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by Zain Shahid

With the form that Arsenal are in, this performance against Cardiff came completely out of the blue. Poor defending at times, gave the ball away on too many occasions and did not create enough chances; and all that against a Championship side!

Ramsey - Below par performance from the youngster

Ramsey - Below par performance from the youngster

The hosts made a bright start and one might say we were lucky it remained 0-0 thanks to some not so good finishing. Gradually we came into the game with Nasri getting a brilliant chance to put us ahead but his shot was saved by the keeper. Apart from that there was a van Persie free kick that flashed just wide of the post and an easy chance wasted by Adebayor. The list ends there and it sums up the performance of Arsenal. Cardiff nearly made us cry but their late free kick hit the bar otherwise we would have been left fighting for just two trophies.

The only positive from the game was Keiran Gibbs, who is becoming a good cover for Clichy; and not to mention the fact that we managed not to lose! Ramsey did not perform to the level he can as probably the occasion got to him and he gave the ball away too easily. Eboue had another hopeless performance. Bendtner looked a bit lost as the striker but played better on the right. Diaby, when he came on in the second half, played quite well but another substitute Adebayor was unbelievably poor. A guy with his quality has got to finish chances like those but on more than one occasion this season we have seen him miss chances like that.

Surprisingly with us needing a goal to win it, Vela or Wilshere were not introduced to inject the vital pace which was desperately needed. I was really confused with Wenger’s thinking on this one. And when he did bring on Wilshere, he got a couple of minutes to win the match! Unbelievable.

Arsene Wenger will surely not be pleased to play an extra game now with the small squad that he has but you have to live with it. If Arsenal manage to win the replay, they will face either West Brom or Burnley at Emirates. Seems easy on paper but like this match against Cardiff, it wont be easy…i.e if Arsenal get to the next round!

by Zain Shahid

Cardiff City vs Arsenal

Cardiff City vs Arsenal

Another FA Cup weekend is here and as many say FA Cup is the most realistic chance of a trophy for Arsenal this season. People might say it’s another easy fixture for Arsenal after having an easy ride against Plymouth in the last round. Even though no match is too easy, everyone will have to accept that but considering that Manchester United and Tottenham play each other, Everton and Liverpool also face each other so comparatively Arsenal are advantaged in this round.

It has been the case in recent weeks that every Arsenal match has been a virtually ‘must-win’ encounter to stay in contention for the title. In this case too it is a must win match too. It’s the Cup; you lose, you’re out and that is something Arsenal cannot afford because as I mentioned this is Arsenal’s most realistic chance of winning some silverware this season.

Cardiff are a decent side and no doubt they will make Arsenal work really hard for the win. For Arsene Wenger, the fact that it is a Cup tie makes no difference as for him every match has the same importance and he wants to win every single match. Cardiff have the advantage with the home crowd behind them and if Ramsey is to be believed, the fans at Ninian Park are really noisy and are very much behind the team for the 90 mins.

For Arsenal, they have the same old injuries with only Gallas coming back. Clichy is suspended. Wenger is not prioritising any competition so we will see a full-strength Arsenal side with the exception of Fabianski.

The man to watch for Cardiff will certainly be van Persie. The Dutchman is in hot form, arguably the best form of his career so far, and so far this month he has been involved in a goal at least in every match. On the other hand Arsenal need to watch out for Jay Bothroyd. He has been a very successful buy for the Bluebirds and will certainly be looking to inflict some damage to his old club. Arsenal’s weak link will be Keiran Gibbs. He is relatively inexperienced and as he has been transformed from a left winger to left back so there are still some weaknesses in his defending, though going forward he can be exceptional.

