False Expectations.

ImageThe result against Norwich is the type that feels like someone has thrown a huge bucket of cold water over you, whilst you were daydreaming about what you wanted or what you thought you had. Of course this is the typical reaction following a loss of this nature – after clinching a draw with the reigning champions (who in hindsight aren’t really all that and we should have won), there is a sense of optimism, renewed hope, genuinely something to be happy about and take positives from. However when you go on to lose against a team who haven’t picked up a point all season (why is it teams always get their ‘firsts’ against us? First goal of the season, first win, first penalty for seven years, first goal from X in 1099043 billion minutes of football, first clean sheet since 2003 etc etc) it really hammers home some of the truths you perhaps wanted to hide from.

Firstly the goalkeeping situation. A few weeks ago I talked about the worry I had over this position and the fact it may become a problem after finally seeming to get it sorted. And after finally having the other 10 positions pretty sorted, the goalkeeping one becomes an issue once more. Bad luck undoubtedly plays a part, why we are cursed with such unfortunate chance is really beyond me but as they often say, you make your own luck. The reason our luck probably looks so bad is the fact we don’t prepare for it. So when your first choice goalkeeper gets injured for 2-3 Jack Wilshere weeks, there should be provisions in place, i.e. an experienced back up goalkeeper. Now I know Fabianski is out injured as well and a small part of me thinks he may have been good given a run in the team, the chances are he would have been just as kack as Mannone anyway. Heck even Szcz hasn’t filled me with the greatest of confidence lately. So anyway, we are down to our 3rd choice keeper. Someone who was going to be allowed to leave in the summer now is the last line of defence. I’m all for giving players a chance, he may well have been good enough (although after spending so long at the club surely the coaches can’t be surprised) but I think that’s his Arsenal career over, in the Almunia sense anyways. You know what I mean, poor goalkeeper still plays even though we know he will break our heart then eventually gets replaced a bit too late, and falls off into obscurity. Personally I think we should give Damian Martinez a run out. By all accounts he is held in quite high regard and the mistakes Mannone makes are elementary. Basic goalkeeping skills that if you don’t have now I can’t quite imagine you ever having – so it can’t be much worse. Hopefully in January Wenger will move for an experienced goalkeeper, not only for cover but to also help out the future of this position. I’d like us to go for Sebastian Frey, simply because we’ve been linked with him since 1997 and I think it would be nice to finally end the longest running transfer saga in the history of football.

The second awakening is the annoyance of constantly becoming a one man team. Every year a big player leaves and we buy into the ‘the whole team is responsible now’ bla bla bla. I wanted to believe it this season, but I knew the same old would happen. Now it seems as soon as Cazorla is marked out of the game that’s it, over for us. You could argue the same about Arteta and I suppose call us a two man team, but it doesn’t really count when Arteta is so far back and unable to have that much of a direct influence anyway. In my opinion Podolski hasn’t done what I hoped he would and failing to play 90minutes this season is a real concern for me. He was the man supposed to replace RVP and give us some hope, and he has done his part to an extent but I still wanted so much more from him. Maybe he is the victim of playing the system too well, he is a workhorse down the left hand side and has a good partnership with Gibbs. But I would much rather see him given more of a free-role with license to express himself. Then there is Gervinho. Now, has he improved since last year, or are we a poorer side and he just looks better/stands out more? He is the best rubbish player I think I have ever seen. Amazingly frustrating. So often it looks like he is a world beater before you realise he isn’t. It’s almost that feeling you get when you have been waiting ages for a bus, then when one arrives it’s the wrong number. But to be frank, we shouldn’t be in a position where we are waiting to discover if this player is any good or not, we shouldn’t have to hope the Brazilian Gervinho is going to turn up on match day, we shouldn’t be relying on such an erratic player. And we are relying on him to an extent. Again, hopefully in January Wenger will act and sign a clinical striker. I’d love Falcao and it’s the type of signing we have been waiting for and in all fairness deserve. But we are Arsenal. And instead, we will probably target the best striker in the worlds… partner, Adrian Lopez. Oh to be a Gooner.

We also have this habit of becoming so easy to read it really is ridiculous. In all honesty we haven’t really played the exciting brand of pure football that has been ascribed to us for quite some time. Some may say the Hleb-Cesc-Flamini (who I might add is the biggest cunt ever for leaving and I really think we missed him)-Rosicky midfield, others may argue the Jack-Cesc-Nasri midfield, but anyway it’s not as good as it used to be. Last season we probably looked better and more attractive because that Dutch asshole used to create most of his goals himself from half chances. I’m in no position to criticise Wengers tactics and offer an alternative that I think would be better, but it is clear that we don’t seem to have *it* any more. And here’s another thought, one of our best players wouldn’t be here now if he didn’t take a pay cut to join us. From the oil funded super rich powerhouses Everton.

