Son of a Gun!

Musings on Arsenal Football Club by a Singaporean Gooner (Gooner since 1988)

Manchester United 2 – 1 Arsenal: United has Mike Dean to thank August 30, 2009

Filed under: Premier League,Season 2009/2010 — Son of a Gunner @ 12:03 pm

Manchester United 2 – 1 Arsenal

I’m writing this as soon as I woke up with the memories of the match still fresh in my head. It wasn’t a good night’s rest I can assure you.

Let’s get straight into to the game review:

1 – Arsenal were the better team and led at half-time.
After a brief midfield tussle at the start of the game where both teams began cautiously but at a very high pace, trying to get a grip in midfield possession, Arsenal settled faster than the home side and dominated proceedings as the game wore on.

2 – Cesc’s absence was not really felt.
The midfield trio of Denilson, Song and Diaby covered the absence of Cesc well that none of the Football Channel pundits nor the commentators mentioned about his absence during the course of the game. I thought Song and Denilson worked really hard in the centre allowing the more offensive-minded Diaby to lend more physical support up front to our target man Van Persie.

This midfield trio is a bit different from our previous games when Cesc was around when all three midfielders were more positionally disciplined and the workload was shared between the three of them. In this game, Diaby was thrust a bit more forward with the attacking flankmen Arshavin and Eboue returning to the flanks to create a 4-4-1-1 whenever we lost possession. This is working well as we have 4 midfielders instead of 3 whenever we are in defensive mode and we soon made United lose their possession easily. This allowed the quick counter-attacking, passing style of Arsenal to thrive. Everything in the first half worked except for 2 things. We didn’t finish well enough, and it soon became clear we were playing against 12 men.

3 – United’s 12th man and most influential man-of-the-match is Mike Dean.
Let’s be objective here. United committed 22 fouls and received 2 bookings. Arsenal committed 16 fouls and received 6 bookings. That tells you who is the Man Utd star man of the game.

When Arshavin pulled the ball back in the box and Darren Fletcher slided in forcefully, he did not get the ball at all, the only part of his body which touched the ball were his arms. Double foul, if there is such a thing. What did Dean do? Wave play on.

At the other end, Antonio Valencia upended Clichy several times during a game in which he was obviously exposed to be not good enough to replace Ronaldo, he was not even called up for a single foul.

Then Van Persie won the ball in forceful style outside of the penalty box, Dean booked him and gave a free-kick. Please be objective and look at all the above incidents in replay and you will see I did not make any of it up. Freaking ludicrous!

The only correct decision I remember him making was the penalty given to United when Aumnia DID commit the foul. He wasn’t the last man as Gallas was on the same line as him when the tackle was made so the booking and penalty was an accurate one.

But throughout the game, and with every 50-50 decision going the home side’s way. There is no doubt Arsenal must do something really special to bring the points home. Am I blaming the referee squarely on his shoulders for this defeat? No, but one cannot argue that he did play an influential part.

In big games like this, a good mentally-strong referee who is not influenced by the home crowd is needed. Dean is definitely not such a referee.

4 – Almunia could have done better with the second goal.
Although it is hard to determine if it was better if Almunia stood his ground when Rooney came charging in having beaten Gallas for speed when he gave away the penalty, I felt Alumnia could and should have done better with the Diaby own goal.

It remains unclear as to what Diaby was thinking when he chose to thrust his head towards our goal instead of towards the opposite side (maybe he thought he had put in enough power to head the ball above the bar), you can see from the slow-motion replays that Almunia wasn’t looking at the ball when it was floated in as soon as players begun to jump for the ball. He had taken it for granted that it would be cleared since it looks clear that an Arsenal player was going to win it.

Given his agility and quick reflexes (which again was shown late in the ball when he denied Nani with a stupendous save), I believe it is well within his own ability to push that away and save Diaby some embarrasment. We need our ‘keeper to b 100% focused even if we look like we’re controlling the game and Alumnia was good for that in the first games of the season but here, his switch-off for a mere 2 seconds was all it needed to consign us to defeat. I still trust him of course, we make mistakes all the time but this is yet another reason why we shouldn’t have lost.

