The international break usually means a dearth of club news, so we’re left with fantastic stories like Vito Mannone considers himself a “better keep in every way,” following his loan spell at Hull in the Championship last year.  Mannone certainly has acquitted himself in the last two matches following Wojciech Szczesny’s absence through injury but let’s slow down a bit, Vito, eh?

“I think I have improved in every part of the goalkeeper position,” Mannone told Arsenal Player.

“In my mind as well, I came back stronger and stronger [from my loan spell]. Especially after the mistake at Olympiacos – it’s never easy to come back, but when I’ve got my back against the wall, I don’t mind. I just roll up my sleeves and try to work because I know I can do well.

I’m not dismissing the Italian’s new-found confidence or belief but despite two good displays, he still is a clear  backup to Szczesny for me.  Mannone still looked a bit bothered on high balls in the box at times against Liverpool but his shot-stopping has been good.  Either way, here’s to hoping Mannone’s improvement continues & he plays well until Szczesny’s return.

Arsenal released their full playing squad lists for the UEFA Champions’ League & Premier League yesterday as well.  There’s 54 names on the full list, which for the Champions’ League includes a 25-man ‘A’ squad where interestingly, 17-year old Serge Gnabry has made the cut.  The youngster did well in pre-season & has done well also in the reserves early on, but likely will make his first team bow in the Carling Cup.  However, if Arsenal do well enough in their CL group perhaps Arsène Wenger will give the young German a run out in the final group match if we’ve qualified for the knockout stages by then already.

Andrei Arshavin made the list despite rumors of the mercurial Russian leaving the club before the Russian transfer deadline on Thursday.  I don’t have the CL roster rules in front of me but if Arshavin were to leave the club, I believe the club would be able to fill that roster spot with someone else without having to wait until the spring registration window (provided we make it through the competition that far, of course.)

And for the last bit of Arsenal news, let’s all take another gander at Abou Diaby’s Man of the Match performance against Liverpool over the weekend:

Not Patrick Vieira, but Diaby was Vieira-esque on Sunday

Moving on to some national news & it’s for the US.  USA!  USA!  USA!  Right.  US Soccer released the USMNT’s 24-man roster for their upcoming qualifiers against the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica on Friday & next Tuesday evenings:

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos)

No real surprises in that group really given the injuries to Michael Bradley & Landon Donovan, & it looks like Jürgen Klinsmann is definitely set on moving Maurice Edu to the center of defense.  Klinsmann must no doubt want a defender who has a bit of ball-playing ability at the back as he looks to implement a more possession-based system than American teams are generally used to.  We’ve definitely never really had central defenders that were that good on the ball except maybe Marcelo Balboa & even ‘Celo was never going to be mistaken for Franz Beckenbauer or anything.

Molde FK winger, Joshua Gatt had been originally named in the roster & would’ve possibly made his USMNT debut, but he was withdrawn due to an injury in his last match with his Norwegian side.

I would also guess that captain Carlos Bocanegra moves out to left back & Klinsmann would go with a central defense pairing of Geoff Cameron & Maurice Edu.  Or maybe he pushes Edu up into midfield & starts Goodson next to Cameron?  From the players named & being a bit short in the midfield with Bradley & Donovan’s absences, I would imagine Klinsmann would go with a lineup of:

Howard

Cherundolo — Edu — Cameron — Bocanegra

– Jones — Beckerman

Williams —- Dempsey ——- Shea

Altidore

Friday’s match in Kingston, Jamaica will be televised on beIN Sport, which apparently is some new exclusive soccer network that I bet I don’t get.  Yep.  I don’t get it.  Sounds like I’m finding a feed on Friday.  Tuesday’s “return” match in Columbus will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 8 PM ET/4 PM AT.

Oh, by the way, I would be remiss if didn’t mention the USA’s recent win over Mexico IN Azteca last month.  It was the first time in history the US defeated Mexico in the seething cauldron that is Azteca.  The Mexicans can cry all they want about the match only being a friendly, but they know damn right having the kind of record where they had never lost against us, ‘The Gringos’, in their home stadium, drives them up a freaking wall.  Uno a cero, bitches.  Add that one to the historical wins list with “Dos a cero,” when a match DID matter the most.  You mad, Mexico?  Boo-hoo!

Uno a cero, perdadores!

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Liverpool manager, Brendan Rogers, writing his lamentations during our winner over the Scousers…

After that opening Liverpool schadenfreude appetizer of a picture, here’s some Arsenal gumbo for you.  Not much going on at the moment because of the stupid international break.  At least this time we don’t have to worry about Robin van Persie’s glass ankles anymore, though now that he’s at Mancunster United busy supplanting the Hairplugged & Bulldog-faced, former English wonderboy, he’ll probably never, ever, ever, ever… ever, ever… ever get hurt again.  “RvP has twice as many goals as Arsenal does, derpderpderp!!”  Yeah, well he has more losses than Arsenal does too, Adrian Derpham.

