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Posted by Sam Limbert on 04/09/2012

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the media focus after Sunday's match has been on Manchester City's fading title challenge, and a certain Italian striker. However this being an Arsenal blog, it's time to redress the balance and give our team the credit they deserve for a fantastic win.

The victory wasn't without its difficulties, mainly of our own making with some interesting finishing in front of goal, however no-one could deny that we deserved to win and outplayed and outclassed our opponents. On paper, the match was between two teams with completely different philosophies on running a football club, with one attempting to buy the best players, and the other having a self-sustaining business model. There was also one team chasing the title, and the other 13 points behind them in a scrap for the top four. If you were an outside observer watching the game, you'd never have guessed correctly which club was which.

We looked like the team that were chasing the title because we actually were intent on attacking to try and win the game. It's been a while since we were involved in the title race right until the end of the season, but we know as Arsenal fans that in these sorts of games, you need to make a statement. City didn't do that. It was partly because we didn't allow them to. Arsenal put the QPR defeat behind them and played with the confidence that comes with winning seven games in a row. However, Manchester City again came to the Emirates and were mainly concerned with defending.

It was such a relief to see Mikel Arteta’s stunning long range effort fly past Joe Hart, because the visitors’ negative tactics were punished, and the team that actually looked like they wanted to attack, won. For a team that have spent so much money on attacking talent, and had to realistically win after Manchester United’s victory, it baffled me to see City be so defensive again. They did it last season at the Emirates and got away with a 0-0. I’m glad they didn’t this time.

Wojciech Szczesny was almost redundant for 90 minutes (apart from supposedly drinking a beer thrown on the pitch), whereas at the other end, whilst we didn’t create loads of chances, the ones we did make were fantastic opportunities.

Robin van Persie is in a goal drought by his extremely high standards this season, however he was genuinely unlucky to not find the net against Manchester City. His first half header was comfortably going in, but for Thomas Vermaelen. It’s hard to blame the Belgian as he was just making an eager run towards the back post and was definitely didn’t intend to get in the way of the shot. Van Persie then hit the post with another header in the second half. That was a more difficult chance than some pundits have made it out to be. It was another excellent pass by Song, and van Persie had to watch the ball float over his head, whilst losing the defender, and then have to generate power and accuracy with the header. To hit the post was unlucky.

The skipper then had a goal disallowed for offside. The linesman deserves credit for getting that decision right as it was a very tight call, however it’s frustrating to see Chelsea score two outrageously offside goals in the same weekend. After Robin hit the woodwork twice, we then doubled that tally as a team in one unbelievable scramble. Walcott’s low effort was tipped onto the post, Vermaelen then slipped and Benayoun somehow scuffed it wide via the outside of the post. There was a feeling that it was going to be one of those days where we play really well, but somehow manage to fluff our chances.

I've talked a lot on this blog this season about players taking responsibility, and making things happen themselves instead of looking to others to do it for them. Mikel Arteta typifies that new attitude of the majority of our squad. Even late in the game, he was willing to close City players down high up to the pitch, and doing this enabled him to win the ball for the winning goal. After his tackle on Pizarro opened up the space in front of him, it would have been easy for Arteta to dally on the ball and try and pass the ball out wide, instead his immediate thought was to go for goal. In his last two games at the Emirates, Arteta has produced two of the sweetest strikes imaginable. We've wanted him to shoot from distance more, and now he's proving why. People have been critical of Arteta for not scoring many goals, but he now has six in the Premier League from a deep midfield role. That's also more than David Silva and Samir Nasri have scored each for Manchester City in the league this season, making Arteta's goal return look more impressive.

Our collective midfield unit once again showed that what they might lack sometimes in skill, they're more than willing to make up for it by working hard and chasing the opposition down. The midfield trio of Song, Arteta and Rosicky probably weren't plan A when we sold Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, but are they doing a good job for the team? Undoubtedly. They might just be temporary gap fillers until Ramsey and Wilshere are ready to start regularly either because of form or injury, but at the moment the current trio look to be cementing their place in the side for the long term. In terms of reputation, wages and transfer fees, our midfield should have been over-run, but as they have done repeatedly in the second half of the season, Song, Arteta and Rosicky didn't let that happen.

Aaron Ramsey has been a hot topic of debate for some Arsenal fans, and his introduction ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain will have frustrated many. His miss at the end was also distinctly dodgy. However I still think people need to be patient with Ramsey. In recent weeks, he been played out of position, but has still been getting himself heavily involved. We'd be more frustrated if he was playing but not seeing the ball and not working hard to get it. His finishing does need a lot of work, but when that improves, I think he can be one of the best attacking midfielders in the league. It might take time, but he can do it.

A word for the defence. Whilst City weren't overly ambitious going forward, we still snuffed out any danger that came close to our area. Koscielny and Vermaelen's partnership continues to improve. The team had clearly worked on tightening things up after the slip at QPR.

It's hard to not mention Mario Balotelli when writing about this game. His three tackles on Bacary Sagna were bad enough, but the one on Song made me apoplectic with rage. We've had some bad luck with injuries in recent seasons, but we got a huge amount of good luck that Alex Song didn't have his leg broken. It was a disgraceful tackle, and we can only hope the FA will revisit the tackle and make sure those sort of challenges are eradicated from the game.

We deserved to win the match, and are in a good position heading into the final stretch of the season in terms of the top four. Third is definitely still within our reach, as is a higher points total than last season. The improvement hasn't been as big as we'd have wanted, but Arsene Wenger has overcome a lot this season to improve this team. Whilst we'd obviously prefer to be in Manchester City's position in the league, as an outsider looking in, our team is much more together and the ethos within the squad is better, and a lot of the credit for that has to go to Wenger and to who he brought into the club.

We have to follow this result up with a good performance at Wolves on Wednesday. Even though they look doomed, we only have to think back to the defeat at Loftus Road to know that away games at relegation battlers aren't easy. While others have been concerning themselves with the title, Arsene Wenger has quietly got Arsenal back up the table. If we continue on this rate of improvement, we might be back in the title spotlight next season.

