October 31, 2011
There have too many occasions in 2011 that Arsenal fans have been annoyed, frustrated, embarrassed, disillusioned, or have strongly questioned the most successful manager in our history. Often those frustrations and questions have been justified, and many, myself included, thought we were seeing the beginning of an inglorious end to Arsene Wenger’s reign as Arsenal manager.
I wrote on this blog earlier in the season that I was desperate for Wenger to turn things around because of how much he gives and cares for the club. We saw on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, that he’s far from done as Arsenal manager. Our eighth win in nine games confirmed that this new team under Wenger are on the right track to salvaging something from a season that looked set to be a train wreck.
• Chelsea blog: No defence for horror matinee
Everything still isn’t perfect, we can still be defensively vulnerable, we’re still outside the top four and we drew Manchester City in the Carling Cup quarter finals, but we have pride, confidence and some real belief in this team now. The target is still the top four, suggestions that we’re now back in the title race are slightly far-fetched, but it appears the 8-2 at Manchester United can now be written off as a massive blip, and a result that wasn’t terminal for Arsenal Football Club. Lesser men and lesser clubs would have crumbled after the start to the season we had, so far it seems that doesn’t apply to Arsene and Arsenal.
October 26, 2011
As expected, Arsene Wenger made wholesale changes for the visit of Bolton in the Carling Cup. With the first team doing a good job recently in pulling us back into the top half of the Premier League, any momentum could easily have been disrupted if a team with a mixture of youth players and first teamers in need of minutes went out of the league cup at home to a struggling Bolton side.
However it seems the recent improvements are becoming infectious within the club. Those who wore the red and white on Tuesday night showed fantastic determination, put in a ton of effort and showed some excellent skills to secure a rousing victory. At 1-0 down, it was also reassuring to see the experienced players on the field really up their game and help guide the younger players through the match.
So often league cup matches can be fairly tame, giving the youngsters the space to showcase their skills, but Bolton weren’t there to make up the numbers. It was an intense, and at times physical, game, and it was fantastic to see the team show the confidence to still play good football, and dig in when needed.
October 24, 2011
This blog post has the potential to be very similar to last week. We started well, conceded a goal from a set piece and had Robin van Persie to thank as he bagged a brace to win us the match.
It may seem like it to many, but we’re not a one-man team. We’re just lucky to have a captain and striker in the form of his life, and he is rightly grabbing the headlines with some excellent performances. I would happily argue with anyone who doesn’t think Robin van Persie is the best striker in the Premier League at the moment. 25 goals in 26 league games in 2011 tells its own story.
Even with his history of injuries, I was surprised to see him rested on Sunday. With the Carling Cup in midweek, he was going to get six days off anyway. It was a slight gamble from Arsene Wenger, but it definitely paid off as van Persie only played 25 minutes, continued his great goal scoring form, won us the game and didn’t get injured. Arsene must have had a quiet, and deserved, smile to himself after the game.
October 20, 2011
I love exciting games of football. Who doesn’t? I love that in my time as an Arsenal fan, I can’t remember a sustained period of time where we haven’t played exciting football. It’s fair to say our match in Marseille on Wednesday wasn’t a thriller. Although do I care? Not really.
Our match against Blackburn was exciting and we played some good attacking football that day, but we lost and I never want to see that game again. As much as I want to always see Arsenal playing exhilarating football, at the moment I’m more than happy for us to revert to a more restrained style if it means getting results. Sometimes, as we proved last night, you can get as much satisfaction out of a good old ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ as you do out of games that in theory are more exciting.
What made the win on Wednesday even better, was that I was struggling to see how either team was going to score the longer the game went on. You only needed to look at the reaction of the travelling fans, and undoubtedly the reaction of fans in living rooms and pubs, when Aaron Ramsey scored, to know that winning away in the Champions League really matters, however it’s done. The players looked chuffed as well. Surely it’ll give them extra motivation in the league to make sure they can experience such wins in Europe next season.
October 17, 2011
It seems to me that some of the media have been quietly enjoying Arsenal's demise this season, and starting the Robin van Persie speculation was another sign of that. Captain for just two months and already there were stories that he wanted to leave the club.
After using his programme notes to dispel those rumours, he then emphasised his commitment and importance to the side with a fantastic performance to drag us out of another hole and claim an important three points.
Regardless of the speculation about his future, there had been some pundits who questioned Robin van Persie's leadership as a captain. Personally, I think that's nonsense. When the team are struggling, it's ultimately down to the captain to galvanise the players and lead by example. There is no disputing that Robin is doing that in the way he's leading the line. After giving us the lead on Sunday, van Persie was visibly calming the side down. As we looked nervous in possession, Robin could be seen with his arms aloft directing his troops.
October 4, 2011
The defeat to Liverpool was frustrating, the destruction against Manchester United was horrific, the embarrassment of Blackburn was bad, but losing to Spurs brought pain, anger, anguish, frustration and general lamenting of our season to a completely new level.
I said in my last blog that any progression in the last couple of weeks would seem almost meaningless if we lost to Tottenham. It feels like we’ve gone even further back past the Blackburn defeat. Regardless of whether the performance was good or not, it’s incredibly difficult to accept losing to shadow dwellers.
The performance wasn’t terrible as we controlled long periods of the match, however in the mind of every Arsenal fan it will be, and should be, judged as not good enough. Defensively we were too open again, didn’t convert a couple of great chances and didn’t create enough of them to get a result out of the game.