Arsenal News
Arsenal News

Arsenal News


Focus on clean sheets vital if Arsenal are to taste glory

By Avenell Dave

There is nothing more pleasing than to see Arsenal record a second clean sheet in a row.

Having read some of the reports of the game on Sunday and Monday, it would be easy to think we didn't really deserve the victory but let's get the result in context.

Apart from the fact that Sunderland continue to be a clogging side unworthy of the description 'football team', that their pitch is diabolical and that they were given license by the referee to kick us all over the place, we managed to withstand the late barrage.

The injuries to Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny, whose hobbling off during the warm-up meant we had to use a sub at the start of the game, meant we started an away game with as makeshift a back four as you can imagine.

I'm delighted for Bacary Sagna who put in an excellent performance at centre-back - one that statistically was better than anything else we've seen from a central defender all season. 

We've all been hailing Carl Jenkinson this season and there's no doubt the boy has a great future ahead of him, but we saw on Saturday that he still has a lot to learn.

I disagree with most that think the red card was justified - he second booking was probably not worthy of a yellow, but nevertheless he was foolish to dive in when already cautioned.

But the way we dug in, the way Wojciech Szczesny put in the sort of performance that we need to see more of and the fact that despite everything, we remained calm in the onslaught bodes well for the rest of the season.

Yes, we need players back from injury, we need to protect Jack Wilshere so he doesn't get another serious injury or burnt out (I can definitely see him being rested against Blackburn) and of course we need to take our chances.

But it's infuriating to see reports criticising Arsenal for winning but not more comfortably. Of course we'd love to win every game 4-0, no injuries, a lightning fast first half and saunter through the second without any fear of a comeback.

But football isn't like that and the fact that we managed to hold on is a testament to the capabilities we really do have. It's just a shame we don;t show them often enough.

A word too for Aaron Ramsey. Two years ago everyone sung his name in defiance of the Stoke bully boys who slated him after he'd had his ankle snapped.

He is a top player and a great asset to the club, but he's not a wide midfielder and a combination of being played in the wrong position, tentativeness after his injury and a lack of confidence that comes from the last two issues and being slated by his own fans has hardly helped.

I can see him taking over from Mikel Arteta long term - and just look at his engine. Football is not all about fitness, for sure, but he never stops running and the fact that he slotted in so well at right back further underlines his value.

We have a week off now until the FA Cup game - time to rest and rehabilitate. 

More clean sheets please - if a side cannot score, we're halfway there...



By Avenell Dave

While Arsenal have long had a reputation for being vulnerable in the North West, for me, the North East is equally troublesome.

We've had matches against Newcastle where we get two players sent off, or let a four goal lead slip, we've had matches against Sunderland where Abou Diaby gets his career ruined or where we miss a late penalty or, as last season, where Per Mertesacker gets a season-ending injury.

Sunderland is not a nice place to go.

There was a time when Martin O'Neill was being revered as one of the top managers in the country but he has been found out and now has a reputation for clogger sides who never seem to do as well as they might.

But that doesn't make them any less of a threat for our trip on Saturday and it' going to be a huge test for us.

Nacho Monreal may have had a baptism to English football with a home match against Stoke, but a trip to the Stadium of Light will certainly test his acclimatisation further.

What we have to be, above all else, is tight at the back.

Is it too much to expect a second clean sheet in a row? The Wearside crowd get restless when their team is struggling and equally can intimidate when they're doing well, so we must keep them quiet.

The pitch is always a disgrace and so it will be tricky to play football in the way we want to, but that is a challenge we must seek to overcome.

It seems the world has finally woken up to Jack Wilshere and I'm quite happy for the saviour of English football to be targeted if it means more space for Santi Cazorla.

I do fear that our flair players will be targeted. We know Seb Larsson is deadly from free kicks and that Danny GRaham has a decent record scoring against us.

Sunderland may be struggling but this is just the type of game that we have struggled to win in the past and at this stage of the season, we cannot afford to drop more points.

Win, and we can put pressure on those above us, really start to build some momentum and consistency and get back to where we should be, which is top four at the bare minimum.

Draw or lose and we're giving our rivals a chance to pull further away from us - T*tt*nham and the Ch*vs have both won at Sunderland already this season. 

We simply cannot drop points if we are to push on.

Addict XI


Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal


Walcott Cazorla Podolski





Will Vermaelen be the big summer departure from Arsenal?

By Avenell Dave

So the transfer window is closed, we bought a player and he did pretty well on his debut against a Stoke side who have all the finesse of...well, of their fans.

Coming out of the ground, I looked with sympathy at a guy who was clearly disabled. He had on thick glasses and had two walking sticks to help him with his feet both pointing inwards. 

He was about 28-35 years old and looked a real trainspotter, but no one likes to see someone  suffering because of physical impairment and his walking did not look comfortable at all. 

Then he opened his mouth.

"You can f*&^ off you Cockney twat. You'll never win F*&^ all!" and more gutteral abuse I won't repeat.

It became clear that he was a Stoke fan and bitter that his side had been defeated, trying to goad an Arsenal fan who simply poimted to the back of his own shirt, the wording or name on which I did not see.

It would be simple, crass and unkind to make jokes about the link between this visiting fan and the zombie/knuckledragger caricature we have of Stoke fans in general, but this hardly did my impressions of them any favours.

Their team are clumsy, unimaginative and deserve everything it got on Saturday. 

I assume Michael Owen will also avoid punishment for throwing a fist at Mikel Arteta, who later embraced him in that nice guy way that betrays a lack of ruthlessness we need in the middle of the park.

But we won. We closed the gap on the Chavs and we looked much better all around.

It isn't easy beating sides who come to defend, particularly those with a fine goalkeeper (I wonder if Arsene Wenger has considered him if Szczesny makes any more rickets?) but we got the win and taht's all that mattered.

Nacho Monreal was strong, determined and although he made a couple of minor errors, you could see that he was feeling his way into a new side and looks like a superb signing.

We looked all the more solid at the back and I can't help wondering if Thomas Vermaelen may be more of a problem than a solution.

My wonderful neighbours at the ground have pointed out, as have I on this site, that making him captain makes him almost undroppable but his standards have dropped and where he used to at least chip in with a few goals, the fire has gone from his belly.

The observation was made that he did not shout and bawl at his players on Wednesday against Liverpool and while I think the entire defence needs drilling to sort out its shaky performances, he just doesn;t seem to gel consistenly with either of his partners.

Whatever we think about the inactivity in the transfer window, there won't now be anyone leaving unexpectedly who we want to stay. 

Everyone is signed up and only fringe players or those whose form and fitness are in question could leave.

That means Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna, both of whom will need to be replaced or at least strong squad members brought in. I am almost certain one or other will depart before the end of August.

This is the strongest the squad has been for some time because of players recovered from injury. We just have to hope the international week's injury curse does not affect us again.