Let’s show Chelsea what real fans are like at Wembley

I’ve got my ticket for the Arsenal Chelsea FA Cup semi final at Wembley and I guess that many of you reading will have too. It is going to be an interesting game – but one of the things that these big stadium occasions can lack is a real atmosphere.

Arsenal aren’t renowned for having the most noisy or active fans in the world, and Ashburton Grove is not the hive of activity that some football stadia are, but with a bit of effort we can out do the Chelsea lot at Wembley.

This follows the Red Action plea to ‘turn Wembley red‘ on the official site which says:

Let’s see those colours, let’s hear those songs, and really get behind the boys on our day out at Wembley. It’s not Liverpool, it’s not Manchester Utd, it’s not………Swindon Town, so no danger of a colour clash and the need for away kits, so lets turn our end of Wembley RED RED RED on the 18th and show our support.

Wear Red, bring a scarf, bring your AFC flags, shout and scream for the Cannon on our chests, and show our passions in the right way. Get right behind the Red and White, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be back in May for another day out.

So lets do it – flags and banners and noise always create an intimidating atmosphere, how do you think Turkish clubs play so well at home? We need to turn Wembley into a cauldron of noise, and cheer on the team – because this time it is serious – if we want to see a bit of silverware this season we are going to have to work for it.

We might even see something like this:

Read more about Red Action here.

Wenger confirms Arshavin will make debut against Sunderland

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

The Emirates played host to a night that belonged to Eduardo on Monday night. This weekend, it is the turn of new signing Andrei Arshavin to adhere himself to the Arsenal faithful as he makes his debut against Sunderland tomorrow.

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that the Russian will make his debut at the Emirates, but has admitted that he has ‘not decided what to do with him yet’ in terms of whether Arshavin will start the game.

Arshavin hasn’t played a competitive game since the end of the Russian domestic season in November and Wenger admits that he is ‘still working on his preparation’.

The Arsenal boss went on to say that because Arshavin isn’t qualified for the Champions League game against Roma next week, this gives the player another week of working hard in training. This should then ensure that he is 100% ready.

With this in mind, it is probably more likely that Arshavin will be on the bench to begin with. Wenger obviously feels that he isn’t quite ready to play 90 minutes as yet, so the best option could be to use him as an impact substitute against the Black Cats.

It will be a very significant moment when he is introduced for the first time as the Arsenal fans are expecting plenty from their new £15m man. Hopefully, his ability will shine through and he can help the team secure an important victory.

As for the game itself, well it is one that has to be considered as a must-win. Arsenal are still five points off Chelsea in fourth place and they can’t afford to drop many more points. Sunderland are a decent team on their day though, so they shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In terms of team news, Eduardo is out of contention after picking up a hamstring injury. However, Emmanuel Eboue is back from suspension and Johan Djourou is back in contention after recovering from a sickness bug.

The most significant news though is that Arshavin could well make his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt. Hopefully it will be marked with an encouraging individual performance as well as a victory for the team.

Fabregas thinks the squad is a little thin

Hello Gooners. Fabregas has been talking to the press about our threadbare squad and our style of play compared to Spain.

He raises some quite worrying points about our potential for this season, but he is positive:

“We have a short squad and we are very young, behind me Denilson and Song play, and they are 20. Walcott is 19 and Nasri is 21. Can you imagine I’m the oldest midfielder? Winning will be tough for us because we are not experienced.

“Last season I scored a lot because I had Rosicky, and Flamini who used to run all over the pitch. Hleb as well, who is like my brother. They have gone now and I feel weird. We are more conservative and strong, but with less touches.”

It seems like Fabregas is all too aware of our problems in the squad, and I think he might feel a little more comfortable with some more experienced players challenging for places. Certainly we are lacking cover in midfield right now. He explained Wenger’s policy to the press:

“Arsene Wenger has crystal clear ideas, there aren’t two like him. He doesn’t want to spend money as he prefers to trust youngsters. His idea is that Walcott can’t develop if you sign Cristiano [Ronaldo].”

He was questioned about his differing roles for club and country – the fact that he isn’t an automatic starter for Spain was mentioned:

“To me it is not an issue because I’m aware I’m young, I play differently and must adapt. I’m not an attacker that plays with his back to goal because I haven’t got the body neither the agility to do it. I need to watch what’s happening because I’m not quick neither agile. I rely on my passes and my vision.

