Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal. Good result served with injuries

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal: Senna 10, Adebayor 66. Highlights here.

Arsenal came away with a valuble away goal against Villarreal last night, which places us well for the Quarter final second leg at home next week.

adebayor-villarreal-bicycle-kick

Adebayor scored an amazing bicycle kick in the second half to equalise after Senna had scored a long range goal in the fist half. The fact that we got the goal is most important – I will take the result, even though we could have finished them off in the second half.

The Fabregas/Adebayor partnership again provided crucial goals – making it 3 in 2 games for Ade, with Fabregas providing every assist!

I didn’t see the game, I downloaded highlights after the match – and I was disappointed to see us go a goal down. It hurt to lose Gallas and Almunia, and as Wenger said – this meant he couldn’t change things around at half time.

Gallas has knee ligament damage – so he may be out for the rest of the season – a blow seeing as our defence has been very stable since December. Almunia is out for a few weeks with an ankle injury – so we will have Fabianski in goal for the next few games which will define our season.

I think Fabianski will do good – but he has made rash decisions at times during games this season – this is his chance to prove himself – he made some good saves last night.

Overall a good result – some annoying injuries – but this looks promising. The fact that Porto got two away goals at Old Trafford means that they have a good chance of going through – no British team has ever won at Porto – and they have the advantage!

What do you think Arsenal’s chances are? Leave a comment below.

How many of Arsenal’s team would make it into Manchester United’s starting eleven?

As much as the end to the current season could be extremely exciting and successful for Arsenal, they are still not quite where they used to be as a club. There was a time, of course, when they were unbeatable. There was a time when it was only the Gunners and Manchester United fighting it out for the league title.

So, what has happened in the last few years which has prevented Arsenal being one of the ‘big two’? For eight seasons in a row, Arsenal finished no lower than second in the Premier League. This was until the last three when their final positions have been 4th, 4th and 3rd.

One way to see just how far away Arsenal are from being Manchester United’s main challengers again could be to see how the individual players compare. How does Arsenal’s full strength team match up to the best team the Champions can put out?

This is something I would like your opinion on, so without too much analysis, let’s take a look at my views:

Edwin Van der Sar v Manuel Almunia – Has to be Van der Sar unfortunately.

Gary Neville v Bakari Sagna – Personally, I’d rather have Sagna in my team.

Patrice Evra v Gael Clichy – For consistency purposes, it has to be Evra.

Rio Ferdinand v William Gallas – This is a close one, but I think the odds would be in favour of Ferdinand.

Nemanja Vidic v Kolo Toure – For similar reasons that Evra won, Vidic is the winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Theo Walcott – For what he has achieved in the last couple of years, it’s going to be Ronaldo.Ask me again this time next year though.

Ryan Giggs v Andrei Arshavin – Giggs is still a decent player, but for creativity and variation the Russian wins this one for me.

Michael Carrick v Cesc Fabregas – No competition, Fabregas all the way.

Paul Scholes v Denilson – A number of players could fill this position for Arsenal and all of them will be as good as/better than Scholes at some point, but for now, the former England man has to get the nod.

Wayne Rooney v Robin van Persie – For me, this is the closest one of the lot. In fact, I can’t choose between them. This one is a draw.

Dimitar Berbatov v Emmanuel Adebayor – Neither have been fantastic this season. However, the Manchester United man (and Carlos Tevez) has produced the goods more often.

The end result for this ‘experiment’ is Manchester United 7.5 v 3.5 Arsenal. Whether this means much, I’m not sure. However, it does suggest that Arsenal are just two or three established high quality players short of challenging for the Premier League again.

This could happen in the next couple of years when the likes of Walcott, Clichy and Denilson really kick on as players – you never know. It certainly makes a change from the days of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, or Tony Adams and Ian Wright and co when Arsenal would have been much closer to Manchester United in this type of analysis.

Something to think about isn’t it? Let me know your thoughts.

By Thomas Rooney

Almunia points to fear factor as Arsenal look to improve home form against Fulham

This is a guest post by sportswriter Thomas Rooney

As we all know, Arsenal’s form at the Emirates Stadium hasn’t been brilliant of late. Three of the last six Premier League games there have been drawn, with the Gunners only managing to find the net on four occasions along the way.

So, what is this down to? Well, Manuel Almunia has admitted that some of the Arsenal players feel under more pressure playing at home than they do away at the moment.

After last weekend’s draw at home to Sunderland, some sections of the crowd booed, venting their frustration at being unable to break the deadlock.

It is a frustration that comes on the back of Arsene Wenger’s men not being able to manage more than one home goal in a league game since defeating Manchester United 2-1 back in November.

Speaking about the situation, Almunia has said how a number of the players ‘feel under more pressure’ at the moment because the team ‘is not winning’.

