Arsenal Pessimism

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I see huge amounts of Arsenal pessimism at the moment, Twitter is constantly full of it and I've even had to unfollow someone today because their pessimism turned into raving lunacy.

Here's two examples of Arsenal pessimism that's gone viral in the last week, both raising some very interesting points whilst demonstrating our supporters extreme passion for the club.

Is it justified though?

With the current situation I'd say yes.

It's crazy, just pure crazy, the club have had over 90 days to buy new players and strengthen our squad yet on day 1 of the new season we are vastly unprepared and are struggling to fill the bench with first team players.

We have let 23 players depart so far and signed just 1, why?

It's an embarrasment on many levels and the club are really starting to rile many Arsenal supporters.

For years the fans have put up with paying the highest ticket prices in Europe to watch football as we've understood we had little money due to the massive investment in our new stadium. However we're now at the point where the stadium debts are not as high, there is much more free money yet instead of it being reinvested as we are promised by Gazidis, it's just sitting in the bank and the squad is suffering and taking the blame for the incompetence?

We deserve to have a bigger, stronger squad that can manage with 50 games a season and compete in every single one of those games.

The fans are really reaching that breaking point now, if the very worst happens and we do not manage to beat Fenerbahce over two legs then what was the point in spending the whole of last season fighting for that vital fourth place to bring in extra revenue? We'll have just pissed it away in the first 2 weeks and then without Champions League football it'll be even harder for us to sign anyone and get back into the top four at the end of this season.

If that were to happen then it would be time to question the immediate future of both Gazidis and Wenger because they'd have failed the expectations of their job roles.

Fourth place and Champions League is the bare minimum we should be aiming at and for far too long now we've been happy with that bare minimum.

If things don't improve over the next few weeks and signings aren't made then this will be a very tough season for Arsene, Gazidis and Kroenke. The fans will not be furious if we do not show signs of vital progression and rightly so.

Arsenal is not a cash cow and we do not want the club, the squad and the fans milked dry to fund Kroenke.

What is the ambition of Stan anyway, we all knew he was going to be silent from the start but this is ridiculous.

As loyal supporters we are getting tired, we want actions and answers or you'll start to see the groups such as AST and the Black Scarf Movement take more extreme actions, you're on a swaying tightrope, act quickly!

Transfer Rumours - Gustavo

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There is large speculation in the media at the moment that Arsenal are very close to signing Brazilian international Luiz Gustavo from Bayern Munch.

The fee is rumoured to be around the £14m mark and it would seem that just personal terms are left to agree before the move can be finalised.

Gustavo is a clever defensive midfielder, one that will put the tackles in and really get back to help the defense out.

If you've not seem him in action before then this video will give you a clear idea of his playing style:

It's likely that with Fellaini most probably heading to Manchester United and Capoue having been signed by Tottenham that this rumour does have some foundation, the defensive midfield role is one that's been absent at Arsenal for some time now, possibly since the departure of Alex Song and the arrival of Gustavo at Arsenal would be a huge positive.

Do your magic Wenger!

Arsenal Transfer Rumours 2013/2014

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Like most Gunners I don't know why we haven't signed anyone yet, I also don't know when we will sign someone but I can say with some certainty that I'm positive we will sign players before the end of the summer transfer window and this post is going to be about who we could sign and why we could sign them.

So far in this window we've been linked with many players, of many nationalities, who play in many different positions, some big names including the likes of Suarez, Fabregas, Rooney and Fellaini, to the not so obvious that we'll come to.

There are also the players out there that want transfers and would be a perfect fit for us but we've chosen not to go after them for one reason or another, hopefully we can work out why.

Premier League Transfer Targets

Luis Suarez

Currently it's safe to say that everyone knows our number one target is Liverpool's Luis Suarez, you'd have to live in a cave to not know that Arsenal have now bid twice and both offers, including the cheeky £4,000,001 have been declined.

Just yesterday Suarez took to the press to voice his opinion on the matter, he said that he was promised if Liverpool were not in the Champions League this season then he would be allowed to leave, as they are not in Champions League he has made it clear that this is the reason he wants to leave and at 26 years old he feels now is his time to move to a better, higher achieving club that has the potential to win trophies. However Arsenal are currently technically not in the Champions League and still have a qualifier to play, maybe this is a stumbling point in the negotiations and Suarez contract where the Liverpool board and manager are just trying to hang onto him and get more interest from other clubs?

