How on earth has David Luiz managed to get a new deal at Arsenal?! I can’t even…

I’d be laughing as well if I managed to steal a living from Arsenal!

What is going on at Arsenal?

They have inexplicably given David Luiz, possibly the Premier League’s worst defender, a contract extension!

Is this a joke?

The guy is on mega money, and can’t defend. In a team where we desperately need competent defenders, we have this clown.

We had a chance to get rid of him but someone at Arsenal actually made a decision to keep him at the club!

I can’t even talk right now.

My head is absolutely battered and none of this makes sense to me at all.

Bring in a couple of youngsters from the reserves or something, just don’t keep David Luiz at the club!

I’m off to have a sit down in a cold, dark room.

 

Why Arsenal suffer more serious injuries in the Premier League than any other team – and why it will never end!

“Are you going to do anything about this mate?”

In the early 90’s, George Graham’s Arsenal were in full flow – we had the best defence in the country, lead by Tony Adams, and were a tough side that would be hard to beat. Our defence consisted of Mr Arsenal, alongside Steve Bould (or Martin Keown), Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn.

When Arsene Wenger arrived in 1996, he inherited the famous back four and a squad that included Andy Linighan, Ray Parlour, John Hartson, Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp – all players who were warriors on the pitch and wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone!

He then added Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit, who were also players who had a presence and could fight on the pitch as well. We had success with these players, and more were added in the form of Marc Overmars, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Sol Campbell and Kolo Toure, all of whom were supremely talented but also warriors on the pitch and leaders of it.

But then we started the move to The Emirates and that’s when things changed.

Instead of playing incisive and devastating football, we started emulating the Barcelona style of play. And instead of buying ready-made winners, we started buying players who were more technically gifted on the ball – players like Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Samir Nasri and Santi Cazorla.

And I’m not complaining – with these types of players we played some really fantastic football which was a joy to watch. But the problem was Arsene was striving for beautiful, technical football in a league which just didn’t suit it.

We would win most of our games by running teams off the park with our excellent use of space, beautiful passing and lovely movement. We would score 3 or 4 goals a game most of the time, sweeping away the opposition – but this only worked against the lower teams in the league – and that is were the problem started.

Our style of play was based on a high level of technical ability, and against teams 5th and below it worked a treat. They didn’t know how to handle us and most of the time we would win. Our game relied on excellent offence and less emphasis on defence, which again is fine against most teams in the league, but not against the Top 4 sides.

Which is why we constantly finished 4th in the Premier League for a period of around 12 years. But the problem during those 12 years was that the teams below the Top 4, who had previously struggled to beat us, resorted to the only tactic that worked – being physical.

If you’re playing a team like Arsenal who move the ball so well and keep a high level of possession, then teams figured out that going toe-to-toe or even sitting back and hoping for the best just didn’t work. So teams started resorting to kicking us off the field, literally.

And the problem was, it worked.

And as more teams resorted to this “tactic”, the more the media portrayed Arsenal as a team of pansies, a team of players who didn’t “like it up them”. And this got worse and worse and worse, to the stage were it would be safe to say the treatment we received was close to assault.

The perception was that Arsenal players couldn’t handle the physical side of the game, and to get to them you just needed to “kick them off the park”. The ironic thing is this approach would probably work against any team, but for whatever reason, the media decided that Arsenal should be the team that deserved this focus, and once this narrative was set, it was hard to shake off.

In essence, Arsenal were effectively being punished for playing attractive football. We’ve had three players; Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey and Eduardo, who all suffered horrendous, career threatening injuries because of this false narrative. Abou Diaby and Eduardo were never the same again and their careers were ruined, and Aaron Ramsey took a long time to recover mentally from his ordeal.

And over the years, I remember horrific tackles on our players which were fortunate not to end in serious injury. In particular I remember really late challenges on Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott, Ashley Cole, Edu, Jose Antonio Reyes and Robert Pires, and I’m sure there are many more.

