Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Football

Have Liverpool found their winning midfield combination?

By Stefano on March 8th, 2013

A midfield trio of Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard appears a little too cautious on paper, but their collective performance in last week’s comprehensive 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic will have encouraged Brendan Rodgers, who likes to fill his sides with as many passers as possible.

Rodgers had been using a 4-2-3-1 formation featuring four outright attackers since the arrival of Daniel Sturridge in January; and that seems his long-term plan. Brazilian Coutinho impressed against Wigan and deserves another start, so if he, Luis Suarez, Stewart Downing and Sturridge (injured last weekend) are all used against Spurs, Rodgers will be forced to drop one of his central midfielders.

But Rodgers will be keen to ensure his side aren’t overrun by Tottenham in midfield. Although Mousa Dembele is sitting deeper now Scott Parker (rather than Sandro) is his midfield partner, he still offers directness from the centre of the pitch. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who played under Rodgers at Swansea last season, impressed last weekend against Arsenal by drifting inside from the left, while Gareth Bale will probably again be deployed in a central attacking position. Liverpool need numbers in the middle.

Therefore, the Lucas-Gerrard-Allen triumvirate will probably get another run-out this weekend, with Rodgers keen for Liverpool to dominate possession. It also means there’s the potential for an obvious attacking shift, a fourth attacker replacing Allen, should Liverpool need to get back in the game.

Read more: http://pickourteam.com/premierleague/news/08-03-2013/rodgers-set-for-midfield-trio-v-spurs/820335#ixzz2Mx6rC67d

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally published here.

<



Football

Breaking: Ferguson says Rooney will stay at United

By Stefano on March 8th, 2013

No great surprise this – given that there are very few clubs who could afford him – but Sir Alex Ferguson has reiterated that Wayne Rooney will be an Man United player next season.

Fergie told the BBC

“He’ll be here next year.You can have my word on that.”

The Man United manager added

“There is no issue between myself and Wayne Rooney. To suggest we don’t talk is nonsense.”

Ferguson then explained that Rooney understood why he was left out of the side’s recent game with Real Madrid.

“He understood the reasons completely. Tactically we got it right. We don’t always but we did then. I left out Shinji Kagawa after he scored a hat-trick. I thought I would get more stick for that.”

This always seemed the most likely outcome after several days of wild press speculation. The sad truth for Rooney is that, unlike in 2010, there was no suitable move on the cards. City don’t want him and none of the other north west clubs could accommodate him.

Realistically only Chelsea and possibly PSG would be in the market for him.

Besides United need Rooney given RVP’s current goal drought.



Football

Arsenal update: Song return, Vermaelen to Barca, Real defender targeted

By Stefano on March 8th, 2013

Today’s Arsenal news is all about Spain. The big story is that, unhappy with his lot at Barcelona Alex Song is pondering a move back to The Emirates.

Less then a year after questioning the player’s commitment and attitude Arsene Wenger is reported to be happy to welcome the Cameroonian back to London.

Song, who has been pretty much sidelined by current Barca coach Jordi Roura, is apparently very keen to leave with PSG also monitoring his situation.

Arsenal are of course in need of a solid and powerful defensive midfielder – though there is a question mark over whether Song fits that bill. In his last season at The Emirates he was chastised by the manager for pushing forward too often and not maintaining his position.

One possible deal could see Song return to Arsenal and Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen head the other way - with Barca adding a few million pounds as a sweetener.

The move might make sense for Vermaelen whose form has been poor this season.

One replacement then could be Real Madird’s Raul Albiol. The player has featured less and less for the side this season and may also be looking for a new challenge. The Daily Mail thinks that Arsene Wenger might be tempted.



Football

The low down on Arsenal target and France’s hottest new young striker

By Stefano on March 7th, 2013

What with Giroud scoring just three times in 10 games – the same btw as an ex Arsenal striker – The Gunners are in dire need of a clinical striker. Earlier today Andraes Cornelius was linked to the club, but now TalkSport have suggested that a player in a slightly more competitive league could be on his way to The Emirates.

Auxerre’s Yaya Sanogo is without a doubt the talk of French football at the moment. This after he scored seven goals in one week in February including putting four past Laval and then hitting a hat-trick seven days later against Tours.

And the youngster’s contract expires in the summer – a fact that has alerted numerous clubs around Europe including Arsenal and their French scout Gilles Grimandi.