Either way it's safe to say that Liverpool don't particularly want to lose Suarez to Arsenal and are going to fight as long as possible to either keep him or get as much money as possible for him, the question is will Wenger and the board be able to persuade Liverpool to sell? We certainly have had the opposite happen to us many times where playes have forced their way out so we should know how to do it the other way round.

Morally I've slated Suarez in the past for having no morals, however signing a world class striker from Liverpool would make me happy to be a hypocrite. I'd love to see him play for us, I'd love to see him score for us against Liverpool and I'd certainly get his name on my the back of an Arsenal shirt, it would be brilliant! We've suffered enough in the past few years and had the piss taken so it would be time to give it back a little.

Marouane Fellaini

This is a strange one, it seems inevitable that Fellaini's time at Everton is most probably up, but where will he go?

Throughout the summer he's been linked with a whole host of clubs, one of those being Arsenal because we see him as a perfect Premier League attacking, centre forward, defensive midfielder / versatile player. It's hard to know where he plays best and some even criticise him for poor passing and claim that's why he'd never fit in at Arsenal?

It's a tough one with Fellaini, is he good enough for a top club or would he be an average player alongside world class players?

Although Arsenal wise Fellaini talk is probably now irrelevant, it looks like ex Everton manager David Moyes is trying to take him to Manchester Utd as they've failed in their attempt to lure Fabregas from Barcelona.

Expect this deal to be sorted soon though because he has a rumored buy out clause that is set to expire in the coming weeks, my money is on him to Utd.

Julio Cesar

It's no secret that I was a strong admirer of Cesar's performances at QPR last season, there were games when without him they'd of been thrashed in the first twenty minutes. This is why he was fantasy league keeper for most of the year and scored me a couple of hundred points.

It was always an odd one when he even signed for QPR, he'd been linked with Arsenal at the time but said he chose QPR due to opportunities that would arise when he retired? ... sure it wasn't just the wage involved?!

But anyway he's now clearly on the move as there's no way he'll be playing in the Championship next season, or he sure as hell shouldn't be doing anyway!

I'd welcome a Brazilian to the squad and if he's happy to battle with Szczesny for first place then it could be a very good experience for Szczesny, he may even learn from having a top international keeper alongside him to train with.

Let's be serious, our current goal keeper situation isn't brilliant, we do have Szczesny and Fabianski but I'd class them as decent goalkeepers not world class keepers at this current time. There's also no way we can go a whole season with two keepers? or is it time to call on the reserves?

Cesar is a player I'd love us to sign and depth wise would be a perfect addition to the squad, is it likely to happen? I'm not so sure, you'd think it would be done by now but let's hope.

Wayne Rooney

Well what can we say about Shrek? This man is very unpredictable, having put in multiple transfer requests at Manchester United it's hard to know what he'll do really. One thing to note though is he's been coached by David Moyes before and Moyes did in fact sell him to Manchester United.

With Robin Van Persie now at Utd you could argue that Rooney has now lost his favoured playing position and is fed up and wants a new option, I doubt that he'd move to Manchester City, Tottenham or abroad because he can barely manage English so that leaves Chelsea and Arsenal, Arsenal have the least strikers and Wenger has in the past publicly expressed his fondness of Rooney so this could be a shock move of the window? I think it's more likely he'd be a backup if the Suarez deal were to collapse because I can't see us having Suarez, Rooney and Giroud all at once, although that would be some attacking force!

I wouldn't turn down the chance to have Rooney but I think it'll either be United or Chelsea for him next season.

Ashley Williams

This name has popped up time and time again, the 6 foot defender has been pretty solid for Swansea in recent seasons and it's rumored Swansea would want around £8.5m for him. With Vermaelen and Monreal both currently out he'd be a good replacement with the Premier League experience and could fit in at both centre and right back.

This transfer seems less likely to happen to me, firstly he's already deeply involved in Swansea pre season and has recently stated his intent to try and help Swansea push hard in Europe this season, secondly he's quite old, he'll be 29 in a few weeks...

Juan Mata

There were rumours that Chelsea would have to sell a few players if they wished to spend more money, Juan Mata was one of those named players that could be sold to make funds.

