Some Things Don’t Go Well Together

Liverpool verses Chelsea on Sunday will be watched world wide. The majority of fans including Spurs, Arsenal, and Man City will want a Chelsea victory. Even some Liverpool fans deep down would rather see their team lose if it means Manchester United not breaking their record of title wins. A Premiership team winning four titles in a row is not healthy, especially when Alex Ferguson is their manager.

If there’s one thing I like about Mourinho, its that he has charisma. True, running on the Barcelona pitch at the end of Inter’s semi-final victory lacked dignity and respect to his opponents and hosts. Playing loud Catalan military music and turning on the sprinklers while Inter celebrated was behavior of a sore loser. Barcelona can be very petulant.

One Barca player who I have really come to dislike is Sergio Busquets. His theatrics against Arsenal and especially Inter deserve a beating or a week in Rikers Island. The man is a disgrace.

Congratulations to Fulham on reaching the Europa League final. Simon Davies goal was top draw. Superb skill.

Fulham beat Hamburg, Wolfsburg, Juventus, holders Shakhtar Donetsk, and Roma without having to rely on penalties. Not an easy route to any final. They also made the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, going out to Spurs only after a replay. Roy Hodgson has proved along with Jose Mourinho that he is a very good coach.

The ramifications of Fulham reaching the Europa final is that they will play a weakened team against Arsenal for the last game of the season. Not that this will count for anything as Arsenal are only playing for third spot, which is an improvement from last season.

Liverpool are a club that are in a crisis. Not reaching the Europa League final is the final straw for most Liverpool fans. Liverpool and Rafa Benitez do not go well together. Benitez needs to leave the club to save his career and Liverpool need to find new owners and a new manager to reignite the club back to challenging for trophies.

People forget that last season Liverpool were challenging Manchester United for the title. This season, they are instead challenging Manchester City for the last Champions League spot. A challenge that they will lose come Sunday afternoon.

How the once mighty can fall so fast. A warning for us all.

Keep It Arsenal

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Us and Them

The differences between Arsenal and the clubs above us are quite clear this season. Aside from the financial restraints we’ve had to work around, there are several other reasons why they’ve left us watching an intriguing battle for the title. We should not ignore those factors.

Yes, they are both despicable but no matter how much we hate any other club, we must give credit where it is due (except to Spurs, fuck them). We must also bridge the gap between ourselves and those clubs. These trophyless seasons are becoming the proverbial albatross around Arsene’s neck, but at least he has stated quite clearly that we haven’t been able to compete financially for “the players we need”. Whether that is the only reason we haven’t bought better players is arguable. Even in the best of times, Arsene has been known to spend wisely.

I am happy that he didn’t give the English press the benefit of that quote. Why should he have? A dunce like Phil Brown gets a pass for public humiliation of grown men. He has dragged down an entire club while making a mockery of top flight football management. Meanwhile, our manager is under the microscope for everything he does.

Our financial situation has also been under the microscope but nobody except Arsenal know how much cash the club really has. Depending on who you believe, our transfer funds are anywhere from nothing at all to 80m. I long for the day when we don’t have to settle for thrift shop specials.

Just a few weeks ago, we were in a good position to defy the odds and chase down Chelsea. They’ve wobbled, but they haven’t fallen. John Terry has been anything but steady or reliable this season, yet they’ve managed to stay on course. Witness the demolition of Stoke City after losing to Scum. And they must be given credit – Drogba’s offsides goal notwithstanding – for going to Old Trafford and beating United a few weeks ago.

Wayne Rooney was always going to remind people that he is just as good as the departed winger Ronaldo. Let’s be clear, the PFA Player of the Year deferred to Ronaldo at Ferguson’s behest. It is when England’s best player has been injured that we’ve seen yet another difference between Arsenal and the club that is regarded as the most valuable in the world, despite its enormous debt. If winning at Eastlands wasn’t enough, then last Saturday’s victory against Scum reminded me that we still have gaps to fill.

It is a painful exercise but it must be done. We must accept the differences and set about fixing them. It’s the only way forward.

What really stands out as we wind down this season is how the fire that once burned so strongly has died so quickly. Of course, the two clowns we call goalkeepers have done their best to undermine our efforts but we just seem to go down without a fight. The same happened in that infamous CL semi-final last season. I imagine it could be said that our dramatic come from behind victories in last few months were misleading. Frankly, we were struggling to beat teams that Chelsea and United have beaten convincingly.

