Arsenal 1 – 0 Portsmouth Highlights. Arsenal get the points that matter.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Portsmouth: Gallas 81

Yesterday we saw Arsenal beat Portsmouth 1-0 with a decent performance. Highlights here.

We played poorly at times, but that is understandable for a squad down to the bare bones, and lacking almost all confidence.

We were lucky to escape some of Pompey’s earlier efforts, but as the game stretched during the second half our quality started to show. Ramsey and Vela came on to good effect, and 10 minutes before the final whistle we saw Gallas rise to put a Denilson free-kick beyond David James.

We lacked the creativity that Fabregas provides, and it might be more telling against better opposition, but with some January investment we can survive.

It was always the result that would matter, having so spectacuarly capitulated in the previous three games. I’m happy with the win, and hopefully we can build on the result.

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Cesc out for 4 months. Is this a bad dream?

The latest news on Cesc is that his medial ligament damage is going to keep him out for up to four months.

This is just about the worst thing that could have happened at this stage of the season. We are already struggling, and losing our best player and captain till April is going to hurt us.

Our inexperienced midfield desparately needs strengthening in January, or 4th place could be very unlikely.

Diaby isn’t up to the task, and Song and Denilson is not a pairing with enough quality to compete at this level. We have so many injury troubles at the moment it is becoming extremely frustrating, Rosicky, Walcott, Fabregas, Eduardo, these are all first team players.

Bringing anyone with a little experience in January would be fantastic, we now need two midfielders in the next window. Wenger must be a little worried today.

“It is more likely but we also have internal solutions and we are not desperate,”

“The news is not good. It will take three to four months, we count four,”

“We will miss him, of course, but how much is difficult to say. We have to find a way and we want to find a way to compensate the fact that he is not on the pitch to give everyone a bit more.

“I’m sure we can deal with it.

“When he comes back he can help us get over the line in the final months. I believe we are able to do it.”

It looks like Wenger will be going into overdrive to sign a midfielder, but I don’t know if I can agree with his positivness.

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Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool: Dealing with Long Balls

Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool: Robin Van Persie 24, Keane 42

I have to agree with Arsene Wenger. Had Adebayor not been given a second yellow in the 62nd minute Arsenal could have won today, however, the score ended 1 – 1.

Van Persie scored a lovely first half goal, after a long pass from Nasri put him into the box, and he slotted it past Reina. Liverpool responded just before half time. They were hoofing massive high balls down the pitch the whole game, and this time it fell to Keane, being chased by Djourou and Gallas, and he put it away, not much we could do.

Cesc got injured before half-time, and it seems that he has injured his knee ligaments which is grave news, meaning Diaby replaced him after half time, and went on the wing, with Denilson in the centre.

We didn’t have any of the ball early in the second half, which suprised me, as I thought that we would push for a goal. Just when we were getting a grip on the game Adebayor was sent off. A disgraceful decision, a second yellow. The first and second for nothing almost, neither were yellow cards, and this handicapped us.

After the incident the atmosphere intensified. It was like being in Turkey, Liverpool were booed and whistled whenever they were in possession, and we fought very hard.

I was proud of the way we played in the second half, and I totally agree with Wenger’s comments, that had Ade not been sent off we could have won. There was the feeling round the stadium that we were heading for a goal. The fact that Fabregas is injured, and Ade will be suspended makes me feel that we will be fighting for 4th place this season and nothing more.

Arsenal vs Liverpool – Fantastic Goals

Arsenal.com have put up a montage of the best 10 goals Arsenal vs. Liverpool.

Here’s some of my favourites – Thierry Henry, at Highbury, Vieira at Anfield!

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Wenger looks ahead to transfer window before Arsenal play Liverpool

This is a guest post by Thomas Rooney, contact me at arsespeak(at)gmail{dot}com if you’d like to write for ArseSpeak!

Arsenal have three important Premier League fixtures before the January transfer window opens, but nevertheless, Arsene Wenger has revealed that a significant signing next month is ‘feasible’. Much speculation is due to occur over the coming weeks and such comments from the Arsenal boss will surely exaggerate this.

Speaking about the possibility of a new recruit, Wenger admitted that sometimes a player coming into the club can provide the squad with some ‘extra belief’. This is something that would be more than welcome amongst the current crop of players, it has to be said.

Before any Arsenal fans become too excited about the prospect of a new signing though, it is worth mentioning that Wenger would only sign someone if someone ‘special’ becomes available. When asked whether this was likely to happen, he said that at this moment they have ‘not seen anyone’ that would fit the bill.