The expected line-up should be:

Sagna      Toure(C)      Djourou      Gibbs
Eboue     Denilson     Ramsey     Nasri
van Persie    Adebayor

There is still the possibility that Arsene might rest at least one of van Persie, Adebayor and Nasri considering the midweek trip to Goodison Park is of immense importance and he would not want his main players fatigued or in the worst case, injured. There is also a possibility of Gallas returninig to the first team which would mean Toure might be left out and van Persie will wear the captain’s armband once again. But as he has just returned to full fitness so I don’t expect a start for him. Vela and Bendtner might get an important start too if Wenger decides to rest van Persie or Adebayor and I certainly would love to see Vela starting. Bendtner’s, if not started, substitute appearance might be a match-turning introduction if the match is not over already by then considering the form the Dane is in. And this FA Cup tie is another chance for young Ramsey to once again impress the fans and the manager and send a message to Denilson and Song that he is knocking on their door so they’d better start performing well! My prediction is a 2-1 win for Arsenal. Lets once again hope that no matter what the scoreline, Arsenal go through to the next round!

by Zain Shahid

Nasri goes to his manager after scoring the 2nd goal

Nasri goes to his manager after scoring the 2nd goal

Arsenal wanted revenge at the KC Stadium and they got it in great style! A typical Arsenal performance which we have been missing for quite some time now. The start like in most away games was itchy. A couple of dangerous corners and an unsuccessful penalty appeal for Hull. But that was all they got as Arsenal slowly got into their rythm. van Persie got a free kick within range and a good angle. He nearly made full use of it but it unluckily hit the post thanks to Myhill’s fingertips. However van Persie sent in a brilliant pin-point delivery from the resulting corner which was headed into the top corner by the tall Adebayor. Adebayor certainly needed the goal, but it was expected considering most of his 12 goals this season have come away from home. Soon after Adebayor found the unmarked Eboue with the keeper at his mercy but the midfielder rushed into the shot and smacked it wide first time. Arsenal ended the first half as the better side. The second half had more of the same Arsenal attacks but out of the blue Hull got an unlikely goal. Poor decision making by Clichy as he backed away from Mendy when the Hull midfielder got the ball outside the box in a good crossing position instead of attaking the ball and he had to pay the price. Mendy sent the cross in, it was deflected off Clichy, caught Djourou sleeping and ended up being headed in emphatically by Cousin. at this time it seemed Cousin’s goal will haunt Gooners in the coming weeks and honestly speaking I thought Arsenal will now drop 2 points. The goal sparked a Hull resurgance but it was shortlived. Arsenal’s men of the moment got back to business when Arsenal needed it most. van Persie got the ball with three defenders surrounding him but with some clever footwork he got away from him and sent the unmarked Nasri through on goal. Nasri did not mess up and finished exquisitely from his weaker foot. Arsenal were once again in the driving seat and after this goal Hull never really managed to get back into the game. Soon after van Persie provided the goods yet again. This time he found Bendtner’s run into the box and the Dane’s clinical finish was not there to be stopped. The match was over at this stage for Hull but not for Arsenal. Arsenal wanted more and nearly made it 4-1 when a rare accurate cross from Clichy found an intellegent run from Bendtner, but the post unfortunately denied the Arsenal forward a brace as his header hit the woodwork. The Hull fans were silenced and Arsenal fans jubilant. I had jumped from the sofa in ectasy when Arsenal had scored the last 2 goals!:D

So overall it was a brilliant performance from Arsenal. van Persie once again the man of the match and he got the awesome support of Nasri. The defending not the best especially during the goal. With the other top 5 apart from Liverpool getting lucky late wins, this match had the importance of a must win match and Arsenal responded with great character and gave a performance to remember.

Player Ratings:

Almunia: 6.5 – Did not have much to do but he communicated with the defence better than in the last match. There was nothing he could do about the goal so you can’t blame him for it.

Sagna: 7 – Mr. Consistent puts up another commendable performance.

Djourou: 6 – Nearly gave away a penalty and did some poor marking which led to Cousin’s goal.

Toure: 6.5/7 – Good performance. Looked solid.

Clichy: 5.5 – A big mistake that led to the goal. And at times he did not look much confident while defending. But it was nice to see an accurate cross from him as he really needs to improve his crossing.

Eboue: 6 – Gave the ball away with poor passing and a bad miss in the first half when he should have scored.

Denilson: 6 – Most of his passsing was once again sideways and poor defending.