It cannot be overstated that we need to address the keeper situation. No more bargain buys for a position that is crucial to any success. The 6m spent on Richard Wright is still the most Wenger has spent on a keeper.

Keep the Faith. Maybe that will change soon.

Inter the Future

– The match between Arsenal and Manchester City has been unanimously called dull. Everybody is right. The only thing to take from the match was Robin van Persie’s tackle on Adebayor. The less said about the match the better.

– I don’t know why Manchester City are being allowed to bring in Fulop on emergency loan. Their reserve keeper was fielded against us. Could they not use a reserve goalkeeper to back up Gunnar Nielsen? I don’t get it.

– Who do we want to finish 4th? Truly a nightmare scenario. Do we actually want Sp*rs to finish 4th? Possibly so, if it means keeping Manchester City down. If Manchester City gets Champions League football, they’ll find it easier to sign world class players. They’ll sign good players regardless, but it would be a big step forward for them. If Sp*rs get 4th, it’ll be terrible for us, but imagine the humiliation when they’re knocked out by the champions of Czech Republic. Maybe we want Aston Villa to sneak it, knowing how mediocre a manager O’Neill is. We definitely do not want Liverpool to somehow get 4th, because that would mean they would have beaten Chelsea, and if that’s the case, Manchester United will have won the Premier League. That’s a true nightmare.

– Everybody assumed Inter Milan would be put to the sword by Messi. I knew better. If I’m being honest, we made Barcelona look great. Mourinho would do no such thing. And in the end, his plan was simple. Field two holding midfielders, use Sneijder to provide creativity through the middle, deploy quick wingers to make runs between the full-backs and centre-backs, and rely on the solid defense (with the inspirational Lucio as a pivot point). Furthermore, they kept the pitch dry. Can they hold on against to their lead? Barcelona may score two goals, but I think Inter will also score once. That means Barcelona need to score three or four to win the tie. Messi’s “ascension” to immortality continues here.

– You may not like him, but Jose Mourinho is a winner. He’s proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. If he successfully prevents Barcelona from defending the Champions League at the Bernabeu, he’ll be the Real Madrid manager next year. Guaranteed.

– Following Inter’s blueprint, could we have done the same against Barcelona if we were fully fit? I think we could have, but I still don’t think we would have played that way against Barcelona. Wenger wants to outplay Barcelona, and to get there, we’re going to need to improve a lot.

– It was nice to hear George Boateng condemn Phil Brown for his embarrassing halftime pitch talk way back. English people wrote it off, but that is the kind of thing a megalomanic does. Humiliating your players often leads you nowhere. That’s why Almunia has a “wrist injury,” even though it’s plainly obvious he does not.

– Tony Pulis is furious that information about a fight between the players was leaked out to the public. He’s apparently preparing to ship out ten of the players. A harmonious ship, huh? I can hear him already, “we’re not that kind of team.” Sure.

– I hope Liverpool fields a team of reserves against Chelsea. I would love to see the look on Alex Ferguson’s face when he reads that Damien Plessis is playing instead of Gerrard. That won’t happen though. Regardless, you have to give some credit to Chelsea. They’ve scored an insane amount of goals and have had three games where they’ve scored seven goals. They don’t have much of a style, but they bang them in. You can’t ignore 93 goals in 36 games.

– Check out this goal by Sergio Canales. Stunning. I wish we signed him, but he’s off to Madrid. Bastards.

– To close with a quote by Wenger. “For a while, we were not investing maybe because we had built the stadium, but I think our financial situation is now becoming much stronger and we will be capable to buy the players we need to buy.” There are a few things to point out here. One, it reveals that Wenger was handcuffed by the stadium. Did he complain? No. Did fans still asked for his head. Two, he used the word “need”, which indicates that he sees clear areas that need to be improved. Last, it shows that Wenger understands that next year will be crucial to this team’s development. Another trophyless season will be a big problem, and he knows it. I would love to fast forward a few months and have next season start now. But first, let’s enjoy the Champions League and the World Cup.

11 Reasons Why Arsenal Need a New Goalkeeper

Saturday, August 25th: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
Arsene Wenger was sent to the dug out. Robin van Persie had a legitimate goal ruled out for offside. Arshavin was denied a blatant penalty after being chopped by the miserable Fletcher. Diaby scored a ridiculous own goal and Rooney cheated by diving to win United a penalty. However, Almunia needlessly dived at Rooney – the England striker was going nowhere – and he duly took the bait by diving over him. Rooney then scored from the resulting 59th minute penalty and Arsenal’s flawless start to the season was wrecked. Thanks Manuel!