The goalkeeper went on to say that because the players know that the ‘fans deserve more than 0-0 scores’; this builds the pressure on the team when they try and break opposing teams down. He says that the attacking players are ‘spending a bit more time’ on getting their shot away.

As for how the team can rectify this, starting against Fulham tomorrow, Almunia believes that they need to find a ‘nice balance’ that results in Arsenal being ‘tight at the back but get the goals.’ That is the idea Manuel, yes!

The next game where Arsenal can search for this balance, as already mentioned, is against Fulham tomorrow. It is a must-win game if the Gunners are going to start closing the gap on Aston Villa in 4th place and another draw simply isn’t good enough.

Roy Hodgson’s side are hard to beat these days though and will fancy their chances of being the latest team to frustrate Arsenal at the Emirates.

Hopefully though, Arsenal will take their chances and cruise to a comfortable win. That would be exactly what the players, coaching staff and fans need right now. How about Andrei Arshavin grabbing his first goal as well? Perfect.

As far as team news is concerned, Abou Diaby will miss the game after injuring his calf against Roma on Tuesday. Elsewhere, there appears to be no fresh concerns for Wenger as his team look to stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games.

Gallas, Fabregas, Walcott and Almunia show off new Arsenal kit in leaked picture

Arsenal Kit 08/09

Arsenal players Gallas, Cesc, Theo and Almunia are modelling the new home kit in this leaked picture from The Other Football, a Florida-based blog.

The picture was sent in by a reader, it seems to confirm rumours of the 08/09 kit designs which were leaked earlier this year.

I like it, but it does seems a bit similar to the 00/01 and 01/02 home kit. I would have preferred all white sleeves, but Nike probably wanted to vary the design a little.

The goalkeeper kit looks a bit odd!

What do you think now we have actually seen it on the players?

Update:

I think Arsenal.com are about to announce the kit lanch, check this link, at the time of writing only the headline has been written, possibly a publishing error!

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Lehmann To Start Again?

Jens Lehmann will probably start against Reading on Saturday.

Reading Previews here and here.

The 38-year old, will get a chance due to Almunia’s wrist injury.

Almunia is going will for a fitness test this morning according to Arsenal.com, but it is touch and go. Lehmann will most likely play again after being in goal against Man Utd as well.

“Maybe Manuel Almunia will be available, I don’t know. I will make a decision on Friday morning. He got injured in training on the Friday before Manchester. We sent him for a scan and there was an inflammation so he could not play.

“But Flamini is not back, Sagna is not back and Tomas Rosicky is out.”

If Lehmann does play it will probably be one of his last apperances for us, he’s on the way out, because he wants first team football, he hates Almunia playing ahead of him and he has caused such a fuss this year that I think Wenger has to offload him.

‘Mad Jens’ has had ups and downs for us, his early days at the club saw some calamitous mistakes, especially in clearances!

But he was in goal for the whole of the unbeaten season and has seen a lot of success with us. This year his moaning and slagging off of poor old Almunia has been pretty low, but that’s Lehmann, a crazy German really. He had the same sort of rivalry with Oliver Kahn when Kahn was Germany’s No.1. Wrighty7 weighs it all up here.

Anyway, elsewhere, yesterday Lauren said here that if we had a few of our more experienced players (like him?) then we would have won something this season.

“I felt I was still able to contribute to the team. When you have experienced the highs and lows we went through and when you have competed against Chelsea and Manchester United in the past, it helps you in difficult situations not to lose your head.”

Fair point, but that’s not the route we have taken. If we still played Lauren then we wouldn’t have discovered Bacary Sagna, and to be honest I think that the side can now mature together. It’s all very well criticising in hindsight, but I think Wenger has a great record of picking the right time to let players go.

Next year with more experience and a bit more steel I reckon we’ll be mounting a stronger challenge. Remember the sort of football we were playing before Christmas? Amazing stuff. If we can keep our heads down then it could be our year.

Ian Wright has left the BBC (Click here) because he felt like they were using him like a:

“comedy jester to break the ice with Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen “

Those guys are pretty awful sometimes, anyway, good on you Wrighty, good luck on Gladiators!!

Transfer news: we’re linked with the Palermo striker Amauri here. Make what you will of it!

Arsenal

Almunia & Should Arsene Invest In A Striker?

Two men have signed a new contract at Arsenal.. No Flamini isn’t one.. It’s Manuel and Fran Merida. The man who has taken Lehmann’s spot this season and performed well as the new ‘No.1’ or at least I think so, and our young Spanish prodigy currently on loan in Spain with Real Sociedad.