Diaby: 6.5 – Good going forward at times but lacked the defensive edge as a central midfielder is also required to help the defenders.

Nasri: 8 – Brilliant yet again! His movement both on and off the ball was perfect. Good passing and a few good crosses. The goal was an unstoppable finish and that too with his weaker foot.

Adebayor: 7 – Got a vital early goal. But he slowed down attacks with his shielding of the ball and in the end passed the ball backwards. But his movement seemed good.

van Persie: 8.5 – The man of the match. Awesome performance. Assisted all the three goals. Greak footwork, passing and runs. Superb stuff from him.


Bendtner: 7.5/8 – He is doing exceptionally well on the right wing. Making good runs and the finish for the goal was brilliant. Deserved another goal from the header.

Song: Had too little time to make an impression.

by Zain Shahid

Hull City vs Arsenal

Hull City vs Arsenal

Some might say it’s revenge time for Arsenal this weekend against Hull… but actually it’s more than just revenge. Arsenal are finally getting into a bit of form this season and are 6 games unbeaten coming into this match including wins in their last 3 games. Not only this, they are finally starting to win dirty, something that had been missing so far this season. On the other hand, Hull’s dream run in the season has come to a stop; or as many would say: the bubble has burst. No win from their last 12 matches and 4 consecutive defeats coming into this match. However they do have a bit of a morale boost with the 1-0 away win at St. James’s Park in the FA Cup. Just like it has been for the past few weekends, it can be termed as a must win game for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger knows that with 5 defeats already this season he cannot afford to drop points in matches like these, especially with trips to White Hart Lane, Anfield and Old Trafford still remaining. The last 3 matches have been wins for Arsenal but all have been at the Emirates so winning this match is very vital as Arsenal need to improve their away form. Arsenal need to set the tone for this year and spark a comeback into the title race.

The most probable line-up for tonight’s match is:

Sagna     Toure    Djourou    Clichy
Eboue    Denilson   Diaby   Nasri
van Persie    Adebayor

*In this line-up though, I am not sure if Nasri will be on the left or Diaby will be because we have all seen we need Nasri’s brilliant creativity in the centre in Fabregas’s absence. Arsene Wenger too was impressed by Nasri’s work in the centre. One thing is for sure, even if Nasri starts on the left, he will end the match playing in the centre.

However the line-up that I would love to see is:

Sagna    Toure    Djourou    Clichy
Eboue           Ramsey            Vela
van Persie    Adebayor

If Vela is not started then I think he should be brought on with around half an hour at least remaining so that he has ample time to make a big mark and as we have seen in recent matches he should play an important role in getting a result from the game if it’s not over yet when he comes on.

Keeping in mind the form of the two sides, I expect a 2-0 win for Arsenal if Hull don’t come out just to defend otherwise if they do so then probably Arsenal will come out with yet another 1-0 win. Lets hope whatever the scoreline be, Arsenal get the important 3 points.

by Zain Shahid

Wenger - Had a frustrating first half...

Wenger - Had a frustrating first half...

After the firts 45 mins one could feel another dissapointing result was on the cards. But what we forget is that this is 2009 and not the unlucky, bad year for Arsenal 2008!

There isn’t much to say about the 1st half. Just passing the ball around in the midfield and sometimes out of frustration sending a poor cross in. That was the story of the first half for Arsenal. Bolton, no doubt, just like every other side that plays against Arsenal were extremely organized in defence. Arsenal passed the ball a lot and had the lion’s share of possession but the passing was no threat to Bolton. Arsenal needed a piece of magical inspiration… and it made me miss Fabregas! But Nasri in the 2nd half did that job well playing in the centre.

The 2nd half also started like the 1st one except that Bolton also had a couple of decent chances this time. But the match changed as Carlos Vela came on. Arsenal’s attacks became more penetrative and passing became more quick. Certainly that brilliant defence piercing ball by Nasri to find Adebayor deserved a goal but the Togolese striker took too long to unleash the shot. Arsenal continued attacking and came as close as to hitting the post courtesy van Persie. It seemed like another one of those days until arguably the man of the match van Persie was found in the box by a brilliant through ball by Clichy, and then the Dutchman’s pinpoint first touch cross for Bendtner set up the goal. A brilliant finish from a tight angle by the Dane certainly must have done wonders for his confidence. A few nervous moments at the end for the defence but it was a job well done in the end by the Gunners.