10 points of the lead says it all really. 2 points better off than last season at this stage. 2 points better than a team that was responsible for one of the worst starts in recent memory.

We need to string together one of them impressive runs, 10 games in a row on the bounce. The Premier league this season really is poor and it would be a travesty if we were not challenging for it come March.

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Where Are They Now?

After the news broke that one our most expensive signings ever Francis Jeffers was set to make a move to Maltese giants Floriana, it gave me a sense of nostalgia and wondering as to the whereabouts of some of the other players who didn’t quite make it at Arsenal when we hoped they would and disappeared of into the wilderness of post Gooner football.

We begin with the aforementioned fox in the box, who you may recall had a serious obsession with scoring goals. If only all obsessions were as serious as his; I’d suspect certain deceased singers with drug addictions would be not so deceased and I wouldn’t be spending £15.99 a month on certain websites, that allow you to watch certain videos of a certain nature.

Now where were we

Francis Jeffers

After signing the young scouser from Everton for £8million, great things were expected of him. Signed to partner Thierry Henry and provide the perfect foil, things didn’t quite work out like that and after an injury hit spell that finished with him getting sent off against Man.United, he has fallen through the divisions. After a loan spell back at Everton, then spells with Charlton, Rangers, some other poo poo teams and a stint with Newcastle Jets he is available on a free and is currently set to sign for the Maltese champions, Floriana. Wiki stats (I know I know) have him down as scoring a massive 37 goals throughout his career, and after scoring 18 of those at Everton as a teenager it makes pretty horrible reading. 31 years old now which means he only scored 19 (league) goals in 11 years – just over a goal a season and he’s played at some pretty low levels.  Rumour has it upon arriving in the changing room, he came in with such an arrogance and cocky swagger that many of the senior players took an immediate dislike to him. Im not sure how true this is, but I’ve posted it on the internet now so it’s as true as a fact will ever be. When considering he left his boyhood team out to dry in order to force through the move to us, I’m not too surprised. In fact, maybe he is the little boy inside of Robin Van See You Next Tuesday?

Arturo Lupoli

I genuinely believed the little Italian would go on to do great things for us before securing his backstabbing multimillion pound transfer to some other team. After tearing up the reserve leagues with a Mr. Bendtner there were high hopes for him, 27 goals in 32 appearances in the 2004/2005 left him as the top scorer and I was somewhat excited about the prospect we had on our hands. However after a poor loan spell at Derby County where he only managed 7 goals in 35 appearances, I guess the evidence was clear – although I did still expect him to pull up some trees, as you do, at Fiorentina and I thought we’d be cursing the day he left as the one that got away. However all trees in Fiorentina were safe, as were they in Treviso, Norwich, Sheffield United, Ascoli and Grosetto where he currently ply’s his trade.

Alexander Hleb

Perhaps a questionable inclusion as he wasn’t exactly a flop with us, but that’s the reason I felt it necessary to include him. Signed in 2005 for around £12million from Stuttgart, he enjoyed a fairly good three seasons with us.  After forming a great midfield quartet with Fabregas, Flamini and Rosicky, Barcelona came calling he duly signed, declaring his love for the club upon arrival and expressing his desire to succeed at the club. However Barcelona had different ideas and he only started 5 times in the league that season. He rejected a move to Inter Milan as part of the Ibrahimovic deal, instead opting for a move back to Stuttgart where he was just as bad and had the club interested in ending his loan deal early. Loan deals with Birmingham (where he won the league cup, would you believe) and an unsuccessful spell at Wolfsburg followed, before a move to Krylia Sovetov Samara was over before you could say ‘how silly are you for leaving Arsenal’. Just the 8 appearances before he was released, but the competition at the club was mightily fierce in all fairness. Hleb’s career has finally come full circle as he made the transfer to his first team BATE Borisov, the Belarusian champions. Next time you hear of ‘doing a Hleb’ as some kind of warning, you know why.

Fran Merida

Another player I had high hopes for. Fran Merida was signed as a youngster from Barcelona under controversial circumstances over the transfer fee or the lack of, should I say. A player Arsene Wenger described as having ‘too much quality’ was hoped to have been the next Fabregas by many fans and some strong performances at reserve and youth level enhanced this believe. A loan spell at Real Sociedad gave him a taste of first team football and the following season he was set to join Levante on loan before Wenger pulled the plug, believing Fran would make first team appearances that season. However he didn’t make as many appearances as I imagine he would have liked and signed and he ended up signing a pre-contract deal with Atletico Madrid halfway through the season which riled Wenger and may explain why Fran only made 8 appearances that season. After rejecting an offer from Arsenal at the end of the season he moved to Spain on a permanent basis and I thought he’d be a player I’d wish was still with us. However it seems his career has gone somewhat Aruto Lupoli, as he didn’t quite make the grade at Madrid and jumped at  the chance to go on loan to Braga in the hope of emulating Eduardo Salvio’s success out in Portugal. This didn’t materialise and his loan spell was cut short, returning home after making only 5 (132 minutes) appearances. After a two year spell at Atletico he was released on a free transfer and joined Hercules at the beginning of this season. At the age of 22 there is still time for him to turn his career around and fulfil the potential that Wenger believed he had – hopefully he doesn’t quite replicate the career of Lupoli and can make the grade at some respectful European team.

