TGIF: We are making progress at last

PGL: Well good morning good morning! It good to be a Gooner at the moment, no? We look a different side now to the one that lost to Fulham and Hull. Confidence has been restored and that sickening 4-4 draw with the Totts seems a world away from where we are now. Arshavin will return to the side for the game against the Pie Eaters and I really feel he’s benefiting from not having to play in Europe. The physical side of the Prem takes its toll and few can adjust quickly but I think not having to play every three days is helping our Russian Raider to acclimatise.
On this day in 1948 Arsenal clinched their sixth League championship as Don Roper scored in a 1-1 First Division draw at Hudderfield Town, just thought I’d share that little nugget… On to the week that was!
PGL: So are we glass half empty or glass half full this week? 1-1 away is always a good result in the CL but lets be realistic, the Yellow Submarine are not sunk. They are capable of coming here and scoring. We didn’t start well on Tuesday, well maybe that’s unfair Villareal started really well. Losing Almunia and Gallas left us rattled and uur midfield formation didn’t seem right. Personally I much rather seeing Cesc start the play. He was a bit lost in the first half, though I’m sure match fitness may have contributed to that, but in the second he came deeper and we played much better. But I won’t drone on about the tie cause I’m sure most
of us have dissected it enough already.
There is one concern I have right now and it’s about Theo. You always read/watch his interviews and come away saying ‘that guy really has his feet on the ground, really humble…’ but is that what makes a great player? Walcott has everything to be world class what’s missing for me is the self-belief of someone like Rooney or Messi. Theo do me a favour mate, believe the hype… at least a little bit more, you are that good, you don’t always need to look inside be a bit more greedy, back yourself a bit more then I think the world and us Gooners will worship at your feet!
FTK: The glass is very much half full PGL, to have a foot in each major Cup competition with a realistic chance of making the final of at least one of them is a wonderful renaissance for Arsene Wenger. The position has been helped by a degree of good fortune with football results going our way. Aston Villa lie six points behind us, and even if we were to lose to Man U and Chelsea which is most unlikely, we have such a superior goal difference that it is worth an extra point. I do want gooners to be realistic however, and this is not a case of just turning up against teams like Wigan and Portsmouth.
I believe that Arsene Wenger is right the squad has developed belief, but why oh why after the start of last season did it take so long? Many Gooners have ridden the rollercoaster of emotion that is Arsenal, and a small minority have leapt off in disgust. I can understand the frustrations, and whilst it is easy to call for patience, the players must also look at themselves. We will now see whether this squad becomes further motivated by the proximity of a real chance to win silverware. I do hope so!
PGL: So this week the Denilson row continues. Fu*k me I’m tired of this one. The lad is our most improved player but certainly not our player of the year. Those who think he’s great overstate his performances and those who dislike him only see the negatives… please
Insiders a bit of objectivity on this one. He’s got the quality but there are things he must improve on, simple, it’s not worth a nation of Gooners falling out about.
Now on to the other player that divides us like no other… Adebayor. On Tuesday he got on his bike and slammed the ball into the back of the net. It was an amazing goal, top drawer and show the lad has it all in his locker. But unfortunately he’s also got the side that we saw at Everton this season, the bitch and moan, no effort, a lazy side and that’s why he divides us so.
Personally I think his spell on the sidelines has opened his eyes. I think this season he thought he was the star man that everything had to come through… but without him we’ve done well, maybe it was the kick in the ass the lad needed. He said after the game that the side are ‘growing as a family’ well Ade keep scoring and keep your attitude right and you’ll part of the Arsenal family for a long time to come.
FTK: Denilson will be a great Arsenal player in the future, I predict that this season will have enabled him to develop a good insight into his weaknesses. I support the notion that he is the most improved player of the season. His performance against Fulham was way below standard. I was not alone in wondering why Arsene Wenger persisted with him. I feel that it was a combination of no real alternatives, together with his predicted form. It was an amazing move by Arsene Wenger. He knows how to nurture talent. Several players have had poor performances during moments of over expectation. Eboue, and Aaron Ramsey among them. The very angry fans have not helped by voicing their disgust, this is something I dislike intensely. Some fans are louder in their criticism than their praise or encouragement. Losing is a very disappointing, but Arsenal Football Club do not have a divine right to win every game. I would ask fans to be as consistent in their generation of noise as they expect the players to be on the pitch.
Coming back to your earlier comments about Theo Walcott and his need to believe more in himself. This is in part due to him not having enough tricks to go past players in close proximity, he is developing these now, and the wonderful pirouettes that we saw on offer against Man City are a clue that he is working hard to address these issues. His crossing has improved, and his decision making with regard to scoring has also improved. But he has not had many opportunities since his return from Injury. Theo Walcott is an amazing player and his potential is immense. His pace is electric and if he could strike the ball from long range with more confidence, he would make the step up to the next stage. I think that he will learn a lot from Andrey Arshavin who has pace and finishing.