No Traitor van Stapleton anymore, but here is a list of the Gunners called up to national team duty:

Belgium:   Thomas Vermaelen, D
Côte d’Ivoire:   Gervinho, A
England:   Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, M, & Theo Walcott, A
France:   Abou Diaby (d’oh!), Olivier Giroud, A, & Laurent Koscielny, D
Germany:   Per Mertesacker, D, & Lukas Podolski, A
Poland:   Lukasz Fabianski, G
Spain:   Santi Cazorla, M
Switzerland:   Johan Djourou, D
Wales:   Aaron Ramsey, M
France U-21s:   Francis Coquelin, M

That’s 14 players total away to international sides during the break & unfortunately, this is one of the breaks where two matches are played a few days apart from each other, so there’s double the chance of injury!  Anti-huzzah!

You always cringe at least a little bit when players who are just coming off injuries, either long-term or recent, such as Diaby & Koscielny, are called straight into international duty.  I know national team managers have a job to do & are under pressure to win like any other manager but you just wish there were steps sometimes to give recently injured players to be allowed more rest & exempt them from being called directly back into their national sides sometimes.  Oh well, chalk it up to the perils of having good players that are in good form as well, I guess.

A’ight.  First up in the gumbo ingredients, via Arseblog, is 7amkickoff’s interesting & humorous “by the numbers” feature for the Liverpool match.  Highlight of which is this tidbit:

Moany bitchfaces made when a call did’t go his way: March — September
Louis Suarez: 13 — 16

Next is Zonal Marking’s article (great site, by the way) on the Liverpool-Arsenal match which highlight’s Santi Cazorla’s movement & defensive responsibilities of both sides’ midfields.  Gene, make this site a regular read for tactical based stuff, my man.

Gingers 4 Limpar’s post from Monday, highlighting how partnerships these days are different from the traditional strike partnerships in the days when 4-4-2 reigned supreme.  G4L also has some good videos showing Cazorla’s performance & some waxing poetic about Arteta & Diaby’s performances in midfield which were both quite magnificent.

And here’s more tactical analysis of the Liverpool game from the official site.  It’s another interesting take that poses the idea that depending on the opponent, Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 can morph from a 4-2-1-3 (as against Sunderland & Stoke) to a 4-2-3-1 with ball & 4-4-1-1 without it where the wide players play much deeper & have more defensive responsibility (as against Liverpool).  All this tactiacl reading gives me the tinglies/frisons!

The U-21s defeated their Everton counterparts yesterday, 3-0.  Sanchez Watt (whom I thought had been released again) scored twice from the spot & Dutch midfielder, Kyle Ebecilio scored late on to lead the Gunners’ B-siders to their 3 successive victory in as many matches.

Also from the official Arsenal site is an article about midfielder/defender, Craig Eastmond, who looks to move positions again & also talks about going out on loan as he did last year for Wycombe Wanderers.  Eastmond definitely is squeezed out by the numbers in midfield at the moment.  I personally think he doesn’t have much of a future at the club as another young player, Francis Coquelin also deputizes as a deep-midfielder/right back role & also with the likes of Chuks Aneke & others chomping at the bit in the U19s/U21s in the midfield positions.  With that said, I would guess he’ll be let go at the end of the season when it’s all said & done as he’ll be 22 soon, and at the age where a footballer needs to play regularly which he won’t find at Arsenal given the quality of choices available.

On to players- one at the club, for the moment- Andrei Arshavin may be on his way back to Russia as the club mull over the idea of letting him go on a free transfer.  CSKA Moscow is reported to be interested (or is it Dynamo Moscow?  The article can’t seem to make up its mind) as Zenit’s interest as recently cooled due to them just dropping a cool €90 million on Hulk & Axel Witsel.  We’ve gone over Arshavin plenty of times before- ton of talent, but getting him to display it is too frustrating & he’s quite lazy in defense, so it’s time for him to move on as he’s clearly not in Wenger’s plans at the moment, even with the recent Walcott contractual spat.

Now, a player no longer at the club & it’s about Cesc.  Who apparently has a sad at Barcelona.  Awwwww…

Right.  So,  there’s your Arsenal Gumbo.  Grab you a big bowl & dive right in.  Later.


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You ready for some LSU football, son?

LSU/college football stuff finally?! Alright, Curtísimo’s finally not blabbing on about that “gay-ass soccer,” amirite?!  Now, this game review will be a little all over the place since I’ll be trying to recall from memory & as it was the season opener, I was a bit buzzed by the second quarter.  Also, as many of you who know me know, I tend to write stream-of-unconsciousness anyway & as aforementioned that consciousness may be a bit hazy…

LSU defeats North Texas, 41-14.

Obviously, with an opponent such as North Texas it was always to be a bit of Christians-to-the-lions stuff, but I’ll be honest- offensively, I was a bit disappointed in the passing game & particularly in pass protection.  We racked up just over 500 yards of total offense, but at times we didn’t look good to me.  I am hoping it’s just first game rust, but the pass protection was definitely noticeable to me that there was some confusion.  Without being in the huddle or on the field, I can only guess as whether it was the OLine or Mettenberger missing protection calls (he was sacked twice & got his bell rung a bit on another).

I’m one of the biggest proponents of the mantra of  “you don’t have to be the best team in the country, you just have to be the best team on the field,” and against North Texas, we obviously were but I would’ve liked us to look a bit crisper.