Which other teams have suffered as many career threatening injuries like we have? I recall Liverpool having one when Djibril Cisse broke his leg against Blackburn, Luc Nilis suffering a broken leg while playing for Aston Villa, and Coventry City’s David Busst when they played Manchester United.

In terms of serious injuries caused by opponents, then we are well clear at the top of that table.

Read the following from Dave Kitson, about Tony Pulis who was the manager of Stoke when Aaron Ramsey suffered that horrific leg break:

‘Stoke manager Tony Pulis absolutely despised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, hated the way he played.

‘All week I had never seen a manager so desperate to win a game of football, it was bordering on out of control.

‘I remember Pulis pacing up and down shouting random things — this bundle of nervous energy blurting random swear words, trying to burn off his own nervous energy.

‘And, of course, the upshot of all of that energy was that we went over the top and it cost Ramsey a year of his career.’

‘It seemed to me that was as a direct result of players reacting to their manager’s over enthusiasm and buying into that whole thing and carrying out his instructions and crossing the line.

‘But it just went too far. His desperation to beat Wenger and justify his way of playing football. It crossed the line and went too far.’ 

That is how teams approach games against Arsenal, and if you think that teams are just being “a little physical” then you’re wrong.

There is this perception, narrative, call it whatever you want, that it’s okay to give Arsenal players a little more of a kick, or a little more of a shove, now and then because “it’s just Arsenal” and they just whine and cry about being pushed around.

And that’s what lead to the inexcusable foul on Bernd Leno by Neal Muapay yesterday. If you push someone that is running on the ground, they’ll just fall over. Anyone with half a brain cell knows that if you push someone who is airborne, then they are going to struggle to land safely. Go on, try it yourself. Jump in the air, and get a friend to shove you. See how you land and see whether it’s a pleasant experience – because I can guarantee you it’s not.

And the worst thing about all of this is the victim blaming. Are you serious?!

When Aaron Ramsey had his leg smashed into 100 pieces, everyone was feeling sorry for Ryan Shawcross. And the same thing happened when Martin Taylor ended Eduardo’s career – it is an absolute farce!

And yesterday, people were feeling sorry for Muapay. The logic of the whole situation is completely ridiculous!

It’s like driving your car down the street, with your eyes closed, and then when you run over 4 or 5 people, claiming you “didn’t mean to hurt anyone”.

As a footballer, you know exactly what you’re doing at any given time. There is no excuse for reckless behaviour. The way people try and justify these things is completely unbelievable – Ryan Shawcross ran into Aaron Ramsey at full pelt with a 100% reckless and dangerous challenge. Martin Taylor’s foot was studs up, well off the ground. And yesterday, the ball wasn’t even available to win yet Neal Muapay thought it was appropriate to push an airborne goalkeeper.

Until the false narrative in the media ends, which won’t be any time soon, then Arsenal players will be suffering serious injuries at the hands of the opposition time and time again.

And one last thought, how many times have Arsenal players suffered really bad injuries against teams in Europe?

Exactly.

 

Why Arsenal suffer more serious injuries in the Premier League than any other team – and why it will never stop

“Are you going to do anything about this mate?”

In the early 90’s, George Graham’s Arsenal were in full flow – we had the best defence in the country, lead by Tony Adams, and were a tough side that would be hard to beat. Our defence consisted of Mr Arsenal, alongside Steve Bould (or Martin Keown), Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn.

Read more >>

 

Why the Arsenal side of 2001/2002 was better than The Invincibles!

The Arsenal side of 2003/2004 is quite rightly regarded as one of the greatest in Premier League and English League history – going through a 38 game season without losing a single match is something no other team has managed to do, and despite those with an agenda trying to make out they weren’t one of the best sides ever, there is no doubting that sides place in the history books.

But I would say that the Arsenal team of 2001/2002 was even better.

