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Fabianski – Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I always knew the lad had talent, lack of confidence was his problem. Now that confidence is on a high you can see the difference. Making world class saves, superb decision making, excellent on crosses and set pieces. Goodbye Almunia! (9)

Sagna – He was everywhere today. Superb defending and he was involved in nearly every attack as well. He sure has quite a stamina. And it seemed he’s been working on his crosses as well! (8)

Squillaci – Nothing special from him really but didn’t make any mistakes either. (7)

Djourou – Poor. Looked pretty shaky. His decision making and positioning wasn’t the best on plenty of occasions. Missed a simple header too. Not a good game. I can’t wait for Vermaelen and Koscielny to return. (6)

Clichy – Decent performance from him. Did get humiliated a couple of times in defence but other than that he was his usual self. Not bad. (6.5)

Song – His passing is still annoying and his renewed belief that he’s great going forward is a nuisance. But it did pay off today, fortunately. Got a good goal, great finish. (6.5)

Denilson – Worked really hard today. Good performance but I’ll have Wilshere over him any day. (7)

Fabregas – Our captain is just sheer class. What he adds to the team is priceless. His vision is exceptional, execution is always perfect. Missed a penalty but he made it up with his performance. (8.5)

Nasri – Excellent performance yet again from the Frenchman. He’s doing it week in week out. Scored a very well taken goal and got the assist for the 3rd goal. He’s a really skillful player and his ability to take on defenders is a treat to the eye. (9)

Arshavin – Saw some improvement today from his recent lackluster performances but still a long way to go to being back to his best. It was pleasing to see him tracking back today, something that has been his weak point from the start of his Arsenal career. He was pretty active in the attacks as well, good assist for Nasri’s opener. But he’s unable to take defenders on and beat them like he was in his early days and score some surprising goals which is worrying. (7)

Chamakh – The usual from our Moroccan. Good link up, decent runs, it was a tackle on him that resulted in the early red card. (7)

Substitutes:

Rosicky – Involved a lot since coming on but wasted an opportunity to shoot by trying to find Denilson. But it was probably because of his lack of confidence in front of goal; he hasn’t scored in quite a while. (6.5)

Walcott – Nothing to mention in his little cameo.

Bendtner – Great to see him back. He had a nice touch, movement was good and finishing was excellent. (7)

Silva - Attracting interest from Wenger

Silva - Attracting interest from Wenger

According to Daily Mail Arsene Wenger is looking for Spain and Valencia star David Silva. The left winger is one of the best wingers out there with a lot of top clubs after him.

The 23 year old was one of the most impressive players of Euro 2008 and has certainly impressed Wenger it seems. There have been rumors that Silva wants to play in the Premier League, though Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona are also afer him. Wenger is known for getting the best out of young players and Silva could be a wonderful buy for Arsenal. Valencia are going through a very severe financial crisis and they will demand quite some money for the acquiring the services of one of their best players but as is being stated, Wenger has already asked for at least 20m to be saved before the summer transfer window. Silva will have an extra incentive of playing with one of his closest friends i.e Fabregas.

Do Arsenal need him? We have Nasri, Rosicky and Arshavin who can play on the wing and are world class players and add to it Eboue. Sell Eboue buy Silva! A player of Silva’s calibre is always welcome at Arsenal.

But considering its by Daily Mail, who are becoming as bad as News of the World at such stuff, it might just be another one of those poor baseless  rumours.

Rosicky - Could be back much earlier than expected!

Rosicky - Could be back much earlier than expected!

We all thought Fabregas was going to surprise us with an earlier than expected recovery. But Rosicky! Not a single person on this earth would have expected that!

The Czech international has been out for over a year with a hamstring injury and could be back in just about 3 weeks! Can you believe it! And we had thought we would only be able to see him next season!

As you may have read on Arsenal.com an ecstatic Wenger said:

“Tomas needs three weeks to play in training fully fit. He is still doing special training but in three weeks he will join in with the first team. It will be three weeks to play in the Reserves, touch wood. Rosicky looks very good in training, he looks unbelievably strong. Fabregas looks good, Diaby will come back. Rosicky is three weeks, Cesc four weeks, Theo two weeks.”

This means all of them should be back for the last 6 matches of the Premier League which includes matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. This season is suddenly taking a u-turn. We all looked down and out with once again nearly no hope of a trophy but suddenly we are on a 12 match unbeaten run, Arshavin is here, Eduardo is back from his long term injury and now Walcott, Fabregas and Rosicky are weeks away from return. I am quite hopeful of finishing inside the top 4 and winning the FA Cup now.

by Zain Shahid

This season has been one of the worst in Arsene Wenger’s career at Arsenal and when you look at the trend with Arsenal’s points tally and performances overall improving since the last 3 seasons, this season has come as a big unpleasant surprise. The big question in everyone’s mind is what has gone wrong this season.

