Overcoming International Interuptions

Where is everyone?

Morning all,

Can you feel it, the vortex of international football sucking you into its pit of despair?

Well not me, not this time! I’ve decided that during this two-week period, when Arsenal have sixteen players away with their respective nations, I’m not going to attempt to cobble something of little merit and/or importance together each morning because I feel it would only serve as a series of turgid reads and frankly I think you deserve better. Plus I really don’t want to get into the kind of transfer speculation that has started doing the rounds..

There is talk and rumour this morning focusing on our supposed interest in German trio Mario Goetze, Kevin Grosskreutz and Marco Reus.

We’re only two months away from the reopening of the transfer window so we can expect to see a lot more of these stories appearing on the back pages and in the blogsphere. That is understandable and I certainly expect Arsenal to at least attempt to do some business in January as for once the winter window may be a better time to secure new recruits then the summer due to the European Championships and that kind of economical value will be right up a certain Frenchman’s street, but it’s not what I want to spend my time writing about.

I know you can all get a fix of speculation and gossip from the likes of Caughtoffside, talkSPORT, Footylatest and the BBC Gossip Coloumn and a million over places. I’m certainly not once of those who professes to be ‘in the know’ when it comes to the transfer activity of our or any other club so I’ll never add anything tangible to the conjecture and I don’t want to spend a portion of time analysing players we may never sign.

No, during this period I’m going to utilise my time on finally putting together a few articles I’ve wanted to write for a while and which I hope you will enjoy reading and appreciate the time spent upon them. I hope to have the first of these up on the site within the next few days and then one or two others before the Premier League reconvenes.

Obviously If some important Arsenal related news rears its head I’ll certainly be reporting it, if not in the form of a full blog post then at least via my Twitter feed and in the mean time I would like to invite you to maybe go back and read some of the historical content of this blog such as this homage to Anders Limpar, Andrew Allen’s look at the players who have crossed the North London divide, Big Dave Taylor’s dreams of being a football agentmy inspirational pre Chelsea post, this post that has a picture of Arshavin’s pony, or just take pot luck by typing something into the search box in the top right hand corner. I’ve come out with some odd stuff since I started this blog so who knows what you might find..

I’ll also suggest that you check out the fantastic Arsenal Collective site starting with my submission to the memory bank which looks at my first ever trip to Highbury

Plenty to keep you occupied for a day or two while I put the finishing touches to something that I’m really enjoying researching and writing.

If you have any suggestions for articles you would like to see covered here then please feel free to send your suggestions my way.

Enjoy the old stuff and try not to let the international boredom crush you.

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

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Continuing Momentum… At a stroll

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It was a mild afternoon for November, but you could tell the winter months were soon to be upon us. I think it will be the last game for a while without my big winter coat.

I must admit, although I consider myself optimistic, I’m never really confident going into games. I think I’ve always been like that, I don’t think it’s due to our relatively recent proneness to losing games we should be winning. That being said, walking up the road to the ground I just couldn’t see anything but an Arsenal win. Obviously we’ve been doing a lot better recently, but there’s still a long way to go. However, I watched West Brom’s game against Liverpool last week, and I just thought they were poorer than most other teams I’ve seen this year. I got the feeling I wasn’t alone in my view; there was a confident buzz around the ground.

The biggest selection question mark was over the central defence partnership. With Thomas Vermaelen back fit and ready for selection, and the good form of Koscielny and Mertesacker, for what feels like the first time in ages, we have options in central defence. Mr Wenger took the decision to play Vermaelen and Koscielny together, which seemed fair as the big German has played almost every game since he got to the club. The other question mark would be over the right back position. Would Johan Djourou get the chance again, or would Arsene show continued faith in young Carl Jenkinson? Jenkinson got the nod.

The Emirates Stadium observed the minute’s silence for next week’s Remembrance Day before the game. I don’t know about you, but a period of reflection before a game always seems to give a sense of perspective.

It was obvious from kick off what West Brom’s game plan was. They were going to stay disciplined with their shape, and not commit much going forward. From watching their game last week, I can’t say I’m surprised. Considering what they did to us last season though, you could rightly accuse them of lack of ambition.