With 11 goals and 18 assists in just the Premier League last season he'd certainly be on many clubs radars if he were for sale but it seems this is not the case now and he's recently insisted that he's happy he's in Mourinho's plans for the coming season, also with David Luiz expected to join Barcelona this transfer seems incredibly unlikely.

Worldwide Transfer Targets

Cesc Fabregas

Okay this is one to get off the cards early, it's not going to happen this year, I'm pretty certain of that. With all the rumours and news out there, with flats in London, girlfriend's, family, etc etc, it's just not going to happen. What sort of attacking midfielder is going to leave the club they love and the place they were born in when they have the chance to play with Messi and Neymar? He'd have to be mad ...

One for a future window though!

Ciprian Marica

Quite a lot of buzz in the media about this name and Arsenal, he's a free agent and it's rumored that Wenger is keen, with only one real striker at the club at the moment it's possible he could be our gamble signing of the season. If you look at his goalscoring record though it's pretty poor but he seems quite a versatile player with lots of experience and if we need a player to replace the likes of Chamakh / Bendtner / Park then he could be an option.

If we signed him on a free before any other player then I wouldn't like to see the reaction of the fans ...

Étienne Capoue

Capoue is a defensive midfielder that currently plays in the French league for Toulouse. He had an excellent last season and statistic wise he's up there with the best.

Last season he achieved an 80% pass completion and 75% success rate in his one vs. ones. He proved his defensive midfielder qualities with a 76% percent successful tackling ratio and is now posed to move to a Premier League club.

Currently it looks like Tottenham are in the driving seat to sign Capoue but he did snub Cardiff after they had a 10 million euro bid accepted so if Wenger likes the look of him then it's time to act! It would certainly end interest in the likes of Fellaini and would be a great addition to that defensive midfield position that so many think is currently vacant at Arsenal.

However with bids already in it's unlikely Arsenal will act fast enough to steal him from the grasp of Spurs and sadly it's likely we'll see him playing alongside Vertonghen next season.

It's never too late though, surprise us Arsenal!

Bernard

Bernard is a young, short Brazilian winger. He's currently at Atlético Mineiro but has made it clear he wishes to leave. Atlético Mineiro have accepted a £22 million offer from Shakhtar Donetsk but his agent and father has revealed he's far more interested in joining FC Porto.

Current press report that he's been picture in London in the last few days and that Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are interested, from some of the photos he's taken it does look like this trip is more pleasure induced than business but you never know, he might like the capital and choose to explore his options with English clubs.

At 20 years of age he is certainly an unproven talent and £22 million is quite a fee, would Wenger be seriously interested? I highly doubt it unless Everton Gushiken was impressed on his scouting trip to watch him play.

Álvaro Vadillo

Branded as the 'New Ronaldo', Vadillo is a very young 18 year old winger whose currently at Real Betis, as with most Arsenal transfer rumours there is also talk that Tottenham have been keeping tabs and it looks like the two clubs could fight it out, if Bale is to leave then Tottenham are looking at him as a potential replacement.

One thing to note is that when he was out with a cruciate injury he used some of his spare time to learn language, just a wise move for the future or an indication that he wishes to make a move to a certain country at some point? A player for the future whose worth keeping an eye on.

Lars Bender

Undoubtedly a good and experienced player but it looks like he won't be moving anywhere this season as our early £18.5 million bid was rejected by Bayer Leverkusen and they explained that Bender would not be leaving at any price ... although as with any player there would obviously be a price at which he would leave, highly doubt we'd try that option though and maybe Capoue would be a better cheaper target?

Missed Transfer Targets

Gonzalo Higuain

This transfer has a zero percent probability of happening because he's already signed for Napoli and played against Arsenal in the Emirates Cup.

Could be be a dodged bullet? At the time of him being linked with us I was all for signing him, however having watch him make his debut for Napoli he was kind quiet, even though it was a friendly he didn't really do much and seemed uninterested? slightly harsh in a friendly but I'd much rather take a player who'd get stuck in, be energetic and try and get involved ... he also sliced a shot high and wide.

I'm probably being a little harsh on him but I think there's better out there, we'll see how many goals he scores this season though.

Stevan Jovetić

A missed superstar? Jovetić signed for Manchester City in July after he decided they were the club for him having apparently shown the most ambition ... when he says ambition does he actually mean cash?