Arsenal miss their partnership
Arsenal miss their partnership

The main reason in most people’s minds would be the departures of Flamini and Gilberto. They were our main holding midfielders and who would not agree to the fact that Flamini was one of our best players of the season, second only to Fabregas. With their departures we have had to play on most ocassions without a holding player or sometimes with Song in that role and everyone knows he is just not good enough to be in our first team. And the fact that Wenger has been more interested in signing Arshavin than a defensive midfielder came as a big surprise to me. (Talking of Arshavin, Zenit have said they are waiting for a reply from Arsenal as negotiations continue; and Wenger has said he wants the deal done before the match against West Ham.) We know there has been a lack of clean sheets this season and it can be blamed on the lack of a natural holding midfielder in the side rather than putting all the blame on Gallas and Toure. But to add to that the lack of defensive cover has also been a big factor. When Gallas and Toure have been out, the far from convincing Silvestre has come to fill in or the inconsistent Djourou. If Arsenal fail to keep a clean sheet against West Ham tomorrow then they will have just 15 clean sheets so far whereas last season in the same period they had 20 and we have conceded 35 goals so far compared to 28 last year at this time.

One of the most creative midfielders Arsenal has had in recent times
One of the most creative midfielders Arsenal has had in recent times

Another reason is Hleb’s departure and with it his creativity that pierced defences open. Ok Hleb did not score as much as he should have but he was exceptionally talented when it comes to creativity. I’ll be honest, I miss Hleb. Some might say Nasri has been a great replacement and I agree, especially considering he scores a lot. But the problem lies in piercing defences open, creating a lot of chances rather than passing sideways all match. Nasri can do the job but he can’t play up to the level he is capable of on the left. Last year Hleb was played as a second striker and he was brilliant there, I see no reason why isn’t Nasri played there too. He has showed with his few performances in the centre how good he can be and especially with Fabregas out he is needed there.

Not good enough...
Not good enough…

Then comes the lack of support Fabregas got in the centre and lack of quality in midfield. This really does not need much explanation. We all know Song has been hopeless and Denilson can’t defend so Fabregas has had to worry more about tracking back rather than doing his job i.e ripping apart defences with his exceptional passing. On the wing we have seen Denilson, Diaby and Eboue. All have not played up to the mark. Imagine for instance if Denilson was in AC Milan, or Barcelona or Manchester United. Would he be in their first team? Noway! He is not good enough to be in the first team of a top European club. Same goes for Song, Diaby and Eboue. We have been just waiting and waiting and waiting for them to come of age. Will they ever be good enough? Doesn’t seem so does it?! Especially Eboue. I have always mantained he should be sold and replaced with a natural, world class winger and I stand by it.

Gone... And injured
Gone… And injured

A lot might say injuries have been the biggest setback this season. Imagine Rosicky on the left, Fabregas in the centre, Walcott on the right, Nasri supporting van Persie and Adebayor. With a defensive midfielder this attack can be the best in the world but poor us, all these guys are hardly fit together. But the point is players get long-term injuries like we have seen with van Persie in the past, now Rosicky is still out, Eduardo is coming back, Walcott and Fabregas still out; these injuries are not going to happen every year will they. That’s what everyone said of van Persie when he got injured time and time again but they were wrong. He has showed his fitness and class. He has been our player of the season so far. So if the aforementioned players remain fit, Arsenal are a side to be feared by all European power houses. They may be injured now, but they won’t be out for 3 4 months every season, hopefully not next season.

These reasons have led to defensive frailty and lack of creativity up front. Right now it’s just van Persie keeping Arsenal in the fight for the title, even though with all the poor results we have got this season and where we lie in the table at the moment thinking of winning the season seems quite unrealistic. This season looks like a fight for a Champions League place and not the title. The only very dim hope remaining is that van Persie contines the form of his life and with Nasri, keeps getting decent results for Arsenal till Fabregas and Walcott return. That might be the turning point of the season if Arsenal are still in the race for the title when the duo make their comebacks.

by Zain Shahid

The Story of 2008...Sad Times...

The Story of 2008...Sad Times...