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Posted by Troy on 04/09/2012

I honestly believe we can win trophies next year if Wenger invests. What do you think?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. We're getting there. Some investment will help, and next season we can be looking at the cups, and possibly the league, although we need to be realistic and know that we're still a considerable distance off the top.

Posted by Arsenal Station on 04/09/2012

Not so sure we're that far off. Since October 1st, we've been 2 points better than City and only six points off ManU. I actually think we are 2 players and a RvP extension away from being realistic (i.e., down to the last weekend) contenders for the title. And since it seems that Podolski and M'Vila will be joining in the summer, challenging next season is a real possibility (as is RvP re-signing considering our first strong finish to a season in what seems like forever).

Posted by kimo on 04/09/2012

Investment is tricky. The current squad has a ton of dead weight that when cut can open up salary increases for the remaining squad (think RVP) as well as make us more competitive with salaries for transfer targets.

We don't need more than 3-4 players tops at key positions to give us a solid 2-deep on the pitch. It will clearly be an interesting summer.

Question: When is our current jersey deal set to expire? In terms of revenue, it was a horrible long-term deal when compared to our competitors and has certainly hurt our ability to spend.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think the shirt deal was an eight year one from 2006, so we've got two more years to run on it. I agree that we could be getting more from it.

Posted by GoonerBear on 04/09/2012

Great post as always!

This match epitomize the season! A great and frustrating match, which might have finished in a draw if not for an individual effort! And what an individual effort! Thrilling victory!!!

I may agree with Wenger, had the season been longer, we could have done so much more!

Looking forward... Koscielny has been a rock of the starting XI. How worried should we be that he is suspended for the next couple games? And RvP, how worried should we be that he is on a mini-drought?

Am I the only one who noticed that Walcott's persistance to drift in? but when stayed on the wing was great! Same with the left-winger... Ramsey and Benayoun spend more time in the middle than on the wing. Is this a new strategy or just the player not holding their position because of desire or habit of playing in the middle?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think we should be ok for the next two games without Koscielny as on paper Wolves and Wigan aren't as challenging as some of the games we have left. We shouldn't be too worried about RvP, he played well against City was was very unlucky. I don't think it's an intended tactic to drift in, it's not too big a problem at the moment.

Posted by Ethan on 04/09/2012

The key thing will be to maintain these kind of performances. In previous seasons we've seen the team start of really brightly and fade towards the end. However this season has been the opposite, with us having our slump at the beginning and then playing catch up - which we have done very well imo.

You could see yesterday City were scared of us. An Arsenal team in form is always a formidable foe - regardless of how many stars we seem to sell. I really hope Wenger can keep the team focused, and most of all GENUINELY hungry for trophies. We've all seen the players talking about wanting trophies, but when games need to be want, some of them are to be found lacking. This must change if we are to challenge for anything at all.

Anyway, just my two cents. Cheers Sam for a well written article.

Posted by Troy on 04/09/2012

I honestly believe we can win trophies next year if Wenger invests. What do you think?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Yes we can, not just about spending money though. Need some current players to keep improving.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/09/2012

Great article sam. By the way, can you explain to me why ramsey keeps getting game time when clearly at the moment he is clueless about what he needs to do on the pitch? What does AW see in him?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Ramsey is a good player who needs game time to improve, he definitely isn't clueless.

Posted by uche on 04/09/2012

we need quality bench 2 enable us ovacum injury 2 first team playas.we need a quality striker 2 assist rvp

Posted by Gautam on 04/09/2012


It seems to be that our best hope for glory is to hold on and tread water until Financial Fair Play kicks in. At that point, in theory, the buy-to-win model that the other big teams in England use will, in theory, have to change, and we will be very well-positioned to succeed, especially given the age of some of the stars on the other teams.

But what I wonder is: when push comes to shove, do you think UEFA will actually enforce the rules and keep teams who are in violation out of the Champions League? Is UEFA really willing to keep Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC and Inter, and Chelsea out of the competition? I suspect that in the end UEFA may balk, which will leave us in the same frustrating position that we are in now.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think it's hard to know at this point how much UEFA will enforce it, and what detail FFP goes into. It will definitely benefit us slightly, but we should be reliant on it.

Posted by will on 04/09/2012

we'll miss koscielny in the next two games...thats for sure. arteta's turning into a gem signing for wenger. we can't get complacent now...even with spuds losing today newcastle won and are looking good so we just need to keep winning. hope djourou is up for it on wednesday, really wish we had mert healthy instead though. great work on the blog sir, always enjoyable.

Posted by Francis on 04/09/2012

Personally, I prefer Wilshere over Ramsey. I feel that Ramsey has a tendency to slow down the pace of the game when we are a team that attacks best when at pace.

With his current form, I hope Ramsey will be on the bench until he is ready. I do question why the Ox was introduced after Ramsey.

Posted by Andrew on 04/09/2012

Sam, I don't agree. Assuming we invest, I don't feel that we are a "considerable distance" from truly challenging next year. We have the belief; something we've lacked in the past 3 seasons. On top of that, we are beating the top teams. Again, this is something we haven't been able to do in recent seasons. We play, we fight, we tackle, we believe. For the first time since our trophy drought began, we look to be going into the 2012-2013 season with confidence that we can, and will, beat anyone that we come up against. That is the mark a champion.

Posted by colombiangooner on 04/09/2012

Ja.ja.ja!!....And today spuds lost agains norwich...Five points clear now...Hope that RVP score again wednesday...

Posted by Raza on 04/09/2012

I cant remember the last time an Arsenal win made me so euphoric; I guess mainly coz it proves the Arsenal way against the mercenaries that the City team is. So for me, and I'm sure for most other Gooners, its only fitting and poetic that we should be the ones to end their title hopes.

The way we bossed the entire match again shows that we can beat any side on our day. Kudos to RVP for his talismanic skill and leadership, the entire defense, and of course our coveted midfield trio of Arteta, Song and Rosicky. I for one am not sure that Wilshere will find a regular start easy to come. And Ramsey's miss was criminal; quite why AW put him on is baffling.

With Spurs' loss today, we should hopefully put 5 points gap behind us with a win against Wolves, leaving margin for error against Stoke to finish 3rd; hopefully that can spur us to greater things next year. The team is definitely good enough; we just need our stars to stay this summer and bring in the required 2-3 additions.