This is a fair policy I suppose. Why bring someone in unless they are going to significantly strengthen the squad? It could be argued that the more bodies the better, but there is no doubt that Wenger’s priorities lie in getting the most out of the current squad.

He says that he is more keen than ever to ‘develop the team we have’ because from the majority there is still ‘a lot to come’. All of this is part of a ‘policy we respect’ and this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

Instead of weighing up whether to buy a new player of not this weekend, Wenger will be heavily focused on the events at Ashburton Grove on Sunday. Arsenal are eight points behind league leaders Liverpool, a win is needed to keep the Gunners title challenge moving.

We have been here before though. Prior to the games against Manchester United and Chelsea earlier this season, I have sat here and wrote about how Arsenal must win to keep their title dreams alive. They went on to win both of these games, but still sit outside the top four.

This is because their response to each victory was poor. After beating Manchester United, they lost to Aston Villa in the next league game. Then after a dramatic victory at Chelsea, they won against Wigan, but stuttered again with a draw at Middlesbrough.

So, as important as the game against Liverpool is on Sunday, the one that follows it – against Aston Villa – has to be considered equally as important. Otherwise, there is no point winning at on Sunday. Imagine beating the other three ‘big four’ teams, but sitting 5th in the league. That would be so frustrating.

Remember to wear Yellow on Sunday!

By Thomas Rooney

Board changes at Arsenal

The most recent news coming from the Arsenal boardroom is that there are a few changes underway.

Lady Nina, who owns 15.9% of the club is leaving the Board, and the club, after a family association of over 50 years. She is now free from the lockdown agreement which the Board members entered into, and is free to sell her shares in the club.

As the third largest shareholder this is worrying, and it seems likely that she will sell, although whether to Board members, or to Red & White Holdings remains to be seen.

As well as Lady Nina leaving, Richard Carr who owns 4.4% will step down from Director, a position he has held for 27 years.

This is all part of the long term changes which began when Dein left the club, and new holders like Usmanov and Kronke have come in. It is not known the terms on which Lady Nina left but there are hints that there is some unrest at Board level.

As ever Hill-Wood wants to keep us stable and self-sufficient. It remains to be seen if this is possible.

Who owns Arsenal:
Directors’ collective shareholding 41.8%
Daniel Fiszman 24.1%
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith 15.9%
Richard Carr 4.4%

Peter Hill-Wood (chairman) 0.8%
Lord Harris of Peckham 0.09%
Ken Friar 0.07%
Sir Chips Keswick 0.06%
Keith Edelman 0.04%
Others: Red & White Holdings 24%; Stan Kroenke 12.4%
Remaining shares: approximately 1,200 minor shareholders.

Table edited from the Telegraph

Gunnerblog has views and excerpts from Wenger’s recent webchat with fans here.

Also on Sunday against Liverpool wear Yellow! We want to commemorate the title winning season at Anfield 20 years ago, and REDaction has come up with this idea. Newsletters were passed out at the Wigan game, and Arsenal.com has endorsed it too, so it would be great to see a yellow stadium on Sunday.

Was Emmanuel Eboue misunderstood?

The debate over Eboue is pretty one-sided these days, since the Wigan game I’ve been thinking about the player who was at one time regarded as our best right-back.

These days people see him as more of a liability in his role on the wing. But he isn’t actually our first choice in that position.

I don’t think he is a great winger, but he is a decent defender. A few months ago I wrote a post and one of the comments left was this:

“Wenger probably has been wanting to develop Eboue and make him into a Ray Parlour type player.”

This is partly true, people criticise Wenger for selecting him, but there are several points to be made about Eboue:

  • Wenger plays Eboue because we have no choice – Walcott, Rosicky, Eduardo, Nasri are all reguarly injured.
  • We lack experienced playerswho can fill in – Walcott last year, Vela this year.
  • Wenger may also select him because he sees potential to turn him into a midfielder.

Eboue has the potential to become a good winger – he can cross, we saw that in his days at right back. His main problem is dribbling and passing – he finds it hard to go round players and his control isn’t great – his scoring ability is also reminiscent of Francis Jeffers.

He has been utilised on the left this year – as Theo has made the right wing slot his own. This hasn’t helped – he has had to cut inside to use his stronger right foot. I think that he did have some stronger performances early this season – but he has also played very badly – the Wigan game is an example, I was there.

The Wigan game and the booing have knocked his confidence, and I think that it will take him a while to regain that. It really isn’t helping the team when fans act like that.

Overall he would never be my first choice winger – he doesn’t have the pace, the control, the vision or the passing, and his dirty play and diving only piss off most Arsenal fans. He dives way too much and is extremely petulant. He doesn’t contribute to the team in the way that players like Nasri do, and many attacks end with his mistakes. But the thing is that Eboue is Wenger’s squad player, Wenger doesn’t see him as a first-teamer.