Nacer Barazite

The talented Dutchman, signed as a 16 year old from NEC was coveted as a possible solution to our midfield problems at a time when Tomas Rosicky was struggling. He impressed with the youth and reserves teams and had a successful loan spell with Derby County but failed to make a league appearance for the gunners, making way in 2011. I find it quite a surprise that he wasn’t given a chance to shine with us, considering the fact he was often the star man in reserve games and the success of his loan spells. He even hit out at his lack of opportunity with Arsenal in the media, stating;

“To be honest I do believe I wasn’t given a fair chance to break through into the first team,”

He moved to Austria Wien in January 2011 where he eventually managed to find his feet, scoring an impressive 11 goals in 12 Europa League games and 19 in 33 games in all competitions in 2011-2012 which earned him a 3 million move to As Monaco, where he currently plys his trade.

Whether we can brand Barazite a flop is probably a bit 50/50. At the end of the day he didn’t get a chance with us and he didn’t do too bad in Austria, but there must’ve been a reason Arsene let him go. Maybe he thought we had too many midfielders and wanted him to move to progress his career, or maybe he just didn’t think he made the cut with us. Either way, he’s only 22 and can still make something good of his career.

Quincy Owusu Abeyie

Another one of Arsenal’s carling cup boys who didn’t make the cut. Similar to a lot of players in today’s game, his talent was never in doubt, but his attitude let him down.  This meant that Ajax, the club where he spent his youth, decided against offering him a first team contract. After a trial at Arsenal he was signed and scored a bundle of goals for the u18’s, netting 17 times in 20 games in the 2002-2003 season. He had the talent to succeed. He was fast, tricky and versatile, but his attitude problems led to Wenger offloading him in 2006, the same transfer window in which a certain Theo Walcott joined the club. He moved to Russia to play for Spartak Moscow but didn’t exactly shine there either, spending a relatively quiet season on loan with Celta Vigo before heading back to Russia. He had more loan spells with Birmingham and Portsmouth respectively, where he enjoyed relative success, even coming close to securing a permanent deal, but for extraneous circumstances to halt the transfer. He never quite turned out to be the Thierry Henry type player we thought he could, featuring just 23 times for the Arsenal first team scoring just 2 goals, and his switch in allegiance from the Netherlands to Ghana even shows his inability to reach his potential, knowing he wouldn’t be able to make it. He now plys his trade with Panathinaikos after an unsuccessful spell with Al-Sadd.

Christopher Wreh

A striker who was doing well on the international scene with Liberia, tempting Wenger enough to go out and sign him, despite having worked with him at Monaco, where he struggled to hold down a place in the team. Despite being quite low in the pecking order during his early Highbury years, he managed to establish himself as somewhat of a hero. He scored the winnings goals against Wimbledon and Bolton in the Premier League and sent Arsenal into the FA Cup final with his strike against Wolves, playing his part in the 1997/1998 double winning campaign. At least he’ll be remembered for something. Despite his promising start, he was never to hit them heights again. The arrivals of Thierry Henry and Davor Suker sent him further down in the pecking order and was subsequently sent out on loan to AEK Athens, Birmingham and Den Bosch. He eventually left in 2000, with 5 goals in 46 games to his name (albeit most of them as a sub) and signed for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia before returning to the UK in 2001 where he played in the lower leagues with Bournemouth and St Mirren, even plying his trade with Bishop’s Stortford at some point. Believe it or not he even went lower than this, playing for Buckingham Town before deciding to retire in 2005. His attitude and fitness was called into question a lot meaning he didn’t get much games, often failing to turn up for training and putting minimal effort in. I guess he thought he was some kind of a big shot who didn’t need to train because he had a premier league and fa winner’s medal. He came out of retirement in 2007 to join Indonesian club Perseman Manokwari before walking out on his contract 6 months later. He now focuses on his musical exploits along with his love for food, I’d imagine.

