TGIF:We are top of the league, say We are top of the league!

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Welcome to this week’s edition of TGIF inspired by PGL a past and much missed contributor, TGIF is a weekly round up of the stories that have captivated the Goonersphere. There has been much humble pie eaten this week by the many pundits and anti Arsenal fools as we took over top spot in the Premier league. It makes good reading, and if we can really batter the Chavs on February 7th, then we can really start to believe that we have one hand on this trophy. So without further delay, lets dive straight in.

 

The Big Issue this week has to be whether this squad has what it takes to win the Premier league this season. I was clear at the start of the season that this squad lacked the depth required to win the Championship. I felt that we needed a striker, a keeper and a holding midfielder. I had already stated that Song would be an ideal defensive midfielder in several blogs last season, Arsene Wenger towards the end of that season suggested that Song would become a centre half. The purchase of Thomas Vermaelen was a master stroke. It was a typical Wenger buy. A player who was relatively unknown, but has burst onto the Premier League stage and shown himself to be a very high quality player who apparently was not on the radar of other clubs.

As a direct result, Song’s promotion to defensive midfielder took a period of transition, but no-one can argue that Song now has this position as of merit and there is no need to bring in another player. The partnership between Gallas and Vermaelen has contributed to our success so far this season. Vermaelen plays like a midfielder and has a very high degree of technical ability. His finishing is better than one certain Adebayor who left us for Man City. Gallas has become very consistent and the understanding between these two centre backs has reinforced the defence.

Behind the back four, Almunia continues to give us all anxiety. He has lost confidence and there are times when there is evidence of frustration between the defenders and the keeper. Almunia’s return to the first squad following his absence at the beginning of the season, was only made possible by the injury to Fabianski, who I regard as a better keeper. Such a shame that we will have to suffer a mistake from Almunia which may cost us a game before Wenger will be persuaded to remove Almunia from the number one slot. Once this happens, I predict that will be the end of Almunia’s career at Arsenal Football Club, so I can understand why Arsene Wenger is willing to give the Spaniard one more chance.

Up front the injury to van Persie appeared to be a castastrophe waiting to happen. We have managed so far to compensate for his absence. Yet Eduardo is not yet firing on all cylinders. His confidence is low and he needs to score one or two decisive goals to regain his former quality finishing. Niklas Bendtner will return against Aston Villa, and as the January window closes, the opportunity for any new striker to make a difference during the four key games that will decide our chances this season seem somewhat remote. The system of offense might have to change depending upon that player’s strength, so perhaps Wenger is wise not to break a winning combination.

We have to hope that we can concentrate on strengthening our play in the area of midfield in front of the back four. I am arguing that Song’s absence at the ACN will hurt us more than van Persie’s absence. So it is vital that Denilson ups his game if he is to be played there. Other players include Craig Eastmond who despite his youth, has shown a “Keiran Gibbs” like ability to step up to the plate. It would be marvellous to see Craig try to fill Song’s place in the first team squad, as he has the potential, the quality and the desire, what he lacks is the physical presence required for that position. I am pleased that Arsene did decide to give Craig his chance, and he has a very bright future at the Club. Another player that I would like to see introduced is Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. I rate Jay very highly, his height and aerial ability will be great assets and he has real pace for a youth of his stature. So finally I will be content with what ever Wenger decides for this transfer window, for after seven league victories on the spin, Arsene Wenger has shown to all of his critics that he can deliver what is needed when all around him some Gooners express doubts and moan. Get behind the team and this man, has he not proved to you yet that Arsene Knows?

 

Not much to report from the site activity this week. There appears to be a good community growing headed by Berg10, John in Norwich, and TJ14 aided and abetted by Jimc our feisty contributor. Please feel free to comment and add your opinions which are most welcome. Don’t be put off by the occasional idiot from other sites who come on to wreck our atmosphere. I am very proud of what we are building here on Arsenalinsider.

It has to be the come back against Bolton. To take six points from these fixtures was always going to be a tough call, as the Bolton team would have analysed their weaknesses after the first game. The defensive errors that contributed to the two nil deficit were difficult to predict. The team as a whole were not even at the races for 35 minutes of the first half. It was amazing to see the transformation, helped in part by good crowd support. We were the twelth man on Wednesday night, well done you Arsenal fans who sang your hearts out when we were two nil down. We didn’t panic, we didn’t moan and the cheering as the first half ended was reminiscent of the atmosphere that occurs at the feverish end of games, not the prior to the interval.

So my performace also goes to the vocal home support who boosted the desire of our team. More of it I say!