“Nowadays we play in 5-4-1 with Spain and at Arsenal it’s always 4-4-2. At Arsenal I can move, do what I think I must do. The gaffer doesn’t make me to do anything. I feel free. With Spain it is different, you touch the ball, make lots of controls. There (in England) it’s more about counter attacks and going as quickly as possible in front of the goal.

“I know who I am. I notice a change when I’m with Spain but it’s normal – I don’t play (in La Liga) and people don’t see me. I am 21 and have so much to learn. I feel so important in England, but you should remain humble when you play football.”

When he plays for Spain he obviously feels like a young boy with a lot to learn, and at Arsenal I think he has some responsibility resting on his shoulders. Maybe it isn’t so good for him to have to be the main player in the squad at such a young age.

On scoring the last gasp header against Sunderland:

“It’s rare because I’m used to scoring set pieces including corners, and I’m not good at headers. But I’d like to improve because a midfielder that can head the ball is more efficient.

“Most of all I must improve defensively. I always want to attack, to score, to deliver, it’s my dream.”

I think Cesc is possibly the best player at Arsenal, without him we don’t tick, but he needs to feel that the club is matching his ambitions, and losing players like Hleb and Flamini has obviously affected him.

He doesn’t know if we can win the league this year with our current squad and that worries me.

Van Persie injured yet again + Keane is jealous of Arsenal’s youth system

The news breaking last night was that RVP has yet again picked up a hamstring injury in training ahead of Holland’s game against Iceland. People are saying it might be 4-6 weeks before he is fit or it might be next Wednesday.

I have no idea, it was this time last year he picked up the injury that put him out all season. I have a feeling that this might happen again. RVP is plagued by injuries and like Rosicky, there seems to be no end to his problems. He has scored 5 in 6 games for us so it’s a bit of a blow, just when I thought he was getting a good run under his belt.

Apart from that, Roy Keane has been slating the Arsenal youth system, obviously with a bit of envy.

“The word on the street is they have a group of kids coming through that will be absolutely outstanding. But you go on about the kids coming through but a lot of them have been bought from other clubs, not through the academy at Arsenal. It’s the same with Chelsea.”

Keane has a motive – his main problem seems to be that because we are in the South East and have a large population within our radius we have a much larger resource base.

“We have tough battles up here in terms of signing young players and are restricted in terms of our location. You can only bring in kids from a certain radius and a lot of our radius is in the water. Any good fish out there?

Sorry Roy – it’s not our fault Sunderland is on the coast! We just stick to the rules and try to find the best quality young players we can get. How many top quality players will come through having played for one academy their whole youth?? I think this is just a case of jealousy from Roy, he wouldn’t be complaining if he was in our position!

Sunderland 1 – 1 Arsenal – Watch the highlights here

Have Arsenal learned from the Hull game? Probably not. Were we unlucky today? Yes.

These are the answers you don’t want to hear, but I think it is true. Sunderland never really created much, but they had their chances. They kept at least 8 men behind the ball until the last ten minutes, and they managed to score a reasonably lucky goal – yet another wonder strike – which wasn’t defended against properly (click to watch).

However, Arsenal were extremely unlucky not to have scored earlier in the game, having a few good chances and RVPs goal disallowed.

We were then extremely lucky that Fabregas equalised with 90 seconds of added time remaining from RVPs corner. (Craig Gordon was completely lost).

That is how football works. I can say now that I am glad to have the point, after a hard fought wet, cold and windy away game in the North East.

Nevertheless we really can’t afford to drop points like this. I think Wenger will be extremely disappointed in the dressing room.

The main problem is – if you want to win the title, you have to beat teams like Fulham, Hull and Sunderland. Getting lucky decisions and grinding out results away from home is crucial and we aren’t doing it.

The full match highlights are here, click to watch them.

Arsenal Insider some good analysis here, he highlights Adebayor’s lack of consistency this season, and agrees with me, Arsenal haven’t learned from the Hull game.

Arsenal 4 – 0 FC Porto: Highlights

Arsenal responded resoundingly to their critics tonight, outplaying Porto and winning 4 – 0 to put them top of Group G with 4 points.

To watch highlights of the whole game click here.

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Match Report

Arsenal started well, although there were a few close calls early on – a badly defended corner lead to Clichy clearing off the line, and a Porto shot skimmed the bar.

Van Persie looked so much sharper than on Saturday, and he got the first goal – a lovely move, leading to him sliding in Ade’s cross. Click to watch.

Ade got the second, heading down into the ground from a corner, the ball looped over Almu and in off the underside of the bar. Click to watch.