Jermaine Pennant

Signed from Notts County for 2million as a 15 year old wasn’t exactly a minor fee back then. A lot was expected of this man. He was once the youngest Arsenal player to score a hat-rick on his full premier league debut, and was even once the youngest player to turn out in an Arsenal shirt (before his record was broken by Cesc Fabregas) but he never quite transformed into that star man we all thought he could be. We can debate all day with regards to why he never made it at Arsenal. How was he meant to get much of a look in when we had Freddie Ljungberg on the right hand side, scoring for fun? This was a period of time where it was near enough impossible for any youngsters to come in and dismantle a regular starter from their position. In August 2003 he went on loan to Leeds United, where he even played in a 4-1 thrashing by Arsenal. Despite getting a few games in 04/05 Wenger decided his time was up and shipped him on loan to Birmingham, where he signed permanently that summer. Perhaps one of the more memorable moments of his career (after the hat-trick of course) was when he played a game whilst on tag for a drink driving conviction. Another English player who decided to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. He rediscovered some form whilst at Birmingham though, and moved to Liverpool once they were relegated. He enjoyed a relatively successful spell there, winning a community shield and playing a big role in getting Liverpool to a Champions League final. Despite always being a talented player, as his career went on he saw his progress halted by numerous off field problems and attitude issues. He now plays with Stoke City and at 29 years of age, probably won’t get much better.

Jeremie Aliadiere

I remember seeing this guy doing some pretty amazing stuff in an Arsenal top. Another product of the Clairefontaine academy, he was always held in high regards by Arsene Wenger and scored a lot of goals for the youth and reserve teams, still holding the record for the most goals scored in the Fa Youth Cup. It was in the 2003-2004 League Cup run where he really made his name. I mean, as Arsenal fans we all knew who he was but no one else did, until he scored 4 goals in our run to the semi-finals of the competition and was voted young player of the tournament. He did manage to get 10 games in the league so he has a Premier League medal to his name. in 2005, he was sent on loan to Celtic, but despite this Wenger still claimed he had a future, but was being kept out of the team by Thierry Henry & Dennis Bergkamp. After two more loan spells at West Ham and Wolves he made a return to Arsenal where again he featured mainly in the Carling Cup. Perhaps his best game in an Arsenal shirt was the famous 6-3 win at Anfield, where he ran riot and got himself on the scoresheet. All in all he played 37 games for Arsenal, with 25 as sub and scored 9 goals, all of which came in the Carling Cup (shock) apart from one in the league. He moved to Middlesbrough in 2007 and didn’t exactly shine their either, he was even booed by a section of Boro fans at one point before moving to Lorient, who of which he still plays for now. Like Pennant, at 29 years of age, It’s unlikely he’s going to make any sort of major improvement, which is a shame considering the high hopes everyone had for him at Arsenal.

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Stars of Tomorrow – Elton Monteiro

Every week ArseDNA takes an in depth look at a young player coming through the ranks at Arsenal, last week was Dutch Midfielder Kyle Ebecilio, this week is the turn of Swiss Defender Elton Monteiro.

Name – Elton Monteiro

Age – 18

Nationality – Swiss

Position – Centre Back

Elton Monteiro is a 6’3 Centre Back signed from Swiss club FC Sion when he was 16. Monteiro is eligible to play for both Switzerland and Portugal but has already pledged his allegiance to his home-grown country Switzerland. Althought Monteiro has just recently accepted a call up for Portugal U20’s latest squad for games against Australia. Monteiro has virtually everything in his locker; he is quick, tall, and strong and can play with the ball at his feet, all things Wenger looks for when grooming Centre backs for the First Team. Monteiro signed his first Professional Contract last year.

Monteiro had a shakey start to his Arsenal career and was involved in that 10-1 hammering against Villa a few years ago, in which he had a dire game. However since then he has been involved regularly in the U18’s as well as the Reserves/U21’s. Monteiro has had the benefit of playing under Steve Bould, who of course is a legendary Arsenal Centre Back, so who better to learn from than the current Arsenal Assistant Coach. When reading match reports about Monteiro in previous seasons it seemed as though the young Centre Back was prone to an error or two.

Comparisons will of course be made with Johan Djourou. Tall, Swiss and error prone. However on paper Djourou has all the attributes to be a very good centre back, but just hasn’t been able to cut the errors out of his game. Monteiro unlike Djourou has time on his hands and it is perfectly normal for an 18 year old Centre Back to be making errors in judgement and position. Hopefully as he plays more games at higher levels the mistakes will eradicate.

Last season Elton Monteiro captained the Arsenal U18’s side making 23 appearances scoring 2 goals and throwing in some very decent displays which caught the eye of Reserve coach Neil Banfield. Monteiro went on to feature 8 times for the Reserves last season, including 5 starts. Under Monteiro’s leadership Arsenal U18’s narrowly just missed out on the U18 title last season by 2 points.