 

“I am very proud of what the players have achieved because at the time [after the Chelsea game] it looked a little bit ludicrous to say we would come back,” he said. “Despite that, the players continued to fight with belief.

“It shows first of all that it [the title race] can change quickly and if you keep belief, no matter what people say, it can strengthen the belief in the heads of my players and get them stronger.

“We believe we have a real chance and we will have a real go. I am convinced this team will have a real go. It is very important we keep a good mixture between humility, feet on the ground and of course ambition and desire to win it.”

These are words that resonate to the core and give me for one great hope that Arsenal will lift a trophy this season. I have decided to include news from the Friday press conference under this section in TGIF from now on.

Arsene Wenger press conference pre Stoke

There was no intent at all from Gallas in the tackle… the Denilson incident against Everton was far worse. Here the Bolton player was behind the direction of play. There was a foul from Gallas, I accept that, but all we see is the slow motion of the tackle. At normal speed it is clear that there was no intent especially if you look at the angle of the foot. What is surprising is that in the two games against Bolton, there were 4 tackles that should have yielded penalties, yet there is no talk about that.”

Again Arsene nails it on the head. The disgraceful attempt by Talk Shite Sports Adrian Durham to drum up anti Arsenal sentiment this week was typical of the anti-Arsenal garbage we have come to expect from this radio station. Durham also had the cheek to suggest that Sol Campbell was being greedy suing Portsmouth FC for the 1.7 million owed for image rights and bonuses. I suppose Durham would broadcast for nothing, or perhaps he does, as I certainly wouldn’t pay him.

Injury News as delivered by Arsene.

The sad news is that Keiran Gibbs will  miss the rest of this season following the need to have surgery on his foot. Kieran suffered a depressed open fracture to his first metatarsal on his left foot during the UEFA Champions League match game against Standard Liege in November and needs a bone transplant to enable the fracture to heal. It is unclear whether this rules him out of consideration for inclusion in England Coach Capello’s squad of 26 for the World Cup to be held in South Africa this summer.

Abou Diaby our midfield dynamo suffered a calf injury during the Bolton game. He is due to have a scan today to assess the extent of his injury. He is likely to miss the Stoke, Villa and probably the Manchester United games.

Niklas Bendtner is almost back to full contention for the squad following his groin surgery and hernia repair last November. The Danish Striker should be available for selection against Aston Villa.

Fran Merida sustained a nasty ankle injury from a kick that he received almost immediately after taking to the field against Bolton last Wednesday. The injury is under assessment and the date of his return is unknown.

Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere all remain sideline for three weeks due to muscle injuries. These injuries were sustained during training.

The existing long term injuries to Johan Djourou and Robin van Persie are in the recovery phase and only van Persie looks likely to be able to return before the end of the season.

Team to face Stoke in the FA Cup?

Arsene will make his final decision about the team to play Stoke on Saturday morning. He does not know if Sol Campbell will make his second debut against Stoke. It will be fair to say that the team to play Stoke will be good enough to win the game without harming our Premier League chances. (Expect some senior players to be rested)

“The Premier League is a priority is a priority, we want to keep a positive momentum within the club so winning at Stoke is also important. The team selected will need to be ready to fight to ensure victory.”

Arsenal have scored three times as many goals as Stoke have this season, and Arsene expects us to continue to make chances. With regard to the transfer window activity

“We are really really hungry and we are going for it…(the Championship)”

“Everyone tells us to buy strikers, yet we are scoring goal after goal”

“We must be doing something right offensively. We may need cover in the transfer market, we have not found the player we want. We have quality players in the shape of Bendtner and Walcott. To bring in a new striker may change the whole balance of the squad and the system of play.”

“The chances to buy are not there because we have not found the player that we want”

So there we have it from Le Boss.

 

Owen Coyle has this without fear of any competition. His sarcasm and comments about the Gallas tackle on mark Davies were the comments of the kind of man who would stab his own loyal fans in the back at Burnley and take a ridiculous no ambition sideways move to Bolton having turned downed the cream of the SPL in the shape of Celtic. To turn down such a big club in favour of Bolton, confirms that Owen Coyle is not only confused but a fool. Only a fool would have made the comments that he did about Arsenal on Wednesday. So shove this finger where it hurts Coyle!

 

Arsenal Football Club and its steely determination to remain a prudent enterprise with minimum debt. Especially as the parent company of Man Utd revealed a 719 million debt this week. If Man Utd fail to win anything this season and were to have an early exit from the Champions League, they would step a little closer towards administration as they haven’t a hope of complying with the UEFA rules to be brought in during 2012. bye bye Wayne Rooney, you are next to be sold mate… Supporters of a Billionaire takeover at the Emirates please note!

 

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