One to watch next season and it's almost certain he'll score some goals for City.

David Villa

We're linked with Villa in every window but fortunately he's now moved to Atlético Madrid so that speculation has died down. He's been unlucky with injury last season and before his leg break was a seriously good striker, it seems now though that he's passed the age at which Arsenal would've been interested in him and there's no chance we'll ever see him at Arsenal.

Summary

So far it's been a very plain transfer window for Arsenal, granted we have indeed signed Sanogo and made an attempt for Suarez but we all want to see big announcments of world class players who'll help us win trophies this season! It's been way too long that we've gone without now and it's so frustrating to which us mess about, why can't we just get these players signed early and have the squad sorted out before half an hour before the window closes?!

I still do have hope though that deals will be done and I think it's just a matter of time, I'll be genuinly shocked if there are no new faces at the club before our opening game, the last time we left our signings too late we suffered a hugely embarasing loss in which we conceded 8, let's not repeat that.

I think we need the following: one keeper, at least one defender, a left sided winger and at least on striker. That means we need to buy at least four players in my opinion, time to get the money out Arsene as we all now know Arsenal have it ...

Maybe that is the problem, now that we've publicly declared there is a huge pot of money to spend, clubs are taking us for idiots and trying to up the price of any player to silly money and we aren't having any of it? Oh well, at least we've sold most of the deadwood, that's a positive at the moment right?

Stay tuned and positive, there will be more Arsenal transfer news to come.

Emirates Cup 2013/2014 Club Level

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Last weekend saw the return of the Emirates Cup and this year I'd decided it would be worthwhile to splash the cash and watch both games from the comfort of Club Level for the first time.

Apart from the odd Twitter moan about corporate people in Club Level I've never really heard too much about it and what it offers during a normal match day so this seemed like the perfect time to try it out, especially at £39 a ticket, bargain!

On the day

After a fast train from Ebbsfleet to St. Pancras we made our way on the underground directly to Arsenal and from there walked the normal way crossing via the Ken Friar Bridge.

Unusually I had to take a second glance at the paper ticket to see where it was we actually entered the ground, "North Bank Club Level" this was new ... after a few seconds of looking we found the glass fronted entrance and began to que, I think the ground had only just opened so we'd timed it well.

Whilst in the queue we spotted some Emirates people giving out free hats and made sure to grab a few, can't beat a freebie!

The queue shortened and we were greeted into the entrance and through the smaller turnstiles to an escalator, wow! no stairs for us today, these regular Club Level members don't realize how good they have it ...

The ascent took us directly into the Royal Oak Food Court which unlike any regular Arsenal entry had carpets, seats, well presented fast food, bars and even free table football! I could get used to this on a match day.

We had a beer accompanied by the usual match day hot dog whilst watching the Arsenal fans walk across the bridge and past the museum as we discussed football news such as the Bale transfer and Arsenal's lack of any sort of signings so far ... before moving onto the free table football, I emphasise free because nothing's ever free!!

My table football team somehow conceded a few goals and didn't really fare too well, although I think they showed great mental awareness, we just lacked a little in the final third.

Having experienced some of the thrills of Club Level we thought it would now be a good time to take a look at our seats. The steward welcomed us into area 45 and told us where we'd find row 1 ... thanks, the seats were just above the corner flag and gave us perfect views of the pitch, certainly justified paying that little bit more!

We watched the players warm up for 5 minutes or so before the first match between Galatasaray and FC Porto kicked off. There were a few old faces in the Galatasaray team including Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.

Eboue

The matched kicked off and truthfully the first half at least was quite tame, the only real highlights were the missed and scored penalties, although there were so many penalties over the weekend I've kind of forgotten which ones were actually scored.

Penalty

Drogba Free Kick

After the first match ended we made our way to 49ers bar for another pint and burger, although sadly these food and beer purchases at the exceptionally high prices had now almost bankrupted us ... but if it funds the transfer for Suarez then so be it.

We returned to our seats to watch the second game between Arsenal and Napoli, it'd been a long time since I last saw Arsenal and I was pretty excited to see the team back in action!

Emirates Cup Photo

Disappointingly it wasn't long before we were two nil down and I remembered how painful watching Arsenal actually was...

