Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Remembering A Hero

Ok, I know the title makes it sound like he died, but I just wanted to post something on here about a past Arsenal player who is still fondly remembered in N5. Despite his move to Shakhtar Donetsk last summer, many Arsenal fans were sad to see Eduardo leave the North London club. I for one was unhappy he left, I felt he still had time to achieve great things with us. However, Eduardo looks to have found a new home in Ukraine with Shakhtar and I hope he can find his way back to the form that made him such a hero at the Emirates. I just finished watching a very heart-warming video of his best moments at Arsenal and felt I had to share it:

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Same Old Arsenal, Always Infuriating

Say goodbye to any hopes you might have had that Arsenal could still win the title, even after bottling every game over the past month or so. Too many draws, too many mistakes and just not being good enough has put an end to our season, and today Bolton cemented this by beating us 2-1 at The Reebok. A 90th minute header from Tamir Cohen finally laid this Arsenal side to rest for the 2010/11 season. There's always next year I suppose...

This afternoon we had to win at all costs. Anything less would simply confirm that this season was not meant to be, no Premier League trophy for us this time. The first half was relatively even, but Bolton looked dangerous on the counter and from set pieces. Well in the 38th minute, Bolton took the lead. From a corner, Gary Cahill rose above our defence with ease, powering a header into the corner that Samir Nasri did well to chest away. Unfortunately the ball didn't leave Nasri's body with much pace, and Chelsea-loanee Daniel Sturridge was waiting to head the ball back into the net to make it 1-0 Bolton. First blood to the home side and Arsenal needed to respond quickly if they were to maintain any hope of a victory, let alone keeping themselves in the increasingly disappearing title-race.

Well Arsenal did respond, but not in the manner we might have hoped. With only a minute gone into the second half, Sturridge got on the wrong side of Djourou in the penalty area and went down; the referee instantly pointed to the spot and it looked like Arsenal's dreams of a successful afternoon had quickly descended into a nightmare. Kevin Davies stepped up to the spot, but thankfully his penalty attempt was atrocious and Szczesny saved with ease, keeping Arsenal in the game. This swing in momentum appeared to galvanise the men in red and white and only minutes later Arsenal were back in the game. Robin van Persie played a nice one-two with Fabregas, and the Dutchman laced the ball past Jaaskelainen to make it 1-1 and game on. For the next 40 minutes or so, Arsenal set up camp around the Bolton area but just could not get that all important second goal. Nasri had a great chance to take the lead but could only hit his shot at the keeper, before having the rebound blocked. It just looked like one of those days, with Wenger casting a frustrated figure on the touchline as the Gunners spurned chance after chance, failing to shoot when they would pass instead. Just when things couldn't get much worse, substitute Tamir Cohen popped up from a Bolton corner in the 90th minute and made it 2-1 to the home side; game over for Arsenal, and season over as well. Another set piece, another lapse in concentration and another goal - Arsenal just could not handle Bolton from corners this afternoon and they paid the price for it. Cohen had only been on the pitch for five minutes too...

So now Arsenal can forget the title, they can forget the celebrations and the medals. No open-top bus parade this year. The Gunners now have more pressing concerns in the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. Carlo Ancelotti's team have hit a hot patch of late and have soared into second place, and now they have a three point advantage over us and a better goal difference as well. In all likeliness, Arsenal have probably thrown away their chance at second, let alone first, unless they can right this sinking ship and finish the season with some respect. The blue side of Manchester are also a concern; they have two games in hand and if we don't wake up, they could quite easily steal third place from us. That would be a disaster.

Anyway, unless Arsenal can win all their remaining games and a miracle occurs, this will probably be my last post on here this season. I have a lot of uni work coming up and once thats done I might write a piece or two on what I think the club should do in the off-season; who they should buy, who they should sell, stuff like that.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Let's Bloody 'Av Them!

The big one tonight, Arsenal versus Spurs at White Hart Lane. We MUST win at all costs, even if its just to have some retribution and revenge against the rivals. Come on you Gunners!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

So Close But Then So Far

Arsenal threw away a golden chance at catching Man United this afternoon, wasting a 1-0 lead against Liverpool by needlessly giving away a late penalty, which Dirk Kuyt converted to make it 1-1 after 100 minutes had passed on the clock. Thanks to yet another draw at home, this result has pretty much all but confirmed that its United's title to lose now. Arsenal's title challenge is dead in the water now, and unless Ferguson's Manchester side has a complete meltdown, the Gunner's dreams of a trophy have come to an abrupt end.

This was a crazy game that had plenty of typical Arsenal stuff in it; we dominated possession for the majority of the game and, as per usual, tried to score that perfect (and elusive) goal. We constantly tried to thread the needle today, always trying to walk the ball in the net. I just wish our players would have a crack at goal more often, rather than pussy-foot around the edge of the box like they normally do, and finally give the ball away. It is the latter that we witnessed more of today, much to the fan's frustration. Despite Liverpool having to field a pretty weakened side, we couldn't capitalise on their weaknesses at all. We had a great chance of beating Dalglish's squad today, as the injuries mounted up during the game when Aurelio and Carragher were both forced to leave the field, yet we still couldn't force any real threats on that depleted defence. Carragher's injury was particularly bad and he had to be stretchered from the pitch - it was this delay that caused the officials to rule for 8 minutes of injury time to be played. It was during those 8 minutes when things got interesting.

