Saturday, 29 October 2011


On this historic day, I will let the pictures tell the story. By now you already know what happened and if you don't know, you will soon see. What a magnificent game. Enjoy it Arsenal fans, this one will live long in the memory.

All photos belong to Zimbio and their respective photographers. Probably the best site to get sports photos, always use them, they're great.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rambo To The Rescue

Arsenal left it late last night to record a win in Marseille, an Aaron Ramsey goal in the 92nd minute making the difference and taking the Gunners to the top of Group F in the Champions League. With time almost up I was content with a 0-0 draw; a clean sheet and a point away from home would have been a good result, especially against the team who currently sat top of the group. However our Welsh midfielder Mr Ramsey didn't want to settle for a draw and so he popped up unmarked on the edge of the box and delivered Arsenal all 3 crucial points and well-deserved victory in the south of France.

To be honest there's not a great deal to write about. We were never seriously troubled in defence all game. There was the odd panic moment but Szczesny didn't have any miracle saves to make all evening. Altogether we looked unusually steady and secure at the back, a sentence I didn't expect to utter after Marseille had beaten Dortmund so convincingly only a couple of weeks ago. Going forward we lacked that cutting edge, Walcott squandering our best chance in the second half, firing an off-balance shot which Marseille keeper Mandanda parried away with his outstretched leg. It really did seem like Marseille's clean sheet would remain intact. But Arsenal wouldn't relent. Djourou swung a hopeful cross into the box from the right which fell to Gervinho who couldn't quite get control of the ball; intentionally or not the Ivory Coast winger knocked the ball out to Ramsey who had cut in from the left and was completely free and unmarked. The Welshman calmly controlled the ball, switched it onto his right foot and rifled a shot past Mandanda and into the corner of the net. 1-0 to the Arsenal and game over, gotta love those last minute winners! The win puts us top of the group and in a very good position to progress to the knockout stages; just have to keep grinding out results like this one. 

Altogether a satisfactory night. Not a classic by any means but an away win in the Champions League is still a fantastic result.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Verminator Commits

Thomas Vermaelen, our quality but often injury-ravaged defender, has committed his immediate future to the club it was announced today. It's believed that the Belgian centreback has put pen to paper on a deal that will see him remain at Arsenal until 2015. Good news for the club and a boost to hear that our best defender on the team has reiterated his commitment to the club with the signing of this contract. In this age of football the length of these modern contracts are meaningless, as has often been proven over the past two decades. If a player wants out, he merely has to say so and then can proceed to pursue a move to a new club, regardless of how long term his previous contract was. Nonetheless this is still excellent news and its good to know Vermaelen has his head in the right place. Now all we need is for him to shake off this injury curse and have a prolonged spell in the starting eleven, because our defence plays like an under 11's side when he's out of action.

Can't wait to see him back on the pitch. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Can't Live Without The Captain

What would we do without our captain? This afternoon Robin van Persie put this Arsenal team on his back and carried them to victory single-handedly, scoring both goals in a crucial 2-1 win against Sunderland. It was essential Arsenal walked away with all 3 points today at the Emirates; any other result against this lacklustre Sunderland squad would have been disastrous. The Black Cats are really struggling this season and lack any significant firepower up front so anything but a win would have sent the Arsenal faithful home shaking their heads and muttering curses once again.

In the programme before kickoff van Persie put an end to the speculation concerning his future at the club: 'I am committed to Arsenal, and that's how it is, despite people (in the media) making up stories.' It's wonderful to hear those words from my favourite player but I haven't been losing any sleep about the prospect of him joining Manchester City in the near-future. Stories like this are 99% gossip most of the time and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it anyway. I have no worries that Robin will leave us and I expect him to sign another contract. You can read more about his pre-game programme notes here.

It didn't take the Dutchman long to back up his words: 29 seconds to be precise, the fastest goal of the Premier League season and what I believe ties the record for fastest goal in Premier League history. Van Persie let a sharp pass from Gervinho roll across him until he got it onto his right foot before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner leaving Sunderland 'keeper Mignolet helpless. 1-0 to the Arsenal and just the start we needed. Ten minutes later and the captain nearly doubled the lead, and in the most spectacular way imaginable. On the edge of the penalty area, van Persie received the ball onto his left foot with his back to goal, before suddenly spinning away from Kieran Richardson and audaciously chipping the ball over Mignolet with his right foot. The ball hung in the air for an age before it hit the inside of the post and crawled away from goal to save Sunderland's blushes and preventing what would have been an absolute classic of a goal. The move to free himself from Richardson was incredible, Bergkamp-esque in every way, and if the ball had just drifted slightly to the right it would have been one of the best goals in Arsenal's history. Watch it here, mesmerising stuff...