Posted by chuckles on 04/09/2012

Brilliant Sam, well written.
I was overjoyed that Arteta's shot squeezed past Joe Hart and we won. I am not a fan of Mancini, he always defends for the point at Emirates, and I read he wants to spend more money this summer as he doesn't have the players to win the league. If he can't win it with that squad he doesn't deserve to be managing them. And Spurs lost today, 3rd is our's to lose!

Posted by jiajuNz on 04/09/2012

we need to get the right players before euro in case the price rockets up

Posted by Eli on 04/09/2012


Nice piece. Like you said, I have been both frustrated and puzzled by AW playing Ramsey out wide left in recent weeks. Over the past couple years I recall him playing the likes of Rosicky and more recently Benayoun out left when our first choice wingers were unavailable, but with Ox (unsure why Gerv was left out the squad, do you know?) available and having some of the same CAM qualities as Ramsey but loads more pace I cannot see why he has brought Ramsey on. I love Ox out on the left in that situation because he can come in on his right as Ramsey does, but he also has the option of taking on the RB and running towards goal. It seems AW is reluctant to play 2 out and out wingers, which i guess worked for us against Spurs, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

P.S. what a great result for Norwich today at whl. they really deserved it and Spurs look to be following City towards a massive unraveling .

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. It is strange that we've been using Ramsey on the left when other wingers have been available. I think that Wenger is still trying to build Ramsey up, but there isn't space for him at the moment in the middle.

Posted by Nabob02 on 04/09/2012

Sam thank you for this article ,i think we deserved the winning ,now they(city) will know that money cannot buy class

Posted by Chyke Ohuegbe on 04/09/2012

Roses are red, violets are 'white'. Spurs be ware! I sincerely believe we are very capable of finishing third with the way we are playing. I am sure you have the same opinion Sam. A good piece by the way.

Posted by uuro on 04/09/2012

This Wed, Arsenal and Man utd will be playing on that day. We can't turn on a blind eye on mau utd getting away scott free. Man utd can't possibly had so many penalty kicks given. I found this very fishy. Can anybody do something to spoil man utd game? There are already a number of wrong calls. This is definitely not fair for the good of the game. I'm very positive about that even if I'm coming from a netural ground. How will u feel that a team won a trophy on a last game on a wrong call..? That's very wrong. That's the harsh reality of soccer. My bad ...

Posted by Gerard on 04/09/2012

The reason why Ramsey is widely considered useless is because he's more of a fill-in than a starting XI. He's average in both defending and attacking and for some reason seems to loose the ball easily. He's not terrible by any means and he is still young, but the combination of being played in a different position and being average at best makes me consider Wenger's tactics yet again.

Fantastic team spirit, though. You know what they say: Money can't buy class- Arsenal forever :)

Posted by Dan on 04/09/2012


Were you in attendance at the Emirates at all yesterday? From what I could watch and hear on television across the pond here Stateside, we didn't boo Samir Nasri sufficiently. How was the atmosphere there - before and after the goal? Are we getting any better at replicating the Highbury's =)?


Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I wasn't at the ground, but the atmosphere was apparently excellent, and we probably didn't boo Nasri much as he didn't touch the ball much. Since the Man Utd home game, the atmosphere at the Emirates has massively improved.

Posted by steve chukwuyem on 04/09/2012

sam thank you for ur tots on d match o. i always knew that we wld hand d trophy to man utd as i said in my earlier comments cos city are not just the side to trouble even an off form and colour arsenal. dey really did not deserve a shot at goal in d match cos arsenal show dem how d beautiful game of football is played without high salary earners. i hope samir nasri and gael clichy wld not be regretting their decisions now and as for asene we already have podoski just sing m'vila and vertoghren den watch us win trophes nxt season. i love the club,players and d coach. he(arsene) is one of the very few coaches in world football that can turn a season around in such style and fashion. God blessArsenal,God bless the players and more importantly God bless the coach of such a great football club

Posted by Jay on 04/09/2012

Arsenal is not far from the top, but well au contraire! Remeber at some point arsenal this season was something like 11th! One big asset you have is Wenger, as unorthodox as he can be at times!

Posted by david fitch on 04/09/2012

Arsenal looked and played full of confidence then they always do against teams above or around them it's the teams at the other end of the table they fall short the question is why? The next game is Wolves this is a must win game with Spurs losing they must learn to accumalate points against these teams until they do titles are still a long way off.Arteta goal was great to see to often Arsenal player's try only to score from inside of the box so defense's tend to give them space thinking Arenal will always look for the pass and not take the shot.Koscieiny will miss the next two game's so this will put pressure on the defense hopefully they will not make silly mistake's that let these bottom teams in on goal like QPR they need two wins before they meet Chelsea,then if they slip up against them there is some wiggle room.

Posted by tuan moore on 04/09/2012

Sam, one thing I am proud of this year is the teams heart always competing till the end, in previous years could not always say this. Just need some reinforcements and we will contend you can not say we are mentally fragile anymore!

Posted by Fritz Alfred(2legitnottowinit) on 04/09/2012

sam, as always it is a pleasure to read your comments as they are as objective as any blogger i've read. ramsey has been overused this season after a 16 month layoff and I believe he doesn't need to play in the Olympics this year and get some well deserved rest. i think he will eventually come good as a ACM but I would be hard pressed to take him over Rosicky right now. or even next year. The key I believe is that we have a back four that has played together now for about 6 -8 weeks and they are growing together. i am still not sold on Gibbs a a left back. I've said this before and tell me if you agree with this...If we keep our starting XI on the field for 25 of the 38 games next season, we will win trophies. yes i meant the plural.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think Gibbs is a good player, and will still improve if he can get an injury free run in the team. Santos is also a good full back to have in the squad.

Posted by Ern on 04/09/2012

Hey Sam,

Just wanted to let you know that in an Arsenal season full of ups and downs (mostly down unfortunately), it's been a pleasure "discovering" this blog and to be reading your posts regularly every week.