As we all know 2008 was one of the worst years in Arsenal’s recent history under Arsene Wenger. We were cruising at the top of the table with a 10 point lead as the year started but with a new year came a complete form slump. Dropping points again and again, Eduardo breaking his leg, Rosicky out, and we eventually end up 3rd despite leading for most part of the season. We also got unluckily knocked out of the Champions League to Liverpool, and were humiliated 4-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. Then came summer and all we sign is young Ramsey who is not part of our first team as for now and Nasri, who is the only good thing that has happened to us this year (apart from that historic truimph at San Siro!). Apart from those two we signed Silvestre, who himself would not remember the last time he played for Manchester United, and Bischoff, who had hardly played for his previous club and has not played for Arsenal apart from a substitute appearance so far. Then this season started and we lost our second game of the season to Fulham, then got into a bit of form which ended at the Emirates to Hull City. Since then we have seen disappointing performances from the club, with only two standout performances against Manchester United and Chelsea. We have already lost more games so far this season than we did all season last season. We are 8 points behind the leaders, once again finished 2nd in the group stages of the Champions League, out of the Carling Cup to lowly Burnley. Luckily there wasn’t FA Cup this season in 2008 otherwise we would have been out of it too! So to sum it up 2008 was a very unlucky year for Arsenal. But luck is not going to betray Arsenal again and again will it?! I don’t think so. We have started the year winnig dirty…we all know teams come and park their bus against Arsenal and in 2008 they had been quite successful in it. However this year we have already been successful of winning against teams that come just to defend twice (if you include late last year’s fixture against Portsmouth in 2009!). We have advanced to the next round of the FA Cup and are looking all set to sign Arshavin. What a start don’t you think?! Last year we could not win against teams that came to just defend; and could anyone have imagined that Arsenal would buy a big name like they are very close to signing Arshavin! So the start is quite good…and if you believe in Lady Luck then maybe 2008 as a whole was meant to be a bad year and 2009 as the start suggests (though I admit it might be too early to start making conclusions) will be a good and ‘lucky’ year for Arsenal! Ok our best player is out but remember what happened when Henry went?! van Persie and company are really coming out of their shell now. van Persie has been producing consistent match winning performances and so has been Nasri. The defence hasn’t looked this good all this season, Vela is really starting to become an impact substitute, Ramsey is impressing, Denilson and Eboue are much improved, and even Bendtner who was hopeless last year has suddenly scored 2 goals from 2 matches in 2009! Eduardo is also back, and once Walcott and Fabregas return they will be like two big name signings for us after returning from long term injuries. So the signs are looking very good I think. Lets just hope for the best! May 2009 be Arsenal’s year!

Now back to the never ending Arshavin transfer speculation! The Russian star expressed his desire to wear the number 10 shirt at Arsenal and also hoped that he wont have a hard time in adjusting to Arsenal’s style of play:

“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal. I would prefer my present No 10 but in the team where I hope to move it’s not vacant. So I’m ready for any number they are going to offer me.

“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal.

So he wants the the no. 10 shirt in ‘the team where I hope to move’! Now that is awesome news! In most cases players who are to be sold end up at clubs of their choice and it seems Arshavin wants to join Arsenal.

Meanwhile Arsenal target Everton’s Mikel Arteta has dispelled transfer rumours linking him with Arsenal and Manchester City and assured his commitment to the Toffees.

by Zain Shahid

Vela (impressive on the wing but a natural forward), Ramsey (good on the wing but a natural central midfielder), Wilshere (very talented and skillful winger but too young...Arsenal's future left winger no doubt), Eboue (good but not good enough)

Vela (impressive on the wing but a natural forward), Ramsey (good on the wing but a natural central midfielder), Wilshere (very talented and skillful winger but too young...Arsenal's future left winger no doubt), Eboue (good but not good enough)

In my earlier posts I mentioned Arsenal’s lack of cover for central defence and a quality defensive midfielder. This time I will turn my attention to another even more important area needing strengthening i.e wing.

This season we have seen Arsenal drop a lot of points because of the lack of width. With Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey, Nasri and Eboue playing on the wings, one can see the lack of natural width in the squad. Denilson is a central midfielder and even though I feel he can cross, he lacks the pace to play as a winger; then Diaby can’t cross well, Ramsey is good but he prefers to move into the centre rather than staying on the wing and sending in crosses; Nasri is the best among these 5 but to get the most out of him he should be played in the centre (especially now that Fabregas is out) but if needed he is our best option on the flanks; lastly Eboue is the most naturally wide player in the squad but he lacks the quality to be a good enough consistent first teamer. We have Walcott, who is our best option on the wings but he won’t be back for another 2 or 3 months and Rosicky who might play again only next season. Apart from these Bendtner and Vela have been tried on the wings and both have impressed but they are natural forwards so you can’t play them on the wing regularly as I think their futures are as forwards. So the lack of width is quite visible. There are players like Silva, Jesus Navas, Joaquin etc who are world class winger and play at comparatively smaller clubs so if the money is availabe Arsenal are quite capable of signing them.