5 – Arsenal defended well despite the scoreline.
Let’s not take the defensive performance of our back 4 away from them as I thought they were absolutely outstanding yesterday. Vermaelen showed really good anticipation to nip a dangerous looking United counter with just one foot. Gallas was lively throughout, looking as good as when he was a Chelsea player. Sagna and Clichy worked really hard yesterday as well.

Both goals cannot be attributed to them as it was a really good pass that put Rooney through for the first, and it was an unfortunate own goal for the second. Diaby was distraught and although in the past I had been continually frsutrated by Diaby’s play, I thought he did well in this game. To put the blame on him for our defeat would be unfairly harsh. After his own goal, Van Persie who was captain for the night, was the first to console him and gave him encouragement. Diaby then nearly redeemed himself by beating 3 United defenders before slotting wide. Van Persie is proving to be quite the captain material as I’m sure everyone remembers he was the only player who consoled Gibbs following that horrible slip against the same opponents in the Champions League last year.

6 – Van Persie the captain.
Following the absence of Cesc, Van Persie stepped in as captain and I think he did really well to lead by example. He could easily have gotten the second goal for Arsenal when first Arshavin did really well down the left flank and sqauring the ball to a sliding Van Persie and I thought he had scored if not for a quick reaction save from Ben Foster, his best of the game. If he had scored that one, we would have been 2-0 ahead and it would have turned out to be a completely different game.

Van Persie then smashed a freekick against the crossbar having beaten their weak 2-man wall. If he had scored that one, we would have been 2-1 ahead and that would have sunk United hearts.

Then he finished well late into the game before it was ruled out correctly for an offside on Gallas, who nodded the ball which became loose until Van Persie slided the ball past a well-beaten Foster.

With much critism leveled at our attackers for not scoring enough, Eduardo had scored in midweek against Celtic and Arshavin had scored with a cracker in this game and Van Persie could have scored his first goal of the campaign in this game. This shows the signs are good and that our attackers are slowly getting into goal-scoring positions themselves instead of just creating chances.

7 – Arshavin is a big part of our attacking plans.
The pint-sized Russian is fast proving to be a real important component of the Arsenal attacking machine. Although he had a few stray passes early in the game where United were stifling his creativity, he quickly learnt the best way would be to run around those players and be in an open, dangerous position. He could have scored following a corner when he stabbed a loose ball towards the far post and it whizzed so closely past the post. That was world-class technique which deserved a goal, and from nowhere at that.

He then produced a stunning cracker with a small backlift that Foster had a touch to but it was way to powerful for any ‘keeper to stop it from flying into the top corner. It must surely be the goal-of-the-week and a goal-of-the-season contender. It is heartening to know we have him for a full season this time round.

Overall – Yes, we have lost the game due to many factors. We didn’t utilise the chances we had created. Mike Dean. Luck. But we didn’t lose because we are not good enough. That was the case when we played them in the Champions League semi-finals last season when we were really not good enough. It is clear that Adebayor, who was invisible in the tie last season, is outshone by a more willing and more talented Van Persie who is currently in the same role and that can onl be good news for Arsenal.

Three more points to note. We have lost a game but it is still very early in the season and it was an away game. Another point is Chelsea is the only big 4 who hasn’t lost a game. The last point is United won the league last season despite a poor head-to-head record against the big 4.

Yes, it hurts to have lost to a major rival and with such a strong performance we really should have sent a true warning to the rest of the league with a complimenting result. But it is not all bad, and let’s see how well this team will respond to a defeat. City comes next and it would be good to bounce back against them and show the ex-Arsenal duo that we are better off without them.


Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs Arsenal August 29, 2009

Filed under: Premier League,Season 2009/2010 — Son of a Gunner @ 6:53 pm

I had intended to write about the preview of the Celtic game as well as the Celtic match analysis but my internet connectin was down those two days and I must say it’s immensely frustrating.

The biggest topic of that game was the Eduardo dive, which is unfortunate. Let’s face it, Arsenal was always going to win the game regardless of that penalty and the guf between the two sides were evident. Even Celtic manager Tony Mowbray was a big enough man to admit that Arsenal went through on credit. There were a couple of players such as their only goalscorer Donati, who said Eduardo should be banned for 2 games. If that is to be the yardstick, then I reckon Cristiano Ronaldo should retire this very instant for the number of games he would have been banned for should last at least a decade.

I’m not going to condone diving even from Arsenal players. Especially from Arsenal players. I have mentioned in my blog befoe that Eboue’s gamesmanship which includes diving is what made fans turn against him last season as this is not a characteristic of an Arsenal player. But when players, ‘pundits’ (many of whom get big bucks for talking rubbish on tv) and the media begin to attack Eduardo for being a cheat is overboard. When Pires first arrived in English football, he was not a diver. But after he suffered a long term injury from a reckless tackle, he came back a more cautious player and tends to jump out of tackles which made him look like a diver and people just went on about it, ignoring the fact that he was a great player. Eduardo was never known as one. We all know what happened to his ankle last year and I believe he was trying to jump out of the tackle as well. However, we can see if this is true when we next see a tackle on Eduardo. I won’t have complained if Eduardo was cautioned with a card and we didn’t get the penalty. If there is anyone to blame, then put the blame on the referee who gave the penalty in the first place.

Michel Platini has always seem to have an agenda against Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. He has done it again by saying he will back UEFA to look at the video and ban Eduardo. This will not make any sense, as he was not even cautioned during the game. There are instances of referees seeing a violent act and giving a yellow card and as long as they put it in their report, the rules state that it cannot be overturned if the referee saw the incident. So if UEFA were to set a precedent simply because the scutiny is higher in an Arsenal game then I think UEFA really is te kind of dud organisation that they are.

Ok, I have endured it long enough the past couple of days on this one particular incident and now I feel better ranting about it.

Let’s move on to the positives. We are in the Champions League proper and we have a rather ‘kind’ draw with Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar, Greek champions Olympiacos and Belgian side Standard Liege. The trickest opposition would be Olympiakos in my opinion. We will discuss more about that another day.

Moving on to today’s preview on the big game against Manchester United:

1 – Cesc Fabregas will miss today’s game.
This is the worst news to have come out of the Arsenal camp. I had expected yesterday that Cesc would be rushed back for this game just as he played against Cetic in the first-leg when he was also deemed 50-50 to play. The latest news on the official website, however, confirmed his absence today.

There is no doubt that Cesc was on top of his game during the first 3 games of the season. He also seemed to have step up anoter level starting his first full season as captain. His game is also helped by the new formation allowing him space and cover to spray his world-renowned passes and to oil the Arsenal midfield engine. Therefore to lose him for tonight’s game against United is a big blow to us. We do have replacements in the squad, Ramsey is back. Diaby, Denilson and Song looks set to start the game and Rosicky might get a place on the bench. His involvement might be crucal as United would not have prepared for him.

The best news to come out of Cesc’s absence is that he might be able to pull out of the international game for Spain and return 100% against United’s city rivals. We need Cesc to be fit for the long term, as his 4 month absence last season seriously dented our title hopes.

The likely team for today would be Alumnia, Sagna, Clichy, Gallas, Vermaelen, Denilson, Song, Diaby, van Persie, Bendtner, Arshavin.

My ow preference is to put Ramsey in as he would be fresher than Denilson but I think Wenger will opt for the proven.

2 – Manchester United were known to begin the season in sluggish form.
True to form, United has already lost one game and to newly-promoted side Burnley, no less. They also struggled to score against another newly-promoted side Birmingham on opening day despite their dominance in possesstion. Then they took out on their frustrations against Wigan in a 5-0 drubbing.