With regards to the above comment, I wanted to ask if you have any idea on how Arsenal's wage structure works? Every year one or two Arsenal players leave in order to "win trophies" but surely money has got something to do with it as well right? Even when we're winning, why can't Arsenal keep their best players for their entire career like Chelsea and Man Utd do? (eg. Vieira and Henry would be two such examples)

I just feel that, instead of impeding their opportunities, having characters like Henry in the dressing room or on the training pitch would smooth the transition of youth players coming through the ranks. In addition, this would also avoid over-extending young players. Are we on the same page here?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. We do have a stricter wage structure compared to other clubs above (and now below) us in the table. If some media reports are to be believed, we'll start being able to compete a bit more with some of the bigger salaries, but I think there will always be a limit because of the way the club is run. We should work harder to keep experienced players at the club, but with respect to the players you mentioned, I think their sales were also down to the need for extra money either before or after the stadium move. Also having longer contracts for youngsters enables us to command a larger fee if we choose to sell them when they're still fairly young.

Posted by Titansgunner12thman on 04/09/2012

Great game. To think I was asking for Arteta to come off, not because of ineffectiveness, but we needed more going forward, seeing as City managed very few threats on offense. I wanted us to go for it.
Song was everywhere. While he didn't have a particularly great day passing the ball, he was a thorn in City's side.
I have to mention Balotelli. He has to be nuts. he was pretty much asking for a red card. Why Mancini didn't take him off is puzzling. The unseen faux tackle on Song was atrocious. I really do think he has played his last game for City. Mancini is out of there as well. There is no way the Sheiks paid all of that money to have a team that is scared to attack. I think it comes down to City having no winning pedigree. A big club does not play an attacking lineup, i.e., not trying to win wherever they play still has issues to work out. They are going to have to sell some of that talent and big in true footballing professionals.

Posted by Arsenal Army on 04/09/2012

I don't think we played fantastic game but 2 factors that made us better than City yesterday, 1st-We were disciplined.Each player did not make obvious mistake and play their role very well.Not to forget that we are more eager and driven.
2nd-City lost their midfield [without De Jong, Silva and Yaya Toure]which make them totally lost control in their midfield.Nasri just lost his capability every time City play against Arsenal [mentality problem] and Pizzaro are not good enough as midfielder.
I never see we were so so unlucky in front of goal yesterday with RVP-TV ball bounced, RVP header hit ground post and the most that I probably laugh is Walcott-TV-Benayoun 3 attempts at City goal line which it gave sense to me this is the most unlucky day which will make us a miserable lost at the end but I,m so relieved when Arteta scored.As I said before that we need someone capable to do long distance shoot when it needed.He should always try to do this at each game and become more expertise it.

Posted by Jeff on 04/09/2012

Sam, as always a great read and summary of the game. My hope is that the team, and supporters, stay level minded going into the next 2 games against Wolves and Wigan. I think we all got ahead of ourselves heading into the QPR match.

As for next season and investments go; I feel we may need to consider a change of formation to truley maximize new talents. For Example, should Podolski join in the summer he'd have to play on the left wing to get in the starting XI with RVP. Perhaps a 4-4-2 would suit both players better? Also, purchasing a true number 10 to play behind this potential tandem mgiht be the key for us. I could see a midfield of "no. 2" - JW - Song - Walcott/ox working out. I think we've shown that our first choice back 4 has what it takes.

Posted by Titansgunner12thman on 04/09/2012

As far as the team went on Sunday, our play in the midfield was very good. I just don't remember any attacks that were even a small problem for Szczesny. They seemed to have even less creativity than we do.
Walcott was invisible again. He is what he is: a one trick pony (all speed, no guile). Once Clichy proved he could run with him, Walcott was rendered useles. He should have scored.
RVP was on again yesterday. He is class, and a bit unlucky to ot have scored.
The only time I remember Vermaelen and Koshelny is when they were advanced up the pitch. They didn't have any trouble either.
I do understand starting Benayoun. He is a big game player, and he gets big goals. That's why I was surprised he didn't finish during that goalmouth scramble.
I was fully expecting Gervinhno to be in the game. What has he done to lose his posiion?
Overall the Arsenal played a superb game when it counted. Go Gunners!

Posted by Arsenal Army on 04/09/2012

We should score 3 included Ramsey error but I am satisfy enough with this result especially when Tottenham manage only draw.This week,we sould stay ahead 5 points over our 3 rivals if we win on Wolves and I admit,I really worry when we play against relegated teams at the moment.
Again, we need really discipline and focus on the game and make no mistake. The only reason at this time that make any team lost is by making a mistake because none of the team right now willing to show fantastic skill game.They are more cautious and play safer.Nobody want to take risk.That's what City did yesterday.They reduce the risk by playing more defensive and try to score goal on counter attack/free kick or corner ball as what they did to us in Carling Cup at the last minute goal but this time,they were unfortunate with our late goal. I think this time they deserved it because they didn't have any shot on goal and our ball possession nearly 65%.
Come on Arsenal..No More Excuse Losing To Wolves.

Posted by Sam, Jakarta on 04/09/2012

I was worried we would end up drawing or even losing as three or four goal scoring opportunities were denied by posts and our own player...while I often see we won because we were lucky this time I must our win was delayed because we were unlucky. I agree with you I love Arterta's goal. It was a beauty! A blend of courage, intelligence, skill and power. Hope, like you said, he will score more goals for us in the future.

By the way, at the moment, Spurs have lost to Norwich and Chelsea are on the brink of dropping points! Good news for us folks!

Posted by mustafa on 04/09/2012

Great performance gunnerz! As i said last week, the best Man City could achieve at the Emirates was a point, nothing more. I'm glad we punished them. I was also happy with "the passion" arsenal fans showed Nasri. 3rd place is ours to lose (after the scum were beaten by Norwich, hahahah). We still need investment in the summer. I had a bad feeling looking at who we had on the bench against Man City, in case anything happened to players on the pitch, i think we had a really option of a match winner or a game changer on the Ox alone (no disrespect to Chamakh, Ramsey and Co). this is why Wenger should invest in the summer, with quality players to make our bench a little more scary...!