Arsenal took control of the game early on, and were allowed a lion’s share of possession without being able to find the breakthrough. Walcott, Gervinho and Van Persie were interchanging well, making inroads and finding space in amongst the West Brom backline. Santos and Jenkinson, who were not under any pressure defensively at all, had free reign to join in the attacks. You got the impression that it was only a matter of time until we made the breakthrough.

Just over twenty minutes into the game, Arsenal had the ball in the back of the net. It was from a familiar source with our talismanic Dutchman on the score sheet, he won’t get an easier one all season. The architect of the goal was Aaron Ramsey. He played a fantastic defence splitting pass through the inside of West Brom’s left back. Theo was in behind the defence. He bore down on Ben Foster and attempted to put the ball through his legs. The ball caught one of keeper’s legs, but rolled straight into Robin’s stride, and he simply rolled it into the empty net. One-nil to the Arse-a-nal!

I began, although only very briefly, to feel sorry for Simon Cox. He was the only WBA player to have any real attacking responsibility. They just seemed happy to pump the balls into the channels and let him chase them. Even in the rare occasion he made it to the ball ahead of a man in red, there was no one in a striped shirt within 50 yards of him.

Arsenal’s second goal of the game came (indirectly) from a corner. West Brom failed to clear a corner properly. Alex Song put a deep cross into the far post from the left, Robin had timed his run perfectly. Realising the acute angle made it almost impossible to score; he pulled the ball back across goal. Thomas Vermaelen was still up the pitch from the corner side-footed the ball past the flat-footed Ben Foster. Robin who was gifted an easy opportunity for the first goal, did the same for a team mate for the second.

As the whistle blew for half time, I turned round to Darren and said, “Have they had a shot yet?”………they hadn’t!

As the second half got underway, you got the feeling that Arsenal were not going to put West Brom to the sword. Having gone two goals up without getting out of second gear, you got the feeling they were going to finish the game off without getting out of first.

Freed up by West Brom’s reluctance to put Arsenal under any pressure, Jenkinson was making some fantastic runs down the right flank overlapping Theo Walcott. The pleasing aspect with this was the fact that when in the good position, his delivery into the box was fantastic. He was unlucky not to get an assist in the second half.

With only twenty minutes to go, Arsene felt it was time to make a change, and I felt it was right. The game needed some renewed impetus. Arsenal made a double substitution with Benayoun and Rosicky coming on for Ramsey and Gervinho. The change had an immediate impact. Yossi and Tommy Ros were busy and interchanging passing moves.

They were not on the pitch for five minutes when Arsenal added their final goal. Robin Van Persie moved forward with the ball and played it out to Thomas Rosicky, he found Robin in the penalty area. Robin (who obviously has the whereabouts of his team-mates etched in his brain) played the ball out to the edge of the box to the waiting Mikel Arteta. Mikel side footed the ball into the corner of the net to wrap up the game.

West Brom made a final throw of the dice to salvage some pride, but it came to nothing. It was as comfortable a victory as you can ask for.

I was pleased with the performance in general, although I haven’t seen a team as poor as West Brom this season (well…. apart from a certain performance at Old Trafford in August). Along with Wigan, they are looking in serious trouble to me.

Robin continued to look like a world beater with a goal and two assists. Ramsey’s recent good form continued, and he seems to be growing as a player with every performance. I was also particularly pleased for Carl Jenkinson. He’s had a fair amount of criticism this year. He’s definitely not the finished article yet, but his improvement is particularly encouraging. Let’s face it; the lad’s a Gooner….. he’s living the dream, and I for one wish him all the best.

We now enter another teeth pulling International break. I, for one, will just be praying we don’t pick up any injuries. Then it’s Norwich away! I’ve never been to Carrow Road, and I’m really looking forward to it. Still, another weekend…….. another win! What Crisis?

Thanks for reading,

Dave (Follow me on Twitter @bigdavetaylor)

WBA Preview: Let’s not have a repeat of last year

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So this afternoon it’s the turn of Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion to visit the grove and as the title of this post requests lets not have a repeat of last year…

I won’t go into detail on that 2-3 defeat at the hands of a Baggies side that had only just come back up after a spell in the Championship, to find yourselves trailing by three goals at home against a newly promoted side who had seen a first half penalty saved makes for as uncomfortable viewing as any of this seasons defeats doesn’t it?

Chelsea number two Roberto Di Mateo was the man in the West Brom hot seat back then so at least the Italian won’t be able to stage a similar game plan this time around but I’m sure Hodgson will be reminding his players that victory is achievable.

