Archive for the ‘Arsenal’ category

Last week of the season

May 3rd, 2006

Now that I’ve finished my MBA, I can concentrate on the lighter side of life – such as Arsenal’s push for 4th place in the Premiership and preparations for the Champions League Final on May 17th.

Chelsea have been confirmed as champions (deservedly so), and the relegation battle has been concluded with Sunderland, West Brom, and Birmingham going down. The remaining interest in the Premiership is the battle for 2nd place between Man Utd and Liverpool, and the contest for European places.

Arsenal have two games left – away to Man City tomorrow evening, and home to Wigan on Sunday – the last match at Highbury. They have to win both matches to have any hope of overtaking Spurs and taking 4th place, but are also relying on West Ham taking points off Spurs on Sunday. Here’s the top of the Premiership table as things stand today, Wednesday:

Pos. Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Chelsea 37 29 4 4 72 21 51 91
2 Man Utd 37 24 8 5 68 34 34 80
3 Liverpool 37 24 7 6 54 24 30 79
4 Tottenham 37 18 11 8 52 36 16 65
5 Arsenal 36 18 7 11 61 28 33 61
6 Blackburn 37 18 6 13 49 42 7 60

Of course, if Arsenal beat Barcelona in Paris to win the Champions League then they qualify automatically for next season’s competition. There is the possibility therefore that Spurs finish 4th and yet don’t qualify :)

Arsenal continue Champions League success

October 20th, 2005

In contrast to their Premiership form, Arsenal are top of Group B after beating Sparta Prague 2 – 0. Thierry Henry made his return from injury a little ahead of schedule when Jose Antonio Reyes came off after 15 minutes with a suspected fractured rib (later to be diagnosed as only being bruised). Wenger had been planning to give Henry a 30-minute run out, but was forced to change his plans.

Henry was clearly thrilled to be back playing. With practially his first touch he volleyed the ball goal-wards, with a deflection sending the ball out for a corner. Shortly afterwards he was on target, with an excellently taken goal. Toure sent the ball upfield, and Henry controlled it behind him with the back of his heel, before turning and bending a shot with the outside of his right foot into the far corner of the net.

Henry made it a pair in the second half when he latched onto a great bending pass from Pires behind the defenders and slotted it past the keeper to make it 2 – 0. In the process, he also broke Ian Wright’s goalscoring record for the club, having now scored 186 goals. Henry has done this is six seasons, and is likely to build on this total to set a record that will take some beating.

The Group B table is:

Team P W D L F A Pts
Arsenal 3 3 0 0 6 2 9
Ajax 3 1 1 1 4 3 4
FC Thun 3 1 0 2 2 4 3
Sparta Prague 3 0 1 2 1 4 1

Arsenal’s Premiership Progress

October 20th, 2005

OK, I’ve been busy with my MBA studies, so I’ve been neglecting this blog. To start catching up, here’s a summary of how Arsenal have been doing in the Premiership in September and October – not so good. Here’s the results so far:

September 10 Middlesborough 2 – 1 Arsenal
September 19 Arsenal 2 – 0 Everton
September 24 West Ham 0 – 0 Arsenal
October 2 Arsenal 1 – 0 Birmingham
October 15 West Brom 2 – 1 Arsenal

And here’s the table as it stands today:

  Team P W D L F A GD pts
1 Chelsea 9 9 0 0 23 3 20 27
2 Tottenham 9 5 3 1 11 5 6 18
3 Man Utd 8 5 2 1 13 6 7 17
4 Man City 9 5 2 2 11 7 4 17
5 Charlton 8 5 1 2 13 8 5 16
6 Wigan 8 5 1 2 8 5 3 16
7 Bolton 9 4 2 3 10 11 -1 14
8 Arsenal 8 4 1 3 11 6 5 13
9 West Ham 8 3 3 2 12 7 5 12
10 Middlesbro 9 3 3 3 10 12 -2 12
11 Blackburn 9 3 2 4 7 10 -3 11
12 Liverpool 7 2 4 1 5 6 -1 10
13 Newcastle 9 2 3 4 5 8 -3 9
14 Aston Villa 9 2 3 4 9 14 -5 9
15 West Brom 9 2 2 5 9 16 -7 8
16 Portsmouth 9 1 4 4 6 10 -4 7
17 Fulham 9 1 3 5 8 14 -6 6
18 Birmingham 9 1 3 5 7 13 -6 6
19 Sunderland 9 1 2 6 7 14 -7 5
20 Everton 8 1 0 7 1 11 -10 3