We certainly started the season in stronger form and against better opposition like Everton. However, form seldom count for anything when the big guns face off against each other.

Antonio Valencia is a very good winger, but he is not Cristiano Ronaldo. Valencia can beat his man, and send pin-point crosses in. He has a notable pace although he isn’t the fastest man in the world. But his direct contribution to goals will not be like Ronaldo’s. That means their strikeforce would have to be heavily relied on to put away the chances they create. That can be dangerous.

Rooney, Berbatov and even Owen, are exceptional world-class strikers any club in the world would be proud to have. But the balance of utilising the three of them to the maximum is not yet found. That could be crucial to today’s result.

3 – Game will be closer than one think.
The media are still trying to write off Arsenal’s chances as this would be their first real test of the season. However, although I won’t dispute that fact, I would like to also point out that the opposite is true. Arsenal is not Burnley, is not Birmingham, and definitely isn’t Wigan. If they think they will have it easy against our new-look defence then they will be in for a real shocker.

Although we do not possess the biggest defence, we now have a real hardman in the middle that is Vermaelen. Besides, our central defence of Gallas and Vermaelen are both taller and bigger than Rooney and Owen. Berbatov is the only exception.

Manchester United is also missing Rio Ferdinand, who to me is of the same magnitute of us losing Cesc. Their possible replacements are certainly not world beaters. Johnny Evans proved to be really useful last season but he is not fully fit. Wes Brown would be a dream-come-true for Arsenal fans as we all know what he is capable of, or incapable of. John O’Shea is not a natural defender but I reckon he will do the best job of the three at present.

I feel there are goals in this game for both sides, and both my head and my heart is telling me that we will be witnessing a real cracker of a game with goals coming from both ends but we will nick a win.

No one gave us a whisker of a chance last season in our first game against United, but we defeated them 2-1. I’m quietly confident.


Will Arsenal sign anymore players? August 25, 2009

Filed under: Transfer Rumours — Son of a Gunner @ 9:47 pm

There are less than a week to go before the transfer window closes and so far, the transfer business seemed to be over for most clubs other than Manchester City, who signed two more players this week.

There shouldn’t be any news until Sunday and Monday, the last day of the window. Arsenal will be facing Celtic tomorrow night and Manchester United late on Saturday. Wenger, being the focussed manager that he is, will not be thinking about any new signings until these two big games are out of the way. I am sure, however, that his targets (if there are any) have already been identified to Ivan Gazidis for him to do his job. Gazidis, on the other hand, has been busy Arsenalising our stadium.

Wenger has hinted there might be one or two more additions on the last day, probably in the last 7 hours or so. I hope we can secure an experienced defensive midfielder on the last day but I will not be holding my breath for it.

Let us look at who might, or might not be coming in.

1 – Patrick Vieira
I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts that I would be very surprised if he joined Spurs, and he had come out to say it. Now that is out of the way, the question is: Will Vieira make an dramatic return to Arsenal, and Wenger’s first ‘repeat’ signing?

Wenger mentioned last week that he had not moved for Vieira but he still has enough time to do so if he decides before the window closes. It is still possible because he would not be a long term hinderance to Alex Song, who is still young. Vieira can also provide the necessary experience in our midfield and impart some vital lessons to aid the development of Song further. However, I have also mentioned that Vieira will be concerned about his playing chances should he return. He knows very well that he need to be playing regularly to stand a chance to be selected for the World Cup come the end of the season.

This problem can be neutralised by his own chances if he is staying at Inter. Although he has proved his fitness in pre-season, he is still not th first choice at Inter. He might think a change of environment might do him good and if he is going to be warming the bench at Inter, he might as well do it at a club where he made his name.

Probability of this transfer: 5/10

2 – Brede Hangeland
Wenger admitted he scouted the player but with Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas in stunning form, it is no longer necessary for another centreback. There are still Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos to call upon, and of course Alex Song.

