The Arsenal Invincibles Documentary Review

The Arsenal Invincibles documentary was created by Arsenal media and released this week. To celebrate the documentary, some Arsenal legends attended a premiere of the film at the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead.

It was shown on Sky Sports 5 HD on Wednesday evening, and because of other commitments I’ve only just seen it.

The film, which took two years to make, was well made and a really fantastic watch. It has the thoughts of Arsene Wenger, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Thierry Henry, Jens Lehmann and Ray Parlour.

The insight of those players and the manager makes for gripping viewing and it’s amazing to see how they felt through different times of the season.

A particular highlight for me was the overview of the infamous game at Old Trafford.

Van Nistelrooy lashing out at Patrick Vieira and ultimately getting the Arsenal captain sent off is still one of the most infuriating things I have ever seen. I remember watching way back then, and it still annoys me 11 years later.

However, the camaraderie between the Arsenal players when they reflect on the whole incident is beautiful to watch. Jens Lehmann, Ray Parlour and Martin Keown in particular is fantastic and shows the amazing spirit and passion the team had for each other.

The Invincibles squad were full of players who would die for each other and the documentary even revealed a big confrontation between Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger after the final whistle.

The image of Martin Keown whacking Van Nistelrooy over the head at the full time whistle is still and will probably always be one of my most favourite Arsenal moments.

The documentary highlights some of the key games and moments of the season, and for a person that never cries, I found it hard not to get emotional further on in the documentary when Arsenal were on the treble charge and it looked like the season was going to completely fall apart – until a Thierry Henry inspired Arsenal managed to overcome a difficult Liverpool side that threatened to derail our Premier League challenge.

As a documentary overall, for any Arsenal fan it is a must watch and is a solid 9 out of 10. It is an excellent tribute and recap of one of the most beautiful, memorable and iconic seasons in Arsenal’s history and the player opinions make it a gripping watch. The only reason why it doesn’t get a 10 out of 10 is because of the lack of opinions from other key members of the team.

Since the 2003/2004 season when members of that special squad departed due to retirement or leaving for pastures new, there seems to be an obvious omission for certain players.

From the players who left Arsenal only Dennis Bergkamp, Fredrick Ljungberg and Robert Pires were probably the only ones who didn’t leave under acrimonious circumstances. Dennis is in Holland with Ajax but I’m sure he could have contributed a few thoughts to the film, and I realise that Bobby’s English isn’t the best so understand his absence from the documentary. Freddie is still working for Arsenal at the moment (I believe) so wasn’t sure why he wasn’t included.

Patrick Vieira was the captain of this side and isn’t in it. He’s doing work at Manchester City so isn’t impossible to get hold of, so I’m not sure why he wasn’t involved – does he still hold a grudge against Arsene Wenger? I don’t know.

Then you have the players who weren’t so popular – the most famous departure from Arsenal being Ashley Cole. I did search and see if this had been addressed by anyone or whether it was swept under the carpet and found this tweet from the former Arsenal left-back:

So clearly he was asked, but declined.

For me, that is sad. Whatever you want to say about Ashley Cole, for me he was a big part of that special season (as where the other players). The documentary is about this very special season, nothing before or after it. If Ashley Cole (along with Paddy, Dennis and Freddie) contributed it would have been perfect.

I’m sure the majority of Arsenal fans would have liked to see Ashley Cole contribute, because when you’re recounting a special season in Arsenal’s history, you want to get all the opinions from all the key people – and like it or not, Ashley Cole was one of them.

Özil OUT, Giroud OUT – But Arsene Wenger IN – For Now…

What can you say about that?

At the end of the day, you (usually) get what you deserve in football and that’s where Arsenal are right now. 3-1 after the first leg and have a slim, if not impossible, task of progressing into the latter stages of the Champions League.

And let’s be honest, even if we did somehow manage to get through we’d only get stuffed by Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich anyway.

I am still confused, upset and disappointed with last nights defeat – essentially we were far too confident and cocky, and thought we would breeze through against Monaco. That’s the only way I can explain how we performed so poorly last night.

Arsene Wenger said we were naive, etc. but that is a bunch of shite. This is the same squad that beat Manchester City in their own back yard, and has travelled to places like Borussia Dortmund and managed to get results.

Let’s not be stupid here – these are top players who (when they want to) can perform at the highest level. The problem is, last night they didn’t because the thought we just needed to turn up to get a result.

It was a complete shambles. You know when Arsenal are up for it because when we are, we’re right out of the blocks from the moment the game kicks off but yesterday we were slow, lethargic and pedestrian. How ridiculous is it that Berbatov “wanted it more”?. Jesus fucking Christ, when a player like Berbatov wants it more you’re in serious trouble!

I guarantee that if we were up against Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich last night, we would not have performed so badly. These players are pampered beyond belief and that’s why we struggle against the “less glamorous” sides. Monaco isn’t a marquee game so why should we bother?