The first scorer for Napoli was the young Insigne, if you've never heard of him then you've not played enough Fifa because he's one of the quickest players in the whole 2013 game and a silver in Ultimate Team, well worth a purchase.

It wasn't that we weren't playing well but each time Napoli attacked they managed to make some slick moves and just work their way through and score, two shots, two goals.

Podolski Penalty Miss

Podolski Skill

Things did get better though and some substitutions to bring on the big guns did get things a bit more fired up, chances were now abundant and it wasn't before long that we managed to pull one back as Giroud scored a lovely half bicycle kick type goal.

Giroud Goal

The further the game progressed the better we looked going forward, it wasn't till the last 5 minutes that we managed to equalise with a Koscielny header but it was nice to see the team really try and push on for that winner, which did come very close but just not close enough.

Overall a good performance from Arsenal in their first home match of the 2013/2014 season. It is however clear that in some areas we do lack a little and that signings are needed/vital.

Leaving the ground was pretty simple, there was a small queue to get out but nothing like the usual. One certain positive of club level is the bars and restaurants staying open after the final whistle, why can't they do this in all levels of the stadium? Would certainly help to calm the rush to the tube stations if people could stay for a short while, even only 30 minutes to have another beer and watch the game highlights?

I have to say I did really enjoy my experience of Club Level, on this occasion the fans that sat with me sang along and joined in, albeit the wrong words (infuriating) and there weren't too many of the corporate kinds (prawns?!) around. I'd certainly like to return in the future and would consider joining the season ticket waiting list but the prices are just a little too high for me right now, think I'll stick to paying off the relentless student debt whilst being a regular red member and dream of Club Level luxury in the future.

Emirates Cup Club Level

AfcNews Hiatus Return

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It's been a long time since I've written a new article for AfcNews, my last was on the 10th July 2012 so almost a year ago and was focused upon some random guy from Holland ...

Seems I was wrong about the particular topic and I'm still somewhat amazed at his decision given all the factors I mentioned, however that was a long time ago and I've missed a whole season in between that! ... well, unless of course you've been keeping upto date with my ramblings on twitter (@thorpeafc).

AfcNews is currently undergoing a redesign, I've decided to drop Wordpress and move to a custom platform that I made for my charity run website (iWouldRun500Miles.com), it's much nicer to use and allows me much more freedom with my coding.

I hope to have the redesign complete very soon and will be blogging once again about my thoughts on Arsenal in the near future.

The next post will most probably be about the Emirates Cup, I've decided to splash out and go Club Level for the first time so I'm pretty excited!

Stay tuned ...

Why I think Robin Van Persie will sign a new contract

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Last week Robin Van Persie issued a statement regarding his decision upon why he would not renew his Arsenal contract, this led to a huge amount of speculation from the media about his future and which club he would move to .. but is it really that simple? I don't think so, and here's why ..

RvP Home Kit 2012 - 2013

Robin Van Persie has been at Arsenal since he joined from Feyenoord back in 2004, his career at Arsenal has been somewhat off and on, mainly due to unfortunate lengthy injuries.

This past season Robin has played 44 games, the largest amount in one season for any club during his professional career. His performances to score 37 goals and provide 15 assists to win the Permier League Golden Boot have proven to the world that he is one of the very best strikers around.

Somewhat unfortunately for Arsenal, this form has come whilst Robin has only 1 year left on his contact and is sure to have resulted in pretty much every top team keeping a tab on him and whether or not they could persuade him to move if he decides to leave Arsenal, be it this year or when/if his contract expires.

On the 4th July Robin issued a statement about his Arsenal future on his personal website (http://robinvanpersie.com/2012/07/04/update-for-the-fans/), the statement said that he would not be renewing his Arsenal contract due to disagreements upon the way Arsenal should move forward ... but how true are these words?

If you were to sum up the personal attitude of Robin Van Persie, would you include these terms?

  • Arrogant
  • Discourteous
  • Ruthless

I certainly wouldn't, but then why would he choose to word his statement to include lines such as: "I personally have had a great season" ?

IF the statement wasn't so much Robin Van Persie's idea but say his agents, then maybe their aim was to bring in offers for Robin from other clubs to boost the potential of any contract that would have to be offered to him by Arsenal? After all, at 28 (29 in a few weeks) this could be one of the final contracts he signs .. if such an action can add another £50,000 onto his contract then surely he's entitled to try that? We all saw another certain Premier League player use a similar tactic earlier in the year (cough Shrek).