Monteiro has built on from last season and has started 3 games for the U21’s this season. Monteiro started in wins against Everton and Bolton, as well as a 4-1 defeat to West Ham. As well as featuring in the U21’s Monteiro has been an ever present in Arsenal’s NextGen Series campaign. Monteiro has helped Arsenal keep 2 clean sheets thus far and after 3 games Arsenal have taken 4 points with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat. Monteiro will hope to maintain his place in the NextGen Series squad in the upcoming games, as well as some more U21 starts which will no doubt give Monteiro more experience.

Monteiro will be hoping to follow the footsteps of fellow compatriot Martin Angha in carving his way into the Arsenal First Team set up. Monteiro seems to be making steady improvement, filled with raw natural ability; Monteiro has everything a young Centre Back needs to have. The rest is now down to Monteiro, the mistakes that have hampered him early on in his time at Arsenal hopefully will be behind him.  We will surely see more of Monteiro as the season goes on and possibly a call up to the Capital One Cup Squad next season.

Thanks for reading.

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3 New Signings – Season So Far

Our beloved International break is here, so ArseDNA we will be giving you daily posts on random subjects to do with all things Arsenal. Today we’re going to look at our 3 signings this season and see how they’ve faired so far this term.

Lukas Podolski

Fee – £10.5m

Apps – 9 Goals – 4 Assists – 2

Rating – 7

We signed Podolski right at the beginning of the summer and it was a signing we’d known was coming for quite some time. We missed out on Podolski in January, but Wenger got his man this time around. Podolski was signed before we sold RVP, so it is conceivable that Wenger had hoped Podolski and RVP could play in the same team together, a partnership I’m sure would’ve proved lethal.

My expectations for the German international this season was to chip in with at least 15 goals in the League. Losing RVP has meant that we’re not going to get a player who is going to get 25-30 goals this season, instead we need to settle for 4-5 players getting 10-15 goals. Podolski’s eye for goal and submissive finishing means that tally should be quite easy for him to get, providing he stays fit.

So far Podolski is on his way to meeting my expectations. He has 4 goals for us in all competitions and 2 in the League so far from 7 games, not too bad as he is already showing that once he gets a chance in front of goal, he is burying it. However I think it is defensively we have seen Podolski’s best work, which may sound a weird thing to say. His tracking back and extra presence down the left hand side has been a revelation for us. Not only giving us extra protection but it allows Gibbs to push on forward and excel. The left hand side partnership between Gibbs and Podolski is turning out to be a rather threatening one and both seem to understand each other very well.

Podolski’s work ethic has been nothing short of remarkable, I hardly remember a time where I haven’t seen Podolski tracking back. However a slight concern would be Wenger’s reluctance to keep Podolski on the pitch for 90 mins. So far this season Podolski has yet to complete a single 90 minutes in 9 appearances so far. Maybe I’m looking too much into it but it could well be possible that Podolski has some fitness concerns.

Whilst I am pleased with Podolski’s contribution so far, I do expect far more going forward. Out of Gervinho, Chamberlain and Walcott so far this season, I would say Podolski has been the least effective in the final third. We look more dangerous with the other three on the ball, but given a chance I would rather Podolski have that chance over the other 3. Podolski seems to have too many quiet games, where he is not involved for long periods. I personally believe the best form attacking wise is yet to come from Podolski and defensively is where we have seen his best work.

Santi Cazorla

Fee – £16.7m

Apps – 9 Goals – 2 Assists – 2

Rating – 8

The signing of Cazorla raised a lot of excitement and is one our most high profile signings ever. Cazorla had been monitored by the likes of Real Madrid and spent 1 season at Malaga after the club were forced to sell him. We had finally signed a replacement for Fabregas.

At the start of the season my expectations of Cazorla were not that high. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of his transition to English football and the hustle and bustle of Premier League football. I expected to see moments on brilliance but didn’t expect to see the best of him until the second half of the season, possibly chipping in with 10 goals or so in the Premier League.

Well shows how much I know. Cazorla has come into English Football and taken it by storm. For such a small man (Hilarious when standing next to Mertesacker) he is so strong on the ball and refuses to be bullied off of it. So far Cazorla has been a revelation to the Premier League and without a doubt signing of the season so far in terms of value for money. I’m not one to make comparisons but it is clear that we have signed a better player than Fabregas. That’s not to say Cazorla has already done more for Arsenal than Fabregas or played better than Fabregas, because that is just a ridiculous comment to make. But in terms of sheer ability Cazorla is without a doubt a better player than Fabregas.

Cazorla started amazingly well, his partnership with Podolski started to build and an understanding came quickly between the two. As well as that Cazorla and Arteta gelled instantly in the centre of the park, with Arteta rapidly becoming the defensive midfielder we’ve been crying out for since Gilberto left. We saw a little dip in Cazorla’s form, maybe it was too many games at once and the tempo of the Premier League was catching up with him, but that is going to happen we can’t expect Cazorla to be absolutely excellent for 50 or so games this season, it is just not going to happen, he is going to have off days.