Unfortunately, Monaco actually wanted to win and showed desire and spirit all over the pitch. They thoroughly deserved what they got and that’s probably the most disappointing thing. People are calling this game the worst ever in Arsene Wenger’s reign, and while it’s a slight exaggeration it probably isn’t far off. The 3 goal capitulation against Anderlecht earlier on in the season was a real show of incompetence – not unlike last night.

People are calling for Arsene Wenger’s head but at this moment in time, he should still stay as Arsenal manager. When he gets it right, we play some fantastic football and games like against Manchester City are no fluke. For me, the buck has to stop with the players – Arsene Wenger can prepare the team but once they cross that white line they need to stand up and be counted. And yesterday they waltzed around as if they were walking their dogs.

Most of Arsenal’s players were well below par last night but the main culprits were Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud. Quite simply, both need to go if Arsenal want to go anywhere.

I’m sick and tired of Arsenal fans defending Mesut Özil. Yes, on his day he’s a great player but the fact is he’s not built to be at Arsenal. He’s too lightweight, doesn’t run for the team and is a complete luxury. A player who was £42.3 million should be putting in a performance every single game. He hides far too easily and is pretty much anonymous most of the time. He is a liability and needs to be sold. This is not a knee-jerk reaction, the player is not good enough! Our most expensive player (by some margin) isn’t even in our best 10 players at the club – the fact that people need to justify his performances with stats and figures is ridiculous – he doesn’t try and for the price tag, can’t even change a game or come up with some magic. You wouldn’t get Dennis Bergkamp hiding in games. Bergkamp was a flair player but he put himself about – if you’re comparing them to animals, Dennis was a lion and Özil is a butterfly.

At Real Madrid, Özil was always taken off after an hour or 70 minutes. Plus, he had warriors playing alongside him. In a team like Arsenal, his shortcomings are quickly exposed. For £42.3 million, we could have purchased a killer striker, someone who bangs in goals for fun. And that brings me onto Olivier Giroud.

The big Frenchman is a second striker, end of. He’s not a top striker that a top side needs. Manchester United have Van Persie, Rooney, Di Maria and Falcao. Manchester City have Aguero, Dzeko, Bony and Jovetic. Liverpool have Sterling and Strurridge. Chelsea have Costa, Remy and Drogba. We have Olivier Giroud.

The bottom line is Olivier Giroud would not get into the starting line ups of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Southampton. He tries but he’s not good enough.

He never performs in the big games, he never scores in the big games and he is another passenger. Against the lesser sides, fine, throw him in there, but we need a world class striker if we want to challenge for the Premier League or even Champions League (don’t laugh).

We’re going round in circles again. We need a world class goalkeeper, holding midfielder and striker. Yet Arsene persists in buying attacking midfielders. When I saw the team sheet yesterday I was baffled.

The back four was protected by Coquelin and Cazorla, with Özil, Sanchez, Welbeck and Giroud further up the pitch. Santo Cazorla in central midfield?! Are you having a laugh?!!! Our best player who has been scoring and assisting for fun is playing in a deeper and more withdrawn position?! Arsene should have dropped Özil and played Santi in his position. At least Santi gives a shit and tries to help the team defend.

When you’re crying out for Nicklas Bendtner, Yaya Sanogo and Marrouane Chamakh to come back, you know you’ve got problems.

10 Things We Learned From The North London Derby

1. Tottenham were very, very lucky

We might not have played well but Tottenham were very lucky. The first goal was a big mistake by Ospina and the turning point in the game. Before that Tottenham weren’t in it and Arsenal were comfortable.

The second was like the Danny Rose goal a few seasons ago – a goal which 9 times out of 10 would have gone wide.

Added to that, two big chances that we had could have changed the game – Koscielny had a powerful header go straight down Lloris’s throat, and the same happened again with a Tomas Rosicky’s fizzing shot from outside the area – either side of the goalkeeper and it’s a goal.

2. Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil can’t play in the same team

Santi Cazorla has been fantastic this season, and was the clear man of the match against Manchester City in a game where most of our players played fantastically. However, Arsene hasn’t worked out how to accommodate both Santi and Özil in the same Arsenal team.

Against Brighton, Özil was excellent but remember Cazorla was rested. Against Aston Villa, we played a team that was ready for the slaughter and Cazorla was noticeably unnoticeable. Today, Özil scored the opener but after that both Santi and Mesut showed nothing. They can’t play in the same team.

3. Arsenal were too complacent

After a winning run Arsenal didn’t have the same intensity against Tottenham. They thought today would be a routine win but it was anything but. Tottenham were not the best team we’ve played in 2015 yet we let them win.

4. Arsenal’s tactics were wrong

We’ve been impressive recently, especially against Manchester City, and shown we are a team that can be compact and defend when required. But after the first goal we were too negative and if we managed to nick a second then it would have been a different game.

