January 25, 2011
25/01/2011 Ipswich Town Comment

Arsenal 3 Ipswich Town 0

The first half was very frustraing. We created lots of chances without looking particularly sharp. Ipswich didn't create anything remotely like a chance. I thought we looked slighly more committed than in the first leg, but thought that Arshavin, Bendtner and Denilson looked poor. All three of them were to provide telling contributions in the second half. At half time I couldn't see us losing, but 0-0 seemed to be a distinct possibility unless we started burying some of our chances.

15 minutes into the second half and it seemed that Arsenal were content just to walk the ball into the net. Nobody wanted to shoot when in sight of goal. Then Wilshere picked out Bendtner with a magical 35-yard crossfield ball which Bendtner controlled and then proceeded to turn the Ipswich right back inside-out before unleashing a curling right-footer from the edge of the eighteen-yard box which had Fulop clutching at air. Three minutes later and a corner from the left was met by a powerful Koscielny header whilst Fulop was collecting butterflies on the edge of his 6-yard box. Later still and Denilson made a challenge on the halfway line which sent the ball to Fabregas who passed to Arshavin for him to tease an Ipswich defender before producing a sublime reverse pass for Fabregas to nutmeg Fulop. 3-0 and job done.

What  is the ratio of clean sheets versus starts for Szczesny? He had one flap in the first half, and appeared to fail to call for a ball in the second half when Djourou headed the ball into row Z for a corner. Djourou and Kos looked good again tonight. Until TV5 is fit this pair have to be our first choice central defensive pairing.

If the team deliver at Wembley next month we could be witnessing the birth pangs of a new red dynasty in North London. Project Yoof innit.

Anyone see the London news on BBC 1 tonight? There was a story on there about how another team in North London is causing distress to small businesses in the area.

January 19, 2011
19/01/2011 Leeds United Comment

Leeds United 1 Arsenal 3

Good result and a decent performance. We did not appear to make a great start but Samir's cool finish after a smart break relieved the pressure. Bacary Sagna's rocket gave us a 2-goal cushion and we appeared to relax after that. I used to enjoy it when the Arseanl team of 7-8 years ago stormed into early leads and then relaxed, but when this team relaxes with a 2-goal lead, I worry. When Bradley Johnson pulled one back for Leeds with his 35-yard screamer, I was remembering the Spurs game. Not pleasant.

We had a slow start to the second half and allowed Leeds back into the game. It wasn't until the introduction of Cesc and Robin that we started to look sharp again. A third goal came from a header by RVP with a cross supplied by NB52. After that things were relatively comfortable as Leeds started to lose their discipline.

I thought Kos had a good game today, including one pinpoint crossfield pass for Sagna in the first half. Song misplaced quite a few passes in the first half but improved after the break. 3 of our players were again below par, although 1 of them appeared to be making an effort, but things just weren't working out for him.

Next.....Wigan at the weekend 

January 12, 2011
12/01/2011 Ipswich Town Comment

Ipswich Town 1 Arsenal 0

I thought Arsenal were taking the competition seriously this season. Shouldn't believe what I read on the Internet. I saw little evidence of any desire/committment tonight. The majority of my comments made after the Leeds game are still relevant, except that the performance was worse than disappointing and we didn't deserve any more than the result we got.

Some really slack passing from our defense and midfield went unpunished tonight, so we got out of jail on multiple occasions. 4 players looked uninterested again (although only 3 of them retained their place in the starting lineup from the Leeds game). Nobody could be credited with having a good game. If I had to name a Man of the Match, it would have to be either Kos or Theo. The Ipswich goal was offside, but I'll let them have that. A goalless draw would have flattered Arsenal.

Interesting commentary on the TV. Whenever a decision went against Ipswich it was "harsh". When a decision went against Arsenal, we were lucky to have only conceded the free-kick. Ipswich wasted a lot of time at goal-kicks, free-kicks etc.

If we put the same team out in the second leg, we can forget about Wembley next month.

January 8, 2011
08/01/2011 Leeds United Comment

Arsenal 1  Leeds United 1

Disappointing result and disappointing performance. We were not able to put our chances away and almost paid a heavy price. I don't agree with Simon Brotherton's assessment that we were lucky to get a draw. The match statistics tell a very different story.

The overall performance of the team failed to reach the levels seen recently against Chelsea, Birmingham and Manchester City, but this was not the same team that appeared in those matches. Many passes went astray and poor control also resulted in frequent loss of possession. 

Szczesny acquitted himself well although had very little to do. He almost saved the penalty, and on at least one occasion spared the blushes of a particular defender who placed him under unnecessary pressure with poor back-passes when moving the ball forward would have been simpler and safer.

Djourou had another good game.

Fabregas and Walcott injected new life into our performance late in the game and spared the rest of the team's blushes after earlier profligacy in front of goal.

4 of our players did not look very interested today. How many more chances will they need?     

January 7, 2011
07/01/2011 Man City Comment

Arsenal 0  Man City 0

Disappointing result, but a very good performance. People have criticised Man city for parking the bus, but Mancini was right. City could not live with us had the game been open and had no choice but to defend a 0-0 scoreline. Don't forget, defence is within the rules of football. Sagna was fouled by Zabaleta, but should not have reacted the way he did (although he didn't get much protection in the Birmingham game).

Recently a few things have changed. the Arsenal midfield seems to have the right balance. Song, Wilshere, Fabregas and Nasri seem to have clicked, and as some other blogs have mentioned, Arsene may have found the right mix. Johan has finally stepped up to the plate and we seem to be more solid at the back. When TV returns from injury I am hopeful that the recent improvement in our defence will continue and reach a new level.

I am also encouraged by Arsene's admission that there was a defensive communication problem after one of our recent games (Wigan?). This is something we have known about for a while, and hopefully it is finally being addressed.