Monday, 27 August 2012

Hey Giroud, Don't Be Afraid

So he's played 117 minutes of Premier League football or 162 minutes in an Arsenal shirt and questions are already being asked "Is Giroud good enough and/or can he fill RVP's boots?". Frankly I find it ridiculous that he's felt the need to come out and explain himself two weeks in a row and ultimately I don't see why some fans and especially the media feel the need to criticise his performance/s.

So why the need for the negativity? Simple, we should be scoring and that is purely down to our centre forward and him alone. The amount of people that reckon he should have squared it to Ramsey is unreal. That option was still a difficult ball and passing it to Aaron didn't guarantee a goal. What I saw was a player who has an eye for goal, he spotted Begovic of his line and came within inches of scoring one of the goals of season. Now the cynics out there will say he didn't score and it doesn't matter if it missed by inches or metres(which is nonsense) but the fact is the vision, awareness and let's not forget confidence to take that shot on shows that we have a player on our hands. I'm no expert when it comes to Giroud but what I have seen of him is he isn't scared to have a pop at goal and that for me is a positive. Look at what the crisis of confidence did to Chamakh, he would have rather run a mile than have a pop at goal. We need players who are prepared to have a dig and we can't be selective when it suits.

The comparison to van Persie which unfortunately will linger until our strikers begin to fire is pointless. He's gone and they are far from similar but that doesn't mean Giroud isn't any good, who's to say he can't be better than him after Wenger has taught him a thing or two. In Giroud we have a great, yes great, target man. He makes it stick, brings others into play and helps us advance/catch up with ball. I think both Huth & Shawcross were taken by surprise by him yesterday as he fought hard with them. He contested every header and proved solid when called upon to defend. In April van Persie didn't contest one ball in the air Giroud contested twelve (and winning five), that shows a shift in our tactics and mentality going forward. These things though take time and I refer back to our lack of friendlies but we are growing with each game, admittedly it's quite easy to improve on the performance v Sunderland but there were respectable chances for Diaby, Podolski, Giroud (corner) & Arteta and that sharpness will come and it will more than likely need to be there against Liverpool on Sunday if they play as they did against City yesterday. Look at Arteta's reaction after the game, it was one born of of frustration because they know they are nearly there, they just need to relax a bit more in front of goal. Lots of opportunities are getting snatched at in our attempts to get off the mark.
I know I am in a minority when I say we don't need another striker just yet. We have options with Giroud and Podolski and if it doesn't work (which is a possibility) then there's always January to put it right but for now I'm quite happy for both to find their feet in this side and I'd pretty certain we'll be seeing lots of goal sometime soon. So Giroud, don't make it bad, just take a good team and make it better.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fail to Prepare

So a week has proven to be a long time once again The Arsenal. We've gone from the pre-match over excitement to realistation in the space of ninety minutes last Saturday. We've had an exciting new striker feel the need to explain himself and ask for patience because he dared to miss a vey respectable opportunity, then there was the sale of Alex Song and the saga that was Nuri Sahin.

Cazorla pulling the strings
Having allowed some time to digest what was a frustrating afternoon last Saturda against a side that would have made George Graham proud. Was it actually that much of a surprise when you look at the sides preperation in pre-seasont? There was quality in abundance but this side lack sharpness and a purpose. We saw the introduction of two new signings, Arteta playing the deeper role, Diaby returning, Walcott lacking fitness & Jenkinson at full back. Whilst we expected to win it hardly comes as a shock but I think the club could have averted this. Due to postponing of The Emiates Cup we played one fixture between 29th July to 18th August. That really is pathetic, everyone knows sharpness comes from playing games not training camps. That meant Cazorla & Giroud managed a half each and Podolski managed seventy minutes and that's all they have to show for their pre-seasons with us and I know some went off to play for their countries but that doesn't really benefit us does it? Then you look back at our opening fixtures of recent times and in the last three season we've drawn our opener on each occasion, admittedly trips to Newcastle and Liverpool are difficult but we were poor by our own standards in each fixture. We can't be naive and think we can just turn up, flick the switch and go into overdrive. Our game is built on relationships and understanding, so were we going to achieve a satisfactory level of performance without serious match practice. Arteta & Diaby have never started a Premier League game together but thanks to Cazorla's guile we looked easier on the eye than we actually were.