The Daily Star even thinks that Arsene Wenger accompanied Grimandi to see the player this week to secure his signature.

It is quite astonishing that Auxerre haven’t nailed the player down for a few more years given his track record. In an astonishing run for the French Under 16s team in 2009 he score 18 goals in 18 games.

Auxerre have been fairly slow in accommodating Sanogo in their first team. This is largely because he spent over a year sidelined by an injury in 2011. He has been playing more regularly for the club this season and in fourteen starts has bagged an impressive eight goals.

Auxerre seem likely to get relegated this year so Sanogo will almost certainly be on the move.

The video shows him scoring some rather spectacular goals one of which was for France against England.



Football

RVP’s goal drought – now as bad as Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud

By Stefano on March 7th, 2013

The clamouring for Arsenal to sign a striker continues with fans desperate to see someone pull on a Gunners shirt who is clinical, predatory and consistent. Three words that can’t really describe the current incumbent Olivier Giourd.

Giroud has impressed in flashes this season, but for me he doesn’t get in enough goal scoring positions and never ever puts away any half chances. His record of shots to goals converted isn’t bad, but then the number of shots he has is quite low.

He is not a disaster but rather symptomatic of the way that Arsenal are this season – good in patches but lacking consistency.

Giroud then has scored three times in the last ten games he has played for Arsenal, which isn’t the most impressive of records.

Interestingly though there is another Premiership striker who has identical stats and it is not who you might think. Nope not Torres, but one RVP of Man United. The player has grabbed goals against Everton and Spurs in the last two months but it has been pretty slim pickings this year.

It did strike me in the game against Real that RVP was missing something from his game. Chances that you would have expected him to put away this season (and last) went begging. He also had a lot of bad luck – which if Karma does exist means he probably used it all up in the first half of the season.

It is hard to work out if this mid-season dip is something that RVP suffered at Arsenal. This is largely because in all his years at the club the Gunners only really got two full seasons out of the player. Last year, for example, the longest he went without a goal was four games, in fact it was rarely more than two.

In the same period last year (early Jan- early March) for example he scored ten goals in ten games.

Also, earlier in the season Van Persie pretty much kept United’s title challenge afloat

Remember this?

Martin Samuel in the Mail has worked out that had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same then the situation would be reversed. Arsenal would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.

Martin’s theory runs like this.

United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.

Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).

Fortunately for Sir Alex, Kagawa, Hernandez and ironically, Rooney have filed the breach recently, but there is clearly a question over the form of the ex-Arsenal man.

Van Persie is clearly Sir Alex’s golden boy at the moment. But if he goes a few more games without finding the net some of that glow might start to recede.

 

 



Football

Arsenal update: Jenkinson to City, Rooney connection and Cornelius tracked

By Stefano on March 7th, 2013

It is Man city’s avowed aim to snap up the best English talent in the Premiership. No surprise then that they have set their sights on Arsenal’s right back Carl Jenkinson.

The Mirror has a story this morning which suggests that Manicni and his men have been tracking the player and will make a move for him in the summer.

They sense an opportunity if Bacary Sagna leaves and Arsenal don’t promote Jenkinson to first choice right back.

This seems like an odd one. Jenkinson is a childhood Arsenal fan, who is living the dream at the moment. He is an intelligent man, but someone who is passionate about the team. I really can’t see this happening. Besides he will have noted how smoothly the careers of Sinclair and Rodwell have progressed at The Etihad too.

Also on a silly season tip a couple of pundits have suggested that a newly minted Arsenal – if they were to get a change of ownership- might look at Wayne Rooney.

The United striker clearly has a problem in that he has fallen down Fergie’s pecking order of players and many papers are suggesting that he will leave in the summer. But where to? City apparently don’t want him, Everton can’t afford him and he is unlikely to move to Spain or Italy.

The proposed move to PSG, which is in many of the papers, doesn’t seem to fit either. But what about London? It is a move that means the player could keep his base in the North West but still play Premiership football. Chelsea would be the favourites to sign him but Arsenal and Spurs have been mentioned in dispatches.

