Arsenal 1 -0 Dynamo Kiev Highlights: Steady performance by Fabregas’ Arsenal

Arsenal 1 – 0 Dynamo Kiev: Bendtner ’87 (ITV Highlights)

A steady performance by Arsenal tonight, qualification from the Group stage guaranteed, and overall a very good start for Fabregas’ captaincy. We didn’t really make a huge impression but we controlled the game and got the crucial goal – Fabregas’ quick reaction from the drop ball – putting a long ball to Bendtner who slotted away neatly to confound the pink boot bashers.

I think there were some good signs, but we shouldn’t get too excited, as Wenger said: with the press it is easy say you are in crisis one minute, champions the next – the reality lies somewhere in between.

With Arsenal we have the potential to do great things, at the moment I still think we need a defensive midfielder. Song was alright, but he not really up to the job right now, neither is Denilson who played on the wing tonight. They are good, but not good enough yet.

Gallas seemed settled at the back which is good – I know I said maybe a fresh start without him is worthwhile, but he is a good defender and if he can adjust to his new role in the team then he is worth keeping.

Ramsey and Vela played very well, I think they have a great future at the club, as does Wilshere – now our youngest Champions League player ever.

So a decent win, we now need to build on this and hopefully it can instill confidence for Sunday’s game against Chelski. I don’t know how we will fare at the Bridge, the Premiership is a different game to the CL, but if we work hard we can get a result. A clean sheet tonight was very welcome too.

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Gallas promotes his leadership skills as Arsenal look to close gap on leaders

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

First of all, attention has to be paid to the fantastic week Arsenal have had. Since my post last Friday, the Gunners defeated Manchester United (highlights here) to keep their title hopes alive, then on Wednesday the ‘kids’ proved how talented they are once again as they brushed aside Wigan in the Carling Cup (highlights here).

All in all, it has been a remarkable and pleasing turnaround that could just kick start the season once again. Of course, a lot of hard work would be undone if Arsene Wenger’s side fail to continue their return to form against Aston Villa this weekend – so here’s to another three points!

Speaking ahead of the clash at the Emirates, Arsenal captain William Gallas has hit back at critics that have suggested he doesn’t have the correct attitude to be the club’s skipper. Ever since his bizarre reaction to the 2-2 draw at Birmingham last season, his leadership skills have certainly been under the microscope.

Gallas believes that he has always been a decent captain for his side though and insists the criticism he occasionally receives is only after poor results. The Frenchman said that after the Manchester United win ‘everyone was saying my leadership was good’ despite questions over it before the game.

To be honest, I think he has a point here. As we all know, football is a results business. Gallas went on to say that he actually thought he had ‘a better game against Spurs’ which emphasises how much a win means to fans.

As long as the team wins, the criticism will be heavily reduced. That’s why Gallas finished by saying that at the end of the season the only thing that matters is that Arsenal have a trophy because ‘everything else is forgotten’.

So, the Aston Villa game tomorrow. Martin O’Neill’s side have been hailed as the only team capable of breaking the top four places in the Premier League and they certainly have a team of more than capable players. They only sit three points behind the Gunners, so a win is an absolute must for the home team.

As far as team news goes, well the ‘big guns’ are set to return despite the impressive showing in the Carling Cup at the weekend. Emmanuel Adebayor and Manuel Almunia should take their place in the starting line-up, as will the already mentioned Gallas. Robin van Persie is suspended though and Emmanuel Eboue is still suffering with a knee injury.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 19 Premier League matches against Villa, but have failed to beat them in the league at the Emirates as yet. Two 1-1 draws have been produced in the last couple of seasons. This time around though, I expect a confident Arsenal performance against a team that will be rather down after their home defeat to Middlesbrough last weekend.

By Thomas Rooney

Gallas is Captain + Theo + Amsterdam Tournament

Afternoon all,

First up, Walcott has been telling us about how his first choice number was 8 this season, but his good mate Vic the kit man told him that was Nasri’s so he had to go for 14. It’s just a number to him though!

“Thierry was my idol. He looked after me when I was first here. It was brilliant to train with him every day and watch what he did. He was the best striker I have ever seen. So I suppose it’s like Ade having No 25 because Kanu had that.

“But as I say for me it is just a number.”

Also Wenger backed Gallas to be captain again this season at the Amsterdam Tournament press conference.

See what you think of the comments, it sounds as though Gallas is a bit of a stop gap captain really, Wenger is just giving him another season, and is going to see how it turns out. I think he’s waiting for Cesc to mature a little.

“William will be captain again”, “Kolo Toure will be his assistant.”

“He got a lot of criticism after what happened at Birmingham last season but until then everybody said he was a fantastic captain.

“He acknowledges that he made some mistakes and he has learned from it. Remember William was not the most gifted player when he was a young boy. He is where he is because he has a good evaluation of his own performance. That is what makes the big players. If you speak to a big player after a game they can always assess what they have done right and wrong. Therefore he has analysed himself what happened last season.