Wenger also said we will not be signing Hangeland this season.

Probability of this transfer: 1/10

3 – Blaise Matuidi
The young Saint-Etienne defensive midfielder isn’t the imposing figure nor the experienced head that Arsenal is crying out for. But his name has been linked all summer. I have mentioned that his style reminds me of a player we already have on our books, Francis Coquelin. This signing makes no sense to me as he has very little top-class European experience and is unproven out of France and hasn’t done anything of worthy note so far. We also have similar youngsters at the club. However, this signing might really happen as top defensive midfielders are lacking and it is clear Wenger rates the player.

Probability of this transfer:7/10

4 – Marouane Chamakh
He has been linked all summer and it still baffles me that Bordeaux did not accept Arsenal’s bid, knowing he can leave for free next season.

He would have been a very useful addition, and he has proven in this new young season that he has added some composure to his gam by scoring 3 goals in 3 games thus far, helping Bordeaux to the top of the table. However, I won’t be losing too much sleep over this as we have enough cover up front. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that our attackers stay injury-free.

He might still arrive next summer. But I doubt there will be any chance of him joining in the current transfer window.

Probability of this transfer: 4/10

I maintain that we need one more good, experienced midfielder to complete our ‘massive’ squad and be competitive for a sustained period of time, as Arshavin mentioned, we are a little short on quantity compared to the other title challengers.

Let us all hope there will be something stirring next Monday. It promises to be a nail-biting final day.


Premier League: Arsenal 4 – 1 Portsmouth August 24, 2009

Filed under: Premier League,Season 2009/2010 — Son of a Gunner @ 11:47 pm

Arsenal 4 – 1 Portsmouth

The first home game of the season went as smoothly as we fans can hope for. Another emphatic win means we have now scored 10 goals in 2 games, more than Chelsea and Spurs who had both played and won one more game than us at this point, and that shows we shouldn’t be worried about our attack.

In my preview of the game, I mentioned that Ramsey, Diaby, Eboue, Eduardo, Gibbs and Wilshere should see some action in this game as we look ahead to two tough fixtures aginst Celtic and Manchester United and I’m almost 100% accurate.

Diaby started alongside Denilson and Cesc with Denilson being deployed in the Alex Song role with Song rested on the bench. It was the right decision as we need Song for out big games and I’m still not convinced using Denilson defensively.

Eboue came in for Sagna, Gibbs came in for Clichy, Ramsey replaced Cesc at halftime and Eduardo started as part of the attackng trio with Bendtner rested. The only player that I mentioned should be playing against Portsmouth but didn’t was Jack Wilshere, with Fran Merida taking his place on the bench and coming on late in the second half.

Let’s talk about the important points of the game and the consequences of the result:

1 – Alex Song was the only “central defender” on the bench.
With Thomas Vermaelen continuing his defensive partnership with Gallas, Alex Song was the only player on the bench who can come on in place of one of the two. He was chosen ahead of Djourou (who is injured), Silvestre and Senderos (whose future is still up in the air, and with Lescott securing his move to Money-chest City, he might still move to Everton). Wenger has always maintained that Song will make a very good centreback, something I still cannot agree with as he has always shown positional immaturity in the centre of defence. However, this is a sign of things that Wenger has faith in Song’s defensive abilities and that Diaby would be used whenever we face a ‘lesser’ opponent.

2 – Cesc Fabregas was taken off at halftime with an injury.
Aaron Ramsey came on for Cesc at halftime after he pulled his hamstring. Wenger is still unsure how long he will be out for but one thing is for certain, he will not be risked for the iweek clash with Celtic. We definitely need him for Manchester United, especially he is now in the best form in more than a year. Aaron Ramsey though, did very well in place of Cesc. I’ve mentioned quite a few times that Ramsey would be the player to watch this season after a brilliant pre-season when he looked stronger physically and better technically. His goal in the closing stages of the game was well-taken, although I had expected his first goal this new season would be from long range as he likes taking pot-shots on goal outside the box – something we need to do more often. He might start the game againt Celtic but I feel Wenger would go for experience and put Song into the team alonside Denilson and Diaby in the absence of Cesc.