In all honesty I think we’ll be far too strong for the Baggies but then again I said that last season too so what the hell do I know? But given our current form particularly at the Emirates I find it hard to see past a home win, even when I take my Arsenal-tinted glasses off. If I’m honest I don’t really know how Albion are getting on this season, I know that’s fairly lazy of me and usually I would have spent a little time looking at their form and their squad so as to offer you a bit more insight on the fixture, at least I hope that’s what you usually get from my match previews?, but I’ve not really had the time and as I sit writing the first draft of this post I’m upon a train headed for the south coast of England with no form of Internet connectivity. I’ve dredged my brains for some kind of repressed memory I may have that gives an indication of our opponents form but I’ll I’m getting is a vague recollection that West Brom’s “celebrity” fans include Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles. I don’t particularly like either of those two but if the people in charge at the Hawthorns want to do a swap for Shovel from M People and Piers Morgan I don’t think it’s a deal I could turn down.

Anyway I digress, partially as a distraction technique to cover up the fact I’ve not done my home work but partly because I’m quite adapt at going off on a tangent..

So back to the game and we have no new injury concerns. It’s incredible isn’t it, we seem to have had a real run of our key players staying fit (everybody touch some wood – except you over there, you stop what your doing right now. That call for mass wood touching was not a euphemism you pervert) Kieran Gibbs and Marouane Chamakh remain unavailable but aside from those two and long term absentees Jack Wilshere, Abu Diaby and Bacary Sagna we’re at full strength and I for one think thats pretty flippin’ positive and I’ll be praying that when the players return and we awaken from yet another inter-coma in a couple of weeks time that will still be the case. The boss says that Gibbs and Chamakh should be available again by then so that should strengthen us even further, depending on how you look at it, but the gaffer has made those sorts of predictions before. Take Diaby (some body please take Diaby) the Frenchman has been expected to return after every international break since Euro 2008 or at least that’s how it seems.

With such a wondrous selection of players for Wenger to choose from it’ll be interesting to see the line up this afternoon, I think we’ll see the return of Laurent Koscielny and it could well be Per Mertesacker who makes way. Vermaelen needs game time and Larry had a breather during the week so let Mertz have a break. I know it won’t he the first time we’ve seen Vermaelen and Koscielny paired together but it will be interesting to get a look at the duo marshalling our back line together.

I’ll be surprised if Van Persie dosen’t come back into the side, I don’t think Park was quite as poor against Marseille as some posts have suggested but personally I wouldn’t start the South Korean today. Play Robin from the get go and hopefully with a large chunk of the second half remaining our lead will be comfortable enough that Ju can replace the Dutchman and maybe show the kind of form he did against Bolton in the Carling Cup a few weeks ago. There has been a lot of talk this week of January moves for a striker, it’s something I would welcome especially if it were a player such a Lukas Podolski as some have suggested because I’m a big fan of the German. But for now Wenger is claiming he is quite happy the options he has up front but then again he would wouldn’t he.

Other than Robin & Larry coming back into the starting XI i think the team will stay the same, the boss isn’t going to rest players ahead of their international jaunts so aside from those two I don’t think we’ll see any changes from Tuesday nights European stalemate.

I’ve just remembered something else about WBA – With his hair dyed platinum blonde Peter Odemwingie looks like ’80’s pop star Yazz. That would most likely be more of a benefit to the baggies were they attempting to win promotion from the Championship. Christ, M People & Yazz in one post… I think it’s time for me to wrap this up.

I’m not going to be at the game this afternoon, as you read this I’ll be on a completely separate body of land and the reason for that is related to the fact that I’m 32 years young today – Yep 1979 was a great year for Gooners. All I want in way of a present is an Arsenal win and three more of those precious points.

Enjoy the game wherever you’re watching it and keep me updated on events at the grove via Twitter. Dave will be delivering your post match report tomorrow so be sure to check it out.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

The answers

Good morning to you all…

So yesterday we held the inaugral Up The Arsenal Blog Arsenal Quiz – The response was quite litterally amazing. In the sense that no one bothered to take part (You do know that I can tell how many of you visited the site yesterday don’t you?) Undeterred by the apparent lack of interest I’m still going to provide you with the answeres to the questions because A – I’ve got a long train journey to go on today so not much time to write a proper post and B – I wrote this yesterday…

So here we go with the answers –

Q1 – Who scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 5-1 opening day victory over Wimbledon on the opening day of the 1988-89 season?

