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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.

Substitutes:

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:

Almunia
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:

Almunia
Sagna    Toure    Djourou    Clichy
Eboue           Ramsey            Vela
Nasri
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.

Substitutes:

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.

The Rivals

The Rivals

by Zain Shahid

January is here. Sir Alex Ferguson is making use of it but so far no move from Arsene Wenger. But he has been linked with Arshavin, Arteta, Alonso, In|er to quote a few. I would like to talk about what exactly does Arsenal need this January.

I feel we need cover for the central defence. Gallas is good but he has his days, Toure is good but he is not in form right now and seems unhappy at Arsenal, Djourou is good but needs more time to play regularly in the 1st team. Thats where the list ends. I’m not counting Silvestre here because he is just not good enough. He should be played only when none of the other three I mentioned are unavailable. We have Song too, who Arsene says is more of a centre half than central midfielder but I have so far not been impressed by his tackling. I have seen him commit too many fouls which is not something one would want in a centre half so I would rule him out of the list too. We also don’t have the best young talent in this department either. Only Harvard Nordtveidt has been rated as a really talented centre half in our Reserves. So we need a good not too young and not too old centre back. Its a very tough job to find one but Arsene Wenger is quite good at it so if he feels he need to strengthen this area, he will somehow find a good, capable guy to fill in. But there are other departments that need more urgent strengthening so i guess a new centre back should be left till the summer considering the economic depression so we aren’t going to spend much.

by Zain Shahid

RvP - Scores the 1st

RvP - Scores the 1st

It was an impressive performance at the Emirates on Saturday. Maybe they could have scored 5 or 6 had they taken more of their chances considering they created around 15 16 chances! The 1st half wasn’t the best but they came out really well in the 2nd. Van Persie really showed his class which we expect to see week in week out. Nasri was brilliant. I have always been a big fan of his and he showed today he is a top quality player. Overall it was a good day for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger was all praise for his team:

“We did the job in a serious way and had we not been focused and completely up for it, we would not have gone through today. I give credit to my team for doing the job seriously, and also to Plymouth who had a great game as well. I was surprised how well they were organised and how strong they were in every challenge. They did not die physically and were always dangerous on set plays. The gap between the Championship and the Premiership has been reduced and looking at the FA Cup results today, you could see that. Robin has always been interested in team affairs and wants to help sort things out. He is a big example of how well you can have an evolution, when you consider when he came he and who he is today.”

Player Ratings:

Fabianski: 6.5 – Made a few good saves otherwise it could have been 2 or 3 goals for Plymouth. However he needs to come out to catch crosses and corners with more confidence.

Silvestre: 5 – Played just half an hour and did not look good particularly when going forward. The latest is he is out for three weeks.

Gallas: 6.5 – Did pretty well and was in quite an attacking mood, going forward time and time again.

Djourou: 6.5 – Had a nice game like his partner and he was particularly good in the air which is something Arsenal need desperately.

Sagna: 7 – Yet another good performance for the right-back. Did quite well while going forward also.

Diaby: 7 – Was involved in quite a few of the attacks and did a bit of tidy defending a few times.

Ramsey: 6.5 – Had a good game overall. A bit too selfish on occasions but its justified considering the youngster is looking to make an impact. He can hit the target quite well from long range and made some good runs forward.

Nasri: 8 – Without doubt the man of the match. Had a perfect game. Was involved in nearly all our attacks. 2 assists and he certainly deserved a goal. I have always mantained he should be played in the centre and he pressed my claim quite well!

Eboue: 6 – Had an average game. Better than what we have seen from him recently though.

Bendtner: 6.5 – Did just a bit above average I thought. He desperately needed a goal and got it. Looked very involved in the game. But he needs to do more to prove that he is good enough for Arsenal.

van Persie: 8 – Did extremely well. 2 goals and 1 assist, what else do you want! Maybe for him to perform like that more often. But he has certainly shown yet again how good he can be on his day. A good day as captain for him.

Substitutes:

Vela: 6 – An average day for the young Mexican. And I persist he needs to be played as a forward and not as a left winger. He is much better as a forward.

Gibbs: 6.5 – Had a great day attacking. Needs to work on his defending a bit more I think but overall a very good performance from the young man.

Wilshere: 5.5 – Didn’t get enough time to really get into the game. Tried making an impact straight away though, and on most occasions unsuccessfully. But he is exceptionally talented and has an immensely bright future ahead of him.



Toure - Unhappy at Arsenal

Toure - Unhappy at Arsenal

by Zain Shahid

The latest reports suggest Kolo Toure has asked for a transfer. These reports are true! Arsenal Chairman Peter Hill-Wood though immediately reacted to the news saying Kolo Toure will not be sold. He said “I know about it (the request) but we are not going to accept it. We are not looking to let any of our players go and he is under contract – and we expect him to honour it. They seem to get unhappy rather quickly for odd reasons.”

This is quite an interesting news. At first there were reports saying Arsene Wenger is trying to keep William Gallas at all costs who said to Wenger that he doesn’t like playing with Toure so maybe somehow the news got to Toure who did not like it and immediately asked for a transfer. I don’t blame him because who would want to play at a club where he is unwanted. Another thing that interests me on this one is that its the Arsenal chairman who has come out to reject his request publicly not the manager. Aren’t such matters to be handled by the manager?! Maybe Arsene Wenger too wants Toure out but the chairman doesn’t want so?! I have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes! Maybe its not like this, rather it could be just that the Chairman himself did the honours to let it known to Kolo how important and wanted he is at Arsenal. It could be either of these two scenarios! But the point is Toure wants to leave. It reveals the dressing room environment, players want to leave. Not a good sign I guess.

I hope he stays. He and Gallas are our main defenders. I mean Silvestre and Djourou are just not good enough to take his place. Silvestre hardly ever played for Manchester United in the last few years, yet after coming to Arsenal he has become such a regular but I just don’t think he is good enough for Arsenal. Toure is much better and I want him to stay. He is a fan favourite so if he leaves the fans wont be happy one bit. Lets hope the intervention by the Arsenal Chairman is enough to keep Kolo at the club for the season at least.

by Zain Shahid

Gallas - Could be off to Milan

Gallas - Could be off to Milan

Latest reports suggest AC Milan are looking to bid £4m on former Arsenal captain  William Gallas. Gallas has been an integral part of the Arsenal defence so far this season but losing the captaincy unsettled him and he might consider any bid that come in for him. Arsene Wenger though will surely be very reluctant to sell him as he has immense confidence in the most senior player of Arsenal. However, if he finds a suitable replacement Wenger himself might consider getting rid of the moody Gallas. But as for now it seems Wenger is not looking for any defender.

Bendtner - A Gunner for the coming years...

Bendtner - A Gunner for the coming years...

Now for some sad news! Nicklas Bendtner has let his desire to stay at Arsenal, not only now but in the coming years also,known. the tall 20 year old Dane said “I don’t think about all the rumors because I am an Arsenal player and I really love it here. I hope that I can stay here for a long time because, to me, Arsenal are the dream club.” Cerainly Arsenal are his dream club! Because he won’t get as many appearances at any other big club than he does at Arsenal without even performing well! I certainly hope he is sold but looks like he doesn’t want to go…

Djourou - "Arsenal can win it all"

Djourou - "Arsenal can win it all"

Lastly Johan Djourou has now learnt how to be over-optimistic from his manager! The Swiss centre half said Arsenal will be fighting for all the three trophies in 2009.  Despite the extremely inconsistent season so far, Djourou still believes Arsenal can go on and win it all. He has set consistent performances and climbing to the top as his New Year’s Resolution. Lets hope he doesn’t break it!