Yes it is true that Arsenal need a reliable and predatory striker, but the fact that Rooney earns twice as much as any other Arsenal player should be enough to mean any talk of a deal is fantasy football, even if the club could afford him. Wenger is an admirer of the player, but he is arguably not what Arsenal need at the moment and there must be queries about his injury record. Btw anyone else noted that RVP has only scored once in eight games now?

Finally a couple of sources are linking Arsenal with a bid for the – wait for it – new ‘Niklas Bendtner.’ Wenger is keen on FC Copenhagen striker Andreas Cornelius, who has scored 14 goals in 20 matches for Copenhagen this season.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world, and I would love to play in it,” Cornelius is quoted as saying in the Metro, with Arsenal his preferred choice. The player certainly knows where the sticks are and would come cheap (£3 million is mooted), but defenses in the Premiership are a bit tougher than the ones he has played against so far. One to watch.



Football

Chelsea fans – do you have any sympathy for United and Fergie?Thought not…

By Stefano on March 6th, 2013

Simon Poulter of What Would David Bowie Do says what a lot of non United fans have been thinking all day.

It would be dreadfully obvious for me to launch into badinage over Manchester United’s Champions League exit last night, but come on, there is surely nothing funnier than Sir Alex Ferguson in full-blown eruption, the hairdryer set to ‘Kill’.

I just couldn’t get enough of Sky Sports News repeatedly showing the clip of an apoplectic SAF leaping (well, sort of leaping) from the exotically furnished home team dugout to protest at Nani’s red card.

At first he seemed unable to decide in which direction he should explode. Like Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones in full “Don’t panic!” fluster, Fergie appeared to go this way and that, before an unfortunate camera angle (the camera being positioned on the other side of the Old Trafford pitch) caught sight of Mike Phelan with the outstretched arms of his boss emerging from behind him.

When Congreve wrote the oft-misquoted “…nor hell a fury like a woman scorned…” he clearly had no idea of what an enraged 71-year-old Scotsman could be capable of in unleashing such a flamethrower of bile about a refereeing decision that he could be left “too distraught” to speak to the media afterwards. “It’s a distraught dressing room and a distraught manager. That’s why I am sitting here now,” explained Phelan in the post-match press conference, by way of some apology.

Well, we’ve all been there before, either through travesties of officiating calamity or literal applications of the law. Cast your mind back to the 2004-05 Champions League semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea when the red team – managed by one Rafael Benitez – beat the blue team by a single goal. This was later described by the then-Chelsea boss, a certain Jose Mourinho, as a “ghost goal”, on account of the fact that Luis Garcia’s fourth minute strike didn’t actually cross the Chelsea goal line, and that William Gallas – in a career-rare example of commitment – cleared it off the line.

Cast your mind back, as well, to the 2008-2009 Champions League semi-final between, yes, Chelsea and Barcelona, during which the hapless referee Tom Henning Ovrebo managed to turn down four nailed-on penalty appeals by Chelsea in a game largely dominated by the gravitationally-challenged behaviour of Barca players, and capped by Didier Drogba’s industrial rant down the lens of a live television camera. Ovrebo had to be smuggled out of England. All round, not exactly football’s finest evening.

So, then, last night’s result couldn’t really have happened to a nicer team. The rationalist in me can see the point many neutrals made last night, that Manchester United were grandly injusticed. But I’ve seen United get away with too much over the years to care; Fergie’s hectoring of fourth officials, and his impetuous wristwatch-tapping when trying to shorten extra time, like an irascible pensioner complaining that his mobility bus is running late.

Man U have had plenty go their way, so an injustice, even one as perceptibly heinous as last night’s, only generates so much sympathy in me. Yes, from one angle Nani appeared to go in studs-up like Bruce Lee, and, yes, from another angle, he looked like he was trying to hook down the ball, and Alvaro Arbeloa merely clattered into him.

Even as a Chelsea fan, with previous with Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir (he sent off John Terry at the Nou Camp last year for that kneeing incident with Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez in the Champions League semi-final), one ultimately has to agree with the Nani decision. Cakir was correctly applying the letter of the law. Studs up – early bath. Even if it was clear, from the more advanced optics of TV, that Nani’s eyes remained trained throughout the incident on the ball.

