Arsenal – Middlesbrough. Champions League prelude

It’s a gorgeous day in London, great day for football.

I’m making my way to the Grove for an old fashioned breakfast before the game. It looks like we may rest a few players ahead of the Champions League game against Man U. They are looking like they will win the Prem after yesterday’s 5-2 win.

Meanwhile we have nothing to play for except the CL, so Wenger should focus on that. We only need 5 points to secure CL qualification, and it looks a little late to make up the ground to 3rd place.

The team should be up for it to day, we still need to retain focus, after all we have conceded sloppy goals to weaker teams at home this season. Middlesbrough are fighting for survival, so those who are picked need to give their all this afternoon!

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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Middlesbrough bid for Hoyte, FC Twente squad released

Middlesbrough have bidded for Justin Hoyte according to their chairman Steve Gibson.

“We have submitted a bid and that’s with Arsenal,”

“We are waiting for Arsenal to respond.

“We have a fantastic relationship with Arsenal. They are good people there and we would never fall out with them.

“But we have given it our best offer and we hope that it happens. If it doesn’t we move on.”

So it looks like Hoyte could be on his way. I think he will leave, his chance in the squad is limited and he probably will never be an Arsenal regular.

Also the squad for the FC Twente game has been released. We play tomorrow in Holland, with a young squad. Wenger explained:

“Kolo has a hip muscle problem. Cesc has a hamstring problem, he will be out for the next two games.

“Abou Diaby (thigh) will be out for a while, we knew that. Philippe Senderos has a scan on his hamstring. He did that today whereas Fabregas did his hamstring yesterday.

“Samir Nasri (knee/thigh) should be OK for Saturday and so should Kolo Toure”.

“Aaron Ramsey has a good chance to start”.

It looks like the younger players will get their chance, click here for the squad.

Middlesbrough Draw Keeps It Tight At The Top

I am feeling pretty low about the result at the weekend.

It was similar to many games during the last few seasons, where we have started brightly enough, but never really got out of 2nd gear and dozed off after our initial spurt. The doziness on this occasion meant a long freekick found Tuncay who got away from Toure and crossed for Aliadiere to score, while Gallas was left claiming offside rather than defending.

This is the sort of mistake which will cost us and there is the possibility that we could finish 3rd this season with no trophies as Chelsea are only 3 points behind us and they have a game in hand. It really is very close between the top 3 and we have chosen the wrong time to dip in form.

We didn’t look right on Saturday, Sagna had a funny game and he has been a consistent performer for us this year, it was mirrored by the team, Eboue was our best performer which says something, possibly?? Theo made a good contribution to the game when he came on the right to replace Sagna, Eboue moving to right back. We did plug away in the second half, leaving it very late to get the goal. Toure’s header was a moment of ecstacy in a dour game by our standards. The goal was satisfying but there was always the feeling we should have claimed 3 points. Many decisions went against us and the refereeing at times was shocking, but theres not much we can do about that now and its not really an excuse..

In other news, Gilberto says he may leave at the end of the season if he doesn’t regain his place, I think it is likely that he will be off.

Anyway, I can’t face writing much more.. Onwards to Stamford Bridge, I will be praying..

Middlesbrough loss means a low Monday for the Arsenal

A disappointing result yesterday, we lost 2-1 to Middlesbrough. I listened to the match on the radio in the car. From the sound of it we were pretty unfocused and they were much sharper.

We created little all day and their early penalty gave them the confidence to go on and get the win. Rosicky’s last minute goal was a mere consolation. It’s bad, and depressing, our unbeaten record is gone, but we are still top of the league by a point. Wenger took the defeat well and it looks like we might be able to put it behind us.

We need to forget about the bad result now and think ahead. Steaua Bucharest is our game on Wednesday in the Champions League, Wenger will most likely field a weakened side, fingers crossed we get top place in the group, but we are through anyway.

Looking to the next League game, we have Chelsea in the so-called ‘Grand Slam Sunday’ as it has been dubbed by the media. I hope that a few of the injured quartet: RVP, Flamini, Fabregas and Hleb are back. We have had a tough week without them, drawing and then losing in the North East. The backup we have is decent but not good enough, Gilberto has been quite poor in the games he has had, but Diarra has looked promising.

In any case they will all really need to be up for it against a Chelsea side which has been quietly progressing under Avram Grant, we really need to maintain our position at the top, and a Liverpool win or draw with Man Utd would be great too!