So as for now a winger is desperately needed. There is a chance for one to be signed, a very slight one though, as Arsene Wenger said that he is looking for a creative midfielder which is quite obviously Arshavin and another midfielder. This another midfileder could most probably be a central midielder but there is a slight chance that it could be a winger. However, the ‘another midfielder’ might not even be bought in January considering the fact that Arshavin might be signed which will drain Arsenal’s little financial resources available to be spent in January.

Talking of Arshavin, according to The Sun Arshavin is on the verge of signing for Arsenal despite the fact that Wenger is not prepared to spend the amount of money demanded by Zenit, which is due to the fact that both the clubs want to go through with the deal as Arshavin is bound to leave Zenit and Arsenal so far are the only club interested in him so perhaps the two clubs might strike a deal.

by Zain Shahid

In my last post I suggested that Arsenal need to strengthen their central defence but as it is shaping up that may be left till the summer as Arsene Wenger said he is not looking to add to his defence.

Even though one can include a defensive midfielder in the defence, which Arsene will not strengthen this month, but still I feel it is something that Arsenal need desperately. We only have Song who can play in that role and so far we have not seen him perform as well as Gooners would want from a first team player. We need a player like Viera who holds the defence perfectly well and allows attack-minded players to go further forward with confidence. Song has been playing a lot there this season and in my opinion has not done well and the same goes for Denilson. Denilson is a poor man’s Fabregas. The guy tries very hard but it seems he just doesn’t have that much quality in him. He is more of a player of Fabregas’s mould so you can’t expect him to do a great job holding the midfield. He lacks the strength for it. That’s as far as the list goes for the players who we have seen play as our defensive midfielder this season. A lot of Gooners though feel Diaby should be played there. He seems to be nice and strong in his tackles but unless he is played there and he shows how good he is at that position, I really can’t comment on him. So to summarise, a quality defensive midfielder is needed. If Arshavin does join Arsenal then a fully fit Arsenal squad will result in Arshavin, Fabregas, Nasri and Rosicky in the midfield. These guys are all very attacking so, in my opinion, it can’t work this way. The back four need a bit more protection. You can’t play Fabregas as the holding midfielder as that will be just a waste of his talent to stop him from doing what he does best. A defensive midfielder in the mould of Viera is exactly the solution to this little problem.

But again Arsene Wenger said:

“However at the moment, we are not looking to buy on the defensive side of our game.”

So probably no chance of a defensive midfielder to be added to the squad in January at least.

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!

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by Zain Shahid

January is just round the corner and Arsenal as always are being linked with a host of players. I have already mentioned most of them in my previous posts. But one thing that I am not pleased with is that no winger has been linked with Arsenal yet. We have seen in the season so far that lack of wide players has been a huge cause for concern. Yet I am surprised Wenger hasn’t made any move in this direction yet. Denilson and Diaby on the flanks has led to a lack of width in matches and that has on quite a few occasions been the main reason for dropped points. We all know Walcott is out for maybe 2 more months, Rosicky out for the season. That leaves us with Nasri and Eboue. Nasri has had his injury problems so far and Eboue is just not good enough for Arsenal I think. So why not buy a winger?  Maybe Arsene Wenger has plans to play Arshavin on tha right wing i guess. Or maybe some secret transfer! I would like to mention here that in the past couple of seasons all the players that Arsenal has bought, all or nearly all of them had been complete surprises for us as they had not been linked with the club before and the transfer jus came out of the blue moon.

Wenger - Might have some huge surprises for the fans

Wenger - Might have some huge surprises for the fans

Now that I have mentioned Arshavin, there is more to his story. Wenger had an interview on French TV where he said “I start feeling the crisis but I can’t spend £40m. We are looking at a creative player and another midfielder.” Quite surprising because Arsene hardly ever reveals his transfer plans. So now we know who is he looking for. The creative midfielder, I have a feeling, is Arshavin whereas the ‘another midfielder’ could be anyone from Arteta to Alonso to Veloso to In|er. But it could be a winger too as he specifically has not mentioned the word central midfielder. Later when he was asked about the Arshavin link he smiled and replied “Be a little patient. From the moment you give a name, you remove 50% chance of success to sign him.” So he has once again not denied it and we all know when he is not looking for a player and that player is being linked with the club, Wenger has been bold enough to quash the rumours. So good news there for Arsenal fans.

I would like to know if you guys agree with me on the need for a winger.