But, Roy Keane – being somewhat disingenuous, perish the idea – had a point: “It’s dangerous play – it’s a red card. You have to be aware of other players on the pitch. Does [Nani] think he’s going to have 20 yards to himself?”. One wonders what Keane himself would have done…

The pain of accepting the red card decision being the right one is that with Nani walking on 56 minutes, Mourinho merely had to send in Modric and the odious Ronaldo to pull United asunder. Rarely has a red card inflicted such obvious pain on a side: Modric’s equaliser was top-drawer, the winner from Ronaldo – who wears so much hair product these days you expect to see dead seabirds appearing on beaches – proved fatal.

The irony of last night, then, is that the man walking away from Old Trafford quietly, and with the smug grin we have all seen before, was Jose Mourinho. With a barely concealed smile, Mourinho shed a few crocodile tears in his own post-match interview: “Independent of the decision, the best team lost,” he non-blubbed, adding: “We didn’t deserve to win but football is like this.”

Could you have blamed Mourinho for declaring the result sweet revenge for the Liverpool incident nine years ago? Course not.

Article originally published here.



Football

Kieran Gibbs is back in training- is he Arsenal’s first choice left back?

By Stefano on March 6th, 2013

Some good news for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans. The club’s English left back Kieran Gibbs is back in training and could feature in both The Champions League and The Premiership soon.

The jury is still out on the former. The game against Bayern next week may come too soon for the player which would be bad news for the team. At The Emirates Bayern ruthlessly exploited Arsenal’s right flank and the makeshift left back Thomas Vermaelen. A fit Gibbs would be a much better option.

Failing that Gibbs could be ready to play in the Premiership against Swansea on March 16th.

But will he start the game? Wenger’s winter signing Nacho Monreal has overall had a good start to his English career. In many games he has looked solid at the back and powerful going forward. He even provided an assist for Santi Cazorla in the recent 2–1 victory over Aston Villa.

However he had a poor game against Spurs and some pundits blamed him for the second Lennon goal as he seemed to stand helplessly still as the Spurs’ player broke through the Arsenal high line.

Most Gunners fans seemed to like what they have seen of the player so far, but I wonder if a full fit Gibbs, who was excellent in the first part of the season and who has a significantly longer relationship with the rest of the defence to draw on, should start against Swansea. After that it could all be down to who starts and how well they play – or in Gibbs’case how long he stays injury-free.



Football

Nicklas Bendtner could be back at Arsenal – could he have a role to play?

By Stefano on March 6th, 2013

There are rumours today that Nicklas Bendtner’s Italian disaster could be over very soon with Juventus apparently keen on sending the striker back to London. The move comes after a drink driving incident which saw the player fined £97,000 and has had his driving license revoked for three years.

Bendtner has also been suspended from the Danish side for six months too. So basically he could be kicking his heels for a while.

The self-professed best striker in the world is clearly supping at last chance saloon. Come the end of the season he will leave Arsenal and at the moment it seems like it won’t be a big club that secures his services.

So maybe, just maybe, there could be a role to play at Arsenal. The Gunners’ bench is pretty skinny on attacking options and a few seasons back Bendtner came on as a sub many times and either scored or helped create goals and chances.

Bendtner needs to play well to keep himself in the shop window. Arsenal need a striker to take the pressure off Giroud and The Dane clearly has plenty of Premiership experience.

Sometimes saying sorry can be very hard – but in this instance it could suit both parties and have a happy ending.

Would you give Nick one last chance?

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Arsenal’s next captain? Ashley Williams? The Guardian thinks it could be on the cards

By Stefano on March 5th, 2013

Arsene Wenger has his eyes on Swansea’s captain and central defender Ashley Williams so says The Guardian.

There’s no mention of a source or a quote from Wenger but the paper says…

Wenger has identified the Wales captain as someone with the leadership qualities to control and organise Arsenal’s defence in a way more reminiscent of when the club built a large part of their success on having a dominant figure such as Tony Adams, Martin Keown or Steve Bould in the heart of their back four.

Interestingly the article also discusses Wenger’s lack of faith in his current trio of central defenders and suggests that the Arsenal manager was keen to bring a player in during the transfer window.

It also adds that neither Thomas Vermaelen or Per Mertesacker seem capable of taking charge of the Arsenal defence.

It concludes that Williams, who is contracted to 2015, would cost in the region of £8m and is also being tracked by Liverpool.

So, if this is true then why did Wenger not approach Swansea in the transfer window? Surely given Arsenal’s financial resources if he was that disappointed with his trio of centre backs he could have signed a player, maybe even Williams.