If there was a slight criticism I have over Santi, it would be his inability to finish on a consistent basis. I say this after he just scored a stunner against West Ham at the weekend, but statically Cazorla gets more chances than anybody else in our squad and has only 2 goals to show for it so far. In order to reach the 10 goal benchmark I’ve set him for the League this season, Cazorla must start taking his chances. It has never been an area of great strength for Cazorla, he has never been a goal scoring midfielder in his days at both Villarreal and Malaga, but if he was to start adding goals to his game he would easily be one of the best players in the world.

Olivier Giroud

Fee – £10.5m

Apps – 10 Goals – 2 Assists – 4

Rating – 6

Olivier Giroud was the top scorer in Ligue One helping Montpellier secure the League title last season. Giroud is strong, tall and has shown himself to be a pretty good finisher. For £10.5m in today’s market that is a bargain.

I never expected Olivier Giroud to set the world alight at first, my minimal expectation for him at the start of the season was to grab 15 goals in the League and I would be happy. It is never easy a striker to come to a new club, let alone a new league, playing a standard of football you’ve never played before. Giroud has all the ingredients becoming a world class striker.

It started off slow for Giroud, some ridiculously harsh criticism was being pointed at him, branding him a flop after 2 games. The critics started to go away when they found it took players like Bergkamp and Henry  a while to get their first goals for the club. Nobody expects Giroud to come to the Premier League and emulate Van Persie and score 30 goals this season, which is not what Giroud’s about. Giroud is about getting himself in the box to score, as well as setting up others, which is what we’ve seen so far this season. Giroud has the highest amount of assists so far from anyone at Arsenal this season, he wins many aerial duels and works extremely hard up front.

Hopefully the goal against West Ham will settle the nerves, but let’s not get away from the fact that Giroud is still new to the League. He has shown more than enough in my opinion for him to become a world class striker, yes he has missed a few chances that could’ve salvaged us a few points this season, which is disappointing, but let us not forget that Van Persie was doing exactly the same thing last season. Yes RVP scored 37 goals last season but I can remember numerous amounts of times that RVP missed absolute sitters, but we couldn’t criticise because he got 37 goals, granted however that we played everything through RVP and he got huge amounts of chances per game, but we must give Giroud a chance. First goal against the Hammers in the League, another 14 more this season and I’ll be happy with his contribution.

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Thoughts On West Ham – Preview

Facing a newly promoted side managed by The Walrus isn’t exactly my idea of an ideal game just before the interlull considering we need points quite badly – a win could see us back into the top 4, but a loss would see us down in the bottom half. I know it’s still early days, but it’s getting to that time when it’s not really early days anymore, the time when we need to be up near the top ready to break away from the chasing pack. And at any stage, if Chelsea were 11 points clear of us that would be worrying.

Team news:

Personally I hope Giroud gets a start, and an evening kick off away in the east end sounds like something that could suit him more than it would Gervinho through the middle. Saying that, I would have suspected Giroud would have been better suited to facing Terry and Luiz, and Kompany and Lescott, so with the gorgeous Ivorian entering somewhat of a purple patch at least, he can’t really be dropped. It’s a weird situation where we are so desperate for Giroud to come good, I suspect most people would have him come in at the expense of a player who now has 5 goals in 7 games. Hopefully we will line up at the top with Podolski – Giroud – Gervinho but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Giroud on the bench again.

Turning our attention to the back, hopefully we can get a clean sheet as it’s been a while and that fat thing will be sure to try and exploit our frailties from set pieces and crosses. A lot of attention has be paid toward the centre pack pairing, but whoever it is come game time will need a commanding goalkeeper behind them. Mannone is still yet to convince me but I think he will need to have a strong performance as he’s sure to come under an aerial bombardment, and if he is on his game it will exude confidence in the rest of the team.

I think Per’s been unfairly left out in recent games and for me I’d like to see him come back into the frame. We need a calming influence at the back in a game like this. He’s been ill recently though and doesn’t look like he’s 100% for today so I’d imagine Vermaelen & Koscielny will be paired together again. This partnership can work but it doesn’t look convincing to me at this moment.

I reckon it’s safe to say the midfield trio of le coq, Arteta and little Santi will continue. And if they Spanish duo are on their game, there’ll be chances galore for our front three

It’ll be a tough game for sure, Upton Park is never an easy place to go to, and with the return of Andy Carroll it’ll be a tough test for the defence. We all know how big Sam likes to play, and with all the big physical players he has it his disposal, it’s likely they’ll try to kick us off the park. So there’s no doubt it’ll be a tough game today but if we turn up there’s no question we can play some quality football and get goals.

Definitely think we’ll come away with a vital three points today. We need them.