So, two wins, a draw, and two defeats see Arsenal in 8th position, 14 points adrift of Chelsea, though with a game in hand. Many people have conceded the title to Chelsea already, and if they maintain this form they will be worthy champions.

Arsenal’s dip in form is related to the fact that Henry has been injured, and has been joined by Ljungberg, Hleb, Cole, and Campbell. In Henry’s absence, Reyes and van Persie have been given a chance to step up to the mark. Despite lots of attempts on goal in the matches so far, they have failed to deliver.

Additionally, Arsenal’s tradionally solid defence has been looking decidedly shakey of late. When Campbell plays they are better, but Toure is getting caught out too often, and they lack a certain assurance. This may be due to a lack of support in midfield. Pires in particular doesn’t support his wing-backs as much as he should, and Flamini and Fabregas don’t have the same defensive capabilities as Vieira and Gilberto.

At this stage in the season, a strange sense is settling on me. I’m still optimistic that we can improve and get back to the top end of the table. However, overtaking Chelsea is becoming a larger obstacle with every game, and it really is up to them to lose the Premiership. There’s a real sense of transition, a sense of building up to next season – the first in the Emirates Stadium. Wenger has asked us to trust him, and most Gooners will do so. However, expectations have been set high by previous season’s performances, and if Wenger fails to deliver something this season, how long before the knives come out?

Arsenal Transfer News Roundup

September 6th, 2005

As the Premiership transfer window closed on Wednesday evening there were many last-minute deals worked out by Premiership teams. Arsenal managed to get cover for Jens Lehmann – who is suspended for the first two Champions League matches – and Manuel Almunia – who has a broken finger – in the shape of Sunderland keeper Mart Poom. Poom arrives on a loan deal that lasts till January. Going the other way is Justin Hoyte, who goes on loan to Sunderland for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, David Bentley has gone on loan for the rest of the season to Blackburn Rovers. With the arrival of Alexander Hleb, Bentley moved down the midfield pecking order, and this would appear to be his best chance of getting regular first-team football.

Finally, Jeremie Aliadere has joined West Ham on loan for the rest of the season. Apparently he got fed up with Gordon Strachan not picking him, and the fact that Celtic got dumped out of the Champions League so early didn’t help.

Full details here, here, and here at Arsenal.com.

Arsenal get Ajax in Champions League draw

August 26th, 2005

Arsenal have been drawn in Group B for the initial group stage of this season’s Champions Leage. They will face Ajax, Sparta Prague, and swiss side FC Thun. The details of the full draw can be seen here on Arsenal.com, and the details of the fixtures can be found here.

Cygan gets two as Arsenal beat Fulham 4 – 1

August 26th, 2005

Pascal Cygan trebled his goalscoring tally at Arsenal with two strikes in a 4 – 1 win by Arsenal over Fulham. Fulham went ahead in the first half with a strike by Claus Jensen after a Toure mistake, not long after Lauren had a penalty saved. However, the Gunners came back to equalise on the half hour with Cygan getting a touch on Bergkamp’s free kick to steer the ball into the net.

In the second half, Henry bagged two. The first saw Reyes lift a perfect pass over the defenders and into Henry’s path, from where he controlled the ball and slotted it home pass the keeper. Arsenal put the game beyond doubt in the last 10 minutes as Henry got another following a Fabregas pass where he lifted it over the goalie and into the net, despite a vain aattempt by a Fulham defender to get there first. Finally, Cygan got his second from close range, with Toure leaping out of the way.

Arsenal.com have a full match report here.