Arsenal clearly need as leader too though parachuting Williams in as not just as a new recruit, but also as a captain, sounds like it could be problematic.

So what do you think? It wouldn’t surprise me if Arsenal bid for the player in the summer, but he is just one on a long list of centre backs.

Pic from Wikipedia



Football

Jose Mourinho could be Chelsea manager this month if Man United win tonight

By Stefano on March 5th, 2013

Some fantastic mischief making from The Daily Star which has today run the story that Chelsea’s favourite son, Jose Mourinho, will be back running the Blues this month if Man United knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League tonight.

It is no secret that the ex-Blues man is unhappy at the Bernabeu and is angling for a return to the Premiership. None of the other big jobs in the league are likely to be available which makes a reunion with Roman and the squad most likely.

Well that’s the theory. Could it happen?

Mourinho has got unfinished business in Spain. Real might be 13 points behind Barca in the league but they do have a Spanish Cup run to continue. And can you imagine Jose ending a season without any silver ware?

Also it doesn’t feel like it is Jose’s style to leave a club mid-season.

Chelsea, well the fans at least and quite possibly the owner and the players, are however a club that would welcome his return. If they drop any more Premiership points then Arsenal would be breathing down their necks for that last Champions League place. If that happens and Roman pulls the trigger on Benitez then Chelsea will need a manager quickly and ‘The Special One’ would be an obvious choice. Maybe Roman would make Jose a deal he couldn’t refuse.

As The Daily Star reports Mourinho has bought a home in London and his daughter, Tita, 16, is attending Camberwell Arts College, as he appears to prepare to work again in the capital.

This is one of those moves that seems unlikely – but who knows circumstances might end up dictating that it happens.



Football

Wenger stopped Bould’s defensive sessions – says BBC’s David Ornstein

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

If you look at the number of goals that Arsenal have conceded this season, it hardly looks like a club in a defensive crisis. The Gunners have let in 32 goals, that’s just one more than Man United.

The figures are however slightly skewed by the Arsenal defence’s excellent start to the season. They played five games and let in just two goals and their opponents included Liverpool and Man City.

The BBC’s David Ornstein has a theory as to why this is. On Radio Five Live this evening he claimed that sources in the club had told him that the great start was in part due to Steve Bould running defensive training sessions with the team. Ornstein said that the Arsenal assistant manager worked with the players on positional play and marking and it had paid dividends for the side.

However after the early games Arsene Wenger chose to stop the Bould sessions and Arsenal went back to the more traditional training methods that Wenger has employed throughout his tenure as manager.

Ornstein’s insists that there is no rift between Bould and Wenger and that players are behind the manager.

However if this is true, and given the BBC’s high editorial standards I am sure they would not have let Ornstein say what he did were there not a lot of truth in it, it doesn’t reflect very well on the club.

Ornstein also suggested that lack of communication among its defenders and Arsenal’s failure to replace Alex Song have further compounded the side’s defensive frailties.

So what do you think? Does he have a point?



Football

Are Arsenal going to hit Malaga for yet another player?

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

Bit of an interesting one this which I guess is more speculation than hard fact for now.

But  HITC is suggesting that Arsene Wenger is considering his campaign to reunite the Malaga team from last year at The Emirates by signing 29 year old French defensive midfielder Jeremy Toulalan.

Malaga are currently one of the hottest teams in Spain. They are fourth in La Liga and still in the Champions League. However mounting financial troubles mean that they have had to sell off several off their players and Arsenal have already profited with a great deal for Cazorla and a potentially good one for Monreal too.

Toulalan would be a good fit for the Gunners. He has played with Sagna and Diaby in the French national side and obviously knows Monreal and Cazorla’s game very well.

He is also strong in the tackle and has good vision for a largely defensively minded player.

He has said he is leaving Malaga in the summer and Atlético Madrid are interested in his services. Newcastle have been monitoring him too as they are apparently light on French players (not).

Arsenal fans will be hoping for a higher profile signing like a Capoue, but if that Champions League place doesn’t happen then Toulalan could be a useful and cheaper alternative.



Football

Should Arsenal have signed Chris Samba?

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

Arsenal lost a vital game yesterday largely because of the inability of their two centre backs (and Nacho Monreal who was culpable on the second goal) to track players making a run behind a high line.