He is a useful utility player, he only gets to play so much due to our injury list. Vela seems to be playing more games, and may eventually be used to fill in on the wings as his performances have looked classy. Eboue is just filling in!

Don’t get on his back – he isn’t a great player, and he does stupid things, but a bad patch of form is just a bad patch of form, remember that he has been played out of position, and when only just returning from injury.

In the end, I’m saying that Eboue  is a useful squad player, we shouldn’t turn him into a scapegoat when things go wrong. I personally will never boo him.

Middlesbrough 1 – 1 Arsenal Highlights: Did you expect any better?

Middlesbrough 1 – 1 Arsenal: Adebayor 17, Aliadiere 29. Highlights here.

Arsenal came away with a point from the Riverside this afternoon after another poor display. An early Adebayor header was cancelled out after Aliadiere put in an equaliser, Tuncay picking up a deflected Clichy clearance to cross in.

Update: After pondering over the game I’ve decided I was a little harsh. We did create a lot of opportunities, but we don’t seem to have the strength to be able to get all 3 points in games like this season.

You would have thought that Arsenal having rested players during midweek would have been out of the blocks and at Middlesbrough. But although we played good passing football we yet again lacked any incsiveness or width.

Luckily we are not out of the running for the title, due to Man U and L’pool both drawing today, showing just how good the rest of the Premier League are getting.

However, our inconsistent form, mistakes, and weak squad will never win us trophies. We lack any balance in midfield at the moment, and we desparately need the return of players like Eduardo and Rosicky. Wenger needs to reinforce this team in January, and wisely.

Wenger told the BBC:

“Nobody believes in us but we can show we still believe and keep going. At the moment, my team needs encouragement more than anything.

“Today was a game we would have lost at the start of the season. But now we have a better defensive balance and we are more of a team.

“We just lacked a little bit of that extra little thing that comes with confidence but we are a young team and that is why it is important we just keep belief and keep going.”

I think Wenger has a point, we do lack confidence, the team has a lot of talent, and we are playing better than some games earlier this season, but this isn’t good enough at the moment. We played some good football at times today, but we didn’t get the result.

Arsenal have the potential, but to be winners you need results, and we need that now.

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Porto 2 – 0 Arsenal Highlights: Little meaning in lacklustre performance

We lost for the seventh time this season last night, with a pretty abject display against Porto. Highlights here.

Not very much to cheer about, I’m pretty glad I’m not one of the fans who travelled all the way to Portugal for this one. We started alright but the passing was decidedly poor, and apart from a bit of magic form Ramsey we looked crap. Eboue started and was indifferent, but then again so was just about every other player.

The thing that worries me about last night is that we actually had a reasonable team out, but performed awfully. The defence wasn’t first choice, but Silvestre, Djourou, Gallas, Eboue is probably one of our stronger choices, and up front we had Bendtner and Vela who have both shown great potential, while in the middle Ramsey, Diaby, Denilson and Song also all have potential. But the team didn’t gel and players didn’t put the defensive effort in. Take Gallas’ sliced clearance in the second half, or Diaby’s bad defence when we conceded.

A mere point from this game could have put us first. It doesn’t make a huge amount of difference in terms of who we draw next round, they will all be hard games, but you would have thought we could have put a bit more effort in. Hopefully we will see some first teamers back and a good performance against Middlesbrough on Saturday away.

Porto vs. Arsenal Build-up

So we head to Portugal for the last game of the gruop stage. It’s not our strongest squad – a mixture of youth and older players, with a lot of key faces missing.

1. Manuel Almunia
21. Lukasz Fabianski
10. William Gallas
18. Mikael Silvestre
40. Kieran Gibbs
41. Gavin Hoyte
27. Emmanuel Eboue
20. Johan Djourou
17. Alex Song
15. Denilson
16. Aaron Ramsey
47. Mark Randall
2. Abou Diaby
43. Fran Merida
19. Jack Wilshere
26. Nicklas Bendtner
12. Carlos Vela
50. Jay Simpson

This isn’t unexpected, we have already qualified, it would be nice to top the group though, a draw would do for that.

Eboue comes back in, Arsene suggests that playing away from home may be an easy way of sliding him back into the squad and regaining his confidence. Any games he gets should help him forget about the Wigan game.

So looking for some points and some experience for the kids, some of whom may soon be on loan, as we don’t have the Carling Cup on the agenda anymore.

It won’t be easy tonight, away in Europe never is.