Monday, November 28, 2011

Arsenal 1 Fulham 1

We have mixed views on this game among the members. Some of our players may not have been as sharp as we hoped, but they showed great spirit to come back from 1-0 down. After the equaliser, Arsenal pressed on with great urgency, but unfortunately the end product never arrived. Of course, two points dropped are a big blow to Arsenal's top four finish bid, but the draw is unlikely to undermine their confidence or affect the momentum of their resurgence.

All Arsenal players knew they had to be patient and not to make silly mistakes, so I was not too disappointed with their performance in the first half, when it ended at 0-0. However, conceding a first goal was not included in their game plan. It was very difficult to score two goals against Fulham's well-organised defence especially with a man of the match performance from their goal keeper, Mark Schwarzer.

Incidentally, Arsenal's starting XI did not include any Frenchman for the first time in 6 years. An interesting stat? Arsenal are no longer a second Frence national team. This is not really surprising if you look at this summer's signings, which included no French nationals.

Player ratings:

Szczeny: 7
Made some good saves.

Djourou: 8
Good denfensive work, covering central defence as well. Also, he made good forward runs, overlapping Theo, and nearly scored with a powerful header.

Mertesacker: 7
He was replaced in 68th minute by Diaby to add offensive force. He did OK.

Vermaelen: 8
Unfortunately he was the culprit for the first goal, but he did not hide and instead, he scored a brilliant goal. It was nice to see our vice-captain and one of our most influential players kissing the badge when celebrating his goal.

Santos: 7
Won some crucial tackles. He looked better defensively than before and good at going forward as always.

Ramsey: 6
His passing lacked accuracy. He continued his efforts to make runs and get into good positions, but failed to grab his chances to shine (one of his efforts was not entirely his fault though, as it was denied by Schwarzer). Some criticise Arsene Wenger for his decision to keep playing Ramsey, but the young Welshman had a few excellent games before this one and he looked like he was going to start scoring anytime soon. Wenger could not drop him as long as he was fit, but probably Rosicky will start in Ramsey's place Tuesday night.

Arteta: 7
When he thought he was fouled, he stopped playing, which led to Fulham's goal (or Vermaelen's first goal) as the whole team were distracted from the incident.

Song: 8
Worked hard as usual. Took on more defensive work after Mertesacker had been replaced.

Walcott: 8
This is where our views are divided. I personally think he had a good game and many Arsenal fans seem to agree with me as he collected 28% of votes for the Man of the Match on the site (Vermaelen was top with 35% of votes). He was always dangerous on the right-wing, creating chances for others and seeking to score himself. He supplied a superb cross for Vermaelen. Although his late effort was as tame as a back pass, his work down the right-wing throughout the game overweighs it. He had a tendency to go anonymous after a couple of good games, but he has had a run of decent games by now. Is this a sign of consistency?

Arshavin: 6
He started brightly, but failed to threat Fulham defence. Sometimes gave the ball away too cheaply.

Van Persie: 7
Had a relatively quiet game. He got involved in a few attacking moves, but could not produce a goal.


Gervinho: 8
Came on as a 68th-minute substitution to replace Ramsey and made an immediate impact. Shame he didn't start, but he looked a bit jaded in the midweek game against Dortmund. That may be the reason behind his starting from the bench.

Diaby: 7
Replaced Mertesacker at 68th minuite.

Chamakh: 6
Came on at 76th minute for Arsehavin. Did not make an impact.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arsenal 2 Dortmund 1

It was a great team performance against a good side, the reigning champions of Bundesliga. Arsenal withstood early offensive storms from Dortmund and gradually got the game under control.

Just when we were talking about how scarcely RVP scores with his head, he headed home Song's brilliant cross. Never underestimate his "chocolate leg" or "chocolate head", or any of his abilities. His goal-scoring form is just phenomenal at the moment.

Above all, the most important point of this game was the result. We bagged all three points which was required to secure the place in the Knock-out Stages and even better, we have won Group F with a game to spare. This means that we are less likely to face one of the strongest opponents in Europe, such as Bacelona, immediately in the Knock-out Stages and that we can afford to send our young players and second-string first-teamers to Greece in two weeks' time and rest our key players.

With all other English clubs failing to grab three points this week, Arsenal are the only English club that has already booked their place in the last 16. Manchester City, the current Premier League leaders and big spender, are bracing themselves for a possible early exit from the European elite competition. Who would've expected all these? When the draw took place, most of Man U and Chelsea supporters thought they were already through before the competition started. Arsenal had to qualify by beating Udinese, who were at that time top of Serie A, and then battled against two domestic league champions and a prestigious French club. Our team and their achievement last night make us proud.

Our Man of the Match is Alex Song for his superb job both offensive and defensive.

