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August 29, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/29/2011

It's taken me over an hour to begin this blog post. It's been almost impossible to know where to start after Sunday's demolition, humiliation and disgrace at Old Trafford. Losing 8-2 in any situation, in any match, at any level, is simply unacceptable by the high standards set by Arsenal Football Club. It's not like we have a divine right to not get thrashed as reputations in sport ultimately mean nothing, but no Premier League side should just accept losing 8-2 as a bad day at the office.

For Arsenal, the infrastructure of the club, the fans, the stadium, the reputation, the recent record in the league, the manager and some of the players are of an extremely high standard. However, such a defeat as we received on Sunday has been coming for a while. Despite playing well last Wednesday and raising optimism amongst fans, there are underlying issues at the club that need addressing, both in the squad and higher up the Arsenal hierarchy. It's tough for all fans to have to face the reality of the situation we're now in as a club, and we can only hope that this result is so embarrassing and humiliating for those inside the Arsenal, that those issues are now properly addressed.

It's easy to play the blame game and single out certain individuals. However that doesn't help in these situations. The club as a whole has to be looked at. It isn't the fault of the players that they're picked to play for Arsenal, that's down to the manager, the coaching staff and those who scout the players in the first place. However once on the pitch, the players should take some responsibility for it themselves. We've seen some of them do great things with a ball in the past, but for some, greatness is seen all too rarely.

August 26, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/26/2011

It only took three and a half games, but it seems Arsenal have finally got going this season. Up against it at half time in Italy against Udinese, for the first time in a long time, we saw Arsenal show some fight, unity and pride.

Potentially added to by the sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, I’ve had a feeling in the last few weeks that even when knowing its Arsenal playing, I haven’t felt like I was watching the real Arsenal. That’s been the case for a long time, stemming from our collapse at the end of last season. However the second half on Wednesday night was different. We played some good attacking football, scored the goals we needed and manage to stifle a team that had caused us problems in the both legs. There was also an epic penalty save from Wojciech Szczesny.

One half of football doesn’t mask that areas of the squad need improving, or mean that we’re suddenly world beaters, but it was great to finally see this Arsenal team stand up for themselves and make sure we remained in Europe’s elite this season.

August 22, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/22/2011

It's not quite 'save our season' time, but it's not far off. I didn't want to put too much pressure on these opening weeks of the season, but if the coming nine days are a failure on and off the pitch, then it looks like it'll be a horribly long season.

Getting into the Champions League by qualifying against Udinese on Wednesday is vitally important for the morale and the financial condition of the club. Manchester United next Sunday could see the team fall further behind in the Premier League and give us an up-hill struggle to get back in contention even at this early stage. There’s also nine days left to get the significant transfer business done, having not sorted it earlier in the summer.

The Liverpool match on Saturday saw another suspension, another injury and a defeat. Yes, we were unlucky with the injury situation and the first goal had a strong hint of offside. However we can’t just hide behind the excuse that we were unlucky. We are lacking the depth in the squad to cope with what is being thrown at us, and some of the players that are available aren’t pulling their weight.

August 19, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/19/2011

After the goalless draw with Newcastle, it felt like our season properly got going with a 1-0 win over Udinese in the Champions League qualifier. Theo Walcott opened our account for the season, giving us a lead to take to Italy for the second leg next week. However, even after only two games, our squad is worryingly thin with massive games to go in the rest of August.

Injuries, suspensions and transfers out are adding up, making the need for Arsene Wenger to re-invest the Cesc Fabregas money even greater.

From the Newcastle match last weekend, we’ve lost Gervinho and Alex Song to suspensions. Both will miss league games against Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea. All three substitutions against Udinese were enforced because of injury. Fans’ fears about Kieran Gibbs’ injury record were reinforced as he was replaced by Johan Djourou. The Swiss defender only lasted nine minutes himself before going off with a hamstring problem, before Tomas Rosicky also limped off. Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby are both still side lined with knocks.

August 16, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/16/2011

So real football is back. Just for 90 minutes we were able to stop talking about Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and watch those who seemingly want to be at the club, play in the red and white (complete with red socks!). After the defensive horrors at St James’ Park last season, all Arsenal fans would have grabbed the chance to keep a clean sheet. However, the goal scoring was also lacking, and for the most part we opened the season with a bore draw.

Given Joey Barton was on the pitch, there was always the chance that there’d be some controversy, particularly after he started the collapse last season in helping get Abou Diaby sent off. Somehow, that man annoys Arsenal to the point of petulance, which the modern Arsenal doesn’t usually show.

In 2008, Samir Nasri was new to the Premier League and had a run-in with Barton at the Emirates. It ended with Nasri tripping over the Newcastle man off the ball. Last season, when we were 4-0 up, Barton put in a needlessly strong tackle that brought an overreaction from Diaby that got him sent off. Unfortunately, the same happened on Saturday with Barton provoking reactions from Arsenal players.

August 11, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/11/2011

So the season starts on Saturday, and this is the first season that I can remember as an Arsenal fan, that I have virtually no expectations of it.

Almost every season in the Wenger years, I’ve been optimistic in the week before the season that we will win something, and that we have a great chance to win the Premier League. Not this season. Generally, I’m a positive Gooner, and always believe in Arsene Wenger and the team. Even through my extremely biased rose-tinted spectacles, I’m struggling to see how we’ll win the league this season.

I’m definitely not saying it’s impossible to see our captain, whoever that is, lifting the Premier League trophy next May, but this pre-season has left me the least confident I’ve ever been that it’ll happen in the coming season.

August 3, 2011
Posted by Sam Limbert on 08/03/2011

I’m getting bored of this. Two of my last three visits to the Emirates have ended with some fans booing the Arsenal team at the final whistle. The Aston Villa match at the end of last season wasn’t pleasant because of the reaction of the fans to that defeat, but it was understandable given the way we’d thrown away our chances of winning the league.

However Sunday was a pre-season friendly. Yes, Arsenal had thrown away a chance of silverware in the form of the Emirates Cup, but ultimately it’s a friendly tournament that I’d rather lose if it means winning a piece of major silverware.

Obviously the booing wasn’t reflecting that one match. It was a response to same problems from last season resurfacing in both matches over the weekend with just two weeks to go before the season starts, and to the small number of new signings this summer after Arsene Wenger claimed he’d be ‘very active’.

David Young Sam Limbert: My retirement as a football player came at the age of 14 due to being rubbish, it's fair to say I was more Kaba Diawara than Thierry Henry, so I turned my focus to writing about the game. I'm a lifelong Arsenal fan and have been lucky enough to watch the team across England and Europe. My favourite Gunner of all time is Dennis Bergkamp, and the 2004 Invincibles is the greatest side I've ever seen in English football. I try to be positive about the Arsenal as it's the hope that keeps us going! Follow me on twitter @SamsMatchReport.

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