Player Ratings:

Almunia: 6.5 – Good work on the few occasions that he was called into action especially right at the end in injury time. Could have got a 7.0 had he communicated well with his centre halfs.

Sagna: 7.0 – Brilliant as usual. Was attacking most of the match and did well but whenever needed he was back defending and marked particularly well.

Djourou: 7.0 – Impressive performance by the youngster. Was strong in his tackles and always looked in control.

Toure: 7.0 – A good game for him also like his partner. He is certainly coming back into form.

Clichy: 6.5 – Did well once again. Made good runs forward but his crossing yet again let him down.

Eboue: 6.5/7.0 – He had his best match in months. Looked like a responsible player. Made good movements, didn’t give the ball away cheaply and when Sagna was a lot forward on corners or free kicks he stayed back in his place.

Denilson: 6.0 – He is not in a good form but he looked better than the last couple of games today. Made a few attempts to go forward and try and create an attack instead of just passing the ball around the half way line.

Diaby: 6.5 – An average performance from him. Needs to do better.

Nasri: 8.0 – The best player in the midfield today. Was involved in nearly all the attacks and did deserve an assist or two. Good passing, runs, free kicks, corners, crosses. And that ball to find Adebayor was just world class.

van Persie: 8.5 – Without doubt the man of the match. Played exceptionally well and deserved a goal. He too was involved in nearly all attacks and it seemed throughout the match that he wanted to do something special. The assist was wonderful. One could see his desire to get something from the match. He needs this consistency. Two consecutive brilliant performances from him.

Adebayor: 6.0 – He was quite involved in the match. But on most occasions he slowed down the attacks. Had just one shot on goal and that too a simple chance which he should have scored. All he can do is finish simple one on ones and headers.


Vela: 7.0 – The match lighted up with his introduction. Made good surging runs forward and good passing and little one-twos. Very energetic and active.

Bendtner: 7.0 – I was not happy when he came on because I wanted Wilshere to be brought on. But he certainly made all Gooners proud with that vital finish. His goal got the points for us. Looked very involved in the game and almost had an immediate impact with the header. Does reasonably well on the right of midfield I have been noticing.

Ramsey: Too little time for him to get anything out of the game.

by Zain Shahid

2009 is just a few hours away which means the time we have been waiting for is nearly here. I’m talking about the January transfer window! I am quite optimistic this year as the transfer window approaches because from what we have heard so far we might FINALLY see Wenger spend on some proven world class players. We will all have new hopes from Arsenal for this year. May 2009 be ‘the year’ for Arsenal. May a brilliant new form start with the new year and may this year have a trophy in store for us trophy thirsty Arsenal fans! May we see a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for Arsenal this year. May Gallas learn to speak nice and may Eboue learn to play, may Song learn to tackle and may Bendtner learn to finish, may Clichy learn to make less mistakes and may Almunia keep more clean sheets! May we see world class new faces in the red and white very soon. May Rosicky, Fabregas and Walcott make speedy recoveries. And may Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Aston Villa have a bad 2009! To summarise, may 2009 be the best year Arsenal has ever had in their history:D! Happy New Year to all the readers! May you guys too have the best year of your lives so far and may your problems and worries stay back in 2008 and may happiness spread in your life with the dawn of 2009!

Now to business! Wenger’s looking to wrap up his work with the young guns beforehand so he can pay full attention to getting his transfer targets! Firstly Nacer Barazite extends his loan at Derby County till the end of the season. Secondly Jay Simpson joins West Bromwich Albion in their relegation battle on loan for the rest of the season. And lastly Gavin Hoyte joins Watford on loan for the same period of time. Hope their growth continues at a remarkable rate at their new clubs. Once again Happy New Year to all!