Be advised, this is only a minor complaint but I also hope Zach Mettenberger’s performance at QB will remind people that it’s not simply a question of having talent, stepping in & zinging the ball all over the place like in a video game.  He looked hesitant on a few occasions, and like many of us know, it’s one thing to look good in a spring game or in a scrimmage, it’s another to do it against a live opponent.  His stat line wasn’t bad (19 of 26, 192 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks) but his hesitation on occasion, led to him nearly getting injured right off the bat.  I don’t need to tell you all that needs to get better for SEC play or even next week against Washington.

Player Grades
Quarterbacks (C+):   see comments above about Mettenberger but on Saturday I was personally underwhelmed & I thought he was more Mettenswaggert on Saturday than Mettenchrist.  Expectations are high for Mettenberger after the “two-headed dumpster fire” era that was Jordan Jefferson & Jarrett Lee but I admittedly was a bit disappointed in #8 on Saturday night.  He did throw a nice TD pass to Kadron Boone, but there’s plenty of stuff to improve on.  Luckily, there’s plenty of time to do it.  I wasn’t too pleased with the seemingly shorter range passing game we insisted on too.  You’re playing North Texas.  Challenge them deep a few times.  Use it as some deep-passing drills.

Running Backs (A):   Kenny Hilliard & Alfred Blue were both outstanding & Blue showed why he was given the starting nod over Michael Ford & Hilliard, the latter whom was the go to back in short yardage by the end of the last season.  Hilliard went off for 141 & Blue went for 123 & the running game totalled 316 yards in all.  I’d also like to highlight fullback, J.C. Copeland.  His stats for a big bruiser & blocker (listed at 272) were fantastic (4 carries, 33 yards & a TD), and he had a terrific run in the first half where he broke tackle & rumbled to 16-yard gain.  Keep an eye out for JC to maybe get some key 3rd & short carries later on in the year after that performance.  No complaints at all with the horses.

Wide Receivers (B):   I can’t really recall anything great about the WRs.  Nothing bad, though either,  I don’t recall any glaring drops, something that’s plagued us over the years, even when we were loaded.  Jarvis Landry led this group with 8 carries for 82 yards & Kadron Boone nabbed a 34-yard TD pass from Mettenberger

Offensive Line (B-):  Run blocking- pretty darn good.  Pass blocking- pretty damn sketchy, especially considering the level of opponent.  Two sacks were given up, one of which could’ve easily had been a “kill shot” on Mettenberger.  It was a real concern by the second half & against a more quality opponent could’ve been a game-changer.  As I stated above, without being in the huddle or on the field, not sure who was at fault, the OLine or the QB, but it was a bit obvious to me, some protection assignments were getting missed.  Especially since North Texas was getting pressure through the middle too.  Unacceptable against an opponent like North Texas.

Placekickers (A):  Drew Alleman kicked well, though he did miss one field goal attempt.  I don’t recall kickoffs so I’ll leave that be.

Defensive Line (A-):   No sacks, but tons of pressure all night long.  That should be standard considering we can go literally 10-deep on the line if we want now.

Linebacker (B/I):  I don’t really remember anything about the linebackers other than someone played wearing #52.  Hopefully that isn’t Thomas effin’ Dunson (it’s not, it’s Luke Muncie).

Defensive Backs (B-):  Reid came up with a nice pick but was beaten for the long TD pass which was exacerbated by Craig Loston having way too tight of an attack angle as the 1-deep safety.  THose combined for a play where North Texas popped an 80-yard TD pass.  Against North Texas, that’s forgivable.  Against a quality opponent, again this can be a game-changer.

Punters (B):   No Punterswag, Brad Wing, but Les Miles being Les Miles just replaced one Aussie punter with another- Jamie Keehn.  I seem to recall he shanked one punt a bit, but had a 51-yarder on another.

Returners (A):   Honey Badger who?  ODB had one punt return call back due to a flag, so instead he just returned the next one for a TD, this time the play stood.  No concerns here at all.

Summary
Overall, it was a good game.  Fun to have LSU football back.  The team had first game rust (pass protection issues, too many pre-snap penalties) but opponents like North Texas are supposed to be glorified scrimmages for the level of our program is these days.  We definitely played a bit of the second half with the “handbrake” on, to borrow a phrase from Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, & we will certainly need better execution in the pass protection as we play a decent BCS opponent in Washington next week.

For some extra fun & learnin’, ATVS’ excellent writer, Billy Gomila’s 2-parter (Part 1, Part 2) on passing game concepts we’re likely to see some more of now that LSU has a real QB.  Here’s his recap of Saturday night’s game as well.

 Geaux Tigers!


Miki’s facial expression says, “how good is THIS guy, eh?”

For all the constant consternation & sniping at how Arsenal FC are run from pundits & media talking heads, it is always an absolute pleasure when you beat one of the supposed intelligentsia’s usual darlings like Liverpool.  Last year the Scousers were led by one of their supposed saviors, Kenny Dalglish.  They’ve spent tons of money in the last several years on players, including Englishmen which were supposed to be the new nucleus of the club, including one supposed rising English star (LOL!) in Andy Carroll.  And last year they won the Carling Cup.  So, what’s the problem?

