So, here we are. Another miserable start to the week. A Monday, which could have been so cheerfully different, had the referee yellow-carded Nathan Dyer for simulation, instead of awarding Swansea a penalty; and more importantly, had Arsenal emerged out of Southern Wales with 3 points.
But, this is football. It goes on, so does life. Yes, I may be being a bit pragmatic or philosophical here, but as a football fan, you always have to be that. Every game cannot be won, you lose some, you win some. All that matters is your love for the club you chose to support, even in the worst of runs.
Fans can be so feeble. I go through loads of Arsenal forums on Facebook, and everyone’s suggesting sacking Arsene Wenger. The man, who has transformed the club from being one of the most underachieving clubs, to one of the best teams in the league. Yes, he may have gone 6 seasons without a trophy, and it might be 7 come the end of the year. But, sacking him will completely undermine his fantastic work over the course of 16 years. The 97/98 and 01/02 doubles, and just the way he challenged the authority of Manchester United, who at the time were treble champions, and were signing the best players from all over the world, the likes of Veron, Stam, Ferdinand etc. The 03/04 team that went unbeaten to complete one of the major achievements in English football. And, we have been unlucky in this barren run. Injuries have ruined our season, and we have lost 3 finals on the way. Say, we beat Manchester United next week, the same fans who want him out, will be posting comments like ‘Arsene Forever’ and ‘In Arsene we Believe’. So, do you think sacking the Frenchman is the solution. I leave that to you.
Speaking about fans’ frustrations, some did vent it out at the Liberty Stadium. Henry lead the team in applauding the fans at the end of the game. One fan was particularly vocal. “Where’s the heart, character and the Fight?”, to which Henry angrily retorted “Get behind the Team support the Players and dont be Negative”. Hmm, now there’s something to think about. Yes, the fan was right. Arshavin and Walcott were disappointing yesterday. Actually ‘disappointing’ is an understatement. They were outright pathetic. Over that, Walcott wants 85 quid a week. Bollocks. Anyways, it took our club legend to sort out matters a bit in the middle. All I have to say is, be positive Gooners and get behind your team.
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger was critical of the penalty that was awarded. At first, it seemed like a foul and that a penalty was the right decision. TV replays in the morning proved otherwise. Actually, Dyer had fouled Ramsey and took a tumble, a-la-Barca. Would the game have been any different, had that penalty not been awarded. I am afraid not.
Lot of talk then, about Arsene Wenger making some signings in the window to bolster his squad. Or, will it take another mauling at the hands of Manchester United to evoke that kind of urge in the Frenchman. Only time will tell. He has urged the team, though, or whatever is left of it, to wake up and focus for Sunday’s game.
With Gary Cahill, completing his move to Chelsea, there have been loads of rumours doing the rounds. Christopher Samba has supposedly handed his transfer request. QPR seem to be leading the race, but he would be a great signing for Arsenal, with his physical presence. He is an improved version of Mertesacker. But, it seems Wenger is not interested. Wayne Bridge and Aly Cissokho rumours are now getting boring, with some tweets claiming they have signed for us. There was a rumour that Wenger has been given £25 million to splash the cash on Belgian winger Eden Hazard from Lille. But, now Chelsea want to hijack the deal, just like they hijacked the Juan Mata-Arsenal deal. Another name linked is Schalke’s Julian Draxler (never heard much about him), to replace Arshavin. How hard would it be to replace him anyway. Sebastien Squillaci and Marrouane Chamakh have both been offered escape routes by Monaco and Fiorentina respectively, while Salomon Kalou could move to Everton, after Arsenal retracted their interest.
Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen could start against Manchester United. Considering how unlucky we have been with injuries, its a huge bonus to have him back. He typifies what Arsenal require at the back now – some steel and guts. Laurent Koscielny has shown much of that this season, but he has lacked a partner to share it with.
I was having a look at the injury list, and the ones who are away for the African Cup of Nations. We could make a decent team there, which would probably end up mid-table, but nonetheless a team. Fabianski would keep goal, behind a backline of Sagna, Jenkinson, Vermaelen and Santos. That’s a pretty solid defense. In midfield we could have the very talented, but eternally injured Abou Diaby, pulling strings, with Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s most important player this season, linking up with legen-in-the-making Jack Wilshere. There would also be a place in the lineup for the impressive Francis Coquelin, who would partner Diaby. Gervinho would prevent some pace up front, with Chamakh firing away blanks. Pretty decent, eh! And yes, we still have a surplus left-back in Kieran Gibbs!
Further news, then. Arsenal have confirmed a pre-season tour to Africa, Nigeria in particular. That is because, the usual curtain-raiser, the Emirates Cup has been cancelled owing to the London Olympics. Arsenal has a pretty large fan following in the country, mainly because of former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu, who won 2 league titles with the club. But, there’s one Nigerian we all hate, Obafemi Martins.
Closer to home, an IPL-styled football tournament has been launched, which goes by the name of Premier League Soccer. It will be held between February 25 and April 8. It is a lucrative proposition in a cricket-crazy country. However, I sincerely hope it brings about a change in the perception of the game. All teams are from West Bengal, and they can sign 4 foreign players, and should also have a minimum of 6 under-21 Indian players. Also, they can sign any of the ‘icon players’ on offer. The list includes names to have graced the beautiful game for the last 20 years. They are Hernan Crespo, Fabio Cannavaro, Fernando Morientes, Maniche, Robbie Fowler, Jay-Jay Okocha and last, but not the least, our very own Robert Pires. Already looking forward.
Back to Swansea then. According to statistics, Arsenal lost to one of the best teams in Europe this season, in terms of passing. Also, they boast two of the best passing midfielders in the continent, Leon Bitton and Joe Allen, as a report in the Telegraph shows. Here are some interesting statistics.
Here’s a table, showing the passing statistics of midfielders across the continent.
|Player||Team||Passing Accuracy %||Passes|
|Leon Britton||Swansea City||93.3||1127|
|Thiago Silva||AC Milan||91.1||1068|
|Joe Allen||Swansea City||90.3||1075|
|Yaya Toure||Manchester City||90.0||1552|
|Scott Parker||Tottenham Hotspur||89.8||1035|
Here’s a table, showing passing accuracies of teams across the continent.
|Team||Passing Accuracy %|
And, finally this table shows how good Swansea have been domestically, in terms of passing, bettering Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
|West Bromwich Albion||8185|
So, there’s no shame in losing to the Swans afterall.
I will end on a cheerful note. In the Premier League match between Tottenham and Wolves, Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan from Arsenal, might have just added a new term to the dictionary ‘Frimponged’, after his powerful clearance smashed straight into the face of Spuds midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, flooring the Dutchman! LEGEND-ARY!
More coming up soon.
Jai Arsenal 🙂