Sunday, October 25th: West Ham United 2-2 Arsenal
At half-time Arsenal were winning 2-0. They were cruising. Then in the 76th minute, Hines dived and won a free-kick. Diamanti’s shot was palmed towards goal instead away from goal by Mannone and onto Carlton Cole’s head. Four minutes later, Cole dived after barely being touched by Song and West Ham equalized. Mannone’s error brought West Ham back from the dead.

Sunday, November 29th: Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
Chelsea destroy Arsenal and create an 11 point gap. This game was boys against men. The first Chelsea goal was poor defensively. The second goal was poor goalkeeping. Vermaelen’s own goal, just before half-time would have been averted if Almunia had commanded his penalty area. He didn’t. Instead, Ashley Cole swings in a low cross. Gallas misses it. The ball then hits the knee of an unsighted Vermaelen and spins into the top right hand corner. Almunia is nowhere. He should have claimed Cole’s cross but instead stayed rooted to his line like a frightened mouse. Thanks Almunia!

Saturday, January 9th: Arsenal 2-2 Everton
Rosicky salvages a point for Arsenal by scoring an injury time equalizer. Osman put Everton ahead with a header from a corner. Osman is 5 feet 6. Denilson equalized with a heavy deflection, but then Everton went ahead again when Steven Pienaar chipped the ball over a a pathetic crouching Almunia. Poor goalkeeping!

Sunday, January 24th: Stoke City 3-1 Arsenal FA Cup 4th Round
Two minutes in and Stoke win a throw-in inside the Arsenal half. Rory Delap launches one of his special throws which flies into the Arsenal penalty area. From the edge of the penalty area, Fuller sprints in and heads home an easy header. 1-0 Stoke. Standing on his heels waiting for the ball to reach him was Fabianski. I’m sure he never saw Fuller coming but instead of going to meet the ball, he instead waited for it. It was a costly mistake that got Stoke in the groove.

Sunday, January 31st: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United
When a goalkeeper scores an own goal two things come to mind: (i) He was unlucky; (ii) he is a clown. With Manchester United’s first goal, Almunia was a clown. Nani gets the ball on the right hand side, deep into the Arsenal half. He then Cruyff turns two Arsenal players and chips a cross into the Arsenal penalty area, which Almunia somehow pushes into his own net. Appalling positioning, appalling decision making, and appalling goalkeeping.

Sunday, February 7th: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
The news of John Terry cheating with Wayne Bridge’s partner is all over the news. Chelsea’s first goal was from a corner. Almunia had no-one on the far post where Ivanavich headed to set up Chelsea’s first goal. The second goal was a Chelsea counter attack. Drogba went around Clichy and Vermaelen to shoot past Almunia. The ball was struck with a fair amount of pace from maybe ten meters but it was not unstoppable. It looked as though Almunia ducked underneath it. Coward goalkeeping.

Wednesday, February 17: FC Porto 2-1 Arsenal
This game was the worst goalkeeping performance by any Arsenal No.1. Fabianski scores an own goal by palming a nothing cross into his own net – he was under no pressure at all – 1-0. Then, he picks up a back pass but fails to organize his defence for the resulting free-kick, allowing Porto to re-take the lead. Porto will never score an easier goal.

Saturday, March 27th: Birmingham City 1-1 Arsenal
Arsenal are within seconds of a famous win at St Andrews. Joe Hart, the Birmingham goalkeeper, takes a free-kick from just outside his own penalty box. It lands near the Arsenal penalty area and isn’t dealt with by the Arsenal defence. Sagna lashes at the ball. It hits Kevin Phillips in the face and loops towards the Arsenal goal. Almunia slaps at the ball instead of tipping it over for a corner. The ball then agonizingly falls into the corner of the Arsenal goal with the pathetic Almunia scrambling back trying to claw the ball away. Another costly mistake.

Wednesday, March 31st: Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona
In the first half, Almunia produces world class saves and keeps Arsenal in the game. However, 30 seconds into the second half he shows Arsenal fans his other side – his crap side. Ibrahimovich takes a long ball, deep inside the Arsenal half. Almunia comes charging out of goal – for no reason – and is duly lobbed by the Swede. Ibrahimovich’s decision making is made easy for him by the poor positioning and decision making of Arsenal’s No.1. Fucking nightmare!