Today we beat their ass, 2-nil, they currently lie in the relegation zone in 18th place after today & have changed managers, those several Englishmen brought in to be the nucleus now prop up the bench, they’ve shipped out their record English striker & are these days reduced to spouting off how many times they’ve been champions of Europe to sides that defeat them as that means anything in the game just played.  That’s the problem.  The Roman Empire was once great too, Liverpudlians.  Those creaking & crashing sounds you hear are the Visigoths at the gates, dopes.

Laurent Koscielny came back from injury today but Arsène Wenger continued with Per Mertesacker to partner Thomas Vermaelen in the center of defense but Wojciech Szczęsny & Łukasz Fabiański once again missed out through injury giving another start to Vito Mannone in net.  Interestingly, Wenger went with Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of both Gervinho & Theo Walcott on the right.  There was speculation last night that The Ox would start but many were guessing it would be in Abou Diaby’s stead.It would be interesting to know if Le Boss wanted something tactically specific from The Ox or if Walcott is being a bit punished for the ongoing contractual spat.

Either way, we started out like this:

Arsenal Starting Lineup
Mannone

Jenkinson — Mertesaecker — Vermaelen (c) — Gibbs

Diaby — Arteta

Cazorla

Oxlade-Chamberlain — Giroud — Podolski.

Bench:   Martínez, Koscielny, André Santos,  Coquelin, Ramsey, Gervinho, Walcott

Liverpool enjoyed most of the possession throughout the match but this new look Arsenal looks much more comfortable & compact in their defensive shape in the early days of the season.  Thank you, Steve Bould?  However, you wouldn’t have known this fact unless you’re watching the matches.  If you’re relying on the media, the story prior to the matchwas still “Arsenal haven’t scored a goal since Robin van Persie left.”  Well, that fortunately changed today.

On the half-hour mark & following a period where Liverpool were threatening, mainly through youngster Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard played a poor ball in the Liverpool final third which Arsenal took advantage of to take the lead.  The Gunners used the turnover to mount a swift counterattack like the Arsenal of old.  The ball found Santi Cazorla outside the area & he in turn played in Lukas Podolski nicely on the left & the German fired home to open up his Arsenal account.  You can catch at the end of the link the humorous song sung by traveling Gunners of, “He’s Lukas Podolski! He scores when he wants! He scores when he wants!”  The song being an obvious thumbing of the nose to all the punditry’s hammering of the Robin van Persie/lack of Arsenal goals saga.  Well played, Gunner fans.

We took the 1-nil lead into the break & within minutes of the restart Martin Skrtel hacked down Abou Diaby rightly earning a yellow card in the process.  The French midfielder was outstanding on the day, evoking comparisons to Patrick Vieira throughout the Arsenalverse.  Not quite sure about that but the 6’4″, oft-injured Diaby was certainly my & most people’s Man of the Match as the Frenchman put in a performance that made you realize why Wenger has been patient with him.  Someone even joked (or was it a joke?) on Twitter that “City united & Barca all with bids for Diaby in January.”  If he can stay healthy, Diaby can really help us in the center of the park.  He was terrific in his movement, his passing was stellar (91% on the day) & was a force in the tackle today (with 4).

Also in the second half, Liverpool began to look for free kicks & penalties at just about every foray forward.  Led by cheat extraordinaire & diving supremo, Luís Suárez, Liverpool nearly won a PK from Mertesacker as the big German made some contact on the Uruguayan inside the box.  El Perro Langosta, of course made it look like a sniper hit, flinging himself to the ground but luckily Howard Webb wasn’t buying it.  Did you get the envelope, Howie?  Ok, thanks, remember us later in the year too.  Suárez is such a diving cheat I’m thinking of changing my nickname for him of El Perro Langosta, or “the lobster dog,” to La Puta Engañando, or “the cheating cunt/bitch/whore.”

Despite Suárez’s cuntiness, it was Arsenal that found the next goal.  In the 68th minute it was Cazorla & Podolski combining again, but this time it was Santi Cazorla’s turn to net his first goal when he rifled home at the near post with a massive helping from Pepe Reina.  I don’t want to hear it complaints of a soft goal though, because as many ‘keepers that come in & have a blinder against us in the last few years (I’m looking at you, Ali Al-Habsi), we’re still owed some of these kind of goals even with the type of performance that moron from West Brom put in against us in the last match of last season.

After going up 2-0, Liverpool obviously pushed for a goal but the newfound ease & calm in the Arsenal defense kept out the Scousers time & time again.  There were a few hairy moments, such as when Vito Mannone failed to claim a corner with two attempts, but luckily his defense was on hand to eventually help get the ball cleared.  The Italian did make a terrific late save to keep the clean sheet unblemished, however, so credit where it’s due.

For all the talk of lack of goals prior to this match, I was heartened in the opening matches with the new defensive shape we’ve had & that will go a longer way to helping us reach higher mountains this year than trying to find a RvP 2.0.  Because the goals will come & if they don’t, we’ll just have to dust off the old “boring, boring Arsenal!” & “1-nil to the Arsenal!” chants.

Gifs of the goals in case the vid links are yanked by YouTube: Podolski 30‘ & Cazorla 68′

WhoScored.com’s match report.  Don’t let it fool you.  Scousers will argue they were much better, but they’re both wrong & stupid.  Most of their shots were hopeful efforts well over & we stole the ball form them often.