A1 – Alan Smith – Smudger scored 23 league goals to clinch the golden boot as the Gunners wrapped up the league title so famously at Anfield. Smith was the divisions top scorer again during the 1990/91 title winning season and scored the only goal out in Copenhagen as an Arsenal side seen as rank outsiders defeated Italian giants Parma 1-0 to clinch the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1994
Q2 – Which player wore the number 22 during the 2000-01 season?
A2 – Oleg Luzhny – The Ukranian made a total of 110 appearances for the Gunners between 1999 & 2003 never scoring a single goal. The last of those appearances came in the 2003 FA Cup Final at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium which saw the big defender collect a winners medal before moving to Wolves on a free transfer that summer.
Q3 – Who made their only Arsenal appearance in the League Cup against Everton on the 8th November 2006?
A3 – Mart Poom – Despite not even appearing on the bench in Paris the Estonian shot stopper collected a Champions League runners up medal after being named in Arsene Wenger’s 25 man squad for the final.
Q4 – Which former Arsenal player became manager of Bishops Stortford FC in 1999?
A4 – Martin Hayes – After leaving Highbury in 1990 Hayes turned out for twelve different clubs. The last of those was Bishops Stortford where he became player-manager in 1999 and remained at the helm until 2008.
Q5 – Which former Arsenal defender also played for Cambridge United, Dagenham & Redbridge and Hong Kong Rangers?
A5 – Gus Caesar – Despite making only 51 appearances for the Gunners between 1984 and 1991 Gus Caesar is a player who has become part of Arsenal folk lore mainly for the error which sparked Luton Town’s comeback in the 1998 Littlewoods Cup Final.
Q6 – David Seaman became the oldest player to feature for England in a European Championship qualifying match in 2002 during the three lions 0-0 draw with which side?
A6 – Macedonia – Despite being one of the greatest Goalkeepers this country has ever produced and winning 75 caps for his country the big Yorkshire man is still tainted by the memory Artim Sakiri’s goal directly from a corner kick in a 2-2 Euro 2004 qualifier, ironically also against Macedonia.

Q7 – Which former Arsenal legend was the first to make tournament appearances for England in three separate decades?
A7 – Tony Adams – The legendary skipper represented his country at Euro ’88, Euro ’96 and the 1998 World Cup in France (as well as Euro 2000). He was also the last England International to score at the old Wembley Stadium…
Q8 – Who was the Arsenal’s sole member of England’s 1966 World Cup Squad?
A8 – George Eastham – The former Newcastle inside forward, who went on an eight month strike in 1960 when the Magpies blocked his move to London despite the players contract having expired, was named in the England World Cup squad by Sir Alf Ramsey. Despite scoring in a pre tournament friendly against Denmark Eastham didn’t make it onto the pitch at any point during the three lions historic triumph meaning he didn’t collect a winners medal (He did retrospectively collect a medal in 2007 along with all the other non playing members of the squad) 1966 was also the year Eastham left Highbury, moving on to end his career with Stoke City.
Q9 – Which former Gunner is the only player to receive a medal before an FA Cup Final?
A9 – Steve Morrow – After scoring the winning goal in the League Cup Final victory over Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 Steve was unable to collect his winners medal after being dropped on the hallowed turf by skipper Tony Adams during the teams celebrations at the final whistle and subsequently being rushed to hospital. Steve was presented with his winners medal before the FA Cup Final, also against the Owls, a month later.
Q10 – Which Maidstone United & Arsenal player was the youngest player on the pitch in the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final?
A10 – Ian Selley – The midfielder made a total of 51 starts during his Arsenal career and may have added even more had he not suffered the agony of a shattered left leg in a game against Leicester City in 1995. Selley spent more than a year recovering from the dreadful injury but after a loan spell with Southend United midway through the 1996/97 season he was sold to Fulham where he suffered another broken leg shortly after arriving at Craven Cottage. After his spell with the cottagers Selley moved Wimbledon before taking on a tour of the lower leagues of English football which included stints at Woking, Lewes, Maidestone & Dorchester Town. Ian is still playing and is currently on the books of Isthman LEAGUE Premier Division side Kingstonian. I wonder how many players with European winners medals the K’s have had?
Q11 – Who was in goal for Arsenal when John Jensen scored his only goal for the club against QPR on New Years Day 1994?
A11 – Vince Bartram – Bartram moved to Highbury in August 1994 from AFC Bournemouth in a £400,000 deal. Understudy to David Seaman during his four years with the club the most famous of the keepers eleven starts between the sticks for the Arsenal must surely be that game on New Years Day, I wonder if he has one of those ‘I was there when Jensen scored’ t-shirts?
Q12 – Which former player of Malaysian side Sabah and Arsenal legend was capped 14 times for England?
A12 – David Rocastle – The man they called Rocky was an Arsenal legend in every sense of the word. An Arsenal fan, the Lewisham lad rose through the clubs academy ranks to become one of the finest footballers to ever wear the famous red & white. During his time at the club Rocastle made 277 appearances, 260 of them starts, and was an integral part of every Arsenal team he played in helping those sides to the 86/87 League Cup as well as the 88/89 & 90/91 league championships. In the summer of 1992 the midfielder was devastated when George Graham told him he had accepted an offer from Leeds United for his services. Begrudgingly Rocky moved on but his time at Eland Road and subsequently Man City, Chelsea, Norwich and Hull he was unable to capture the form he had shown at Arsenal and the player ended his career out in Malaysia with Sabah. Rocky was always held in high esteem by all Gooners and it was with great sadness that the news came in March 2001 that aged just 33 David lost his battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The memory of the man will never be forgotten he was as true a Gooner as anyone has ever been.