3 – Diaby was brilliant with a first-half brace.
Diaby took his first half brace well and his second goal was simply breathtaking. He won the header that began the counter attack and was there at the end to finish it off. Although he now looks funny with some hair, I like him much better than last season, when I was really frustrated with his every move. There wasn’t a doubt about his technical ability but his best role was a mystery the whole of last season and he couldn’t stay fit long enough to sustain any kind of momentum. In the post-match conference, Wenger said this couldbe Diaby’s year. Let’s hope so, if he can stay injury-free then I think Wenger will be spot on. I’ve also mentioned that he will thrive in the new formation due to his playing style and his first start of the season has shown that to be the case. I’m not sure I agree with the comparison by Wenger that he looks exactly like Patrick Vieira on the field when he was deployed more defensively in the second half though. The only thing similar was that he got booked in his first game of the season, and he is the FIRST Arsenal player to be booked this season. I hope that isn’t a trend.

4 – Too much has been made of the 2 goals we have conceded in 2 games.
Critics always have to choose something to comment on and there had been too much said about how our troubles are still there and we are only winning because we played poor teams. I wish to dispute both points. The first goal we conceded was close to the end of the game against Everton, when we were already 6-0 up. The second goal was Portsmouth sneaking a goal following Almunia’s butter fingers slipping the ball from the high ball into the box. Goalkeepers are bound to make a few mistakes over the course of a season, the fewer they made, the more games their teams are due to make. It is frtunatefor us hat it happened durig a game in which we are controlling comfortably. Although it was closer at 2-1, Portsmouth never looked like coming back into the game. It is true we could have defended better for the goal but I’m sure we can clear up those problems when our back four play more pften with each other this season. Do not forget Eboue and Gibbs hasn’t played much this season and they came straight in for our first choice fullbacks and Vermaelen and Gallas are only in their 3rd game together as partners. I thought Vermaelen was solid although he didn’t shine as much as the first two games but that is more due to the dominance we were having in the game rather than any lack of effort or drop of form.

5 – Gallas is our top scorer.
After scoring a nice header from a Cesc’s freekick in the first game, he scored off a deflection from a Cesc shot against Celtic and now he scored a deflection off Vermaelen’s cross to make it 3 in 3. Although many would argue that Gallas has scored fluke goals but the fact is he was there to score them. His defensive duties were also well covered and he is really playing out of his skin so far. This is encouraging to see as so many people thought he was going to leave over the summer. It is true that it would sound strange that our top scorer is a defender and that our strikers have managed one goal between themselves this season, yet we are the top scorers in the league. We had a serious problem last season when we were too reliant on the strikers to get our goals as our midfielders and defenders have stopped scoring. Now our strikers are in the thick of the action as assist-masters for our midfielders and defenders to take advantage and I think that can only be a good thing. The goals will come for the strikers but the way we’re playing now means the opposition can never use marking to keep us out.

6 – Fran Merida played his first game of the season.
Merida came on for Eduardo and showed his excellent passing. He was part of the attacking trio although he seem to drift further back into midfield a few times, due to his playing nature as a midfielder. There is no doubt he is a crafter of goals and an excellent passer of the ball. But the role as an attacker being part of the trio up front doesn’t seem to be the best for him. I hope we can see more of him though.

All in all, a very encouraging start to the new campaign. The next league game against Manchester United would be crucial in keeping our momentum going.

I will be doing a preview on the Celtic game, but I’m really looking forward to the weekend game. I am quietly confident we can stun the defending champions and show them who their successors are!