Player Ratings
Vito Mannone (7)- Made a couple of nice saves but is definitely too hesitant at times.  He definitely looks a backup ‘keeper at this level.  Definitely wouldn’t want to play a whole season with him in net.

Carl Jenkinson (7)- Faced Liverpool youngster, Raheem Sterling, who was arguably Liverpool’s best threat but overall, acquitted himself well.  Jenks still can get himself out of position at times but he’s still only 20 and learning, after all.

Kieran Gibbs (7)- Another solid performance from Gibbs & looks to have solidified the left back spot as his own.  If we’re being picky, he could still provide better service going forward.

Per Mertesacker (7.5)- For all the cries of lack of pace (which I won’t argue with), the skyscraper of a German reads the game & tackles well for a big man as he’s way more athletic than his often, partially clumsy look would make it seem.  Nearly got conned by Suárez for a PK though.

Thomas Vermaelen (7.5)- The Verminator played a terrific game making a several key tackles & an outstanding blocked shot on Suárez (I think).  Definitely growing into the responsibility of the captaincy with every game.  Keep it up, TV5!

Abou Diaby (8)- Diaby was the Man of the Match.  Didn’t score, didn’t provide an assist but definitely bossed the midfield at times, often letting Liverpool come forward before expertly tackling the ball away in partnership with Mikel Arteta.  Will be a key cog in the side if he can stay healthy.

Mikel Arteta (7.5)-  Alex Song who?  Arteta had yet another brilliant performance as the deepest midfielder.  The Spaniard isn’t the beefiest midfielder in the world by any means, but his athleticism & technique make him an excellent tackler.  His excellent reading of the game helps out in that regard as well.  I forgot what we bought him for last year but he’s been worth every penny.

Santi Cazorla (7.5)- Once again had a very good game.  He definitely is dynamo in the final third as he likes to pop up all over the place and make runs both with & without the ball.  AND HE ISN’T AFRAID TO SHOOT.  Thank the Maker, it’s about time we get a midfielder who isn’t afraid to shoot.  Are you & your nut-hanging fanboi watching, Alex Hleb & Mazza from the old Arsenal America board?  Watch Cazorla if you’re an aspiring attacking midfielder.  He’s how you’re supposed to play- full of energy, two-footed, unlimited passing range, dribbling skills & shooting boots.  He will likely be our Player of the Year.  Book it.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6.5)-  The Ox had a slightly ineffective game going forward but I’ll bump him up to a 6.5 because he never failed to track back & work hard in defense.  This kid will be special though if he can keep his feet on the ground & head out of the clouds (ahem, Msr. Walcott), there is no doubt about that.

Olivier Giroud (5)- Giroud missed another sitter in the first half, this time on his preferred left foot, and skied a golden chance with a header in the second half.  The hunky striker just needs to relax.  You can definitely tell he’s thinking too much at the moment trying to make a good impression.  Just play, Ollie.  Your goals will come.

Lukas Podolski (7.5)- Maiden voyage for this epic song today.  Won’t reach RvP’s goal total of 30 last year but here’s a secret I’m going to let you in on- HE DOESN’T HAVE TO.  Get us anywhere near 20, Lukas & we’ll go a long way with our new defensive nous.

Substitutions
Aaron Ramsey (6)- Didn’t do much.  Nothing great, nothing bad; put in a shift closing the game down.

André Santos (nr)- Also didn’t do much.  Came on late  &pretty much did well not to get arrested for speeding…

Laurent Koscielny (nr)- Came on at the stroke of full time for Vermaelen who had been kicked by Steven Gerrard in a rough (but fair) tackle. No time to do anything really.

Unfortunately, one of the accursed international breaks is upon us so we will have to wait for the opportunity to continue our good run & these breaks always make us Gunners all a bit pensive with worry over injuries.  Hopefully, with van Stapleton now in Mancunster some of those fears can be allayed these days. We certainly don’t need any injuries now as the fixture list becomes congested soon with all the cup competitions soon to begin.

Speaking of the cups, Arsenal drew Coventry City as their opponents in their opening League Cup match.  The League Cup is now called the Capital One Cup.  So, get all the “what’s in your wallet?!” jokes & memes ready.  Arsenal’s League Cup/Capital One Cup campaign begins on September 24th.

In the Champions’ League, we’ve drawn Schalke 04 (with American, Jermaine Jones), Olympiakos & Giroud’s former club, Montpellier. You have to think that’s a pretty good draw for us though midweek cross-continent trips can be tricky.  I’m not saying we’ll walk this group, but if we don’t win it, it’ll still be a bit disappointing in my view.

That’s all putting the cart before the horse though because our next match after the accursed international break is against Southampton who have given both Mancunster clubs all they’ve wanted despite losing both matches, 3-2.  Today Soho lost to ManUre with that traitorous cunt bagging a hat-trick despite completely botching an attempted Panenka PK.  Soho deserved to win the game too so they’ll be no pushovers at all.  I imagine Ricky Lambert will give us fits much like Grant Holt did for Norwich last year.  They’re very similar type players & Lambert is arguably better.