Maybe Arsenal midfielders, especially the increasingly immobile Arteta, should take the blame too.

The defeat is all the more painful because until the Bale goal the Gunners seemed comfortable and were controlling the game.

Yet Arsene Wenger seems to be reasonably content with his line up of centre backs. He had plenty of opportunity to strengthen in the window, especially after letting Djourou go on on loan, yet apart from vague whispers that Arsene would make a summer bid for Mats Hummel, it was eerily quiet.

There is one player who moved in the window who would have seriously strengthened the team’s defence – Chris Samba. Wenger is clearly a Samba fan and has allegedly been mulling over a bid on more than once occasion. Yet even though Samba was angling for a move from Anzhi Makhachkala it was QPR’s Harry Redknapp who got in first and secured the player.

Samba’s reputation, even after playing several weeks for a struggling side, is such that Zenit St Petersburg made an offer for the player which would have meant that QPR made a significant profit on Samba.

According to the Daily Star Redknapp was left mystified by Arsenal’s failure to land player

“When he was sold, I could never understand why Arsenal did not sign him that time,” he said.

“He is everything you need. He is quick, he can play round his feet.

“He is a proper centre-half. He could play anywhere in this country and for all the top teams.”

So is Harry mischief-making? Or does he have a point?

One one level Wenger would never have matched the wages that Samba is currently earning at QPR – unless that is he saw Samba as vital to the side and that he would make a difference in securing Champions League football.

For me Samba has three advantages over Per Mertesacker. Firstly he has as much, if not more, presence, especially on free kicks and corners (in both boxes). The ball just seems to ping off his head. Secondly he is much faster and more mobile that Per Mertesacker – lack of speed being the German’s Achilles’s Heel. He is also more precise in the tackle than his German counterpart – though I think from a positional point of view the German has the edge.

Lastly he is a leader – and Arsenal are perilously short of leaders.

He is 28 years old, has 4/5 good years left in him, has load of Premiership experience. He is another signing that would have been worth the cash in the winter window, or maybe if QPR go down.



Football

Five reasons why Arsenal fans shouldn’t be too down today

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

Losing to Spurs is never easy and to be honest it is not something  that Arsenal fans have had to endure too may times in the Wenger era. And yes it does open up a seven point gap between the Gunners and their north London rivals. But if Spurs fans can hear the Fat Lady singing they are mistaken, she hasn’t even started clearing her throat yet.

Besides there are a few positives that Arsenal fans can dwell on this morning

1 Arsenal didn’t really deserve to lose – I think many neutrals would have said that a fair result was a draw. Apart from the minutes of madness in the first half the Gunners played well and were in control of significant parts of the game. In the moments before the goal they looked comfortable and in the second half, after the Mertessacker goal, if they had scored again they would have looked the better bet to win. Admittedly while they created fewer chances they actually had more possession  than Spurs. Ultimately the key Arsenal players had average games  - Walcott, Cazorla and Wilshere – and they will be put in better performances this season.

2 There are still 10 games to go – And if you look at the run in of the three London team the Arsenal one is the easiest of the three  Besides, Chelsea and Spurs have to play each other, so if the Gunners can get a run of wins they will make up some points automatically  Tottenham’s next few games includes trips to a newly rampant Liverpool, cup winners Swansea and Stamford Bridge. They also have two more tricky home games in Everton and Man City. They finish with what on looks like three winnable games, but by then it could be a lot closer. It has happened before…

3 Yesterday heaped more pressure on Arsene Wenger – In the short term this is not a bad thing for Arsenal. He will drive the players with renewed vigour. In the long term it underlines the folly of sticking with a squad that at best can achieve fourth place, when you have huge cash reserves in the bank. Even if Arsenal did qualify for the Champions League this season the pressure for change at the club - highlighted by the alleged offer yesterday – will be huge. There is clearly a mess that needs sorting.

4 Even if the nightmare happens – And Arsenal finish fifth for the first summer in a long time there is very unlikely to be any core Arsenal players leaving  the squad. Wilshere and Walcott are going nowhere. The only question mark could be over Cazorla, and that seems very unlikely.

5 Ramsey played well - On the positive side Aaron Ramsey had a good game and is showing that he is nearing the kind of form that won him a regular first team start. Ok, I am clutching at straws now…




-->