Friday 13th strikes TGIF - AAAGHHHH!

FTK Note: The curse of Friday 13th well and truly struck TGIF today, but here it is, better late than never, the LOUD, the PROUD, TGIF… yay!!!!
PGL:I always find it a bit odd facing into a weekend when we don’t have a game. What am I supposed to do with myself? Answers on the back of a postcard… Anyway with on the international nonsense going on it’s been a bit of a slow week on the Arsenal News front. Eddie is back and we’ve seen Arshavin in training on and Eboue has forgiven us! This week we welcome guest Kunal, all the way from India, to the TGIF so lets get stuck in!
PGL:  The Derby game left me in a strange mood. On one hand we all knew it was a must win that we drew, on the other hand, going a man down at Sh*te Hart Lane and coming away with a point showed there is character in the side, something I admit I feared had left us.
Eboue’s actions were unforgivable. He’s pantomime behaviour was truly embarrassing. You could tell underneath it all there was a desire to perform for fans that turned their backs on him in the final minutes of that infamous Wigan clash and although that may go some way to explain his actions it in no way excuses them. My feeling is Mr. Wenger will still not move him on, he will be at the club next year, all we can do is pray he learns.
AH: Hey guys, it’s has been a while, or feels it at least, since i have been about. So, Buenos dias amigos and a warm welcome to our guest today.
Sadly since i was last here chatting we have slid to a series of draws that have undermined our title challenge, probably terminally, and left us having missed good opportunities to close on the clubs above us. That said, we have looked very good defensively of late, especially at the shit-hole with 10 men. This season, thus far, to me looks like 2 chapters. In the first we were playing great football – we really were early in the season – but couldn’t defend. After that, we have defended well, but not had enough fit attackers to capitalise on that. In honesty i think Ade’s decline in play has hurt us, put the ade of last year in this side and we would really be challenging.
That is the thing, for me at least, the difference between where we are and what would be a really good position is 3 games. Just 3 losses won, or even draws turned into wins and we would be in the thick of the title race. When you consider the internal fractures this season, injuries, adversity and our youth i actually find that very comforting.
The season is still far from over though, at least we have the cups to go for. If we can get healthy and retrun to our flowing football whilst maintaining this defensive stability then look out. Also, remember that our best ever CL campaign came when we struggled domestically and could focus entirely on Europe. We also saw that year a group of young kids come through by winning big games against top teams whilst they learnt to do the ugly things in the league, sound familiar?
KUNAL: Hello fellow insiders. This is my first time in here, so hope it goes well. The Big Issue according to me at this point of the time haunting Wenger dreams is the top four finishers, which considering the look of things is looking a remarkable thing to achieve in itself, rest keep up our illusionary title hopes. Villa seems to be getting the good results every time which they deserve to and we keep dropping the points like apples from the tree. The impact of it can be (and I fear) devastating if any of Fabregas, RVP or Theo decides to look for Champ League somewhere else. They are the real Arsenal according to me, and aren’t we missing them dearly.
I have to agree with AH that we have improved our defence a lot from the start of the season. Spuds went lucky with the card lover referee, the disallowed goal, the foolish Eboue, and the Adebayor injury. Though Bendtner played a good part towards the end, he had better control and nearly got us the winner. Bendtner has proved me wrong with his improvement, I am starting to like him for once J.
So we have grown defensively, but with that we have lacked creativity to open up other teams at the right time in the right games. We are not pushing Villa enough to pressurise them that can make them lose points. Villa is playing freely without any pressure, they are the underdogs, whatever they achieve will be an achievement and thats what is separating us from the Villians.
But very soon our attack force shall be back, but until then we have to hang on in each competition. I hope Arshavin brings in that extra bit that we have been lacking. And come March we shall be playing the best in the Europe once again.
FTK: Good rallying call AH, but with regard to the Champions League, Barcelona are playing the kind of football we would die for at the moment. There is no way that we would beat them unless it was a one off in the final with everyone fit. In fact, this is the thing that hurts so many Arsenal fans. We are so inconsistent yet even our best performances have not echoed the flowing beautiful game of last season. Having said that, the team have done well without Cesc Fabregas and I had expected us to be further off the pace, so thank goodness for small mercies. The Eboue situation has now gone beyond what I consider acceptable. I do not accept his apology, I am sick of Eboue, his inclusion has been at the detriment of other younger players and frankly the sooner that he leaves the club the better. I have some sympathy with the views of PGL who thinks that Eboue will still be here after the summer. Arsene Wenger is clearly an Eboue fan, one of a distinct
minority I’m afraid.
FTK: My point of debate on leadership was vigorously contested and I thank everyone including Maria for their contributions! There appeared to be a groundswell of feeling in agreement with Arsene over this one. Not that I have major problems with Le Boss over this. I understand his argument, and in a sense I was being slightly mischievous. But there were important parallels to be drawn from the assessment of earlier Arsenal sides that lead the Premiership as compared with our current squad. Those teams had several exceptional talents within the team, each of whom would pop up at some time to influence the game. The players were of such quality and conviction that they were all leaders in their own right. Contrast that with our relatively non established group of young players. The point that I wanted to make was that these players are growing up without the influence of very established world stars around them. No Bergkamp, no Vieira, or Thierry Henry.
Robin van Persie is the closest we possess to that era. I still feel that the likes of Denilson, Bendtner and Adebayor especially should be performing much better given the time that they have had at the club. I don’t see the will to win that we needed to climb the top four and I fear that we will now be in for our worse ever season’s total of points for some time come the end of the season. A far cry from the aspirations of Arsene Wenger at the end of last season.