So, Arsenal with a good win over Liverpool & Labor Day tomorrow, so have yourselves a few adult beverages.  Chilled or frosted, it matters not.  Oh, the U21s have a fixture against Everton tomorrow as well.  I’ll try to find a feed & watch since it’ll be a holiday.

COME ON, YOU GUNNERS!


Going into the third game of the season, I’m betting even the biggest Negative Nancy wouldn’t have believed we would’ve tallied zero goals so far.  Luckily for us we haven’t allowed a goal yet either, but as we face a Liverpool side themselves looking to get their first win tomorrow at Anfield, it’s a safe bet to go ahead & call tomorrow’s match our first real test of the season.

With no further signings yesterday on Transfer Deadline Day, with only the departures of Niklas Bendtner & Ju-Young Park being the only moves we made, Arsène Wenger has chosen to go ahead & go with the Arsenal side as is.  That means the squad, in some rough depth chart, looks this:

Goalkeepers:   Wojciech Szczęsny, Łukasz Fabiański, Vito Mannone, Damián Martínez

Defenders:   Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker, Johann Djourou, André Santos, Sébastian Squillaci, Ignasi Miquel

Midfielders:   Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Tomáš Rosičký, Emmanuel Frimpong,

Attackers:   Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marouane Chamakh

Apart from that roster, you’ll likely see youngsters such as Chuks Aneke, Thomas Eisfeld & Serge Gnabry blooded into the squad in the Carling Cup & perhaps even making the odd league appearance here or there in a substitute’s role.  We can sit here & argue whether or not that’s an upgrade counting the players coming back from injury last year but as it is being done everywhere else, I wont linger on that.  Obviously, Robin van Persie leaving was a huge blow, but I don’t think we’ll miss Alexandre Song as much as people think, especially his propensity to not track back in key moments.

So, on to Liverpool & they’re a club that’s in transition like us moving away from Kenny Dalglish’s style to Brendan Rogers’ short passing game that heavily relies on wing play.  The Arsenal official site’s weekly scouting report gives a quick rundown of Rogers’ tactics as well, noting that Rogers also likes to play a high line, like we do too, and will likely look to press high up the pitch & win the ball in the opponents’ half.

In other words, there should be a good bit of similarities between us & the Scousers, so I think the match will probably hinge on a key refereeing decision here or there. Or more likely the home crowd boost may prove decisive, which at Anfield with the steep Kop end stand can be quite massive.

With Liverpool’s high line, and the fact he didn’t leave on Deadline Day, I suspect Arsène Wenger may re-insert Theo Walcott back into the startling lineup to try & take advantage of the space behind the defense.  Especially now that we have a midfielder in Santi Cazorla who can distribute the ball long &/or diagonally rather quickly & accurately often.  I would also guess that Wenger will start Olivier Giroud again so as to not send a message of “you have to score or you’re dropped” so early into the French striker’s Arsenal career.  Lukas Podolski is probably the second name on the team sheet behind captain Thomas Vermaelen’s.

Coupled with Liverpool’s high line, their defense has been asked to pass the ball more which has led to some issues early on in the season, including Martin Škrteľ’s gift to Carlos Tevez last week for Mansour City’s equalizer.  Hopefully, that unease in the defense will still be there though I imagine Rogers will have worked heavily on defensive communication & organization all week long in the Liverpool camp.

With all that said & Laurent Koscielny returning from injury, I think we’ll line up something like this:

Szczęsny

Jenkinson — Koscielny — Vermaelen — Gibbs

Arteta

Diaby — Cazorla

Walcott — Giroud — Podolski

Injuries
Arsenal: Rosičký (tendon), Sagna (leg), Frimpong (knee), Wilshere (ankle)

Liverpool: Joe Cole (hamstring), Lucas (thigh)

Prediction
As everyone is stating, including myself, there should be  a good bit of space for both sides to look to exploit (another reason Koscielny will replace Per in the lineup) & I think both will do so.  Rejoice, Gunners!  We get our first goal tomorrow!  However… we also concede for the first time tomorrow.  I also have a sneaking suspicion Luís Suárez, El Perro Langosta, will win a PK or an FK in a dangerous position which will lead to a Liverpool goal, maybe even the winner.  Or maybe he’ll just racially abuse every Arsenal player.  Anyway, I smell a draw even though we’ve looked much better defensively than Liverpool has.  I think away at Anfield is too much to ask for all three points & even though we look much better equipped physically to deal with trips to the North of England, I still get leery about them.  A draw for me Over The Hills And Far Away in Liverpool.  Obviously, I hope I’m wrong.          Liverpool 2, Arsenal 2

Many dreams come true and some have silver linings
I live for my dream and a pocketful of gold. 


Me, especially after I learned Clint Dempsey signed for Sp*rs

So, Transfer Deadline Day has come & gone & Arsenal didn’t make any moves despite calls to bring in another striker, a defensive/deep-playing midfielder and/or a defender.  The latter, preferably a fullback, was the most needed in my opinion but it seems Arsène Wenger is happy with the squad as is & he’ll no doubt trot out the “like a new signing” line when Tomáš Rosičký & Jack Wilshere return from injury.