The other way to look at the situation is that Robin wants to win trophies, he wants to be at a club that are competing at the very top and wants to see signings and players around him that reassure him he can do that. Is it possible the statement could be a message to the board to up their game, sign new players and really go for it this season? If that's the case then it adds pressure onto them to make serious signings to prevent losing the best players. If that was the reason then could you hate Robin for it?

It's well known that Robin is settled in London with his wife and young family, he get's on well with his team mates and even supported Arsenal throughout his youth, so would he really make such a decision on his future without even speaking to the club about a contract?

Interesting Quotes

"It's always important for me to get Mum's opinion of my performance after a match, the women in my life are very influential, even on the football pitch. My mother, wife and sisters are always honest and sometimes harsh in their criticism. I respect their opinions." -Robin Van Persie
"Arsenal is an unbelievable club. The player I am today is because of Arsenal." -Robin Van Persie
"What the hell would Robin do at the club? They already have Messi and it does not make sense to go." -Robin's Father on Barcelona
"It is impossible to go to another English team" -Robin's Father
"Arsenal love him and that's a great incentive to stay. Arsenal are a fantastic club, They have no debts and Robin is idolised there." -Robin's Mother
"Robin is captain of Arsenal and, as many people claim, the leader of the Arsenal team. Arsenal believed in Robin when he was young and when he was considered as a bit of a rebel. We don't want to upset things at home either. Our kids, Shaqueel and Dina, go to school here in London. And they are just as happy as we are." -Bouchra van Persie

In my opinion I don't think we know all of what's happening, for people to judge the situation on a few lines of a statement is not realistic. Sometimes in life there is a lot more behind the scenes to a situation than anyone can know and just because the media are reporting it's a done deal that Van Persie is leaving Arsenal, can you really believe them?

Robin never said he was leaving, the Arsenal board have said they are not looking to sell Robin and people also make mistakes in life .. so maybe we should just wait a while and see how things develop before looking too deeply and trying to guess the outcome.

.. but, I think Robin Van Persie's time at Arsenal is not over just yet.

@thorpeAFC

"Our worst night in Europe"

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A very poor performance in Milan saw us concede four goals which is likely to result in an early Champions League exit unless a miracle occurs in the return leg.

Last night was most certainly not one of our best away performances of recent years, a four nothing thrashing in the San Siro saw us slump to our heaviest European defeat.

The Match

Wenger opted to start the game with a slightly more defence minded midfield, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain dropped to the bench and Rosicky took up that left side position to provide Gibbs with a little more cover.

AC Milan lined up with an impressive attack of Ibrahimovic and Robinho with ex Premier League player Kevin-Prince Boateng just behind.

The game kicked off and the first shot came to Rosicky, it was sliced high and wide, a somewhat usual occurrence these days and it's not real surprise he's not scored in over a year.

A couple of minutes on AC Milan captain Seedorf had to go off with an injury and was replaced with Emanuelson, this didn't seem a huge problem to Milan and they went on to score the opening goal 3 minutes later. A poor distribution by Szczesny went straight to Nocerino who floated a ball in to Boateng allowing him to control and shoot past Szczesny, the hosts took the lead and very nearly made it 2-0 a few minutes later with a shot from Nocerino.

The pressure was already on and we needed to fight back. A 33 meter free kick from Van Persie gave Koscielny the first Arsenal attempt on target but it was straight at the keeper and an easy save.

Milan attacked again and an offside Ibrahimovic ran towards goal on the left wing, Sagna couldn't catch him and he managed to cross the ball for Robinho to head in, 2-0 and the hosts were walking the game.

Worse news was yet to come as our best defender of the half, Laurent Koscielny had to be subbed off due to injury which provided a return to the team for Djourou who hadn't played since being taken off at half time against Mancheter United a few weeks back.

Milan attacked once more and Boateng could've increased the lead but failed to hit the target with his shot.

To the relief of most Gunners the first half ended, Theo Walcott was taken off as he'd hardly touched the ball during the first half and was replaced by Thierry Henry.

More woeful defending saw us concede a third goal, a Djourou tackle and 'clearance' saw him kick the ball possibly 5 foot straight to Ibrahimovic who slid in Robinho to run past a fallen Vermaelen and score.