Player ratings:
Szczeny: 7
Solid performance.

Koscielny: 8
Great defensive work in an unfamiliar position. On the offensive side of the game, he was more involved in forward runs than in the last game. He was replaced by Djourou at 83rd minute, walking down the tunnel accompanied by the Physio. Hope he didn't get injured.

Mertesacker: 7
He was under tremendous pressure and severe scrutiny after the blunder last Saturday. Even against the known German side, he did not look too comfortable, but he did well to hold the defensive line together with the other defenders. We still think that it is too early to conclude him as a flop.

Vermaelen: 8
Ever reassuring presence at the back. His flick from Arteta's corner set up a rare set-piece goal for Arsenal.

Santos: 7
Better defensive performance than in the last game. Great movement going forward.

Ramsey: 8
Some great passes to release Gervinho and Walcott behind Dortmund defensive line. RVP praised the Welshman's movements without the ball after Norwich game and tweeted to him that he would get a well-deserved goal on Wednesday. Unfortunately RVP's prediction did not materialise, but if Rambo keeps up his good work, he will most certainly achieve his target of 10 goals this season (two scored so far).

Arteta: 7
Not so eye-catching, but solid performance. His corners and free-kicks seem to have improved.

Song: 9
Great run, skills to beat two Dortmund defenders and inch-perfect cross to RVP. He had a good game both offensively and defensively.

Walcott: 8
He was a constant threat to the opponents' defence again. He could have scored if it had not been for those dubious off-side decisions.

Gervinho: 7
He may not have been as sharp as usual, but his work rate was tremendous. He was all over the pitch, tracking back and making forward runs. His fininshing let him down.

Van Persie: 9
He worked very hard, creating chances in midfield and finishing them off in goalmouth. It looks so easy when he is in the right position at the right time, but it's all attributed to his quality.


Benayoun: 6
He came off the bench at 74th minute. He did what he was expected to do.

Djourou: 6
He was a 83rd-minute substitution to replace Koscielny.

Diaby: 6
Good to see him back.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Norwich 1 Arsenal 2

Arsenal made the game more difficult and made themselves more vulnerable by being unable to find their third goal. They should have been at least two goals up at the half time and when RVP had scored what turned out to be the winner with more than half an hour remaining, his side looked likely to finish the game with an emphatic win, but it wasn't to be.

It is hardly new that Arsenal wasted numerous chances to score and it was frustrating. However, while they continued attacking, they kept the possession very well to hold on to their narrow lead in the last 10 minutes. That's the difference this season. We hail the new resilient Arsenal.

Our Man of the Match is RVP for not just scoring two goals, but creating chances for his team-mates as well.

Player ratings:

Szczeny: 8
Made some good saves. He came out to claim the ball from Norwich's free-kick from the dangerous position in the final minutes, which potentially saved two points.

Koscielny: 7
He did OK, considering the fact that this was his first game at right-back in an Arsenal shirt (According to Wenger, he was trained as the right-back). I had never thought I would say this, but I prefer Jenkinson for this position after his impressive performance against West Brom. But I suppose this was a totally different game from the one against West Brom, who did not really turn up. Koscielny did an impeccable job defensively. Hopefully, as he gains confidence in his new role, he will make more forward runs and his link-up with Walcott will grow.

Mertesacker: 5
Terrible mistake to let Morison score from that situation. It may have been a foul on the German international, but Per should have dealt with the ball before letting Morison get anywhere near him. Arsene Wenger said in his post-match interview "I told Per that when you are in England facing goal, maybe in many countries you are safe but not here. That's what he has learned today".

Apart from this occasion, he was outmuscled a few times. He shouldn't allow himself to be bullied if he wants to survive in English football. Hopefully he has learned lessons from this game.

Vermaelen: 8
Solid at the back.

Santos: 6
He was caught out of position several times, mainly as a result of his unsuccessful tackles, exposing Arsenal's left-flank too often in the first half. His defensive performance was poor, but he was good offensively by creating goal-scoring chances, including the great through-ball to RVP.

Ramsey: 8
Linked up well with other attacking players and took every opportunity to get involved in attacking. He now seems to be back to his best before the horrific injury.

Arteta: 7
He seemed to have been quiet throughout the game. His name was mentioned only three times when he made a defensive mistake and when he had shots.

Song: 7
He battled for the ball in the middle of the park and set up RVP's second goal through his precise pass (which does not happen very often unfortunately).

Walcott: 8
He posed a genuine threat to Norwich defence. His shot hit the woodwork, which could have provided Arsenal with a much-needed third goal otherwise and he provided an assist for RVP's first goal. He is arguably the most improved Arsenal player this season. His recent performances, including those for England national team, have shown improvements in his defensive work and his movements without the ball. All he needs is consistency now.