I know people don’t like that line because from a signing standpoint, it isn’t true, however, from a playing time standpoint, it is true.  If we had signed a new player in midfield, for example, with this year’s return of Abou Diaby & Jack Wilshere (due back in October), that’s two people right there that needs playing time to be found.

Complaining won’t do any good at this point because it is now clear that the boss is pleased with the squad- Arteta in Song’s spot, Diaby in Arteta’s spot from last year, & Cazorla in the advanced midfield spot.  That leaves a midfield depth of Franics Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong, Rosičký, Wilshere & likely two youngsters that will be blooded at some point during the season in Thomas Eisfeld & Serge Gnabry.  You could maybe throw in Chuks Aneke in there too, although I think he’ll be loaned out personally.  As will a couple of the players mention as depth.

So, at this point the only way Arsenal can bring in any new faces will be on loan, which would likely be players that wouldn’t be that useful in terms of what we need.

Deadline Day did see us work two loan deals to offload a couple of strikers, however, we’ll be paying a portion of both’s wages, in Niklas Bendtner & Ju-Young Park.  Bendtner is being loaned to Italian giants, Juventus, whilst Park is going on loan to Celta Vigo of Spain.  Bendtner gets the high-profile move his ego’s been seeking & Park gets a move to, well, actually play.  Not sure what Park’s move was ever about (shirt sales?!) but I had high hopes for him when we signed him last year.

There’ll no doubt be some impending loans in the coming weeks for some U21 and/or U19 players but for now the Arsenal squad is cemented, which I’m sure is to the disappointment of those who were seeking yet another big name signing.  It is what is, but to completely dismiss this summer as the same old thing, is a bit off the mark in my view.  Feel free to tell me why I’m just a lackey of the Arsenal board or Wenger.

But hey, Walcott stayed, amirite?!  Well, that looks like Arsenal will be playing the really high risk strategy of hoping the forward will re-sign during the season, but if he doesn’t sign a new contract in the fall, he’ll be a de facto free agent in January & will be allowed to start talking to other clubs per FIFA rules.  Personally, it wouldn’t bother me if Walcott goes, though now it’s definitely a bit bothersome since he can leave for free now but I would hope this means that Arsenal will go the extra mile to re-sign him now.  The extra money Walcott wants can easily be given to him by fully selling Bendtner & Park. Knock on wood.

Arsenal’s underwhelming deadline day wouldn’t have been so bad for me, but then you see the deadline day Sp*rs had.  I hate those cunts but you have to tip their hat to them.  They’re definitely signing aggressively in recent years & I’d like to know how they keep pulling off these deals for quality people for what seems like massive bargains- Van Der Vaart for under €10 million a couple of years ago & now both Clint Dempsey & Hugo Lloris for under a total of £15 million.  Ugh…

I’ll try to have a Liverpool preview & roster breakdown now that it’s set but then again, I have to try & squeeze in a few hours at work & then get my LSU college football on tomorrow too! Geaux Tigers, Yeyeah!  ‘Til next time…

Updated signing/departures list (updates in red):
Confirmed signings: Santi Cazorla (Málaga), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Lukas Podolski (1. FC Köln)
Confirmed departures (includes U21s & U19s): Benik Afobe (Bolton Wanderers- loan), Manuel Almunia (Watford), Kyle Bartley (Swansea City)Niklas Bendtner (Juventus- loan to buy), Daniel Boateng (Oxford United- loan), Pedro Botelho (Atlético Paranaense), George Brislen-Hall (Norwich City), Alban Bunjaku (Sevilla), James Campbell (Dundee United), Joel Campbell (Real Betís-loan), Tom Cruise (Torquay United), Denílson (São Paulo-loan), Samuel Galindo (Lugo-loan), Ben Glasgow (Stoke City), Gavin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Sean McDermott (Sandnes Ulf), Jeffrey Monakana (Preston North End), Rhys Murphy (Telstar Velsen), Oğuzhan Özyakup (Beşiktaş), Ryo Miyaichi (Wigan Athletic- loan), Chu/Ju-Young Park (Celta Vigo), Philip Roberts (Inverness Caledonian Thistle-loan ), Alex Song (Barcelona), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad), Sanchez Watt (released- Carlisle United?), Wellington Silva (Ponferradina- loan)

 


Obviously the transfer news for Arsenal right now is dominated by whether or not Theo Walcott is to re-sign with us by tomorrow or be sold by friday.  I stated my position in yesterday’s post & it’s a bit laughable people are now pointing to Theo as some key cog in our side.  WTFever.  That is definitely the pot-stirring, nothing but winding-up media creation of the likes of TalkShite radio in the UK.  You can point to last year’s statistics all you want, Fat Axl (Adrian Durham from TalkShite), problem with that is they’re last year’s statistics.  And so effing what if Theo’s an “England regular.”  England are rubbish.  If Theo is sold he can easily be replaced by a cheaper option that will likely be more effective.  And if it’s The Ox that takes his place, all the more reason to ship Theo out & perhaps it would then mean a stay for the likes of someone like Park.  Or maybe the manager has some daft idea of playing Santi Cazorla on the wing when Jack Wilshere & Tomáš Rosičký return.  Or getting in a more defensive midfielder, pushing Arteta forward in the midfield & putting Cazorla on the wing.