Chelsea defeat Arsenal 1 – 0

August 22nd, 2005

Chelsea welcomed Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and managed to take the three points thanks to a lucky goal from Drogba. Arsenal had significantly more possession, but lacked the ability to produce results in the final third. Freddie Ljungberg was substituted off after injuring himself on an advertising hoarding. He has undergone initial scans since that look positive, but is on crutches for the moment. Henry seemed to go missing, which may have been due to Chelsea’s tactic of defending deep with numbers. But Arsenal lacked imagination and played too narrowly.

The season is not over by any means, despite what many pundits are saying. Arsenal will still be challenging for the title come May. But the psychological effect of two defeats to Chelsea in 15 days may mirror the effect of Manchester United stopping Arsenal’s unbeaten run last season. A full match report can be found here at Arsenal.com.

Arsenal defeat Newcastle in Premiership opener

August 15th, 2005

Arsenal kicked off their 2005/2006 Premiership campaign with a 2 – 0 victory over Newcastle at Highbury on Sunday. The match was shown on Sky Sports and was the first of their two live matches. Newcastle came to defend, which is relatively easy to do at Highbury given the small size of the pitch. The pitch itself had been mown in certain places in the “Highbury 1913 – 2006″ logo, which is set to appear throughout this last season at Highbury, before the move to the Emirates Stadium in Ashburton Grove for next season.

Most of the action was in Newcastle’s half, with the occaisonal foray into the Gunner’s half. Arsenal played their usual game, probing the Magpies’ defence. The game changed, however, when Jermaine Jenas was sent off for a tackle on Gilberto. Replays later showed that the referee could not have seen the incident clearly, and that the tackle was not intentionally dangerous. In fact, the referee has since requested that the red card be downgraded to a yellow, and this has been agreed by the F.A.. With Newcastle down to ten men, they were naturally going to defend even deeper, and Shearer spent much of the remainder of the match as a lone striker up front.

The stalemate continued until 70 minutes, when Wenger brought on Hleb and van Persie for Fabregas and Bergkamp. While Arsenal adjusted to the new arrivals, Newcastle had a period of pressure in Arsenal’s box. However, this was shortly followed by a penalty to Arsenal, as Ljungberg was bundled over in the box by N’Zogbia. Shea Given got a hand to Henry’s spot kick, but the power was too much, and it was 1 – 0 to the Arsenal.

A short while later the match was sewn up in typical Arsenal style. Newcastle had ventured out of their own half again and won a corner. Arsenal easily defeneded it, and then started a flowing move which saw Freddie Ljungberg take the ball to the byline and cut it back for van Persie to cooly steer it home from close range through a tiny gap between Given and the post. 2 – 0, game over.

So, though they left it late, the Gunners made sure that Newcastle’s last visit to Highbury would be one they would like to forget. Arsenal.com has a full match report here.

Arsenal beaten by Chelsea 2 – 1 in the Community Shield

August 11th, 2005

The 2005/2006 Premiership season is almost under way, and in what seems to be a regular occurrence, Arsenal featured in the Community Shield, playing last season’s champions Chelsea. As the match was shown live on Sky Sports, I was able to watch the full match. It was a good game, with Chelsea continuing where they left off last season and defending very well. Arsenal also stated their intention to continue their flowing style of attacking football.

Chelsea scored early on when Drogba controlled a high ball with his chest, and held off Senderos to finish well. He added a second later on when he persevered in the box despite attention from Senderos, Toure, and Lehmann. In fairness, they were both excellent personal goals. Arsenal rallied and Cesc Fabregas slid home from short range following a cross from Ljungberg. However, it was not enough, and Chelsea won the first silverware of the season. That could be a mixed blessing, since the history of the trophy is that the winners rarely, if ever, go on to win the Premiership!

There’s a full match report over on Arsenal.com.

Arsenal: 6, Boreham Wood: 2

August 11th, 2005

Arsenal rounded off their pre-season lineup with a 6 – 2 win over Boreham Wood. Robin van Persie had his first appearance in pre-season, and scored two goals, while Reyes scored three, including two penalties. Robert Pires completed the line up of goal scorers. A full match report is here on Arsenal.com.