Archive for January, 2010

Top of the league

We fought back from 0-2 to overcome Bolton with a final score of 4-2, and now we are top of the league. Even though this most probably is short-lived, as Chelsea need only to draw their game in hand to reclaim the top spot, but it may well be a morale booster to our players.

To go down 2 nil to Bolton at Emirates Stadium is rather shocking, and I felt that Almunia had to take a big part of the blame. Rosicky had played really well and scored the first goal to kickstart our revival. Despite all his injuries, he still has this excellent change of pace that is very useful in attacks. Arshavin was working very hard and scored a beautiful fourth goal. Fabregas continued his superb form to score the equalizer, and I believed if he can keep up his good form we have a very good chance of lifting the title.

Eduardo was involved in the buildup of the goals, but I was quite disappointed that he was still not scoring. Eastmond came on as a sub and did well. But I am not so confident if he is to start against teams like Aston Villa, Chelsea and Man United. Its great to have Clichy back.

To comeback from 2 nil down to a 4-2 victory requires a lot of conviction and self-belief. Man United always has this self belief. Our invincibles also has this self belief. And I hope this current batch of gunners have the same self belief.


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Its so good to have Fabregas around. Another superb performance from our captain saw us overcoming rough opponents at Reebok stadium.

No surprise, Bolton players resorted to using very physical style of play, and on a few occasions I think they had really cross the line. Our third-choice leftback had a very bad game, giving away possessions countless of times, allowing that korean winger to have a field day. Lucky for us, we did not concede and Clichy is close to coming back. Gallas did not have a good game either, where else Verminator was rock solid and covered for Traore’s defficiency. Sagna was decent, and while Almunia did manage a few good saves, he also committed some silly mistakes that could prove costly if we are facing a better opponent. Its apparent that our defence don’t have confidence in Almunia, as in one occasion Gallas was forced to give away a corner because Almunia did not come out to claim the ball, and the look that Gallas gave to Almunia afterwards clearly indicate some displeasure.

In midfield, Eastmond was given his debut much to my surprise. He did ok, but as a defensive midfielder he needed to grow more physically. Diaby had a decent game and added some much needed physical strength to the team. Arshavin and Rosicky were rather quiet and I think they really need to step up their games. Eduardo had two assists but overall I think he had lost a bit of pace and wasn’t strong enough to play centre forward against such physical opponents. Its good to see Merida getting a goal. A player with good potential, hope that he can be patient and doesn’t leave for Atletico Madrid.

Right now, the top three teams are starting to pull away from the 4th to 8th teams. We need to keep winning to keep pace with Man United and Chelsea.

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The first game we played after Alex Song was away for the African Nations Cup ended up in a 2-2 draw with Everton at home. I watched this match with anticipation, eager to see how we cope without our three most important players RVP, Cesc and Song. When RVP got injured, our frontline became blunt as there is no one else in the front three who is strong enough to hold up the ball and clinical enough to score goals consistently. We managed to cope somehow utilizing Arshavin and Eduardo with the help of assists and goals from Cesc. Then when Cesc got injured too, we lost much creativity from the center, but the emergence of Diaby and Ramsey somehow manage to see through the difficult period. Now without defensive midfielder Song, we are kind of exposed in the centre of midfield, especially against teams that adopt an aggressive pressing approach.

Credit to Everton, they had been pressing us throughout the match and denying our players of any space. Ramsey looked nervous and lose possession quite a few times. Denilson, though scoring a goal, showed that he was not strong enough to be our defensive midfielder. Diaby continued his good performance but he was also not the answer to our defensive midfield position. Third-choice leftback Traore was getting exposed for his inexperience by Everton’s Donovan. With the absence of so many crucial players, we were quite lucky to scrape a draw, and even more lucky to see Man United settling for a draw against Birmingham so that we don’t drift away from the other title contenders.

Almunia was still very average and never inspired confidence among our defenders. But I was quite sure that Arsene Wenger will not buy any keepers this January or even in the summer. Will we buy any players this January? I am not quite sure.  To me, our front line needs a strong and clinical striker, our midfield can do with an additional defensive midfielder to cover for Song’s absence, and our defence would certainly benefit from an additional central defender seeing that our backup for the first choice CBs is Silvestre. But knowing Wenger, we would probably just sign a couple of teenagers who would only feature in the first team after two years time.

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We managed to register yet another two hard-fought victories as the schedule gets tighter in December/January. A 4-1 away win over Portsmouth saw us maintaining our third-placed position in the league with a game in hand and only 4 points behind leader Chelsea.

We also came back from behind to beat West Ham in FA Cup despite playing poorly for most of the game. Ramsey and Diaby had been impressive recently, giving us more options in central midfield. However the main test for the squad is yet to come. In January, we would need to play a series of difficult matches without key players like RVP and Song. In my opinion, Song is currently our most important player, simply because we do not have any replacement for him. For all the attacking strength of Diaby, I am still not convinced with his defensive ability to replace Song, while Denilson doesn’t have the physical strength of both.

The January transfer window would be interesting. Would Wenger brought in an additional striker as speculated? Would he buy a central midfielder now that Song is away to ACN and Denilson is injured? Personally, I would like to see a central defender as we do not have adequate cover for Vermaelen and Gallas if either of them got injured. 

Let’s hope year 2010 is a good year for gunners!

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