So there we have it, all the answers and maybe a few other facts as well. Maybe I should have made the questions slightly easier and along the lines of ‘Who is Arsenal’s all time leading goal scorer’…

Well either way I quite enjoyed thinking back on some of the players mentioned above, the part they played in our great clubs history and their football lives outside the Arsenal. I hope that you also found that enjoyable at least?

Tomorrow morning the will be a full match preview of the West Brom game rather than me sodding about and I hope you’ll join me for that…

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

It’s a quiz…

This picture of Lee Canoville is not a clue

Arsenal related news is fairly thin on the ground this morning so rather than scrape the barrel in the sense of cobbling some cobblers together I thought I would formulate a little Arsenal related quiz for you (Yes it is lazy of me, I agree).

I’ll admit, it’s probably not the most advanced Arsenal quiz ever compiled but c’mon… It’s Thursday nothing is happening just humour me and go with it ‘eh? What do you say, are you in?

It’s quite simple really (in every sense of the word) there are 12 questions, probably should have been eleven yes but don’t let it throw you, and all you have to do is send me your answers via the comments section (see ‘Leave a comment’ at the top of this post) unless you don’t want to share your answers with anyone else in which case you can email upthearsenal@live.co.uk but be sure to put UTABAQ in the title or it may not count…

In an attempt to get this back on a football footing you’ll get 3 points for every correct answer and I’ll pick a winner at random (unless the only person who bothers taking part is Big Dave) and announce the champ and the answers in tomorrow’s post.

What’s that you ask? A prize? No, there is no prize aside from the bragging rights it’ll afford you in the pub after work tomorrow… Imagine it, you walk in the boozer and  saunter over to the bar (The saunter is the official ‘Winners Walk’ I’ll have you know) casually lean on the jump, give your pals a little wink and proudly announce “I only went and bloody won it didn’t I. The Up The Arsenal Blog Arsenal Quiz . That’s right chaps, you’re in the presence of greatness

Magical no?

Right then here we go…

Q1 – Who scored a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 5-1 opening day victory over Wimbledon on the opening day of the 1988-89 season?

Q2 – Which player wore the number 22 during the 2000-01 season?

Q3 – Who made their only Arsenal appearance in the League Cup against Everton on the 8th November 2006?

Q4 – Which former Arsenal player became manager of Bishops Stortford FC in 1999?

Q5 – Which former Arsenal defender also played for Cambridge United, Dagenham & Redbridge and Hong Kong Rangers?

Q6 – David Seaman became the oldest player to feature for England in a European Championship qualifying match in 2002 during the three lions 0-0 draw with which side?

Q7 – Which former Arsenal legend was the first to make tournament appearances for England in three separate decades?

Q8 – Who was the Arsenal’s sole member of England’s 1966 World Cup Squad?