Posted by nitin on 04/09/2012

rosicsky,benayoun is a great axis i think we should stick to it till the end of this season,what are your thoughts Sam.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think Rosicky and Benayoun played well yesterday, although I'd like to see the Ox start a few more games before the end of the season.

Posted by Mayank on 04/09/2012

I certainly think investment is required in the summer. Not so much because it will improve the quality of the team but because after last summer's debacle, it is important for Arsene to acknowledge his mistake by acting fast and getting a full squad ready before the first ball of the season is kicked.
It will also perhaps be the encouragement required for the likes of RVP to sign that new contract.

Posted by Joseph Essa on 04/09/2012

Its good to have an Arsenal fan that writes blog like this...The win against Man City was great-knowing the fact that some people think we are not good enought to compete with big money spenders;this win just chances the whole complextion.Our current form reminds me of the good old days when we destroy oppositions with Pacey attacts and strong defending.Good to watch the Gunners once again!

Posted by Qasim Hassan on 04/09/2012


As always, excellent post, it's a great pleasure to read your blogs every week (they've ensured there was even hope in our darkest days). Anyways, I have been hearing Podolski has agreed to deal for 10 million with us, but it's not officially announced because of his club's fear of backlash from supporters. If this is true, do you think Podolski might start in a 4-4-2 with RVP, on the left wing where he's great for Germany, or be on bench as a super sub and backup in case of injury? Also, how big of a blow is Koscielny's 2 match ban in the league? Wolves and Wigan may be down in the relegation places, but as you rightly said, one has to look back at QPR game. Thanks.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. If Podolski comes, I think we'd most likely use him on the left of the front three, or in the middle if RvP is rested / unavailable. Hopefully Koscielny's ban won't be too important. The fixture list has been kind for it, but we'll need his replacement, most likely Johan Djourou, to try and match Koscielny's recent form.

Posted by Pawan S on 04/09/2012

hi sam,

inorder to be title contenders which players do u think should be added.
who should be let go off?
Im sure everyone knows we are expecting podolski and m'villa.
Do u think we have a realistic chnace of getting hazard.I still suspect wengers move for park is a bargaining chip with lille.If we even got hazard where would he play as we r over loaded with mid fielders and wide men.
i think our exodus of players should include chamakh, deneilson, nicolas b, arshavin, squaleci,diaby,benayoun(dont renew his loan cos of his age),almunia,vela and park.
players in should be podolski, m'villa ,vetrogen and hazard and well be good.our new boys miyachi and j cambell will also do us proud next yr.
your thoughts?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. With six games left, it's hard to start throwing in names that we could sign. Podolski is obviously the most likely, but of the ones you mentioned, I think Hazard is unlikely and M'Vila is slightly over-rated.

Posted by charles on 04/09/2012

Good analysis, Sam.
I dont believe we are that far from the top though. We have proven the last 2 months that we can beat anyone. We need to become more consistent.
We may also need to add a couple of talented players and we should be very competitive. With Podolski already signed and others like Verghonten and M'Vila in Arsene's radar, not to mention Jack W coming back and RVP staying, I feel very confident about next year.

Posted by George Nintai on 04/09/2012

Do you think the Dou of Koscielny and Vermaelen is alot more powerful than anyone including Per Mertesacker?
I am a lot more comfortable when he is not playing.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Koscielny and Vermaelen definitely make up our strongest centre back partnership, although either of them with Per Mertesacker still makes a good combination.

Posted by martin on 04/09/2012

The biggest difference I believe it, Cesc and Nasri were not the leaders RvP and Arteta are. Be are beating great teams. There is a huge difference here in belief.

Posted by mike on 04/09/2012

Wonderful article Sam. A Gooner in hell, abyss, and heaven; how far we have come.
People forget the painstaking wait before Fabregas started converting clear cut chances to goals, Rosiscky does not score much, Wilshere is not even in the conversation when it comes to scoring goals. This is nothing against those players, but a demonstration on the burden being placed on Aaron Ramsey. He is still a young man, and an exceptional one in that regard. People forget the shift he put in at the beginning of the season, when hell was loose. Aaron is a fantastic player, and I have no problems waiting for the goals, which will come and he will be better than Fabregas in regards to scoring.
Wenger started preparing for this game last week by experimenting with a solid, possession minded formation, against QPR. This is a different approach though he knows that a two winger formation would have produced a better result, but he does not trust it against the big teams. The more approaches the better!

Posted by Barry on 04/10/2012

I know you are a strong advocate of Aaron Ramsey. But after witnessing such a horrendous miss in the six-yard, together with his selfishness to take onto the shot (not otherwise passing the ball to the better-positioned RVP). Do you still believe that he has all the potentials to fill the boots of our great legends?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I don't know about filling the boots of legends, but he's definitely got potential. As I said in the blog, he's getting involved and just needs polishing.

Posted by Mohd Fauzi on 04/10/2012

Hi Sam,
This is my first time for making a comment in your blog, but have visited and read through out after every matches and eager for new article to come out.

I have few thoughts, concerns and worries here based on City's match but basically have covered above from others comments and your answers:

1. Ramsey - The moment he about to replace Bena I have simply thought that AW just go for a draw and it made me so angry. I think that for the remaining matches, Ramsey is not necessarily utilize as winger. We need to finish our season as higher as possible-2nd still possible.

2. Koscielny - I think a big relief he has booked in this match otherwise he will miss Chelsea's match and hopefully TV5 won't get injured for it. How is yellow merit of RvP and Song as they could miss it too?

3. I just thinking AW will rest the likes of RvP, TW, TR, MA, AS, BS for Wolves. But hopefully not as we need the full strength eleven.

4. Podolski - Are we just waiting Koln relegate to get him cheaper?

Posted by Black Hei on 04/10/2012

Fantastic result made ever more sweet with the 1 up over City and Na$ri.
2 questions pops to mind Sam, hope to ahve your thoughts on both.
1. What happeed with Gervinho? He did not even make the bench!
2. People are calling for a 2nd striker to be signed after Podolski. What do you thing of bringing Vela back to the fold instead? 9 goals and 7 assists is just too good a stat to ignore. What a far cry from the WBA loan spell.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Gervinho apparently has an injury. Vela is playing well but there have been reports that he wants to stay in Spain.