Unfortunately the Gunners couldn't grab that important second goal and whadda you know, Sunderland go down the other end and score. Former Arsenal man and current darling of Swedish football Sebastian Larsson curled in a delicious free kick that instantly made me regret us ever getting rid of him. It really was a peach of a goal and credit must go to Mr Larsson because he didn't celebrate the goal; you could see he really made a point of showing respect to his former club. If I'd have been in his situation I'd have gone absolutely mental with joy at having scored such a brilliant free kick. Within five minutes of going level Sunderland nearly took the lead, but for a marvellous save from Szczesny, saving what should have been a certain goal, point blank stuff. The young Pole kept us in it for sure.

With Arsenal being typically wasteful and consistently suspect in defence, the game had Sunderland stealing a late winner written all over it. Yet it wasn't to be and it was the home side who were destined to grab the late lead, Arsenal scoring the winner with only minutes left. With roughly eight minutes left and the score level, van Persie had a free kick from just outside the box. He proceeded to produce a trademark beauty, curling his left peg around the ball which whipped over and around the wall and into the top corner. Cue celebrations and huge sighs of relief all around, Arsenal had finally taken the lead to make it 2-1 and it was all down to that man again, captain van Persie.

Overall a much needed 3 points and a morale lifting victory. Van Persie has been on fire this season and if he can just stay healthy this Arsenal squad will be so much better for it. Without him we are sitting ducks, dead in the water, and our hopes of playing European football next year go out the window. God forbid anything happen to our star striker and my favourite Gunner. I will literally cry...

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 14 October 2011

What I'm Reading - 14/10/11

With the always dull international break just about over and regular football back this weekend, I've had nothing at all to blog about these past couple of weeks. In the meantime I've being doing a spot of reading and have recently started the excellent A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke. We got a few copies in at work about two weeks ago and flicking through the pages and reading the odd extract, I immediately felt like picking this up. A Life Too Short has been long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year and should easily make the shortlist. Since I'll no doubt be creating a display at work to highlight the books in contention for this year's award I felt it only suitable that I actually read at least one of the books involved.

Now I'm only about five chapters in, around the time when Robert joined Benfica, but I can confidently say this is one of the best sporting biographies I have ever read. Author Robert Reng has done an incredible job retelling Robert's life story; his style of writing makes for a compelling read and it feels like reading a work of fiction at times because the book reads so well. During my browse to see if I wanted to buy the book, I read a few pages of the chapter where Reng recounts Enke's infamous time at Barcelona and it was so captivating, like you were watching the game itself, that I knew then I wanted to it. The majority of football fans that pay attention to the news know who Robert Enke is; the German goalkeeper who sadly took his own life roughly two years ago. When I heard a book was being released about his often complicated life I wasn't really that interested. Apart from knowing who he was, I had never watched Enke play and knew next to nothing about his career. Hell, my knowledge of German football is limited to say the least. However this book still appealed to me enormously; how can a man who had so much, the fame, the money, the adoration of the fans, take his own life? What level of torment and mental torture can force a man to see no other resolution apart from suicide? 

I have barely scratched the surface of this book but its already shaping up to be a fascinating read. I recommend this to all football fans, whether you knew who Enke was or not. It will certainly make you think twice about the criticism modern footballers receive every game and whether the media and fans should be so merciless in their opinions of a player's performance. Guardian writer Amy Lawrence wrote a superb piece about the impact Enke's death and Reng's book could possibly have on football today.

I can't wait to get back to reading it. Everyone connected with football should read this book, it's that good.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

When It Rains, It Pours

With the morale-sapping loss to Spurs on Sunday, more bad news follows with information coming through that Bacary Sagna will be out for a minimum of three months. Our reliable right-back has had successful surgery on his broken leg but its another devastating blow for our already crippled squad. This Arsenal team are made of glass, they really are, our hopes of success consistently being destroyed by the injuries the side acquire. The international break has come at just the right time as we don't play again now until Sunderland visit us at the Emirates on Sunday 16 October. Let's hope we don't collect any more casualties to our already bloated injury list. Until then...

Thanks for reading.