Q9 – Which former Gunner is the only player to receive a medal before an FA Cup Final?

Q10 – Which Maidstone United & Arsenal player was the youngest player on the pitch in the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final?

Q11 – Who was in goal for Arsenal when John Jensen scored his only goal for the club against QPR on New Years Day 1994?

Q12 – Which former player of Malaysian side Sabah and Arsenal legend was capped 14 times for England?

No cheating now because I’ll know…

Ok I won’t know, but try not to cheat.

Thanks for playing, good luck and remember that you could be the first ever UTABAQ Champion…

Paul.

Arsenal 0 – 0 Marseille : I’m not complaining

Morning Gooners…

I’m tired, I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’m cranky enough at the best of times, when I’m short on shut-eye I’m a real treat…
 
But despite that and despite Arsenal’s inability to beat Marseille and seal qualification from the group last night, I’m not going to be making too many complaints this morning *NB – What follows is likely to contain some complaints but just not too many.
 
Reflecting back on the game without the aid of having watched the game back or read any match reports, I think we had the better chances to win the game – In the first half Rambo spurned a decent opportunity to move closer to his goals target of double figures for the season. Andre Santos’ cross across Mandanda’s goal was perfect but the Welshman was unable to apply the finish and his touch sent the ball high and wide. Theo also had a fantastic opportunity to at least test the French ‘keeper but rather than fire a shoot straight off he delayed, took an extra and unnecessary touch and the chance went begging. After his dazzling performance at the bridge on Saturday it was disappointing to see Theo revert back to the ineffective and indecisive player who causes so much frustration.
 
In all we had seven shots on target compared to Marseilles one, so talk from Deschamps suggesting his side should have won are maybe as far wide of the mark as an Arsenal free-kick (Assuming said free-kick gets over the wall). I will admit that the visitors probably just about shaded it as the better side on the night but it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest they should have won – I’m aware that doesn’t quite make sense but it does give further indication of our attacking impotence last night. I said in yesterdays post that I would have started Van Persie and had Park on the bench, Wenger thought the opposite. I really like the South Korean so I’m not going to rip him apart here but he was largely ineffective. It wasn’t for want of effort and endeavour, he kept going for the sixty-two minutes he was on the park (pun intended) and was always looking to be involved. It was just maybe one of those nights where things don’t quite click. I’ll say one thing for the former Monaco front man, as pointed out by Big Dave, he wins every header he goes for.. I’m not sure what that offers us this morning but on the whole it can be no bad thing, knowing that we’ve a player with the ability to use his height but not become reliant upon. The boss suggested after the game that he had made a mistake and that we may have been better off starting the Dutchman from the off (This is becoming a habit isn’t it Arsene…)
 
Gervinho was another of our front men who wasn’t quite at the races, I think the Ivorian created two or three good chances but on the whole it was another example of his poor decision making. There was a point where Theo was in acres of space but ‘Vinho (I just made that up, kudos to me?) picked out Ramsey instead but the Wales skipper was surrounded by blue shirts and quickly lost possession. To be fair to ‘Vinho (yep I’m sticking with that) he looked dead on his feet in the later stages of the game and it’s not surprise really, he has been working his socks off of late and he wasn’t the only one to suffer in that manner.
 
I thought Alex Song was the only player to pick up where he left off on Saturday. I know the Cameroonian has his critics still but I think that very quietly he is growing with every game and is starting to be a bit of a lynchpin in that midfield trio.
 
I expect that much will be made of the Varmaelen and Mertesacker partnership at centre half, the pair certainly played will together and it was nice to see us keep a clean sheet even when we have a goalkeeper pulling out Cruyff turns in the penalty box. Some might now suggest that Wenger has made his choice and Laurent Koscielny has been the unlucky one, but in truth the manager was surely giving the Frenchman a breather. Larry has played a lot of football so far this season and with Tommy V back this was the right choice by Arsene. I am starting to wonder if rather then the gaffer picking a first choice two from Tommy, Mertz and Larry he may just rotate a little? That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, I think we’ve seen that any permutation of pairing can work well so it could be the way to go.
 
A draw is far from the worst result but Dortmund beating Olympiacos in the other game in the group any two of the four teams can still get through to the knock-out stage so our home game against the Germans later this month is a key game. I think mathematically we can still progress with two more points from the possible six that remain on offer but we all know that we need to win the group and I don’t think two draws will allow us that opportunity.
 