Gervinho: 7
He was handful and did everything right except for final balls. He had at least two clear-cut chances among other goal-scoring opportunities, but could not convert them. He was sometimes slow to make decisions when he got the ball. In the post-match interview, Wenger commented on RVP: "He always makes the right decisions in a fraction of a second when there is little time available. That makes him exceptional." That's what Gervinho has to learn to become a world-class player like RVP.

Van Persie: 9
He created chances, as well as scoring goals. The second goal was superb, displaying his class. Also, while celebrating his goals with his team-mate, he urged them to keep focused and get on with the job. He is a great leader and has learned a lot from last season.


Benayoun: 6
He came off the bench at 77th minute. It was a short appearance, but he got involved in some attacking moves.

Djourou: N/A
He was an injury-time substitution to prop up the defence.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Extraordinary Club Meeting

An extraordinary club meeting took place from 15:00 on Saturday 12th November at Las Mimosas bar, Playa Flamenca. Due to the Chairman being ill the meeting was facilitated by the Secretary. Happily the Chairman is now back in circulation.

The following subjects were discussed and decided:

Christmas Dinner
Chirstmas Dinner will be held from 19:30 on Monday 12th December at Pablo's Bar, Parque del Duque, Playa Flamenca. The menu was distributed and tickets went on sale for €10 per person. 10 tickets were sold on the spot with further interest from the meeting participants.

Closing of Las Mimosas Bar for Christmas
As Las Mimosas Bar, our usual venue for watching Arsenal games, is shut for Christmas between 24th December and 6th January, we need to find an alternative bar for the 3 Arsenal matches to be played during this period: namely EPL games against Wolves on Monday 26th December, QPR on Saturday 31st December, and Fulham on Monday 2nd January.
Mick will enquire the Wicklow Abbey Tavern if they will be able to show these games.

Invitation to apply for tickets for Blackburn 4th February & Tottenham 25th Februrary
Club Sectretary explained how applications can be made.

Benidorm Trip
On the back of the popularity of the club trip to Benidorm earlier this year, the similar trip will be organised again for Februrary next year. 16th February is suggested as a candidate date. Events Manager will look into the details.

Football Cards
In order to raise funds for the Supporters Club, football scratch cards will be sold. It is the intention to sell cards on Match days. The entry price was set for €1 per square. Of the total proceeds of €40 per card, €25 goes to the prize, with €15 into the kitty. This scheme was immediately put into action on the day, prior to England vs Spain game, and €15 was put into the Supporters Club fund through the sale of a scratch card.

Election of Committee
The current committee members were nominated and re-elected.
Mo Jeffryes      Chairman
Mick Hill          Treasurer
Dave Johns      Secretary

Supporters Club Goods
T-shirts and polo shirts will be produced with a Supporters Club badge on. Part of the fund raised through the football cards will be used for the production of these shirts, which will be sold with profits. The proceeds from the sale of the shirts will go back into the fund. Cheryl will look into quality T-shirts/polo shirts on the Internet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Extraordinary Club Meeting

We are holding an extraordinary club meeting on 12th November. If you cannot carry on for two weeks without Arsenal in action, please come and join us at Las Mimosas bar, Playa Flamenca at 3:00pm to discuss Arsenal FC, the Supporters Club affairs, and anything you want to talk about. See you on Saturday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Arsenal 3 West Brom 0

The pre-match focus was on who was going to be paired with Vermaelen, and the answer was Koscielny. After the match, Arsene Wenger revealed that he chose two quick centre backs in the anticipation of Peter Odemwengie to play up front.

Odemwengie, who sustained an injury during the training in the week, did not feature in Saturday's game, but it proved to be a good decision to play two aggressive centre-backs because they tried to defend West Brom attack high on the pitch and contained it very compactly.

Three goals came from three different scorers. Although RVP was involved in all the goals, either as a scorer or a provider, it was a good evidence that Arsenal are not a one-man team. In fact, all the three goals were produced as the result of very good team performance.

It was a typical Arsenal game in which they dominated in possession, with one-touch passing and little clever one-twos. Good old Arsenal football is back. After scoring two goals in the first half and with West Brom not looking too threatening, Arsenal slipped into the old habit of taking the foot off the gas in the second half. Watching this game at Las Mimosas bar, we began to fear the all too familiar scenario, in which just one sloppy pass would award patient West Brom a chance to score and at 2-1, Arsenal defence would start to panic. Call us pessimists, but we have watched far too many Arsenal matches (especially last season) to sit back and relax even when we are cruising with a two-goal lead. Then, Arsene Wenger made three substitutions to inject some urgency into the game through Rosicky, Benayoun, and Arshavin, who all wanted playing time and needed to prove their worth. The double substitutions turned out to be a timely decision as Rosicky and Benayoun livened up the game and forced a much-needed third goal to put the game into bed.