Olivier meet Robert and Ryan
Now we embark on another adventure to Stoke, where I fully expect their wind turnbines to be pumping out a force ten gale but I think it's an ideal time to play them. Whilst they may point to our lack of fluency (which is a valid point) they have to deal with a lack of competitive action.That of course is their main strength (exc throw ins), they like to pressurise us, force mistakes and feed off the scraps (a bit like their fans). If we can retain possession our football should do the talking but we will still have to contend with the numerous physcial elements. Can Cazorla get a look in? He did get pushed off the ball quite easily at times last weekend and you can only begin to imagine the sort of plans Stoke have for him. Will Wenger go for a front three of Podolski, Giroud & Walcott? I'd like to see this at some point and Stoke's defence is vulnerable but I feel Shawcross & Huth realish the opoortunity of playing against a lone man. Moving Podolski to left wing means back up isn't far behind as he works within the width of the box, something Gervinho doesn't offer as much of. A point wouldn't be the end of the world but it would be nice to get a win under our belt and provide a much needed shot in the arm ahead of our trip to Anfield. However, if you thought this week was long just wait for next week. Stoke on Sunday, transfer deadline day on Friday & Liverpool next Sunday. It could shape our season.

Friday, 17 August 2012

No More Doom & Gloom

So the new season is fast approaching and for once I feel rather positive about the situation at the club. Despite the best efforts of the media to insist that our club is dead or in crisis that certainly isn't transmitting through the most important people - the players. Despite having to deal with a want away captain the players have knuckled down to the task at hand and they seem to be enjoying themselves but does this mean anything in terms of how they'll perform on the pitch?

Well last August was very much doom and gloom due to the uncertainty and the inevitably surrounding the imminent sales of Fabregas & Nasri, without any adequate replacements linedup. We started with a bore draw at Newcastle and there was an edge to the support, Wenger and the team. This supplied countless amounts of ammunition to those with agendas and our club wasn't a very nice place to be. Thankfully Wenger manged to restore the belief piece by piece with some frantic panic buying.

This year one of those panic buys Mikel Arteta will go into this season as our Vice-Captain. That leads nicely onto Vermaelen, who has been officially appointed Arsenal skipper. Now I'll admit I'd have had Arteta and maybe Sagna ahead of him but that said Vermaelen has shown commitment to the club and he has learnt the ropes, so I am very encouraged by the choice and he has said he will "lead the team through the way I play", that's a pretty gungho philosophy we will be adopting, although I am hoping he is a touch more responsible. I think that is what I'm looking forward to this season, our ability to blow the opposition away.

There's no reason why we can't do that now that we have a play maker in the form of Cazorla. Last season we had to make do with Rosicky or Ramsey in that position and whilst both are still crucial to our squad this is a significant upgrade. Whilst Cazorla becomes the much needed link between midfield and attack, it is the latter that excites me the most. Yes, we've lost our best player but I don't think anyone is in a position to dwell on the matter but we have two international strikers joining the club, one of which is of the highest calibre. Lukasz Podolski will soon become a crowd favourite, as will deputy Olivier Giroud. Stewart Robson said on 5Live today that there's no way these two could fill the void left by RVP. I think that is incredibly harsh as we are a side that creates a lot of chances and now we have Cazorla too. Where's the logic? Of course, it's Robson speaking, there isn't any.

The big question is can we win a trophy? The title is probably still too much of a task for this side unless we strengthen defensively but we can surely have a good punt at the FA Cup and Champions League. Wenger appears ruthless this year and he seems to have grown tired of our failures and the departures of the likes of constant figures such as Alex Song can only demonstrate that the lack of success means he's taking a closer look of personnel and so he should.

The fact is this year we are probably going to attack like we haven't done for a couple of seasons. I even expect the likes of Gervinho to step up to the plate. That does bring with it the obvious pitfalls of being unable to defend but for now I'm just going to allow the excitement carry me through the beginning of the season and if we win comprehensibly tomorrow I will believe we can win the league, until Sunday that is.

Enjoy tomorrow/today and if you are going, get behind the team likes we did in crucial games last season. There's enough nonsense written about our club but when we are at home it's our opportunity to let outside influences disappear for at least 90 minutes.

Say we are top the league, say we are top the league...