5. David Ospina isn’t necessarily Arsenal’s goalkeeping solution

After Szczesny’s horror show at Southampton, the Pole has been dropped to the bench, with the Columbian stepping in. With an impressive run in the team (and a string of clean sheets to his name) Arsenal fans have been touting him as a real, bonafide solution to Arsenal’s goalkeeping problems. Today however showed he is prone to a very bad day at the office.

Unfortunately – and I hate saying this as I’m a big fan – he was shockingly poor today. He consistently managed to palm away shots into massive danger areas, and eventually Tottenham capitalised with Kane’s first goal. After that, we were up against it.

6. Arsene’s got his starting line-up wrong

If you take into account Arsenal’s midfield and attack, the only player with any real pace was Danny Welbeck. Ramsey, Coquelin, Özil, Cazorla and Giroud all lack pace and it was clear throughout the game we struggled to keep up with Tottenham’s runs from midfield.

Which brings me to…

7. Arsene needed to start Rosicky or Theo

With no real pace in the team, the game was crying out for either Theo or Rosicky to start the game. Rosicky has been excellent this season, especially int the big games so why he didn’t start baffled me. Theo I understand as he’s just back from injury but still, he’s managed to score some goals since his return.

Rosicky was our brightest player in the second half, and that would have been much handier when we looked to build on our early goal in the first half.

8. Arsene Wenger doesn’t know how to use his substitutions

After Tottenham equalised on 57 minutes, Arsene didn’t respond until 68 minutes when he bought on Rosicky for Cazorla. That was the wrong substitution and Walcott for Welbeck was the wrong call as well – but that’s because….

9. Arsene is scared of bringing off Mesut Özil

Who should have come off was Mesut Özil. Apart from the goal, he was barely noticeable and his only real contribution after scoring was falling over and moaning about being fouled. Arsene needs to man up and make the right substitution for the team. Özil at times is a luxury player who puts Arsenal at a disadvantage – especially when you’re in a scrappy game where the opposition are fighting against us.

10. Arsenal are not actually having a good season at all

The winning run Arsenal have been on for the majority of 2015 has masked the real problems – mainly that we are having a very poor season.

After 24 games we sit in 6th place in the Premier League. How is that good?

Southampton, Manchester United and Tottenham are all in much healthier positions in the league and if we’re not careful we won’t just miss out on Champions League football but might not qualify for Europe at all!

Is Gabriel Paulista A Good Signing For Arsenal?

Arsenal needed a central defender and unbelievably, it seems that they have signed one!

With Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker our only real center backs, we’ve had to rely on Callum Chambers who is relatively inexperienced to fill the void when we’ve had injuries, as well as Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy who are full backs. So an extra number in central defence is a massive boost for Arsenal.

And the chosen one (well, the one Arsene has decided to buy) is 24 year old Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista. The fee is rumoured to be around £11.3 million and he has been granted a work permit by the Home Office.

But who is he? And is he any good?

Villarreal have been doing okay this season and he’s already notched up 19 games in La Liga, as the Yellow Submarine sit in a very respectable 6th place.

So he can’t be that bad.

But if you listen (and to be fair, I haven’t listened too much to the “expert” opinions) to the pundits, several are apparently saying he’s raw and not that much of a player. But from seeing a couple of clips he seems quick and aggressive, and I’m sure he’ll develop at Arsenal.

I’ll wait until he puts on an Arsenal shirt and shows us what he can do before making a sound judgement, but the question remains:

Will be be a Pascal Cygan, or a Laurent Koscielny?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Arsenal Need To Respect Brighton And Focus On Winning The FA Cup

At 4pm today, we face Brighton in the FA Cup. They currently sit in 19th place in the Championship, only 6 points above the relegation zone. Arsenal however are in 5th place in the Premier League after beating the reigning champions last Sunday.

But the Seagulls are high in confidence after beating 3rd place Ipswich on Wednesday.

Yesterday we saw Chelsea lose 4-2 at home to Bradford, and Manchester City lost 2-0 to Middlesborough.

And that’s the beauty of the FA Cup – it has no respect for team reputation and league position – the team that simply wants it more on the day will end up being victorious.

So that’s why Arsenal have to be very careful this afternoon.

As I’ve already mentioned, Chelsea and Manchester City are now out, Liverpool and Manchester United we forced into an unwanted replay and even Tottenham and Southampton are out after losing to Leicester City and Crystal Palace respectively.

If Arsenal were every going to retain the FA Cup, then they won’t have a better chance than doing it this season.

So what are we going to do this afternoon? Well we don’t have another game until next Sunday when we face Aston Villa at home to their is absolutely no excuse for dropping too many big players and risking the chance to go out. The Falmer Stadium will be buzzing and they will be praying for a big cup upset, so we need to make sure we don’t give them what they want.

It will be a tough game today, but if we’re focused and disciplined as we were at Manchester City, we should come away with the win.

But after what happened yesterday, I’ll be very wary of the threat Brighton can pose today!