Overall, it was a comfortable and convincing win, with a welcome clean sheet and another three points in the bag. Furthermore, Arsenal's goal deference has turned positive for the first time this season.

It is again difficult not to choose RVP for the Man of the Match with scoring a goal and assisting two, but we would like to choose Vermaelen instead because his return has made such a big difference to the team and he epitomised Arsenal's solid performance both defensively and offensively.

Player Ratings:

Szczeny: 7
He didn't have much to do as West Brom registered only two shots on target. His goal-kick to Jenkinson ended up with a West Brom throw-in from a dangerous area. As a goalkeeper, he has to be focused for full 90 minutes.

Jenkinson: 8
He coped with pacey Jerome Thomas very well. He looked less nervous than in the mid-week game against Marseille and got more involved in going forward, which drew out his strength, i.e., good crossing.

Koscielny: 8
Together with Vermaelen, he formed a solid defence.

Vermaelen: 9
He provided reassuring presence for Arsenal defence. He closed down West Brom attack high on the pitch, although he gave away several fouls, but not serious enough to get yellow cards. He scored a good goal, dashing into the box like a centre forward.

Santos: 7
Arsene Wenger said that he is a better defender than people think. He tries to get the ball in the opponents' half. When it is successful, it gives Arsenal a huge attacking edge, but when it fails, it exposes Arsenal defence. In this game, his risk-taking style worked well and he was always a threat to West Brom defence down the left-hand side.

Ramsey: 7
Great pass to Walcott, which led to the first goal. He had a chance to score himself, but the shot went wide.

Arteta: 8
Arsenal defenders contained West Brom attack very compactly, which allowed Arteta to exploit his attacking prowess. It is not fair to compare him with Fabregas as he has been playing Jack Wilshere role. However, in this game, he was given scope to show what he was capable of as an attacking midfielder. This is good for Arsenal because it shows the midfield can adjust their attack-defence balance game by game, a further evidence for the newly rebuilt team gelling together. At the end of a very good build-up involving Rosicky and RVP, Arteta scored his second goal of the season with clinical finish.

Song: 7
He broke down West Brom attack very well and nearly scored.

Walcott: 8
He used his pace well and tested Ben Foster with sharp shooting a couple times, one of which led to the first goal.

Gervinho: 8
In the first half, he was not given much space to manoeuvre as two West Brom players tightly marked him, but he gradually found space by swapping sides with Walcott occasionally and got involved in every attacking move in the second half.

Van Persie: 9
He scored a poacher's goal and provided assists for the other two goals.


Rosicky: 8
Brought the tempo back in to the game and his neat one-two with RVP was a part of beautiful build-up to the third goal.

Benayoun: 7
Did not make an eye-catching move, but together with Rosicky, he brought urgency into Arsenal attack.
Arshavin: 6
Made little impact.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Arsenal 0 Marseille 0

A home draw and missing out on the chance to qualify for the knock-out stages were disappointing. On the back of the weekend's sensational win and superb performance, Arsenal were expected to win and seal their place in the last 16 on the night. Although Marseille was a strong side, with organised defence closing down Arsenal very effectively, we had chances to win the game in the first half.

Prior to the first Marseille match two weeks ago, Arsene Wenger said he was targeting four points from the two matches and we have achieved it, so the draw against the arguably strongest contestant in Group F is not such a bad result. It is certainly not a disaster as we are still top of the Group.

So many players were below-par. Ramsey missed a few good chances. Especially he dwelled so long on the ball in the box only to allow Marseille defenders to come back and block his effort. Gervinho's ball control let him down last night. Park was a passenger throughout the game. He could have impressed the fans and the boss if he had had a better touch on the pass from Walcott.

Most of the players looked tired and short of sharpness after the weekend's intense game. Maybe Arsene Wenger should have rotated more players rather than just resting RVP? That said, Rosicky and Arshavin, who didn't play a large part in the game three days ago, were also lacklustre. Ramsey had covered more than 9 km in distance by the time he came off the pitch. So you could not blame him for not woring hard. Probably the effect of the Chelsea game was more psychological than physical.

On the positive side, Vermaelen completed his first full 90 minutes flawlessly. The Mertesacker-Vermaelen pairing looked good, as if they had been playing together for a long time. The pair even had a chance to score a rare set-piece goal between them. What a dream start to the new partnership it would have been! The partnership looked very solid defensively. That's what matters, and the partnership only grows from now on. This means that Koscielny, who was excellent against Chelsea, can be deployed on the right back, although I suppose that Wenger prefers to play Jenkinson as the right-back, when he is available.