There may be a few reports this morning saying we’ve crashed back down to earth and all that jazz but the level headed amongst us never considered that a run of wins including an away drubbing of Chelsea had cleared away all the early season doubts and fears and that we would hit a bit of a wall at some point. We’re not having to eat humility flavoured porridge this morning. Thoughts now turn to Saturdays game against West Brom and the players have a few days now to catch their breath.
 
My biggest disappointment of last night was seeing that Emmanuel Frimpong doesn’t quite know how to get into the ground. The Ghanaian drove up St Thomas’s Road in his DEEEEENCH Mobile about forty-five minutes before kick off (without stopping to give me a lift) and clearly got to the top of the road to find he had gone the wrong way. Two minutes later he was driving back down the street towards Finsbury Park… Silly Frimmers.
 
Well that is me done for now, so thanks for reading and enjoy your day.
 
Cheers.
 
Paul.

Marseille Preview: All to play for

 

Tonight we face Marseille in the Champions League – A win will up our points tally to 10 and open a clear gap between us and the other three sides in the group regardless of the result in the Dortmund – Olympiacos game. However, should we beat OM and Die Schwarzgelben pick up their first three group points we’ll see our qualification to the last sixteen secured.
 
At the moment the group is pretty tight and all four sides currently have at least a mathematical chance to progress to the knock out stage so we’re set to see a fairly open game at the grove this evening. While we’ve been busy swatting aside all comers of late L’OM have been busy putting together a little run of their own since our win at the Stade Velodrome beating AC Ajaccio, Lens & Dijon in the three games. So we can expect the French side to be reinvigorated and with the chance to take our place at the top of the group on offer it all has the makings of a great game because I think we can all agree that we won’t be sitting back and looking to take a point or hold onto a lead – we just don’t do that.
 
What is important is winning the group, taking our foot of the gas and finishing second last season presented us with a two leg knock out tie with Barcelona. Now I’ve always been of the opinion that if you want to win a competition you’ve got to play and beat the best sides at some point, but at the same time I understand that facing ‘lesser sides’ as such is an advantage and you also hope that the further you go in a knock out competition the more confidence and belief you build. I’m not suggesting we’ll go on and win the Champions League this season but if you’re not going to aim to win then why bother taking part (aside from the masses and masses of millions it earns you) ? Also we’re the Arsenal, we should never ever settle for a quarter final place (or fourth place in the league) at least not while it is still possible to achieve much more.
 
In terms of team news, we’ve suffered no fresh injuries from Saturday. Yossi Benayoun returns to the squad after impressing in the Carling Cup win last week and being ineligible to face his parent club Chelsea. Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson are pushing for starting births. While their injuries are not related to Saturdays win Marouane Chamakh and Abu Diaby miss out again with knee and hamstring injuries respectively. The Moroccan (That is a country nowhere near Iraq so if you’re a singer of that ridiculous song just stop it right now. There is almost three thousand miles between the countries) has a knee injury, but there has been no time frame put on his absence and Ab-Who is set for another three weeks on the sidelines, Wenger says he is worried for his country man but not as worried as he was three months ago when he was worried
 
The boss said yesterday that he hasn’t decided on his line-up yet but I think we may well see a few changes from the weekend but with qualification and top stop still in the balance I’m not sure this is the best time to go resting too many players – I’m thinking of Robin & Rambo in particular here.
 
If the Dutchman is rested then the only replacement we have is Ju and in I think it would benefit the South Korean if he does get some game time, but my choice would be to see him come from the bench.
 
I know that Stan Kroenke has been talking and that is something I’ll be taking a bit more of a look at during the international break. I know it will be old news by then but we’ve got two big games before we have to spend two weeks being bored to tears and frankly I would rather concentrate on those games. But if you want to know what our Stanley has been saying then you can have a read of the Mirror’s full transcript here.
 
Sadly I have to do the job that pays me now, rather then just do parts of it like I have been since I got into the office just after half past seven…
 
I’m really looking forward to the game tonight, I think it will be another big test for this team but one we can overcome so here’s to another Arsenal victory.
 
Enjoy the game wherever you are watching it and lets get together about this time tomorrow and discuss it shall we?
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Paul.
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