RVP scored again in the second half, this time taking it past the Porto defender and smashing it home with a left footed drive. Click to watch.

Ade finished the scoring from a penalty after Bendtner was brought down in the box. Click to watch.

Goals: Van Persie 31, Adebayor 40, Van Persie 48, Adebayor 71 pen.

Player Analysis

We could have scored more, Bendtner, Nasri, Eboue, Walcott all spurned chances. Walcott played well, as did Nasri – I thought he added an extra dimension to our play which was much needed. Clichy was also back to his best on the left!

Eboue, Bendtner and Vela came on, Eboue didn’t contribute greatly, except by making the crowd laugh at his imitation of Ronaldo step-overs – badly.. Bendtner, who I think is excellent, wasn’t sharp at all, but still looked ok. Meanwhile Vela performed fantastically and is definetly one to watch!

Overview

All in all a good, standard Arsenal performance, Porto weren’t great, but we kept possession well and closed them down, which made it hard for them. The goals were well taken and we could have had more. In the last 10 minutes we got a little complacent but we still won 4 – 0, a clean sheet is always welcome!

One point to make is that Porto never really got going, and we were lucky that Clichy cleared their best chance off the line. They like to play attacking and keep the ball on the ground, that is our game, and we can beat anyone at that on our day. The Fulhams and Hulls of the world are teams who you need to beat to win the Premier League.

4 points now in the CL – top of Group G, so lets take this result and push on against Sunderland on Saturday – another team who will be hard to beat.

End of season. Highlights: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1. Walcott!

So a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light saw us hit 83 points, after a 24th minute goal from Theo, from great pass by Gilberto! Randall came on at the end as did Traore and they did well.

Highlights here.

We had a pretty young team out, and we should see more of these guys next season:

Fabianski

Song Senderos Djourou Clichy

Eboue (Randall 81) Denilson Silva Walcott

Adebayor Bendtner (Traore 81)

Wenger said:

“My message to Alex Ferguson is just congratulations for the achievement and get ready for the fight next year,”

“When I look back on the season I feel disappointment but to earn 83 points with such a young side gives you a lot of hope and that’s a respectable total because I’ve won titles with less. They made a big improvement when you consider last season when we earned 68 points.”

“There was a conjunction of bad luck and it was the first time this young team had to deal with big pressure so a combination of the two cost us the title,”

“Quality-wise we have been remarkable all season but we lost a 100 metres by a fraction of a second. We were on the same line but someone pushed their chest out in front of ours just at the end but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make a great 100 metres.”

We have made a huge improvement this year and I am sure we will be challenging for the title next season.

I couldn’t watch the game, I saw Wigan – Man Utd, which was boring as hell, and Man Utd ended up lifting the title, after they won 2-0 and Chelsea drew 1-1 with Bolton.

I think we deserved to win the title this year, but if not us then Man U deserve to win it more than Chelsea. But really I hate them both.

Some crazy results yesterday, Middlesbrough 8-1 Man City! Reading and Birmingham both scored 4 goals in their games, but still went down after Fulham won 1-0 at Portsmouth.

Anyway, another Premiership season comes to a close, and we have a big summer coming up. If Wenger gets the right people in and youngsters like Theo Walcott come through and play to their full potential then next season will be fantastic.

If players leave and we don’t replace then we will be in trouble.

Anyway, thanks Arsenal for a great season, we have little to show for it, but we all can remember. It has to be one of the closest seasons in the history of the Premier League, and it was pretty exciting.

Arsenal Vs. Sunderland – Youngsters to be included in team?

Arsenal face Sunderland today at 3pm British Summer Time. We have already finished in 3rd place, this match is being played for pride. If we win today we will finish on 83 points equalling our 2004-05 total according to BBC Sport. That will be the highest in the last three seasons, an improvement I think.

It looks like some young players are set to push into the squad for the game, this is an excellent opportunity for them to show what they can do. Wenger said:

“There are lot of English talents in the squad overall. We have Gibbs, Randall, the younger Hoyte, Jack Wilshere and Henri Lansbury, who might be included in the group next year.

“There is a core coming up but I cannot tell you now if all of them make it at Arsenal. But they’ll make it to be in the squad.”

Gibbs and Randall have been included in the squad for today’s game, and I hope they play. I have seen Randall play before and his talent is an exciting prospect.

Alan Green shows gives even more examples of why he is a twat here. It’s not really worth linking to, but I will, just to show you the sort of idiots the BBC employ. Just total rumour mongering about players like Gallas and Fabregas. Bollocks really.

Here’s to a win today!