Posted by Dchow on 04/10/2012

Cannot help criticizing Ramsey for his poor striking ability as well as his self-centeredness in his goal attempt in the final minute. Probably having been sidelined in the past few matches, he is too concerned in proving his worth than thinking the team as a whole.

Posted by Satyavrat on 04/10/2012

I agree with your thoughts on Ramsey. That he has progressed this far after *that* stoke game itself is an indication of his character and talent. Remember how long Eduardo took to get back to some form and even then he kept misfiring? We have to be patient with Ramsey.
However, do you feel we need a good attacking midfielder down the middle? Rosicky is on fire right now but form is temporary and with Rosicky's history, so is his health so we cant rely on him to be our regular attacking mid and neither Ramsey.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. It's worth remembering that Jack will come back and could play as an attacking midfielder, and Arteta could move forward as well.

Posted by henri on 04/10/2012

Sam, this is a good post, do you realise that a loss at City would have put us in a situation that would have been unbearable?

I agree with you on Ramsey, Arsenal fans need to ease up a bit on him, and allow him to progess, I'm tempted to start dreaming about next season, but lemme put this on hold.

That said, Benayoun has earned a right to be kept next season, and Miyaichi.....:-)


Posted by Anonymous on 04/10/2012

I haven't read all the comments, but the first few were kind of harsh on Ramsey. He's actually made REALLY good runs, and has been technically great. It's just when he goes to shoot, something in his mind turns off and his finish would make Sagna blush. With some work on this, Ramsey really could be a great midfielder for us.

Posted by Tegha Bernard on 04/10/2012

Sam great analysis- as always. Le Professor should be commended for instilling belief into this team as was witnessed in Arsenal's recent EPL record-breaking run of come-from-behind victories with Liverpool and Tottenham amongst the victims. And that is not forgetting the Near Reversal of the the 4-0 first leg Champions League loss to AC Milan with a Masterful 3-0 victory at the Emirates. The Gooners now play with more sense of assuredness with respect for but definitely without fear of the opposition, irrespective of their League Positions, History or plethora of stars. You feel that this team is more United with every player working his socks off to contribute to the greater good. Gone are the Days of Yore when bickering and infighting amongst squad members were the order of the day. The present bunch of players are focused on and committed to the cause with the senior players leading by example both on and off the pitch. These sure are exciting Times to be a GOONER. Gunner 4 Life

Posted by issa on 04/10/2012

good article man.
i think for us to challenge for titles next season we definitly need better luck with injuries, i mean apart from trying to secure 3-4 top quality players, and selling off some of under performing guys.
but as far as the game was concerned i started to get worried at some point, during the second half that we lost so many chances it would be one of those days where man city would score from a corner and they would win. I'm glad we wrapped it up and i cannot overstate that 1 of the reasons for the form now is the whole team taking responsibility for the defence. everybody tracks back and that in the long run is what will win you titles, that desire.

Posted by Rick on 04/10/2012

Thanks for the article. Wienger plays Ramsey or Benayoun, when we play away or against a big team because he wants possession and he wants an extra body in the midfield who will defend. The wingers are not as defensively minded.
I think we are almost there in terms of challenging for the title next season. We just need one or two more players preferably, a play maker although Jack w may file that role. Podilski will be great and then Vertogen. However, the boys have to be consistent throughout the season. That's the difference, consistency.

Posted by Yusuf Sam on 04/10/2012

Spot on Sam as usual!

The win was fantastic. The players gave 110 percent. Arteta was brilliant. RVP was unlucky not to have scored when TV deflected his header to the cross bar.

With a few addition,in the summer, Arsenal can compete for the EPL next season.

Sam, you seem to believe so much in Ramsey and always defend him even when the dude drawing our team back. Even the miss against Mancity, RVP was clearly free, all Ramsey needed to do was to lay it for him to put it into an empty net. Hazard is Ramsey's age mate and takes more responsibilities for Lille than Ramsey does for Arsenal. Why do you always defend Ramsey Sam? He should grow up or be left "on the tarmac".

Look forward to taking 3 points off Wolves on wednesday. We can not afford to take our legs off the pedal at this time!

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I defend Ramsey because he's had some good games for us this season, and clearly can be a great player. He's played the highest number of games he's ever done in a season for us, so will be fatigued, but he's still trying to affect games. He's also been played out of position at times and is having to adapt and he's still developing as a player.

Posted by ARi SEymour on 04/10/2012

The only problem with continuing to put faith in Ramsey - and this is a great problem to have for Arsenal - is that by playing him, you're keeping AOC on the bench.

IF Arsenal bring even two attacking players in, the midfield and front 3 will be extremely crowded: RVP, Walcott, Gervinho, Arteta, Rosicky, Wilshere, Ramsey, Chamberlain, Miyachi, and let's say they've added Podolski and one more player. That's 11 players for 5 positions. Someone will be left on the bench regularly even if you assume AOC and Rio continue to get limited time in games.

Right now Ramsey would consistently be put on the bench before the other more senior players or even Wilshere.

Posted by Benjamin on 04/10/2012

oh sam!what a marvellous analyst you are,you hit it the way it ought to be,i appreciate your sincere analytical mindset,am an Arsenal fan,a typical one really,hv suffered a lot of disgrace & embarrasment from Arsenal to the extend it has made me a stronger person in the way i handle issues in life generally.I love arsenal fc that i can't find the right word to express my innermost feelings,My respect for Arsene Wenger is untouchable,he's such an incredible person/manager.Mancini & his employers should learn frm Wenger that only when you spend wisely can you buy class NOT the other way round.UP GUNNERS,Arsenal till my breath stops(Thanks Sam for this opportunity & stay well)

Posted by James on 04/10/2012

Are you with me that Ox should be thrown into the center like in AC when we are against Wolves or Wigan because he made some destructive run through middle, his distribution was not too shabby and how calm he was wasn't bad either or do you think he should stick to the Wings?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. The Ox could be played in the middle, but at the moment we might as well play him on the wing instead of occasionally using Ramsey there.