With only a minute or so left with the score still 0-0, with Arsenal knocking on the door and really trying to force a chance, captain Fabregas got tripped in the box and the ref instantly pointed to the spot for a penalty. The Gooner faithful celebrated at the decision, and went ballistic when Robin van Persie put it in the left corner to make it 1-0. Game over, surely? However, from the restart Liverpool tried an audacious shot at Szczesny from the half way line, which the Polish keeper reacted to and stopped what could have been a stunning goal. But surely thats it now, right? Somehow, some way, Liverpool regained possession and after some sloppy defending, were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the penalty box. Arsenal were pretty lucky actually, as some refs may have judged the foul to have been in the box and awarded a spot-kick. Now by this time, we are in the 99th minute and the game should be over, whistle blown and three crucial points in Arsenal's hands. But Liverpool were awarded the time to take their free kick and Suarez, so close to goal, had no choice but to thump it at the wall and hope a deflection carried it goalwards. Suarez's free-kick did hit the wall and spilled out to the left where Lucas and Eboue gave chase and this is where things got ridiculous. The second that ball pinged off of the Arsenal wall, the referee Andre Marriner should have blown the final whistle as we were now well over the allotted time added on to the original 90 - the game had overrun by about three minutes or so. But Eboue clumsily battled with Lucas for the loose ball, which Lucas milked for all it was worth and went down very easily, but it was enough for Marriner to be fooled and he awarded a penalty. I was furious that the game was still being played, and Dirk Kuyt made things worse when he squeezed the ball past Szczesny to make it 1-1 with the final kick of the game. Marriner blew the whistle immediately and consequently ended Arsenal's title hopes for good.

Now I'm not going to crucify Eboue for making that stupid mistake, everybody messes up, but he will not escape the blame for this one. Even if Lucas collected that ball and got it under control, he was still in a pretty harmless position with his back to goal. Eboue just needed to watch his man and shield him away from creating anything dangerous - instead Lucas leads him into making a stupid mistake and costing Arsenal any chance of winning a trophy this year. Another mistake, more punishment, and the Gunner's cruel season of blunders and costly errors continues. I'm just fed up that this team with so much talent and skill can continue to fuck up when it really matters - things just have not gone our way this year.

Our next game is against Tottenham on Wednesday at White Hart Lane. After taking a licking from Madrid, the Spuds will be keen to rebound against their rivals and I would really like to get revenge on them for that 2-3 calamity at the Emirates earlier this season. So fingers crossed we can get a result and Man U fuck up somewhere along the road, but at the moment I can't see that happening and I just hope Chelsea and Man City don't leapfrog us over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Out Of The Wilderness

So its been a while since I last posted anything, and that's down to a couple of reasons:

1) I've had a lot of university work to do. Gotta get that dissertation done, amongst other things.

2) I've been in Rome as well... not much time to blog from Italia.

So since I last blogged about Arsenal, the Gunners could only muster a 0-0 draw at home to Blackburn (a miserable result) but they did manage to beat Blackpool 3-1 at Bloomfield Road. Its good to see that we are back to winning ways but I fear it may be too late, as United have been relentless during the run-in. As of today we are 7 points behind the leaders with a game in hand; that game is at White Hart Lane against Spurs, and we still have to play United at home. Even if we win both of those games, we will still be behind by 1 point and will need United to slip up if we're to stand any chance of winning the league. Every game for Arsenal now is a must-win - there can be no more draws and definitely no more losses - any dropped points from now on means the title challenge is dead. The team needs to step it up a bit during this run-in if we are to stand any chance of catching United. I am glad to hear that van Persie has been trying to instil some fighting spirit in the squad; apparently he gave Diaby a grilling at half time in Blackpool last weekend, and its about time someone did. Diaby actually looked to have had a decent game at Bloomfield Road, even scoring a rare goal, but his performances this season have been a mixed bag. I am not Diaby's biggest fan, and would preferably like to see him offloaded next season. I think he is far too casual on the ball and doesn't pass when he probably should, which is infuriating on the counter-attack when he refuses to play the ball suitably. Despite his great ability to control the ball, sometimes beating opposition players with ease, his decision making has always been questionable and it seems we always get punished when Diaby gets caught in possession, which is an all too regular occurrence. So I'm glad van Persie gave him some stick - its a welcome sign from the Dutchman that he's taking some control in the locker-room, some much-needed leadership.

But first of all we have the matter of a revitalised Liverpool side coming to the Emirates, who have gained some serious momentum since 'King Kenny' Dalglish returned to Anfield, desperately trying to secure European football for next year. That, coupled with Andy Carroll's return from injury, makes the game tomorrow a tricky encounter. Carroll has been slowly getting back to 100% since his recovery, and he looks to have recaptured his early-season form with 2 goals against Manchester City this week. If you can cast your mind back to the last time Carroll visited the Emirates, you'll remember him rising high to head home the only goal for Newcastle in a 1-0 win. I really like Carroll, I think he's a fantastic player, the definitive English centre forward. However, I wouldn't mind if he has an absolute shocker tomorrow, him and the rest of the Liverpool squad. Its crucial that we beat the Merseysiders tomorrow afternoon and they will not go easy on us, but thankfully our injury concerns are beginning to clear up a bit, with reports that Szczesny could return in goal, and Djourou and Sagna could also play a part. Wenger needs to stress to the team that there can be no more mistakes from now on, every chance needs to be taken and capitalised on, or the season is over and the fans go back to uttering the "what ifs" and "what could have beens". I think, over the last few years, we are all fed up of that.

Thanks for reading.