I said earlier in the season that I wasn’t sure if Almunia was a long term option in goal but the more he plays the more I feel he is a solid part of the team. His deal is long term and Almunia himself said:

“I talked to my wife and I said I did not want to go back to Spain to play. Hopefully I can finish my career here”

Most goals we concede are due to defensive errors and generally this season I think he has done a sterling job. Well done Manny!

Injury news ahead of Saturday is that, Van Persie is only 20% certain to play, and Adebayor also has a slight knock which Wenger will review today.

Recently while reading some forum posts, I came across an interesting post about our strikers, basically saying that we need the chequebook out this summer to sign some strikers. I thought I’d give my own opinions and find out yours.

Adebayor: Works hard all over the pitch, sometimes a little too hard. Has definitely got the talent to perform at the highest level. Scored 19 league goals this season, but has come in for a bit of stick recently. I think it’s undeserved, he has had many different partners this year and has often had to lead the attack on his own. He’s a versatile, pacy player who has a great future.

Van Persie: Well, a man with a lethal left foot and bags of talent, but hasn’t had the chance to shine due to terrible injury problems. I saw his appearance stats and he has only played about as many games as Justin Hoyte, not really a first-team player, in his time here. Flashes of brilliance i.e. volley against Charlton last season, but needs to be injury-free to really be useful.

Walcott: Great potential for the future, pacy, intelligent and able to score goals. He got off the mark, in the League , against Birmingham in that 2-2 draw this year and is certainly a bright hope. I think he has warranted a starting position, at least on the right wing for his recent performances. Maybe not ready for the pressure of being a first choice striker?

Bendtner: Another one with great potential, but he hasn’t lived up to it, occasionally we have seen great things, his aerial ability, great control and touch and a good ability to make space, but he is still young and needs to mature.

Eduardo: He was starting to get into his goalscoring role before his injury and looked like the goalscorer we have been looking for, out for 9 months now after his horrific leg-break, hopefully he will come back with goals, but you can never be certain he will be the same player.

So in summary, Ade, a great player – needs a good partner up front. RVP, injury prone, but could perform. Walcott and Bendtner – great potential but need more experience, and Eduardo is out injured for a long period.

It seems to me that Arsene should consider making an investment in the summer… What do you think? Feel free to get involved, just leave a comment!

Almunia Matures, Gallas Has Fun With Wenger

Almunia speaks here on how he is maturing into his role in the first team, he has come in and played well this year, looked solid, without really being tested too much. He is still adjusting and maturing as he hasn’t been playing first team football for us before. He reckons the team are playing amazingly well, but rightly says there is stil a long way to go.

“I like to compare myself to a wine which gets better with age. I hope that I can keep getting better when I am 31, 32. I do not know how long I will go on for.”

Hopefully he will keep maturing, but I don’t see him as the long term option for Arsenal unless something changes drastically. He’s obiviously worried about the threat of Lehmann saying:

“If I am thinking about January or February in the next game I could make a couple of mistakes and be back on the bench. Football is very cruel – and especially with goalkeepers. That is why it is such a difficult position to play.”

Well at least he has a bit of pressure to keep him on his toes, I’m sure Lehmann would quite like to see him slip up, but lets all pry that doesn’t happen. I like Almunia, so hopefully he can go on and continue to do well for us.

Willy Gallas really has fun talking to Arsene Wenger and he’s chuffed to bits that he got made captain (over Toure and Gilberto)..He tells SkySports

“Before, I used to keep to myself. But I like those new responsibilities. I really have fun with the talks I have with Arsene Wenger.”

He says the reason for his injuries last year were because he wasn’t properly settled, he is looking a lot better this year, I am starting to like him, especially for that goal against Man U, although he still can only make one pass.

Euro 2008 qualifiers gone, we can all get back to the good stuff. No teams from Britian or Ireland in the Euro, how about a Home Nations next summer? Not with McClaren thats for sure he’s out, click here..

Reuters look forward to the weekends games here. With “Arsenal look set to show England how its done“. Well yeah, cause we don’t just hoof the ball to a freakishly tall man..

Our women’s team has been knocked out of the UEFA Women’s Cup after losing 3-2 on aggregate to Lyon, so they won’t have the chance to retain the title this year. It was their first defeat in 21 months!! Click here for more..

Bendtner has scored twice in 5 days for Denmark, round up of his performances and the other internationals here at Arsenal.com

Hleb was taken off at half-time due to injury in the Belarus – Holland match last night, Gunnerblog says it’s likely he will miss Wigan on Saturday.

Clichy talks about the foreign quota rubbish which is boring now but he makes a good point we have heard before:

“The nationality is not the main important thing, it is just the quality you want your team to play.”

As well as that they also have reviews of our 5 loanees, including Vela and Djourou here!!

Thank You, and Goodbye!