We had a chance to get back into it when Song passed to Henry who flicked it over the defence for Van Persie to volley but a fine save from the goalkeeper prevented that.

Gibbs went off to be replaced by Chamberlain but it was to little too late as Djourou dragged down Ibrahimovic to allow Milan a fourth goal from the penalty spot.

Summary

Some hope could've been regained had we managed to score an away goal but at 4-0 the tie now looks set to be over. If Milan come to the Emirates in the return leg and manage to score then we would need to win 6-1 to progress ..

In that game we need to line up with a very attacking squad, none of this let's try and hold the midfield so they don't score because it's not how we play and it's not how we can play, it never works! One of the most frustrating things about Arsenal at the moment is our inability to change the game tactically while the game is being played. If it had been Ferguson or Mourinhio 2-0 down at the San Siro you can be sure they would've made better decisions at half time, was taking Walcott off for Henry really all we could do?

Later in the game Chamberlain came on and was superb for the short amount of time he played. He runs at players and tries to beat them with skill, almost all other players would just dribble towards a Milan player, stop and then pass resulting in either Rosicky shooting high and wide or a full back trying to cross into a box of Arsenal players who don't like crosses ..

If we'd had Chamberlain on from the start then personally I think we'd of offloaded more of that constant Milan attacking with a little pace and skill down the wings, the game could've been different with Walcott and Chamberlain actually getting some possession down the wings.

The Squad

Something that's also bugged me for some time now is our squad. We have a lot of players but some we just never see now, we have too many players that we can only play when the pressure is not on:
  • Benayoun
  • Chamakh
  • Park
for example.

It's slightly embarrassing that we have to loan a 34 year old striker because Chamakh and Park are actually that untrusted we can't play them! What is that point in paying these people week in week out for them to do nothing?

In comparison let's look at the Milan bench - Pato, Ambrosini, Nesta, Bonera. Not bad subs when you consider they even have players from their first eleven missing.

The Cause

Last season at this point we beat Barcelona 2-1, would we manage that this season? no. What's happened? Basically all our midfield creativity either left, is injured or we prefer to play them on the bench as we have no cover for Chamberlain if he get's injured.

Fabregas and Nasri as much as it pains me to say were excellent for parts of last season and on many times helped us win games, if not with goals then with assists. Another large chunk of our creativity also went missing when Wilshere was ruled out for many months after his pre season injury. This has left us a little flat creativity wise behind Van Persie and we now rely more heavily on Walcott, Gervinho, Chamberlain and Arshavin to create.

Ramsey, Arteta and Song have done well filling in but they're not really ones to beat players with magic in that final third, the introduction of Rosicky over Ramsey in the last few games has helped slightly but I think we will see a massive improvement in midfield play once we get Jack Wilshere back on the pitch and hopefully that will be within the next month or so so that we can have a strong run in.

Priorities

Potentially going out of the Champions league (if we do) could be a slight benefit, it would give us more time to prepare and less travel over Europe, sure we may lose some revenue and the chance to win the Champions League ... but we can fight Tottenham and Chelsea for 3rd or 4th place, at least one positive this season is that Chelsea are awful.

Our next Premier League game now is at home against Tottenham, hopefully before then we can recover a little confidence allowing us to go into the game strong and really go for those 3 points, if we can beat Tottenham then we have a great chance of catching them up as they have some tricky games over the next few weeks as well.

It's really important that we finish in the Champions League top 4 so that we can still attract top players at the end of the season, this will give us a chance to actually sort the squad out once and for all. I am a big big fan of Wenger and what he has done for this club but he's got to prove by September that he still knows what he is doing and is truly taking us "forward".

-@thorpeAFC

Carling Cup: Arsenal 0 - Manchester City 1

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This seasons Carling Cup hopes came to an end as a strong Manchester City side overcame a young Arsenal team to qualify for the Semi Finals.

It's well known that Arsene Wenger likes to field the second stream of players in Carling Cup games and even though this match was against an expensive City side it made no difference and Arsene stuck to his Guns. In past seasons the Carling Cup has allowed many youth players the chance to gain experience at the top level and prove they are worthy of a place in the first team, it's also been a successful way to rest first team players at a busy point in the season.