As for Adebayor, he has either been practicing his finishing on the practice ground, or he is putting an extra special effort to ensure that he gets a big move away from the Emirates this summer. His goal was special and I regard it as the best goal that I have seen him score. Some fans believe the stunning long range shot against Tottenham was the best, but Adebayor has received a 30 yard aerial pas from Cesc, he controlled it with a wonderful first touch. Something that I have criticized him regularly for in the past. He teed the ball up to enable him to perform an angled bicycle kick. This was where the skill lay. Any of you who have played the game and have tried this skill will understand me when I say that it took supreme focus to direct the ball into the only area that would score a goal. The angle of attack, the need to keep the ball down, and of course the fact that he only had a small window of opportunity to execute the kick. Well done mate!, now lets see more desire to score by staying on side!
“I believe as well we have lost Manuel Almunia three weeks and we lost Gael Clichy for two weeks with a back problem. We lost three players on Tuesday night so we have to once again rely on the depth in the squad – that is quite strong. As well we have to rely on our mental strength because until now we have dealt well with all our injury problems.”
PGL: This time last season I don’t think AW could have said that, that we had depth in the squad, but now it looks like we’ve got the right sort of numbers to cope with most situations. Two good keepers, 4 CB’s that we can rely on, an improving midfield with Cesc and Arshavin the cherry on top of that cake, and upfront Vela, Eddie, RVP, Ade and Bendy give us far more options than we had last year, our squad started weaker than last terms but with the additions AW made, Djourou’s emergence and other squad player making good progress maybe we’ll end up finishing with a stronger squad than last season?
FTK: Many fans are frustrated by our frequency of injuries. Arsene Wenger is right that this squad has coped well with the frequency and length of injury to key players. To have been without Fabregas for so long and still remain in contact with the our rivals as well as still being in two major Cup competitions is an achievement not to be understated. Keiran Gibbs is a very good stand in for Clichy but still needs some tactical awareness which is where Silvestre will help, and Fabianski has shown on Tuesday night in Spain that he is poised to make a good contribution. Losing Gallas is a real blow, but Djourou seems to be getting better with every game, So the French speaking defensive quartet is not in danger of being weakened. As for the squad being stronger than last season, I can understand your reasoning given that the team has managed to stay in touch with fourth place, but we have other young players who have not had the opportunity to gain first team experience. My position remains consistent that this squad was weaker than last season. We have undoubted high quality in our ranks but Jack Wilshere, Carlos Vela and Fran Merida are players that I expect much of in their future Arsenal careers. They need time to develop, make their mistakes and hopefully learn from the first team exposure.
However it took the real quality of an experienced player like Arshavin to prove my point that we needed an injection of a world class player to help the team believe in themselves. We have gone from having a team of five or six world class players (Seaman, Vieira,Pires,Campbell, Bergkamp, Henry) to one containing three maybe four at most. (Gallas, Clichy, Fabregas, van Persie) Only Kolo Toure remains from the original Invincibles of 2003/4. The loss of Lehmann, Henry, Hleb, and Flamini  has hurt us in my view, not just from the lack of experience that the youth miss in being able to look up too and learn from, but these players knew had individual qualities that would help turn a game when we needed it. We do not have many match winners at the moment, and this is the problem.
PGL: My performance of the week goes to our stand in ‘keeper on Tuesday night. That double save showed a glimpse of our young custodians talent. Fabianski was solid and composed behind a defense who had just lost arguable our player of the season Gallas (yes I did just say that!). I think next season Alumnia will still be number one but will be pushed all the way by the young Pole. This is a great thing for the club. Keepers need
competition as much if not more so than outfield players to keep them focussed.
FTK: Two performances for me this week, The Away Support again excelled themselves, despite having been put in one of the most distant and high vantage points in the El Madrigal ground. The noise that they made throughout the game even after the goal scored by marcos Senna and the loss of key players was amazing. My other performance goes to Adebayor for his amazing goal. Addy… take a bow my son!
PGL: ohhhh this one is easy! I’m giving the finger to Anfield. I wouldn’t say I was up for anyone on Wednesday night in the Liverpool v Chelsea game but I was overjoyed that the Kop was silenced. I’m sick to the teeth of Scousers talking about ‘Fortress Anfield…
nobody can beat us at home in the Champions League blah blah LA! blah blah blah’. We won the league in your back yard fellas, maybe it was 20 years ago but don’t forget it. So a big middle finger from PGL! Also a sneaky, scratch the nose middle finger to Barry
FTK: My Friday Finger goes to the Norwegian referee on Tuesday night Mr Tom Henning Ovrebo, whose peformance in the El Madrigal was just a little inconsistent. For Arsenal to have had four players booked whilst Villareal not receive a single caution was bizarre. Was it that his yellow cards clashed with their strip or what ffs? I wonder if the objects being thrown at Fabregas will also cease to exist. Do I sound paranoid? damned right…!
PGL: This week I’m thankful that we are in a different position defensively than we we’re last year. At around this stage we lost Sagna and the defense looked a mess at times. This year we’ve lost Gallas and we know Djourou will be solid. They say hindsight is a perfect science but looking back now it easy to see why AW plumped for Silvestre too, left side and CB cover and with Clichy out for a couple of weeks the ex-Utd man could play an important role in the next few games.
FTK: I am thankful for the return of Fabregas, who despite not being match fit, showed with his range of passing accuracy why we need him to take us onto that next level.

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