Posted by Vikesh on 04/10/2012

The fact that AW is playing Ramsey out of position, we need a left winger. We need cover for RVP. If Diaby can remain injury free, & our injured midfielders return-no need for midfielders. So, maybe just 2 more quality players are required in the new season.

Posted by Dapuma on 04/10/2012

As a Man Utd fan I enjoy reading your posts more than our blogger - Great post and good insight well written

Couple Questions for you
1st: Investment - Dempsy wants to play for a Champions League club, assuming you are a top 4, do you see him fitting well into the squad, he would be cheap enough for you, can play behind RVP and has the ball skills to move with the Arsenal team, personally being an American i think he would be a good signing for you but curious to see what you think

Ramsey: I think Arsneal looked better with Benyoun in there than Ramsey however Benyoun lacks the final ball but he had a lot of energy

Song seems to be getting better and better and is lucky he has two legs

Arteta: was great on Everton - really like him, glad to see he is gelling with the team, not as good as Fab (not as dynamic) however he is pretty close in terms of passing ability and controling the game as he did for everton

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I'm a big fan of Dempsey and think he'd be an excellent signing. He can play anywhere across the front line and works hard for the team. Benayoun played well at the weekend, but simply has played on the wing more than Ramsey so is used to it.

Posted by Josh on 04/10/2012

Excellent post, and its refreshing to be able to talk positively about AFC again.

As with others on the string, I think we truly are on the verge of "competing" next year. Our top 14-16 squad members are certainly capable of beating any other team this year (as proven in the games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, ManC). Where we were short this year was in depth. And that is something that can be solved in the short-term with prudent investment.

While it never pays to lament dropped points, looking back at the season does give a good indication of where we might be next year. Ignoring the first month, it is realistic to say that AFC dropped 10-14 points against lesser teams over the season (Rovers, Fulham (x2), Wolves, Swansea (at least a draw), and QPR). Add 12 to our current total and the season looks a whole lot different. And I think it is fair to say that many of those points were dropped because AFC didn't have the depth to deal with fatigue and injuries.

Posted by lapardo on 04/10/2012

ian wright- (before arsenal vs udinese) "it will be a disaster if arsenal cant qualify for ucl this season"

(after arsenal lost 1-2 at spurs) "the highest place we will be gunning this season is top 6"

do you have ian wright contact number?go tell him to get lost.shame on our legend doesnt trust on arsenal.

Posted by chuckles on 04/10/2012

hey Sam,
if AW does sign Podolski this summer, do you think he will play a 4-4-2 with RVP, or get put on the wing to carry on with the 4-5-1 AW seems to prefer?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think we'll stick to 4-3-3 with Podolski on the left.

Posted by AnArsenalFan on 04/10/2012

I don't think investment is what we need to compete for trophies next year.

We just need consistency away from home. Our home form rivals United's and we have done very well against teams of all kinds (big and small).

If we can just take the intensity and zeal with which we play at home to opponents' grounds, we would be chasing the title.

Ultimately, Podolski won't bring that. It's the team as a whole that needs to tighten up and start bringing the results home.

Posted by Vernon on 04/10/2012

His finishing does need a lot of work, but when that improves, I think he can be one of the best attacking midfielders in the league. It might take time, but he can do it.

Please Sam, it's not just his finishing. His ball security is diabolical, as is his choice of options open to him. He passes to the wrong space, plays little flicks at the wrong time, is in the wrong position often and reads the game poorly. How you can make such a sweeping statement is beyond me. He has shown nothing to suggest he will be above average, let alone " one of the best attacking midfielders in the league".

Posted by Senge on 04/10/2012

Why are we not always been favoured by the refrees

Posted by Ng Ng on 04/10/2012

The season is lost.

Posted by charles on 04/10/2012

Good analysis, Sam.
I dont believe we are that far from the top though. We have proven the last 2 months that we can beat anyone. We need to become more consistent.
We may also need to add a couple of talented players and we should be very competitive. With Podolski already signed and others like Verghonten and M'Vila in Arsene's radar, not to mention Jack W coming back and RVP staying, I feel very confident about next year.

Posted by Glenn on 04/11/2012


While RVP has been in a bit of a drought (by his incredible standards), the last three games, I'm extremely excited to see the rest of the team contributing offensively. For so many games earlier this year, Robin was the only scoring solution we had. Now we have several of the team becoming more prolific in scoring and it takes us out of being a one dimensional team on the offensive side of the Pitch! We also dodged a big bullet with Alex Song not being significantly injured by Balotelli's blatant red card offense - it makes you almost want managers to have the ability to do challenge’s like in the NFL. I'm not sure how the FA can feel that they don't need to take action to adress this? If they wont address it, who will? How many of RVPs 26 goals have been set up by Alex this year!

Posted by Tony Hairston on 04/11/2012

I love that our homegrown youngsters are meshing with the experienced talent bought in August. I'm sorry we did not pursue experienced purchases earlier. Sylvain Distin would have been our best defender for 4 years. Except for Vermaelen's first year, I preferred him to every centerback on our roster. He could have helped win a cup last year, and finished higher in the standings. Too expensive? Everton got him for a song.

I expect Financial Fair Play to level the playing field in all ways including negatives for Arsenal. From 2006-2011 our roster got raided by Barcelona and Man City. In the past couple of years we have also lost out signing starlets. The minute we mention interest and do not act immediately we lose out. Kjaer, Ozil,Smalling, Jones, Mata are the names that come immediately to mind. Arsene says if the player is skilled, fast, and strong we cannot win him. We are skilled, fast and weak. Everybody can scout and they must get better to compete. How can we differentiate?

Posted by Samuel Angol on 04/11/2012

Greetings from Orlando, again! Another great post, Sam! This victory was very sweet considering that it was achieved against the richest club in the Premier League. I regret to have to disagree with you when you say that money will be reason why we don't compete for the title next year. I think this game proved quite resoundingly that with a solid strategy, hard work, and commitment, any team can be beaten. To my mind, Arsenal's problem for the longest while has been a lack of true team spirit, not to mention seemingly endless injuries. I always felt that even after Cesc and Nasri left last summer, that the Gunners had enough quality to be there or thereabouts. Like Wenger said, if there was another 10-15 games left in the season, we'd probably finish higher than third. Winning seven games in a row is always a great confidence builder. It's been a year of individual and collective growth for our boys, and come next season, we will have the mental fortitude to go one better...