The team lined up to start the game as follows:

The formation made a change as recently we've stuck firmly to a 4-2-3-1 in all competitions choosing to keep two midfield players a little further back as added cover. Could this 4-4-2 approach be a possible solution for the future to suit Song, Frimpong and Coquelin into one team as they mature? Although with Ramsey and Wilshere it's probably not a long term thought but just allows us a more solid way to play.

Throughout the game Arsenal managed to hold their own and could have even gone ahead one or two times had Man City's keeper not made some brilliant saves. The team certainly impressed and managed to control the likes of Aguero, Dzeko, Johnson and Nasri for most of the game. Unfortunately City managed to counter from an Arsenal corner in the 83rd minute and Aguero put the ball past Fabianski to knock Arsenal out of the competition.

After last seasons heartbreak in the final it was a little easier to take this knockout but due to our current baron trophy-less run it's always a shame to be denied the chance to end it, right now I'd take any sort of silverware bar the Emirates cup!

One young Arsenal player that clearly stuck out was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, if I'd had choice of MOTM then it would've easily been his! He showed excellently what he's capable of doing going forward and was very unlucky not to score with a few of his attempts on goal.

So all in all not a negative performance for Arsenal but just a lucky'ish' goal for City that allows them continue their attempt at buying all of Europe's silver.

Wigan 0 - Arsenal 4

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Back to winning ways today with an impressive win over current bottom of the league side Wigan.

The midweek Carling Cup fixture allowed some of the first XI to have a well deserved rest prior to the match, away games in the Premier League are never simple so it was better to go into it with a fighting fit team.

The only noticeable continued absence at the moment is that of Sagna whose still expected to be out until the New Year at the very least. With Carl Jenkinson injured as well Wenger has moved Koscielny to the right back position where he's been playing very well.

In the opening ten minutes Wigan started the game well and almost took an early lead when a cross from the inside left of the box was just pushed out by Szczesny, it fell to Gomez whose shot was just deflected out of play by Santos.

The home side somewhat faded after this and attacks kept coming from Arsenal, both Gervinho and Walcott found ways in to the box but chances went begging until the 28th minute. Arteta was allowed to dribble the balll forward and unchallenged he let rip from just outside the box to beat the Wigan keeper. It was an unfamiliar kind of goal for Arsenal yet one in a style that we sometimes need to just get ahead when the silky Arsenal style goals aren't happening.

The relegation fighting hosts seemed to lose faith and a Robin Van Persie corner to Vermaelen 1 minute later resulted in a second Arsenal goal. If you were being critical of the Wigan defence then you'd look at them having two players marking Vermaelen yet he still managed to beat both of them in the air to it, just not good enough when your defending against a player whose known for his aerial ability in the box.

The Arsenal attacks continued as Gervinho made a run and found Robin Van Persie whose shot was superbly saved by the Wigan keeper.

A talking point occurred early in the second half as Aaron Ramsey was blatantly pulled down in the box yet Mark Clattenburg decided it was fair play and the game continued. If the final score had been 0-0 then that decision would've most certainly been replayed and criticised over and over.

Wigan woke up a little and had some decent attacking play but it was not enough, on the hour Arsenal ended all hopes of a comeback when Gervinho tucked in a rebounded Van Persie shot to finish off the game. It was now a case of Wigan keeping some pride and not conceding too many.

One name was still missing from the score sheet and in the 78th minute a well squared ball by Theo Walcott in the box gave Robin Van Persie his 14th Premier League goal of the season, game set and match to the delight of the away fans and most probably at least half of you fantasy footballers out there!

It was nice to see how far the team have come in such a short space of time, it wasn't long ago since we looked less than convincing losing away at Blackburn, no signs of that shakiness or the inability to be able to hold the ball today.

It always takes new players a certain amount of time to fit in and moral wise you can see that's now happened. To prove this I wonder if any of you eagle eyed Gunners managed to spot Szczesny singing "We're by far the greatest team the world has ever seen" with the Arsenal fans after the whistle?

There's a long way to go in this season yet and things are starting to look a lot better now, on Tuesday night we'll get to see a somewhat weekend (if you can call it that) Arsenal side in the Champions League away to Olympiacos so that will be an interesting game to see just how much strength we have throughout the squad.

Hopefully this run of form continues and we can keep climbing up the table to ensure we're involved in the Champions League again next season .. #thursdayAreSpursdays!

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