Welcome to another TGIF, which because of my work commitments is now written between Friday evening and Saturday morning. I still feel that this feature is worth producing. It gives me a chance to round up the issues of the week and comment about anything which is exercising Gooners over their pints of beer. The spirits of Arsenal have been raised by our recent resurgence. The recovery like the world economy remains fragile and not convincing, but you know what? WHO CARES? The most important thing is we are getting points on the board, and as long as we make the top four at the end of the season, who gives a damn about the manner and style of our play at the moment.
Remember Gooners, we are the mighty Arsenal, and our game will return as players grow in confidence. Take the current fuss over Aaron Ramsey. Look, Rambo is improving with almost every game, and his stumbling performance against Marseille should be forgotten as Rambo will be the heir to Cesc Fabregas. People are too quick to forget that the Welsh Wizard is still only 20 years of age and that after having to come back from a nasty career threatening injury. Rambo will prove his doubters wrong, mark my words!
The Ballon d’Or is now the accolade given to the world’s best player and represents the merger between the FIFA World Player of the Year award and France Football’s Ballon d’Or which was previously awarded to the best European and Non European player of the year. With this merger came an expanded voting constituency which now includes the coaches and captains of international teams, in addition to the original football journalists who since 1956 have voted for the original Ballon d’Or which was given to the best European player of the previous season.The award was originally conceived by France Football’s chief magazine writer Gabriel Hanot, who asked his colleagues to vote for the player of the year in Europe. In 1995 the entry of non european players was permitted. Finally from 2010 FIFA’s World player of the year was added. The Big issue for me then is why people are complaining that Robin van Persie is not in the shortlist for the ballon d’or.
Here are the nominations for the shortlist which were recently announced
Player nominees: Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).
Coach nominees: Vicente Del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United FC), Rudi Garcia (France/Lille OSC), Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Barcelona), Jurgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Low (Germany/Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay/Uruguay national team), Andre Villas-Boas (Portugal/FC Porto, Chelsea, Arsène Wenger (France/Arsenal).
The FIFA website states
The candidates for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award and for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award have been unveiled (see below), and the final decisions will be made by the captains and head coaches of the men’s national teams as well as by international media representatives selected by France Football.
The lists of 23 male candidates as well as the list of ten coaches have been drawn up by football experts from the Football Committee, the Technical and Development Committee and by a group of experts from France Football.
On 5 December 2011, FIFA and France Football will hold a media event in Paris during which they will announce the names of the three men and three women, as well as the three men’s coaches and three women’s coaches, who have received the most votes.
What seems to be obvious is that International team performances count heavily as the numbers represented by the World Champions Spain seems to indicate. Robin van Persie’s recent streak cannot count towards this year’s Ballon d’Or as explained above. So let’s hope that he will be the benefactor next season. So who will win this year’s award? In my humble opinion there can only be one winner. Xavi of Barcelona is the man who orchestrates the midfield potency of the Champions of Europe. In 2010 he made 50 appearances and scored 5 goals, His assists were the third highest in La Liga behind Lionel Messi at 11. Internationally at the World Cup he had an 89% passs completion rate and he was unsurpassed in total of passes attempted, passes completed, corners attempted (47), corners completed (26), and deliveries in the penalty area.
Victory over Chelsea at the Bridge
The win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was a cause for celebration last Sunday, and the manner of the victory was a mixture of farce and finesse. In the first ten minutes I tweeted that our defence was woeful, and we could easily have been three goals down. However as they say football is a funny game and in the second half, we absolutely slaughtered Chelsea. Petr Cech had goals conceded at his near post, and John Terry still at the centre of a media firestorm over alleged racist comments to Anton Ferdinand of QPR, made yet another stumble. But this slip will be forever immortalised in photos that allow camera angles to suggest that Terry was bowing down in reverance to the mighty Robin van Persie. Compared to his fall whilst taking a penalty in the Champions League final in 2008 against Manchester United, the slip was far more amusing.
It led me to compose a rather naughty song to the tune of The Children’s marching Tune for the Nursery rhyme.
Arsenal 5 Chelsea 3, Be in awe of van Persie!
With a slip, oops, on yer knees, looking for a bone…
Terry gets ready for Ashley’s phone!
If you do not understand the reference to Ashley’s phone, then frankly I cannot help you…lol
The man of the match was undoubtedly Robin van Persie, but we need to spare a mention for Koscielny who has single handedly saved Arsenal from conceded several goals. His blocks, covering runs and retrievals have provided the foundation for this current run. In association with Szczesny, we now look as though we can start to defend consistently. Pert Mertesacker is like the proverbial Curate’s egg described in George du Maurier cartoon “True Humility“, printed in the British satirical magazine Punch, on 9th November 1895 where a Curate had been given an egg that was inedible but instead of saying something bad, he decided to be polite and suggested that the egg remained excellent or good in parts. Mertesacker’s tendency to go to ground so easily is a weakness, and his aerial presence is inconsistent, but he is a no nonsense dispatcher of the ball to row z in order to relieve pressure on the defence. I am still firmly of the view that Gary Cahill is required as the German is an improvement, but not the best that we could have bought. But seeing as Arsene Wenger had to resort to panic last minute buys in the transfer window, we had no alternative after the 8 goal drubbing by Manchester United.
Arsenal AGM and Silent Stan
A last word on the AGM last month. The Board’s performance was nightmarish and comical, in the end, the Board had to be rescued by the one man Corporate Group – Mr Wenger The amount of hostility shown to the Board by the astonished fans should not be understated. There was a really angry atmosphere. Now not only does Arsene Wenger run the Club, he also helps decides the prices of the Season Tickets or did he make that up? Ivan Gazidis was his usual affable self, he was proud that the only debt left was the stadium loan, easily affordable over the long term.