Poll Results August 23, 2009

Filed under: SOG Polls — Son of a Gunner @ 7:36 pm

Hello everyone! I’m finally back from Bangkok from a 4-day holiday and I’m absolutely delighted with yet another impressive Arsenal win over the weekend. Match analysis and thoughts to follow probably tomorrow as I have hardly slept throughout my holiday.

On to the poll results of the past week we go!

First poll – Who is your Man-of-the-Match for Everton vs Arsenal?
Cesc Fabregas 88%
Alex Song 12%

I think the results to this poll is not surprising in the least bit. Cesc Fabregas was absolutely majestic in the centre of the park and weighed in with both goals and assists and simply dominated the midfield. Alex Song also did a quietly efficient job alongside Cesc and Denilson. However, I must say it is a bit surprising that we did not receive a single vte for Thomas Vermaelen, whom I thought was one of the stars of our opening game. He will have plenty of chances to win his first Man-of-the-Match award though, and if he continues to play like he isdoing especially against the big boys, then that day will be sooner rather than later.

Second poll – Do you think Arsenal need to keep a clean sheet in the 2nd-leg against Celtic to progress?
No, Arsenal will win both legs convincingly. 100%
Yes, Celtic will not lose at home. 0%

There seems to be a lot of confidence in a smooth and untroubling progress into the Champions League proper, but I can’t help but feel this new-found confidence is due to Arsenal’s impressive start to the season. Following the first leg, this optimism looks to be a correct one.

Third poll – Should Arsenal sit back for a draw or go for the win in the 2nd-leg against Celtic?
Arsenal should end the tie early by going for goals. 100%
Arsenal should save energy and sit back for a draw to progress. 0%

I think Arsenal won’t sit back, especially whe we are playing at home. However, there were a couple of instances that this current Arsenal side did seem a bit cautious in our ply following a first-leg win last season. I still feel with all the confidence in the team, they will go for the kill early in the game. Depending on whether we will score in the first half, the second half might be a dour affair though.

Fourth poll – What is your prediction of Arsenal vs Portsmouth?
A good resounding home win for Arsenal. 100%
A draw. 0%
It will be a unexpected away win for Portsmouth. 0%

Not surprising considering Portsmouth is now weaker than last season and their better players are in fact aging and becoming less effective with every game. And the results proved to be accurate!

Match analysis to follow.


Premier League match preview: Arsenal vs Portsmouth August 19, 2009

Filed under: Premier League,Season 2009/2010 — Son of a Gunner @ 9:11 pm

As I will be leaving for Bangkok tomorrow for my company’s incentive trip, I won’t be able to post until return on Sunday. Therefore, I think it is right for me to preview this Saturday’s game today.

We will finally be playing our very first home game of the season against Portsmouth, who looks weaker than last season.
– Kanu is another year older and is getting less and less effective with every game.
– They no longer have Armand Traore who has returned to Arsenal.
– They lost their opening game at home to Fulham

They still have some very good players like David James, Sylvain Distin and Niko Kranjčar (who is permanently linked to us for some reason).

I think after starting the same lineup for two games, Wenger would be twitching things a bit here and there to keep the players fresh. Ramsey, Diaby, Eboue and Eduardo (If he is fit) should see some action this weekend and I won’t be surprised to see Gibbs and Wilshere play some part as well. Even with a changed side, I feel we have too much quality not to win at the Emirates. However, I think the back four, especially the central defensive partnership, should remain unchanged for them to get more understanding and experience of playing together. Also, as long as we don’t have another solid defensive midfielder other than Song, we should keep playing him. I hope we can get another player in the same mould, better with experience, so that we can rotate a bit as well. This role is energy-sapping and it is important to get another player in there, to give challenge as well as to guide Song to the next level.

Here’s to another win on Saturday. I’ll be watching in Bangkok, where will you be watching?