“But William is an important player in the team, plays in a position where it is easier to be captain and as well some players who could be captain are still young.

“He deserves another go to show his commitment and then we will see where we stand at the end of the season.”

It sounds like Wenger thinks he’s not the best player for the job. Interesting that he says he wasn’t the best player when he was younger.

But I think it’s fair that Gallas has this season to prove himself. He did alright last season, just a few problems, like the Birmingham game. As always – if the team are doing well everyone is happy, but Gallas becomes a scapegoat when we fail.

I think that he is a decent choice for captain, but he isn’t the long term option, and Wenger’s comments highlight that.

In the tournament we’ve got Ajax and Sevilla, both teams we have faced in the Champions League. We kick off against Ajax at 8.15pm tonight, and Sevilla tomorrow at 6.

Enjoy the game Gooners!

Vieira talks about Arsenal’s captaincy

Patrick Vieira wants Gallas to be our captain next season according to http://www.feelfootball.com. There has been speculation over his postion after our loss of form coinciding with Gallas’ sit down at the Birmingham match. Vieira, one of the greatest Arsenal captains had this to say:

“I think it has been difficult for him. I have been talking to him and he has been hurt by the criticism he has received,”

“I hope he stays as captain. I think he is a leader of the team. He has experience. I think he has the full support of the players.

“It would have a bad effect on him and everybody else in the team as well. If you had the captaincy taken off you after a year it would be difficult psychologically to start the next season not as captain.

I can’t see Gallas satying at Arsenal if he isn’t captain next season. It would be very hard for him to take.

I can’t see Gallas leaving either, so that leaves one option; he will be captain next season.

Gallas has come in for some bad press recently, and maybe sometimes deservedly, but I think he’s being turned into a scapegoat.

At the beginning of the season it seemed a crazy decision, but it looked to be paying off when we did so well until February right? I don’t think the loss of form was Gallas’ fault. Remember that he has been responsible for the team who have lost less games than the champions, and who have made huge progress over last year.

Arsenal did fail in the competitions this season, but I think Gallas should be given at least another year to show what he’s made of. A great player will improve after criticism, and Gallas is a great player.

Now he needs to show he is a leader.

Gallas, Toure and Adams: Captaincy

This morning there’s some controversy about our captiancy.

Toure has said:

“Gallas was really good for us at the start of the season but then after this Birmingham game he made a mistake, he knows that and we all tried to bring him back to the team and he came back well.When you make a mistake it is difficult after that, it was a really important part of our season.”

“I would be really, really proud to be captain. I am now one of the oldest players in the squad so naturally I feel like a captain and it doesn’t matter if I have the armband or not.”

Toure wants the armband desparately. He could be a good captian, but I don’t think he’s a real leader.

Gallas has hit back:

“They [the media] can say what they want… they will not bring me down, I’m stronger than that. It makes me mad because I don’t think [what happened in Birmingham] was our problem. How can you summarise our season with that thing at Birmingham? That is not why we stopped winning matches.

“It’s true, we shouldn’t pin all of our problems on the Birmingham game, we made too many defensive errors in the last few games, that’s what it came down to.

Read the original article here.

Could Adams be the man to sort out our defence? He is out of contract at Portsmouth and willing to come back. He makes a good point about the defence:

“I just feel that people don’t realise that the best back four win the league. The last two seasons Manchester United have had the best back four and, before that, John Terry and his men were fantastic for two years.

“We’ve kept more clean sheets at Portsmouth than Arsenal have, but I’m not going to question the great man [Wenger].

“I love the club, it was part of my life for so many years and if anyone at Arsenal wants to invite me back, I’m willing to give it a shot”

It would be great to see him back, and he could do a good job on the defence!

Who Will Be Captain?

Morning All,

It seems Fabianski will get his chance in the next few games, with Lehmann almost definetly leaving this summer.

There’s a report here that Flamini will stay, but until we hear anything official it can’t be a done deal.

There is also some debate over the captaincy see here. Wenger:

“I want to analyse the season after it has finished. At the moment he will be my captain until the end of the season.

“I believe he has learned a lot this year and I can only say that his commitment and desire to do well was exceptional. For the rest, I wouldn’t like to go into any individual assessment at the moment.

If Gallas isn’t captain next season I can’t see him staying. I don’t know who it would go to really, maybe we need to bring in someone who can really lead the team. Love him or hate him, Gallas was good in the first half of the season, but the Birmingham game really sums up what happened to our season and his actions there were not those of a leader.

Who else do we have who can captian a side?

We need some reinforcements, Nick Townsend talks here.

Wenger says he’s targeting to quality players, that might be all we need I think, a winger and a defender, maybe a striker too?

What positions do you think we need to reinforce??