Everyone talked about “that Speech” made by Arsene Wenger, it was a call to arms, and it contained some humility in that he accepted the blame for aspects of the poor performance of the club, but again we have to trust him as divided we fall. The win against Chelsea may well have been inspired by the speech who knows? But as excellent an oratory that it was, what it had in passion was undermined by the absolute lack of any sign of change. Trust in Arsene was the message.
Silent Stan should have stayed silent. To express vocal support for his beleaguered Chairman was ill judged. Silence would have won him more friends, but to throw your hand in with a lame duck is to invite doubts about your judgement. He started in the worst possible way by admitting that he was not quite sure why he had been asked to say a few things. But he finished by saying that he loved London, he and his wife were glad to be here and we had better get used to seeing them around the place.
One would think that Kroenke’s advisor’s would have told him to be more cautious with his comments, but after that rousing game at Chelsea, He was keen to make his mark. He addressed the team at London Colney and later gave a press interview where he supported the Glazer takeover of Manchester United. He pointed out to be fair that he had never taken money out of any of his sport franchises, but being the cynic that I am, I would add YET to that sentence. In his interview he reiterated the fact that he was was someone who was going to seek success by throwing dollars against the wall, and that fans would prefer the success based upon developing young players rather than buying in expensive ready made stars. Oh my Stan, please be silent…
Our Contributor Mark Brus got an absolute roasting for suggesting that the display of Arsenal against Marseille midweek was lack lustre. I have to disagree, not because I want to be popular but when one considers the adrenaline high and the exertion that a Sunday game would expend before a Tuesday Champions League fixture, then I think that the players did well. We got a vital point, and we must not forget that it was Arsene Wenger’s pick to have a different striker, and unfortunately the chances went begging in the first half. I am not too worried, as last season, qualifying early did us no favours I seem to recall, and I would much rather forfeit the Worthless Cup and field a strong team in the Champions League. I would even jettison the FA Cup as the most important priority has to be the top four in my opinion.
December will be decisive for us
Normally for Gooners it is the month of November that heralds bad tidings. Over the years I have hated this month as we seemed to have stumbled. This November however gives us a run of games that should, and might see us sitting in the top five by mid December. We can but hope. Arsene is right to say that if we are still in touch by December, then a good run from March onwards will see us qualify in the top four. We have WBA , Norwich and Fulham, for November, followed by Wigan, Everton and Manchester City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and finally QPR for December. I would argue that we can get 21 of the 27 points on offer which should get us very close to the top four.
The last thing that should creep in is complacency
Same squad as against Marseille
SAF – 25 yrs managerial career, remarkable record of staying at the same club
Next four team games means lots of points? We need to maintain the desire to improve collectively. Quality of our attitude and quality of our spirit
RvP will play from the start.
Abou Diaby several weeks away.
No one is guaranteed a top four place after only ten games. Let everyone else talk, and we play.
By Christmas if we can stay in a strong position we will have played our major contenders away.
Almunia’s contract is up soon, he would like to play to show how good he is, but we have plenty of keepers at the club.
Defensive weaknesses – I believe that we have improved. Our record is not good. Koscielny had a groin problem, but Vermaelen is fit.
The Baggies have good ,memories after their last 3-2 win over Arsenal, and even though they are lying 13th in the league with 11 points, Arsenal would be very silly to think that after Chelsea, the Albion will be a push over. It is games like these that Arsenal will have the chance to restore their greatness and instil fear into teams below them. If we can take our chances and use the pace of Walcott and his excellent crosses, then Robin van Persie will have the opportunity to increase his tally this season. That is not being disrespectful to West Bromich Albion either. They always play attractive football, but they are without their Austrian striker Scharner who picked up a knee injury against Kenny Dagleish’s resurgent Liverpool side.
Ray Hodgson cannot understand the furore over Arsene Wenger, whom he admires and feels that Arsenal failing is just unthinkable with the Frenchman at the helm. In his press conference he remarked
“I put those moments when even people like Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are called into question as one of the amusing aspects of the job,”
“Arsene has had a chance, after the upheavals of the summer with Fabregas and Nasri, to accept it is time to move on from those players and to bring new players in.
“Those new players are bedding in better and better, at least if you look at the results it would seem that way because they are doing very well at the moment.”
Form guide: Arsenal: WLWWW West Brom: LLWWL
We are in a good place at the moment, and whilst not wanting to be over confident. to have turned our form around is down to Arsene Wenger (F&C Performance of the week award ), the team collectively and Robin van Persie (Barclays Player of the Month) individually.
My prediction Arsenal 3 WBA 0
West Bromich Albion will try to exploit set pieces, and use their passing game to bypass our back four high line. The exertions of Santos and the willingness of Jenkinson to keep trying despite being short of defensive experience in his position at the highest level, will be crucial. Szczesny is our secret weapon, as he helps organise the defence. the return of Vermaelen gives me the confidence that Arsenal will today mark up their fourth clean sheet out of eleven games. In four seasons Szczesny will be number one keeper in the world!
“There is no chance [of Arsenal finishing above Spurs],” said Van der Vaart. “We’re better. We’re [on a run of] six games and one draw. We won six times. So no, I’m not afraid of Arsenal. I think we have the better squad. We have a bigger squad.”
Arsene should enlarge this quote and pin it up on the wall of the chnaging rooms to remind the players what is at stake this season. There will be no better motivation methinks.
I make no apologies for playing this video over and over and over again!
Terry fall, RvP scores!!!
have a good week Gooners! I’m off to the game.