How is this possible you ask? Consider the following points:

  • Regarding our nearest rivals at the time Manchester United, The Invincibles team we drew 1-1 at home against them and then drew 0-0 away. In 2001/2002 season, we beat them convincingly 3-1 at home and then won 1-0 away (Wiltooooord!)
  • In The Invincible season, we scored 73 goals. In the 2001/2002 season, we managed to score 79.
  • In the 2001/2002 season, we had a peak Dennis Bergkamp, who scored 14 goals (his highest total since the 1997/1997 season). In The Invincibles season, he only scored 5 times.
  • Our attack was more lethal in the 2001/2002 season, with Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu and Wiltord scoring a combined total of 69 goals. In The Invincibles season, that total was 51. We had more attacking options in 2001/2002 that the opposition couldn’t handle.
  • In The Invincibles season, we won the Premier League. In the 2001/2002 season, we won the double.
  • Defensively we were much stronger in the 2001/2002 season as well – we had Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Matthew Upson as our central defensive options. In The Invincibles season, we had Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure, Pascal Cygan and an ageing Martin Keown.
  • There is no doubt that in the 2001/2002 season we had a better Ashley Cole, Lauren, Patrick Vieira, Edu, Ray Parlour, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, Sylvain Wiltord and Kanu who all statistically did better than they did in The Invincibles season.

And finally to finish, we have to consider the strength of the league at in both of those seasons.

The fact of the matter is the Premier League in the 2001/2002 season was much tougher to win, as shown by the number of points gained by the Top 4 sides in those seasons. The gap between 1st and 2nd was only 7 points, and the difference between 1st and 4th was 16 points.

1st: 87
2nd: 80
3rd: 77
4th: 71

In The Invincibles season however, Arsenal won the league by 11 points and 4th place were were a massive 30 points behind!

1st: 90
2nd: 79
3rd: 75
4th: 60

So what are you thoughts on this topic? Do you agree? Leave your comments in the section below!

 

14 Years Ago Today: Arsenal 2, Juventus 0

As the world around us is falling apart, I thought I would try and take our minds off it all for a moment and relive some of the great Arsenal games of the past.

14 years ago today, on March 29th 2006, Arsenal hosted a Juventus side including none other that our illustrious former captain, Patrick Vieira. Vieira had left the previous summer, after clinching a dramatic FA Cup win over arch rivals Manchester United with the crucial penalty that won us the trophy. 10 months later he was back at Highbury, but this time facing his old Arsenal teammates.

In midfield was a young man by the name of Cesc Fabregas.

The young Spaniard had been thrust into the first team following the departure of our captain, and the signs were there this boy was the real deal. We still had attacking forces such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and the late Jose Antonio Reyes banging in the goals, and Campbell and Toure marshalling the defence.

But this game would also be remembered for the heroic performances of Emmanuel Eboue, Philippe Senderos and Mathieu Flamini who were inexperienced and still very young players.

Below is the original match report and player ratings of that historic evening:

By The Time People Take Us Seriously It Will Be Far Too Late…

Times Change Patrick…

Arsenal in Europe have been simply immaculate. Partly this is because no-one gives us a chance, and then when we get a fanastic result we don’t get the credit we deserve. It might be annoying now but it can actually work in our favour…

Before the huge matches against Real Madrid, we were favourites to go out. Real were on an awesome run in the league and were scoring for fun. Robinho, Beckham, Zidane, Guti et al were all in great form and they were pitched against a side that couldn’t win back-to-back league fixtures against midtable opposition, couldn’t win or score away and had major injury problems.

So how were Arsenal going to fare in the Bernabeu, the place no English side has ever won before?

We pulled off a great team performance and left with a 1-0 win – and we should have had more. Even in the 2nd leg against Real Reyes was guilt of missing several guilt-edged chances and we had the clearer opportunities. Still, we progressed after defeating one of Europe’s superpowers.

Then to the tie against Juventus.

As you will have heard from almost everywhere, they are 8 points clear in Serie A with 7 games remaining, and cruising a league which includes a great team like AC Milan.

And Arsenal are 6th in the Premiership.

But Arsenal dominated the entire game against the old lady, who supposedly had our best player of recent times – Patrick Vieira – at their disposal.

But football is a team game – and as we have shown against Real we play together to devastating effect.