Champions League Qualifier: Celtic 0 – 2 Arsenal

Filed under: Champions League,Season 2009/2010 — Son of a Gunner @ 8:52 pm

Celtic 0 – 2 Arsenal

As I mentioned in yesterday’ preview, I would have been very surprised if we couldn’t nick a goal or two away at Parkhead and so it proved that we did in fact become the first English side since Nottingham Forest in 1983 to nick a win at Celtic.

But in the end, it took a couple of fortunate deflections to seal the win, but as the guy from East Lower said, those were lucky goals but the win is by no means lucky as we made our own luck by dominating proceedings especially in the second half.

It turned out all the injury doubts that was Denilson, Sagna and Fabregas were unfounded and they all started to make the lineup unchanged from the one that demolished Everton on Saturday.

Celtic sprang a surprise in their lineup by putting their winger Aiden McGeady up front in the centre with Georgios Samaras. I suppose this was Tony Mowbray’s “cunning plan”, to maximise their attacking threat at home by fielding their best technical player up front where he can do the most damage.

Let’s dissect the game in points, as always:

1 – Arsenal is looking more and more solid defensively.
Vermaelen is doing all the right things at the moment. Together with Gallas, whom Vermaelen said is the main reason why he is adapting so well to the Arsenal team, they make a really solid looking pair. I don’t remember seeing a stronger defensive partnership since the Sol Campbell-Kolo Toure days and that is really something. Although it is still early days but we have faced two not-too-shabby opponents so far and both away games and they have impressed. This is encouraging and again shows why Arsene Wenger always know best, even when he came under fire for letting Toure go. Even Wenger is surprised at the impressive form Vermaelen is showing.

2 – Alex Song impressed again.
Alex Song has shown positional maturity on top of his tough physicality, which was missing from his game last year. He has made Celtic’s midfield look inferior and Massimo Donati was made to look so bad he had t be substituted before the hour is up. Song’s form and tactical development is a big reason why the team is looking stronger defensively as well.

3 – Arsenal scored 8 in two games, but none from the strikers (bar Eduardo in 17 minutes of action)
Our attacking trio of Arshavin, Van Persie and Bendtner has yet to deliver goal-wise, although all three have played a part in the goals we have scored. The names of Arshavin and Van Persie would have made a lot of defences nervous and rightly so, the two being world-class technical players. It is pretty clear from the two games we have played that Arshavin was tightly marked given his impact inthe second half of last season. However, I still feel 4-3-3 is the way to go and Arshavin is a mobile player who will make this work for himself and his attacking colleagues. They have also given the midfield more chances to score and that can only be a good thing as one of the major reasons why we suffered in certain attacking players’ absence last season was the fact we couldn’t get enough goals from midfield. Remember we still have Vela and Walcott to return who will freshen up the attacking 3 even more.

4 – Diaby came on for Arshavin as an attacker.
I had included Diaby as one of the midfielders for the season ahead andI have also said how his own game, which is more focused on offense but at the same time in a central role but his experience on the flanks also meant that he can suit the current 4-3-3 system as part of the midfield trio. During the game, Diaby (looking weird with hair) came on for Arshavin and was immediately thrust into offensive action. I can see his technical game being used in attack but I feel he would be more effective in midfield and can add more strength in the centre of the park as well. We will see where he will feature more as the season progress but whatever the case, thanks to the new 4-3-3 formation, we won’t have to see Diaby being put on the flanks again.

5 – Eduardo pulled out and Jack Wilshere took over his place on the bench.
It is a worry that Eduardo had to pull out of the squad at the last minute, it could be a pre-caution given his history of injuries, or it could be something worse. Whatever the case, let’s hope he returns quickly. It is worth remembering he is the only Arsenal striker who have scored in the new season so far. We have yet to see Jack Wilshere in action in the new season but it is still very early days. I have no doubt we will see more of him as the season progresses, especially when we enter packed fixtures.

All in all, another good away win that will stand us in good stead when we entertain them at the Emirates for the second leg. I think there will still be more goals in this tie, but it would be good for the team’s confidence if we can keep another clean sheet.