Sunday, April 18th: Wigan 3-2 Arsenal
There’s one minute of normal time left. Arsenal are winning 2-1. Wigan are asking questions and putting Arsenal under a lot of pressure. They are fighting relegation and win a corner. Fabianski is on his line. He comes to catch. He is under no real pressure. The ball lands in his hands. He fumbles and flaps the ball onto the head of Wigan centre-back Bramble who heads into the empty net.

2-2 and Arsenal’s title hopes are over thanks to Fabianski’s costly error.

Message to Arsene: Please sign a world class goalkeeper this summer.

Keep It Arsenal

Post Match View – Manchester City F.C.

This meeting was supposed to be exciting. It was supposed to be memorable. It was neither.

We played Manchester City to a stalemate Saturday in a match that provided very little entertainment. There were times when I felt like the child who is forced to go on a long road-trip. He sits in the back seat wondering, ‘are we there yet? are we there yet?’.

The weight of expectation for this game was a big factor but that we went into it knowing our season’s top prize can only be finishing third further dampened the occasion. Roberto Mancini choosing to be conservative didn’t help matters. As Arsene commented, maybe they feel that they can get a draw against us and finish the job of clinching fourth head to head against Spurs.

Fuck Spurs!

I didn’t even bother noting the action for this post as I usually do.
The interest was there.
The passion and anticipation were there.
The levels were just slightly off.

I hate feeling like the game doesn’t matter as much as it could. Oh, by the way, FUCK SPURS! And didn’t they live up to “expectation” against United!?!? I hope Wilshere gets a hat-trick against them and then they get smashed at Eastlands.

As for us, we’ve definitely reached a crossroad with this squad. It’s fast approaching time to make some decisions about its makeup. A player like Clichy has done well enough to turn around his recent performances but ideally, a fit Kieran Gibbs is the least he should have to worry about. And now that Fabianski has kept a clean sheet, will Arsene reiterate that Greasy Hands will be great one day? Having Eboue to replace Theo is not the worst option, especially from a tactical point of view, but there’s much, much more that we can/should expect from a right sided forward and neither player provides it. Diaby has improved. There’s no doubting that. To think though that Denilson is still a question mark and that injury-prone Rosicky turns 30 in October begs the question of whether we can match our opponents going forward. No play on words intended.

Our keeper situation – some might say our squad depth overall – is a joke. I wouldn’t go as far as the latter but I understand the frustration, having come so close again this season and finishing with nothing. The frustration mounts, especially when we read that Arsenal F.C. is the third most valuable club in the world. A very simplistic but valid position would ask if our commitment to winning matches our ranking. It’s an interesting debate, financial restraints notwithstanding.

Is it time to start spending more now that we’re on a better plane where the stadium debt is concerned and that many players have proven to be less than reliable?

The UEFA 8:25 rule complicates matters and will make for even more interesting times at Arsenal this summer. I imagine the development of players like Craig Eastmond, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Jack Wilshere, Henri Lansbury, Tom Cruise, Sanchez Watt, Kyle Bartley, and a few others from that Youth Cup winning side will now be even more important. And what of veteran reserve but still young players like Nacer Barazite and Mark Randall? Will Conor Henderson and Francis Coquelin make the step up? Is there another Jack Wilshere amongst the youth?

Will the rule give Wenger more reason for staying committed to giving these kids a chance or will he modify his plan by bringing in a few established, super talented players? I know he likes David Villa. Those thoughts were running through my head as I watched City play a very cautious game. Tevez was hardly a factor. Bellamy found out what it’s like to face Alex Song. He has come a long way attitude and behavior-wise but he did manage to anger the mild-mannered Song. Bellamy should consider himself lucky. I wouldn’t fuck with Song. Abou Diaby (who almost won it with the shot that KO’d Shay Given) was in Patrick’s face like our former hero had something of his. A ticket to South Africa perhaps?

Those were the only highlights for me. The game was tepid at best. Seeing Patrick in City colors was a bit unsettling but I got over it pretty quickly to be honest. I still love the guy though. I remember how proud I used to feel seeing him patrol the pitch. A great man recently described him as one of the best ever. No argument here.

It would be interesting to see the number of matches we’ve played this season with our full team. The injuries excuse is one I will not use but let’s be clear, one of the reasons for Wenger’s position against “financial doping” is that it allows clubs with sugar daddies to bench top quality footballers when others are forced to include youth or average players. The 8:25 rule may change that. How it will affect our club remains to be seen.