Prediction: West Ham 1 – 3 Arsenal

Review tomorrow

@ArseDNA

Stars of Tomorrow – Kyle Ebecilio

Every week ArseDNA takes an in depth look at a young player coming through the ranks at Arsenal, last week was Spanish Right Back Hector Bellerin, this week is the turn of Dutchman Kyle Ebecilio.

Name – Kyle Ebecilio

Age – 18

Nationality – Dutch

Position – Midfield

Kyle Ebecilio joined Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2010 at the age of 16, turning down the likes of Chelsea to join Arsenal and has already impressed greatly in the short period of time he has been at the club. Ebecilio is widely regarded as a box to box midfielder, but can play as a holding midfielder as well as an attacking midfielder centrally or out wide. Ebecilio possesses an eye for goal, as well as a mean tackle and glorious technical ability.

Ebecilio has already made a reputation for himself across Europe, winning the Golden Player Award in the 2011 U17 European Championships, helping Holland to win the competition. 2011 was a big year for Ebecilio, because as well as winning the European Championships and the Golden Player Award, Ebecilio also broke into the Arsenal Reserves and started featuring regularly. Last season Ebecilio featured 16 times for the Arsenal Reserves, starting on 9 occasions. He also notched up 4 goals in 7 starts for the U18’s.

This season Ebecilio has built on last season’s improvement by featuring for the U21’s in all but one of their games so far scoring 2 goals along the way. Ebecilio played the whole game of Jack Wilshere’s comeback match against West Brom, one of two starts so far for Ebecilio for the U21’s. His first goal this season was a thunderous drive in the last minute of a 3-0 against Everton, Ebecilio came on as a substitute in that game. His second goal of the season was a glancing header in a 4-1 defeat to West Ham a few weeks ago.

As well as making his mark on the U21’s Ebecilio has also started 2 of Arsenal’s 3 NextGen Series Games. Ebecilio featured in Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Marseille, as well as the defeat in Olympiakos. However Ebecilio was unable to make a 3rd successive start in the return leg against Olympiakos, only managing a place on the bench in a 0-0 draw.

Ebecilio is a regular in Holland’s U19’s squad and has featured 10 times for them, the last game coming last month against Greece in an U19 friendly. His only goal for the Holland U19’s was in a 3-0 victory over Belgium last year. After becoming such a regular at U19 level, Ebecilio must be setting his sights on an U21 call up, although there is plenty of time for that to happen.

Ebecilio is practically capable of playing anywhere across the Midfielder. Whether it be a more advanced role, wide or centrally, or even in a Defensive Midfielder role. If there was a player I could liken Ebecilio to it would probably be Abou Diaby. Only because of both of their abilities to play anywhere across the midfield and their technical ability. Ebecilio lacks the height and power of Diaby, but of course that could come with years to come. Ebecilio is similar build to Alex Song and possesses some of the same attributes to the Cameroon International.

You get the feeling Ebecilio excels when asked to play a more attacking role (another similarity to Song). He wants to be involved in every move going forward and has the ability to pass and make runs into the box. Despite being only 5’11, Ebecilio is quite a strong boy and is very commanding in the Centre of the pitch, hence the comparison to Diaby. Everything about him suits the Arsenal style of play and is no wonder why Wenger decided to sign him as a 16 year old.

Ebecilio will be hoping for a call up to Arsene Wenger’s Capital One Cup Squad, after missing out against Coventry. However at the tender age of 18, Ebecilio has time on his side and if it isn’t this season, it will most certainly be next season. For this season Ebecilio will be hoping for a continued run in the U21’s as well as helping Arsenal to the further stages of the NextGen Series.

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Olympiakos Review

A cold, raining evening at the Emirates and it was a rather drab performance from the lads last night. Olympiakos have an extremely poor record in travelling around Europe, so nobody really expected anything other than an Arsenal victory. For Arsenal it was a chance to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Chelsea over the weekend. Bounce back we did, but not with the greatest leap as we sneaked a 3-1 victory over the Greeks.

No real surprise inclusions in the team other than the omission of Mertesacker who was said to have fallen ill with the flu before the game. Apparently 6 players who played last night were suffering from the flu according to @DarrenArsenal1. Arteta was passed fit and Wenger opted for a 3 pronged attack of Podolski, Gervinho and Ox, as Arsene sat out his 2nd match of a 3 match ban.

The first half didn’t liven up at all until we scored, Gervinho’s fantastic start to the season continued with his 5th goal from 7 games. A well taken finish from the frustrating Ivorian, who when good is excellent, but equally when poor is bloody awful. Saying that 5 goals in 7 games, what am I bloody complaining for, he’s getting goals!