AH: I’m still catching breath form the rant above, plus i haven’t been online enough to know what the mood/issues are now. The only thing i would say, is that playing Gallas Toure indicates to me that focus has shifted towards Europe this year, where pace, experience and reading of the game will be paramount. Djourou isn’t playing, I think, because Wenger wants those two for the Champs League, where being strong in the air isn’t as important.
KUNAL: I think Wenger went in for the experience against the Spuds,  it was a derby game after all and the last thing we wanted was a leaky goal. Gallas and Toure have seen it all before. Gallas did a great professional Job against the Spuds, he seems to be getting into the right track eventually after losing in with the armband. Though I feel Toure needs to up his game a lot, he has to prove himself better than Djorou, who according to me deserves to play too. Djourou has had an excellent season till now and posess a great future ahead.
PGL: Hot debate yesterday as FTK out a different spin on why we should be called the Red Army! My feelings on collective leadership is this…
Collective leadership is fine in a team with many leaders, in a team with Sol, Paddy, TH14, DB10, Bobby P. Those types of players weren’t asked to be leaders they became leaders with experience. And by leaders I don’t me screaming at those around them I mean stepping up at crucial times in games, making those around them step up. Right now we don’t have a midfield player fit that can do this so I believe the idea of collective leadership is wrong for the side right now but with Cesc Rosicky and Arshavin it will be different. My feeling is AW wasn’t talking about the current first 11 (which does lack leadership) but rather the entire squad.
“I don’t know [how many games we can afford to lose] because it depends on how many games the others lose,” said Wenger. “A three-pointer is not necessarily linked with the number of games you lose but it is also linked with the number of draws. “When you lose more games you can less afford the draw and you are always in the position where you have to gamble with half an hour or 20 minutes to go. “In a three-point system, the number of games you win is much more important.”
AH: It would be tough to say that the team didn’t try, or the manager was timid. However, can you honestly say that we gambled for wins? Personally i think that Wenger, due to the media and fans abuse/impatience, felt that the team were better served not losing and having confidence knocked, getting booed, or being slaughtered in the media. He may have been right of course, but in real terms we have 3 points from the last 3 games, we could have got that losing two but being adveturous enough to win one. As i said above though, in my mind we are getting geared up for a full on assault on the Champions Leaue and keeping clean sheets is crucial for that, so to confidence. History can still be made this year guys, so lets get and stay behind the team. (How about bumping the chavs out of europe by winning the cup, just for nark value?)
PGL: Its strange going back to this quote (December 12th) looking at the run of results since.
FTK: Well my take on this quote is that is the usual Wengeresque analysis which states the obvious but does not point to a solution explaining why our team cannot achieve. Many fans will not find these words comforting as they want to see results based upon desire and fight. I alluded to the fact that some of our younger players are extremely well paid for the output that they provide. What a pity that they didn’t turn up in those vital first half performances that would have converted draws into wins. Our first half performances this season have been the most inconsistent that I can ever remember. Perhaps actually this is the key, rather than leaving it until the second half last minute goals.
KUNAL: I can’t really add to all of that other than to say, Keep the faith!
PGL, FTK, AH and KUNAL all give this weeks performance of the week to the Arsenal Supporters Trust.
(Tony I think here we should highlight again the fact the Arsenal Supporters Trust went to Parliament and give them the performance of the week from all of us. Vic’s Article seemed to slide under the radar of Insiders the other day and I think it’s important we highlight the trust. Could your right a summary of the events of the day and link to the AST website?)
KUNAL: My Friday Finger goes to EBOOOOOOOOOOue. F*cking d*ckhead moron, who let himself , the club , the manager, the fans and his team-mates down YET AGAIN. I wish Theo be back soon, and alas Mr Whiner will get his deserved place on the bench.
PGL: This week I’m giving the finger to the football rich list published this week. It’s quite sickening to see these sort of things announced in the current financial climate. Many of us are worrying about our jobs etc and yet clubs who’s ticket prices rise by the season in spite of the national economic situation, post huge profits. What’s even worse is the top two on the list post these profits on the back of having massive debt. It p*ssed me right off.
FTK: My Friday finger also has to go to Eboue I’m afraid, that apology was so stage managed and insincere and an insult to the fans as far as I am concerned. It was more about trying to prevent him being booed at the next game than any contrite admission of guilt. Having said that, the pity is that this had been Eboue’s best start to a game in a long time, but he is experienced enough to realise how important that game was too us, and I’m sorry I just don’t buy his excuses.
AH: Anyone who has refused to acknowledge that in the last 2 games Denilson then Song were clearly the best players on teh pitch, or at least very very good. We have a great core of young talent, these players are the solution not the problem this year and for years to come: Denilson, Song, Djourou, Vela, Walcott, Nasri and the rest. Lets give the kids the backing they deserve and stop the abuse.
AH: The prospect of two home games in the cup against lower league teams and the rest of teh month playing every game at home whilst the cavalry gets fit. Then bring on Roma, London’s first Champions League begins there.
KUNAL: Thanks to PGL for putting up with me! Its been great guys.
FTK: For once the weather…lol The postponement of the FA cup game meant that we had more time to recover and integrate Arshavin into our squad! Even though he will not be available on Monday, he is a salivating prospect for the Sunderland game!
PGL: This week I’m thankful that for the news that Theo will be back soon. His pace has been sorely missed. I don’t expect him to come back and single handedly change the side but we really miss the threat he poses down the flanks.

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