One thing is certain however, we must get this nightmarish injury situation sorted one way or another. The City match was supposed to be meaningful. It turned out to be just another game. What would have we done to City with a fit Cesc, Arshavin, Gallas, and Vermaelen?

While some are debating if finishing third is really an improvement, I am left asking why have we failed, again???

I’m suddenly feeling empty. Worse, I don’t have much more of real interest to say but I do feel this needs to be said; FUCK SPURS. I’m out.

Keep the Faith

No Longer Arsenal

– It’s not worth revisiting the past when it comes to Emmanuel Adebayor. I was furious at the time, but the hate has now dissipated. To me, he doesn’t exist. No need to expend any sort of time or effort on the man. I do have sympathy for the traumatic events he went through at the African Cup of Nations, but that’s as far as it goes. I’d rather Arsenal fans support our team than boo this man.

– Kolo Toure said he didn’t want to name the player he had problems with while at Arsenal because he didn’t want to cause trouble. Today, he named that player, and nobody was surprised. Why he needs to go on and on about it, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because he loved his time here and now he’s at City. Maybe it’s because he’s going to be under threat for his starting role when City buy better defenders. Maybe it’s because he’s no longer relevant in the football world. We tend to forgive Kolo, because he gave it his all while playing for Arsenal. But let’s be honest. Wenger dispatched Adebayor and Kolo and retained Gallas and Bendtner. You don’t hear current Arsenal players saying bad words about Gallas and Bendtner now, do you? Ade and Kolo were cancers, and the fact that we got 40 million pounds for them is an added bonus.

– Simply put, all the drama aside, I just want to win the match. I want Robin to score a hat trick. Our team owes us a performance. The capitulation against Wigan was pathetic. It was beyond pathetic, it was shocking. It was a result that brought Wenger’s experiment under the microscope in a big way. I’ve considered it as well, but I’m going to wait until the summer before passing judgment.

– That being said, it’s clear that if Fabianski didn’t commit another disastrous error, we would have won. Do you blame Wenger for fielding a player like him? That’s somewhat fair, but at the same time, how could Wenger have anticipated the amount of goalkeeping gaffes this year? Most will say that they could have foreseen it, but Wenger has to know that he has a big problem. With Almunia out, we can only pray that Fabianski doesn’t give away the game. Again.

– Finally, Patrick Vieira returns against to Arsenal. Paddy is one of the best midfielders of all time. He is no longer in his prime, but let’s remember how majestic he was. If that Patrick Vieira was in our side, we would have won the Premier League this year.

We’re on the Right Path

Arsenal fans don’t realize how lucky they are.

We all know that Arsenal should have beaten Wigan after being 2-0 up with 10 minutes of the game left. Arsenal lost that game because of a Lukasz Fabianski fuck up in the last minute. No other reason.

The defeat against Spurs hurt but would the “Cunts From The Lane” have won if Arsenal had scored a once in a lifetime 30 yard goal first? Probably not. Spurs went 1-0 up and put every man behind the ball and waited to counter attack. Bar their two goals, they hardly threatened Arsenal. On another day, Arsenal would have won that game.

The Spurs and Wigan defeats are history now. We move on.

Arsenal have now lost three games in a row. This means that Arsenal are in a crisis. Therefore, Wenger, according to The Negatives, must go. His replacement could be anyone from Mourinho to Dennis Bergkamp – anyone who can make Arsenal fight and not surrender like they did at Wigan.

If, however, you compare Arsenal with Liverpool, you might think otherwise. You might be glad that you’re an Arsenal supporter.

Liverpool will not be playing Champions League football next season. They are in massive debt and up for sale. They need a new stadium but can’t afford one. Their manager Rafa Benitez will probably join Juventus next season and take a couple of star players with him – including Steven Gerrard.

The latest rumors about Gerrard make John Terry’s off-field exploits look like powder puff.

Gerrard has got a 16 year old girl pregnant. The teenager is keeping the baby. His wife is having an affair with Derby County defender Kris Simmons. Their marriage is over and Gerrard is seeking a move away from England. His lawyers are currently trying to stop any of this information being made public. Gerrard, meanwhile, fears for his World Cup place if the teenager gives birth out of wedlock.

If these rumors are true, Liverpool are in a crisis – not Arsenal.

Keep It Arsenal