Almost straight away, just as we were singing “you’re not singing any..” boom Olympiakos had equalised. A cross from the right was headed home by Mitroglu on the stroke of half time, after some poor marking from Thomas Vermaelen. That is now 6 games in a row we’ve failed to keep a clean sheet and with defending like that it’s not hard to see why.

After the break we came out with a bit more intent and Podolski put as 2-1 up after some delightful play from Gervinho on the left. The German powered home his 4th goal of the season. After the second goal from Podolski, we should’ve looked to really put the game to bed, instead however it was the Greeks keeping us on our toes. A few nervy moments, as well as some lazy football on our behalf, the last 20 minutes or so were rather nerve racking. We finally got our third goal to seal the game in the last minute after a deft flick from second half substitute Giroud, set up fellow second half substitute Ramsey, to put the Welshman through to dink the ball over the keeper, excellent finish from Rambo.

So 3-1, job done, 3 points and top of the group. Can’t ask for much more really can we? I think we’re starting to value wins of any kind, slowly forgetting the old Arsenal way of winning in style. We’re learning to take any win that we get, especially after poor performances, which is important and is something that will hold us in good stead for the rest of the season.

Stand out performances from the night came from Gibbs, Arteta and Gervinho who were easily our best players. I can’t remember a poor performance by Gibbs this season and last night he excelled once more, this time in front of Roy Hodgson who has named Gibbs in his England squad this morning. Excellent news, providing he comes back with all his limbs intact. Arteta was once more influential. Arteta uses the ball so well, rarely gives it away and always seems to make the right decision. You can imagine Arteta being a bit of a recycling enthusiast, just doesn’t want to waste anything. Gervinho had a good game, scoring one and assisting another. I’ve learnt to accept that Gervinho is going to be caught offside once or 27 times a game, but he is capable of that moment of brilliance.

A performance that particularly disappointed me was that of Thomas Vermaelen. Nobody can deny, TV’s commitment and enthusiasm to the club, but I wouldn’t quite say he is leading by example. Leaving the goal we conceded out of the equation, which was TV’s fault, other parts of his game frustrate the hell out of me. Rash tackles on the edge of the box and rushing forward when 2-1 up with 3 minutes to go are just two of TV’s menacing style of play. When going forward, it’s like he just can’t resist the urge, a bit like a looter who saw the local JD Sports being broken into. Vermaelen has always reminded me of the Monk (Jason Statham) from Mean Machine, who just gets rushes of blood to his head and starts fly kicking everyone and killing people. Obviously not to that scale but you get the point I’m trying to make, although I’m pretty sure Vermaelen has probably killed a person or two in his lifetime.

The fact TV was given the captain’s armband basically cements his position in the team, when arguably his place in team should be under more scrutiny than both Per and Laurent. Personally I think there is an argument to be made that Vermaelen is the worst out of the 3 CB’s we have. Now I love Vermaelen, but if he is going to be Captain of this team, he must start leading by example and calming himself down. Rash decisions and tactics will lead us into a lot of trouble, have a word Arsene.

West Ham next in the league and the ‘bounce back’ must continue on Saturday with 3 points. It will be a real test of the team, I don’t care how we win, I just want 3 points.

Till Tomorrow, with our Stars of the future feature.

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Arsenal Player Ratings

Vito Mannone – 6 – A nervy night for the Italian, no chance for the goal, made a few decent stops but still not commanding enough.

Carl Jenkinson – 7 – Another good performance from Jenkinson in front of England manager Roy Hodgson. Coming on leaps and bounds, game by game.

Laurent Koscielny – 6 – Better than over the weekend, still slowly getting back to his best but distribution poor

Thomas Vermaelen – 5 – Not the Belgian’s greatest performance by any stretch of the imagination. At fault for goal. Rash. Poor decision Making.

Keiran Gibbs – 8 – Excellent once again both offensively and defensively. Deserves his England call up.

Santi Cazorla – 6 – Santi looked a bit jaded last night, not the same craft and precision as the first few games of the season, but even when poor oozes quality and class.

Mikel Arteta – 7 – Everything we’ve come to expect of Arteta. Cool and composed and hardly seems to put a foot wrong.

Francis Coquelin – 7 – Coquelin had a decent game, gives us a lot more stability defensively but lacks Diaby’s presence going forward. Steady performance.

Alex Ox-Chamberlain – 6 – Quiet game from the Ox who was substituted by Walcott.

Lukas Podolski – 6 – A quiet game, but popped up with a goal. Contribution to the team is underrated, especially defensively.

Gervinho – 7 – We seem to see the best and the worst of Gervinho all in the space of a few minutes, Great goal and great assist.

Theo Walcott – 6 – Came on and was very direct and offered us an outlet in the remaining minutes.

Olivier Giroud – 7 – Came on and was once again dominant in the air, set up Ramsey for his goal.

Aaron Ramsey – 7 – Took his goal extremely well and worked hard.