So, as you can see, it ain’t the end of the world if Theo leaves.  Unless you’re Adrian Durham from TalkShite who just loves to hate him some Arsenal (warning: the argument put forth in the link is so incoherent & non sequitur, it defies belief even for a pure wind-up merchant like Talkshite Adrian).  He’s currently pushing Theo Walcott leaving Arsenal would be disastrous for the club & he’s no doubt especially butthurt in recent days since his elven, bromantic partner, Luka Modric, up & left Sp*rs for Real Madrid.  Sad Adrian must be sad.  So, lash out at Arsenal.  Boo hoo, Fat Axl.

” ‘Ello, I’m Adrian Durham from TalkShite Radio.
If you look in a dictionary,
my picture is next to the entry, ‘fucktard’ “

In U19 news the NextGen series started today for Arsenal & they opened up the competition with a bang as they defeated French side, Olympique Marseille, 3-0.  Highly touted Chuba Akpom scored twice & Nico Yennaris bagged the other goal for the young Gunners.  I had originally posted in a previous post that the NextGen series was to be played by our U21s, the new incarnation of the reserve side, but I was mistaken.  As I stated above, in this post, the NextGen series is actually a U19 competition.  Either way, good on the young Gunner squad & way to acquit the club well in the opening match.  The next match in the competition for Arsenal is the U19 side of Basque club, Athletic Bilbao, of Spain on September 6th.  Le Boss has stated that he’ll watch every single game of the competition for the club, so it’ll be a good opportunity for the youngsters to show Le Boss what they’ve got!

The official site is running some profiles of the younger members of Arsenal’s squad.  So to get the lowdown on some lesser known Gunners check ’em out:

Martin Angha
Charles Reice Cook
Nico Yennaris

Speaking of young Gunners, a U19 striker, Irishman Philip Roberts, is leaving to go on loan to Scottish Premier League side, Inverness Caledonian Thistle until January.

Beşiktaş is apparently interested in Marouane Chamakh again & every club in Italy is interested (supposedly) in The Greatest Striker Who Ever Lived, the one & only Niklas Bendtner.  I hope so.  Get on with it (leaving), Bendtner & Chamakh!

Tomorrow is the Champions’ League draw.  We’ll all be waiting with bated breath to find out who the Gunners will draw in their group.  Hopefully Sp*rs will get a touch group for them to battle in the CL too… BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

And ohhhhhh by the way, Green Day is scheduled to play a concert at The Emirates Stadium next summer.  So, there’s that.

Tomorrow & Friday should be hectic with comings & goings at the club.  ‘Til then, have a good one.

Updated signing/departures list (updates in red):
Confirmed signings: Santi Cazorla (Málaga), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Lukas Podolski (1. FC Köln)
Confirmed departures (includes U21s & U19s): Benik Afobe (Bolton Wanderers- loan), Manuel Almunia (Watford), Kyle Bartley (Swansea City), Daniel Boateng (Oxford United- loan), Pedro Botelho (Atlético Paranaense), George Brislen-Hall (Norwich City), Alban Bunjaku (Sevilla), James Campbell (Dundee United), Joel Campbell (Real Betís-loan), Tom Cruise (Torquay United), Denílson (São Paulo-loan), Samuel Galindo (Lugo-loan), Ben Glasgow (Stoke City), Gavin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge), Henri Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Sean McDermott (Sandnes Ulf), Jeffrey Monakana (Preston North End), Rhys Murphy (Telstar Velsen), Oğuzhan Özyakup (Beşiktaş), Ryo Miyaichi (Wigan Athletic- loan), Philip Roberts (Inverness Caledonian Thistle-loan), Alex Song (Barcelona), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad), Sanchez Watt (released- Carlisle United?), Wellington Silva (Ponferradina- loan)

Likely signings: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United), Jésus Navas (Sevilla),
Likely departures: Andrei Arshavin (Al-Sadd [Qatar], Fulham, Galatasaray, Reading, Zenit Saint-Petersburg), Niklas Bendtner (Galatasaray, AC Milan, Inter-Milan, Juventus, Spartak Moscow), Marouane Chamakh (Beşiktaş, Fiorentina, Málaga, Rubin Kazan, Valencia-loan), Denílson (AC Milan), Łukasz Fabiański, Vito Mannone (Hull City), Chu/Ju-Young Park (Al-Ain [UAE], Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo), Sébastian Squillaci (Bastia, Olympiakos Piraeus), Theo Walcott (Liverpool, Manchester City)

Possible signings: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona), Lucas Biglia (RSC Anderlecht), Nicolai Boilesen (Ajax Amsterdam),  Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Tongo Doumbia (Rennes), Omar El-Haddouri (Brescia), Isco (Málaga), Cheikh M’Bengue (Toulouse), Stéphane Mbia (Olympique Marseille), Philippe Mèxes (AC Milan), Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Paulinho (Corinthians), Angel Rangel (Swansea City), Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Cheick Tioté (Newcastle United), Kenneth Udjus (Sogndal), Emiliano Viviano (Palermo), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier)
Possible departures: Johann Djourou (Napoli), Conor Henderson (Charlton Athletic-loan), Ignasi Miquel (Brighton & Hove Albion- loan), Aaron Ramsey (Fulham)