Posted by Vincent on 04/11/2012

Thanks for the good write up. Basically I think we already have a good squad as we still have JW, Diaby, Miyachi, Per who are injured. Most important now is to offload the unnecessary players such as Arshavin, Chamark,. If you notice we play better without the presence of Arshavin.

Go Gonners Go

Posted by Abdul Halim Bin Abu Bakar on 04/11/2012

I strongly believe this Arsenal team can launch a strong challenge to win trophies next season.With the number of good potentials coming in,Arsenal can only get better and stronger.Of course there's a few players right now that's not playing to their best potentials but Arsene Wenger knows best.He'll be able to get the best out of every player coz every player knows whoever that the manager pick to plays will give their utmost 100% effort to win games.C'mon You Reds!Grab that champions league place.Up The Gunners!

Posted by blave on 04/11/2012

Very well deserved and satisfying win that can only serve to further the growing confidence and momentum of the squad and it bodes well for next season too.

As long as the focus is maintained we should really be able to put some distance between ourselves and the rest of the pack.

Obviously we need to be very careful against teams fighting relegation. Ideally though it would be nice to see the team grab an early lead and be able to give RVP and others a rest.

I appreciate Sam that you are not throwing Ramsey under the bus like so many other Gunner fans seem ready to do, just like they were with Wenger. He may not be playing at the level we all want but this doesn't mean he is not a talented young player with plenty of quality.

I think both he and Gervinho, another often criticized Gunner will come good although it seems like maybe Gervinho has managed to get into Wenger's doghouse. It would be nice to see both players finish strong.

Thanks as always Sam!

Posted by AndyE on 04/11/2012

It's amazing how fickle Arsenal fans can be. Ramsey is in his first full season back since his leg break. Before that visit to Stoke he was excellent. Even last season at home him and Wilshere ran the show against Utd. So the kid has a poor run of form and all of a sudden the armchair experts start proclaiming him to b "average" and "useless"

Right how the flavour of the month is Ox, a player no one knew about and whose purchased everyone criticized at the start of the season. How long before a few average performances and people start turning on him?

Posted by ruffy on 04/11/2012

Hi Sam,

Its been a worry to see RVP not scoring lately. We need a consistent striker with the class of THenry. Maybe we should start looking for RVP replacement.

Posted by daniel on 04/11/2012

Alex Song deserve a credit from us. He has improved a lot since last season.Wenger must keep Song to win trophies on next season

Posted by yusuf s a on 04/11/2012

Ramsey;isn't there yet, there is absolutely no reason why he refuse to lay pass to his captain, it look childish. the want to put my name in record sheet,or what do you think,Wenger needs more work on him, that collective win is far better than i got a goal.We would have thought man city a lession.please fans keep faith on our team. we shall be there hopefully.we manage our hard earn resources wisely, yet not lost of crip because we have character and mentality to delivered.

Posted by Uuro on 04/11/2012

I had been watching Ramsey for sometimes. He is seriously not good enough at the moment. This already got RVP very angry for not passing the ball to him. Pls wenger, do something abt this boy. We can't afford chances to slip like that in the closing stage right now. Pls put Ramsey on the bench for 90 mins. He better grow up. We would have fatten the sorceline against man city. It was so hard to sallow. The score difference is one of the most important criteria. The more goals against the wanderers, the better it is and more stable. I rather have RVP to get the golden boot than rooney whose pentalty

Posted by Anonymous on 04/11/2012

*penalty kicks are at odds with many people around the world. Authoring thing is Arsenal sets for the Asia tour in July at KL in Malaysia. I hope Yossi don't suffer another bad treatment there like his time with chelsea the last time. He had it bad enough already. He's human after all...

Posted by isaac odipo on 04/11/2012

Hi Sam

I hv read all da comments abt Ramsey & i tink mst of dem r off de mark & wil b prvd wrong in da long run. He reminds me hw Flamini started. Nobody seems 2 remember Mancity had taken control of midfield till de moment Ramsey came in. His sheer industry distracts the opponents and open spaces for oder players to attck. Thea was also another game he came into and directly contributed in us getting a goal but i can't remember it against which team. I believe that if thrown in frame last 15-20 mins he contributes vely +vely rather than wen he starts. I told this to some of my friends during the QPR game and am glad i was vindicated in the mancity game.

Posted by Charles. on 04/12/2012

Nyce blog sam i tink m'villa is an ovarated midfielder bt if he's brought in2 d fold it's nt bad & apart 4rm podolski i tink we need a big physical striker lyk demba Ba dt can bully d lyks of vidic, terry & co in d epl wat do u tink?.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Another striker will definitely be needed, especially if Chamakh goes back to France. Demba Ba would be a good signing, but I doubt Newcastle would let him go.

Posted by Larry on 04/12/2012

The biggest change has been attitude and response to adversity. And the change has been very much for the better. Last year, after a disappointing loss in the League Cup Arsenal slumped and didn't look like recovering. This year, after a shocking display away at AC Milan Arsenal turned it around. In business I always went by..."hire for attitude, train for aptitude." Same with any added signings for next year. Make sure they've got the right attitude - Arsene can do the rest.

Posted by Andrew Citron on 04/13/2012

Hey Sam,
Love your blog, and your tweets.
How different do you think the season could have been if Gervinho wasn't sent off in the opening match. I fully believe that set the tone of dispair early on in the season which was extremely hard to recover from.

Also, what do you think about potentially targeting Clint Dempsey as a player Arsenal should consider signing? He has clearly shown that he is valuable in the EPL, and can add depth to our squad's attacking role. Too bad he isn't young and a native french speaker.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I don't think the red card had too much of an impact as Gervinho still had some good games afterwards and learnt about the English game. The tougher game that set the tone was the defeat to Liverpool.
I really like Clint Dempsey and think he'd be a good signing. He'd give us three or four good years and wouldn't have to adapt to the Premier League.

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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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