for Walcott, I think we really will need his pace and direct approach in a big match like this because as Wenger said the first goal decides the game in most big matches so better to start him than bring him on as a super sub. Of course you can’t drop Chamakh. He’s been The Man so far. Involved in nearly everything – tracking back, good link play, assists, winning penalties, scoring goals. And we all know Wenger wont drop Arshavin so lets not argue about that!

MANCHESTER CITY:
League position: 2nd
Points: 17
Goals scored: 12
Goals conceded: 5
Form: WWWWD

ARSENAL:
League position: 5th
Points: 14
Goals scored: 18
Goals conceded: 10
Form: WLLDW

Lets hope Arsenal can turn their away misfortunes around and turn up with a performance we’ve all come to expect from them at home. With Chelsea getting a win today, not dropping points is all the more important now.

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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

Arsenal started the season as well as any fan would have hoped for. But it hasn’t lasted. It’s turning into another season of disappointment. They have only managed to win 3 from their last 8 games; clearly not the sort of form that can win you trophies. Now Arsenal lag way behind the top 2 who seem to be battling for the League title and out of the Carling. A lot of the frustration Arsenal fans are enduring can be attributed to the Gunners’ below par away record so far this season. The record so far is as follows:

Wins – 6

Defeats – 5

Draws – 3

That’s not good enough. Period. Arsenal have refused to turn up in a lot of these games. The last three defeats have been pathetic performances. The draw at Burnley was the nth time Arsenal were complacent. They took the lead at United, then gave it away. They took the lead at West Ham, then gave it away. Same at Alkmaar, at Burnley. Yet after each one of those occasions they say they’ve learned the lesson now. But no, they haven’t. Time and again they have given points away needlessly. One week they make you feel yes, the Arsenal that can win the League is here. And then next week you see depressing performances like the one on Wednesday night.

Ok, Arsenal are still in the title race but how many of you honestly think they can win it? And I mean honestly. Deep down most of you know it’s not possible, not with the players we have available at the moment. Buy more quality in January and maybe, just maybe, we will have a chance. Lets face it, with Almunia in goal we are not going to many keep clean sheets! So what we need to do is outscore our opponents. To do that we need quality finishers. Right now only Fabregas and Arshavin seem like getting the goals. Walcott is hopeless. He’s got pace, that’s  it. Can’t pass, can’t shoot, can’t cross, can’t dribble! Bendtner and van Persie are out. Vela and Eduardo only seem to score for their countries and not Arsenal. Vela looks like he can only score from chips. Eduardo’s finishing has gone to sleep. We need quality and we need it quick! Arsene Wenger admits it and he’s got to open his chequebook. I think even a cup tied player will do because it’s clear we stand more chance of winning the Premier League than the Champions League. Especially since Wenger has so much faith in his current squad just let them continue their run in Europe and buy someone world class to re-start our Premier League title challenge. I don’t usually do negative articles and I haven’t been writing for quite some time but I felt I have to get my feelings out. For now let hope for the best. We’re not out of the title race mathematically so we can win it. Just need better, more aggressive and fighting performances from the players not the uninterested performances that we have seen too many of already.

*This article was supposed to be on Arsenal’s away form but I guess I took out far more frustration than just that!

Firstly, Arsene Knows Best is back! I’ll try to keep up the standard that this site was renowned for but I still might not be updating daily.

I’ll start off with a poll of the quandary that Arsene Wenger is in these days. Who should be the number one. Wenger is a mystery man so you can’t guess what is going through his mind. But who do the fans want as number one? The experience of Almunia or the talent of Mannone? Fabianski unfortunately is out injured again for three weeks so he is not an option right now. Personally I would prefer Almunia. Ok he’s not the world class keeper we should have but he’s the best we have right now. Mannone is really talented but experience is extremely vital in keepers and he doesn’t have much of it. He might put in a few really good performances but his inexperience can cost us matches. What is your opinion? Vote and let us know why in the comments section.


FergusonG2608_468x632Sir Alex Ferguson has been in this game long enough not to count Arsenal out of the title race. But there is a condition. IF Arsenal’s old enemy doesn’t return – injuries; though it seems they already have returned as Nasri is out for six weeks and Rosicky for 8 weeks.

“If Arsenal keep clear of injuries, they’ll be up there challenging. Cesc Fabregas has been the architect of that team for the last three or four years.