Across Europe, teams think that we are just a one man team with Henry. They don’t realise how efficient and effective the rest of the team are. Players like Hleb, Reyes, Fabregas and Pires will make those runs that create holes in any defense.

Juventus were surprised at Arsenal’s approach, and from the first minute could not cope with the pace of the game. Arsenal have a team full of young, hungry, determined and energetic players. While the Juventus team are full of experienced players who have won the World Cup, European Championships and countless domestic titles.

That is the difference.

Arsenal wanted it more last night, and you can talk about the absence of Pavel Nedved and Del Piero, but they wouldn’t had made a difference. Anyway, we had Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Ljungberg and loads of others out.

We had Flamini our 8th left-back this season in the 1st eleven! But to be fair, the young Frenchman has been brilliant every game he has played, and as stupid as this sounds I wouldn’t be bothered if Wenger got £15 million for Cashley and kept Flamini at left-back!

He has hunger, pace, determination and has proven himself in the Premiership, as well as against Real Madrid and Juventus.

He’s been a fantastic player for us.

Anyway, here’s my player ratings for the match last night…

Jens Lehmann: 7/10
Nothing to do except intercept a couple of crosses midway through the second half. But did well when called upon, which was hardly ever because of the solid defensive unit.

Emmanuel Eboue: 7/10
Did well again, and it’s hard to believe the kid only made his Premiership debut 6 weeks ago! I think Lauren is a really good player but I can’t see him getting back into the side the way the young Ivory Coast international is playing. As usual, made great forward runs and had Mutu in his back pocket.

Kolo Toure: 9/10
Exceptional. The tricky Ibrahimovic managed to get the ball on several occasions but Toure made some awesome tackles. A real captain’s performance.

Philippe Senderos: 8/10
His partnership with Toure just keeps getting better and better and so much so that I’m not bothered if Sol Campbell ever returns. So hungry against last night and he even chased a few lost balls all the way to Buffon in the first half. Threw himself at everything and made Trezeguet look like pedestrian.

Mathieu Flamini: 8/10
Is this guy a left-back? So assured again you don’t want this guy to be on the bench when Cole returns. Made those attacking runs to support Reyes and they work well together on the left. Camoranesi look frustrated all game which ended in a cynical red card.

Alexander Hleb: 7/10
Struggled against Zambrotta in the first half but picked up his game into the second. Never really captured his form against Real or Charlton but played some nice passes, including the beautifully weighted ball for Fabregas to assist Henry’s goal.

Gilberto Silva: 8/10
Covered well to give Fabregas and Pires attacking freedom, and helped out the back four superbly. A couple of mislayed passes now and then but he’s there to keep Juventus quiet, and Vieira and Emerson didn’t get a sniff.

Francesc Fabregas: 9/10
Made Vieira look small. The pre-match hype was all about Vieira and he told everyone that time moves on at there is no time for regrets. How right our old captain was. Times change Patrick, and unfortunately you’re not part of it anymore. Great assist for Henry’s goal. Cesc was absolutely Fabregas!

Jose Antonio Reyes: 8/10
I loved his dedication last night. Whatever you say about Jose, he will run until his legs fall off and will always give 110%. Made Camoranesi look foolish at times and was never afraid to take on players.

Robert Pires: 9/10
Won’t get all the headlines but played out of his skin. Marked Vieira well and I was shocked as anyone when he won a header in our own area after about 20 minutes. I was even more shocked when he made THAT tackle on Vieira that started the move for Cesc’s goal. Good movement, good passing and great support play. Excellent performance.

Thierry Henry: 9/10
Really loves it when Arsenal are against it. Might not celebrate all his goals with pure rage anymore but after he scored Arsenal’s second he went ballistic! Took the goal every well on the turn and really came to life in the second half. Frustrated Juventus as the game wore on and with a few minutes to go Zebina just had enough of him and got sent off.

Vieira to Pires, Pires to Henry, Henry to Fabregas – GOAL!

Ah, just like the good old days….