“I think they’ll be stronger than last season.”

Good thing Ferguson didn’t mention Arsenal in the same sentence as Man City like Arsenal and Man City are going to be title contenders this season! We are way better than them and don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as them!

Walcott_Theo1Young Englishman Theo Walcott thinks it’s about time Arsenal start playing dirty to win some trophies.

Arsenal, renowned for their beautiful football, have not been able to win a single trophy since the FA Cup in 2005 and many critics have pointed to their style of football as one of the reasons for it. Now Walcott also shares the same opinion as them and feels they will have to play dirty now and grind out wins from difficult situations to help win some trophies:

“It’s a big season for me and the rest of the team.

“The fans have been very patient for the last few years when there have not been many trophies.

“We’re not quite there yet. We need to be more cutting in the last third and a bit more dirty.

“Instead of just playing brilliant football, sometimes we need to grind out a result. We will do that. 

“We need to reflect and learn from our mistakes from last year.”

wilshere goalWalcott is the player who surprisingly made it to England’s World Cup squad in 2006 at a very young age and he had not even played a single game for Arsenal at that time. Now fellow Englishman, Arsenal’s 17 year old Jack Wilshere could soon be following in his footsteps and make it to the squad for the 2010 World Cup. However it all depends on whether he gets to play enough matches for Arsenal and impresses in them according to England manager Fabio Capello:

“In nine months’ time we will decide whether Wilshere will go to South Africa.

“A lot depends on whether Arsene Wenger plays him at Arsenal. He surprised me at the Emirates Cup. I saw him twice last season and he has improved a lot.

“He has a big personality, he scores goals, he plays without fear and he has big confidence.

“His team-mates always pass the ball to him. That is not normal for a player so young.”

It is England, and now that Wilshere has impressed so much already, the fans have extremely high hopes from him. Lets hope he lives up to those expectations. So far he has shown that he is not a player who can succumb to pressure so that is a vital quality of his which can help him survive in the world of football despite the huge expectations.

almunia-dcManuel Almunia is a world class goalkeeper; but had it not been for an asthma problem the Spaniard could have been plying his trade as a striker!

When Almunia visited Great Ormond Street hospital to promote Arsenal’s charity, the old memories flashed in Almunia’s head:

“It reminds me a lot of my childhood, seeing children with apparatus in their mouth, trying to breathe.

“I’m a goalkeeper because I couldn’t run anywhere. I wanted to be an outfield player, but my father did not allow me to run a lot, so I was between the sticks all the time. All children want to score goals and I wanted to be a striker, but from the time I first played football, when I was six or seven years old, I was a goalkeeper.”

Scotland manager George Burley fears for Celtic because they have got the worst possible draw. The manager is clearly impressed by Arsenal, especially after their sublime performance against Celtic’s rivals Rangers in the Emirates Cup.

“Celtic players have a spring in their step, it was a great result in Moscow. “But, after seeing Arsenal playing against Rangers, I think it was the worst possible draw. “But in the second half Rangers gave them a lot of problems so there is hope there. “It promises to be a terrific tie.”

Burley isn’t the only person scared already. Celtic’s very own Shaun Maloney considers it as one of the toughest fixtures:

“It’s going to be a great game. It is one of the toughest fixtures we could have got but I am looking forward to it. “We have a few games to go before that but it is quite exciting to be involved.

Rangers defender Steven Whittaker who was in the side that was hammered 3-0 by Arsenal last week fears for Celtic as well:

“We all know Arsenal’s quality, they have shown that over the seasons in the Premier League and they are definitely a force in Europe as well. “They are top opposition and Celtic will need to treat each game as a cup final.”

Laurent Blanc

Laurent Blanc

Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc believes forward Marouane Chamakh could be heading to the Emirates in the next 48 hours. But that is if Arsenal really want him which the coach doesn’t think is the case.

Arsenal really want Chamakh? It is exactly the question that I ask myself and I believe no.

“Frankly, I believe if they really want him, he could join them within 48 hours.

“I would like him to stay. Early last season I told him, when he already wanted to leave for England, ‘Have another good season with us. If you score between 10 and 15 goals, you will be in a strong position to leave for a big club’.

“I gave him my word and I told him I would let him leave. I am keen to respect what I said.”